William James’ name was added to the bottom ( left hand) of the base of the War Memorial with another 5 Soldiers. I think their names were handed in too late for them to be included in the original list, and they may have died after the war. (Some of them I now believe to be WW2).
William James Collins first appeared on a census in 1881 when he was living at Owlet’s Hall, Township of Ewloe Town, Hawarden with his family. The father, Nicholas 29 was a Blacksmith & Farmer of 13 acres who was born in Heswall, Cheshire. Mother, Eliza 22 had been born in Hawarden. Their children wereWilliam J.3 and baby Eliza 7 months. There was a 14 year old servant, Elizabeth Dodd.
The 1911 census sees the family still at Owlet’s Hall, Buckley, Hawarden. Eliza 32, was a widow and her occupation was recorded as a ‘Carrier’. Her listed children were William J 13 who worked as a ‘Brickrunner’, Eliza A. 10, Priscilla 6, Nicholas 4, Samuel 3 and baby Sarah was 1. (Nicholas had died in 1889, the same year that Sarah was born).
The 1901 census records the family at Wood Lane, in the Hamlet of Ewloe Green. Eliza was still a widow aged 42, a Monthly Nurse (sick). William was recorded as William S. Collins (almost certainly an error). He was 22 and a coal miner. Nicholas was 14, Samuel 13 and Sarah Ellen 11.
William James married Margaret Marshall in St. Mathews Church in Buckley in 1904. Margaret had worked as a classroom assistant to the governess at Hawarden Castle prior to her marriage. (“She used to talk a lot about a Dorothy Drew who was some relative of the Gladstones” according to her grandson Eddie Collins).
Eddie Collins also explained that when they married William James and Margaret moved into ‘The Owlets Hole’ in Wood Lane which had just been vacated by his mother Eliza on her marriage to Lol Beavan.Eddie says that his grandmother hated the place and thought it was a ‘hovel’.
The 1911 census sees his family in Wood Lane, Hawarden, Nr. Chester. William. James 33, was the head of the household and was a Coal Miner (Hewer). His wife of 6 years was Margaret 32. Three children had been born and were still living. They were Ennis? ( Sarah Ellen?) 5, Nicholas 4 and Thomas 2. Margaret’s Mother was there. She was 62 a widow and a Dress Maker.
U.K, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms William James’s regimental information and tells us that he was born and lived in Hawarden and enlisted in Buckley. His British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards also on ‘ancestry’ lists his medal entitlement.
Eddie Collins, relative, has told me that the story in the family is that William James was shot by a sniper in Italy and that he was apparently stationed in Ireland prior to going out to Italy. Family folklore says he and several other Buckley Boys took unauthorized leave whilst en route from Holyhead by train and got off at Shotton. They then got the train the next day.
“It really must have been tough for those left behind, my Gran had 5 children to bring up on her own ranging from 12 years to a new born. I don’t know what pension she got if any.” (Eddie Collins)
Some Additional Colourful Family History supplied by Eddie Collins, grandson of William James Collins
The Collins side of the family.
In 1904 as well as William James’s wedding to Margaret there had been another wedding in the family. His widowed mother, Eliza married Lawrence Beavan in St. Deniol’s Church in Hawarden. The 1911 census lists them living in the Glynne Arms in Buckley. They were Inn Keepers working on their own account. Lawrence Beavan was 32 and Eliza 42. Stedaughter Sarah Ellin was 21, and she assisted in the business. Grandson Robert William Williams who was 8 was listed in the household. He had been born in Llay, Flintshire. Lawrence Beavan went on to be Manager of the Buckley Foundry which was opposite the Tivoli in Brunswick Road.
Sarah Ellen known as Sally, Eliza’s daughter, later married a Garston.
William Williams was the son of Eliza Ann Collins – Eliza’s eldest daughter. He drowned himself together with his girlfriend in ‘The Trap’ in Buckley at a young age.
The Marshall side of the family (William James’s in-laws)
William James’s Wife, (Margaret Marshall) also had connections with the innkeeping trade. Her maternal grandfather, Joshua Hayes was running the Buckley Horse & Jockey Inn on the 1881 census. His daughter Martha was Margaret’s mother.
Martha Hayes married Thomas Dalziel Marshall. This colourful character was, according to family folklore, born in Connecticut in the USA in about 1846. He was taken along with two siblings by their father Robert to live in Scotland. Thomas D Marshall trained as a cabinet maker and somehow ended up in Buckley where he made pews for one of the churches there in the 1870s. But then he disappeared! The story says that he died of yellow fever in America in about 1880. The US Courts actually declared him officially dead in 1892. The 1891 census, however, has Martha listed as a widow.
Many thanks to Eddie Collins for providing this insight into his fascinating and colourful family history.
I have since heard from Hylton Collins, who sent a tranbscribed copy of a letter William’s mother sent to his Captain, which is below, it is so very sad, hearing, in the letter, her desperation to find anything out about how he suffered and his death and even to make sure that she could see his grave.
Hylton explained more about the letter in an email to me on the 17th February 2023:-