Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

Richard Charles Frederick KNIBBS (1891–1917)

Richard Charles Frederick Knibbs was born in Oxford in 1891, the son of Richard Knibbs (born in New Hinksey, Oxford in 1859) and his second wife Mary Fidler (born in Oxford in 1852/3).

At the time of the 1881 census Richard’s father, Richard Knibbs senior, was a young man of 21 working as an agricultural labourer and living with his parents at Ayers Yard, in St Ebbe’s, Oxford. He married his first wife, Eliza Aylen (born 1861, reg. second quarter in Risbridge district) in Oxford in the first quarter of 1885, and they had one child:

  • Ernest Samuel Knibbs (born at 11 Rewley Road, Oxford in 1886 and baptised at St Frideswide's Church in west Oxford on 23 May).

Eliza Knibbs died at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 25 a few months after Ernest's birth, and her funeral was held at St Thomas's Church on 25 August 1886. Richard and the baby went to live with Richard’s parents at 8 Russell Street in Osney.

On 27 August 1888 at St Frideswide's Church, Richard’s father Richard Knibbs senior (31), who was living at 8 Russell Street, married his second wife, Mary Fidler  (34), who was living at 1 West Street, also in Osney: neither was able to sign their name. They had two children:

  • Florence Mary Knibbs (born at 11 Arthur Street, Osney, Oxford in 1889 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 28 July)
  • Richard Charles Frederick Knibbs (born at 1 Bown’s Yard, George Street, Oxford on 28 December 1891 and baptised with his two middle names reversed at St Mary Magdalen Church on 24 January 1892).

It appears that baby Ernest from the first marriage remained with his grandparents, James & Eve Knibbs: he was certainly with them at 8 Russell Street at the time of the 1891 census.

Richard's parents Richard and Mary Knibbs began their married life in New Osney, and were living at 11 Arthur Street in 1889. Richard’s father was a labourer (but was described as a brewer at the baptism of his first daughter). By 1891 they had moved to 1 Bown’s Yard, off George Street, and the census that year shows Richard Knibbs senior and his wife Mary with Florence (aged 1) shortly before Richard Knibbs junior’s birth. Also living with them was Sidney Fisher (aged 10), who was born in Oxford and is described as Richard Knibbs’s son: this is probably the Sydney Percy Fisher, born to Mary Fisher, a single woman of 1 West Street in 1880, and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 6 September 1880.

In 1899 when Richard was just eight, his mother Mary Knibbs died at the age of 46 in Russell Street, and her funeral was held at St Frideswide’s Church on 8 February.

On 14 April 1901 at St Frideswide’s Church, Richard’s father Richard Knibbs senior married his third wife, Emma Monk (born in Ducklington in 1874): he was still unable to sign his name, but Emma signed hers. At the time of their marriage they were both living in St Thomas’s parish (at 1 Russell Street, in the home of Richard’s father’s parents), and they continued to live there for a short time afterwards. The 1901 census shows Richard (aged 9), his father Richard (aged 39), his stepmother Emma (28), and his sister Florence (11) living at 1 Russell Street with James Knibbs (70) and his wife Eve (73).

Richard’s father and his third wife Emma had six children:

  • Joe Knibbs (born at 1 Russell Street, St Thomas’s, Oxford on 25 January 1902 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 20 February)
  • Elizabeth Knibbs (born at North Hinksey on 19 March 1904 and baptised there on 10 April)
  • Emily Knibbs (born at 4 Hollybush Row, Oxford in 1905 and baptised at St Thomas's Church on 1 October)
  • Evelyn Annie Knibbs (born at 19 Great Clarendon Street, Oxford in 1908 and baptised at Binsey Church on 8 November)
  • James Samuel George Knibbs (born at Binsey in 1911 and baptised there on 28 May)
  • Doris Annie Knibbs (born at Binsey in 1915 and baptised there on 27 June).

Richard's father and his new wife evidently remained with Richard’s grandparents until at least 1902, but had moved to North Hinksey by 1904, and to 4 Hollybush Road by the end of 1905, before moving to Binsey in about 1908.

At the time of the 1911 census, Richard Knibbs junior (aged 19) was working as a farm labourer and living or staying with his sister (now Mrs Florence Bishop) and her husband William at 5 Bucknell, Bicester. Meanwhile his father and stepmother were living at Church Cottage, Binsey with their four children: his father was also still a farm labourer.

On 3 August 1914 at St Nicholas's Church, Old Marston, Richard Charles Frederick Knibbs married Myrtle Bennett of Old Marston, the daughter of the labourer Alfred Bennett.

They settled in Old Marston, and Richard was described as a soldier at the time of the baptism of their only child:

  • Stanley Charles Knibbs (born at Old Marston on 30 April 1916 and baptised at St Nicholas’s Church on 14 May).

Poppy In the First World War Richard Charles Frederick Knibbs enlisted before conscription and served as a Driver in the 2nd/1st (Warwick) Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery (Service No. 614520). He was killed in action in Belgium at the age of 26 on 18 August 1917.

He is buried in the Track “X” Cemetery there (D.29), and is remembered on the Roll of Honour of St Nicholas’s Church, Old Marston.

His older half-brother, Ernest Samuel Knibbs, had been killed earlier in the First World War, on 10 May 1915.


Postscript

Old Marston memorial

Richard’s father
  • Richard Smith senior died at the age of 72 in Oxford in the third quarter of 1930.
Richard’s widow
  • Mrs Myrtle Madge Knibbs married Francis Smith at St Nicholas's Church in Old Marston on 28 June 1919. Francis Smith died in 1936, and Myrtle Madge Smith died in Oxford in 1974.
Richard’s son
  • Stanley Charles Knibbs married Gwendoline M. Richardson in Oxford in the third quarter of 1938.

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