Colonel James Digby Legard – Military Representative for Malton Urban and Rural District Council Appeal Tribunals

Group & Class Systems [front]‘The function of the military representative will be to represent the War Office and is to do everything possible to protect the military interest of the nation…. It is essential that the military representative shall take a firm attitude throughout …this need not mean that he will necessarily raise friction and resentment in the Committees with whom he has to co-operate.’

The main committee the military representative worked with was the Advisory Committee which was made up of ‘men of wide knowledge and business experience in the district.’

‘It has been found that military interests are best served when the military representative and his Advisory Committee work together in complete harmony and mutual trust.’ [page 5 of ‘Groups and Class Systems.  The above description remained the same throughout the life of the tribunal system]

EF 116 - Legard

James Digby Legard was born on July 12 1848, the eldest son of the late Captain James Anlaby Legard, RN, of Kirby Misperton, Yorkshire. Educated at Harrow he then went to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where in 1866 he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery.  Promotions followed and in 1886 he became a Major.

Legards have long been associated with either the Army or the Navy, and James Digby Legard followed in this family tradition. He served in India, he volunteered when the Zulu war began, and was appointed Acting Deputy Assistant Adjutant General of the First Division. At the end of the campaign he was awarded the South African Medal and Clasp.

In November 1889 he was appointed Commander of the Yorkshire Artillery Militia. It is said that he made the corps one of the most efficient Artillery Militia corps in the country. In 1894 he was given the rank of Honorary Colonel.

In 1900 he commanded the Militia unit during the Boer war and was appointed Honorary Lieutentant-Colonel in the Regular Army in recognition of his services. He was also a member of the North Riding of Yorkshire Territorial Association.

In the years 1885 and 1886 he twice sought Parliamentary service, but failed on both occasions.

Legard sat on the Norton Bench of Magistrates, was a Deputy Lieutenant and a member of the North Riding County Council. He preceded Sir William Worsley as chairman of the North Riding Education Committee.

Between 1916 and 1918 he was the Military Representative for the Malton UDC and RDC local tribunals.  His signature is frequently seen on appeals to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal on appeals against the decision of the local tribunal.  Three comments or summaries of the appeals Colonel J D Legard put forward are listed below:

‘[John Beal] Was given temporary exemption to 1 Oct 1916. The appeal is against this decision on the grounds that he is not in a reserved occupation and his exemption is not in the national interest.’ [The phrase ‘not in the national interest is one of the Military Representatives’ stock phrases]

[George Alfred] Boyes’ employer applied for exemption as he is the only man not called up who is capable of driving motor vehicles. Five other employees have already been called up. Boyes is married with one child and contributes to the maintenance of his mother. He was granted two months exemption by the local tribunal to 1 Oct 1916. Colonel J D Legard argued that the exemption was far too long‚ and the employer could find someone else.

Colonel J D Legard states that Harold Blenkin is employed on a farm of 400 acres where many of the other employees are either very old or very young. It is not in the national interest that he continue and his previous temporary exemption issued by the local tribunal should not be renewed.

The above comments are not exclusive to Colonel J D Legard.  Similar appeals and comments can be found from Military Representatives throughout the North Riding Appeal tribunal case papers.

Research by Kathleen Horner a volunteer on the Grounds for Appeal project.  Additional material by Ruth Rising, Project Leader  for the Grounds for Appeal project.









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George Dennis and the German Businessman

Often when looking at the tribunal documents they lead us a on journey beyond the simple question of ‘was this man conscripted? Did he survive?’ Whilst the information on the forms may be scant, the paper trail left by these men over one hundred years ago can lead to further enquiry beyond the individuals involved, stories of national policy and attitudes of those in Britain during the war. Such is the case with George Dennis, whose papers show the blatant Germanophobia which permeated British society at the time.

George Dennis was the only wheelwright and joiner in the small rural village of Kepwick. He employed eleven men and had a smallholding of 5 acres, crucially for his appeal he had the contract to repair the buildings on the Kepwick Estate. The Estate was owned by German born Julius Ernst Guthe, he’d come to Britain to work becoming a naturalised citizen 1887. A shrewd business man he now owned the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company, his wife was British and both his sons would serve in the British Army during the war.

