Gladstone, William Herbert

The 1881 census shows William’s father Stephen E. Gladstone, living at the Rectory in Hawarden. He was head of the household, single and 38 years old.   He was Rector of Hawarden and had been born in London and was the son of the Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone.   Curiously, there is only 1 local girl serving amongst the 5 servants in the Rectory, a Kitchen Maid, Ann Foulkes, 21 single and she had been born in Connah’s Quay.   I add this only for local history reasons.

In the March Qtr. of 1885, Stephen Edward Gladstone married Annie Crosthwaite in Liverpool ( Vol 8b, Page 41) where Annie had been born. On the marriage Certificate ( which I have transcribed, if anyone would like it) Stephen’s father, William Ewart Gladstone, is described as the “Premier of England”.

By  the census of 1891 the couple were still in the Rectory at Hawarden. Stephen Edward, 47 and Annie C. 27 had a family.  Catherine, 5, son Albert C,  (described as a daughter on the census), Charles A. 2. (also described as a daughter) These were both Enumerator’s errors.   All 3 had been born in Hawarden.   There were 6 servants in the household.

William Herbert Gladstone was born in Hawarden in 1898 (HAW/45/5) and in 1901 he was recorded on a census for the first time.  The family was still in the Rectory.   Stephen E. was still a Clerk in Holy Orders,  and Annie was 37 years old. The listed children were  Catherine, 15,  Stephen D 9 and young William H., 2. There were 2 visitors. Agnes Wickham,  58, sister to Stephen and also a married Gentleman, An. G. Hutchins, 47  who was another Clerk in Holy Orders.   There were 4 servants, 2 of whom had been born locally, Louisa Brentnall, 25, single , born in Chester and Lena Wright, 23, single and who had been born in Hawarden.

The 1911 census recorded  William Herbert’s Mother, Annie Crosthwaite 47,  at 11 Abercromby Square in Liverpool. Her sister, Maud Mary Wilson, 48  was head of the household. Also listed were her sister,  Agnes Katherine Wilson, 43 and her brother  Sidney Edward Wilson, 41 a Schoolmaster.  Niece, Elizabeth Gaynor Bickersteth, 4 was also present.    There were  4 servants were in the household.

On the 1911 census Stephen Edward Gladstone, 66,  Clerk in Holy Orders, was living at Barrowby Rectory, Grantham, Lincolshire with his daughter Catherine 25 . She was described as ‘Daughter of the House’.   In 1911, William Herbert 12, was a pupil at Summer Fields Secondary School, Summertown, Oxford. He was to go on to attend Eton.

Extract from a book on Old Summerfieldians, ( William’s Old school) by Chris Sparrow

“Captain William Herbert Gladstone M.C. (1062) was 20 when killed in action. He had also been to Eton and had been commissioned into the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. They (Unknown Alumni*) were both to die in the same attack, on the same day, September 27th. Not surprisingly they are both buried in the same cemetery, Sanders Keep, nearCambrai. It is a tiny graveyard with just 150 burials and it is fitting for them to be so close now as they were in so many ways then.

In the way that things work in war Gladstone was only gazetted to command A Company on November 5th, some time after his death. His M.C. citation, however, was gazetted on April 19th that year. At Eton Gladstone had flourished.

The war affected different officers in different ways, but it is interesting to note the similarity in character of the two OSS who were in the same house there, Jordley’s Place. The memorial book compiled by the housemaster,Hugh Macnaghten describes Gladstone thus;

‘This is the worst of all, we have thought more than once before when we have heard of the death of some old boy specially distinguished here, and very dear to many of us, and doubtless the same thought will have come again to many of those who heard that William Gladstone had been killed in action on September 27. The youngest of four brothers at his tutor’s, all of whom rowed in the Eight. He won the Pulling with Maurice Buxton, following in Deiny’s steps, who had won with Clarence Buxton in 1911, and rose in 1916 to be Captain of the House as his brother Albert had been in 1905.

In early days he was inclined to be dreamy and seemed a little lonely at times ; it was only when he rowed that his attention never wandered, and his vigour and courage never failed. Presently he “developed in every way, and became a real help” (these words were written four years ago).  But it was not till he became Captain of the House that the magic of his influence was realised. He never varied in his gracious silent ways,but without any friction his authority was obeyed and his effectiveness exceeded thehopes of even those who had hoped the most from him. Indeed it would be hard to exaggerate his goodness and delightfulness. He was always a surprise, partly because his surpassing led us to look for less than he achieved. Though not a scholar, he loved Shakespeare and almost every part became music on his lips ; he was very mirthful, and in his presence mirth was always innocent.

There was one last surprise in reserve. The lover of peace, and hater of military ways, proved himself extraordinarily efficient as a soldier and won the military cross by his share in a splendid enterprise. And twice during his year’s service in France he came to Eton straight from that terrible ordeal with the same mirth in his voice, the same innocence in his eyes and beyond any doubt the same childlike heart. And at his tutor’s he is ‘the beloved Captain still”.

This constitutes rare praise indeed, from a housemaster.”

Many thanks to author Chris Sparrow for sharing this with us.

*NB It is unclear from this extract who the ‘close’ comrade was.

William was awarded the Military Cross. Here’s the citation for that.

2nd Lt. William Herbert Gladstone, C. Gds., Spec. Res.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When in command of the main attacking party during a raid, he led his party with splendid dash, and on the barrage lifting gauged the right moment to rush the enemy front line. By his prompt action he forestalled the enemy taking the offensive, and rendered possible the unmolested approach of the whole raiding party to hostile lines.

(Many thanks again to Chris Sparrow who sent the above extract, via the Great War Forum).

William is remembered inside St Deiniol’s Church, Hawarden where there is a Sanctuary Lamp and white marble tablet with the inscription

This Sanctuary Lamp is

Placed in Remembrance 


Captain William Herbert Gladstone (M.C.)

Coldstream Guards

Born August 8th 1898

Killed in Action Sept 27 1918

Near Havrincourt

Blessed are the pure

in heart for they shall see God

H.W.G. M E.G.

William Herbert Gladstone is named on the WW1 Memorial at Christ’s College, Cathedral in Oxford. Follow the link to their website to read a short biography of him which has an accompanying photograph.

He is also remembered on the War Memorial, St Lawrence, Frodsham, Cheshire.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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