JOHN WILLIAM WISHART
This post was written by Victoria Doran.
John William Wishart is another man who is only known of from his entry in the Book of Remembrance. He was a Liverpudlian with a long Army heritage on his father’s side who died of illness whilst still in France early in 1919.
John William Wishart – Book of Remembrance entry
John William Wishart was born on 28 July 1892 at 28 Sedley Street, Everton. He was the elder of the 2 sons of Georgeson Wishart (1862-1934) and Sarah Jane Matthews (1869-1913). He also had an older half-brother George Matthew Wishart (1899-1975) though it is unclear exactly whose son he was. George was born before the marriage of Georgeson and Sarah, and according to the 1901 census was born in New York, which (as will be seen) would imply he was Georgeson’s son.
1911 census – Georgeson away at sea
Georgeson Wishart was a master mariner whose father, William Wishart (1828-1894), was a Quartermaster in the Royal Artillery. William’s father, James Wishart (1791-1853), came from Scotland and also served in the Royal Artillery before being pensioned off and becoming a tailor near the RA barracks in Woolwich, London. William Wishart married Rhoda Ann Hawke (1831-1887) whose father, Richard Hawke, was another RA pensioner.
William and Rhoda had 9 children who reached adulthood, born in places as varied as Mauritius, Montreal, Woolwich, Portsmouth and Plymouth. Georgeson was born in Montreal, and he must have experienced several long sea voyages before deciding to go to sea himself. His oldest brother Richard James Wishart (1850-1904) joined the Royal Artillery and rose to become Quartermaster and honorary Captain. Second brother William Lewis Wishart (1852-1914) joined the Royal Navy as an engineer and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. John William must have been well aware of his military heritage.
Georgeson’s unusual name came from his paternal grandmother, Ann Georgeson (1788-1853) who came from Salisbury, Wiltshire, but of whom nothing else is known. He married Sarah in the early summer of 1891 in Blackburn, Lancashire. It is not known how they met.
Sarah Jane Matthews preferred to call herself Sarah Winifred Matthews after her mother Winifred Lloyd (1844-1909). Winifred had married John Matthews (1844-???) in 1863 in the Pontypool district of Monmouthshire, Wales. Both the Lloyd and Matthews families were miners, originally of iron stone and then of coal. All 5 of their sons went down the local pits. The eldest daughter Anne Matthews (1864-1938) went to London, presumably as a servant, married and returned to the valleys with her husband, who went down the pit. Eliza Matthews (1866-1934) went to Blackburn, Lancashire as a servant, married and subsequently went to Birmingham where her husband inspected sewers for Birmingham Corporation. The younger sisters all went to join Eliza in Blackburn, married and all except Sarah returned to the valleys where their husbands worked for the collieries. Clearly this was a very close knit family.
Sarah was probably in poor health for some years before she died in 1913, as at the 1911 census, George Matthew Wishart is in South Wales, working at the colliery and living with Sarah’s parents, whilst younger brother Malcolm Wishart (1900-1952) was a schoolboy in the same village living with his mother’s widowed oldest sister Anne and family. It is highly likely that John also spent some time with his mother’s close relatives.
In 1911 John was working as a barman in Lodge Lane, Toxteth. He married Ruby Dorothy Finan (1894-1966) at the end of 1916 in Birkenhead. Ruby’s grandfather John Finan (1836-1882) had come from Ireland to Birkenhead by 1866 and set up as a grocer. Her father James Finan (1867-1923) started as a grocer and then became a commission agent. Her mother Mabel Wilhelmina Turnbull (1870-1920) seems also to have come from a middle class family as her mother, Jane Martin Rundle (1845-1887), had probate still with solicitors in 1953, 65 years after her death!
It is not known when he joined the army, but possibly he was conscripted. From this medal card we know that John originally joined the Cheshire Regiment with number 45392. When he died he was Sergeant 28224 in the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.
King’s Shropshire Light Infantry cap badge
Either he had been wounded, recovered and been reposted or his original battalion was disbanded. As his military records have not survived we have no information on where he served or when he changed regiment. He died of illness on 8 February 1919 at Doullens, Somme, Picardie, France and is buried in Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.2.
Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.2
Sadly John and Ruby had no children. In 1938 Ruby was remarried to John Roberts (1912-???).
John’s connection with north west Wirral is that Ruby’s parents, and presumably also Ruby, moved to 18 Alderley Road, Hoylake sometime between 1914 and Mabel’s death in 1920. Ruby was definitely there when the Book of Remembrance was being compiled.
Georgeson Wishart was still working at sea in the Merchant Navy during the war, so he also received medals.
John’s younger brother Malcolm joined the RAF as soon as he was 18 in 1918, but did not serve overseas. He was a fitter.
Birth: 28 Jul 1892 at 28 Sedley Street, Everton, Liverpool
Death: 8 Feb 1919 at Doullens, Somme, Picardie, France; of illness
Addresses: 76 Venmore Street, Everton, Liverpool (01); 104 Lodge Lane, Toxteth Park, Liverpool (11)
Occupation: bar man
Units: Cheshire Regiment; King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Numbers and Rank: 45392; 28224; Sergeant
Medals: Victory and British War medals
Buried: Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.2; Doullens, Somme, Picardie, France
Sources: CWGC, MC, Census: 01, 11, BR, Probate, PR