William Houghton 1879 – 1955
Although William Houghton is listed as being amongst the men of Shepherdswell who signed up in WW1, no record can be found of a man of that name who resided in the village. The most likely candidate is William Peter Houghton, whose mother and sister both resided in the village. William was born in Teynham, near Faversham, to parents William and Emma Jane (née Coppins), and was baptised in Teynham on 25th August 1879.
Research to date has shown only one other sibling, a sister also called Emma Jane, born circa 1893. His father was an agricultural labourer and was considerably older than his mother (the Censuses vary between 16-18 years).
William senior died in 1905 and was buried on 29th May 1905 in Teynham. His mother then remarried in 1906 to George Hogben of Shepherdswell, a 61 year old man whose first wife, Margaret Sheaff, had also died. William Peter’s sister, Emma Jane, married George Walter Hogben, nephew of their mother’s 2nd husband, in 1917. William Peter married Alice Maria Butler on 23rd December 1900, at Christ Church, Folkestone. He was working as a labourer at that time, and on the 1901 Census is described as a bricklayer’s labourer. To date, there is no obvious candidate for him on the 1911 Census.
He enlisted on 12th July 1915, service no. 1127, as a gunner in the 3rd Kent Company, Royal Garrison Artillery. His records stated that his mother was living at Black House, Shepherdswell in 1915, and gave the names and dates of birth of the 5 children that he had had since his marriage to Alice. On 12th August 1916, he was promoted to Bombardier in the 41st AA Company, and further promoted to Corporal on 28th October that year. By 24th September 1917, he was an Acting Sergeant and appears to have been at that rank when he was dispersed to Crystal Palace before his demobilisation on 14th April 1919. He was mentioned in despatches in the London Gazette of 20th December 1917.
During the War, a further daughter was born in early 1917. By the time of the 1939 Register, he was still residing in Folkestone and was a foreman bricklayer. He died in Folkestone in 1955, aged 75 years.