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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Theodore Ernest Gidley 1877 - 1918

Theodore Ernest Gidley was the oldest Gidley to die and also the last. He was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment (the 9th Service Battalion) and died on October 5, 1918, aged 41. He only needed to survive another five weeks to have made it through the war.
Theodore Ernest Gidley was born on January 13, 1877, the youngest of the six sons of George Gidley and Elizabeth nee Browning. George's first trade was a journeyman cooper, then a lead miner and in 1861 he was boarding with his future wife in Christow. They later kept the Palk Arms public house at Christow, and I've written about this pub on an earlier blog post. When Theodore was only eight his father died, but his mother kept on the Palk Arms until her death in 1909, when Theodore's older brother Arthur, who had always been involved with the pub, took over the licence. Their father George Gidley, had been born in Throwleigh, Devon, and was part of the Winkleigh branch of the Gidleys. After his father's death, Theodore learned the trade of wool and corn dealing from his father's half brother, Gustavus Gidley, who lived in Honiton, Devon. In 1911 his uncle Gustavus had died, and Theodore was a commercial traveller, corn and wool, living in Taddyforde Road, Exeter. He married Florence Kate Turl from Shute, Devon in 1907 and their only child, Maurice Theodore Gidley, was born in 1908.
Theodore was buried in Prospect Hill cemetery, Gouy, Aisne, in Picardy, pictured above.. He was killed in the Final Advance. Prospect Hill Cemetery contains graves of soldiers brought in from the battlefields north of Gouy at a later date, almost all of whom had died in October 1918. This may well include Theodore. The British successfully beat off an enemy counter-attack at Gouy and were able to break through the last line of the Hindenburg system of the area.
Theodore was awarded the Victory and British medals.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Robert Northleigh Gidley 1886 - 1918

Robert Northleigh Gidley was a Private in the Canterbury Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was the only non-British born Gidley to be killed in the First World War. His death from wounds occurred on September 2, 1918. According to the New Zealand History Online website, conscription for military service was introduced in 1916. More than 30,000 conscripts had joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Force by the end of the war.
Robert Northleigh Gidley was born in 1886 in Christchurch, New Zealand, where his father, Northleigh Bartholomew Gidley and his wife Mary Ann, formerly Gates, had both emigrated. Northleigh Gidley was born in Plymouth, Devon, the son of a Plymouth solicitor. He and his younger brother emigrated as young men to the South Island of New Zealand, where Northleigh was living by 1886 when he married. The name Bartholomew shows that his family originally came from Winkleigh, Devon.
Northleigh Gidley founded an apiary business, and was joined in it by his son, Robert Northleigh, who became an apiarist of some skill and distinction. The New Zealand newspapers report that in 1913, when Robert Northleigh was still only 27, he had obtained "5 tons of honey during last season". In this year his father, Northleigh, died, and Robert was in charge of the business. He was held in such high esteem that in 1913 he was invited to be one of the provisional directors of the Canterbury Honey Producers.
However, Robert Northleigh embarked on August 15, 1917 from Wellington, New Zealand for Britain. By the following year he was at the front where he died of wounds in the final Advance to Victory. He is buried in Adanac Cemetery, Miraumont, and it seems he may have been moved there from Grevillers. The Commonwealth War Graves site records that Adanac cemetery (the name is Canada, reversed), whilst holding mainly Canadians, also has the graves of nineteen New Zealand soldiers who fell between August - September 1918 and who had been buried firstly in the New Zealand cemetery in Grevillers. The New Zealand Division had recaptured Grevillers on August 24, 1918, after it had been in German hands since March of that year. By September a New Zealand Casualty Clearing station had come to Grevillers.
Robert Northleigh Gidley was unmarried. His parents had both died by 1918, and he was survived by his younger brother, William Gustavus Gidley, and a half-sister, May.

Gerald Edgar Gidley 1898 - 1918

Gerald Edgar Gidley was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment (2nd Battalion, 11th Foot). He died in No. 5 General Hospital in Rouen on April 30, 1918 at the age of 19 and was one of the youngest Gidleys to die.
Gerald Edgar was born on December 16, 1898. He was the only son of John Gidley and Eliza nee Turpin. John Gidley was born in Dartington, Devon, 1846 and married late in life, following a career in the Royal Marines Artillery. John had had a bad start in life - he was illegitimate and was living in Totnes Workhouse, a pauper, with his mother and brother in 1851. But after a spell living with his mother and stepfather he served with the Marines, then in 1911 was a grocer's van driver in Newton Abbot, Devon. He died in 1911, just after the census was taken, so was spared the sorrow of his only son's death. John and Eliza also had a daughter, Edith. They are part of the Dean Prior branch of the Gidleys.
Gerald was still at school in 1911. He enlisted in the army in April 1917 and we learn a lot about him from De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. This was a series of volumes containing biographies of over 26,000 casualties of the Great War. Families had to pay for an entry to be included. Before he joined the army Gerald was a grocer's apprentice and a keen Scout, being Scoutmaster of the 2nd Highweek Troop. He arrived at the front on April 1, 1918 where he was a Lewis gunner. He died only four weeks later of wounds received at the Battle of Amiens. This must have been the last push of the great German offensive in the spring of 1918, when a final effort was aimed at the town of Amiens, a vital railway junction. (The main Battle of Amiens is generally considered to have begun four months later in August 1918.) It seems that the Germans were attacking heavily and Gerald was apparently "firing his gun well when he was seen to fall". He was taken to a hospital in Rouen where he died. He is buried in the St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.
He was awarded the Victory and British medals.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Harold Gidley 1891 - 1918

Harold Gidley was a Sergeant in the Duke of Wellington's (West Riding)Regiment, 1st/4th Battalion. He was killed in action on April 3, 1918 in the Ypres area.
Harold was another of the eight children of Herbert Gidley and Alice Maud Mary Anne nee Collinson. His brother William, younger by two years, had been killed in 1916. Harold was the oldest son. He was therefore also one of the Gidleys who could trave their ancestry back to Dean Prior in Devon. In 1911 he was a labourer at the local dyeing factory, as was his brother William.
Both he and his brother made a success of army life, as both were promoted to the rank of sergeant. According to his army service record he arrived in France on April 15, 1915, serving, presumably as a volunteer, with the Royal Army Medical Corps. A year later, on April 8, 1916, he joined the BEF. He therefore spent two years fighting and three years in uniform. He was awarded the 15 Star, the Victory and the British medals. According to the Wartime Memories Project website his regiment was in action in the Battles of the Somme in 1916. In 1917 it was involved in the Operations on the Flanders Coast and the The Battle of Poelcapelle during the Third Battle of Ypres. In 1918 the regiment was in action during the Battles of the Lys, but that didn't start until six days after Harold was killed, so he is unlikely to have been killed in a major battle. He is buried in the Aeroplane Cemetery, in Ypres, so-called because it held the wreck of a crashed aeroplane at one time. The cemetery is pictured above. The aeroplane was where the Cross of Sacrifice now stands.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Thomas Alfred Gidley 1882 - 1917

