CWG: Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Llewellyn

Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Llewellyn

Arthur Llewellyn was born in the summer of 1873, one of four children to Evan and Mary Llewellyn. Originally from Wales, Evan was a Justice of the Peace in the Somerset village of Burrington, and the family lived in the comparative luxury of Langford Court, a mile or so from the village centre.

I use the term ‘comparative luxury’ with some sense of irony; according to the 1881 census, the family had a household staff of eight, including a governess, two nurses, housemaid, cook, kitchen maid, parlour maid and page.

Ambition was obviously what drove Evan; he was an army office, who served in initially in the Somerset Light Infantry. In 1885, he was elected MP for North Somerset, a position he held on and off for nearly twenty years. His military service continued, however, and he led the 2nd (Central African) Battalion, King’s African Rifles in the Boer War.

Comfort ran in the Llewellyn family; according to the 1891 census, Arthur was staying with his maternal aunt, Rose Stewart. She also lived in Somerset, and, at the time the census was drawn up, she was recorded as a widow living on her own means, with her mother, mother-in-law, two nieces and Arthur, her nephew. She was not without help, however, as the house had a retinue of eight staff to support her.

Military life was an obvious draw for Arthur. He enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry in October 1891 and, within a year, had been promoted to Second Lieutenant.

He had met and married Meriel Byrne, in 1895. The couple’s marriage certificate confirms that he had been promoted to Captain in the militia, and his residence was Buckingham Palace Road, in south west London. They were married in Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, with Meriel’s mother and Arthur’s father acting as witnesses.

The couple went on to have five children, all girls, and they settled into a comfortable life. By 1901, Meriel had set up home in Worcestershire; Arthur does not appear on that year’s census, which suggests that he may too have been fighting in South Africa.

Arthur’s mother Mary passed away in 1906, at the tender age of 39. By 1911, he had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 3rd Somerset Light Infantry, and was head of his household in Worcestershire. The family was, by this time, complete – Arthur and Meriel and their five children also had help running their home, with two nurses, a cook, parlour maid and housemaid to support them.

Evan passed away months before war was declared, at the age of 67. Lieutenant Colonel Llewellyn felt duty bound to re-enlist, and was given command of the 3rd Reserve Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. He subsequently served as part of the Army Service Corps in France, before transferring to the Army Labour Corps in Nottingham.

According to the Evening Mail, on 27th April 1920, he “was suddenly seized with illness in the street, and died as he was being conveyed to Nottingham Hospital. He was 46 years of age.”

Arthur was brought back to Burrington in Somerset, where he was buried alongside his parents in Holy Trinity Churchyard.

Sadly, Meriel passed away nine months after her husband; she too is buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard.

Arthur’s estate passed to his brother, Owen, and totalled £12,023 15s 11d (approximately £530,000 in today’s money).

As an aside to Arthur’s illustrious story, another of his brothers is worthy of note. Hoel Llewellyn was two years older than Arthur.

Educated for the Royal Navy, he saw active service on the East Coast of Africa, 1888-90 with despatches. He also served as Artillery Officer and commanded artillery in the Matabele War, where he was recommended for the Victoria Cross. He was promoted Captain in the British South Africa Police, and Justice of the Peace in Matabeleland in1896.

Captain Llewellyn served throughout the South African War; commanding armoured trains north of Mafeking before transferring to the South African Constabulary in 1901. Hoel was eventually created a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for his service in South Africa.

He was wounded while serving with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in the Great War. Hoel was subsequently promoted to the rank of Colonel and appointed Provost-Marshal of Egypt and the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

In 1908, he had been made Chief Constable of Wiltshire, a role he was to hold for 37 years. He was key to pioneering the use of police dogs, and went on to become the oldest serving person to hold the Chief Constable role in the county.

Evan Henry Llewellyn

Another aspect of the Llewellyn family is that Evan was obviously a source of political drive for the family; his great-great-grandson is David Cameron, UK Prime Minister from 2010 to 2016.

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