Hamilton, John Allan

John Allen Hamilton was a British subject who was born at sea in about 1897, the son of John Roger Hamilton and his wife Mabel Hastings Hamilton nee Fry.  Mabel was the 4th child of Frederick Goss Fry, a ships master from Bristol who later (in the 1870s) became a Shipping Insurance Broker in Liverpool. Two of Mabel’s siblings were born at sea and her eldest brother was born in Bombay.

The General Record Office Consular Birth Indices (1849 to 1965) state that his birth was registered at the Consulate in Batavia (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).

The 1901 census states that he is aged 4, living with his mother in his maternal grandparents’ house at 1, Norman Road, Waterloo, near Seaforth, Liverpool.  His mother was described as married but his father was not present.

In the 1911 census Mabel is living in the same substantial 13 room house in Waterloo but with her two spinster sisters.  She states that she has been married for 15 years and has had two children, one of whom has died.  This was Anna Steven Hamilton, who died aged a few months in 1895.   It is not clear where her husband was in 1901 or 1911, or how the marriage ended but in 1914 Mabel married Walter Taylor Forster (1879 – 1952) in Hawarden, and they lived at Gwern Alyn in Caergwrle. Mabel died in 1966.

John’s name does not appear on the 1911 census for England or Wales, but as he was about 14 by then he may already have entered training for the Royal Naval Reserve.  He had trained on HMS Conway, a ‘school ship’ stationed on the River Mersey.


HMS Conway

One of his early voyages was to South America. In October 1914 he was appointed to HM Huanchuca, a cargo ship of the PSNC fleet that had been requisitioned to transport horses and stores for the battlefront. He had a brief spell with HMS Excellent, the name given to a shore establishment in Portsmouth used for naval warfare training. In December 1914 he joined HMS Viknor and is listed as one of the crew members who died when she sank off the Irish coast on 13th January 1915.

As well as the Portsmouth Naval Memorial he is commemorated on the Waterloo and Seaforth War Memorial

Waterloo and Seaforth War Memorial

Waterloo and Seaforth War Memorial

John Allan Hmailton’s family tree can be viewed at

He also appears on the Caergwrle Memorial

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