William Stafford and (1856-1913) and Lizzie Ann Hall (1858-1928) married in Leicester in 1879. They had six children, all born in Leicester: Robert (1880-1944); Albert (1882-1915); Louisa (1886-1892); Francis Willie “Frank” (1891-1899); Edith Doris (1896-1978) and Beatrice Martha (1897-1983). On 24th September 1891 Robert, Albert Edward, Francis Willie and Louisa were baptised together at St Martin’s. Edith and Beatrice were baptised shortly after their births.
William was a butcher with his own shop at 2 Victoria Parade, Market Place, taken over from his father Robert. The family lived above the shop at first (the premises had eight rooms including a first floor toilet and washbasin and a huge basement also with running water), but by 1895 their home address was 22 Stretton Road and the former living accommodation was converted to a number of store rooms and offices. In 1897 they lived at 15 Danes Hill Road, moving to number 23 by 1899. In 1890 William witnessed the will of fellow St Martin’s man and fellow local businessman Frederick William Hardyman.
Albert Edward Stafford was born in 1882 and baptised together with his brother Francis and sister Louisa at St Martin’s on 24th September 1891. After leaving school he probably worked for his father before joining the 65th (Imperial Yeomanry) Company, which was raised in Leicestershire in 1900. Albert served in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) and was awarded the Queen’s South Africa medal with 5 clasps (or ‘bars’) for service at Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902. He was also later awarded the Territorial Efficiency Medal, which was given when a member of the ranks completed 12 years service – with war service counting as double.
He married Bessie Annie Piggott (1883-1938) in Leicester in 1906. In the following June they had a son, Donald Edward Hall Stafford (1907-1946). Eventually Albert left the Yeomanry and returned to his father’s trade, working as a butcher and living at 123 Harrow Road in 1911. He and Bessie had more children – Regina Joan “Joan” (1908-1995) and Mary Josephine (1909-) and they kept a servant, a fifteen year old girl.
Albert’s father died on 23rd December 1913. When the war started Albert re-enlisted (although into which regiment is not clear), and as an experienced soldier was sent straight to the front, entering France on 2nd October 1914 and serving as a Sergeant. By this time Bessie and the children had very recently moved to 67 Oxenden Street, Highfields. At some point Albert joined the 1/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry, Corps of Hussars. Albert fought at the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge between 11th and 13th May 1915, during which he was badly injured by shrapnel. Albert died of his wounds on 30th May 1915 at Bagthorpe Military Hospital. He was one of 94 Yeomanry men who lost their lives during the battle. The Nottingham Post reported on 31st May:
LEICESTER SERGEANT’S DEATH AT BAGTHORPE
In spite of all that could be done for him, Sergeant Albert Edward Stafford, of the Leicestershire Yeomanry, who for about a fortnight had been a patient in Bagthorpe Military Hospital, yesterday succumbed to his wounds. The sergeant, who went to the front in November last was terribly injured, being struck by shell fragments on the face, head, and both legs, whilst his arm was broken.
In a chat with a Post representative recently, although he insisted on his name being suppressed, he explained what is now well-known, that the scope of cavalry in modern warfare is circumscribed, and that, in consequence, mounted units have to take their turn in the trenches. Thus it came about that the gallant Leicesters were called upon not only to resist fierce German onslaughts, but to reply in kind, which they did so thoroughly that they covered themselves in glory. But in the process they paid a heavy price, and their casualties were all too numerous.
Albert was buried at Welford Road Cemetery and commemorated there on the screen wall. His effects of £4 13s 2d were sent to Bessie on 5th October 1915 and a war gratuity of £6 on 3rd July 1919. Bessie and the children remained in Leicester but had moved from Oxenden Street by the end of the war. Bessie died in 1938 whilst living at 29 Grosvenor Crescent, Stoneygate Rise. She did not remarry.
Older brother Robert Stafford was born in 1880 and baptised at St Martin’s on 24th September 1891 together with Albert Edward, Francis Willie and Louisa. Robert was also a soldier. He signed up for twelve years with the 3rd Kings Own Hussars in April 1898, after working with his father as a butcher. He was then 5’5” tall, weighed 125lbs and had dark brown hair and eyes. He would later grow to 5’7”. Robert transferred to the 14th Hussars just before Christmas of the same year. He was promoted first to Lance Corporal, then Corporal in 1902. Like Albert, he served in the Second Boer War (1899-1902), sustaining several minor wounds and also contracting scarlet fever and scabies. In September 1903 he transferred to the Reserves due to a hernia and returned to Leicester to work as a butcher.
Robert married Mary Ann Greasley (1880-1967) at Leicester Registry Office on 2nd July 1907. They don’t seem to have had any children. They moved in together at 18 Arthur Street and Mary Ann worked as a stock room clerk in a boot factory. Robert re-enlisted at Leicester on 7th June 1915, just a few days after learning of the death of his brother. This time he joined the 2/1st Leicestershire Yeomanry as Corporal and was promoted to Sergeant the following month. He was sent to Garendon Camp. However his rank was reduced to Private in October 1915 for being drunk whilst on duty. He served at home for the duration of the war, probably in a training camp. He was deemed not suitable for Foreign Service due to his hernia, which ruptured in 1916 and required an operation at West Malling Military Hospital. He also spent time in Tonbrige Hospital with an infected knee (in 1917), scabies (1917) and impetigo (1918). These last two conditions were probably as a result of living in barracks. At the end of the war he transferred to the 13th Yorkshire Regiment before demobilising in February 1919, claiming 20% disablement due to the hernia. He was awarded a temporary pension. However by the following year “any impairment had passed away.”
After demobilising Robert returned to work as a butcher’s assistant and lived with Mary Ann at 18 Arthur Street. Occasionally they took in lodgers – one, Mark Clement Stevenson, lived with them for over twenty years. Robert’s mother Lizzie Ann moved in shortly before her death in 1928. Two years after her death, Robert sold the butchers shop premises in Market Street, which were described by the auctioneer as having been in the occupation of the Stafford family for 50 years.
Robert died in Leicester in 1944, Mary Ann in 1967, still living in the home in which they had moved together after their marriage in 1906.