Arthur (1869-1918) and Iona Davey (1870-1945), Liberals and Women’s Suffrage Supporters

I noticed during my research at Surrey History Centre that Hon. Mr Arthur Jex Davey and his wife were cropping up in newspaper reports of the meetings of the Godalming Women’s Suffrage Society and felt that this interesting political couple needed investigation.

Arthur Jex Davey was born in Kensington in 1869, the son of Sir Horace Davey and Louisa Hawes Davey (née Donkin). He was Chairman of the Weaving Company and set up the Mills Equipment Company of which he was a director in 1906. This company made the webbing belts, straps and haversacks which became standard in the British Army from 1908. He was a member of the Clothworkers Company. He took on many public roles such as the governorship of the Central Foundation Schools in London and the chairmanship of the Gordon Hospital, Bridge Road, Vauxhall. His father Sir Horace was a Liberal and was one of the hundred people present at the opening of Wonersh Village Liberal Club in 1887. He had been brought up in a family which held liberal political views and it is not a surprise that Arthur Jex Davey became active in local Liberal politics.

Arthur Jex Davey married Mary Iona Fothergill Robinson (known as Iona) at Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London, in June 1894. Iona was the daughter of the Vice Chancellor of Lancashire, William Fothergill Robinson.

The couple moved to ‘Ockford House’, Milford, in 1907 with their two young daughters Iona Hildegarde and Julia Christobel.

Arthur had political ambition and was adopted as Liberal Candidate in the Guildford Division in 1910. However, he was defeated by the Unionist candidate William Edgar Horne in December 1910. Following this he turned his attention to municipal affairs, in 1912 he was voted on to the Godalming Town Council and served as Mayor of Godalming 1915-1916. He continued to stand as Liberal Candidate but resigned from his candidacy at the outbreak of war in 1914. He was also president of the Godalming and District Liberal Association.

Iona also took an active part in local and national politics; she was president of the Women’s Liberal Association and secretary of the Women’s Local Government Society, as well as campaigning for women’s suffrage. During the First World War, as the mayor’s wife, she raised funds for both the Red Cross and the St John’s Ambulance, she was also a committee member of the Godalming Division of the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association (Lady Jekyll [Agnes] and Alison Ogilvy were also committee members).

Both Arthur and Iona were active branch members and supporters of the Godalming Women’s Suffrage Society, promoting the cause in meetings of both the Liberal Party and the local suffrage societies.

A column in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) newspaper Common Cause that listed forthcoming meetings noted that on the afternoon of 19 October 1911 Lord Lytton would speak on suffrage at Watts Picture Gallery, Compton, near Guildford, at the invitation of Mrs G F Watts, President of the Godalming Branch. Lady Midleton would be in the chair. Lord Lytton would also speak the same evening at meeting chaired by Miss D [Dorothy] Hunter and Mr A [Arthur Jex] Davey, to be held at Godalming Borough Hall. The meeting at Compton was a success, attended by 200 people including some “Antis”, and 11 new members were recruited (Common Cause, 9 November 1911).

On 23 March 1913 Common Cause gave advance notice of a meeting on women’s suffrage to be held in the Borough Hall, Godalming, at which the speakers were Hon. Arthur Davey, Rev. A H Fletcher, A R Heath, Sir William Chance, Lady Betty Balfour, Alison Ogilvie, T C [Ogilvy], Miss Aston, Miss D Hunter and Miss Hay Cooper.

The Godalming Women’s Liberal Association held a meeting at the Liberal Club on “Liberalism and Anti-suffrage Candidates” (Surrey Advertiser 31/3/1913) where Iona Davey was one of the speakers, she pointed out in her address that women in the party should not support Anti-suffrage Liberal candidates in the forthcoming election. A motion in favour of this view was passed.

The Surrey Advertiser 21 July 1913 reported on a Liberal Party meeting in Guildford at which Arthur Davey answered questions on the “Cat and Mouse” Act. He commented that it was a “disagreeable remedy” for a problem which some people would prefer be solved by suffragettes being allowed to starve and die in prison. He believed that the women should not be allowed to die because that was wrong and that the government had little choice. He said that he supported the aim of the suffrage campaigners but not the methods of the suffragettes.

The Mayor of Godalming, Alderman E Bridger, was in the chair for a debate held at Borough Hall, Godalming on the subject of “Why Godalming Women want the vote”. The debate was organised by Godalming Branch NUWSS and speakers from the local Anti-suffragists were invited. However, Lady Midleton, Miss Aston and Mr A R Heath sent letters of apology (Miss Aston and Mr Heath were invited to the meeting to represent the case for the anti-suffragists). The Godalming Branch NUWSS decided to continue with the debate and set out to make the case for women’s suffrage by answering the arguments and assertions made by anti-suffragists. Arthur Jex Davey was among the speakers, challenging the argument that women were unsuited for politics, saying that in his experience of politics there was nothing that a woman could not do. He said that women were complimentary to men and asserted that both men and women did their best work when working together (Surrey Advertiser, 7 April 1913).

