Alfred GearyView full burial details
in the cemetery
ALFRED GEARY (1893-1916)
Alfred was born in Berkhamsted in 1893, the fourth of eight children born to Arthur Geary and Louisa Jane Webb. On 14 August 1895 at St Michael and All Angels Sunnyside, Alfred was baptised along with his siblings – Constance Mary Lilian, Arthur William, Gertrude Annie and Edith. At this time, the family were residing in George Street and Alfred’s father Arthur was a Foreman Mechanic.
By the time of the 1901 Census, the family had welcomed a daughter Alice and they had moved to 22 High Street, Berkhamsted. Alfred’s father is listed as being a Foreman at a Chemical Works.
This is very likely the company Cooper’s which had been in the town since 1852. The company was founded by William Cooper, a veterinary surgeon, who arrived in Berkhamsted from London in the early 1840’s with the intention of setting up a practice in the town. It is said that William arrived with nothing but a bag containing the tools of his trade. William often encountered farm animals in a dreadful condition; suffering from the effects caused by various parasitic insects, in particular a skin disease in sheep known as ‘sheep scab’. The treatment at the time was ineffective ointments consisting of tobacco stalk and brimstone emulsified in goose fat. William conducted his own experiments to try to combat the condition using combinations of arsenic and sulphur and in 1852 the sheep dip known as ‘Cooper’s Dip’ was born.
By 1911, the Geary family had moved to 18 High Street and had grown further with the arrival of two more children, Thomas and Leonard, who would complete the family. Alfred was now a General Labourer at a Paper Manufacturer. Most likely working for John Dickinson’s in nearby Apsley. Like Cooper’s, John Dickinson’s was a main employer in the area with a history dating back to the early 1800’s. It was common for staff at John Dickinson’s and Cooper’s to be loyal to their employer and remain with them their entire working lives.
However, like many men, Alfred left civilian life to join the military and serve in the Great War. He was a Private in the 15th/17th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own); service number: 20/313.
On 19 July 1916, while in service in France, Alfred was fatally wounded. His family back in Berkhamsted would’ve received the devastating news that their beloved son and brother would not be returning home. The Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects states that the sum of £10-10s-0d was authorised to Alfred’s mother. For his service, Alfred was awarded the Victory and British medals.
Alfred is buried in plot V. C. 77. at Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, France and is commemorated here at Rectory Lane.
No relatives have been linked to Alfred Geary