Hudson, Henry John Gerrard. Died 20th May 1917

Henry John Gerrard HUDSON, was born on 11 November 1873 in Whitechapel, Middlesex. He was the son of John Gerrard Hudson, who was a ‘Paper Stainer’.

Henry was apparently already working as a ‘Paper Stainer’, like his father, when at the age of 16, he joined the Navy and with the number: 147608, first served from 5 to 9 January 1889 on HMS Impregnable, a training establishment at Devonport, and then on HMS Ganges, another training establishment.   He later returned to HMS Impregnable and then was posted to HMS Ruby, a composite screw corvette launched in 1876.   HMS Ruby was at Sheerness when Henry was enumerated, aged 17, for the 1891 census.

Over the next ten years his Navy Service Record shows he was on some eight different ships or shore stations. In 1892 he became an Able Seaman, and in 1897 a Leading Seaman, but then was dropped back to Able Seaman. He does not seem to appear on the 1901 census, but his Record shows that he was on HMS Caesar, a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought battleship and had regained the rank of Leading Seaman.

Over the next couple of years he served on a further four different ships, and then seems to have left the Navy on 13 May 1902, presumably having completed the 12 years service that he signed up for.

He probably returned home to London, as some five years later he married Alice Emily Martin on 13 January 1907 at All Souls, Newington, Southwark.   He was 33 and she was from Bermondsey and was 28.

They seem to have remained in London for a while as their first two children were born there: Nancy Hudson was born in Walworth in about 1909, and Gladys Hudson in Camberwell the following year. However, by 1911 the family was living at 13 Southview Road, Weymouth, Dorset, and Henry was again associated with the sea, being a ‘Motor Boat Driver, General Providers’.

At some date between 1911 and 1914 the family moved to Rugby, and it is likely that they had a further child, a son, John G Hudson who was registered in Q2 1914. By 1914, Henry was working at BTH, in the Wiring Dept.   ‘Hudson’ was listed among the latest recruits from the BTH Works in September 1914.[1]

Henry Hudson’s Service Record notes that he rejoined HMS Victory on 2 September 1914; he was later posted to Eastern Gorleston, President IV [possibly mis-numbered – it was a London accounting base from 1918] and lastly Pembroke I on 12 April 1917

HMS Pembroke was the name given to a shore barracks at Chatham. It was commissioned in 1878, moved ashore in 1903 and was paid off in 1983. The buildings, designed by Sir Henry Pilkington, now house the University at Medway. A number of ships were renamed Pembroke while serving as base and depot ships for the establishment: HMS Trent was HMS Pembroke from 1905 until 1917.

Leading-Seaman Henry Hudson died, aged 43, on 20 May 1917 ‘… at R N Hospital Chatham, after a serious operation’,[2] although another record suggests that he ‘Died from disease’. This was probably part of the shore based HMS Pembroke and became the Royal Naval Hospital in Windmill Road – which is still known as the Medway Maritime Hospital.

He was buried in Gillingham (Woodlands) Cemetery in Grave Ref: Naval. 27. 1421. The cemetery has a large naval section reserved by the Admiralty and that section contains most of the war graves as well as burials of the pre-war and inter-war years.

Henry probably only served on land stations during WWI, as he was already a ‘Leading Seaman (retired)’, but he was awarded the British War Medal – the criteria being 28 days mobilised service, but without a requirement for overseas service.   There is no record of him receiving the Victory Medal for which recipients had to be mobilised and to have entered a theatre of war.

At the end of the war his widow’s address was noted as 1, Bakehouse Lane, New Bilton, Rugby.

Henry John Gerrard Hudson is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.   He is also remembered on the New Bilton War Memorial, by the chapel in Croop Hill Cemetery, Addison Road – the Memorial reads ‘In the Great War these died for England 1914-1919’.



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This article on Henry John Gerrard HUDSON was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, May 2017.

[1]       Rugby Advertiser, 26 September 1914.

[2]       Rugby Advertiser, Deaths, 26 May 1917.


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