26th April 1915

Described as “a Dorsetshire Man” in the announcement of his death in the Leamington Spa Courier of 7th May 1915, Edward Nugent Bankes was actually born on 3rd October 1875 in Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, and his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all born in London. However, Edward’s great-grandfather, Henry Bankes, was MP for Corfe Castle for almost 50 years, and Edward’s grandfather, George, was also MP for the same district for some 13 years.

Edward was a 6x great-grandson of Mary, Lady Bankes (1598-1661), who defended Corfe Castle against Parliamentary troops for two years during the English Civil War 1643-5. The castle was demolished by order of Parliament in 1645 but the fortunes of the Bankes family were restored with the return of Charles II in 1660. Rather than restore the ruined Corfe Castle, the family seat for the next 400 years became a newly-built property at Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster, Dorset (which has been in the care of the National Trust since 1981).

The local connection with the Bankes family is that, in 1906, Edward Nugent Bankes married his first cousin once removed, Lettice Adelaide Digby (1882-1953), eldest daughter of Charles Wriothesley Digby (1859-1908), of Meriden Hall, Warwickshire. Charles’s mother, Adelaide, was a younger sister of Edward’s father, Henry Hyde Nugent Bankes.

Image of E N Bankes
Captain Edward Nugent Bankes (1875-1915)

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18th February 1915

On 18th February 1915, 44-year-old Major Arthur Joseph Clay died of pneumonia at Harpenden, whilst serving with the 2nd/6th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment. Born on 29th April 1870 at Burton-on-Trent, he was the eldest son of Charles John Clay, barrister at law and Managing Director of Bass Brewery. Arthur’s mother, Agnes Lucy (née Arden) died in 1874, leaving four sons under the age of five. When Arthur was 13, his father married again, and went on to have  two daughters with his second wife.

Arthur attended Harrow School and New College, Oxford. He was gazetted Second Lieutenant with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Prince of Wales’s (North Staffordshire Regiment) in February 1893, and rose to the rank of Captain before resigning his commission in advance of the merger of volunteer units in 1908 to create the Territorial Force. He became a Director of Messrs. Bass, Ratcliffe and Gretton,  a Director of the Gordon Hotels and was one of the principal  promoters of the Motor Industry in Burton-on-Trent.

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25th October 1914

Two men who died on Sunday 25th October 1914 are commemorated locally. Private Alfred Hector Rowland Gwinnett is believed to have been killed by a sniper whilst serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He is commemorated locally at Solihull and Knowle.

Captain Sir Francis Ernest Waller Bt. died on the same day, serving with the Royal Fusiliers (6th Battalion, but attached to the 4th Battalion). The Evening Despatch 25 November 1914 reported that Sir Francis had been ordered to take some lost trenches and guns, which he did successfully. However, when he was rising to urge his men to the final charge, he was severely wounded and died a few hours later. He is commemorated locally at Forest Hall, Meriden (home to the Woodmen of Arden).

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