Charles Edward Kershaw


This biography was written by Victoria Doran.

When reading this article it should be remembered that divorce was only available to the relatively well off, and the attitudes to actions out of wedlock were markedly different to those of today.

Charles Edward Kershaw came from one of the least well off backgrounds of any of the men commemorated on the War Memorial

Cheshire cap badge.JPG

Cap badge of the Cheshire Regiment

Charles Edward Kershaw was born in the Spring of 1896 in Gateacre, Liverpool the only son of Joseph Kershaw (1870-1902) and Mary Cross (1875-???). He had an older half-sister Edith Cross (known as Kershaw) (1892-???) who was born well before his parents married at the start of 1895 in Liverpool. He was followed by 2 sisters Elizabeth Kershaw (1897-1902) and Mary Adelaide Kershaw (1899-???). In 1901 the family were living at 114 Hey Green Road, Wavertree, and his father was a railway labourer.

Joseph Kershaw came from the Old Swan area of Liverpool and was the son of Charles Kershaw (1845-1887) a general labourer and Frances Stedman (1852-1896). Their short lives possibly reflected the poor circumstances in which they lived.

Mary Cross was born in Liverpool, but nothing is known about her before her marriage to Joseph Kershaw. In 1902 she lost both her husband and daughter Elizabeth in the space of 6 months, leaving her alone to look after 3 children no older than the age of 10.

By the time of the 1911 census, Charles Edward (chemist’s errand boy), Edith (domestic servant) and their mother were living at 7 Norton Road, West Kirby with Mary claiming to have been married to one Arthur Clements (1867-??) for 6 years. There were also 2 Clements half siblings Stanley Clements (1906-1971) and Dorothy Evelyn Clements (1910-???) in the household. Arthur Clements was working as a cab driver.

1911 England Census for Charles Edward Kershaw.jpg

However Mary and Arthur were not actually married. Arthur (then a coachman) had married Martha Moss (1872-???) in the summer of 1890 in Liverpool and they had 2 sons, Arthur (1890-1893) and George (1893-???). No trace has been found of Martha after the baptism of George in July 1893. George was brought up by his maternal grandparents. At the 1901 census Arthur was a visitor to Mary and Louisa Davenport in Deva Road, West Kirby. He claimed to be single and a builder’s clerk.

It would seem that Arthur was not able to marry Mary Kershaw as he was still married to Martha. Probably Martha is also recorded as apparently married to someone else. She had certainly not taken her son George along with her. 

That Arthur Clements was not married to Charles Edward Kershaw’s mother is confirmed by 3 facts. Firstly, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records her as Mary Kershaw, not Mary Clements. Secondly, the birth of Stanley Clements was actually registered as Stanley Clements Kershaw. Thirdly, at the 1911 census Mary Adelaide Kershaw was living at The Girl’s Preventive Home, Aigburth Road, Toxteth Park. According to on Liverpool Charitable Institutions, this was a charitable boarding establishment which took girls from the ages of 9 to 16 who were at risk of moral hazard or in extreme poverty to train as domestic servants.

As Mary Adelaide was only 12 years old in 1911, she can only have been there since 1908 at the earliest, some years after her mother set up home with Arthur Clements. She must have gained her place by someone believing she was at moral hazard, presumably from the example of her mother.

Clearly Charles Edward Kershaw must have been aware that his sister had been removed from the family, and thus of society’s attitude to the household he lived in, and he must have known his mother and Arthur Clements were not married.

Charles Edward Kershaw was amongst the earliest volunteers, and the Deeside Advertiser of 6 November 1914 records him as living at 31 Birkett Road. This was the home of DAVID HARTNESS, (another name recorded on Grange Hill War Memorial) a former regular soldier and his wife, so Charles Edward must have been a lodger. Despite the house being small, there was room for a lodger as David and Annie Hartness had lost their only child as an infant.

Before the First World War, an 18 year old (who would have been paid very little) usually only left home to become a boarder in order to be nearer his work, but Charles Edward worked for the railway and Birkett Road, Norton Road and Hilton Road (where the Clements were living by 1915) are all within 10 minutes walk of the railway stations in West Kirby. Relatively speaking the Clements household was not overcrowded for their era and class, so he presumably found himself lodgings because he was not happy at home.

As his military record has not survived, we know very little about his service. He enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment before 6 November 1914. He arrived at Gallipoli on 8 August 1915 as a Private 1193 in the 1/4th battalion of his regiment.

From the following newspaper article we know he was shot in the brain on 23 August 1915 and died on the hospital Ship ‘Neuralia’ 16 hours later on the 24 August, fortunately being unconscious throughout that time.

Death of Pte C Kershaw.jpg

From the collection of Heather Chapman

He was quiet, unassuming and respected and only 19 years old.

No doubt he was buried at sea. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli, as well as Grange Hill War Memorial and St Bridget & St Andrew churches in West Kirby.

Helles Memorial as joeg.jpg

The Helles Memorial overlooking the straits at Gallipoli

Birth: Apr 1896 at Gateacre, Liverpool
Death: 24 Aug 1915 at sea on hospital ship ‘Neuralia’; from head wound received at Gallipoli
Addresses: 114 Hey Green Road, Wavertree, Liverpool (01); 7 Norton Road, West Kirby (11); 31 Birkett Road, West Kirby (14)
Occupation: railway worker
Unit: 1/4th Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 1193; Private
Medals: 15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated: Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey
Sources: GH, WK, CWGC, MC, DA, BN, Census: 01, 11, BR, PR


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