Stock History
By Charles Phillips
This is an account of Stock in the Great War as gathered from newspaper reports and written reminiscences.
In May 1914 the Rector, the Rev Edward Gibson, informed his parishioners that he had decided to resign the living. His reasons for doing so were three-fold. Firstly on three or four occasions he had collapsed during divine service either in Stock or Ramsden Bellhouse (which living he held jointly with Stock), secondly as very few able-bodied rarely or never attended public worship in church he felt that it showed that his ministry was wanting in the spiritual life of the parish and thirdly as he would be compelled to resign within a few years he felt that it was better to do so whilst in the possession of his health and strength than linger on and become incapacitated. (Essex Chronicle 8 May) The Chronicle of 19 June recorded that the Rev F W Austen M A formerly the curate of St Anne’s, Wandsworth S W had been appointed Rector. The Chronicle of 3 July that the previous Friday a farewell presentation to the Rev Gibson had been made in the Rectory Hall under the chairmanship of Mr Richard Adam Ellis J.P. and that he preached his farewell sermon in Stock on the following Sunday evening.
On 16 July the annual Stock flower show took place at Greenwoods, the residence of Mr Richard Adam Ellis J. P.
On 30 July the annual church Sunday school treat took place. After church the children marched to the grounds of Stock Lodge which had been lent by Mr Matthews. Games were played and ‘a capital tea’ provided.
On the day that war broke out (4 August) there was a meeting of Chelmsford Rural District Council (RDC). At the meeting Dr J R MacDonald the Medical Officer reported that there was a house in Stock that was unfit for habitation by reason of having a hole in the roof. The Rev Gibson, who had not done with Stock yet and represented the village on the Council said that the children in the house were the healthiest in the village. The Medical Officer said that he was referring to the house and not the children. When asked by a member of the Council if he had seen the children the Medical Officer said that he had only seen the house. The Rev Gibson said that the children got fresh air through the hole. This brought laughter from the other members of the council. A letter was received from Stock Parish Council that houses were required in Stock and suggested that an experiment should be limited to four houses renting at 3s 9d a week (18.75p per week in post decimal currency money).The matter was referred to the Housing Committee of the RDC.
The matter of the council houses came up again at the meeting of Chelmsford RDC on 27 October. According to the report of this some years previously the Council had passed a resolution to build four houses in Stock and he appealed to the Housing Committee to whom the resolution was referred to carry out the council’s wishes. Another member placed the failure on the owners of the property to erect the houses. The Rev Gibson said the Council had the power to compulsorily purchase the land. A Mr Snelling blamed the Committee said that there was always some difficulty put in the way.
At Slough House, Buttsbury on 8 November John Hodge who was one of the Scottish farmers who had come down from Ayrshire to Essex in the agricultural depression in 1886 died leaving a widow, a son and two daughters. His funeral took place in Billericay Congregational Church on 12 November.
At the meeting of Chelmsford RDC on 24 November in relation to the provision of Council Houses the Rev Gibson said that Lord Petre’s agent had replied that he feared that the difficulty would be water supply to the proposed houses.
The Essex Chronicle of 4 December carried a report of a recruiting meeting at Stock addressed by Captain C B Norman, late of the 90th Light Infantry and Military Correspondent of The Times. The meeting was presided over by Richard Ellis J P. As to how many recruits were gained is not mentioned.
The Essex Newsman of 5 December 1914 recorded that a concert had been held in St Joseph’s Roman Catholic School the previous Saturday which had raised £5 for the War Fund.
At the meeting Chelmsford RDC on 22 December it was reported that the Housing Committee had reported that they had inspected three sites in Stock offered by Lord Petre and others offered by Mr Jarvis and recommended that one of the latter, about 1¼ acres near Highfiields be accepted , subject to satisfactory terms being arranged. The Rev Gibson said that the people of Stock wanted cottages and hoped that the scheme would go ahead. There had been a perfect outcry by people in Stock who required cottages. According to the Council’s clerk at first the people of Stock did not want the cottages but they changed their mind but they changed their mind when they heard that the whole of the Chelmsford Union (RDC) was going to pay for them. The report was adopted.
The Essex Chronicle of Friday 29 January 1915 said that a Patriotic Meeting would be held in the Rectory Hall the following Tuesday at 7.30 p.m. All men who were interested in their country’s welfare were invited to attend. The Chronicle of 5 February said that the meeting had taken place. Captain Turner with Mr Fison the Conservative agent and Mr F G Pomeroy (Liberal) had attended.
