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St Peter-in-the East Church: Herbert GRIFFITH (1883–1916)

Herbert Griffith was born in Crowcombe, Somerset in 1883, the son of James Griffith (born in Bratton, near Minehead, Somerset in c.1851) and Selina Ann Pike (born in Stour Row, Stour Provost, Dorset in 1874 and baptised there on 8 October. His parents were married in the Williton district of Somerset (probably at Crowcombe) in the fourth quarter of 1874 and had eight children:

  • Edith Mary Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset in 1875 and baptised at Dunster on 17 October)
  • William Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset in 1876/7 and baptised there on 25 January 1877)
  • Wyndham Henry Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset on 6 May 1879 and baptised there on 29 June)
  • Edward James Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset on 3 September 1881 and baptised there on 1 October)
  • Herbert Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset in 1883 and baptised there on 2 September)
  • Maurice Frank Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset on 26 October 1884 and died there on 1 January 1885)
  • Hugh Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset in 1888, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Mabel Griffith (born in Crowcombe, Somerset on 21 April 1892 and died there the next day).

At the time of the 1891 census Herbert (7) was living in a cottage at Crowcombe with his father James (39), who was a domestic coachman (probably at Crowcombe House), his mother Selina (36), and his four brothers: William (14), who was working as a page, and Wyndham (11), Edward (9), and Hugh (2), who were at school. His sister Edith (15) was a servant, living in the servants' quarters at Crowthorne House.

Herbert's eldest brother was married in 1900:

  • In the fourth quarter of 1900 at St George's, Hanover Square, William Griffith married Ada Mary Latham.

In 1901 Herbert (17) was a footman at Weacombe Farm House, West Quantoxhead, Somerset. His father James (49) was now a coachman & gardener, still living in Crowcombe with his wife Selina (46) and two of their sons: Edward (19), who was a rural postman, and Hugh (12). Edith (25) was now in Oxford, working as a cook for George H. Morrell and living in the servants' quarters at Headington Hill Hall. Herbert's other brother Wyndham (21) is hard to find.

Herbert was married in 1909:

  • On 16 December 1909 at Crowcombe, Herbert Griffith (26), described as a valet of Farnborough, Warwickshire, married Selina May Davis (28), who was born in Oxford, the daughter of the late Henry Davis, who was a tailor.

His brother Wyndham was married the following year:

  • On 28 July 1910 at St Paul's Church, Kensington, Wyndham Henry Griffith married Caroline Elizabeth Jones.

65 High Street

At the time of the 1911 census Herbert Griffith's wife Selina (33) was living with her unmarried sister Ethel Helen Davis in the 14-roomed house at 65 High Street, Oxford (right), where they ran a university lodging house. Herbert himself is hard to find in that census, and may have been working as a valet elsewhere (or possibly training as a masseur, the occupation he held from 1912). Meanwhile Herbert's father James (61) was still a coachman at Crowcombe, where he lived with Selina (57) and their three unmarried children: Edith (35), who was still a cook, and Edward (28) and Hugh (22), who were jobmasters.

Herbert joined his wife Selina and her aunt at 65 High Street, Oxford, which was in St Peter-in-the-East parish, and by the beginning of 1912 he was working in part of the house as a masseur. They had two children:

  • Dorothy Ellen Griffith (born at 65 High Street, Oxford on 12 January 1912 and baptised as Dorothy Ellen Mary Griffith at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 14 April)
  • Geoffrey Ralph Herbert Griffith (born at 65 High Street, Oxford on 7 March 1916 and baptised at St Peter-in-the-East Church on 7 May).

In 1914 Herbert was still listed in Kelly's Directory as a masseur at 65 High Street.


Poppy Herbert Griffith volunteered for the First World War and served as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps (Service No. 29504). He died suddenly of sickness while on parade in Southampton on 22 February 1916 at the age of 32.

He was buried back in his home village of Crowcombe in the Holy Ghost churchyard, and is remembered on the St Peter-in-the-East Church war memorial, which is now on the wall of Balliol College Archives (the former St Cross Church).

After the war

Herbert's widow

  • Selina May Griffith was still living at 65 High Street, Oxford when she travelled with her daughter Dorothy (8) to New York in 1920, returning on the Adriatic on 24 September. She is hard to find after that date.

Herbert's children

  • Dorothy Ellen Griffith (born 1912) never married. She followed her father's occupation and is listed in physiotherapy and masseuse registers in Oxford until at least 1946. She died in the New Forest district of Hampshire at the age of 84 in 1996.
  • Geoffrey Ralph Herbert Griffith (born 1916) was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Corps of Royal Engineers in April 1940, and a temporary Major in January 1946. He does not appear to have married. When he and his sister Dorothy acted as his aunt Ethel Davis's executor in 1952 he was described as a local government officer. He died in Hampshire at Lynford House Rest Home, Bisterne Close, Burley, Ringwood on 9 February 1989. His effects came to £222,560.

Herbert's parents

  • James Griffith died Crowcombe on 13 February 1935 at the age of 83. His effects came to £138 12s. 6d., and his wife Selina was his executor.
  • Mrs Selina Ann Griffith née Pike is probably the Selina A. Griffith who died in the Wells district of Somerset at the age of 90 near the end of 1945.

Herbert's aunt

  • Miss Ethel Helen Davis Herbert's aunt Miss Ethel Helen Davis continued to run a lodging house at 65 High Street until 1932. She died at 47 North Way, Headington, Oxford at the age of 85 on 8 August 1952. Her effects came to £1,196 19s. 9d., and her executors were Herbert's two children.

See also

© Stephanie Jenkins

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