Thomas Alfred Gidley was an Able Seaman in the RNVR. He died, however, not at sea, but in the Flanders mud, because he was transferred to the Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division. There was an excess of naval personnel available, whereas the army needed a constant supply of men. In fact, over 40% of Royal Navy losses in the First World War took place in the trenches.
Thomas Alfred was the son of Thomas Gidley and his wife Elizabeth nee Branch. Of their thirteen children, Frederick Gidley had already been killed just a few weeks earlier, on July 25 of this same year, 1917. Thomas was just two years older than Frederick. In 1911 he was a grocer's assistant, living with his family in his mother-in-law's house, 28 Beatrice Ave, Plymouth. He had married on 26 Dec 1910, in St Jude's, Plymouth, May Isabel Wood and they had two children, Doris born in 1911 and Thomas Sydney born in 1914. At the Devon Family History Society headquarters in Exeter I came across a book entitled The family history of some Devon people, by Phyllis Marsh, written in 1995. This relates how May Gidley had to work to supplement her war widow's pension. She never remarried.
According to his Medal Rolls index card, Thomas Alfred was attached to the Army Reserve in August 1916, entered active service on January 1, 1917, went in the draft for the BEF on April 29, 1917, and joined the Hawke Battalion on the same day.
He died of wounds on October 17, 1917, in the 18th Corps Main Dressing Station. His left knee and left femur were both shattered. The Hawke Battalion was involved in the third battle at Ypres, also called the battle for Passchendaele, and it looks as though Thomas Alfred would have been familiar with the horrors of the quagmire battlefields. He was buried in Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery, believed to have been named after a southern Irish hunt. It was a medical post just north of Ypres (now Ieper). Some graves from smaller cemeteries were moved there after the war. It is pictured above.

See also the website The (63rd) Royal Naval Division: sailors in the First World War trenches, by Eric R.J. Wils.

John George Gidley 1893 - 1917

John George Gidley was a Lance Corporal in the 2nd (City of London) Battalion of the London Regiment (the Royal Fusiliers). He was killed on August 16, 1917.
John George Gidley was the only son of George John Gidley, a tailor in Paddington, London. He had one sister, Doris, who never married. There are no close surviving relatives on the Gidley side at all, as his father's, George John Gidley's, three sisters either did not survive to adulthood or had no children who survived to adulthood. John George's grandfather, John Cumber Gidley, was born in Diptford, Devon in 1806, and had moved to Uxbridge in Middlesex by 1841 where he established a tailoring business. The family is therefore part of the Dean Prior branch. John George Gidley continued the family tailoring tradition. In 1911 he was a tailor's assistant, living at home in Paddington, where his father had presumably found more scope for business than in more rural Uxbridge.
John George Gidley volunteered early in the war. His Medal Rolls index card records that he first served in Egypt, arriving on August 30, 1915. According to the history of John George's regiment on the Long, Long Trail website, he may well have landed at Gallipoli
in September 1915, then been shipped to France in April 1916. At first his death was only presumed, according to the Medal Rolls, in August 1917. In Flanders, the Third Battle of Ypres was launched on 31st July 1917, so he may well have been involved. During the first night of the attack rain began to fall. The ground quickly turned into a quagmire. Churned up by the German artillery bombardment, the ground the British were now having to advance across was badly damaged and filling up with rainwater which could not drain away through the heavy clay soil. Added to this, several small streams flowed through the area and their natural drainage channels had been destroyed. With persistent rain over the next few weeks the whole operation became literally bogged down in thick, sticky Flanders mud. Conditions were so bad that men and horses simply disappeared into the water-filled craters. This was the battle later known known as Passchendaele.
John George was awarded the 15 Star, the British and the Victory medals. He was buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ypres. He must have been one of the first to be buried there, as New Irish Farm Cemetery was first used from August to November 1917. It was named after a nearby farm, known to the troops as 'Irish Farm'.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Frederick Gidley 1884 - 1917

Frederick Gidley was a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. He died of wounds on July 25, 1917.
Frederick was born in 1884 in East Stonehouse, Plymouth, the seventh child of the thirteen children born to Thomas Gidley, born in Dean Prior, and his wife, Elizabeth nee Branch. Thomas was variously a carrier, a clerk to a coal merchant, and a foreman. In 1911 his son Frederick was a grocery warehouseman at the Plymouth Co-operative Society, living in 210 Beaumont Road, Plymouth. In April 1909 he had married Edith Marion Rockey at St Peter's, Plymouth. They had no children. Edith remarried in 1920.
Few details exist of Frederick's Army service. He was probably conscripted in 1916, as he was awarded the British and the Victory medals, and not the 1915 Star.
He is buried in the Belgian Battery Corner Cemetery, just south of Ypres, pictured above.
Sadly, just six weeks later Frederick's's older brother Thomas was also killed.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Sydney Herbert Gidley 1881 - 1917

Sydney Herbert Gidley was another naval casualty of the war. He was a Petty Officer, RN, when HMS Jason, a minesweeper, was sunk by a German mine on April 3, 1917. He was aged 35.
Sydney Herbert Gidley was the fifth child of Charles Edwin Gidley and his first wife, Jessie Matilda nee Garland. He was born on October 1, 1881 in Plumstead, near Woolwich, in Kent. Charles Edwin, whose ancestors can be traced to Buckfastlrigh in Devon, had ten children with his first wife, then another seven with his second wife. Only three years separated the first and second families, and Charles Edwin was not able to marry his second wife legally until his seventeenth child was five years old. The children of his first wife remained with their mother in Plumstead and several took off for far-flung corners of the world, including India and New Zealand. Three sons were either in the Merchant Navy, Royal Navy or the Royal Naval Reserve.
Sydney Herbert Gidley never married, and his next of kin was named as his sister, Jessie Laidlaw of Strood, Kent.
In 2008 a collector acquired Sydney's naval service medals, by which we can trace some of Sydney's naval career. Sydney was awarded the Naval General Service Medal (Persian Clasp) for the Persian Gulf 1909-1914 - a little known campaign where Sydney's ship, HMS Mashona (a small armed launch), was involved in preventing gun running through Muscat across the Persian Gulf to the ever-restive North West Frontier in India. Because of the British naval blockade this arms trafficking had largely ceased by 1914. The medal was delivered to Sydney on HMS Jason in October 1915. He was also awarded the Royal Navy Good Conduct Medal, which was sent to HMS Jason in March 1915.
HMS Jason was sunk by a mine off the island of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides, whilst attempting to keep the shipping lanes clear. Sydney's body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, pictured above.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Henry Charles Gidley 1899 - 1917

