Henry James Walter Rogers married Nellie Lawrence in Poole in 1896, he was born in Southampton and Nellie came from Somerset. The 1901 census shows the family living on Poole High Street, Henry is a fish salesman; Alfred, their son, is four years old and daughter Lily just four months old. In February of the same year, Alfred and Lily were both baptised at St. James Church.
By 1911 the family had expanded. Henry and Nellie had six living children and had suffered the loss of two of their children. They are living at 55 High Street where they had six rooms to accommodate eight people and a business. The census shows that Nellie and Alfred are both assisting Henry, which makes it a real family business.
On December 2nd 1915 the Poole and Dorset Herald reported that Gunner Alfred Samuel Rogers R.G.A aged 19 had been killed in France. Alfred Samuel Rogers joined the Royal Garrison Artillery sometime around late 1913, early 1914. He was stationed at Plymouth until, in July 1915, he volunteered for foreign service and shortly afterwards was in action in Ypres and the surrounding neighbourhood. Sadly he was killed in action on 29th October 1915 and his father received the following letter;
“On behalf of my Officer Commanding, and all ranks under him, I deeply regret to inform you that your son, Gunner Rogers A. S was killed in action yesterday by hostile shell fire. I hasten to add that his end was mercifully quick, and he suffered no pain at all. He was doing his duty at the time in the same good hearted, thorough way in which he always performed his duties. He was well liked by officers and men and always showed himself to be an excellent soldier and worker. Please accept the heartfelt sympathies of the officers and men of this battery at your sad loss.”
Evidently Gunner Rogers had chosen to join the Royal Garrison Artillery and had done so before the onset of World War One, he had also made the choice to volunteer to join the foreign action, and therefore his family hopefully took comfort from the fact that he was following his chosen career path. He may have wanted some adventure and felt too young to settle down into the family business. We will never know why Alfred joined the Army but can be sure that throughout the First World War many High Street families would have suffered losses of their sons, husbands and brothers.
By 1923 Kelly’s lists 55 High Street as Henry Rogers and Sons, Fishmongers. In February 1928 the family suffered a devastating blow when Henry died at home at the age of 52. His youngest daughter, Trilby would only have been 12 years old. The Poole and Dorset Herald wrote that he had been “a well known local tradesman for the past 40 years.” The list of mourners at the funeral is extensive and shows how much a part of the community he must have been. The list included fellow members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes who dropped their emblem of ivy leaves into the grave, it also included former Poole Councillor and landlord Evan Gambier, his close friend. Kelly’s continued to list Rogers and Sons for some years after this showing that the family business and legacy continued in High Street.
Sources: Ancestry, Poole and Dorset Herald, Kelly’s Directories and you may be interested in the Poole Roll of Honour http://www.pooleatwar.com