Bird is a very well known Hoylake surname. Ernest’s lineage can be traced back to his five greats grandfather, Nehemiah, who was born in Wallasey in 1685. His parents were Henry (1849-1942) and Hannah Jane (née McDougal, 1860-1933). Henry was the brother of George Bird (born in 1856), the next casualty’s father. Ernest and Frederick Bird were, therefore, first cousins. Ernest was the eldest of Henry and Hannah’s three surviving children. Hannah was from Workington in Cumberland. She was Henry’s third wife. Therefore, Ernest had four surviving half siblings from his father’s previous marriages. These children were not in the family home in 1901 or 1911. Henry was a Gentleman’s Domestic servant in 1901 and a gardener by 1911, when Ernest was a school pupil living in the ten-roomed family home at number 11 Darmond’s Green, West Kirby. Early on in the war, Ernest joined the Liverpool Pals and was eventually posted to France on 7th November 1915. The Book of Remembrance claimed that he served in Gallipoli. Given that he was in the 18th Liverpools, this would have been impossible. There is no record of his having served in any other unit, so it must be a mistake. Suffice it to say that Ernest survived the war but died prematurely at home from illness which resulted from his military service.
Birth December 1896 in Hoylake
Death: 15th December 1920, from illness, aged 24
Address: 11 Darmond’s Green, West Kirby (01-11)
Unit: 18th Bn. The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
Number and Rank: 16437 Private
Medals: 1915 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH
Sources: BR, MC, FT, Census: 01, 11
The Birds were an extremely important local family, many of whom were fishermen. They moved to Hoylake from Wallasey in the late 18th century. As explained above, Fred was first cousin to Ernest because his father, George (1856-1935) was brother to Henry (1849-1942). Both of them were sons of John Bird (born in 1823 in Hoylake). Fred’s mother was Anne Salisbury who was born in 1858 and died when he was only two in 1899. Fred had a total of seven brothers and six sisters, at least two of whom died as babies. By 1901 his father, George, had married Frances Alice Goodacre and the family were living at 15 Sea View, Hoylake with only eight of George’s children, including Fred. By 1911, they were living at Corona, a six-roomed house on Harrington Avenue, Hoylake. Fred was still a school pupil and his father was a fish dealer.
Sadly, there are insufficient records upon which to base an account of Fred’s military career: we do not even have a Commonwealth War Graves record or a medal card, but we know that Fred was a member of the local territorial battalion, the 1st/4th Cheshires and that he died at Gallipoli in August 1915. The Deeside Advertiser of 10th August 1915 reported that his father had been informed that Fred had been posted as missing – a very terse comment which goes nowhere near to describing the unspeakable agonies of worry which Fred’s loved ones must have endured as they awaited definite news of his fate. We can be grateful that Fred is commemorated on Grange Hill, in Hoylake and in the Book of Remembrance, but efforts must be made to ensure that he is recorded, along with his comrades who have similarly unknown graves, in Turkey.
Birth: c.1897 in Hoylake
Death: 8th August 1915, aged 19
Addresses: 15 Sea View, Hoylake (01), Corona, Harrington Avenue, Hoylake (11)
Unit: 1st/4th Bn. The Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Unknown
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H
Sources: BR, GB, FT, DA, Census: 01, 11
GEORGE TREVOR BIRD
This soldier was generally known by his middle name. Trevor was the eleventh child and sixth son of Councillor Richard Bird (1850-1918) and his wife Elizabeth Hughes (1851-1938), who had thirteen children altogether. George was first cousin once removed to Ernest and Fred Bird, due to their common descent from the original Richard Bird (1796-1872). Trevor’s father, Councillor Bird, was a very well-known local figure. He was a successful Hoylake building contractor. By the time of his death, he had been a councillor for 26 years and chairman of the council at least twice. Trevor was a bright young man. Whilst he was a student at Calday Grange, he distinguished himself at mathematics and went on to work for Ingleby and Lloyd, a firm of cotton brokers in Liverpool, where, according to the Birkenhead News, he had “brilliant prospects”. He was still living in the family home in 1911, the ten-roomed house at 2 Grove Road, Hoylake, with his parents and seven of his siblings.
Trevor married a Miss Sneddon not long after the outbreak of war and they had one child. At some point, he joined the Liverpool Scottish in Liverpool. As a well-educated, middle class man, working in commerce in Liverpool, he was a typical member of this battalion. According to The Deeside Advertiser, he was a good soldier – “His fighting spirit in the ranks was of the ‘honour and glory type’, and although he had been given opportunities of receiving stripes, and, later, a commission, he preferred to remain ‘just an ordinary Tommy’ – a good comrade, and a worthy citizen.” He had been in France for two and a half years without a break. His family were constantly hoping to hear that he would soon be home on leave. Sadly, this is not the news they eventually received. Instead, a letter reporting his death, written by a Major Richardson, was received by Trevor’s brother, Staff Sergeant Charles Jesse Bird, who was at home due to the death of their father which had occurred on 3rd June 1918. Trevor was in a front line trench when a shell landed in the middle of his group. Everybody in it was killed. His body was inspected afterwards and the writer reported that death had been “instantaneous” and that “his features were peaceful and there was no trace of pain”. Given the common practice of hiding from their loved ones all details of the appalling injuries and agonising deaths which many Tommies experienced, we must hope, for Trevor’s sake, that this account is true. Trevor had four brothers serving in the army. As well as the aforementioned Charles Jesse, Corporal Douglas Bird was also at home when news of George’s death arrived.
