Montague ‘Mont’ Hooper (1867-1951) = Bessie Mabel Audley (1870-1953)

Mont & Bessie Hooper – Photo courtesy of Belinda Norman

Montague, known as ‘Mont’, was the son of Kingston born George Hooper and Adelaide Louis Hooper neé Squibb. Mont became a fisherman.

In 1890, Mont married Bessie Mabel Audley (1870-1953), the daughter of Thomas John Audley (1824-1895) and Sarah Audley nee Keats (1825-1873). Bessie was born on 28 April 1870 at Corfe Castle and was baptised there on 7 August 1870. By 1881 the Audley family were living at Scoles Gate Cottage. In 1887, Bessie had a daughter Harriet Susan Audley (1887-1981) who married Charles Hancock (1893-1971) in 1916. Harriet was known as ‘Doll‘.

In 1891, Bessie, Mont and Harriet were living with Bessie’s unmarried brother Frederick Audley at Worth. Later that year, Bessie gave birth to a daughter Florence, known later as ‘Floss‘. In 1900, Mont and Bess had a son who died soon after birth.

By 1901, Mont, Bessie and Floss were living in London Row, Worth Matravers.

Sale particulars in 1919 for multiple properties in Worth Matravers included No. 1 London Row and No. 2 London Row and stated:

“No. 2 is let to Mr. Mont. Hooper on lease expiring Michaelmas, 1934, at £3 10s. per annum. Tithe free”.

In January 1920, the S.S. Treveal was shipwrecked on the Kimmeridge Ledges and subsequently broke in two and sank. In total, 36 on board lost their lives with some 21 bodies being washed ashore. Mont Hooper and son-in-law Walter Welsh were soon on the scene and brought with them two women (one of whom was Miss May Welsh, Walter’s sister) who played a crucial role with artificial respiration of the numbed and nearly lifeless. Seven survivors in all were revived. Mont’s wife Bessie and daughter Floss laid out the dead on trestle tables in Worth Village Hall.

In September 1939, Mont and Bessie were still at No. 2 London Row – known as ‘Rosedale’. Mont was still a fisherman but was noted as being in the Observer Corps. Bessie’s first daughter Harriet Hancock (‘Doll’) was staying with them having separated from her husband Charles.

Mont died on 5 August 1951 aged 83 and Bessie died in 1953 also aged 83.

Children of Mont and Bessie:

1. Florence Mabel Hooper (1891–1968)

Florence was known either as ‘Flossie’ or more commonly ‘Floss’.

She became a school teacher at Worth and in 1916 married Walter John Welsh (1888-1944), son of Robert Stickland Welsh (1856-1913) and Jessie Louisa Welsh nee Stiles (1858-1950). Doll was one of her bridesmaids.

Extract from the Western Gazette – Friday 14 July 1916


SCHOOL TEACHER’S WEDDING: BRIDE’S TOUCHING TRIBUTE TO LATE VICAR:- The wedding was solemnised, at the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, of Flossie, youngest daughter of Mr. M. Hooper, of Worth, and Walter, second son of the late Mr. R. Welsh, of Corfe Castle. The officiating minister was the Rev. J. W. Coulter, of Langton Matravers. The bridesmaids were Miss Hooper (sister of the bride) and Miss Welsh (sister of the bridegroom) – their ornaments included gold brooches, and they carried pink bouquets, the gifts of the bridegroom. The bride was given away by her father; and Mr. W. Welsh, oldest brother of the bridegroom, acted as “best man.” After the ceremony a reception was held at the bride’s home, where a numerous party sat down to the breakfast. A tea was partaken of at the School-room by the parents and village children, this being provided by the kindness of the bride, who has been an assistant-teacher at the school for some 12 years. The wedding group was photographed on the Vicarage lawn by kind permission of the widow of the late Rev. J. Edwards, after which the bride placed her bouquet on the grave of the late Vicar – a sympathetic act which was much appreciated by the widow. The presents, which were numerous and useful, included a clock from employees of the munition works where the bridegroom works, and a similar gift to the bride from the head school-mistress (Miss Smith) and village school children.

