William Henry Hills 1872 – 1953
William was born on 15th December 1872, to parents Thomas, a labourer, and Mary Ann (née Howland) and baptised privately on 23rd December, in Stanford, Kent (private baptisms usually took place when a baby was not expected to live for very long, most often in the home).
Thomas’ work meant that the family moved around the local area as the 1881 Census showed them resident in Sellinge and by 1891 they were living in Monks Horton. Thomas was described either as an agricultural labourer or a farm labourer.
In 1891, whilst his brothers and father were all employed as agricultural labourers, William had found work as a butcher. William described his father as a farmer when he married Rose Henrietta Johnson on 26th December 1899 in Shepherdswell. Both bride and groom gave the village as their parish of residence and William stated that his occupation was a butcher.
The 1901 census showed that they were living at Botolph Street but by 1911 they were at Back’s Close (which does not now exist) and, after 11 years of marriage, they were childless. Directories state that they were living at West View Cottages from 1910-1918.
To date, it has proved impossible to be certain which War records could be attributed to William; there were many William Hills, various WH Hills, and many W Hills, however the majority of these are Medal Rolls and therefore cannot give crucial identifying information. It is known, though, that on 12th August 1918, he appeared to have transferred into the British Royal Air Force. Oddly, his date of birth had changed to 15th December 1870, making him 48, and Rose’s initials were given as ‘R.A.’ but details of his marriage, occupation and that he came from Shepherdswell all tally. His service number at that point was 283538, and he was described as 5’7” tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes. He was discharged in 1920.
Following the War, he returned to the village, with their address in the directories being 2 Prospect Cottages from 1919-1925, and then 2 Hillside Cottages, Church Hill, from 1926. In 1939, William was working as a butcher’s slaughterman and handyman. William remained at this address for the remainder of his life.
He died on 12th December 1953, aged 80.