William Glynne Charles Gladstone was the grandson of the great statesman and Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone. He was recorded on a census for the first time in 1891. He was living with his family at ‘New Hall’, Hawarden, Flintshire. The household comprised of William Henry Gladstone 50 who was a ‘landowner’. His wife was Gertrude who was 41. Their listed children were Evelyn C 9, Constance 7 and William Glynne Charles who was 5. The resident staff included a Nurse, Cook, Lady’s Maid, Housemaid, Kitchen Maid, Nursery Maid, Butler and Footman.
In 1901 William was 15 and the census records him as a pupil at Eton
William Glynne Charles Blackburn was not recorded on the 1911 census because as we see from the biography below, he was at that time at the British Embassy in Washington although later that same year he became an MP.
This biography is taken from UK, De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, 1914-1924 William Glynne Charles Gladstone – Volume: 1, Page: 153
Gladstone, William Glynne Charles of Hawarden Castle, M.P. 2nd Lieut., 3rd Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers only son of the late William Henry Gladstone, M.P., by his wife, the Hon. Gertrude, nee Stuart ( 41, Berkeley Square, London, W.), 4th dau. of Charles, 12th and last Lord Blantyre, and grandson of the Right Hon. William Ewart Gladstone, P.C., M.P., the distinguished statesman: born 41, Berkeley Square, London, 14th July 1885; educ. Eton and New College, Oxford, and was President of the Oxford Union in 1907. He succeeded his grandfather in the Hawarden Estates, 19th May 1898, and was Assistant Private Secretary to the Lord Lieut. of Ireland, 1909 and an Honorary Attache to the British Embassy in Washington, 1911. In 1911 he entered Parliament as Liberal Member of Kilmarnock Burghs, and when in the following year he made his first speech in Parliament, in seconding the motion for an address in reply to a speech from the Throne, he frankly acknowledged that it was a handicap to bear the name of Gladstone, observing: ” I feel that every effort is doomed to fall short of the expectation which may conceivably and very incautiously be formed by some of one who bears the name that I do.” During the short time he had been a member, however, he had already by his own marked individuality gained the attention of the House, and given evidence of abilities which promised a distinguished future. He was appointed Lord Lieutenant and Cistos Rotulorum of Flintshire, and President of the County Territorial Association in 1911, and after the outbreak of war volunteered for Imperial service. He was gazetted 2nd Lieut. To the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 15 Aug. 1914; and promoted Lieut. 7th April 1915; went to the Front, 15th March 1915 and was killed in action near Laventie in France on Tuesday 13th April 1915, being shot dead while in the trenches endeavouring to locate a sniper. A doctor was with him immediately but he never regained consciousness. His body was brought back and interred in the Churchyard at Hawarden, 23rd April, He was unmarried. Writing to his mother from the trenches he said,” You will be wrong if you regret my coming, for I am very glad and proud to have got to the Front. It is not the length of existence that counts, but what is achieved during that existence, however short.”
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms his regimental information but states he was in the 3rd Bn. His British Army WWI Medal Card also on ‘Ancestry’ tells us that his first Theatre of War was France and he entered it on the 22nd March 1915. On the reverse of card is written ‘ The Hon. Mrs.W.H. Gladstone, (Mother) Hawarden House, Chester’.
Unlike the rest of the fallen servicemen, William Glynne Charles Gladstone’s body was repatriated from France and he was given a seriously impressive, almost State-like funeral at Hawarden. He was the last British serviceman to be repatriated for burial in WW1.
He was buried in the Gladstone family Plot in St. Deniol’s Churchyard. Hawarden. The Monumental Inscription is on a White Marble Cross.
To the Glory of God
And to remember a gallant soldier
Pure in heart and ever loyal to duty
Worthy of the honoured name he bore
William Charles Gladstone
Lieutenant Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Lord Lieutenant of the County of Flint
Member of Parliament.
Also, inside the church
Description – Wooden Rood Above The Chancel With A Crucifix Flanked By The Virgin And St John. Also A White Marble Tablet Inlaid Into A Sandstone Pillar With Inscription. Gladstone Wards Of Chester Royal Infirmary Also Part Of This Memorial – Inscription
The Holy Rood above this chancel arch
Was restored by his Mother and Sisters
While by his tenants and many friends
From far and near
The Gladstone wards of the Chester Royal Infirmary
Were dedicated to the memory of
The Young Squire of Hawarden
Who wrote in words and wrought in deeds
In the trenches of France. His life’s best motto
“It is not the length of existence that counts but what
is achieved during that existence however short”
Less than thirty years but crowned with the love
Than which no man hath greater.
