Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The census records for the Kingston family are a little confusing as names and places of birth seem to change over succeeding decades, but what is certain is that Reginald John was born in 1893 to James Kingston (b. 1855, in Cork, Ireland) and Hannah Coughlan (b. 1857, also in Cork).
There is no conclusive record of the Kingston family in the UK until the 1880s, suggesting that they had remained in Ireland until that time. It is possible that the reason they emigrated to England was something to do with the fact that James and Hannah had three children even though the couple were not married; they rectified that situation in 1884. Reginald John was born in 1892 the year after the census that lists them as living at the Langstone Coastguard Station in Eastney where James was a Coast Guard.
The 1891 census actually lists James with his wife 'Kate' rather than Hannah but as the ages and birthplaces are much the same it is assumed they are the same person. By this time they have the beginnings of a large family of at least eight children, Reginald being the seventh born.
The 1901 census presents another problem in that there are two entries for James Kingston, both of whom are Mates on a dredger in Portsmouth harbour, one is apparently living aboard and the other is at 2 Jubilee Terrace, Southsea with the rest of the family including daughter Helena (b.1886). It is presumed that both entries are for the same person.
For the 1911 census Reginald is at 33 Eastney Road with his parents and siblings when James was described as a labourer.
At the outbreak of the Great War Reginald was 22 years old and may well have enlisted in the first wave, but curiously he used the name 'King' rather than Kingston when he did so. We know little of his experience in the army except that when he died he was serving with the Royal Engineers and died in England, if not in Portsmouth as he is buried in his home town. Although his cause of death is not known it may have something to do with chemical warfare - that being one of the functions of the Special Brigade to which he belonged.
Further Information
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records Corporal Reginald John Kingston (129052), age 24 years, date of death 27/10/1916, Royal Engineers, 5th Battalion, Special Brigade. Buried in Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth. (Served as KING). Son of James and Hannah Kingston, of 33, Eastney Rd., Portsmouth.
Reginald Kingston is buried with his father James in a family grave in Highland Road Cemetery, which also acts as a war memorial to his brother James Dennes Kingston, and on the Cenotaph (where he is listed in the Navy section with his brother). He is not commemorated in the National Roll of the Great War.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014