When George Dennis’s appeal form was received it was noted by Major Alan Hill-Walker, the military representative for the appeals tribunals, that Dennis worked for the Guthe family. Whatever Julius Ernst’s credentials were, they weren’t British enough for Hill-Walker when he writes about George Dennis;NRCC-CL 9-1394 George Dennis Central Tribunal [1]

‘This man is the private workman for the millionaire Hun, Goethe. There, who it is generally expected will shortly be interned at last. It is not to the advantage of the state that an alien should be allowed to keep this man from fighting for the allies. This Saxon, Prussian gentleman, acting no doubt under orders from Berlin is employing a dozen men under this Dennis. A new squad for the Army’

The appeal to the Central Tribunal was not forwarded by the North Riding Appeal Tribunal

What is striking about Hill-Walkers statement is how it encapsulates so many aspects of anti-German rhetoric, some of which predate the start of the war. From the early 1900’s there had been an outbreak of what might be termed ‘spy fever’, an explosion in the popularity of stories around the idea of Britain being invaded, from this the spy novel developed as a genre. So popular were these stories that the press would generate news around the idea of spies, giving the impression that Germany had an active spy network in Britain.

Alan_Richard_Hill_Walker Military Rep

Major Alan Hill-Walker VC, the Military representative for the Thirsk area.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross during the First Boer War.


There were around 53,000 Germans in Britain in august 1914, with a concentration on the east coast of Britain working in and around ports such as Hull, Grimsby and Hartlepool. At the outbreak of war many were interned, others were subject to strict controls on their movements. Ports and most of the East coast were designated as ‘prohibited areas’ for Germans, though a few remained, women and children or those over the age for military service. But technically Julius Guthe was British, one of 7,000 naturalised of German origin. As the war progressed Guthe’s ‘Britishness’ would mean less than where he was born. In 1914 his British citizenship counted for something, by 1916 his right to remain at his home in Seaton Carew was at the discretion of the local Chief Constable, by 1918 the government had tightened legislation further allowing his British citizenship to be revoked.

In 1916, the time of Dennis’s appeal, the British Home Secretary was Herbert Samuel, MP for Cleveland, he declared ‘although a man changed his nation he did not always thereby change his nature’. We see official Germanophobia driven from the top, coming from the Home Secretary and trickling down to the likes of officials such as Hill-Walker, who feel comfortable using phrases such as ‘the Hun’ in an official document, indeed it was a phrase which was used regularly in Parliament at the time.

Guthe was too old to assert his British patriotism by joining the army, but he did write to the Times newspaper in May of 1915 to offer any Merchant Captain £100 for sinking an ‘enemy ship of war’. The timing is no coincidence, throughout May of 1915 there had been widespread anti-German riots sparked by the sinking of the liner RMS Lusitania by a German U-boat. Locally there had been anti-German disturbances in Middlesbrough as early as September 1914, tensions were further heightened after shelling of Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough in December of 1914 by the German navy. The public at home were mobilised for war but not just in the factories and fields in a cultural sense, the papers expounded against ‘the Hun’, families received letters from loved ones serving abroad and Government wartime posters all worked to reinforce to the public that Britain was at war at home, and abroad.

It’s apocryphal that the Guthe family moved inland to the rural location of Kepwick to avoid any further bombardment by the German navy. The truth could be that a culture existed in Britain where Julius Guthe, German by birth, was no longer welcome at his home in Seaton Carew. New government restrictions and the increased anti German feeling which spurred him to withdraw to the remote countryside.

The tragedy of Julius Ernst Guthe is that his eldest son Thomas Percival was a Major in the British army. Serving with the 1st Durham Battery of the Northumbrian Brigade, he’d been in action in France from April 1915. He would die of wounds in January 1916 at the British Red Cross hospital at Le Touquet. Julius’s youngest son would also join the army, whilst not sent to France, Lieutenant Cecil Rudolph Guthe spent his war with the Royal Garrison Artillery at Hartlepool, no doubt on guard for a further German attack. He would die in February 1919, one of the millions in the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic.


