Chapter 13

Dudley James Ponting

Dudley James Ponting was born on 15 June 1879 at 127 High Street, Kensington, the son of William Ponting and Emily Maria Ponting formerly Snell. The informant at the time was William Ponting who describes himself as a "draper" (Chapter 10).

In 1881, Dudley was living with his parents, William and Emily and his cousin Patty at 125-127 High Street, Kensington. Also listed were 11 live-in employees of his father's business.

The picture below is Dudley as a child, currently hanging on my mothers wall, I will try to get a better photograph. 

In 1891, Dudley J Ponting was 11 years old and was boarding with numerous other pupils at 2 Lancaster Place, Cliftonville, Margate with Phoebe Bristow, schoolmistress aged 60, Eleanor Robinson, governess, aged 30 and Minnie Mitchell, assistant teacher aged 29. 

The family believe Dudley spent some time at Heidelberg University, but I have found no evidence of this. We do have a English/German dictionary (published 1893) which was given to him on 24 April 1895 (when he was approaching 16 years old). Does this tie in with his time at Heidelberg?

After his father's death in 1898 Dudley became entitled to the income from 1/4 of the estate which was valued at £26k (the equivalent of approx. £2M in 2006).  He was only 19 years old when his father died!

On 4 March 1899 the Hampshire Telegraph lists the visitors staying at Southsea and includes Mrs Ponting, Mr Dudley James Ponting, Mr and Mrs T H Ponting and Misses Ponting (Chapter 6) who are staying at the Royal Pier Hotel.

The 1901 census shows Dudley J Ponting, aged 21 and described as single and "living on his own means" at 8 Blakesley Avenue, Ealing and his mother Emily M Ponting (Chapter 10) and amongst others, Mabel A Clements, visitor, unmarried, aged 21, born Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey.

Dudley James Ponting and Mabel Annie Clements

Dudley James Ponting married Mabel Annie Clements. In fact he appears to have married her twice.

Dudley James Ponting and Mabel Annie Clements were first married on 12 July 1900 at Emmanuel Church, Margate, Thanet, Kent. Dudley describes himself as a bachelor aged 21, of independent means living at Cliftonville Court, Margate. His father was William Ponting (deceased), a retired general draper. Mabel Annie describes herself as a spinster aged 21 of independent means living at Cliftonville Court, Margate. Her father is shown as Thomas George Clements (deceased) a solicitor.

The first marriage of Dudley and Mabel took place by licence according to the rites and ceremonies of the "Lady Huntingdon's Connexion". Lady Huntingdon lived between 1707 and 1791 and set up her connexion in 1748 opening a private chapel attached to her residence (as she was allowed to do as a peeress of the realm) and then opened this up to the public. This led to opposition from the Anglicans and in 1781 her sect left the Church of England. In all she built 64 churches and a college for the education of her ministers. Most of these remain part of the United Reform Church although some chapels remain outside the church and are controlled by local trustees (BBC - Beyond the Broadcast - Making History)

It is still not clear why Dudley and Mabel married twice. Is it possible that the family did not know of the first marriage? This would explain why Mabel was still described as Mabel Clements at the time that the 1901 census was taken. The witnesses to this first wedding were William Henry Paine and William Thomas Linsey, who as far as I know had no connection to either family.

On 15 June 1901 Dudley James Ponting and Mabel Annie Clements married again, this time at St Andrews Church, Fulham.  Dudley describes himself as a bachelor, aged 22, a gentleman, living at 39 Kensington Hall Gardens. His father is shown as William Ponting, draper (deceased). Mabel Annie describes herself as a spinster, aged 21, living at 34 Victoria Road, Upper Norwood. Her father is shown as Thomas Clements, solicitor (deceased). On this occasion the witnesses were Horace Carr, R H Jenkinson and Emily Maria Ponting, Dudley's mother.

The certificate below is the original taken from the parish record and shows the actual parties' signatures. The banns had been read on 5 May 1901, 12 May 1901 and 19 May 1901.

