Cobbwebs News & Views

Here the Trust provides News & Views that are of interest to the family and to a wider audience.  They can be downloaded as PDF documents. 

Cobbwebs stay in this section for up to 6 months. Thereafter they go to the Cobbwebbs Archive.

Cobbwebs News & Views

Page 4 of 17

1. Alexander Edward Murray VC, DSO, M...June 2019

As Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle, before he had inherited his father’s Earldom, he was posted to India, and became Aide de camp to the Viceroy of India from 1895 to 1897, and served in the Dongola Expedition in 1896 being awarded two medals.  In 1897 he served in the Frontier War, Malakand, with the Guides Cavalry, and took part in the action at Landakai, having his horse shot from under him.

During the fighting at Nawa Bali, in Upper Swat, on 17th August 1897, Lieutenant-Colonel R. B. Adams proceeded with Lieutenant H. L. S. MacLean and Viscount Fincastle, and five men of the Guides, under a very heavy and close fire, to the rescue of Lieutenant R. T. Greaves, Lancashire Fusiliers, who was lying disabled by a bullet wound and surrounded by the enemy’s swordsmen.  In bringing him under cover Lieutenant Greaves was struck by a bullet and killed – Lieutenant MacLean was mortally wounded – whilst the horses of Lieutenant-Colonel Adams and Lieutenant Viscount Fincastle were shot, as well as two troop horses.

Fincastle was gazetted for the Victoria Cross on 9th November 1897, and received his medal from Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 28th February 1898.

Alexander Edward Murray VC, DSO, MVO 8th Earl of Dunmore (1872-1962)  #1722 on the web family tree


Our family tree includes 4 recipients of the Victoria Cross and 2 recipients of the George Cross.  These were awarded between 1897 and 1942.  Sadly, none of the recipients is still living but we will be remembering them this month as part of our commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944.

The Victoria Cross was introduced on 29th January 1856 by Queen Victoria to reward the bravery of her soldiers in the Crimean War. Originally all Commonwealth combatants were eligible but since then Australia, New Zealand and Canada have introduced their own equivalents. Initially the VC could not be awarded to those who had died in the action but this was changed in 1902 when 6 VCs were awarded posthumously to soldiers of the Second Boer War.

The George Cross was instituted on 24th September 1940 by King George VI at the height of the London blitz. It is awarded to recognise civilian gallantry in the face of the enemy. The GC replaced the Empire Gallantry Medal (EGM) and all holders of the EGM were instructed to exchange their medals for the new GC, a substitution unprecedented in the history of British decorations. This substitution ignored holders of the Albert Medal (AM) and the Edward Medal (EM) awards which both took precedence over the EGM. The anomaly was rectified in 1971 when the surviving recipients of the AM and the EM became George Cross recipients and were invited to exchange their medal for the George Cross.  John Gregson (1924-2016) #10872 on the web family tree was one of the 16 holders of the AM who refused the option to exchange. He argued that it was the AM he had been given by George VI and it was the AM that he intended to keep for the rest of his life.

The next 6 Cobbwebs are devoted to our 6 recipients and are presented in date of award order starting with the oldest.

Maj. Robert Nevill CobboldJune 2019

The Times, on August 18th 1944 carried his obituary: 

“The news of Robert Cobbold's death in action in Italy will have come as a cruel blow, not only to his family, but to all those, in every walk of life, who were privileged to enjoy his friendship. For with him the art of friendship was a gift rich and rare, & to see him again, however often, was to experience anew a thrill of pleasure. It seemed as if care and worries were all swept aside in the warmth of his welcome, and one felt, immediately, a strange sense of happiness and contentment, and a renewed joy in life.

And how he himself enjoyed his own life, in all its varied aspects! He was supremely happy in his family business, where his compelling charm won him so many friends, and it is possibly here that he will be missed most of all. But there will be many, who, like the writer, shared with him all his other interests, who will feel that, by his passing, they have lost something precious and irreplaceable - something of the spirit of companionship and happiness which were so peculiarly his.

Those who have shot or fished with him, or seen him with his beloved dogs, or, on a golf course, running, always running, down the fairway, will know that this is so. For he contributed, all unconsciously, so much to our enjoyment that, without him, it will not, and cannot, be the same again. The spice is gone.

To his wife, who shared his happy life for so tragically few years, and to all his family - and perhaps most of all, to his father, to whom he was, as a friend has said to the writer, "a part of his daily life" - the hearts of all who knew Robert Cobbold will go out in true and generous sympathy.

Their loss is grievous, but the memories - golden, bright and happy - will always remain. "For Death he taketh all away, but these he cannot take". May these memories serve as a comfort to his family - and, indeed to us all - in the years that lie ahead".

Robert Nevill Cobbold, (1904-1944) #470 on the web family tree, was killed in the battle of Cassino in Italy on 27th May 1944 just a few days before D-Day whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion, Welsh Guards.   He is commemorated at Eton, on the War memorial at Tattingstone, Suffolk and in St. Mark’s English Church, Florence.  His headstone in the Cassino War Cemetary is inscribed “In this rich earth a richer dust concealed that is for ever England”.  This puts us in mind, of course, of Rupert Brooke’s great first World War poem; so poignant that there is no apology for reproducing it here:


The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England. There shall be

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,

Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,

A body of England's, breathing English air,

Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,

A pulse in the eternal mind, no less

Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;

Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;

And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,

In hearts at peace, under an English heaven

June 6th 1944 OPERATION OVERLORDJune 2019

This month marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  If nothing else, a family history trust should commemorate those family members who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Thirteen Cobbolds died in World War II.  Two died in June 1944.