One of the NUWSS’s most spectacular mobilisation of support for their cause known as The Great Pilgrimage passed through Godalming and was reported by Surrey Advertiser on 21 and 23 July 1913 The 150 pilgrims who had already walked from Portsmouth left Haslemere on 21 July and arrived in Witley in time for lunch at ‘Great Roke’. They then continued to Milford, where they had tea at ‘Ockford House’ at the invitation of Hon Mrs A Davey [Iona Davey]. The report lists some of the names of the local suffrage supporters who met the marchers. These names include Lady Chance, Lady Scott Moncrief, Miss Scott Moncrief, Hon Mrs Arthur Davey, Mrs G F Watts, Mrs Dixon, Mrs Osgood, Miss Meugens, Mrs Redhead, Miss Ogilvy, Mrs [Miss T] W Powell, Miss Burnett, Mrs Overton, Miss Mellersh, Misses Beddington, Mrs Pollock, Mrs G T Pilcher and others. The local overnight hosts were Lady Chance, Hon Mrs A Davey, Miss Franklin, Mrs Overton, Miss Powell, Mrs Dixon and Mrs G T Pilcher. Iona Davey was one of the pro-suffrage speakers at an open-air meeting in Godalming later in the evening of 21 July 1913.

A meeting of the Home Counties Union of the Women’s Liberal Association was held in Guildford (reported in the Surrey Advertiser 19 November 1913) chaired by Iona Davey with support from Lady Jardine and Alison Ogilvy on the subject of women’s role and position in the Liberal Party. A speech from F D Acland MP said that women’s suffrage was not achievable in the current parliament. In an address from Eva MacLaren the women were urged to support the adoption of pro-suffrage candidates as women in the party would not support anti-suffrage candidates in the Liberal party and would rather see Tories elected. Arthur Davey also addressed the meeting.

Iona addressed the first meeting of the Wonersh and Bramley Women’s Liberal Association at the end of November (Surrey Advertiser 1 December 1913).

In 1916 the Davey’s moved from Godalming to Abbots Wood in Guildford and Arthur stood down as Mayor and from his seat on Godalming Town Council. In 1917 Arthur retired from his company and became Deputy Director of Army Contracts. Sadly, a year later whilst returning to England on the mailboat RSM Leinster, following an official visit to Ireland in the capacity of his work at the War Office, the vessel was hit by a torpedo and sunk by a German submarine UB-123 on 10 October 1918. Arthur was one of the 501 out of 650 people on board who lost their lives. There is a memorial to him next to his parent’s grave in the churchyard of Holy Trinity Church, Forest Row, and he is also remembered on a plaque to commemorate the war dead members of the Wonersh Liberal Club. The Surrey Advertiser published an obituary on 12 October 1918 and the Times 22 October 1918.

Contributed by Miriam Farr.


Surrey Advertiser, Times and Common Cause newspapers, accessed via British Newspaper Archive online, via Surrey Libraries Online Reference shelf available at Surrey History Centre

See a photograph of the Wonersh Village Club Memorial Plaque for members of the Wonersh & Bramley Liberal Club, including Arthur Jex Davey, on the Surrey in the Great War project website

See Godalming Museum’s information page on Arthur Jex Davey at

The Royal Mail Archive’s story of RMS Leinster can be seen online at

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1914

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

Preparations for War
In the months before August no mention of war was found in the local papers, although contingencies were quietly being put in place.  On 25 July The East Grinstead Observer reported on a Red Cross Field Day held at Imberhorne Farm.  A rest station was prepared ‘near an imaginary battle’ and Territorials in battle kit acted as ‘eounded’, while stretcher bearers administered first-aid and dressed wounds.

The declaration of war on 4 August 1914 initially did not have a great impact on daily life.  The Surrey Mirror edition on the same day carried a cautious report on Britain’s involvement in war.  By the 11 August edition on the same day reported that all doubts were now removed and ‘we know that practically the whole of Europe is in the grip of war…the Fleet is ready and the army mobilising.’

Once war was declared, however, it did not take long for things to step up a gear and for the public to get behind the war effort.  Territorials guarded lines of communication.  Important sections of practically every railway line in the country were guarded, especially lines between Southampton, Aldershot, Chatham and London over which troops might have to be conveyed.

Locally Boy Scouts were posted to guard the viaduct bridge over Cooks Pond, Dormans Park.

Advertisements appeared in the papers for Army pensioners to act as Recruiters and by September the British Red Cross was asking for bandages, instructing people to boil the calico before tearing, leaving no selvedges; the length and width were to be marked with ink and fastened with safety pins.

The Lingfield Emergency Committee was formed.  ‘All the chief residents, farmers, tradesmen and many members of the working class were invited to serve’.  The committee would deal with recruiting, relief, food supply and other urgent matters.  There were appeals for aid for wives and families of soldiers and it was recorded that Lingfield Church gave £25 to the Prince of Wales Fund.  On 25 November the Dormansland school log reported that the children would give an entertainment in aid of the National Relief Fund; this took place in December and raised £13 2s. 11.5d.

Spy Mania
In October 1914, the Surrey Mirror reported that ‘a suspicious foreigner’ was found wandering in a field at Lingfield.  Karl Horvath, aged 18, was unable to give a good account of himself and was remanded; there was no report of what happened to him subsequently.

Alarming stories began to circulate in the local papers.  The Surrey Mirror reported that on Sunday 9 August a troop train near South Godstone was fired at and several windows smashed, although no-one was injured.  From the train four men were seen in a field on the east side of the line.  Three shots were fired at which the men then jumped into a motor car and drove away.  The train was pulled up and Territorials stationed at Redhill, together with police and motor scouts scoured the surrounding country.  ‘Residents in the neighbourhood joined warmly in the chase, one gentleman lending powerful motor car and also guns for six men to go with it.  But it was all in vain and those who man the attack got clean away.’  The next day an attempt was made to fire at Territorials on guard at the L.B. & S.C. Railway loop line at Holmthorpe just outside Redhill .  Sentries fired a round or two and called out the guard.  Two men were seen running away from the embarkment and a search was made but no-one was found.

