The Dance Family of Clearwell

William Dance 1835-1871


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Joseph Dance & Clearwell

John Dance 1827

Hannah Dance (Berrow)

North Gloucester Militia

Clearwell, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

This page and the others from the Clearwell Dance Family were added in February 2010 after a query from Colin Dance through the Forest of Dean Family History site had me re-checking my Wye Valley & Lydbrook Dance family research. This family are at present apparently not linked to ours during the last 120 years but Judith Leadbeater tells me she will continue to investigate the Herefordshire families.    Tom Bint 


There was a gap in knowledge of the family tree when my grandfather, Raymond Joe Dance, died in 1940.  My father was only 9 years old. He lost contact with the his uncles and aunts and did'nt really know why he was born in Trowbridge when his brother was born in London. His home at the time of his fathers death was Bexleyheath, Kent. 

I have since traced the family name back to Calne and Trowbridge in Wiltshire  where his uncles and aunts were born. Their father John George Dance was born in Lane End, West Dean, Gloucestershire on 19th February 1860. On his birth certificate his father was William Henry Dance and mother Ann Dance formerly Harding. His profession was Iron Miner. His father was Joseph Dance, a Royal Marine, married to Ann Dance.

By chance I found the excellent Forest of Dean family research 'web site and read  about the Free-Miners and iron mining and their proud history. Its all very inspiring. I come from a family of four brothers and all with an engineering backgrounds. Standing joke is that we have long strong backs ( shirt tails always falling out! ) and shorter legs - maybe good attributes for iron mining and developed over generations? 

My father who will shortly be 80 is over the moon at this gap being filled.          Colin Dance      February 2010


Four of Joseph's children, Elizabeth Dance (1824-45), John Dance (1826), William Henry Dance (1835) and Hannah Louise (1838) were born in Devon and Alice Ann Dance (1842) and George Joseph Dance (1841-42) at Clearwell. 

Joseph's younger son, William Henry Dance (1835),  appears on the 1851 Clearwell census with his mother and sisters. The 15 year old is listed as a farm labourer and apparently the sole bread-winner. His widowed mother Ann was described as a pauper.

When William married Cirencester girl Ann Harding at Pembroke in March 1856, he was a private in the North Gloucester Militia. Their main barracks were based in Cirencester.     see    Militia

"In July 1852 orders were given to re-raise the Gloucestershire Militia. In October 605 men assembled for training. With the start of the Crimean War the Militia were called up for service on 26th December 1854 and some men were taken into regular regiments. A second draught of men was taken in 1856."

The North Gloucester Militia were carrying out garrison duties at Pembroke Dock which at that time was serving as a dispersal and arrivals garrison for troops from the Crimea. They had marched there into the Hut Barracks in February 1856.

The Crimean War lasted from 1853 till February 1856 and William's Regiment returned to Cirencester in May 1856. The battalion was stood down on June 12th 1856.

The 1851 census records Ann Harding (1832), born at Baunton near Cirencester, the daughter of William and Rachael Harding, was employed as a domestic servant at Richmond in Surrey. On the 1856 marriage certificate she gave her residence as Cirencester and dressmaker her occupation.

William and Ann Dance settled in the Clearwell area from 1856 till 1862. Young Joseph was baptised at Clearwell on the 17th of March 1857 and was the first of four children born there.

William Dance worked  as an iron miner and we are fortunate today to have an iron mine to visit at nearby Clearwell Caves. It ceased iron ore extraction in 1930, and is now open as a popular tourist attraction. In addition to the fascinating and unusual caves and caverns where scenes for both Doctor Who and Torchwood have been filmed, one can also see the working conditions that William Dance and other 19th century miners would have experienced.



The Hardings

Ann Harding was born at Baunton, Gloucestershire on the 28th of July 1832. She was baptised at Cirencester on the 23rd of September of that year. Her parents were William Harding who was born around 1771, probably at Baunton, and Rachel Bond (1801c) from the Cotswolds village of Crudwell in Wiltshire, a few miles south of Cirencester. 

William Harding was 60 years old when he married  30 year old Rachel at Baunton on the 3rd of August 1831 and was no longer alive at the time of the 1851 census. One of them had a son from a previous relationship who was named as George Harding (1829) on the 1841 Baunton census.

