The Gildea Family
Special thanks to Felicity Trotman and Charles Walmsley for their
help in compiling this article and providing family photographs
and to Lori Treloar for information about Minna Gildea
and Roger Stearns for information about Sir James Gildea
Rev. William Gildea (1833-
“a Rector … held in deserved admiration and esteem throughout the diocese”
William was born in Torquay, Devon. He was the second son of the Very Rev. George Robert Gildea (1803-
William went to Marlborough, unlike his brothers who were educated in Ireland. Marlborough had just been founded as a school to educate the sons of clergy. Soon after he arrived, there was a riot because conditions were poor, and William wrote an account of it which is in the Marlborough archive. He went on to study at Exeter College, Oxford and obtained his B.A. in 1856.
Rev. William Gildea
William was ordained as a deacon by the Bishop of Salisbury in December 1856. He was Curate of Compton Valence in Dorset from 1856 to 1861 and was ordained by the Bishop of Salisbury as a priest on Trinity Sunday 1858, with his M.A. being conferred at Oxford the same year.
Rev. William Gildea was Vicar of Holy Trinity, West Lulworth from 1862 to 1879. He married Sarah Caroline Simes (1838-
William and Caroline had nine children, five boys and four girls. The first eight children were born while William was Vicar at West Lulworth. More information about William and Caroline’s children is provided later. Apparently William owned a boat called ‘The Water Sprite’ but no further details are known.
In 1865, five coastguards from Worbarrow, near Tyneham, tragically lost their lives off Lulworth Cove. William wrote to The Standard and his letter was published on Saturday 11 March 1865:
The Boat Accident off Lulworth
To the Editor
I am -
West Lulworth, March 8
In 1867, at the last quarterly meeting of the Salisbury Diocesan Church Building Association, the general committee considered an application from the parish of West Lulworth. The following account was published:
It was stated by the applicant, the Rev. William Gildea, that the old parish church has fallen into such a state of general decay that it was deemed advisable to pull it down, and to replace it by an entirely new building more adequate to the wants of the parish. The existing edifice, it appeared, only afforded seat room for 174 out of a population of 460, and of those sittings 119 were appropriated. It was, therefore, decided in the new church that there should be accommodation provided for 272 persons, 153 of the seats being free, and it was to carry out the proposed works that the present application for a grant in aid was made. The cost of the new edifice was estimated at £1,800, and as it appeared there were very great difficulties in the way of raising the requisite funds, the incumbent, after much exertion, having only succeeded in obtaining £750 of the required amount, the committee voted a grant of £150.
By 1869 the old Church had become dilapidated and inadequate for the needs of the inhabitants of West Lulworth. It was very close to cottages on either side and the Rev. William Gildea arranged for the building of the new Church and Vicarage on a far more convenient site.
The foundation stone was laid on 1 June 1869 by Lady Selina Bond, wife of Nathaniel Bond. Esq., of Holme Priory, the fifth daughter of the Second Earl of Eldon. The new church (pictured right) was consecrated by the Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. George Moberley, on 11 May 1870. The Rev. William Gildea was a keen amateur woodworker. Helped by Mr. Basil Sprague, who turned the wood pillars, capitals and bases, and by Mr. John Chaffey, he executed the altar, reredos woodwork, altar rails and the stem of the lectern.
The Rev. William Gildea was obviously a man of great character and many talents. His wife, five sons. and four daughters, together with his large staff at the Vicarage, centred village life around the Church. There is no doubt that he largely financed the building himself, with the aid of loans from Lord Eldon, the Rev. Eldon Bankes, and Nathaniel Bond, Esq. The Incorporated Society for Building & Churches also granted £50 towards the building of the new church on the condition that all the sittings be free as recorded on a plaque (left) that hangs in the church.
In 1879 Rev. William Gildea became Vicar of Netherbury-
From 1891 to 1894 William was also Chairman of Governors of Beaminster and Netherbury Grammar School. In ‘The History of Beaminster’ published in 1914, the author Richard Hine commented that the school’s ‘brilliant progress is undoubtedly mainly due to Canon Gildea, late of Netherbury, and to the untiring labours of the late Rev. A. A. Leonard’, who succeeded him.
