Sidney Alfred Parsons and his Ancestors

William Parsons Peters (1829 to 1902)

William Parsons Peters was a cousin once removed of John Parsons, and John Parsons was the father of Sidney Alfred Parsons. William and Sidney’s most recent common ancestor was William’s grandfather who was also called William Parsons. He was a farmer and inn-keeper who lived in Holton in Somerset and died there in 1837. William was not born with the ‘Peters’ surname; he adopted it when he was about 30 years old in accordance with the will of his uncle John Weston Peters who wanted a male relative to continue the family name.

Charlton Horethorne, where William was baptised in 1829 on the 23rd of June, is in the south eastern part of the county of Somerset close to the border with Dorset. The map to the right shows its location between Wincanton and Sherborne.

Kington Magna, which can be seen a few miles to the east of Charlton Horethorne, was the home of the William’s earliest known ancestor, Richard Parsons, who was buried there in 1713.

William’s parents George Parsons and Jane Peters had twelve children and William was their youngest. George and Jane had started their married lives in Kington Magna where George’s father William Parsons had a farm. George and Jane moved to Charlton Horethorne in about 1817 when they took out a lease on Manor Farm. A descendant of theirs still lives there in the fine manor house.

Several of William’s brothers died young. He had two brothers called Henry who died as infants, and William himself was named after two deceased brothers of the same name the first of whom died when he was eleven years old and the second as an infant.

Three of William’s brothers were particularly successful in their careers: George became an inventor and founded the Parrett Works which is a large water-powered industrial complex near the town of Martock in Somerset;   and Henry and Uriah became land agents with many distinguished clients including Lord Portman, the 1st Viscount Portman.

When William was about fifteen years old his father died after which he and his brother Uriah lived with their mother at Manor Farm. But when his wealthy uncle John Weston Peters died William decided to adopt the name ‘Peters’ which, according to the terms of the will, allowed him to secure a large inheritance.

William formally changed his surname to ‘Peters’ in October 1858 and an announcement to that effect was placed in the London Gazette.

From that time on William was known as William Parsons Peters and lived at Yeabridge in South Petherton on the estate which had been owned by his uncle John Weston Peters.

One of the properties that William inherited late in his life was Barrington Court which is now owned by the National Trust. At that time the house, which was then known as Court Farm, was in a dilapidated state and was used as storage space by the tenant farmer. The National Trust acquired the estate from William’s son in 1905 and leased it to the Lyle family who restored it.

In 1864 William got married. His bride was Eliza Mary Walter and they had four children — John, Ezit, William and Rose — but after only nine years of marriage his wife Eliza died. At the time of her death, in September 1873, she was staying in Great Malvern in Worcestershire.

Four years later William Married again. His second wife was Elizabeth Mathew who had originally come from Bath. William and Elizabeth had no children. They lived together in South Petherton until he retired. After that they went to live in North Cadbury for a while and then to Epsom in Surrey. Finally they moved to the city of Bath. William died in Bath on the 13th of August 1902 leaving an estate which was valued at £36,882 11s 2d. The Revd. Newton Parsons, who was a son of his brother Uriah Parsons, was one of the executors of his will. The other executor was Henry Hole, the eldest son of his sister Jane.

William Parsons Peters’ children

William had four children, all of whom were with his first wife Eliza (née Walter).

•   John Weston Parsons Peters was William’s first child. He was born in South Petherton late in 1864. He joined the 7th Dragoon Guards and served in India, Egypt, South Africa and Hong Kong reaching the rank of Major. He was a keen freemason and joined lodges wherever he was stationed.

