THE HEAF SAGA

I was born on 21st June 1894 in the middle house of three red brick three story houses in Station Road, Desborough in the county of Northamptonshire.

I was christened Fritz Rudolf George Hief in St. Giles Church, Desborough by the Rev. Percy Boyer. In 1916 I changed my name by name by Deed Poll to Frederick Roland George Heaf on the advice of Arnold Rowentree of York.

My mother was Alice Beavon and came from Ettingshall in the county of Staffordshire. She died from pulmonary Tuberculosis in 1896 and is buried in St Giles Churchyard, Desborough. I never knew her but I am told she was a very beautiful person in every way. When I was at Brompton Hospital I looked up her notes and found that she was under Dr. Dyke Acland and had bilateral disease with cavitation. She was treated at home by Dr. Gibbons who was the father of Gerald Gibbons of Barts. Later Gerald took over his father's practice but I did not see him after we left Desborough.

My father had a watchmakers and jewellers business and prospered. He built two houses 4 and 6 Havelock Street and bought four terrace houses near to the village cross. In 1906 we moved to 4 Havelock Street and Uncle Tom took over No. 6 where he opened a grocers shop. He was helped until he died by Auntie Nellie who then took over the business until we left Desborough in 1912.

My father at some time had a pleural effusion and was drained by an open tube. He made a good recovery without a permanent sinus.

When I was 5, I remember being taken to Dr. Lycett in Wolverhampton for glands of the neck. He admitted me to Wolverhampton General Hospital where they were removed. After that Auntie Nellie and then Auntie Jennie took me to Bournemouth for six weeks and. I made a good recovery with no scar or sinus.

The Beavon family as I knew it consisted of

Tom never married and opened a Grocers shop at No. 6 Havelock Street, Desborough. It was very successful but he died of perniciousanaemia about 1910. Nellie never married and looked after me from my mothers death until about 1906 when my father married her eldest sister Mary Jane who became my stepmother. Sydney the youngest son I did not meet. He died when about 16 of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Sarah Beavon my grandmother was a Macleod and traced her ancestors to Skye.

Thomas Beavon my grandfather had a factory between Bilston and Ettingshall and made buckets. He was successful and became quite wealthy and retired when he was 40. He then lost his money at the horse races

Emily was the youngest daughter of the Beavon family. She married Frank Hartland a steel worker at Hickmans (later Stewart & Lloyds) at the Spring vale works at Bilston.

Emily had two daughters Dorothy and Mabel. Dorothy married Frank Davidson and had three boys who went to Wellington school and lived near Bridgenorth. Frank Davidson died, I think of a coronary and Dorothy then went to live at Shifnal in Shropshire. Mabel never married. She lived with her parents at 120 Goldthorn Hill Wolverhampton. Her mother Emily died there, in 1965 from catatonic mental depression. Frank Hartland is still alive aged about 86 (1970).

Uncle George married Minnie Spruce of Ettingshall but had no family. Auntie Minnie died suddenly of pneumonia at Leighton Buzzard in 1940 and is buried in Old Linslade Churchyard. Grandpa Beavon lived until he was 78 but grandma Beavon died of malignant disease when about 70 and is buried in Deepfields Cemetery near Bilston.

My father Julius Rudolph Hief was born in 1860 in Burg am Wupper. His father Philip was a cutlery manufacturer and I was told that his ancestors came from Schleswick Holstein and further back than that from Denmark. They were related through my Grandmother to the family who lived centuries ago in the Castle at Burg. This is probably true as my feathers only sister Clara was maid in attendance to the Empress at Potsdam through the influence of her grandmother. A small water colour copy of one of Holbeins paintings in my possession came from the palace and was given to my father by his sister Clara. A photograph of her when she visited Desborough is in my possession.

My grandfather Philip was killed in the Franco Prussian war and the home demolished by soldiers during the war. My grandmother also died so my father was left an orphan at the age of 10. He was adopted by a watchmaker in Solingen who trained him in the trade. When aged 18 he was a conscript in the German Navy and went in the warship Ariadne to Chili and Peru during the war between those two countries. Here he collected two shells fired by the Chilian army and now in the possession of Peter. He became a petty officer and was discharged from the Navy at the age of 21.

