Introduction to the Pownall Family By Gail Brumfitt, Main Author of this Post.
The surname Pownall is of Anglo Saxon origin and is a place name from Pownall Fee, north west of Wilmslow, Cheshire. It was recorded as “Pohenhale” in the 12th Century, and as “Pounhale” in the 1276 “Inquisitions post mortem”.
The following five men, as well as Joshua Davies, were all descendants of John (1739-1819) and Elizabeth Powner (née Hickcock 1755-1820). John was born in Tranmere and he married Elizabeth at St Bridget’s, West Kirby on 8th April 1774. They settled within the West Kirby and surrounding parishes, and most of their descendants were born in Grange, West Kirby, Caldy, Irby, Frankby, Thurstaston, Great Meols, Hoylake and perhaps a few other local places. All of their children were christened with the surname “Powner”. However, their grandchildren were christened with either Powner or Pownall. Subsequent generations were all named Pownall.
What became apparent whilst researching the soldiers appearing on the Grange Hill War Memorial was that besides there being six descendants of one couple, these men also had a lot of brothers who also fought. Due to time limitations, it has not been possible to include all of John and Elizabeth’s descendants, but only the direct lines to those killed during the Great War, and as such it is likely that these men had many more cousins who also fought during the war. The diagram below shows how these men were related. Those in green are those killed during the war. Cllick on the following image in order to gain a better view (Joshua Davies appears in the previous post with the Farnall and Linekar biographies):
Special thanks should go to Carol Hunter for her help in researching these men. Carol provided a lot of information and genealogical details when they were not known. Carol is related to all of these soldiers and is a direct descendant of John Powner and Elizabeth Hickcock.
Arthur Thomas Pownall
Arthur was born in 1899 and baptised at St Bridget’s West Kirby on 1st September 1899. He was the oldest child of six, born to Thomas (1866-1907) and Elizabeth Pownall (née Wright 1868-1900). His siblings were Beatrice Annie (1890-1971); Wallace (1892-?); Thomas Ernest (1894-1903); Leslie George (1896-1923); and Edgar John (1899-1983). Thomas Pownall was the son of Joseph (1838-1915) and Ann Pownall (née Jones 1840-1909). Elizabeth Wright was the daughter of Arthur (1845-1924) and Margaret Ellen Wright (née Rylands 1844-1926).
In 1891 the family were living in Village Road, West Kirby, where Thomas was employed as a postman for the GPO. He was aged 24 and born in West Kirby. Elizabeth was a year younger, aged 23 and born in Gateacre. Arthur was aged 1, Beatrice was just a few months old and the family had a visitor, Mary Ashton, aged 24 and born in Landican.
Elizabeth died in 1900 and so by 1901 the family were separated and living amongst different relatives. Thomas (senior) was widowed, aged 34, now working as a general labourer and living with his parents Joseph and Ann Pownall in Grange Road, West Kirby. Joseph was also a general labourer, aged 62. Both he and Ann were born in West Kirby. Wallace was aged eight was also living there. Also there were Joseph and Ann’s son, Edward and his wife Janet, a boarder Henry Wright working as a well engineer for the waterworks who was born in Runcorn, and their eight month old grandson William Pownall, born in West Kirby.
Arthur was age 11 and living with his maternal grandparents, Arthur and Margaret Wright at 12 Hey Green Road, Wavertree. Arthur Wright (senior) was age 56 and a joiner, born in Liverpool. Margaret was also age 56 and born in Gateacre. Their son, Arthur was age 17, and was born in Wavertree. Beatrice was aged 10 and living with a maternal uncle and aunt, Phillip and Antoinette Wilkes, at 28 Lawrence Grove, Wavertree. Thomas (junior) and Leslie, aged six and four respectively, were living in a charitable institution in West Derby. Edgar, aged two, was living at 28 Pleasant Street, Liscard with his uncle and aunt, Edward and Sarah Williams.
