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 N to Z.  The detail 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 A – M


Name Home Description Comments/Judgment
Thomas William Nelmes Castle Street, then Morton Slaughtering and farm work, aged 27 (born on 13/1/1891), married (19th June 1917), employed by Parsons Bros High St (10 years) Conditional exemption, Sep 1916.  Waiting medical examination May 1918.
James Taylor Nichols Sibland Farm Farmer 17/12/1915.  Application made because ” I am taking possession of a dairy farm (Oldbury House) on 1/1/1916. ” With his father he is managing two farms of about 200 acres.
Joseph Pavey High Street Saddler & harness maker aged 33 years 11 months, Application dated 6/9/1916.  Owns two saddlery and harness making businesses, in Thornbury and Iron Acton.  Also cares for widowed invalid mother.  He had already been rejected by the army.  Conditional exemption on medical grounds. 30/3/1917
Arthur Pearce Lower Morton Carter and Cowman for George Pearce Application 5/2/1916 works on farm and delivers things to Bristol.  Provisional exemption dated 10/2/1916.
Herbert Henry Pearce Castle Street Butcher’s assistant, aged 18 employed by John Bartlett letter dated 8/7/1916 said that he was essential owing to the illness of employer only one other man to manage country rounds and slaughtering.  Application was withdrawn when an exemption granted until aged 19.
James Pearce Marlwood Farm Farm labourer, married (5/6/1894), 48 (born 8/12/1869), employed by Mrs Mundy, Vilner Farm
John Pearce Lower Morton Carter and cowman working for Albert John Till  Applied 30/12/1915 needed on farm.  Given provisional exemption
Percy Pearce Newton Farm Farm manager for his aunties Misses E & E Taylor  Applied 18/1/1916 on basis of he is the only man on the farm doing all the work.  Application was rejected as he was not considered indispensable.
William W Pearce Castle Street Bread delivery aged 20 employed by A. E. Thompson Applied on 7/1/1916 and given provisional exemption and then “not to be called up before 15/8/1916”.
Robert Elton Perkins Easton Hill Baker aged 23 employed by Thomas English Applied 20/3/1916 English had two men go to war now he has only two competent men including Perkins.  Application rejected.
 Francis G Phillips  High Street  steamroller driver aged 31  Appeal dated 9/4/1918 made by recruiting officer
Samuel Phipps Royal George Born 1878 licensee aged 37 Exemption withdrawn May 1917
Leonard Pitcher Applied 24/6/1918.  Rejected – tribunal to investigate
Frank Cullimore Poole Application 9/7/1918
William Poole Watch Oak Keeper and general estate worker 1/1/1916. Application made by Algar Howard who said William was the only person employed on the estate.  Granted conditional exemption whilst in present occupation
Albert Sampson Poulton St Mary Street aged 21, single, employed by A. E. Thompson (bakers) 31/7/1917 attending horses and delivering bread.  Conditional exemption, recommended to join local volunteer force
Henry Edward Purnell Horseshoe Lane Tiler & plasterer since April 1900, married (5/11/1912) aged 33 (born 21/10/1885) employed by Tucker Bros, St John Street since April 1900  Application dated 5/7/1918. He was earlier given conditional exemption and this was a renewal made on the basis that he was the only man who could do this particular trade and there are a large amount of roofing repairs and no other man to do the work.
Donald Rhind High Street Student, single, aged 18 (born 26th September), application made by mother, Grace Rhind 12/10/1917 application asked for him to be allowed to take his exams for college of preceptors  – rejected but not to be called up until 31/12/1917
William Joseph Richmond Easton Hill Printer, aged 25, employed by Albert Prewett, High Street, printer & bookbinder   Application made by recruiting officer but conditional  exemption was confirmed May 1917.
Charles W Riddiford Lower Morton Railway carter employed by J Croome Cullimore Application made 19/1/1916.  Provisional exemption granted
Lionel Edmund Riddiford Lower Morton aged 19 employed by Eli Butt grocer and provision dealer Application made 1/9/1916.  He was the only assistant in the shop because Eli Butt’s son Reginald was killed whilst serving in Royal Flying Corps at Croydon.  Not allowed but not to be called up until 15/11/1916
 E Rogers  Morton Farm  Farmer of 640 acres  Conditional exemption granted 9/6/1916
Joseph Henry Rugman Lower Morton Boot & shoe maker & repairer’s apprentice (2.5 years), single aged 18 (born on 1st November), employed by A. C. Huins, High Street  23/10/1917 appeal by Recruitment Officer.  Joseph was an indentured apprentice with 18 months remaining.  His employer said he was working on work of National importance making boots and shoes.  His view was that the man being being classed C1 was probably more useful as a repairer than as a soldier.  Originally given conditional exemption as long as he joined Volunteer Corps but on review it was rejected not to be called up until 30/12/1917
Frederick Thomas Sainsbury John Street aged 33, employed as house decorator by J. Sainsbury, Castle Street. Application 16/9/1916.  He was needed to help business of 63 year old father.  He is the only ‘grainer’ in the town, and keeps his father’s books.  Temporary exemption till 30th December 1916.
