Richard Craven was born in Oakenholt in 1875, and the third of five children to John Craven and Winifred (Mooney). He was a half-brother to Private Evelyn Napier Craven.
John and Winifred’s fourth child was born in 1879 but, sadly, Birkenhead-born Winifred died in October the following year aged just 27, and was buried in St Mark’s Churchyard, Connah’s Quay.
The 1881 census found widower John living in Flint Lane, Oakenholt with his four daughters, Mary Esther, Martha C, Margaret and Jane, whilst Richard was staying with his uncle and aunt, William and Mary Craven, at 21, Seymour Street, Radcliffe, Lancashire.
On 31st December, 1881 John married Winifred’s sister Theresa Mooney at St Mary’s Parish Church, Chester.
Richard was to return to Oakenholt where he attended the Pentre School, and the school log book entry for 10th April, 1888 revealed the following: “Re Richard Craven – Richard Craven, a boy of 11 years, has been a source of great trouble and anxiety to the teachers. His intellect is very weak and he is much given to pilfering & stealing. Last week he purloined some of his mother’s jewellery and destroyed them. In fact he has become so unmanageable that his parents have procured his admission into a reformatory school, where he will be more strictly guarded; & I hope, cured of his evil habits. An attempt was made last year to get him on to the training ship “Clio” but it was unsuccessful.”
The “Clio” was an industrial training ship that served North Wales, Chester and the Border Counties during the period 1877–1920. During this time it was moored in the Menai Straits, near Bangor. The ship had a dual purpose – namely, to take care of, and train, boys under the age of 14 who were regarded as being in need of special educational or custodial care; and also, to provide a regular supply of seamen for the Royal Navy and Mercantile Service. Although boys who had been convicted of crimes were not permitted to enter industrial training ships, the Clio was regarded by many people as a ‘reformatory’ ship.
Richard was sent to Bradwall Reformatory School for Boys (sometimes referred to as Bradwall Training School) in Sandbach, Cheshire where, at the time of the 1891 census, he was, listed as a “boy under detention,” but it is not known for how long he was there.
The 1911 census revealed him to be residing at Oakenholt Hall, in the employ of Mr John Lee Bohannan, as a gardener (domestic). However, prior to his army service he was a farm labourer living at Cotton Farm, Lache, Chester. He never married.
He enlisted in Chester on 11th December, 1915 but never saw front line service; on enlistment he was 5ft 5ins, 124lb, chest 36ins, and his physical development was good.
He died at 3:20pm on 26th April, 1916, of pneumonia and exhaustion, at the Military Hospital, Prees Heath, Whitchurch, Shropshire, where he was a patient for 24 days. He was buried in Whitchurch Cemetery in Grave 153.
He is remembered on St David’s Parish Church war memorial, Oakenholt, and was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.