Thomas died in 1907 and so in 1911 his children were still scattered between relatives. Arthur was still living with his maternal grandparents at 12 Hey Green Road Wavertree but was now employed as a van man for a bread baker. Beatrice had moved to London and was working as a housemaid at 44 Campfield Gardens, Hampstead, for William Parson, a colonial merchant, and his family. Wallace and Leslie were living with their widowed paternal grandfather, Joseph Pownall. Their grandmother Ann Pownall had died in 1909. Wallace was working as a cowman on a farm and Leslie was a farm labourer. Also living there was Wallace and Leslie’s aunt, Lucy Wright and her husband, Henry Wright, who had also been living there 10 years earlier. Lucy and Henry’s four children were also there. Lucy Pownall had married Henry Wright eight years earlier. Edgar was still living with his uncle and aunt, Edward and Sarah Williams but they had moved to Holly Terrace, Carrington Lane, Ashton on Mersey.
Arthur’s brother, Wallace, served in WWI in the Cheshire Regiment and Royal Engineers. He emigrated to Freemantle, Western Australia in 1924. His brother, Leslie, emigrated to Sydney, New South Wales in 1914. Leslie served with the 13th Reinforcements, 3rd battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF) during WWI and was wounded suffering a gunshot wound to his eye. He died at Randwick, NSW in 1923.
Arthur’s service records did not survive and so it is not known when or where he enlisted. His entry on the CWGC and his medal card show that he served in the 7th battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, which landed at Bolougne on 17th July 1915. Arthur was transferred to the 121st Company of the Labour Corps, but it is not known when this occurred.
His transfer to the Labour Corps implies that Arthur was either suffering from ill health or the effects of wounds at this point. Certainly, the Book of Remembrance states that he was seriously wounded but ultimately died from illness resulting from his war service. He was buried on 12th March 1919 in Wavertree Parish, having been a patient at Belmont Military Hospital.
Birth: 1889 West Kirby
Death: 5th March 1919 age 30
Address: Village Road, West Kirby (91); 12 Hey Green Road, Wavertree (01-11)
Occupation: Van man for Bread Baker
Unit: 7th Bn The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Transferred to Labour Corps (Lce. Cpl. 629661) 121st Coy
Number and Rank: Private 34032
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, Holy Trinity Churchyard Wavertree
Sources: BR, PR, CWGC, MC, Census: 91, 01, 11
Harry was the third child of nine born to Joseph (1864-1922) and Sarah Ann Pownall (neé Banks 1871-1940). His seven known siblings were Albert Pownall Banks (1893-1968); Jessie Pownall (1895-1977); Ernest (1899-1971); Joseph (1901-1951); Amy (1903-1904); Wilfred (1905-1906); and Elsie (1907-1961). Elsie emigrated to Australia in 1929 and married Norman Bernard Broderick in 1938 at Paddington, NSW. Joseph and Sarah must have had another child who died just after birth as the 1911 Census shows that they had nine children but three had died.
Joseph Pownall was the son of Edward Pownall (1840-1899), a farm labourer born in Great Meols; and Ann Halliday (c.1844-1904) born in Irby. Sarah Ann Banks, born in Great Meols, was from a well known Meols/Moreton family. Her parents were George (1840-1909) a small farmer, and Mary Banks (neé Carroll 1844-1929), who was born in Moreton but her father hailed from Ireland.
The 1901 Census shows the family living at 26 Rudd Street, Hoylake where Joseph was aged 37 and working as a general labourer, Sarah was age 30, their children were Albert age 7, Jessie age 5, Harry age 4 and Ernest age 2. The family had two Irish boarders to supplement their income; Owen Murphy a general labourer age 37, and James O’Neil also a general labourer age 35. They were at the same address in 1911, but now Albert was age 18 and working as a golf caddie, Jessie was 15 and working as a shop girl in the boot trade, Harry was 14 and working as a grocer’s shop boy, Ernest was 12 and still in school, as was Joseph age 10, and Elsie was three years old.
Harry’s younger brother, Ernest, enlisted at Chester on 9th December 1915 and was posted into the 3rd Cheshire Yeomanry. He stated he was 19 years old. However, after just 103 days of service he was discharged for being under age as he was only 16 years of age.
Sadly, Harry’s service records did not survive, but he enlisted at Hoylake in the 13th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, and his medal card reveals that he was posted to France on 25th September 1915. The 13th Battalion was initially formed at Port Sunlight by Gershom Stewart, MP. In October 1914 it came under the orders of the 74th Brigade, 25th Division, and on 25th September 1915 it landed in France, so Harry was with the Battalion in France from the outset.