William Hirons Salisbury Horseshoe Lane Slaughterman and deliveryman aged 25 (born 11th April) married (7/9/1914), employed by John Taylor, butcher. 16/3/1916 a temporary exemption was granted and then he applied for renewal in October 1916.  Needed for business.  “I kill on average 3 bullocks, 20 sheep and 3 or 4 pigs a week.” Not to be called up before 30th December 1916.
Albert Screen Castle St aged 25 (born 16/8/1891), farrier and general mechanic aged 25, married (12/6/1916), employed by Savery and son Sheffield house Works Gloucester Road Application made and conditional exemption 23/1/1917.  This was confirmed and then 28th September 1917 he was confirmed medically unfit.
William Frederick Shepherd Gloucester Road Cashier & Accounts Clerk in Insurance Office, single, aged 18 (born 12/11/1899), employed by London & Lancashire Life Insurance, Baldwin Street, Bristol  Medically unfit having suffered from asthma and bronchitis from infancy.  Confirmed by Dr. E. M. Grace
Leonard James Smith C/O Miss Powell St Mary Street Tailor aged 20 born 22nd Feb. Employed by J. Williams of Gloucester House.  Previous employment in Worcs. Applied 21/10/1916.  Physically unfit.  Has no father or mother and two brothers on active service.  Only man employed by J. Williams as all others (4 plus one apprentice) joined the forces voluntarily.  Confirmed medically unfit.
Samuel Spill John Street Postman and gardener aged 37 (born 25/8/1880).  Single. Badly ruptured.  Conditional exemption 19/2/1918 after being referred for medical examination.
Robert Stafford Castle St Chauffeur for Doctor (17 years), aged 40 (born 21st March), married (12/3/1903), employed by Dr L H Williams of Oriel House Applications 6/6/1916 & 12/10/1916 and given temporary exemption until 31/3/1917.   Application 15/3/1917.  He was then given conditional exemption.
Maurice Gilbert Symes The Plain Farmer & general smith, aged 30, employed by father, Gilbert Symes 16/2/1916 application says Maurice’s “time” had expired.  Discharged from Royal Gloucestershire Hussars  Yeomanry on 30th December 1915 after 7 years.  Needed to help father in business as Gilbert is in ill health.  Conditional exemption renewed 11/12/1917 subject to him joining Volunteers within 14 days
Harry Talbot Victoria House, High Street Draper & Milliner aged 34 Not to be called up until 30/7/1917
George Taylor Castle Street Engine man, aged 31 , employed by Lady Jenkinson, Clouds, previously a gas man at her home at Eastwood Park 20/9/1916 application on grounds of being fit for home duty.  Needed to operate electric light plant to provide power to the house.  Conditional exemption 23/10/1916.
Sidney John Taylor Applied for exemption 11/9/1916.  “Not assented to.  Tribunal to investigate”
Joseph Thomason Gloucester Road Headmaster, Thornbury Council School (since Sept 1899 as teacher), married (5/6/1911), aged 32 (born on 17/9/1884), employed by Gloucestershire Education Committee 2/3/1917 Applied for delay to allow time to store furniture, arrange for another tenant, and take wife to Chester – given 14 days grace.
Hubert Victor Thorne John St Tailor, aged 18 employed by John Williams Gloucester House 31/8/1916 “I am a tailor aged 67 years of age in failing health.  My son who is the only child works in the same shop with me and assists in keeping the house together.  He is the chief support of the home.  Respectfully yours, George Thorne John St”.  Not assented to.
Augustus Bevys Thurston Old Vicarage Footman (3 months), single, aged 18 (born on 26th January), employed by Henry Josiah Thurston, carpenter, previously employed at Hatherop Castle, Fairford. 13/2/1917 Very delicate & unable to undertake hard work.  Not to be called up until 30/4/1917
William Henry Till Morton Gardener & chauffeur, single, aged 25, employed by H.P. Thurston, solicitors of Park House Delicate – Conditional  exemption
William Tilley Gillingstool Slaughterman & general assistant, aged 33, employed by John Taylor, butcher, High Street Conditional  exemption reviewed by Recruitment Officer 27/4/1917.
Edward Timbrell Castle Street Confidential clerk employed by Luce Young & Alpass auctioneers and valuers The man is indispensable as no other clerk and has typing, shorthand and technical knowledge essential to our practice
Harry Trayhurn The Plain aged 39 master butcher & farmer
Reginald Trayhurn High Street Master Baker aged 30 Review of an earlier exemption 28/4/1917 and then by Recruiting Officer on 15/5/1917.  Not called up until 30/6/1917
Norman Frank Tucker St John Street Carpenter aged 25, employed by Tuckers Bros, St John Street – builders Twice rejected previously on medical grounds – rejected again 24/10/1916
Frank Arthur Underhill High Street Auctioneer’s clerk, previously Builder’s clerk, single, aged 21 (born 11/3/1896), employed by Luce & Pane, previously P.G. Hawkins Joined up 21/9/1914 served in  3rd S.M. Field Ambulance RAMC, discharged 30/5/1916 as unfit – He applied 12/7/1917 and referred for medical in London.  Application for exemption rejected but not to be called up until 30/11/1917
Arthur Vizard Grovesend General Farm Hand, single, aged 18 (born 4/4/1899), employed by Luke Cullimore, Siblands, farm & pig dealer (on first application) and by Edward Ball, Pound Farm, Lower Morton, farmer Required for milking and general farm work.  1st review 30/5/1917, then second review.