But what of George Dennis? Sadly, for Dennis his brother was killed on the Somme during George’s appeal process. George Dennis’s final exemption ran out in March 1917 making him eligible to join the army. Did he survive the war? Yes he did, after the war he moved to Wykeham, near Scarborough, and died in 1967.

The grave of Julius Guthe at the Holy Trinity Church, Seaton Carew.GUTHE Ann wife of Julius Ernst Guthe of Dinsdale Lodge Seaton Carew & Kepwick Hall North Yorkshire born 29 January 1860 died 3 April 1917 also Julius Guthe Justice of the Peace for the County of Durham born 5 October 1856 died 27 June 1917.’

Article researched and written by Angus Wallace a volunteer on the Grounds for Appeal project

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Richard Freer Somerville – a matter of inheritance

NRCC-CL 9-1-2052 Richard Freer Somerville Letter dated 9th Feb 1917

NRCC/CL 9/2052:  Letter from J H Turner, solicitor for Richard Freer Somerville

Richard Freer Somerville voluntarily attested in February 1916, seeking absolute exemption. A smallholder, and “more use to his country” producing food, he was the only son of a widowed mother. A common enough exemption request but this case was unusual.

Somerville’s father was killed in 1897 leaving him, a baby, and his mother Clara. By 1901 they lived with her uncle; she was his housekeeper. By 1911, she is still there while Somerville, now 15, boarded at school in York, suggesting a good education to set him up in life.

Clara was “very nervous and cannot live alone”; Somerville had to support her as other relatives would not. If he enlisted she would “become chargeable to the Guardians or the asylum”. His 21st birthday in July 1917 would yield a £1000 legacy, which would support her if he died. However if he died sooner, she would get only £100, the rest going to her in-laws.

Somerville’s application was dismissed, going to the Appeal Tribunal in March 1916. His appeal stated Clara was now in delicate health, suffering giddiness and memory loss, unfit to live alone and “accustomed to live in comfort.” The tribunal disagreed about Clara’s hardship but granted exemption to October 1916 – well before his 21st birthday.

In September he sought another temporary exemption, which failed despite Clara now suffering severe breakdowns as well as a recent stroke. His case was dismissed in November.

 Shortly before Somerville’s 1917 call-up, his solicitor sought a review 3 times, even asking to speak to the Tribunal personally. Each request was refused. Did the War’s progress cause the change from February’s temporary exemption to September’s firm refusal? The intervening Battle of the Somme put Military Representatives under great pressure to get men enlisted.

 Somerville joined the RFC within days, transferring to the RAF as Motorcyclist/Private on 1 April 1918. He and Clara moved to Farnborough, so he continued to look after her.

 Further research shows Somerville sailed to Canada in 1920, returning later because of Clara’s health. They both sailed to Australia in 1922 and, in 1924, back to Canada. A death notice shows a Clara Ellen Somerville dying in British Columbia in 1948, and Somerville died there in 1983. So he did achieve his legacy and looked after her for the rest of her life, via lengthy sea voyages.

Researched by Joanne Aston, volunteer with the Grounds for Appeal project


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Manufacturing Industries in the North Riding

The appeal papers can give information on various industries throughout the North Riding.  We have a number of men on the North Riding Appeal Tribunal who were engaged in the Iron industries at Middlesbrough: Lawrence Farrar Gjers who was Chairman and managing director of Gjers, Mills and Co Ayresome Ironworks, Middlesbrough; Herbert Straker and William Fry Whitwell both Iron masters at Head Wrightson and Co Ltd and George Bernal Hobbs: Secretary of Cleveland Miners and Quarryman’s Association.

However the appeal case papers reveal other minor industries, such as the manufacture of mineral water.  John Thomas Espiner, a mineral water manufacturer from Loftus near Whitby objected to his conscription on conscientious grounds.  His appeal was allowed as long as he took up work of national Importance. A photograph of  John Thomas Espiner and his family can be found at:

There were 11 other men involved in the manufacture of mineral water in the North Riding.  Once such was Frederick Dowson of Shawl Terrace, Leyburn.  He was the Manager and Bottler for Wensleydale Mineral Water Company of 3 Richmond Terrace, Leyburn.  Frederick Dowson was supplying the army at Sutton, Barden and Scotton camps with mineral water.

