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Photo of William Leonard Scotcher

William Leonard Scotcher

Analytical Chemist
Birthplace London Millwall EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna No 6 Staff Quarters Place of Death Ontario Date of Birth: May 7, 1890 Date of Death: January 19, 1982


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : William Leonard Scotcher
Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 7th May 1890, Millwall
Date and Place of Death: 1982, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Nationality: British
Childhood: East end, overcrowded
Parents : Ernest William and Priscilla nee Gray
Parents occupations : Metal turner
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  Not clear but must have studied Chemistry before 1915
Occupation: Analytical chemist
Place of residence at Gretna: No 6 Staff Quarters. Eastriggs
Marital status: Married twice
Children : One daughter
Travels : Emigrated to Canada
Awards/recognitions:  Freedom of the City of London
Positions held: Described as manager on valuation roll for Eastriggs
Trivia / any other information:


Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):


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William Leonard Scotcher 1890-1982 


William Leonard Scotcher , known as Leonard and appearing as such in various documents such as census returns and Freedom of the City of London papers, was born on 7th May 1890 in Millwall, East London.  

He was the first child born to Ernest William Scotcher the son of a Publican and Priscilla nee Gray the daughter of an engine driver from Plaistow, West Ham. He was the eldest of 8 , indicated in the 1911 census return although there is only evidence of six. A seventh and  eighth could have been stillborn or died in infancy in between census documentation. 

Ernest and Priscilla married at St John’s , Bethnal Green on 12th November 1889. Ernest is described as an engineer aged 22 and Priscilla 23. One of the witnesses is Priscillas’s father who made his mark as he could not write. Priscilla’s age may not be accurately recorded at her marriage as it does not tally with later census evidence. She may only have been 19. 

Within six months Ernest and Priscilla’s first child, William Leonard was born on 7th May 1890 in Millwall. Leonard was baptised on 6th July 1890 at St John, Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets. The address given on the baptismal record is 2 Wiltshire Villa, Poplar. Ernest’s occupation is described as turner. 

By the 1891 census the family are still at 2 Wiltshire Villa, a property they seem to be sharing with another family. Ernest now describes himself as a steam engine maker. 

 After the census was taken in 1891 a daughter Ethel Priscilla was born. Gertrude arrived in 1894 and Harold Leslie in August 1895.   

In 1895, Ernest is listed on the electoral list at 34 Plevna Street, Poplar, “ 3 rooms first floor unfurnished”. Two adults and four children. 

In 1899 Florence arrived followed by Henry in 1900. Leonard would now be 10. 

The 1901 census tells us that the Scotcher family have moved to 76 York Road, Walthamstow. Ernest now 32 is a metal turner , Priscilla 33, Leonard 10, Ethel 9, Gertrude 7, Harold 5, Florence 2 and Henry 9 months. 

Sadly on 8th June 1901 , aged 8,Gertrude died followed by 1 year old Henry in December. Their burials were at St John’s. The cause of these premature deaths is not evident but could be linked and could also be linked to poor East End overcrowded housing conditions.  

The next evidence is of Priscilla in the 1911 census when she was in St Bartholomew’s hospital, Smithfield. Here she is aged 40 – this is a discrepancy with her earlier recorded ages- and she has had 8 children, 4 have lived and 4 have died. The 1911 census for Leonard and his father could not be sourced. Hopefully Priscilla was out of hospital and fully recovered by 12 th August when 19 year old Ethel married George Archibald Frederick Scott and went to live in West Ham. Leonard would have been 21 and probably studying or having studied chemistry, 

The next time we come across Leonard is in November 1915 when he is given the Freedom of the City of London. The Official documentation gives his address as 31 Carisbrooke Road, Walthamstow- his parents’ home. It is not clear why this “ Analytical chemist “ is given this high honour and he is not included in the Wikipedia list of recipients which does not claim to be exhaustive. Ernest as the father is named on the document. This must have been a very proud  moment for this East end boy and his parents. 

We know that Leonard was employed at H M Factory Gretna – his name and address are included under “ Staff” in the Dornock Farewell magazine of 1919. His address is the family home at 31,Carisbrooke Road, Walthamstow. He was employed there as a manager and is listed in the valuation roll for 1918/19 as Leonard W Scotcher, manager living No 6 staff Quarters, Eastriggs. It is possible that he was employed from 1916 or 1917. 

 On 7th October 1918 Leonard now 28 married  Mary Morrison Booth , 26 at Coatbridge, Lanarkshire. The marriage registration lists Leonard as an analytical chemist living at the No 6 staff quarters  , Eastriggs. Mary is a surgical nurse. Her father, deceased, was an ironmonger and Leonard had listed his father as an “engine fitter (journeyman)” The wedding took place at the Wesleyan Church, Coatbridge which was Mary’s home town.  This couple obviously met whilst Leonard was working at Gretna, Mary could have been there as well. 


