Thanks to the suggestion from historian Joan Andrews that we visit the Glamorgan Archives I made a visit on Tuesday June 28 to view The National School Log Book St. Andrews Major 1874-1904. The helpful staff at the archives did not take long to find the particular volume of this “Headmaster’s Log Book” that I was interested in reading. And then as I opened the page to the year 1887 I found my great grandfather’s own handwritten entries. What a find!
John Benjamin Mockford commenced duties as Headmaster of the National School at Dinas Powys in September 1887. He had previously served five years as Headmaster of the National School at Waddesdon, Ayleshire where his son John Benjamin Mockford III and daughter Emily were born. His wife Julia was pregnant when they moved to Wales and they were expecting the birth of their third child in early 1888. They celebrated their first Christmas in Wales in 1887 and John Benjamin Mockford wrote that school was closed for two weeks for the usual Christmas Holiday noting that grades had “fallen off owing to the approach of the festive season.”
School resumed on January 9 1888 but during the next week or so Julia’s pregnancy became difficult and he noted that she was ill on January 20 before the log is silent for a week. We learn later that upon the birth of their second son Arthur Julian Mockford on January 20, 1888 Julia died from post partum hemorrhage. I found an entry in the Headmaster’s Log during the week following her death.
The baby was “claimed” by his maternal grandparents Rev. Benjamin Bull and wife Mary who took Arthur Julian to care for him at their home in Somerset while the two older children remained with their father in Wales. The difficult year of 1888 passed and John Benjamin Mockford became very involved in church activities as organist and choirmaster and community organizations such as the Horticultural Club and the Dinas Powis Brass Band. On 23rd August 1889 the South Wales Newspaper mentioned “Selections of music being rendered by the Dinas Powis Brass Band, under the leadership of Mr. Mockford” performing for a meeting of about 80 members of the Cardiff Teachers of the National Union of Elementary Teachers. His name appeared in the paper again and again. In 1891, a brief biography with illustration was published, “MR JOHN B. MOCKFORD is headmaster of Dinas Powis National School, and was apprenticed at St. Mary’s, Deptford road, London. He was trained at Cheltenham in 1878-1879 and from there went to Keeton-Road School as assistant, afterwards securing the appointment as headmaster at Aylesbury. At Powis he commenced work four years ago, and the school is very flourishing having nearly doubled its numbers. This is the only elementarv school in South Wales which has made Sloyd carpentry a subject of instruction, it having a separate workshop built for the purpose. Great interest is taken in this work by the managers, including General Lee and Canon Edwards, and Mr Whitmell, the inspector, has highly commended the work.”
In 1894 he married Elizabeth Agnes Cram at St. Andrews Major Dinas Powys and the following year a son Herbert was born in 1895. They would have a daughter Jessie born in 1897 and a boy Gilbert in 1903. Meanwhile Arthur Julian Mockford was a “Bluecoat Boy” enrolled at Christ’s Hospital School in London until the school moved to Horsham, West Sussex in 1902. He completed his studies in 1904 the same year that the Mockford family moved back to London from Wales.
I want to thank the staff of the Glamorgan Archives for their assistance during my visit and allowing me to digitally copy pages of my great grandfather’s writing in the Headmaster’s Log. I hope to write a longer story about him in the future.