Arthur Barthorp (1862 - 1918)
Father of Michael Barthorp. Arthur was a retired Army Officer, who was recalled upon the outbreak of War in August 1914. At the time of his death from natural causes, he commanded the Northamptonshire Regiment’s Depot in Northampton. He was survived by his wife, and a son – two other sons having pre-deceased him.
- Died in the Great War
- 51.969976, 1.020837
|Arthur Herbert Barthorp
|Date of Death:
|18th June 1918
|East Bergholt Cemetery
Family Background and Early Life
Arthur Barthorp was born at Claremont House in Scarborough on 29 September 1862. Arthur’s father – with whom he shared the same name – was a Lieutenant in the 10th Royal Hussars and who had been born and raised at Hollesley, Suffolk where his parents were landowners.
Arthur’s mother, Caroline (nee Tweed), was the daughter of Joseph Tweed, the Rector of Capel St. Mary. Caroline and Arthur were married in 1861.
Like most children of Army officers, the young Arthur spent his early years in a number of different locations, including Dublin in Ireland (which was still a part of the United Kingdom at that time), Aldershot and Hampton Court. Arthur’s parents had two other children, Mabel (born in 1865/66 – Dublin) and Lina (born in 1870 – Hampton Court).
Start of Army Career
On 11th October 1879, young Arthur was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Royal Lancashire Militia at Bury in Lancashire. Just over a year later, he was promoted to a Lieutenant in the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers, which was the renamed 7th Royal Lancs Militia.
Arthur transferred to the Northamptonshire Regiment in January 1883, and held a Regular commission as a Lieutenant in their 1st Battalion.
Whilst with the Battalion, he was based at Curragh in Ireland, Preston in Lancashire, and Aldershot. In 1887, the Battalion was posted to Warley in Essex (just outside Brentwood). It was almost certainly whilst the Battalion was posted there that Arthur met Florence Courage, a member of the Courage Brewing family who lived at nearby Shenfield.
Promotion to Captain and Marriage
1890 was to prove a significant point in Arthur’s life, on the 22nd November he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and also took over the role of Battalion Adjutant. 1The Adjutant was the colonel’s personal staff officer, he was therefore in charge of all the organisation, administration and discipline for a battalion or regiment. Less than one month later, on 13th December at Shenfield Parish Church, Arthur married Florence.
The 1st Northamptons were posted to Bangalore, in Madras, India in the autumn of 1892 and Arthur went with them. The Battalion would remain in Madras for a number of years, but Arthur returned to the U.K. in November 1894 to attend the Staff College at Camberley. 2 “Staff College graduates did not have a monopoly on senior posts, but having the coveted letters psc – passed staff college – after an officer’s name in the Army List was still extremely helpful for the ambitious.” – Gary Sheffield “Douglas Haig: From the Somme to Victory”, Aurum Press, 2011.
On 20th September 1896, Arthur and Florence’s first child was born at Camberley, they named him Michael Arthur Raymond. He would be the first of 3 children, all boys.
That same year, Arthur graduated from the Staff College. He returned to the 1st Northamptons in India between February and November 1897, after which he came back to the U.K. following a bout of illness and hospitalisation. There he took up duties at the Army Staff College.
On 30 November 1898, Arthur was posted to the colony of Jamaica where he had been appointed to the post of Deputy Assistant Adjutant General in Jamaica. Florence and the infant Michael went with him.
It was during their time in Jamaica that Arthur and Florence’s two youngest sons were born, John in 1900 and Nigel in 1903.
Arthur’s last 8 months on the island were spent as the Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General Jamaica. When announcing the news that Arthur would be relinquishing his staff appointment in the colony, a Kingston newspaper said of him: “A strict disciplinarian he was nevertheless very popular, as beneath his somewhat rough manner he had a kindly disposition.” 3 Kingston Gleaner newspaper, Jamaica – 21 July 1903. – Announcing news he would relinquish his staff appointment in the colony.
Return to the UK and Retirement
Arthur returned to the U.K. at the end of November 1903. On New Year’s Day 1904, it was announced that he had been promoted to the rank of Major.
