Sunday, 30 August 2009

Frederick Walter Couch Redux

I have just recently received information from someone researching the Couch family which sheds more light … and more confusion … on the mysterious and elusive Frederick Walter Couch. According to the newspaper, the Straits Times, of October 27, 1913, a “Mr. F. W. Couch, of John Little & Co., goes home on leave by the P. & O. Delta Friday next.” The Straits Times is an English language newspaper published in Singapore and was established in 1845 during British colonial rule. John Little & Co. is a chain of department stores located in Singapore, which was also established there in 1845. So, was Frederick Walter Couch employed by them in Singapore in 1913 as a master tailor? Although family story has him decamping to South America, did he perhaps set out for the Far East instead?

We know that Frederick Walter Couch shows up again in Kingston, in 1915, according to his advertisement in the Gleaner, claiming that he and his partner, H. H. Scott, have just returned from the American Military Camps. Where were these camps? I did a bit of searching on line and came up with the idea … which may be completely wrong … that perhaps Frederick made his way to the Philippines, as this was during the Philippine-American War, and there would have been American army camps there. If so, did he then leave there to return to Jamaica?

My correspondent also pointed out to me something I had missed – that Frederick traveled in October 1917 from Kingston to Liverpool on the ss Tortuguero, an Elders & Fyffe “banana boat”. He gave his occupation as “master tailor”.

The phrase “unmitigated gall” might have been invented for Frederick Walter Couch. Who would have thought that he would have returned to Jamaica, after deserting wife and family? And what eventually happened to him? That is something that still has to be researched


patricia said...

“Unmitigated gall” indeed! The plot thickens...

Judith said...

Oh, the master scoundrel! and you, the master chronicler!

Arras Memorial

Arras Memorial

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore

Trooper Victor Dey Smedmore
My uncle Victor