Two more children were born at Baunton, Ann Harding (1832) and William Harding whose birth date was June 17th 1836.



William Harding (1836) was a witness at the 1856 Pembroke Dock wedding of his sister Ann and militiaman William Dance.

He married Cirencester born Esther Richings (1838) at Cirencester in March 1861. They had five children, all born at Cirencester. On the 1871 census his occupation was given as a 'stone sawyer' living at Cirencester. In 1874 their family migrated to the USA. 

The 1880 Weston, Middlesex, Massachusetts census recorded his occupation as 'mason'. 

Their family record showed three children who were born in the USA. An eighth child, Louise was added to the family in 1882.

Henry Alan Harding (1869-1932) married Lottie Bradley who was born in New York in 1879. He was recorded as a grocer at Detroit, Michigan, with his own store in 1910, and a real estate salesman in 1920 and 1930.

They had four children, Henry B Harding 1904, George Woodruff Harding 1906, Wilbur Harding 1911-1988, and Robert Harding 1916.


The Hardings are my husband's (David Harding) family.  They left England after the 1871 census and lived in Waltham, Massachusetts. Henry Alan Harding was my husband's grandfather who then came to Michigan and died in 1932 in Algonac, Michigan.   My husband David Harding was born May 8, 1934 in Detroit, Michigan.  His father was George Woodruff Harding born 1906 in Detroit, Michigan.

I am just beginning to research them.  Thank you for your wonderful information!  Your website is very impressive.  I have a new version of FamilyTreeMaker and am having  great difficulty adjusting to it!  It is so different than my original FTM (which was much simpler to use).  It has some advantages,  but it's not easy to use in my opinion! 

We live in Pompano Beach, Florida (formerly from Detroit, Michigan).  We are planning to visit David's aunt Lois Harding (who was married to Wilbur Harding born 1911 Detroit & died 1988 Grosse Pointe, Michigan.)  next summer and I plan to ask lots of questions about the Hardings when I see her!    Aunt Lois is the only surviving Harding of her generation.  David's father was George Woodruff Harding born 1906 in Detroit, Michigan. 

Warm greetings from Pompano Beach, Florida!         Jeanne Harding


Baunton is situated some 2 miles North of Cirencester on the river Churn, which is claimed by some to be the true source of the Thames.  It has its fair share of ancient roads, footpaths and bridleways .The Whiteway and the Welsh Way cross the parish, which is also enclosed to the East and the West respectively by old Roman roads the Fosse Way and Ermin Way. The long distance footpath the Monarch's Way also passes through the village. Just to the North of the church are water meadows of 17th century origin.



The band of the North Gloucester Militia at Cirencester in the 1860s



Colin's Photographs from Cirencester and Baunton





Andrew Hall  is the Church Warden at St Mary's, Baunton and was extremely helpful  with  researching and  viewing  marriage and death registers for the Harding family and found many entries from 1814 to 1915 .  He had written a book for the millenium celebrations titled  'Cotswold village history'. The book is full  of very interesting facts about history and life in this charming Cotswold village.


Baunton is a village and civil parish in the Cotswold district of Gloucestershire, England, located about two miles north of Cirencester on the River Churn.

There is archaeological evidence of human habitation around the village in Prehistoric and Roman times. The village is recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 under the name of Baudintone which means an estate associated with a man called Balda.

The Norman church of St Mary Magdalene was built by the Augustinian monks of Cirencester Abbey as a Chapel of Ease in about 1150. Inside there is large wall painting, probably dating from the 14th century, which depicts St Christopher carrying the Christ Child across a stream. 

It became the parish church in 1551. The village contains a number of Grade II listed buildings including the 16th century Manor House, and 18th century Baunton Mill. The village is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and much of it is classified a Conservation Area.

The Manor of Baunton belonged to a succession of families including the George and Chester Master families. John George of Baunton was MP for Cirencester at the time of the Civil War. He was initially a Parliamentarian, but when his life was spared by the Royalists who had captured him, he converted to the King's side. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 290. (Wikipedia)



Around 1863 the family of William Dance (1835) and Ann Harding (1832) had moved closer to her Cotswolds birthplace and in 1871 were living at Gloucester Street, Cirencester where he was employed as a labourer.