Mabel Annie Clements had been born on 11 October 1881 and was baptised on 14 October 1881 at All Saints Church, Kingston, the daughter of Thomas George Clements and Jane Killen Jenkins who had married on 18 February 1880 at St Thomas The Apostle, City of London. In 1881 the family were living at Lawn Lodge, Clarence Street, Kingston and 25 year old Thomas was a practice solicitor. His daughter Mabel was just 6 months old. Thomas and Jane had two further children,

  • Lilly Helena Clements, born 22 September 1882. Baptised 20 October 1882 at All Saints, Kingston
  • Thomas George Clements, born 1887. Baptised 9 November 1887 at St Pauls, Kingston Hill

Thomas George Clements senior died on 27 April 1886. He left an estate worth £11,257. Jane Killen Clements died on 22 August 1896 aged 40. Her estate was valued at £774. In 1901 both Mabel's siblings were living in Wales. Lilly was living with relatives and Thomas was at boarding school, so at the time of Mabel's marriage she did not have any of her immediate family around her. Her brother Thomas would later move to London and in 1911 he was a law student boarding in 31 Colville Gardens, Kensington, but he would sign up for and die on 15 May 1917 from wounds inflicted in World War I. Her sister Lilly married in London in 1903

Dudley James Ponting was still living at 39 Kensington Hall Gardens, presumably with wife Mabel when his mother died on 13 March 1902. Still only aged 23, he became entitled to all of the income from the trust set up in his father's will.  

On 14 October 1902 Dudley James Ponting, aged 22 of Balham Station was initiated into the Ranelagh Lodge of the Freemasons. He gives his occupation as 'draper'. He resigned in February 1905.

On 15 June 1904 Dudley reached the age of 25 and became absolutely entitled to 1/4 of the capital in the trust set up under his father's will, as well as retaining the right to the income from the remaining 3/4's of the capital. 

It appears that despite being in receipt of income from his father's trust, he was still trying to make a living of his own, not always successfully it would seem, for the London Gazette on 20 January 1905 records

"In the matter of the assignment for the benefit of their joint creditors, executed on 18th day of October 1904 by Dudley James Ponting and Edward John Bender both residing and trading in co-partnership under the style of "Ponting and Bender" at 153 and 155 High Road, Balham in the County of London, fancy drapers. Persons having claims against the late firm of Ponting and Bender, who have not yet done so , are requested to send particulars thereof to Messrs Josolyne, Miles and Blow of 28 King Street, Cheapside, E.C., chartered accountants, or to us, the undersigned, on or before the 27th day of January 1905, otherwise they will be excluded from Dividend under the said assignment -

Dated this 18th day of January 1905.

J. N. Mason and Co, Gresham Street, London, E.C., solicitors for the Trustee".

On 13 March 1905 Mabel Annie Ponting petitioned for a divorce from Dudley James Ponting (National archive J77/842/5598). In her petition she describes herself as of "The Lawn, Shepherds Bush".

She states that she and Dudley lived as husband and wife at 39 Kensington Hall Gardens and alleges that

  • On occasions Dudley treated her with great unkindness and cruelty and "recently used gross and filthy language and swore at her in the presence of domestic servants"
  • On 22 May 1902 he forced her from her home at 39 Kensington Hall Gardens
  • On 22 May 1902 and on subsequent dates at 39 Kensington Hall Gardens, Dudley committed adultery with Tilly Vaughan
  • In January 1903 at Bloomsbury Mansions he committed adultery with Violet Gray
  • In March 1903 at Bloomsbury Street, he committed adultery with Lilly Mitchell

And finally

  • On/around 22 January 1904 Dudley communicated a venereal disease

Presumably it was this last act that assured the "cruelty" required for a woman to divorce a man at that time.

Dudley did not attend court and the divorce was uncontested. On 4 May 1905 the decree nisi was issued. 

The case was reported in The Evening Standard on Friday 5 May 1905 


"Mrs Mabel Annie Ponting petitioned for a divorce by reason of cruelty and misconduct of her husband Dudley James Ponting whose position is not stated. Mr Dodd for the petitioner said that after the marriage in June 1901 the parties occupied a flat in Kensington Gore Mansions. In May 1902 the respondent compelled his wife to leave the house and shortly after she had gone he bought in a woman. Subsequently the petitioner was induced to return to her husband but was finally compelled to leave him as a consequence of his behaviour. Evidence having been given, his Lordship granted the petitioner a decree nisi with costs"

The decree absolute was issued on 13 November 1905

By that time Dudley would have met Grace Florence Green-Taylor and it was around that time she would have become pregnant with their first child.