Frederick Walker Upper Bath Road Engine Driver (since 1898), very deaf, aged 40 (born on 25th October 1877), married (20th February 1897), employed by Edmund Cullimore in Saw Mills Indispensable man on work for Government.  Conditional exemption whilst on reserved occupation on 29/1/1918.
Fred Watkins Hackett labourer who works for Frank Watkins farmer and market gardener 12 acres market garden 23/2/1916 applied and rejected
Sidney John Voss Watkins Crossways Farmer and Market gardener aged 26, married (6/1/1912), Applied 29/3/1916 as he had 4 acres of arable land and 3 acres of pasture with a horse, about 12 pigs and an orchard. 12/12/1916 granted temporary exemption until 30/12/1916 and then waiting medical examination.  Dr E M Grace says “This is to certify that in my opinion Mr Watkins is suffering from colic and unable to follow his occupation”
W R Watson Lion House Vet A letter explained “the reason for my application being made at this time is that I am requested by my clients to  arrange for operations on young stock which will occupy the next three months and I do not want to undertake the work unless I can be reasonably sure of fulfilling my engagements.” Tribunal dated 1/11/1918
A H Webb Upper Bath Road Builders’s labourer employed by Tucker Bros. Appeal by Recruiting Officer 13/2/1918
William Webb Crossways Farmer & Market gardener working for Alice Buckley aged 24. Application 30/12/1915 said he was indispensable.  Application rejected 13/1/1916
Edwin Wheeler Gillingstool Foreman Haulier with traction engine at saw mills aged 41. Born 27/1/1876.  Married June 1899.  Previous employer Tytherington Stone quarry Applied 23/7/1917 and given conditional exemption.
Harry White St Mary Street Horizontal & Circular Sawyer – English timber only (2 years), single, aged 25 (born on 9/4/1891) employed by Edmund Cullimore, Saw Mills Application dated 26/3/1917.  Engaged in certified trade of national importance.  Conditional exemption
Tom White Saw Mill Lane Circular Sawyer & Saw Sharpener, aged 29, employed by Edmund Cullimore, Saw Mills Application dated 3/4/1916 Only man who can sharpen the circular saw and convert the round timber to planks. Conditional exemption whilst employed.
John Gammon Wicks The Cedars Solicitor, Registrar and High Bailiff of Thornbury County Court and Clerk to the Magistrates, aged 34 (born 9/12/1882) married 4/1/1912 3/1/1917 application for exemption says most of his colleagues have been called for service and he is needed at work.  He had been initially rejected on medical grounds, but since passed for sedentary work at home only.  Conditional exemption 23/1/1917
William Wilcox Bulls Eye Lane Coal Haulier & Carter married (June 1905), aged 46 (born 16/1/1872), employed as Haulier at Saw Mills for 3.5 years, now Thornbury Coal Company  Application made 4/7/1918 says he is doing work of national importance, he has a delicate wife and four children and is medically unfit for military service.
Francis James Williams Gloucester Road Nurseryman & seedsman (20 years), aged 36 (born 12/6/1880) employed by Francis Williams, The Seed Supply Application made 13/9/1916.  He was given temporary exemption 27/5/1916 to 30/9/1916.  Needed to maintain business whilst father is fully occupied as overseer for parish and three adjoining parishes and he has been for upwards of 33 years.  He is the only person regularly employed in the business which will become the only means of support for him and his family.  He was a member of the local volunteer fire brigade and member of the Thornbury Volunteer Training Corps.  Not to be called until 31/3/1917.
George Williams Lower Bath Road Coal haulier & hawker, married (4/1/1895), aged 46 (born 1872) employed by Henry Baylis, High Street & Thornbury Coal Company  Application made 2/11/1918. Doing work of national importance and his low grade shows that he is unfit for military service.
Garfield Cecil Wilmot Castle Street General railway clerk employed by Midland Railway since 1906, married (23/10/1915), aged 26 (born on 12th Jan) 12/1/1917 conditional exemption on medical grounds and on basis of his employment
Percy Yarnold The George at Nailsworth aged 30 and a manager of a man’s clothing shop working for his father William Yarnold of the High St Thornbury He is in sole charge of the business, his father has two other sons serving in the army in France.  The shop belongs to a widow but the rent and pay keeps her to a great extent
William Albert Young Crossways aged 41 a quarryman employed by Tytherington Stone Co. Reconsideration of conditional exemption granted 17/4/1917