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We regret to announce that Mrs. Symes, of Gorphwysfa, Bangor, died on Saturday last, after a painful illness. The deceased lady had of late years become widely known by her noble benefactions to the Church and Church institutions. […] — Gloucestershire Chronicle, 14 June 1890.
Elizabeth Atcherley Symes, née Holt, granddaughter of the Rev James Atcherley of Shrewsbury, died on 7 June 1890 at the age of 81. Her obituary in the Gloucestershire Chronicle, after referring to her late husband, father and siblings, went on to give details of some of the ‘noble benefactions’ Elizabeth had given in her later years (the picture here is of Bangor Cathedral in the 1890s):
In 1883 Mrs. Symes gave £1000 for the erection of the beautiful reredos, sedilia, and panelled chancel-roof of St. Michael’s Church, Gloucester, as a memorial of her father and mother, who were interred in the church. Colonel W. J. Holt died at Bangor in September, 1880, and Mrs. Symes had erected in his memory the fine reredos in Bangor Cathedral, which was designed by Mr. J. Oldrid Scott, and which, with the sedilia and other accessories, cost between £700 and £800. After the distressing death of her friend Dean Edwards, of Bangor, Mrs. Symes built and endowed, at cost of £20,000, the Church of St. David, Glanadda, Bangor, as a memorial of the Dean.
Only a week before her death she sent a cheque for £300 towards the enlargement of Twigworth Church; and few days ago, in answer to a published appeal by Bishop Barry, she gave £500 to the Prendergast Homes for Poor Ladies. She was an annual subscriber of five guineas to the Gloucester Infirmary; and also sent £5 each Christmas to the Rector of St. Michael’s for the poor of his parish. Before commencing his sermon on Sunday the Rev. G. James said he had that morning been apprised of the death Mrs. Symes on the previous day, and spoke of her noble benefaction to the church and her oft-repeated gifts to the poor of the parish. The remains of Mrs. Symes were interred near those of her husband, brother, and sister, in Twigworth churchyard on Tuesday morning. […] We hear that Mrs. Symes has left the bulk of her wealth to institutions and charities.
After Elizabeth’s burial at Twigworth, Gloucestershire on 10 June 1890, the task of administering her wealth according to the terms of her will was begun by her executors (one of whom was her stepson Aaron Hilary Symes). That wealth was considerable: her personal estate was originally sworn (on 24 July 1890) to be £155,213 2s. 3d., a figure later revised upwards to £158,017 8s. 3d. Institutions and charities, including some created by Elizabeth’s legacies, were indeed major beneficiaries. These bequests were as follows (pictured below is the Royal Grammar School, Shrewsbury, at the Kingsland site to which it moved in 1882):
[…] her engravings and prints, not otherwise labelled, to be placed in the Arabella Holt Ward of the Chelsea Hospital for Women, Fulham Road; £20 for the benefit of the poor of the parish of St. Michael, Gloucester, and a like sum for the benefit of the poor of the parish of St. Matthew, Twigworth; £1000 to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution; £5000 to the Charity for the Relief of the Widows and orphans of Clergymen of the diocese of Bangor; £5000 to the charity established in connection with the distributions annually made by the stewards of the three choirs of Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford, for the relief of the widows and orphans of clergymen of the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol; £2100 to the Royal Grammar School, Shrewsbury, to found two scholarships of equal value to be called the Atcherley Scholarships, one for natives of Shropshire, and the other for natives of North Wales, for boys under 15, and preferably for those intending to take holy orders; such sum to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as will make up the income of Dean Edwards’s Memorial Church, Glanadda, Bangor, to £300 per annum; and the residue of her pure personalty between the Gloucester Infirmary, the Carnarvonshire and Anglesey Infirmary, the Children’s Hospital at KingshoIm, Gloucestershire, the Governesses’ Benevolent Institution, Sackville-street, the Poor Clergy Corporation, the Clergy Orphan Corporation, the British Benevolent Institution for the Relief of Gentlewomen in Reduced Circumstances, and Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. The proceeds of the sale of her real estate and impure personalty are to be the primary funds for the payment of testatrix’s debts, funeral and testamentary expenses, and the legacies other than the charitable ones.
