Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Biography:
William James Geary
d. 28/07/1929

William James Geary

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William James Geary died 28th July 1929 aged 27 years George Henry Geary died 14th June 1941 aged 78 years Annie Geary, wife of the above, died 27th September 1942 aged 68 years.   William James’ story Although buried at Rectory Lane Cemetery, the burial-ground for the Parish of St Peter’s Church in Berkhamsted town centre, William James (from here onwards called just William) Geary was very much a product of the parish of St Mary’s Northchurch, or more specifically what was to become the new parish of Sunnyside. William’s grandfather, William Geary, had married Mary Anne Halsey on 27th June 1847 at St Mary’s Northchurch. William and Mary Anne had all of their children, including William’s father, George, baptised at St Mary’s Northchurch as follows:
  • Frances Emma, baptised 25th December 1847, married Thomas Garner in 1868 at St Peter’s.
  • James, baptised 24th March 1850.
  • Ann, baptised 30th May 1852.
  • George Frederick, baptised 25th December 1854
  • William, baptised 5th July 1857, married and raised a family in Bell Lane, Northchurch.
  • Joseph Charles, baptised 29th January 1860
  • George Henry was born on 2nd October 1862 and baptised 23rd November 1862
  • Lizzy, baptised 25th June 1865
All of the Geary boys appeared to have worked as labourers. In 1871 William's uncle Frederick was a labourer in a timber yard, James was a labourer on the coal wharf of the Grand Union Canal and William junior was a labourer in a brickyard, probably with his father William. In 1881 William’s father George was the last one left living with his father. At the age of 18, he now gave his occupation as brickmaker’s labourer, the same as that of his father. In 1891 George was living with the family of his brother James Geary (see Rectory Lane Cemetery Plot 581) in Holliday Street. Both George and his brother James, and two of James’ sons were listed in the census as being Timber Carters. It is likely that the Geary men worked at Sill’s Timber Yard which stood east of Holliday Street. The picture below shows Sill’s Timber Yard in the 1890s, at the time when George was most probably working there. William’s parents, George Henry Geary and Annie Morton, married on 3rd April 1893, a woman 11 years his junior, who was also his niece’s sister-in-law. In 1881, after the Revd A F Birch became Rector of Northchurch, a converted barn was leased as a Mission Room in George Street. On Good Friday 1881 the first service was taken there by the Reverend Birch and his curate. Two years later, Mr G H Siddans, at that time a lay reader, was appointed to guide the development of a new congregation, based around George Street and Ellesmere Road, through its early years. This part of Berkhamsted was populated by workers from the Cooper’s factory and printworks, and men who laboured at the timber yard and nearby coal wharf on the Grand Union Canal. Because of the growing population in the area, drawn in to support the industries that flourished there, the congregation rapidly outgrew its premises and Siddans, ordained a priest in 1888, became curate-in-charge of a new ‘iron church’, constructed on land donated by Earl Brownlow just to the north of the railway (where the Cedars flats now stand). The Iron Church, or ‘Tin Tabernacle’ as it became affectionately known, was a prefabricated construction of corrugated iron. It housed the congregation until 1909. It was dedicated on Michaelmas Day, September 29th 1886, and so was called St Michael’s. From 1909 until 1983 it survived as a Church Hall. William’s parents made their home in this part of St Mary’s Northchurch, with their address given as following:
  • 1894 George Street, Sunnyside
  • 1895 George Street
  • 1896 41 George Street
  • 1899 Ellesmere Road
  • 1901 39 Ellesmere Road, parish of Northchurch
  • 1902 Ellesmere Road
  • 1904 39 Ellesmere Road
As this area was served by the Iron Church, their children were baptised at the Iron Church by Rev G H Siddans as follows:
  • Winifred Annie was baptised on 1st April 1894.
  • Hilda Florence was privately baptised on 11th September 1895. She was buried on 23rd July 1896 aged 11 months.
  • Edith Lilian was baptised on 13th December 1896.
  • Albert George, born in January 1898, was buried on 28th March 1898 aged 8 weeks.
  • Ernest Harry was born on 4th March 1899 and privately baptised on 5th April 1899
  • May Jessica, born in February 1901, was privately baptised on 13th March 1901. She was buried on 29th May 1902 aged 11 months [sic].
  • William James was privately baptised on 16th August 1902
  • Sydney Charles was baptised on 14th February 1904
  • Twins Dorothy Jessie and Arthur Stanley were born in April 1907. Dorothy was buried 22nd March 1909 aged 1 year and 11 months and Arthur was buried one week later on 31st March 1909.
Life must have been very hard for William’s parents, losing five of their 10 children before they even got to their second year. These stark statistics are listed in the 1911 census “Total Children Born Alive – 10, Children still Living - 5, Children who have Died – 5”. Therefore, William would have grown up with just four siblings, Winifred, Edith, Harry and Sydney. Fortunately, all the boys appear to have been too young to have served in the First World War, which must have been a great relief. On 31st May 1907 the National School in Berkhamsted recorded that H.M. Inspector reported that three girls – Rose Gravestock, Winifred Geary and Lily Hicks - passed the Labour Examination, held on Tuesday May 7th. Four years later Winifred was working at the Mantle Factory in Berkhamsted. At some point between 1911 and 1920, the family moved out of Ellesmere Road to live at 72 Shrublands Avenue in the Parish of St Peter’s. In 1917 William’s eldest sister, Winifred married Frank Collins, and on 6th December 1918, William’s first nephew was born. In 1920 his sister, Edith, married Sidney Norris and William’s first niece was born on 7th July 1920. In 1925 William James appears for the first time in the Electoral Roll at home with his parents and his brother Harry Ernest. On 28th July 1929 William James Geary died at West Herts Hospital in Hemel Hempstead at the young age of 27. His death certificate states that he was a Milk Roundsman, with his home address being 72 Shrublands Avenue. At the time of William’s death, the hospital was expanding. The main block of the current hospital, which was originally known as the West Hertfordshire Infirmary, was built on Hillfield Road and opened by Princess Mary of Teck in 1877. The hospital expanded to take military patients during the First World War. The Marnham Maternity Wing, which was started in 1926 when a foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales just north of the main block, opened in 1929. The cause of William’s death was frightening and painful. He died from a gastric ulcer that caused him to vomit blood. In someone so young the probable cause was the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. This infection was often caused by poor sanitation and standards of living, seasonal diets poor in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in winter, vitamin deficiencies, and frequent febrile infections in childhood. William died a bachelor, with no will, and his death was reported to the registrar by his brother Harry.
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in the cemetery

