Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege 1891-1979

Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn CUMBERLEGE DSO, MC 1891-1979

Captain Royal Fusiliers and Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn CUMBERLEGE DSO, MC, was also known as 'Jock'. He was the son of Henry Mordaunt CUMBERLEGE (1850-1934) and Blanche Paquita Genevra FENWICK (1855?-1939). He was born on 18 April 1891 in Lindfield, Sussex, England. On 31 March 1901 he lived in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England. On 31 March 1901 he was a Pupil at the Saugeen School, Derby Road,Bournemouth. 

Geoffrey was educated at Charterhouse School:

Long Quarter 1905
W [House: Weekites]
CUMBERLEGE, Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn, b[orn] 18.4.[18]91 3rd s[on] of Henry Mordaunt Cumberlege. 
S.08 [left Summer 1908] Worcester, Ox[ford]; MA. WW1: 11th R[oyal] Fus[iliers], later Capt[ain], Ox[fordshire] & Buckingham]s[hire] L[ight] I[nfantry]; 3M [Mentioned in Despatches 3 times] w[ounded] DSO [Distinguished Service Order] MC [Military Cross] Croce di Guerra. Ox[ford] Univ[ersity] Press, M[ana]g[e]r, Bombay 1919-27, M[ana]g[e]r and Vice Pres[ident], New York 1928-34, Publisher to Univ[ersity] of Ox[ford] 1945-56; Hon[orary] Fell[ow], Worcester, Ox[ford]; Hon[orary] DCL, Durham Univ[ersity]; C[ou]nc[i]l of Publishers' Ass[ociatio]n 1946-54; C[ou]nc[i]l of R[oyal] Coll[ege] of Art 1953-56. m[arried] 1927 Vera Gladys d[aughter] of Maj[or] Sir Alexander Doran Gibbons B[arone]t.


© 1978 Governing Body of Charterhouse School

On 2 April 1911 he was a Student at Oxford University and living in Lindfield.  He was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant in the 11th Battalion of The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) on 19 September 1914. On 1 February 1915 he was made a Temporary Lieutenant in 11th Battalion of The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). He was appointed Adjutant on 31 January 1916 whilst he was a Temporary Lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers. He was made Temporary Captain in The Royal Fusiliers on 3 October 1916. 

Distinguished Service Order 1917

Whilst serving as a Temporary Captain in The Royal Fusiliers Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege was awarded awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 17 April 1917:

War Office, April 17th, 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the appointments of the undermentioned Officers to be Companions of the Distinguished Service Order in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field :-
Temp. Capt. Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege, R. Fus.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He dashed along the line rallying his own battalion and men of other Units. He succeeded in restoring order and in re-organising the line at a most critical time. Throughout the day he inspired all ranks by his high example of courage and devotion to duty.
The London Gazette
Publication date:17 April 1917 Supplement:30023 Page:3676 

Temporary Captain G. F. J. Cumberledge, D.S.O., Royal Fusiliers, Adjutant, was transferred to General List on 17 July 1917. 
He was made a Captain in Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry on the 7th May 1919 but with seniority dating from 3rd Oct. 1917

Thrice Mentioned in Despatches 1917-1918

He was thrice Mentioned in the Despatches of Sir Douglas Haig:

War Office, 22nd May, 1917.
The following is in continuation of Sir Douglas Haig's Despatch of 9th April, submitting names deserving of special mention published in the London Gazette of Tuesday, 15th May, 1917.
ROYAL FUSILIERS. Cumberlege, Temp. Capt. G. F. J.


The London Gazette
Publication date:22 May 1917 Supplement:30086 Page:5027


War Office, 11th December, 1917.
The following Despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, K.T., G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.I.E., Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies in France:—

General Headquarters, 7th November, 1917.
SIR, I have the honour to submit a list of names of those officers, ladies, non-commissioned officers and men serving, or who have served, under my command during the period February 26th to midnight, September 20/21st, 1917, whose distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty I consider deserving of special mention.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
The British Armies in France
Cumberledge, Temp. Capt. G. F. J., D.S.O., Gen. List.