Having no home or parents he came to England in 1881 and found work in Hatton Garden as a watchmaker. He lived in Percy Street Islington for a year and then became an assistant to a firm Winterholder in High Street Kettering. After two years he opened up his own business in Desborough. Here he met Alice Beavon a schoolteacher in the village school and eventually married her. They went for their honeymoon to Menai Bridge and my father was nearly drowned whilst bathing in the Straits where the current is very swift. He broke all connection with Germany except for letters to his sister in Potsdam and the sister of his foster parents in Solingen. He never wrote to his cousin Carl Hief who revived the cutlery business in Solingen.

At Desborough he built up a good business and made many friends the chief of whom were

All these came to the house at 4 Havelock Street frequently and I remember many happy parties particularly at Christmas time.

My Father took a tremendous interest in archaeology geology and antiques. He travelled tile countryside and picked up many bargains which are still in the family. He was a good photographer and a fine wood carver. There are some of his carvings in the house of Eric and antiques in the houses of Peter and Mary. I have too many of the antique clocks and pieces of furniture he bought for a song.

For many years my Father was keeper of the Clocks at Rushton Hall near Desborough. This mansion was owned by the Clarke-Thornhills. They sold it about 1910 and in the sale my Father bought the Pannini picture. The Mansion was bought by an American diamond merchant Van Allen who became very fond of my Father and we used to go to the Hall frequently and had fill permission to use the Park at any time. In the grounds is The Triangular Lodge, built by Sir Thomas Gresham. I was always thrilled to go over this building where the Gunpowder Plot was hatched.

My Father became the local authority on archaeological subjects and most finds were brought to him. He repaired the Gold Saxon necklace and the Saxon Mirror both of which are now in the British Museum. He showed me how to excavate and we found a large number of Romano-British and Saxon objects in the fields on the right hand side of the Desborough to Rothwell Road near to the top of the hill where the Stanton Ironstone Company wore quarrying for stone. All these finds are now in the Archaeological Museum at Cambridge. I read a paper on them in 1916 to the Cambridge Archaeological Society in the Tutors Room at Sidney Sussex College. This was the first paper I ever published.

My father's sight began to fail and it was obvious he couldn't continue the two shops, one at Desborough and one at Rothwell so in 1912 he and Uncle George built a factory at Grove Road, on the far side of the level crossing, to make cement and brieze slabs. There were three of them my father, Uncle George and a man named Banks. They worked terribly hard. Uncle George had been costing clerk to the Adamant Cement Co. of Birmingham and brought the technical knowledge whilst Father provided the money. They called their cement "Duraba" and it was very good but there was insufficient capital and things got very strained between Uncle George and Father particularly as the war with Germany had broken out. Eventually Father left and was employed at The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co. as a tester of the watch mechanism on time shells and bombs. We moved to Cambridge in 1916 and lived in Chesterton Road and later at No. 86 De Freville Avenue. Father continued to work for The Cambridge Scientific Instrument Co until 1930 when he retired and died suddenly at 55 De Freville Avenue in 1941. He was cremated and is buried at the Huntingdon Road Crematorium outside Cambridge which he grew to love very dearly.

My stepmother, usually called mother, bravely kept the home going under considerable economic strain and was helped by Auntie Nellie who lived with them at Cambridge. After Fathers death they went to live in a flat in a surgeon's house in Wolverhampton. He was Maslyn Jones and was very kind to both Mother and Auntie Nellie. Mother had a series of illnesses - cataract, broken hip but recovered fairly well but eventually her mind became completely disorganised and she died in St. Andrews Hospital Northampton in 1945.? Auntie Nellie then left Cambridge and bought a house at 49 Grove Terrace Penarth so as to be near us at Cardiff.

Whilst we lived at Desborough Auntie Nellie went to Canada to take care of the children of the Director of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a family named Anabel. She lived in Montreal and was away about 2 years with one break of 6 weeks. On return she went to Cairo to take care of the children of the British Consul and lived at Heliopolis. She had a very pleasant and remunerative time and I believe nearly got married out there. On return she lived with Father and Mother at Cambridge and when Father died went with Mother to Wolverhampton to live with her in the house of Maslyn Jones the surgeon. When Mother died she came to Penarth and lived there with Uncle George. They didn't get on very well and he did not leave her any thing in his will. He died from a coronary at Penarth in 1952 and was cremated at Glyntaff Nr. Pontypridd. Auntie lived alone at No. 49 Grove Terrace for another 5 years and then succumbed to a carcinoma of the bowel. She was cremated at Cardiff and her ashes were buried under the cross at the east end of the chapel.

