Latham, Tom Venables

Tom Venables Latham was born on the 19th January 1903 according to the National School Admission Registers & Log-books 1870-1914 for the Custom House Lane (C) (mixed) School, Connah’s Quay.    He was the son of Thomas Hewitt and Clara E. Latham (nee Venables), who married by Licence at St. Andrew’s Church, Tarvin, Cheshire on the 26th July 1898.

He was Baptised at St. Mark’s Church on the  8th February 1903, when Thomas stated he was a Sailor and they lived in Wepre.

By the 1911 census they were living at 202, High Street, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire. (With 4 rooms). Thomas H., 40, was an Ironworker and head of the household who had been born in Connah’s Quay, and with his wife Clara E., 37, who had been born in Travin, Cheshire.  They tell us that they had been married 12 years and 2 children had been born to them, but sadly 1 had died.    Tom Venables Latham, born in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, was the surviving child, and, on this census, he was age 8 years.

Tom Venables Latham started school at Custom House Lane, on the 4th of September 1911.   This source also gives his address at that time as 202, High Street, Connah’s Quay, and his father as Thos. Hewitt Latham.

The 1921 census sees the family still living in the same house in Connah’s Quay, Thomas Hewitt Latham was now 50 years and 5 months old and tells us he is a Master Mariner for John Summers & Sons, Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, but was “Out of Work.”  There was a Miner’s Strike on, and most Steelworkers were out of work.  Clara E. Latham was now 47 years old and was doing Home Duties.  Tom V. Latham was now 18 years and 6 months old and was a Motor Cycle Car Mechanic for Jones & Sons, Motor Proprietors, Connah’s Quay.

I do not have any information in the intervening years between 1921 and 1933 when Tom met and married Mary E. Roberts in St. John’s Methodist Church, Connah;s Quay (Flintshire (Mold) A115/02/E5).   Any help would be gratefully received.

Mary Alice’s parents, William Thomas and Mary Alice Roberts (nee Jones) were married, I believe at a Civil Ceremony at Chester in the September quarter of 1902.   They were living at No 3, Primrose Hill, Connah’s Quay on the 1911 census with their 3 children, William Edward age 7, Mary Ena, age 4 and Thomas, age 3.

Although according to his C.R. 2*, Tom Venables Latham had been in the Merchant Navy since, at least, 1922, please see his CR2 card.

*The CR2 Card, which I believe, is the Official Agreements and Crew Lists.  These CR2 cards should show a list of the ships on which the seaman served, customarily by its Official Number.  However, the clerks do not seem to have entered every change of ship and you may find that the record is incomplete and that some additional ship details may be recorded on the CR1 and CR10 cards.  See

So Tom must have been home when he is seen on the 1939 National Register, this was taken on the 29th September 1939, or may have left the Merchant Navy.

He is seen on the 1939 National Register, living at 25 Mold Road , Connah’s Quay U.D., Flintshire, Wales:-  This gives Tom’s date of birth as the 19th January 1903 and he was a Motor Marine Engineer, his wife Mary E. Latham’s date of birth is given as the 25th May 1906, with a Thomas R. Latham, possible their son, born on the 30th July 1936 and under school age.

His parents, on the same National Register, were still living at 202 High Street , Connah’s Quay, this gives his father, Thomas H. Latham’s date of birth as the 3rd February, 1871 and  was a Tarpaulin Repairer, his mother Clara E. Latham’s birth date was given as  the 10th June 1874.

Tom Venables Latham in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995:- LATHAM, Tom Venables of 25, Mold Road, Connah’s Quay, Flintshire died 14th August 1943 at Sea*.   Administration Bangor 18th July to Mary Ena LATHAM, Widow.

