We first mentioned Herbert Samuel Stentiford in Issue
47. In this Issue, Janet Hiscocks expands the story of Herbert Stentiford
(who appears in her family tree) and his family:
Herbert Samuel Stentiford was the fourth son born to James and Mehala
Stentiford. The family lived in Zeal Monachorum and Herbert was baptised
in the parish church on 25 July 1875. By 1887, the family had increased
by five - four more sons and one daughter. James was certainly a
gardener all his working life and it is quite probable that Mehala
worked as his assistant.
The family must have lived in a small and rather overcrowded cottage
though it is true to say that as the older children grew, they left the
family home and were apprenticed locally as live-in servants. So by
1881, when Herbert was five, eleven year-old William was already living
at Higher Week in Zeal Monachorum as a farm servant. By 1891, Herbert
himself was living in Down St. Mary, an adjoining parish, at Higher
Living Farm employed by farmer Joseph Cheriton. So the young Herbert
grew up in a predominantly rural society. Zeal Monachorum is described
by W. G. Hoskins in his book "Devon" as "a small
cob and thatched village in unfrequented country."
Looking across to Dartmoor from the churchyard at Zeal
©Richard J. Brine
In 1895 Herbert changed the course of his life. He enlisted at Exeter,
joining the Army Service Corp, 151 Company, the 3rd Devonshire Regiment.
At enlistment, he was described as being 5 feet 3¼ inches tall with a
fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He had a scar on his chin.
This twenty year-old Devon farm labourer, having lived all his life in
and around Zeal Monachorum, travelled to Aldershot for training.
It was possibly his first venture outside Devon, presumably by train,
and made with a certain degree of trepidation.
By November 1896, he was attested as a driver - not of a motorised
vehicle but as part of a horse team pulling guns or baggage carts. He
was at home again from 23 November 1896 until October 1899 when the 2nd
Boer War began to loom on the horizon for Herbert.
ASC Drivers waiting with their teams to embark in 1914
not easy to see in this very old photograph but each team
of six horses and three drivers.
baggage carts they pulled held everything troops needed
the front from food to ammunition.
At this time, Britain desired the unification of the whole of South
Africa under British rule and clashed head on with the two Boer
Republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. This clash between
British imperialism and Afrikaner nationalism was further exacerbated by
the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in the Transvaal in 1886.
With the arrival of large numbers of prospectors, the Afrikaners
felt that their independence was threatened even further and restricted
severely the franchise of the newcomers.
This did not seem too important to the prospectors but the British
Government saw it differently and the disagreement deepened. Many
politicians, both in England and in South Africa were imperialists and
their actions heightened Boer mistrust of the British Government's
intentions. The flash point erupted in 1899 following various manoeuvres
on both sides and the South African Republic (the Transvaal) issued an
ultimatum to Britain on 9 October 1899, calling for the removal of all
imperial troops from the Republic's borders within forty eight
hours with the alternative of formal war.
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