Ethelston, Herbert Wicksted

Herbert Wicksted Ethelston was born  on the 4th November 1881 at Park Lane, London but was brought up at Bryn y Pys, Overton.  The family surname had been Ethelston but Herbert’s father, Edmund Peel had assumed his mother’s surname by royal licence in 1851.  His third son Herbert chose to use the original family surname.  This explains what seem to be anomalies on census returns.

Herbert’s mother Henrietta was the second wife of Edmund Peel. His first wife, Anna Maria had died in 1860. The Mortuary Chapel in the Wrexham Road Cemetery, Overton, was built in her memory. Edmund Peel and Henrietta Margaret Williams (a Baronet’s daughter) had married in St Margaret’s Church Bodelwyddan in 1866

The 1891 census records the family living at Bryn-y-Pys, Overton  Head of the household was Edmund Peel, 65, a Widower, living on his own means, who had been born in Uplyme, Devon. (His second wife Henrietta Margaret had sadly died in the September quarter of 1885, aged 37)  His  listed children were Hugh who was 19 and single. He was  a Lieutenant in the 3rd King’s Shropshire Light Infantry,  who had been born in St. Asaph.   Margaret was  16,  Ethel M. was 14 and Herbert W. Ethelston was 9. They had all been born in different parts of London.  Ernest E. who was  6,  had been born in Overton in the same year that his mother had died.   There were 20 servants in the household.

The 1901 census records 19 year old  Herbert Wicksted Ethelston at Sandhurst Military College.   In 1903, Herbert married Muriel Kennedy in St George’s Square London and the couple moved to live in Wickstead Hall near Whitchurch, Shropshire. They were listed there in the 1911 census.  Herbert, 29 was  described as a ‘Gentleman’.  Muriel Margaret was  29 and had been born in Edinburgh.  The census form tells us they had been  been married for  7 years and they had no children.  There was one visitor listed and there were 9 servants. The Hall had 28 rooms.

Edmund Peel died in 1907 and his eldest son Hugh  inherited Bryn y Pys.  Hugh was known as Major Peel and famously owned a Grand National winner ‘Poethlyn’.  There are photographs of him with the horse in The White Horse Inn, Overton.

Herbert was a Lieutenant in the 1st Btn of the Grenadier Guards and was killed in action just a couple of months after arriving in France.  He was 33.

UK soldiers who died in The Great War 1914 -19, accessible on, includes an entry for Herbert Wicksted Ethelston. It confirms the regimental details as above and tells us he died on the 14th March 1915. His medal index card, also on Ancestry, names one medal and says that his first Theatre of War was France and he entered it on the 4th January 1915. It confirms his death date as 14th March 1915.

Herbert left a will which is listed in  the England and Wales National Probate Calendar.  The entry says that   Herbert Wickstead Ethelson of Wickstead Hall, near Whitchurch, Shropshire.   Lieutenant in H.M. Regiment Grenadiers Guards,  died 13th March 1915 at Neuve Chapelle in France having been killed in action.    Probate London 18th August  to Hugh Edmund Ethelson Peel and Charles Francis Kynaston Mainwaring, Majors in H.M. Army.    Effects £98,609 11s 7d.  (Note the date of death on this source says the 13th March 1915 which is different from most other sources)

The UK Register of Soldiers’ Effects in which the army calculated what moneys were owed to deceased soldiers includes an entry for Herbert. The sum of £61 .. 5sh .. 11d was paid to executors Major Hugh Ethelson Peel and Major Charles Francis Kynaston Mainwaring

Herbert Wickstead Ethelston is remembered on  ‘The Cheshire County Memorial Project’  To see his page follow the link

There is no Index Card for Herbert in the Flintshire Roll of Honour in the County Record Office at Hawarden.  Probably because he was a resident of Shropshire.  His two brothers, however do  have cards.

Flintshire WW1 Index Card (Overton L83) Peel, Edmund Owen Ethelston Bryn-y-Pys, Overton, Lieut. Period of Service 5 years  5th Dragoon Guards.   Military Cross 1914 Mons Star.   Mentioned in Despatches November 1917.   Card signed by E.O.E. Peel, Lt., 5th D.G. on the 12th December 1919.

Flintshire WW1 Index Card (Overton L84) Peel, Hugh Edmund Ethelston Bryn-y-Pys, Overton 2/1 Welsh Horse.  Major  Period of Service 5 years.  Card signed by Hugh Peel on the 12th December 1919


Many thanks to Jill at ‘The Overton Oracle’  for help with this story.

Back to top