Hugh Freckelton
The missing link

William Freckelton and Martha Galloway had four known children. Margaret Jane (who died in infancy), Hugh, Andrew and William. Prior research had traced both Andrew and William, but had provided only a small amount of information on Hugh

Hugh was born 6 Aug 1875 in Keady, Armagh, Ireland. He married Elizabeth McEwan 4 Feb 1898 in Belfast at Malone Presbyterian Church. Their daughter Mary McEwan was born 3 Feb 1901 in Belfast at 93 Clementine Street. In 1901 census, the family was living in Poleglass, Derryaghey which was a suburb of Belfast; Hugh was a Beetler.** At this point the trail went cold. There is no evidence of the family in the 1911 Irish census.

There was a WWI British Army service record for Hugh Freckelton and while the signature on the attestation form and the signature on the 1901 census were similar, there was no way to be certain they were the same person.

Recently the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) published the Will Calendars from 1858 to 1943 on line. A search of the index turned up the will for:
Freckleton Hugh of 18 Majestic Street Belfast beetler died 27 April 1925 at the Hospital Brugmann Lacken Brussels Belgium. Administration Belfast 17 September to Elizabeth Freckleton widow. Effects £112.
There were enough similarities to suggest that this also was the same Hugh as in the 1901 census and the attestation form, but there was no way to connect the three. Or so I thought.

I decided to take another look at the service record and discovered that it contained 68 pages of documents, not just one as I had thought. This is very fortunate, since a majority of the records were destroyed in a bombing during WWII. Still, with all that information, I wondered if it would help.

The record consisted of a few types of things - the information on his attestation papers, a casualty record and a series of correspondence regarding a request for reimbursement for his travel from Belfast to Belgium after the war. There were some documents that were illegible.

The attestation papers, the associated medical record and separation allowance give some idea of his physical appearance as well as other things. He was 5' 7", chest 37, 130 lbs and he had a tattoo of a crown, star and ladder on his left forearm. Update: A cousin from Scotland says these are symbols of the Orange Order (Wikipedia)

When he joined in March 1916 his address in Belfast was 34 Northumberland St. and his pay was being sent to 58 Northumberland St. (more about that later), but his wife's address was 47 Place Communale à Forest, Brussels. His separation allowance showed the address as 47 Place St. Denis. Forest is, I believe, a suburb of Brussels. It appears that his wife and daughter remained in Belgium for the duration of the war.

He signed up as a driver in the Army Service Corps and was assigned to the 16th Company. He was paid 1s. 2d. per diem while training and then 2s. 4d. after qualifying. Other documents later mention the 20th and 21st C.F.A., but I'm not sure (other than Canadian Field Artillery) what the stands for.

The casualty record shows that he travelled from Devenport to Durban to Bombay to a final location that looks like Margil (Iraq) between Sep 29/16 and Dec 31/16 and that he was admiited to hospital with malaria Jul 27/18 and was discharged Aug 24/18.

Some of the most interesting information is in the correspondence regarding reimbursement. He paid for his own travel from Belfast to Belgium in 1919 because his wife was ill and he didn't want to wait for the army documents. There are several letters back and forth, including ones in his own handwriting, but ultimately the army refused to reimburse him.

Within his 1919 correspondence he indicated he worked for "Rey Ainé, Fabricant de Tissus" (more about Rey Ainé here) in Belgium from Nov 1902 and returned to Ireland only to join the Army. Another letter from the manufacturer's agent in London confirmed it and that he was a linen finisher who was guaranteed a job on his return to Belgium. Rey Ainé was one of the largest linen manufacturers in Belgium employing thousands of people.

Also in the correspondence is a form naming people to contact in Belfast to verify information. One was James McClung, 58 Northumberland St. James was my grandfather and thus Hugh's cousin. It appears from this and other documents that, when in Belfast after the war, Hugh may have lived with him while waiting to be repatriated to Belgium. The other was S. J. Bridgett, 18 Majestic St. This is the address indicated in the will probate of 1925 and probably where Hugh's wife was living after his death in Belgium since Alice Bridgett was her sister.

The record not only connected the census and the will, but also confirmed that he was part of the Frickleton family.

** A beetler is someone who operated the Beetling Machine used for embossing textiles. The Beetling Machine was also used to give a shiny effect to cloth as the pressure of the wooden rollers during the squeezing (mangling) of the cotton or linen cloth added lustre.
Brian Rodgers - February 5, 2011
Last revised July 30, 2016
Added link to Rey ainé

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