Mabel Annie Ponting remarried two years after her divorce from Dudley was finalised. Her second husband was Patrick Moir-Byres and below is a copy of the "allegation" made when applying for a marriage licence certifying Mabel's marital status and that she was divorced from Dudley James Ponting. 

Patrick and Mabel married on 5 June 1907 at St James the Lesser, Thorndike Street, London. Patrick, aged 37 was a major in the Kings Dragoon Guards. His father when witnessing the marriage describes himself as "of Tonley". Mabel was 26 years old and interestingly described as "Mabel Annie Clements" and not as divorced, but as "single and unmarried".  

Patrick Moir-Byres, as indicated was a major in the Kings Dragoon Guards who had fought in the Boer War. He had been born on 10 September 1869, the son of George Moir - Byres and Sophia Eleanor Matilda Bulteel. The Moir-Byres family had made their money as oil merchants in Manchester and are listed in "Walfords County Families of the United Kingdom" which lists the titled and untitled aristocratic families in the United Kingdom in 1899.

In 1911 Patrick and Mabel were living at Tonley House, Tough, Aberdeenshire. Patrick M Byres, aged 41 is described as a Major (retired pay) Reserves of Officers. Mabel M Byres, his wife was 29 years old. The census confirms that they had been married three years and were without children. Also listed are six servants, a butler, chauffeur, cook, house table maid, house maid and kitchen maid (Scotlands people - 244/00002/00/001). They are listed there in the 1920 electoral register. 

Colonel Patrick Moir-Byres, husband of Mabel Anne Moir-Byres died on 20 August 1925 aged 55 years at Tonley, Aberdeenshire and was buried on 22 August 1925 at Tonley. "Confirmation" was granted to Mabel Annie Clements or Moir-Byres, Tonley, his widow. The value of the estate was £5,361. 12.6.   

After her husband's death Mabel Annie Moir-Byres continued to live close to Tonley. 

On 1 February 1928 Mabel A Moir-Byres of Tonley, Aberdeen, a 43 year old landowner sailed from London to Buenos Aires on the "Almeda".

On 28 February 1930 Mabel Moir-Byres of Tonley returned from a "West Indies Cruise" arriving at Southampton on the "Alcantara". On both occasions she was travelling alone.

In the 1935 electoral register she is listed at Tonley Cottage, Aberdeen.

 Mabel was awarded an MBE in 1949 for her W.V.S work (see below

Mabel Annie Moir-Byres MBE of Tonley Cottage, Tillfourie Sauchen, Aberdeenshire died on 7 March 1963. Confirmation was granted to Alexander Munro Davidson, solicitor and Marjorie Jenkins. 

The Times (London, England), Saturday, Mar 09, 1963; pg. 10; Issue 55645:
"Mrs Mabel Moir-Byres, MBE, who became a Justice of the Peace for Aberdeenshire in 1926, died in Aberdeen on Thursday. She was the widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick Moir-Byres."

Patrick and Mabel Annie's memorial in Tough Churchyard says 

"In loving remembrance of Patrick Moir-Byres of Tonley, Major, King's Dragoon Guards, Lt Col, 3rd Scottish Horse, who served in South Africa and Gallipoli, died at Tonley Aug 20 1925 aged 55. Also of his widow, Mabel Moir-Byres MBE JP for Aberdeenshire who died Mar 7 1963."

Thank you to Alistair Gammell, for providing this information. 

Dudley James Ponting and Grace Florence Green-Taylor nee Pyne

On 12 December 1905 less than a month after his decree absolute, Dudley James Ponting married Grace Florence Green-Taylor, formerly Pine at Lambeth Registry Office.

Dudley who was 26 at the time describes himself as the divorced husband of Mabel Annie Ponting formerly Clements and the son of William Ponting deceased, master linen draper. Dudley gives his occupation as a music hall artiste.

