Joseph (Joe) Beard was born on 9th December, 1899 at 52, Swan Street, Flint and baptised on the 21st November, 1901 at St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint. He was the second of four children to Matthew Robert Boothby Beard and Mary (Beck) and lived at 100, Swan Street, Flint.
Matthew was born at Five Ways, Staffordshire and came to live in Flint in 1897, working at the old Red Pit Colliery until it closed. He then worked as a furnace man at the Hawarden Bridge steelworks until his retirement shortly before the war. He was an ex-serviceman and was a Lance Corporal in the Flint Company of National Reserves (Flintshire Battalion) and on the outset of WW1 he answered the call for service in response to the appeal for ex-non-commissioned officers seeing service with the 10th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was demobbed, after fours years and three months service, with the rank of Sergeant. He was also a volunteer for the Boer War, but did not go abroad. He was one of the founders of the Flint British Legion Branch and a one-time member of the local committee.
Mary was born in Swan Street, Flint and before her marriage to Matthew she had an illegitimate son named John and had been employed as a domestic servant by a local farmer and then by the Oakenholt Papermill.
In July 1913 Matthew Beard senior was summoned to the Flint Petty Sessions in respect of the non-attendance of his boy Joseph at school. The School Attendance Officer (Mr W M Jones) said there were two boys belonging to Mr Beard, and they were truants. Neither would go to school. The Bench made an order for attendance, and directed that the costs should be paid.
At the Flint Petty Sessions in May, 1916 a woman named Margaret Hough, of Swan Street, was summoned for assaulting Joseph Beard; and Edward Beck, ironworker, residing in Swan Street, was summoned for an assault upon Matthew Robert Beard, brother of the previously named complainant, on the 1st May. Hough pleaded guilty and Beck not guilty. Mr Kerfoot Roberts, solicitor, Holywell, appeared for the Beard brothers, whose evidence was to the effect that on the evening in question they were in the house of a Mrs Jones, their aunt, enjoying gramophone selections. When they were about to leave the house they heard Hough shouting and using very abusive language in the street. When Matthew Beard was going to the assistance of his brother Beck ran across and struck him. The Beards’ father was at the Front with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and another brother of the youths was also serving with the Forces. Beck denied the charge made against him; and Hough said that if the occasion arose again he would do just as she had done, as she did not intend to be threatened or insulted by the Beards. The magistrates bound Hough and Beck over to keep the peace for six months in the sum of £10. They were tired of hearing such squabble. This was a family row and it was very disgraceful the whole thing. The advocate would be allowed a fee of 10s 6d in each case. The other costs amounted to £1 7s 6d.
In early September, 1917 Joseph Beard and two other Flint youths named William Davies, of Upper Queen Street and Robert Haines, of 179, Chester Road, were summoned for playing football in Chester Road near a place of entertainment on the 14th August, to the annoyance of passengers. PC Parry proved the case, and said there had been several complaints. Haines said they picked up the small ball in the street, and only kicked it about three times. The Mayor said such conduct was against the law, and there were repeated complaints. Davies and Haines would be fined 6s each; and Beard, who did not appear, was fined 10s, or seven days in default.
Unemployed Joe enlisted in the Army at Wrexham in November, 1917 and was in training at Kinmel Park Camp, Rhyl when he took ill and died at Kinmel Park Hospital of pneumonia after contracting a severe cold. He was unmarried. Since he never saw front line service he was not eligible for medals.
He was buried in the Northop Road Cemetery, Flint in Grave 10, Line 12, South Side and is remembered on the Flint Town and St Mary’s Parish Church, Flint war memorials.