Henry Charles Gidley was an Ordinary Seaman, RN. He was killed on May 2, 1917, when his ship, HMS Derwent, was sunk by a German mine off Le Havre. He was only 18, and the second youngest Gidley to die.
Henry was the oldest son and second of six children of William Henry Gidley and his wife, Mary Esther nee Harris. Their ancestors originated in Dean Prior. Henry was born on February 7, 1899 in Portishead, Somerset. His father, William Henry Gidley, had served for several years as a Corporal in the Gloucestershire Regiment and had been discharged as medically unfit in 1902. In 1911 he described himself as an Army pensioner, factory timekeeper, at a cardboard box maker's, and was living in 16 Bromley Rd, Horfield, Bristol. In 1914 he signed up for the Army Special Reserve. His wife, Mary, was not at home in 1911, and could not be found in the census. In 1916, the year before her son Henry was killed, she had died in Devon County Asylum, Exminster. A widow, Mrs Saunders, was the family housekeeper in 1911 and Mrs Saunders was the person notified of Henry's death in 1917, although his father did not die until 1932.
Henry served on HMS Derwent, a destroyer attached to the 1st Flotilla. When the convoy system was introduced in 1916 the 1st Flotilla was employed in escort duties for convoys through the English Channel for the remainder of the war.On 2 May 1917 she struck a contact mine laid by German submarine UC-26 off Le Havre, France. She sank with the loss of 58 officers and men.
Henry is buried in Etretat Churchyard Extension, pictured above. Etretat is a small seaside town a few miles north of Le Havre.

Robert Dudley Gidley 1900 - 1917

Robert Dudley's story must be the saddest, and possibly the bravest. He was a Driver for the French Red Cross when he was killed at just 17 on April 26, 1917. His death occurred less than a year after that of his older brother, Geoffrey Damarel Gidley, and only four weeks after that of his cousin, Frederick William Gidley
Robert's story is recorded in great detail by the letters attached to his record in the Soldier’s Documents from Pension Claims, TNA, WO364/1343.
He is also allotted a chapter in The Scouts' Book of Heroes, by Sir Robert Baden-Powell. The extract about Robert was kindly sent to me by a lady researching the names on the Chiswick War Memorial, where Robert and his brother Geoffrey are commemorated. The St Michael's Players of Chiswick are performing a play about the Heroes of Chiswick between June 14 and August 2, 2014. It is entitled My Darling Boy, taken from a letter written to Robert Dudley by his mother.
Robert Dudley Gidley was born on February 19, 1900, the youngest child of George Gidley and his wife, Annie Maud, nee Sharp. I can't do better than to quote from the research done by the Chiswick War Memorial researchers who have put together all the details of Bob Gidley's short, remarkable life on their website, Heroes of Chiswick which is beautifully illustrated with photos of Robert, scans of letters, and a photo of his gravestone.

"Robert Dudley (“Bob”) Gidley was born on 19 February 1900 in Shepherd’s Bush, the youngest son of George Gidley (1862-1935) and Annie Maud Gidley (nee Sharp, 1862-1948). He was christened at St Stephen’s Church, Shepherd’s Bush on 26 March 1900. At that time, the family were living at 51 Pennard Road, Shepherd’s Bush. The family were still living at 51 Pennard Road at the time of the 1911 census. More details of the Gidley family are included in the biography of Geoffrey Damarel Gidley.
Sometime between 1911 and 1913, the Gidley family moved to 10 Burnaby Gardens. Like his elder brother Geoffrey, Bob was a keen scout with the Third Chiswick Troop. Much of the following account of his life is taken from his entry in “The Scouts Book of Heroes”, which starts:
“To all true Scouts the war brought an irresistible call to the service of King and Country. Those whom youth or ill-health prevented from “joining up” were bitterly
disappointed, and many a story is told of the ways in which they tried to evade the authorities, and get out to do their bit. Perhaps few stories could equal that of Bob Gidley, for heroic perseverance.
Bob Gidley had a remarkable career which was an example and inspiration to his brother Scouts. He joined the Chiswick Troop before he was twelve and remained a member of it throughout. He was a somewhat delicate and reserved boy, but his sterling worth was shown at the age of thirteen when he saved a child from drowning, at Strand on the Green”
The first reference to the rescue by Bob Gidley is contained in the Chiswick Times from 29 August 1913:
“The circumstances in which Scout R. Gidley saved a child from drowning recently at Strand-on-the-Green has been brought to the notice of headquarters, and the question of the award of a medal of merit is now under consideration."
The outcome of those considerations was shown in the account in the Chiswick Times of 5 December 1913, where it notes on the front page that:
"A concert, arranged by the 3rd Chiswick Troop of Boy Scouts, was given at the Town Hall on Tuesday, and badges were presented, and also a life-saving medal to Scout Gidley, who rescued a child from drowning"
Further details of the prize-giving were contained on p6 of the same edition:
"A lady, who was unknown to him, had written to him some time ago as she had seen a child rescued from drowning by a boy who she believed was in his troop. After much difficulty he succeeded in getting information and found that the child, who was floating unconscious in the Thames at Strand-on-the-Green, owed his life to the presence of mind of Scout Robert Gidley (cheers). The chief scout had awarded a certificate of merit to Scout Gidley in recognition of his action, and Her Highness Princess Alexandra of Teck had promised to visit Chiswick in a few months to present the award (loud cheers)"
The promise was in fact kept by Prince Alexander of Teck [Queen Mary's brother, later the Earl of Athlone] at Chiswick Town Hall on 23 February 1914. The account of the event recounted in The Chiswick Times gives details of the displays presented to Prince Alexander, which included a musical drill presented by the 3rd Chiswick Troop; a squad unlimbering a 320lb wagon and putting it together again “very smartly” and a signalling display. In turning to the principal event of the evening, the Chiswick Times goes on to a speech by Mr Martin giving further details of the story:
“It appeared that the child, Queenie Farndon, aged three years, of Thames Road, Chiswick .. fell into the water at Strand-on-the-Green [on the River Thames by Kew Bridge], and was noticed by Scout Gidley under the water lying on her face in a practically unconscious condition and in grave danger of being carried into the stream. Gidley, by his presence of mind and promptitude, got the child out, applied artificial respiration, took the child home, and – said nothing about it (loud cheers).
Mr. Martin then led the young scout – he is only 14 years of age – through the lines of his comrades, manifestly proud of him, though he was now a little nervous – to the
dais where Prince Alexander handed him the framed certificate, with the words “You have done a great scout action. I hope you will do many more in the future.”
“The Scouts Book of Heroes” then takes up the story:
“In July 1914, Bob was in Belgium with a party of Scouts, and was in that country when it was invaded by the Germans. Returning home he immediately volunteered for Scout war service, and served in the Foreign Office for several months.”
Then, on 16 April 1915, aged just 15, but claiming to be 19, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service. On enlistment, he was described as 5 foot 6 ½, with a 36 inch chest, dark hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. According to “The Scout’s Book of Heroes”, he joined the RNAS as a motor despatch rider, and was transferred to the armoured car section. He was promoted to be 1st class petty officer, and later on qualified as pilot’s observer and made several ascents. After fourteen months’ service, he was recommended for a commission in the Army, and was sent to the Officer’s Cadet Battalion at Oxford.
His service records (Soldier’s Documents from Pension Claims, TNA, WO364/1343) show that he enlisted at Whitehall on 23 May 1916. Bob was then 16, but claimed on his enlistment form to be 20. His height at that time had apparently increased to 5 foot 8.
His service records include a message dated 8 January 1917 from the Office i/c T F Reserve Office to the War Office:
“I beg to report that application has been received for the discharge of No.6142 Cadet R.D. Gidley, 9th Reserve Battalion, London Regiment, at present serving with No.4 Officer Cadet Battalion, on the ground of age (date of birth 19.2.1900) and shall be glad to receive your instructions in this matter.”
The “Scouts Book of Heroes” gives the background to this as follows:
“He was there [Officer’s Cadet Battalion] some six months, but the training was so severe that he broke down in health, and his age – then only 16 years and 10 months – was discovered.”
Somewhat surprisingly, contained amongst all the official communications in Bob’s service records, is a letter that his mother wrote to him, from “Lyndhurst”, Burnaby Gardens, dated 1 January 1917:
“My Darling Boy,
Now that you are back in camp again what are you doing about your discharge.
I am anxious to know whether you are coming home soon.
It is no good your trying to go on. You will only strain yourself again and perhaps permanently.
I told you at first that you would not be strong enough for soldiering. You have outgrown your strength so much.
After all the sickness you had in hospital last year perhaps you now know I was right.
When you were last in hospital early in December I sent you your birth certificate and asked you to use it to get your discharge. I thought they would discharge you directly they saw it.
In any case you have done your bit so you can surely wait until you are 18.
Until then you can do other useful work and at the same time get strong.
With dearest love and God bless and be with you and grant you a Happy New Year
Your ever loving Mother”