In July 1915 at the meeting of Chelmsford RDC the Medical Officer reported that the Jubilee Well in Stock was heavily polluted and although it had been thoroughly cleared out by the Council’s Engineer whilst showing an improvement it was still polluted. The Rev Gibson could not understand how it had become polluted after 16 years. The Engineer said that sewerage might have gradually filtered through. The Building and Works Committee had met Mr Richard Ellis on the matter of water for Stock and Buttsbury who had said that many people wanted a public supply on a small scale with the provision of standpipes in a few convenient places. He thought that the population would be prepared to spend £600 or £700. The Committee said that the current time was a most inopportune time as owing to the war prices were much enhanced and it was most unlikely that the Local Government Board would sanction the expenditure of money or that money could be borrowed at a reasonable rate. The question was referred to the Engineer to consider and report.
At the end of July 1915 there was a case of breach of promise involving two Stock residents. Grace Beatrice Shepherd (22) a milliner of Buttsbury Terrace Stock and sister of the local district nurse sued Frank P Jarvis (37) a builder and gravel pit owner of Laburnums Stock for damages for alleged breach of promise of marriage which Jarvis denied. The long and the short of the case was that it was settled out of court with Jarvis agreeing to pay Shepherd £600 including costs.
Casualty details appeared in the local newspapers. The Essex Chronicle of 15 October reported that Mr Henry Rist of Stock had received notice from the War Office that his son John Francis Rist had been killed in action in France on 25 September.
According to the Essex Chronicle of 26 November a very successful concert organised by Miss Benson in aid of the Serbian Relief and London Hospital Funds was held in St Joseph’s School. The date of the concert is not given, but the net proceeds raised were £9.
Lady Petre of Thorndon Hall, Brentwood in 1915 had started a Thorndon Estate Milking School as a means of instructing children in the art of milking and so providing much needed assistance for farmers. Lady Petre was the Lady of the Manor for Stock. The Essex Chronicle of 28 January 1916 recorded that the Milking School had now finished and that the last class had taken place at Forest Lodge Farm in Stock under the direction of a Miss Tregea from Cornwall, which was Lady Petre’s home county. Prizes and certificates were awarded at the end of the classes. The same newspaper carried a report of a performance of the pantomime Aladdin in aid of Red Cross work on the Italian frontier.
1916 saw the introduction of conscription. It was possible to appeal against it. Here are some examples. The Essex Chronicle of 10 March 1916 reported that Ernest E Stripe (32) a married farmer and dairyman of Stock had appealed on the ground that he had no one to take his place on the grounds that he did the ploughing and, milking and for 96 acres of land had one man of 47 and a lad of 17. He had 10 cows and was the only dairyman in Stock and had 23 head of cattle. He also helped his father on another farm of about 100 acres. He was given a conditional exemption. Frank Edward Clifford of the Cock Inn, coachman and stockman appealed on the grounds of hardship.His father who kept the Inn was a cripple through rheumatism and was unable to manage the stock and was mainly dependent on his son’s energy. A month’s postponement was granted. The Chronicle of 12 May recorded that Frederic k Marks, a London publican, appealed for the exemption of his son Walter Marks aged 25 who was a cowman, horseman and general farm hand on a small farm at Stock on the grounds that if the son went the farm would have to be sold. The application was refused. W P Burles a farmer of Stock applied for his son aged 19 to be exempted on the grounds that he only had only one horseman, one cowman and a cripple who did the odd jobs. The exemption was granted.
. Some examples from 1917 from the Essex Chronicle of 12 January. Alfred Whybro (33) single of Stock who was formerly engaged with a threshing machine and on general agricultural work, but was then a grinder at Hoffmans Works in Chelmsford appealed. Mr A S Lugg appeared for him and said that he attended to his father’s 8 acres as he was on night shift at Hoffmans. His father was incapacitated by illness and his brothers were away. If he went his father would have to dispose of his stock. One brother was joining up and another aged 18 intended joining up. The application was refused but Whybro was not to be called until 1 February. Percival Robert King aged 23 of Buttsbury was the Secretary to the Ancient Order of Foresters Courts at Stock and Billericay. He said that the previous March he had been passed C3 and in December B1. His health would not permit to carry out that class of military work. Mr F G Burrell speaking for King said that he had been weak from birth and King said that he would not have undertaken the Billericay secretaryship but for the low category he was at first placed in. He had a large amount of National Insurance work. A temporary exemption was given until 28 February.
The Essex Chronicle of 13 April 1917 reported the formation of a nursing association for Buttsbury, Stock, South and West Hanningfield. The Chronicle said that the work was entirely due to a Mr W C Benson, who had put an enormous amount of work into it . It was hoped that a qualified nurse would shortly take up her duties. Under the scheme a penny a week was asked from labourers and employers and three-halfpence a week as a week from others with a charge for each visit from the nurse ranging from a penny upwards. With the help from these and other subscriptions it was hoped to make the scheme self supporting. Chelmsford RDC would subscribe five guineas annually other the Maternity and Child Welfare Scheme. A nursing committee had been established and at a recent meeting the services had been obtained of an excellent nurse who would be in residence in Stock within the next few days.
