CWG: Sergeant John Foxworthy

Sergeant Joh Foxworthy

John James Foxworthy was born in the South Devon village of East Allington in 1867. He was the middle of five children to carpenter Roger Foxworthy and his wife Ann.

When he left school, John found work on a local farm, but he had bigger plans and, in July 1887, he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry. His service records show that he stood 5ft 8ins (1.73m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion.

John had a varied military career that lasted for more than two decades. During this time, he served on nine ships, and was based at HMS Vivid – the Royal Naval Dockyard in Plymouth – for significant periods of time. He began as a Private, but rose through the ranks to Corporal (in 1894) and Sergeant (in 1900). He was wounded in April 1899, when he was shot in the leg, but recovered from this and continued his career.

In 1895, John married Maria Woodley, the daughter of a railway labourer from Totnes. The couple went on to have four children, Minnie, Gladys, Alice and William.

In 1908, Sergeant Foxworthy left the Royal Marine Light Infantry after 21 years’ service. By now the family home was in Prospect Terrace, Newton Abbot, just a short walk from the town centre. The 1911 census records him as being a Royal Marine pensioner and caretaker of the Miniature Rifle Club.

When war broke out, John was called back into duty and, by September 1914, he found himself in a Royal Marine Depot in Belgium. His service overseas was fairly short, and he had returned to England by the spring. He was working as a recruiting sergeant in Northampton on 30th March 1915, when he suddenly collapsed and died. He was 47 years of age.

John James Foxworthy’s body was brought back to Devon; he lies at rest in the family grave in Newton Abbot Cemetery.


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