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Photo of John Campbell Birkett

John Campbell Birkett

Police Constable
Birthplace Cumberland Carlisle EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna Factory Police Camp Eastriggs Scotland Date of Birth: September 13, 1861 Date of Death: January 1, 1940


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : John Campbell Birkett

Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 13th September 1861, Kirklinton/Rockcliffe, Carlisle
Date and Place of Death: July- August, 1940
Nationality: British


Parents : John Campbell Birkett and Jane ?
Parents occupations: Farmer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  Not known
Occupation: Police Constable the Poulterer and fishmonger
Place of residence at Gretna: Police Camp, Eastriggs
Marital status: Married
Children : 6 , 4 sons and 2 daughters
Travels : None known
Awards/recognitions:  None known
Positions held: Police Constable
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:
Websites about the individual:

Further links, notes, and comments:

Hatton Garden – Liverpool City Police






John Campbell Birkett 1861-1940 


John Campbell Birkett was born on 13th September 1861 at KIrklinton, Carlisle to John Campbell Birkett Snr , Farmer , and Jane . John was the eldest of 5 children born between 1861 and 1877, 4 sons and 1 daughter Eleanor named after her maternal Grandmother. Actual dates are somewhat erratic showing differently in varying documentation. 

The 1871 census lists Jane as being head of the household although married rather than widowed. It is unclear where John Snr was but he could have been in the military. She is listed aged 32 as a farm labourer with John June 10, George 7, William, 4 and Eleanor 9 months. They are residing at Kirklinton.  

By 1881 , John  Campbell is listed as a boarder at 3 Hatton Gardens, Liverpool ( Police Station House). He is 21 and his Occupation is Police Constable. Wiki tells us that the Hatton Garden Police Station was newly established in Liverpool City Centre and that the Police doubled up as Firemen.  Hatton Garden – Liverpool City Police        

In 1881, 69 boarders are living at 3 Hatton Gardens , most are Police Constables , 2 are River Police Constables. There is also an engineer for the FIre Brigade, a police clerk,  a cook, a Storekeeper and his wife.  

On 13th September , 1885 ( his 24th birthday) John , Police Constable of 3 Hatton Gardens, Liverpool married Elizabeth Kennedy , 24, of 2a, Chatham Street, the daughter of William Kennedy , Provision merchant. Both fathers are listed as being alive at this point. The marriage took place at St George’s Church , Liverpool according to the registration document. 

Elizabeth was born in 1861 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania US. The 1870 US census lists her father as a New Jersey born Chain Maker and her 47 year old mother Rebecca ” keeping house”  as being born in Canada. Earlier documentation  shows that the Kennedy’’s emigrated from Ireland originally. William , 19 born Pennsylvania and Robert , 16 , born in New Jersey have no occupation nor Scholar beside their names. Daniel 13 and Elizabeth , 8 are at school and were both born in Pennsylvania. Curiously their address is a PO address in Washington Avenue. 

It is unclear when Elizabeth sailed to England and whether or not any of her family came with her but she can be found as a domestic servant in the Sanderson household at Kirkham near Preston in 1881. Her place of birth is given as Liverpool.  

The dates of birth of John and Elizabeth’s children are questionable but information taken from the 1939 register lists five offspring born between 1886 and 1901. Willlam John born on 19th June 1886, George Christopher James born on 6th October 1881, Alexander Ernest in June 1889, Charles Stanley on 20th November 1891, Elizabeth Kennedy in 1894 and Margaret Knowles Kennedy on 17th November 1901. It is evident from the later 1911 census that 7 children were born, 1 having died.  

At some point before the 1891 census, John left the Police service and set up at 200, Brownlow Hill, Mount Pleasant, Liverpool , as a poulterer and fishmonger. He was 29 according to the census was 28, born in US. and Elizabeth. William, George, Alexander were all born in Liverpool. This is the year that the fourth son, Charles Stanley was born. 

John has himself listed in Kelly’s Directory in 1894 as a Poulterer.  