The impressive funeral took place on Friday 5th July at five o’clock and he was accorded full military honours. A firing and bearer party under the command of Captain Armstrong (who some years since was a member of the Bank staff at Flint), was accompanied by Sergeant Instructor Phillips and Sergeant Lowe, both of Flint. The party, with the military band, arrived in the Borough about one o’clock; and shortly before five o’clock proceeded to the residence of the deceased. The coffin, which was covered with the Union Jack, and on which were wreaths and some of the deceased’s accoutrements, was placed outside the house, and the Rev Canon W Ll Nicholas, VD, Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain, read the opening lines of the burial office. Afterwards, the procession, headed by the firing party, with reversed arms, moved slowly along the street, passed through the centre of the town and thence to the Welsh Church. The band discoursed, under bandmaster Fenwick (Connah’s Quay), appropriate funeral marches, and the route was lined with hundreds of people. Arriving at the Church, the coffin was borne to the chancel steps, and the congregation comprised the chief mourners and relatives and friends, and only a few of the general public. Canon Nicholas read the whole of the service, and the hymns “Brief life is here our portion,” and “Peace, perfect peace” were sung. The service at the church being concluded, the funeral procession was re-formed and wended its way to the cemetery, the military band again playing the marches. The Rev W H Davies (curate) read the committal lines at the graveside, where the customary three volleys were fired, and the “Last Post” sounded. The obsequies were of a most impressive character. The following Sunday evening a memorial service was held at the Parish Church, when Canon Nicholas preached.
At the Flint Petty Sessions in September, 1919 Mary Beard, of Swan Street, summoned her husband, Matthew, for having deserted her. There was also a second charge of persistent cruelty and a separation order was applied for in consequence. Mr Kerfoot Roberts, of Holywell, appeared for the complainant, and said the parties were married on the 28th December, 1897. Their married life had been a most unhappy one. On 2nd June the defendant assaulted his wife to such an extent that she was compelled to go to a neighbour’s house. The defendant left his wife on that date, and had not contributed anything towards her maintenance since. At this juncture, the Mayor appealed to the parties to make an effort to come together again. The defendant, on hearing the remark of the Mayor, shook his head in protest. The Mayor said “Consider it for a few minutes and see if you can come together. You have been married 22 years.” The defendant replied “I don’t care if it is 42 years, I won’t live with her.” Mr Kerfoot Roberts and Mr E H Harris (who appeared for the defendant) made an effort to bring about a reconciliation, but it was of no avail.
The complainant then gave evidence on oath. I have a child aged 11 years. The defendant said he was 50 years of age and resided at 123, Francis Street Chester. He was demobilized from the army in February last, after serving four and a half years.
The magistrates found the charge of persistent cruelty proved, but not the charge of desertion. They granted the complainant a separation order, with the custody of the child, the defendant to pay 25s weekly.
Mary and Matthew were summoned yet again on August 1920 for being drunk and disorderly. Mr F Ll Jones, Mold, was for the defence, PC Lewis gave evidence for the prosecution, and PC Hughes corroborated. Thomas John Williams, a railway official, said that while collecting tickets at the railway gates, he saw both defendants, who were drunk and fighting. It was stated that defendants had that day (7th July) been on a trip to Rhyl, and were returning home when the disturbance took place. Defendants denied the offence. Mary stated that she had nothing to drink, and Matthew said he had only had three bottle of Bass. A fine of 20s each was imposed.
Buried in the same grave as Joe is his half-brother John Beck, when, on the 3rd September, 1924, he was driving a motorcycle combination, in which were two other men, in the direction of Rhyl. When near the Tyn y Morfa crossing he collided with a motorcar driven by a Prestatyn man, and received severe injuries. He was conveyed to the Holywell Cottage Hospital, but was found on examination to be dead. His two companions were knocked out for a time, and received minor injuries. John was well known in Flint, and an enthusiastic pigeon fancier, in which he was a successful competitor in the Flint Castle Homing Society races, having won many prizes during the season.
Joe’s father died 20th July, 1952 at Lluesty Hospital, Holywell, aged 82, and buried in the Old London Road Cemetery, Flint. His mother died 19th August, 1948, aged 84, and buried with her husband in an unmarked grave.
Two years have passed, our hearts still sore,
As time goes on we miss you more;
Some may forget you, but never will I,
A mother’s love will never die.
Fondly remembered by his loving Mother, Brothers and Sister
(County Herald 9th July 1920)
Do not ask us if we miss him,
There is still a vacant place;
Shall we ever forget his footsteps,
Or the smile upon his face?
Days of sadness still come o’er us,
Hidden tears do often flow;
Memory keeps our loved one near us,
Though he died seven years ago.
Fondly remembered by his Mother, Father, Brother and Sister
(County Herald 11th December, 1925)