The Northeys Of Woodcote House - Part 9

Part 9 - Major-General Sir Edward Northey GCMG, CB (1868-1953)

As we have seen, the Northeys had a long and distinguished military tradition but none of them was more distinguished than the last Northey to own Woodcote House - Edward, eldest son of the Reverend Edward William.

Major-General Sir Edward Northey
Major-General Sir Edward Northey.
Image courtesy of Martin Northey.

Edward (always called Eddie) was born in May 1868 in Cockerham and educated at Eton and Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the King's Royal Rifle Corps (the same regiment as his uncle, Francis Vernon) in 1888. He served on expeditions to Hazara and the Miranzai Valley in 1891 and to Isazai the following year. At that time the North-West Frontier was part of India (now Pakistan) and controlled by the British, but there were frequent rebellions. Edward also served in the Second Boer War from 1899-1902, twice being mentioned in dispatches. He was at the Battle of Talana (1899) and fought at Ladysmith, the Transvaal, the Orange River and the Cape Colonies, receiving the Queen's Medal with five clasps and the King's Medal with two.

On 30 April 1897 he had married Anna Evangeline Cloete (born 1871, known as Evangeline), daughter of Daniel and Augusta Wilhelmina Cloete of Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa. Edward's son (also Edward) described his mother as 'very beautiful'.

At the beginning of the First World War Edward was a Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding the 1st Battalion of the 60th Rifles on the Western Front: the Battalion took part in the retreat from Mons, the Battles of the Marne and Aisne and was also at Ypres. In 1914 he was shot in the shoulder after crossing the Aisne and was at home in Epsom recovering when his father died and news was received of his brother William's death at Boulogne. In February 1915 he was promoted to Brevet-Colonel and appointed ADC to King George V. The next month he was promoted to Brigadier-General commanding an Infantry Brigade and was seriously wounded in the thigh by shrapnel at the 2nd Battle of Ypres (which consisted of four separate engagements from April to May 1915); he was again mentioned in dispatches. He returned to duty in 1916 and was posted to Nyasaland (now Malawi, then a British Protectorate) to command the Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Forces, which entered German East Africa on 25 May 1916. The German commander was General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, who, despite the Allied advances, managed to hold out right up to the Armistice, using a force largely composed of Askaris.

General von Lettow-Vorbeck
General von Lettow-Vorbeck.
Image source: Deutsches Bundesarchiv vya Wikimedia Commons

A leading historian of the period said that Edward was a very special General, like no other totally loved by all his troops and known for acts of kindness to all of his men. However, when it came to battle, he apparently exhorted the men to 'Pursue and Annihilate!'

Contemporary cartoon of General Northey.
Contemporary cartoon of General Northey.
Image courtesy of Rory Heron © 2012

In 1917 Edward was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath; in 1918 he was knighted and promoted to Major-General. Subsequently he was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George.

Insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George
Insignia of the Order of St Michael and St George.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

His next appointment was as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the British East African Protectorate (which became Kenya in 1920) and High Commissioner for the Zanzibar Protectorate. In 1919 he lost his right eye in a polo accident.

Edward returned to Britain in 1923 and in 1924 took command of the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division, which was a Territorial Army unit, combined with command of the South West area of Britain; he retired from the Army in 1926. In addition to the honours already mentioned he was the recipient of the Bronze Star for Mons, the Officers' Cross of the French Legion of Honour, the King and Queen's Coronation Medal and one red and three blue chevrons8 for his service in World War 1.

The 1914 (Mons) Star
The 1914 (Mons) Star.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

On retirement Edward bought a house near Dunster in Somerset, became a magistrate and was Deputy Master of the West Somerset Fox Hounds. Following the death of his mother, Florence, in 1928, he took his family to live at Woodcote House. Evangeline died after a lengthy battle with cancer in 1941, whereupon Edward sold Woodcote and moved to Berkshire; he died on Christmas Day 1953.

Sir Edward and Lady Northey attired for the 1937 Coronation of King George
Sir Edward and Lady Northey attired for the 1937 Coronation of King George
Image courtesy of Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum

Grave of  Edward and Evangeline, Epsom Cemetery.
Grave of Edward and Evangeline, Epsom Cemetery.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson © 2012

The children of Sir Edward and Lady Northey were as follows.

Name Born Married Died
Florence Evangeline Cloete 3.1898 1) John Legh Clowes (1917-div)
2) Hon Humphrey Trice Martin (1921-div)
3) Richard Cecil Millman Crofton (wid)
7.3.1942 Kenya
Renée Muriel 24.12.1902 1) Sir George Arthur Hamilton Beaumont (1923)
2) Oswald Marmaduke Dalby Bell (1934)
3) Lisle Hawkins (1952 - div)
28.11.1987 Hampshire
Isobel Frances 7.3.1907 Oliver Hamilton Newton 1960?
Edward George Vernon 9.5.1910 Angela Rosemary Turnor (1937) 12.6.1988 Wiltshire
Rudolf William Anson 27.5.1912   21.6.1971 London

Florence Evangeline Cloete

In 1917 Florence married John Legh Clowes (born 1890), who was in her father's regiment. He divorced her in 1919.

