William Hutchinson born in 1885, Crossgate, Durham, and was the eighth child of John Hutchinson and Ann McIntyre. The Hutchinson family were masons/plasterers, employing apprentices’, the McIntyre family were hawkers, originally from Ireland. At some time between the 1861 and 1871 Censuses the family changed its name to Palmer. This is very confusing since birth records show Hutchinson and other documents like census and death certificate sometimes have either one or both names listed. We speculate that the name change came about after father John was sent to prison in 1883 for robbing a drunken farmer of £35. His mother Ann is shown in later documents as Palmer, occupation, midwife.

William started work as an apprentice plasterer, at the age of 18 he gave up this job and emigrated to Canada as a woodsman/labourer. We found out from later Army Records that William was slightly built with a sallow complexion and probably did not have the stamina required for the plasterer’s job. After a few years in Canada, he returned to Durham and in 1908 married Emma Baines who was working as a domestic servant (cook) in a doctors’ house in the Crook area.  They moved to Thorney, Nottinghamshire, Emma’s home, where William started a five year apprenticeship at Bradley’s in Gainsborough as a tailor. He obviously had a sense of humour. When he filled out the 1911 Census, it shows him working both at home and in the shop and for his occupation he wrote “Satorical Artist or decorator of the human frame better known as a tailor or snip.”

Shortly after completing his five year apprenticeship he was let-go because of lack of work. His reference shows that he was: a good general tailor, of good character, both sober and honest. They also had four children at this time.  Faced with this situation, he enlisted in the Army on the 27 August 1914 for general service, 3 years or longer if the war lasts.

His medical examination on the 28 August 1914 showed him to be 5’ 4” tall, weight 126#, chest expanded 31” (with an expansion of 1”). His complexion was sallow, blue eyes and brown hair. He had a distinguishing feature consisting of a large scar on his lips. The doctor considered him “fit”. He was assigned to the 6th Btn. Lincolnshire Regiment #10297.

We are a little confused as to what happened next, on the 12th Sept. the Depot posted him to supernumerary strength.  In essence, he was sent home as not being required at that time but was still included in the strength of the unit. This is an interesting situation as we presume he was still on the army payroll. There is a Telegraph dated 26 March 1915 from the Commanding Officer of the Lincolns’.

“10297 William Hutchinson is not serving in the sixth Lincolns. Letter to PM (paymaster) to suspend payment, as I cannot trace Bn. to which this man belongs”.

There is then a letter to Emma Hutchinson, 10 September 1915, sent to Marton, Lincs.

“Your husband was enlisted on the 27th Aug 1914 but the unit in which he is serving cannot be traced by me. Will you therefore fill in the following form and return it to me”.

Obviously something fell through the cracks, we do not know what the results were but presume that the army at that time realised that they had made him a supernumerary and corrected the situation, however, once William lost his pay he would have to look for work.

Later army documents show that he had moved and was then living in Fishburn and working as a datal hand, stoneman, at the Trimdon Grange pit. He is shown to have been working there for about 2 years before he re-enlisted.

On the 5th June 1916 he re-enlisted at Ferryhill giving his address as 7 Regent Terrace Fishburn, age 31 and 4 months. He was placed on the army reserve list and not mobilized until 4th Jan. 1917, when he was posted to the Royal Engineers. He was tested in his tailoring skills (Certificate of Proficiency Chatham 11-1-17). Having passed this test his basic pay would increase from 1s/0d to 1s/4d per day.

He was transferred to the 11th Leicestershire Regiment on the 8th Sep. 1917 and finally to the R.A.M.C 7th Training Rgt. 2nd April 1918. On 16th August 1918 he was transferred to Class P Army Reserves to resume civil employment as a miner with the Trimdon Grange Colliery. His time served in the army amounted to 2 years and 3 months, 3 months of this were in France in various places. He was admitted to hospital in Rouen with Bronchitis in Nov, 1917 and the transferred back to England in December. William was formally discharged from the Service on the 2nd January 1919 as being “Surplus to military requirements having suffered impairment since entering into Service.”

He applied for his Disability Pension/ Gratuity in January after he got his discharge notice. It was obviously very slow in coming. He approached the “Comrades of the Great War” in Fishburn to assist him. They wrote this letter on May 12th 1919.

Dear Sir.

Ref. 143272 Pte. Wm. Hutchinson R.A.M.C.

Enlisted 5-6-16 at Ferryhill, posted to Royal Engineers, he was later transferred to Leicester Rgt., then R.A.M.C. Discharged 2-1-19 under Para. 392 (XVI) K.R. as surplus to military requirements having suffered impairments since entry into service. His complaint (physical) was Chronic Bronchitis. This man claims to have had no answer to claim for Gratuity – which he made in January last at Fishburn P.O.

He also wishes to know if he is due a Silver Badge. Could you please give me any light on either of these matters at your earliest convenience?

There is no reference to when he received his gratuity. The award Sheet done in August of 1918 shows he was due £31/10s. This was made up as Disability £15, Service £1/10s, and children £15. The sheet also asked to verify a child named Dora.

There was a receipt for the badge and Certificate dated Oct. 10th 1919.

There were other forms in his Army records which showed that he a very clean record of service, the only misdemeanour was that of overstaying his leave in August 1917 for 40 hours and 45 mins and received a punishment of forfeiting 3 day’s pay.

On his return to Fishburn, he continued his tailoring from the front room of the house in Regent Terrace. It did not take too long before this was his full time occupation. While he did private work, the bulk of his income came from the Winterton Hospital. The family recall that he had a large table in their front room where he would sit cross-legged doing his work. In the spring of 1922, William was sitting in a pub in Sedgefield, enjoying a joke about the “then” Queen Mary, when he keeled over and died.  He was brought back to the house and laid-out on his work table in the front room. The doctor came and did the post mortem, the children had been told to go upstairs, one daughter recalls the doctor coming out of the room with a bowl of bloody swabs.

The autopsy revealed that he died of Pericardial effusion. This is the accumulation of too much fluid in the double-layered, sac-like structure around the heart. Pericardial effusion puts pressure on the heart, affecting the heart's function. If untreated, it can lead to heart failure or death.

On his death, he left his wife Emma with eight children ranging in age from four months to 13 years of age. Emma survived by working as the caretaker for the Alhambra Picture House in Fishburn where she scrubbed the floors for many years. She remained in the house until her death in 1966.



Article courtesy of John Robinson, Canada


Page added 27th September 2019