• Important Update: Our New Email Domain

    Please note: We've updated our email domain to familyhistory.email. All our emails will be from this domain.

  • Do you love Genealogy? Why not write for us? we're looking for volunteers to write articles for Family history. Please contact us for further information.

WWI information

Leamington, Ontario
I recently have had contact with a cousin who sent me copies of some postcards that our Grandfather, Frederick Kirkham of Boston, LINCS, born 1881, sent to his family (which included my father). My cousin's mother (my Dad's sister) told him that the postcards were sent while Grandpa was serving in WWI in France.
Cousin Bill and I have both spent quite a bit of time trying to find out in what capacity Grandpa was in France...but to no avail. Grandpa survived the war and continued to live in Boston.
When the 1911 census was taken, Grandpa was living in Boston, the place of his birth, and gave his occupation as "hotel boots".
Any assistance on what direction to take to pursue further information would be truly appreciated!
Hi Katie,

Not having much luck with his war records.:(

There were a lot of WW1 records destroyed during WW2, as you may well know. How ironic is that.

I would think 'Boots Hotel' as a profession, would be partly a boot & shoe cleaner, cum porter. He's doing the same in 1901, along with his father William.

Thanks, Steve.
Yes, Cousin Bill wondered if Grandpa's records had been destroyed during WWII. Certainly a possibility. I just wanted to ensure that we'd covered all available options and knew that I could count on help from the great people on this forum.
Thanks again.
Hello Katie, maybe the postcards hold some information, do you have a picture of him in his uniform ? as that would be a great help, some times you can tell which unit by a cap badge.

Best regards
No, Ian, no pictures of him in uniform...just the postcards, which were rather generic - what you'd expect for the time. They were not individually addressed, and my Aunt, one of the recipients, believed that Grandpa put them all in one envelope, presumably to save postage?? There were only very short messages on each, nothing which would give any hints at all!!
Thanks for the suggestions, though.
Hi katie,

I live just outside Boston, so looked at your Frederick Kirkham because of local interest. Kirk is a very common local name The three nearest housholds to me are all related Kirks. Kirkham literally the home of the kirk (church) is a lot rarer and there only seems to have been your family in the Lincolnshire censuses

I am sure " Boots" refer to the hotel porter with resposibility for cleaning guests boots and shoes.

looking through the census I was intrigued to see that ther stayed in the same area but did change dwellings

for instance 1901 14 James st Boston
1891 5 James St Boston
1881 10 James St Boston
1871 james St Boston
1861 St Johns Rd Boston
1851 St Johns Rd Boston
1841 Shod friars Lane Boston

If you would like me to I could look around to see if any of these addresses still exist? and get photos.

Fredericks father was also a "Boots" in 1901

Frederick's father was Edward a sawyer

Edward's father was Benn Kirkham born in lincolnshire

hope thats of interest


If you do not have the census material I will happily post them for you, sadly no luck with military records yet
I lost some of this message so reposting. I am sure your Frederick and William Kirkham would have worked at the Peacock and Royal hotel in the square at Boston. it was The Society hotel. below is an extract of chapter 8 of a book "Among English Inns". it describes arriving at Boston station and walking the half mile or so to the hotel, James St , St Johns St, and Shod Friar Lane were all very close to the hotel

"Not long after passing Belvoir and Sleaford Station, we came into the Fen Country. When the Puritans left Lincolnshire for America, this vast region was a savage tract, desolate, uncultivated, full of bogs and ague. The inhabitants were a rude people who barely managed to exist by the crops they got off the small patches of land they reclaimed from the water. Now all this is changed.

The Big Drain flows along beside the track as wide as a canal, and is spanned by bridges more or less picturesque, and at intervals smaller drains run from all sides to meet it. The fields are fertile and the farms look prosperous.

The style of architecture so much admired, and so continually copied by the early settlers in New England, is the architecture of the Lincolnshire Fens. Square houses with long, slanting roofs, a door in the middle, and one or two windows on either side of it, can be seen here in brick, quite like the wooden reproductions that predominate in the old towns about Boston, Mass. Before the Fens were drained, the roofs of the cottages were made of the reeds so plentiful in the district, and this must have added a decidedly picturesque quality to the little dwellings now made ugly by dull slate. "The reeds have disappeared with the reclaiming of the land, and we were told that it was hard now to find a good thatcher in this part of Lincolnshire.