The London Gazette
Publication date:7 December 1917 Supplement:30421 Page:12911

War Office, 20th December, 1918.
The following despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, K.T., G.C.B., G.C.V.O., K.C.LE., Commander-in-Chief, the British Armies in France:—
General Headquarters, 8th November, 1918.
I have the honour to submit a list of names of those officers, ladies, non-commissioned officers and men serving, or who have served, under my command during the period 25th February, 1918, to midnight 16th/17th September, 1918, whose distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty I consider deserving of special mention.
I have the honour to be,
My Lord,
Your Lordship's obedient servant,
The British Armies in France.
Cumberlege, Capt. G. F. J., D.S.O., O. & B. L.I.


The London Gazette
Publication date:17 December 1918 Supplement:31077 Page:14925 

Military Cross 1 Jan 1919

Capt. Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege, D.S.O., Oxf. & Bucks. L.I.
The London Gazette
Publication date:31 December 1918 Supplement:31094 Page:66 

Croce de Guerra 1919

War Office, 11th May, 1919.
The following are among the Decorations and Medals awarded by the Allied Powers at various dates to the British Forces for distinguished services rendered during the course of the campaign :-
His Majesty the King has given unrestricted permission in all cases to wear the Decorations and Medals in question.
Decorations and Medals conferred by
Croce de Guerra.
Captain Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege, D S O , M C , Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
The London Gazette
Publication date:16 May 1919 Supplement:31345 Page:6202 

WW1 British Army Medals



ROLL of INDIVIDUALS entitled to the Decoration granted under Army Order 20 of 23rd December 1918 [1914-15 Star]



Date of Disembarkation




26 Jul 1915 (1) [France]

Issued IV 662/0 21 Apr 1920 EF/5/586


ROLL of INDIVIDUALS entitled to the Victory Medal and British War Medal granted under Army Orders    of 19  .



Record of disposal of decorations





BW & VM X/6250 2 Jun 1921

Emblems X/6250 2 Jun 1921


Medal Card

Campaign:       1914-15 Star

(A) Where decoration was earned.

(B) Present situation.




Reg. No.

Roll on which included (if any)


11th Battalion Royal Fusiliers

Lieutenant & Adjutant





(B) Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn, D.S.O. M.C.

Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry




OFF 140





15 Star

R Fus OFF 38


Action taken

1915 Star IV 662/0 d/ 21 Apr 1920 Auth EF/5/586

British War & Victory Medals & Emblems – IVX/6250 2 Jun 1921 EF/5/586

Theatre of War

France 1915

Qualifying Date.

26 Jul 1915                    EF/5/586

(6 34 46)   W234-HP5590  500,000   4/19  HWV(P240)   K60S




O.C. 22nd Infantry Brigade forwards Application for 1914-15 Star on behalf of Captain G F J Cumberlege DSO MC

Mrs Cumberlege returned & replies to NW9 re address

EF/9 10 Jul 1920



22nd Infantry Brigade


Walsted Place, Lindfield, Sussex



He married Vera Gladys GIBBONS on 30 November 1927 in Staines Registration District, Surrey, England. Vera Gladys GIBBONS was the daughter of Sir Alexander Doran GIBBONS. She was born on 18 February 1908. Vera Gladys GIBBONS and Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn CUMBERLEGE had the following children:

  • Elizabeth CUMBERLEGE (1928- ).   Elizabeth was born in 1928.
  • Geoffrey M CUMBERLEGE (1930-2012).   Geoffrey was born on 11 August 1930 in Steyning Registration District, Sussex, England. He died on 30 April 2012 in Australia. He was buried in May 2012 in Mullumbimby Cemetery, Coolamon Ave, Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia.
  • Patrick F H CUMBERLEGE (1933- ).   Patrick was born in 1933 in New York, USA. He married Julia F CAMM Q1 1961 in Uckfield Registration District, Sussex, England.
  • Francis Richard CUMBERLEGE (1941- ).   Francis was born Q3 1941 in Oxford Registration District, Oxfordshire, England.

