First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Arthur Gerald HARLEY (1897–1916)

Arthur Harley

Arthur Gerald Harley was born at 19 Rectory Road in east Oxford on 27 July 1897. He was the son of Charles Harley (born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire in 1853/4) and Mary Owen (born in Winslow, Buckinghamshire in 1853). His parents were married in 1875/6 (according to the 1911 census) and had twelve children:

  • Mary Harley (born in Wendover, Buckinghamshire in c.1876)
  • Charles John Harley (born at Rectory Road, Oxford in 1879 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 28 December)
  • Henry Harley (known as Harry, born in St Clement’s, Oxford in 1881, reg. second quarter)
  • Kate Ellen Harley (born in 1883; died aged one week and buried at St Clement’s Church on 7 November 1883)
  • William George Harley (born at 19 Rectory Road, Oxford on 25 May 1886 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 1 August)
  • Annie Harley (born at 19 Rectory Road, Oxford on 28 June 1888 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 29 July)
  • Thomas Herbert Harley, known as Herbert or Bert (born at 19 Rectory Road on 3 March 1890 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 13 July)
  • Edward Harley (born in St Clement’s, Oxford in 1893, reg. second quarter)
  • Ethel Florence Harley (born in St Clement’s, Oxford in 1895, reg. fourth quarter)
  • Arthur Gerald Harley (born at 19 Rectory Road, Oxford on 27 July 1897 and baptised at Cowley St John Church on 19 August.
  • TWINS George Harley and Francis Harley (born at  Rectory Road, Oxford in 1899 and privately baptised on 28 February):
    both died aged two days and buried at St Clement’s Church on 3 March 1899)

Arthur’s parents were living in Wendover at the start of their marriage, but by 1879 had moved to Rectory Road (then called Pembroke Street) in Oxford. His father Charles was described as a hotel porter in 1879.

The 1881 census shows the family living at 5 Rectory Road and Arthur’s father Charles Harley was a billiard marker. The house number is given as 19 in 1886.

At the time of the 1891 census Arthur's father Charles Harley (37), who was still a billiard marker, was living at 19 Rectory Road with his wife Mary (38) and their six surviving children Mary (14), Charles (12), Harry (10), William (5), and Herbert (1). Also living with them was Arthur's widowed great-aunt Mary Osborne (78).

Arthur Gerald Harley was born at 19 Rectory Road in 1897, and his father was now described as a house agent.

At the time of the 1901 census Arthur (3) was living at 19 Rectory Road with his father Charles (49), described as a commission agent, his mother Mary (48), and six of his siblings: Henry (19), who was a painter, and William (14), Annie (13), Herbert (11), Edward (8) and Esther (6). His brother Charles (21) was working as a hotel chef at Foulsham’s Hotel in Lowestoft.

In 1911 census Arthur (13) was at school and at home with his father Charles (59), now described as a retired billiard table keeper, his mother Mary (58), and three of his siblings: Herbert (21), who was a tailor; Edward (18), who was a house painter; and Esther (15), who was still at school.

The family was still living at 19 Rectory Road in 1914, but had moved to 19 William Street, New Marston by the following year.

Poppy In the First World War Arthur Gerald Harley served as a Lance Corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Service No. 10379). He was killed in action at the Somme in France at the age of 21 on 1 July 1916.

He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11D) and on the New Marston War Memorial on the Marston Road, Oxford.

All four of Arthur’s older brothers (Charles, Harry, William and Herbert) also volunteered to serve in the First World War, and the five brothers were pictured in the “Patriotic Families” section of the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 13 October 1915:

The Harley brothers
The caption under that picture reads: “The five sons of Mr. Charles Harley, William-street, New Marston:
Gunner Charles Harley, R.G.A.; Pte. H. Harley, 2nd Royal Berks; Pte. A. Harley, 2nd Royal Berks;
Pte. W. Harley, Canadian Expeditionary; and Pte. Bert Harley (City goalie), 2nd/4th O.B.L.I.”.


New Marston War Memorial

Arthur’s parents
  • Mary Harley died at the age of 73 in the first quarter of 1927 (Headington registration district).
  • Charles Harley was still listed at 19 William Street in Kelly’s Directory for 1936, but he died in the fourth quarter of that year (Oxford registration district). His age is given as 87, but in fact he was 83. His age is inconsistent in the censuses too.
Arthur’s siblings
  • Herbert Harley (born 1890) worked as a tailor. On 1 September 1914 he married Ruth Annie Cook of Rectory Road at St Clement’s Church.

See also
  • CWGC: Harley, Arthur Gerald
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 6 September 1916: Photograph of Arthur Harley following his death (shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)
  • Wikipedia: Royal Berkshire Regiment

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