The 1901 census finds John still at Brownlow Hill as Poulterer and fishmonger  Elizabeth is now listed as born in US America( British subject). Five children are listed.  

In 1910 we learn from the  US census that Elizabeth’s mother  Rebecca , 85 is in hospital , that she  had 6 children but only one is living and that she and her parents emigrated to Canada from Ireland. 

John’s father must have died as his mother is listed as a widow in both the 1891 and 1901 censuses. Aged 47 in 1891 she is an agricultural labourer with just son James at home. By 1901 , still living at Rockcliffe with son Willi a an agricultural labourer and daughter Eleanor and husband , an engineer’s clerk. 

 He is still at 200 Brownlow Hill in 1904-5 – the electoral register lists the property as a house and shop. 

In the detailed 1911 census , John and Elizabeth are both 49, married for 25 years having had 7 children, 6 are living. John is described as a Fishmonger. William now 24 is a fishmonger’s assistant. George , 23 is a Seaman. ( A public member tree quotes that this means Merchant Navy “ His niece Elizabeth remembers that his mother used to worry about how his socks were being darned while he was away at sea”) We can  take it from this anecdote that John’s wife was an adept darner.  

Alexander, 21 is a fruiterers assistant, Charles , 18 is yet another fishmonger’s assistant, Elizabeth , 16 is at school as is 14 year old Margaret. 

A couple of years later, Elizabeth died aged only 52. Burial records show that she is buried at Toxteth Park Cemetery, Liverpool and was living at 286 Smithdown Road. It is not clear whether John  gave up the business to move or they merely moved and continued the business. Most evidence leans towards the former.  

It seems highly likely that John made the decision to move back to the Carlisle area immediately following the death of his wife.  

At the start of WW1 in 1914 all 4 of his sons joined the armed forces. Military records show that George continued in the Merchant Navy and was awarded campaign medals , Alexander joined the Liverpool Regiment, Charles the  Royal Army Service Corps and Alexander in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.  

Widowed John, living on the doorstep of H.M.Factory Gretna ( we know from electoral registers of 1920 onwards that he was at 2 Criffel View, Belle View, Carlisle ) was employed by the Ministry of Munitions some time between 1916 and 1918  as one of the many Police Constables required to police the factory during its days of production. We know he was definitely there in 1918-19 as he appears on the electoral register , living at the ‘Factory Police Camp, Eastriggs’. He is also listed at this address on the valuation rolls for the same period. John would have been 57 in 1919, so possibly the oldest policeman on duty.  

Following the end of the war, son William married in Liverpool. William’s occupation is commercial clerk and his wife’s address is 288, Smithdown Rd, – a neighbour.  

Following his residence at the Police Camp, Eastriggs, John is living at 2 Criffel View. His sons Charles and Alexander are also listed on the electoral register for the same address along with his youngest brother James. 

It is possible that Charles  had his wife  living with them as he  had a son, Charles in 1921  This is a first grandchild for John. Between 1921 and 1935 John gained at least 6 grandchildren. 


The 1939 register is interesting as it allows us to trace John and most of his grown up children.  

We find William living in Childwall , Liverpool, a Shipping transport account clerk-food import office. He has a wife and at least one child.  

John is now listed as ‘ shopkeeper retired’ living with son George, ‘counter clerk housing’ as well as   daughter Margaret and husband and at least one child John G b August 1931- all at  2 Criffel Rd Carlisle.  

Alexander is a ‘ general labourer air ministry ( heavy worker)’ of The Cottage, Monkhill, Burgh by Sands . He and his wife have 1 daughter. 

Finally we find Charles , – “ kerosene distributor-own business” at 11, Orton Road, Carlisle – the new Raffles housing estate built to house people when the slums were cleared nearer the city centre. He and his wife have a grown up19 year old  son at home who is a motor mechanic.   

Daughter Elizabeth could not be traced on the 1939 register.  

The following year, John now 79, died in Carlisle. No trace of his burial or cremation can be found , nor the actual date , registration was in the third quarter of the year.  


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