Poppy John Paul Ridgway BRIDSON (1896–1915) Poppy

See also John’s older brother, Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson

John Bridson
John Bridson in the OTC,
1912. © St Edward’s
School Archives

John Paul Ridgway Bridson was born in Southport, Lancashire in 1896, the son of Edward Ridgway Bridson (born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1864) and Amy Ridgway Bridson (a British citizen born in Valetta, Malta on 30 August 1864, the daughter of Lieutenant William Paul Bridson and Beatrice Anne Bridson).

John’s grandfather was Thomas Ridgway Bridson, the Mayor of Bolton.

His parents (who had the same Ridgway Bridson surname and were probably second cousins) were married at Cuckfield Sussex on 29 September 1888. They had seven children, all of whom reached adulthood:

  • Amy Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Chelmsford, Essex on 28 June 1889 and baptised there on 27 July)
  • Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson (born in Chelmsford, Essex on 13 July 1890)
  • Beatrice Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Summertown, near Oxford in 1892, registered with her twin Cicely second quarter)
  • Cicely Mary Ridgway Bridson (twin of Beatrice)
  • Dorothea Mary Ridgway Bridson (born in Southport, Lancashire in 1895, registered fourth quarter)
  • John Paul Ridgway Bridson (born in Southport, Lancashire in 1896, registered fourth quarter)
  • Thomas William Ridgway Bridson (born in Oxford in 1910).

The Bridson family
The Bridson family, except for Amy.
John is the young man in front with the baby


John’s parents evidently began their married life in Chelmsford, Essex, but by the time of the 1891 census they had moved to 3 Crick Road, Oxford and Edward Bridson (26) was described as living on his own means.

By 1895 the family had moved up to Lancashire, and in the 1901 census the family is shown living in a house called “Wolvercote” in Bolton with three servants. John was then a child of four, and his father (36) was now an electrical engineer.

John started at St Edward’s School in the summer term of 1907 when he was only eleven years old. In the Corps he ended up as a Corporal and specialising in Signals.

By 1906 John’s father had retired and brought his family to live at Staverton House, 104 Woodstock Road in St Margaret’s parish, where they are listed in the 1911 census. They were looked after by a cook, parlour maid, between maid, sewing maid, and housemaid). Five of their children were home on census night, including John (14), who was described as a schoolboy.

John left school in 1914, joining the army almost immediately.

John’s family remained at 104  Woodstock Road until 1916 (when the mother of Kenneth Morland, who died later in the war, moved in).

John and Charles Bridson
John Bridson (left) with his older brother Charles


Poppy At the outbreak of the First World War John Paul Ridgway Bridson had trouble convincing the army to give him a commission as he was of a sickly disposition, but he persevered and was eventually commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, very shortly after leaving school.

He was killed in France almost immediately at the age of 19 on 25 September 1915 at the Battle of Loos. He was involved in Signals Work and was laying telephone lines when lost. Shortly before his death he had been seen to be already badly wounded, and in The Times of 22 November 1915 he was reported as “Previously reported Wounded, now reported Wounded and Missing”. His body was never found.

John’s older brother Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson died of wounds in Belgium the next spring, on 4 April 1916.


John's name on the Loos Memorial


John Bridson is remembered on the Loos Memorial (Panels 35 to 37) (left).


John and his brother Charles are also remembered on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford, on a plaque in the chapel of St Edward’s School, on the memorial board of Saint Silas the Martyr, Kentish Town, London; on the memorial of St Bartholomew’s Church in London; and on the war memorial at Lee Bay, near Ilfracombe, where the family had a holiday home.

There is a stained-glass window in St Margaret’s Church showing three saints, with the following text below: “To the greater glory of God and in ever-loving memory of two dearly loved sons, Charles Edward Ridgway Bridson, Captain, and John Paul Ridgway Bridson, 2nd Lieutenant, who gave their lives for King and country in the Great War”.

John Bridson as St Alban

The saints on each side of the window – St Brice (Britius) of Tours and St Ambrosius of Milan – are middle-aged men. Between them John Bridson himself is shown as St Alban (left), a young Roman soldier who was decapitated near the present St Albans when he refused to renounce his Christian faith.

This window on the Database of the Imperial War Museums:
J. Bridson and C. Bridson

The three family photographs on this page were provided by Paul Bridson, the nephew of Charles and John.

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

John’s parents’ address was given as 5 St Margaret’s Road, Oxford in the 1920s.

John Ridgway Bridson’s one surviving brother
  • Thomas William Ridgway Bridson (born 1910) joined St Edward’s School in the Summer Term of 1922. He left in 1929 and went up to Oxford (Keble College), but does not appear to have completed his degree: he married Evelyn M. Cousins in the fourth quarter of 1930 in the Oxford Registration District. He was a Chartered Surveyor in Seaton, Devon 1935–39. During the Second World War he was a Major (plus acting Lieutenant Colonel) in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. He lived at 114 Sharps Lane, Ruislip, Middlesex, where his first wife died in 1968. On 10 February 1971 he married his second wife, Jennifer Mary Robins, at Wenhaston Church, Suffolk, and they had two sons. In 1974 they moved to Kelsale, Suffolk. Thomas Bridson died on 5 October 1988.
John Ridgway Bridson’s three sisters
  • Amy Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1889) married Evan Gabriel Burrough, a Clerk in Holy Orders of Staines, at St Margaret’s Church on 7 January 1911. They had two sons: Evan Jerome Ridgway Bridson and (John) Paul Ridgway Bridson; the latter was Bishop of Mashonaland (Rhodesia) from 1968 to 1981 and died on 27 January 2003.
  • Beatrice Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1892) married John Fisher MacMichael (Superintendant of Traffic, North-West Railway, India and currently staying at Lee, Devon) on 16 November 1915 at St Margaret’s Church
  • Dorothea Mary Ridgway Bridson (born 1895) married Lieutenant Charles Crawford Bradshaw of The Vicarage, South Farnborough at St Margaret’s Church on 1 January 1916. They had their son Thomas Crawford Bridson baptised there on 25 March 1917: they were then living at 10 Lathbury Road.
John Ridgway Bridson’s famous relation
  • Mary Augusta Ridgway Bridson (b. 1886) was the second cousin of John’s mother Amy (whose maiden name as well as her married name was also Ridgway Bridson). Mary was a dancer (stage-name Celia Ridgway), and she and her third husband Charles Parsons (stage-name Jimmy Lynton) were the parents of Leo Parsons, who was brought up by James Blair, a shipyard worker at Clydeside, and his wife Mary. Leo Parsons changed his surname to Blair by deed poll, and his son was the future Prime Minister Tony Blair.

See also

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