The Chilton family of South Milford

In 1887 Ralph Chiton, painter and decorator age 20, married Amelia Tate, age 18. They went on to have 13 children before Ralph died in 1909.

In 1911 Amelia, widowed and struggling to provide for her children, lived in Low Street, South Milford. Her eldest son, Fred had died in 1907 and eldest daughter Edith married John Schofield in that year. Ernest, age 19 was working as a painter and Ralph, age 17 as a postman whilst Arthur,14 was at school. Her next 4 children were not living with her as presumably she could not provide for them in addition to her youngest ones Nellie, age 7 Clifford, age 5 and Fred, age 1. Hilda had died, age 2 in 1909, the same year as her father.

The children who were not with their mother in 1911were Wilfred, age 13 who was at Leeds Industrial School at Shadwell, which was described as for ‘boys out of control’ and Frank, age 12 and John, age 9 who were both at the Hungate Hospital and School orphanage in Sherburn. Finally Kathleen, age 11, was at the girls charity school at Ledsham run by the Lady Betty Hastings Trust.

Clifford later joined his brothers as an orphan at Hungate school and in 1915 was one of the first pupils to receive funding from the newly created Educational Advancement Fund to attend Leeds Higher Grade Boys’ School. In 1918 he was awarded £20 plus travelling expenses to pay for tuition fees at Tadcaster Grammar School.

As if Amelia’s life had not been hard and tragic enough up to that time the Great War brought further tragedy as her four eldest surviving sons enlisted and two of them were never to return.

Ernest joined the 9th Battalion off the West Yorks (Prince of Wales Own) Regiment  which sailed from Liverpool on 3rd July 1915 and landed at Suvla Bay in Turkey on the 6th August as part of the Gallipoli campaign. Ernest was killed on the 9th August and is remembered on the Helles memorial and buried at Canakkale in Turkey.

Wilfred lived with his unmarried Aunt (Amelia’s sister Elizabeth Tate) in Leeds from age 3. At Age 13 he was sent to Leeds Industrial School having been an habitual truant and ‘out of control’. In April 1913 he was apprenticed to a Tailor in Bedale and in June 1915 joined the West Yorks Regiment as a Tailor. Wilfred was wounded at Arras and died from his wounds in No 9 Red Cross Hospital on 23rd May 1917. He is buried at Calais Southern Cemetery.

Arthur enlisted with the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in December 1915, age 19. He was an assistant school teacher Micklefield. He served in France for most of 1917 and was promoted to Lance Corporal. He returned to England in 1918 to train as an officer and was promoted to Lieutenant before being  discharged in January 1919. After the war he resumed his training to be a teacher at St. Johns in York and married Alice Shepherd in 1924. Arthur died in the Leeds area in 1979.

Ralph joined the West Yorks Regiment in January 1915 and served two spells in France from January to August in both 1916 and 1917 and was wounded twice. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal  and the Medal of St. George by the Czar of Russia. He was commended in the London Gazzette as follows:

“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When wounded in the shoulder, arm and chest, as stretcher-bearer attending to wounded men, he continued his work regardless of his own wounds and dressed and carried men until he was again wounded and collapsed. He has done other fine work”.

He was discharged “no longer fit for active service” in January 1918. He married Annie Worth in 1922 and died in 1963.

Amelia died in 1948. Nine of her thirteen children outlived her.

Compiled by Kevin Sibson with additional information from Christine Tate.