The 25th Division was inspected by Lord Kitchener on 12th August 1915 and the units of the Division crossed to France from 25th – 30th September 1915, concentrating in the area of Nieppe.
Harry is commemorated in a family grave at Holy Trinity Churchyard. His epitaph reads:
POWNALL – Small Grey Headstone Kerbstones
Headstone – In loving Memory of Joseph Pownall died 19th Aug 1922 aged 58 also Sarah his wife died 29th April 1940 aged 69 also Harry, their son killed in France May 1916 aged 18
Foot Kerb – also Wilfred & Amy infant children
Birth: 8th December 1896 in Hoylake
Death: 15 May 1916 killed in action age 19
Address: 26 Rudd Street, Hoylake (01-16)
Occupation: Grocer’s shop boy
Unit: 13th Bn Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Lance Corporal W/1145
Medals: Victory, British War, 1915 Star
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Arras Memorial Bay 5 and 6
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, Census: 01, 11
James was born in 1881 at baptised at St Bartholomew, Thurstaston on 22nd May 1881. He was the sixth child of 13 born to Thomas Birch Pownall (1853-1939) and Sarah Pownall (neé Banks 1852-1940). His siblings were John Robert (1871-1907); Joseph (1873-1894); Thomas Birch (1875-?); George Henry (1876-1928); Mary Ellen (1879-?); Hester (1883-1959); Edwin (1885-1972); Charlotte (1887-1952); Alfred (1890-1892); Annie (1892-?); William Alfred (1893-1966); and Leonard (1894-1985).
Thomas Birch Pownall was the son of John (1828-?) and Mary Pownall (neé Birch 1832-1881). Sarah Banks background is a bit of a mystery. When she married Thomas Birch Pownall, she stated that her father was John Banks, a Labourer. The 1881 and 1891 census state she was born in Birkenhead, whereas, the 1901 and 1911 census state she was born in Thurstaston. There does not appear to be a birth registration in Wirral for a Sarah Banks born about 1853, however, there is an 8 year old Sarah Banks living in Thurstaston in 1861 boarding with a Tarbuck family and this Sarah is stated to be born in Liverpool, and the 1871 census has an entry for a Sarah Banks age 18 born in Liverpool working as a servant for the Griffith family in Gayton. Whether the 1861 and 1871 census is the correct Sarah Banks requires further investigation.
In 1891 the family were living in Grange where Thomas, born in Heswall, was employed as an agricultural labourer, along with his wife, Sarah and ten of their children – John (19) who was employed as a coal heaver; Joseph (18) employed as a grocer’s assistant; Thomas (16) was a baker’s apprentice; George (14) a general labourer; Mary (12); James (9); Hester (8); Edwin (6); Charlotte (4); and Alfred who was 7 months old.
By 1901 the family had moved to Darmond’s Green, West Kirby, where Thomas was now working as a horse teamster on a farm. John was a cattle yardman, James was a domestic gardener, Hester was a domestic nurse, Edwin and Charlotte were bookstall clerks, Annie, William and Leonard were most likely still in school.
On 14th September 1904 James married Sarah Ellen Roberts at St Nicholas, Liverpool. Sarah was born about 1878 in Liverpool, the daughter of Hugh William Roberts. After their marriage, James and Sarah lived at 11 Orrysdale Road, West Kirby, where they can be found on the 1911 census along with their niece, Edith Pownall aged 8. James was employed as a dairyman and he and Sarah had been married for six years but had not had any children.
James’ older brother, Thomas Birch Pownall (junior) married Amelia Gittins in 1899. It is not clear when Thomas died or what became of him but Amelia remarried in 1908 to ship steward, James William Kieran, in Southampton. Sadly one of the ships he worked on was the RMS Titanic, and James went down with the ship on 15th April 1912.
Three of James’ brother also served during WWI – Edwin was in the Navy and worked on transport crews. He was awarded the 1914 Star, Victory and British War medals along with a Military Cross. William Alfred was a Lance Corporal with the Cheshires. Leonard was a Corporal, also in the Cheshires however, he transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was awarded the 1915 Star, Victory and British War medals.