Grace Florence Green-Taylor nee Pyne is described as the divorced wife of Joseph Green Taylor and the daughter of George Thomas Pine deceased, musician. No occupation is given. She gives her age at '30' although she would have been closer to 34 at the time.

Both parties show their address as 33 London Road, Stockwell.

The witnesses were Edith Pennett and A H Pennett, Grace's sister and brother -in-law (Appendix N) and A E Morgan.

Below is an extract of Dudley and Grace's original marriage certificate. 

Grace Florence Pyne's early life and ancestry is detailed at Appendix N, but in summary she was member of a musical family and had been in the D' Oyly Carte and music hall before meeting Dudley.

The couple had four children

  • Gracie Joan Ponting. Born 27 July 1906 
  • William Dudley Ponting. Born 22 October 1907 
  • Arthur James Ponting. Born 30 July 1909 
  • Maude Jeannette Mary Ponting. Born 14 May 1913 

Their daughter Gracie Joan Ponting and their son William Dudley Ponting were both born at 25 Montrose Avenue, Kilburn in the district of Hendon. At the time of Gracie's birth Dudley's occupation is given as an Engineering Works Manager and at the time of William Dudley's birth he is recorded as being "of independent means" (Chapter 14).

It is believed that in or around 1908 the family moved to The Hollies, Wartling, East Sussex. 

Kelly's Directory describes Wartling as

" a village and parish 4 miles north from Pevensey Station on the Brighton & Hastings section of the L.B.& S.C. railway 68 miles from London, 51/2 miles from Hailsham and 14 west of Hastings" "Boreham (or Boreham Street) is a manor & populous hamlet of Wartling parish, and is 1 ½ miles north from Wartling village". 

In Kelly's directory of Wartling for 1909 and 1911 Dudley James Ponting of the Hollies is listed as a private resident, in the case of 1911 as a "private resident, Boreham, postal district Hailsham". On neither occasion is he listed under the commercial section, despite the fact that Dudley as operating as a market gardener during that time. This photo of the Hollies comes from the family's album.  

Information provided by The Wartling and Herstmonceux Local History Group includes a 1847 map on which 'The Hollies' is noted up as 'The Post Office', which it was once (next to the Bulls Head).

As indicated by this photograph provided by the History Group, the Hollies was also known as 'Old House' (not to be confused with another house opposite, today known as 'The Old House', located behind Scolfes). 

The "Old House" as it stands today was built in 1738. The Dawes family were residents here from 1818 until 1844. The building was Grade II listed from 12 August 1981. 

Dudley and Grace's third child, Arthur James Ponting was born at The Hollies in 1909 and again Dudley describes himself as "of independent means". Maude Jeannette Mary was also born at The Hollies and Dudley gives his occupation as "market gardener" (Chapter 14).

Dudley gets a mention in the local press, An article in the Sussex Agricultural Express, East Sussex dated 2 July 1909 under the heading "Double Charge" report

"There were two charges against Richard Sweatman of Warbleton, one for being drunk in charge of a horse and cart in Wartling on 15 June and another for being drunk while in charge of a child under the age of five at the same time and the same place - he pleaded guilty to each summons - Dudley James Ponting of independent means said he saw the defendant driving a horse at a stretch gallop and thinking it had run away, he got over a fence to try and stop it. He then noticed the defendant was drunk and that there was a child in the cart. Sweatman collided with another vehicle opposite Luck's Cottage..............Defendant was fined 10s for the first offence and £1 for the second offence, £2. 18s in all. He expressed his sorrow"

Dudley and Grace's son Arthur James Ponting was baptised on 2 October 1910 at Wartling.  

At the time of the 1911 census Dudley and Grace were still at The Hollies, Boreham Street, Hailsham. 

Dudley James Ponting, aged 31 describes himself as a "retired draper now a market gardener". His wife Grace states that she is 35 years old (again reducing her age by 5 years) and gives her occupation as a "music hall artiste". The census confirms that they had been married 5 years. Their children, Gracie Joan, William Dudley and Arthur James are all listed. Their daughter Maude Jeanette Mary had still to be born.

Also listed are 20 year old Reginald Greene Taylor and 17 year old Muriel Greene Taylor, Grace's children by her first marriage (Appendix N). Reginald Green Taylor, who was just 11 years younger than his step father, gives his occupation as a butchers assistant/slaughter man.

