Laurence Meager aka Bob

From towers to trenches, we remember Laurence Meager aka Bob

The Meager (pronounced Major) family gave their name to a hill on Buckingham Road in Bletchley. The family where successful wheelwrights in the 19th century and into the 20th century and operated from a huge barn on the hill. As times changed the family business evolved from the manufacture of cart wheels and the arts of a black smith to house building.

Laurence’s father Frederick (born 1846 in Bletchley) was a wheelwright, as was his grandfather Thomas (born c1807 in Kent). Thomas and his wife Mary established themselves in Bletchley sometime before 1833 when their first daughter was christened in the local church. Frederic was born in 1847 and by the 1861 census was working as a Wheelwright presumably with his father and brother John. Frederick married Louise Sommers in West Brompton, London. The couple lived in Bletchley where Frederick continued in the family business and Louise brought up 6 children.

Laurence was born in 1879 and became a member of the Oxford Guild of Church Bellringers in 1903 and was a member until 1917. He was based at St Mary’s Bletchley During his ringing career Laurence completed a number of recorded touches at Bletchley and Newton Longville and also rang in three peals.

In 1911 the census tells us that the Frederick’s family were living on the hill which he bought in1890 and which later became Meager Hill, in a house which had 6 rooms plus a kitchen. At this time Laurence aged 32 was married but on the night of the census was staying with his parents, while his wife Annie Elizabeth (nee Taylor) and children were lodging with Mr & Mrs Cadd in Preston Bissett. Mr Cadd was a Wheelwrights Labourer and Mrs Cadd was a midwife. With Annie was 3 year old Joyce Mary and 2 year old Gladys Eveline and an unnamed infant under one month. The census records reveal a fourth child but that child’s whereabouts are unknown. The couple had a total of 5 children.

Laurence enlisted for the Army in Bletchley in 1916 and became a Sapper of the Royal Engineers 474th Field Company. This company joined the 48th Division which in 1917 took part in the following battles which were phases in the Third Battles of Ypres:

  • The Battle of Langemarck
  • The Battle of Polygon Wood
  • The Battle of Broodseinde
  • The Battle of Poelcapelle

Laurence died on the 28th September from wounds sustained from shrapnel the previous day. Captain Richards wrote to Laurence’s wife Annie “During the two months your husband was with this company he always did his duty and was very well liked, both by his officers and by his comrades, and they wish to join me in offering you our sympathy in your bereavement.” Laurence was buried in plot VII Row E Grave 8 at Dozinghem Cemetery in Belgium. His wife added the words “He died that we might live” to his headstone.  She was living at Three Tree Square, Whaddon Road at the time.

On the 27th April 1918 the unveiling and dedication of a wall tablet to the memory of Sapper Laurence Meager was conducted by Reverend Bennit. Two days later a peal of 5,040 changes was rung on half muffled bells by the St Mary’s band. This peal was possibly the one whose dedication read “rung with the bells half muffled as a last token of respect to Sapper L Meager RE who died of wounds in France on Sept 28th 1917

Information sources

Census records for 1911, 1901, 1891, 1881

Commonwealth war graves commission

Buckinghamshire remembers

Talk about Bletchley

Kelly’s Directory 1854

In Touch (November 2010)

MK Heritage

Buckinghamshire Family History