Lance Corporal Percy Leonard Cobbold lost his life during the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day itself, 6th June.  He was a member of 242 HQ Provost Company of the Corps of Military Police.  He was just 35 years old, the son of Charles William and Lizzie Cobbold of Broadwater, Worthing, Sussex and the husband of Eveline Rebecca Mary Cobbold, also of Worthing, Sussex.  Sadly, that is all the Trust knows about Percy; we have no photograph and we cannot place him on the family tree.  If anyone is able to help please speak up.

Also killed in June, on Sunday 18th, just twelve days after the invasion, was Lt. Colonel John Murray (Ivan) Cobbold #448 on the web family tree, who ironically had been a member of Bernard Montgomery’s team planning the D-Day invasion of Europe with Dwight D Eisenhower’s staff.  Ivan went to morning service at the Guards’ Chapel the day a doodlebug exploded on the chapel killing over 120 worshippers.  A friend and fellow sportsman, Lord Alanbrooke described his death as ‘a ghastly blow to me, made all the worse by the fact that when Brian Boyle was telling me of his death, I was actually picking up Ivan’s letter off my blotting pad.  His invitation to lunch that week made a very large lump rise in my throat’.  Ivan had been married in the Guards’ Chapel some 25 years previously and had held a silver wedding thanksgiving service there about three months before.



Augustus Hills Cobbold (1854-1931) #281 on the web family tree married 3 times. One of his granddaughters by his third marriage to Ellen Stanley Townsend (1857-1933) #284 is Elizabeth Anne Jauncey (b 1928) # 433. Elizabeth has been most generous to the Trust having donated first editions of many of Richard Cobbold’s books as well as an album of Elizabeth Cobbold’s (1765-1824) #58 famous paper-cut Valentines. Our debt of gratitude is unquestionable. We have written previously about Brownhill House near Southampton, where Elizabeth was born and it is sad to report that it is about to be demolished to make way for housing having been for many years a much-loved nursing home.

We have not written previously about Augustus Hill’s first marriage to Mary Constance Eden (1852-1884) # 282. There were 2 children of the marriage before Mary died of Pneumonia aged only 32. The daughter was Alice Mary Cobbold (1879-1968) #422 who married Capt. Duncan Tatton Brown (1875-1960) #423 thereby linking the Cobbolds to the resourceful and prolific Tatton Brown family. The son, Mary’s younger brother was Maj. Neville Eden Cobbold (1882-1944) #424 whose passage on the world-famous Windjammer the Herzogin Cecilie gives rise to this story.

With Maj. Neville a passenger, the Herzogin Cecilie left Port Lincoln in Australia carrying 4,295 tons of grain and reached Falmouth in a record-breaking 86 days on 23rd April 1936. Built in Bremerhaven in 1902, she was a full-rigged, steel hulled four-masted sailing ship which proved so fast that she was purchased by Captain Gustaf Eriksson in 1921 with the express purpose of competing in the annual ‘grain races’. Feeling the effects of the Great Depression she started carrying passengers in the 1930s. Having disembarked her passengers in Falmouth she immediately set sail for Ipswich. At 3.50 the following morning in thick fog she struck the Ham Stone on Devon’s ‘Fatal Shore’. The Salcombe lifeboat took off most of the crew but she lay there stranded for seven weeks before being towed into Starehole Bay, being refused permission to enter Salcombe in case she sank and blocked the harbour. Only 464 tons of grain were saved but many of her fine accommodations and fittings were retrieved to be housed in the Alands Sjofartsmuseum, Finland.

She was the last of the truly great clipper ships and when she was breaking up in Starehole Bay thousands came to mourn her passing including Rowland Hope Cobbold (1905-1986) #407 whose 1936 photograph of her is in the Trust’s collection.


In December, Engineering Fellow and fount of all Caius knowledge, Dr Michael Wood wrote to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph to get the story straight about the origins of the Cambridge blue.

His letter, published on 24th December 2018, replied to an article entitled ‘How Eton blue became the Cambridge colour’, which stated, correctly, that ‘Cambridge blue has its roots in the second Boat Race, held in 1836.’

In his letter, Dr Wood wrote:

‘Sir – There were three Caius men in the Cambridge boat of 1836. Tradition has it that they called for R N Phillips to get a light blue ribbon to correspond with the colour of the well established flag of the Caius College Boat Club. The nearest haberdashers only had Eton Blue, which was purchased and used.

Cambridge won by 20 lengths. After this, the University Boat Club asked whether the university could take over the colour. The College graciously agreed, so the university light blue is actually Caius blue. We still carry the light blue stripe on our blades.’

Caius 1st men’s boat went Head of the River in the 2018 Lent Bumps. The club was founded in 1827 and built a new boathouse in 2016. The clock tower is a privilege allowed only to clubs that have held the May Bumps headship for 5 successive years.

The blades awarded to 2 family members commemorate crews which achieved 4 bumps in either the Lent or May events.


The Trust is pleased to have added the following items to its archive:

  • The 14th Century History of the Cotehele, Edgcumbe and Brendon families by Tom Brendon.
  • Gates of Adventure V. Ipswich: Port of East Anglia, an article from The Geographical Magazine of June 1939, by Captain J M Cobbold, JP.
  • On the Embryogeny of Orchis Mascula, an article by T Spencer Cobbold MD
  • A new Form of Naked Eye Medusa (Thaumantias achroa) with Histological Details, an article by T Spencer Cobbold, MD., FLS. Communicated to Linnean Society, March, 1857.
  • A photograph from a 1907 magazine showing a steam driven brewer’s dray delivering to the Asylem Hotel.

The Trust is particularly grateful for financial donations received from Andrew Hughes Hallett, David Jamieson, Tim & Carolyn Cobbold, Marika Cobbold and Gill Gowing.