Tragically he died in the autumn of 1871 at the age of only 36 leaving Ann with seven children to take care of.

Two of her young sons were already employed, 14 year old Joseph as a messenger, and 10 year old William, an errand boy.

Within a few months her youngest infant Kate, who was born earlier that year, also died.


William and Ann's children were :

Joseph 1857

William 1858

John George 1860

Hannah Elizabeth 1862

Rachel 1863

Hester 1866

Anne 1867

Kate  1871-1872



William's widow Ann Dance remarried in 1879. He was Wiltshire born widower Henry Major (1836), a plasterer, who was born at Hankerton in Wiltshire and had been left with four young children when his wife Emma Major (1838) had died at Stratton in 1874. 

In 1900 Henry's son Eden James Major (1869) married his step-sister, William's daughter, Hannah Elizabeth Dance (1862) at Horfield, Gloucestershire.

Henry Major died at Cirencester in 1919 and Ann in 1917.



William & Ann Dance's son William who was baptised at Clearwell in June 1858 also became a soldier. He joined the 31st Brigade of Infantry in November 1875 and remained a private until leaving in 1882. During that period his regiment served in India. When returning to civilian life he was employed as a stonemason. William married a Cirencester sawyer's daughter Fanny Bennett (1863) at Cirencester in 1888 and settled there. Their home in 1901 was at Coxwell Street. The couple's eight children were all born in that area.

William 1888

Georgina 1890

Walter  1892

Ethel 1895

Elsie  1897

Arthur  1898

Edith  1900

Florence 1902



Their son William Dance (born 19th of August 1888) followed in his father and grandfather's footsteps and also became a soldier. In January 1909 he joined the Army Ordnance Corps where he gave his trade as a carpenter and joiner having served a five year apprenticeship at Cirencester. 

The Ordnance Corps employed him in that trade and he went on to train at Aldershot and the Curragh where he appears to have added wheelwright and coach-building experience to his tradecraft. He was transferred to the Reserve in 1911.

He arrived in Canada as a coachbuilder during June 1912 on board the Mongolian. He was travelling with a party of at least 12 young men who were mainly in the wood-working trades and destined for a new car manufacturing plant in Amherstburg. Unfortunately any dreams he had of joining Canada's fledgling car industry were soon dashed. By the time the migrants had arrived the new plant had ceased production and the company went into liquidation a short time later. 

Amherstburg  is a town near the mouth of the Detroit River in Essex County, Ontario. It is approximately 16 miles south of the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan. Late in 1911 the Two-in-One Auto Company had been formed by a group of Detroit promoters and a few local Canadians.  

The concept of a vehicle that could easily be converted from a passenger car to a light truck appealed to the people of Amherstburg, enough so that the town took a major financial role in the Canadian Two-in-One Auto Company. 


The Amherst 40, their only automobile, was promoted as the first conventional looking touring car that could easily be converted into a truck. By August of that year one prototype, built from imported parts, was near enough completion to pull a broken-down vehicle almost 20 miles over rough roads back into town.

By August 24th the completed 40 h.p. vehicle was displayed to the town and a few days later it was shipped off to be displayed at the Canadian National Exhibition.  Production workers were advertised for in British newspapers. In September the Detroit promoters were dropped for refusing to pay their share of the stock. Two more cars were completed before the company was forced into bankruptcy.  

William Dance was a trained carpenter and coach-builder and one would guess he would not at that time have experienced any difficulty in finding employment. He also had relatives already settled in Detroit - his cousin Henry Alan Harding (1869-1932) was a grocer there. At some point he moved to Revelstoke in British Columbia and was married around that time. 

In September 1914, and during World War I, he signed up to join the 102nd Rocky Mountain Rangers, part of the Canadian Army. By that time he was a wheeler by trade, and living at Revelstoke. His army application form indicates 12 years previous UK military experience serving with the AOC and the Gloucestershire Yeomanry. Revelstoke is now a major skiing and mountaineering resort.

At this stage I have no idea whether William Dance survived the 1st World War or if he has any descendants. Tom


Hi Tom.  My name is Chelsea Jackson. I live just outside Kamloops BC Canada. In preparation for our family reunion this past June my mom (Kelly) and I stumbled upon your web site (dance-family). Many of the stories my papa has told us about his dad (William Dance) over the years all came back to a missing link on your site. 

