Robert Lay Hawley was born in Wolverhampton in 1870, the son of Robert Lay and Ann Hawley.
Robert married Lydia Broadshaw at Bushbury Church, Wolverhampton, in about 1884. The couple had eight children – Robert (1885), Henry (1886), Lydia (1886), Patrick (1889), Nora (1894), Nellie (1896), Thomas (1907) and John (1908). The family were living at 79 Gorsebrook Road, Wolverhampton, by 1901. Father Robert was a carpenter. Mother Lydia died in 1910, and from March 1911 onwards the children spent time in and out of the Wednesfield cottage homes.
On 2 September 1914, the father, Robert, enlisted with the South Staffordshire Regiment (service number 12943) at the age of 44. He was working as a waggon repairer. On 15 October 1914, he was discharged as being medically unfit and not likely to become and efficient soldier, presumably because of his age.
Robert’s son, Henry (also known as Harry), also enlisted, as a Driver in the Royal Field Artillery (number 241435). Unfortunately, he died in hospital on 4 April 1918. He is buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery in France.