Saturday, 15 September 2012

William Frederick Armitage (1884-1940), warehouseman

William was a younger brother of my grandmother Emma Ivall nee Armitage. I have little information on his life and would be grateful if anyone can tell me more.

William was born on 9 July 1884 in Islington, a child of Robert Melton Armitage (1846-1910) and his wife Ellen Armitage nee Pinnuck (1855-1913), who married in 1876. They had twelve children, of whom five died young. William was the third of the seven children who survived to become adults.

In 1885 the family were living at 34 Hatley Road, Islington (a modest two storey house that still exists). This is the address given in the parish record of St Anne, Poole’s Park (a nearby church which was demolished in 1965) when William was baptized on 25 Mar 1885. His father’s occupation was given as milk carrier. William’s brother’s Robert (born 1881) and sister Emma (born 1883) were baptized on the same day. The family moved to 3 Shakespeare Road, Stoke Newington in about 1888, when William was four. The 1891 census shows Robert Armitage (aged 45, a milk carrier), Ellen (35), Robert (9), Emma (7), William (6), Florence (3), Gertrude (2) and Percy (5 months) living at 3 Shakespeare Road,  Stoke Newington (in North London).

William joined the Royal Field Artillery on 3 July 1900. His attestation form shows that he stated his age to be 18 years and 3 months. His previous occupation was milkman. He was 5 feet 4½  inches tall and weighed 118 pounds. The Second Boer War had begun on 11 October 1899 and William was probably influenced by the national mood of patriotic fervour to sign up and fight for Queen and Country. There was an Armitage family tradition of service in the artillery. William’s father, his brother Robert, his uncles William and Edward and cousins Henry, Robert and John all spent time in the army. William was actually not quite 16 when he joined. It was quite common for boys who were not yet 18 to overstate their age when they joined up, although not normally by as much as William did. His true date of birth was somehow discovered and William was discharged from the army on 23 May 1901 because he had misstated his age.

Emma Armitage (William’s sister) married in 1906. I have tentatively identified William in a family photo taken at the wedding.

On December 25th 1907 William married Elizabeth Louisa Paxman at St Matthias Chruch, Stoke Newington. The marriage register shows that he was a bachelor aged 23, a warehouseman living at 70 Shakespeare Road, Stoke Newington (where his family had moved to in 1893) and that his bride was a spinster aged 26, a daughter of Harry Paxman, a labourer. Elizabeth was actually aged 30 – she was born in 1877 in Suffolk. They went on to have two children, Nellie Louisa, born in 1909 and Gladys Florence (known as Patricia) born in 1915.

The 1911 census records William, aged 26, a warehouseman in the fruit trade living at 28 Poynter Road, Bush Hill Park, Enfield with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Nellie. Electoral registers show William living at 14 Leighton Road, Enfield in 1915.

I have looked for evidence that William fought in World War One. He was aged 31 when conscription to the armed services was introduced early in 1916 and so would have been called up (unless he had a reserved occupation). The medal rolls show that several men called William Armitage fought in the army, but there is no entry for a William F Armitage. I cannot find an army record for William, although only about 40% of army records have survived. Without further information I cannot tell whether he fought in World War One or not.

Electoral registers show that William had moved to 15 Fifth Avenue, Enfield by 1918, when he is shown at this address with his wife. 

The 1921 census shows William (aged 36), Elizabeth (39), Nellie (12) and Gladys (5) Armitage living in 4 rooms at 15 Fifth Avenue. William was a warehouseman working for Graham & Co Ltd, dried and green fruit merchants, at 3 George Lane, Eastcheap. 

Electoral registers list William and his family at 15 Fifth Avenue until 1936. William’s eldest daughter Nellie married George Smith in 1931. His other daughter Gladys married James Noel Swannell in 1936.

The national register compiled in 1939 shows William, an office porter, and Elizabeth living at 48 Percival Road, Enfield.

William died in 1940 aged 56 in Edmonton (this registration district includes Enfield). His wife remarried in 1946, to Walter Simmons. She died later that year aged 68 (the death records give her age as 63).

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