The family had two live-in employees, Alfred Baker, aged 35 from Norwich, market gardener's foreman and Arthur Edward Sherman, aged 14 from Woking, a market gardeners boy.

Also listed are John and Alice Andrews, aged 32 and 33. The census indicates that they have been married 12 years and Dudley writes that "he states he is a fish hawker and both are on the tramp looking for work".

This is the first census where the forms available to view are those completed by the householder, in this case, Dudley. The census asks for "every person , whether a member of the family, visitor or boarder or servant who passed the night of Sunday 2 April 1911 at this dwelling house and was alive at midnight, or who arrived in this dwelling on the morning of Monday 3 April not having been enumerated elsewhere". The expression "on the tramp" indicates John and Alice Andrews were not staying with the family but had turned up the next morning possibly looking for work.

The census also notes that the Hollies had 9 rooms including the kitchen, but, as in all cases, excluding the scullery, landing, lobby, closet, bathroom, warehouse, office and shop, so quite a substantial property.

The photograph below is believed to be Dudley at work in the market garden. 

Dudley and Grace lived at the Hollies for about a decade, but it appears that they had returned to London by the early 1920's, although precisely when is unclear. 

The 1918 electoral register shows Grace Florence Ponting living alone at 32a Streatham Place, Wandsworth, SW2.  

Dudley and Grace's daughter Maud Janette Mary Ponting was baptised at Wartling on 9 June 1918 (she would have been about 5), but at the time they give their address as "Streatham" and oddly Dudley describes himself as a retired builder!!

In 1921 Dudley James Ponting, aged 43 and Grace Florence Ponting, aged 46 were living at 28, Castellain Road. Both described as "boarding house keepers". All four children remain at home and were at school, Gracie Joan was 14, William Dudley was 13, Arthur James was 11 and Maude Jeanette Mary Ponting, was aged 8 years old. There were  three boarders, Emma Gooding, aged 25, a hosiery shop assistant at Penterthy Hosiery, Oxford Street, Cecil Jocham, aged 30, from Capestown, South Africa, a drapery traveller working on his own account, and Gordon Ellis, aged 32, an out of work advertising agents assistant. Also listed is Francis Annie Helen Eves, aged 20, domestic servant employed by Pontings Boarding House.  

Mrs Ponting at 28, Castellain Road, Maida Vale first appears in the London telephone directory in 1921. Between 1926 to 1928 Mrs D Ponting is listed at Castellain Road. The electoral register also confirms Dudley and Grace were at the address in 1921, 1922 (with Charles Brown and Sydney Middleton) 1923 (with Arthur Baxendale, Phillip David Griffiths and Alexander Liberia), 1924, 1925 and 1926 (with John and Nora Cope and Lawrence Olivier).

It is understood that Grace returned to the music business after her second marriage and the birth of her children. it is assumed that it was through her that the family came to know Laurence Oliver. As confirmed by the electoral registers he lodged with the family for a while when he was but an aspiring actor. In "Laurence Olivier a biography" by Donald Spoto, the writer states that being unhappy at his fathers remarriage Olivier "by the time of his audition at the Central School (London) in that same month (June 1924), he was glad of the opportunity to be living on his own, in a tiny London garret in Castellain Road, Maida Vale". This photo of Olivier is presumably from around that time, which he signs using his family's nickname "Kim". 

In December 1926, a short silent film was released showing Santos Casani and Jose Lennard performing the Charleston. "The Flat Charleston" recorded in the DeForest Phonofilm was directed by Dudley Ponting. Could this have been our Dudley? (

At the time of his daughter Gracie Joan's marriage in 1926 Dudley describes himself as "independent". He describes himself the same way when he was granted administration of his aunt Alice Morris Snell's estate on 5 November 1927 (Appendix M).

In 1928 Grace Florence Ponting was still at 28, Castellain Road, Maida Vale. Also listed at the address are William Robert Mealing and Winifred Whiting. Her husband is not listed, but in 1928 Mr Dudley J Ponting is also listed in the telephone directory at 96 Wymering Mansion, Maida Vale and the entry is followed by "concert direction". The photograph below was taken in 1928 and was given by Grace Florence to her daughter Gracie Joan Ponting.