At about the same time come reports of a troop train being fired upon at Edenbridge.  A rifle bullet was found in the woodwork of a carriage.  The police description of the suspect was circulated as someone ‘tall and dark with a sallow complexion and dark moustache’.  It is not clear what these reports meant but there has been some suggestion that these stories were a deliberate invention with the intention of keeping troops and Territorials on their toes.

Long lists of men who had enlisted were printed.  On 5 September 1914 the East Grinstead Observer reported an appeal from the vicar of East Grinstead for men to join up.  He expressed his hope that the rugby club would join up and cancel games as ‘this was no time for young able-bodied men to be playing or watching games’.  The scoutmaster for the 1st Lingfield and Dormansland troop. Captain Henry Lloyd Martin enlisted; he was later to be killed at the Battle of the Somme.  The scouts from Lingfield and Dormansland competed against the Oxted and Limpsfield scouts in a shooting match.  Several of the scouts taking part went on to enlist: assistant scountmaster Henry Cox became a gunner in the Royal Artillery; Arthur Potter and Albert Friend joined the Royal West Kent Regiment and George Skinner joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

Patriotic verses written by readers were published each week in the Surrey Mirror; these started off by being very jingoistic:
Still shall she rule the waves
Crushing usurping power…
but within weeks become much more sombre:
O God of our fathers hear our prayer
In this dark hour of strife…

National Loans meetings were held in Lingfield and Blindley Heath.  In Lingfield the meeting was chaired by Mr Gow of Batnor Hall; the Lingfield Band played patriotic airs and three cheers were given for ‘our soldiers in the trenches’.  At the Blindley Heath meeting the cry was ‘every man of military age and medically fit who has not joined the Colours must ask himself the question – why do I not enlist?’

Life goes on as Usual
On Saturday 1 August the annual church parade at Lingfield took place.  Taking part were the Fire Brigade, Friendly Societies with banners and sashes; the Lingfield and Dormansland Boy Scouts; the Copthorne Prize Band, the Dormansland Institute Band and Lingfield Band.  In September the Lingfield Harvest Festival went ahead as usual.  At Christmas Aladdin was playing at the Croydon Hippodrome.  Aladdin, played by Miss Lillie Lassae, encouraged the audience to help her with “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”.

In October, Lingfield Park Racecourse announced that the first autumn meeting would be held as usual.  It was felt that if it was stopped it would mean hardship for those employed.  Also if ‘the interest of owners is allowed to wane there would be serious blow to horse-breeding and the supply of animals to the army would be severely affected.  There should be no false sentiment about the propriety of holding the races’.  It was announced that all serving officers of army and navy were welcome to the course and enclosure free of charge.  Wives and daughters of members away serving in the forces would be allowed to use the member’s badge.

There were official warnings against the hoarding of food but it seems that these appeals were generally ignored by the general public.  At the outbreak of war panic buying broke out and shops such as Sainsbury’s issued notices to the effect that its regular customers would be kept supplied.  The requisitioning of delivery horses by the army also affected distribution to Sainsbury’s branches and customers were asked to carry smaller parcels home themselves.

Demon Drink
By September it was recommended that due to the large numbers of troops billeted in East Grinstead the sale of intoxicating liquor was to be restricted.  The sale of alcohol was therefore suspended between 9pm and 9am.  The Government had grave concerns about the amount the public were drinking and was especially worried about the amount of beer munitions workers were drinking.  There followed new national regulations allowing the watering of beer.  This becomes known as ‘Government Ale’.  A line from a popular music hall song of the time went:
…But the worst thing that ever happened in this war
Is Lloyd George’s Beer.

The British Red Cross issued a warning to chauffeurs in charge of convalescent soldiers out for an airing in private motors who had been seen stopping off at public houses and treating the men to a drink.  It was requested that anyone seeing cases of this kind should report it to any Red Cross Convalescent Home in the neighbourhood.

During the autumn and winter of 1914 supplies of fuel and light were curtailed, street lamps dimmed and no lines of light were permitted.

Events in Belgium
After the German invasion of Belgium many of the population were displaced.  By December the Surrey Mirror had started a weekly column in French for the benefit of the local influx of Belgian refugees.  Accommodation was offered in many places; locally The Colony (now Young Epilepsy) in St Piers Lane offered places for 36 refugees.


For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:






Dorothy Oakley

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

Dorothy Oakley is the only woman [so far] found in [the RH7] villages who [is known] to have done war work, in her case, nursing. There are possibly others but unfortunately women’s records in many cases were not kept or were later subjected to a ‘sweeping clear out’ such as that in the 1930s.

She was born in Kensington in 1871. Her father was a Land Agent. In 1911 she was living by ‘private means’ in Glebe Cottage, Vicarage Road, Lingfield. She was unmarried.

In 1914 she became a member of the Lingfield Emergency Committee and the Chairman of the Hospital and Convalescence Sub-Committee. In January 1915 she announced her resignation as she was about to leave to nurse in Serbia as a VAD. When the Emergency Committee was wound down in 1919 there was acknowledgement of Dorothy’s war service in the Balkans.

In 1958 she lived at The Laurels, Dormansland, and died in The Larches Nursing Home, East Grinstead. She is buried in the Lower Churchyard of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul.


Memorial to Guildford’s 9th Congregational Scout Troop.

The 9th Guildford Congregational Scout Troop was formed in 1909 and met in the Centenary Hall in Chapel Street (what was more recently the Loch Fyne Restaurant).  The troop was linked with the Congregational Church which was sited on the corner of North Street and Leapale Road, Guildford.

