HOUFTON family and World War 1

Photo:Sir John Plowright Houfton

Sir John Plowright Houfton

Letters about the death of the son of Sir John Plowright Houfton

By Benjamin Houfton, February 2014

Sir John Plowright Houfton (1857 – 1929) was a remarkable man with an enormous amount of energy, involved in may aspects of public life.

He was son of a Colliery Manager and eventually obtained the same position as his father to become General Manager of the Bolsover Colliery Company in 1890.

Sir John had much sympathy for his employees, and this attitude was instrumental in helping to settle the Nottinghamshire section of the National Miners Strike in 1926.

Elected Mayor of Mansfield in 1912, Sir John was also appointed High Sheriff of Nottingham. In 1922 he became Member of Parliament for East Nottingham and was knighted, “In recognition of his public and political services” on The King’s birthday in 1929. 

Despite his busy life, he was a keen golfer and one of the founders of Sherwood Forest Golf Club. At the time of his death he was a Justice of the Peace for Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Sir John married Frances Morley in 1884. They had four children: Agnes, Charles, Frances and George. Of the two boys, only George, a commissioned officer with the Sherwood Foresters, was to survive the battles of WW1 although seriously wounded by a high explosive shell on June 25th 1917 near Ypres. He died in 1962.

Charles, in civilian life a school teacher, was a Lieutenant with the Notts and Derby Regiment. He was fatally wounded by sniper fire and died on 12th  November 1915 aged 28. He was buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France.

Charles left behind a letter addressed to his mother, “To be opened in the event of my death,” which makes poignant reading.

Sir John was devastated by the death of Charles and this is tragically revealed in the contents of his letter written to his surviving son, George.

Transcript of letter dated June 20th 1915  

Telephone no. 209
Carr Bank

June 20th 1915

My own Darling Mother,

I know that when I die your first question will be, Was he ready?  The answer my dear Mother is “yes.” I can tell you now that all through my life I have had a deep sense of all God’s goodness to me and I have never done anything however small  without first asking for help from above and my prayers have not been in vain.


Above all I have tried to live with Christ so please don’t grieve over the loss, we shall meet again before long in a fairer place.

I thank you my dearest Mother for all that you have been to me and for all that you have done for me, truly “The best Mother in the world.” I also thank Father & my sisters and brother for everything. I have had a very happy life so please don’t mourn too much.


You need not put on mourning. Why do so for a man who is not afraid to die & who has tried to live decently. You will find my will with this letter which will explain my last desires. If I die on the battlefield for my country, glorious England, I shall be satisfied. God is with me always. So cheer up my Dear Mother. I am not really dead but coming to a higher state where you will join me one day.


With my best love to you, Father, Agnes, May & George. 

I am always

Your ever loving son


Transcript of letter dated November 17th 1915  

Telephone no. 209
Carr Bank

Nov. 17th. 1915

My dear Son George,

I have terrible news to tell you but don’t know whether this letter will reach you or not. Charlie was shot by a sniper through the brain on Thursday morning last and died about 1 o’clock on Friday morning and was buried the same day “somewhere in France.”

He would not feel anything as he became at once unconscious and never regained consciousness up to the end. A Sergeant Marlin stayed with him all the time after they got him to the dressing station until he died.

This is the sergeant’s description of the end.

“He fell asleep, just like a little child, two sighs at the finish, and he was in the Eternal Home.”

O my dear lad, you are the only son we have left now & I do pray that you will be spared to come back again.

God be with you and never forget your gay and gallant Brother who has fought so nobly and given his life ungrudgingly for his Country’s cause.

Mother is bearing up wonderfully well really but we are both cut to the heart.

God bless and keep you safe.

Your loving sorrowing Father

John P Houfton                                                                        





This page was added by Benjamin Houfton on 19/02/2014.
Comments about this page

A correction to my piece on your website: Charles Houfton was an engineer, not a School Teacher.


Thank you.


Ben Houfton

By Ben Houfton
On 19/05/2014

Thank you for adding this information. Sir John Houfton is my great grandfather. His daughter Agnes is my grandmother. I am very interested in reading this history. i live in New Zealand. Kind regards Gordon Cockerell 28/12/2018 


By Gordon Cockerell
On 02/01/2019

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