World War Two

On 8 November 1939 he was a Captain 36762 in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. On 12 June 1943 he was a Retired Captain HM Army. On 18 October 1947 Captain G. F. J. CUMBERLEGE, D.S.O., M.C. (116085) Royal Pioneer Corps having exceeded the age limit of liability to recall, relinquished his commission, retaining the rank of Captain.
On 16 June 1958 he was a Publisher – Oxford University Press. He died of heart condition on 29 July 1979 at his home in Idlehurst, Birch Grove, Horsted Keynes, Sussex, England. His wife died Q1 1999 in Haywards Heath Registration District, Sussex, England.

Dictionary of National Biography

Cumberlege, Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn (1891–1979), publisher, was born on 18 April 1891 at Walsted Place, Lindfield, Sussex, the third son and youngest of five children of Henry Mordaunt Cumberlege, landowner, and Blanche Pacquita Genevra Fenwick. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Worcester College, Oxford.
On graduating from Oxford (BA, 1913), Cumberlege was commissioned in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire light infantry and he served with great distinction throughout the First World War, in France (1915–18) and Italy (1918–19). He was promoted substantive captain in October 1917. He received the Military Cross and was appointed to the DSO. He was mentioned in dispatches three times and was awarded the croce di guerra.

On demobilization in 1919 Cumberlege abandoned his plans for joining the Egyptian civil service and joined the Oxford University Press under Humphrey Milford at Amen Corner in London. He was immediately dispatched, with minimum training in publishing, to succeed E. V. Rieu as manager of the Indian branch of the press in Bombay. It was Cumberlege's fate throughout his career to have to deal with exceptional circumstances and conditions of unusual difficulty. In India he found a very small business which had barely survived the war. His predecessor was ill and had to leave for England immediately. London was remote and communication slow, so effectively he was entirely his own master. His task was to publish textbooks for Indian primary and secondary schools, which could afford only the lowest possible prices. However, he worked enormously long hours, established suitable offices in Bombay and branch offices in Calcutta and Madras, and left a branch which continued to thrive.


On 30 November 1927 Cumberlege married Vera Gladys (b. 1908/9), daughter of Major Sir Alexander Doran Gibbons, seventh baronet, landowner of Stanwell Place, Middlesex. They had one daughter and three sons and were happily married. In the same year Cumberlege was recalled from India and appointed vice-president of Oxford University Press, Inc., in New York, where he remained until 1934. In New York, Cumberlege found a disorganized business losing money and then had to return it to profitability in the very adverse conditions of the depression. He set about this task by cutting everyone's salary, including of course his own, and he also saved overheads by temporarily amalgamating the office with Longmans. Most significantly he embarked on a very successful and enterprising publishing programme. He initiated a distinguished list of American children's books, which were also successful in England, and, among many other long-lasting books, he published a translation, The Odyssey of Homer (1932), by T. E. Shaw (T. E. Lawrence) and The Growth of the American Republic by S. E. Morison and H. S. Commager (1930).


Leaving a reorganized American branch well set for its subsequent successful development, Cumberlege returned to London and four years of peaceful publishing and administration as Milford's principal assistant and potential successor. It was at this time that he published Arthur Upham Pope's monumental Survey of Persian Art (1938) but then war came in 1939 and he had to organize the complete evacuation of the London business to Oxford. At the end of the Second World War he faced the daunting task of re-establishing the press in London, rebuilding the staff, reorganizing the Canadian and Australian branches for which as publisher he was responsible, and laying the foundations of the great post-war expansion of the press outside Oxford. In 1945 Cumberlege succeeded Milford as publisher to the University of Oxford, and from then until his final retirement in 1956 all books published by the London business of the press bore his name in the imprint (it was then the practice to distinguish in this way the scholarly publications of the Clarendon Press in Oxford from all others). Cumberlege encouraged the development of books for teaching English as a second language which caused profitable branches to be established in Africa and Asia. He changed the children's book list radically and greatly improved it.


