In January 1916 the Military Service Bill was introduced which provided for conscription of single men aged 18 to 41.  In May 1916 this was extended to married men.

The legislation gave men, and their employers, the right to appeal against their conscription.  These appeals could be made on the grounds of work of national importance, business or domestic hardship, medical unfitness, and conscientious objection.  It also seems that some men had to apply for an exemption certificate even though they had volunteered for the army and already been rejected as unfit.  A very large number of men appealed to Military Service Tribunals for exemption from conscription.  Most men were given some kind of exemption, usually temporary (between a few weeks and six months) or conditional on their situation at work or home remaining serious enough to warrant their retention at home.  Generally applicants went on to join up and serve until the end of the War, or as in a few cases until they were killed.

We have been very fortunate in two respects.  In most cases this information was destroyed because at the time it was very sensitive.  In the case of Thornbury the records were retained, probably due to an oversight.  The records give us a valuable insight into the dilemmas faced by small businesses and the self-employed.  Even those who wanted to fight for their country had to consider the financial impact on their dependants whilst they were away fighting or worst of all should they be killed.

The other way in which we were fortunate is that we were contacted by a volunteer at Gloucestershire Records Office, David Drinkwater, who has done such excellent work at the Record Office in cataloguing and collating the the exemption records.  He was kind enough to contact us with more information and to spend time with us at Gloucester explaining the significance of the other records he had found.  We are very grateful indeed.

We have listed below the details of exemption applications for surnames A to M.  Details were transcribed from the records held by Gloucester Records Office (Ref: D3789 Boxes 12A and 12B, D1578/8/3/1 and D570/1/2).  Click here to see applications for surnames N – Z

Name Home Description Comments/Judgment
Arthur Allen Castle Street Foreman Tailor employed by G. B. Symes (for 20 years), High Street, tailor & outfitters  His employer G B Symes said “Arthur has been in my employ twenty years and acted as foremen in the workshop and attends to customers in my absence. ” He added that he had already allowed four employees to enlist out of a total of eight staff.  Conditional exemption 11th March 1916 and 3rd May 1917.
Henry Allen Gloucester Road Gardener & cowman, married (22/3/1892), aged 49 (born 22/5/1869) employed Edmund Cullimore, Shen.  Place of employment Shen  This man is engaged in milking cows and feeding pigs and has four vegetable gardens to cultivate and will assist in the cultivation of a field needing to be ploughed this summer.
Herbert Henry Allen Gloucester Road Apprentice saddler & harness maker (1.5 years), single, aged 18 (born 22th Sep), employed by Frank Symes, Saddler & Harness Maker, High Street He applied on the basis that he was an apprentice saddler and harness maker employed by Frank Symes and still had to ‘serve his time’ until April 1919.  He was granted temporary exemption until 30th December 1917.

Needed to maintain about 100 farmers and nearly 300 horses! Not to be called until 30/12/1917

William John Allen The Plain Hand sewn boot and shoe maker, single, aged 40 (21/9/1876) Jan 1917.  One man business, sister who is dependant upon me and whose eyesight is badly affected.  Conditional exemption on medical grounds on 23rd January 1917.
Luke Ball Clouds Gardener, aged 32, employed by Lady Jenkinson Looks after fowls, 8 acres land, 5 pigs, ponies and donkeys.  Conditional  exemptions 19th May 1916 and 16/10/1917.
Wilfred Ball Easton Hill Road Electric station engineer aged 23 21/5/1917 Being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I cannot partake in the destruction of human life as such an action on any part would be contrary to His teaching as contained in His written Word – The Bible.   5/6/1917 Not assented to.  To join up for non-combatant service within 14 days.
Arthur John (in one record Albert) Bartlett Butcher, single, employed by his father John Bartlett “My son has always worked with me in my business worked with me in my business and for many years has taken full charge of the country rounds. and for the last five or six years since my health has become impaired he has been doing most of the slaughtering.  I have no other employee of military age.”

