Elizabeth Gaskell, Graiseley School, Gwynedd Archives Service, Ipswich, Manchester, Merridale Cemetery, Oaken, Rees Roturbo Manufacturing Company Ltd, Rupert Street, Thomas Parker Ltd, University of Birmingham, William Armistead, William Bevon
In December 2017, we featured the story of William Victor Bevon, the son of the headmaster of Graiseley School, who died of cardiac failure following illness on 17 November 1917. William’s descendant had been in touch to tell the story of her ancestor, and had been to Merridale Cemetery where he is buried in November 2017 to mark the centenary of his death.
In a strange coincidence, we received two letters, transferred to us by Gwynedd Archives Service, which were written to William Bevon by his friend, William Armistead, while Bevon was in hospital in Ipswich.
William Armistead was born in Manchester in 1865, but was living in Rupert Street, Wolverhampton, by 1891, a boarder in the home of G. Hurdman. He was working as an electrician. In 1897 he married Nellie Beatrice Wheeldon in Manchester Cathedral, and they were living with their children at Hill Crest, Oaken, Codsall, near Wolverhampton, in 1901. He was listed as a Manager, Electrical Works, and by 1911 (at the same address) was Engineer and Director at an Electrical and Hydraulic Works. As a Director of the Rees Roturbo Manufacturing Company Limited, he was also involved in Thomas Parker Ltd.
We do not know how the two men became acquainted – possibly it was their interest in engineering, as Bevon had graduated from the University of Birmingham with an engineering degree. The letters are dated 12 October and 6 November 1917, so not long before Bevon died. Along with the first letter, Armistead sent a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. He talks of the company’s General Meeting being delayed and says that “the shares a[re] going skywards like one of your aeroplanes.” In both letters, Armistead wishes him well and hopes that he is “striving to get your boat into the clear stream of Health!”
Unfortunately, Bevon did not survive, but these letters are a lovely addition to the story. They have been shared with his descendant, who was thrilled to see them.