Perhaps Cumberlege's most significant publishing achievement was jointly with the Cambridge University Press to organize and produce the New English Bible. This gave him great pleasure, as he was a loyal Anglican churchman. He played his part in the book trade as a member of the council of the Publishers' Association but he refused to become president, because he had too little time remaining.


In 1956 Cumberlege retired only to be immediately recalled as trouble-shooter to New York at a difficult period. During retirement proper he became director and then chairman of the English Hymnal Company. He was also governor of Bishop Otter College, the Church of England college of education at Chichester.
Cumberlege had been a distinguished soldier, and to all the critical problems of his publishing career he brought the military virtues of leadership, quick decision, and positive action, but these were cloaked and modified by great charm of manner. He entirely disregarded his own interests and he inspired lasting loyalty—much helped by his extraordinary powers of mimicry—in his staff, his authors, and his friends, who universally knew him as Jock. He had patrician qualities, and was an amateur in the eighteenth-century definition of the word. Never an intellectual by academic standards, his instinctive publishing judgement was sound in the difficult field that lies between works of academic rigour and the popular trade book.
In appearance Cumberlege was tall and thin with aquiline features and very expressive hands. Among his private interests was collecting early English watercolours, and he was a keen gardener. He was awarded an honorary degree of DCL by Durham University in 1953 and elected an honorary fellow of Worcester College, Oxford (1952). Cumberlege died at his home, Idlehurst, Birch Grove, Horsted Keynes, Sussex, on 29 July 1979, of a heart condition.


John Brown, rev. Clare L. Taylor


P. Sutcliffe, The Oxford University Press: an informal history (1978) · The Bookseller (11 Aug 1979) · The Times (16 Aug 1979) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert. · personal knowledge (1986)



Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with Nevill Coghill · Bodl. Oxf., corresp. with L. G. Curtis

Wealth at death  
£52,877: probate, 23 Oct 1979, CGPLA Eng. & Wales 

© Oxford University Press 2004–15 All rights reserved: see legal notice
John Brown, ‘Cumberlege, Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn (1891–1979)’, rev. Clare L. Taylor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 26 July 2015]
Geoffrey Fenwick Jocelyn Cumberlege (1891–1979): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30989.

Cumberlege Window

At the annual Easter Vestry meeting14 in 1919 it was agreed to accept the offer by Henry and Blanch Cumberlege of Walstead Place, Lindfield for a stained glass window in gratitude for the safe return from the Great War of their three sons:

  • Captain Geoffrey Cumberlege, DSO, MC, Royal Fusiliers and Oxfordshire and Bucks Light Infantry
  • Captain Reginald Cumberlege, Royal Field Artillery
  • Lieutenant Commander Marcus Cumberlege, Royal Navy

Henry Cumberlege served as a church warden at All Saints’ for almost 40 years.
The three light window in the east wall of the South (Massets’) Chapel was installed in 1919. It was made by C E Kempe & Co Ltd and designed by Walter Tower but the detailed drawing was probably undertaken by John Leslie, the firm’s chief designer.

In the left hand window light is St Michael, the warrior saint holding a sword in triumph with his lance impaled in the dragon at his feet. The Virgin and Child are featured in the middle light. To the right is St George with the three golden Lions of England emblazoned on his shield. His sword is sheathed and lance at rest, witnessing and upholding the faith in the Incarnation.
An inscription in this window light reads:

“The Lord brought them out safely” These words are here inscribed and this window dedicated in humble thanksgiving to Almighty God for the preservation of their three sons through the Great War by Henry & Blanch Cumberlege. A.D. MCMXIX .

The Window dedication. (photographed by Richard Bryant)
Near the left hand bottom of each window light is a small insignia depicting the regiment or the Service in which the sons served, from the left, Royal Fusiliers (as shown below), Royal Field Artillery and Royal Navy.

The C E Kempe & Co Ltd motif of a black tower superimposed upon a wheat sheaf is in the left hand bottom corner of the left light.
West Sussex & the Great War Project
© Richard Bryant and West Sussex County Council 10
The Cumberlege window in the South Chapel, from the left St Michael, the Virgin and Child, and St George. (photographed by Richard Bryant),d.ZGU