Jesse Holland

3/8219 Private Jesse Holland, 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Born on 12th November 1877 in Ringshall
Died on 12th May 1939 in Little Gaddesden

Family and Home 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Jesse Holland was born in Ringshall, the eldest of the six children of William Alfred Holland and Elizabeth née Fowler.

He was baptised at St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 12th May 1878.

Jesse’ had five siblings:

  • Emily Elizabeth, born in February 1881, who died aged 2
  • Walter Thomas Holland born 6th July 1884
  • Florence Caroline born 31st March 1888
  • Albert born in 1892
  • Nellie born 22nd October 1894

The 1881 Census shows Jesse, his parents and his baby sister Emily living at Ringshall Top Row. His father was a Garden Labourer.

Education 6

On 25th April 1881, “Little Jesse Holland of Ringshall” was entered on the books of Little Gaddesden School. He was not quite four years old.

From the age of 11, Jesse attended school intermittently, spending periods of time out at work. The School Log Book includes the following entries:

27th August 1888 “Jesse Holland having obtained permanent employment on Mr Allison’s Farm his name has been removed from the Registers.” Mr Allison farmed Bridgewater Farm next door to the Bridgewater Arms Hotel, which he also ran.

November 6th 1888:

Jesse Holland left school sometime before the Harvest Holidays and went to work for Mr Allison. His name was removed from the Registers but he has turned up again for re-admission, to attend school during the winter months – or rather till something better turns up!

Having been at work again during the spring and summer of 1889, he again returned to school on 21st October 1889:

Jesse Holland of Ringshall has been at work since last Spring. This morning he has turned up to have his name re-entered in the books, so that he may take up his quarters in the schoolroom for the winter. ‘The children of this world are wiser than the children of light’.

It is not clear when Jesse finally left school but it was probably in Spring 1890, as he is not mentioned again in the Log Book.

Employment 4

In the 1891 Census, 13 year old Jesse Holland was a Farm Labourer living at 12 Ringshall Road (later re-numbered 24 Ringshall), with his parents, his brother Walter Holland, 6, who was at school and sister Florence, 3. It is probable that this was the same house identified only as “Ringshall Top Row” in 1881.

Military Service 7

On 27th October 1897, Jesse attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Great Berkhamstead (Berkhamsted). He was a Gardener, whose age was incorrectly stated as 18 years 4 months when he was actually 19 years 11 months. Jesse was then 5 feet 3¼ inches tall, weighed 125 pounds and had a 34 inch chest; he had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair and there was a scar over his left eyebrow.

On 1st November 1897, 6114 Private Jesse Holland was initially posted to the Bedfordshire Regiment Depot, presumably for training. Then, on 21st February 1898, he joined the 2nd Battalion in Dublin. 

However, between 21st September 1899 and 23rd January 1906, Private Jesse Holland served with the 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in the East Indies. On 5th June 1901 he passed classes of instruction in Semaphore Signalling. Then, on 1st December that year, he was awarded his first Good Conduct stripe. On 22nd April 1904, Jesse extended his service to complete eight years with the Colours. Then, two years later, on 1st December 1906, he earned his second Good Conduct stripe; each stripe entitled him to 1 penny per day extra pay.

Jesse’s Family in 1901 4

The 1901 Census shows Jesse’s parents and four younger siblings resident at 24 Ringshall. His father and 16 year old brother Walter Holland were Gardener’s Labourers while Florence, 13, Albert, 8 and Nellie, 6, were all at school.

Transfer to the Reserve 7

On 24th January 1906, Private Jesse Holland transferred to the 1st Class Army Reserve.

Marriage and Children 1, 3, 7

On 25th May 1907, Jesse Holland married Florence Coker at St Mary’s Church, Pitstone. Their daughter Hilda was born on 16th September 1908 and their son Harold on 25th November 1909.

Discharge from the Army 7

On 26th October 1909, twelve years after he had joined up, Jesse was discharged from the Army at the termination of his first period of engagement.

The 1911 Census 4

In the 1911 Census, Jesse, 33, a Domestic Gardener, lived at 8 Little Gaddesden with his wife Florence, 25 and children Hilda, 2 and Harold, 1. Jesse’s parents and 18 year old brother Albert, a Domestic Groom, lived next door at 9 Little Gaddesden.