*This is not strictly true, as according to the Tom Venables Latham in the UK, Merchant Seamen Deaths, 1939 -1953 :-

Age:       40

Ship:    “Felita”

Official No.: 137407

Birth Date:          abt 1903

Birth Place:         Chester, England

Death Date:        14 Aug 1943

Death Place:       Nr Helensburgh (Scotland).  Alongside Floating Dock.   Injuries through Internal Explosion in Ship’s Engine Pump Room.

I wrote to The National Records of Scotland on the 7th April 2018 to find out if there was Coroner’s records.

They explained that the is no system of coroner’s inquests. Following sudden or suspicious deaths in Scotland or deaths in public institutions, a report is submitted to the Procurator Fiscal. The findings of this report are recorded in the Register of Corrected Entries (RCE), but the report itself is not preserved permanently. Certain deaths are investigated as Fatal Accident Inquiries upon the recommendation of the Procurator Fiscal; if an FAI is held, there will typically be a reference to a jury. Additional guidance on this process is available at

Samantha Smart, Archivist (Digital Services),National Records of Scotland, very kindly attached a re-scanned copy of Tom Venables Latham’s entry in the Register of Deaths for you to download, as well as a copy of the Procurator Fiscal’s summary as recorded in the Register of Corrected Entries. This summary classifies the cause of death as ‘Severe injuries including a fracture of the skull (caused by an explosion on a motor vessel) while in the course of his employment’.

We will arrange for the re-scanned entry to be uploaded to the ScotlandsPeople website,, as the version currently available is not fully legible. The RCE entry will also be linked to this record.

Many thanks to Samantha Smart and the National Records of Scotland.   Sadly I am unable to reproduce these documents on this page, but they confirm his death and Tom Venables injuries are described, so if members of the family contact the website I will send them, via email.

The MV ‘Felita’ was one of Summer’s Ships:- Felita (Formerly Sir William) Motorship  170 tons Built by Abdela & Mitchell,  Queensferry , 1914.

Chester Chronicle 28th August 1943 – Funeral of Mr. T. LATHAM

The funeral of Mr. Tom Veables LATHAM, who was killed in a boiler explosion on his ship, took place on Thursday , last week.   Mr. LATHAM was the ship’s engineer.   He was the only son of Capt. And Mrs. T.H. LATHAM and a member of St. David’s Church, Mold Road.

Before the interment at Golftyn Cemetery a service was conducted in St. Mark’s Church, by the Vicar (the Rev. R.F.HUGHES) and the Rev. B.L.JONES.   The hymns were “God moves in a mysterious way” and “When all Thy mercies, O my God,” and Mr. R.D. HUGHES was at the organ.  (List of mourners in the article below)

The Liverpool Echo dated the 12th of July 1946 tells us that Mrs. Mary E. Latham was granted Damages for the loss of her husband Tom.

Addendum :- Tom Venables Latham’s name is not on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, so I am endeavouring to have Tom’s name added as he died in War Service.   I sent them his death documents from Dunbarton and newspaper cuttings etc.    The last communication from the CWGC was in November 2018 where they tell me that the information I sent has been passed for adjudication.

Today 16th March 2022, I received this communication from the CWGC – Non-Commemoration Case Adjudication – NC 8917:-

“Dear Ms Mavis Williams,
We have recently gone back through several Non-Commemoration cases where we had received notification of a ‘Reject’ adjudication from the relevant military Service Authority, but our records were unclear whether that outcome was ever communicated back to you as the original Enquirer.
This message is therefore to relay or confirm (as appropriate) that the individual from your case submission NC 8917 Chief Engineer Officer Tom Venables Latham does not qualify for commemoration as a Commonwealth war casualty, according to CWGC’s eligibility criteria.
If not previously known, we appreciate that this decision may make for disappointing news. We nevertheless value your patience and hope that you can understand the need to apply our criteria consistently and in line with the decisions that military authorities came to at the time, to ensure that everyone is treated equally. If you require further clarification, please contact us.

Kind Regards,
James Wallis
Commemorations Officer

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Connahs Quay and Shotton War Memorial

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