Thomas Auton was born on 14 February 1864 in Uffculme, Cullompton, Devon, probably the fifth of the six children of John and Mary Ann Auton. His birth was registered in the 1st quarter of 1864 in the Tiverton, Devon, registration district.
In the 1871 census he is shown as a scholar living at Pound Farm, Burlescombe, Devon, with his parents and three siblings: John Auton (1858-1924), William Auton (1859-1939) and Elizabeth Auton (b.1869). His father and brothers were listed as agricultural labourers.
The 1881 census lists him as a factory operative residing in Coldharbour Terrace, Uffculme, Devon, with his parents, who were both recorded as factory operatives, and his sister, Elizabeth, who shown as a scholar.
On 20 June 1886 he married Phillis Points (1863-1929) at Christ Church, Victoria Road, Erith, Kent, where the marriage register shows his profession as 'Railway service' and gives both their addresses as 25 Wheatley Terrace, Erith. Their daughter, Phillis Auton (1889-1957) was born on 20 October 1889 in the St George Hanover Square registration district, Westminster. When their daughter was baptised on 18 May 1890 in St Michael's Church, Long Lane, Flordon, Norwich, Norfolk, the baptismal register lists his occupation as a confidential railway messenger.
In the 1891 census he is recorded as a head messenger residing in Parliament Mansions, Orchard Street, Westminster, (near Great Peter Street), with his wife & daughter and he was listed there on electoral registers form 1893 to 1899.
The 1901 census describes him as 'Housekeeper. Care of Offices', living at at District Railway Offices, York Street, Westminster, with his wife & daughter and was shown there on electoral registers from 1904 to 1912. (York Street was subsequently renamed about 1917-1920 as Petty France).
He described himself as a 'Housekeeper employed by the District Railway' on the 1911 census, residing at Electric Railway House, Broadway, Westminster, with his wife and daughter. When his wife died in January 1926 the family was living at 17 Palmer Street, Westminster.
The District Railway's Metadyne website states "Prominent on Broadway's south-east flank wall is a very large foundation stone (there is another, less prominent, along the south west wall). This foundation stone invites the curious to puzzle about how it manages to show a laying date by HQ Housekeeper Thomas Auton as well as his retiring date the following year. In fact the laying date was not actually cut until some time after it had been laid and the date of Auton's actual retirement (in February 1929) was by then known. In a cavity in the stone is a time capsule containing interesting artefacts relating to the Underground companies. The capsule itself was made by Mr Auton (a talented amateur mechanic) and consists of an 12½-inch long copper cylinder with an inner brass cylinder, the two separated by an infill of paraffin wax. The outer copper cylinder was fashioned from the injector pipe of a District Railway steam locomotive. We do not know which one but locomotive No 33 was scrapped in 1925 and seems a likely candidate. (The other cylinder made by Auton contains photos and a half crown and was suspended in one of the steel piles in January 1928). Auton had joined the District Railway in 1886 and became housekeeper when District first moved its offices to the site. The foundation stone along the south-east frontage of the Holden block. Auton was Housekeeper (building manager) of the HQ buildings for 30 years of his 43-year career".
So we know that he worked for the Metropolitan District Railway Company (part of the organisation, Underground Electric Railways Company of London which commissioned 55 Broadway) for 43 years (1886 - 1929, we think). Housekeeper 1899 – 1929. We are not told his job for the first 23 years but we know he was a confidential railway messenger when his daughter was baptised in May 1890. He was chosen to lay a foundation stone at 55 Broadway on 24 September 1928.
The 1939 England and Wales Register shows him as a retired District Railway housekeeper living at 35 Pier Avenue, Whitstable, Kent, with his daughter. He died, aged 80 years, his death being recorded in the 1st quarter of 1945 in the Bridge registration district, Kent.
Credit for this entry to: Andrew Behan.