The Trust is also grateful for help given, often with family tree information, by (in no particular order):

Jim Harrison, Nicky Hibbin, Jane Dismore, David Rowley, Adele Mallen, Steve Painton, Neil Lupin, Vanessa Griffith, Peta Bruce, Carolyn Cobbold, Sally Hacking, Laurie Forth, Deborah Hughes Hallett, Robin Doughty, Sue Coales, Leslie Rhodes and Peter Carr.


The Trust is pleased to have added the following to its archive and is particularly grateful to all donors

  • Tales of the Boyhood of Great British Painters by Lady Marain Jervis #2766
  • Gleanings. Poems by Lady Marian Jervis #2766
  • Cricket Team Photo, early 20th Century, including P W Cobbold #324

Family tree information from (in no particular order):

Rowell Bell, Adele Mallen, Anne Young, Peter & Vicki Carr, Julian Royle, Daphne Stevens, Robert Farinella, Serge Comini, John Price, Calixte George, Sarah Banbury, Honor Wayne, Lois Mills, Walter Bonnici, Andrew Hughes Hallett, Neil Lupin, Gwyn Howells, Dick & Jeannie Cobbold and Mary Naylor.

Our thanks go to those who have made, and continue to make, financial donations to the Endowment Fund. This is the fund which underwrites the future of the Trust.Thank you.


Charlie Sharp, General Secretary of the thriving Margaret Catchpole Bowls Club, which is familiar to many as part of the pub located at the entrance to Holywells Park recently sent the Trust a substantial history of the Club which has taken its rightful place in the Trust archive.

We cannot possibly reproduce the entire history so it seems appropriate that we should  focus on the early days when the Cobbold family was much involved. The Club is named after the heroine of Richard Cobbold’s historical novel of the same name. This best seller was published in 1845 and immediately ran to 5 editions so it is little wonder that Margaret Catchpole is well embedded in Suffolk lore.

The first landlord of the pub was Cecil George Farr who had previously been on the staff of the Duke of Devonshire (#2452 on the web family tree) at Chatsworth; he took up his post on 1st January 1939 and in the spring of the same year John Murray (Ivan) Cobbold, as head of the Cobbold Brewery, agreed that a Bowling Green be laid and a pavilion built. Everything went on hold during the war and sadly Ivan was killed by a doodle-bug in the Guards’ Chapel on 18th June 1944 just 12 days after the Normandy landings which he had been helping to plan. After the war Alister Cobbold (Ivan’s nephew) #472 who had taken over responsibility for the Brewery honoured his uncle’s pledge and became president of the Club; after a false start during which roses started growing through the green sward, an excellent green was established and the Club was able to start playing matches – friendlies at first but in 1952 the Club only narrowly lost a serious match against a Suffolk EBA Select.

The Club thrived. It founded the Suffolk Triples League and proceeded to win it in the first two seasons; Derek Johnson arrived at the Club, won countless matches and went on to play for England; a prefabricated pavilion was built in1963 and, well ahead of the game, lady bowlers were admitted in 1964.  Many more successes were achieved through the years as the membership grew and members’ skills prevailed. Every member played his or her part but it is probably not unfair to single out Derek Farr (son of George) and Derek Johnson as of critical influence in the success of the Club in its first 80 years!

TAXI! TAXI?March 2019

Two family members have recently used London Taxis to help promote their businesses. Both businesses are highly successful but we are not suggesting the taxis were more than marginally responsible!

James Staughton (1959)#1358 on the web family tree joined Cornwall’s St. Austell Brewery in 1980, was appointed to the Board in 1988, became Managing Director in 2000 and Chief Executive in 2015. He is the great, great grandson of Walter Hicks who founded the business in 1851. Today it is a fine independent, diversified and growing company; the largest wholesale distributor of beers, wines, spirits, ciders and soft drinks in the South West and winner last year of the Queen’s award for enterprise.

Humphrey Cobbold (1964) #645 joined Leeds-based PureGym as CEO in 2015 when it had 84 no-frills gyms. The business had been founded by Peter Roberts in 2009. Acquired by private equity house CCMP in 2013 and sold on to Los Angeles-based Leonard Green & Partners for £600m in November 2017, it now has 240 gyms in UK all open 24 hours a day and with over 1 million members is Britain’s largest.


The Trust is pleased to have added the following to its archive and is particularly grateful to all donors

  • ‘So Far So Good’ a memoir by Christopher Haines, gift of the author.
  • ‘Bird Summons’ by Leila Aboulela, gift of the author
  • Akenfield’ a video, gift of Annie and Belinda Hasted
  • ‘Lion Hunting in Abyssinia’ 190

Family tree information from (in no particular order):

Elizabeth Seekings, David Jamieson, Sarah Houstoun, Leslie Rhodes, Nicky Hibbin, Catherine Armitage, Carolyn and Tim Cobbold, Emma Staughton, Virginia van der Lande, Caroline Smith, Rowell Bell, Mike Sparrow, Adele Mallen, Chris Dunham, Hugh Chevallier, Charlie Sharp, Gerry Lowth, Victoria Parker-Jervis, Martin and Caroline Surgey, Jane MacDonald-Styslinger, Lottie Haylor, Bill Norton, Lois Cordelia and Louise Fairs-Johnson.

Our thanks go to those who have made, and continue to make, financial donations to the Endowment Fund.  This is the fund which underwrites the future of the Trust.  Thank you.   


Perronelle Guild, [1902-2004 #709 on the web family tree] who has died aged 101, was the only woman cyder-maker in eight generations of the Chevallier family at Aspall Hall in Suffolk; a successful fruit-farmer before the Second World War, in 1946 she was a founder member of the Soil Association, as a result of which Aspall Cyder became an organic producer - a tradition it maintains to this day.

