Arthur Phipps – Staffordshire County Records – Appeal against war service WW1

Article submitted by Chris Jones

My great grandfather had told his grandchildren why he objected to going to the war but is only these records found two years ago that partially confirmed his story……..

I was fortunate to find details of my great grandfather (Arthur William Phipps) in the tribunal appeals held at Staffordshire Archives. Our family knew about the story, but the records we were fortunate to find now prove it.

About Arthur – his birth, early life and marriage

Arthur was born in 1883 at Hopwas, the youngest son of George and Ellen Phipps. His father was a gardener on the Peel estates (now Drayton Manor Park and Zoo).

Arthur grew up in the village and attended the village school before going to work with his older brothers at the local paper mill – Alders. In 1906 he met and married Ethel Ball  who came from a pottery family and lived in the village. They moved into a small terraced house in Hints Lane – which he lived for the rest of his life – and they had three children (Ethel, Mabel and George) between 1907 and 1910. Sadly within a week of giving birth to George, Ethel passed away from blood poisoning.

Arthur took a housekeeper to help with the children and moved work to be with his father on the Peel estates between Fazeley and Hopwas working in the gardens and in woodlands.

The war years

At the outbreak of war Arthur carried on working and sadly his youngest sister – Jessie – lost her husband – H Cornwell in November 14 on the western front leaving her with 4 young children.

The documents show that in 1916 Arthur was assessed  and called to join the army but requested exemption due to the nature of his work and being the last fit man on the forestry part of the team.

According to Arthur he also objected to going as at that time he was responsible for his two girls – his son by now being brought up by a sister in Birmingham.

Arthur succeed in gaining an exemption twice according to the documents and local newspaper reports we have seen but eventually his exemption was dismissed. He stated later that he agreed to join up on condition he was not put in the front line as he argued the state would have to pay to bring up his children if he did not return.

It was agreed for him to join the Army Service Corps and we believe he worked in what would now be called logistics in Palestine and then moving to Salonika in Greece towards the end of the war. He told family that he didn’t enjoy his war experience and was somewhat resentful that he had been called up. At one point we know he got in a lot of trouble trying to catch local Palestinians who were stealing the food from the stores using rather zealous methods!

In 1918 Arthur’s nephew was killed in France serving with a Yorkshire regiment after transferring from the North Staffords along with two other men he knew pre-war from local farming families.

Post war

On demob he returned to Hopwas and worked on the Peel estates well into the 1930s, getting to know the family well. After they sold the estate Arthur moved to work on local farms and became a well-known local character frequenting the local Chequers Public House every night – even being given a certificate by the brewery – after he had been drinking there since his childhood! His nickname was ‘Chick’ though we don’t know why!

In later years one of his sisters moved in with him and he eventually passed away in 1971. His ashes are in his sister’s grave at Hopwas – his wife being buried in the churchyard beside his parents near to many other members of his family.

His nephew and brother-in-law are listed on the war memorial alongside one of the Peel sons who Arthur would have known pre-war.

The photos of Arthur show him in his garden in Hints Lane – post war – about 1930 and later in  life on the day of being given the award by Courage Brewery.

Images of the following Military Appeal Tribunal Records, illustrated in the above article, are held at Staffordshire Record Office, and published courtesy of Staffordshire Archives and Heritage:

C/C/M/2/14b/1095 – papers relating to Arthur Phipps
C/C/M/21/16b/1295 – papers relating to Arthur Phipps

Note on the Military Appeal Tribunal Records

The following text is an extract from Staffordshire Newsroom. To read more click on the link which follows it:

Stories of conscientious objectors and how bakers, butchers and farmworkers fought conscription are amongst a rare collection of Military Appeal Tribunal records being published for the first time.

Conscription was first used by the armed forces in 1916 and those who sought exemption were brought in front of Military tribunals to make their case. After the war, the Ministry of Health ordered that all tribunal records be destroyed, but an oversight meant Staffordshire’s collection survived.

