Robert Francis Loder-Symonds
Gail Brumfitt wrote this biography over two years ago. At that time, Gail commented that a connection between Captain Loder-Symonds and the West Kirby area had not been found. Since then, Heather Chapman has kindly made digital copies of “The West Kirby News” available to the research team and the following article was discovered, dated 5th September 1914:
Captain Loder Symonds clearly made a very positive impression on the local populace. It is remarkable that, over eight years after his departure from the district, following a short stay, he was still remembered by people who had proposed putting his name on the war memorial. It says a lot about the man, but also reminds us of the vagaries of the decision making process about who would actually be commemorated in the post war years.
The family of Robert Francis Loder-Symonds certainly saw more than their share of wartime tragedy. Three of his brothers were also killed during the Great War, and his only son was killed during WWII.
Robert was born into a wealthy middle class family, whose father, Captain Frederick Cleave Symonds (1846-1923), of the Royal Artillery, often saw overseas commissions, and after Frederick’s marriage, the family only appears together on the 1891 Census. Robert’s mother, Elizabeth Isabel Emily Parland (1853-1917), was born in Wales. She was the daughter of John Peter (1809-1871) and Annette Parland (née Crawshay 1826-1883). John Peter Parland, Robert’s grandfather, was a British subject born in Russia. He was Captain of the Imperial Russian Guards and agent to the Russian Steam Navigation Company. Annette Crawshay’s father was William Crawshay a wealthy ironmaster who left just under £2,000,000 upon his death in 1867.
Robert’s siblings were, John Frederick (1873-1914), Frederick Parland (1876-1952), Isabel Lily Annette (1879-?), May Penelope (1881-?), William Crawshay (1886-1918), Edith Violet (1890-1973), and Thomas Lenthall (1893-1915).
Frederick Cleave Symonds was born in Hereford, Herefordshire, the son of James Frederick (1820-1911) and Mary Elizabeth Symonds (née Cleave 1821-1899). James Symonds was a Solicitor and was also born in Hereford. Frederick assumed the name “Loder-Symonds” by Royal Licence in 1881 on succeeding to the estate of the Loder family in Berkshire. He and Elizabeth married on 27th February 1873 at St Nicholas, Hereford, and must have been posted to India not long afterwards as their first four children were born there. Robert was the fifth child and was born in Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire, as were the youngest three children.
In 1891 the family were living at Hinton Manor, Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire where Frederick was age 44, a Magistrate, Retired Officer, and Farmer living on his own means, born in Hereford; Elizabeth was age 37 born in Breconshire, their children at home were Frederick age 14 who was a Naval Cadet, born in India. There appears to be an error made by the enumerator with Isabel as she has been incorrectly recorded as Mabel, age 12 born in India; May age 10 born in India; Robert age 7 born in Hinton Waldrist; William age 4 born in Hinton Waldrist, and Edith age 11 months also born in Hinton Waldrist. The family employed five servants, Stephanie Winkler, age 28 was the Governess born in Germany; Kate Orchard age 18 was a parlour maid born in Grove, Berkshire; Louisa Dobson age 25 was a housemaid born in Abingdon, Berkshire, Kate Smith age 25 was a kitchen maid born in Oxfordshire; and Mary Ann Bowen age 28 was a nurse born in Hoxton, London. Frederick and Elizabeth have not been found on any later Census in England although they both died in England after 1911.
By 1901 Robert was attending Sandhurst Military Academy where the Census of that year shows him as a Gentleman Cadet. In 1911 Robert and his sister, Isabel, were visiting Robert’s future in-laws, the Dolphin family at 8 The Paragon, Blackheath. Robert was now age 27 and a Lieutenant in the Army, Isabel was 32 and single. James Dolphin was age 68 and a stock and share broker, his wife was Jane Georgina and their children were Edward James (35), also a stock and share broker, William Heathcote (28), an Underwriter, Agnes Muriel (26), and Helen Gladys (22). The family had four servants; a cook, two housemaids and a kitchen maid.
Robert’s first appointment to the Cheshire Regiment was in 1902. From 1908 to 1913 he was employed in the King’s African Rifles. In 1912, Robert married Agnes Muriel Dolphin in Lewisham, London and their only son, Robert Guy Loder-Symonds, was born on 1st March 1913 at Nairobi, Kenya. The London Gazette of 2nd September 1913 reveals that on 2nd August of that year, Robert was promoted to Captain, Cheshire Regiment.
No service records exist for Robert, but the 1st battalion formed part of the 15th Brigade, 5th Division and landed at Le Harve on 16th August 1914, although Robert’s medal card states that he did not arrive in France until 18th February 1915. The Liverpool Echo of 8th March 1915 reports that Robert was killed in an accident.
Robert’s brother’s who were killed in the Great War were:
- Major John Francis Loder-Symonds of the South Staffordshire Regiment (23/12/1873-1/11/1914)
- Captain William Crawshay Loder-Symonds of the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Wiltshire Regiment) (1886-30/5/1918)
- Lieutenant Thomas Lenthall Loder-Symonds of the 2nd battalion, Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) (1893-9/5/1915)
His only surviving brother was Frederick Parland Loder-Symonds of the Royal Navy who attained the rank of Vice-Admiral (14/5/1876-24/11/1952).
His son, Robert Guy Loder-Symonds was killed in WWII (1/3/1913-11/11/1945).
Although Robert was mentioned in the Deeside Advertiser of 22nd December 1922 listing men from West Kirby and Hoylake, a connection to the area has not yet been found. As he was with the Cheshire Regiment, perhaps he lived in the area in between census dates.
Birth: 1883 Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire
Death: 3rd March 1915 age 31
Address: Hinton Manor, Hinton Waldrist, Berkshire (91), Sandhurst Military Academy (01), 8 The Paragon, Blackheath, London (11)
Occupation: Professional Soldier
Unit: 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Captain
Medals: 1914/15 Star, British War, Victory
Commemorated and Buried: Town Hall, Chester; France: St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen Officers, A. 1. 13
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, LE, LG, Census: 91, 01, 11