William Dance Aug 19, 1888 was my great grandfather. He served in the 102 regiment of the Rocky Mountain Rangers based out of Revelestoke BC Canada when it was originally formed (we are waiting on his military records from the RMR's in Kamloops) 

He did survive WW1, barely, he ended up with a head injury and a metal plate was put in in place of missing skull pieces. He continued on to serve in the Boer War. 

William was married to a young women who blessed him with a son they named Douglas (Doug). William was widowed before he came to Canada and he made the difficult decision; he left his young son Doug with his trusted friends to raise the Bosley family. 

Due to my papa's progressing Parkinson's dementia is starting to really affect him now and he does not remember the name of his Dad's first wife (Doug's mother). 

William married Anna Nuyens and had 9 children Marina, Margaret, Miffonery (Miff), Patrick, Edward (Win), Dave, George (my grandfather), Art, Katherine (Kay). 

Unfortunately there are only 3 still living; George, Marina and Miff. All of the boys served in the Canadian military and some in WW2. All were/are married and had multiple children, grandchildren. A couple even have great-grandchildren. Marina even has a great great granddaughter During our reunion a family member of each of the 9 children created an up to date tree. Currently it is on paper and we are in the process of creating the larger tree.  I hope this helps fill in some of the missing pieces. My mom and I are working on dates of marriage and death for great grandpa along with his military records.  

Hope to hear back from you,   Chelsea   7th January 2015


Joseph Dance, son of William Henry Dance 1837 & Ann Harding, who was employed as a postman married Elizabeth Wright (1837)  from Wellington in Hertfordshire, at Cirencester in 1885. They had at least 6 children and the family lived at 114 Gloucester Street, Cirencester.

Elizabeth died in 1896 and Joseph remarried. She was his cousin Hannah Louisa Berrow, born 1867, daughter of Richard Berrow & Hannah Dance, (see Berrow family ) at Cirencester in 1897.

Joseph & Hannah continued to live at 114 Gloucester Street. They had 2 children William Henry 1898 & Clarice 1899.  You can see on Clarice's birth certificate that Joseph had died before she was born. Joseph died in 1898 and left Hannah with a number of step children from his first marriage to Elizabeth (who were also her cousins!) and their own 2 children.

Joseph Dance died in 1898. In 1902 the widowed Hannah returned to the Forest of Dean and remarried. He was 43 year old bachelor Frederick Leadbeater from Littledean Hill, Cinderford. They had two children, Frederick George Leadbeater (1902) and Emily Leadbeater (1904) both christened at St. Stephen's Church, Cinderford.


Hannah Louise Leadbeater died in 1939 age around 71. The transcript from the FOD history site gives her address at Dockham Road. Frederick Leadbeater died Jan/Feb 1925 aged 65. They are both buried at  St Johns Church, Cinderford.


Hannah Louisa Dance was also the Great great Grandmother of my husband. He is a Leadbeater and comes from Hannah Dance & Richard Berrows' daughter Hannah Berrow's second marriage to Frederick Leadbeater in 1902. She had previously married Joseph Dance who died in 1898. Joseph also had been married previously to Elizabeth Wright so Hannah was left with 'step' children when he died. 

I don't know the full story but I think they went to live with relatives. Hannah & Joseph had 2 children, William & Clarice. Hannah & Fred had 2 children Frederick George Leadbeater & Emily Leadbeater.

Hannah's brother George Joseph Berrow lived in Cinderford (Littledean Hill) and on the 1901 census it shows Joseph & Elizabeth's child Annie living with him and his family. Next door to him lived Frederick Leadbeater (1859)  and this was Hannah's second husband. I can only assume that she met him when visiting George?