Elizabeth’s non-charitable bequests were those made to her relatives (by marriage), friends, and others: £10,000 to Aaron Hilary Symes; £2,000 each to Aaron’s two daughters Kathleen Leslie Symes and Elizabeth Atcherley Symes; £5,000 to her companion Alice Eliza Parris; £3,000 to Frances Parris; plus other gifts to the aforementioned Aaron and Alice, and many other legacies to nieces, nephews, godchildren and servants.
We ‘met’ Aaron Hilary Symes briefly in part 4 of this story, when he was an engineer with the Royal Navy. He joined the Navy in 1860, after ‘serving time’ (five years) at the Lambeth-based engineering firm of Maudslay, Sons and Field. His service, from his initial appointment as Acting Third-Class Assistant Engineer through to retirement, can be traced through newspaper reports of naval promotions and ship movements, The Navy List, census records, and of course from his official service record held at The National Archives.
These records show that Aaron was confirmed as a Third-Class Assistant Engineer (with effect from his enlistment on 14 February 1860) on 18 April 1861, and then progressed to Second-Class on 7 May 1861, First-Class on 23 February 1864, and finally to the full rank of Engineer on 25 July 1867. After spending his first few months aboard the Monkey, “to become acquainted with marine engines”, Aaron went on to serve aboard the Spiteful (from 5 September 1860), the Woolwich Checque (2 March 1863), the Princess Royal (13 February 1864), the Defence (13 January 1868 – pictured below), the Vivid (2 November 1872), the Royal Adelaide (by June 1873), and lastly the Wild Swan (28 August 1877). These vessels took him to Japan, Hong Kong, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, Nova Scotia, the Indian Ocean, and the East Indies.
Through most of his naval career, Aaron’s conduct and qualifications were rated as “Very good”, with Admiral King noting as early as 1867 that Aaron was “Fit for and deserving of anything”. However he was, to his bitter disappointment, too far down a very long seniority list to have any hope of promotion to Chief Engineer. His father, Aaron Stark Symes, who had pushed for Aaron’s promotion to full Engineer in 1867, wrote again to the Admiralty in 1878 asking about promotion for Aaron but was rebuffed.
Ten years later, Aaron was able to express his thoughts about his (and other Engineers’) lack of advancement to a Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, which had been convened “to Consider the Best Means of Securing the Highest Mechanical Skill and Scientific Knowledge in the Management of the various Engines of Her Majesty’s Ships of War, and the Supply of Engineer Officers and Engine Room Artificers for Her Majesty’s Navy”. He was at that time 210 places from the top of the list for promotion, and stated that the only thing he had to look forward to was his retirement at age 45, at which point he would still be earning ten shillings a day.
After his return to Devonport in October 1881, Aaron chose not to return to sea and paid off his ship “on account of the recent death of his father”. He was at that point reduced to half pay. In November the following year Aaron complained of rheumatism, and weakness in his right leg due to varicose veins. He was admitted to Haslar Hospital, and shortly after it was agreed that he would remain on Half Pay until he formally retired in November 1883.
Aaron married Katharine Isabel (or Isabella) Mather in Newcastle upon Tyne at the beginning of 1883. The couple settled in Berkshire, where they had three children. As we have seen, two of those children (Kathleen Leslie, born in 1884, and Elizabeth Atcherley, born 1886) were left £2,000 apiece in their step-grandmother’s will. The third child, Carey Hilary Symes, was born after the death of the family’s benefactor – sadly he died in 1897 at the age of 6.
The Symes family undoubtedly lived a comfortable life in Berkshire, being attended to by several servants. When Aaron died there in 1905, aged 67, he left effects valued at £38,271 and ensured that those he left behind – just 22 years after his marriage to Katharine – were well provided for.
