A sailor in the family

On the right of this photo is Robert Houlgate Craven, known as Bob. He was my nanna Cooper’s uncle. I hadn’t known that we’d had a sailor in the family.  

He’d been born on 14.8.1892 at 19 Bilton St, Layerthorpe, York, the son of John and Elizabeth (née Houlgate). His Royal Navy service started on the Victory II in September 1910. On the 1911 census he was on HMS Essex at Palma Bay in the Balearics.  Bob was a stoker, second class. Stokers looked after boilers on ships. HMS Essex was an armoured cruiser and had seen service in the Atlantic escorting convoys. Bob later served on HMS Dryad and this was his address when he got married to Mary Edith Dawes on 12.8.1915 at St Denys with St George down Walmgate. The witnesses were Angelina Dawes, her sister, and Jack Neale his uncle through marriage. By 1939 the family was living at 168 Fifth Avenue and he was a caretaker. His wife was a cleaner.

On the left of the photo is Robert George Houlgate, Bob’s cousin. He had been born on 10.4.1897 in York to parents George William and Elizabeth Ellen (known as Cissie) Ormond. George William and Elizabeth had married in Burnley in 1915. George William was a Private with the Royal Northern Reserve Regiment in 1901, Lance Corporal at the Infantry Barracks on Fulford Road, York in 1911 and later saw service in World War I in the Royal Defence Corps. He was demobbed on 13.3.1919.    

Having a serviceman in the family meant his family was often separated from him. Robert George was living with his mother and her family in Blackpool by the 1901 census. On the 1911 census, he was a newspaper boy living with his siblings and mother in Blackpool. He got married in Burnley, to Jean Fergusson in 1921. By 1939 he was engineer in charge of omnibus depot and the family lived in Colne, Lancashire.

This spelling, Houlgate, is very localised to Yorkshire. On the 1841 census there were 101 people called Houlgate across the UK. 38 of them were in Yorkshire and a further 33 in York specifically. Across the UK, 13 were farmers, 4 agricultural labourers and 3 butchers.

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