During the war, along with other troops in the area, members of the 9th Congregational Troop were active in the community. For example, the Surrey Times and County Express reported on 18th September 1915 on a memorial service for three soldiers  which was attended by scouts including those from the 9th Congregational Troop. They state that ‘boy scouts, by reason of the excellence of their training, have proved their worth in the Great War’.

On 25th November 1916, the paper reported on a church parade of 9th Congregational Scouts held just before their scoutmaster left to take up work with the Red Cross in France. ‘Mr H V Jeffery….. was presented with a silver wristwatch on behalf of the scouts’. Harold Vivian Jeffery’s VAD card shows that he lived in 137 High Street, Guildford and  was 33 when he was engaged by the Red Cross as an ambulance driver at Boulogne. He earned 35 shillings at that time but, by the time his service ended in January 1919, his pay had risen to 41 shillings.

Another article on 25th November 1916 reported that 6000 troops were expected to be billeted in Guildford. This caused much excitement in the town because lighting restrictions, in place because of the fear of zeppelin attacks, were to be lifted. The paper tells of an advance party of 600 troops being served refreshments at Guildford station then ’marched to North Street where they were escorted to their billets by boys of 1st and 9th Scouts.’

It is thought that 83 former members of the troop together with 9 officers and scout leaders served in the forces. Of these, 11 were to die during the conflict. They were all between the ages of 18 and 22.

Clayton, W.V.

9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Be prepared'

Title: 9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Be prepared'
Description: Shows part of the memorial only - with scout motto. Photo taken by Moira Nairn by-nc

Facer, W.G.

Fisher, R

Greenway, A.J

Greenway, A.N.*


Manning, R.C.

Prevett, G

Prior, W.E.

Richards, T

More information on each individual is recorded elsewhere on the site. They are listed on a memorial, now located in Holy Trinity Church Guildford.

The original memorial was dedicated in October  1919 by General Ellis and was sited in Centenary Hall.  The grey alabaster shield has, at the top, the Scout Fleur de Lis and the motto ‘BE PREPARED’.   Poignantly, at the bottom, is the scout trail sign for ‘Gone Home’.

9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Gone Home'

Title: 9th Congregational Scout Memorial, Guildford - 'Gone Home'
Description: Shows part of the memorial sited now in Holy Trinity Church Guildford. Photo: Moira Nairn by-nc

Now badly pitted but with the names still legible, the memorial was re-dedicated on October 12 1991 after Alderman Bernard Parke  had found the memorial stored and campaigned for its preservation.  Dr Kenneth Stevenson agreed that it be placed in its present position in Holy Trinity Church. The dedication service was attended by several former scouts.

* Although shown on the memorial as ‘A.N.’, it should read ‘A.H’. The Greenaways both named were brothers.

My thanks to Bernard Parke for bringing the story of the scouts and their memorial to our attention and to Sarah Best for carrying out the biographical research.


Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th September 1918, P6, Col C.

Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th November 1916, P5, Col D.

Surrey Times and County Express, 25th November 1916, P5, Col B.

David Rose, The Guildford Dragon, 27th November 2011

David Rose and Bernard Parke, Guildford Remember When, Breedon Books 2007.

British Red Cross, First World War Volunteers


Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register  –   (Copyright Mike Dawson (WMR-23305))

Other images: Moira Nairn


Major (Quartermaster)Thomas Elson IVEY OBE(1866-1919) & his niece Ethel Ivey GEORGE (born 1897)

Surrey in the Great War Jenny Mukerji

Major (Quartermaster)Thomas Elson IVEY OBE(1866-1919)

Ethel Ivey GEORGE (born 1897)

Thomas Elson Ivey, an Army Major and Quartermaster buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery whose niece Ethel Ivey George was a VAD in Croydon, Surrey.

The major’s grave is in Brookwood Military Cemetery and has a CWGC memorial with the simple inscription:

Major & Quartermaster


Oxford & Bucks Light Inf.

23 October 1919.

The grave number is 184010 with the plot reference VI J 3.

Thomas was the eldest of the four children of Samuel IVEY (1838-1892) and his wife Caroline, nee ELSON who were married in Clifton, Bristol on 28 July 1861. Samuel was a grocer and a carpenter and was born in Stoke St Mary, Somerset. He moved to the St Paul’s area of Bristol and this is where his wife and all of his children were born.

Initially Thomas was a carpenter’s apprentice but he had probably enlisted in the Army by the time he married Amelia Louisa CONNELL in England in 1896. His regiment, 43rd Oxford Light Infantry were posted to Kinsale, Dublin and stayed in the Curragh until 1897. Thomas and Amelia’s daughter Muriel Elson IVEY was born in County Kildare in about 1898. The regiment also saw service in the South African (Boer) Wars and by 1902 they were in Chatham before being posted to Bombay, India and then to Poona. By 25 September 1903 Thomas had already been serving in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry as Quartermaster Sergeant and on that date he was gazetted with the honorary rank of Lieutenant. Next came a move to Umballa, India and their daughter Millie Laura was born in Lucknow on 2 March 1905.

In 1908 the regiment became the 43rd Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and after a short stay in Burma, moved to Wellington in India where Thomas, Amelia and Millie were listed in the 1911 Census. Their daughter Muriel was at school in Dorchester, Dorset at the time. On 22 September 1913 Thomas was promoted to the honorary rank of Captain in the 43rd Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

His service during the Great War saw him in the Middle East. He was with the British-Indian Army that was besieged at Kut al-Amara. For an account of this siege see:

History of the 43rd and 52nd (Oxford and Buckinghamshire) Light Infantry in the Great War Vol 1, the 43rd Light Infantry in Mesopotamia and North Russia” by J.E.H. Neville, Naval & Military Press Ltd., East Sussex, 2008.

