JOHN WILLIAM HIRST

ex Army

Died at home 27th September 1919 aged 42

Buried Heckmondwike Cemetery

Husband of Edith Hirst

Lived 51, Croft Street, Heckmondwike


John William Hirst was born in 1879, the eldest son of George Hirst, a Carpet Weaver of Heckmondwike and grandson of Thomas Hirst, a Mason; to Fanny Wilson, a 26 year old spinster of Heckmondwike, the daughter of Joseph Wilson, also a Mason; who had married on 23th December 1878 at Birstall Parish Church.  George and Fanny were living at Cook Lane, Heckmondwike on the day of the 1881 census, 3rd April, with sons John William and Arthur.

Sadly John William’s mother died in 1886, having had two more children, Ernest in 1882 and Bertha in 1885.  Consequently by 1891, George and his young family, including John William now aged 13, had moved in with his widowed mother, Martha Hirst at Park Road, Heckmondwike.

Ten years later George and the four children were living at 69, Cemetery Road and John William, aged 23, is working as a Coal Miner with the skilled job of a Hewer.  His task was to breakout the coal from the seam which was then cleared away by other workers.

John William was 30 years old and living in George Street when he married a widow, Edith Lee formerly Leek of Brooke Street, Heckmondwike, on July 4th 1908 at Birstall Parish Church.  His sister Bertha Hirst was a witness.  Edith was the daughter of Seth and Amelia Leek, who both died before 1891.

The 1911 census was completed on 3rd April by which time John William Hirst and Edith had 2 children, Bertha and Horace, and were living at 1, Brooke Street, Heckmondwike, with Edith's two children from her first marriage, Elsie and John.  They later moved to Croft Street, where Edith remained for many years.

John William's army record has not yet been found.  He was present at home in 1914 and 1915, when they moved to 49, Croft Street.  There were no tax valuations in 1916 & 1917 due to the war, it is therefore uncertain as to when he did enlist. However in 1918 and 1919 those who were away from home, were recorded by the use of a small "a" as being absent voters.  John William was absent from home in 1918, but at home with his wife in 1919.  The coal mines were all under government control at the outbreak of war in 1914 and although many miners did enlist immediately, they were not all called up as mining had become a reserved occupation.  It is not uncommon for miner’s health to be affected by their occupation.

Therefore it may be surmised that he was discharged from service due to illness or disability and was awarded a Silver Badge.  This was a means of identification of service done and was awarded to the discharged disabled men not in military uniform to deflect the presentation of "White Feathers" by activist women.  A Silver Badge has not yet been found in his name but it is known that he would have been seriously ill for some time before he died.  His widow Edith Hirst was present at his death at 51, Croft Street and gave the information for the certificate, sighting that he was an ex Army man and had worked in the coal industry as a Hewer.

John William Hirst died on 27th September 1919 at 51, Back Croft Street, Heckmondwike.  The Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spenborough Times notice on 3rd October 1919 records the internment was at Heckmondwike Cemetery on 30th September 1919.  The grave records confirm he was a Coal Miner and ex Army man,  aged 42 and named him as John William Wilson Hirst.  The minister officiating was J.F.L. Orton who later went on to become the Anglican Minister in Hull.

Grave: Heckmondwike Cemetery: Consecrated D 208.  No headstone remains.
Medals:- None yet found.

He is commemorated on the Heckmondwike Green Park War Memorial, the Vellum Roll and St Saviour’s Church Memorial.
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