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IDIENS, John – emigrated 1913

Between the years 1911 and 1913, eight members of the Idiens family (John and Alice and seven of their eight children) emigrated to Canada.  John and Alice, together with their two younger daughters, Edith and Doris were the last to go.

John Idiens (1852-1939) was born in Birmingham in 1852, the fifth of 11 children of John Idiens and his wife, Sophia (née Clarkson).  In the late 1860s, the family moved to Evesham.  They lived at the Railway Station as John Idiens Senior was the Station Master; John Junior was a railway clerk, as was his brother, Joseph.  The brothers did not remain as railway employees.  A notice in The London Gazette of 14th September 1880 reveals that John had been in partnership with his older brother, Joseph, in in the firm J Idiens & Sons as Hay and Straw Dealers in Birmingham, but this was dissolved on 1st January 1880 by mutual consent and Joseph carried on alone.

John married Alice South from Tettenhall, Staffordshire, in 1879.  They had four sons and three daughters, all born at Evesham:  Harold John (1880-1953), Albert William (1883-1953), Alice Marguerite (1885-1946), Edith Mary (1887-1981), Walter Cyril (1888-1973), Doris Ruth (1889-1972) and Stanley South (1891-1980).  At the time of the 1881 and 1891 census, John and Alice Idiens were living in High Street, Evesham.  In 1881, John’s mother was staying with them, and they had a servant and a nursemaid for their baby son; John was described as a coal merchant.

By 1891 he was described as a Merchant, and he employed a Governess and two servants for his growing family.  John’s widowed mother-in-law, Mary South, was also staying, presumably in anticipation of assisting with the birth of their last and final child, Stanley.

At the end of the 19th century, the Idiens family became tenants at Wickhamford Manor where they were living at the time of the 1901 census.  They became involved in the local community.  The Parish Magazine of November 1899 records that Mr J Idiens promised money for Wickhamford Church fund and at least two of the sons, Harold and Bert, were church organists.  John Idiens was a manager at Badsey School from 1902-1904.

In June 1901, John Idiens played host to the author, Rider Haggard, who came to stay for a few days at Wickhamford Manor whilst looking at agriculture in the Vale of Evesham.  The following year, a book, Rural England: Being an Account of Agricultural and Social Researches Carried Out in the Years 1901 and 1902, was published.  The Vale of Evesham featured in pages 343-362 of the book, and John Idiens was mentioned on several occasions.

The Idiens family lived at Wickhamford until 1906 when George Lees-Milne bought the Manor from J P Lord’s Trustees.  By 1911, they were living in Poole, at a house on The Promenade called Kiabra.  John was described as of “private means”.  Four of the children lived at home.

John Idiens is said to have dabbled in many different businesses and lost all his money.  He took out a lease on Bowers Hill Farm, Badsey, and subsequently bought it in 1905.  He was involved in a number of house-building projects which ran into problems.  For further information see John Idiens and family of Bowers Hill and Wickhamford Manor.  In October 1916 (three years after he had left England), John Idiens & Sons Ltd was dissolved and its name struck off the Companies Register (London Gazette, 31st October 1916).

Alice and John emigrated to Canada in 1913, following in the footsteps of four of their children.  On 2nd April 1913, they boarded Royal Edward at Bristol, bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia; their daughters, Edith and Doris accompanied them.  First they went to live at 2625 Roseberry Avenue, Victoria, on Vancouver Island.  Then they moved to the town of Comox where they named their home “Cotswold Farm”.

In Canada, they remained friendly with the Osler family whom they had known when living in Wickhamford.  George Osler was a pallbearer at his friend’s funeral in 1939.  Many years later, the Idiens’ grandson, John Foljambe Idiens, married George Osler’s granddaughter, Debby.  In 2017, John and Debby visited Wickhamford where their respective grandparents had lived before the First World War.

Alice died at Comox in 1933 and John in January 1939.  The following report appeared in The Nanaimo Daily News of 25th January 1939:

LAST RITES HELD, COMOX – The funeral of John Idiens of Comox took place last Tuesday with many sympathizing friends in attendance.  Rev A W Corder conducted the service, that was held in St Peter’s Church.  The pallbearers were Theed Pearse, G P Osler, Barnet Harvey, Ben Hughes, J Idiens and F G Liddle.