In this book Hon. Captain & Quartermaster T. IVEY is included in a list of men who were brought to notice for gallant and distinguished service in the field from 5 October 1915 to 17 January 1916. He had already carried out a number of heroic deeds rescuing wounded comrades from encounters with the Turks. He was present at the capitulation of Kut al-Amara on 29 April 1916 which saw the surrender of over 13,000 British-Indian soldiers after 147 days, the worst surrender in the history of the British Army to that date. Thomas was one of these prisoners, but being an officer, he was treated with more respect, despite the accommodation being filthy. During the siege the men had to suffer flies, mosquitoes, heat and sickness as well as starvation. This took its toll on Thomas and being sick he was held back in Bagdad and later sent to Kastamuni.

Being nearly 50 years old at the time of the siege, Thomas’s health suffered and it must have remained poor. He died in Queen Alexandra Military Hospital, Millbank, London on 23 October 1919. His home was at Fairacres Road, Oxford.

His widow married Lt Col. (Quartermaster) Joseph FREEL DCM, OBE (c1863-1930) of the Durham Light Infantry at the Friary Church (St Joseph’s) Portishead on 3 June 1920.

Major Thomas Elson IVEY has a record held at the National Archives at Kew; WO339/5992.

Ethel Ivey Hotson GEORGE (born in 1897)

Ethel was the daughter of Arthur Athelton GEORGE (1865-?1947) and his wife Sarah Elson, nee IVEY (1862-1919). Sarah Elson was the sister of Major Thomas Elson IVEY (detailed above) and was born in Bristol. Sarah married Arthur in 1888 and they had four surviving children of which Ethel was the third. For all of the census returns from 1891 until 1911 the family used the surname of HOTSON, which was the surname of Arthur’s step-father.

Born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, Ethel was engaged by the British Red Cross Society as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) on 1 June 1918, when aged 21. At first she was at the 5th North General Hospital in Leicester until 31 December 1918. Then came a move to the War Hospital in Croydon, Surrey until 15 February 1919 when she was transferred to the Military Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, she remained there from 2 February 1919 until 9 May. She was then transferred to Paddington on 6 June 1919 where she was still serving on 8 July 1919.

Throughout this period her address was that of her mother: Laburnum House, Leverington, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. Ethel’s elder brother, Ernest Frederick GEORGE (1889-1915) emigrated to Canada and enlisted in the 8th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) in Quebec on 23 September 1914. He attained the rank of Lance-Corporal but was taken prisoner at the Battle of St Julien (part of the 2nd Battle of Ypres). He died on 26 April 1915 as a prisoner of war and was buried Roeselare Communal Cemetery in Belgium. See .

Her brother John Robert Hotson GEORGE (born in 1891) also served in the Great War and survived. Her sister was Florence Mabel Hotson GEORGE who was born in 1894.

Ottermead Auxiliary Military Hospital, Ottershaw


The Ottermead Auxiliary Military Hospital opened in December 1914. Ottermead, the Surrey seat of the Earl of Meath, starting with 12 beds which was later increased to 25.

The building had been lent by the Countess of Meath for the duration of the war as a hospital. She was born Lady Mary Jane Maitland and married Reginald Brahazon, 12th Earl of Meath on 7 January 1868.

Local people were generous in giving or lending the new hospital many useful articles and within two months they received the following items.

Bagatelle table, crutches, deck-chairs, piano, mowing machine, chickens, jam, tea and sugar, cornflour and marmalade, knife machine, hammock, books, magazines, kitchen swobs, cups and saucers, soiled linen basket, cigarettes and sweets, eggs, vegetables and fruit, (via: Surrey Advertiser Saturday 17 July 1915 Page 5).

There was occasional entertainment for the men and staff at Ottermead and in November 1916 Mr J.C. Greenleaf of Chertsey organised a concert. The local paper stated that the ‘soldiers heartily appreciated the excellent programme of vocal and instrumental solos and recitations’ (Via: Surrey Advertiser – Saturday 25 November 1916)

At Christmas that year the 24 wounded men in the Hospital found their stockings filled with presents and other gifts were given to them at the breakfast table. Turkeys and Christmas puddings had been given to the hospital. Friends were invited to tea and there was music, games and songs. On the following Wednesday evening a concert was given and the programme included a violin solo and dances. (via: Surrey Advertiser Saturday 30 December 1916)

In 1917 four nurses from Ottermead were among the many names which were brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for Valuable Services rendered in connection with the war. The four nurses were Mrs G. Clenshaw, Matron,   Miss E. Ashmole, Sister,  Miss D.A. Power, Nurse and Miss I.H. Wood, Nurse    (via: Surrey Advertiser Monday 29 October 1917)

Miss D.A. Power, Nurse – Dorothy Ada was born 3 March 1887 Walton on Thames. Her parents were Edward and Annie Elizabeth, She had sisters Ethel Annie, Amy and Fanny and two younger brothers Arthur E. and Ronald. Dorothy died 20 Dec 1974. Her brother Arthur joined the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment. Her youngest sibling Ronald was in the British Army – Royal Flying Corps No 1 Aircraft Deport Rank was Air Mechanic 2nd class.

