The Man Behind Exemptions

R. A. H. Tovey Esquire, was born in Doncaster, where he lived nearly his entire life. Growing up around solicitors, he trained as one and became the Doncaster Town Clerk. At the outbreak of war he became Clerk to the Tribunal. His job was dealing with exemption paperwork.

Early Life

Raymond Augustus Hall Tovey was born in Doncaster in 1858. His parents were John and Jemima Tovey, from Gloucestershire. John was a Professor of Music who made enough money for them to have two servants in 1861. Ann Huby was their young domestic servant while Jane Smith was an older nurse for their 1 month old son, Francis S E Tovey. Raymond also had an older brother, Arthur E Tovey, who died very young in 1863. The family lived at 6 Printing Office Street.

Nearly 5 years after Arthur’s death, John and Jemima had another son who they named Arthur J H Tovey. By 1871 the family had moved just around the corner to 10 Priory Place, the street was crowded with solicitor’s offices. Here they had their first daughter, Blanche M M Tovey. They also had a new domestic servant, Maria Middlton. In the next ten years Raymond began pursuing a career as a solicitor. On the 1881 census he was an articled clerk visiting the family of William Burtonshaw, a solicitor who lived in Lincoln. In 1891 he was back in the family home as a fully trained solicitor.


On the 12th of May 1894, Raymond married Ada Beatrice Ermina Haigh. She was from Sheffield, and a year younger than him. Around this time the 1895 directory lists his offices at 14 Priory place. Raymond and Ada would have three children early in their marriage: Dorothy Beatrice Tovey in 1895, Constance Evelyn Augusta Tovey in 1897, and Francis R Tovey in 1898. They didn’t have any more children after this. In 1901 the family lived at 1 Christ Church Terrace, with their domestic servant Laura Jubb.

Town Clerk

By 1911 Raymond had advanced in his career to become Town Clerk as well as a solicitor. Francis Preston would become his Deputy Town Clerk. Raymond is also recorded as a coroner, which seems to have been a common role for Doncaster solicitors at the time. He had moved to 8 South Parade with his family. Their new domestic servant was Nellie Smith, seemingly no relation to the Jane Smith of his childhood. Francis was away at a boarding school in York.

Role in Exemptions

When the First World War broke out, a Local Tribunal was assembled that could deal with requests to be exempted from service. A man might be exempted for medical reasons, because his job was considered too important, or because he could prove he had a conscientious objection to war. Raymond took on the dual role of Clerk to the Tribunal and Town Clerk, much of his paperwork has remained in Doncaster Archives until today. Raymond was increasingly ill at this time, but still did a surprising amount of work. He also found time to serve as secretary to a a Belgian Refugee Committee.


An F R Tovey, from Doncaster, was wounded during the war and is most likely Raymond’s son Francis. He survived and went on to marry. Raymond died in 1921 in Wharfedale, Yorkshire at age 63.

More Information on:

Francis Preston

The Belgian Refugee Comittee

Leave a Reply

Related Stories


Lawyer and Teacher Arrested

Assistant School Master William Strafford Levinson falsely claimed he worked for the Ministry of...


Colonel William Picton Bradley-Williams

William Picton Bradley-Williams served in both World Wars, travelled around the world, and worked...


Child star Freda Hooper

Singer, dancer, comedienne and war time entertainer, all while a teenager! The amazing story of...


A Century in Business?

H Arnold and Sons thrived for 3 generations as a family run business, and may have been open in...


Founders of New Edlington?

Some of the earliest houses in New Edlington were built during the First World war by Doncaster...


Frank Waddington, Balby Born Joiner

Born in Balby, Frank grew up around the railway carriage works, but his father was a joiner. Frank...