Research: William Hall

My 2x great grandfather William Hall was born on 8th November 1884 at 13 Chapmans Buildings, Bells Place, Blackfriargate, Hull, East Yorkshire. He was one of 7 known children; Charlotte (1879-?), William (1884-1975), Annie Eliza (1887-?), George Thomas (1890-1968), Thomas William (1895-1914), Fred (1898-1975) and Jane Elizabeth (1900-?). Their parents were William and Annie Elizabeth Hall (nee Huttley).

I cannot seem to find a baptism record for William. I do think he would have been baptised but the records cannot have been put online yet.

William’s youngest son Gordon told me that his father used to talk about living in Hull as a boy in the late 1880s / early 1890s. He said that he used to live near the docks and the children there including William, used to go swimming around the pier, despite not being allowed!

William used to do paper rounds when he was younger. Gordon told me that his father said he used to do it in bare feet! He used to follow the trams and wait until they stopped. He would then go around trying to sell his papers to the people who got off of the trams, in order make a little bit of money.

In October 1903, just under a month before William turned 19, his father passed away. Just 3 months and 23 days later, William’s mother also passed away. Because there was obviously no parental support, all of William’s siblings except himself and his older sister Charlotte were put into care homes. William and his sister Charlotte were old enough to live by themselves, and William actually married 8 months later. The oldest sibling excluding William and Charlotte, was 17 and the youngest was only 4, so there was no alternative for them but to go into care in the Hull area.

William Hall married Charlotte Ann Semper on 2nd October 1904 at the Registry Office in Hull. I have not seen a marriage certificate of the couple, but a relative may have one. I am waiting until they get back to me before I purchase one myself.

William and Charlotte had 6 children; William (1905), Annie (1910), Charlotte (1911), George (1920), Ronald and Sidney (1923). Ronald was my great grandfather and Sidney was his twin brother.

In the Census of 1911, William Hall was recorded as being a Boiler Cleaner. He was 26 years old and was living with his wife Charlotte, son William, daughter Annie and brother Thomas. Charlotte’s parents, Tom and Annie Eliza Semper, were also living there. Their address was 114 Walker Street in Hull.

During the First World War, William served in the merchant navy, however, I am unsure of when exactly William was enlisted. He was part of the convoys, which were large amounts of ships sailing together protected by warships. The purpose of the convoy was to bring food and materials back to England.

When William returned from a trip at sea, he would often go home and find total strangers in what he thought was his house. In actual fact, William’s wife had moved houses whilst he had been away at sea and had no way of letting him know. Gordon (William’s son) told me that she apparently moved about 8 times! He used to have to try and find where she had moved to!

William worked as a boiler scaler for the ships that entered the docks. As a result of this job, William became ill and nearly died. He eventually had a kidney removed and lived on.

In about 1933 William’s wife Charlotte passed away at the age of about 49/50. According to William’s youngest son (Gordon), Charlotte died as a result of Oedema, which in those days was known as Dropsy. Dropsy is a condition characterised by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body.

William met Rachel Lilian Watts at St. Cuthbert’s church, which is the church that he regularly attended and on 30th April 1936 he married her. I presume that he would have married Rachel at this church.

William and Rachel had one son together in 1939 called Gordon. I met Gordon a for the first time in 2016. He told me a lot of information about the Hall side of the family. He also showed me a few photographs, which he allowed me to scan. Gordon also showed me his father’s (William) Bible which was from the 1950s. It was in very bad condition, as it had been used over and over again. There were little notes in the pages, as well as photos etc. The photo below shows William’s handwriting.

Handwriting of William Hall.jpg

In 1939 William was living in Hull with his second wife Rachel and four of his children. They were George, a Sawmill Labourer, Sidney, a Bottle Washer in a Brewery, Ronald (my great grandfather) who was an Corporation Orderly Boy, and Gordon who was “under school age”. Gordon, was just one day old when the 1939 Register was taken on 29th September 1939. William was recorded as being a Boiler Scaler.

As a Boiler Scaler, William would have working inside the boilers of steam-powered ships, when they were berthed in the docks for maintenance. He would have had to climb inside of the emptied boilers and remove the scale that had collected on the inner surfaces. He would have chipped away at this with a hammer and chisel, scraped with a scraper, or even removed it with the use of chemicals. Boiler Scrapers also removed sludge, dust, and anything else that had collected over a vessels time at sea. Nevertheless, this job was a very hard job, that effected the health of many men that had this occupation, with diseases such as Pneumoconiosis (a disease of the lungs due to the inhalation of dust) being very common.

During the Second World War, William would do various jobs such as Night Watchman.

4 generations of William Halls.jpg
4 Generations. 3 William Halls and a Geoffrey William Hall

William had celebrated 2 silver wedding anniversary. He was married to his first wife, Charlotte, for 29 years, which means if Charlotte had lived another year, they would have celebrated their Pearl wedding anniversary. William was married to his second wife, Rachel, for 39 years, which meant that the couple had celebrated their Pearl anniversary. They were 1 year off celebrating their Ruby anniversary.

As William grew older, his pancreas started to fail and he sadly passed away on 13th June 1975 in Hull at the age of 90. He would have been turned 91 years old, the following November. He was buried in Eastern Cemetery on Preston Road, where his second wife was later buried.

I will be trying to find out more about William, as there are still some points of his life that lack the detail that I desire. Please, if you know anything about William, let me know, as I would love to know more about his life.

Thank you very much for reading,
Tony.

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