The dampness of the flat lands here is responsible for the loveliest atmospheric effects. Over this otherwise uninteresting plain there spreads at the sunset hour a most wonderful colour. The air glows like gold, the drains glitter like molten metal, and the wide fields and commonplace houses become glorified by the light of the hour. It was through this golden mist that we first saw the tall tower of St. Botolph's Church – the Boston Stump, as it is called – looming gray before us. We had reached Boston at last, after all our troubles!

Following the advice of a lady who happened to be in the carriage with us, we gave our luggage to the 'bus driver to take to the hotel, and walked there with our new-found acquaintance by a short cut. Our guide was a Boston woman, and knew the road, or we surely should have found ourselves as completely astray as does the Western stranger in Boston, U. S. A.

On the street leading from the station, down which we followed the Boston lady, the low brick houses were all exactly alike, and out of them poured forth large families of dirty children. After two minutes' walk through this uninviting beginning of the town, the street suddenly stopped, and we stood above the parapet where the river ran swift beneath, and we looked across the water at the great tower of St. Botolph's Church shooting up into the red sky.

This is the finest view in Boston, and, as we saw it in sharp contrast to the dull commonplace street by which we had come, our enthusiasm was correspondingly great. From this spectacle we understood plainly why Boston is said, by the English, to look like a Dutch town. Along the river gorgeously painted fishing-boats were making their way out at high tide to The Wash. Bridges spanned the river, and gardens grew along the side behind the high walls required to curb the River Wytham's ardour. As a tidal river, it has a way of climbing over barriers and even at intervals invading the great church. Boston has no pleasant recollections of these frolics. They have wrought horrible destruction, and once nearly destroyed the whole town. From the river-bank we went to the bridge, through a distracting maze of narrow lanes, before we reached our hotel on the marketplace, as Polly observed, "quite Bostonese."

St. Botolph's Church, Boston.

The Peacock and Royal is a commercial hotel of cheerful aspect. The front is decorated by bright flowers and long trailing vines growing from the window-boxes on the balconies, and above all is a most gorgeous sign of the most gorgeous of birds, from which it takes its name. We ate our comfortable little dinner in the coffee-room, our table placed in a "Dendy Sadler bow-window," behind one of which the Matron has always pined to sit. It was nine o'clock before we left the table. We were too tired to explore Boston's winding ways, and, as it was too early for bed, I had this time secured a large front room looking over the market-place, and my sleepy friends soon found entertainment there.

The sound of a twanging banjo, which came from beneath our window, gathered the few stragglers in the market-place into a circle around the door of the Peacock. We could not see the musician from our window, but he broke forth as soon as the audience had gathered into the usual sentimental ballad dear to English ears. Some boys, with dogs at their heels, formed the outside of the meagre crowd, and then from a side street came belated mothers, pushing their babies home in perambulators. Polly says that at no hour in the twenty-four are English streets entirely free from perambulators, and, late as it was, three of these useful carriages joined the circle, the mothers, in true Boston fashion, being unable to resist music. The audience grew larger and the circle wider; the songs were succeeded by dialogues, and coppers rained plentifully into the collector's hand, until a baby set up an opposition concert, and an enterprising dog was encouraged by the noise to fight his four-legged neighbour. During the rumpus which succeeded, the musicians vanished. The dog riot was finally quelled, the babies trundled home, and the market-place in a few minutes was absolutely deserted for the night.

Next morning unwonted sounds of activity got me out of bed at an early hour. Booths were being put up for a market."

Thank-you, dochines, for all of the information!
I knew that my Grandfather Fred was a "boots" at a hotel while he and his family lived in Boston...but never knew which hotel he might have worked at. The print of the Peacock & Royal is fantastic! You are quite probably correct that this was the hotel at which Fred worked, if it was in the vicinity of the addresses at which he lived. The write-up about it is very interesting.

I believe that William (Fred's father) moved to James St., following his marriage to Eliza Procter in early 1871.
Fred married Nellie Chapman in 1904 and moved to Alford, then Spalding, and finally to Sheffield.
It is very generous of you to offer to take photos of any of the addresses at which they lived (should they still exist). They would be much appreciated, but I do not want to inconvenience you...only if you have the time and interest.

