Gilbert George Moxham was born in the spring of 1891 in the Somerset village of Timsbury. His father, Frederick, was the local blacksmith and both he and Gilbert’s mother, Julia, had been born and raised in the village.
When he left school, Gilbert helped his father and older brother, Albert (known as Ernest), in the blacksmith’s. Was was coming to Europe, and things were going to change for the Moxham family.
In April 1914, Frederick died after a short illness. The Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer reported that he had “been engaged in the business as a blacksmith for a considerable number of years” and was “well-known and highly respected“. [Friday 17th April 1917] Ernest now took over the family business and provide support for Julia, who was not in good health herself.
Gilbert, meanwhile, enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps. While full details of his service are not available, he joined up before October 1916. Private Moxham spent five months in France and was awarded the Victory and British Medals.
Ernest was still back in Somerset working. He had been exempt from enlisting, as the work he was doing was needed for the war effort. In February 1917, he applied for a further exemption. The local newspaper reported that:
He had one brother serving, and himself managed the blacksmith’s business for his mother. Much of his work was done for agriculturists. His mother was practically an invalid and had a trained nurse to look after her by day. He had a contract to make shoes for the Army, but there was no time specified as to the termination of the contract. In addition, he looked after between 60 and 70 horses for shoeing.Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 2nd February 1917
Just over a month later, Julia passed away, after a long illness. She was 55 years of age.
Meanwhile, Gilbert was also suffering with his health. He was admitted to the Croydon War Hospital in April 1917, having contracted pneumonia. Tragically, he was to succumb to the lung condition, passing away on 13th April 1917, aged just 26 years old.
Gilbert George Moxham was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest with his parents in the family grave in the church cemetery of St Mary’s in his home village.
Ernest lived on for another three decades. He married a woman called Ada, and they had three children. The local newspaper – a constant for the Moxham family through the years, reported on his passing:
The death of Mr Albert Ernest Moxham, at the age of 67, has removed from Timsbury a very highly respected resident. In business as a blacksmith he had traded in this capacity all his working life.
Following the family trade, he was the fourth generation of blacksmiths, and will be missed by many farmers and other tradesmen for many miles around for his work and advice.
In addition to this, the family, for two generations, were recognised as the village dentists, and the late Mr Moxham could remember helping his father in this capacity in his early days…
Apart from his business, he was particularly interested in bell-ringing, and for many years rung in St Mary’s Church belfry, where, for a period of time, he was captain.Somerset Guardian and Radstock Observer: Friday 23rd January 1953
Ernest, too, was laid to rest in the family plot. The church in which he rang was next door to the Forge, his home and business for many years.