Xmas Cards and the St Albans Military Tribunal, 1916


Frank (Frances House Kingston) Mardall (1872-1955) had many contacts with Jacob Reynolds and his family (see Who is related to who?) and sent individually drafted Christmas cards to Jacob Reynolds (1835-1926) of Heath Farm, St Albans, and Jacob's son, Arthur John Reynolds (1870-1859) of Cheapside Farm. These cards were highly personalised - reflecting events affecting the life of the people to whom they were addressed. Jacob Reynolds stuck several of the cards into his scrapbook and when Arthur's son Eric Vincent Reynolds (1904-1992) died, Jacob's Album, and some of the cards sent to Cheapside Farm, came to my attention. I photocopied and indexed all the pages of interest for posterity, and the Christmas Cards shown here come from that record.


Christmas Card sent by F. H. K. Mardall to Jacob Reynolds of Heath Farm


Coming events cast their shadows before them.


From all the ills that man could mention,

May all at the Heath get total exemption.

Christmas Wishes from F. H. K. Mardall, 1916


During the First World War all medically fit men of a suitable age were expected to join the armed forces and military tribunals were held to decide who was exempt because they were in a vital occupation. Heath Farm Dairies employed 12 adult men as milkmen prior to the outbreak of the War, but by May 1916 seven had already left and the tribunal decided that 3 more should join the armed forces. In 1917 another milkman, who had been previously been considered exempt, had his exemption for military service removed.

For more information see the Herts Advertiser report of 20th May, 1916

and the article how the tribunal affected the Heath Farm milkmen on the St Albans History site.

Christmas Card sent by F. H. K. M. to Arthur Reynolds of Cheapside Farm, Sandridge

Take what is mine, in this war time, my Country's claims are binding,

No word from me shall disagree and fault I'll not be finding,

Were't sheep or cow, my pigs or sow, my hunter, none can match her

Your'e welcome all, from yard or stall, but spare, O spare, "my thatcher".


Were we but our own tribunal, how easy it would be

To grant ourselves exemption in our own pet company,

As a party doing bridgework we could all be certified

And we'd volunteer to spot the light we were burning - from inside.


Wishing you all a very happy Christmas.   F.H.K.M. 1916


At the time most of the Heath Farm fields were in the parish of Sandridge and immediately adjoined the fields associated with Cheapside Farm, Sandridge, which was run by Arthur John Reynolds, Jacob's son. There can be little doubt that milk from Cheapside was sold from Heath Farm Dairy, and it could well be that there was considerable joint working, as by Christmas 1916 Jacob was 81 years old, and had a pronounced limp (perhaps as a result of a fall when hunting).

The first lines relate to the ability of the authorities to take what they needed (admittedly with payment) even if it was not for sale - and you were expected not to grumble. The Reynolds family were regular followers of the hounds and not long before Jacob's son Harry was the master of the Aldenham Harriers. Immediately war was declared horses were "recruited" to  help the cause (see Tring Show, 1914) and it could well be that during the year Arthur John Reynolds had his hunter commandeered. It could well be that one area of skills shortage that had affected the farm, due to men joining the forces, was a good thatcher to roof the hay stacks.

The second paragraph refers to another of the Reynolds family and friends favourite pastimes - playing Bridge. (They were still at it when I stayed at Heath Farm in about 1957 and was roped in to make up a table.) In September 1916 the "Zeppelin" (actually the Schütte-Lanz 11) was shot down, and everyone had become very concerned about blackouts (see The Tring Zeppelin). So what better way to spend a winter evening that to play bridge with friends, with the light on, and be safe from a knock on the door - because you are the person responsible for enforcing the blackout.

November 2013   Page Created