Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Although he wasn't born in Portsmouth, Herbert Butchers moved with his parents to the Borough from Chatham within a year of his birth. His younger siblings were all born in Southsea.
Herbert's father was Edwin Butchers who was born at Mountfield, Sussex in 1868, the seventh child of William and Miriam Butchers. The 1881 census described both Edwin and his father as agricultural labourers. Edwin must have joined the Royal Engineers in the mid 1880s as by the time of the 1891 census he had attained the rank of Lance Corporal. The census also recorded him as living at Brompton Barracks, Chatham.
A few years later Edwin got married but records are not clear about the name of his wife. This is mainly because in the 1901 census he described himself as a widower which meant that she did not appear in a census as his spouse. That census also records that as a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers he was living at 106 Talbot Road, Southsea with two children, Herbert Harold and Annie, born in 1900 and 1901 respectively. Also in the house was Edwin's niece, the 20 year old Emily Tolhurst.
By the time of the 1911 census Edwin had retired from the Royal Engineers and was working as a builders's labourer. He and his wife Emily [see notes below] were then living at 12 Norman Road, Southsea with three further children, Alexander, Elsie and Bernard, eight, five and two years old respectively.
Herbert Harold was just 14 years old when the Great War broke out and this probably meant that he didn't enlist until at least 1917. He joined the Suffolk Regiment but as the CWGC record lists him as being at the 'Depot' it's quite possible he never saw active service before his death 6 days after the Armistice. It seems probable that he died of influenza. He was buried at Highland Road Cemetery in Southsea.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Private Herbert Harold Butchers, Suffolk Regiment, died 17/11/1918, age 18. Buried at Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth (Grave Ref: North Wall. M.3.14). Son of Edwin George Butchers, of 12, Norman Rd., Southsea.
Herbert Butchers is commemorated on the Trinity Methodist Church WW1 Memorial and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
The 1911 census records that Edwin was living with his wife Emily, that they had been married in 1897 and that she had given birth to 8 children, 7 of whom were still alive. There is no record of their marriage in the UK in 1897. At the 1901 census Edwin's household includes his niece Emily Tolhurst which may suggest that it was she who was declared as Edwin's wife ten years later. There is a four year difference in the ages of the two Emilys but given that no marriage record exists it seems likely that they were the same person and that in 1911 a marriage was declared which allowed for Herbert Harold to have been born in wedlock. There is no record of any children older than Herbert.
Tim Backhouse
September 2014