The service records for James did not survive but he enlisted at Birkenhead and was posted to France on 4th November 1915 as a Sapper with the 438th Field Company, Royal Engineers. This came under the command of the 3rd Division.
The Deeside Advertiser of May 1917 reports that James spent five months training in England before being posted to France and that he had a considerable amount of active service to his credit. It also states that he was killed instantly by a shell. The same article went on to describe James’s memorial service at West Kirby Presbyterian Church as follows:
Five years after his death James’ widow, Sarah, married John Jones in Toxteth Park in 1922.
Birth: 1881 in Thurstaston
Death: 25th April 1917 killed in action age 36
Address: Grange, West Kirby (91); Darmond’s Green, West Kirby (01); 11 Orrysdale Road, West Kirby (11-17)
Occupation: Gardener, Dairyman
Unit: 438th Field Coy. Royal Engineers, formerly 1st Bn Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Corporal 446608, formerly 1132
Medals: Victory, British War, 1915 Star
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, France: Arras Memorial Bay 5 and 6
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, DA, LE, Census: 91, 01, 11
John Alfred Pownall
John was one of only 2 former pupils of what is now West Kirby Primary school in Orrysdale Road who died as a result of the first World War. The other one was John Parkinson. From the log book of the school it is believed that he was known as ‘Alfred’.
John was born in 1899 in West Kirby, the eldest of three children of James William (1870-1943) and Catherine Pownall (née Munro 1866-1939). His two younger siblings were William Donald Pownall (1900-1956) and Stuart Munro Pownall (1903-1904). James Pownall was born in Frankby, the son of James (1839-1904) and Ellen Pownall (née Roberts 1837-1906). Catherine Munro was born in Liverpool, the daughter of Lachlan (1812-1884) and Christina Munro (1823-1906), both were of Scottish origin.
1901 the family were staying with Samuel and Martha Wharton’s family at 5 Albert Road, West Kirby, with their five children, Kate Morris, Joseph Richard, Samuel Ernest, Mary Evelyn and Ada Louise. James Pownall was a bricklayer’s labourer, aged 30 born in Caldy, Catherine was 32 born in Liverpool, John was 2 born in West Kirby and William was 8 months old. Samuel Wharton’s sister, Mary Ellen Wharton, married Joseph Pownall (1873-1894), son of Thomas Birch Pownall and Sarah Banks, and so interestingly, John Alfred Pownall and his siblings, were 3rd cousins once removed to the Wharton children. Samuel Ernest Wharton was also killed during WWI and also appears on the Grange Hill War Memorial.
By 1911 the family were living at 10 Norton Road, West Kirby where James was still employed as a bricklayer’s labourer. John, aged 12, and William, aged 10, were still in school. Stuart had died in 1904.
Due to many duplicated documents within John’s service records with differing information, it has been difficult to ascertain his exact movements, as there appears to have been problems with his service papers being sent from one battalion to another during his numerous transfers between battalions and regiments. A large proportion of correspondence within his records relate to requests for transfer of documentation.
On 18th January 1918 one such document stating that it was advisable to have two men re-attested reads: “Reference attached. I regret these documents cannot be forwarded as they are not yet in our possession. They are due to this office from Nottingham and many applications have been made for them.”
On 28th January 1918 two blank attestations for Privates Davies and Pownall were sent the 2nd/1st Cheshire Yeomanry at Newbiggin-by-Sea, Northumberland and accompanying correspondence stated: “Care should be taken that they are serving for the duration of war.”
It appears that John first enlisted at Birkenhead on 3rd February 1917 in the Army Reserve, was mobilised on 17th April 1917 and posted to the 23rd Works Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment on 18th April 1917 at Prescot. On enlistment, he was 17 years 320 days old, had a chest measurement of 33½ inches with a 2 inch expansion and he named his father, James Pownall, of 16 Norton Road, West Kirby as next of kin.
The 23rd Works battalion became the 1st Labour Battalion of the Labour Corps on 28th April 1917, and on 28th May 1917 John was then posted to the Reserve battalion Labour Corps. On 2nd July 1917 he transferred to the 57th training reserve battalion at Oswestry, and yet another transfer occurred on 15th August 1917 into the 50th training reserve battalion.
