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Brentford Families - Cole

Richard Taylor (part of the editorial team of the Orders and Medals Research Society) first wrote in 2010 about William Charles Cole DSM (Distinguished Service Medal, awarded in WW1), whose medals he has:
Set of 8 medals

The naming on the medals is as follows:

  • DSM - 203157 W C Cole Ldg Sea 'Cudwosin'
  • 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal - 203157 W C Cole LS RN
  • Defence Medal - Un-named as issued
  • Royal Fleet Reserve Long Service & Good Conduct Medal - 203157 (Po B2092) W C Cole, LS RN
  • National Fire Brigades Association Long Service Medal in silver - 4081 William C Cole
  • NFBA Long Service Medal in bronze - 8715 William C Cole

Richard sent details of his research which highlighted one good candidate as the recipient of the medals but also noted others with similar names who also had connections with Brentford. The research showed there were some anomalies with the 'good candidate' and Richard asked if anyone had William Charles Cole in their family.

In 2017 Carolyn Cameron of Auckland, New Zealand made contact and shared her substantial research into the Cole family: some of her findings are incorporated into the biography that follows. Carolyn also has prepared family notes that cover earlier generations of the Cole family in more detail and these give further insights into William Charles Coles' wife Tina and mother Sarah. Carolyn adds the notes are 'in progress' but is happy for you to download them.

William Charles Cole - fireman, DSM

William Charles COLE served in the Royal Navy in WW1 and became a firemen (possibly a part-time volunteer) at Brentford. He was born in Chiswick on 3 March 1883, according to his RN papers but, as there is no birth registered for this period, he may have lied about his age when he joined as a boy in 1899.

The birth of a William Charles Cole was registered at Richmond Registration District, Surrey in the first quarter of 1885; Richmond RD includes Kew, but not Chiswick, which is part of Brentford RD.
Carolyn obtained this birth certificate and provided the transcript:
COLE, William Charles, boy, father George Cole, labourer, mother Sarah Cole, late LEWIS, formerly STONE, child born 28 November 1884, at 22 Cambridge Cottages, Kew. Birth registered on 16 January 1885. The informant of the birth was Sarah Cole, mother, 22 Cambridge Cottages, Kew.

Baby William Charles Cole was baptised on January 4 1885 at St Anne's church, Kew, a couple of weeks before his birth was registered. The entry shows his parents were George and Sarah Cole, that George was a labourer and the family lived in Kew (Ancestry).

The 1891 census (below) shows William Charles Cole had a sister Lucy, a couple of years younger than him. Searches found a baptism of Lucy Jane COLE at St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park Chiswick, 9 March 1887. Lucy was born 20 Feb 1887. Here the father’s name was ‘George William COLE’, he was a labourer of 4 Bond Terrace Chiswick; there is a corresponding birth registration in Brentford in the first quarter of 1887; the mother was formerly named LEWIS (General Register Office).

Carolyn located a probable earlier marriage of Sarah: Sarah Ann STONE to David LEWIS, in 1872, Farnham Registration District, Surrey. 'It is the only possible one. Too many deaths to pinpoint one, but have been unable to find any marriages of a Cole to Lewis/Stone. It may be that David Lewis was not deceased when she was having children to George William Cole'.

Richard continues: I have found William Cole (no middle name/initial) in the 1891 census, aged 6, born at Chiswick, the son of George and Sarah Cole, at Cambridge Cottages, Kew (the same address as the birth registration six years previously). There were only two children recorded in the family - William and Lucy.

When he joined the Royal Navy as a lad in 1899 his civilian occupation was given as 'barge boy'.

Richard and Carolyn located the family in the 1901 census at London Road, Isleworth, Middlesex:
COLE, George W (44), carman, born Chiswick
COLE, Sarah (49), born Berkshire
COLE, Lucy J (14), born Chiswick.

In 1901 son William was in the census as an Ordinary Seaman, serving in HMS Resolution, then at Gibraltar.


William left the Navy by purchase in 1907 and married Tina MASON at St Mary's church, Paddington in September that year. The marriage entry names his father as George Henry Cole, a barge builder.
William's occupation was 'fireman' and he was living in Cannon Street in the parish of St Antholin's, Cannon Street. E.C.: his address was probably the fire station which had opened in the previous year.
William Charles was 27 and Tina was 25, her address 23 Harrow Road. She was the daughter of Edward Mason, grocer. The groom and bride both signed the register.

William and Tina had a son, William Rex Cole (1910).

Confusingly the 1911 census records William and his sister Lucy twice. The first entry was completed by his father (or mother) at 12 London Road, Brentford End, Isleworth, Middlesex:
COLE, George William (54), carman, born Strand on the Green, Chiswick, married 28 years
COLE, Sarah (53), born Barton on the Hill, Berkshire
COLE, William Charles (26) tram cleaner, born Kew, Surrey, married
COLE, Lucy Jane (24), born Chiswick, Middlesex, married 2 years.

The second 1911 entry shows William Charles COLE and his wife and baby son at 1 St George's Court, Brentford:
COLE, William Charles (26), married, fitter, iron work, tramways, born Kew Surrey
COLE, Tina (24), born Manor Park London, married 4 years, one child
COLE, William Rex (6 months), son, born Brentford
The 1911 schedule was completed and signed by the householder; Richard compared the signature with that from the 1907 marriage certifcate and concluded 'They are almost identical; indeed the formation of the word ‘Cole’ is identical'.

