Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Harold Thomas DENNIS (1882–1918)

(Dennis is also listed on the St Andrew’s Church Roll of Honour and thus appears twice in the “tour”)

Harold Dennis

Harold Thomas Dennis was born in Oxford in 1882, the son of Henry Absalom Dennis (born in Headington in 1857 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 5 July) and Ellen Thomas (born in Kidlington in 1854 and baptised there on 10 December).

His parents were married at St Andrew’s Church in Headington on 29 March 1880, and had the following children:

  • Florence Gertrude Dennis (born in Headington in 1880 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 31 October)
  • Harold Thomas Dennis (born in Rectory Road, Oxford in 1882 and baptised at SS Mary & John Church on 25 December)
  • Ernest George Dennis (born at Rectory Road, Oxford on 28 December 1889 and baptised at SS Mary & John Church on 23 February 1890).

At the time of his marriage in 1880, Harold’s father was described as a clerk in a brewery, and the census the next year shows him in the same job, living in Old High Street in Headington with his wife and baby daughter.

By the time of Harold’s birth in 1882 his parents had moved down to east Oxford and were living at Rectory Road (then called Pembroke Street). They were still there in 1890, but by the time of the 1891 census had moved to Hurst Street. Harold (8) was then at school, and his father was now a booking clerk & cab proprietor.

Things must have gone very wrong for the Dennis family shortly after the census, as early the next year they appear to have been in Headington Workhouse, where Harold’s mother Ellen Dennis died at the age of 36. She was buried at Headington Cemetery on 27 February 1892.

Harold attended Headington National School (now St Andrew’s), and in both April 1893 and August 1894 he was commended for the Diocesan Prize. He would have been one of the first group of children to move into the new school buildings, below, opened in 1894.

Headington National School

In Steyning, Sussex in the fourth quarter of 1897, Harold’s father Henry Absolom Dennis married his second wife, Annie Page (born in Guildford in 1865/6), and they had three children:

  • Violet Winifred A. Dennis (born in Newbury in 1898, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Richard Douglas B. Dennis (born in Newbury in 1900, reg. second quarter)
  • Herbert Henry Dennis (born in Newbury in 1901/2, reg. first quarter of 1902).

At the time of the 1901 census Harold (18) was a tailor’s apprentice, living back in Old Headington (in Jeffcoat’s Row, which ran between St Andrew’s Lane and Larkins Lane) with his grandparents Thomas and Mary Ann Dennis. His younger brother Ernest (11) was also living with relations in Old Headington, his uncle and aunt, George & Mary Anne Cousins (formerly Dennis), in Church Lane (probably also Jeffcoat’s Row). His father Henry was working as a sewing machine agent and living at 29 Northbrook Street in Newbury with his new wife Annie, who was a sewing machine saleswoman, and their two children, plus Florence (20) from his first marriage,, who was working as a nursery governess at a school.

In 1911 Harold (28) was a tailor, still living in Jeffcoat’s Row with his grandparents: both Thomas (78) and Mary Ann (82) were now described as old age pensioners. His father was still working as a sewing machine salesman, and was living at at 8 Park Street, Horsham with his second family.

♥ On 21 March 1913 at St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford, Harold Thomas Dennis (30) married Annie Elsie Violet Stanton (25) of Frewin Hall. Annie was born in 1888/9 (reg. Headington District), the daughter of the farmer John Stanton.

Harold and Annie Dennis lived at 36 Holyoake Road (then 14 Western Road, the west side of which was in Highfield parish) and had one child:

  • Carola M. Dennis (born in Headington in the first quarter of 1914).

Harold’s grandfather, Thomas Dennis, died in Church Lane at the age of 82, and was buried in Headington Cemetery on 7 January 1914.

Poppy In the First World War Harold Dennis served as a Serjeant in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 200012). He died at the age of 35 on 4 July 1918 in the Dudley Road Hospital in Birmingham, and was brought back home to Headington: his funeral at St Andrew's Church was on 10 July, and he was buried in Headington Cemetery (9. X. I).

He is listed on the roll of honour of two Headington parishes: Highfield (where he lived in with his wife in Holyoake Road) and Old Headington (where he grew up with his grandparents in Jeffcoat’s Row).

Dennis’s grave in Headington Cemetery

Above: Grave of Harold Thomas Dennis in Headington Cemetery, photographed in 2010.

The text along the right side of the grave (facing the camera) reads: HAROLD THOMAS DENNIS, WHO DIED AT THE 2/1ST SOUTHERN GENERAL MILITARY HOSPITAL, BIRMINGHAM, JULY 4TH, 1918, AGED 35 YEARS.

The text along the front side reads IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY DEAR HUSBAND and the words on the
cross read LOVED ONE SLEEPING.

Administration was granted in Oxford to his widow, Annie Elsie Violet Dennis, on 13 December 1918. He left £204 11s. 6d. His last address was given as 21 Western Road.


Postscript

All Saints' board

Harold’s grandmother
  • Mary Ann Dennis died at 19 Old High Street (now renumbered 57) at the age of 94 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 25 September 1922.
Harold’s father
  • Henry Absolom Dennis died in the Newbury district near the beginning of 1931 at the age of 73.
Harold’s brother
  • Ernest George Dennis (born 1889/90) married Ena Bond at St Andrew’s Church on 1 February 1919. He was then a soldier, and she was a draper’s assistant, and they both lived in Old High Street before the marriage. He was a bootmaker, and they still lived in Old High Street when their eldest daughter Marguerite Beryl Dennis was born on 29 July 1919 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 7 September 1919. They then moved to the present 235 London Road (then numbered 89), where their next two daughters were born: Audrey Eileen Dennis on 10 January 1921 and Marie Dennis on 4 April 1927: they were baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry on 27 February 1921 and 1 May 1927 respectively.
Harold’s widow
  • Mrs Annie Elsie Dennis lived at 36 Holyoake Road until 1966. She died in the Oxford registration district in 1974.
Harold’s daughter
  • Carola M. Dennis (born 1914) married Flight Lieutenant Gwyn Jones on 24 March 1945 at St Andrew’s Church. Her occupation was given as draughtswoman, and her address as 6 Old High Street.

See also

Back to All Saints’ Church, Highfield roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website