Kenneth Henry has proved to be the second most elusive individual on this war memorial. (The most elusive continues to be, however, Ronald G. Bateman, and you can read about my efforts to identify him on my genealogy blog here.) Unlike Ronald Bateman, Kenneth left a trail to follow, at least until 1911. It’s his link with Petersham that puzzles me.
It would probably have made better sense to leave Ronald and Kenneth to last, but I think that getting over posting about my research challenges, will be the shove I need to feel free to post about the people whose stories I am ready to reveal!
The birth, in Harrow, of Kenneth Borradaile Henry was registered in Hendon in the last quarter of 1895. By the time of the 1901 census, he was living with his parents in the City of London, at 7 Camomile Street, formerly the site of the famous Saracen’s Head Inn. Kenneth’s father, William was a wine merchant who hailed from Edinburgh, living with Annie, presumably Kenneth’s mother, who came from Ticknall, a Derbyshire village near Calke Abbey. No marriage record has been found for William and Annie, nor for that matter, for William and his first ‘wife’ Florence.
William, the son of a factor, Robert Henry, had moved to London during the 1860s; by 1871 he was living in Stoke Newington, in the household of his unmarried sister, Catherine with two of his brothers, James and Arthur. He had found work as a wine merchant’s clerk, but by 1881, was himself a wine merchant. By then James and Arthur had married and left the family home, but interestingly, Catherine also gave her occupation as ‘wine merchant’.
With a father who was a wine merchant, Kenneth is likely to have been well prepared for employment as a footman to the elderly retired barrister, Francis Young, living at 53 Ennismore Gardens. Records indicate that Francis Young died in September 1915, so it is possible that Kenneth, if still in his employ, found employment in one of the grander houses of Petersham, perhaps with acquaintances of the Young family.
As Kenneth enlisted with the Rifle Brigade, I have a hunch that he may have been working for George Biddulph at Douglas House. Victor Biddulph and Kenneth Henry were the only men commemorated on the war memorial who enlisted in the Rifle Brigade and it is possible that a valet or footman may well have enlisted in the same regiment as his employer’s son. Kenneth gave his residence as Pillerton Priors when he enlisted in 1916, and, so far, I have not found any evidence of the time he must have spent in Petersham in order to be included on its war memorial. He died of wounds in July 1916, barely two months before Victor’s death.
There is another possible clue to explore if one can discover the significance of Kenneth’s middle name, Borradaile. It’s not been the usual help that a middle name could be, at least in the nineteenth century when it might reflect a family surname, such as the mother’s maiden name. In the 1881 census, there were 103 Borradailes in England (and one in Scotland). I chose the 1881 census, because, though the earliest to be transcribed as completely as possible, it is also the one which has benefited from the ‘double entry’ scrutiny applied in the first major census transcription project. ‘Borradaile’ is probably likely to have been misspelt by transcribers, so perhaps there are another hundred to find.
Coincidentally, there is a memorial in St Andrew’s Church, in Ham, to the explorer, Edward Borradaile (1845-1874), whose father, Harry, lived at Beaufort House, in Ham Street. He died in 1876, and is buried in St Andrew’s churchyard.
I had hoped that before the twelfth of July, which is the anniversary of Kenneth’s death, I might have discovered his connection to Petersham. None of the records I have been able to consult, including the few notes in a relevant diocesan record, held at the London Metropolitan Archives, has thrown any light on this. Nor have I found relatives of his in Petersham or its fringes either before, during or immediately after WW1. As at least two of Kenneth’s uncles, James Henry and Arthur W. Henry, had children, it may be that I will come across descendants who knew of his existence.
I am hoping to find some mention of his death in local newspapers when I have time to work my way through the months following Kenneth’s death.
Update on local newspapers
[12 September 2013]: Following a neck-stretching afternoon peering at the microfilm of the local newspaper, I found no report of his death.
Including Water Stratford in the puzzle
Some time ago I was contacted by the researcher of Water Stratford’s War Memorial, on which Kenneth is also commemorated. Mike has also been unable to establish what association Kenneth ever had with Water Stratford. a town which is about thirty miles east of Pillerton Priors, where Kenneth enlisted.
Between us, however, we were able to rule out another K B Henry, who had come into our ‘sights’ and whose wartime marriage Mike had spotted. On discovering that a child, Kenneth Beaufort, had been born to this couple, I wondered whether his father had perhaps worked at Beaufort House in Ham. Tracing and contacting a descendant, enabled us to eliminate this K B Henry from our searches.