George Thomas and James Devaney


George Thomas Devaney

George Thomas Devaney

A problem arose when researching the life of this soldier – the spelling of his surname. The Frankby parish memorial spells it with two “ns”, whereas other records spell it with one. When we learn that the name is Irish and was originally spelled either “O’Duibheamhna” or “O’Duibheannaigh”, a roving “n” in the Anglicisation of the name would appear to be a minor inconvenience. George’s grandfather, Cornelius Devany, an agricultural labourer from Westport in County Mayo, was the founder of the Wirral branch of the family. Interestingly, the 1861 census records him as living on Pemberton Green in Neston, where 39 of the 96 residents (nearly 41%) were Irish. It is possible that, rather than being emigrants to Liverpool who had later settled in Wirral, they had come directly to Wirral via Parkgate. Continue reading


Alfred and William Hatton

The following biographies were written by Stephen Roberts and Victoria Doran


Alfred belonged to a well-established West Kirby family. He was the second son and third child of nine, two of whom died in infancy. His surviving sisters were Mary Elizabeth, Louise, Eleanor May (“Nellie”) and Alice. Using his service records and baptism entry, we can calculate that Alfred must have been born on 22nd December 1887 in West Kirby. His parents, William Hatton, a general labourer (1861-1903), and Mary Jane Lewis (born in 1860) were both from West Kirby and married in St. Bridget’s Church in 1882. Alfred’s only younger brother, William, was killed in 1918. Alfred and he both appear on a family gravestone in St. Bridget’s churchyard (pictured below). In 1891 and 1901 the family were living in West Kirby Village and in 1914, at 2 Eaton Road. Their older brother, John William, survived the War but was gassed. In 1911, Alfred was living as a lodger in the house of John and Marion Cartlidge at 14 Hilton Street, Birkenhead and he had begun his career as a grocer. By 1915, he was employed by Williams Bros. of Birkenhead. Continue reading

William Herbert Davies

The Following biography was written by Victoria Doran


William Herbert Davies (1874-1916) was one of very few civilians from West Kirby to die during the First World War. Known to his friends as Will, he was the eldest son and second child of the five children of Robert Davies (1848-1898) and Jane Sharpe (1846-1919). He was born in Rock Ferry where his father was a master butcher. According to the London Gazette, his father went bankrupt in 1879, and by 14 May 1880 the family are at Village Road, West Kirby where his father is working as a journeyman butcher. He must have been able to pay his creditors as when he died in 1898 he left over £2,500.  By 1901 Will is working as manager of the shop, which, it is believed was then owned by his mother. 

Advertisement for Davies the Butcher's Dated 1897

Advertisement for Davies the Butcher’s Dated 1897

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Williamson Spencer Hind

This biography was written by Victoria Doran

Williamson Spencer Hind

Williamson Spencer Hind was born on 11 Feb 1877 at Levenshulme, Manchester, the fourth son of the five surviving children of John Hind (1841-1916) and Anne Spencer (1843-1922). On the only occasion when he completed information, he called himself William, but as it is not known how he was called by his family, these notes will call him Williamson. 

Williamson is one of the men commemorated in various places in West Kirby who may possibly never have visited the place. He does not, however, seem to be commemorated anywhere else in England. His only known connection with West Kirby is that his parents retired there sometime between 1901 and 1911, living at Beaconsfield, 6 Church Road.  Continue reading

Richard Edward and Ernest Houghton

The Following Biographies were written by Victoria Doran:

Introduction to the Houghton Family

Richard Edward  (1891–1914) and Ernest Houghton (1893 –1918) were brothers from a large and poor family.  

Their father Richard Houghton (1857 – 1934) was born at Bescar, a few miles inland of Southport in Lancashire, and was brought up there by his grandmother, his own parentage being uncertain. By the age of 13 in 1871 he was a ‘live in’ farm servant nearby. He had moved to Birkenhead by 1881 and worked mostly as a carter from then on. In 1882 he married Susanna Pyke Griffiths (1862–1938) who was born in Irby but brought up in Birkenhead. Her father died young and her mother had to support herself by taking in laundry. Susanna worked as a domestic servant for an oil merchant in Oxton before her marriage. In 1901, like her mother, she was taking in laundry to help support her family.  Continue reading

Alec Rowan Herron

The Following Biography was written by Stephen Roberts and Victoria Doran:

Alec Rowan Herron

Alec Heron

Alec Herron

This casualty is another example of a local middle class young man who became an officer and who died leading his men into battle. In fact, he appears to have been an exceptionally able individual who would probably have enjoyed a distinguished academic career if it had not been for the Great War in which he served so enthusiastically and selflessly. Continue reading