Temporary exemption 20/3/1917 to 30/6/1917

Stanley James Bennett Gloucester Road Main road surveyor with 78 miles of main roads within the county under his charge.  Aged 38  Several of the other surveyors have already joined up.  The County Surveyor needs this man to be retained.  Application 23/6/1916
Albert Edward Bevan The Plain Boot and shoe manufacturer aged 37 24/2/1917 Case reviewed.  His exemption was re-confirmed on 13th March 1917.
John Blizzard Warrington House Castle Street Hairdresser and tobacconist aged 37 29/12/1917 application. Exempted in January 1918 – deaf through fever, weak knee through injury, partial use of right arm through an injury and the limb having been badly set.  His brother was already serving in France.
William John Brealey Late Lower Morton now St John Street Postman 9/2/1916 applied for exemption on the basis that he was married on 6th September 1915 and should be placed as a married man.  The Tribunal moved him to the “married group”.
Albert Henry Brown  Crossways Carter & deliveryman aged 33 employed by Councell & Son, High Street – grocers.  Conscientious objector, granted conditional exemption on 25th July 1916, reviewed in October 1917 and exemption withdrawn from 17th November 1917 to be called up on 30th November 1917 in spite of strong case made by employer.   11th December 1917 he was given conditional exemption on the provision that he obtained employment on the land within 21 days.
Grantley Gilbert Browning Aged 49. Applied for exemption 16th July 1918
William Harold Bryant  The Gas Works Back Church Lane  Gasmaker Thornbury Gas Company Manager of the Gasworks  He is assisted by his father who is 68 years old.  If he joined up the gasworks would have to close. and it is under orders of the government to produce and sell  to the distillers for the extraction of the toluene for high explosives.  He was given absolute exemption on 3rd March 1916.  Absolute exemption withdrawn and a conditional exemption granted 28th September 1917.
Henry Ovey Bryers The Knapp Market gardener aged 18 (born 1st Nov), employed by Joseph Parker Temporary exemption until 30/6/1918
William John Carter Poultry Brook Bread delivery, aged 23 (9th November), employed by AE Thompson Rejected on medical grounds on 6/10/1916.  No exemption, but not to be called up before 30th December 1916.
William Champion John Street Painter aged 28 employed by Mr Hawkins Needed to support sister who was too ill to earn her living.  “Has enlisted ” 11th May 1916.
Charles Chandler Butt Lane General Farm Labourer aged 40 employed by J. M. Garrett Park Farm, farmer
Samuel John Chaston Fern Cottage, Castle Street Working Bailiff (28 years), single aged 48 (31/12/1869) employed by Major Mundy, The Farm  He was working on three farms – a total of 163 acres, 6 working horses, 35 head of cattle, 15 milking cows 6 pigs and 40 acres of arable land. Granted a conditional exemption
Joseph Levi  Clark Crossways Shoeing and general smith aged 32 (born 14th July), married (21/3/1908), employed by Thomas Clark, Morton “I am working for nearly 200 farmers for which I do all the shoeing and other work without assistance.”  Conditional exemption 31/12/1916.  Withdrawn with leave to appeal.
William Clark Morton Blacksmith’s Assistant aged 25 (born on 28th December), employed by Thomas Clark Working on large farm with agricultural implements and in blacksmith’s shop.  He farms about 43 acres of land including one and a half acres of arable. He is only assistant on the farm the other son being fully engaged in the blacksmiths shop.  Thomas is 63 and anable to carry on working himself.  Conditional  exemption granted 19/6/1917
George Charles Cook John Street Gardener and working electric light plant (5 years), aged 37 (born 30th May 1879), employed by Capt. Richard A Bennett, Thornbury Parks. Needed to maintain the gardens  and five acres of ground.  Temporary exemption until 30th December 1916
William Wilberforce Councell application made 31 July 1918
Frederick James Crane Workhouse Master of The Workhouse & Infirmary (since 14th May 1914), aged 36 (born 5th March 1881) He was indispensable and was already doing the work of the porter who had enlisted. He was classed as C3 in a medical.  Application dated  12/1/1918
