My sincere thanks to Pam Tait of Caergwrle for providing me with the fantastic research unearthed by her cousin Rita Vaughan, the great granddaughter of Griffith John Vaughan.
Griffith John Vaughan was born on the 14th or the 18th October 1882 (different in different sources), in Caergwrle, one of 12 children born to Thomas & Martha Vaughan (nee Griffiths) who married in a civil ceremony in Wrexham on 4th April 1864. Based on the fact the family were living in the same property in Lower Street (now named Derby Road) in the census’ of 1881 & 1891, it is reasonable to assume that Griffith was born here.
In the census of 1891 Griffith’s family consisted of his father Thomas, born 1844 in Caergwrle; His mother Martha, born 1847 in Plas-yn-Bwl Caergwrle; Cyreas b.1875; Naomi b.1877; Enos b.1878; Ruth, b.1880; Griffith himself in 1882, and Alfred, b.1884. At this time his elder siblings Sardinia b.1873; Mary Ellen b.1871; Ann Jane b.1869; Sarah Elizabeth b.1867 and Thomas Samuel b. 1865 are not at the family home. Griffith’s father, Thomas, was a general labourer and the family had also taken in 3 boarders who were local mine workers.
In 1901 the Vaughan family was still living in the Lower Street house. Griffith’s mother Martha was a widow and head of the household. Records show that her husband Thomas had only recently died, as his death is recorded in the first three months of 1901. Griffith was still living at home aged 17 according to the census, and was a coal miner. His brothers Enos & Alfred were also living at home & both also coal miners. In the house on the night of the census was Griffith’s nephew George Alfred Godding, the son of Griffith’s sister Naomi who was living next door with her husband John and their two other children. Next door to Naomi & her family was another of Griffith’s siblings, his brother Cyreas who lived there with his wife Alice. It seems that Griffith grew up with a close family unit.
After the 1901 census Griffith’s life started to change immensely.
On 2nd August 1901 he enlisted in the 6th Batallion, Manchester Regiment – Regimental number 8094. He was, at the time residing at his brother-in-laws home in Tyldesley, Manchester, and he declared that for the previous 12 months he had been living with his parents in Caergwrle. He was 18 years old, was working at a colliery & was a single man. He signed on for 6 years, but from his later attestation papers when joining the Canadian regiment, he declared he served three years.
From this point on he seemed to live a very transient life.
In 1905 he married Martha Ann Richards from Rhos, a village near Wrexham in a civil ceremony. He stated his address at this time was High Street , Gwersyllt. Later the same year Griffith sailed, with his brother Thomas, to Boston USA from Liverpool. Griffith left behind his wife Martha, who was pregnant.
Griffith & Martha’s first child, Griffith William Vaughan was born at 8, Johnson Street, Ponkey, Rhos, Wrexham on 28th May 1906.
In January 1911, Griffith, Martha & Griffith William emigrated. They sailed from Liverpool as 2nd class passengers on the ‘Hesperian’, arriving in Halifax Nova Scotia on 22nd January, and finally in Detroit, Michigan on 24th January. In August of the same year, Griffith & Martha had a second child, Ernest Robert, who was born in Detroit.
It is clear that between 1911 & 1913 Griffith & Martha had crossed the Atlantic again – but not always together. Their third child, Edith May was born in Rhos, Wrexham in the second quarter (Apr/May/Jun) of 1913. However, Griffith sailed again to Detroit via Nova Scotia on 7th March on the ‘Grampian’. He travelled alone as a 3rd class passenger. Martha followed on with baby Edith on 10th September on the ship ‘SS Victorian’.
Canadian Army Career.
Griffith Vaughan signed up for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on the 20th September 1914 in Valcartier, Quebec. His Attestation Papers tell us that he had ben born on the 18th October 1882 in Wrexham, North Wales. His next of kin was named as his wife Mrs M Vaughan who at that time was living at 184 Caron Street, Windsor, Ontario. He was a ‘Core maker’ and had previously served 3 years in the Manchester Regiment in the UK. The notes said his religion was Wesleyan.
There followed a medical examination a few weeks later. He was described as 5 feet 7 inches tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches (with an expansion range of 2 inches). His complexion was dark, his eyes brown and his hair was black. He had tattoos on both arms. He was considered to be fit for service on the 31st August 1914. He became Private 6391 in the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Infantry, part of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.
His wife Martha Vaughan’s address changes in the Canadian Army records. When he attested in September 1914, her address was given as 184 Caron Street, Windsor, Ontario. her address in January 1917 was 99, Hall Street, Rhos, Wrexham.
One note in his records states that his Unit sailed (for Europe) on the 3rd October 1914. There are detailed army medical records for Griffith Vaughan.
On the 27th April 1915 he was admitted to Roy Herbert Hospital, Woolwich with a gunshot wound to his left calf. On the 29th June 1915 he was discharged to sick furlough.
On the 13th June 1916 he was wounded near Ypres. He was sent to Boulogne for one day and then admitted to 2nd So. General Hospital Bristol on the 16th June 1916. He had shrapnel wounds in his right hand, shoulder and hip. There is a note in his records that stated “Operative wounds healed. Successful. Shrapnel not removed. GC (General Condition) Good.” He was discharged from there on the 18th July 1916 and sent to a convalescent Hospital – Bearwood, Wokingham and on from there to Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe, Folkstone. There his case was examined by a Standing Medical Board on the 25th July 1916 which concluded “All superficial wounds healed. No disability.”
His records for the rest of his war are difficult and confusing. He seems to have spent time in the ‘Labour Pool but eventually rejoined the war in France in August 1918 and was killed in action in October 1918.