James first appearance on a census was in 1891. He was living with his family at Mill Yard, Mill Street, Willaston, Cheshire, The head of the household and father was Alfred Crisp, 36 a Gardener who had been born in Cheltenham, Gloustershire. Alfred’s wife was Margaret Crisp 27 who had been born in Willaston, Cheshire. The listed children were Albert Henry 10 and James 8 (these two had been born in Bebington, Cheshire and both were scholars). Thomas Walter 5 was a scholar who had been born in Rock Ferry. Nora Elizabeth 4 and Hilda 2 were both born in Willaston, Cheshire. Ethel May was 7 months old and had been born in New Ferry, Cheshire.
I believe that Margaret Crisp (nee Buck) was Alfred’s second wife. They had married in 1884 in Liverpool. He had previously married his first wife Annie Crisp (nee Whitehead) in 1880 but she had died in 1883. It would seem therefore that Annie was James’s birth mother. (See www.ancestry.co.uk Births deaths and marriages)
The 1901 census recorded James living in lodgings with a family at 6, Talton Road, Wavertree, Lancashire. It was the home of Mr. William J. Hooton, and his wife Mary J. and their daughter Elizabeth A. age 5 months. James was a Railway Platelayer, aged 19.
(In 1901 his father Alfred and his wife Margaret were living at Ness, Cheshire. Alfred was 44 and still a Gardener. Margaret was 37. The children at home were Hilda 12, Ethel M. 10 George 8 and Arthur 5).
James was married in 1910 at the Methodist Chapel in Hawarden, to Rose A. Boswell. In the 1911 census they were living at 7 North Terrace Sandycroft. James 27 was a Labourer. Rose 25 had been born in Chester. Rose’s daughter Jane was 5.
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms the regimental information above and adds that James enlisted in Chester. His medal card also on ‘ancestry’ details his medals and tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and that he entered it on the 14th July 1915.
James Crisp’s Army Service Records have survived and are on ancestry.co.uk. His Attestation Papers were dated 10th August 1914 at Chester. James stated that he had previously been in the 13 Hussars for 12 years. (He would therefore have been a reservist which is why he joined the war so early). He was age 32 years exactly and he had been born in New Ferry, Cheshire. His trade was Ironworker.
He was medically examined and his height was 5 feet 4 inches and weighed 137? lbs. His chest measurement was 37 inches fully expanded with a range of expansion of 2 inches. His eyes were hazel and his hair dark brown. His religion was noted as Church of England. He had a small scar on his left buttock near the middle. His vision was good as was his physical development. He was deemed fit for service and became 10126 of The Cheshire Regiment.
James’s career in the regiment was chequered. He was appointed to Lance Corporal on the 31st August 1914 and became an Acting Corporal on the 12th September 1914 only to have it confirmed as Corporal less than a week later. He was promoted to the rank of Acting Sergeant on the 27th October 1914. This meteoric rise through the ranks was brought to an end with various demotions throughout 1915 – mostly due to ‘misconduct’. He finally reverted to Private on the 19th February 1916. He seems to have been quite a character. He was killed in action at The Battle of The Somme on the 5th September 1915.
After his death, there was correspondence between the army and Rose Annie Crisp, James’s wife and next of kin. These exchanges concerned arrangements for his personal possessions, his medals and a commemorative scroll and plaque. The other matter that had to be resolved was her pension. The army allocated to her 20/6d a week for her and her three children Alfred, Joseph and Nora. The army refused to allocate any monies in respect of her eldest daughter Jane. There is a sad letter from Rose, pleading her case. It is accessible on ‘ancestry’ but we won’t post the personal details here, or please contact the website.
James is commemorated in St. Deniol’s Churchyard, Hawarden (Monumental Inscriptions. Volume 11 – Lovelock – Page 33) and is recorded on the Imperial War Museum – Memorial Project Website – http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/60252
Description – Double kerbstone with black pot and lead lettering. – Inscription
On pot: IN MEMORY OF/ MY/ DEAR/ HUSBAND/ WILLIAM/ RIDGEWAY. On headstone: IN LOVING/ MEMORY OF/ JOSEPH/ THE BELOVED HUSBAND OF/ ANN BOSWELL/ WHO DIED OCTOBER 23 1899/ AGED 57 YEARS./ ALSO THE ABOVE/ ANN BOSWELL/ WHO DIED OCTOBER 8 1922/ AGED 78 YEARS./ WHO DIED JULY 15, 1927/ AGED 50 YEARS./ ALSO JAMES CRISP,/ WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION/ SEP.5, 1916, AGED 33 YEARS./ PEACE PERFECT PEACE./ ALSO ROSE ANNIE,/ WIFE OF ABOVE/ WHO DIED MARCH 23 1964/ AGED 78 YEARS.
James is also remembered on the Plaque in St. Francis’s Church, Sandycroft.
Some further interesting family history. James’s Commonwealth War Grave Certificate tells us that his father Alfred and stepmother Margaret Crisp had emigrated to the USA. Their address was given as Fayette Avenue, Eden Center, Brockport, New York, U.S.A.
They had sailed on the ship “Victorian”, from Liverpool and had arrived in Quebec on the 5th June 1914. Margaret and Alfred were shown on US Censuses for 1920, 1925, 1930 and 1940 in the town of Monroe, New York, mostly living at Fayette Street, at different houses. Alfred was a Gardener, until he became a Florist, (Glass house). George C Crisp, their son who had emigrated with them was also a florist.. Charles E and Robert N. Crisp also emigrated with their parents in 1914. Their daughter Hilda joined them and was living with them in 1919.
Hilda married Joseph R.Woods, who was a painter and they had a daughter Nora Joan.
Charles E. Crisp married Elinor from Georgia Ohio, possibly in 1929.
James’s father Alfred died in 1944 and is buried in Plot Section C Lot SNGL in Lakeview Cemetery, Brockport, Monroe. The gravestone simply says “Father” Alfred Crisp 1856 – 1944. ( Find a Grave Website via Ancestry.co.uk, photo added by John Noble).
Margaret had died between the 1930 and 1940 Censuses.
I was contacted by Christina who gave more details:-
Thank you so much Mavis,
This is more than I had ever hoped for. How sad all those lives were lost.
And James must have been a character to go up & down the ranks like that, I wonder what was going on in his life.
James’s son Alfred had a son, also named Alfred (Alf)! Alf is my 2nd cousin and he will be so thrilled with this information about his grandparents and great grandparents.
Jane E Boswell is my grandma, and my great nan is Rose Annie Boswell whom I remember. Rose Annie’s daughter to James Crisp is Nora not Nola, the r must have looked like an L on the letters. Oh and to have a letter that was written by my great nan is a gem.
How sad that Rose Annie tried so hard to obtain a few extra pennies for Jane. And Janes father is named in full!
Photo of Rose Annie and her daughter Jane Ellis (after her father), Jane was ‘Ginny’. I don’t have any other photos, my own mother took those when she went to live in Vancouver and they are now lost. My great aunt Nora, what a character she was, so funny and she found out that her & Ginny were only step sisters when she was in her 40’s! Baldness is a trait in the boys on the Crisp side, so I wonder what James and his father Alfred looked like.
Kindest regards and also best wishes
Christina sent me some photographs of the family, many thanks Christina.