The 1911 census recorded Aaron’s daughter Kathleen Leslie Symes at Maida Vale, Paddington, London, where she was (if my reading of her occupation is correct) a philanthropic worker with the Church Missionary Society. She later went to India and became the honorary superintendent of the Sandes Soldiers Homes there. In 1925, it is written, she “visited Singapore to explore the possibility of starting a similar home” there. A suitable site could not then be found, but Kathleen had better luck at the end of the 1940s and a Sandes Home was opened, near the Alexandra Military Hospital, in 1949. She died on 1 February 1963 and a headstone erected in her memory can be found at Singapore’s Kranji Military Cemetery; there is also a plaque (originally situated in a memorial garden) in the collection of the National Museum of Singapore.
Returning to the census of 1911, Aaron’s widow Katharine Isabel Symes, aged 53 and living on private means, was enumerated at Eastbourne, Sussex, with her daughter Elizabeth Atcherley Symes and two servants. Katharine lived until 19 February 1942, when she passed away in Surrey – probably at the Croydon nursing home where she had been recorded on the 1939 Register taken shortly after Britain’s entry into the Second World War.
The 1939 Register also featured Katharine’s daughter Elizabeth who was living in Hurst Way, Croydon – about a mile away from Katharine’s nursing home in Birdhurst Rise. Elizabeth had by this time been married and widowed. She wed the Rev George Wright, a Chaplain to the Forces, in 1918 at Hindhead in Surrey, and so became Elizabeth Atcherley Wright. George died at the age of 50 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl in 1936, but prior to this he and Elizabeth had lived at the Vicarage in Appledore, Kent (the parish church is pictured here). Elizabeth survived her husband by 35 years or so, her death being registered in the first quarter of 1972 in Kent.
Curiously, Elizabeth’s entry in the 1939 Register read “Atcherley Wright, Elizabeth” – was the name Atcherley by then regarded as part of her surname rather than as a second forename? It would seem so, as a newspaper report of a schoolboys’ lawn tennis tournament in 1935 showed that G (Graham) Atcherley-Wright was beaten in the first round of the open singles.
Graham was the first of three children born to Elizabeth and her husband George, that happy event taking place on on 23 December 1918 in Kent. Two girls followed: Mary Atcherley Wright on 24 June 1920 (who married Frederick West in 1942 and died as Mary Atcherley West in 1991), and Rachel Atcherley Wright on 31 July 1922 (she married Ernest Edgar Spink in 1946 and died as Rachel Atcherley Spink). Graham was actually named Edward Graham Wright when his birth was registered, but as we have just seen that was to change. In fact it was to change more than once!
Graham still had the surname Atcherley-Wright in October 1940, when he was one of several Cadets from Sandhurst, and 162nd Officer Cadet Training Units, who were to be 2nd Lieutenants (in Graham’s case, in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers). Then, on 11 May 1941, “at Charing Parish Church, Kent, Second Lt. Graham Atcherley-Wright, only son of Mrs. Atcherley-Wright and of the late Rev. George Wright, M.C.” wed Dorothy (Dodo) Errington-Wales. It appears that the couple separated within a few years: by a deed poll dated 10 December 1945, Dorothy, a married woman, “renounced and abandoned the Christian names and surname of Dorothy Errington Atcherley-Wright and assumed the Christian name and surname of Dodo Errington”.
The couple later divorced, and Graham remarried – but not before changing his own name once more, by deed poll, to Graham Atcherley Atcherley-Symes. His name later morphed again, his forenames returning to those given to him at birth, but his surname remained unchanged. And so it was that the death of Edward Graham Atcherley-Symes was registered in 1984. Today his children and grandchildren bear the surname he created, a surname which remembers the family’s illustrious Symes ancestors and its connection with the name of Atcherley.
