Saturday, 2 April 2011

Polemos: Who was David Charles Ballinger Griffith?

Now that we can be fairly certain that POLEMOS was designed by David Charles Ballinger Griffith, it begs the question … who was David Charles Ballinger Griffith and how did come to design a wargame? Luckily my wife is a genealogist, and with a name like David Charles Ballinger Griffith, tracing him was not too difficult a task for her.

Her researches indicate the David Charles Ballinger Griffith was born in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 1845. His father was Thomas Griffith – a clergyman – and his mother was Elizabeth. By 1851 the family was living in ‘The Rectory’ in Whittington, Gloucestershire. David Charles Ballinger Griffith was the eldest son of the family (he had an older sister named Elizabeth), and he is described as being a ‘Scholar at home’. The family was still living in Whittington ten years later, and David Charles Ballinger Griffith was still described as a scholar. By this time he had two younger sisters (Eleanor and Edith) as well as a younger brother (John). The household also had a cook, a house servant, and a nurse.

By 1871 the twenty five-year old David Charles Ballinger Griffith was living in Folkestone with Dr Charles Fitzgerald and his family, and is described on the census as a ‘Pupil’. His studies must has been successful, as by the time of the 1881 census Dr Charles Ballinger Griffith (for some reason his first name does not seem to have been recorded) and his wife – Amy – are living at 11 Marlborough Place, Brighton with their two children (Elsie Gwendoline and Gladys), his wife’s sister and her husband (Herbert and Ella Smith), a governess, a housemaid, a cook, and a coachman. His practice must have been quite prosperous as by 1883 he had moved to 3 Lansdowne Place, Brighton and was in partnership with Dr Albert Primrose Wells.

In 1891 Dr Griffith was still living at 3 Lansdowne Place, Brighton, and his family had grown. He now had five children (Elsie Gwendoline, Gladys, Eva, Irene, and Robert), a 13 year-old visitor from Demerara in the West Indies, a governess, parlour maid, and cook. However probate records indicate that Dr David Charles Ballinger Griffith had died on 27th May, 1896, and that he had been living at 37 De Pays Avenue, Bedford at the time of his death. His estate amounted to £3363 13s 8d, and the executors were Rev Charles Henry Bennett and Alfred William Cowdell (who is described as being a ‘Gentleman’). Of his family, no records exist other than a mention in BURKES’S PEERAGE, BARONETAGE AND KNIGHTAGE to the effect that Aimee Gladys (daughter of David Charles Ballinger Griffith of Huntworth, Bedfordshire and widow of Benjamin Adams Brendon ICS) married Sir Charles Edward Henry Hobhouse, 4th Bt on 18th June 1931 and died on 7th December 1965.

So that is who David Charles Ballinger Griffith was … but as to why he designed a wargame in the 1880s, who can tell?

PS. It would have been interesting had the research indicated that Dr David Charles Ballinger Griffith was in some way related to Dr Paddy Griffith, the founder of Wargame Developments, but at present no such link exists. It is, however, interesting to note that both doctors named their sons Robert.

11 comments:

  1. I note that no mention is made of Dr. Griffith being in the military or having any military connections.

    Dick Bryant
    http://mgluteus.blogspot.com/

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  2. Maximus Gluteus,

    The lack of a record of any military connection does not mean that there wasn't one ... just that we haven't found the link yet!

    He may have been in one of the numerous Volunteer units that were around at the time or he may just have been an amateur military enthusiast who devised 'Polemos' for his own enjoyment. We may never know the answer ... but it is fun to speculate.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. Bob

    This maybe doesn't add anything but confusion, but I thought it was interesting...

    The Lt Col Glunicke that has been eliminated as potential author of Polemos appears to have been George John Robert Glunicke, author of the Campaign in Bohemia 1866 and translator of the New German Field Exercise. Glunicke was a former officer in the Prussian army, who eventually was a schoolmaster at Bedford Grammar School - he was married in 1853, and seems to have anglicised his first names.

    If you look at

    http://www.galaxy.bedfordshire.gov.uk/webingres/bedfordshire/vlib/0.digitised_resources/bedford_victorian_super_sleuth_quiz2_extra.htm

    you will see a copy of info from the 1898 Bedford Directory, which indicates that in 1898 Colonel (Captain?) Glunicke lived at 14 De Parys Avenue, Bedford. Not very interesting in itself, but note that a Mrs Ballinger Griffith is resident at no 37 - on the other side of the same street!

    Theories? Coincidence? Were Glunicke and Dr Ballinger Griffith (who would have been dead by 1898) collaborators in authoring the game? Are the two games with the same name in fact the same game?

    That's all I have - amazing what you can find with a spare half hour and a search engine!

    Tony

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  4. MSFoy,

    What an interesting piece of research! This lead is too good to leave up in the air, and I feel duty bound to follow it up.

    To have two people who invented wargames with the same name living in the same street at the same time is very unlikely to be a coincidence. Your suggestion that they were collaborators is far more likely.

    As I have said before ... more news as I get it!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. Pity the evidence did not come up showing that the Doctor had served in Afghanistan......

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  6. Ross Mac,

    Perhaps he might even been hit by a jezail bullet ... elementary, my dear Ross.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. As DCB Griffith's great grand daughter, I can perhaps add a little to the Polemos story. To the best of my knowledge, he had no military connections and was indeed an amateur enthusiast. It is more than possible that he and Glunicke collaborated on the game - and certainly they lived on the same street but if it were invented in the 1880's, he was still in Brighton at that time. We have in the house a box containing the game and a rule book - unfortunately not quite complete. Jane Moriarty

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  8. Very interested in this as DCB Griffith's great grand daughter

    Jane Moriarty

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  9. Pjmoriaty17,

    It is wonderful to hear from a descendant of Dr Griffith!

    John Curry (who is publishing a series of books about early wargames) and I would be very interested in any information you have about your great grandfather and his game. In particular, we would love a copy of the rules so that we can try to recreate the game for the forthcoming anniversary of it being played at the Royal United Services Institute. If you could send me a copy of the rules, I would be very grateful indeed.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. I can't send you our actual copy of the rules as this set belongs to a cousin, and we look after it for her but I'm sure my husband will scan a copy for you. It may be a few days as we are going away after the weekend but we will do our best. To what address should send it? DCBG was known as Charles to his friends & family. No, the wife of Glunicke was not related to DCBG's wife. REgards, Jane Moriarty

    Jane Moriarty

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  11. Jane,

    Thanks for you very fast reply, and the additional information about Dr Griffith's family.

    Scans of the original rules would be ideal for me, and I would be grateful if you can send them to me as soon as it is convenient for you to do so.

    My email address is warden@dircon.co.uk, and that is the best way to contact me.

    All the best,

    Bob

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