12.4 – Percy Gill

Percy’s story is short, but the story of why he’s alone here is longer – so have both!

First, his story as summarised by our Chair, Andy:

“This is the grave of Percy Gill, he is reposing in Christ Church Graveyard.

Percy is my 1st cousin, 3 times removed …… Aye, I don’t understand it either, but the researchers do, and I trust them 100% percent.

He is commemorated on a side stone ….. which has been ripped up, slapped at the top of his grave and now partly intrudes on two other graves.

Normally I would have a bit of a righteous rant about this wanton vandalism …. but in this case, I’m going to leave it …… because Percy is now cosied up and nestled at the shoulder of Mademoiselle Maria VanHoey ……

Percy Gill, my 1st cousin, 3 times removed ….. Smooth operator and sly old Dawg …… definitely resting in peace.”

And now in the less laddish words of Researcher Sally:

Percy Gill died of meningitis at Longfield Road on the 4th April 1913, aged 16. He was a cotton warehouse boy. Percy was the third child of Charles Edward Gill (who was your 2 x g. uncle, brother to your [Andy’s] 2 x. g.grandmother, Betsy Hannah Gill – she is buried with her husband, John Davies, at Christ Church). Charles Edward Gill was born in Todmorden in 1862, he married Hannah Sutcliffe (born 1863) in Todmorden in 1883.

Charles and Hannah had 5 children:
Martha Hannah born 1886
Beatrice born 1890
Percy born 1896
Leslie born 1900
Clara born 1903

Martha Hannah Gill, who was a weaver, married James Mitchell, a Cloth looker, in 1907.

Beatrice Gill married Robert Henry Feber (born 1887) in Todmorden in 1916. He was one of the 8 children of John and Harriet Ann (nee Miles) Feber. His father was an engine tenter and the family lived at Broad Street. Robert Henry Feber was a warehouseman at Charles Crabtree’s mill, but around the time of his marriage enlisted with the West Riding Regiment (the 2/4 th Battalion which had been formed at Halifax). He was killed in action in France on the 26 th August 1918 at the 2 nd Battle of Arras. There is very little information available about him, his enlistment documents aren’t available so must have been among the burnt documents. His medal card shows he received the Victory medal and the British medal.

On the 23rd October 1920 James and Martha Mitchell left Southampton on the S.S. Aquitania. Their destination was Lowell, Massachusetts. They were the first of the family to emigrate to America. On the 27th July 1921 Beatrice Feber left Liverpool on the ‘Winifredian’ – it doesn’t say where her final destination was, just that she was disembarking at Boston. On November 12 th 1921 the remaining members of the family, Charles Edward, Hannah, Leslie and Clara left Liverpool on board the S.S. Cedric. They stated they were going to W. Peterborough, New Hampshire. They’d also got another Gill family member with them, Hilda Mary (nee Crossley) aged 23. She had married Leslie in 1921. They gave their contact in England as a friend, Clara Stansfield of Knowlwood Road, Todmorden. She was Hannah’s younger sister, so I don’t know why they didn’t
put her down as a relative.

Before the the majority of the family emigrated in 1921 they’d completed the 1921 census. They were living at 87 Longfield Road, and it also showed that Charles Edward was a cotton weaver who worked for Caleb Hoyle at Derdale Mill, Hannah was a home worker, Leslie was a fire beater at Fielden Brothers, Waterside and both Beatrice and Clara were cotton weavers at Fielden Brothers, Waterside.

Percy’s father, Charles Edward, died in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1928. On the 30th April 1931, Beatrice Feber married again, her second husband was a divorcee, Charles Edward Reavill, a shopkeeper from Burnley, who had been in America since 1910. Hannah Gill died in 1946 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In the 1940 register she was living with her daughter, Beatrice and her husband, Charles Edward Reavill in New Bedford, Bristol, Massachusetts. Neither Charles or Hannah ever returned to Todmorden after they left in 1921.

In the 1930 US census Martha Hannah and her husband, James Mitchell, were living in Jaffray, New Hampshire, Martha was a homemaker and James worked in a cotton mill. Martha must have died somewhere between the 1930 and the 1940 census, because I can’t find any records for her after 1930 and in the 1940 census James Mitchell was on his own, living in New Bedford, Bristol, Massachusetts, working as a cook. On his WW2 registration card James says he was self-employed at Mitchell’s Fish and Chips and gives Beatrice as his contact. In 1950 James was still living in New Bedford, Bristol, Massachusetts but was now living with his sister, Frances, and her husband Samuel Lever. Samuel was the manager of the fish and chip shop. James Mitchell died in 1953 in Acushnet, Massachusetts. I haven’t found any record of either Martha or James returning to the UK after they left.

In both the 1940 and 1950 census Beatrice Gill (Feber, Reavill) and her husband Charles were living in Bristol, New Bedford. In the 1940 census Charles was a shop owner and Beatrice worked with him. In the 1950 census Charles wasn’t working and Beatrice was working as a waitress in a fish and chip restaurant (probably the one which belonged to her brother-in-law, James Mitchell). On the 2 nd May 1951 Beatrice (without her husband) sailed from New York on board the S.S. Georgic for Southampton. There were 5 other passengers on board the ship who had been born in England and lived in New Bedford and they were all visiting England for a period of 4 months. On the 7th September 1951 Beatrice returned to New York from Southampton on board the same ship. Her address in the UK had been 44 Hallroyd Road, Todmorden. The 1939 register shows that the occupants of the house then were Harry and Edith Sutcliffe, their son, Derek and Harriet Feber, her first husband’s mother. Harriet Feber died in 1946 so wouldn’t have been alive when Beatrice visited but I think the Sutcliffe family were probably related through her mother and were still living there in 1951. Interestingly the ships return manifesto shows that 2 of the other returning passengers on board the ship (who had been on the journey to England with Beatrice) had also been staying in Todmorden, at 7 Birch Avenue. The last record I’ve been able to find for Beatrice is for her and her husband in a street directory in Bristol, New Bedford in 1955. Charles Reavill died in 1967. I haven’t found Beatrice’s death.

Leslie Gill married Hilda Mary Crossley in 1921 in Todmorden shortly before they emigrated. In the 1930 census Leslie and Mary were also living in New Bedford, Leslie was a screen draftsman in a silk mill and Mary was a weaver. In 1939 Leslie and Mary were back in England, living at 1 Castle View, Todmorden. Leslie was working as a silk screen processing craftsman and Mary was a weaver. On the 7th December 1946 Leslie and Mary sailed to the US on board the S.S. Queen Elizabeth. Leslie was an artist and Hilda a weaver. It looks as though that was for a visit and they came back to the UK, as they returned to the USA permanently on the 30th April 1948 on board the S.S. Queen Mary. In 1955 the City Directory shows them living in New Bedford. Leslie died in 1959 in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and Hilda in 1985 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

The youngest member of the family, Clara, was the only one to have had any children. Clara married George Thomas Haslam who was the same age as her, in 1926 in New Bedford. George Thomas had been born in America but his parents were both from Lancashire (his father from Bury and his mother from Oldham). In 1930 they’d moved to Chicopee, Massachusetts and had 2 children. In 1940 they were living in Nashua, Hillsborough, New Hampshire. George was a painter and they had 5 children. In 1950 the family were living in New Bedford, Massachusetts. George wasn’t working but Clara was a painter in a toy shop. There aren’t any records between 1950 and 1976 when Clara died. She died in Simi Valley, Ventura, California, in 1976. Her husband remarried the year after her death, he died in California in 1993. Clara never returned to the UK after she left England.

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