She was born Perronelle Mary Chevallier on July 31st 1902 at Aspall Hall, a moated, red-brick, largely Jacobean house in the Domesday village of Aspall in Suffolk.

Aspall Hall was bought in 1702 by Temple Chevallier of Jersey [1674-1722 #11811]; but when he died childless in 1722 the house was left to Perronelle's great-great-great grandfather, Clement Chevallier [1698-1762 #1330] of St. Helier.

Once installed at Aspall, Clement Chevallier tried to grow vines; but this venture proved unsuccessful, and he decided, in 1728, to make cider, importing apple trees from Jersey (a quarter of the island was devoted to apple orchards at the time) and a granite crushing-wheel and trough from the Ile de Chaussee in Normandy.  It proved a good investment and was in use until 1951.

Clement Chevallier's descendants were farmers, vicars and scholars.  They included the 

Rev Professor Temple Chevallier (1794-1873) [#2116], Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Durham University, who discovered a mountain on the moon; and the Rev. John "Barley" Chevallier (1774-1856) [#729],Perronelle's father, John Barrington Chevallier [1857-1940 #207 who married Isobel Amy Cobbold 1869-1931 #208], had a pedigree herd of prizewinning Red Poll cows and introduced the "y" in Aspall cyder to differentiate it from the west country variety.  He also sold Aspall apples and cyder by mail order, sending them as far north as Manchester via the local Mid Suffolk Light Railway, and exported cyder to India.

Perronelle's childhood was rural and old-fashioned; there was no electricity, mains water or bathrooms at the Hall until after the war.  The household was self-sufficient, boasting a dairy, laundry, carpenters' shop, fish ponds and bread oven.

Perronelle and her sisters were educated at home by a governess.  During the First World War, barely in her teens and with the men from the farm away fighting, she would drive herself 15 miles into Ipswich in a pony and trap for French lessons.  A keen rider, she also went hunting - even for otters, although they were never caught.

At the age of 16 Perronelle went up to Reading University to read Agriculture, but the following year she was obliged to leave when her father ran out of money; he had felt duty bound to keep on all his farmhands who had returned from the war.  The next few years were spent helping her father run Aspall, which then included arable farming as well as fruit.  She was a sharp businesswoman; the family said that the only time the farm made a profit was when her father was ill and she took charge.

In the mid-1920s she met Cyril Guild [1906-1978 #711] at a fruit-farming conference in Norfolk.  They married in 1929 and had three children.  Throughout the 1930s Cyril and Perronelle ran the fruit-farm at Aspall, growing plums, strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants which were transported round Britain.

In 1940 her father died, leaving Aspall to his eldest daughter, who decided to sell it.  Perronelle Guild offered to buy it, but even at a generous price it was difficult to raise the money; an exceptionally good fruit crop that year made all the difference, and when the war ended and the Army (which had troops billeted at the house) moved out, the Guilds took over the house and Cyder business.

In 1946, inspired by the example of their Suffolk neighbour, Lady Eve Balfour, they became founder members of the Soil Association, an organisation which now certifies all organic produce in Britain.  Since 1946, all the cyder produced at Aspall has been made from certified organic apples; and in 2002, at the age of 99, Perronelle Guild was a poster girl for Sainsbury's Organics, as one of the Soil Association's last surviving original members.

Until the 1970s, cyder production at Aspall was run by just one man, rising to two during the crushing season.  Harry Sparrow, who was in charge of the Cyder House from the 1920s to the 1960s, once produced 18,000 gallons in six weeks.  Cyder was sold to the public at the Cyder House (situated across the moat from the Hall), as it always had been.  Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears were regular customers, as was the Scottish playwright James Bridie, the Suffolk writer Adrian Bell, and the artists Margaret Mellis and Francis Davison.

The Guilds were dedicated to east Suffolk, particularly the coast, where Perronelle used to find cornelians on the beach and pick sea kale to go with her rook pie (cooked in late May, when the rooks were young and tender).  She kept chickens and ducks and, at one stage, guineafowl which, though splendid guards, always failed to recognise her in a hat on the way to church.  She controlled the moorhen population - who used to drown baby ducklings in the moat - by removing eggs from their nests with a spoon attached to a length of bamboo.

Her elder son John took over the cyder business in 1971 and enlarged and modernised it, introducing the commercial production of apple juice and cyder vinegar.  After Cyril Guild died in 1978, Perronelle began to travel extensively, and visited India, China, Russia, Egypt, Albania and Eastern Turkey in her eighties.  She continued to bake her own bread, make marmalade, garden, paint and entertain into her nineties.

She was a fund of folk lore, such as "always kill a pig during a rising moon".  Since 1993 Aspall Cyder has been run by her grandsons, Barry and Henry Chevallier Guild, who still blend the cyder from trees planted by their grandmother.  Perronelle Guild who died on February 15th, is survived by a son and a daughter.  Another son predeceased her.

Daily Telegraph obituary written by Perronelle's granddaughter Annabel Freyberg (1961-2013) #2398 Perronelle's great grandfather, who in the 1820s developed a high-yield strain of barley that, by the turn of the 20th century, was used for three-quarters of the world's barley crops.

ITFC and an Honorary DoctorateMarch 2019

Ipswich Town Football Club is having an unhappy time just now.  Perhaps we could lift our morale a little by remembering better times in the expectation that they will return before too long.  The Club’s longest serving and most dedicated employee, Pat Godbold, now the Archivist, was PA to Sir Bobby Robson for 36 years and worked for nine Ipswich managers including Scott Duncan, Sir Alf Ramsey and George Burley.  She received a medal for 50 years’ service to Football in 2004 from the FA.  Last October she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Suffolk.