It seems that Bob had taken his mother’s advice regarding his birth certificate, as the first communication on the file regarding his discharge is dated 16 December 1916. There were then a string of official communications as to whether Bob could be discharged, and what should be done with him (on 29 January 1917: “If Private Gidley is willing to enrol as an Army Reserve Munition worker, he should be posted to Detachment Depot. H.A.C. If not, please post him to 9th Reserve Bn, London Regiment, for transfer, in due course, to 69th Division…” followed by, on 2 February 1917: “The discharge of this man cannot be sanctioned…”) until his discharge was finally authorised, on 10 February 1917, under King’s Regulations paragraph 392(xxv). Even then, his discharge was delayed due to the fact he was suffering from German measles. His discharge from the Army finally took effect on 17 March 1917 (by which time he had grown to 5 foot 10½).
It is at this point that Bob’s “heroic perseverance” came to the fore. According the the “History of the Third Chiswick Scouts”, Bob said to DSM (District Scout Master) Mr H.S.Martin “I can drive a car – why not an ambulance?”.
On 27 March 1917, Bob sailed to France as part of the Section Sanitaire Ecossaise 20 (also known as the “Scottish Convoy”), attached to the French Red Cross, and to quote from a report in the Chiswick Times of 4 May 1917: “After only a few weeks’ service his brilliant and self-sacrificing career was crowned by a most gallant death in the service of others”.
The Chiswick Times goes on to quote a letter from the Director General of the French Red Cross:
“I beg to convey to you the most respectful expression of sympathy in your irretrievable loss from His Excellency the French Ambassador, from la Vicomtesse de la Panouse, and from every member of the executive here. During the time that your son was at this office he gave every token of being a most valuable recruit. On his arrival in France he immediately gave proof of this by setting about his duties in the most efficient and spirited way, and his place will indeed be hard to fill. The convoy was at work with the French forces engaged in the recent great assault, and the work done by this ambulance column was necessarily of a hazardous character, only to be undertaken by those endowed with both nerve and pluck. In this noble work of rescuing the fallen, and with self-sacrifice worthy of the best traditions .., your son has made the supreme sacrifice, and we bow in homage to his memory.”
“The Scouts Book of Heroes” gives more details of how Bob died:
“Not the least dangerous part and trying part of the work was that of driving the ambulance cars from the small town where the section was stationed, up to the front. The road was frequently shelled by the Germans, and, the journey once started, there was, of course, no means of taking cover.
One day, as Gidley, accompanied by one other man, was driving a car along this dangerous road, a fierce bombardment began. They put on their helmets and continued bravely to speed on towards the line. But the fire became so intense that they were obliged to halt with a view to drawing back, a little, and trying to find some cover.
Gidley had just commenced to back the car, when, with a terrific explosion, a shell burst exactly in front of them and the glass windscreen was blown into a hundred pieces. Gidley’s companion, though shaken by the concussion, was unhurt, and thought at first that his friend had not received any injuries, either, as he remained sitting in his place, and the car continued to back. But it soon became evident that the brave young driver was unconscious and that he had received some terrible wounds in the head and neck.
The shells were coming over every few seconds, and the other ambulance man decided that the wisest thing to do was to try to back the car into a safer position. This he did for some sixty yards, when the back wheels collapsed, and the car came to a standstill. With the help of some French soldiers and another ambulance, the brave young Scout was taken back to the hospital, where half an hour afterwards he died.”
The death certificate issued by the French authorities (TNA, General Register Office - Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns, RG35/45) states that Robert Dudley Gidley died on 26 April 1917 at Chateau de Nantivet, Suippes, Marne “des suites de blessures de guerre [following war wounds] – Mort pour la France”.
On 11 May 1917, the Chiswick Times gave further details of the circumstances of Bob’s death, reporting that the ambulance driver who had been due to drive that day had been taken ill, and Bob Gidley volunteered to take his place. The report also stated that the French Croix de Guerre had been conferred on the late Scout Gidley as a mark of his devotion to duty. The decoration was pinned to the flag covering the coffin, and has now been forwarded to Mr. and Mrs. Gidley.
The Chiswick Times of 18 May 1917 carried a lengthy report on his memorial service, including the photo that is included at the start of this biography.
The report of the memorial service says it was “very largely attended”, which seems a bit of an understatement. The service was held at St Michael and All Angels, Bedford Park: all 5 of the Chiswick scout troops attended, and a guard of honour was provided by the 10th Battalion Middlesex cadets. The French Red Cross was represented by Madame la Vicomtesse de la Panouse (Presidente) as well as its Director General, and there were also representatives from the French Embassy and the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office, in which Robert Gidley had served on voluntary service was represented by Councillor H.S. Martin (chief passport officer).
The family members included his parents, sisters, and his brother Julian.
“The service opened with a verse of the National Anthem, sung kneeling. Then followed the psalm, “Lord, thou hast been our refuge”, sung to plainsong, whilst the lesson from the burial service was read by Assistant County Commander H.S. Martin. The latest scout’s favourite hymns were used, “Nearer, my God to Thee”, “How bright those glorious spirits shine”, and “For all the saints”.
The address was given by Rev J. Cartmel-Robinson, reported by the Chiswick Times as follows:
“He remembered it being said of Scout Gidley, whose name they associated that day in their memory with France and England – that he was fearful of the [sic – one?] thing. He was a good Churchman, and said, “When I go to France I wonder if they will admit me to holy mass? I should like to make my communion.” Scout Gidley gave his life for the cause, and he was quite certain that whether he received holy communion from a priest of France or whether he did not, his act of self-sacrifice was well-pleasing to God, and was enough, enough for God, as they felt it was enough for them. And so that day they thought of Robert Gidley giving his life for France, and they felt that somewhere in the fields of France, on what the French of the old days would call the Field of Honour, a great sacrament had been given, a sacrament of the body and blood and of the best of both countries. Might that sacrament be to them a reminder of their perpetual union and strength. God bless France. God bless England. Together they stood for the amelioration of the condition of society throughout the world, that this generation might leave the world just a bit better, sweeter, and more beautiful than they found it.
Then from the organ swelled out the inspiring strains of the Marsellaise, followed by the sombre passages of Chopin’s “Marche Funebre”, both being impressively played by Mr Hurst Bannister, the organist. A pause, and from the side chapel came two rolls on the drum, increasing in volume, with two sharp gun-like traps at the end. Then a soldier’s farewell to a soldier comrade, the “Last Post”, sounded by the bugle, Senior Patrol Leader L. Westbury and Patrol Leader Geddis, of the 2nd Chiswick, performing this office.”
The writer of the report of Robert Dudley’s death in the 4 May 1917 edition of Chiswick Times is anonymous, but was clearly a fellow Scout (having been part of the party of scouts in Belgium with him) and wrote:
“Bob Gidley was possessed of a sweetness of disposition which, combined with a remarkable manliness for his years, gained him the affection of all those who knew him. To the writer the boy’s life was an inspiration, the memory of which will live long in the minds of those who had the privilege of his friendship. If every scout in Chiswick will but keep before his eyes the example of this very gallant gentleman, Bob Gidley’s life and death will not be in vain.”
Robert Dudley Gidley is buried in Suippes French national cemetery. He is the only Englishman in 4500 French graves.