In 1921 Florence married the Honourable Humphrey Trice Martin (born 1888) and he divorced her in 1929, citing Richard Cecil Millman Crofton as co-respondent. Humphrey was Commissioner for Local Government, Lands and Settlement in Kenya, was awarded the CBE and died in Nairobi on 14 November 1931.

After the second divorce Florence married Richard Crofton. He was born in 1895 in Farnham district, Surrey. He was initially in the Artillery and was awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry in the First World War. The citation read, 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when observing and directing the fire of the battery under heavy shell fire in a very exposed observation post. He frequently avoided casualties by his courage and promptness when clearing killed and wounded horses away from the teams which had been hit'.

He was then awarded a bar to the Military Cross 'for conspicuous gallantry and initiative. He brought his battery through shell fire which killed and wounded several horses, and then came into action and from an exposed observation post brought effective fire to bear on a railway station which was crowded with enemy troops. His bold handling of his battery was a fine example to all, and he did considerable damage to the enemy'.

Richard and Florence lived in Gilgil, Kenya, which was where the 'Happy Valley' set (for example, the Earl of Erroll and Jock Delves Broughton, who were the subjects of the film 'White Mischief') resided. They had a daughter, Elizabeth, born c.1918. During the Second World War Richard was a Captain in the East African Intelligence Corps. He was killed in action on 15 June 1941 and buried in Nairobi War Cemetery.

Renée Muriel

Renée's first husband was Sir George Arthur Hamilton Beaumont (18 January 1881 - 2 October 1933), 11th Baronet; they married on 17 November 1923 in Epsom. Sir George was an officer in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. The Beaumonts lived at Coleorton Hall, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire.

Coleorton Hall
Coleorton Hall

Renée and George had two children, who were Sir George Howland Francis Beaumont (24 September 1924-23 March 2011) and Eleanor Brienne (born 1927).

Sir George Howland Francis Beaumont was married firstly to Barbara Singleton and secondly to Henrietta Anne Waymouth: both marriages ended in divorce. Eleanor Brienne married Major Hugh Abdy Collins.

Renée's second husband (married 1934) was Australian Captain Oswald Marmaduke Dalby Bell (died 1949), son of Sir Joshua Peter Bell of Queensland. Oswald, known as 'Ossie', had been involved in a scandal as a young man in Queensland. He was the station manager of his father's property at Dalby and began an affair with Louise Jane Taylor, known as 'Lulu', who was married with two daughters. Ossie and Lulu decamped to Hong Kong and Mr Taylor divorced her in 1902, with Ossie being named as co-respondent. They were subsequently married and Lulu died a few years later. Ossie started training racehorses in India, then in Epsom and latterly at Delamere House in Lambourn, Berkshire. During the First World War he was a photographic officer in the Air Force. He was a very successful trainer, his winners including Felstead (1928 Derby - a 33-1 outsider), Rockfel (1938 Oaks and 1000 Guineas), Flint Jack (the Ebor Handicap in 1922 and 1923) and King Salmon (Coronation Cup and Eclipse Stakes in 1934).

Felstead winning the 1928 Derby
Felstead winning the 1928 Derby.
Source not known

Next, in 1952, Renée married Lisle James Hawkins (born 1895 in Calne district, died 1982); they were divorced and Renée reverted to the surname of Bell. She died in 1987.

Isobel Frances

In 1937 Isobel married Oliver Hamilton Newton of Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), born in London in 1905. Until the outbreak of World War II Oliver farmed in Rhodesia; he then joined up as a Corporal in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was rapidly promoted to Major and had an even more distinguished war record than Richard Crofton, being the recipient of the Military Cross and two bars. In November 1941 Oliver was taken prisoner at Sidi Rezegh in the Western Desert, but escaped. Having been wounded many times, he was killed in action at Agedbia, near Benghazi, on 27 November 1942 and buried in Benghazi War Cemetery. Isobel and Oliver had two children, Oliver and Aura. Oliver Junior inherited a estate called 'Pimento' from an uncle, which he continued to farm, but sadly at least part of it has now been seized by Zimbabwean politician Savior Kasukuwere.

Rudolf William Anson

Rudolf was educated at Eton and Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Inniskilling Dragoon Guards in 1932 and was scheduled to embark for France with his regiment during the Second World War. However, he was taken ill and could not go. When he recovered he joined the Air Sea Rescue service and spent the war in a patrol boat in the English Channel, picking up RAF pilots who had been shot down. After the war he joined his sister Renée in Lambourn and for a time was training racehorses. He spent the remainder of his life living in Brighton.

Edward George Vernon

Edward was also in the King's Royal Rifle Corps and achieved the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Major-General Sir Edward Northey with his sons Edward (left) and Rudolf (right)
Major-General Sir Edward Northey with his sons Edward (left) and Rudolf (right).
Image courtesy of Martin Northey © 2012.

Martin Northey has kindly provided me with an obituary of his father and I reproduce it here in full.

