Maddocks, Charles William

I believe that Charles William Maddocks is possibly the brother of Joseph Lavender, who died in WW2, please click on the link to read his story.

It was while researching Joseph Lavender that I found out about Charles William Maddocks and it seems that he is not on any WW1 War Memorial for Saltney, so I have included him on this page to make sure that he is not forgotten.

He was born, according to his Royal Navy Service Record, on the 15th February 1896 and I have found a Baptism for him dated the 6th January 1897 in St. Mary’s Church in the City of Chester.   The curious thing is that his mother married Charles Lavender on the 6th April 1896 in the same church.    However the Baptism entry shows the names Charles and LAVENDER were crossed out and MADDOCKS written, although it initially names the couple as Charles and Sarah LAVENDER.

Charles Lavender had been married three times, suffering bereavement twice before he married Sarah Maddocks in 1896 in St. Mary’s Church in Chester on the 6th April 1896.Charles Lavender, 61, was a widower and a Cable Chain Maker, living at Greenway Street, his father was William Lavender (deceased), a Nail Maker.   Sarah Maddocks was 37 and a Spinster, living at Brown’s Court, her father was Joseph Maddocks (deceased) and a Labourer.   Charles signed his marriage certificate with an X.  Sarah signed her name.

Charles Lavender had been born in 1835 and married first Rose Hannah McCoy in 1854, then after Rose Hannah’s death married Mary Ann Gibbs, then subsequently married Sarah as above.    He was the father to 19 children according to the Family Tree on Ancestry (Fact Details Thanks to PLB Family Tree – ChBuckley12).

Charles William is then seen first on the 1901 census living at 9, Handbridge, Chester (4 Rooms), with the head of the household being Charles Lavender, 67, a General Labourer who had been born in Stourbridge, Worcestershire.  His wife, Sarah Lavender, 43 had been born in Chester as all the others on the census.   May Maddocks, 7, is described by the enumerator as his step-daughter, but she was, in fact, Sarah’s sister.   Charles Maddocks, 5, is described here as his step-son.    Daughters Rosa Lavender, 3, and Phyllis Lavender, 1, made up the family.

Charles William Maddocks is seen on the 1911 census, Charles & Sarah Lavender at 9, Handbridge, Chester.   Sarah filled in the census form, the first time that residents could do this, as Charles is blind and had been for the last 10 years and unable to work, so they would be in a terrible position monetarily.  Charles Lavender, 75, (Married 14 years), was a Cable Chain Maker, born in Churchill, Worcestershire.    Sarah, 47, a Charwoman, born in Dunkirk, Cheshire.   Sarah tells us that 7 children had been born to them and all were still living, but the Enumerator had crossed this off and entered 5 children.   This also explains a question I had about the children listed.   The next person on the census was May Maddocks, 17, single and a Domestic Servant, born in Chester, Cheshire.  May is listed as a daughter, but my research leads me to believe that May is probably Sarah’s sister, they shared the same parents, Joseph & Mary Maddocks.   Next is Charles Maddocks,15,  listed as a son, but I believe that he was the son of Sarah, but not necessarily the son of Charles, please see Charles’s baptism below.   Leaving us with the 5 children born to Charles & Sarah, Rosanna, 13, Phylis, 11, Enoch, 8,Mary, 6 and Joseph, 5, all at school and all born Chester.

Sarah & the family were to suffer the loss of Charles in 1915, when he died aged 79 years (Chester Castle, Cheshire West, CAS/67/1) after Charles had enlisted in the Royal Navy, he was to suffer more grief when his mother Sarah died in 1918 (Chester City, Cheshire West CHC/1/54) when Joseph was age 12.

Charles William enlisted on the 21st July 1914 on H.M.S. Victory (R.N. Shore Training Establishment) and was transferred to the H.M.S. Black Prince on the 14th December 1914.

Here is a transcription of his Service Record:-

Service History (In Folder)

Date of birth – 15th February 1896

Place of birth – Chester, Cheshire.

Occupation – Slate Porter

Ships &s., served in – Victory 1 – 14th July 1914 – 9th December 1914

Black Prince – 10th December 1914 (no to date). Sto. 2

Black Prince – 1st July 1915 – 31st May 1916. Sto. 1 

Date & Period of S.S. Engagement – 21st July 1914 – 5 – 7 years.

Description – Height & Chest – 5’ 10” – 371/2 inches.

Hair – Brown.

Eyes – Grey.

Complexion – Fresh.

Traced War Gratuity By No. 88

Paid War Gratuity.

Killed in Action 31st May 1916


The ship participated in the Battle of Jutland, where she was sunk with the loss of her entire crew. The circumstances under which she sank were mysterious for some years after. As the British had lost contact and did not see the ship destroyed, they were unsure as to whether a submarine or surface ship was responsible for sinking Black Prince.[9] During the battle, the 1st Cruiser Squadron was deployed as part of a screening force several miles ahead of the main force of the Grand Fleet,[10] but Black Prince lost contact with the rest of the Squadron as it came into contact with German forces, at about 17:42.[11] Soon after, two other members of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, Defence and Warrior, were heavily engaged by German battleships and battlecruisers, with Defence blowing up and Warrior receiving heavy damage, which later caused her to sink.[12]

There were no positive sightings of Black Prince by the British fleet after that, although a wireless signal from her was received at 20:45, reporting a submarine sighting.[11] During the night of 31 May–1 June, the British destroyer Spitfire, badly damaged after colliding with the German battleship Nassau, sighted what appeared to be a German battlecruiser, with two widely spaced funnels, described as being “…a mass of fire from foremast to mainmast, on deck and between decks. Flames were issuing out of her from every corner.” The mystery ship exploded at about midnight. It was later thought that the burning ship may have been Black Prince, with the two midships funnels having collapsed or been shot away.[13]

Recent historians, however, hold to the German account of the ship’s sinking. Black Prince briefly engaged the German battleship Rheinland at about 23:35 GMT, scoring two hits with 6-inch shells.[14] Separated from the rest of the British fleet, Black Prince approached the German lines shortly after midnight. She turned away from the German battleships, but it was too late. The German battleship Thüringen fixed Black Prince in her searchlights and opened fire. Up to five other German ships, including the battleships Nassau, Ostfriesland, and Friedrich der Grosse, joined in the bombardment, with return fire from Black Prince being ineffective. Most of the German ships were between 750 and 1,500 yards (690 and 1,370 m) of Black Prince[15] — effectively point-blank range for contemporary naval gunnery. The ship was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones,[16] sinking within 15 minutes. There were no survivors from her crew, all 857 being killed.[17]

The wrecksite is designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.[18]

Obviously, the loss of the Black Prince was such a shock for everyone, please see an account from the Chester Chronicle dated the 17th June 1916.

Charles William’s death would have been such a shock for the whole family, especially with such a large number of siblings.

Charles William’s sacrifice for us all in WW1 much be remembered.

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