Arthur Jolley


Arthur was born in 1871 and went to school in Higham Ferrers. He is recorded in the 1881 census, age 10, as a scholar at the local fee paying school. He is present in the school photograph, standing tall, aged about 14, with his brother William Pack Jolley standing in front of him (third left in the photograph).

Both brothers were among the last pupils at the school. In 1906 the school finally closed following the death of the last Headmaster, bringing to an end nearly 500 years of education in a building that is now the Chantry Chapel.

All the sons of Charles Jolley were fine musicians and all played the organ for churches. James, Arthur’s second eldest brother, played the organ at St Mary’s Church. Relations between organist and choirmasters were not always completely cordial and in February 1890 a disagreement between James and the then choir master Mr. W. Felce, led to James’ resignation as organist. James offered the post of organist to Arthur but he refused. Arthur had other plans and in July the same year accepted a post as secretary with Dr Barnardo’s, working in Canada.

Arthur's life in Canada

He travelled on the SS Polynesian from Liverpool to Quebec and was in Canada for the 1891 census, where he is recorded as age 20, working for Dr. Barnardo’s as a stenographer, which suggests Arthur was skilled in shorthand note taking.

Arthur returned to England, possibly due to his initial contract being fulfilled, but his love of Canada remained. He returned in July 1892, travelling from Liverpool to Quebec on SS Toronto.

The crossing was expected to take from six to eight days, depending on the weather conditions. Arthur had a cabin, which was a more luxurious way to travel than either Intermediate or Steerage.

On his return Arthur continued to work for Dr Barnardo’s. In 1894 he took up a post as Assistant Secretary, which involved secretarial duties and bookkeeping, for the YMCA at Hazel Brae, part of the Dr Barnardo’s homes organisation. He had beautiful copperplate handwriting.

All reports of Arthur are that he was an honorable man who was very well liked. However, prior to his arrival there were concerns that not all those who were in positions of responsibility at Hazel Brae were equally honorable, and two of the superintendents, Captain Annesley & wife, (1887–1889) were fired following concerns about the treatment of girls.

SS Polynesian

SS Toronto

Hazel Brae

His death

At some point between 1894 and 1897 Arthur enrolled at Toronto University. He was doing well and had passed his exams successfully, but he never completed his studies because on Tuesday 27 April 1897 he was taken ill.

Initially he was looked after in his home, but by Wednesday (28 April) his right side was paralysed and he had lost the power of speech. He was taken to hospital in Toronto that evening. Arthur could still hear and understand what the doctors and his friends said and responded by writing his answers with his left hand. At first the doctors had hope of Arthur’s recovery, but Arthur’s condition deteriorated. Professor Cody from the University of Toronto sent a cablegram on the Friday to Charles E. Jolley, Arthur’s eldest brother, that read “Arthur Jolley dying in hospital”.

Charles responded, his response coming an hour before Arthur died. By Friday Arthur had lost consciousness and he died at 3.30 pm on Saturday afternoon. A second cablegram was sent to Charles E. Jolley announcing Arthur’s death.

The death certificate recorded his death due to hemiplegia. He died as he had lived, 'resigned and ready for whatever the Father had in store for him', a devoted follower of Jesus Christ.

Arthur's funeral

His death was lamented in Galt and in Higham Ferrers.

In Higham on the next day, Sunday 2 May, the Vicar at St Mary’s, the Rev. J. Dun, announced the death at the morning service 'casting a gloom over the whole congregation' not the least because Arthur’s second eldest brother, James, had died in February the same year. It was a severe shock for his father as only two weeks previously he had received a letter from him where he appeared to be in excellent health.

In Canada, Arthur’s body was taken to Galt by train. The station platform at Galt was crowded with friends who came to pay their last respects. Over 200 men marched from the station to the church where the service was held. Arthur’s grave was entirely submerged in flowers. The whole town seemed to mourn his passing.

His friends in Galt erected a memorial to Arthur. The monument is in red Canadian granite, in tablet form, and the inscription reads:

In loving memory of Arthur Jolley, first secretary of the YMCA Galt. Born in Higham Ferrers, England; died in Toronto, 1 May 1897, aged 26 years.

'For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith' (Acts 11, verse 24)

It is highly possible that the Arthur’s memorial in Galt was unveiled on 20 August 1897 and that Charles E. Jolley was there as a representative of the family as Charles travelled to Quebec on 12 August 1897 on the SS Numidian.

Arthur’s memorial in Galt