Christopher Ridler Hale


This biography was written by Victoria Doran.

Christopher Ridler Hale was a middle aged joiner who had emigrated with his family to Australia but returned to Europe under the Australian Munitions Worker scheme.

Hale CR grave D 9 13.jpg

Grave in Holy Trinity Church Yard, Hoylake

Christopher Ridler Hale was born on 10 April 1868 at 12 Salisbury Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire. The origin of his middle name is unknown. He was the 4th son of George Hale (1835-1897) and Mary Hayward (1840-1921), eventually having 4 brothers and 5 sisters who survived childhood. The family were Methodists at this date and he was baptised on 24 May 1868 at Brunswick Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Price Street, Birkenhead. The family has no known connection to the Hale family one of whose members had a bakery in Darmond’s Green, West Kirby.

George Hale was born in Great Malvern, Worcestershire the son of John Hale (1805-1872) and his wife Mary (1804-1891). John Hale was a bricklayer who managed to leave a small amount of money when he died, despite having had 11 children. George married Mary Hayward in the summer of 1858 in Worcester,Worcestershire. They had their first 2 children (Alfred George (1859-1939) and William Henry (1860-1942)) in Great Malvern, before moving to Birkenhead for the birth of Eliza Mary (1864-???) at the beginning of 1864. George was primarily a whitesmith who branched out as an ironmonger, gas fitter and bell hanger. He had a business at 239 Grange Road, Birkenhead.

Mary Hayward was the daughter of Joseph Hayward (1811-1849) and Hannah Hanley (1813-???). Joseph was an agricultural labourer and they lived in and around Redmarley d’Abitot. This is where the counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire meet. After Joseph’s untimely death, Hannah first became a laundress at Redmarley, then followed her daughter to Great Malvern, where she worked as a housemaid.

Christopher trained as a joiner and in the spring of 1894 he married Gertrude Adelaide Livermore (1871-???) in Birkenhead. Adelaide was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, where her father Henry Livermore (1844-1891) was a carpenter. The son of a cordwainer, he had married Lavinia John (1846-1901) in Cardiff, Glamorganshire, Wales in 1865. Lavinia came from Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales where her father, a stonemason, worked as a foreman in the dockyard. By 1881 Henry Livermore had moved his family to Birkenhead where he worked in the shipyards. Gertrude was a milliner before her marriage.

Christopher and Gertrude had 3 children, Gertrude Alice Hale (1895-1977), Doris Lilian Hale (1898-???) and Christopher Clifford Hale (1899-???). By 1901 they had moved to Liscard. Christopher joined the General Union of Carpenters and Joiners in May 1900. For unknown reasons he managed, in a period of only 3 months, to belong successively to the Birkenhead, Liverpool and Wallasey Lodges of the union.

On 29 March 1912 the family emigrated to Canada and went to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. His sister Gertrude Eva Hale (1873-???) had married a music professor Robert Bell (1865-???) and emigrated to Saskatchewan in 1906 with their children. His brother Ernest Charles S Hale (1876-???) had emigrated to Canada in 1899, and probably died in Alberta in 1910.

However by early 1917 Christopher and his 3 children were living in St Marys, Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia. This just happens to be where his brother William Henry Hale had settled as a poultry farmer following his arrival in Australia in 1881.

C R Hale enlisted jpg.jpg

On May 10 1917 Christopher volunteered to return to Europe as an Australian Munitions Worker, an Australian Government Scheme also used by Albert Edward Shepherd. The scheme followed an appeal by Lloyd George to the Colonial Governments for help towards the end of 1915, as there was a shortage of skilled workers in Britain by then.

As can be seen he seemed undecided as to whether he was married or a widower. His actual age was also 49 not 46. No death has been found in Canada or Australia for Gertrude (though the records may not be available). However by 1930 a Gertrude Adelaide Hale was living in the same street as his son Christopher Clifford Hale, and by 1933 they were living at the same address. There is no evidence that Christopher Clifford Hale ever married (and the records are available), and in any case it is unlikely that he managed to find a wife with the same 2 first names as his mother. It seems likely, in fact, that Christopher and Gertrude had parted ways in Canada and Christopher had moved to Australia with his children to start anew. The years mentioned in Canada and Australia do not quite add up correctly either. As he always settled near family members, Gertrude would have had little difficulty finding where he and her children had gone.

Christopher arrived in England on 2 October 1917 on ‘Anchises’. Although called ‘Munitions Workers’, most of the men who volunteered seem to have actually worked in their trades in England, rather than with munitions. Christopher worked as a joiner at Filton Aerodrome, Bristol from 8 October 1917.  On 6 May 1918 he slipped and fell from the roof of one of the sheds whilst fixing Uralite. He died the same day in Bristol Royal Infirmary of multiple injuries. He was just 4 days short of his 50th birthday. He left nothing of value except his joinery tools.

C R Hale death cert jpg.jpg

By this time his brother Alfred George Hale was a chandler in Market Street, Hoylake and he made the arrangements for Christopher’s body to be brought by train from Bristol. One of Christopher’s nephews went to Bristol and was accompanied back by two of Christopher’s Australian colleagues. His mother and sisters Mehetabel Miriam (1875-1955) and Laura Jemima (1878-1930) were by then living in West Kirby, married sister Amy Lilian (1880-1963) was living in Neston and brother Francis John (1862-1935) ran the family ironmongers in Birkenhead and had many children. So there will have been a large turnout for the funeral at Holy Trinity, Hoylake.

As his dependent, his daughter Doris had been receiving regular payments from the Australian Government. Gertrude Alice and Christopher Clifford both had paid employment, so were not deemed to be dependents.

Doria Hale letter jpg.jpg

This is possibly a slightly misleading appeal, as her uncle William Henry Hale would surely have assisted his nieces and nephew if required, as he lived nearby and was certainly not penniless. When he retired he returned to England for 4 months with Doris’s sister Gertrude, and Gertrude was the executor of his will. Doris did eventually receive the £300 to which she was entitled.

Most of Christopher’s possessions went to his mother, but his joinery tools were sent to his children in Australia.

His nephew William Alexander Hale (1890-1918), 2nd son of his brother Francis, was a Sergeant in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Having been wounded twice he died at Dover Military Hospital, Kent on 1 May 1918 and is buried in Flaybrick Cemetery, Birkenhead, leaving a wife and 3 children.

Birth: 10 Apr 1868 at 12 Salisbury Street, Birkenhead, Cheshire
Death: 6 Apr 1918 at Bristol Royal Infirmary, following a fall from a roof
Addresses: 12 Salisbury Street, Birkenhead (71); 239 Grange Road, Birkenhead (81) (91); 22 Ivor Road, Liscard (01); 35 Upper Rice Lane, Liscard (11); Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada (12); St Marys, Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia (17); 17 Milk Street, Bristol, Gloucestershire (18)
Occupation: joiner
Unit: Australian Munitions Worker
Number: 3378
Medals: none
Buried and Commemorated: Holy Trinity Church Yard, Hoylake
Sources: CWGC, Census: 71, 81, 91, 01, 11, PR, Prob, DA, passenger lists, Australian Munitions Workers records, DR, union lodge records


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