Abraham Freeth first appeared in a census in 1891. He was living with his family in Wednesbury Staffordshire. His father (and head of household) was Joseph Freeth a 30 year old ‘Puddler’. His wife was Jane 29 and the two children were Abraham 5 and Sara 3. There was a boarder also confusingly named Abraham Freeth who was a 23 year old blacksmith. (Was he a relative?) (The enumerator had misspelt Freeth and recorded it as Freet)
The next census of 1901 finds the family still in Wednesbury. Joseph was 41 and still an ‘iron worker puddler’. His wife Jane was 35 and their children were Abraham 15 a labourer, Sarah 13, Joseph 7 and Elsie M 3.
In the 1911 census we learn that Abraham had done what many people had done. He had moved to Deeside to work at the John Summers iron works. He was a boarder, lodging with a family that also hailed from Wednesbury. William Henry Campden 40 and his wife Harriet Eliza lived at 53 Brook Road Shotton with their 7 children. Abraham Freeth, who was then 24, single and an ironworker was their boarder.
Abraham’s Army Service record survives and is accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk. It tells us that he enlisted in Wrexham on 11th August 1914 when he was 28 years old. It confirms the regimental details above and says he was 5.6″ tall, weighed 151 lbs had a sallow complexion blue eyes and light brown hair. He had 2 scars on the right side of his back. His religion was C of E. His father’s address was 2 Queens St, Old Moxley, New Wednesbury, Staffs.
His records say that his military service began ‘at home’ where he served until 27th June 1915 (321 days) Then he served as part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from 28th June until his death on 18th April 1916 (297 days).
There is correspondence between the army and Abraham’s father regarding possessions and medals.
Abraham Freeth in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tell us about his money – £1. 0s 0d and £4. 0s 0d was “R.P. to recharge” on the 24th June 1916. His sole Legatee was his father Joseph who was paid £21. 3s 0d on the 8th December 1916 and his War Gratuity of £10. 10s 0d. on the 17th September 1919
The records state that he ‘died of wounds’. Mr Alun Freeth of Garden City told me a family story about Abraham and how he died. Alun’s father told him that Abraham was a “bomb thrower” and was injured when his bottom jaw was blown away and he starved to death, Arthur Leighton who had the Station Hotel in Shotton and was a friend of Abraham’s said that Abraham was a very strong man and could bite a penny in half, Arthur showed Alun’s father half a penny and said that the other half was in Abraham’s pocket! Many thanks to Mr Alun Freeth for this insight into his family history.
A list of relatives indicates that most of his family remained in Staffordshire but his brother Joseph had also moved to Shotton.
War Diary of the 8th Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers for the 26th September 1915 19.30
Serjt. FREETH with small party sent to occupy houses in front of fire or (five) trenches, but failed, Serjt. FREETH being slightly wounded. The houses were subsequently occupied about midnight by the same party under 2d? Corpl BARNEY. About midnight search party successfully recovered the body of Lt. SPENCER who had been shot through the head.
UK soldiers who Died in The Great War 1914-19 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms all the regimental details above as does his medal card.
There is an index card for Abraham in the Flintshire Roll of Honour in the County Record Office at Hawarden. The address given is 53 Brook Road Shotton and confirms his rank and regiment but gives his number as 11511 which is not quite the same as on all other sources. It says he was killed on 9th April 1916 but all other sources say 18th April. The card was signed by Joseph Freeth on 4th January 1921. (This was probably his brother who was living locally).
Abraham was named on 2 other memorials – the Hawarden Memorial and the memorial screen at St Ethelwold’s Church, where his name is spelt Frieth on St. Ethelwolds. Somebody made an effort to ensure he was remembered.