Rob Forsyth

Under construction with more information to come

Thanks to a serendipitous phone call to our Vicar prior to Remembrance Sunday in 2021, we are now in touch with Ruth O'Quigley who is the granddaughter of Arthur James Hancox the eldest of four brothers whose three younger siblings all died in WWI. Ruth is the custodian of the Hancox family records. Arthur's father, David  recorded the births of his children in the family bible and his diary records the deaths of the three brothers, the expedition to find the crosses and the work that he carried out for Franklins of Deddington. My deep thanks go to Ruth for the priviledge of sharing these unique sources and other documents and images with me.

This article combines Ruth's information with that from A Parish at War (Deddington's military history), the Commonwealth War Graves Commisssion and the section devoted to Deddington War Grave crosses on the website Returned from the Front.

Images of gravestones and their location are from an interactive (not allowed by copyright on this website) Oxfordshire Family History Society CD-ROM which can be purchased from the OFHS online shop.

Elijah Hancox (1824-1914)

elijahhancoxElijah was born in Shenington son of James and Alice Winter. He married Ann/Anna? Hemmings (1819-1895) in 1843. They had five children Sarah (1848-1940), Louisa (1851-1927), Alice (1854-1923), David (b.1857 - see below), James (1859-1923)

He was a joiner by trade. Ruth recounts that for many years he lived in Vancouver in Canada. The 1898 British Columbia Voting List shows him living with son James at 1104, Nelson Street, Carpenter in Vancouver.  He was still travelling to there in September 1903 on the SS Lake Eyrie accompanied by three younger men - as the passenger manifest on arrival in Quebec Canada shows - all described as builders. One of them is JG Adkins and a John Adkins was married to one of Elijah's daughters (check out). The group would have crossed Canada to Vancouver by train.

In the 1911 census he is living in Deddington with his son David & family as a widower.

He died on 5 April 1914 and is buried in Deddington churchyard in Grave No.9 on this plan

David Hancox (1857-1940)

For many years David was the head wood carver & joiner at Franklins of Deddington whose work can be seen in Deddington Church (pulpit, lectern, communion rails, altar pieces and roof restoration) and, notably, the Rood Screen in Hobart Cathedral, Tasmania, to where he led a team to install it at a time when few in the village knew where Tasmania was.

He married  Ellen Bell (1862- 1941) in 1881. They had seven children - Ella (1882) & Arthur (1884) were born in Wroxton and Walter (1886), Annie (1888), Alice (1891), Rufus (1895) and Edward (1897) were born in Deddington.

Several of the children can be seen in these photographs (click on images to enlarge) from Deddington School and Football Club

GirlsSchool1900 Boysschool1900Footballteam1920

 David died in April 1940 and Ellen in May 1941. Their gravestone is No.92 on this plan.

 WWI - All four boys enlist


Rufus and what is believed to be Edward in are in this photo of a Territorial Army Group taken pre 1914.

In November 1915 David and son Walter went to Chatham to enlist in the Royal Engineers. It is not known when Arthur and Edward enlisted.

click on image to enlarge


James Hancox (1884-1948)

Arthur married Mary Bliss in Deddington in 1909. They had two sons Arthur David (1910-1991) and Charles Edward (1914-1972).
Deddington Deanery Magasine
records that he was wounded in October 1917. It also records that Edward had died on 24 July.

Arthur died in 1948 and Mary in 1957. Their grave is No.116 on this plan.

Walter David HANCOX (1886-1916) 140053

Walter was a Sapper in 154 Field Company, Royal Engineers.
He was killed in action on 1 July 1916 age 30 on the first day of the Battle of
the Somme. Over 60,000 men were killed or wounded on that day

From the War Diary of 154 Field Coy., R. E. 37th Div. For July 1916 (WO 95/2523):
"All Company standing by at BIENVILLERS [ed- 3km north west of Gommecourt]. Mounted section in bivouac at POMMIERS. About 6.30 a.m. whilst the Company was changing position from the camp on to the sunken BERLES road, two 5.9 shells fell amongst them, killing 15 and wounding 17. One died of wounds afterwards. All these casualties except one occurred in Nos 3 & 4 Sections and put them practically out of action for the time being."

He is buried in Grave VIII B13, Bienvillers Military Cemetery.

William Rufus HANCOX (1896-1916) 1907

Rufus enlisted in 1914 in Oxford. He became a Corporal in the 1st/4th Battalion, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 145 Brigade, 48th Division.
He was killed in action near Pozières Ridge on 14 August 1916 age 20.
He is remembered on the Pier and Face 10A and 10D of the Thiepval Memorial.

Albert Edward HANCOX (1897-1917) 139675

Edward was a bell ringer.

He enlisted as a Sapper with the 101 Field Company, Royal Engineers.
He died of his wounds on 24 July 1917 in hospital near Ypres age 19.

From 101st Field Coy R.E. War Diary for July 1917 (WO 95/2177):
24th July: “Nos 2 & 4 sections commence work on Sleeper road starting at L R head near BLAUVE PORT and working towards CHESTER FARM [ed – location presumed to be south of Ypres]. While on the job 2 men were killed and 5 injured owing to an ammunition dump nearby exploding. Clasper and Crocket were the two sappers who were killed.”
27th July: “Informed by No 11 CCS Spr. Hancox died of injuries from ??? explosion by a shell.”.

He is buried in Grave 1 A 4, Godewaersvelde British Cemetery, France. 

In 1928 their father went to France with other men from Deddington and returned with Walter's and Albert's war grave crosses which now hang on the north wall of the church.

All three brothers are also remembered on a Wooden Memorial in the church hand carved by their father David in 1920, a Brass Plaque in the church (1921) the War Memorial in the churchyard (1922), and a Stone Plaque in the church (2013) containing an additional 23 names not on the War Memorial.

Post War

David can be seen in these photographs of the FootballFootballteam1920and Bowls Clubs BowlsClub1927Click on images to enlarge

Images and Media

All the images associated with this article and more can be found in the Hancox Family Album in our Gallery

The Banbury Guardian and Banbury Advertiser  featured articles at the time of the deaths of all three brothers

BBC and Radio Oxford recorded  programmes in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele in which the Hancox brothers featured.