Saturday, November 12, 2016

Probationer Unis Reta Bourne Grounds, Sussex 54 VAD

According to the 1891 census, Unis Grounds was born in Brighton.  Her birth though was recorded at Steyning, Sussex in the July quarter of 1882.  Her name is recorded in volume 2b, page 314 as Unis Reta B Grounds. 

She was the daughter of David and Mary Eleanor Grounds (nee Brandreth) whose marriage was registered at Wandsworth, Surrey in the December quarter of 1872. 

The 1891 census records Unis living with her family at 83 Ditchling Rise, Preston, Brighton.  The household comprised David Grounds (head, married, aged 40, working as a clerk in a School Board office), his wife Mary Eleanor Grounds (aged 49) and their four children: David Reginald Brandreth Grounds (aged 17 and working as a fitter’s apprentice at the railway works), Marina Edith Bourne Grounds (a 16 year old scholar), George Thomas Bourne Grounds (a fourteen year old scholar) and Unis Rita [sic] Boune Grounds (an eight year old scholar).

The writing on the 1891 census is not easy to interpret and the spelling of some of the name seems, at best, approximate.  David Reginald (who probably went by the name of Reginald rather than David) definitely has his mother’s maiden name as his third name.  His siblings however, have “Bourne” as their third name.

To confuse matters further, the 1901 census gives different spellings again.  The family is still living at 83 Ditchling Rise but initials replace the middle names. Marina is recorded as, what looks like, Marion and Unis is recorded simply as “Bownce”.  The head of the household is still recorded as a “Clerk in School Board” and Reginald (recorded as David R B Grounds) is noted as a “Mechanical Engineer Fitter”.

It seems likely that the Grounds family moved north towards Chailey at some point after the 1901 census was taken.  George Grounds is included in Reverend Jellicoe’s roll call of Chailey connected men who served their King and Country while Marina and Unis Grounds played an active role as nurses with Sussex 54 VAD.  They are both noted in a June 1914 newspaper article (source unknown) which reported on Chailey’s showing at the Stanmer Park Field Day at Falmer, Sussex and they also appear in photos taken of the Chailey detachment at the time.

In March 1916 their mother died and the four Grounds children as well as their father, are noted as chief mourners at her internment, in an article published in the East Sussex News on 24th March 1916.

Unis and her sister appear to have been enthusiastic Red Cross Society members.  In December 1919, a Miss Grounds is noted in the Parish Magazine as one of a committee of ten individuals who formed the Chailey Nursing Society; the aim at that juncture being to take control of local nursing arrangements and the appointment of a Parish Nurse.

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