ERIC BERNARD HOUGH
This biography was written by Victoria Doran
Eric Bernard Hough was a young Captain in the Liverpool ‘Pals’ who came from a very wealthy Methodist family whose fortune had been founded largely by his grandfather Samuel Hough in Liverpool.
He was awarded a posthumous Military Cross.
Captain Eric Bernard Hough – from King William’s College, Isle of Man Roll of Honour
Very little has been found about Eric Bernard Hough himself, but we believe he was known as Bernard as the WW1 Roll of Honour at St Luke’s Methodist Church in Hoylake lists him as ‘E Bernard Hough’. Had he been known as ‘Eric’ they would, doubtless, have listed him as ‘Eric B Hough’.
St Luke’s, Hoylake
Bernard was born in the summer of 1896 in Wallasey, Cheshire the first child of Ernest Edward Hough (1870-1950) and Louisa Morrell (1872-1902). A younger brother, Donald Ernest Hough, was born 2 years later, but sadly only lived about a year. Louisa died when Bernard was just 6 years old. 18 months later his father remarried one of Louisa’s second cousins, Alice Maud Morrell (1878-1943). By the time Bernard was killed, 3 half sisters and 2 half brothers had been born to the couple. Again there had been sadness as one girl and one boy died very young during the war. Another half brother was born in 1922.
The Morrell family originated in Yorkshire, mainly based in Bradford, and for the most part were grocers and provision merchants for many generations. They were prosperous, often employing more than 15 staff in the 1850s and 1860s. From the 1870s onwards various members of the family started moving to the Liverpool area. When Louisa’s father, George Morrell (1839-1893), died he left over £77,000, a very great deal of money for the time. Alice Maud Morrell was the daughter of George’s cousin John Morrell (1846-1905) who was also wealthy and another provision merchant, leaving over £20,000 when he died. John was the first of the family to move across the Mersey to Wirral, living in Hooton, Rock Ferry and Puddington from at least 1887.
The Hough family prosperity does not go back quite as far. The family lived in Liverpool for many generations. They have been traced back to Henry Hough, a brewer, who had a son John (1756-1817) who became a cordwainer. John was Bernard’s great great grandfather. His son, Richard, was a mariner who married Isabella Workman (1796-1879) in Liverpool in 1818. The family were Wesleyans. Richard died sometime in the late 1830s, leaving Isabella with 2 sons, Richard (1831-1885) and Samuel (1832-1902) as well as a daughter, Margaret, born about 1826. In 1841 Isabella was in very straightened circumstances as she was working as a seamstress and 10 year old Richard was a pupil at the Bluecoat Hospital School, Liverpool which means he was considered a worthy object of charity. It has not been proven, but it seems very likely that Bernard’s grandfather Samuel also attended the Bluecoat School as he first found work as a book keeper, so must have had a reasonable amount of education at a date when education was not compulsory.
Bluecoat Hospital School building as it is today
Photo by John Bradley (Attribution ShareAlike 3.0) from Wikipedia
Samuel Hough married Ellen Connor (1830-1854) in 1852. She was a dressmaker and the daughter of a tailor. They do not seem to have had any children. Samuel remarried in 1856, this time to Mary Goulder (1836-1914). Mary’s sister Martha Goulder (1838-1903) married Samuel’s brother Richard in 1859. The Goulder family came from the East Midlands, where Nottingham and Derbyshire meet. George Goulder (1814-1873), Mary & Martha’s father, moved the family to Liverpool in the late 1830s, working in the iron industry as a furnaceman and forgeman. He left no money.
Samuel and Mary had 12 children, 9 of whom seem to have survived to adulthood. Bernard’s father was the 10th child. Somehow Samuel obtained access to some capital in the 1860s because by 1871 he was a steamship owner and the family was living in Grassendale Park, a very upmarket area of Liverpool at that time. His eponymous company was known for regular sailings from Liverpool to London round Cornwall and Devon. Many of his ships were named for the women in the family, for instance ‘Mary Hough’. When he died in 1902 he left over £61,000, the modern equivalent of which exceeds £7 million.
Bernard’s father, Ernest seems to have joined the family business. In 1901 Bernard was living with his parents and 3 servants at 17 Devonshire Road, West Kirby, so he was brought up to a life of some comfort. Bernard attended the Mount Preparatory school in West Kirby. From May 1911 until July 1913 he was a pupil at King William’s College on the Isle of Man. His father and stepmother had moved to Bidston by 1911, and never returned to West Kirby. Bernard is commemorated on the Roll of Honour at St Oswald, Bidston see here.
Liverpool Pals cap badge
Bernard served as Lance Corporal 21514 in the 19th (Pals) Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant effective from 15 January 1915. He almost certainly was amongst the very earliest volunteers who responded to Lord Derby’s address of 28 August 1914, from which the Liverpool Pals battalions were formed.
London Gazette 24 February 1915
He arrived in France on 7 November 1915 with his battalion. He was probably with his battalion on their first major engagement at the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Very little more is known of his service, but he died on 29 April 1918 at Voormezele, Belgium, a few miles south of Ypres, during the Battle of Scherpenberg, the last day of the German Offensive known as the Battle of the Lys, when the 19th Battalion repelled their attackers. His body was not recovered.
Bernard is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He was a Temporary Captain, but the London Gazette entry for his last promotion has not been found, so we do not know when he achieved that rank.
Tyne Cot Memorial
Bernard was commemorated on his father’s grave at St Oswald, Bidston, and also commemorated on his mother’s grave in St Bridget’s churchyard, but the latter grave marker has not been found.
He was awarded a posthumous Military Cross in the King’s Birthday Honours List of 3 June 1918. Details of how such medals were earned are not available when they were just included in an annual Honours list, so we do not know any more.
Bernard must have inherited money as he left a considerable sum for a man aged only 23 years, who had had no opportunity to earn it himself.
Many of his relations continued to live in Hoylake and Meols, which is probably why he was included on the Honour Board at St Luke, Hoylake.
Birth: Jul 1896 at Wallasey, Cheshire
Death: 29 Apr 1918 at Voormezele, Belgium; killed in action
Addresses: 17 Devonshire Road, West Kirby (01); The Mount, Caldy Road, West Kirby (11); Sherwood, Vyner Road, Bidston (18)
Occupation: not known
Unit: 19th (Pals) Battalion, Kings Liverpool Regiment
Number and Ranks: 21514 Lance Corporal; 2nd Lieuteant; Captain
Medals: Military Cross, 15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated: Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium; Grange Hill War Memorial, St Bridget graveyard,West Kirby; St Oswald, Bidston; St Luke (Methodist), Hoylake; King William’s College, Isle of Man
Sources: GH, CWGC, MC, Census: 01, 11, BR, PR, Probate, King William’s College, www.findagrave.com