PERCY JAMES POSTON
This biography was written by Victoria Doran.
Percy James Poston came from a family whose family show how little bad luck it took to fall from the servant owning middle classes. His brother Edwin Blackaller Poston is also listed among the names from the Deeside Advertiser of 1922 as having died, but he actually survived to old age.
Army Cyclists Corps badge
Percy James Poston was born on 20 April 1899 in Waterloo near Liverpool. He was the middle of the 3 children (all sons) of Edwin Poston (1855-1903) and Edith Blackaller (1864-1953).
His father Edwin was the first in his family to achieve a white collar job from the start of his working life. Percy’s grandfather James Poston (1817-1895) and his grandmother Jane Partridge (1818-1896) both came from Shropshire, moving to Liverpool by 1851. James Poston was the son of a farmer who left £200, but he started out as a lead miner, subsequently working as a railway porter and dock labourer before by 1881 becoming a coal agent. In 1891 he described himself as a retired estate agent. However he did not leave any money when he died.
Edwin Poston worked in insurance all his life, starting out as an office boy. In 1881 he was working as a clerk for the Liverpool Provident Clerks Association. By 1901 he was an an insurance agent on his own account. When he died on 11 December 1903 at the age of just 48 he left his widow with only £133 to bring up 3 sons, the oldest of whom was still a few days short of his 7th birthday.
Edith Blackaller came from a branch of the Blackaller family that was steadily sliding down the ladder of prosperity. Her grandfather James Blackler Blackaller (1803-1883) was a ships chandler and quondam ship owner born in Devon, but who had moved to Liverpool by 1835.
from Gore’s Directory of Liverpool for 1860
In 1835 he had married Henrietta Hurry (1810-1897) from a strongly non-conformist family. James Blackler Blackaller himself was appointed a Trustee of Hunters Lane Congregational Church in May 1977. When he died he left over £4,500 which, whilst not great riches, reflected a member of the comfortable middle class.
Edwin Poston’s father, James Hurry Blackaller (1839-1917), was the second son (and second child) in a very large family. He started out as a clerk and then book keeper, probably for his father’s business. On 22 September 1863 he married Anna Henrietta Wheelwright (1840-1905) at St Jude, Manningham, Bradford, Yorkshire. No other connection with Yorkshire has been found. By 1871 the young family was living in Rock Ferry, employing 2 household servants and James was a ships chandler. From then on the family fortunes seem to have deteriorated.
Anna’s father William Wheelwright (1801-1847) had worked variously as a banker’s clerk, a dyer and a commission agent before dying at the age of 46 leaving his widow to support herself and her 5 children aged under 16 by teaching. Anna was the youngest child and only aged 7 when her father died.
By 1881 James Hurry Blackaller and his family were living at 5 South View, Liscard; he was a Local Board clerk and no longer employed any servants. The family stayed in Wallasey and he worked variously as a clerk and a commission agent. After his wife died, he lived with his daughter Gertrude (who had married one Arthur Bedwell), but he left no money when he died. Before her marriage Edith Blackaller worked as a nurse at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool.
Edith Blackaller and Edwin Poston were married on 12 February 1896 at New Brighton Parish Church.
Their first son, Edwin Blackaller Poston, was born on 24 December 1896 to be followed by Percy on 20 April 1899, both being born in Waterloo by Liverpool.
By the birth of their youngest son Arthur Bedwell Poston on 22 October 1900 the family had moved to New Brighton. At the time of Edwin Poston’s untimely death they were living at 11 Waterloo Road, New Brighton.
Edith and her children are next recorded on 5 September 1910 when Edwin, the oldest, enters Hoylake Parade Higher Elementary School. They were living at Bellfield Cottage, Dee View Road, Heswall. They must have recently moved from New Brighton, as Edwin’s previous school is recorded as New Brighton Higher Elementary School.
Unfortunately a year later on 14 September 1911, Edith removed Edwin from school as she could no longer afford his retention at school. He was not yet 15 years old.
On 12 February 1912, the family were still in Heswall when Percy was admitted to Hoylake Parade Higher Elementary School in his turn. He had previously attended the Church of England school in Heswall. He was only at Hoylake Parade for 10 months, leaving to go to work on 18 December 1912 just before his 14th birthday.
By 10 November 1916 when Percy attested for the Army, the family was living at 100 Banks Road, West Kirby and he gave his occupation as clerk. He was 5ft 7 in tall with a 33 in chest, so above average size for the 18 year olds then being conscripted. By the time he was mobilised on 13 March 1917 they had moved to 4 Grange Road, West Kirby. He was assigned to the Mounted Yeomanry as Private 135681.
It is not clear how long he remained with the Mounted Yeomanry as it does not appear on his medal card, and the relevant part of his Service Record is faint and unreadable.
However he was posted in April 1918, and arrived in France as Private 77709 in the 9th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers on 13 April. He went to the base depot at Etaples.
The utility brass cap badge of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in use from 1916
By 18 April 1918 he had been transferred to the Army Cyclists Corps XI Battalion and given yet another number, this time 14537. He joined his battalion in the field.
Percy was killed along with several colleagues at Merville, Nord, France whilst in a dug-out on 8 September 1918 aged just 19. Hopefully he knew nothing of the high explosive shell that hit them.
From Deeside Advertiser of 27 Sep 1918
He is buried at St. Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery at Robecq, Pas de Calais, France.
St Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery
After his death his mother seems to have followed his youngest brother Arthur Bedwell Poston (1900-1964) around the country, changing her address very frequently, so the powers that be has much correspondence with her relating to Percy’s medals and plaque which they had great difficulty finding out where to send.
His brother Arthur joined the Royal Navy on 29 January 1918, but left before the end of March. By 7 April 1919 he is recorded at the RAF Station at Eastchurch, Kent. He never served abroad, so received no medals.
His brother Edwin Blackaller Poston is covered in his own post.
Birth: 20 Apr 1899 in Waterloo, Lancashire
Death: 8 Sep 1918; hit by a shell at Merville, Pas de Calais, France
Addresses: 2 Mariners View, Wallasey (01); Bellfield Cottage, dee View Road, Heswall (11); 100 Banks Road, West Kirby (Nov 1916); 4 Grange Road, West Kirby (Mar 1917)
Units: Mounted Yeomanry; 9th Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers; XI Battalion, Army Cyclists Corps
Numbers and Rank: Private 135681; 77709; 14537 respectively
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: St Venant-Robecq Road British Cemetery, Robecq, Pas de Calais, France; GH, WK
Sources: CWGC, MC, SR, BR, PR, DA, Census: 01, 11, Gore’s Directory of Liverpool 1860 & 1881, Probate, RSE, UK Railway Employment Records