Frederick Escott  Cripps Licensee of The Plough Inn aged 41 23/2/1916 application made because the business could not be run without his personal supervision.  Exemption granted until 30th July 1916.
Charley Davis Crossways Builder aged 37 applied 19th February 1916 claiming loss of business and customers if he was to be called up.  Application rejected on 11th March 1916.  He enlisted soon afterwards but was quickly declared unfit and discharged.
Joseph Davis St Mary Street Tinsmith and grinder, single, aged 22 not employed. Application was  received 5th June 1916.  Conditional exemption 23rd June  1916 confirmed 20/3/1917  – “my widowed mother and four sisters and brothers are entirely dependant upon me”
James Day St Arilds Cottage Gardener and chauffeur born 7th January 1879 married on 16th January 1905 employed by Howard Rich a National Service Volunteer at Southmead Hospital 5/1/1918 application James looks after Mr Rich’s motor which he uses for his work at Southmead and Mr Rich would have to give up his work if James were taken away .  He also looks after Mr Rich’s garden.  He found James Day who suffered from severe kidney disease and is often unable to do a full day’s work.  He has been on a special diet for four years and exposure to wet “lays him up”. Referred for a medical examination and given a conditional exemption on 19th Feb 1918.
Thomas William Dayman Crossways Mason aged 34 employed by James Bruton of Hill Applied for temporary exemption to finish working on his garden and settle his financial affairs on 17th June 1916. Application rejected
Sidney Herbert Dearing John Street Manager & retail salesman, aged 23 (born on 26th March), married (22/4/1916), employed by A.E. Bevan, boot & shoe maker & repairer Application 13/7/1917.  If Sidney were to leave there would only be two assistants left out of 8 and one of those 2 is deaf and dumb.  Sidney had been classed as C1. Conditional  exemption – to join Volunteer Corps
 Maurice Dixon  Rock Street  General labourer and hawker aged 25  Unable to sign name on application dated  3/4/1916.  He applied on the basis of keeping two horses of his wife’s business as a licensed hawker and marine store dealer but owing to her ill health he is obliged to to run the business  as a means of livelihood.  He was given temporary exemption to April 30th 1916.
 William Driver Morton Farmer & Butcher Application dated 18/12/1915.  His father has a crippled hand and has no one else to manage the horses, work the engine or do the killing.  He was given provisional exemption.
William Eddington Castle Street Master Tailor aged 39 Conditional  exemption granted May 1917
Ernest George Excell High Street aged 31, foreman grocer, corn and grain merchant and farmer Temporary exemption granted in February 1916 to  March 30th 1916.  Applied 18th March and given exemption until June 1916.  14th June he applied again and given temporary exemption until 15th September 1916
Albert Ford Silver Street Carrier, employed by James Ford, carrier & licensee, Silver Street Indispensable son – other son already serving.  Application made 21st Feb 1916.  His father said “I send a conveyance to Bristol daily sending and bringing back goods”.  Exemption granted, but later withdrawn and to be called up on 31/12/1916
Harry Ford Morton carter and general farm labourer employed by Stanley F Williams of Rockhampton Application 23 /12/ 1915 says he drive a double horse trolley 15 miles a day to six days a week collecting milk under contract.  Provisional exemption granted
 George Ford  Silver Street  carpenter employed by his father James Ford carrier and licensee  The application was dated 31/1/1916 as for Albert above. This was refused.
Sidney H. Gayner Managing drapery and furnishing business, employed by F. Gayner Conditional exemption granted 23rd May 1916.  Second application 3/10/1916. Conditional exemption 23/10/1916
Austin James Gingell Hackett Gardener cowman and General Homely man working for Captain Bennett at The Parks. applied for exemption August 1917 because he was needed for vegetable garden and electricity plant at the Parks.
