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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Gidleys of Spreyton and Heavitree

Four generations of Gidleys

Some photos from my own Gidley family (with thanks to distant cousins "Nanastea42" and Sue Tiller).
Top left is my father and his brothers, all born in West London.
Right at the bottom is my great great grandfather George Gidley born in Spreyton, Devon in 1808. Apprenticed as a child to Thomas Cobley in Spreyton (presumably the one who had an Uncle in the Widecombe Fair song) he later left Spreyton for Heavitree where he had 13 children in total, by two wives. Consequently he has a large number of descendants, many of whom are still in the Exeter area, but also elsewhere in the UK. The descendants of his oldest daughter, Fanny, who moved to South Wales in the boom years of the Welsh economy, own this photo of him and have generously shared it on Ancestry. George also took on the illegitimate son of his second wife, Elizabeth Elston, William Smale Elston, who was absorbed into the family as Samuel Gidley until he reverted to his real name and left for London as a young man. George was a farmer in a small way at Broomfield in Heavitree and moved with his wife Elizabeth to Ducke's Almshouses in Heavitree where he died.
Third from the top is my grandfather Walter Gidley as a young boy, born in Heavitree in 1888. He moved to London as a young man, partly to seek his fortune (he was a shoemender and sadly never found it) but also to have his leg properly set following an accident when he fell from a wall. This actually turned out to be a stroke of luck because his game leg kept him out of the First World War.
Second from the top is George Gidley's youngest surviving son, Jim Gidley, my great grandfather, who remained in the Heavitree area all his life, and worked as a gardener at Digby's asylum. Eventually he and his wife, Martha, and unmarried daughters moved to a house in Coronation Row, Wonford. He died there in the 1930s, fortunately missing the Exeter blitz, although the house still survives. Jim and Martha's descendants are mainly through his daughters. Of his four sons, only my grandfather Walter had sons himself. Jim and Martha's oldest son was James Henry Gidley, who died in the Boer War and whose photograph is on an earlier blog posting.

More Gidleys in New Zealand

I've just discovered that another Gidley family emigrated to New Zealand, though I haven't found their names on any published passenger lists.
Another seaman, Charles Arthur Gidley and his wife Ada Louisa, nee Muchamore, plus their two children, Rhoda and Horace, settled in the Wellington area, probably just after the First World War, and it seems they flourished there. Newspaper reports of the time reveal that in 1925 Ada Gidley presided over a meeting of ladies in the Early Settlers' Hall, Wellington, where she dealt with the seamens' strike from a woman's point of view. As the wife of a British seaman with over 28 years service, she also told the meeting that conditions in England were very different from New Zealand. In England she had had a 6 roomed house and an acre of land for which she paid 7s 6d weekly, but in New Zealand she paid £2 10s for a smaller house with no land.
C.H.A. (Horace) Gidley enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in January 1940.
Source: PapersPast available at http//
Charles Arthur Gidley was the youngest child of James Gidley originally of Dean Prior, who travelled from there to Plymouth, then on to London, where several of his children were born, then back to Plymouth.
And I should also mention Brian Gidley, singer in West End shows of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, who emigrated to New Zealand more recently. He was from the Buckfastleigh Gidley family.