Asked what was the best day of her life she replied without hesitation ‘Watching Town win the FA Cup final in 1978’.  Asked what do you want to talk about most she replied ‘I could talk for England – mostly about my 64-year fantastic career at Ipswich Town Football club’.

John Murray Cobbold (1897-1944) #448 on the web family tree, put up the money for ITFC to become professional in 1936.  The Chairmen’s Board shows that Pat worked with 4 other Cobbolds; Philip Wyndham (1875-1945) #324; Alistair Philip (1907-1971) #472; John Cavendish (1927-1983) #575 and Patrick Mark (1934-1994) #576.

As dedicated supporters of ITFC we celebrate Pat’s years of devoted service and congratulate her on her honorary doctorate in the certain knowledge that we would be joined in so doing by all former Chairmen.


The Trust is pleased to have added the following to its archive and is particularly grateful to all donors:

  • A Tolly Cobbold advertising clock
  • Miniature book of Common Prayer (A. Thursby-Pelham) from Kevin Stanley
  • 2 newspaper cuttings: Ivan Cobbold and Harriet Ann Cobbold
  • ‘The District Visitor’ (1935) by Helen M Cobbold
  • ‘House Hunt’ an article on Glemham Hall, Suffolk
  • War Diaries 1939-1945 by Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke
  • Gold Signet Ring (Jill Cobbold)
  • Adulation or Adulteration?  A paper by Dr Carolyn Cobbold
  • 11 photographic prints on related subjects
  • ‘Marlborough College and the Great War in 100 Stories’

Family tree information from (in no particular order):

Nigel Sawyer, Peter Head, Nicky Hibbin, Simon Toynbee, Emma Tristram, Susanna Graham-Jones, David Jamieson, Owen Chapman, Robin Doughty, Bev Bowry, Kevin Stanley, Simon Dickens, Peter Clarke, David Ryder Richardson, Charlotte Hayler, Sylvia Daintrey, Iain Sanders, Catherine Buchanan, Martin Riley, John Deen, Robin Minter-Kemp, Nicki Wilson, Jan Still, Bill Norton, Christine Haines, Meg Gilzean, Cor Roest, Anthony Talbot, Joe Gleeson, Anne Hasted, Chris Cobbold, Darren Martel, Barbara Lawrence, John Barr, Julie Hart, Karmagi Derek, Michael Cobbold (USA) and Vanessa Griffith.

The large number of people above, who have volunteered help and/or information in just the first 9 weeks of this year, indicates the substantial interest now being shown in the Trust’s on-line interactive family tree.  We thank them all, and any who we have accidentally omitted. 


‘Adulation or Adulteration? Representing Chemical Dyes in the Victorian Media’ is the latest paper written by Dr. Carolyn Cobbold #644 on the web family tree, who is a Research Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge.  Her research looks at the intersection of science and food production and consumption at the turn of the 19/20th centuries.

This essay describes how the Victorian media reported on the transformation of coal tar into a synthetic palette of colours in the form of aniline and azo dyes. These dyes were the first of many new chemical substances including drugs, perfumes, and flavourings, which chemists began to synthesise and produce on an industrial scale from a waste product of the coal gas industry. Although intended for use in the textile industry, the new dyes soon began to be added to food, becoming one of the first examples of laboratory–created, industrially manufactured chemicals to permeate our daily life in unexpected ways. The essay describes how the initial media portrayal of the dyes as wonders of science became more nuanced as the risks as well as the benefits of the new dyes being used in textiles, and then subsequently in food, became better understood. By examining the media representation of new chemical substances, from their creation in the laboratory to their widespread use in consumer products, sometimes in ways not intended by their creators, my research provides an intriguing case study to add to the growing historiography of how science is represented in the press.


Beaujolois Cavendish née Wodehouse born 7th February 1919 #11005 on the web family tree celebrated her 100th birthday this week. She volunteered as a Wren in the Women’s Royal Naval Service at the age of 23. She spent the war working deep beneath the ground in a huge network of tunnels at the centre of naval operations in Portsmouth.

In her memoirs published in 2012 she described the moment she found out she was to be put in charge of one of the plotting teams. “By the spring of 1944, I had been on the staff of Commander Tim Taylor for 18 months or more and he had seen a good deal of my work. I was thrilled to be trusted with the secret blueprint of the D-Day invasion plans”. “It was only after the war that I learnt that I was one of only nine people in the fort who knew these invasion plans”.

Mrs Cavendish’s family, including two children, six grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren gathered at her care home to hold a ‘low-key’ celebration to mark her milestone. Her daughter, Kate Tyrell said: “It is a remarkable achievement and definitely a cause for celebration. We are all very proud of her.”

The Cobbold Family History Trust agrees wholeheartedly and knowing that she is the last surviving D-Day plotter adds its congratulations and sends very best wishes. Our thanks to Peter Mead and to Metro Newspaper, 7th February 2019.


By common consent Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke is the greatest Chief of the Imperial General Staff in the history of the British army. As Winston Churchill’s principal military adviser (and, as is well known, Churchill was not easy to work for) he must share some of the glory for victory in 1945.

His diaries reveal his close friendship with John Murray (Ivan) Cobbold (1897-1944) #448 on the web family tree. Ivan (a nick-name coined by his nanny who declared him ‘terrible’) was injured in WWI and found himself at the War Office in WWII, a member of Bernard Montgomery’s team planning the D Day invasion of Europe with Dwight D Eisenhower’s staff.