Now, exactly one hundred years later, Staffordshire & Stoke-on-Trent Archive and Heritage Service have published this rare collection, making them available online.
It’s believed the tribunals were held in County Buildings in Stafford and the records were hidden away there only to be discovered many decades later.

Over 20,000 individual cases for the Local and Appeal Tribunals reveal the lives of the men called up to service and the stresses and strain it had on work and family life. Reasons provided by applicants are varied, including moral grounds, medical, family and on economic grounds.

People can search the records online at and request copies of the documents.







Feedback from Tame Valley Wetlands Community Meeting 20/03/17 

In March TDCS Committee member Ruth Robinson attended a Tame Valley Wetlands Community Meeting held at Water Orton. We are grateful for Ruth’s report on the meeting which brings organisations and individuals who are interested in nature and our local heritage and environment and we hope that you enjoy reading about her experiences.

This free event was aimed to bring together the communities of the Tame Valley Wetlands. It was an opportunity for local groups or individuals with an interest in access to the countryside, heritage or the environment, to network and share best practice, meet similar groups, share tips and ideas, and be inspired. It was also a chance to find out about the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership and get involved.

The day started with a talk :The Tame Valley Wetlands, where we are now and visions for the future followed by the health  and social benefits of nature and heritage conservation work. These are the basic points :

The Tame Valley Wetlands, spanning from Birmingham through rural North Warwickshire and Tamworth, is a landscape of real importance for society and nature, and one which is under substantial pressure.

The canal network and the River Tame and its floodplain form the largest series of interconnected wetlands in the Midlands – this connectivity and availability of open space is a vital asset for both people and wildlife.

The Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership, led by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust and supported by a variety of organisations including charities, local groups, statutory bodies and councils, formed over 10 years ago in recognition of the importance of this landscape, with the vision ‘to create a wetland landscape, rich in wildlife and accessible to all’.

Over the last 2 years alone, thanks largely to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Biffa Award, Environment Agency and other partners, the Partnership has invested just over £1 million towards realising this vision through the Tame Valley Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme.

Work has involved restoring the floodplain and improving the river in Kingsbury and Tamworth by re-naturalising the channel and reinstating an historic river island; restoring the Drayton Turret Footbridge – an iconic 200 year old Grade II listed structure on the canal, formerly owned by Sir Robert Peel; and enhancing hundreds of metres of hedgerow for the benefit of wildlife.

The Tame Valley Wetlands not only provide a vital role in reducing flooding, improving water quality and providing a home for wildlife; they are also special places for people to relax and enjoy, improving health and wellbeing. A key aim of the Scheme is to encourage responsible and improved access to the countryside and nature reserves for people living in Tamworth, Kingsbury, Coleshill, Castle Vale, Water Orton and nearby villages.

TameFest – a large free event showcasing the Tame Valley Wetlands – which took  place in Tamworth Castle Pleasure Grounds on Saturday 27th May.

After these talks there was then a chance to join in on two workshops. Firstly I joined a workshop where we talked about funding opportunities. It was hosted by two ladies from WARWICKSHIRE COMMUNITY AND VOLUNTARY ACTION ( which was formed in 2008 through the merger of separate ‘Councils for Voluntary Service’ and ‘Volunteer Centres’ to provide a single point of access for everyone who wants to engage in community and voluntary action. They have a collective history of over 200 years of supporting local communities to thrive. Although they are based in Warwickshire they said that they would be quite happy to talk to anyone outside their area who was linked to helping the Tame Valley Community.

The second workshop I attended was called ‘Telling The Tale of the Tame’. On the website they are asking for help to build a picture of the local history of the Tame Valley Wetlands by uploading your stories, photographs and memories to the Historypin website.

Historypin is a digital archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. Users are able to use the location and date of their content to “pin” it to Google Maps.  On the website you use the drop down tag : Discover : then History and then finally Historypin (located at the very bottom of the page). Anyone can add material but we were warned to be careful of copyrights on pictures but your own are ok to include. They are looking for any information that people may have whether it is concerning mining, the wars, people history ( who was where and where did people go) , the waterways or just memories.