In October 1895 John was involved in a rather curious scandal. A Mr John Corrie Woolston accused his wife Emily Jane of adultery and petitioned for divorce naming Captain John Weston Parsons Peters as one of the co-respondents. The other co-respondent was Louis Philippe Robert, Duke of Orleans, who was claimant to the throne of France. The petition was dismissed a few months later on the 10th of March. Mrs Woolston’s family was no stranger to scandal. Her sister, Miss Florence K. Jewell, a fine piano player, had fallen in love with a son of Lobengula, King of the Matabele, while the two of them were touring with Phineas T Barnum’s Savage South Africa show. When they tried to marry in London there was public outrage at the prospect of a white woman marrying a black man. Their wedding in the Earls Court parish church had to be cancelled but they later wed quietly at a register office. The affair has been described in detail by Ben Shephard in his book Kitty and the Prince.

John married in 1904. His wife was nearly 30 years old and he was nearly 40. Mary (or Minnie) Bertram Brunton was a daughter of an Edinburgh warehouseman who had left his wife and family while Minnie was still a young teenager. She had found employment at Herne House school, a small private boarding school for boys in Margate, Kent before moving to London where, according to the entry in the 1901 census, she lived ‘on her own means’ with one servant. John and Minnie’s wedding was in Westminster.

By 1911 John had retired from the army and was living in Westminster with Minnie They had no children.

Minnie died at a hotel in Deal in Kent in 1922. William died just over two years later in Westminster. His two sisters Elizabeth Rodie Thompson and Ellen Rosy Gillespy were appointed as the administrators of his estate which was valued at over £9,000.

•   Ezit Eliza Jane Peters was born in South Petherton in about 1866. She was only about seven years old when her mother died and she was educated at a boarding school in Bristol — Clifton College.

In 1890, when she was about 24 years old, Ezit married a barrister called George Rodie Thompson. The wedding was conducted by George’s brother the Revd. S.A.Thompson-Yates. George had been married before but his wife Alice had died in 1885 leaving him with five children. The eldest of them was about twelve when he married Ezit and the youngest about six.

George and Ezit lived in Ascot in Berkshire.

Ezit and George had only one child together - a son whom they named George Samuel Rodie Thompson. He was educated at Harrow and the Royal Millitary College Sandhurst. In 1912 he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieuenant in the King’s Royal Rifles. When the first world war broke out he served with the expeditionary force in France and Flanders and was killed in action at the Battle of the Aisne on the 14th of September 1914 in an action at the Sugar factory at Cerny.

About five months after his son was killed George Thompson died leaving an estate worth nearly £17,000. The executor was Ezit’s brother William Parsons Peters.

Ezit died in Burford in Oxfordshire in January 1933.

Ezit’s husband George had come from a wealthy and well connected family. He was a son of the wealthy Liverpool banker Samuel Henry Thompson and had been brought up in a stately home called Thingwall Hall in Knotty Ash. After Samuel died George’s brother Henry Yates Thompson inherited the house and land.

One of George’s daughters by his first marriage, Mary Elizabeth, married John Robert Chancellor, a Scotsman who first became a soldier and then a colonial administrator. Lieutenant Colonel Chancellor was knighted in 1913 and became Sir John Chancellor. In 1920 he was appointed Governor of Trinidad and went to live there accompanied by his wife Lady Mary Elizabeth. In 1923 Sir John became Governor of Southern Rhodesia and in 1928 he was appointed High Commissioner of the British Mandate of Palestine. His grandson Simon John Elliot married Annabel Shand, the younger sister of Camilla Rosemary Shand, and Camilla, having married His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, is now the Duchess of Cornwall. Another Chancellor relative is the actress Anna Chancellor who played “Duckface” opposite Hugh Grant in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. She is a grandaughter of Sir John and his wife Mary Elizabeth.

•   William Parsons Peters was William and Eliza’s third child. He was born in South Petherton in 1868 and was baptised there on the 6th of May of that year. He was about five years old when his mother died.

At the age of 19 he enlisted in the Prince of Wales’ Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment on a short-service commission after which he returned to Somerset where he lived with his father.

On the 12th of October 1909 William got married in Windsor. He was over 40 years old. His bride was Agnes Diana Howard Thompson and she was a daughter by his first marriage of William’s elder sister Ezit’s husband George Rodie Thompson.

