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Photo of James Carter Spensley

James Carter Spensley

Chemist, Central Laboratory
Birthplace Yorkshire Gunnerside EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna 17 – 19 The Ridge Place of Death Dumfrieshire Gretna Scotland Date of Birth: November 11, 1886 Date of Death: December 16, 1918


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) :  James Carter Spensley.  Reference 1 


Gender: Male 

Date and Place of Birth: 1866 Reference 1:  11 November 1886 Reference 2. 

Date and Place of Death:  16 December 1918 at Works Hospital, Gretna Reference 3 

Usual Residence – P West 13 Township, Gretna.  Reference 3 

Death certificate registered under “Spinsby” in Scotland’s people. 

Death certificate clearly says Spensley. 

Chemist single.  Died 16 December 1918 6 hr 50m am Works Hospital Gretna 

Usual residence P West 13 Township, Gretna 

Father –  John Joseph Spensley, Inspector (Educational Dept) 

Mother – Mary Ann Spensley nee Woodward 

Cause of death – Aneurysm of Aorta several years.  Influenza 4 days. Syncope through Aneurism suddenly as certified P.M. Carlyle M.B.L.M (?) 

Informant – E S McColl Nurse Present. Nurses Hostel, Victory Avenue, Gretna. 


Burial – Gunnerside Cemetery, Yorkshire.  Photo in file.   

Also commemorates his mother Mary Ann Spensley nee Woodward died 20 August 1919 aged 55 years and was interred in the Wesleyan Cemetery, Knysna, S Africa  Reference 4 


(Father John Joseph Spensley died in South Africa in 1929 per Probate record. Reference 5) 


Probate – James Carter Spensley 

Of Knysna (says Kuynsa) died at Workers Hospital, Gretna 15 (sic) December 1918. Effects £173.14s.11d.  Administration 21 July London 1919 to Charles Alderson Gentleman Attorney of John Joseph Spensley. Reference 6. 


Nationality: British 



Census 1891 for Melbecks, Village – Lodge Green, Street – 13 Hill Top. James C Spensley aged 4, born Gunnerside with his parents John Joseph Spensley aged 30, schoolmaster, born Feetham and Mary Ann Spensley aged 27, born Gunnerside. (Melbecks is a township – a chapelry.  Villages of Gunnerside  and Lodge Green are part of Melbecks. Reference 7 


Parents: John Joseph Spensley and Mary Ann Spensley nee Woodward as above Reference 7, Reference 3 and Reference 4 


Parent’s occupations: father – : schoolmaster 1891 Reference 6: assistant overseer, newsagent and schoolmaster, in Gunnerside 1893 Reference 6: Inspector (Educational Dept) 1918. Reference 3: 


Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: No information. 

Occupation: Chemist Reference 3. 

Place of residence at Gretna: P West 13 Township, Gretna.  Reference 3 

Job title at Gretna:  Chemist  Reference 3 

Marital status: Single  Reference 3 

Children: None as far as known. 

Travels: Went to South Africa with his parents.  Quoted as between 1890 and 1901.  No census record in UK for 1901. 

However, Ancestry Tree (Fowler Tree) – contained a sister Elizabeth Margaret born 1893 Reeth Yorkshire. (July to Sept Index births).  If this is correct it narrows the time for emigration to S Africa to 1893 to 1901. 

Birth Elizabeth Margaret Spensley  Reeth 1893 9d 661. Have not obtained certificate. Reference 2 


(This family tree also records James Carter Spensley’s date of birth as 11 November 1886 and the birth for his father John Joseph Spensley as 9 November 1860. ) 


Kelly’s Directory 1893 records both Carter Spensley, overseer, farmer and blacksmith, in Feetham and John Joseph Spensley assistant overseer, newsagent and schoolmaster, in Gunnerside. This also supports the family going to South Africa after 1893. Reference 8. 



