First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

James Welford GRIFFIN (1888–1917)

James Welford Griffin was born in Brill, Buckinghamshire in 1888, the son of James Francis Griffin (born in Brill in 1857) and Maria Agnes Frances Welford (born in Brill in 1861).

At the time of the 1881 census James’s father James Francis Griffin, aged 23, was working for his widowed father, John Griffin (born in Piddington in 1823/4) who farmed the 198 acres of Brillbury Hall Farm at Upper Cross Road in Brill with the help of six labourers and one boy. Meanwhile his mother Maria Welford, aged 19, was living in Boarstall village as a general assistant to her 83-year-old aunt Miss Anne Welford, who employed a man to look after her 35 acres of grazing land.

His parents were married at Boarstall on 27 October 1881 and had ten children:

  • John Francis Griffin (born in Boarstall, near Brill in 1882, reg. second quarter)
  • Annie Welford Griffin (born in Boarstall, near Brill in 1883, reg. third quarter)
  • Florence Maria Griffin (born in Boarstall, near Brill in 1884, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Daisy Mary Griffin (born in Brill in 1886, reg. third quarter)
  • James Welford Griffin (born in Brill in 1888, third quarter)
  • Alice Welford Griffin (born in Brill in 1892, reg. second quarter)
  • Ethel Welford Griffin (born in Brill in 1895, reg. third quarter)
  • William Norcott Griffin (born in Brill in 1897, reg. second quarter)
  • Dorothy Griffin (born in Kentish Town, London in 1899, reg. Thame district second quarter);
    died in Bray, Berkshire at the age of two in 1901 (reg. second quarter)
  • Thomas Capel Griffin (born in Grazeley, Berkshire in 1902/3, reg. Wokingham district first quarter of 1903).

James’ parents appear to have started off their married life in Boarstall, possibly with Maria’s aunt, but by 1886 they had moved back to live on his grandfather’s farm.

At the time of the 1891 census James (1) was living at Brillbury Hall, Brill with his grandfather John Griffin (67) and his father James (33), who were both described as farmers and employers, his mother Maria (29), and his siblings John (8), Florence (6), Daisy (4). His other sister Annie (7) was staying with her widowed maternal grandmother, Mrs Mary Welford (71) in High Street, Brill.

Two years later near the end of 1893, James’s grandfather John Griffin died at the age of 70.

At some point between 1897 and 1899 James's family appear to have moved briefly to Kentish Town in London.

By the time of the 1901 census they were back in Buckinghamshire, in Touchen End (a hamlet of Bray). James (11) was now living with his parents over the pub where his father James (44) was working as a publican. Six of his siblings were at home: Annie (17), Daisy (15), James (11), Alice (9), Ethel (5), William (4), and Dorothy (1). His brother John (18) was in Eton working as a butcher’s assistant, and his sister Florence (16) was in Paddington working as nursemaid to a barrister’s family.

By the beginning of 1903 the family appear to have moved to Grazeley in Berkshire, where their youngest child was born.

By the time of the 1911 census James (22) was working as a “Single Handed Butler” and was boarding at Cambridge Street, St Neots in the house of a coalyard foreman. Meanwhile parents were living at Walter’s Farm in Tiddington, Oxfordshire, and his father (53) now described himself as a retired farmer. Only three of their children were at home on census night, namely Alice (19), Ethel (15), and Thomas (8). Annie (27) was working as the live-in help of a lady and her daughter in Banbury; Florence (26) was married; Daisy (24) was the housekeeper of the farmer William Tombs in Chiselhampton; and their youngest son William (14) was a patient at the Oxford Eye Hospital in Walton Street.

Soon after the census James’s retired parents James and Maria Griffin, moved to the top end of Lime Walk (the new part then known as “Britannia Road”),and James’s father is listed as a private resident there in directories from 1913. This area had become part of Highfield parish the previous year.

On 12 September 1912 James Welford Griffin (24), described as a labourer, emigrated to Canada, sailing on the Virginian from Liverpool to Quebec.

Poppy James Welford Griffin served as a Private in the 8th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Manitoba Regiment) (Service No. 437816). He died in France at the age of 28 on 24 July 1917.

He is buried at the Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay (II.G.13).

He is remembered on the Roll of Honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield and on page 248 (below) of the Veterans Affairs Canada, First World War Book of Remembrance:

Canadian book of remembrance


All Saints' board

James’s parents
  • Mrs Maria Agnes Frances Griffin died at “Britannia Road” (the top end of Lime Walk) in 1918 at the age of 57 and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 16 October that year.
  • James Francis Griffin continued to be listed in directories as living in Lime Walk until 1921. He then appears to have moved back to Boarstall near Brill in Buckinghamshire, probably to live with family members.
Some of James’s siblings
  • John Francis Griffin (born 1882) became a butcher at 72 Addison Road, Guildford. In the second quarter of 1915 he married Elizabeth Georgina Fudge in Hampshire (South Stoneham registration district), and they had their son James Francis Fudge Griffin baptised at All Saints’ Church in Highfield on 18 November 1917.
  • Alice Welford Griffin (born 1892) married Frederick John Arnold Harding at All Saints’ Church in Headington on 4 June 1917.
  • Daisy May Griffin (born 1886) married John Hall at All Saints’ Church in Headington on 20 June 1921.

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