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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Private John Edward Spencer from Hartlepool


Neil Mackenzie

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A friend of a friend has the Memorial Plaque for John Edward Spencer and wishes to contact his family if at all possible.

From the research he has done he can discount all the other JE Spencers who died so is confident that the Plaque relates to Private JE Spencer of the 8th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment His Service Record shows he was John Edward Spencer from Hartlepool.

On 11 June the Battalion took over P Sector trenches 9-14 (anyone know where that was?). John was wounded in the abdomen (probably from a trench mortar) He died of his wounds on 16 June 1916 and is buried at Lijssenthoek.

It is the slimmest of slim hopes but if anyone knows anything about this family please can they let us know.

Many thanks

Neil

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Neil. Finally found John Edward on the 1911 census under John Heywood - his wifes maiden name, there is a chap on Ancestry with his family tree searching the daughter of John and Annie Heywood - Mary Isabella born 1908 - he lives in Yarm . You should be able to trace the family you are looking for if you contact him, the name is WALLS. Ralph.

Edit :- NOT his wifes maiden name

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Neil. Following on through his service record he had three children Elsie Maud b 1901; James Alfred b 1903; Mary Bell b 1906; married Annie Isabella Mary Heywood in 1911 he was a locomotive fireman. Cannot trace him under his name in 1911. Found him under John Heywood with these children plus one more, same employment (almost) locomotive stoker. Ralph.

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Neil. Very strange this one, looked at the entry on the census page and Ancestry have it wrong, his entry reads John Edward Spencer age 23 a boarder, not Heywood as Ancestry have put, also listed as single and Annie as a widow. His service record has him married to Annie I M Heywood with children Maud and James this matches up with the children in 1911. Very odd. I have sent a message to the chap on Ancestry to see if he can shed any light on the case, see if he replies. Ralph..

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Ralph

The info I have been given from the Service Record says he was a locomotive fireman and his age at enlistment in 1914 was given as 27 - meaning he would have been 14 when Elsie was born! If he did marry Annie in 1911 I am thinking that Elsie, James and Mary were her children from an earlier marriage. Annie was 29 in 1911 so she was 5 years older than John Spencer and would have been 19 when Elsie was born.

I can see two entries on the 1911 census I am guessing that her first husband John Heywood died in 1911 soon after the census was taken on 2 April and she married John Edward Spencer shortly afterwards - with 3 children to raise this was probably her only realistic option to avoid poverty.

Alternatively her husband had been dead for some time (John Joseph Heywood, if he was her husband, died in Hartlepool in 1905) and John Spencer just pretended to be 'Heywood' when the Census team came round! All speculation though.

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Neil. Searched for ages and come up with this - he is mistranscribed in 1911 as Heywood (fact) a boarder with Annie whom he married in Sept qtr of 1911 and "inherited" her three children - Elsie Maud 1901,James Alfred (you can just make out the letter A on the 1911 census form)1903 and Mary Bell 1906 , one other child Molly Isabel b 1908.Two children had died by 1911.She originally married James Alfred Heywood in 1900 (her maiden name was Armstrong) his name was given to his first son as seen. I have calculated that John Edward was born on the 9th March 1887 (recruitment form dated 10 Oct 1914 gives his age as 27 years 215 days, working backwards from this date = 9th March 1887). Ralph.

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Many thanks Ralph - that all ties up.

I still cannot find any relevant entry on the Ancestry Message Board though and have tried various search terms. What did you search on to find Mr Walls?

Many thanks again

Neil

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Re the Walls family tree ;- search entry on Ancestry for Molly Isabel Heywood b 1908, left hand side = other people searching Molly Isabel Heywood = top name on the page that appears BUT they have her as MARY Isabel Heywood with no other relatives but I reckon 99% that this is the same girl both born 1908, both born West Hartlepool. Ralph.

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Thanks Ralph - I will give that a try.

I have got an Ancestry sub today and looked at the records myself. I am fairly sure that Mary Bell Heywood was born on 20 October 1906 and died in April 1907. Her sister, Molly Isabel Heywood, was born in 1908 as you say.

Another oddity is that the 1911 Census puts them in West Hartlepool in 10 St James' Street but that road is practically on the coast - it couldn't be more 'East'!

Neil

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Perhaps West Hartlepool is just the all encapsulating term for the census returns. Hope we can find a living relative after all this detective work. Ralph.

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I have sent Mr Walls a message via Ancestry. How he is related to the Heywood/Spencer family is not immediately clear. Fingers crossed and thanks again for your help.

Neil

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  • 6 years later...

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