“The Scouts Book of Heroes”, from
Soldier’s Documents from Pension Claims, TNA, WO364/1343
TNA, General Register Office - Miscellaneous Foreign Death Returns, RG35/45.

With thanks to the researchers of The Heroes of Chiswick website.

Frederick William Gidley 1894 - 1917

Frederick William Gidley was a Lieutenant in the Essex Regiment, having previously been a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was posted as missing on March 27, 1917.
Frederick William was the oldest of six children of Gustavus Gidley and his wife, nee Jordan. Gustavus was one of the three tailor brothers in partnership in Notting Hill and Shepherds Bush, and whose ancestors came from Winkleigh, Devon.
In 1911 the family was living in Iffley Road, Hammersmith and Frederick was a boy clerk in the civil service, GPO Stores, living at home. He was a first cousin of Geoffrey Damarel Gidley and Robert Dudley Gidley, which meant that his grandmother, Elizabeth Gidley, who died in 1925, lost three of her grandsons to the war in less than a year, between the months of May 1916 and April 1917.
Frederick's Medal Rolls index card is short on details, but it records that he first served in Egypt. Obviously he served with distinction, as he was given a commission. At the outbreak of the First World War, Palestine (now Israel) was part of the Turkish Empire and it was not entered by Allied forces until December 1916. Frederick's particular battalion had been evacuated from Gallipoli and went on to Alexandria in December 1915, which may be where Frederick joined them, as he was not awarded the 15 Star, just the British and the Victory Medals. Yvonne Fenter in her posting on Lives of the First World War on Frederick has researched his regiment's War Diary and records that he went missing in the First Battle of Gaza. Frederick's great niece Linda Holloway has also added this photograph of him from their family album, which I hope she won't mind if I use here.
Frederick's body was never found. He is commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Ernest Gidley 1878 - 1917

Ernest Gidley was the second oldest of the Gidley men to die, being aged 38. He was one of the three naval casualties, all the others being soldiers. He was a Petty Officer Stoker on the destroyer HMS Pheasant when it was sunk by a mine off the Orkneys on March 1, 1917.
Ernest was born on Sep 19, 1878 (although his naval record says 1881), the youngest child of John Gidley, a sawyer of Buckfastleigh, and his wife Elizabeth, nee Baker. Dean Prior and Buckfastleigh are close together, there was a lot of movement between them over the years, and Ernest's family's ancestors are actually the Dean Prior branch of the Gidleys, not the Buckfastleigh branch.
At the age of 13 he was already a yarn presser,contributing to the family income, and it seems he may have accompanied two of his older brothers to Lawrence, Massachusetts at some point. They emigrated there to work in the textile mills. Ernest certainly travelled there in 1897, when his occupation was given as a lamp maker. But in 1904 he signed on for 12 years in the Royal Navy and by 1911 he was a Leading Stoker, serving bases in Singapore and Hong Kong (the China Station), on HMS Monmouth, and on depot and training ships at Plymouth. He married Thirza Jane Barnes in 1908 and their only child Cecil Gidley was born in Buckfastleigh, Devon, later that year. Cecil was the father of Brian Gidley, the actor and singer, who emigrated to New Zealand.
In January 1917 Ernest boarded HMS Pheasant, a destroyer. It was sunk with the loss of all hands when it hit a mine off the Orkneys.
From the Scapa Flow landscape website I found the following:
"On the 1st of March 1917 she had sailed to conduct the `Hoy Patrol’ a local patrol around Hoy. During the week she lay at anchor in the Flow at night and patrolled outside Hoy Sound by day. She was ordered to send a weather report at 5.30am as the commodore of Destroyers planned to hold gunnery practice for his ships. She was seen by the Signal Station at Stromness at 5.30am and at 06.10 am a loud explosion was heard. Men on two trawlers anchored inshore heard the explosion and from one of the trawlers they could see black smoke.
One of the trawlers (the Grouse) immediately set out in the direction of the smoke but found nothing. The ship had disappeared. Later that morning a group of minesweeping trawlers discovered a patch of oil and wreckage and the body of midshipman Cotter was found wearing two lifebelts. At least 88 men had been on board but his was the only body recovered. He is buried in the Lyness Naval Cemetery.
It was assumed that the ship had struck a mine, possibly one that had broken loose from the Whiten Bank field (a British defense) which was laid in the winter of 1915-16. Another suggestion is that she was sunk by UC-43 – a submarine minelayer. It is known that this submarine sailed on the 25th of February and she was sunk by HM Submarine G-13 off Shetland on the 10th of March."
In 1996 the wreck of HMS Pheasant was discovered.
Ernest is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
His parents, John and Elizabeth Gidley, both died in the December quarter of 1918. In a horrible co-incidence, another son, Samuel, one of the brothers who emigrated to Lawrence, Mass., also met his death by drowning, but in an accident whilst on holiday at Salisbury Beach in 1911.