Miss I.H. Wood, Nurse –– Ida Hamilton was born 30 July 1868 in Bengal. Her parents were William and Julia Anne. She was mentioned in Despatches – Ida Wood died on 27 December 1918 and her name is on the Surrey Red Cross V.A.D. memorial in Guildford (Farnham Road)

In July 1918 Ottermead Hospital had a garden fete which raised £50 for the hospital funds. The band of the South African Light Infantry played during the evening and the R.A.M.C. Pierrot Troupe also gave a concert. Trays of fancy goods, including necklaces and charming designs made by patients were sold by members of the staff and patients. (Via: Surrey Advertiser –  24 July 1918)

On 29th January 1918, the War Office published a list of the names of ladies whose names had been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War as having rendered valuable services in connection with the establishment maintenance and administration of war hospitals, and convalescent homes for sick and wounded soldiers. Mary, The Countess of Meath was amongst the ninety-one published. She received a handsome illuminated card, relating to the Ottermead hospital that she had established. This card of thanks was published by the Government and ran as follows:

“During the Great War of 1914-1918 this building was established and maintained as a Hospital for British Sick and Wounded. The army council, in the name of the Nation, thank those who have rendered to it this valuable and patriotic assistance in the hour of its emergency, and they desire also to express their deep appreciation of the whole-hearted attention which the Staff of this Hospital gave to the patients who were under their care. The war has once again called upon the devotion and self-sacrifice of British men and women, and the Nation will remember with pride and gratitude their willing and inestimable service”

 (Ref: “Memories of the Twentieth Century” by Reginald, 12 Earl of Meath, K.P. pp. 270-271) (SHC ref: 728.8 OTT p)

When the Countess of Meath died in 1918, her Will stated that the land was to be given to the Ministering Children’s League, of which she was a founder, but her husband could lease it back for his own use until his death. On the Earl’s death eleven years later it was sold by the Trustees of the Ministering Children’s League. In 1936 it changed hands again when it was purchased by The Wantage Sisters who ran it as a home for girls until 1965.

(Via Chertsey museum) (SHC Ref: 7386/4)

Cranleigh in August 1918

Research and text by Joy Horn, as published in the Cranleigh Magazine

The Oaklands Red Cross Auxiliary Hospital in Knowle Lane closed this month. Since January 1915, when the hospital opened, a total of 617 soldiers had been cared for, with no death or infectious illness, and not ‘a single case of indiscipline among the men’. Thirty beds had been continuously occupied, and this had risen to 33 since the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. The average stay of each patient was 35 days. The commandant, Mrs Clementina Rowcliffe, in the final report and accounts, wrote with the ‘keenest regret’ at parting from the team who had worked so devotedly and with a ‘happy spirit of co-operation and absolute lack of petty jealousies’. The hospital was dismantled: some equipment was returned to its owners, articles fit for hospital use only were given to the Cranleigh Village Hospital and others, and the remaining furniture was sold. The building was then handed back to its owners, Sir George and Lady Bonham of Knowle, who had generously lent it to the Surrey Branch of the Red Cross.

No cricket was played during the war on Cranleigh’s fine cricket ground, except by Cranleigh School. This was a cricket-loving region, as evidenced by the presence of cricket grounds in even the smallest village. Nationally, there was no 1st-class cricket either. Wisden’s annual Cricketers’ Almanack [a cricket reference book, colloquially known as ‘the Bible of Cricket] shrank in size, without its normal analyses of the county clubs’ previous season, and national statistics. Its regular feature on ‘cricketers of the year’ had been suspended. However, in 1918 somebody at Wisden’s had the bright idea of publishing its choice of five outstanding schoolboy cricketers.  Among these five was a boy of Cranleigh School, Harry Calder, who had taken a remarkable number of wickets in the 1917 season.

Calder [was born in Hampshire in 1858, before emigrating to South Africa with his family,] had come to Cranleigh from South Africa in 1914 and played in the school 1st XI for five seasons, the last three as captain. He is variously described as an off-spinner or a fast bowler who bowled off a short run-up. After the war, Calder played one undistinguished match for Surrey 2nd XI against Staffordshire, and then returned to South Africa, where he took up golf and tennis instead of cricket.  He thus has the distinction of being the only Wisden Cricketer of the Year never to have played first-class cricket!

Attempts to cope with the shortage of food dominated the news in the Surrey Advertiser. Reports of the harvest in the county were encouraging: ‘motor reapers are at work in many places’. Wheat was a bumper crop, oats varied, there was less hay, ‘so much land having been broken up’, barley was average, but potatoes were promising. A demonstration of potato bread-making was held in Guildford. Here in Cranleigh, the Pig Club Committee planned to buy a boar for £10 10s.

Meanwhile, poor Joe Cheesman, a prisoner-of-war in Belgian Flanders since April, had still not heard from his parents in Cranleigh. Nor did he have any idea whether the letters he wrote home were getting through. His mother wrote frequently and at length, but her letters were always returned, as having an inadequate address. At one point, she reckoned that she had had a dozen letters returned. She kept them all.

Unfortunately, Joe had developed a poisoned foot, and was admitted into the prison camp hospital. On August 9th he wrote home: ‘I am out of the hospital now and am very glad of it too. The hospital is an ordinary hut, the same as we live in, but being nearly empty and always quiet, the rats and mice have got very bold, and they were fond of climbing up my bed and dancing on the pillow, which you can imagine I didn’t like by any means. Besides that, they were fond of clearing up your bread and I can tell you we don’t get enough to feed mice.’