Mary was born on 23rd May 1892 in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire , the 5th of 6 children to Alexander of Dundee and Janet of Glasgow. In the 1901 census there are 5 girls and 1 son. Two of the older girls work for their father as ironmonger’s assistants. By 1911 , Mary is listed as a clerkess – the nursing must have come later. 

In 1921 , Leonard’s brother Harold , now a fireman, married at St John’s, Bethnal Green. 

Less than a year later on 28th August 1922,  Leonard and Mary emigrated to Canada to live at 1105 Valley Way, Niagara Falls. The declaration for entry to Canada shows that Leonard has Freedom of the City of London.  They sailed to Quebec from London on’ SS Minesota’ “ visiting relatives and possibly business”. The passage was paid by themselves, First class , Leonard declares that he speaks “English etc.” They are destined to Toronto via Montreal to a brother -in-law , J Murray Esq., 287 Oakwood Avenue Toronto. They were 32 and 31 and intending to live in Canada. Leonard an analytical chemist and Mary a housewife.  

Tragically Mary died on 19th June 1932 aged 41 years, 2 months and 22 days having been in Canada for 10 years and at 834 Fifth Avenue, Niagara Falls for 9 years, The death registration yields a wealth of information. Her birthplace is recorded as Coatworth rather than Coatbridge- a slight error. She died following a hysterectomy performed due to cancer of the uterus plus secondary brain cancer.  Her burial was at Fairview Cemetery, Niagara Falls. The gravestone sourced in the Fairview Archive also yields  many unanswered questions. Also buried there are Leonard, a daughter Vera and a grand daughter Jaqueline as well as his sister Florence and second wife Alice.   

We now know that Leonard and Mary had a daughter, Vera May on 10th April 1930. This leaves Leonard widowed with a 2 year old daughter. Mary’s grave inscription simply reads “ Wife, Mary M Scotcher , 1891-1932, Always of good cheer” 

The above information probably explains the 3 month visit made by Ernest and Priscilla to visit Ernest , granddaughter Vera May and the grave of their daughter Florence who we learn from the Fairview cemetery record had died in 1929. Now aged 66 and 68 they sailed on “SS Scania” from Southampton on 21st July 1935. The passenger lists give their address in Canada as 834 Fifth Avenue and we know that they stay for 3 months as  they appear on the incoming passenger listing for “Auraria” to London on 6th October 1935. Their UK contact is given as Harold Scotcher of 106 Grove Road, Hoe St, Walthamstow. Perhaps they met Alice Jacobsen whilst there who was to become Leonard’s second wife.  

On 17th July 1938 Leonard married Alice Jacobsen , 43 year old widow and dressmaker. The Marriage registration informs us that she was born in London, is presbyterian and her parents are Charles and Blanche Lahey. Jacobsen being her married name. Leonard is a 48 year old widower, an analytical chemist of 834 Fifth Avenue, Niagara Falls. There is a slight indication in further documentation that Ernest attended his son’s marriage. Daughter Vera May would have been 8.  

Alice had been born in London in 1895 and had emigrated with father Charles , a farmer, mother Ella and  brother George born in 1896. The 1921 Canadian census  informs us that they emigrated in 1905. Alice’s first marriage was to Jacob Jacobsen a tool maker from Stavanger, Norway. This marriage registration gives the date of 9th February 1918 in Niagara Falls. Jacob became a naturalized US citizen. Naturalization papers give us a good description of Jacob in 1924 , brown hair, blue eyes, 5ft 6ins with stiff right thumb. He gives an address for Brooklyn. 

The 1939 register for England places Ernest and Priscilla still at 31 Carisbrooke Rd, Walthamstow, now a retired Metal turner. The register for Harold  lists his as a Record Keeper ( civil servant) inland revenue Somerset House. He has a wife and son who is a Chemist assistant at the London Coop and ARP St John’s Ambulance. Harold died in 1967 and is buried in Newham. 

Ernest lived until April 1946 – he was 76 and Priscilla until March 1949. There is no evidence to say that they visited Canada again. 

Leonard appears again on Voters lists for Niagara Falls. He and Alice are  still at 834 Fifth Avenue in 1958. In 1952 their first granddaughter , Jaqueline Elaine Campaigne was born. Vera May had married a French Canadian, John Charles Campaigne . A public member tree indicates that another 2 grandchidren were born. Sadly, Jacqueline died aged 2 in 1954. Their son in law died in 1973. 

We learn eventually from his gravestone that William Leonard Scotcher died in 1982, the day and month are unclear. He was 92. Alice survived him by a couple of years.  

Canadian records show that Vera lived until 2015.  

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