The Chronicle of 27 April recorded under the heading CHELMSFORD HOSPITAL POUND DAYS that gifts from South and West Hanningfield were amongst the groceries Mrs Adam Ellis sent from Stock. Mrs Upcher and Mrs John Smith 41 lbs of groceries, four and a half dozen eggs and 12s 6d in money.
The Chronicle of 27 April recorded the death of Lieutenant Christopher Pendarves Gibson the son of the Rev E P Gibson on 10 April.
The Essex Newsman of 28 July 1917 recorded that a whist drive organised by Mrs Dunn of Lillystone Hall raised £5 15s for comforts for the Essex Regiments at the front.
The Newsman of 8 August recorded that Private Percy the eldest son of Mr W T Wright of Stock was a prisoner of war at the hands of the Turks at Jerusalem and was being treated well.
The Newsman of 27 October recorded that a whist drive to supplement a flag day on Our Day had been held at Greenwoods by Mr and Mrs Ellis and had raised £8 2s. The flag day had raised £7 11s. The total raised was £15 13s.
The Chronicle of 14 December 1917 reported that nearly £35 had been collected in Stock for the purpose of sending a Christmas parcel to every Stock man serving in His Majesty’s forces. The same edition recorded that a presentation had been made to P C T Sach who had recently left Stock for Thorpe-le-Soken after 18 years in the Chelmsford division of the Essex Police force. He was presented by the residents of Stock and Buttsbury with a silver plated teapot, cream jug and sugar basin , a set of silver spoons in a case, a silver key-less luminous dial watch and an illuminated list of subscribers as a mark of appreciation.
In early 1918 food rationing started. The Newsman of 9 February reported in its report of the Chelmsford Rural Food Committee recorded that Mr W C Benson had said that he had made an inquiry regarding a complaint about bad sugar in Stock. So far as he could make out there was no case. The sugar was real moist sugar. It was resolved not to consent to the person’s transfer to another grocer.
The Essex Chronicle of 12 April 1918 recorded that at the meeting of the Chelmsford Union Board of Guardians on 9 April the Rev Edward Gibson announced his resignation having served on the board for 41 years.
There was now a Women’s Institute in Stock and the Essex Chronicle of 10 May recorded that a Mrs Hallam from the women speakers and cookery section of the Ministry of Food had addressed a meeting of the Institute on 2 May in which she thanked them on behalf of the Ministry for their part in saving the nation’s food and begged them not to relax their efforts.
The Essex Newsman of 11 May whilst reporting the talk to the Womens Institute also reported a concert in the Rectory Hall on 7 May which raised money for the troops at the front.
The Newsman of 14 September recorded that a vegetable and bottled fruit exhibition had been held in the Rectory Hall by the Women’s Institute.
Sometimes there was mention of promotions such as that recorded in the Chronicle of 20 September which stated that Corporal Alfred Cable MGC, the son of Mr and Mrs W Cable of Stone Cottage Stock had been promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Croix de Guerre for carrying on his machine gun alone, the rest of the team having been killed and wounded.
Richard Adam Ellis of Stock lost his only surviving son Rae Adam Ellis on 22 September 1918 from his wounds according to the Chronicle of 4 October. His elder brother Richard Hugh Adam Ellis had died 1902 from enteric fever whilst serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery in India .
Another Stock death recorded in late 1918 was that of Monsigneur Cologan the former parish priest of Stock who died on 20 October.
The Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918.
The Essex Chronicle of 14 February 1919 said that on 10 February in the Congregational School Room in Stock Mr E A Hunt of the Rechabites had given an illustrated talk on Places and Persons in the Great War.
The war still lingered on. The Chronicle of 28 March recorded that Sergeant Frederick Bacon of Mill Road, Stock had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous duty and gallentry in the field.
The Newsman of 19 July 1919 recorded that on Thursday 15 July the first flower show since 1914 was held at Greenwoods by Stock and District Horticultural Society.
The Essex Chronicle of 3 December 1920 recorded the unveiling of Stock’s war memorial on 28 November by Brigadier General Colvin. The brigadier was introduced by Mr Richard Ellis the chairman of the Memorial Committee. Prayers were said by the Rector the Rev F W Austen and the Congregational Minister the Rev T Devine. The Parish Priest Canon Cyril Shepherd did not participate in the proceedings.
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