In 1929 Grace Florence Ponting, her son William Dudley Ponting, and Winifred and Stella Whiting were at 28, Castellain Road. Dudley James Ponting was living at 33 College Court, South Hampstead. Also at the address is Marian Emma Marshall.

Again in 1930 Grace and her son William are at 28, Castellain Road with John and Winifred Ford and   William and Gabrielle Mealing. Dudley James Ponting was living at 110 Barons Court Road, Fulham, W14. Also at the address was Marianne Emma Ponting. I assume this is the same person he was living with the previous year, she has adopted his surname, but they had not married. 

In the 1931 electoral register Grace Florence Ponting is still living at 28 Castellain Road with her son William Dudley Ponting. Her husband is not mentioned.

In 1932 Grace is still at Castellain Road, both her sons William Dudley Ponting and Arthur James Ponting are living with her. Mrs Dudley Ponting is listed in the 1932 telephone directory at 28 Castellain Road, but this has changed by 1934 and Mrs Dudley Ponting is listed at 81 Byne Road, Sydenham SE26.

Although it appears Grace and Dudley separated in the mid 1920's, they never divorced. 

Their daughter Gracie "Joan" Ponting was to later say that her early life was very easy, there was plenty of money, the family had a Nanny and 'staff' when they were living at the "Hollies" and later after they returned to London, around 1918. The family seemed well off until 1920's but after that became less so. 

When his son Arthur married in 1933 (Chapter 14) Dudley describes himself as a "commercial traveller".

Dudley appears to have had a brush with the law later in life, the family understand that he was arrested and sentenced for misrepresenting evidence at a trial in which he defended a friend. The following articles, firstly from the Hartlepool Mail, Durham on 20 May 1936 titled "Getting a Boy into Eton - Precentors visitor - Men on conspiracy charge" do not really explain Dudley's role in the events it describes. 

"Mr H Ley, a precenter and music master at Eton College alleged at Windsor Police Station today that a man who said he wanted to enter his son in college endeavoured to get various sums of money from him

In the dock stood four men described as Hubert Wilton (27), salesman of no fixed abode, Dudley James Ponting (60), independent, Putney, Hubert Price Jones (31), salesman of no fixed abode and Frederick Pearson (42) journalist of no fixed abode, charged with conspiracy, theft and false pretences

Dr Lay said in January he received a letter from South Africa signed P D Hawtrey in which the writer said a 'Charles Bancroft' would shortly call at Eton to see him with a view to getting his boy entered for the college, He asked Dr Ley to do all he could for Mr Bancroft and concluded 'it is more years than I care to remember since I was at Eton and I am afraid you will not remember me, but probably one of my uncles you will recollect'. Dr Ley said he certainly did not remember P D Hawtrey.

Mr C D Dyson jeweller of Windsor said on March 7 Pearson came to the shop and saw some diamond rings. He said he was a nephew of Dr Ley and wanted to buy an engagement ring as he was home from South Africa to get married. He could not find anything that was good enough and said he would return in a few days time. This he did and bought an engagement ring and a diamond bracelet in the total value of £65.00. He produced a letter signed "H G Ley" on Eton College notepaper stating that the bearer was his nephew home from abroad to be married and asking Mr Dyson to help him. On February 18 he received a telephone call from a man who told him that he was Bancroft and an appointment was arranged Later that same day as he was on his way to evening chapel Wilton came up to him in the cloisters and said he was Bancroft and accepted his invitation to accompany him to the service. Wilton sat at the organ with him throughout the service. Later they went back to his house and in his study, Wilton said that he wished to arrange for the son of Mr Hawtrey to be educated at Eton. He produced a cheque for £200.00 drawn on a Durban bank account and signed "C Hawtrey" and asked Dr Ley to pass it through his bank as it was the deposit to the college for getting the boy entered. Dr Ley told him he could not do anything of the kind and the man then asked for a loan of £50.00 explaining that his money had not yet been transferred from Durban Dr Ley refused. He took the man to the school office and he filled in a form entering the boy Hawtrey for a chance vacancy at the college.