Back in August 1941 they had much enjoyed 3 days together on Ivan’s shoot at Milden in Scotland and on several occasions over the next 3 years Alanbrooke’s name appears in the visitors’ book at Glemham. In April 1943 he was booked for a week’s fishing with Ivan on the River Dee but it was cancelled at the last minute. Not so, however, the following year when he wrote: On the 22nd of April I flew up to Dundee in the morning, early, taking Ronnie Weeks with me. We spent the day visiting the 52nd Division (mountain warfare) and finally finished up at Cairnton where I found Ivan Cobbold. I had a heavenly week there fishing all day, leaving the house at 9.30 in the morning and not returning till after 11pm except for about an hour at lunch and at dinner. I caught 12 salmon, but lost 9 and was fishing badly. I feel infinitely better.

On 30th he flew back from Dyce to Hendon and lunched with Ivan at White’s. Less than 2 months later Ivan was dead. He had gone to the Guards Chapel for Sunday morning service just 12 days after the Normandy landings; a doodle-bug had hit the chapel and 120 were killed. It was the chapel where Ivan had married Lady Blanche Cavendish (1898-1987) #449 some 25 years previously and where they had celebrated their Silver Wedding just a few days earlier.

Alanbrooke wrote: The death of Ivan Cobbold was a ghastly blow to me. I had grown to know him very well in those weeks alone with him at Cairnton, and I had grown very fond of him. Both he and Blanche had been kindness itself to me. The blow was, I think, made all the worse by the fact that when Brian Boyle was telling me of his death, I was actually picking up Ivan’s letter off my blotting pad. His invitation to lunch with him that week made a very large lump rise in my throat.


Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, Suffolk merits top slot on every tourist’s bucket list and rightly so.  There was never a better time to visit than right now but you will have to be quick because their magnificent exhibition Early Gainsborough: From the obscurity of a Country Town closes on 17th February this year.  There remains much to see thereafter.

Gainsborough House has just been awarded £4.5m by the Heritage Lottery Fund which will see the Labour Exchange building next door demolished and replaced with a three-storey gallery to house a permanent collection of the world famous 18th century artist’s work and provide much needed space for temporary exhibitions.

The Cobbold Family History Trust is a ‘friend’ of Gainsborough House where hangs the painting of Mrs. Mary Cobbold with her daughter Anne in a Landscape with a Lamb and Ewe which used to be at Holywells and later Glemham Hall.  It was accepted by H M Government in lieu of Inheritance Tax in 1998.

The catalogue for the ‘Early Gainsborough’ exhibition yields another interesting connection with the family.  Mark Bills, the Director of Gainsborough’s House identifies A Sketch of the Life and Paintings of Thomas Gainsborough Esq by Philip Thicknesse (1719-1792), published in London in 1788, as one of the earliest biographies of Gainsborough.  Thicknesse, desirous of identifying himself with Gainsborough, claimed “I can with truth boast, that I was the first man who perceived; though through clouds of bad colouring, what an accurate eye he possessed”.

This is the same Philip Thickness who, despite his eccentric reputation, had become a Captain-Lieutenant in a Marine Regiment in 1740 and held the post of Lieutenant Governor of Landguard Fort in Suffolk from 1753 to 1766.  At that time his summer residence was Felixstow Cottage, later bought by the Cobbold family and much enlarged by 

John Chevallier Cobbold (1797-1882) (#114 on the web family tree) and Felix Thornley Cobbold (1841-1909) (#201) to become The Lodge, Felixstowe.  It stands on what is now known as Cobbold Point.

The Trust has long wondered why a little print of Felixstow Cottage by J Swaine published by J Nichols & Co in 1816 should be described as copied from one of the earliest Productions of GAINSBOROUGHNow we know


The Trust has been sent the following piece by Lucy London who runs the Inspirational Women of World War One Facebook and weblog, passed to us by David Douglas Cobbold #9809 on the web family tree who lives in Belstead.  Thank you David.

“I write to ask if it would be possible, please to say prayers for a lady who worked tirelessly during WWI and died on 2nd December 1918 – Stella Willoughby Savile Cameron Cobbold (1882-1918), (#348 on the web family tree – ED), who was buried in the Churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Belstead?

Julia Barrett writes: Throughout Mabel Pretty’s work with the Red Cross and as the wife of the Commanding Officer of the 6th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, one of her closest friends and colleagues was Stella Cobbold.  Married to Barrister Clement John Fromanteel Cobbold (1882-1961) (#347 – ED), of the famous Ipswich brewing family.  Stella was also the great niece of Lord Gwydyr (1810-1909) (#10552 – ED) of Stoke Park, Belstead.  Her father was one of the doctors who pioneered blood transfusion during the war, as treatment for massive haemorrhage and Stella was involved with Red Cross from its inception.  Educated at Roedean, Stella was in the same year group as Mabel’s sister-in-law Mildred Pretty and Edith Dempster (later Mrs Edith Pretty of Sutton Hoo).  Mabel and Stella were founder members of the Suffolk Branch of the British Red Cross and their husbands were Commanding Officers of the 1/6th Battalion and 2/6th Battalion Suffolk Regiment respectively.

Mabel and Stella were at the head of the group of ladies who so successfully established the Hospital Supplies Depot and the country-wide network of depots which completely supplied all the Red Cross hospitals across the country, as well as sending supplies and medicines directly to the conflict fronts.  Both women experienced personal loss during WWI but they worked tirelessly for the entire duration of the conflict, with no let-up even when the Armistice came.  Moving their work into caring for those recovering from Injuries and the onslaught of the Spanish Flu, Stella herself, worn out by the war and personal loss, finally succumbed. The 2nd December 2018 marked 100 years since an incredible woman gave her life for her country. She was just 36.

A Day in the Trenches in WWIJanuary 2019

Although the centenary year of the ending of WWI has now closed the Trust is pleased to reproduce A Day in the Trenches recorded by Clement Theodore Chevallier (1893-1969) #5781 on the web family tree, kindly provided by his grandson Hugh Chevallier #9062.

