Cruickshank, James Henry

James Henry CRUICKSHANK is not on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database.   It was this newspaper report that set me looking at his life and trying to make sure that he be remembered.

Chester Chronicle 4th October 1941 –Naval Officer’s Death

News had been received by his sister, Mrs. Helsby, Cestrian Street, of the death of Lieut. James Henry CRUICKSHANK, R.N., aged 56.   He was at the admiralty.   Until two years ago he was stationed at Portsmouth where the funeral took place on Saturday week.   Lt. CRUICKSHANK spent his childhood in Connah’s Quay and was the eldest son of the late Mr. Jas. CRUICKSHANK, of the Boraxo Consol Company.   Educated at Hawarden County School he served for some time as an apprentice to electrical engineering.   He secured a position in Belfast and then joined the Navy.   He served throughout the last war and was some time in Malta.   His wife died two years ago and he leaves a daughter of 15 who is in a Dumphries boarding school.

When I looked at the Hawarden Grammar School,  Admissions Register E/GS/1/10 it told us that James Henry had lived at the “Hare & Hounds,” High Street, Connah’s Quay.

61 CRUICKSBANK (sic), James Henry date of birth – 24th May 1884*, Hare & Hounds Hotel, Connah’s Quay, Manager, Chemical Works, Date of entry – 2nd June 1898, St. Mark’s, Connah’s Quay, Date of Leaving July 1898 (sic)  – App. Shotton Works.   (He was only there about 1 month.)  There is a discrepancy to the date of birth given in the 1939 National Register taken on the 29th September 1939 in Kingston-upon-Hull.

So starting from the beginning to tell James Henry’s story – I believe that his parents, James Cameron & Elizabeth (Eliza) Cruickshank (nee Blackwood) married on the 3rd April 1873 in Stranraer,Wigtown,Scotland.

They are next seen in Manchester on the 1881 census, living at 162, Ridgeway St., Ancoats, Manchester, Lancashire.    James, 31 was an Engine Fitter , born Scotland as was his wife Eliza, 29.  Their first child Annabella, 7, had also been born in Scotland, daughter Janet, 4, was born in Liverpool, Lancashire and daughter Mary, 1, Manchester.   Eliza’s sister Mary Blackwood, 19 and single had been born in Scotland.

1891 sees the family enlarged and living in Liverpool again, this time at 91, Robert Street, Gorton. Head of the household, James Cruickshank, 39 was now a Chemical Worker, Eliza  now 37.   Annabella, 18 was a Laundress, Janet, 14 and Mary, 10 were Scholars, James H., 7, scholar and Thomas 5 had both been born in Manchester.

1901 shows the family having moved to Connah’s Quay, at 20, Church Street.    Again James Cruickshank is head of the household and is a Chemical Engineer, but it seems that Elizabeth (Eliza) had died as James’s wife was Emily ,32 born in Connah’s Quay.   The children were Janet,22 and single, Thomas, 14, Louisa, 9 born in Manchester and Flora, 1 born in Connah’s Quay.

I found a marriage between James Cameron Cruickshank and Emily Bennett at Northop on the 26th September 1898.    James,44, widower and Chemical Engineer, father James Cruickshank, Lawyer & Emily Bennett, 29, Spinster, father John Bennett, Contractor, both addresses – Connah’s Quay.   Witnesses were Thomas Mathews & Martha Bennett.

James Henry was missing on the 1901 census, but I found him at 20, Byron Street,  Bootle-cum-Linacre, Lancashire- James H. Cruickshank, Single 16 Apprentice/Electrical Engineer born Scotland, living with John & Martha Scott, John was a French Polisher.

The family were still at 20, Church Street, Connahs; Quay, which had 7 rooms, James Cameron, 58 was now an Insurance Factor and wife Emily, 40, Housekeeper,  tells us that they had been married for 13 years and 5 children had been born, all still living.   Louisa Hannah. 19, Assistant Housekeeper, Flora MacDonal, 11, George Arthur,9 , John Sydney, 6 and Kenneth Comrie, 4  had all been born in Connah’s Quay.   Also in the household was John Bennett, Emily’s father, a widower age 81, born in Connah’s Quay and a Boarder, William Ernest Phillips,23, single and born in Ponyblyddyn, Flintshire.