On February 25 Dr Ley received a letter from Price Jones stating that he was an old chorister of his at Christ Church, Oxford and asking for financial assistance He replied to Price Jones telling him that he could not help him and recommended him to a society who could deal with his case.

On March 11 Mr Dyson , jeweller of Windsor wrote to Dr Ley thanking him for recommending his nephew to his shop. Then he discovered he discovered his cheque book was two cheques short and a quantity of notepaper had been stolen. Mrs Ley said when Wilton called on February 18 she showed him into Dr Ley's study and left  to help him select his engagement ring and enclosing as cheque for payment of the goods. The cheque was signed H G Ley and Pearson filled in the amount

Chief Constable Carter asking for a remand said the warrants were outstanding for the arrests of two other men. The accused were remanded in custody".

A further article in the Northern Daily Mail dated 26 May 1936 titled "Jewels worth £584 mentioned in charge of conspiracy. Women Accused" reads 

Valuable jewellery was exhibited at Windsor Police Court today when Hubert Wilton (27), salesman, Maisie Wilton (25), his wife and Celia Walden (49) all of no fixed abode were charged with conspiring with a man not in custody to steal jewellery to the value of £584, the property of diamond merchants in Hatton Garden. 

This charge followed the resumed hearing of proceedings against Wilton, Hugh Price Jones (31), salesman, Frederick Pearson (42) journalist all of no fixed address and Dudley J Ponting (66) described as independent of Putney, who were charged with conspiring in an attempt to obtain jewellery and money by means of forged cheques and letters bearing the name of H G Ley, the precenter of Eton College. 

On this charge accused were all sent for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

At the previous hearing Dr Ley described how Wilton visited him at Eton College.  After Wilton left two cheques and a quantity of college notepaper were missing from Dr Ley's study. A Windsor jeweller told the court that he handed over jewellery to the value of £85 for a cheque given him by Pearson and signed in the name of Dr Ley. 

When the conspiracy to steal jewellery charge was taken, five diamond merchants gave evidence that a man named Sam Handelsman, whom they knew in trade come to them and asked them to let him have certain valuable stones and bracelets on approbation. He said that he had a customer who would either return the stones or pay for them within two days. The total amount of jewellery that Handelsman obtained in this way was £588. From that day to this, it was stated, they had not seen or heard anything more of Handelsman or the jewellery. J Caplin of Christcurch Road, Bournemouth stated that in April the two women came to his ship with rings to sell. He bought them for £60. Archibald Meader of Christcurch Road, Boscombe stated that Walden sold him a bracelet which he said was worth £80 for £40. John Newman of  Christchurch Road, Boscombe said that three people came to his shop and offered him a quantity of jewellery for £150 but he refused to buy it. 

Accused were remanded in custody until Thursday".  

The outcome of the trial was reported in the "Daily Mirror" on Saturday 18 July 1936. Some members of 'the gang' received custodial sentences, but Dudley was only bound over for two years. the report concludes "all five men are ex-public schoolboys. by their convictions Windsor police has broken up a dangerous gang. Pearson and Kirby were leaders of a daring gang who used their good education and background to prey on society with clever friends, a police officer told the Daily Mirror". Dudley's role is still not explained. 

In 1939 Dudley J Ponting, a Business Organiser (Engineer) Retired and of late a Head Warden in the ARP was living at Maybank, Church Road, Easthampstead with Mrs Marion Cookson. She is originally listed as "Ponting" but this has been amended to Cookson. Also at the address are three seemingly unconnected 16 year old boys, John L Timmis, John K Philpot and Gordon G Fenwick. An article in "The Reading Mercury" dated 1 April 1939 describes an exercise for ARP Wardens and describes Mr D J Ponting as being in charge of the subdistrict of Cowthorne. 

In 1939 Dudley's wife, Grace Florence Pyne was living with her niece Winifred Elsie Garside at 99B Park Road, Blackpool. She is described as being 'independent'. Grace is pictured on the right of the picture below in 1938

Dudley was understood to have lived with Mrs Cookson most latterly at 57, St Peters Road, St Giles, Reading which is where he died on 10 November 1944 aged 65. The cause of death is given as 'myocardial failure', 'auricular simulation' and 'diabetes mellitus'. The informant was E Cookson who is described as an inmate of 57 St Peters Road. 

