Harriet Carrington– newspaper editor
On 6th January 1916 Harriet Carrington died at 2 Guildene Villas, Worcester Street, Gloucester. Born in 1857 to Charles and Laura Gribble, Harriet grew up at Lapford Station where her father was station master. She married Frederick Carrington the son of the owner and editor of The Gloucester Chronicle. Frederick took over ownership of the newspaper on his father’s death. Later in life Frederick suffered a long illness and Harriet took on responsibility for editing the newspaper and nursing her husband. When Frederick died she became newspaper owner.
It was rare for a woman to hold such a prominent postion and her job was all the more difficult due to severe deafness.
Harriett sold the newspaper in 1909 and devoted her retirement years to the Working Girl’s Club. Her obituary in The Gloucester Chronicle said
“She had difficulties to encounter that would have crushed a self-reliant woman”, reported , “but being essentially of an optimistic temperament, she went happily and steadily on her way, her genial and sympathetic nature winning her many staunch friends…. no lady was more generally respected and esteemed”.
The start of conscription
There was no sign of the war ending. Lord Derby’s scheme to persuade men to volunteer through peer pressure had not yielded enough men to meet military demands. Consequently, in March 1916 conscription laws came into force for all single men aged 18 to 41 unless they could get a formal exemption. By May the law also included married men. .
The government had published a list of jobs, including several agricultural jobs, that were regarded as essential to the war effort—so called “starred” roles. Some Lapford men or their employers consequently opted to apply for military exemption.
In Lapford and surrounding agricultural villages opinions must have run high regarding who should go and who should stay. A letter in a local newspaper accused some farmers of moving their sons into starred roles such as cowman and horseman to improve their chances of exemption—
Where a farmer’s son works with horses week in and week out he is a bona-fide horseman, but there are many in this part who scarcely ever touch a horse except to put their feet into the stirrups to ride for a good day’s hunting.
The job of deciding if a man could be exempted fell to local tribunals. Persons applying for exemption or their employers were required to plead their case in front of committee of appointed volunteers. The fate of a number of Lapford men was decided at tribunals at Crediton Masonic Hall.
These meetings were reported in detail in local newspapers. There were many sad cases—the elderly, recently widowed farmer pleading for exemption for his only non-serving son who was avoiding family poverty though long working days. Which claims were genuine? Which exaggerated?
So many cases needed to be heard in one tribunal sitting that decisions had to taken in a matter of minutes. There was little documentation to review and no character witnesses. The committee had to decide to what extent it believed and accepted the validity of each plea however eloquent or inarticulate the claimant.
The job of the committee could not have been easy. What real efforts had been made to find a replacement worker? Was a father putting his sons before his employees? How many workers did a particular work place really need? How genuine were claims of disability, illness and hardship? Was the conscientious objector to be believed? Which sons from one family should be chosen to stay or go?
Rapid decisions on often scant evidence were judgements that could affect livelihoods and in several cases they proved to be decisions of life or death .
Each tribunal member operated to his own conscience. After one meeting a clergyman sitting on the Crediton Tribunal said he went through “serious searchings of heart”. His concern was not that he had wrongly sent men into action but that he had “exempted men and all their families from doing their duty to their country”.
Amongst the first Lapford men to come before a tribunal in Spring 2016 were:
Sydney Leach, aged 35, a coal merchant with a posting business, who pleaded that his brother and sister were dependent on the income from his business which would close if he went to war. He was exempted for just a day.
Tom Woodbury, age 33, of Kelland Barton, who was needed to look after a dairy of 20 cows after another man had refused to do the milking. He was exempted for 5 months.
Nicholas Pitts, age 31, of High Town-Place who ran the farm with an elderly employee and casual labour.. Absolute exemption granted.
William Partridge, age 26, and Henry Partridge, age 16, were part of the Partridge family wheelwright and carpentry business next to The Malt Scoop. The importance of the business which “served eight parishes” was described to the Tribunal. Henry’s case was put on hold as members wanted to compare him with a similar Lapford boy, Reginald Edworthy, and the most deserving applicant exempted. William was requested to serve. He appealed stating that his father was in ill health but the Chairman of the committee looked at him directly and said “You look just the man who ought to go!”
Sydney Snell, age 37, received exemption as he was the only family and retail butcher in Lapford.
Sydney Andrews, age 25, who worked for Sydney Snell was a slaughter man in Lapford killing 2000 sheep and 40 bullocks a year. His application was refused in preference to another village slaughter man. Sydney consequently went into military service and was killed in 1918.
Conscription was an unpopular law and the government had held back from introducing it until it was quite clear that volunteer numbers could not meet military requirements. One of the first MPs to actively lobby for compulsory conscription was Sir Edwin Cornwall whose family were from Lapford.
Lapford Children of the Band of Hope
On 24th February a concert was held in the Council School by the Lapford Band of Hope. It raised £2 for the Mayoress’s Hospitality Fund and £1 10s to the Prisoners of War Fund. The Band of Hope was an organisation for children under 16, with the aim of preventing them from starting to drink alcohol, but it also functioned as a children’s club, embracing all sorts of activities.
Mrs Arscott Master Arthur Challice
A Laughing Song
Boys and Girls
Song : Japanese Proposal
Dialogue: “The Golden Keys”
C Ley and D and R Arscott
Song: “I Shan’t Go to School Anymore”
A.Challice and C Gale
Dialogue “The Sick Dolly”
Winnie Lake and Arthur Challice
Song: “When the Boys Come Marching Home”
Dialogue: “Finding a Name for Dolly”
Edith Westacott and Eva Galling
Song:” The Tall Top Hat”
Song: “Japanese Umbrella”
Molly- Lena Rice
Aunt Rachel- B Boundy
Dick- Charlie Bale
Dot- Daisy Arscott
Santa Claus- A J Arscott