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Edward Thomas WilliamsChemist
Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Edward Thomas Williams
Date and place of birth: 5th February 1892, Sutton, St Helen’s , Lancashire
Date and Place of Death: Quarter 1 , 1971, Bebington, Wirral
Nationality: English of Welsh parents
Childhood: Impoverished and humble , one of 7
Parents: John Williams and Mary Wellen nee Naylor
Parents occupations: Coal miner- hewer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Not known
Occupation: Chemist- soap industry
Place of residence at Gretna: 17-19 The Ridge, Eastriggs
Marital status: Married
Children: Not known possibly one
Travels: None known
Awards/recognitions: None known
Positions held: None known
Trivia / any other information: Yes
Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Blogs about the individual:
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Further links, notes, and comments:
Edward Thomas Williams 1892-1971
Edward Thomas Williams was born on 5th February 1892 at Sutton, St Helen’s, Lancashire where his parents lived most of their married lives. He was the second of 7 surviving children born to John Williams a coal miner of Holywell, Flintshire and Mary Ellen nee Naylor of Bagillt, Flintshire. There is no forthcoming evidence to hint at John or Mary’s backgrounds.
John and Mary married in 1889 and had their first daughter, Harriet, the same year born at Bagullt, Flintshire. Edward Thomas was born in February 1892, Elizabeth E in 1893, John in 1896, Louisa in 1900, Robert in 1902 and William in 1904. All except Harriet and Elizabeth were born at Sutton, St Helen’s. Elizabeth was born at Bagillt.
The 1901 census places the Williams family at 408, Watery Lane , Sutton, St Helen’s. John aged 35 is a coal Hewer, Mary E, 34 , Harriet E 12 , Edward T 9, Elizabeth E 7, John 5 and Louisa 2. Robert Hughes , an uncle of John aged 54, also a coal hewer and Robert Williams, brother to John 27 , a coker also resided at his address.
Still residing at the 4 roomed , 408, Watery Lane address in 1911, John now 44 and Mary Ellen also 44 had been married for 22 years. John still working as a coal miner, hewer. The couple had had 8 children, 7 having survived. Edward now 19 is a chemical student, John at 16 is a “colliery haulage hand ( below)” Louisa 11, Robert 8 and William 4. None of the children are listed as scholars. This form was signed by Edward Thomas Williams “ for John”. His father could not write.
Harriet E, 21, can be found in a 9 room house in Tranmere working as a domestic cook for a childless couple. The man of the house is a bank chief cashier, 49 and his wife is 51. They also employ a general domestic servant.
It appears that Elizabeth at 17 was employed as a housemaid, one of 13 staff for a 33 year old single merchant at Willington, Tarporley.
The next evidence of Edward is his service in 1915 with the Royal Engineers, 3rd battalion, service number 120655. According to findmypast, Edward’s full service record was burnt. There is an Edward Williams listed on forces-war-record as a second lieutenant then lieutenant with the Royal Engineers in 1914 but no service number is included. Apparently this only became standardised in 1921.
We know that Edward must have followed his training in chemistry as he is included in the 1918 electoral register for Eastriggs and Gretna as a chemist, living at 17-19 The Ridge, Eastriggs. Edward is listed in the Dornock Farewell magazine of 1919 , the address he gave was 408 Watery Lane, Sutton, St Helen’s.
We know from the headline of the 1921 census that he was still at home as it tells us Edward, John , Mary Ellen and 7 others lived in the same house. As his parents are still listed at Watery Lane in 1939 we can assume that is where they all lived in 1921.
However, the 1929, 1930 and 1931 electoral registers for Thorburn Road, Birkenhead also include a Flora Catherine Williams as well as a Margaret Mackenzie. Edward must have married Flora between 1921 and 1929.
His marriage and occupation are confirmed in the 1939 register where his and Flora Catherine are living at 40 Tudorville, Bebington. Edward at 47 is a “Research chemist – soap industry”, Flora born on 28th January 1895 is 44 and a further line for the address is blanked out so perhaps they had a child.
At least two other chemists, previously researched, who were engaged at H.M. Factory Gretna during WW1, lived in Bebington , Wirral and were involved in the soap industry. Bebington of course is the site of Lord Lever’s – known as the soap king-Port Sunlight, a planned town and factory as was Gretna. This is now Unilever. He is at least the second who came from humble beginnings and rose to a highly skilled profession at Port Sunlight.
Edward’s parents are listed in the 1939 register as still residing at Watery lane, John is a colliery Hewer ( retired), Mary E unpaid domestic duties. Both are 72. John junior is a coal miner, below and road repairer as well as colliery ARP organisation. He is 43. Elizabeth at 46 is still at home although there is an indication on the register that she later married a Mr Green. She is a cook at HM research Factory. Nothing is forthcoming regarding H M research factories but it must have been in the St Helen’s district. Louisa at 40 is also in the 4 room house , unpaid domestic duties.
Missing are Harriet, Edward, Robert and William who are all difficult to trace having such common names. Multiple possibilities materialised.
Edward died in the first quarter of 1971 presumably at 40 Tudorville as this is where Flora died the following year on 1st April. Her Probate record and the 1939 register are the only pieces of Flora’s jigsaw. Flora left effects of £13,172. No offspring is mentioned therefore perhaps the blanked out row in the 1939 register was a domestic help rather than a child.