John Doran Macdonald

John Doran Macdonald was born in Edinburgh 23 February 1867 the second son of Sir John Hay Athole Macdonald KCB PC who became Lord Kingsburgh in 1888. Lord Kingsburgh was a keen motorist, he was a founding member of the AA (automobile Association) and became President of the Scottish Automobile Association. He had been one of the first officers to introduce the use of traction engines into the army, and was responsible for the first use by the British Army of a motor car (for mail transport).

In 1892 John was married in Kensington to Katherine Alleyne Borthwick of Bebington, The Wirral. Katherine was the sister of the “Irish” writer and publisher Norma Borthwick who was living with John and Elizabeth in Woking at the time of the 1911 Census.

Following their marriage, John and Katherine spent some time in Florida where their first 3 children were born but returned with the 2 surviving children by May 1898 to occupy Hambledon House in Hampshire (severely damaged by a fire in January 2018), where John was described as a Civil Engineer, and had moved to The Whins on Hook Heath, Woking, by 1904, where John was described as an actor when his sixth and last child was baptised at St John the Baptist, St John’s, Woking.

At some point John had established a link with the Vauxhall Motor Company and he opened a service station on Hook Heath, Woking. At the outbreak of war in 1914, John at the age of 47 volunteered for service with the British Red Cross and was one of the men who converted their own vehicles into ambulances and drove to northern France to help with the evacuation of the wounded from the battlefields; this group known as “the flying unit” was based in Lille. On the 19 September 1914, Fabian Ware was sent out to lead and control them as some of their more adventurous exercises were endangering the status of Red Cross volunteers as non-combatants. Apparently, crossing the front line under a Red Cross and trying to liberate POWs was not supposed to be part of their role.

The waiting time at casualty stations and field hospitals, which were basically tent cities surrounded by ever increasing burial fields, had weighed heavily on the volunteers and they had noticed that although graves were marked at the time of burial, the burial party did not always have waterproof writing equipment, so the drivers and their stretcher bearers started re-marking the crosses with indelible ink supplied by the Red Cross and, later, with metal embossed tags.

However, artillery bombardments and other activities meant that many graves were being lost as the front line swung back and forth, so in October 1914 Ware asked his men to start recording the details (name, number, unit, rank and location) of as many of the graves as they could, sending handwritten notebooks and sheets of paper back to the Red Cross offices in Paris. The authorities in France realised the impact that the unit’s activities were having on morale and issued ID papers identifying them as the “Graves Registration Commission” so that they could access battlefield areas more easily.

Captain John Doran MacDonald 1867-1916

Title: Captain John Doran MacDonald 1867-1916
Description: The CWGC Headstone on his grave. Thanks to GeertB for providing the Image by-nc

These activities were brought to the attention of General Haig and in March 1915 he reported to the War Office that the activities of Ware’s men were having a considerable effect on morale (“a symbolic value to the men that it would be difficult to exaggerate”). The enlisted men knew that for the first time in the history of the British Army a permanent record of the location where they fell in war could be kept. The War Office formalised the Graves Registration Commission as part of the Red Cross in May 1915, by which time this small group had moved 12,000 soldiers to casualty stations and hospitals and recorded 4,300 grave sites. Fabian Ware was appointed an Army Major in charge of the Graves Registration Unit in addition to his role in the Commission, which now concentrated on establishing the permanent cemetery sites by negotiating with the local authorities. His deputy became a Captain and four of his original volunteers “Lieutenant Local Officers”, leading the unit’s teams of four vehicles and 5 men.

The London Gazette shows that John Doran Macdonald was formally commissioned as a British Army Lieutenant 9 September 1915  (backdated to 22 February 1915) when the Commission was transferred to be part of the British Army, having marked and recorded a further 27,000 graves. The Gazette then shows him as promoted to Captain 12 November 1915 (backdated to 30 September 1915)

The Graves Registration Unit continued its work and following Fabian Ware’s principle that all the of dead should be treated equally regardless of rank or class, it was instrumental in getting the exhumation and repatriation of fallen British soldiers by the rich banned following the exhumation under fire of W E Gladstone’s grandson. It became the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries (DGR&E) in February 1916, having registered 50,000 graves and arranged for the creation of over 200 permanent war cemeteries with the local authorities.

John Doran Macdonald

Title: John Doran Macdonald
Description: Remembered on the Woking Town Great War Memorial by-nc

On the 18 March 1916, John was erecting and recording crosses on graves along the Ypres-Menin road when he was injured by shellfire; he died of his wounds and is buried in the Extension to the Bailleul Communal Cemetery.

Woking Family Tree Project entry

The DGRE continued its work until 1917 when in order to encompass all the theatres of war a Royal Charter created the Imperial War Graves Commission, an internationally-funded organisation attempting to provide a service without political interference, which in turn became the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1960.

Corisande Hart – VAD at Boulogne Railway Station

Corisande Hart was born in Clapton, London, in 1873 to Samuel H Hart, Leather Manufacturer, and Frances M Hart. She had five brothers and one sister. When she was around 6 years old the family moved to Mulgrave Road in Sutton, where they lived up to and throughout the First Word War.

Shortly after the start of WW1 Corisande, then aged 41, joined the Red Cross VAD as an Assistant Quartermaster, and was deployed at the No 1 VAD Unit at Boulogne Railway Station until June 1915. As such she would have been jointly responsible for the receipt, custody and issue of articles in the provision store where she was stationed. By 1918 she had become Detachment Commander of the Surrey 102 detachment, and was on the Committee of the Red Cross Hospital at Benfleet Hall in Sutton.

Nothing further is known of her life until her death in Eastbourne in Sussex, in 1955 aged 81.

In 1915 she was photographed by David Knights-Whittome, a photographer based in Sutton and Epsom.  To find out more about the projects by Sutton archives based on the Knights-Whittome collection see: Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times.


