John Kingsley and WWI

The War - Suspects

John Kingsley’s grave in St Katherine’s

During WWI many people became suspects either by their deeds or purely because of their nationality. This is what happened to John Kingsley.

John Kingley was of German birth, his birth name was Jacob Schmitt. He was a confectioner and lived in Webbs Road, Clapham Junction with his wife Louise. He was Naturalized on the 1st June 1901 and changed his name to John Kingsley. Although on the Electoral Roll in Clapham Junction his name remained Jacob Schmitt until at least 1920 he was known on Canvey as John Kingsley and lived at ‘Queensmere’, Leigh Beck and this is how he appears in the island’s 1918 Electoral Roll.

Thanks to Phil Coley of the Benfleet Community Archive we have now received copies of Canvey Island entries in a report book entitled ‘The War – Suspects’. John Kingsley is one of the entries.

It reads:-

Ref. No.223/2586    Name. Kingsley, John

Leigh Beck, Canvey Island

This man’s name was Jacob Schmitt until he changed it to John Kingsley.
He was born in Germany in 1865 and British Naturalized on 1st June 1901 and is a confectioner. His permanent residence is 2 Burland Road, Webbs Road, Clapham Junction, but he is a frequently visiting above address. He was recommended for interment as being a person whom it would be inadvisable to allow to remain at liberty in the event of a national emergence, but as this man was not a permanent resident in the area of the Southern Army it was considered outside their scope to adopt the recommendation.

We have no way of knowing if John/Jacob was in fact interned but it looks as if he continued coming to Canvey, perhaps after the war as he and his wife are buried in St Katherine’s Churchyard.

John came under suspicion not because of anything he had done whilst on Canvey but purely because he was of German birth. Understandable perhaps but many innocent people were interned in both wars for the same reason. But just as today many of us turn against people from the Middle East, many are completely innocent of any wrong doing. They are just who they are.

Note: Thanks to Graham Stevens memory we can now say that John’s son Walter John (known as Wally) and his wife were very active in the Boys Brigade as can be seen elsewhere on the website. Walter died at the ripe old age of 93 in Brighton.

Comments about this page

  • I seem to remember my mother telling me that Roger Colognori from the Commodore Cafe was interned during WW2.

    By Maureen Buckmaster (04/02/2014)
  • A little more info to about the Kingsley family to add to the above, as stated Wally was Captain of the 10th Southend BB Company and Mrs Kingsley was Captain of the Girls’ Life Brigade at the Baptist Church. Their daugter Margaret spent along time serving as Christian missionary in Nepal and their son David ran a very successful City-based advertising agency in the 60s & 70s, probably in the same league as Saatchi & Saatchi. I know that they handled all the publicity for the QE2 and Harold Wilsons election campaign.

    By Graham Stevens (05/02/2014)
  • I’ve just remembered that there are several photos of the Kingsleys in the gallery on the page of Doris Flaherty’s memories. 

    Also a slight alteration to my previous comment, as can be seen by the dates David Kingsley’s partnership KMP was in fact more of a benchmark for later agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi. However in 1982 the company was sold to the latter. 

    From the beginning of the 1970s, starting with his role as advisor and consultant to the Labour Party, before and in government, David established an even more prestigious career which included being consultant to Kenneth Kaunda, President of Zambia1974-82, to the Govt of Mauritius,1977-80 and on the release of Nelson Mandela he was invited to turn Inkhata into a democratic party. 

    At home his positions have been manifold. He is Governor Emeritus at the London School of Economics and has had three stints on the Board of the LSE since1965. He is an Hon Member of the Royal Society of Music (I wonder if he inherited his father’s rich bass/baritone voice or his mother’s expertise on the piano?) 

    He seems to be involved in numerous charities whch include the chairmanship of the Childrens’ Radio and the Childrens’ Discovery Centre East London and organiser of the UN Great Childrens Party in the Park, Hyde Park 1982 and chairman of the Cartoon Art Trust 1995-2001. From 1994 to 2000 he was member of the board of the Millenium Project for Bristol. 

    In the Birthday Honours List in 2011 David Kingsley was awarded an OBE for his charitable services.

    By Graham Stevens (23/03/2014)

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