A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
Armigel Henry Pryor - brother of Ralston and Geoffrey.
Armigel Henry Pryor was baptised on 20 January 1867 at Clifton, Beds, the fourth child of six, born to Henry Maclean and Margaret Frances de Vins Pryor. (Link: Pryors of Preston) He is included as a ‘Preston Person’ because in 1891 he is recorded as living with his brother, Ralston Pryor, at The Cottage, Preston. He gave his occupation as, ‘farmer’. By 1899, Armigel had joined the army, marching in the footsteps of his father, and fought in the Boer War, notably at Spion Kop. Later, he was promoted to Lieutenant. He married Edith Emma Cook. The couple had three children, Henry (b 1904), Margaret de Vins and Geoffrey (b 1909). By now, the family had settled in South Africa – a grand-daughter has the impression that Armigel was the black sheep of the family and possibly left England to prove to his family that he could make his way in life alone. Armigel, Edith and Margaret returned from Cape Town, South Africa embarking at Tilbury on 5 December 1923. He gave his address as c/o Standard Bank, London. In 1945, his brother, Ralston, left a third of the residue of his estate to Armigel. F P Crozier, in his book, Angels on Horseback, recounted his memories of the 1899 Boer War in South Africa. He frequently mentions Prior (sic). He was one of ‘the quartet’ of Crozier, Corbett and Stoney and Armigel. The book describes in detail their exploits and conversations. It is an echo of soldiers’ lives a century ago, mirroring their idiosyncratic language and reminds one of Blackadder Goes Forth and the Biggles books of one’s youth – one of the four is even nicknamed, ‘Ginger’. At this time, Armigel was a Private, ‘a frontiersman with a full-grown beard’ and ‘a transport rider from Buluwayo and speaks Dutch and Kaffir’. Because of this, he is used as a translator for the group. The following are some snippets from the book that may convey the flavour of the man: Crozier, ‘Tell you one thing, the grit and dirt which get into my rifle are awful – the magazine will jam when I want to use it, sure as fate.’ Prior, ‘Slit the toe of an old sock and push it down over the breech mechanism’, said the old soldier, ‘we did it in Rhodesia’. ‘Who was that?’ (Captain Knox-Gore) shouts indignantly, as a round is accidentally let off. Take his name, he’ll be for orderly room to-m....’ ‘If he’s alive!’ whispers Prior. Approaching Spion Kop: Crozier recalls a climb in Ceylon when he ‘was so done in when I came down that I couldn’t move...after a long bike ride’. Prior, ‘You won’t have any time to be done in this time...unless you are “done” in and then it won’t matter! Here the Bogers are on the top waiting to receive you!’ Crozier complains of sores on his hands. Prior glances at them, ‘Veldt sores, hell, hurt like billy oh! Get some caustic from the farrier, it’s the only way’. ....Prior had been standing with his hands in his pockets against a packing-case full of comforts sent from home for the men. There is a pause – one of those pauses when ‘next man says what?’ is in every mind. Prior supplies the missing word. ‘Barnshoots,’ he murmurs half aloud.. ...while men roar with laughter...’Dunduruwas’....‘It is a polite way of saying something impolite.. ...as London society does, so I’m told’. ‘I tell you one thing we’ve forgotten,’ says Prior, ‘the horses must be shifted and ringed under cover...where they are now they’d be shot for cert, if there’s trouble and anyhow they’d give us away to our visitors.’ Re: pacifists – ‘I’d like to put them on top of the kerosene cans and strike a match’.
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