Capt. John Percival Spanton

Capt. John Percival Spanton  1871 – 1920

John, known as Percy, was born on 16th August 1871 in Nonington, to John and Caroline (née Woollett). 

Percy trained to be a vet and in 1902 was a veterinary lieutenant in the Militia Army Medical Corps and then Captain in the 1st Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry. He had taken part in the Boer War and was mentioned in despatches. 

On 11th August 1908, he was a retired veterinary captain, living in Shepherdswell, when he married Mary Jane Austen in the village. They had two children, Rosa Mary born in 1910, and Edward John Clavell Spanton born in 1913.

Percy was a leading light in the local Hunt. He was a member of the East Kent Foxhounds from at least 1903 and was elected as secretary to the West Street Harriers in 1909. There are reports of the loss of one of his horses after it suffered an injury during a hunt in 1913 and had to be put down. 

The 1911 Census has registered him as a Doctor of Veterinary Science, and Kelly’s Kent Directory gives his address as The Lodge in 1913-1918. He had taken over the tenancy of Long Lane Farm from Mr Masters in October 1913, although this was later sold at auction in 1918, where it was reported that Percy had a yearly Michaelmas tenancy at “the exceedingly moderate rental of £85 per annum”.

Although it had not been possible to find his War records, it is known that he was a captain in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (British Remount Commission) and was stationed in the UK and Canada. A Dover Express report in February 1915 stated that he was serving with General Sir Frederick Benson’s British Remount Commission in Canada and had been given command of the Remount Depot at Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Percy died on 2nd December 1920, aged 49. His funeral took place at Barfrestone, but he is buried in the family vault at St Nicholas, Eythorne. The children were only 10 and 7 years old, which must have been very difficult for Mary Ann. 

On the 10th December 1920, in the same Dover Express as the funeral details, there is an advertisement showing that she was selling eight horses, including two hunters, a Napier motor car, a pig, pullets, saddlery and harnesses, a dog cart, veterinary instruments, oat straw, hay, household furniture and agricultural effects. Percy’s probate record was granted on 24th December 1920 to his widow and amounted to £5,869 and 14s. 

Mary Ann remained living at The Lodge, dying in 1942 at the age of 75, the same year that daughter Rosa was married at the age of 42, and son Edward, known as Clavell, had escaped from Singapore via Sumatra to Bombay during WW2.