Francis Sidney Gough St Mary Street also Old Down aged 28 (born 21st April), married (18/5/1912), cowman and carrrier employed by Henry and Ralph Baylis, Bath Road Application 14/3/1916 needed to help with businesses, 75 acres of land, pigs and cows plus carriers business.  Temporary exemption 30/6/1916.  Applied 7/10/1916 . Rejected to be called up 30/12/1916.  On 29/12/1916 he applied again and was rejected but “not to be called up until suitable substitute provided”.
Edgar Mervyn Grace Porlock Weir, Thornbury Physician & Surgeon (2.5 years prior to 1915), married (5/9/1914), aged 30, (born on 6/10/1886), employed by Gloucestershire Insurance Committee His application of  23/4/1917 said it was a large practice and he was need to maintain service to 450 panel patients, also “private reasons which would entail considerable loss and inconvenience if I were to be called up”.  Referred to Medical Board
Francis Henry Grace “West Street” Thornbury Employed by Edmund Cullimore at Sawmills A re consideration of conditional exemption 15/7/1918
George Ernest Grove Hackett Farm bailiff aged  36.  Employed by E W Savery A re consideration of conditional exemption 16/9/1918.
William Charles Hadley St Mary Street Grocer and provision merchant aged 34 Applied 9/9/1916 he was the only one working in his business. Conditional exemption 29/8/1916 subject to him joining Volunteers
Albert Edward Hale c/o Mrs F. Walker Bath Road Traction Engine Driver (4.5 years), single, 23 (born on 22nd May), employed by Edmund Cullimore, Saw Mills Discharged as unfit from Army.  Employed on hauling timber which is converted for use by the Army and is a certified business – Conditional  exemption 14/8/1917
Frederick Josiah Hall White Lion Hotel Licensed Victualler aged 36 21/2/1916.  “I have no man in my employ and I have to attend to the whole business and if I were called up there would be considerable financial loss.”  Conditional exemption.  Reviewed not to be called up until 15th August 1917
Thurburn Slade Hall Castle Street Plumber’s apprentice employed by his father, GH Hall 24/12/1915 application made   because he was now the only man man working with his father in the business. Conditional exemption, withdrawn – not to be called up before February 1917.
Alfred James Harris (also known as Jonah Alfred Harris) St Mary Street Timber haulier, aged 19, employed by Edmund Cullimore, Saw Mills. 16/2/1916 Works on conversion of English timber for war purposes.  Absolute exemption. Withdrawn – has joined up 19/6/1917.
John Hodges Castle Street Carpenter & Joiner (8 years), single, aged 24 (born on 12/6/1892), employed by W.W. Pitcher & Sons, Gloucester Road, builders September 1916 Needed to maintain business (four of their carpenters have joined up leaving them with three men over military age and support invalid mother who has to be lifted in and out of bed and because her speech has gone he has to transact her business for her – temporary exemption until March 30 1917
Albert Honeybourne Crossways Carter aged 33, employed by Councell and sons High Street 30/11/1917 Exempted
Austin Walwin Honeybourne High Street Solicitors Clerk & assistant to Secretary of named Friendly Societies aged 31 employed by George Mansell Williams, secretary to Friendly Societies  His employer says “he is my right hand man” in relation to his work administering two friendly societies before and after his working day as a clerk.
James Percy Honeybourne High Street Grocer aged 29 June 1916 “owns and entirely manages a grocery and provisions business and employs no assistants.”  Conditional  exemption 24/2/1917.  Exemption withdrawn not to be called up before 15/4/1917
George Hopkins Bath Road Auxiliary Postman aged 28 “my father who is 73 had an accident in July 1915 and is incapacitated and my mother is also a permanent invalid and unable to get about.  They have a small pension but are otherwise dependent on me.  I am married and have one child.” Conditional exemption 5/2/1915.  Conditional exemption withdrawn, not to be called up before 15/11/1916
Elwin Howell Chapel Farm Morton Farmer aged 35 Applied 28/2/1916 farms 68 acres.  Conditional exemption  granted
