Edwin Hughes


This post was written by Victoria Doran

Edwin Hughes joined the Royal Navy at the age of 16 and worked his way up to Chief Petty Officer. He was married for less than 3 months before he died in an accident in bad weather.

Edwin Hughes BR entry.jpeg

Book of Remembrance entry

Edwin Hughes was born on 14 November 1885 in Bolton, Lancashire. He was the only child of William Hughes (1848-???) and Margaret Adcock (1852-???). William and Margaret were married in Bolton on 3 May 1879. At the 1881 census they were living in Bolton and William was a lurry driver. This is just an old spelling of ‘lorry’, so he was a form of carter. William Hughes was born in Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales, but as he disappears after the 1881 census nothing more is known of him.

Margaret Adcock was one of the children of John Adcock (1817-1873) and Margaret Bergin (1819-1892). The Adcock family lived in Syston, Leicestershire and pursued the local trade of framework knitters for several generations. Framework knitting was the first stage of mechanisation of the textile industry and was used to make stockings.

John started as a framework knitter, but in 1837 he enlisted as a Private in the 48th Foot. It is not known when he married Margaret, who born in Birr, Offaly, Ireland, but son James was born in Gibraltar in 1841, and son John in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1848. On 8 Jun 1852 John Adcock was pensioned from the army due to breathing difficulties, and awarded a pension of 9d per day. He moved his family back to Syston and became an agricultural labourer. Edwin’s mother was born there the following month.

In 1871 she was working as a domestic servant to an elderly widow. It is not known how she met William Hughes, nor why they were in Bolton, though Margaret’s younger sister Caroline was married in Bolton in 1877. Perhaps there were better jobs for servants there.

After the 1881 census Margaret also disappears for a while. In 1891 Edwin is living with his aunt Caroline & family in Bolton.

Margaret reappeared at the end of 1896 in Wirral when she married James Chappell (1834-1918) less than 6 weeks after his wife Sarah died! James Chappell was for many years farm steward of Hill Bark Farm, Frankby. Mary gave the name Mary Evans when she married. Possibly she had buried two husbands, but it is also possible she was committing bigamy and covering her tracks. With surnames such as Hughes and Evans and common first names, it is well nigh impossible to find out the truth.

In 1901 Edwin is living with James and Margaret as ‘stepson’. On 14 January 1902 he enlisted in the Royal Navy. He then moved from ship to ship and steadily worked his way up the ranks to become a Chief Petty Officer.

At the 1911 census James and Margaret have a live in companion help called Lilian Alice Thomas (1886-???). Lilian was born in Birkenhead and was the older of the two children of John Ambrose Thomas (1861-1918) and his first wife Elizabeth Roberts (1859-1889). He married again in 1893 and had five more children. He was a carter who improved his lot to become a team owner and general carrier, moving into the middle classes, but never employing a servant. His daughters were expected to work.

At the very beginning of 1916 Edwin married Lilian. Sadly they were married less than 3 months as he died on 28 March 1916 off Walton on the Naze, Essex.

HMS Conquest from wiki.jpg

HMS Conquest from wikipedia

He and 10 other members of the crew of HMS Conquest were in a ship’s cutter when it capsized in a blizzard and they all drowned. HMS Conquest was a ‘C’ Class light cruiser which went through the war unharmed from her launch in 1915. Edwin was 30 years old. All the men are buried in the additional churchyard of All Saints, Walton on the Naze.

Frankby War Memorial 2018 09 b.jpg

Frankby War Memorial in St John the Divine churchyard

He is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial and Frankby War Memorial (where he is listed as Edward Hughes).

He left £191 to Lilian. There is no evidence that they had a child, and it is not known what happened to Lilian and her mother after James Chappell died in 1918. He lies buried with his first wife, and doubtless his adult children had not approved of him remarrying so soon after their mother died.

Birth: 14 Nov 1885 at Bolton, Lancashire
Death: 28 Mar 1916 off Walton on the Naze, Essex; cutter capsized in a blizzard
Addresses: Clare Bank Cottage, Heaton, Bolton (91); Hill Bark Farm, Frankby, Cheshire (01); HMS Antrim, No.2 Basin, Chatham Dockyard, Kent (11)
Occupation: Royal Navy seaman
Unit: HMS Conquest
Number and Rank: 219287; Chief Petty Officer
Medals: Star, Victory & British War
Buried and Commemorated: All Saints, Walton on the Naze, Essex; Grange Hill War Memorial; Frankby War Memorial
Sources: BR, CWGC, MC, SR, Census: 91, 01,11, Probate


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