The ZLP collection at the North Yorkshire County Record Office includes papers about the Wensleydale Mineral Water company, which was sold at auction in 1928.

Amongst the particulars of machinery are a syrupper, a soda water pump, a syphon filler, a crown coker a beer filler and a bottle washing machine. One manufacturer in York used 405 tons of sugar per year in the manufacture or ‘aerated water’.

Mineral water manufacturers and those involved in delivering mineral water to various military camps in the North Riding of Yorkshire listed in the appeal papers are:

Herbert J Young, Mineral Water Manufacturer of Redcar; George Porter, Motor Rolley Driver from Reeth, supplied the camps – possibly at Catterick and Hipswell; John Blenkinsop, Grocery Store Manger in Hawes who also ran his own mineral water business; John Maughan, Mineral Water Traveller from Middlesbrough; Walter Albert Nash, Manager of Mineral Water company in Middlesbrough; Frederick Newson of Brough Hall, Catterick, a Mineral Water Foreman; Lister R Coverdale, a Motor Rolley Driver of Brewery House, Normanby who delivered mineral water for Richardson Brothers of Normanby wholesale beer bottle and mineral water manufacturers; Charles Tindale of Greatham House, Southend Gardens, Whitby, Chemist and aerated water manufacturer; Fred Sanderson of York, a Foreman of bottling department, ale and porter stores for a company which manufactures aerated water and Francis Dunston of York was a carter, delivering mineral waters to shop-keepers, licenced houses and military barracks. His employers supplied all army establishments within 12 miles of York. They had only two left of twelve drivers.

Most of these men were deemed not to be carrying out work of National Importance and their appeals were dismissed.












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Leyburn Band of Brothers

Bernard Noel Nesbitt, of St Mary’s Mount, Leyburn a Bank Clerk, was the last of six sons to be called up. Although his address was Leyburn at every documented family event or census the family had moved. His father was Reverend John Christopher Nesbitt and so it can be assumed that moving was a consequence of being wherever the church required him to be.

NRCC-CL 9-1-3098 Bernard N Nesbitt Letter dated 18th March 1917

Letter from Rev J C Nesbitt to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal regarding his son


In support of Bernard Nesbitt’s appeal against consciptiom, his father writes on 18 March 1917 in the above letter: ‘I write in haste and not knowing your name and address.  The case of my youngest son Bernard Noel Nesbitt it appears is coming before the Tribunal on Thursday.  I plead for its postponement on righteous grounds.  Noel is suffering from an attack of measles and is very weak……..We have five sons in active service and hospital and Noel is our sixth son…..It is right and fair we should have one son left to us.’

Two of Bernard Noel nesbitt’s brothers joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and three the Royal Naval Volunteer Force [RNVF]. It is clear from the Reverend Nesbitt’s letter that he did not want his sixth and last son to go to war.  The two volunteers researching the Nesbitt case, Jill McNeill and Denise MacDonald, were curious about the rules concerning all brothers from one family enlisting. They found that The Great War was littered with tales of brothers lost as cannon fodder.  However, it appears that no records were kept of how many brothers enlisted from each family. Even the deaths of George and Roland Bradford, the only brothers in history to have been awarded the Victoria Cross didn’t rouse the government into understanding the suffering of families, for example the Smith family of Barnard Castle lost five of their six sons. It wasn’t until World War 2 in the USA when a family lost five sons, that The Sole Survivor Policy was created and introduced in 1948.

Of the three Nesbitt brothers who enlisted into the RNVF one, Norman, was killed in 1918 in action on a battlefield in the Battle of Albert.  He was 28. This posed another question to Jill and Denise, what was the Royal Navy doing on a battlefield? They found that at the beginning of the Great War 30,000 Royal Naval and Marine volunteers could not be found a position and so 63 [Royal Naval] Division was formed and trained to fight as infantry on the battlefield.