John transferred from the Kings Liverpool Regiment to the 2nd/1st Cheshire Yeomanry on 6th December 1917. The Cheshire Yeomanry (Earl of Chester’s) (Hussars) was composed of part time soldiers. Its headquarters were in the Old Bank Buildings in Chester, with squadron drill stations at Knutsford, Eaton, Northwich and Macclesfield. The 2nd/1st were formed as a second line regiment in September 1914 and remained at home, they moved to Ireland in early 1918. It is most likely that John moved to Ireland with them as some of the correspondence within his service records is addressed to The Curragh, Ireland.
John contracted bronchitis whilst possibly on a ship which was torpedoed and was admitted to the Military Hospital, 23 Palm Grove, Birkenhead on 19th March 1918. Staying there for 93 days, he was discharged on 17th June 1918.
On 29th July 1918 John was compulsorily transferred to the 2nd/10th battalion of the Royal Scots, and embarked at Newcastle on 7th August 1918, disembarking in North Russia on 27th August 1918 and was part of the international force which had been assembled to try to defeat the Bosheviks or Reds during the Russian Civil War. It is not known how or why he was killed.
Birth: June 1899 West Kirby
Death: 10th October 1918 missing/killed in action age 19
Address: 5 Albert Road, West Kirby (01), 10 Norton Road, West Kirby (11), 16 Norton Road, West Kirby (17)
Unit: 2nd/10th Bn Royal Scots Formerly King’s Liverpool Regiment and Cheshire Yeomanry
Number and Rank: Private 66171 formerly 84121, H/62247, 63124, 2512
Medals: British War and Victory
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, Russia: Archangel Memorial
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, MC, SR, Census: 01, 11, West Kirby Council School log book
John Charles Pownall
John was born on 1st September 1896 in Hoylake, the youngest son of eight children born to John (1862-1937) and Annie Pownall (neé Smith circa 1866-1946). His siblings were: George Albert (born 1881); Ellen Walton (1888); Thomas Worthington (1889); Ann Stanley (1892); Amy (1894); Margaret Casten (1898); and Jane (1902). John (senior) was the son of James (1831-1885) and Ellen Pownall (neé Walton 1832-1901).
In 1901 the family were living at 8 Dawson Street, Hoylake, where John (senior) was employed as a bricklayer born in West Kirby. Annie was born in Grange and their children were George (15), Ellen (13), Thomas (11), Ann (9), Amy (6), John (4), and Margaret (3). John’s widowed grandmother Ellen Pownall was also living there, she was age 67, born in West Kirby.
By 1911 the family had moved to 43 Rudd Street, Hoylake where John (senior) was now working as a general labourer for a builder, Annie and he had been married for 25 years and had produced eight children, seven of whom were still living, one had died. Still living at home were Ann who was employed as a sorter and packer for a hand laundry, Amy, John who was working as an errand boy on a farm, and Margaret who was still in school.
Before enlistment John was a popular member of the boys brigade. His brother, Thomas was a well known professional golfer who also served during WWI attaining the rank of sergeant.
John’s service records did not survive but he enlisted at Hoylake. The Deeside Advertiser of 7 September 1917 states that John enlisted about three years earlier and was employed by Meols farmer, John Price. John was posted in the 13th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment. This battalion landed in France on 25th September 1915 and came under the orders of the 74th Brigade, 25th Division.
John would most likely have taken part in the Battle of Pilckem which was part of the third battle of Ypres. On 8th July 1917 a Divisional HQ was set up at Busseboom. When the attack began on 31st July, the 25th Division was in the Corps Reserve, behind the 24th, 30th and 8th Divisions which were in the front line. The 7th and 75th Brigades relieved the 8th Division on 1st August. On 10th August the 74th Brigade took part in a renewal of the attack which was successful although it came at a high cost with 47 officers and 1,244 men killed, wounded or missing, the 13th Battalion, Cheshires alone losing 19 officers and 395 men. Sadly John was amongst the fallen.
Birth: 1st September 1896 in Hoylake
Death: 10th August 1917 killed in action age 20
Address: 8 Dawson Street, Hoylake (01), 43 Rudd Street, Hoylake
Occupation: Errand boy for farmer
Unit: 13th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Corporal W/586
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, Belgium: Ypres Menin Gate Panel 19-22
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, BN, DA, Census: 01, 11