William James Geary died 28th July 1929 aged 27 years

George Henry Geary died 14th June 1941 aged 78 years

Annie Geary, wife of the above, died 27th September 1942 aged 68 years.

 

William James’ story

Although buried at Rectory Lane Cemetery, the burial-ground for the Parish of St Peter’s Church in Berkhamsted town centre, William James (from here onwards called just William) Geary was very much a product of the parish of St Mary’s Northchurch, or more specifically what was to become the new parish of Sunnyside.

William’s grandfather, William Geary, had married Mary Anne Halsey on 27th June 1847 at St Mary’s Northchurch. William and Mary Anne had all of their children, including William’s father, George, baptised at St Mary’s Northchurch as follows:

  • Frances Emma, baptised 25th December 1847, married Thomas Garner in 1868 at St Peter’s.
  • James, baptised 24th March 1850.
  • Ann, baptised 30th May 1852.
  • George Frederick, baptised 25th December 1854
  • William, baptised 5th July 1857, married and raised a family in Bell Lane, Northchurch.
  • Joseph Charles, baptised 29th January 1860
  • George Henry was born on 2nd October 1862 and baptised 23rd November 1862
  • Lizzy, baptised 25th June 1865

All of the Geary boys appeared to have worked as labourers. In 1871 William’s uncle Frederick was a labourer in a timber yard, James was a labourer on the coal wharf of the Grand Union Canal and William junior was a labourer in a brickyard, probably with his father William. In 1881 William’s father George was the last one left living with his father. At the age of 18, he now gave his occupation as brickmaker’s labourer, the same as that of his father.

In 1891 George was living with the family of his brother James Geary (see Rectory Lane Cemetery Plot 581) in Holliday Street. Both George and his brother James, and two of James’ sons were listed in the census as being Timber Carters.

It is likely that the Geary men worked at Sill’s Timber Yard which stood east of Holliday Street. The picture below shows Sill’s Timber Yard in the 1890s, at the time when George was most probably working there.

William’s parents, George Henry Geary and Annie Morton, married on 3rd April 1893, a woman 11 years his junior, who was also his niece’s sister-in-law.