In June of that year, Arthur and Florence bought what had up until that time been the Rectory at East Bergholt; they renamed it Woodcote, and it became their family home. 4 Today it is called The Old Rectory. At that time, the house was accessed via Gandish Road, the old entrance being where Gandish Close is now situated.
From 1906, Arthur served with the Regiment’s 2nd Battalion at Colchester, and was also attached to the General Staff at the War Office for 2 years.
The London Gazette of 11 January 1911, announced that Major A.H. Barthorp of the Northamptonshire Regiment was to retire. It appeared to bring to a close a career of nearly 28 years.
Even before his retirement, Arthur appears to have thrown himself into East Bergholt village life. He was one of the leading figures in a campaign to raise funds to repair and preserve Flatford Bridge, and was for a time the Chairman of East Bergholt Parish Council.
Recalled to Service on the Outbreak of War
On 5th August 1914, the day after Great Britain declared war on Germany following the latter’s invasion of neutral Belgium, Arthur was recalled to the Army, to the Reserve of Officers. He was not sent overseas, but the presence in the UK of experienced officers like Arthur was vital to the smooth running of the Army at a time of tremendous logistical challenges, and it also freed up younger men for overseas service.
Arthur’s exact postings during the war do not appear to be detailed in any depth. For a time he served on the General Staff, and from at least the autumn of 1916 into 1917 he was attached to the Royal West Kent Regiment at their depot and training unit in Cliffe, Kent.
1916 – A Year of Tragedy
1916 was a year of tragedy for Arthur and Florence. In April – 3 days before his 13th birthday – Nigel Barthorp died of Tuberculosis.
Since December the previous year, their eldest son Michael had been serving as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of Arthur’s old regiment – the Northamptonshire Regiment. On 24th July 1916, a telegram was delivered to Woodcote, stating that Michael was “reported missing believed killed”.
After extensive enquires to establish Michael’s fate, in early 1917, Arthur and Florence were officially informed that Michael had died “on, or since, 20th July 1916”. 5 Michael Arthur Raymond Bathorp was killed in action on 20th July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. He was 19 years of age. Michael has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Michael’s death hit his father especially hard.
In 1917, Arthur was promoted to the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and also given the command of the Northamptonshire Regiment’s Depot in Northampton.
Arthur died in Northampton on 18th June 1918 of heart disease, at the age of 55. Florence was with him at the time. He was buried next to Nigel in East Bergholt cemetery.
Florence remained living at Woodcote for the rest of her life. Shortly after the Great War, she was one of the leading figures in the moves to erect a Calvary Cross in front of St. Mary’s Church, as an outdoor memorial to those from the village who gave their lives. The other memorials had all been erected inside churches or the village school.
Florence Barthorp died in 1954 at the age of 89. She was laid to rest next to her son Nigel in the village cemetery. 6 Arthur and Florence’s only remaining son, John, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Northamptonshire Regiment in December 1918. He retired as a Captain in 1937, but was recalled on the outbreak of war in 1939 and served on the Staff at Aldershot until 1945.
I am very grateful for the kind assistance given to me by Arthur’s Grandson, the late Major M.J. Barthorp, Retd.
Copyright © Mark Ashmore, 2024
- Died in the Great War
- 51.969976, 1.020837
- 1The Adjutant was the colonel’s personal staff officer, he was therefore in charge of all the organisation, administration and discipline for a battalion or regiment.
- 2“Staff College graduates did not have a monopoly on senior posts, but having the coveted letters psc – passed staff college – after an officer’s name in the Army List was still extremely helpful for the ambitious.” – Gary Sheffield “Douglas Haig: From the Somme to Victory”, Aurum Press, 2011.
- 3Kingston Gleaner newspaper, Jamaica – 21 July 1903. – Announcing news he would relinquish his staff appointment in the colony.
- 4Today it is called The Old Rectory.
- 5Michael Arthur Raymond Bathorp was killed in action on 20th July 1916, during the Battle of the Somme. He was 19 years of age. Michael has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
- 6Arthur and Florence’s only remaining son, John, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Northamptonshire Regiment in December 1918. He retired as a Captain in 1937, but was recalled on the outbreak of war in 1939 and served on the Staff at Aldershot until 1945.