Alfred Morgan Ivins (b.1896)

So, William Henry Ivins, son of Stephen Alfred Ivins and Elizabeth Clifton, and born in Bicester, Oxfordshire, grows up to become a Groom – as in horse care. He moves to Monmouthshire and marries Alice Morgan in 1893. [Make a note of this name! Ed.]

By the way, we know William Henry’s family back to his Great Grandfather, Edward Ivins (b.1761) and Margaret Hodges who seem to have spent their entire lives in Broad Camden, Gloucestershire. [Note: Broad Camden is a tiny hamlet just on the edge of Chipping Camden, and has drifted in and out of Worcestershire over the years, and in people’s understanding of the area. It lies on the north edge of the Cotswold Hills, just above the Vale of Evesham (Worcestershire) and the popular village of Broadway. Chipping Camden is currently in Gloucestershire, and this author lives less than 5 miles away]

William Henry and Alice have 8 children: Frederick William (b.1894); Alfred Morgan (b.1896); Victor Owen (b.1898); Elsie Elizabeth (b.1903); William Percival Henry (b.1909); Alice Louise (b.1910); Alexander John (b.1910); Elliott Edward (b.1915).

But it’s Alfred Morgan Ivins that this post wants to concentrate on….

Clearly named after his mother’s maiden name, Alfred Morgan Ivins was born in Llangattock, Monmouthshire and by 1911, aged 14 he was an errand boy with the local grocer and then living in Monmouth itself.

With the Great War in full swing, Alfred Morgan enlists in the 58th Training Reserve Battalion on June 6th, 1917. But 57 days later is discharged as unfit for army service. He suffers from a childhood disability to the spinal cord which gives him a severe limp described as ‘Infantile paralysis of left leg.’ He is awarded a Royal Warrant Gratuity of £7 10s’ and discharged on 1st August, 1917.

In 1918 at age 22 he marries.

But what’s interesting is that he marries Alice May Morgan (b.1900) – just like his mother, Alice Morgan.

I have tracked down his mother – daughter of John and Elizabeth Morgan, both born in 1832. He in Llanthowy, Monmouthshire she from Peterstowe, Herefordshire. Alice (the mother) was born in Llantillio, Monmouthshire.

But I have singularly failed with Alice May Morgan – Alfred Morgan’s wife. According to the 1939 Register her birthdate is 13th November, 1900. At that time and in the same street in Monmouth live two other Morgan families and they are connected with each other. Charles (b.1864) and Emily (b.1872) Morgan with daughter Grace (b.1909) and a few doors along, Trevor Morgan (b.1898) and his family who I confirmed as their son in an earlier census.

But as there are many Alice Morgans, and many Alice May Morgans, I have had to withdraw. Someone from the family may be able to enlighten us.


In searching various sources, I came across this intriguing gem:


This photo was published by Jim Squires on Ancestry on 13th April 2013, with the caption “This photograph was found behind a photograph of William Henry Ivins with Alice Morgan taken in 1912.”

William Henry Ivins would have been 43 in 1912, and his son Alfred Morgan Ivins a mere 15. So who’s in the picture? Frederick William Ivins, Alfred’s elder brother would have been 18.

Nevertheless, If we assume from the sign on the door in the photo that this is the Meteorological Office then it is interesting to note that in 1911 the War Office wrote to the Treasury suggesting that the Army Council had come to the conclusion ‘that a branch office [from South Kensington] should be established at South Farnborough within the precincts of the Ballon Factory’ and a trained observer appointed. The metoerological Committee thought this ought to be a civilian.

J. S. Dines was appointed for 1 year, 1911-1912, for £200, then re-appointed at £225 and the Ballon Factory renamed. On 26th April it became His Majesty’s Aircraft Factory, then on April 11th 1912, the Royal Aircraft Factory.

Here they carried out preliminary investigations using pilot balloons and preparing daily weather maps for airmen based on telegraphic information from the Meteorological Office in South Kensington. This was carried out in October and November 1912 using a temporary facility at South Farnborough. Otherwise, in the absence of a permanent facility, J. S. Dines carried out his pilot-balloon studies at Pyrton Hill.

(This synopsis is provided by The History of the Meteorological Office by Malcolm Walker)

So, this could be a really important photo! And that civilian on the right might even be J. S. Dines! It certainly adds credence to the equipment on show, the headphones, sliderules and the fact that both Army and Royal Airforce personnel are involved.

This is clearly an ‘event’ for the photo to be taken. Maybe October 1912 when the facility was established? So, is that guy in the middle an American? The helmet says ‘yes’, but the uniform looks RAF.

The accomodation at the Royal Aircraft Factory was completed in November 1913, and J. S. Dines transferred his work from Pyrton Hill in the following month, making his first pilot-balloon ascent on the morning of 9th December.

Maybe we should forward this photo to the Meteorological Office (or Malcolm Walker) for comment.

2 responses to “Alfred Morgan Ivins (b.1896)

  1. “The photograph is of interest but unfortunately we are unable to identify the location or event and we have not seen a copy of this before.

    Based on the uniforms and dress of the civilian in the photograph, then we would believe the photograph is perhaps more likely to be of WWII period.

    On the original copy of the photograph are you able to get any information on the book towards the bottom left. Our thought is that this might be a meteorological register and this would normally indicate the location on the front cover if it was possible to read.

    I know this is unlikely to be of much assistance but not sure what else we can say to help with regards to the photograph.”


    Mark Beswick Archive Information Officer
    Met Office National Meteorological Archive
    Great Moor House Bittern Road Sowton Exeter EX2 7NL United Kingdom


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