(nb also spelt Brittain and Britton)

Address:     1891    Halfway Houses, Hanslope

                        1901    Cuckoo Hill, Hanslope

                        1911    41 High Street, Hanslope

                        1914    Henley House, Henley Rd, Coventry

                        1917    77 Junction Street, Northampton

                        1919    40 More Street, Kingsley, Northampton

                        1938    Gold Street, Hanslope

 Family information: 

Parents:  William Henry Britton born 1866 and Sarah Jane (nee Matthews) born 1867. Headstone of double Grave in Hanslope churchyard reads ‘Sacred to the memory of William Henry Britton Died May 28th 1938 aged 72 years And Sarah Jane Britton died October 12th 1938 aged 71 years. Abide With Me’.

In 1853 Hanslope – marriage of Samuel Stonton and Ellen Britton, widow nee Clarke. In the 1871 census William Henry is resident, recorded as their grandson. His mother Charlotte also lived there and described as their ‘daughter in law, unmarried, Servant out of place’. She had been born in Sherington. William Henry’s mother subsequently married William Elliott, a farm labourer, and moved back to Sherington with William and a sister, Elizabeth. She then at least six more children.

In 1887 William Henry married Sarah Jane Matthews (born in Quinton) at Hardingstone, Northamptonshire.

Children of William Henry and Sarah

                      William John born September 10, 1889; baptised June 6, 1890

                        Ellen E born 1891

                        Florence Beatrice Maria born August 3, 1895 Baptised April 18, 1897

                        Sarah F A born 1903 

                        Henry Samuel Britton born January 12, 1899, baptised April 29,1900                        

                       Caroline Emily Britton born February 19, 1900, baptised March 22, 1900                        

                       Frederick James Britton born September 29, 1904, baptised August 4 1918

The 1901 census records that William Henry was working as a labourer in Wolverton Works on Railway wagons. 4 children from his mother’s marriage to William Elliott were also living with them:

            James Elliott   Half-brother    age 20  Ordinary Agricultural Labourer           

            William Elliott Half-brother    age 18  Ordinary Agricultural Labourer           

            Albert Elliott   Half-brother    age 16  Ordinary Agricultural Labourer           

            George Elliott Half-brother    age 13  Ordinary Agricultural Labourer           

By the 1891 census the family had moved to Halfway House, Hanslope; 1901 to Cuckoo Hill farm; and by 1911 to 41 High Street. By then both father and son were working at the London & North Western Railway Carriage Works at Wolverton. 


Army career

William John’s Medical and Service Records still exist and include following information

He first attested on 8th September for the Royal Field Artillery. He gave his occupation as ‘Painting’ and that he had ‘resided out of your Father’s house for three years continuously at Henley House, Henley Rd, Coventry.’

Details Height 5ft 9 5/8 inches       Weight 117 lbs [8½ stones / 54.4 kilos]

Chest: 33 inches; girth when fully expanded: 35 inches

Complexion: Dark                             Eyes: Brown              Religion: Wesleyan

Service no. 19141; joined at Hilsea on October 13, 1914 and posted the following day to No 3 Depot RFA; then on November 14 to Command A Battery 109th Brigade. By January 28, 1915 he was discharged with the comment, ‘Not likely (medically unfit)’. ‘ Cause of Discharge. Chorea’. [A movement disorder that causes involuntary, unpredictable body movements].

One of the records gives his date of marriage as June 1915.  Next of Kin: Wife Elizabeth Britton 77 Junction Road, Northampton. By the end of the war he had two children: Gladys Elizabeth born December 9, 1915 and Irene Britain born August 3, 1918 Address of family in 1919 was 40 More Street, Kingsley, Northampton.

Henry John enlisted again on June 28, 1917

Details: Occ. Driller (Engineer)

                Height 5ft 9 ½ inches            Weight 112 lbs [8 stones / 50.8 kilos]

                Chest 34 inches when fully expanded. Range of expansion 4 inches.

                Physical development poor

                Slight Kyphesis [curvature of the spine that causes the top of the back to appear more rounded than normal]; upper dentures; anaemic and poor physique. Chorea?

                These were listed as ‘minor defects but not sufficient to cause rejection’.

New service no. 121252. On June 30, 1917 he was posted to Sheffield and on July 13 posted to no. S Company: Royal Army Medical Corps, London.

However, by November 13 he was admitted to 4th London General Hospital and sent to Rochester Row.

January 7 1918 Hospital diagnosed Chorea and no change in his condition. Spent 37 days in Fylde Hospital, Lancashire, a requisitioned old workhouse.

February 13 – 23 spent further 11 days with some improvement in his condition.

He remained a further 52 days after which it was reported there was no change in his condition.

He was then transferred to the Hull Lane Military Hospital, West O, Manchester on April 16 until May 8. The entry says ‘Complains fainting fits and pain around heart. Transfer to St John’s Rochdale, 2nd Western General Hospital’.

By May 31 the disease diagnosed is still Chorea but a comment states he ‘Requires feed up. Anaemia –  Referred fit to re-join unit’. 

By July 11 William John was in Blackpool. His army service no. was now 121252. He was posted to a/training bus no. 35 Company RAMC for Duty at Endell St Military Hospital.

August 2, transferred to 574 Agricultural Corps Oxford with another regimental no. 638743 pending transfer London the following day.

He was eventually discharged from this Corps on March 1, 1919 as ‘Being no longer Physically fit for WAR SERVICE Para 392 XV1’.

Character            Good     Disability Chronic Constitutional Hysteria Not due to MS Peruvi

Medals                 Entitled to Sliver badge

In awarding a Pension to William, the Medical Board recorded:  

His ‘Statement of disability: Chorea. Began in 1895, Hanslope Bucks. Medical History shows he was in Hospital 143 days in 1918. Also states he was previously discharged previously for same in 1915. Complains of fainting attacks. No history of Rheumatism or —‘

‘If not due to any of these causes, to what specific condition do you attribute it?’  William’s reply: ‘Inherited from Mother’.

‘What is his present condition?  Doctor’s response: A man of poor physique. Mouth twitches – involuntary tremor of arms and legs. Weight 120lbs [8½ stones / 54.4 kg – his heaviest recorded weight]. Recommend discharge as permanently unfit.’

‘OPINION OF THE MEDICAL BOARD Chronic Constitution and Hysteria from tremours of arms and legs and periodic twitches of the face. No –[illeg.] whatever. Pale anaemic and thin and poor physique.’

Pension awarded for 13 weeks @ 8 shillings 3 pence per week.

Remembered: Roll of Honour, St James the Great, Hanslope

BRITTEN, William John

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