Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The original town of Portsmouth (now known as Old Portsmouth), was for centuries the administrative and commercial centre of Portsea Island particularly along it's High Street. But behind the sometimes grand facades poverty was endemic, and though a strong community existed there many families moved out as soon as they were able. The Waldron family did not move out but stayed from the early 1800s to the outbreak of the Great War and beyond.
The 1841 census saw the family settled on East Street, alongside the camber in what were effectively slums. There, Joseph Waldron and his wife Mary, born in 1803 and 1807 respectively, lived with their nine children. Joseph may well have been better off than many of his neighbours as he was working as a Cordwainer, a maker of fine shoes, but it must still have been a difficult life.
The fourth child born to Joseph and Mary was Isaac Moore Waldron (b. 1837) who found his way out of the slum by joining the Royal Navy whilst his parents moved very slightly upmarket to a house at 13 Warblington Street. Isaac was at sea for the 1861 census but the following year he married Harriett Julia Street (b. 1836 in Deptford) and they too set up home on Warblington Street, close to his parents, at No. 19, a building that would remain associated with the Waldron family for the next 60 years. Isaac left the navy soon after and by 1871 was running the home as a beerhouse.
In 1872 Isaac died aged just 35 years, leaving behind Harriett and four children, Isaac J. (b. 1863), Albert (b. 1865), Samuel Moore (b. 1869) and Harriett (b. 1872). Harriett may have found it difficult to cope with four children because just three years later in 1875 she married Thomas Tucker who moved into her home on Warblington Street. Together or separately Harriett and Thomas were listed as landlords of the beerhouse, which later became the Lord Clyde Public House, until Harriett's son Isaac took it over in 1905.
In the 1891 census both Isaac jnr. and Samuel Moore Waldron were listed as barmen at the pub but the following year Samuel moved out after he married his wife Ellen and they set up home nearby in Buckler's Building's, off Warblington Street and later at 91 St. Thomas's Street. By 1911 they had eight children, Ruby (b. 1893), Samuel (b. 1896), James John Victor (b. 1898), Nellie (b. 1900), Frederick (b. 1901), Harold (b. 1903), Ivy (b. 1905) and Arthur (b. 1910).
At the outbreak of the Great War James John Victor was 16 years old and therefore not eligible to enlist. When he did so, presumably in 1916 when he reached 18 years of age, he joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers which seems odd as the Waldrons had no known Irish connections. Perhaps he was just posted to them to make up numbers after the regiment had been in the field at the Battle of the Somme. James Waldron died in August 1917, probably during the Allied offensive that month.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) list Private JJ Waldron (41755), 7th Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died 10/08/1917, aged 19. Buried at the Brandhoek New Military Cemetery (Grave Ref: V.A.2.). Son of Samuel and Ellen Waldron, of Portsmouth.
James Waldron is commemorated on the Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral WW1 Memorial Cross and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X.
Tim Backhouse
October 2014