Note: James Carter Spensley had an aunt Elizabeth Margaret Spensley born 1858.  She is recorded on the 1861 and 1871 censuses with her parents  and siblings.  Reference 9 & 10. Also on the 1911 Census ( Reference 11. )when she is unmarried and living at Brocca Bank, Low Row, Richmond.  Her occupation was “Journalist, Poultry Keeper, dealer in Wallpaper and paper blinds – working at home on her own account”.  She died 1931.  It seems likely that the Elizabeth Margaret Spensley born 1893 was named after her aunt and also her grandmother Elizabeth Ann White.   


(There is only one more Elizabeth Margaret Spensley on Ancestry born 1903 and she is with a different family in Grinton, Yorkshire on the 1911  



Travel: James Carter Spensley 1917 Return from South Africa 

Travel from South Africa 

Incoming Passenger List.  Mr J C Spensley.  Ship “Norman”  Landed Plymouth. Arrived Port London. 

22 April 1917 from Cape Town “Professor of Chemistry” Age 30 From Union of South Africa. Reference 12. 



Grandparents and family:  Carter Spensley, Smith/ Blacksmith /Smith -black & white, born and baptised 1825 Grinton (Died 1894) and Elizabeth born 1820 Merrick.  The rest of the family – Carter ,born 1856, Elizabeth M. and John Joseph were born in Feetham. Reference 9 & 10. 



Carter Spensley born 1825 who died in 1894 was buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Low Row alongside his wife Elizabeth Margaret Spensley or White died 1883. His daughter Elizabeth Margaret Spensley was buried here in 1931. Reference 13. 



Carter Spensley born 1856 was married in the Isle of Man on 4 July 1892 in the Parish Church, Kirk Braddan to Anne Elizabeth Sayle.  The 1901 census shows them in the Isle of Man with a son, Douglas born England. Reference 14 & 15. 


The travels of the family and the independence of Elizabeth Margaret Spensley, as shown in 1911, indicate a family with a lot of “get-up-and-go”. 




Awards/recognitions: M.A.  A.I.C.  F.C.S. 

Any other information: Page 11 and 12 of The Dornock Souvenir Magazine gives information about when he was at Gretna. 



JAMES CARTER SPENSLEY died at Gretna on December 16th, 1918, in 

his thirty-third year. He matriculated in the University of the Cape of Good 

Hope and received his technical training at the Transvaal University College, 

Pretoria, graduating with honours in chemistry, and proceeding in due course 

to the degree of M.A. He then became Assistant Lecturer and Demonstrator 

in Chemistry at the Transvaal University College until 1914, when he served 

as a sergeant in the Pretoria Section of the Active Civic Guard during the 

South African Rebellion. Later he became engaged in the laboratory of 

Messrs. Kynoch’s, Ltd., Natal, but left early in 1917 to take up an appointment 

with the Ministry of Munitions in England. He was elected an 

Associate of the Institute in 1917.   See INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY 1917 Part 4 

*** He died in the Works hospital at Gretna 




  • Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):  
  • Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):  



Further links, notes, and comments: 


  1. Ancestry Births –  James Carter Spensley Civil Registration Birth Index (1866) 1837 – 1915  9d 661
  2. Ancestry – Ancestry Family Tree for Harms-Fowler Family
  3. Scotland’s People – death indexed as Spinsby, Gretna 
  4. Ancestry – Burial – Find a Grave index and photo.
  5. Ancestry – Probate record – Administration 1929 South Africa.
  6. Ancestry – Probate record – Administration 1919.
  7. Ancestry Census 1891 John Joseph Spensley.
  8. Ancestry – Kelly’s Directory 1893 for Feetham and Gunnerside.
  1. Ancestry Census 1861 Carter Spensley.
  2. Ancestry Census 1871 Carter Spensley.
  3. Ancestry – Census 1911 Elizabeth Margaret Spensley.
  4. Ancestry – Incoming Passenger Lists for James Carter Spensley 1917.
  5. Ancestry – Burial – Find A Grave Index.
  6. Ancestry Marriage Carter Spensley 1892
  7. Ancestry Census Isle of Man 1911 Carter Spensley

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