On the 1871 census, aged just 19, he was already a young "newspaper reporter", possibly with the Shields Daily Gazette where we know he worked for as a boy. At some point he wrote a letter to the Northern Echo which led to him becoming employed by the Pall Mall Gazette based in London where he became a well respected journalist in the Lobby of the House of Commons. He helped launch the Westminster Gazette with the hugely talented Sir Francis Carruthers-Gould. He worked on a number of other newspapers including the ill fated Tribune, which was owned by Lord Northfleet. The Tribune was only printed between about 1906 and 1908 and William was Editor in Chief.
At some point "he was lamed for life by being thrown out of a jaunting car while reporting in Ireland". He was "one of the kindliest and most unpretending of men, beaming on the world through a pair of spectacles which seem to have become a necessary part of his features".
In 1919 His Majesty the King of the Hellenes conferred on him The Silver Cross of the Order of the Redeemer. This was the highest honour which can be awarded by the Greek State and, as a foreigner, would have been given either for past services to Greece or because of his ability to bring honour to the Order through his outstanding personal virtues and excellence. Would be interesting to discover the reason behind this award.
They had two children, William, born 10 Belvedere Cottages, Wimbledon in 1886, and Jennie (Week 54) born Seaham Harbour, Durham in 1888. They had moved down to Dulka Road, Battersea on the 1891 census, and then, before the next census, they had moved to 15 Old Park Avenue, Battersea where they would live for the last 40 odd years of their lives. The 1911 census discloses that the property had nine rooms so it was quite large. They employed one servant.
According to his obituary in The Times on 15th November 1932, William was a lifelong Liberal and one of the oldest members of The National Liberal Club. He was a constant worker in the cause of industrial peace and equally earnest for international peace. He was Honorary secretary of the peace crusade “after the Tsar’s initiative”. A short report of his funeral also appeared in The Times three days later.
Present at his funeral were his son, William, who had deserted his wife 10 years earlier and his daughter Jennie. His granddaughter Peggy, who would have been in her early 20’s, was not listed as being present.
One little mystery, which I hope to resolve by obtaining his Will, is that on 30th March 1933 probate was granted to his widow and son (£627) and then 25 years later on 18th December 1958 it was granted again to The Westminster Bank Limited (£750).
Original posted 8th February 2015
I have now received the amended probate notice together with a copy of William's Will dated October 1924 - 8 years before his death. It leaves everything in trust to his wife for life and then it becomes interesting. It says when she dies "the remainder of the Estate, barring such minor and befitting momentoes (sic) as may be sought by my dear son ..... shall pass to my dear daughter, Jane Hill, in as much as the house, furniture, goods and chattels have continued in existence in recent years largely through her substantial pecuniary contribution and her exceptionally arduous and loving service to her Father and her Mother." How did William feel about that ?!
Unfortunately this do it yourself Will omitted to name any Executors !
It seems that Letters of Administration were granted in March 1933 and the Court appointed Elizabeth, William's wife, and Jane, his daughter, to be Executors. For some reason which isn't apparent, Jane "renounced Letters of Administration (and Will)" and William, the son, was appointed instead. The double probate came about because BOTH the Executors were now dead (William having died in May 1946) leaving part of the estate unadministered.
Jane is aka Jennie who I wrote about in Week 54.
Updated 30th April 2015