William George Victor Gidley 1896 - 1917

1917 was the worst year for Gidley deaths in the war, seeing nine men killed, more than double the next worst year's total of four in 1918.
William Gidley was killed in action on February 7, 1917, aged 20. He was a Private in the Border Regiment, having originally joined the Essex Regiment. He was also the one I found most difficult to trace, until I downloaded the "soldier's will" he made, leaving all his possessions to his mother, Eliza Gidley.
William was one of the seventeen children of Charles Edwin Gidley by his two wives. William was a child of his second marriage to Eliza Anderson. Eliza could also be called Charles Edwin Gidley's stepsister, being the daughter of his stepmother by her first marriage. It is not known if Charles Edwin's families by his two wives were in contact. Probably not, as he had moved in with his second wife before the death of his first wife, Jessie. Charles "married" Eliza in 1905, but they also went through a (finally legal) second marriage ceremony in 1907, after his first wife Jessie had died. In 1911 on the census form they claimed to have been married for nineteen years. Charles Edwin's ancestors originated in Buckfastleigh, Devon.
William was probably a conscript. In 1911 he was living at home, with no employment. His father Charles Edwin was a motor bus engineer of 38 Edinburgh Rd, Plaistow in East London.
William's Medal Rolls card gives no details at all of his service record, but he wasn't awarded the 1915 Star, just the Victory and British medals. Presumably he served in the Somme sector, when the Germans were just falling back to their newly prepared defences, the Hindenburg Line, just before they mounted their major offensive in March 1918.
He has no known grave, but is commemorated at Thiepval.
His half brother, Sydney Herbert Gidley, was killed a few weeks later.

William Gidley 1893 - 1916

William Gidley was a Sergeant in the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, 9th Service Battalion. He was killed in action on July 7, 1916, just six days after Richard Gidley in the previous post, also at the Battle of the Somme.
William was the son of Herbert Gidley and his wife Alice Maud Mary Anne, nee Collinson. He was born in Bradford on October 24, 1893, the second oldest of eight children. Herbert Gidley, his father, was a bookkeeper at a textile factory in Halifax in 1901, and in 1911 a clerk, at a cotton and wool dyer's. William in 1911 was a labourer, possibly at the same dyer's, living at home at 4 Godley Road in Halifax. They were part of the Gidley branch which could trace its roots back to Dean Prior in Devon.
William was also a volunteer and landed at Boulogne in July 1915. He was awarded the 15 Star, the Victory and the British medals. He also has no known grave, and is commemorated at Thiepval.
Sadly, his older brother Harold was killed nine months later.

Richard Gidley 1898 - 1916

Richard Gidley was born on August 11, 1898 and was killed on July 1, 1916 at the age of 19. He was a Private in the Devonshire Regiment.
Richard's life seems to have been difficult from the start. It began at his birth in the Union Workhouse in Okehampton, Devon, where his unmarried mother, Bessie Gidley, a servant, had gone to give birth to him. It seems likely that he never lived with his mother, as in 1901 he was boarded out with a local family, and in 1911 he was still a boarder with them. He may never have lived as a family with his older sister, Bessie, or his younger brother Reginald, for Bessie Gidley, a kitchen maid at the White Hart Hotel, Okehampton, had three illegitimate children in total. She was the tenth of eleven children of George Gidley, a cooper of Throwleigh, Devon, and his second wife Ann Howard. They were from the Winkleigh Gidley branch. Bessie may have died in 1906 in the Plymouth area, and Richard's grandmother, Ann Gidley, was living in Torquay with her youngest son in 1901 and 1911.
Richard seems to have joined up very early in the war. According to his Medal Rolls index card he arrived in France in May 1915. On July 1st 1916 he was "regarded dead", just one amongst the 57,000 casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, for an advance of just one mile. He was awarded the 15 Star, the Victory and the British medals. He has no known grave, but is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

Geoffrey Damarel Gidley 1896 - 1916

Geoffrey Damarel Gidley died on May 30th 1916, aged 20. He was a Lance Corporal in the London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles).
Geoffrey was born in 1896 in Ladbroke Grove, West London, and christened in Notting Hill. He was the fourth of five sons born to George Gidley and his wife Annie Maud, nee Sharp. There were also two daughters. Geoffrey's father George was, together with two of his brothers, a tailor in Shepherds Bush, West London. The family had originated in Chagford, Devon, and was part of the Winkleigh family of Gidleys.
Geoffrey was evidently a bright lad. He did not follow his father into the family tailoring business, but in 1911 was a clerk in a barrister's office, living at home in Shepherds Bush.
I came across Geoffrey's name in the latest edition of the school magazine for Latymer Upper School, Hammersmith, whilst looking for my uncle's obituary, for both he and my father later attended Latymer Upper (my husband did too, much later). All of them gained scholarships there. In the Latymerian magazine of January 2014 Geoffrey Damarel Gidley is described as falling at Gommecourt, on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, but I think that could be an error, as the first day of that battle is usually given a date of July 1st 1916, one month after Geoffrey died.
The names on Chiswick's war memorial have all been well researched and I am indebted to their website, Heroes of Chiswick, for the following information. The website quotes from The Chiswick Times of 9 June 1916:
"“Geoffrey Gidley was a very keen scout, and was the first member of a diocesan troop in London to gain the coveted “King’s Scout” badge. His early days as a scout were spent in St Stephen’s, Shepherd Bush Troop, from which he transferred to the 3rd Chiswick when coming to live in Chiswick.
A memorial service was held at St Michael’s, Sutton Court, on Wednesday evening, Holy Communion having been held in the early morning, when the 3rd Chiswick Troop and a contingent from St Stephen’s, Shepherd’s Bush, attended. The 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Chiswick Troops were represented by their patrol leaders. Mr T. Edwards Forster, J.P. (president of the Chiswick Scouts’ Association), District Scoutmaster and Commissioner H. S. Martin, and Scoutmasters H. Garlick, P.J. Lupton, F. Bransdon and L. Wilkinson were also present. The hymns “Nearer, my God, to thee” and “Fight the Good Fight” were sung, and the choir gave a really beautiful rendering of “O rest in the Lord”. The Rev L. McNeill Shelford conducted the service and gave an address. A colour party was furnished by the 3rd Chiswick Troop, consisting of Patrol Leader F. Robinson and Scouts Goffin and Simpson. At the conclusion of the service the Dead March in Saul was played, followed by the first verse of the National Anthem. Mr. and Mrs Gidley, who live in Burnaby Gardens, have reason to be proud of the record set up by their five sons. In addition to the one just lost, their married son, George William, has just joined as a private in the A.S.C. Julian Norman is a second-lieutenant in the R.F.A, and Robert Dudley is a cadet in the Queen Victoria Rifles. Their remaining son is a member of a volunteer corps in Burma. Mr and Mrs Gidley’s daughters have been married during the past twelve months in St Michael’s to Lance-corporal F. L. Edgar, Queen’s Westminsters, and Sergeant W.J.S Cook, London Scottish, both of whom are in France.”
The website also quotes from the parish magazine of St Michael's, Chiswick, as follows:
"Geoffrey Damarel Gidley enlisted with Queen Victoria’s Rifles (QVR) in September 1914 (The Chiswick Times edition of 18 September 1914 includes his name in its weekly update of local men who had joined up, under the heading “Chiswick’s Brave Sons”), and soon rose to the rank of Corporal. He entered France on 17 August 1915, but owing to his skill in training men was kept at base until about a week before his death. In fact he had only been in the firing line a few hours when a shell struck the rough dug-out in which he was, injuring him very severely. He was able to be moved to a clearing station, but died of his wounds the same day – 30 May 1916."
Geoffrey is buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension no. 1, which was apparently used by several casualty clearing stations. He was awarded the 15 Star, the Victory and the British medals.
Sadly, Geoffrey's younger brother Robert Dudley Gidley was later killed in the war, and a third brother, Douglas Gidley died in 1920 in Burma. A cousin, Frederick William Gidley, was killed in 1917.