Picture credits. Bangor Cathedral, 1890s: Adapted from a photo with no known restrictions on reproduction at the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Royal Grammar School at Kingsland, Shrewsbury: Photo by Gnesener1900; taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. HMS Defence as she appeared after 1866: Public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons. Appledore St Peter & St Paul: Photo © Copyright Oast House Archive; taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence.
 Gloucestershire Chronicle, 14 Jun 1890, page 5. Death of Mrs. Symes. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Death of Elizabeth Acherley Symes registered at Bangor, June quarter 1890; volume 11b, page 346; age given as 81.
 The Times, issue 33034, 10 Jun 1890, page 1. Deaths. Copy viewed at The Times Digital Archive.
 Twigworth, Gloucestershire, burial register covering 1890. Entry dated 10 Jun 1890 for Elizabeth Acherley Symes of Gorphwyafa [= Gorphwysfa] Bangor, aged 81. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1988.
 National Probate Calendar (1890) shows: SYMES Elizabeth Atcherley. 24 July. The Will with a Codicil of Elizabeth Atcherley Symes late of Gorphwysfa Bangor in the County of Carnarvon Widow who died 7 June 1890 at Gorphwysfa was proved at the Principal Registry by the Reverend Owen Evans of the College Llandovery in the County of Carmarthen Clerk William Pughe of the National Provincial Bank Bangor Esquire and Aaron Hilary Symes of Speen Newbury in the County of Berks Esquire the Executors. Personal Estate £155,213 2s. 3d. Resworn November 1890 £158,017 8s. 3d. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995.
 London Gazette, issue 26136, 20 Feb 1891, page 968. ELIZABETH ATCHERLEY SYMES, Deceased.
 The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality, 9 Aug 1890, page 5. The Will of the Late Mrs Symes of Gorphwysfa, Bangor. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.
 HMSO (1877), Report of the Committee appointed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to Consider the Best Means of Securing the Highest Mechanical Skill and Scientific Knowledge in the Management of the various Engines of Her Majesty’s Ships of War, and the Supply of Engineer Officers and Engine Room Artificers for Her Majesty’s Navy. Abstract of Evidence, page liii. Copy viewed at Google Books.
 Maudslay, Sons and Field. At: Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History (website, accessed 7 May 2019).
 The National Archives, Kew. Series ADM 29 (Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Coastguard and related services: Officers’ and Ratings’ Service Records (Series II)), Piece 110 (Entries as assistant engineers). Service record of Aaron Hilary Symes. Copy viewed at Findmypast – British Royal Navy & Royal Marines Service And Pension Records, 1704-1919.
 Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph, 16 Feb 1860, page 2. Naval Appointments. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Evening Mail, 7 Sep 1860, page 3. Naval and Military Intelligence. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 4440, folio 51, page 1. Royal Navy vessel Spiteful, Port Royal, Jamaica. Assistant Engineer [3rd Class]: Aaron H Symes, single, 23½, born Guernsey. Plus other crew members.
 Morning Advertiser, 24 Feb 1864, page 6. Naval Promotions. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Army and Navy Gazette, 27 Jul 1867, page 5. The Navy Gazette. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 London Evening Standard, 14 Jan 1868, page 6. Naval and Military Intelligence. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 5780, folio 91, page 2. Royal Navy vessel Defence, Grand Harbour, Malta. Engineer: Aaron Hilary Symes, single, 32, born Guernsey. Plus other crew members.
 Naval & Military Gazette, 20 Jul 1872, page 5. Movements of Ships and Ship Notes. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (1876), The Navy List, corrected to The 20th March, 1876. Pages 184 and 314. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
 Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (1877), The Navy List, corrected to The 27th September, 1877. Page 184. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
 Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty (1879), The Navy List, corrected to The 20th December, 1879. Pages 242-3. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 5642, folio 33, page 1. Royal Navy vessel Wild Swan, Majanga, Madagascar. Engineer: A Hilary Symes, single, 43, born Guernsey. Plus other crew members.
