Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Aubrey GURL (1895/6–1917)

Some of this information is repeated under the entry for Aubrey’s brother Cyril Gurl, who also died in the war

Aubrey Gurl was born in Headington Quarry in 1895/6, the ninth child of Thomas Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1852 and privately baptised there on 9 October) and Sarah Emma Briscoe (born in Long Crendon, Buckinghamshire in 1860).

Aubrey’s parents were married at Holy Trinity Church on 4 December 1880. The 1881 census shows Aubrey’s father Thomas Gurl living with his new wife at The Fox in Barton, where he was the publican.

They were both illiterate, and their children born up to 1900 were registered phonetically with the surname spelt Girl; but from 1900 (presumably after the older children had learned to read) they were registered with their surname spelt Gurl. They had thirteen children in all:

  • Thomas George Gurl (born in Barton in 1881 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 30 October)
  • Louisa Jane Gurl (born in Barton in 1882/3 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 January 1883)
  • Mary Ann Gurl (born in Barton in 1885 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 June)
  • William Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1887 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 26 June)
  • Albert Francis Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1889 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 26 May)
  • Sarah Ann Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1891 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 31 May)
  • Jesse Norman Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1892/3 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 29 January 1893)
  • Nora Martha Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1894 and privately baptised there on 12 November);
    died aged six days and buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 17  November 1894
  • Aubrey Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1895/6 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 23 February 1896)
  • Cyril James Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1897 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 29 August)
  • Oliver Reginald Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1898/9 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 26 March 1899);
    died aged six months and buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 16 August 1899
  • Nora(h) Blanch(e) Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in about September 1900 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 28 October)
  • Arnold Oliver Gurl (born in Headington Quarry in 1904 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church on 26 June).

Their first three children were born in Barton, probably at The Fox.

In about 1886 Aubrey's father took up work as a quarryman and the family moved to Headington Quarry. At the time of the 1891 census Thomas & Sarah Gurl were living at The Square with their first five children: Thomas (9), Louisa (8), Mary (5), William (4), and Albert (2). Aubrey was born in Quarry near the beginning of 1896.

At the time of the 1901 census Aubrey (5) was living at Quarry High Street (then called Main Street), and was at school (almost certainly Headington Quarry National School). He was living with his parents and seven of his siblings: Thomas (19, who was working as a stone quarryman; Mary (15); William (13), who was a farm labourer; Albert (11), Sarah (9), and Jesse (8), who were at school; and Cyril (3) and Nora (six months). His eldest sister Louisa (18) was in service at 102 Abingdon Road.

In 1911 Aubrey (15), who was a printer's labourer, was still living at Quarry High Street with his father Thomas (58), who was still a labourer in the quarries, and his mother Sarah (51), who was now employed by someone else as a laundress. Only four of his siblings were still at home: William (24), who was a builder’s labourer; Jesse (18), who was a quarryman; and Cyril (13) and Nora (10), who were at school. Thomas (30) and Louisa (28) were married; Albert (22) was a soldier at Cambridge Barracks in Portsmouth; and his sisters Mary and Sarah are hard to find, although only one of them appears to have died.

Grave of Aubrey Gurl

 

Poppy Aubrey Gurl volunteered to serve in the First World War and was a Private in the 4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 201106).

He was killed in action in France at the age of 21 on 3 March 1917, and is buried at the Hem Farm Military Cemetery, Hem-Monacu ( II. L. 6). He is listed on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry.

 

Left: Photograph of Aubrey Gurl’s grave in the Hem Farm Military Cemetery, reproduced with kind
permission of Aubrey Gurl’s great-nephew, Tim Venn. The text reads:

[Emblem of the OBLI]

201106 PRIVATE
A. GURL
OXFORD & BUCKS. LIGHT INF.
3RD MARCH 1917  AGED 21

 

Aubrey Gurl’s brother Cyril was also killed in the war the next year, at the age of 21, on 1 October 1918.

 

 

Below: Some of the 394 graves at Hem Farm Military Cemetery, photographed by Tim Venn

Hem Farm Military Cemetery


Postscript

Quarry memorial

Aubrey’s parents
  • Mrs Sarah Emma Gurl died at 21 Quarry High Street at the age of 74 on 15 March 1935 and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard.
  • Thomas Gurl died at 21 Quarry High Street at the age of 91 on 24 April 1944, and was buried with his wife in Holy Trinity churchyard.
Some of Aubrey’s siblings
  • Thomas George Gurl (born 1881) married Frances Mary Badger in the Headington registration district in the second quarter of 1909. At the time of the 1911 census they were living in St Anne’s Road.
  • Louisa Jane Gurl (born 1883) married Joseph Thomas Blake in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1906. At the time of the 1911 census she was living at Long Crendon, where her husband was a cowman, and had two children: Eric Thomas Walter Blake (2) and Una Louisa Mary Blake (two months).
  • Albert Francis Gurl (born 1889) married Beatrice Dorcas Coppock at Holy Trinity Church on 6 September 1919. After her death he married the widow Mrs Edith Mary Kerry at that church on 2 August 1947. He died at 55 Delbush Avenue, Sandhills at the age of 83 and was buried at Holy Trinity churchyard on 7 July 1972.
  • Cyril James Gurl (born 1897) was also killed in the war: see separate page

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website