The years following, if my research is correct, shows the family suffering greatly, as in the June Quarter of 1918, James Henry’s full-blood sister Louisa died age 25 years (Flintshire (Mold) FLNT/32/48).   Then I believe, that James Cameron Cruickshank died in the September quarter  of 1919 (Flintshire (Mold)FLNT/33/3).

There is a James H Cruickshank R.N.V.R. in the U.K. Navy Lists book in the Compass Dept., address:- Admiralty Compass Observatory, Slough, who may be “our” James, as later in the story you will see he was working with Navigation Instruments.   He was on many of these lists through to at least 1938 and Malta is mentioned as stated in the newspaper article, so it seems that he was away a lot.

On the 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) a visitor in the Imperial Hotel, Kingston-upon-Hull C.B., Yorkshire (East Riding), England, was James Cruickshank, born 28th June 1884*, he was widowed and a Civil Servant, Navigation Instrument, Admiralty.

*Note different month of birth to the one on the Hawarden Grammar School Register.

On this National Register, we find James Henry’s step-mother living at 242 High Street , Connah’s Quay, her date of birth is given as the 2nd September 1890 and she is a Draper Shop Keeper and Widowed, and Kenneth C. Cruickshank, born 16th December 1916, 2nd Eng M.S. Eldonita Mercantile? Marine?  and Single.   Also in the household was George Shaw, a married Plasterer, Alice Susannah Jones, a widow and George Herbert Jones, born 1928, at school.

His sister Janet was living at 45 Cestrian Street , Connah’s Quay with her husband Harold Helsby, a Storekeepers Labourer.

I asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on a number of occasions about different servicemen as I wasn’t sure about the criteria for Servicemen or women to be added to the database and to be remembered and this was their reply, in this case another Shotton Merchant Navy Officer, but the answer covers all servicemen: –

Qualification for Grave Status – CWGC – —–Original Message—–

From: Maria Choules

Sent: 15 May 2018 09:08

To:  Mavis Williams

Subject: CWGC T V Latham (also on the Memorial)

I should like to explain that the qualification for war grave status in detail, Commonwealth servicemen and women who died whilst in service during the war periods, regardless of the cause of death are accorded war grave status. This includes those who were killed in action or died of their wounds, it also includes those who died of disease, illness, accident, suicide, homicide or judicial execution.

Additionally, those who were discharged from service but whose deaths occurred within the war periods, from injury or illness caused by or exacerbated by their service in the war. These cases only qualify if it was proven to the service authorities that death was service attributable.

Our records are based on information given to the Commission by the relevant service authorities after both Wars, it is possible that an error occurred and details were not passed onto us.

I have attached some guidance notes explaining our non-commemoration processes which I hope you will find of interest.

I hope this information will be useful and thank you for bringing this gentleman to our attention and if you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards

Maria Choules

Records Section

That is why I think that James Henry Cruickshank should be remembered and added not only to our War Memorial but the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database.

He was working at the Admiralty and until two years before his death, he was stationed at Portsmouth and that was where he was buried, so presumably he was still in the service, according to the newspaper article on his death.   Sadly I cannot find a death certificate for him.

According to the BlackwoodSJ Family Tree (KateMcGandSimonBlackwood)

There was a Marriage in Chorlton, in the June quarter of 1913 but the Family Tree doesn’t say who James’s Bride was, however, I found a James H. Cruickshank married an Alice J. Brocklehurst, (Chorlton Vol.  8c Page 1418).   The certificate would have to be purchased to confirm/deny.   Also I found a death certificate for an Alice J. Cruickshank  in the March quarter of 1939 that would fit James Henry’s wife’s death, again according to the newspaper article.

His daughter was at a Boarding School in Dumphries when he died.    There were connections to Glasgow and Scotland through his parent’s, so perhaps that was why she was in Scotland at school, to be near relatives if he was away so much.   Although Dumfries is 76 miles away from Glasgow, so I do not know if this is him, why he was there, possibly on business, and an opportunity to see his daughter, although this is guesswork.

I have found what I believe to be his Probate, which tells us that he died on the 16th September 1941, which more or less ties in with the newspaper report. – CRUICKSHANK, James Henry of Grosvenor Hotel, Glasgow died 16 September 1941 at 4, Parkgate, Glasgow.   Probate Llandudno 27 January to the Public Trustee.    If his daughter was only 15 then this may be why his effects went to the Public Trust.

Looking at his service to this country, as he was in two world wars, I find it hard to think that he is not on the Commonwealth War Graves commission website.

Any information gratefully received.



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