The Curling family is believed by some genealogists to have originated on the Isle of Thanet in Kent, the earliest reference being in the 1400s. Today Kent contains the major concentration of Curling households in the United Kingdom, numbering 314.
The earliest definite ancestor of Vivian Annie Curling is John Curling of Hernhill, Kent, who was born in 1723 and died 1782. He and his wife Mary had four children. The eldest of these was also named John who was born in 1747 and was the landlord of the “3 Horse Shoes” in Staple Street, Hernhill. The second child was named William, the third was Elizabeth (born 1753), and the fourth was Mary (1755 – 1829). Of Elizabeth nothing is currently known. However Mary is known to have married Edward Rigden, a large property owner in that part of Kent.
The second son, William Curling (1749 – 1792), married Ann Staggall in 1776 and went on to inherit the “3 Horse Shoes” from his elder brother. The couple had eight children. The eldest was another John (1773 – 1845) who became the local blacksmith in Staple Street. Next came Edward Curling (1779 – 1841), a farmer who played a significant role in putting down the last serious uprising in rural England. Indeed, Edward is extensively mentioned in two books, being P G Roger’s “Battle in Bossenden Wood” and B Reay’s “The Last Uprising of the Agricultural Labourers”. The third child of William and Ann was George Curling (1782 – 1838), originally a farmer but who went on to become the next landlord of the”3 Horse Shoes”. Of the other Curling children not much is known besides their names: Mary, Sarah, Lydia, Anne, and William Staggall.
George Curling married Caroline Burton and had four children: William (1804 -1895), Mary (born 1806), Caroline (born 1808) and George (born & died 1810). The eldest of these, William, became a farmer and a bell ringer for his local church. William married Sarah Burford (1808 – 1885) and raised a family of ten children, mostly girls. Of these daughters Susan Curling (born 1840) had a child out of wedlock on 1 September 1862. She named him after his father, William Clark, whom she later married.
William Clark Curling’s early life is still a bit of a mystery. The first reference to him as an adult is on 30 September 1880, when at the age of 18 he is shown as a recruit on the muster and pay books of the 5th Royal Irish Regiment of Lancers. Records indicated that he enlisted at Woolwich. In the same regiment was Private William Widdows, who had enlisted a year earlier. Over the next decade both Curling and Widdows enjoyed successful careers with Curling having attained the rank Troop Sergeant Major by the time of his death. Also during this time Curling married a Brighton dressmaker named Elizabeth Measor.
As a couple they were quite striking. According to correspondence from my Aunt Phyllis, Curling was 6’3″ in his socks with blue eyes and a fair complexion, while Elizabeth was “a good looking lady”, about 5’9″.
In the lead up to William Clark Curling’s death the regiment had embarked for India from Shorncliffe in 1888 and by 1889 was in Mhow, Bombay. This was where Vivian Annie Curling was born on 18 May 1890 to William and his wife Elizabeth. That same year the regiment moved to Meerut in Bengal and it was here on 3 Feb 1892 that William Curling was reported as a casualty. The family story relates that it was a parade ground accident and that William Widdows, now a Lance Sergeant, subsequently married Elizabeth Curling. The death certificate records the cause of death as “Phthisis Pulmonatis”.
As for Vivian, she stayed in India with her mother and step-father until the family returned to England sometime in her teens. There Widdows took over management of two pubs in Cambridge. And there she met Edward William Arthur Males, my grandfather.