Bernard Noel Nesbitt’s 1916 appeal was granted and he obtained absolute exemption. However,the Military Service Act went through a number of changes between 1916 and 1919, when conscription ended. These changes led to many men who had originally gained absolute exemption having this decision reversed and they would again be eligible for conscription.  This led Bernard Noel Nesbitt to put in three further appeals.  His final appeal in  March 1918 was dismissed, implying he went to France.  However, Jill and Denise were unable to find any military or medal record to clarify his war service.

The other four brothers survived the war as did Bernard Noel Nesbitt.

Arthur Stanley Nesbitt  died in 1971 in Claro Registration District.  He was 83.  Ashton Nesbitt died in 1983 in Leicestershire aged 91;  John Christopher Nesbitt died in 1952 in Aberdeenshire aged 59, Eric Fergus Nesbitt died in 1981 in Hampshire aged 87 and Bernard Noel Nesbitt died in 1964 in the Darlington area aged 68

Jill and Denise have commemorated Norman Nesbitt in the Every One Remembered appeal. Further details can be found via the following link:

Jill McNeil and Denise Macdonald are volunteers on the grounds for Appeal project and have carried out the above research.



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Sidney Kemp Brown


NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown Notice of Appeal [1]

Sidney Kemp Brown was a ‘schoolboy’ from a Quaker family in Letchworth, boarding at the Quaker founded Bootham School in York when he received his call up papers just before his 18th birthday on 28 July 1918. On 17 July 1918 he appealed to the local tribunal in York for exemption from National Service on two counts – firstly to continue studying at Bootham School with a view to sitting  a History Scholarship to Cambridge in December 1918 and also on the grounds of conscientious objection.

In support of this appeal he completed the ten questions on the Application on the Grounds of Conscientious Objection Form. In his answer to Question 8: ‘Can you state any sacrifice which you have made at any time because of the conscientious objections which you now put forward?’  Brown states: ‘As a boy at school I have not had occasion to make any such sacrifice.’ In answer to ‘which kinds of national service would he be  prepared to do?’ he states he would work as a “student teacher” or  for the Friends’ War Victims’ Relief Committee

NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown Reasons for application [2]

NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown Reasons for application [1]


The Headmaster of Bootham at that time, Arthur Rowntree of the well-known York Quaker Rowntree family, wrote a letter in support of Sidney’s application and appeared at the Tribunal with him on 30 July 2018.

NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown Letter from Bootham School York [1]

Letter from headmaster of Bootham School, York

NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown Letter from Bootham School York [2]

letter from headmaster of Bootham School, York









Transcription of Letter [no paragraphs]:

‘To the members of the York City Tribunal:

Gentlemen: I write to support the application of Sidney K. Brown on the ground of conscientious objection.  He has been a pupil in the school since 1913.  He is a birthright member of the Society of Friends and has attended the religious meetings of that Society regularly whilst he has been in York.  I have frequently had conversations with him and know that he is a thorough-going Quaker, holding the tenets of the Society of Friends including the views of the Society on peace and war.  I also beg to support his application for the postponement of his other work until after December when the Scholarship Examination will take place.  S. K. Brown hopes to go to the University when the war is over:  he has a reasonable prospect of winning a scholarship.’  I am, Yours sincerely, Arthur Rowntree, Headmaster.’

The decision of the York Local Tribunal was an exemption till 1 January 1919, to allow Sidney to sit his scholarship, and that he was to join the Friends Ambulance Unit.

On 20 August 1918 Sidney appealed to the North Riding Tribunal against the Local Tribunal decision because as an absolutist he felt that he could not join the Friends Ambulance Unit as they were ‘part of the organisation for war’. He wished instead to join the Friends War Victims Relief Committee, as set out in his answers to the ten questions for conscientious objectors to answer.  This organisation helped the civilian refugees of war. The Secretary of this organisation Ruth Fry wrote a letter supporting his appeal, stating that Sidney would be of great service in the workshops in the Jura region of France.

NRCC-CL 9-1-5715 Sidney Kemp Brown War Victims' Relief Committee 30th August 1918

Ruth Fry writes: ‘Subject to the permission of your Tribunal, my Committee have accepted him for work at our hut-building centre in france, and as we are in urgent need of workers I hope very much that the necessary exemption may be granted.’