Dudley and Marion are pictured below. The description on the reverse of the photograph above picture reads "On Whit Sunday 1942 at Mr Newbury's garden in Tilehurst Reading". 

The relationship between Dudley and Marion is unclear and by 1945 the electoral register shows Edward Reginald Claude Cookson, Marion and Marion Iris Cookson resident at 57 St Peters Road, Reading. Could Edward, possibly Marion's son? Was Marion Iris his wife (although Reg. Gen. Sept 1951 Wokingham 6a 655 suggests they had still to marry)? Could Edward have been the informant when Dudley died? 

At the time of his death Dudley's profession is given as an Investigations Officer at the Billeting Office. Reading was a closed town from October 1941 because of the number of evacuees, refugees and transferred war workers who came to the town. Under this restriction you had to inform the billeting office if you moved into or out of town.

In his will made on 10 July 1943 Dudley appoints Gerard Thomas Harris of 11 Maiden Lane and 21 College Hill, EC4 and Percy Hudson of 27 Finsbury Road, Sydenham, the present trustees of his late father's will as his executors. They renounce probate and this is then granted to his wife Grace Florence Ponting who was then living at 78 Bisham Road, Blackpool.

Dudley asks his executors to pay his funeral expenses and any expenses incurred by Mrs Cookson on his behalf whilst he was ill. He asks them to repay Mrs Cookson, the £25 that she had lent him. He then declares that he has "no furniture and jewellery, having lived under the care of Mrs Cookson whose furniture and effects I have used not having a home of my own". He asks that his children show Mrs Cookson "the consideration with which she has always shown me" and "to place on record that if I had not had her loving care and attention I should have been dead long ago".

Dudley then goes on to say that the terms of his late father's will give him the power to make

  • appointments for his wife and children. He exercises that right in the following manner
  • "to my daughter Gracie Joan Barton I bequeath the sum of £125 pounds as a recognition for the constant and unselfish attention to her mother"
  • "to my son William Dudley Ponting the sum of £125 for purposes already explained to him"
  • "to my son Arthur James Ponting the sum of £50 for purposes already explained to him"
  • "to my daughter Maude Jeanette Mary Mellor the sum of £25".

Dudley also leaves each of his children a further £75 and states that "all know my wishes for the disposal of a portion of these monies" and "to my wife Grace Florence Ponting I bequeath the sum of £1.10s.00d per week for life payable quarterly and no annuity shall be purchased and the balance of the income derived from the investments shall be divided into four equal parts and paid quarterly to my four children. On my wife's death the capital shall be realised and the total amount divided into four equal parts and one fourth part shall be paid to each child" .

I am not sure to what extent these amounts were to be paid from the trust fund set up on his father's death (this certainly allowed for the payments to Grace Florence) or from his own personal estate? The value of his estate was £23.10s (equivalent to approx. £711 in 2006), so inadequate to have made the specific bequests. 

Grace did not remarry. In her final years she lived with her daughter Gracie Joan Barton at Bywood, Standard Hill, Ninfield, East Sussex, which is where she died on 1 March 1949 aged 77. On her death certificate she is described as the widow of Dudley James Ponting - an Annuitant. The cause of death is given as chronic bronchitis and myocardial degeneration 7 years. The informant was Gracie Joan Barton.

Her death bought to an end the trust set up on her father in law's William Ponting's death in 1898. The balance of the capital and any undistributed income would be distributed to his children. However I understand that the capital had been significantly depleted, possibly as a result of the depression of the 1920/1930's.

A headstone erected in Ninfield Parish Church reads "In Memory of our dear parents, Grace Florence Ponting died 1 March 1949 aged 77, Dudley James Ponting died 10 November 1944 aged 65".

The writer of this family history was born at Bywood, Ninfield.  

Click here to go to "Chapter 14 - The children of Dudley and Grace Ponting"

To find out more about the Pynes, click  here to go to "Appendix N - Pyne of London"

Click here to go back to "Chapter 10 - William Ponting and Emily Maria Snell"