In September 1939, Walter was a Munition Worker handling nitro glycerine. The family were living at Sunnyside (no. 6 London Row).

Son Gordon James H Welsh was born 23 August 1921. In 1939 Gordon was a Grocery & Provision Manager. The family ran F Welsh’s Store on Pike’s Lane at Worth.

F. Welsh Store – Photo courtesy of Jane Davarian

Floss was widowed in 1944 and she continued living at London Row with Doll. Floss died in 1968 and her ashes were interred at Worth. Doll died on 5 August 1981.

Floss and Doll – Photo courtesy of Belinda Norman

2. Harold Montague Audley Hooper (1900-1900)

Sadly Harold died very shortly after birth.

More about “Doll”

Bessie’s first daughter Harriet Susan Audley was born on 16 July 1887. As stated earlier, Bessie married Mont Hooper in 1890 and Harriet was often known by the surname Hooper and the forename Dorothy or Doll for short.

Doll told a neighbour, Douglas Sanders*, that when she was 12 (around 1899) she boarded a train to Guildford to become a between maid for a rich family in Guildford earning around £1 a month.

So far we have not been able to locate Doll in the 1901 census.

In 1911, as Dorothy Hooper, she was a house parlourmaid for Herbert Bradley J.P. at Hill Croft in Broadstone.

Doll then went to London in service.

In 1916, as Dorothy Hooper, she married Charles Hancock (1893-1971) at St. Stephen’s Church in Paddington with step-father Mont Hooper as a witness. Charles was born on 20 July 1893 at Bampton in Devon to postman Charles Hancock (1868-1946) & Jane Hancock nee Tarr (c.1864-1938).

Marriage of Charles Hancock and Dorothy Hooper as St. Stephen’s Church, Paddington on 4 September 1916

In 1911, Charles was a ‘railway servant’ boarding with a family at Cullompton in Devon. He later became a policeman and then joined the Royal Naval Air Service on 7 January 1916. He was shore-based at H.M.S. President II in Crystal Palace. He was just over 6 feet tall, with brown hair, blue eyes and fresh complexion. The RNAS and RFC (Royal Flying Corps) were amalgamated as the RAF on 1 April 1918. It is not known how long Charles served with them or whether he rejoined the police before turning his hand to building. Charles and Doll did not have any children.

On 11 November 1935, the then vicar of St. Stephens, Paddington, added the following sidenote to the original entry in the marriage register pictured above:

In Entry No. 360 col 2 for Dorothy Hooper read Harriet Susan Audley otherwise Dorothy Hooper, col 3 for 25 read 29, col 7 omit Montague Hooper and col 8 omit Fisherman. A Statutory Declaration as to the facts having been made by Bessie Mabel Hooper, mother of the woman married.

On 29 September 1939, Charles was recorded as a master builder and decorator living alone at 3 Hannington Road, Wandsworth. He was shown as married. Meanwhile, Doll, also shown as married, was living at No. 2 London Row, Worth with Mont and Bessie. It is not yet known which year Doll and Charles first separated or when their divorce was granted.

In 1948 Charles married Martha Sophia Cooper (1886-1970). In 1939 she was known as Sophia and was a military tailor also living in Wandsworth. Born on 10 January 1886, Sophia was some 18 months older than Doll and around 7 years older than Charles.

Sophia died in 1970 and Charles died in 1971. Doll outlived them both, dying on 5 August 1981 aged 94.

*Douglas Sanders contributed his memories of Doll to a book That’s the Way It Was by E.M. Wallace, 1986. Douglas clearly thought a lot of Doll as too did many in the village who visited her regularly. Douglas commented “her great gift was the ability to overcome all social barriers” and that “she was a person to remember and cherish.”

Page last updated: 28 June 2017

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