Francis Harry Hughes The Hackett Tarred stone worker, single, aged 31, employed by  Tytherington Stone Co (10 years), Falfield, quarry owner Application 17/2/1916 my mother is solely dependent on me  and she could not manage orchard garden feeding the pigs and poultry. 8/8/1916   Conditional exemption.  Exemption withdrawn.  29/6/1917 applied for a second time.  Previously held medical exemption certificate, stone urgently needed by BAC at Filton.  Conditional exemption
Arthur Claud Huins Applied 9/10/1918
Stephen Hurcombe Grovesend Roadman on main county roads, married (10/9/1892), aged 50 (born 4/1/1868), employed by G. C. C.  Applied 20/7/1918
Howard Elwell Knight Applied 14/10/1916.  Referred to medical board 14/10/1916
William Lambert Crossways Bread baker & assisting in bakehouse, single, aged 18 (born on 21st October), employed by A. E. Thompson, High Street  Applied 13/2/1917.  He is indispensable for the bakery.  Not assented to.  Not to be called up before 30/3/1917
Charles Lanfear Holly Tree Farm Morton Cowman and farm worker employed by Nicholas Lanfear Applied 5/1/1916.   Indispensable on the farm.   Provisional exemption allowed.
John Henry Lanfear Morton Timber cutter, feller and bark stripper, aged 28 employed by Edmund Cullimore Saw Mills. Applied 15/5/1916.  At the time of the application his wife was expecting a baby.  Conditional exemption whilst employed in timber trade
William George Legge Gillingstool Coal haulier aged 37 (born 27th December), married (25/2/1900), employed by Oliver Higgins Delivers over 400 bags of coal each week.  Conditional exemption 13/3/1917
William Thomas Liddiatt John Street Insurance agent, aged 27 (24/10/1889), married (19/12/1912), employed by Prudential (5 weeks), previously by J. H. Williams, outfitters. To be called up for substitution if required. Twice rejected.
William Livall Thornbury Quarryman employed by Tytherington Stone Company Applied on 17/1/1916 essential work on quarry.  He was employed as a blacksmith.  Provisional exemption and then “not assented to” on 28/4/1916 because he was a blacksmith
Victor Long The Abbey Grovesend Born  15th March. General farm assistant employed by Luke Cullimore at Sibland. Application 13/6/1916.  Only man employed by Luke Cullimore farming 56 acres.   11 of which are arable and he does a lot of work with pigs.  Granted temporary exemption to 30/10/1916.  23/10/1916 application made by his mother says she was dependent on Victor because her husband had enlisted in the Army Volunteer Corps.  Not to be called up before 30/12/1916.
Henry Longman Crossways Foreman boot maker aged 39, employed by A. E. Bevan Application made 2/5/1916.  Necessary for work.  Conditional exemption subject to him joining Volunteer Corps. 13/3/1917
Arthur Maishment Wellfield aged 28 (born 16th March 1888), married 6th December 1910, horseman, assisting in milking and general farm work at Quarry Farm July 1916 Conditional exemption, then in December 1916 – ‘not to be called up until a suitable substitute is provided’.
Arthur Masters Kyneton Managing Director of Masters & Co. (Clothiers) Ltd & Trustee & Executor of the late T.J. Masters, farmer (7 years), single aged 35
Gilbert Mills Morton Quarryman aged 38 (birthday 15th April), employed by Tytherington Stone Co (20 years). Needed for quarry work.  Conditional exemption subject to him joining Volunteers. 29/1/1918
Harold W. Mills Morton Quarryman employed by Tytherington Stone Co Applied December 1915 on the grounds that he has two brothers serving in the forces and he is needed to support his widowed mother.  He was rejected 18/6/1916.  18/2/1916 his mother Sarah applied on his behalf.  Her eldest son died in the navy reserve and she has two other sons, one in the navy and one in the army.  He was granted conditional exemption whilst conditions remain the same.
Robert Mills  Castle Street House decorator aged 38 18/9/1917 Conditional  exemption.  Confirmed on 28/9/1917.
Ernest Monks  Thornbury Monumental Mason aged 36 employed by F.K. Howell, monumental sculpture Application 28th July 1916.  Grounds – that Frank Howell cannot carry out business because of rheumatism – Conditional exemption granted 28th September 1917