Both 1911 census entries give ages for William that are consistent with the birth certificate of 1885: it appears the marriage entry ages were incorrect, William being recorded as 27 when actually he was nearly 23. His occupation 'fitter iron work' for the tramways co. is feasible - the firemen's job was possibly part-time, so the fact he had another job need not be unusual.

1907 and 1914 trade directories confirm his father George William Cole lived at 12 London Road.

William Charles Cole was recalled from the Reserve on the outbreak of war in August 1914 and served until he was demobbed in February 1919. His DSM was awarded for his work in the Mediterranean on escort work and anti-submarine patrols.

The 1920 Electoral Register records William Charles and Tina Cole at 279 High Street (opposute the Fire Station) and trade directories and later electoral registers show they remained at this address until 1937 along with their son William Rex Cole (Ancestry).

William was with the Brentford Brigade when he was awarded the National Fire Brigades Association service medals in 1927 and 1930. The 1839 award was the 20 Years Service Medal and the medal roll shows his date of enrolment as November 1908.

In 1938 the three Coles had moved further east along the High Street to no. 352 (Electoral Register).

The son William Rex Cole married Winifred Doris Susan COX (Hammersmith Registration District) in the last quarter of 1938 and the 1939 Electoral Roll shows they moved to 9 Strathearn Avenue, Harlington. The 1939 Register is available on Findmypast and shows the couple at the same address: William Rex was a Barber, his wife a Dictaphone Typist. There are no later sightings of the couple in the London Electoral Registers, suggesting they moved outside the area around the time of WW2.

The 1939 Register shows William Charles and Tina Cole remained in Brentford:
352 High Street, Brentford and Chiswick, Middlesex
COLE, William, Charles, born 28.11.1881, married, fitter, trolleybus Lptb (London Public Transport Board)
COLE, Tina, born 19.09.1883, married, unpaid domestic duties
There are 8 lodgers/boarders at this address.
William's birth date of 28 November 1881 correlates to the birth certificate date of 28 November 1884.

William Charles and Tina Cole were recorded at the same address in Electoral Registers until 1952. By this point William was in his mid to late 60s and it seems he retired and moved to Dorset, possibly following his son. William Charles Cole died 23 May 1954, aged 69, at 24 Easton Street, Portland. William Rex Cole, hairdresser, and his wife Winifred Doris Cole were the executors of the will.

The 1884 birth date is consistent with the age at death.


The marriage in 1907 seems likely to be the William Charles Cole later awarded medals for his fire service work as he gave his occupation as 'fireman'. It is also known that he was living in Brentford by 1911, the place associated with his fire service work.

However his father's name 'George Henry Cole and occupation barge builder on the 1907 marriage entry do not tally with the 1911 census and trade directory entries which name him as George William Cole and occupation as carman.

The incorrect middle name may be explained by the previous entry in the marriage register in which the bride's father was George Henry GORDON.

The wrong occupation is more difficult to explain: the marriage took place outside the groom's home so it is unlikely his father was known to the curate. Maybe William Charles was 'bigging-up' his father? Perhaps his father was a barge builder at some point? In 1899 William Charles Cole was a 'barge boy' which fits his father being a barge builder. However censuses show George William Cole was a general labourer in 1881 and a carman in 1891, 1901 and 1911. A generation further back it appears George William's father was Charles P Cole, a lighterman - so there was a connection to barges and an explanation of the grandson William's middle name Charles.


Two more William Coles

To add confusion two more William Cole marriages took place in Brentford Registration District in 1907:

  1. William Charles Cole married Florence PAGE in the Jan/Feb/March quarter
  2. William Cole married Ellen Mary HIGGINS in the July/August/September quarter

William Charles and Florence were living with his Page in-laws at 50 Colville Road South, Acton in 1911. He was a car man for the carrier company, Pickfords, and they had two children Dolly (3) and Henry (1).

William and Ellen Cole were living at 35 Frazer Street, Chiswick in 1911. They had been married four years, he was 26 and a carter for the tramway company. His birthplace was Chiswick and they had a daughter Ivy Lilian (3) and son Edward William (1) born in Shepherds Bush and Chiswick respectively. Boarding with the Cole family were widow Anne BROWN, a laundry assistant, 58 and (presumably her daughter) Jesse Amelia Brown who was a factory assistant at the soap company, age 15.

The 1939 Register shows the Cole family at 53 Hartham Road, (off London Road) Isleworth: William Cole, bn 21 Nov 1883, married, Labourer (H... W... - Heavy Work?)
Ellen Cole, 30 Jan 1876, married, Unpaid Domestic Duties
Ivy L Cole, 22 Sep 1907, single, Laundress (Coat Folder?)
Charles G Cole, 7 Jul 1914, single, General Labourer (Heavy Work)
Jessie E Bignell, 22 Jan 1917, single, Dressmaker (cutter)
Violet E Harris, 5 Sep 1919, single, Machine Operator (B...) [word 'heavy' added above]


Page published September 2010; updated December 2017