There was then time for a short closing talk which brought the end to a very enjoyable and informative day !!

Images in this blog post, attributed to Tina Williams, are as follows: Tame Valley Wetlands at Middleton Lakes (RSPB site), Lake and wetlands at Kingsbury Water Park, Tame Valley Wetlands at Middleton Lakes (RSPB site) and Kingsbury Hall.


King Edward IV and a Tanner of Tamworth – A Medieval Ballad


Tamworth and Drayton Bassett are both immortalised in the medieval ballad King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth. The earliest surviving publication of this ballad dates from the sixteenth century.

The ballad, like  others which survive, is important in painting a picture of our history, folklore, cultural identity and morals, as well as providing examples of how our ancestors entertained each other.

This post  briefly summarises the history and form of the ballad before it focuses on and assesses the tale of King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth. Two excerpts from the ballad are included to give a flavour of the work, Finally a list of references used as material for the post are cited to act as a starting point for anyone who wishes to carry out further research:

History and Form of the Ballad

Ballads are fairly short narrative poems usually in quatrains (four-line stanzas) rhyming abcb. The website of the Victoria and Albert Museum cites King Edward IV and a Tanner of Tamworth as one if their examples of a stanza in ballad style:

In summer time, when leaves grew green,
and birds were singing on every tree,
King Edward would a-hunting ride
some past
ime for to see

The word ballad derives its name from medieval French dance songs or “ballares” (L: ballare, to dance), from which ‘ballet’ is also derived, as did the alternative rival form that became the French ballade. As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf.

King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth

The theme of mistaken identity

King Edward IV and the Tanner of Tamworth is an example of a medieval ballad where a man of high status (in this case a king) entertains himself at the expense of a local man whom he encounters whilst out hunting with his courtiers. The gentleman concerned is blissfully unaware of the identity of king and not only misleads him but is extremely impolite to him. Fortunately the king, who is entertained by their meeting, rewards him handsomely rather than punishes him for his insolence.

Tales of mistaken identity were a popular theme in ballads, folklore and poems of the time and chance meetings between king and commoner were a recurring theme in tales of Robin Hood.

The ballad was first found in the Child Ballad collection, number 273 and was licensed in 1564. Although surviving records indicate that it was first written down in 16th century, it is likely that it was from a much earlier oral tradition (Edward IV was the King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death in 1483).  A number of different versions of the ballad also exist outside the Child collection.

A Summary of the Ballad, with Excerpts

The ballad is a lengthy one and the summary below contains two excerpts, from the beginning and the end of the work.  Please note: No specific tune is listed on any of the ballads and it may have been sung to the tune, “In Summer time,” which, again, was also often set to Robin Hood ballads:

King Edward, while hunting, espies a tanner riding a mare with a cowhide for a saddle. He tells his men to stay back and goes to ask directions to the town of Drayton Bassett. The tanner offers wrong directions, but Edward knows them to be wrong;

IN summer time, when leaves grow greene,
And blossoms bedecke the tree,
King Edward wolde a hunting ryde,
Some pastime for to see.

With hawke and hounde he made him bowne,
With horne, and eke with bowe;
To Drayton Basset he tooke his waye,
With all his lordes a rowe.

And he had ridden ore dale and downe
By eight of clocke in the day,
When he was ware of a bold tannèr,
Come ryding along the waye.

A fayre russet coat the tanner had on
Fast buttoned under his chin,
And under him a good cow-hide,
And a mare of four shilling.[ 3]

“Nowe stand you still, my good lordes all,
Under the grene wood spraye;
And I will wend to yonder fellowe,
To weet what he will saye.

“God speede, God speede thee,” said our king.
“Thou art welcome,” Sir, sayd hee.
“The readyest waye to Drayton Basset
I praye thee to shewe to mee.”