They married on 19th March 1902 at Cinderford St Stephens Church. Fred & Hannah lived at Littledean Hill and had 2 children Frederick George Leadbeater born 5th Oct 1902  at Littledean Hill & Emily Leadbeater born 23rd April 1904. As far as I know only William, Clarice, Fred & Emily lived with Fred & Hannah and the other children were taken into care. I don't know what that meant - whether they were in a children's home or whether they lived with other family members. Anyway it wasn't until years later that Vic (Archibald Victor) & Reg (Reginald Joseph) found out that they had half siblings. I don't know what happened to the other siblings. Unfortunately my in laws are both deceased so I only have the bits of info which they were told passed onto me. Perhaps if I'd been more interested in researching family history before they died I might have been able to tell you more - never mind!!             Judith Leadbeater


Joseph & Louise's son, William Henry Dance (1898) was, according to the 1911 census, already at 13 years old, working as a waggoner and farm labourer and living with his mother and step-father at Littledean Hill. The census also shows his step-father Frederick Leadbeater listed as a farmer and haulier so he was probably the boy's employer.

William served with the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I as a gunner on a Siege Battery, joining up in December 1915.

Siege Batteries were equipped with heavy howitzers, sending large calibre high explosive shells in high trajectory, plunging fire. The usual armaments were 6 inch, 8 inch and 9.2 inch howitzers, although some had huge railway- or road-mounted 12 inch howitzers. As British artillery tactics developed, the Siege Batteries were most often employed in destroying or neutralising the enemy artillery, as well as putting destructive fire down on strongpoints, dumps, store, roads and railways behind enemy lines. 

After the war he was employed as a coal-miner and  married Florence Rosina Walkley (1897), the daughter of carpenter Aaron Walkley, at St Stephen's Cinderford in 1922. His step-brother Frederick George Leadbeater (1902) was a witness.

The couple do not appear to have had any children.

Joseph and Elizabeth's children were -

Kate Dance


born Cirencester

Archibald Victor Dance

1889 born Cirencester

Annie Dance


born Cirencester

Beatrice Dance

1890 born Cirencester

Florence Dance


born Cirencester  died 1898

Reginald Joseph Dance

1891 born Cirencester



Joseph and Hannah's children were 

William Dance


born Cirencester

Clarice Dance


born Cirencester



Hannah and Frederick's children were -


Frederick George Leadbeater

1902 born Littledean Hill, Cinderford

Emily Leadbeater


born Littledean Hill, Cinderford


William's son John George Dance (1860) married Calne born Bessie Wiltshire (1863) at Cirencester in 1882.

They moved to Curzon Street, now part of the A4 main road, at  Bessie's home town of Calne in Wiltshire. 

Between 1883 and 1893 seven of their children were baptised there. His occupation in 1891 was listed as 'fireman-stationary engine'. 

On the Trowbridge, Wiltshire 1901 census he was a 'stationary engine driver'. His son John (1885) was shown as an 'engine cleaner' which I believe was part of the training before becoming an engine driver. At the time of the 1901 census it appears they had only recently moved to Trowbridge as their 3 month old son William was listed as being born at Calne.

The 1911 census shows John & Bessie living at 1 Cherry Grove, Rowbarton, Taunton. John is employed as an engineer at a creamery. His son William's occupation is 'stoker' and Herbert's as 'engine cleaner'. His eldest son John George Dance (1885) also an engineer at a creamery, is living nearby with his new wife Trowbridge girl Florence Bishop at 24 Belgrave place in Taunton.

Around 1914 the family was back in the Trowbridge area. 22 year old Dennis Dance married Winifred Wright there that year. 

The Dance's connection with Camberwell, London seems to have started in 1909 when Bessie Lavinia (1887) married Londoner William Fulford (1886). In 1925 John Dance's widow Bessie Dance married William Fulford's father, also named William, whose wife Louisa had died in 1909, and moved to his home at Camberwell. 



Their children were -



Annie Louisa Dance 


Born Calne, Wiltshire

Servant at Trowbridge in 1901

John George Dance


Born Calne, Wiltshire

Married Florence Nellie Bishop (1885-1970) at Trowbridge in 1910.