Margaret Bell – Headmistress of Sutton High School for Girls

Researched and written by Sue James for the Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives.

Margaret Bell was born in Uppingham in Rutland, the eldest of six children of a local surgeon and physician. She attended a convent school in East Grinstead from where she progressed to the University of London where she gained a B.A., which was remarkable in itself as degrees had only been awarded to women at the university from 1880. In 1888 she was employed as a teacher and taught Mathematics at St Stephen’s High School in Clewer, Windsor until 1891.

In May 1891 Miss Bell was appointed as a Mathematics teacher at Sutton High School for Girls. Although her main subject was Maths, she was also described as “a capital tennis player” and was a keen participant in and director of, various dramatic productions. She was promoted to the position of second mistress in September 1894 and remained in this post until 1903 when the headmistress, Miss Duirs, fell critically ill with tuberculosis and had to leave school midway through the year, dying soon afterwards. Margaret was appointed as her successor in the October of the same year which engendered cheers from the students, an indication of her popularity. The fact that she, as a teacher at the school, was promoted internally was also considered remarkable at the time.

We know from the description of Miss Bell in her early years at the school that she was “tall and stately with golden hair coiled close to her head”. Her personality was described variously as “kind”, “reserved”, “sympathetic”, “dignified”; she was “a stern moral judge” whose pet hates included “slouching, slovenly manners, slang, shingling and (we fear) smoking in women”.  Her pupils were expected to walk in the corridors with their hands behind their back; a direction she once made to a member of staff who was swinging her arms on her way into school! Miss Bell was strict but she was not without a sense of fun.   In 1911 she opened a larger kindergarten at Fernwood, a house on the corner of Cheam Road and Robin Hood Lane and she was often to be seen stopping on her way to the Senior School so that she could talk to the young children. One of the boys remembered her playing games of ‘cat’s cradle’ with him. One of her staff referred to her as “a Victorian with an open mind” which sums her up quite well.

The Great War was probably the greatest challenge that Miss Bell faced in her 20 years as headmistress. When the students started the school year in 1914 the war had been going on for a month and the need for the population to raise funds was soon apparent.  As soon as the girls came back she organised them into great fund-raisers for over 40 different charities. In addition, they sent parcels to lonely soldiers and sailors, collected waste paper and silk worms for sale plus they dug up the school grounds to provide vegetables for the fleet. Miss Bell gained quite a reputation for knitting mufflers, hats and socks for the troops. She insisted that all the girls should learn to knit too and also that they should sew hospital bags as a response to the Lady Smith-Dorrien appeal to help wounded soldiers. Miss Bell instituted an element of inter-form competition in this which no doubt helped to achieve the total of nearly 3,000 bags by the end of the war.

During the war hundreds of large, local houses were taken over to be transformed into hospitals. There was one such hospital, Benfleet Hall, in Benhilton where many of the Old Girls of the school volunteered as VADs. In 1916 40 wounded soldiers were invited down to the school where they were given afternoon tea, played games such as ‘bumble puppy’ and sang a number of popular songs of the time. One Old Girl remarked: “Imagine Tommies smoking, or otherwise, filling up the gallery at the far end of the hall, and in a free and easy manner chorusing their favourite songs, unawed apparently by the air of educational sanctity which must hover over the place”.

In 1915 Miss Bell decided to stand for the Sutton Council and she was returned for South Ward, unopposed. She, plus two others, became the first women to serve on the Council. She wrote down her reasons for going into public life:  “Until a few months ago, I regarded myself as a most unsuitable person for municipal work. I have not come forward now without much consideration ; and I am quite certain, though I can never prove it, that had life continued for us on the old normal easy lines, I should not have been standing before you to-night as a councillor-elect of your next Urban District Council. But the 4th of last August changed, for all of us, the outlook of our lives. We have had to reconsider many things, and to decide whether we would remain in our own groove or whether we would take up other service. And this has meant much serious looking forward, and an attempt to realise what the aftermath of this awful war will be. We cannot fail to recognise that, in a few years’ time, there will be a great shortage of men of the age when men generally come forward to do public work. A time must come when the vast majority of Englishmen will be either old men who do not want the additional burden of public work, or young men who are too inexperienced to undertake it. And unless the women of England are ready to come forward to help with public work, much that is of vital importance to the welfare of the nation will be done either badly or not at all. And when the time comes it will not be sufficient that the women should be willing, they must also have been trained and have had experience in public work.”

As soon as the War was over, Miss Bell started to extend the school by adding new classrooms in order to meet the growing waiting list for places.  By 1923 she was suffering from ill-health and decided to retire at the early age of 58.  The school was devastated at her resignation as her tenure at the school had spanned over 30 years.  One student remarked that “she has been here for so many years that we cannot imagine the school without her.”  The Sutton Advertiser of Friday April 13th, 1923, included an account of a presentation which was made to Miss Bell at Sutton Public Hall. She is described as having “doubled the popularity of the school and (with) trebling its high reputation.” Having retired she travelled to Italy for many months over several years to indulge her love of art.  Her last visit to the school was in 1946 when delayed Jubilee celebrations were held for the school’s 160th birthday. She passed away in Etchingham in East Sussex on January 27th 1949; she was 83.


All research carried out of behalf of the HLF funded Past on Glass/Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Times projects at Sutton Archives is the work of volunteer researchers and is unverified by the Sutton Archives team. All sources have been credited where possible.  If you notice any errors or discrepancies in this work, or can add to the research, please contact [email protected].