Ernest Maisey: The Life of a Master Printer Before and During World War One

Warwick Street, Leamington in 1908, when A E Maisey's shop was located here.
Photo courtesy of Warwickshire County Record Office. Ref PH350/1421

In the early 20th century, Ernest Carl Maisey was a well-known and popular figure around Warwick and Leamington.  He was born in Leamington Spa on 5 February 1879, the son and second child of Alfred Edward and Mary Louise Maisey. 

He was a partner and later owner of the printing business A E Maisey and Son, which later became Maisey and Kennard.   It is thought that he might have begun his printing apprenticeship around 1894, becoming a partner with his father around 1913.   

He married Emma Jane Hodgkinson in 1905 and they had three children, Dorothy, Harold and Norah. 

Appeal against conscription

In 1914 World War One broke out and Ernest was later called up to serve in the military.  He appealed against his conscription, telling the Military Tribunal that he was responsible for eight others: his parents, his aunt, his wife and their two children, and his bedridden sister, Edith Roberts.  It is unclear to what extent this claim was true; Edith’s late husband, James Frederick Roberts, who died in 1908, left an estate of £4,472. and she was probably well provided for.  The 1911 Census described her as ‘of independent means’, and there was no mention of any infirmity which might have caused her to be bedridden.   Ernest also argued that he was short-handed: only he, his father, and an eighteen-year old lad were left to run the business. 

Printers’ Pooling Scheme 

Ernest described how since the outbreak of war, with its shortages of skilled labour and paper and ink, Maisey & Son had joined in the pooling scheme set up by members of the Leamington and Warwick Master Printers’ Society.  This included local newspapers such as the Courier, the Chronicle and the Warwick Advertiser.   He described how printing craftsmen helped each other by sharing equipment and expertise as well as manpower in order to meet orders on time and  to maintain their quality of work.   Their customers could also help the war effort, for example by accepting single-colour work or reducing their request for rushed last-minute jobs. 

Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Ernest’s appeal against conscription was unsuccessful, and he was conscripted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, where he served as a private in the 10th, 15th, and 14th Batallions.  The war diaries of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment tell us that the 10th Battalion was stationed on the Western Front throughout 1917 and 1918.  The 15th was on the Western Front from 1917 until the winter, when between November and December, the unit was moved to Italy to support the Italian Army.   

In April 1918, the 15th returned to the Western Front and the soldiers were transferred to the 14th and 16th Battalions.  The 14th Battalion was also in action on the West Front in 1917 and, like the 15th, was deployed in Italy from late 1917 until spring 1918.  It returned to the Western Front in 1918 and in October that year its ranks were expanded by personnel from the 15th.  Ernest saw service in France on the Western Front and, depending when he was transferred to either the 15th or 14th, he may also have served in the Italian campaign.   

Ernest returned home after the war and continued his career in the printing business.

This story is part of the Warwickshire Bytes ‘After the Tribunals’ project, which ran from 2019 to 2020. 

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