The grave of Trevor’s parents and sister Eliza Jane (1884-1933) lies in Hoylake churchyard and bears his epitaph: “ALSO MY SON G. TREVOR BIRD, WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION AT GIVENCHY IN FRANCE ON 19th JUNE 1918, 25 YEARS OF AGE. ‘UNTIL THE DAY BREAKS’”
Birth: 26th March 1893 in Hoylake
Death: 19th June 1918, killed in action aged 25
Address: 2 Grove Road, Hoylake
Occupation: Cotton Clerk and Broker (11-14)
Unit: 1/10th Bn. The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) “The Liverpool Scottish”
Number(s) and Rank: 357714 Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, HCY, France: Pas de Calais, Houchin British Cemetery II. F. 7.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, GB, FT, DA, BN, Census: 11
RICHARD HENRY BIRD
Richard was the only child resulting from the marriage of James Lee Bird (1859-1936) and Elizabeth Holmes (1860-1882). Following Elizabeth’s death, James married Anne Smith (1862-1905) and had three more children, only one of whom lived beyond the Great War. This was James Lee Bird Junior (1888-1957) who, coincidentally, married another Holmes – Millie (1888-1974), who was Elizabeth Holmes’s niece (daughter to her elder brother Peter, 1858-1925) and, therefore, James Lee Bird Junior’s cousin. Richard was first cousin to the three Holmes men recorded on the Grange Hill memorial. They were all grandsons of Edward Holmes (1815-1891) and Ann Disbury (1816-1888), who were also my three greats grandparents, making Richard my first cousin thrice removed.
Of course, Richard was also cousin to the above Birds: second to Ernest and Fred and first once removed to Trevor. They were all descended from Richard Bird (1796-1872). Richard Henry’s father was a fisherman. His parents were Henry Bird (1826-1868) and Margaret Lee (1827-1880). Henry was the keeper of the Hoylake Lower Lighthouse at the same time as Margaret’s brother, James Lee (born in 1827), was the keeper of the Upper Lighthouse. In 1891, presumably due to his father’s remarriage, the eight year-old Richard was living with his uncle William Holmes (1842-1901) and his wife Ann (née Worsley, born in 1846) in Dawson Street, Hoylake. He cannot be found on the 1901 census, but, by 1911, he was living at Sand Hey Cottage in Great Meols with his wife, Lilian (née Povey, born in 1882) whom he had married on 19th October 1904. Their house contained only two rooms and no longer exists. Richard was employed as a carter for a coal merchant. By 1914, when he joined up, Richard was a gardener.
By the end of December 1918, Richard had been a driver in the Royal Field Artillery for three and a half years, which means he must have joined up in about June 1915. He spent six weeks training and then served in France and Italy. He died of illness in France after the war had ended.
Birth: c.1882 in Hoylake
Death: 21st January 1919, died aged 36
Address: Dawson Street, Hoylake (1891), Sand Hey Cottage, Great Meols (1911-1919)
Occupations: Carter (11), Gardener (14)
Unit: 58th Ammunition Column Royal Field Artillery
Number and Rank: 43219 Driver
Medals: 14/15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille.
Sources: BR, CWGC, MC, DA, Census: 91,11
THOMAS HAZELHURST BIRD
Thomas was distantly related to the four Bird casualties who are described above. They were all descended from Henry Bird (1740-1818) and Elizabeth Evans (1737-1811) of Wallasey. The above men came from Henry’s son, John (1771-1810), who is commemorated on Hoylake’s lifeboat memorial, as he was one of the crew who drowned on 22nd December 1810. Thomas Hazelhurst Bird was descended from John Bird’s brother, William (1767-1828). Therefore, the above Trevor Bird was Thomas’s third cousin while Ernest, Fred and Richard Bird were his third cousins once removed. These are not relationships which are likely to have meant much to these men on a day to day basis, but are significant to the local historian as they reveal how certain key families formed the infrastructure of the local population.
Thomas Hazelhurst Bird’s parents were Joshua Bird (1854-1939) and Maria Hazelhurst (1859-1886). On every census Thomas is recorded as living with either his grandparents or uncle. By 1914, his father was living on Government Road in Hoylake with Thomas’s brothers, Joshua and John. Joshua later went to Canada and John to Wallasey. In 1891 Thomas was a golf caddy and in 1911 a general labourer, living at 22 Walker Street, Hoylake. This was the five-roomed home of his uncle, Joseph William Bird, a bricklayer’s labourer. Thomas’s cousins Margaret and Joseph and his 89 year-old grandmother, Margaret lived in the same house.
Thomas volunteered for the Cheshire Regiment on 30th August 1914 in Chester, at the age of 28 years and 244 days. He had his medical in Birkenhead the next day and was recorded as being 5’ 7” tall and weighing 144lbs. He had a 39” chest with a 2½” expansion and a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He was a member of the Church of England. Thomas was posted on 2nd September. Whilst training at Parkhouse Camp near Tidworth in Wiltshire, he got into trouble three times, twice for being “absent from Tattoo” in November 1914 and once for “smoking a cigarette in the ranks contrary to orders” on 19th March 1915. He went to France with “A” Company of the 9th Cheshires, which was part of the 19th (Western) Division on 19th July 1915 and only served 59 days before he was reported missing on 15th September 1916. He was later assumed to have been killed in action. By 1922 his father, Joshua, like several other Hoylake fishermen, had moved to Fleetwood and was living at 46 Gordon Road in that town.
Birth: c.1886 in Hoylake
Death: 15th September 1915, reported missing, later assumed killed in action aged 30
Addresses: Back Sea View (91), 22 Walker Street, Hoylake (01, 11)
Occupations: Golf Caddy (01), Labourer (11)
Unit: “A” Company 9th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 12351 Private
Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, Belgium: Ploegsteert Memorial, Panel 4 and 5
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, SR, Census: 91,01,11