John Webster, Private 14870, 2/6th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)
Killed in action 28th June 1917 in France
John Webster was born about 1895-6 in Glasgow, the son of Jessie and John Webster, an iron turner. By 1901, six-year-old John was living at House 3 Court 8, Earsham St, Brightside, Sheffield, with his parents, brother William (7), widowed paternal grandmother Violet Webster (57) and unmarried paternal uncle Richard (23).
On 18 July 1903 at Sheffield, John’s father was convicted on two charges of neglecting to cause his child to attend school. He was imprisoned at Wakefield but was released on 24 July, four days after paying fines totalling £1 0s 2d. He was again convicted on 20 May 1908 and sent to Wakefield Prison for seven days for drunkenness.
The war gratuity and other money due to John’s heirs after his death was paid (on various dates between 1917 and 1919) to his brother William, sisters Rachel and Mary, his deceased brother’s widow, Elsie M Webster (William had married Elsie May Wood in Honley on 3 October 1916) and his deceased father’s widow, Annie Webster. The fact that Annie Webster was referred to not as John’s mother but as his father’s widow shows that his mother died and his father remarried, although the details have not yet been found.
It’s possible that John and his brother William were sent to Macclesfield Industrial School in the early 1900s, perhaps after their mother died or else as a result of their father’s conviction. John is known to have left the school in 1910 and by 1911, fifteen-year-old John was a brushmaker, lodging at West End, Netherthong, Huddersfield with Mr Ben Eastwood and his family, along with his brother, seventeen-year-old William Webster, also a brushmaker. Mr Eastwood was a brush manufacturer, and several of his children were also brushmakers. Brushmaking was one of a number of trades taught at Macclesfield Industrial School, so it seems likely that both John and William attended the school and learned to make brushes in the school workshops.
At the time of his enlistment in Halifax John said he was born in Glasgow and lived in Sheffield. After training, John was drafted to France on 13 May 1915. The Macclesfield Times printed a roll of honour for the Macclesfield Industrial School on 28 May 1915, listing the names of 170 old boys, their date of leaving the school (if known) and their regiment. The roll included John Webster (left in 1910), West Riding Regt.
Private John Webster was killed in action in France on 28 June 1917.
Private John Webster is buried in Grave Ref. III. F. 27. of the Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private John Webster, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Private John Webster is commemorated on the Macclesfield Industrial School war memorial. Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Netherthong and Thongsbridge plaque of the Holme Valley war memorial in the grounds of the Holme Valley Memorial Hospital, Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth.
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
1881 Scotland Census Transcription (Ancestry)
1891 Scotland Census Transcription (Ancestry)
West Yorkshire Marriages (Ancestry)
West Yorkshire Prison Records (Ancestry)
WWI Soldiers Died in the Great War
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Macclesfield Times: 28 May 1915