William B Driver

Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Eifion & Viv Williams

Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Sychdyn

Name / Enw: William B Driver

Regiment/Catrawd: Royal Welsh Fusiliers also Welsh Regiment

Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 5793 (RWF) and Private 60984 (WR)

Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Soissons Memorial

Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: France

Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: British War Medal 1914 – 1920 Victory Medal 1914-1919

Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:

About 28th May 1918 Killed in Action in France aged 21

William Bromwell’s early family life was sad and difficult.

His father was William Anthony Driver a man who had been born in Rochdale but had settled with his parents and large family of brothers and sisters in Wrexham. William Anthony Driver met and married a Sychdyn girl in 1893. She was Sarah Elizabeth Wakely, the daughter of Robert and Patience Wakely who lived in Garden Cottages Sychdyn. (These are houses situated on the right hand side of the main road as you go from Sychdyn to Northop and were the homes provided for gardeners on the Bankes’s Estate of Soughton Hall.) Sarah’s father Robert was head gardener for the Bankes family.

William and Sarah lived in Wrexham in Holt Road. The first three children Edith, William Bromwell and Elizabeth were born.  The fourth child’s birth (Eva Sarah),  on 27th December 1898, resulted in tragedy.  Sarah Elizabeth died 9 days after Eva was born leaving a motherless family of four which included a new baby. William Anthony Driver had to take some tough decisions.

The 1901 census tells us how he had dealt with his situation. The young family had been split up. William Bromwell was living with his Wakely grandparents in Garden Cottages, Sychdyn. He was by then 4 years old. Edith who was then 6 had gone to live with an Aunt and Uncle, Hannah and Henry Wakely at Tai Cochion, Sychdyn.

Widower, William Anthony Driver aged 30 was living with his parents in Wrexham, helping to run their fish and chip shop in 1901. One of the members of the large family is a 2 year old Eva. So far, Elizabeth has not been located on the 1901 census.

Members of the family have told us that soon afterwards, William Anthony Driver emigrated to the United States, taking with him Eva and Elizabeth. They went to Los Angeles where William Anthony remarried. The other two children, William Bromwell and Edith were left behind in North Wales with their Wakely relatives.

The census of 1911 records William Bromwell Driver living with his Wakely Grandparents at Garden Cottage , Soughton. Head of household was Robert Wakely who was 64 and Head Gardener at Soughton Hall. He had been born in Axmouth Devon.His wife of 42 years was 62 year old Patience. She had given birth to 9 children, 3 of whom had died. She too had been born in Devon. William B Driver, their Grandson was listed. He was 14 and was a schoolboy and  also a Grocer’s Boy.  Listed too on census night was Sarah Fornchan, 88, and from Devon. She was Mother in Law to William Bromwell

As a young woman, Edith worked at Sychdyn Co op. She went on to marry a local man and  became Edith Blackwell. They raised a family of two girls and a boy in Sychdyn. She had at one time, her own shop in London Road, Sychdyn.

William Bromwell remained in Sychdyn with his grandparents until he joined the army, went to France and was killed when he was 21. How sad is that?  I wonder how long it took the news to reach his father and sisters in America?

UK Soldiers Who Died in The Great War, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms William’s regimental details as at the top of this page. It adds that he enlisted in Mold and this source tells us he was ‘killed in action’. His Medal Index card also on Ancestry, lists his two medals and this source tells us that he had a previous regimental number.