George Wordsworth Allen

The following biography was written by Victoria Doran.

George’s biography was originally written by Stephen Roberts and posted on 19th November 2013 along with several other biographies, including those of John Aitken and Hew Graham Anderson. It has now been deleted from that post because Victoria has since discovered much more information about George and incorporated it into the following much more comprehensive and interesting story, which gets a lot nearer to bringing George to life.

GEORGE WORDSWORTH ALLEN

George Wordsworth Allen was born at the end of 1889 in Liverpool, the only child of George Allen (1865 – 1914) and Florence Ada Fernihough (1865 – 1921) as the following extract from the memorial inscriptions for St Bridget, West Kirby testifies:

Grave 679a George Allen/ died 13 Jul 1914 aged 50/ Florence Ada Allen (wife) died 16 Aug 1921 aged 53/ George Wordsworth Allen (son)/ died 24 Jan 1917 aged 26 died from disease contracted while on active service.

George Allen senior was the epitome of a Victorian who rose into the middle classes by his own efforts. He was born in Sheffield, and can first be found at the 1881 census at the age of 15 when he is a shop boy. He is living as an adopted son in a house containing two families. It is not clear which one adopted him. The head of household is Louisa Padmore whose husband seems to have been at sea, and she supported herself and her children by taking in lodgers. The other family is headed by a 60 year old widower John Emmerson with his two children. John Emmerson is a ship keeper, which means a watchman, and was probably formerly a seaman. Neither family would have had anything to spare to help George Allen get on in the world. He must have done so entirely by his own efforts and ability.

Early in 1888 George Allen married Florence Ada Fernihough in Liverpool. There is no record of a church wedding. Florence came from a working class family that was gradually moving into the lower middle classes, her father being a white cooper, who later became a dealer. Florence and her parents came from Nottingham, but she probably spent most of her childhood in Liverpool. Florence was one of only two surviving children.

By 1891 the family were living in at Woodbine Cottage in Huyton on the edge of Liverpool and George was working as a cabinet maker and upholsterer. Presumably at some stage he had managed to get an apprenticeship.

By 1901 the family had moved to Firshill, Oatlands Park, on the corner of Village Road in West Kirby, and George Allen was a house furnisher and an employer. His business, Allen and Appleyard, had been founded in Liverpool in 1898 and must have prospered in order to enable the family to live in such an exclusive part of West Kirby. George and Florence continued to live at Firshill until George’s death on 13 Jul 1914. George senior had by then amassed £5285, certainly enough to ensure his widow a comfortable life from then on.

The following article appeared in the Deeside Advertiser dated 2 February 1917.

"Deeside Advertiser" 2nd February 1917

“Deeside Advertiser” 2nd February 1917

From the report of George Wordsworth Allen’s funeral, we know the family were now participating in the middle class life of West Kirby, with George senior being a sidesman, and George junior singing in the choir when fit enough. George junior apparently suffered indifferent health as a child.

George junior attended Calday Grange Grammar School, but probably not for long as he also went to a boarding school in the Isle of Man. After a period as an apprentice to his father, George decided to try farming in Australia. However he succumbed to a fever and returned to England once fit enough.

Still with a sense of adventure, George now gave seafaring a try. He joined the crew of the Veronese – a packet boat (7.063 tons displacement), owned by Lamport & Holt. She sailed from Liverpool, stopped in Vigo (Spain) and sunk near Boa Nova beach, at 5am on the 16th January 1913, due to a strong storm. Onboard were 232 persons and her captain name was Charles Turner. Several lifeguards rescue boats and tugs helped the rescue and managed to save 103 lifes. Fire fighters from Matosinhos Leça Corporation joined the rescue, which last for three days and two nights, and 89 both passengers and crew were saved through a cable line. Among them was the ship’s captain. Forty people lost their lifes in this tragedy. More information about the tragedy can be obtained from here.

George was listed in the “Deeside Advertiser” of 6 November 1914 as being one of the locals who was already serving in the armed forces. Initially he served in the Cheshire Regiment, but at some stage was transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Note they were called the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during WW1 but reverted to the original spelling in 1920.

Royal Welsh Fusilers Cap Badge

Royal Welsh Fusilers Cap Badge

As can be seen from his medal card, George went to Gallipoli on 7th July 1915. Succumbing to dysentery, as did many of his fellow soldiers, he was transferred to hospital in Cardiff, and finally to a hospital in Llandudno, where he died somewhat suddenly on 24 January 1917.

George's Medal Card

George’s Medal Card

Both the newspaper report and the Book of Remembrance held at West Kirby Library record him as a Lance Corporal, but both his medal card and the CWGC record him as a Private. Perhaps he was one of those who after promotion asked to revert to Private fairly quickly, and his mother was unaware of the fact. Presumably she provided the information to the newspaper and for the Book of Remembrance.

He was given a full military funeral when he was buried in his father’s grave at St Bridget, West Kirby. Unfortunately the grave marker is now in advanced state of disrepair. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have been informed, so hopefully in due course he will receive a fitting grave marker.

Notes
Birth: 1889 in Kensington, Liverpool.
Death: 24th January 1917, died in hospital in Llandudno age 27
Addresses: Huyton with Roby (91), Firshill, Village Road, West Kirby (01)
Occupations: House Furnisher; Farmer; Seaman
Units: Cheshire Regiment, 3rd (Garrison) Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Numbers and Rank: 10986 and 51977, Private, but some sources state Lance Corporal Medals: Victory, British and 1915 Star.
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, St. Bridget’s Parish Graveyard, number 679A, Calday GS Sources: BR, CWGC, DA, SDGW, MC, Census: 91, 01

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