Arthur Dukinfield DARBISHIRE (1879–1915)

Portrait of Darbishire
From Balliol College War Memorial Book
(2 vols), 1924, p. 117. Book is online here

Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire was born in Kensington, London in 1879, the son of Samuel Dukinfield Darbishire (born in the St Martin’s area of London on 9 May 1846 and baptised at the Unitarian Chapel in Mancester on 30 October 1849) and Florence Eckersley (born in Manchester in 1854).

His parents were married in the Marylebone registration district in the second quarter of 1878 and had the following three children:

  • Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire (born in Kensington on 14 February 1879)
  • Helen Darbishire (born in Oxford on 26 February 1881)
  • Rachel Darbishire (born in Oxford in 1883, registered third quarter).

Arthur’s father was a physician who took his degree at Balliol College in 1871, and after working at St Bartholomew’s Hospital and studying in Vienna and Tübingen, he settled in practice in Kensington, where Arthur was born at the beginning of 1879l later that year he was appointed Physician at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford.

The 1881 census shows the family living at 15 New Inn Hall Street with four servants: Arthur was then two, and his sister Helen a tiny baby. The next year the family moved to Magdalen Gate House, where the family lived until 1887.

Arthur’s father had grown up in Wales, and when he retired in 1888 because of ill health, the whole family moved there. The 1891 census shows them living at Plas Mawr, Beech Grove, Dwygyfylchi, Conway: Arthur was then 12 and his sisters 10 and 8, and they were taught by a governess.

Arthur’s father Samuel Dukinfield Darbishire died at Penmaen-mawr on 16 December 1892, and the family came back to the Oxford area and lived at 20 Polstead Road from 1894 to 1897. By 1899 they had moved to 22 Winchester Road.

Arthur had rheumatic fever as a child, which left him with heart trouble, so he was not sent to boarding school but attended Magdalen College School in Oxford; then in October 1897 he entered Balliol College, where he read Natural Sciences, taking a Second in Zoology in 1901. His sister Helen attended Oxford High School and entered Somerville College as a Pfeiffer Scholar in 1900, taking First Class Honours in English in 1903.

Arthur’s mother and sisters appear to have been out of the country at the time of the 1901 census, but Arthur, about to start his final term as an undergraduate, was staying on Boars Hill with the family of Ernest de Selincourt, a lecturer in English Literature. The Darbishire family is still listed at 22 Winchester Road in Kelly’s Directory for 1902, but had moved to Foxcombe Hill by 1903; their house is specified as Grey House in 1905.

Arthur worked as a Demonstrator in Comparative Anatomy at Oxford in 1901–2, at Manchester University in 1902–5, and at the Imperial College of Science in London 1905–11. Meanwhile his sister Helen was a visiting lecturer at Royal Holloway College from 1904 to 1907, and then came back to Somerville in 1908 as an English tutor.

At the time of the 1911 census, when his mother and two sisters were staying at Bickwell Farm in Sidmouth, Arthur was boarding at 18 Kensington Place in London and described himself as a “Lecturer on Heredity”. Around this time his second cousin Bernhard Vernon Darbishire (aged 45) moved to Green Roof Cottage on Foxcombe Hill with his German (but naturalised British) wife Matilde and his children Otto, Marion, and Helge. He was a map maker who had lived at 69 Southmoor Road, Oxford in 1901; he moved away from Sunningwell in 1915.

Arthur’s younger sister Rachel Darbishire died at the Grey House, Foxcombe Hill at the age of 28 on 4 August 1911. Her effects came to £2,609 9s. 8d., and Arthur was her executor.

Later in 1911 Arthur Darbishire took up a Lectureship in Genetics at Edinburgh University, and his book Breeding and the Mendelian Discovery was published.

In 1914 the Scottish universities arranged for the French philosopher Henri-Louis Bergson to give the Gifford Lectures, and he became a great influence on Darbishire’s mind and thought. In July that year when he was lecturing in America, Darbishire was offered a Research Professorship in Columbia, Missouri, but would not leave the UK while the war was on, and returned to Scotland.

