I believe that Robert was the son of George & Isabella (Bella) Thomas (nee Greenwood) who married in St. Mary’s Church, Chester on the 8th July 1877.
Robert was the brother of Joseph Thomas, (please follow the link to read his story). He was born about 1891, son to George & Isabella Thomas. On the 1891 census they were living at 7, Robert’s Row, Saltney, Chester (Hawarden). George, 40, a General Labourer had been born in Dodleston, Cheshire, his wife Isabella, 32, had been born in Chester. Their children were Jane, 13 a General Servant, Thomas, 10, Joseph, 7 and Samuel, 3 all scholars, had been born in Saltney. I think that Isabella would have been expecting Robert on this census.
The 1901 census has proved difficult. I believe that George Thomas, 55 a General Labourer, and Isabella, 52 were living at Victoria Row, Saltney, Hawarden, Flintshire. A visitor was recorded in the household. He was James Price, 21 a General Labourer. I have been unable to find any of the children on this census – apart from a possible listing of Joseph who was working on a farm in Bretton. Details are recorded on Joseph’s page.
However the 1911 census shows the family together living at 1, Victoria Road, Saltney, Chester. George 62 and Bella, 52 stated they had been married 30 years and 9 children had been born to them, 3 of whom had sadly died. Their listed children were Joseph, 28, Samuel, 23 Robert, 20 and William, 17 were all single, General Labourers. May, 15 was “at Home” and a General Servant Also in the household was George’s brother Thomas Thomas, 52, a widower.
The commonwealth War Grave Commission Certificate for Robert states that he was the son of George and Isabella Thomas and that he was the husband of SH Thomas of 9 Ingham Street, Chester. So we know that Robert was married. (Cheshire BMD’s Marriage Indexes show :- Thomas, Robert and Newman, Sarah Ellen, 1914,Chester, Civil Marriage.Cheshire West,Cheshire. (ROC/60/65). This is possibly them). The death date on the CWGC is the 19th February 1919.
British Army WWI Medal Rolls list Robert as having ‘died’ on 2nd February 1919. His medal Index Card lists his medals as above, but does not tell us where his first Theatre of War was nor when he entered it. (The medal Rolls and cards are accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk)
There is an index card for Robert in The Flintshire roll of Honour at The County Record office in Hawarden.This card says that Robert was ‘killed in action’. in January 1918. The card was completed and signed by E L Roberts who was not a family member. He seems to have had an official role in the distribution and collecting of the cards in Saltney. His version of what happened to Robert is at odds with other official versions. As Robert was buried in Chester, I believe we can assume that the card was incorrect. He could not have been ‘killed in action’. The Category ‘Died’ means that the cause of death was either an accident or illness. It was not the direct result of military action.
I cannot find an entry in the Soldiers Died in the Great War database on Ancestry, even though he has an entry with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, However there is a Death Certificate for him:-
Cheshire Death indexes for the years: 1919 – THOMAS, Robert age 26 Chester Rural Cheshire West CHR/1/78.
So he obviously died from the effects of his War Service, otherwise the CWGC would not have them on their database.
Robert Thomas in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the sole Legatee was his widow Sarah H. who was to receive £5 16s 11d on the 17th June 1919 and £11 13s 10d, which included his War Gratuity of £11 on the 13th September 1919. It is this document that tells us that he died in the War Hospital, Chester. (This may have been on Sealand Road,)
I cannot find any Army Records for Robert, neither Service nor Pension, although he would have had a pension, I presume. He did not sign his Flintshire WW1 Index Card, it was signed by E.L. ROBERTS, but not dated, on this Robert is stated to have been Killed in Action January 1918, which is quite a mystery.
There is a difference in the information between the CWGC and the Flintshire WW1 Index Card, as it states on the later that he was Killed in Action in January 1918, yet he was buried in Overleigh Cemetery, Chester as stated by the CWGC above in 1919. His Death Certificate (Cheshire West CHR/1/78) would have to be purchased to confirm/deny this fact and how he died. Any help would be much appreciated.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website additional Information: Son of George and Isabella Thomas, of 1, Victoria Rd., Saltney; Robert was the husband of S. H. Thomas, of 9, Ingham St., Chester.
Is this the marriage of Robert and his bride, stated on the CWGC as S.H. Thomas, could she have been Sarah Helen, not Sarah Ellen?
Cheshire BMD’s Marriage Indexes show :- Thomas, Robert and Newman, Sarah Ellen, 1914,Chester, Civil Marriage.Cheshire West,Cheshire. (ROC/60/65)