Samuel Kidner of Bickley Farm, Milverton

Samuel was born at Durston on the 12th August 1848, the youngest of the seven children born to William Kidner and Ann, nee Smith. In April 1849 his father moved to Bickley, near Milverton; Samuel lived there for 73 years.

He was educated at William Corner's School in Wellington and at the Independent College, now Taunton School. His father died in 1855 when Samuel was aged 7, and his teenage brother John took control of the farm.

In 1866 John moved across the valley to Heywood Farm, leaving Samuel and his mother at Bickley. In 1876 a Devon ox from his herd won the championship at the Smithfield Club Show and the challenge cup and President's Plate at Birmingham.

He hunted regularly until he was too old. On 24th March 1887 he won the Ladies' Plate on Benedict at the Taunton Vale Point-to-Point. He was a member of the Somerset County Council from 1901 until 1931 and was a County Alderman from January 1920. He was on several committees of the County Council. He was a Justice of the Peace for the county until his death. He was one of the founders of the Somerset Rural District Councils' Association and was President from 1896 until 1924.

He was an original member and a President of the Devon Cattle Breeders' Society founded in 1884; on 28th January 1934 he was a guest of honour at their Jubilee dinner. In 1912 he had an article on Devon cattle published in the Journal (vol 73) of the Royal Agricultural Society. For 50 years he represented the Taunton and West Somerset

Farmers' Club on the Central Chamber of Agriculture. He served on the Councils of the County Agricultural Society, the Dorset Horn Sheep Breeders' Society and the National Sheep Breeders' Society from the time of their foundation. He was on the Council of the Smithfield Club and twice, as steward, took the King round the Smithfield Show - King Edward VII once and King George V once. He took an active part in work connected with the Royal Agricultural and Bath and West of England Societies' Shows; for many years he was president of the Royal Show Mess of the Farmers' Club. For a time he served as chairman of the House Committee of the Farmers' Club.

On 10th December 1898 he was presented with a testimonial signed by 96 friends, together with a purse of 200 sovereigns.

On the 18th February 1911 he was presented with an album bound in silver together with a silver salver and a cheque "by the friends whose names appear in the following pages (over 800 names) in appreciation of the valuable services he has rendered to Agriculture".

In the 1914-18 war he was a member of the Select Committee appointed by the Minister of Agriculture - Mr Prothero, afterwards Lord Ernle - to advise his Ministry. In 1915 he was one of a delegation of four sent by the Agricultural Relief of Allies Committee of the Royal Africultural Society to France to report on how help could best be given to the French Farmers in the devastated areas. The delegation toured in Champagne and Louraine, at times within a few miles of the line, and put in their report in November 1915. (Sam's journal of that trip). For his work during the war he was appointed O.B.E.

In 1921 he sold Bickley Farm and moved to "The Elms", Houndsmoor, Milverton. He still carried on a lot of his public work, and his last public appearance was on 12th March 1935, at the Milverton Men's Conservative Association, when he made a short speech.

He died on Tuesday 19th March 1935, and was buried at Milverton in the family plot on the 22nd March. Bishop de Salis, an old friend both as Vicar of Milverton and in the hunting field, took the service. A great number of people attended the funeral..

His great nephew Freddie (1916-1936) said after the service, "I never saw the point of funerals until I saw all those people lining the road and waiting in the rain..."

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Last updated 5th June 2008