Poppy

First World War in Headington and Marston, Oxford

John DREWITT (1892–1916)

John Drewitt

John Drewitt or Drewett was born in Old Marston in 1892, the son of Thomas Henry Drewitt (born in Marston in 1856 and baptised there on 1 June) and Harriet Tolley (born in Marston in 1859 and baptised there on 23 October).

His parents married (apparently in haste) at St Nicholas’s Church in Old Marston on 13 July 1879 and had the following children (all reg. with the surname spelt Drewett, except for Charles and Cecilia):

  • Mary Elizabeth Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1879/80 and baptised there on 29 February 1880)
  • Elizabeth Drewitt, known as Lizzie (born in Old Marston in 1882 and baptised there on 18 February)
  • Charles Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1883 and baptised there on 1 June 1884)
  • Thomas Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1886 and baptised there on 8 August)
  • Ada Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1889 and baptised there on 25 December)
  • John Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1892 and baptised there on 25 December)
  • Albert Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1896 and baptised there on 9 August)
  • Percy Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1897/8 and baptised there on 25 January 1900 at the same time as his younger sister)
  • Cecilia Drewitt (born in Old Marston in 1899/1900 and baptised there on 25 January 1900).

John’s father Thomas Drewitt was illiterate. At the time of the 1891 census, just before John’s birth, he was living with his wife and his first five children in Church Lane, Marston, and was working as a gas stoker When John was baptised the following year, he was described as a labourer at the gas works.

Thomas Henry Drewett died at the age of 44 when his son John was just eight years old, and he was buried at St Nicholas’s churchyard in Old Marston on 22 June 1900.

At the time of the 1901 census John (9) was living at Church Lane, Old Marston with his mother Harriett Drewett (42) and his eight siblings: Mary (21), who was a tailoress; Elizabeth (19), who was a general domestic servant; Charles (17) and Thomas (15), who were both farm labourers; and Ada (12), Albert (5), Percy (3), and Cecilia (1).

On 4 May 1907 at St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington, Harriet Drewett married her second husband, the bachelor James Green, and they had two children, both of whom died in infancy.

At the time of the 1911 census John (19) was in the army and was based at the Floriana Barracks in Malta. His mother Harriet Green (53) was living in Headington Quarry parish at New Inn Row, in a house on the site of the present 280 London Road (just to the west of the New Inn) with her second husband, James Green (49), who was a labourer on roads at Shotover. Only John's two youngest siblings were with her: Percy Drewitt (12) and Cecilia Drewitt (10). Two of John's brothers were also in the army: Thomas (25) was serving in India and Charles (27) was in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His other brother Albert (16) was an inmate at the Northampton Society Reformatory for Boys in Towcester. His three eldest sisters – Mary (31), Lizzie (29), and Ada (23) – were all married with children of their own.

Three of the Drewitt brothers appear on Holy Trinity Church’s list of people of their parish who volunteered to fight in the First World War, namely Thomas, John, and Percy; but only John was killed.

Poppy John Drewitt started his service as a Private in the 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment (Service No. 9053). He was wounded in late 1914, but went back to fight again, and (having been a soldier before the war) apparently rose to the rank of Lance Corporal. He was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme in France at the age of 25 on 23 July 1916.

He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 11A and 11D) and on the stone plaque in the porch of Holy Trinity Church in Headington Quarry.


Postscript

Quarry memorial

John Drewitt’s mother

Harriet Green (formerly Mrs Drewitt) died at the age of 68 in Hill House (a home for the elderly at Sandhills), and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 11 October 1927.

John Drewitt’s siblings
  • Mary Elizabeth Drewitt (born 1879/80) married Thomas Wharton in the Headington registration district in the second quarter of 1901. At the time of the 1911 census they were living at the Quarry end of the London Road with their three children: May Louisa Wharton (born 1901), Harriet Maud Wharton (born 1903), Edith May Wharton (born 1905), and Thomas Charles Wharton (born 1909).
  • Thomas Henry Drewitt (born 1881) married Florence May Edwards in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1913. They had two children baptised in the Methodist Chapel in Tyndale Street: Cyril Thomas Henry Drewitt (born at Sandhill Cottages on 8 February 1914 and baptised on 1 April 1914) and Albert Charles Drewitt (born at New Inn Terrace, London Road on 13 March 1918 and baptised on 8 May 1918). Florence died at her London Road home at the age of 28 and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 24 February 1921. Thomas Henry Drewitt married his second wife, Mary M. Coppock, in the Headington registration district in the third quarter of 1925.
  • Elizabeth Drewitt (born in 1882) married James Edward Fletcher in the Headington registration district in the third quarter of 1902. At the time of the 1911 census they were living in Edgeway Road, Marston with their three children: James Reginald Fletcher (born 1902), George Alfred Fletcher (born 1904), and Elsie May Fletcher (born 1905/6).
  • Ada Drewitt (born 1889) married Albert Wharton at Holy Trinity Church on 23 April 1910.They were living at the Quarry end of the London Road in 1911, and had two children: Lilian May Wharton (born in January 1911) and Doris Mary Wharton (born in October 1920).
  • Percy Drewitt (born 1897/8) married Emily F. Watts in the Headington district in the fourth quarter of 1923. They lived at 4 St Leonard’s Road (then named Southern Road).
  • Cecilia Drewitt Iborn 1899/1900) married Robert T. S. Clark in the Edmonton district in the third quarter of 1922.

See also

Back to Holy Trinity Church roll of honour

Back to War Memorials page on Headington Community Website