 Naval & Military Gazette, 28 Nov 1883, page 8. Naval Gazettes. Copy viewed at British Newspaper Archive.
 Marriage of Aaron Hilary Symes and Katharine Isabel Mather registered at Newcastle on Tyne, March quarter 1883; volume 10b, page 57.
 Birth of Kathleen Leslie Symes registered at Bradfield, June quarter 1884; volume 2c, page 341.
 Birth of Elizabeth Atcherley Symes registered at Newbury, December quarter 1886; volume 2c, page 233.
 Birth of Carey Hilary Symes registered at Newbury, March quarter 1891; volume 2c, page 253.
 1891 census of England and Wales. Piece 970, folio 48, page 4. Bath Road, Speen, Berkshire. Head: Aaron H Symes, 53, retired Naval engineer, born Guernsey. Wife: Katherine I Symes, 33, born Newcastle on Tyne, Northumberland. Dau: Kathleen L Symes, 7, born Bradfield. Dau: Elizabeth A Symes, 4, born Speen. Son: Carrey [= Carey], 2 months, born Speen. Plus a visitor and 3 servants.
 Death of Cary Hilary Symes registered at Bradfield, September quarter 1897; volume 2c, page 201; age given as 6.
 1901 census of England and Wales. Piece 1141, folio 39, page 18. Stanford Wood, Bradfield, Berkshire. Head: Aaron Hilary Symes, 63, retired engineer Royal Navy, born Guernsey. Wife: Katharine I Symes, 43, born Newcastle, Northumberland. Dau: Kathleen L Symes, 17, born Bradfield. Dau: Elizabeth A Symes, 14, born Newbury. Plus 4 servants (housekeeper, maid, housemaid, kitchenmaid).
 Death of Aaron Hilary Symes registered at Bradfield, March quarter 1905; volume 2c, page 221; age given as 67.
 National Probate Calendar (1905) shows: SYMES Aaron Hilary of Bradfield Berkshire died 26 January 1905 Probate London 10 March to Katherine Isabel Symes widow and Alexander Mitchell bank-manager Effects £38271. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995.
 1911 census of England and Wales. Piece 38, schedule 252. Head: May Worsley Ellis, 47, single, proprietress of ladies’ club and boarding house, born Liverpool, Lancashire. Boarder: Kathleen Leslie Symes, 27, single, [philanthropic?] worker (Church Missionary Society), born Bradfield, Berkshire. Plus 20 other boarders (all female – sick nurses, secretaries, teachers, a clerk, an accountant, an artist, a pianist, a demonstrator of physiology, and others of private means) and 5 servants.
 Marsita Omar, Chan Fook Weng (2007), Sandes Soldiers Home. Copy viewed at Singapore Infopedia (website, accessed 6 Jan 2019). Previous version at http://infopedia.nl.sg/articles/SIP_1025_2008-12-01.html no longer online.
 Kathleen Leslie Symes at Billion Graves (website, accessed 6 Jan 2019).
 Kathleen Leslie Symes memorial page at Find A Grave (website, accessed 6 Jan 2019).
 Miss Symes Memorial Plaque at Roots website (accessed 6 Jan 2019).
 1911 census of England and Wales. Piece 4838, schedule 145. Whitecroft, Saffrons Road, Eastbourne, Sussex. Head: Katherine Isabel Symes, 53, widow [crossed out: married 28 years, 3 children, 2 living], private means, born Gosforth, Northumberland. Dau: Elizabeth Atcherley Symes, 24, born Speen, Newbury [Berkshire]. Plus 2 servants (cook-housekeeper and house-parlourmaid).
 Death of Katharine I Symes registered at Croydon, March quarter 1942; volume 2a, page 157; age given as 84.
 National Probate Calendar (1942) shows: SYMES Katherine Isabel of Raleigh 1 Bidhurst Rise South Croydon Surrey widow died 19 February 1942 Probate Llandudno 2 June to Westminster Bank Limited. Effects £1875 12s. 6d. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995.