Her sister's ashes (my stepmother) were taken to Cambridge and buried next to Father's in the grounds of the Crematorium. So ended the Beavon family I have been unable to find another family spelling the name ON. There are plenty AN which is the Welsh way of spelling the name.

The main events of my own life have been

Notable Achievements

    1. Qualified M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. in 2 years 3 months.

    2. Climbed Snowdon twice in one day.

    3. Went round the world 3 times.

    4. Medical Supt. of 200 bed Sanatorium at the age of 28.

At. St. Thomas's Hospital in 1917 I met Madeleine. She was one of the prettiest nurses ever at the hospital. We became friendly and used to meet at Kathleen Hobbin's at Ealing on Sunday afternoons and also at the Maitlands dinner parties at Harley House. She gave me a Bible when I went to Russia early in 1918 and on return we got engaged on 6th April 1919 at 86 de Freville Avenue, Cambride.

Madeleine was the youngest daughter of John and Margaret Denison. Of Briars Mead, Ilkley. She was born at Cyprus House Doncaster. Her family consisted of

    Gilbert - father of Michael Denison the actor.
    married Maria Bain daughter of The Lord Mayor of Leeds. She died and then he married Joyce Melinda Porter Brewers of Enfield. Gilbert died in 1954 and Joyce in 1969

    Evelyn married Fred Blackmore who had a tailors shop in Bond Street and lived at Bushy Cottage Stanmore and gave Madeleine away at our wedding on 24. 10.1920.
    Evelyn died in 1935 and Fred in 1967.
    They had three sons
    Anthony - a manager in Woollworths
    Philip - a commercial artist
    Geoffrey - killed in the war in Italy.
    Anthony and Philip had not married in. 1965.

Madeleine's father John Denison had paint works at Doncaster and commuted from Ilkley. He died of pneumonia at the age of 56 in 1913. Her mother was Margaret Jones from Wales. She died from carcinoma of the uterus in 1915 at Ilkley. Both are buried in Ilkley cemetery.

Mabel Denison married

Hubert Frith a Bradford Solicitor. They had two children Basil and Peggy. Mabel died in 1916 from an acute appendix. She is buried near her father and mother at Ilkley. Basil continued his fathers solicitors firm in Bradford.

Eric Denison Madeleine's twin brother was clerk to the Borough Treasurer at Leeds. He was a conscientious objector and a fine gardener. He died from pneumonia in 1946. He married Clara Dunhill the daughter of the organist of Wakefield Cathedral. They had two children John and Margaret. John was first a. bank clerk and then saved enough money to go to Dundee where he qualified M.B. B.Ch. He married an American girl Elisabeth and went to Maine in U.S.A. where he became a G.P. with a huge practice and had a coronary. Margaret became a Quaker and married Frank Bigland of Tudor House, Tewkesbury. Ted Bigland passed this hotel/the house with 14 windows in "John Fairfax gentleman" and they run it still. Ted Bigland lives with them and is about 88.

Margaret is a marvellous manager.

Norman Denison Madeleine's youngest brother. Joined the R.F.C. and was shot down over Germany and taken prisoner. On return he worked in his uncles paper mills (Peter Dixon's at Grimsby). He married a W.A.A.C. from Sunderland. They had three children Doreen who married a man Aveling, was divorced, and married a journalist Robin Drew who took her to Rhodesia. Norman joined up in the 2nd war and became a Major. After the war he still worked in the Paper works and went to live at Grantham

Shirley married. Reg Clucas a deep sea diver in the R.N. who eventually set up his own business at Hull.

Brian married Kay ? and after a number of jobs with Frozen Food firms helped to float a company running mobile shops at Garages.
In 1969 they went to live at Marlow. They had two children. Nigel who got a job with the British Council in Istanbul and Anne who got a job at Harrods.

Madeleine's family tree is with Bryon Denison. Her grandmother was a Carlton and they were connected with the Asquiths. The wax bust of Grandma Carlton is in the possession of Mary. The family fortune seems to have been dissipated by high living and bad speculation and eventually reduced to nil by Gilbert Madeleine's eldest brother.



This was probably composed about 1970
Web Page Written by Ben Heaf. - September 2003
Text and Photographs Copyright Ben Heaf © 2003