Bessie Lavinia Dance


Born Cirencester

Married  William Fulford in 1909. He was from London

Sedonia Beatrice Dance


Born Calne, Wiltshire

Married Robert S Darley in 1916. (reg. Camberwell)

William Henry Dance


Born Calne, Wiltshire

William Henry died at Forest Hill, London  age 33  in 1924

Dennis Argyle Dance


Born Calne, Wiltshire

Married Winifred Maud Wright in 1914 at Trowbridge

Herbert Cyril Dance


Born Calne, Wiltshire

Married Margaret Louise Hook 1915 at Camberwell

Raymond Joe Dance


Born Trowbrige, Wiltshire

Married Ethel Lillian Smith in 1926. (reg. Edmonton). Died 1940

Bernard Nelson Dance


Born Trowbrige, Wiltshire 

Died Trowbridge 1908. 



June Dance's tree shows that 6 year old Bernard Dance was run over by a horse and cart at Trowbridge in September 1908 after he had been sent out to buy a mousetrap.

Annie Louisa Dance was born in 1883 at Calne. On the 1901 census Annie has left home and taken up work in Trowbridge as a domestic servant. Her parents' 1901 census form has her name scored out and Dennis Argyll Dance's name entered just above it in the same box.

Bessie Lavinias'  mother also named  Bessie Lavinia married William Fulfords' father who was also named William Fulford in 1925 at St. Clements Church East Dulwich.  Presumably after her first husband  John George Dance died.      June


John and Bessie Dance moved from Trowbridge to Taunton for a while where John worked as an engineer in a 'creamery'. I have attached the 1911 census that June gave me.  From there they may have moved back to Trowbridge and at some point John died.

Bessie Lavinia  Dance junior married William Fulford junior in 1909. He  was stationed in Trowbridge (I don't know as what yet) and he came from Camberwell, London...they moved back there. Then after John Dance senior's death Bessie senior married William Fulford senior and joined Bessie in Camberwell, London with Raymond Joe, William Henry, Herbert Cyril and  Sedonia.

Sadly William Henry died in 1924 in London and his brother Raymond Joe was present at his death.   Colin


The death of John George Dance.  June has forwarded the death certificate for John George Dance who died alone at Baden Powell Road, Chesterfield in July 1925.  The widowed Bessie Dance married William Fulford in London in September 1925.

I thought I would send you the copies of the death certificates I have got for John George.. I traced the one in Devizes to a different family, he was born in Devizes in the same year as our John George was born Coleford.  I am pretty sure the one in Chesterfield is the one, I have a feeling that he and Bessie were separated and she got married again shortly after he died.  I got the archives in Chesterfield to check the address on the death certificate and from the electoral lists, they told me he had been lodging at Baden Powell Road for 5 years.   We have been to see where he lived and to the cemetery where he
is buried in a paupers grave. If it is him he must have had a lonely end.   

The only way I can prove it is him, is when we are able to look at the 1921 census, because he was living at that address then and it will tell me where he was born which will prove whether or not it is him.   Unless you have any other ideas of how I can find out.  I would love to clear the mystery up.     June



Calne fell on hard times in the 1800's with the decline of the clothing industry, but rescue came in the unlikely form of Irish pigs that were driven through the town on the way to the London market. An enterprising local family, the Harris's developed a revolutionary curing method for bacon (The Wiltshire Cure) and, as their success grew, the town developed.

This firm had a major impact on Calne which lasts to this day. Internationally famous as bacon curers, pork pie and sausage manufacturers, Harris's was eventually recognised by Royal Appointment. The firm expanded during the early part of the 20th century, eventually dominating the town both physically and economically.

Economic success and industrial dominance had some negative impacts, particularly on the built environment. Some of Calne's oldest and most beautiful buildings were demolished in the 1920's to make way for the enormous Harris factory buildings.


The Harris Factory in 1984       Paul Gulliver 

In 1983 the Harris Company closed the large factories which had dominated the town as employers and architecturally for over 200 years. This left a void in the town's physical fabric and its social heart, since Harris's, as the major employer, had also provided many social and recreational facilities.



Trowbridge, Wiltshire

The canal arrived in 1805 with supplies of coal to steam the new machines in their factories. The River Biss was never big enough to be a source of power for the woollen trade. The first large mills were built by 1820 when there were 12 steam powered factories in the town. The firm of Hadens provided the steam engines. The population had also grown to provide workers in the factories, which operated 24 hours a day. 10,000 people lived in Trowbridge.