He laid down his life for his friends
Near Laventie April 13th 1915
“He was a veray parfit gentil knyght
God rest his soule”
William Glynne Charles Gladstone left a will and the England and Wales National Probate Calendar (index of wills and administration) published the following entry in October 1915
William Glynne Charles Gladstone of Hawarden Castle, Flintshire. Lieutenant Royal Welsh Fusiliers died 13th April 1915 in France, killed in action. Probate London 16th October to The Honourable Gertrude Gladstone widow Henry Neville Gladstone esq and The Right Honourable Herbert John Viscount Gladstone £139124..7s.. 4d
As the Gladstone family history is so well known I thought that I would add tributes, anecdotes and newspaper cuttings about the Squire of Hawarden.
Local & Country Notes
The Death of Mr. W.G.Gladstone, M.P.
“Since our last issue, Flintshire has lost one of its foremost citezens. A thrill of sorrow passed through the county when the meloncholy report reached this country that Mr. W. G.C. Gladstone, M.P., popularly known as “the Squire of Hawarden” and the Lord Lieutenant of Flintshire, had met a soldier’s death on the battlefield. It seems only a few weeks since the announcement was made that Mr. Gladstone had decided it his duty, in this time of national crisis, to buckle on his armour, and go forth to meet the foe. To many, this decision on Mr. Gladstone’s part was somewhat surprising. He was a young man – not yet thirty years of age, – and he was on the threshold of a bright and promising career in the service of his country. He was the direct descendent of one of the greatest Statesmen that England has ever seen. This fact, in itself, would not have been sufficient in days when intrinsic personal worth is so much demanded to have ensured for him a high and honourable position in national service. But he had from boyhood shown a keen desire to emulate the noble life of his grandfather, Wm Ewart Gladstone. From the academic groves of an English University where he showed the family aptitude for the acquirement of knowledge, he served an apprenticeship in the diplomatic and political sphere by becoming an attaché at the British Embassy at Washington, where he gave proof of sterling qualities as a political leader. He returned to his home in Hawarden, and upon him was conferred the signal honour of appointment as Lord Lieutenant of Flintshire. The duties appertaining to this office he had discharged with acumen and fidelity; and at the same time he took a special interest in his estate at Hawarden, and had gained the goodwill and esteem of his tenants and neighbours. His election as Liberal M.P. for the Kilmarnock Burghs was hailed as the probable stepping stone to the higher sphere of statesmanship at no distant date. Surrounded by everything that could make life precious, he yet conceived it his duty to stand forward on behalf of his country in the hour of his country’s danger, perhaps in great measure as an incentive to other younger men to do likewise. Later reports from the field of action show that he received his fatal wound whilst he engaged in doing a soldier’s duty to the utmost. His death will be deeply lamented in his native county, and in the country generally there will be many who, having heard the story of his career, and his great sacrifice for his beloved land will silently brush aside the tear of sorrow”.
Brotherhood’s Tribute to the late Mr. Gladstone
Speaking at the Connah’s Quay and Shotton Brotherhood meeting at the Picture Palace on Sunday, Mrs Lewis ( Wife of the Right Hon. J.H Lewis, M.P.), in dealing with the War and the death of Mr.W.G.C Gladstone, M.P., said why should they be sad when God took persons from this earth to a higher service, and why should they complain? Their lives and death taught all of us a lesson, and we were proud of our heroes. They sacrificed their lives for others, and she thanked God that we had such men. The drink question would have to be tackled, as there was nothing more despicable at this crisis than the treating of our soldiers.. It was not as hard to ask a person to give up strong drink, if only for the duration of the War, as it was to lay down their lives. The women of the country could not go to the front, but there was much good they could do, even if only to become teetotal. – Mr J. Mealor (president) in moving a vote of condolence to Mrs. Gladstone and her family in the loss of her son, said the Brotherhood, had lost a valuable friend. – Mr. H.H.Millar, in seconding, said he did not think there was anyone present, with the exception of Mrs. Lewis, who was more familiar with Mr. Gladstone than he (speaker) was. When the late strikes were on, and even after the War had started, he received letters from the deceased gentleman, asking him if there was any cases of distress in Shotton or any children shoeless, and if so, would he (Mr. Millar) let him know. He was a man who never wanted the many people he helped to know where the money came from. While at Wrexham Mr. Gladstone was a general favourite with his men. Before he arrives at the Barracks the men had very few games, etc., to amuse themselves, but upon his arrival he purchased all that was necessary for the men to pass a happy time – The motion was passed by the large concourse standing. – Mr. Isaiah Morgan presided, Mr. Millar read the Scripture lesson, and a solo was given by Mr. Evans, of Crewe Brotherhood.
He is also remembered on Queensferry Roll of Honour in the Queensferry War Memorial Institute and the Plaque in St. Andrew’s Church, Garden City.
Please read the books, “Goodbye to All That” by Robert Graves, (ISBN: 978-1-909621-05-3),The Quick and the Dead, by Richard Van Emden. (Fallen Soldiers and their Families in the Great War) ( ISBN 978 0 7475 97797) and the “Empire of the Dead” (How one man’s vision led to the creation of WW1’s War Graves) by David Crane (ISBN 978-0-00-745665-9) were William G.C. Gladstones death and burial are discussed.