William Morton (c.1886-1917)

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This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.

Biography

William Morton was the son of Jane (née Mellor) and Dan Morton who married in Huddersfield at the end of 1879. While Jane was from Manchester, Dan was a member of the Morton pot manufacturing family of Salendine Nook. They were probably living in the hamlet of Hill Top when their first child — Mary — was born in Lindley in June 1880. Sadly, she died at the age of only three, before William was born.

Another son, Enos, was born, in September 1881. Eveline followed in 1884 and William in 1887. All were born in Lindley. It is curious then that in 1891, when William was only aged four, the family were living in Thornton, not far from Denholme, now part of greater Bradford. Their neighbours seemed to have been prosperous — a farmer, a "professor of music" — but Dan was said to have "no occupation".

Whatever the reason they were in Thornton, the family were in the Old Lindley / Stainland area by 1901 and Dan was again working as a "pot maker". Enos was also a potter; Eveline worked in the woollen industry, probably at the local Brookroyd Mill while William worked in cotton manufacture. By 1911, when the family lived at Holywell Green, William was, like his father, a potter at an earthenware pottery, which may have been at the family business in Salendine Nook, though this will have been a fair walk via Outlane, each day.

We do not know when William enlisted — or was called up as suggested by his service number — but know he joined in Halifax and seems to have served first in the 13th (Reserve) Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment, probably for initial training. He then served in the 7th and 8th Battalions. These were Territorial battalions and arrived in France in April 1915, although we do not know when William joined the B.E.F.[1] We do know that William died in the Battle of Passchendaele on 28 September 1917.

Earlier in September, William's father, Dan died at the age of only sixty-one. We cannot know if William had learned of his father's death before he himself was killed. It seems unlikely.

There is another mystery surrounding William: the Register of Soldiers Effects divides his gratuity between his mother Jane and "part legatee" Florence Wilby, who gets the larger share. There was a Mrs Florence Wilby who lived with her husband, Fred, in Sowerby Bridge, who may have known William as a neighbour or school friend. Another Florence Wilby lived in Huddersfield but had been born in Longwood and was some eight years younger than William but may have known him through the church. She was interesting in that at the age of seventeen in 1911 she was the head of her own household, with two elderly lodgers. Which, if either, of these two women is William's co-legatee we can probably never know.

William is remembered on the memorial at Salendine Nook Baptist Church.

Jane lived until the early summer of 1939.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

MORTON, WILLIAM. Private. No 29171. 8th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment. Born Huddersfield. Son of Dan and Jane Morton of Moorside, Old Lindley, Holywell Green. Killed in action at Passchendaele, 28.9.1917, aged 31 years. Buried TYNE COT CEMETERY. Grave location:- Plot 64, Row E, Grave 2.
ROH:- Salendine Nook Baptist Church.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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Notes and References

  1. The size of his ultimate War Gratuity suggest only limited service, probably after conscription in early 1916.