For a short period in 1897/1898 William was Anglican Chaplain at Valparaiso, Chile before returning to Netherbury.
This photograph was taken at Netherbury Rectory and shows Rev. William Gildea on the lawn next to son Fred
with William’s wife, Caroline, seated and their four daughters (from left to right): Minna, Esther, Marian and Ethel
In 1901, William was appointed as Rector of St. Laurence, Upwey. He was an active and energetic parish clergyman, sitting for 15 years on the Weymouth Rural District Council and Board of Guardians. In the rectory grounds he had a carpenter’s shop, where he made church furniture. The whole of the choir stalls, lectern, and the woodwork of the chancel at Upwey were his handiwork. One of his last works was to carve the war memorial in oak which stood outside the church at Upwey.
Among other improvements at Upwey, he secured a water supply for the parish.
The REV. WILLIAM GILDEA, who is about to relinquish the rectory of Upwey, near Dorchester, which he has held for 20 years, has been presented by his parishioners with a cheque for £100 and an album containing the names of the subscribers. Mr Gildea was ordained priest in 1858, and has spent practically the whole of his ministerial life in Dorset.
In their final years, William & Caroline lived at Innellan, Rodwell, Weymouth and they celebrated their Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 1922. Caroline died on 22 November 1924 aged 86 leaving an estate valued at £3,666. William died just over a year later on 11 December 1925 aged 92, leaving an estate valued at £4,518. They were both buried at Upwey.
Among William’s possessions was a wooden case (right) that he made and which was inscribed with his name. This has been handed down to his great-
BY THE GENEROSITY AND UNTIRING EFFORTS OF
THE REVd CANON Wm. GILDEA, M.A. (RECTOR OF THIS PARISH)
THIS APPROACH TO ELWELL STREET WAS WIDENED AND IMPROVED
ENTIRELY AT HIS OWN EXPENSE.
DESIRE THUS TO PLACE ON RECORD THEIR APPRECIATION
OF THE GREAT INTEREST HE HAS ALWAYS TAKEN IN THIS PARISH.
In 1912 the golden wedding of the Canon coincided with the addition of two new bells at Upwey and ‘afforded the people of the parish just the opportunity needed to enable them to give expression to the love which they feel for the Rector and his life’s partner – the venerable lady whose heart of gold has endeared her to those among whom she has lived and moved’. The newspaper report continued in its admiration ‘What Canon and Mrs. Gildea were to the people of Netherbury in West Dorset for so many years they have been in even added measure to the parishioners of Upwey. Canon Gildea is a man of strong convictions, and he has the capacity of expressing his views with a rugged sort of eloquence which sometimes brings him into sharp collision with those who differ from him. But no one can withstand his sterling honesty and absolute frankness, and it is this fact which makes some of his strongest opponents in politics his best friends and warmest admirers. On the illuminated address which accompanied the handsome gifts presented on Monday the names of no fewer than 520 adults were inscribed, a fact which speaks volumes.’ The new bells, one given by the Canon Gildea’s children, sounded their first peals in celebration of the event.
On 23 September 1921, the following announcement appeared in The Times:
The Southern Times of 10 November 1917 reported that Canon Gildea bought two ruined cottages at the top of Elwell Street, Upwey, at his own expense, widened the road and set the walls back, greatly improving the approach. In appreciation, Weymouth Rural District Council had a carved stone panel set in the wall:
James Frederick Simes ‘Fred’ Gildea (1884-
James, known as ‘Fred’, was born at Strood Park, Horsham, Sussex, when his father was Vicar at Netherbury. Fred never met his brother John, having been born after John left for Australia. Fred married Evelyn Muriel Mutch ‘Bea’ Shenton (1888-
George was born in County Mayo, Ireland in 1831 and was the eldest son of the Very Rev. George Robert Gildea, Provost of Tuam. He joined the Army in 1848 at the age of 17 and served in the Turkish contingent during the Crimean War.