His appeal was upheld with an exemption to sit his scholarship in December 1918 and join the Friends War Victim Relief Committee by 1 January 1919. We are not sure whether Sidney did join the FWVRC or whether he gained his scholarship to Cambridge, we do know however, that he became an Assistant School Teacher in York as listed in the 1939 census and that he died in 1978. There is photograph of him in 1935 held by Bootham School Archives along with some diaries that he wrote as a schoolboy in 1914.

Sidney K Brown returned to Bootham School as a School Master in 1927 and remained there until 1964.  He taught History, Geography and Economics.  He was Senior Master from 1946 to 1964.

More information on the Friends War Victim Relief Committee can be found at:

The story of Sidney K Brown was researched by Maggie Wilson who volunteers with the Grounds for Appeal project.

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Edward Pedley 19 June 1881 Reeth – 9 November 1954 Grinton

NRCC-CL 9-1-623 Notice of Appeal [1]

Edward Pedley’s appeal to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal

Edward was one of the nine children of William and Mary (nee Alderson) Pedley. William was a Lead Miner and Farmer at the time of his death in 1910. Edward’s mother Mary probably took up the running of the boarding house at the Half Moon after her husband’s death.  The Half Moon was next to the Black Bull Hotel in Reeth.  After the death of his mother, in 1945, and stepfather, Edward’s sister Alice Ann took over the Half Moon.  However, she predeceased her mother and it is uncertain what happened to the Half Moon at this time.

Two of Edward’s brothers remained living at the Half Moon after their mother’s death in 1945, so it is thought that the remaining part of the property was rented/leased out and it was probably Edward who managed that arrangement.

Scan 5

Image courtesy of Swaledale Museum, Reeth

Edward was a self-employed stone mason and later a builder and contractor.  He built an extension to what is now the Burgoyne Hotel on The Green at Reeth.  He was clerk and then chairman of the Grinton Parish Meeting for many years and clerk of the Grinton Parish Council from 1931.  He died in 1954 after which his daughter Elsie, the Postmistress at Grinton, took over as Parish Clerk.  Edward had five surviving brothers.  Judith Walmsley (nee Pedley) tells us: ‘The youngest I don’t think fought in the war as I believe he would have been classed as medically unfit.’

Why did Edward appeal against his conscription? His granddaughter Judith Walmsley suggests that it was Edward’s wife Martha who persuaded him to remain. All of Edward’s surviving four brothers had joined the armed forces and Martha may have felt that Edward was needed at home where he had skills from which the community could benefit.  Edward’s wife Martha ran the post office in Grinton and as Edward stated in his appeal to the Reeth local tribunal:  ‘Very serious hardship would ensue if I were taken as my wife (being Sub-Postmistress of Grinton with two deliveries attached) would be compelled to give it up, with also four young children.’

On 5 May 1916 the Reeth Local Tribunal gave Edward ‘Temporary exemption for three months to 5 Aug 1916. No further appeal.’ Edward appealed against this to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal – See image above.

Edward’s appeal stated that ‘it is absolutely impossible for me to fulfil my orders and contracts in the time allowed.’….I honestly ask for six months to give me the time to withdraw the quarry plant and dispose of it, with leave to appeal again…..I was not given a hearing and only called into the court to hear the decision…..As a voluntary attested man I claim the right to a further appeal and I wish to say that honestly feel that a great injustice has been done to me in that I have not received the same treatment from them that other men have received within the District in similar positions and with less responsibilities…..certain reasons were given for their decisions which if I had been granted a hearing I could have disavowed or otherwise.’  Edward was not the first appellant to hint at not being treated fairly by the local tribunals.  There are other instances in the North Riding Appeal Tribunal case papers.

Edward asked for leave to appeal to the Central Tribunal in London. We can assume this was not granted as the decision of the North Riding Appeal Tribunal chaired by Mr Gilpin-Brown was that Edward’s appeal was dismissed, implying that the decision of the local tribunal was to stand and Edward would be exempt until 5 August 1916.  However, Judith Walmsley tells us that on 10 August 1918 Edward enrolled in the Volunteer Force, Alexandra, Princess of Wales Own (Yorkshire Regiment).  This suggests that Edward made further applications to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal for an extension of the original temporary exemption between 1916 and 1918, and indeed he did.