The woollen mills of Trowbridge flourished from 1850 with many large new factories built. There were now 17 factories, 3 dye houses and over 30 steam engines to power them. The railway linking the town to Bath and Chippenham arrived in 1848. During this period the town also gained a water company, sewage works, schools, hospital, town hall, park and market hall.

In the face of stiff competition from Yorkshire Mills only 6 of the 17 factories operating in Trowbridge survived until the Second World War. 


John George Dance (1885) joined the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry at their Exeter depot. The family had recently moved to Taunton in Somerset from Trowbridge, and he and his father worked as  engineers at a local creamery.

The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry played a prominent role in the First World War - with troops fighting on the Western Front, which covered France and Flanders. They were involved in the infamously bloody Battle of the Somme in France and the Battle of Passchendaele near the town of Ypres in Belgium. They were awarded 57 battle honours and one VC, the dead numbered 4510.

John was a lance corporal when he was discharged at Exeter in 1918. He was awarded the 1914 Star (with clasp), the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Regarding John George junior born in 1885 apparently he didn't talk much about the war, as a lot of them didn't want to remember.   We do know he was at the battle of The Somme, was injured, and spent some time in hospital.     June  


The 1914 Star was approved in 1917, for issue to officers and men of British forces who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and midnight 22/23 November 1914. The former date is the day after Britain's declaration of war against the Central Powers, and the closing date marks the end of the First Battle of Ypres.

The majority of recipients were officers and men of the pre-war British army, specifically the British Expeditionary Force (the Old Contemptibles), who landed in France soon after the outbreak of the War and who took part in the Retreat from Mons (hence the nickname 'Mons Star'). 365,622 were awarded in total. Recipients of this medal also received the British War Medal and Victory Medal. These three medals were sometimes irreverently referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

The Clasp,  inscribed ‘5 th Aug – 22 nd Nov 1914', was instituted in 1919 and awarded to those who had operated under enemy fire during this period. When the ribbon was worn alone, recipients of the clasp to the medal wore a small silver rosette on the ribbon bar.




John George Dance II (1885-1966) married Florence Nellie Bishop (1885-1970) at Trowbridge in 1910. They had six children.  In 1911 he was listed at Taunton employed as an engineer at a local creamery. From 1913 until at least 1923 they were back in Florence's home town Trowbridge. 

They finished their days in the Bristol/Weston-Super-Mare area. John died at Clevedon in 1966 and Florence at Yatton in 1970.


Florence Alice Dance

1911-1985 Born Taunton - Married Harry Elston in 1949 at Weston-Super-Mare

John George Dance

1913-1914 Born and died at Trowbridge

Stanley George Dance

1914-1973 Born Trowbridge -   Married Ruby Ward (1914-1997). Parents to 8 children including Ronald Dance (1938)

Reginald Dance

1916-1922 Born and died at Trowbridge

Gladys Winifred Dance

1919-2006 Born Trowbridge - Married Bert Whitcombe in 1942 at Weston-Super-Mare
  Irene Sylvia Dance 1923-1999 Born Trowbridge - Married Ernest Tippett in 1942 at Weston-Super-Mare  




Engine driver Stanley George Dance (1914-1973) married Ruby Ward (1914-1997) from Bristol.

Their first child Margaret was born at Plymouth in 1936. The family moved to Birmingham and their remaining seven children were born there.


Margaret Dance (1936)

Ronald Dance (1938)

Terence Dance (1939)

Sylvia Dance (1940)

Barbara Dance (1942)

Hazel Dance (1944)

Rita Dance (1945)

Graham Dance (1947)

June's husband is Ronald Dance.  



The family on a 1920s outing - from June Dance's collection - sorry no names - What happened when it rained?


My Grandfather Raymond Joe Dance ( 1899 - 1940 ) and Ethel Lillian Smith  were married in Edmonton, London. His son Raymond Joe Dance (1929 to 2005) my uncle, was born at 18 Cunard street, Camberwell, just along the road from  Herbert Cyril Dance (1893)  at 1 Cunard Street. Cunard Street, just south of the Elephant & Castle and off the Old Kent road, took heavy bombing during WW11.  

Raymond Joe Dance (1899 -1940 ) was an electrician working at the Baltic Exchange in London and later became the Chief Engineer there. In 1940 sadly he died. 

