The Following Biographies are the Work of Carol Hunter.
An Introduction to the King family of West Kirby
Lionel, Sydney and George were the sons of Doctor Richard Thacker King and Mary Louisa Felton. George is not listed on the West Kirby War Memorial but does appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website. I feel that it is important that he gets an entry in his own right, rather than simply being mentioned in his brothers’ biographies.
Richard Thacker King was born on 15th February 1859 at 1 Fairmount Cottages, Rathgar, Dublin and baptized at St Peter’s Church in Dublin on 19th June. His parents were William King, a merchant (whose father William was an insurance agent) and Eleanor Thacker (whose father Richard was a Gentleman). His parents married in 1856 and he had a sister Eleanor Eves King who was born in 1857.
Richard and Mary married in Dublin in 1884 and had 6 children. The first, William Thacker was baptized on 1st February 1885 in Brackley, Northamptonshire, but sadly died several months later. George Charles was baptized on 17th April at St John the Baptist in Toxteth; the family was living at 118 Mount Pleasant, where Richard was described as a physician and surgeon. The remaining 4 children were all baptized at St Bridget’s in West Kirby: Dorothy Louise 29th March 1888, Violet Eleanor Eves Thacker 9th January 1890 (buried 4th June 1892), Lionel Richard Thacker 11th February 1892 and Sydney William 8th November 1894.
In 1891 Richard and Mary were living on Grange Road, West Kirby with their 3 children George, Violet and Dorothy; Richard was described at a General Medical Practitioner. Kelly’s Directory of 1892 gives their address as 2 Grange Road. In 1901 we find Richard and Mary at the Grand Hotel, Newcastle; their children Dorothy, Lionel and Sydney were living on Grange Road, presumably at number 2, with their Irish cousin Eva Newson, but there is no sign of George. In 1911 Richard, Mary and son Lionel are living at Sandfield House, 2 Grange Road, West Kirby; it is a large property, with 12 rooms and the family had 2 servants. Richard continued to work as a doctor and Lionel was described as an apprentice cotton broker.
On 11th January 1911, at St Bridget’s in West Kirby, Dorothy married Geoffrey Meadow Frost, whose brother Evelyn Fairfax Meadows Frost also appears on the West Kirby Memorial. They had 3 children: Richard Meadows (born in1914), Sheila Mary (born in 1915) and Sydney Evelyn (born in 1922) all in Wirral.
Sometime after 1911 the buildings in Grange Road were renumbered and in 1923 the Kings were living at 24 Grange Road, which is now (2014) Positive Touch Nails, opposite Barclays Bank, which in 1911 was the Liverpool Bank. In 1963 that area of West Kirby was remodeled and I believe it was then that Sandfield House was demolished. Richard and Mary continued to live at Sandfield House until their deaths on 25th July 1934 and 21st May 1945.
Richard’s sister Eleanor Eves King married George Antonius Le Bert in Dublin in 1878; he was a clerk in Holy Orders and they had no children. They followed Richard to England and lived in Runcorn then Liverpool. George died in 1923 and Eleanor in 1940, both in Colwyn Bay.
Lionel Richard Thacker King
Lionel enlisted in the King’s Liverpool Regiment in August 1914, before proceeding to France in November 1915. We do not know in which battalion he served and therefore cannot be sure of what action he saw whilst in France. His pension record tells us that he was 6’ 1/8” tall, weighed 149lb, had grey eyes, fair hair and fresh complexion; his character was described as very good. He was a cotton salesman and had served a 4 year apprenticeship with Wilson Hales until May 1913.
In January 1916 Lionel was treated for a buttock abscess at the 15th Field Ambulance and after repeated treatment in France was transferred back to England in March of that year, as his wound was not healing. He was operated on at Highfield Military Hospital for a tubercular perineal abscess, the result of active service, exposure and infection and in July 1916 was declared no longer physically fit and given “permanent total incapacity for 6 months and then according to his condition”. He was invalided out in 1917 but re-enlisted in the RNAS later that year.
Lionel was also Mentioned in Despatches and as such he was entitled to receive a certificate and wear a decoration. For 1914–1918 and up to 10 August 1920, the decoration consisted of a spray of oak leaves in bronze.
In 1917 Lionel was serving as a Pilot Flying Officer in the Royal Naval Air Service at the Air Station in Sleaford. On 3rd May 1918 whilst flying with Lieutenant Edmund Gabriel Rice at Number 2 School of Instruction at Redcar their aircraft spun into the ground and both airmen were killed.
Lionel’s probate record says he left £366 7s 6d. He was buried at 3pm on Wednesday 8th May and the family requested no flowers.