In September 1916 Edward applied again and was allowed a further exemption to 1 Jan 1917. In that month he applied again and this time the North Riding Appeal Tribunal decided to allow his exemption, ‘Conditional on taking up work in agriculture for 3 days a week.’  The summaries of the three appeals made by Edward Pedley can be found at

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What happened to George Albert Little?

NRCC-CL 9-1-622 Telegram

NRCC/CL 9/1/622 record at the North Yorkshire County Record Office


George Little was baptised in the Parochial Chapelry, Barnard Castle on 1 May 1887.  His parents were Francis William and Ruth Millen Little.  In the 1911 census George and family are living at 14 Marshall Street, Barnard Castle and he was Corn and Cake Merchant. His attestation papers of 1915, state that hehad previously served in the Durham Light Infantry for five years.

WWI Service Records on 

Age: 48 yrs and 9 months, Height 5 foot and 5 and a half inches. Chest 35 and a half inches and chest expansion 4 inches.

George was married to Louisa May Little nee Snailham of Oak Tree Inn/ Arkle Terrace Reeth. They married at Wycliffe Roman Catholic church on 25 September 1909. They had two children:  Ruth Eva, born in 1910 and Seymour William born in 1918.

George served as a Private (30697) in 3rd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.

After end of WWI George Little went into the Army Reserve and was finally demobbed on 16th October 1919.  He died in 1934 aged 47.  His widow, Louisa May Little, was living in Wycliffe in 1939 with her brother in law Arthur William Little who was a retired schoolmaster.  Louisa May is listed in the 1939 register on as having been a Sub postmistress and shopkeeper in the Startforth area.

If you have a photograph of Georgle Little, which you would allow us to digitise and put up on this blog we would love to hear from you.

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George Albert Little of Reeth

NRCC-CL 9-1-622 Letter from Directors of Swaledale Farmers Association [1]

From NRCC/CL 9/1/622 at The North Yorkshire County Record Office

George Albert Little lived at Arkle Terrace, Reeth and was 29. On 6th May 1916 he appealed to the Reeth Local Tribunal asking for conditional exemption. On 12th May 1916 he was granted a two month exemption to 12th July 1916.  This was to give his employers, The Swaledale Farmers Association, time to find a man over military age to replace Little.

On 9th May the association lodged an appeal with the local tribunal asking for conditional exemption stating ‘This man is indispensable.  It is impossible to obtain an experienced man over military age.  He is the only man employed.  We have over 300 customers of whom 106 are shareholders and the turnover of the Society is over £3,000 per annum.’ Reeth Local Tribunal gave the same decision – exemption to 12th July 1916.

The military representative, Captain Williams, did not agree with this decision, and on 12th May lodged an appeal with the North Riding Appeal Tribunal.  He stated that as a Manager and Secretary of a firm supplying flour and feeding stuffs to farmers, Little was not in a certified occupation and therefore could be replaced by a man over military age.

Captain Williams appeal was allowed, but Little was not to be called up before June 12 with further leave to appeal refused.

The case papers include a three page letter from the Swaledale Farmers Association dated 22 May 1916.  the letter is signed by the Chairman and directors of the association.


NRCC-CL 9-1-622 Letter from Directors of Swaledale Farmers Association [3]

The letter is addressed to the Appeal Tribunal, Richmond.  This would have been the County Tribunal as the local tribunal for Reeth did not sit in Richmond. NRCC/CL 9/1/622

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Swaledale Museum, Reeth

Swaledale _1Swaledale_2

12th July 2017 – talk at Swaledale Museum in Reeth.

I was given a very warm welcome from Helen Bainbridge at this lovely museum near The Green in Reeth.  Talks take place on the mezzanine floor see above.  About 25 people made up the audience and there were questions after the talk regarding the appeal tribunal case papers and how they could be accessed, the working of the tribunal system and the role of the military representative.  A number of copies of case papers were left at the museum and Helen was enthusiastic about obtaining further information on the men who were appealing against their conscription.  After the talk Helen emailed various societies and individuals and we met up again on 29th August with Barbara Buckingham from Reeth to go through the findings……details on individual cases to follow in future blogs.

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