The Baltic Exchange, where Raymond Joe Dance (1899-1940) worked as Chief Engineer, was one of the finest examples of Edwardian architecture. It was built in 1903 by Smith and Wimble and had been listed as a Grade II listed building when blown up by the IRA in an explosion that killed three people in April 1992.

Architectural conservationists wanted to reconstruct what remained from the bombing -- even winning the support of the government. English Heritage and the Corporation of London insisted that any redevelopment must restore the building's old façade on to St Mary Axe. 

Baltic Exchange, unable to afford such an expensive undertaking, sold the land to Trafalgar House in 1995. Most of the remaining structures on the site were then carefully dismantled; the interior of Exchange Hall and the facade were preserved and sealed from the elements.

In its place now stands 30 St Mary Axe, also known as the Gherkin and the Swiss Re Building. It is a skyscraper in London's main financial district, the City of London, completed in December 2003 and opened at the end of May 2004.  With 40 floors, it is 180 metres (591 ft) tall.

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My father Raymond James Dance (James from his mothers side) remembers his Uncle Bert (Herbert Cyril Dance - born 1893) arriving for his father's funeral driving a charabanc (motor coach) which he believes he owned. The last time my father saw Herbert Cyril was that year, 1940. The next year Cunard street was bombed.   

The following is taken from an account of the worst night of bombing in London.. 

'Bombs fell everywhere in those bedlam hours. They fell in the north, in Purcell Street, Islington, where a HE bomb flattened 17 houses and left eight dead. They fell in the south, in Cunard Street, Southwark, where a landmine exploded on a row of houses owned by R White's Lemonade Company.'

At this time Raymond Joe and family were living in Barnehurst in Kent where later my father Raymond James was to meet and marry my mother Kathleen Joan Hammond.              Colin 






Raymond Joe Dance (1929 - 2005) my uncle, was born at 18 Cunard Street Camberwell, London and called Joe probably to save confusion, there being three Raymonds! 

He was called up for National Service after WW11. He joined as an ordinary entrant into the Army Air Corps and under Clement Atlee's government was one of the first to apply for, and be given, officer training through Sandhurst  Military Academy from the ranks.  

My father remembers on several occasions  driving his BSA motorcycle all the way  from Barnehurst in Kent to Sandhurst with Joe on the back with his rucksack.

Under the guidance of the infamous Regimental Sergeant Major Britain (apparently he had a very powerful voice) he passed out and later became a Captain in the Army Air Corps flying helicopters.

He spent time on exercises in Aden, Middle East and Kenya. Later he became a Major in charge of a squadron of men and helicopters in Germany.

He retired from the Army Air Corps and returned to Kenya  with his wife Shirley and children, Pandora and Sharon. There he was Chief Pilot for a German Geo-survey company flying out of Nairobi's Wilson Airfield. He lived there for a good number of years and then returned home to settle at Fordingbridge in the New Forest where he died there in December 2005. 

His daughter Sharon and her family live in Norfolk, and Pandora in St Lucia.   Colin 



A really big coincidence now. I have been in contact with Bronwen Woods ( nee Prewett ) who has been tracing her Family name. Her Great great grandmother was Hannah Louisa Dance ( William Dance the iron miner's  sister ) she married a Berrow who were  a family of stonemasons in the Clearwell area .

Their son Richard Berrow married Florence Louisa Head and their daughter Florence Louisa Berrow married George Prewett.

Bronwen Woods ( nee Prewitt) found my post on the Forest-of-Dean forum and was interested in information on Joseph Dance. She offered me a copy of Hannah Louise's birth certificate......I gave her my address  and surprise surprise ..She lives in the next village to me in Essex and her son has been through school with my son ..they know each other !!! We met today for a coffee and figure we are fourth cousins if that is the correct term.    Colin Dance




My sincere thanks to Colin Dance, a descendant of Joseph's grandson John George Dance 1860, for kick-starting this page and supplying the photographs, to Judith Leadbeater, whose husband is a descendant of Joseph's daughter Hannah Louise Dance 1837, for her valuable information and assistance and Bronwen Woods for the Berrow family information and photos.

Thanks also to June Dance whose husband is a descendant of  Calne born John George Dance (1855-1966) for allowing me access to her family tree and those rare photos from her collection.