C T Chevallier was a scholar at Worcester College, Oxford and as a Captain in the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry was mentioned in despatches, gazetted on 15th June 1916.  Inter alia, his piece illustrates the importance of a sense of humour to survival.



In attempting to describe a day’s life in the trenches it may be as well to begin the day with nature and not with the clock. There is no midnight in the trenches, because there is no night. There is only Day – and one portion of Day is by the accident of darkness and invisibility a peculiarly convenient season for work.

In the dog-days we are blessed with a comparatively short period of darkness (and therefore of high-pressure work) as about two o’clock dawn is ushered in not only by increasing light, but by continued salvoes of German rifles. At this period of the Day, our friends the enemy, wishing to convince themselves, if no one else, of their superiority in producing rifle ammunition in Germany and in firing it in Flanders, and also, it may be, instil courage into their simple hearts, and fear into ours, by the childlike device of noise, do give vent to a tremendous rattle. In neither object are they successful. The newborn courage wastes its sweetness on our parapets, and so far from being inspired with fear, we are heartened for another day’s watch by the knowledge that the enemy’s local supply of rifle ammunition has [2] been slightly diminished without any result.

Meanwhile, however, we have stood to arms, as is the custom for an hour after dawn in case the enemy should have taken advantage of the darkness to creep out and wait outside our lines with a view to attacking as soon as he could see what he was about. This relic of ancient warfare as we learnt it from Mr Oliver’s lips four years ago in Certificate A class still survives in our modern era. Devised when hostile forces bivouacked several miles apart, it is still a wise precaution for all the flashlights that illuminate the gulf fixed between us and them.

At three a.m., an end to ‘stand to’. It is now light, and men may therefore sleep – unless one is a sentry, the unlucky one in each section whose hour of duty has come round, or the doubly unlucky officer whose rest is postponed for two hours that he may walk to and fro the whole length of the company. Then may be heard strange noises issuing from dug-outs, as of men snoring (as indeed they are).

Meanwhile, the artillery play a little, not on each other’s [3] firing lines, but on each other’s batteries; not very seriously, but very zealously, each side wishing to show his enemy that he is a particularly early riser and very shrewd in observing even before it is fully light. After this demonstration, the artillery retires, not to sleep, for gunners it is (falsely) rumoured sleep between sheets every night, but to breakfast; a German breakfast lasts three hours, apparently, and we have caught the habit.

Now it is the turn of the aircraft. The best time for observing is undoubtedly six p.m. in the summer when the enemy is in the east in the late afternoon as the sun lights up the country opposite the sunset without blaring the aviators’ eyes. Conversely, the German lines being east of ours, the early morning is the best time from the Germans’ point of view. Also, our own aircraft having taken advantage of the darkness to journey in, and the very early dawn to bombard, it may be, the railway station at Ghent, the munitions’ depot at Bruges, or his Highness of Bavaria’s headquarters near Lille, are returning about the same time. In either case, the heavens abound in aircraft between four and six, each one surrounded by the little white puffs of the [4] exploding shrapnel that the anti-aircraft guns send up with a noise of a chronic cough. It is very seldom that a direct hit is recorded; sometimes, though rarely, an airman has to turn his course, or even go back home, but as a rule he continues on his way, rejoicing in spite of the little puffs of smoke and (if he is English) the thud thud thud of the German machine guns. To the credit of these last rests, it is said, the bringing down of a French aeroplane early in the war, an achievement which was surely a blessing to us in disguise for after this freak of fortune the German machine guns have never ceased to waste a prodigious number of cartridges in this fruitless task. While talking of machine guns described from the Dardanelles by Sir Ian Hamilton (with small compliment to that gallant knight Sir Hiram Maxim) as the invention of the devil, it is comforting to realise that the English machine gun says ratatatat while the German only answers thud thud thud. It may be that possibly this slower rate of fire makes the German copy quicker to manufacture. Otherwise one is led to suppose that it is only in present numbers that the enemy have the advantage over us in machine guns – a fact which bodes well for the future.

But to return to our trench. At five o’clock, the officer on watch, having spent two hours walking up and down cursing the luck that made his tour of duty begin immediately after ‘stand to’ instead of including it, retires to his rest. At this season all is quiet, [5] and men go by devious routes, flitting through communication trenches in quest of victuals and water from mysterious hidden stores. In errant bands they go about, full of oaths to boot at their lost slumbers. But our officer recks not of these things: they are for Company-Quartermaster Sergeants all-watchful among men. At these times too rise officers’ servants, who alone sleep at night. The particular officer who has just come off watch is provided by his particular henchman with strength of twenty stout oxen, extracted and condensed into essence under the name of ?Bovremcoxois? in the wilds of Patagonia or Chicago; and to assimilate this and to sleep he retires to his lordly dugout.

Meanwhile the men either through obstinacy or by reason of the rays of the sun unable to sleep during the time set apart for that purpose are already beginning to ?drum? up, which being interpreted (though why I know not) means to kindle fire and fry bacon or brew tea thereon. Hapless the man who in a trench too near the enemy allows the column of his smoke to ascend too high! For he is assailed with a rifle grenade, directed at his smoke. This apart, he has a very pleasant breakfast, bacon, bread and butter, jam.

As for our officer, he breaks his fast at nine o’clock or later in proportion as each one’s more or less exalted social position has accustomed him to have it more or less late at home. The morning or what is left of it is to be spent according to the amount of work done and of consequent fatigue incurred the evening before.

[6] It may be that men have only to clean their rifles: it may be they have to build a new footrest for their firing points, lay the foundation of a new traverse, begin to fill up part of the parados that a trench mortar blew away while all but the sentries slept, or any other such lowdown work as is invisible to the enemy. Such tasks are set in the morning and it rests with the NCOs and men to complete it before it is dark.

