First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

George Herbert VYLES (1883–1918)

George Herbert Vyles was born in New Headington on 25 September 1883, the son of Richard Vyles or Viles (born in Marston in 1843/4 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church on 14 January) and Maria Thurza Nutt, known as Thurza (born in Plantation Road, Oxford in 1848 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 10 September).

In 1871, the year before her wedding, Thirza Nutt (22) was working as a servant at the Roebuck Hotel in Cornmarket; and George’s father Richard Vyles was a general labourer.

His parents were married at Ss Philip & James’s Church in north Oxford on 29 September 1872: his father could not sign his name, but his mother could. They had the following children:

  • William Richard Vyles (born in Headington in 1873 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston on 27 July)
  • Emily Elizabeth Vyles (born in Headington in 1875 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 3 October)
  • Mary Vyles (born in Headington in 1877 and privately baptised by St Andrew’s Church on 25 November);
    died aged four months and buried in St Andrew’s churchyard on 13 December 1877
  • John Vyles (born in Barton on 19 November 1878 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 May 1879)
  • James Arthur Vyles (born in New Headington on 22 June 1881 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 28 August);
    died aged 4 and buried in St Andrew’s churchyard on 24 August 1885
  • George Herbert Vyles (born in New Headington on 25 September 1883 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 November)
  • Frederick Ernest Vyles (born in New Headington on 27 February 1886 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 April)
  • Annie Clara Vyles (born in New Headington on 7 November 1887 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 25 December)
  • Thomas Arthur Vyles (born in New Headington on 15 February 1891 and baptised at St Andrew’s Church on 5 April).

George's parents settled in Headington, and were living in Barton by the end of 1878. By the time of the 1881 census they were living in New Headington village, somewhere near the Butcher's Arms with their three surviving children: William (7), Emily (5), and John (2).

They were still in New Headington when George Herbert Vyles was born in 1883.

By 1891 the family had moved to a brand new house in Lime Walk: it was then numbered 66, and appears to be the house now numbered 50. George (7) was living there with his father Richard (47), who was a mason's labourer, his mother Thurza (42), and his six surviving siblings: William (17), who was a gasfitter's labourer; Emily (15); John (12), who was an errand boy; and Frederick (5), Annie (3), and Thomas (one month).

By 1901 the family had moved to the present 30 New High Street, which was taken into All Saints’ parish in 1910. George (17), who was now a gardener, was living there with his father Richard (57), now described as a general labourer, his mother Thurza (52), and three of his siblings: Frederick (15), who was also a gardener, and Annie (13) and Thomas (10). His brother William (27) was a constable with the Metropolitan Police and lodging at New Scotland Yard; his sister Emily (25) was now a laundrymaid at Shotover House; and his brother John (22) was working as a gardener in Bromley, Kent.

George’s father Richard Vyles died in 1908 at the age of 64, and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 21 September.

At the time of the 1911 census George (27) was a nurseryman, and as he stated later that he was a rose grower, he almost certainly worked at the nurseries of John Mattock to the south of Wilberforce Street. He was still living at 30 New High Street with his widowed mother Thurza (62), who was described as a housekeeper. Also living with them were George's sister Emily Elizabeth Brooks (36), a laundress who had been married three years but had no children, and his brother Thomas (20), who was a gardener. His brother John (32) and his wife Ada (30) were living nearby at 21 Windsor Street: Mrs Vyles started running a shop there.

George’s mother Thurza Maria Nutt died at New High Street in 1914 at the age of 66 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 28 December. George was still living at New High Street when he volunteered to serve in the war on 4 May 1915.

He gave the name of his brother John Vyles of Windsor Street as his next of kin.

George Vyles grave


Poppy In the First World War George Vyles was a Gunner, first in the 132nd Oxford Heavy Battery (Service No. 444) and then in the Royal Garrison Artillery (Service No. 291817). He was sent overseas on 20 March 1916.

He was killed in action in France on 8 April 1918 at the age of 34 and is buried in the Roye New British Cemetery (I. AA5). He is listed on the roll of honour of All Saints’ Church, Highfield.


Left: Photograph of George Vyles’s grave in Roye, France, kindly supplied by British War Graves. The text reads:

291817 GUNNER
8TH APRIL 1918

[Emblem of Royal Garrison Artillery



Administration was granted in London to his brother, William Richard Vyles, a police constable, on 25 September 1918. He left £125 15s.


All Saints' board

William’s siblings
  • William Richard Vyles (born 1873) married Eliza Hayward at St George’s, Hanover Square in the fourth quarter of 1906, but she was dead by 1911, and they had no children. William was a widower living at 56 Gainsborough Buildings, Millbank at the time of the 1911 census and still working as a police constable. He does not appear to have remarried, and died at the age of 45 in 1918 in the St Martin’s registration district.
  • Emily Elizabeth Vyles (born 1875) married Ernest Richard Brooks in the second quarter of 1908. They do not appear to have had any children.
  • John Vyles (born 1879) married Ada Warwick (born in Criggleston, Yorkshire) in the Dewsbury registration district in 1908, and their first child, who was stillborn, was buried in Headington Cemetery on 6 August 1909. They had moved into 21 Windsor Street by the time of the 1911 census, and he continued to work as a gardener while Ada ran the shop. They bought the premises for £210 in 1916. They had three more children: Robert J. Vyles (born 1912), Kathleen M. Vyles (born 1914), and Florence M. Vyles (born 1917/18). John Vyles died in 1925 and was buried at Headington Cemetery on 7 December. His widow continued to run the shop until 1949 and still lived in the house in the late 1960s.

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