My step grandfather George William Symes was born 12 January 1896 at Minterne Magna, Dorset. He was the son of George Symes (1859 – 1920) and Eliza Symes nee Paulley (1870 – 1946).

George Symes senior was born in 1859 at Puncknowle Dorset, 6 miles east of Bridport. He was the oldest child of Daniel Symes (1834 – 1914), an agricultural labourer, and Sarah Symes nee Trevett (1836 – 1925).

Symes Daniel and Sarah

Daniel and Sarah Symes, Bridport, Dorset. Photograph from Rod Rumble who received it from Brian Jeans, a Symes descendant

On 2 October 1878, aged 19, George Symes, then a labourer, enlisted in the Royal Artillery. He signed his attestation papers at Bridport on 2 October and joined at Portsmouth on 14 October.

He first served as a gunner, was promoted to bombadier (equivalent rank of corporal) in 1884, and then to sergeant later that same year. He was promoted to Company Sergeant Major in 1892 and discharged at that rank in 1899. He served in India from 1884 to 1892, retiring in 1899 on a pension of 30 pence for life. He was formally discharged at the Tower of London, and became a Chelsea Pensioner (he would have been an out-pensioner as he did not live at the Royal Hospital Chelsea). His character on discharge was “exemplary”.

Symes George Tower of London

photograph of George Symes at the Tower of London from Rod Rumble who in turn got the photograph from Brian Jeans, a Symes descendant

George first married Rosa or Rose Guppy (1860 – 1892) at Milborne Port, Somerset, in 1886. They had two children: William Hensley Symes (1887 – 1888) and Edward Daniel Symes (1890 – 1950). William was born 27 November 1887 and baptised 1 January 1888 at Milborne Port Somerset. He died, only four months old, at Agra, India on 1 April 1888 and was buried there on 2 April. Edward was born in 1890 at Campbellpore, present day Attock, Pakistan. Rose died of cholera in 1892 at Ferozepore.

In 1894 George married again, to Eliza Paulley (1870 – 1946) at Minterne Magna, Dorset. They had one son, George William Symes, born 12 January 1896 at Minterne Magna.

At the time of the 1901 census the family was at Puncknowle. George Symes was 42, with occupation of ‘military pensioner’. His wife Eliza was 31 and they had two sons, Edward aged 11 and George aged 5.

G W Symes 1909 scout

George William Symes, boy scout, aged about 13 in 1909

In 1911, George Symes, a ‘military pensioner and publican’ was living at 61 South Street Bridport. In the same house were his sons Edward aged 21, a cabinet maker, George aged 15, at school. Also living at that address was George’s brother-in-law, Lewis Paulley, age 25, a harness-maker. On census night Eliza was away, with her parents in Minterne Magna.

61 South Street was the pub. The 1911 census states it had 9 rooms, not including the shop, office, warehouse or bathrooms.

George Symes died at Weymouth, Dorset, 18 May 1920.

The building at 61 South Street Bridport is still there and still operates as a pub; it is now called The Woodman Inn.

Woodman Inn Bridport geograph-5511774-by-Jaggery

Woodman Inn Bridport in 2017


  • Census records retrieved though
    • 1901: Class: RG13; Piece: 2012; Folio: 75; Page: 10.
    • 1911: Class: RG14; Piece: 12486; Schedule Number: 22
  • Wo 97 – Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913 retrieved through FindMyPast: George Symes Birth year 1859 Birth parish Puncknoll, Bridport, Dorset, England Royal Artillery Attestation date 02 Oct 1878 Attestation age 19 years 6 months Attestation service number 5286 Attestation corps Royal Artillery Discharge corps Royal Artillery