Alfred was first recorded on a census in 1891. He was living at Brinstin Street, 7, Court 3, Wolverhampton Staffordshire. John Clay, 52 a widower and a Japanner was head of the household. Living with him was his daughter Mary H Clay who was 23 and her children, Alfred, 3 and Lilly Clay 1. All had been born Wolverhampton.
Alfred’s mother Mary Helena Clay married Albert Prince Lane in the June Qtr of 1893 (Wolverhampton Vol. 6b Page 923) and they were recorded in the 1901 census living at Corporation Road (Shop) in Newport, Monmouthshire. The head of the household was Albert Lane 35 a ‘Catcher of Sheets’, in the Ironworks, who had been born in Leeds. His wife was Mary H. Lane 33. The listed children were Fred Lane (Alfred) who was 13 and Lily Lane who was 10. They had all taken Albert’s name of Lane.
Alfred married Sarah Ann Jones in a Registry Office wedding in Newport, Mon., on the 23rd May 1908. (She had a child Emily Jones who had been born on the 15th September 1907).
The 1911 census records that Alfred and Sarah Ann were living in a 2 room apartment at 23, Destow Street,Newport, Monmouthshire. Alfred 24 was an ‘Iron Breaker Down’ at the Iron & Steel Works. Sarah Ann 22, his wife of 3 years had given birth to 2 children who were still living. She had been born in Newport, Monmouthshire as had their children. Alfred jnr was 1 year and 11 months old and Evelyn May was 5 months. Also living at the same Destow Street address in 1911 were Mary and Albert Lane (Alfred’s mother and stepfather).
Alfred enlisted on the 28th August 1914 in Wrexham. His address then was 6 Queen Street Queensferry, Flintshire. His Army Service Records have survived and are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk. On enlistment he was described as being 5 feet 7 and a half inches tall, weighed 137 lbs, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes. light brown hair and had scars on the back of an arm. He was considered to be fit for service.
His records show that he was promoted regularly. He became a Lance Corporal and then a Corporal in 1914. He became an Acting Sergeant in February 1915. He was killed in action in July 1916. His records don’t state the place of death but judging by the date and his burial place, he was involved in the massacre that was Mametz Wood in France.
His records contain various papers and correspondence that suggest that the army was much concerned when working out his pension, with the status of the child Emily Jones. There is a list of his children with their birth dates, in his file
Alfred 13th April 1909. Evelina May 14th October 1910. George Arthur 7th January 1913. Albert Henry 29th December 1914. Emily Jones 15th September 1907.
The correspondence suggests that he took responsibility for Emily and maintained her along with his other children.
Alfred’s mother Mary H. Lane wrote to the Army (Transcribed verbatim) :-
Dated 25th March 1921 (Letter written by Alfred’s Mother to the Army)
I am writing on behalf of my late dear son No. 12586/5714 Sgt. Alfred Clay, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, killed in action on the 16th day of July 1916. I been informed …. some of his work mates that they saw the letter which was sent to Summers Iron Works, Shotton concerning his promotion to Sgt. Major just before he was killed after he came out of the battle owing to children’s mothers disloyalty I have 5 children with me she has her pension still the money (paper ripped) ….ficent to keep them I shall be (ripped) …ly glad if you will be so kind to let me have his records for the sake of the children they have nothing to show what their father has won. Yours sincerely, Mary H. LANE, 69, Mager Street, Newport, Mon.
Alfred’s Medal Index Card (accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk) details his medals but shows that they were returned by his family.