First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Arthur George TOLLEY (1884–1916)

Arthur Tolley

Arthur George Tolley was born in Headington on 1 December 1884, the son of George Tolley (born in Headington in 1851 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 15 June) and Mary Ann Hockin (born in Oxford in 1854 and baptised at St Peter-le-Bailey Church on 2 September).

His parents were married at St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington on 26 December 1875 and had five children:

  • Annie Eliza Tolley (born in Headington in 1876 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 6 August)
  • Bertha Maria Tolley (born in Headington in 1878 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 26 May)
  • Frances Alice Tolley, known as Alice (born in Headington on 10 July 1881 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 28 August)
  • Harriet Tolley (born in Headington on 12 April 1883 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 27 May)
  • Arthur George Tolley (born in Headington on 1 December 1884 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 January 1885).

At the time of the 1861 census Arthur’s father George Tolley was living in Old High Street and at the age of nine was already working as a plough boy.

By 1871 Arthur’s mother, Mary Ann Hockin, who grew up at 30 Union Street in St Thomas parish, Oxford, had moved to the present 48 New High Street (then 4 South Hill Cottages) with her widower father, who was a Chelsea pensioner.

In 1881 Arthur’s father was working as a labourer and was living in “The Lodge” in the Croft in Old Headington with his wife and their first two children, Annie (4) and Bertha (3), who were already at school; and Arthur’s uncle Thomas Hockin (18), a Headington-born carpenter, was boarding with them. Arthur was born at the end of 1884.

At the time of the 1891 census Arthur (6) was living

By the time of the 1891 Arthur (6) was living in the Croft with his father George (38), who was working as a domestic servant (gardener), probably at one of Old Headington’s larger houses, his mother Mary Ann (36), and his siblings Bertha (13), Alice (9), and Harriet (7). Arthur would now have been attending Old Headington Infant School, which was then still in North Place. His father

The family was still living in the Croft at the time of the 1901 census, and Arthur (16) was now a gardener's labourer. His eldest sister Annie had married and left home; Bertha (22) and Frances (19) appear to have had no occupation; and Harriet (17) was a dressmaker’s apprentice.

By 1911, Arthur (26) had left home and was working as a domestic gardener in Shillingford, boarding with Charles & Agnes Hawting.

♥ In the third quarter of 1911 in the Wallingford registration district, Arthur George Tolley married Dora Warner, and they continued to live at Shillingford. They had two children:

  • Albert James Tolley (born in Warborough in 1911/12 and baptised there on 17 March 1912)
  • Dorothy Tolley (born in Warborough in 1914 and baptised there on 27 December).

Meanwhile by 1911 Arthur's parents had moved to Holyoake Road (then Western Road, on the south side of the London Road but still in St Andrew’s parish), and only their daughter Harriet (27), who worked at home as a dressmaker, was still living with them. Bertha (33) was now working as a cook for a brewer’s family in Essex.

Arthur Tolley’s grave


Poppy In the First World War Arthur George Tolley served as a Private in 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No: 4486).

He was killed in action in in France at the age of 32 on 5 May 1916, and is buried in the Hébuterne Military Cemetery (E.22). The photograph of his grave (left) was kindly supplied by British War Graves. The inscription reads:

[Emblem of the OBLI]

5TH MAY 1916. AGE 32

He is remembered on the roll of honour of St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington.

Arthur Tolley’s cousin George Tolley of St Andrew’s parish also died in the war, as well as three of his second cousins in Quarry parish: John Tolley and brothers Harry Smith and William Smith. They were all descended from Samuel Tolley, who married Sarah Turner at St Andrew’s Church on 12 October 1812.


St Andrew's memorial board

Arthur’s widow
  • Mrs Dora Tolley née Wells (32) married her second husband James Bedding on 22 April 1918 at Warborough Church. They lived at Rose Cottage, Shillingford.
Arthur’s parents
  • Mrs Mary Ann Tolley died at Holyoake Road at the age of 72 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 7 February 1927.
  • George Tolley died at 58 Kirkham Street, Woolwich, London at the age of 80 and was buried with his wife at Headington Cemetery on 9 February 1932.
Arthur’s sisters
  • Annie Eliza Tolley (born 1876) married Edward James Buckland, a veterinary assistant from Hastings, at St Andrew’s Church on 4 July 1909.
  • Bertha Maria Tolley (born 1878) married Charles Burton, a draper of Moulsham, Essex at St Andrew’s Church on 24 April 1916.

See also

Back to St Andrew’s Church, Old Headington roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website