“To Drayton Basset woldst thou goe,
Fro the place where thou dost stand?
The next payre of gallowes thou comest unto,
Turne in upon thy right hand.”

“That is an unreadye waye,” sayd our king,
“Thou doest but jest, I see
Nowe shewe me out the nearest waye,
And I pray thee wend with mee.”…

Edward then invites the tanner to dine with him in Drayton Bassett. The tanner responds that he has no need of charity; he has more pounds in his purse than the stranger has pence in his. Furthermore, he suspects the stranger of having stolen the lordly raiment he is wearing.

Edward asks the tanner for news. The tanner replies that he has heard nothing save balladthat cowhides are in great demand. Edward then asks to switch horses with the tanner. The tanner replies that he’ll do the trade but only for a gold noble (80d). Edward, amused, gives him twenty groats (80d), which raises the tanner’s opinion of him a bit. The tanner hands over his mare, throws the cowhide over the king’s gilt saddle, and tries to ride home; but the cowhide spooks the king’s steed and it throws the tanner onto the ground.

The tanner indignantly demands his mare back. Edward, laughing, replies that he’ll do the trade but only for a gold noble. The tanner graciously hands Edward not only his original twenty groats but also twenty more, and invites him to share a drink.

Edward then summons his hunting party from over the hill. The tanner first takes them for a band of outlaws, and then (when he realizes Edward’s true identity) trembles in fear of royal punishment; but Edward instead thanks the tanner for his entertainment and for his hospitality, and bestows on him Plumpton Park with its three tenements, worth 300 pounds a year. The tanner, not to be outdone, tells Edward that if the king should ever visit his little shop in Tamworth, he can have his shoes re-leathered for free.

“A coller, a coller,” the tanner he sayd,
“I trowe it will breed sorrowe:
After a coller cometh a halter,
I trow I shall be hang’d to-morrowe.”

“Be not afraid, tanner,” said our king
“I tell thee, so mought I thee,
Lo here I make thee the best esquire
That is in the North countrie.[ 6]

“For Plumpton-parke I will give thee,
With tenements faire beside
‘Tis worth three hundred markes by the yeare,
To maintaine thy good cowe-hide.”

“Gramercye, my liege,” the tanner replyd,
“For the favour thou hast me showne;
If ever thou comest to merry Tamworth,
Neates leather shall clout thy shoen.”

References and Sources of Further Information

The ballad text is quoted from

Visit the site to  read the ballad in full and to learn about the source material.

To hear a reading of the ballad recorded by Tamworth’s Shoebox Theatre click here.

Images courtesy of Project Gutenberg, where you can read the ballad, and many others in A Book of Old Ballads, selected and with an introduction, by Beverley Nicholls: EDWARD IV AND THE TANNER OF TAMWORTH

Post written by Tina Williams February 2017















Secrets of the Tin Box

An Analysis of Settlement Certificates

Box of Settlemet Cerificates

Committee members Jill Wood and Tina Williams have been carrying out a detailed analysis of information gleaned from Settlement Certificates contained in a metal box, which was re-discovered at St Editha’s Church in 2014. The box contains approximately 280 certificates, dating from 1697 – 1822.

The 1662 Act of Settlement and Removal established the need to prove entitlement to Bundles of certificates1poor relief by the issuing of Settlement Certificates . The certificates state which parish a family belonged to and therefore which parish had the legal responsibility to provide poor relief if needed. These documents were important for a mobile population, who may have needed to travel to procure work or settle elsewhere. They were not issued exclusively to paupers.

Widow Sarah BirstallThe analysis, which is currently being finalised, will include the dates, names, occupations, the parish where the individual or families originated from, plus the names of witnesses, Churchwardens, Sidesmen and Overseers of the Poor and Justices of the Peace.

The research provides an insight into not only the lives of the individuals concerned,  but also the complex legislation governing migration and settlement.

Blog post and images courtesy of Jill Wood and Tina Williams.