With thanks to the researchers of The Heroes of Chiswick website.

Thomas Edmund Gidley 1890 - 1915

Thomas Edmund Gidley was the first Gidley to die in the war and was a Private in the Manchester Regiment.
He was the the elder son of Arthur William Gidley and his first wife, Mary Jane, nee Cheetham. In 1911 Thomas was a packer of calico goods, working for a shipping house, and living at home in Salford, Lancs. His mother had died in 1902 and his father had married again. The stepmother, Annie, was blind by the 1911 census.
In 1912 Thomas married Mary Jane Lee in Salford and they had two children, Annie born in 1913, and a son called after his father, Thomas Edmund, who, tragically, was born only five weeks before his father's death. Thomas's widow married again in 1920.
Thomas Edmund must have joined up very early in the war. It seems that he was already serving in September 1914, departing for the Middle East. He was killed on May 18th 1915 at Gallipoli in the ill-fated Dardanelles Campaign, having landed probably only a couple of weeks earlier, to reinforce the British beachhead. His Medal Rolls index card records that he died of wounds. He was awarded the 15 Star, the Victory and the British medals. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Turkey, pictured above.
The Dardanelles campaign against the Turks was intended to divert the Ottoman Empire from disrupting British oil supplies in the Middle East, from attacking the Russians in the Caucasus, and from cutting off access to India.

Gidleys who fell in the First World War 1914 - 1918

There were seventeen Gidleys who went off to fight and never returned, and it seems fitting to remember them in this centenary year, particularly if they don't have any descendants to remember them. Their ages ranged from 41 down to an unbelievably young 17, with an average age of 26. Some were volunteers from very early in the war, others were no doubt conscripted men, following the introduction of conscription in 1916. To meet the demands of the fighting, by May 1916 even married men between the ages of 19 and 40 were required to register for military service. I'm not sure who were the braver -those who volunteered right from the start, or those who went later, already knowing what horrors they were going to. The following blog posts commemorate those who didn't return, but there are several Gidleys who survived, but whose lives were changed for ever by the wounds they suffered.
The seventeen Gidleys who died were from three branches, the Gidleys of Dean Prior, of Winkleigh, and of Buckfastleigh. If we count the Dean Prior and Buckfastleigh men as one branch (they probably separated in the 17th century), then they make up by far the largest number of those killed - eleven. The remaining six were all from the Winkleigh branch. My own family, which originated in Spreyton, lost no-one in the war. My own grandfather was considered unfit to fight, following a childhood leg injury (he fell off a wall in Heavitree, Devon, scrumping for apples, and was later very glad he had, although the leg never healed properly and he always limped).
Tragically, there were three pairs of Gidley brothers killed, and of those pairs, one also lost a first cousin.
No Gidleys from the USA, Canada or Australia were killed, as far as I can ascertain, although many of the Americans fought. New Zealand is represented by one of the last to die, Robert Northleigh Gidley, an apiarist of some distinction.
The huge loss of life in the First World War is mirrored by Gidley casualties in both that war and the Second World War. There were far fewer in the Second World War. Between 1939 and 1945, although there were more casualties from Gidley families in the USA, and another from an Australian family, in Britain there were only two, and only one of those was due to the fighting. The other was a serviceman who was killed in the London Blitz. I shall commemorate them all at a later date.
If anyone reading this has any photos of these Gidleys I should of course be very pleased to add them to the blog posts, also if they have any more details of thier lives. I know only what is in the public domain. Family members may have more stories to tell of bravery. And I'm not a military historian. I have tried to put their deaths in context, but may well not have got it completely accurate.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Gidley DNA test results

Bryan Gidley began the DNA testing some years ago and it has been slow to get off the ground. However, at a family funeral last year I managed to persuade a male Gidley cousin to take a yDNA test. I wanted to compare it with a test from the Gidleys of Winkleigh, to see if my theory that my Gidleys (descended from William and Wilmot Gidley of Spreyton) linked on to that tree. Pete Gidley of the Winkleigh branch kindly volunteered to be the Winkleigh branch's guinea pig.
It takes months for the findings to come through. And what a disaster - for me anyway. We are in no way linked to the Gidleys of Winkleigh in the male line, but form a completely separate line. Nor are either branch linked to Bryan's, the Gidleys of Cornwall, although Bryan's results are closer to mine.
So what does it all mean? I am absolutely no scientist and struggle with this. I have linked the two tests with Bryan's Gidley DNA project, and with the Devon DNA project. Both are run by Family Tree DNA. Debbie Kennett is the Group Administrator for the Devon Project and sent the following helpful e-mail:

"R1b [ own and Bryan's haplogroup] is the most common haplogroup in Europe, and indeed in the British Isles. About 70% of British men belong to haplogroup R1b. You can read more about the various European haplogroups on the Eupedia website:
You can also read the relevant article on Wikipedia:"

Pete Gidley and all the others who can be traced back to Winkleigh are haplogroup I1.

