June 23, 1916

A letter from the Duke of Devonshire was reproduced in the Ashbourne Telegraph this week, appealing for men to sign up for the newly-formed Derbyshire Volunteers.

“Sir, The Derbyshire Volunteer Regiment having been officially recognised, I venture to make an urgent appeal not only to those who have already joined the Home Guards, but to all other men who are not actually serving with the colours to enrol themselves in the new county regiment.

We now have the opportunity of taking our place in the organised defence of county, and knowing as I do the spirit and determination with which the men and women of Derbyshire have met the various problems due to the war, I have the fullest confidence in making this still further appeal to the loyalty and devotion of the men.”

The letter is signed simply ‘Devonshire’ and dated ‘Chatsworth 17th June, 1916’.

Children attending Miss Blackwell’s school at Spring Cottage had for some time been raising money for prisoners of war being held in Germany.

“At first the parcels, which the children helped to pack themselves, were sent to the Ashbourne men, but it was subsequently found out that these were being looked after by the local Prisoners of War Committee, so the pupils ‘adopted’ three other men of the Sherwood Foresters who had no friends to send them anything.”

The paper recorded that the children sent parcels to these and nine other men, some from Ashbourne, and a total of 98 parcels had so far been posted.

Military Service Tribunals continued to hear many cases. The Mayfield Rural Tribunal this week ruled on dozens of applications, including two for traders from Alstonefield.

William Arthur Seddon, the village’s postmaster, grocer and draper, aged 28, said he was the sole support of his widowed mother and his two brothers were already in the army. He was granted an exemption until September 30. George Adams, a 30-year-old grocer and draper, was also granted an exemption to the same date.

“Mr Brough, Wetton, applied in respect of Richard Millward (39). Applicant said Millward was ‘not sharp’ and would never make a soldier. He did not know his own age, as he was over military age.
Applicant, on being asked if he would get a birth certificate said: ‘I’m not going to stand 3s/7d. (laughter)
After a little consideration the tribunal refused the application.
Applicant: Can I get that certificate this afternoon?
Mr Thomas: Yes
Applicant: Then I had better go and get it before the tribunal is finished.
Subsequently applicant returned armed with the birth certificate which showed that Millward was 42 in August, and therefore exempt.

Traders at Ashbourne Provision Market were selling salmon at 2s/6d, cod at 6d/lb, best oranges at 1d each and English tomatoes a 1s/lb.

There had been a dramatic case at Ashbourne Police Court, where Frank Purdy, Junior, was accused of ‘sleeping without visible means of subsistence’. Purdy had been found asleep in a hayloft at Haywood Farm, Mappleton, by Constable Brooksbank. He protested at being arrested and threatened to kill himself by throwing himself from the loft.

“Witness took the precaution to handcuff himself to Purdy, who suddenly made a jump, succeeded in getting over the palisading, where he hung by his handcuffed hand until he was hauled up by the officer.”

Purdy pleaded guilty and said he would join the army straight away if allowed. The magistrate jailed him for 14 days.

Constable Brooksbank also gave evidence at Ashbourne Petty Sessions against two teenagers accused of ‘discharging stones from catapults at Bradley Woods’. Each was fined 5s. A fine of 5s/6d was imposed on the Rev Herbert Hale of Hartington, who admitted riding a ‘motor tricycle’ without a light at Alsop on June 7. Hale said he had been delayed by a puncture.

The feudal system appeared to have been alive and well, according to an item on the back page of the Telegraph, under the headline The Marquis of Hartington.

The Duke of Devonshire’s tenants from Shottle and Postern had made a presentation at Shottle Hall to the Marquis of Hartington to mark his coming of age.

The gift took the form of a green leather stationery cabinet and clock fitted with ‘every appliance’. On a brass plate was the inscription: ‘The Marquis of Hartington, 6th May, 1916, from the Shottle tenantry.”

The Duchess was present, and the Marquis was reported to have said he could hardly find words to thank them.

“He knew the Shottle estate well, having shot over it on several occasions. Often in the trenches of Gallipoli his thoughts wandered to its green fields.”

Elsewhere it was reported that the Marquis had agreed to stand as the parliamentary candidate for the Unionist Party in North East Derbyshire. Colonel Bowden who won the election in May 1914, had indicated he wished to retire.

There was no Portrait Gallery of local soldiers this week, instead page three was dominated by short news items from around the UK, including a brief item about a British Destroyer having been sunk in the Channel by a collision. Three men were said to be missing, a further 31 had been rescued.

Curiously, also among the briefs was an item of fashion news:

“The collar trade is combining for its own protection against the ‘special collar’ man – the faddist who still insists of his peace-time privilege of having his collars made to order. It is becoming impossible to execute these special orders as about 50 per cent of the staff of expert collar-cutters have gone into the army and the rest are needed for ordinary collar work. “

Men’s Wear magazine was urging retailers to discourage special orders and inform them that anyone not willing to accept stock collars to expect to pay much higher prices.

In a nod to those lost at sea at the Battle of Jutland came in a two-line brief on the back page: “A Tottenham child has just been given the names of Kitchener and Jellicoe.”

In another, unheadlined, news item, this time on page 5 it was simply stated: “Nine conscientious objectors were sent to prison for four months in Cardiff.”

  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague John Dilley is conducting a similar real-time project with the Market Harborough Advertiser. Check out his Newspapers and the Great Warblog
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