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Walton Street Methodist Chapel: Arthur SKUCE (1892–1917)

Arthur Skuce was born in Oxford in 1892, the son of John Skuce (born in Duns Tew, Oxfordshire in 1844) and his second wife Emma Caroline King (born in Somerton, Oxfordshire in 1852).

Arthur's father John Skuce (25) described himself as a station master when he married his first wife Elizabeth Churchill at St Mary's Church, Banbury on 13 March 1870. They had two children:

  • Edward Skuce (born in Clifton, Deddington in early 1871)
  • Mary Elizabeth Skuce (born in Deddington in 1873).

At the time of the 1871 census John Skuce (27), who now described himself as a railway clerk, was living at Clifton near Deddington with his wife Elizabeth (3) and their son Edward (one month) in the home of Elizabeth's parents William & Mary Churchill.

John's first wife Elizabeth died in the Woodstock district (probably at Deddington) at the age of 36 in the second quarter of 1875.

In the third quarter of 1877 in the Bicester district, John Skuce married his second wife Emma Caroline King, whose father William King was a coal merchant in Somerton, and they had ten children, all born in St Giles' parish, Oxford:

  • John William Skuce (born in Oxford in 1878/9)
  • Harry Skuce (born in Oxford in 1880/1881)
  • Frederick Charles Skuce (born in Oxford on 18 November 1882)
  • Alice May Skuce (born at Southmoor Road on 23 December 1884 and baptised at Walton Street Methodist Chapel on 13 April 1885)
  • Ernest Ewart Skuce (born in Oxford in 1887 and baptised at Walton Street Methodist Chapel on 8 September)
  • Elizabeth Frances Skuce (born in Oxford in 1889, reg. third quarter)
  • Hugh Skuce (born in Oxford in 1891, reg. third quarter)
  • Arthur Skuce (born in Oxford on 9 October 1892
  • Harold Skuce (born in Oxford in 1894, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Percy Skuce (born in Oxford on 23 April 1897)

Arthur's father moved to Oxford with his second wife. At the time of the 1881 census John (36), a traveller in coal, was living at 7 Juxon Street in Jericho with Emma (28), their second child Harry (three months), and John's son from his first marriage, Edward (10). Their eldest child John (2), and Mary (7) from his first marriage, spent census night at Somerton with Emma's parents William and Elizabeth King.

In 1884 Arthur's father became the first leaseholder of 79 Southmoor Road in Oxford, a fine Wilkinson & Moore house: he was described on the lease as a commission agent.

In the 1880s Arthur's uncle Edmund had a butcher's shop at 107 Walton Street, he and his wife Harriet had three children baptised at St Paul's Church: Harold (1887) and Sidney (1888). By time their son Edgar was baptised in 1893 they were at 20 Observatory Street.

By the time of the 1891 census Arthur's parents had moved to 105 Walton Street (which was in St Giles' parish, but in the district chapelry of St Paul). His father John (46) was still a colliery agent, and he and Emma Caroline were at home with their children John (12), Harry (10), Frederick 98), Alice (6), Ernest (30), and Elizabeth (1), plus Mary from his first marriage.

Arthur was born in 1892, and attended the Central Boys' elementary school in Oxford: he would have started at the old school behind the George Street Congregational Chapel, and then moved into the brand-new school in Gloucester Green in 1901.

By 1899 Arthur's father had opened a butcher's shop his home, 105 Walton Street.

At the time of the 1901 census Arthur (8) was living at 105 Walton Street with his father John (56) and his mother Emma (48), his stepsister Mary (27), and his nine full siblings: ; John (22) and Harry (20), who were butchers like their father; Frederick (18), who was a clerk; and Alice (16), Ernest (13), Elizabeth (11), Hugh (9), Harold (6), and Percy (3). Arthur would now have been a pupil at the Central Boys' School in Gloucester Green.

Arthur's brother Frederick Charles Skuce died on 23 October 1902 at the age of 20 and was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery.

By 1911 Arthur's father John had reverted to his former job as a colliery agent, and had moved with his family to 59 Warwick Street in east Oxford. Arthur (18) was a shop assistant in a gentleman's outfitters, living there with his parents John (66) and Emma (58) and four of his nine surviving siblings: Alice (26) was a dressmaker, Ernest (23) was a municipal librarian, Elizabeth (21) was a milliner's shop assistant, and Percy (18) was still at school. Arthur's eldest full brother John William Skuce (33) was now running the butcher's shop at 105 Walton Street, and he lived there with his wife Gertrude Blanche. (By 1915 the business was listed in Gertrude's name, probably because John had joined the army.)

Arthur's father John Skuce died at 59 Warwick Street on 9 March 1914 at the age of 69 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery with his son Frederick.

Poppy Arthur Skuce volunteered to serve in the First World War and was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on 26 August 1915, and rose to Captain.

He died in the Whitechapel district of London at the age of 24 on 8 October 1917 from wounds received at Ypres on 20 September. The funeral service was conducted at the Wesley Hall in Cowley Road. There was a procession down the Cowley Road with a pipe and drum brand, and the hearse and carriages then proceeded to Wolvercote. There are two photographs of his funeral in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 17 October 1917 (p. 7, POX0052328).

Skuce grave

Arthur Skuce was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery (A1/214) in the grave where his brother Frederick had been buried in 1902 and his father John in 1914. A separate block placed on the grave reads:

BORN OCT. 9, 1892.
OCT. 8 1917.

As well as on this memorial in Walton Street Methodist Chapel, Arthur Skuce is remembered on the Central Boys' School war memorial board.

After the war

Arthur's mother Emma Caroline Skuce was still living at 59 Warwick Street in 1935. She died in Oxford at the age of 84 on 18 May 1937 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery in the grave of her husband and two sons.

See also
  • CWGC: Skuce A.
  • Skuce's name and brief details on the City of Oxford Honour Roll

© Stephanie Jenkins

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