In 1914 Kelly’s Directory lists Arthur Darbishire’s widowed mother as living at the Grey House, Foxcombe Hill, and he must have spent some time here in 1913, when he had an affair with Mrs Winifred Carritt, who lived at Heath Barrows, Sunningwell. Winifred was the wife of Edgar Carritt (who taught philosophy at University College, London), and in 1914 she gave birth to Darbishire's son, who was brought up as a Carritt wih Winifred's other six childrens:

  • Anthony Carritt (born at Sunningwell on 2 August 1914 and baptised at St Leonard's Church there on 5 October, with Winifred's husband Edgar Carritt recorded as the father).

Poppy When the First World War broke out Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire was originally told that he would never be fit to serve because of his heart trouble, so he worked at munitions; but when he tried again in July 1915, he was passed for active service. He served as a Private in the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders, but in camp in Scotland on Christmas Day 1915 he was taken ill with cerebrospinal meningitis, and died at Kilmarnock the next morning, 26 December 1915. Three days after his death, his name was gazetted as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery.

It is unclear where he was buried, but he is remembered on the Brookwood (United Kingdom 1914–1918) Memorial in Surrey.

Darbishire is not listed on the war memorial in St Leonard’s Church, but is included on the board below in Sunningwell village hall:

Memorial in Sunningwell village hall

He is also listed on two war memorials in Oxford. This one at Balliol College gives the wrong regiment, as he did not live long enough to take up his commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery:

Balliol inscription

while this one at Magdalen College School gets the regiment (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) right, but misspells his middle name:

Darbishire on MCS War Memorial

Administration was granted to Darbishire’s sister Helen on 14 September 1920, and his effects came to £3,097 19s. 9d.

His address at death was deemed to be the Grey House; meanwhile his cousin Bernhard Darbishire was still living at Green Roof Cottage, also on Foxcombe Hill.

Small memorial


Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire’s mother
  • Florence Darbishire (Mrs Samuel Dukinfield Darbishire) continues to be listed in Kelly’s Directory as living at the Grey House in Sunningwell until at least 1915. She died at 17 Lathbury Road, Oxford at the age of 63 on 6 June 1917. Her effects came to £5,292 16s. 11d., and her daughter Helen was her executor.
His son
  • Anthony Carritt (born 1914) was interested in a career in agriculture and continued to live at Heath Barrows and worked on one of the Sunningwell farms. In the summer of 1936 (shortly after learning about his true parentage) he volunteered with his older half-brother Noel Carritt to fight in the Spanish Civil War. He was killed in action at the Battle of Brunete in July 1937: his probate records states that he “died on or since 26 July 1937 between Villa Nueva de la Canada and Brunete”. His effects came to £94 15s. 7d., and his stepfather Edgar Carritt was his executor.
His surviving sister
  • Helen Darbishire (born 1881) was Principal of Somerville College from 1931 to 1945. She retired to Grasmere in 1954, and died there on 11 March 1961.
His cousin
  • Bernhard Vernon Darbishire published war poems. He died at 33 Wickham Avenue, Shirley, Croydon on 29 December 1935. His effects came to £35 7s. 3d., and his wife Matilde was his executor.



See also

  • CWGC: Darbishire, Arthur Dukinfield (which gives his regiment as the RGA, but in fact he did not live to take up his Commission with them, and died while serving with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders)
  • Wikipedia: Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
  • Balliol College War Memorial Book (2 vols), 1924, pp. 116–20: Entry for Arthur Dukinfield Darbishire
  • Colin Carritt, “From Boars Hill to Brunete”, Oxfordshire Local History, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Winter 2015–16), pp. 33–45
  • A. G. Gibson, A Short History of the Radcliffe Infirmary, pp. 148–9: Biography of Arthur’s father
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Entry for Arthur’s sister, Helen Darbishire
  • Magdalen Gate House, where the family lived from 1882 to 1887