I read, at some point, that a large percentage of people with the name of Kirkham were farmers and came from Lancashire. My ancestors appear to have been the exception. I have been able to trace them back to at least 1700 and they always lived in Boston or environs...and none of them were farmers...(although certainly some of the families they married into were...).
My Dad immigrated to Canada in 1926, when he was 15, and farmed until his death in 1963. He was, as far as I know, the only Kirkham farmer in the family!
Again, thank-you for all the information.

P.S. Yes, I do have the census information. Thank-you for asking. They are a treasure-trove of information. K
Hi Katie,an interesting story and good luck with your research.

You say your dad emigrated at 15...i just wonder what his family did for a living in Boston,or is it a question you are not sure of,15 smacks of running away to me....though of course it could have just been young adventurism:)
Hi Leefer:
Interesting comment. Thanks!
No, Dad wasn't on the run - nothing quite so exciting. His Uncle and Aunt had immigrated to Canada in 1920, my Great Uncle having taken advantage of a land grant following his service with the Royal Navy. They farmed but had no children, and my Dad was sent over to help them.
Both my parents died when I was quite young and I, unfortunately, had little contact with my relatives in England, so I really don't know much beyond that.
Again, thanks for your thoughts.
Hi Katie,

Just a thought and i dont know if it will work or not.

The medal cards in the national archives uk has 25 Frederick Kirkham's but 19 of them have second names and the other 6 are just Frederick Kirkham.
Your grandfather have a second name? If not maybe[?] he is one of the 6 who dont. Might be expensive and its only a thought but if you purchased the 6 medal cards and if like mine they have a address on them you might be able to trace which one is your grandfather via the address on them which then will give you his regiment and service number. Armed with that info the Imperial war museum might have more info maybe.
If you were to try this i would only purchase one at a time, eliminate and move onto the next, that way your not buying all 6 when his might be the first one.
As i said its only a thought and not sure if it will work or not. If anyone thinks this wont work speak up please:)
Good luck:)
Last edited:
Thank-you, Gibbo!
What a great idea! I'll check into this. It may take me a few days, but I'll let you know if I have any success.
As far as I know, my Grandfather did not have a middle name.
Thank-you, Gibbo!
What a great idea! I'll check into this. It may take me a few days, but I'll let you know if I have any success.
As far as I know, my Grandfather did not have a middle name.

Your welcome. Just dont shoot me if it doesnt work and none of them are him:biggrin:
Got the fingers crossed for you and yes please let us know how it goes.
I am afraid I agree about the lack of addresses on the medal cards.

Boston in 1926 was hit by the recession and it was not unusual for whole families to up and go to canada. The Salvation Army were particularly active in helping to organise resettlements in Canada and could well have been involved.

Have you found your family in the ships passenger lists, or the Canadian censuses?

I will try and get the photos for you during the week

best wishes

I have now found Sidney Basilton Kirkham travelling with his elder sister Lena on a ship called the "Doric" owned by white star line. There are pictures on the web. They departed from Liverpool and arrived Montreal Quebec on 26 april 1926.
Most importantly the record shows that their passage was paid for by an uncle

as far as military records are concerned I did find a John Arthur Kirkham of 19 Bertram St Boston, a dairyman, being attestd to the RFA (Royal field Artillery)on 11 march 1915. the record is badly burnt but I can make out his next of kin as his wife Rose Alice and having 4 children born on 30/9/1900 through to 10/5/1909 the names are too faded to read due to water damage

If this is a relative, families quite often joined the same regiment so it could be worth checking directly with the regiment as to whether or not your grandfather served with them as well

Thank-you - all of you!
Yes, I have the ship and immigration info on my Dad and his sister...
it's just the military data on my Grandfather that, currently, is a mystery. The postcards that he sent have French inscriptions on them (the company that printed them and what they showed - Paris ). Grandpa was short on words and, aside from Greetings, he wrote little else.

I will keep working away and consider the information that all of you have provided. Who knows? I may eventually stumble upon something that gives me a clue. If not, well, I'm okay with that too.

You folks have been great. Thanks again.

( and, no, to the best of my knowledge, John Arthur Kirkham was not a relative, at least not a close one... but I will check back a generation or two -to see if he shows up.)