Browse the collection
Sorted by name
Sarah Anne Sybil Lucille Seabourne (Hinton)
Place of birth: Abergavenny
Service: Munitions worker
Notes: Born 1898, Sybil was a munitions worker though it has not been possible to establish where she worked. She married Clifford Hinton in 1920, and died in 1972.
Sybil Seabourne with fellow munitions workers. She is third from the left, wearing an armband. Perhaps she was the group forewoman.
Place of birth: Newport
Service: Wife, widow
Death: 1995-11-03, Cause not known
Notes: May’s husband William Henry Selwood died of shell shock on 1st January 1919. She remained a widow for her remaining 76 years – credited with being the longest WW1 widow in Britain. She is buried in Christchurch Cemetery, Newport.
Grave of May Selwood
Grave of May Selwood who is credited with being the longest WW1 widow in Britain. Christchurch Cemetery, Newport
Annie Mary Slade (Hall)
Place of birth: Pentre, Rhondda
Service: Munitioms worker, 1916 - 1919
Death: After 2003, Cause not known
Notes: Annie Slade was born in 1903. Her mother was originally from Aberystwyth and her father ‘a bit of a boss’ in the pit. (He died as a result of an injury when Annie was a young teenager). She and her family were lucky to survive a tip slide in 1909. Aged 15 and a half she joined the WAAC in Newport, but her age was discovered (she was on a list to be sent to France) and she and her friend were discharged. At 16 she began working for the National Shell Filling Factory at Rotherwas, Hereford. A long account of her experiences was published in In the Munitions: Women at War in Herefordshire, when she was 100 years old.
Sources: In the Munitions: Women at War in Herefordshire, edited Bill Laws 2003.
Report of the Pentre landslide in which Annie’s family’s house was destroyed. Evening Express 8th February 1909
Mary Ellen Small
Place of birth: Abercreg[g]an
Service: Waitress, Womens Legion
Notes: Mary Ellen Small gave birth to a baby boy in April 1918. The father William Speake, who denied paternity, was a corporal in the Welsh Regiment, and formerly a collier from Trealaw. They met while he was training at Kinmel Camp at Boddelwyddan, where she worked as a waitress. He was ordered to pay 5 shillings a week until the boy was 14.
Helen Smith (Thomas)
Place of birth: Swansea
Death: 1993, Swansea, Cause not known
Notes: Helen Smith, born 1908, was the daughter of Alfred and Elizabeth Smith of Swansea who emigrated to America when Helen was a few months old. In 1915 they decided to return to Swansea, and sailed on the Lusitania. When the ship was torpedoed on 7th May 1915 Helen had become separated from her parents and baby brother Hubert. They died, but she was rescued by a Canadian journalist, Ernest Cowper. She was reunited with her aunt Cecelia Owens, another passenger who had lost her two sons in the sinking. She later married John Henry Thomas and lived the rest of her life in Swansea.
Helen Smith with her rescuer Ernest Cowper. Photograph taken in Queenstown, County Cork, Ireland. Helen is wearing new clothes donated by local well-wishers.
Newspaper report (1)
Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (1). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915
Newspaper report (2)
Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (2). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915
Newspaper report (3)
Report of the story of Lusitania survivor Helen Smith (3). Cambrian Daily Leader 10 May 1915
Mary E Smith
Place of birth: Dolgellau
Service: Forewoman, QMAAC
Death: 1918-08-21, Dolgellau, Sickness / Salwch
Memorial: War memorial, Dolgellau, Merionethshire
Notes: aged 42. Buried St Mary's Dolgellau.
Gladys May Snell
Place of birth: Cadoxton, Barry
Notes: Gladys Snell was arrested on 7th May 1919 for the infanticide of her illegitimate 21 month-old son Ieuan Ralph. He had been drowned. She was sent for trial from the magistrates’ court to the Assize Court in Swansea. The jury there could not agree, and she then appeared at the November Assizes, where Gladys, then 19, was found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. She was sentenced to nine months imprisonment. A number of well-wishers across S Wales, including the Boy Scouts, contributed to a fund to pay for her defence. The full story appears on the front page of the Cambrian Daily News, 25th July 1919.
Report of the arrest of Gladys May Snell for infanticide. Barry Dock News 9th May 1919.
Newspaper report of jury’s verdict of manslaughter. Barry Dock News 7th November 1919.
Place of birth: Goginan
Service: Clerk ?, WAAC, 1917 -
Notes: Enid seems to have joined the WAAC in Autumn 1917.
Newspaper photograph and report
Newspaper photograph of Enid Spedding, WAAC. Cambrian News 3rd May 1918.
Daisy Colnett Spickett
Place of birth: Pontypridd
Service: Nurse, VAD
Notes: Daisy, a lawyer’s daughter, joined the VAD when it was formed in 1910. She served in hospitals in Wales and England, and on hospital ships. Follow the link for a very interesting interview with Daisy recorded 1974 (IWM). There are 8 reels of tape amounting to about 2 hours of recording.
Jane Charlotte Stapleton Cotton (née Methuen)
Service: WI President
Notes: Jane Stapleton was the wife of Col Richard Stapleton Cotton, a land-owner and keen promoter of agricultural and social improvements. He introduced the idea of forming a Women’s Institute in Llanfairpwll, Anglesey, after meeting the Canadian Mrs Margaret Watt, who was involved in early Women’s Institutes in Canada. The first institute opened in June 1915, with Jane Stapleton as President. The programme was very much dictated by Col Stapleton Cotton; he and his dog Tinker remain the only two males to have been full WI members.
Sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sdvv0; www.afwi.org.uk/the-first-wi-in-britain.html
Col Stapleton Cotton and his dog Tinker
Col Stapleton Cotton and his dog Tinker were the only males ever to be full members of the Women’s Institute.
Report of Llanfairpwll WI’s first Annual Meeting. North Wales Chronicle 22nd Sept 1916