IN MEMORY OF MAJOR WILLIAM TAIT SEWELL
By Diana Kennedy
This article was originally published in the August 2011 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
Member John Saul was exploring the Somme battlefields when he came across a Sewell grave and sent me the picture for our records.
The inscription reads:
Major W.T. Sewell
Royal Inniskilling Fus
1st July 1916 Age 34
Major W.T. Sewell was William Tait Sewell born in 1882 in Garmondsway, Durham. He was the second child and first son of William and Elizabeth Janet Sewell. William Sewell married Elizabeth Janet Tait in 1879 in Stockton, although Elizabeth came from Scotland, William was born in Carlisle, Cumberland. I believe that William’s family came originally from Appleby, Westmorland.
In 1891 William and Elizabeth were living in Lambeth, South London. William was a Civil Engineer aged 40years, Elizabeth a little younger at 36years. Included in the family were Marion T (Tait) aged 11, William T (Tait) aged 8, both born in Durham, Thomas R (Reginald) aged 5 born in Ireland and Sydney E (Ewart) aged 2 born in Lambeth.
By 1901 the family were back up north in South Shields, living at High Croft, Whitburn, but only Marion was living at home. William Tait was now a medical student at St Andrews University, Newcastle upon Tyne and both Thomas and Sydney were at Wellingborough School, Northamptonshire. William Tait qualified in 1904 as an MB and Bachelor of Surgery and in 1908 finally as a MD at Durham University. In 1905 Marion married an accountant Kenneth Taylor Pinkney, the same year their mother Elizabeth Janet died, aged only 49years. In 1911 both William Tait now a Doctor of Medicine and Thomas Reginald a Civil Engineer were both living with their father in High Croft, Whitburn, with three servants. William continued to live at High Croft until his death in 1924.
The only military records I could find for William Tait was the Medal Rolls, but it is clear that he joined the 11th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a Captain later to become a Major. He was killed in action on the first day of the Somme on the 1st July 1916 and is buried in Thiepval cemetery where John Saul took the picture. It is interesting to note that in his Will he left his father just over £1880. His brother Thomas Reginald also joined the army on the 10th January 1816 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery.
The youngest of the family, Sydney like his father and brother also became a Civil Engineer and in 1924 married Dorothea Marjorie Clyne, in Wandsworth. Records show that both brothers travelled abroad, presumably for business. In 1929 Sydney Ewart and Dorothea arrived back in Southampton with their two small sons, having left Batavia, Indonesia. Thomas Reginald arrived back in Liverpool in 1938 on board the ‘Orbita’ having departed from Jamaica. Sydney died in 1934 and Dorothea married his brother Thomas in 1941.
With thanks to John Saul for the photograph