During the First Anglo-
George married Fanny Power Florinda Gascoyne (1839-
Widowed George married Eliza Campbell (1848-
Esther Maria Gildea (1836-
Esther was born in Dublin, Ireland. She did not marry. In 1891 she was living with her mother Esther and sister Emma at Abingdon Villas, Kensington. In 1896 she had moved to Ladbroke Crescent, Kensington before moving to Arundel Gardens, Kensington. Esther died on 31 January 1922.
Emma Gildea (1837-
Emma was born in County Mayo, Ireland. Like her older sister, she did not marry and lived at Kensington, moving in with her elder sister Esther by 1905. She died on 29 September 1919.
Colonel Sir James Gildea GBE KCVO CB (1838–1920)
James was born in Kilmaine, County Mayo, Ireland and was educated at St Columba's College, Dublin, and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
During the Franco-
James founded the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association in 1885 and served as its chairman and treasurer until his death in 1920. In 1886 Queen Victoria became patron, and in 1888 her daughter Victoria, the Kaiserin, became a vice president.
At the 1893 annual general meeting James announced that ‘almost every lady member of the Royal Family’ took an active part. In 1955, the Chairman of the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association, as it was then known, wrote to The Times and the following is an extract:
I write now on the seventieth anniversary of the publication of Major Gildea’s letter in your columns, to report that the seed he then sowed has grown into the great association … with its 1,500 branches located throughout the United Kingdom and overseas, and its experienced army of 15,000 voluntary workers.
From 1890 to 1895 he was organising secretary of Queen Victoria's Jubilee Institute for Nurses. In 1899 he founded the Royal Homes for Officers' Widows and Daughters at Wimbledon. At one time he was treasurer of the St. John Ambulance Association and was also the author of a number of historic documents of philanthropic work.
From 1890 to 1898 he was Colonel commanding the 6th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment and in 1909 was appointed honorary Colonel of the 4th (Special Reserve) Battalion.
In October 1890 Kensington Society published in its series ‘Kensingtonians: men of note’ a eulogistic article on Gildea. It recounted his life and charitable achievements and stated that:
‘his sole relaxation consisting in seeking new channels for his philanthropy … He is never idle, yet so methodical is he that no matter what may be the pressure of work, he never appears to be in a hurry … he is singularly modest and unassuming … and few beyond his immediate friends and relations have any idea of the enormous amount of work he succeeds in disposing of’.
He was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the 1898 New Year Honours and Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) soon afterwards. Knighted in 1902, he was later appointed Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO), and in the 1920 civilian war honours became Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).
James married Rachel Caroline Barclay (1844-
In 1891 James and his three children were living at Knaresborough Place, Kensington and employing five servants. In 1901 James was living at Hogarth Road, Kensington with daughter Christian Helena and three servants.
James died on 6 November 1920 aged 82 at his Hogarth Road home. His funeral took place at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey and a memorial service was also held in Kensington. His property was divided equally between his three surviving children, except for some bonds which he left solely to his daughter Christian Helena ‘in consideration of her devotion and attention to me for many years’.
Susan Ann Gildea (1840-
Little is known about William’s sister Susan who died aged 19 and was buried on 26 September 1860 at Kilmainemore in County Mayo, Ireland.
Colonel Thomas Stanhope Gildea (1843-
Thomas was born on 13 March 1843 and joined the 72nd Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders at the age of 20 in December 1863. He was promoted to Lieutenant in November 1867 and became an Instructor of Musketry in August 1869. He was advanced to Captain in March 1876, Major in July 1881 and Lieutenant Colonel in February 1891. He served with the 72nd Highlanders from the commencement of the Afghan War in 1878 until August 1879 with the Koorum Field Force and was present at the attack and capture of the Peiwar Kotal where he was Mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the Medal with clasp. In 1894, after 31 years regular service, he was Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders serving in India. In February 1895 he was placed on Half Pay with the rank of Colonel.
In 1890, aged 47 he married Edith Louise Scott, and it is believed they had one daughter, Susan Anne Gildea born in 1892.
Thomas died in Aberdeen on 10 June 1899 aged 56 and was buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey. He was ‘so well known and deservedly popular’ that a granite headstone in the form of a celtic cross was despatched from Aberdeen to Brookwood.