About ten o’clock in the morning Cannonade arrives. No, this is not a newspaper. Today’s paper will not come until tomorrow evening. Usually the guns begin by playing on the trenches until the attentions of the enemy become so insistent that they must be checked when the struggle degenerates into an artillery duel. Watching, eating, sleeping, digging – so the day goes on. The sentries keep watch through a periscope for an hour at a time, officers on duty in the company, NCO in the platoon walks up, his beak sees that this dug out is being properly dug, that the footrest is not being built too high, that the sentry is keeping a keen watch and that the figure appearing occasionally above the German parapet is only a dummy, noting the whistle of a distant train beyond La Bassée or the appearance of a heap of earth that may be either a sap head or a mole heap, and with a view to a nocturnal visit counting the number of trees it is along the road so carefully and regularly provided with trees by the third Napoleon. These little tasks fill up the day.

[7] Not that the officer on watch, the NCO on duty or the sentry at his post are the only people at work. When they come off these tasks that go by roster, they help in the general digging. From platoon to platoon the captain goes suggesting improvements and adaptations to make the trench more serviceable; or he sits in his office and receives instructions from the battalion headquarters as to the work of the next night. Or he accompanies the colonel or brigadier round his daily inspection pointing out the need of a machine gun here or a trench mortar there. Meanwhile the sergeant major is his right-hand man, issuing sandbags, storing boxes of spare ammunition, superintending the signallers and doing a thousand and one odd jobs. With him too is the quartermaster sergeant, controlling the domestic economy of the place, the water party, the ration fatigue, the issue of the very latest type of respirator which is always said to be as useful as the one before it was useless. The dividing line between his duties and those of the sergeant major is clear. The quartermaster is a domestic economist, the sergeant major a tactician. Thus the sergeant major before an action superintends the steeping of respirators in a certain fluid: both the respirators and the fluid have been secured by the quartermaster.

The functions of both these specialists are combined in a lesser degree by the sergeant as far as his own platoon is concerned. He is the right-hand man of the platoon commander, and at times it must be confessed makes that officer appear superfluous. [8] As a rule, however, the platoon sergeant is an interpreter who translates into military language and puts into practical effect the grandiose schemes of the subaltern who from his upbringing is a thinker and a theorist and can only learn the practice from seeing the thing done. It is when there is no subaltern and the sergeant has to do the thinking that the advantage of a subaltern is realised.

So each one carries on his allotted task – sleep has no place in the timetable except in the early morning: it is assumed that everyone who is not watching is working unless he be cooking or feeding.

Three o’clock in the afternoon brings the War Special. Once more not a newspaper (after your previous mistake) and you suppose not a train. You are wrong, this time. It is a train, or at least so the rumour of the ages has it. Quite like a continental special, it runs not every day, but every other, or thereabouts. At any rate it comes somewhere up the line, to a different spot presumably every time, for our gunners never hit it, and shells you from a distance. There are those called Jack Johnsons, though the more erudite authorities differentiate between Johnsons proper, Black Marias and coalboxes. After a score of shells have blown in a dugout and wounded two men, the armoured train retires, and two thousand pounds have been spent.

On other days, when the train is not in evidence, the field guns shell more heavily of an afternoon. Their bag if they are active may be a man killed and four wounded – never more. For one thing the trajectory is so low that unless the shells are pitched exactly, they go right over – often they bury themselves without exploding, and when they do explode and do damage, the bite is far less than the [9] bark. For instance one of these shells destroyed a dugout in the doorway of which a man sat smoking. His pipe was broken into nineteen pieces, but he was not hurt.

After tea the aircraft come out again, this being the English airman’s hour of daily reconnaissance. The night’s work is drawn up, barbed wire stakes and tools fetched up. The sentries, one in nine by day, are tripled in the evening. When it is dark, the regular work of the day begins. Diggers can throw up earth from the bottom of the trench without drawing a shower of rifle grenades and trench mortars, whose deliberate though erratic course traced in light in the darkness makes them fairly easy to avoid if the sentry is alert. Has the regiment that day come into the trenches in relief of a notoriously untidy battalion? Now is the time to walk along the back of the parapets and pick up his refuse of fly-breeding jam pots and meat tins, for flies are prolific of disease as well as baneful pests in themselves. Has the enemy begun a fresh sap (at spot A x f 3 II b.45) on the map as the artillery observer thought? Now is the time for the scouts to find out. Is there reason to believe that the third willow from the left of the roofless barn holds the sniper that shot Private Hobbs at dusk? Now is the time to send out a patrol and round him up. Does the brigadier consider the front between Cannon Street and Queen Victoria Street (two of our saps) particularly liable to attack? Now is the time to increase the wire entanglements. Is a new sap to be dug by Number Two platoon? Now is the time.

All these works go on together. In theory, men get an hour’s sleep in three; in practice they are lucky [10] if they get any rest by night at all. No matches, no cigarette lights are allowed to give away the secret that men are at work. But there is no delay caused by not being able to see one’s work. There is not a minute but when the Germans kindly provide the necessary light. Indeed their flares are very useful, and would do credit to any maker of fireworks, and one has plenty of time to lie down before they increase their brilliance. The Kaiser also kindly provides searchlights, and one is forcibly reminded of the Crystal Palace en fête. Sometimes he shows us a target, a working party of Germans putting up a fence themselves; or he catches us: in either case the work is carried on until a burst of shells a few minutes later compels the party to fall back to its own trench in haste.

So the night goes on until dawn and the prospect of a rest; and at last each man falls asleep with the knowledge that Lloyd George has had another twenty-four hours in which to produce shells.


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