I still find it difficult to believe that two families with the same name in the same small village (for one offshoot of the Winkleigh branch moved to Spreyton) are not connected in some way. If it's not in the male line, then I feel illegitimacy (for my lot) is likely to come into the picture. This might explain why there is no apparent baptismal record for William Gidley, my 3X great grandfather. I had begun to think that he must be William, son of John and Mary Gidley, who was baptised in South Tawton in 1776. The vicar kindly adds his date of birth three years earlier and adds "his father transported". This is very close to the date of a removal order for this family from South Tawton in 1772. William's date of birth, however, is a few years out from my William's age in 1841, 1851 and at his death in 1853, so I must reluctantly abandon William of South Tawton as my ancestor, I think. And start again!

Please volunteer to be tested if you are a male Gidley and can trace back to any of the branches not yet tested. And there are plenty of those - Buckfastleigh, Brixham, Kenton, Dean Prior, Chudleigh, Woodbury, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and so on. The results may not be what you expect, but there's no arguing with science and it's totally fascinating.

My next posts will be, in this 1914 centenary year, to commemorate all the Gidleys who fell in the First World War. If anyone has any photos of these men, I should be very pleased to post them here. There were 17 Gidley men killed, and they died between 1915 in the Gallipoli campaign, and October 1918 on the Western Front.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Gidleys in British India

FindMyPast has recently published the Ecclesiastical Returns from the British India Office. I could have accessed these earlier by going to FamilySearch, a free site, but it took the recent national publicity to raise my awareness that these records were online. And there were some surprises. Gaps for marriages and deaths on the family trees I always assumed were due to emigration, but I always assumed to the dominions, like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I hadn't given India much thought.
The first record chronologically is for Nathaniel Gidley, a private in the H? U? (can't decipher these initials with any certainty) 59th Regiment, who was buried at Bangalore July 9th 1834 aged 30. This makes him the son of Nathaniel Gidley and his wife Mary Westcott, of Whitestone, near Exeter, Devon.
The next burial record is for Jane Gidley, aged 23, in Bhusawul Cemetery, Bombay, on Aug 12th 1870. FamilySearch has another place of burial - Asserghur, Bombay - and her name is given there as Jane Morton Gidley. There is no indication as to whether she was single or married, and I don't know who she was. The cause of death was paralysis. Could this have been due to polio, I wonder?
In 1919 Alice Edith Frederica Gidley, wife of Lt. Col. Courtenay de Blois Gidley, Royal Field Artillery, of the Winkleigh branch, died at Simla aged 49. She left a son of only 9, Courtenay Terence Robert Gidley, who married in 1953 in Southern Rhodesia. Alice's widower, Courtenay de Blois Gidley, returned home to England much later and served in the Second World War as Col-Commandant of the Devon Army Cadet Force.
In 1925 Augustus George Gidley, 46, a driver on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, was buried in Jhansi (new) Cemetery. He died of angina pectoris and was the father of 3 young children, all born in India. Augustus was the son of Charles Edwin Gidley, of Poplar in East London. Charles Edwin had 10 children by his first wife, Jessie Matilda, before abandoning her for his second wife, Eliza Anderson, who was his brother's stepdaughter, and had a second family of another 6 children. Most of the children of the first family didn't stay around for long after that. The G.I.P. railway apparently used British drivers with Indian firemen used as stokers. Augustus married Carmeline Cecilia Dennis in Byculla, Bombay, in 1914 and their family of three - Jessie Matilda (called after Augustus' mother), Sydney Herbert (called after Augustus' brother, a Royal Naval Petty Officer, drowned off the island of Coll whilst serving on HMS Jason in 1917) and George Augustus were all born in India. There remains a mystery as to was the Augustus Gidley, cited as a co-respdondent in the divorce case of Eustace Charles Palmer versus Carmeline Mary Palmer in India in 1916. The coincidence of the names - Carmeline and Augustus - is amazing but the surnames are different, as Augustus George Gidley the engine driver had married Carmeline Cecilia Dennis, a spinster, in 1914 in Byculla, Bombay. After Augustus' death his family presumably stayed on in India for some time, as daughter Jessie Matilda Gidley married in Bengal in 1932 aged only 14.
In 1932 Herman Gidley, R Battery, Royal Artillery, was buried in Bolarun, Hyderabad (Deccan), Trimulgherry. Aged only 24, he was the son of John Benjamin Gidley and his wife Mary Ann Jackson of Grimsby, Lincolnshire. He died of malaria.
Miriam Gidley married a Drum Major, Joseph Cashaldine, in 1875 in Ranikhet, Calcutta, Bengal. She had left her home town of Exeter in her early 20s and was the daughter of William Gidley and his second wife, Miriam Sanford. William belonged to the Winkleigh branch and was variously an ag lab, a butcher and a cattle dealer and had various convictions for petty theft.
Minnie Gladys Gidley, daughter of Henry Gidley, who married Edward Horace Turner at Colaba, Bombay in 1913 is a mystery. She was a spinster aged 21 at the time of her marriage.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Charles Gidley and a minor misdemeanour

A short report of a court case, published on 6 January 1869 in the Morning Post. Charles Gidley, a labourer of Moyson, Devon, was prosecuted at Kingsbridge Town Hall, Devon, by the Board of Trade for the plunder of goods washed ashore from the ship, Gossamer, wrecked off nearby Prawle Point.
The coastguard had caught Charles Gidley in Hollacombe Lane with a bag on his back. The alert coastguard challenged Charles, only to be told the bag contained something he had bought, but on closer examination, it was found to be a pair of women's elastic shoes. Charles' counsel claimed at his trial that Charles was actually doing his duty and about to deliver the shoes to the Receiver or the nearest customs or coastguard officer, and was on his way straight to the watch house. In fact Charles should really be a plaintiff claiming salvage for saving goods from the wreck, and should not have been put on trial at all. Unfortunately, it was pointed out by prosecuting counsel that Charles had already passed the turning to the watch house when he was stopped.
The charge of plunder was dismissed, as there was no evidence that the goods had come from the wreck. Charles was given the benefit of the doubt, as he had "probably acted under a mistaken view of the law". The newspaper report says "there was no vindictive feeling by the Receiver of the Wreck". But to discourage others who might feel they could help themselves with impunity to goods washed ashore, Charles was ordered to pay a fine of 2s 6d, plus 10s (the estimated value of the boots), plus 15s costs.
The most likely Charles Gidley in the vicinty of Kingsbridge at that time is the son of Robert Gidley and Miriam Heath, born in Dean Prior in 1822. In 1861 he was living in Slew Lake Cottage, South Brent, and in 1871 he was an ag lab in Stokenham, quite close to the coast. He married Maria Ellis Lavers in 1846 and at his death in Kingsbridge registration district in 1892 was survived by just one of their 4 known children, Maria Gidley, who married Thomas Wills Stone in 1869, the same year as the court case. Did she wear the shoes at her wedding?