First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Ernest Victor BIOVOIS (1886–1916)

Victor Biovois

Ernest Victor Biovois, known as Victor, was born in Staines, Middlesex on 14 October 1886. He was the son of Victor Celestin Biovois (born in Oxford in 1862) and Emma Bustin (born at Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford on 7 August 1858).

His parents were married on 22 April 1883 at St Thomas’s Church in Oxford, and they had had four children:

  • (Hannah) Theresa Biovois (born at Guildford Street, Staines, Middlesex in 1884, reg. second quarter)
  • (Ernest) Victor Biovois (born at Guildford Street, Staines, Middlesex on 14 October 1886)
  • Percy John Celestin Biovois (born at Guildford Street, Staines, Middlesex on 30 December 1887)
  • Adèle Constance Fanny Biovois (born at Parrock Cottage, Stroud Road, Staines, Middlesex on 13 January 1890).

Victor's grandparents: Victor Biovois (c.1823–1907) and Hannah Prew

(Ernest) Victor's grandfather, Victor Biovois, was French, and was born in Aire sur la Lys near Calais in about 1823. At the time of the 1861 census he was a bachelor of 38 living at Banbury Road Villa in Oxford where he was employed as the servant of Mrs Flavia Dayman, a clergyman’s widow who had herself been born in France. His future wife Hannah Prew (37), who was born in Steventon in c.1824, was also a servant of Mrs Dayman and lived in the villa’s lodge.

In the first quarter of 1862 Victor’s grandfather Victor Biovois, described as a butler, married Hannah Prew, and their first child, Victor Celestin Biovois (Victor's father) was born at their Banbury Road home on 3 July 1862.

After his marriage Victor’s grandfather initially continued working as Mrs Dayman’s servant and lived in Dayman’s Lodge with his wife. They can be seen there at the time of the 1871 census. Victor (48) was then described as a butler and valet, and they had two children, Victor (8) and Mary (3).

On 20 January 1872 it was announced that the licence of the Marston Ferry public house (as the Victoria Arms was more commonly known) had been transferred from William Bateman to Victor Biovois and he duly moved there with his family. Victor's grandfather had to haul people across the River Cherwell as well as run the pub, and it became known as Frenchman’s Ferry. The 1881 census shows him living at the “Marston Ferry” with his wife Hannah and son Victor Celestin Biovois (17), who was a boat builder

Victor's grandfather retired from the Marston Ferry and pub in about 1890 and his son, Victor's father, took over.

At the time of the 1891 census Victor's grandfather was described as a retired publican and was living with his wife Hannah and daughter Theresa (25) at 49 Plantation Road in north Oxford.

In 1901 he was described as a retired publican and was living with his wife Hannah at 33 Islip Road, Summertown.

Victor Biovois senior died at 33 Islip Road at the age of 83 on 17 September 1907 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery (A2/52). His effects came to £250.

His widow Hannah Biovois then came to live with her son Victor Celestin Biovois and his wife Emma (Victor's parents) at the Victoria Arms. She died at the age of 92 near the end of 1914 and was buried in the same grave as her husband. .

Victor's parents: Victor Celestin Biovois (1862–1936) and Emma Bustin

Victor's father working the Marston Ferry
Victor’s father, Victor Celestin Biovois, operating the Marston ferry.

Victor’s father Victor Celestin Biovois was a boatbuilder. He originally worked for Salter’s in Oxford, and at the time of their marriage in 1883 both he and Emma Bustin were living in Fisher Row. In 1883 the couple moved to Staines in Middlesex, where their four children were born.

In about 1890, when Victor was about four years old, his father came back to Marston to take over Victor's grandfather’s pub and ferry. The 1891 census shows Victor Celestin Biovois (29), described as a publican, living at “Marston Ferry” with his wife Emma (31) and their children Hannah (6), (Ernest) Victor (4), Percy (3), and Adèle (1)

Marston Ferry Postcard showing the Victoria Arms and the ferry (postmarked 1904). The hawser remained in place until 1960

The freehold of the pub, with the garden and lands adjoining, was advertised as being for sale in 1884 and 1885, but Victor's father remained the tenant.

