Friday, January 11, 2008

Report on death of W.F. Spivey, 1914

I was sorting out some family history archive material this morning and realised that there was a brown fatty deposit on many things. This seems to be coming from a folded newspaper from 1914, which is obviously on the point of disintegration. I am therefore typing up the contents of the item, which is about my great-great uncle, W.F. Spivey.

Walthamstow, Leyton and Chingfor Guardian, Friday, September 4, 1914

Death of Mr W.F. Spivey
Headmaster of Monoux Grammar School
Walthamstow's great loss

It is with profound regret that we record the death of Mr William Francis Spivey, M.A., Headmaster of the Monoux Grammer School, Walthamstow, which occurred on Sunday last in a private ward at the National Hospital for Disease of the Heart, Westmoreland Street, W.

The Monoux Grammar School has sustained an almost irreperable loss by the death of Mr Spivey, who had been on the teaching staff for some 26 years, and who by his diligence had won the confidence and esteem of the Governors, and by the exercise of a kind discipline won the respect and love of the many pupils who were under his care.

Mr Spivey's career was lamentably cut short by prolonged illness; which ended fatally on Sunday last, and it was the regret of many scholars and Old Monavians that they could not be present at the graveside to pay their last tribute of respect.

Mr Spivey, who for many years resided at 12, Merton Road, was born at Carmarthen, South Wales, on April 15th, 1867 and was educated at the Grammar School there, taking his M.A. degree at Trinity College, Dublin. He entered the teaching profession at his old school in Carmarthen, and in January 1888 came to Walthamstow, having been appointed first assistant master at the Monoux Grammar School, of which the Rev. H.A. Allpass. was the then headmaster.

Walthamstow was at that time very different to the Walthamstow of today, and the foundation of the Monoux School had but recently been resuscitated the temporary building being in West Avenue.

It was in 1902 that Mr Spivey received the appointment of acting headmaster owing to the illness of the head, and in December 1903, he was given the headmastership.

During the 10 years he was at its head Mr spivey guided the school with remarkable sagacity, and his assiduity was an inspiration to the scholars.

He was well loved by all his pupils and his real and kindly interest in the in the welfare of each of them left its mark on their characters.

Into the Old Monovians Association he put new life for he rcognised the great value of such an organisation in keeping alive the memories of the happy days spent within the walls of the Monous School.

The last time Mr Spivey attended school was on June 26th last and his last public appearance was on the following day at the Hospital Fete, at Highams, where he officiated as one of the judges for the sports. On June 29th he had to take to his bed, from which he never again rose.

Mr Spivey was an arden sportsman and he nourished the love of healthy games in his pupils. He was formerly a valued member of the Upper Clapton Rugby Club, and at one time was a reserve for Wales. He was also a keen cricketer and he was bitterly disappointed because he was unable to take part in the match this year.

The deceased gentlement will be greatly missed also in Masonic circles: he was a member of the Shurmur Lodge. He also belonged to the Headmasters' Association. The funeral took place at Kensal Green Cemetery on Wednesday. The mourners were Mr B. Spivey, Captain I.H. Spivey (brothers) Miss xxxxx spivey (sister) Mrs Richardson (sister)Miss M.H spivey (sister). Mr A.H. Prowse (senior assistant master) also attended, and among others at the graveside were Dr F.P. Elliott, Mr John Higham, Mr J.J. Kenny, Mr T.S. Taylor (clerk to the Governors), Mr Leaondar Adams (a former master), Mr Dicks (Headmaster of the County High School), Mr H.C. Greenwood (hon.secretary of the old Monrovians' Association), Messrs Dickinson, Marchant and H.H. Griffin (old boys), Mr H.H. Dongray (head boy of the school) and other pupils. There was a large number of beautiful floral tributes, including one each from the masters, the boys, the old boys, and the Shurmur Lodge of Freemasons.

This article is followed straight away by this:
A Colleague's Letter
Dear Sir,
There will doubtless be many a sad heart in Walthamstow amongst present boys, parents and especially old boys of the Monoux School when they learn of Mr Spivey's untimely death.

It has occurred to me that it may perhaps be some solace to his many friends in the irreperable loss they have sustained if you will publish the accompanying verses. He drew my attention to them 20 odd years ago and I know that in his view they expressed the finest consoltary simile for death extant. He committed them to memory, and frequently quoted them. They are by J. Buckham and originally appeared in 1891 in the "catholic World". Thanking you in anticipation, I am Sir, yours faithfully, Leonard Adams, Watford, September 2nd, 1914.

The unknown Bound
I watched a sail until it dropt from sight
Over the rounding sea. a gleam of white,
A last far-flashed farewell, and, like a thought
Slipt out of mind, it vanished and was not.
Yet to the helmsman standing at the wheel,
Broad seas still stretched before the gliding keel.
Disaster? Change? he felt no slightest sign;
Nor dreamed he of that dim horizon line.
So may it be, perchance, when down the tide
Our dear ones vanish. Peacefully they glide
On level seas, nor mark the unknown bound.
We call it death - to them 'tis life beyond.

Other headings on the page include THE WAR A Walthamstow hero
Arethusa Seaman who died in action
Big Recruiting meetings to be held
beneath which is a poem called Fall in By Harold Begbie.

poetry seems to feature rather more than it does now in local papers: there is also a poem on "our flag" on the same page, page 5.

Turning to page 6, there are articles about using schools as hospitals, a messae to car owners asking for their cars, an article on what teachers can do for the war effort, and a message from Field Marashal Sir Evelyn Wood, headed Essex hero's message. There are advertisements running down the edged of the page in both cases.

Clearly made of very acidic paper, I suppose it is a wonder it has survived 93 years.

As a footnote to the above:
I searched for Monoux Grammar school and came up with mixed results. On the one hand there is discussion about whether the character of Mr Chips, from the book and film "Goodbye Mr Chips" came from a composite of teachers at the school, which seems in keeping with the general tenor of the article.

However, there is also a page on the Monoux Grammar school which seems to indicate the school was not well run under my great-great uncle's direction and which indicates that there may have been great pressure upon him. Maybe this contributed to his heart problem.... Ah... the answer to this question is elsewhere on the Monoux site, where it says:
"From 1903 to 1914, Mr. W. Spivey, M.A., a colleague of Mr. Allpass from 1888, was the headmaster, and he did all in his power to continue the traditions of the institution. He, however, laboured under great difficulties, and found the resources and staff quite inadequate to keep the school in a state of thorough efficiency. Dr. M. Sadler, who made a report on the school in 1906, (There were then 193 boys in the School. The net income from endowments was £146 7s. ; the Essex Connty Council grant was £250 ; and that of the Board of Education £387. 16)* said that Mr. Spivey "deserves high praise for the pluck and tenacity with which he has contended against adverse conditions, and for the unremitting care which he has devoted to his duties." The governors were unable to provide the funds for the necessary increase of staff and for the proper payment of the masters ; and, as a result, the constant demands of the Board of Education made Mr. Spivey's work very difficult. He fought bravely, however, till the end came in August, 1914. Mr. Spivey's friends and old Monovians have placed a bronze tablet to his memory in the school, and the following is the inscription on it :-
"Sir George Monoux Grammar School. This tablet was erected by Old Monovians in affectionate memory of WILLIAM FRANCIS SPIVEY, M.A., Assistant Master 1888 to 1903. Head Master 1903 to 1914. Died 30th August, 1914. Aged 47 years. ` A good life hath but few days, but a good name endureth for ever."'

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