In 1881, after the Revd A F Birch became Rector of Northchurch, a converted barn was leased as a Mission Room in George Street. On Good Friday 1881 the first service was taken there by the Reverend Birch and his curate. Two years later, Mr G H Siddans, at that time a lay reader, was appointed to guide the development of a new congregation, based around George Street and Ellesmere Road, through its early years.

This part of Berkhamsted was populated by workers from the Cooper’s factory and printworks, and men who laboured at the timber yard and nearby coal wharf on the Grand Union Canal. Because of the growing population in the area, drawn in to support the industries that flourished there, the congregation rapidly outgrew its premises and Siddans, ordained a priest in 1888, became curate-in-charge of a new ‘iron church’, constructed on land donated by Earl Brownlow just to the north of the railway (where the Cedars flats now stand). The Iron Church, or ‘Tin Tabernacle’ as it became affectionately known, was a prefabricated construction of corrugated iron. It housed the congregation until 1909. It was dedicated on Michaelmas Day, September 29th 1886, and so was called St Michael’s. From 1909 until 1983 it survived as a Church Hall.

William’s parents made their home in this part of St Mary’s Northchurch, with their address given as following:

  • 1894 George Street, Sunnyside
  • 1895 George Street
  • 1896 41 George Street
  • 1899 Ellesmere Road
  • 1901 39 Ellesmere Road, parish of Northchurch
  • 1902 Ellesmere Road
  • 1904 39 Ellesmere Road

As this area was served by the Iron Church, their children were baptised at the Iron Church by Rev G H Siddans as follows:

  • Winifred Annie was baptised on 1st April 1894.
  • Hilda Florence was privately baptised on 11th September 1895. She was buried on 23rd July 1896 aged 11 months.
  • Edith Lilian was baptised on 13th December 1896.
  • Albert George, born in January 1898, was buried on 28th March 1898 aged 8 weeks.
  • Ernest Harry was born on 4th March 1899 and privately baptised on 5th April 1899
  • May Jessica, born in February 1901, was privately baptised on 13th March 1901. She was buried on 29th May 1902 aged 11 months [sic].
  • William James was privately baptised on 16th August 1902
  • Sydney Charles was baptised on 14th February 1904
  • Twins Dorothy Jessie and Arthur Stanley were born in April 1907. Dorothy was buried 22nd March 1909 aged 1 year and 11 months and Arthur was buried one week later on 31st March 1909.

Life must have been very hard for William’s parents, losing five of their 10 children before they even got to their second year. These stark statistics are listed in the 1911 census “Total Children Born Alive – 10, Children still Living – 5, Children who have Died – 5”.

Therefore, William would have grown up with just four siblings, Winifred, Edith, Harry and Sydney. Fortunately, all the boys appear to have been too young to have served in the First World War, which must have been a great relief.

On 31st May 1907 the National School in Berkhamsted recorded that H.M. Inspector reported that three girls – Rose Gravestock, Winifred Geary and Lily Hicks – passed the Labour Examination, held on Tuesday May 7th. Four years later Winifred was working at the Mantle Factory in Berkhamsted.

At some point between 1911 and 1920, the family moved out of Ellesmere Road to live at 72 Shrublands Avenue in the Parish of St Peter’s. In 1917 William’s eldest sister, Winifred married Frank Collins, and on 6th December 1918, William’s first nephew was born. In 1920 his sister, Edith, married Sidney Norris and William’s first niece was born on 7th July 1920.

In 1925 William James appears for the first time in the Electoral Roll at home with his parents and his brother Harry Ernest.

On 28th July 1929 William James Geary died at West Herts Hospital in Hemel Hempstead at the young age of 27. His death certificate states that he was a Milk Roundsman, with his home address being 72 Shrublands Avenue.

At the time of William’s death, the hospital was expanding. The main block of the current hospital, which was originally known as the West Hertfordshire Infirmary, was built on Hillfield Road and opened by Princess Mary of Teck in 1877. The hospital expanded to take military patients during the First World War. The Marnham Maternity Wing, which was started in 1926 when a foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales just north of the main block, opened in 1929.

The cause of William’s death was frightening and painful. He died from a gastric ulcer that caused him to vomit blood. In someone so young the probable cause was the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection. This infection was often caused by poor sanitation and standards of living, seasonal diets poor in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in winter, vitamin deficiencies, and frequent febrile infections in childhood.

William died a bachelor, with no will, and his death was reported to the registrar by his brother Harry.

Relatives