At the time of the 1901 census Victor (39) and Emma (40) were still living at the Victoria Arms with their children (Hannah) Theresa (16), who was a dressmaker's apprentice, (Ernest) Victor (14), Percy (18), and Adèle (11). This is the first census when the name of the pub was given as the Victoria Arms.

In 1911 Victor Celestin Biovois (49) and Emma (52) were still living at “Marston Ferry” with their four children: Theresa (26) and Adèle (21) were dressmakers, Victor (24) a carpenter and joiner, and Percy (23) a photographer. Victor's widowed grandmother Hannah Biovois (88) was also living with them.

By 1915 Victor’s parents had retired and the family was living at Fern Cottage, Old Marston, and a William Jennings had taken over the Victoria Arms and its ferry, which had been in the hands of the Biovois family for forty years.

Victor himself: Ernest Victor Biovois (1886–1916)


Victor Biovois

Victor was living at the pub at the time of the 1891, 1901, and 1911 censuses (see above), and when his parents retired, he moved with them to Fern Cottage, Old Marston

In 1899 when Victor was 15 he played in the Victoria Quoits Club. He became a carpenter & joiner by trade.

Victor and his three siblings

Above: Photograph probably taken in about 1892
of Victor Biovois, with three siblings behind:
(Hannah) Theresa, Percy, and Adèle,

Left: Victor Biovois as a young man: probably around 1905

Poppy In the First World War (Ernest) Victor Biovois joined the 11th Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment as a Private on 15 April 1916, and was transferred to the 8th Battalion on leaving for the Front (Service No. 27809).

He was severely wounded in the leg and was brought from France to the 2nd Southern General Hospital at Westbury-on-Trym near Bristol. After initially making good progress he died there at the age of 30 on 2 December 1916. He was engaged to be married at the time of his death.

Grave of Ernest Victor Biovois

His body was brought back to Old Marston to be buried in St Nicholas’s churchyard. The stone cross has broken off his grave (left) , and is propped up behind the grave. The inscription reads:




Victor is remembered by his full name Ernest Victor Biovois on the war memorial plaque in St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston.



Old Marston memorial

Victor’s parents
  • Mrs Emma Biovois died at 33 Islip Road, Oxford on 9 April 1935 at the age of 76 and was buried at Wolvercote Cemetery (F4/87)..
  • Victor Celestin Biovois was described as a boat-builder in 1920 when his daughter was married from 33 Islip Road. He died at the home of his daughter, 2 Kings Road, Henley-on-Thames, at the age of 74 on 28 October 1936, and he was buried in the same grave as his wife. His effects came to £474 10s. 6d.
Victor’s siblings
  • (Hannah) Theresa Biovois (born 1886) married Herbert Edward Ward at St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston on 27 April 1911, and their daughter Adèle Theresa Ward was born at Old Marston on 30 May 1912. Theresa died at 413 Marston Road at the age of 56 on 21 February 1941 and was buried in Victor’s grave; her husband was also buried there when he died at the age of 86 on 12 October 1966.
  • Percy John Celestin Biovois (born 1887) became a photographer. On 27 December 1913 at St Barnabas's Church in Oxford he married Ada Lucy Rawlins. They lived at 33 Islip Road, Sunnymead when their son Victor Percival Celestin Biovois was born on 2 March 1915 and baptised at Marston on 4 April 1915; he was living at 17 Cranham Street and working as a milling machinist when he married the glovemaker Winifred M. Hall on 4 May 1940 at St Paul’s Church. Percy died in about 1964.
  • Adèle Constance Fanny Biovois (born 1890) married William Ewart Brain, a policeman, on 17 April 1920 at Summertown Church. She died at “Cranmer”, Elsfield Road, Old Marston on 7 February 1963. Their daughter Theresa Constance Biovois Brain, Mrs Prickett (1921–2015) supplied the photographs shown on this page of her grandfather Victor Celestin Biovois and of her uncle (Ernest) Victor Biovois.

See also

Back to Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website