Some connections in high places …
Sarah Caroline Gildea, the wife of Rev. William Gildea, had a sister Rosa Walker Simes (1845-
He was the last in a line of four Robert Williams to own Bridehead, a country house in Little Bredy, Dorset. Like the three Robert Williams before him, he became a Member of Parliament, holding the Conservative seat for West Dorset from 1895 until stepping down at the 1922 general election. He was President of the Church Missionary Society for over 25 years. He was given the title Sir Robert Williams, 1st Baronet of Bridehead in 1915.
Sir Robert Williams
Bridehead House near at Little Bredy © Mike Searle
Robert and Rosa had a daughter Mary Ann Frances Williams (1870-
Bishop John’s first wife Susan Esther (nee Coxe) had died in 1894. Mary Ann’s sister Margaret Emily Jane ‘Daisy’ Williams married Frederick Wallis, the Bishop-
At Daisy’s wedding, Bishop John took the first part of the service and Rev. Canon William Gildea took the latter part. The wedding presents numbered about 500. The report in the Tuapeka Times stated ‘Miss “Daisy” and her two sisters have from earliest childhood been immense favourites with the Wessex folk…’.
Family party, possibly to celebrate the Golden Wedding of William and Caroline in 1912
Frank Trotman, Rachel Williams (later Maddocks), Mary Wordsworth, Faith Wordsworth, Robert Williams IV,
William Gildea, Margaret Wallis, Agnes Edwards, Reginald Edwards
Frank Guillemard, Anne Matilda Simes, Rosa Williams, Caroline Gildea,
Frances Edwards, Edith Mary Simes
Minna Gildea, Esther Gildea, Marian Trotman
George was born at West Lulworth on 17 June 1864. In 1891 he was lodging at Bradpole, Dorset and was working as a banker’s clerk.
George married Mary Louisa Bourne (1863-
George and Mary had four children, all born in Argentina: Ethel Gildea (1896-
John William Simes Gildea (1866-
This memorial was erected to the memory of JOHN WILLIAM SYMES GILDEA, of Burenda Station who departed this life 15th July 1936, aged 70 years. An honourable an public-
On receipt of the news of his death in Augathella, the business places were closed, and the ambulance races, which were to have been held the following day were postponed as a mark of respect. A memorial clock (pictured right) was later erected at Augathella with the following inscription:
John was born at West Lulworth and baptised there on 28 April 1866. When he was 17, John left England for Australia, intending to come back but didn’t. In 1905, he married Anna ‘Maud’ Sarle Trew (c.1881-
John Senior died in 1936 aged 70, tragically suffering a heart attack after the car he was in hit a gatepost when the driver, his son, was dazzled by the sun turning into the gateway.
The Gildea Clock
Robert Antony Simes Gildea (1867-
Robert was born at Slinfold in Sussex and was baptised at nearby Warnham on 7 May 1867. He died in May 1902 aged 35 and was buried at Upwey, Dorset.
Ethel Angelina Gildea (1869-
Ethel was born at West Lulworth on 23 February 1869 and was baptised there on 28 March 1869.
She married David Lindsay Crawford (1858-
Ethel died in 1909 aged 40 and fifteen months later, David married Ella Sophia Staley.
Esther Theodora Gildea (1870-
Esther was born at West Lulworth on 6 December 1870 and baptised there on 29 January 1871. She married Arthur Franklin ‘Frank’ Guillemard (1851-
Frank was of Huguenot descent and was nick-
When Frank died in 1937, they were living at 5 Kingsgate Street, Winchester. Frank’s estate was valued at £29,746. Esther died at the Spero Nursing Home in Salisbury on 19 June 1962 after having been widowed for 25 years. Her estate was valued at £109,505.
Henry Percival Simes ‘Harry’ Gildea (1872-
Harry was born at West Lulworth on 29 October 1872 and baptised there exactly two months later. He attended Bromsgrove Grammar School and then went to Oxford. Harry died in October 1896 aged just 23 and was buried at Netherbury. His father, Rev. Wiliam Gildea, was so upset he went to Valparaiso in Chile to be Anglican Chaplain there.