Birth: 22nd November 1891
Death: 3rd May 1918 aged 26, killed whilst flying at Redcar
Addresses: Grange Road, West Kirby (01), Sandfield House, 2 Grange Road, West Kirby (11)
Occupations: Cotton salesman
Units: King’s Liverpool Regiment, RAF, KLCB; RNAS
Number and Rank: 15936 2nd Lieutenant; Flight Sub Lieutenant
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War; mentioned in Despatches
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, WEST KIRBY (ST. BRIDGET) CHURCHYARD 757
Sources: CWGC, Census: 01, 11; Online BMD records on Ancestry.co.uk and Familysearch, Online Parish registers, LE, Yorkshire Aircraft
Sydney William Thacker King
In 1911 Sydney was a pupil at Hart House School in Sedbergh and went on to Cambridge University. We do not have access to Sydney’s service record and therefore cannot form a full picture of what action he saw. However, we know that his battalion was the local territorial unit which went on to serve in Gallipoli. The Long, Long Trail provides us with a little information about his battalion:
August 1914 : in Birkenhead. Part of Cheshire Brigade, Welsh Division. Moved immediately on mobilisation to Shrewsbury and Church Stretton but by the end of August 1914 had moved to Northampton. In December 1914 moved again to Cambridge and by March 1915 was at Bedford.
13 May 1915 : formation became 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division.
Sailed in July 1915 from Devonport, going via Alexandria to Gallipoli where it landed on 9 August 1915.
December 1915 : withdrawn from Gallipoli and moved to Egypt. 31 May 1918 : left the Division and moved to France. 1 July 1918 : attached to 102nd Brigade in 34th Division.
It is so very sad that Sydney died the day after the arrival of his battalion in Gallipoli. We learn from an article about his brother George’s death that he had taken part in the perilous landings at Suvla Bay.
Death: 10th August 1915 aged 20
Address(es): Grange Road, West Kirby (01), Hart House School, Sedbergh (11), The Riding School, Shrewsbury (15)
Unit: Cheshire Regiment “A” Coy. 1/4th Bn (Territorial Force)
Number and Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Medals: 14/15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, Turkey: HELLES MEMORIAL Panel 75 to 77
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, census 01, 11; online BMD records on Ancestry.co.uk and Familysearch, Online Parish Registers
George Charles King
As mentioned earlier, George was not living with his family in 1901 or 1911 and I have not been able to find a census entry for him. We know that he was a doctor so perhaps he was doing his medical training. Nor have I been able to find any military records for George, other than his medal card, so it is not possible to ascertain what action he saw. However we do know that he served as part of the 2nd West Lancashire Field Ambulance; his was not a vehicle but a mobile front line medical unit. George, like his brother Lionel, was also Mentioned in Despatches.
George survived the war, returned home and enjoyed a short career as a much-loved doctor in West Kirby. On 8th January 1918 he married Hester Beatrice Jenkins in Glamorgan and they had 2 children: John Lionel (born in 1919) and Elizabeth Mary (born in 1921), whose births were registered in Wirral.
In the summer of 1921 George was apparently bitten on the nose by an insect; he then suffered an infection that resulted in septicemia, pneumonia and his eventual death. We learn a lot about his death and funeral from the WK Advertiser, 8th July 1921 and these quotations are particularly poignant:
“The great volume of public sympathy, which throughout the last few anxious days, was manifested towards the sufferer and his relatives is probably without parallel in the history of the neighbourhood. Day after day a constant stream of people walked up the pretty garden path leading to the front entrance of the doctor’s residence – he lived with his father – there to read the latest reports of his condition, and to record their names in a book provided for the purpose.”
“Not a stone was left unturned in the wonderful effort to save the young doctor’s life; it was, indeed, an effort which in magnitude and devoted concentration surpassed anything in the previous experience of the local medical profession.”
There was an extremely long list of mourners from the family, medical profession and wider community. George was clearly a very popular and highly respected man.
After George’s death his widow Hester married Arthur Barnes in 1928; she died in 1978 and must have stayed local as her death is registered in Birkenhead.
Death: 4th July 1921 aged 35
Address: 2 Grange Road, West Kirby (91)
Unit: Royal Army Medical Corps, 2nd West Lancs Field Amb
Number and Rank: Captain
Medals: 15 Star, Victory, British War and RAMC; mentioned in Despatches
Commemorated and Buried: WK, WEST KIRBY (ST. BRIDGET) CHURCHYARD 757
Sources: CWGC, WK Advertiser, Census 91; online BMD records on Ancestry.co.uk and Familysearch, Online Parish registers,