William and Agnes went to live at Hinton St. George in Somerset. They had three children — George William Howard, Elizabeth (Ezit) Diana, and Richard Weston.

Their son George joined the Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment where he was known as Bill Peters. He reached the rank of Brigadier and was awarded the Military Cross in 1940 and the DSO in 1945. From 1962 to 1967 he was Honorary Colonel of the 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment and in 1970 he published a history of the regiment. When he died in August 2000 his obituary was published in the Daily Telegraph. He married twice and had two sons and a daughter by his first wife, Doreen Higginson.

Diana, their only daughter, was born in 1912. She married Edward Harry Manby Colegrave in Kensington in 1935. Edward was an officer in the Royal Navy and had a knowledge of the Japanese language — he spent a part of WW2 at the top-secret code-breaking center at Bletchley Park. Diana died in died in Horsham, in Sussex, in 2003.

William and Agnes’s youngest child, Richard Weston Peters, was born in Hinton St. George in 1914. He became a solicitor and died in Somerset in 1999.

William Parsons Peters died in South Petherton in November 1951 leaving an estate worth £29,153 17s 3d to his widow, Agnes, who died eight years later.

•   Ellen Rose Peters was born in 1870. She was only about three years old when her mother died. She continued to live with her father and, after he married again, her step-mother Elizabeth.

In about 1904, when she was about 34 years old, and not long after her father died, Ellen married a barrister called Edward Cecil Winchcombe Hicks-Austin, and went to live with him in the village of Ashleworth near Gloucester. They had no children and Edward died in 1922.

Just over a year later she married again. Her new husband was a cleric, the Revd. Francis Roebuck Gillespy, who was headmaster of the King’s School in Gloucester. Francis, who had travelled widely and was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, was a widower and had several children. He was about ten years younger than Ellen. About seven years after they married he became Rector of Ashleworth and Rural Dean of Gloucester. He and Ellen lived in the Manor House in the village.

Francis and Ellen had no children but in 1941 a son of his by his previous marriage, Pilot Officer Peter Gillespie, was killed in action near Baghdad.

Ellen’s husband Francis died in 1962 and she died six years later.

Ancestors of William Parsons Peters

Father — George Parsons, a farmer from Charlton Horethorne in Somerset
Mother — Jane Peters, from the parish of West Stour in Dorset

Grandfather — William Parsons, an inn-keeper and land-owner from Holton in Somerset
Grandmother — Mary West from Stowell in Somerset

Grandfather — John Peters, a wealthy farmer and land-owner who was an agent for Lord Portman
Grandmother — Jane Gatehouse, who was living in Kington Magna in Dorset when she married John

Great-grandfather — Moses Parsons the younger of Kington Magna
Great-grandmother — Martha Turl, who was born in Taunton but married Moses in 1740 in Shaftesbury in Dorset

Great-grandfather — William West, a farmer
Great-grandmother — Mary Turk, his wife, who married William in Stalbridge in Dorset

Great-grandfather — unknown
Great-grandmother — unknown

Great-grandfather — unknown
Great-grandmother — unknown

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You are free to make use of the information in these web pages in any way that you wish but please be aware that the author, Mike Parsons, is unable to accept respsonsibility for any errors or omissions.

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The information in these web pages comes from a number of sources including: Hampshire County Records Office, Somerset Heritage Centre; Dorset County Records Office; Southampton City Archives; the General Register Office; several on-line newspaper archives; several on-line transcriptions of Parish Register Entries; and several on-line indexes of births, marriages and deaths. The research has also been guided at times by the published work of others, both on-line and in the form of printed books, and by information from personal correspondence with other researchers, for all of which thanks are given. However, all of the information in these web pages has been independently verified by the author from original sources, facimile copies, or, in the case of a few parish register entries, transcriptions published by on-line genealogy sites. The author is aware that some other researchers have in some cases drawn different conclusions and have published information which is at variance from that shown in these web pages.