Charles Archibald Victor Townshend (678)

Date of Birth: 11 May 1897
Date of Death: dsp 1956
Generation: 8th
Residence: Horfield, Bristol
Father: Reverend Edward Mansel Townshend [630]
Mother: Young, Jesse Francis
  1. Skinner, Agnes
Issue: None
See Also: Table VI ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Charles Archibald Victor Townsend

Charles was born at 9 Sydenham Park, Sydenham, London and was educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham.

Aged 17 and much against the wishes of his parents, Charles enlisted on 28 November 1914 into the 1st/4th Devonshire Regiment. Nothing is known about him until September 1917 when he wrote (1) to his parents and told them that his battalion was on garrison duties as part of the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force. The letters thereafter continued on a regular basis telling the same story each time of boredom, guard duty etc until February 1918 when his mother received a letter from ‘No1 BG Hospital, Amara, Mesopo. Exped Force', informing her that Charles had been admitted to the hospital suffering from a nervous breakdown. By June that same year he had been transferred to Winwick Hospital, then called the Lord Derby War Hospital, and was discharged from there in August.

There is a dearth of correspondence between August 1918 and June 1924 but it can be deduced from letters after 1924 that Charles farmed over this period at Llanvapley with his brother Samuel Trelawney Townshend [680] and sister Daisy Townsend [681]. Clearly this did not entirely suit Charles for he emigrated to Canada in June 1924 with the intention of setting up a ranch with his distant, elderly cousin Maurice FitzGerald Townshend [263] who was then 59. This might seem a strange partnership but it can most likely be ascribed to the fact that Charles’ father, Edward Mansel Townshend [630], and Maurice’s’ aunt, Geraldine Townshend [252], were close friends before she died in 1911 and Geraldine had been a significant influence during Maurice’s fatherless childhood. In addition, Maurice, since the sale of the Castletownshend estate in 1897, was most likely hoping to make some money.

It is difficult to pin down exactly what was their plan in Canada but it would seem that they intended to buy a ranch called Twin Springs off Mr Hart at Grandhaven on the Peace River in British Columbia. When Charles arrived at the ranch he was disappointed with what he found and in a letter dated 15 June 1924 to his mother wrote – “I'm afraid it’s very different to what we thought it and we have an idea that we have been rather done;” Similarly, when Maurice and his wife finally joined Charles the latter wrote in a letter dated 23 September 1924 - “Cousin Maurice is with us now at last and very disgruntled with the weather, the Ranch, and things generally.…. Maurice said that he intended to cut his loss with Hart and get out of it.” The project was a disaster and Maurice left Canada sometime in November 1924, surrounded by a good deal of controversy about his debts, the details of which are contained in his record.

Following the Twin Springs debacle Charles worked for Mr B.C.Brady of Cypress Creek, Hudson's Hope, BC, helping on the farm in the summer and trapping during the winter. In a letter to his sister Daisy dated 8 July 1825 he wrote – “Just a chance to send a line down by Brady so I'm taking it. My future plans till next spring are to help B. with hay harvest till Sept: then trap for winter on Joe Macfarlane's old trap line, which I bought this spring. Had I been able to sell the line I should probably have left the country for the coast. But there is a chance of making a real stake, with luck, next winter & then sell the line for $300. With any sort of luck it should net me all told $1000 next spring. Enough to get a little place on the coast (B.C.) all being well.”

There is a gap in correspondence between 1925 and 1932 but it is known that Charles remained in Canada. The next extant letter was written to his mother from Farrell Creek, BC, on 15 August 1932 - “I've just come back from a trip up river to get the horses. There is quite a settlement there now; I went by way of the new sawmill, this is where I once went land prospecting with Larry Getting, its funny to see so many living now where only two years ago was nothing but bush.” However, a year later his situation was very different and in a letter dated 8 February 1933 he wrote from Riverview Hospital, Essondale, Vancouver, BC, - “Here is my case as it stands today:- I am refused an Army Pension in spite of 3 1/2 years Foreign Service in "Messup" ending in a mental breakdown because of that illness (?). The second illness (?) is in no way considered to be due to war service; any more than my present one is due to the Canadian bush (yet I have only to be brought into the city and I'm sane as a judge). Due to these latter I may be refused Canadian citizenship after ten years residence in BC…...the Immigration Department are afraid I shall become a public charge.” It appears that he was deported for a letter from Henry Stege (2) dated 3 August 1933 is addressed to him at Llanvapley Rectory, Abergavenny – his father’s rectory.

Charles married after his return to England and lived at 49 Beverley Road, Horfield, Bristol. He worked for the Bristol Corporation Parks Department.

Agnes died in 1959.

(1) All letters quoted are from the Llanvapley Papers.

(2) Dealer in General Merchandise, Raw Furs, Outfitter for Trappers, Big Game Hunters and Prospectors. Hudson Hope, BC.