 1939 Register, Piece 1294B, Item 014, Lines 7 and 14 show Mary G Coulson, born 5 Jan 1885, single, Trained Nurse Matron and Katharine I Symes, born 3 Oct 1857, widowed, [Private Means], plus a General Nurse (Lilian I Coulson), 7 other elderly ladies (single / widowed), all living on Private Means, and a lady with the occupation of Domestic Duties, at 1 Birdhurst Rise, Croydon County Borough (Surrey).
 1939 Register, Piece 1294F, Item 017, Lines 6 and 7 show Elizabeth Atcherley Wright [written as Atcherley Wright, Elizabeth], born 21 Aug 1887, widowed, Small Pte Means. Domestic Duties, and Mary Atcherley Wright [written as Atcherley Wright, Mary; Atcherley crossed out and West written above], born 24 Jun 1920, single, shorthand typist, at 17 Hurst Way, Croydon County Borough (Surrey).
 Hindhead, Surrey, marriage register covering 1918. Entry dated 11 May 1918 for George Wright and Elizabeth Atcherley Symes. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937.
 Marriage of George Wright and Elizabeth A Symes registered at Farnham, June quarter 1918; volume 2a, page 315.
 Death of George Wright registered at St Asaph, September quarter 1936; volume 11b, page 188; age given as 50.
 National Probate Calendar (1936) shows: WRIGHT reverend George of The Vicarage Appledore Kent clerk died 18 June 1936 at Royal Alexandra Hospital Rhyl Flintshire Administration London 25 August to Elizabeth Atcherley Wright widow and Francis Covell solicitor. Effects £3083 10s. 6d. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995.
 London Gazette, issue 34319, 1 Sep 1936, pages 5692 – 5693.
 Death of Elizabeth Atcherley Wright registered at Tonbridge, March quarter 1972; volume 8f, page 2380; date of birth given as 1886.
 The Times, issue 47136, 7 Aug 1935, page 12. Lawn Tennis. Copy viewed at The Times Digital Archive.
 Birth of Edward G Wright registered at Hartley W., March quarter 1919; volume 2c, page 305; mother’s maiden name Symes.
 Birth of Mary A Wright registered at Hartley W, September quarter 1920; volume 2c, page 423; mother’s maiden name Symes.
 Marriage of Frederick W West and Mary A Wright registered at Croydon, March quarter 1942; volume 2a, page 1629.
 Death of Mary Atcherley West registered at Croydon, March 1991; date of birth given as 24 Jun 1920.
 Birth of Rachel A Wright registered at Eastbourne, September quarter 1922; volume 2b, page 124; mother’s maiden name Symes.
 St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster, London marriage register covering 1946. Entry dated 9 Jan 1946 for Ernest Edgar Spink and Rachel Atcherley Wright. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Westminster Marriages.
 Marriage of Ernest E Spink and Rachel A Wright registered at Westminster, March quarter 1946; volume 1a, page 895.
 The Times, issue 50350, 5 Jan 1946, page 1. Marriages. Copy viewed at The Times Digital Archive.
 London Gazette, issue 34990, 13 Nov 1940, page 6545.
 Marriage of Graham Atcherley-Wright and Dorothy Errington-Wales registered at Ashford, June quarter 1941; volume 2a, page 4363.
 The Times, issue 48937, 28 May 1941, page 1. Copy viewed at The Times Digital Archive.
 Kent & Sussex Courier, 30 May 1941, page 5. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
 London Gazette, issue 37498, 12 Mar 1946, page 1351.
 Marriage of Graham A Atcherley-Symes registered at Westminster, September quarter 1955; volume 5c, page 949.
 London Gazette, issue 40112, 26 Feb 1954, page 1265.
 Death of Edward Graham Atcherley-Symes registered at Maidstone, May 1984; volume 16, page 1345, reg no 584; date of birth given as 23 Dec 1918.