Arthur Dunford

This post is just a tad different in that it doesn’t concern any item we actually have at the museum. Instead it is about a First World War medal dug up by a resident in Stobbarts Place in Market Lavington. It is a standard British Victory medal issued in huge quantities to all those who served. image002 image004 Now these medals have the name, regiment and number of the soldier who gained the medal inscribed around the edge. They are hard to photograph! But below we see the information on this medal. image006 This medal belonged to number 7435, Private… image007 …A J Dunford of the Wiltshire regiment. What we hope to do is trace some descendants or relatives of this man. So let’s try to compile a little family history.

He was Arthur James Dunford. It is going to be hard to be sure about his origins because two people were born and given that name in the Devizes district. One was registered in 1886 and the other in 1888 which makes them both feasible for World War One service. However, we think he was the younger of the two for in 1911 he was in the military and we know he attested in 1905. On that basis we think his father was a Somerset man called Francis.

In 1891 Francis and young Arthur were with Francis’s mother in Somerset but Arthur had been born in Devizes. We think his mother was Jane Dyke. By the 1901 census Francis is back in Devizes and with a new wife who would have been Arthur’s step mother. She would have been Emily Biffin who married Francis in 1896. She had been born in West Lavington in about 1871. On that 1901 census the family lives at 14 Southend Street in Devizes and consists of: Francis Dunford aged 40 Emily Dunford, wife aged 31 Arthur J Dunford, son aged 13 Frederick C Dunford, son aged 4 Dorothy L Dunford, daughter aged 3 Elizabeth E Dunford, daughter aged 6 months.

In 1911 the family lived on Sheep Street in Devizes and had produced the following further children: Francis William Dunford, son aged 9 Florence Lucy Evelyn Dunford, daughter aged 7 Emily Dunford, daughter aged 4 Hilda Alice Maude Dunford, daughter aged 2. With Arthur being a professional soldier it is hard to trace him. He was with the Wiltshire Regiment in South Africa in 1911. We think he died in the Swindon area in 1959. If you are related in any way to Arthur, or can help us trace relatives then we’d love to hear from you.

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4 Responses to “Arthur Dunford”

  1. John Burgess Says:

    My Grandmother was Emily Dundord ne Biffin my aunty.s were Hilda, Florence, Dorothy, She had a son called Fredrick William who lived in Basingstoke when i was a child. Fred married a Edith Murgatroyed My mother Violet was another daughter of course she married Clifford Burgess. My grand mother was i believe a child born out of wedlock and spent some time in the Devizes work house. My grand mother was born in Earlstoke or close by

  2. Robin Dunford Says:

    Hi – I was alerted to this post by one of your subscribers via Ancestry. I was delighted to read about the discovery of this medal!

    I believe this Arthur James DUNFORD was my fourth cousin twice removed, son of Francis William DUNFORD of Wanstrow, Somerset, and his first wife Jane, born at Devizes in 1888. I agree with you that it seems likely his death was the one recorded in Swindon registration district in 1959. I have the same census records that you mention, but I don’t have anything else about Arthur after 1911 until his death.

    It seems that Francis William DUNFORD had some financial problems in the early 1890s – he was summoned to appear before the Petty Sessions at Devizes on 31 Aug 1894 to explain why he was not able to contribute to the support of his mother, Elizabeth DUNFORD (though he did not appear to face the court). He had signed an agreement to pay 6d. a week towards her upkeep, but he was now 13s. 6d. in arrears. He was recorded by the court as a widower with one child (Jane died aged 25 in 1893), although Arthur may have had a sister Edith Maud living on the 1891 census (she is listed as a granddaughter of Francis’ mother, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she was Arthur’s sister, and I have been unable to find either a marriage or a death for Edith so far. She was not listed with Arthur and family in 1901; since she was born at Upton Noble, not Devizes, two years before Francis married Jane, it’s possible she was an illegitimate child of one of Francis’ three sisters). Francis was listed as a butcher’s labourer of 13 Island, The Green, Devizes, in a report of the court case in the Wells Journal of 6 Sep 1894. He was subsequently ordered to pay 1s. a week towards his mother’s upkeep, but I’ve found nothing to indicate whether he was able to pay up.

    I had not traced Frances’ marriage to Jane previously; I found it through findmypast, but it appears to be missing on Ancestry, so thanks for the tip! I see that a Jane DYKE dauther of Stephen and Prudence was living at Allington on the 1871 census, born in 1868.

    I think that the other Arthur James DUNFORD was born at Potterne in 1886, the son of Alfred DUNFORD of Potterne and his wife Mary Jane MARKS. I don’t have any record of this Potterne family. His death appears to have been registered in Devizes district in 1963.

    The Wanstrow DUNFORD family moved there from Upton Scudamore near Warminster in about 1793, where they spelled their surname DURNFORD. They were resident in Upton Scudamore at least as far back as Solomon DURNFORD, born in about 1680.

    I’m not currently in contact with anyone in Arthur’s branch of my DUNFORD family, as I was only quite recently able to push my DUNFORD line back far enough to join all the Wanstrow DUNFORDs up – the closest would be descendants of second cousins of his, I would think. I’m glad that at least one of Arthur’s closer relatives has been able to get in touch with you.

    Robin Dunford
    Wantage, Oxfordshire (or Berkshire, for genealogical purposes)

    • marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

      Hi Robin

      Sorry about a short delay replying. I’ve been celebrating a grandson’s 5th birthday today.
      Thanks for all the information. It is wonderful that people can supply us with so much information. Our medal finders were keen to find a relation to give the medal to. It seems that John, who sent a message, is an ideal recipient. It seems almost certain that John’s mother – half brother of Arthur, was, for a while the medal holder for she lived at the house where the medal was found.
      I think this is a lovely heart warming story. Thanks for adding more detail to the story.


      Museum curator

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