Gertrude Marian ‘Marian’ Gildea (1874-
Marian was born at Strood Park, Horsham, Sussex on 14 June 1874. She married Rev. Francis Earle ‘Frank’ Trotman (1869-
Anthony had the distinction of being the sixth generation of his family in Holy Orders and was the much-
Esther & Frank
Frank & Marian
In 1897, Minna and two other students went to Windsor in Nova Scotia, Canada in the company of Miss Lefroy, an ex-
By 1901, Minna was back in England teaching English at St. Mary’s Hall, Eastern Road, Brighton, a school for clergyman’s daughters.
In 1909 she again left for Canada but by 1911 she was back in England. Her sense of duty made it clear that she must stay with her parents and care for them until their deaths. Minna was raised in the Victorian tradition of service and this guided her decisions and her philosophy over her lifetime. During the war she was very involved in the war effort for England, doing her bit, and later with the promotion of Women’s Institutes, lecturing around the country.
Minna’s belief that a boarding school needed to provide an immersion experience, combined with the spectacular rural setting, made the old hotel a perfect choice. Another distinct advantage of the site was the fact that there was already a successful boys’ school at Shawnigan and the headmaster was very keen on the idea of a complimentary girls’ school.
In May 1927, at the age of 51, and with financial backing from a wealthy uncle, Minna became the new owner of the lovely Strathcona Hotel on Shawnigan Lake and so the Strathcona Lodge School was born. Minna chose the question mark as the symbol for the school and ‘Cherchons’ (let us seek) as the motto suggesting that learning and education were ongoing.
After the death of her parents, Minna returned to Canada in 1926 with the help of a small inheritance. This time she moved to Victoria where she worked at two different private schools. This experience hastened her desire to have her own school and she started a search for potential school sites. An estate agent advised that the Strathcona Hotel was available.
Minna died peacefully in her sleep on 10 August 1950 aged 74. Her school survived her by one year and then closed. In 1959 the school was given a new lease of life by former pupils and its name lived on until 1977, although the original building was demolished in 1969.
In 1990, forty years after her death, a memorial was erected and ‘Cherchons : an Oral History of Strathcona Lodge School’, by Jay Connolly, was published six years later. On 23 June 2012, past pupils of the school were invited to the opening of ‘Strathcona House’ in celebration of the history of the Strathcona Lodge School.
Wilhelmina Philippa Caroline 'Minna’ Gildea (1875-
‘Minna’ was born at Slinfold, Sussex and baptised at West Lulworth on 31 October 1875. In 1895, at the age of 19, Minna took a teacher training course at St. Hilda’s College which was attached to The Cheltenham Ladies College. It was the first residential training college in the country for secondary school teachers and its graduates were in much demand both at home and abroad. In 1896 Minna took the Cambridge Teacher’s Examination and gained a Class I in Theory and a Class III in Practice.
Bishop John Wordsworth
Rosa Salome Pelly (neé Wordsworth)
Bishop John and Mary Ann had four sons and two daughters, with one daughter, Rosa Salome Wordsworth (1900-
Bishop John died in 1911 aged 67 but worked right up to the very end, undertaking two major foreign episcopal visits to Sweden and America in his final two years.
Even when he was staying at West Lulworth, he did not always take things easy. According to the Bere Regis Parish Magazine, during the first week in February 2009 a mission was held, and …
… “on February 7th, Services were nearly incessant. The Bishop and Mrs. Wordsworth motored over from Lulworth in time for his Lordship to celebrate at 8.30. They stayed with us all day. The Bishop attended six services, preached four times, and confirmed two grown-
IN REVERENT AND PIOUS MEMORY OF
JOHN WORDSWORTH THE MUCH LOVED
BISHOP OF THIS DIOCESE 1885-
YEARS FREQUENTLY MINISTERED AND WORSHIPPED HERE
THIS MEMORIAL IS PLACED HERE BY MARY HIS WIFE
AND THEIR SIX CHILDREN
MAKE THEM TO BE NUMBERED WITH THY SAINTS IN
The following memorial tablet is in West Lulworth church:
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