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Oxford War Memorials: St Frideswide’s Church, Oxford

Walter Robert NORTH (1886–1915)
Parents and siblings

North on memorial

  • Father: George Edward NORTH, the son of a policeman, born in Gibbons Row in St Mary Magdalen parish, Oxford in 1853 and baptised at that church on 25 December. He died in 1932.
  • Mother: Amelia BATEMAN, the daughter of a carpenter: born in Old High Street, Headington in February/March 1851. She died in 1930.

Walter’s parents were married in the Camberwell district in the third quarter of 1879. They had five children:

  • Amelia Louisa North: born in Devizes in about October 1880
  • George Edward North: born in Devizes in 1881/2 (reg. first quarter of 1882)
  • Albert William North: born in Devizes in 1884 (reg. fourth quarter)
  • Walter Robert North: born in Devizes in 1886 (reg. fourth quarter)
  • Beatrice Maud North: born in Devizes in 1889 (reg. fourth quarter).

At the time of the 1881 census, Walter’s parents were living at Dunkirk, Rowde, near Devizes: his father George was then 26 and working as a prison officer, his mother Amelia was 30, and their first child, Amelia, was six months old. George was born the following year.

By 1891 the family was living at 4 Prison Buildings, Bath Road, Devizes with all five of their children. George (9) was at school.

Proctor and bulldogs

 

 

By the time of the 1901 census, George’s parents had returned to Oxford, where his father was working as a Proctors’ Servant (i.e. a university constable or “bulldog”).

The family was then living at 34 Henley Street in East Oxford with four of their children: Walter was now 14 (with no occupation recorded, as he had probably just left school); his sister Amelia (20) was a dressmaker; and his brother Albert (16) was an apprentice printer’s compositor. His brother George Edward North was absent: he had enrolled in the Bedfordshire Regiment on 17 January 1900 when he was 18, and was probably fighting in the South African War.

 

 

The postcard on the left depicts a cartoon of the Proctor (the “Proggins”) in full academic dress and two Bulldogs (the “Bullers”) in their bowler hats lying in wait on the corner of Broad Street for an unwary student. It is dark, as the University only had jurisdiction during the night, and the city police kept Oxford in order during the day. The card is dated 1904.

On 2 April 1907 Walter (20), described as a printer of 34 Henley Street, was married at St Thomas’s Church (evidently in haste) to Clara Anne KILBEE of Cowley St John. Clara, who was the daughter of a shoemaker, was born in Oxford in 1889/90 (reg. as Clara Ann KILBY in the first quarter of 1890).

They had four children, the last of whom was born five months after Walter’s death and given the additional grim middle name “Ypres”:

  • Edith Maud North (born at 11 Rewley Place on 25 September 1907 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 10 November 1907)
  • Winifred Louisa North (born at 11 Rewley Place on 15 May 1909 and baptised at St Thomas’s Church on 27 June 1909)
  • Beatrice Alice North (born at 16 Lower Fisher Row on 23 October 1910 and baptised at St Thomas Church on 13 Sep 1910)
  • Walter Robert Ypres North (born in Oxford on 2 Nov 1915 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 6 Feb 1916)

Walter and his wife began their married life at 11 Rewley Place, and was working as a machine minder between 1907 and 1909. By 1910 he was a tram conductor and the family had moved to Lower Fisher Row. He would have worked on a horse-drawn tram (like the “Grandpont Express” below, taken from a postcard entitled “A bit of Old Oxford”. Oxford was very backward, because the University would not allow electric trams; but in 1913 William Morris (later Lord Nuffield) brought the first motor-buses to Oxford, and Walter may have continued working as a conductor on those.

Oxford tram

The 1911 census shows Walter living at Lower Fisher Row with his wife and three young daughters. Meanwhile his parents were still living at 34 Henley Street, with his father continuing to be employed as a university constable. Of their five children, only Beatrice Maud (21), who was a dressmaker, still lived with them.

In December 1914 the following advertisement appeared in the Oxford Times:

Queen's Own Oxfordshire Hussars: Recruits
A Third Draft of Officers and Men having left for active service abroad, the Regiment is open to recruit 50 MORE MEN, who must be able to RIDE & SHOOT.
Regimental Headquarters, Yeomanry House, Oxford.

Walter was certainly experienced with horses, and he volunteered to serve in the Hussars.

Poppy In the First World War Walter Robert North enlisted in Oxford and served as a Private in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars, 2nd/1st (Service No: 1607). He was wounded, probably at Ypres, and died of wounds back in the UK on 26 May 1915, aged 27.

He was buried in Botley Cemetery, Oxford (Grave Reference x I1.26)

By early 1916 Walter’s wife was living at 1 Hythe Bridge Street and she had Walter’s last child, born five months after his death, baptised at St Frideswide’s Church. She named him after his father, with the addition of the second middle name "Ypres".

Aftermath

Walter North’s parents

  • Mrs Amelia North died at 78 Chilswell Road, south Oxford at the age of 79 in 1930: her funeral was held at St Matthew's Church, and she was buried in Osney Cemetery on 17 May.
  • George Edward North died in 1932 in the Headington registration district (reg. fourth quarter)

Walter North’s widow

  • Mrs Clara NORTH lived at 52 Charles Street after the war. In the second quarter of 1921 in Oxford she married John QUARTERMAN, and he was still listed at that address in Kelly’s Directory for 1964.

Walter North’s children

  • Edith Maud North (born 1907) …
  • Winifred Louisa North (born 1909) …
  • Beatrice Alice North (born 1910) is probably the Beatrice A. North who married Leonard W. R. ADAMS in Oxford in the second quarter of 1933.
  • Walter Robert Ypres North (born 1915) was a printer living at 24 Henley Street in east Oxford when on 6 April 1907 at St Thomas's Church he married Clara Ann KILBEE of 28 Middle Fisher Row, the daughter of the shoemaker Frank Charles Kilbee: they appear to have had two children: Eva (1913) and Walter (1915). He is probably the Robert North listed in 1966 at 52 Charles Street (the house of his mother and stepfather John Quarterman). (The listing changed to John W. Quarterman in 1968.)

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© Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 22 June, 2017

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