Percival (Percy) John Childs (possibly born Healey),
2150, Drummer, 1/3rd (City of London) Battalion (Royal Fusiliers), London Regiment
20 January 1898, Marylebone – 23rd September 1916, died of wounds, Western Front, aged 18
Grave I.H.35, Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte, Somme
Lives of the First World War entry

His parents were John (1851, Stock, Essex) and Harriet (1858, Downham, Essex) – of the 7 children born alive to them by 1911, only 1 had died. In 1911 they stated they had been married 30 years, giving an approximate marriage year of 1881, but the only registration for that year matching those names is from Reigate, Surrey. John was single on 3rd April 1881 (census night), boarding at 9 Stanmore Place, St Pancras with Samuel (1831, Essex) and Mary Smith (1836, Essex) – like Samuel, John was then a carman and another of the four boarders there (John Drake, 1840, Stock, Essex) had the same birthplace as John. John and Harriet were living at 5 Pleasant Passage, Camden Town in 1891, 1901 and 1911 and in all three censuses John is working as a furniture remover.

In 1891 John and Harriet were living with their children Alice Beatrice (late 1884, Camden Town), Edith Mary (early 1887, Camden Town) and Daisy Charlotte (late 1889, Camden Town) and a lodger. In 1901 they were living with their children Alice (now working as an upholstress), John Erswell (mid 1892, London), Ivy Martha (late 1894, London) and Herbert Marshall (1899, London). Also resident with them in 1901 were an unmarried boarder living on her own means called Alice Maria Erswell (1836, St Pancras – 1904, St Pancras) and Helena S Taylor (1877, Cripplegate, Middlesex – visitor – mental nurse). Alice Maria had been in domestic service in Hampstead in the 1871 and 1881 censuses and – as Erswell was the middle name of one of John and Harriet’s children – she was probably a relation from Harriet’s family. Whether Helena’s presence is related to Percival being ill is unknown, but it seems possible.

Percy is living with John and Harriet in 1901 (giving his name as Percival John), but stated as a “Nursechild” (meaning a child cared for long-term outside its parental home) rather than as the head of household’s son and with the surname Healy. This probably means he was John and Harriet’s adoptive child, since no birth registration of the right date can be found for a Percival or Percy Childs and he had taken their surname by the time of the 1911 census. On 20th January 1898 a Percival John Healey was baptised at St Marylebone, child of a Winifred Healey and an unknown male Healey and born at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital. (On 13th January the same year, born in the same place, and baptised in the same church, a William Victor Fordham was baptised, son of a Louisa Fordham.) However, Percival John Healey / Childs does not seem to be the man on the war memorial since his death was registered in St Pancras in June 1974 for a Percival John Healey born on 20th January 1898.

The baptismal records for St Michael’s feature two daughters of Albert and Alice Adelphine Healy of 20 Wellington Street – Ellen Margaret (15th March 1916, St Pancras) was baptised at St Michael’s on 23rd October 1916 and Alice Sarah (6th February 1918). For Ellen, Albert’s profession is given as porter, but for Alice as “Soldier”. These Healys may be related to ours. Also an unmarried older Percival James Healy is still alive at 49 Foley Street, Marylebone in 1901 – he may be a relation of the younger Percival or even his birth father. However, a baptismal record from St Marylebone’s survives for Percival, giving his parents’ surnames both as Healey, which suggests he was not illegitimate.

In 1911 John and Harriet were still at the same address with their children Percival (recorded in 1911 as Percy), Edith (now working as a Millinery Assistant), John (now working as a railway engine cleaner), Ivy (now working as a dressmaker’s apprentice) and Herbert (at school). This would make Percy or Percival only 18 when he died – the minimum age for service in the army was 17. He did not appear on the parish magazine’s March 1915 list of those already serving. He was living in Camden Town when he enlisted at Edward Street. A George Childs was recorded as RIP in the October 1916 parish magazine and Percy himself was recorded as RIP the following month.

Percy Childs’ name on the war memorial.