Lieutenant-Colonel E G V Northey, DL, KRRC

As can happily be said of many of his contemporaries Eddie Northey was destined for the Regiment, his father, Major-General Sir Edward Northey, having commanded the 1st Battalion in September 1914 in the desperate fighting on the Aisne; and his great-uncle, Francis Northey who, having been mortally wounded commanding the 3rd Battalion at Gingihlovo (sic) in 1879 in the Zulu War, died shortly after rallying the battalion in its surrounded Zariba9 with the words "Bravo the 60th".

Eddie was born on 9th May 1910 and was educated at Eton and Sandhurst, joining the 2nd Battalion in 1930. He was a keen horseman, winning the middleweight point to point in 1935 on "Dry Martini", and while in Belfast successfully encouraged Protestants and Catholics to get on better with each other. In 1937, while an ADC in Aldershot, he married Angela, the daughter of Colonel A C Turnor of Foxley Manor.

The outbreak of war found him with the 1st Battalion in Cairo under the incomparable Strafer Gott10. Eddie commanded C Company in all the fighting in the Western Desert from September 1939 until May 1941, when he became Colonel Sydney de Salis's 2ic. As such he played a major role in the battle of Sidi Rezegh in November 1941, brilliantly collecting the remnants of the battalion after it had been overrun and overseeing its rebirth as a formed unit. After a short spell instructing at the ME OCTU he rejoined the Battalion, again as 2ic, in August 1942. During the battle of Alam Haifa and El Alamein, and afterwards, his experience and steadying influence proved invaluable and in 1943 he received a Mention in Dispatches for his constant, calm example to all during his years in the Desert. He was then posted to York as Commandant of the 170 M.T.B. OCTU, where he imposed his high standards and moral outlook on many young Green Jacket Officers, returning in 1945 to regimental duty to command the 2nd Battalion prior to its move to the Far East. But peace with Japan cancelled this move, and he took the battalion to Tripoli and Palestine instead. The latter proved a particularly difficult assignment, serenely overcome.

Not only did it include the civil unrest in Palestine, but the prompt intervention by the battalion in the Canal Zone to quell a gathering of hundreds of discontents protesting at the delays in their demobilisation. Giving up Command in 1947, he stayed on in Palestine to run the Infantry School there, and retired on 1st January 1948.

On retirement he farmed in both Wiltshire and Oxfordshire before moving to the small village of Norton, near Malmesbury, where he and Angela successfully bred children's riding ponies. He was District Commissioner of the Beaufort Hunt Pony Club from 1973 to 1977. He also became involved in the ACF11 and was County Commandant for Wiltshire from 1868 to 1972 forming the ACF Wiltshire Branch League to raise funds for the ACF. He remained its Chairman until 1982. In 1977 he was appointed a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Wiltshire.

Eddie was a straightforward, loyal Rifleman, whose only thought was to do his best for the Regiment. He was a pillar of fairness and integrity and could be summed up in the phrase - "a very perfect gentle Knight, sans peur and sans reproche". Above all, he cared about people and things and was in all respects a gentle man.'
Eddie died on 12 June 1988 and was buried at All Saints, Norton.

Grave of Edward George Vernon Northey
Grave of Edward George Vernon Northey at All Saints, Norton, Wiltshire.
Image courtesy of D & M Ball at © 2012

He and his wife, Angela (born 21 March 1915), had three children, being Celia (born 28 December 1937, married David Bedford of the 60th Rifles), Edward Martin Antony (known as Martin - born 14 March 1944) and Caroline (born 19 February 1948, married Jamie Heron). Martin is a Yachtmaster Examiner for the Royal Yachting Association and Principal of his own Sailing/Motor Cruising School, which is based in Portugal. Entertaining accounts of his maritime experiences can be found at

Martin Northey
Martin Northey
Image courtesy of Martin Northey © 2012

He married Maxine Scott and they have two children, Andrew and Lucinda (Lucy): he is, of course, the Martin Northey referred to in this article as kind provider of information and images.

Andrew Northey
Andrew Northey.
Image courtesy of Martin Northey © 2012.

Lucy Northey
Lucy Northey.
The painting behind her is of a horse belonging to Edward Richard Northey
(a bucket with the initials 'ERN' in the bottom left corner of the painting
cannot be seen in this shot).
Image courtesy of Martin Northey © 2012.
Andrew, Lucy and Martin, photographed in April 2012
Woodcote House revisited.
Andrew, Lucy and Martin, photographed in April 2012 on the porch of Woodcote house.
Image courtesy of Linda Jackson © 2012

Links to the Previous and next parts.

Linda Jackson © February 2012

8. One blue chevron was awarded for each year of service overseas and a red chevron was for service in 1914

9. enclosure

10. Lieutenant-General William Henry Ewart Gott CB, CBE, DSO and bar, MC (1897-1942)

11. Army Cadet Force

The Northeys Of Woodcote House
Northey Family
Adam Hogg
Adam Hogg
Hilda Andrews
Hilda Andrews
The Glyns
The Glyns
Journey Time
Journey Time
Thomas Tresize
Thomas Tresize
Blake Charles
Blake Charles
Blake Girls
Blake Girls
Barnards of Epsom
Barnards of Epsom