War Service 8

On 3rd September 1914, Jesse Holland attested for the Bedfordshire Regiment at Bedford. His declared age was 34 years 8 months although his actual age was 37 years 3 months. His Attestation Form is headed “Army Reserve. (Special Reservists.) One Year’s Service”. He was then assigned to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion.

Bedfordshire Regiment Volunteers 8

Jesse was one of 17 men on the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour who volunteered for the Bedfordshire Regiment in the first month of the War. 12473 William Wells volunteered on 26th August followed by 12589 William Grant, 12591 George Cash and almost certainly 12593 Charles Batchelor on the 27th. 13330 Frank Dove R.I.P. and 13724 Horace Halsey then joined on or before 3rd September 1914 and a further 11 men attested on 3rd September. These were 13785 Edward Saunders, 14374 Harold Catt, 14452 Herbert Jacobs, 14532 John Mayling, 14553 Victor Collier, 14546 Frederick Purton R.I.P., 14557 Ernest Bearton, 14575 Arthur Maunders, 17221 Bertie Purton, 17231 Herbert Fenn and 3/8219 Jesse Holland.

Transfer to the 6th Battalion 8, 9

On 5th September, 3/8219 Private Jesse Holland was transferred as one of the 200 experienced soldiers from the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion to the 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. The 6th Battalion was a “Service” battalion, raised in August 1914 specifically for the duration of the War. Local men who served in that Battalion were: Private William Wells, Private William Grant, Private George Cash, Private Charles Batchelor, Private Frederick Purton and, for two months, Private Bertie Purton. They trained at Aldershot and then on Salisbury Plain until July 1915.

However, on 29th July 1915, the Battalion boarded trains at Ludgershall Station near Andover, arriving at Southampton late that afternoon. They then left for France at 6.30pm on board the Empress Queen and landed at Le Havre at 7am on 30th July 1915. They were based around St Omer before moving forward to the front line. The Battalion served entirely on the Western Front.

Brother Walter Killed in Action 10

On 14th March 1915, Jesse’s younger brother, Acting Sergeant 364 Walter Thomas Holland, 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade, was killed in action in France, aged 29. He was the first Little Gaddesden man killed in action during the First World War and he is commemorated on Panel 44 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Jesse’s Final Months of Service 8, 11, 12

On 25th July 1918, Jesse transferred to the 4th Battalion, which then fought in the Battle of Albert in August and the Battle of Drocourt-Queant in September. However, on 11th September 1918 he was admitted to hospital with Pleurisy. Six days later he was transferred to Saltash Hospital, where he remained until 22nd November 1918.

Then, from 30th December 1918, Jesse served with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in England; he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z Reserve on 2nd April 1919. For his War Service, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Men who have answered their country’s call in defence of a “Scrap of Paper”.

Jesse Holland is named on the Roll of Honour, which hangs in St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden and lists 119 men from Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Hudnall who served in the 1914 – 1918 War. His unit is recorded as 6th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in which he served until Summer 1918. He is similarly shown on the Centenary Revision of the Roll. His brother Walter Holland R.I.P., Rifle Brigade is also named on both Rolls.

Rolls of Honour photos: Jane Dickson, Michael Carver

Later Life 4, 5, 13, 14

After the War, Jesse returned to 8 Little Gaddesden, where he lived for the rest of his life; he was a Labourer, Gardener and Chauffeur at the Bridgewater Arms Hotel. However, he died, aged 61, on 12th May 1939 and was buried in the old churchyard of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden on 16th May that year. The cause of his death was carcinoma of the larynx and liver. His widow Florence then remained at 8 Little Gaddesden until the 1960s.


1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 Transcriptions and pdf copy of Birth Certificate

2. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947

3. The 1939 Register

4. 1881 – 1921 England, Wales & Scotland Census Transcriptions 

5. England & Wales Deaths 1837-2007

6. Little Gaddesden School Log Books 1872 – 1887 and 1887 – 1906

7. British Army Service Records 1760 – 1915 Jesse Holland

8. British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920




12.  British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920

13. Electoral Registers 1832 – 1932

14. Little Gaddesden Burial Register

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Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson