27th June 1916

Temporary Second Lieutenant Thomas Jessop Weiss, aged 27, died of wounds on 27th June 1916, serving with the 151st Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (although some sources do record that he was killed in action). He apparently lived at Mount Pleasant, Berkswell and was described by the Vicar of Berkswell  in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, 3rd August 1916, as a “quiet, retiring man… esteemed for his generous nature and straightforward simplicity of  life.”

Thomas is buried at Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery, France and is also commemorated on Berkswell War Memorial.

He was born on 3rd March 1889 in Edgbaston, Birmingham and was the youngest of the five children (four sons, and one daughter) of Swiss-born export hardware merchant, John [Johannes] Weiss. All of the children – Alec, Betram, Hilda Mary, John Francis, and Thomas – were given the middle name Jessop, which was the maiden name of their mother, Mary Hope Jessop, who was from Yorkshire.

Although their mother was English, and the children were all born in England, John’s wife would have taken her husband’s nationality on marriage, as Silhillian doctor Doris Quinet did when she married her Belgian husband. Any children born to the marriage would also have taken their father’s nationality. When 58-year-old John Weiss became a naturalised British citizen in 1894, his wife and five children also became British.

In 1901, 12-year-old Thomas was a boarder at Bilton Grange preparatory school in Dunchurch, near Rugby. His parents died within two days of each other in December 1910, and we haven’t been able to find the 22-year-old Thomas on the 1911 census. His two eldest brothers, Alec and Betram, seem to have had mental health problems and, in 1911, each of them was recorded as boarding with doctors in Solihull – 33-year-old Alec (described as a “lunatic”) was with Dr Adolphus Bernays at The Gables, Solihull, whilst 30-year-old Betram (described as “feeble-minded since birth”) was with Dr Edwin St John Whitehouse in Solihull. As children, both boys attended Bilton Grange prep school, and there is no mention on the 1891 census of either of them having a mental condition warranting the designation allowed for on the census as “lunatic”, “imbecile” or “idiot”. Alec appears to have subsequently been admitted to Glendossil private lunatic asylum in Henley-in-Arden, where he died in 1920. Betram died in 1948, at which time his address was recorded as 15 Lode Lane, Solihull.

The remaining brother, John Francis Jessop Weiss, married in 1910 and was living with his wife, Mary Virginia (née Hodgkinson), in Sheffield at the time of the 1911 census, and was described as being of “private means”. It seems that by 1915 he had dropped the surname “Weiss” and added an extra “Jessop” as his surname – John Francis Jessop Jessop – although he is still referred to in some official records with the surname Weiss. He served in the First World War, being listed in the London Gazette 14th August 1914 under Special Reserve of Officers, as a Second Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was promoted in 1916 to the rank of Captain  and in 1917 to Temporary Major attached to the Machine Gun Corps. He was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in the New Year’s Honours List 1917, when he was recorded as living at Woolley Cottage, Maidenhead Thicket. He died at Middlesex Hopsital, Marylebone, London, aged 70, in 1955, at which time his name was listed as John Francis Jessop Jessop.

The boys’ sister, Hilda Mary Jessop Weiss, married Rev. David Frederick McCready in 1909 and died in London, aged 84, in 1968.

If you have any more information on the family and the connection with Berkswell, please let us know.

Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977
email: heritage@solihull.gov.uk


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