Henry Alfred John BARNETT was born in about July 1870 in Clifton upon Dunsmore and registered in Q2, 1870 in Rugby. He was the eldest son of Alfred John Barnett, a miller (b.c.1843 in Clifton) and his wife Jane, née Newby, Barnett (b.c.1841 in Cassington, Leicestershire). Their marriage was registered in Barrow in Q3, 1867.
In April 1871, Henry was ten months old; he had a two year old sister, Henrietta, who was also born at Clifton on Dunsmore. They also had an elder ‘step’-sister Ada who was eleven, and born in Ratcliffe on Wreak. In 1871, his father was a ‘miller journeyman’.
By 1881, his father had died and his widowed mother was working as a dressmaker, and the family, which now included another daughter, Edith, aged five, (she was born on 13 July 1875) was living on the Lilbourne Road, Clifton.
Some time before 1891, the family moved to Rugby, and probably that was when Henry attended the Lawrence Sheriff School. By 1891 Jane and two of the children were living at 2 Earl Street. Jane was still a ‘dressmaker’, Henry was 20 and a grocer’s assistant, his elder sister, now enumerated as Harriett had no occupation. Edith was missing, but reappeared with the family in 1901, when they were at 8 Earl Street. Henry was by then a ‘cycle agent’, and his mother and his two sisters were all working as ‘Dressmaker – Own Account’.
By 1911 the family home had the fuller address 8 Clifton Cottages, Earl Street, Rugby. They were all still working at home: Henry was a ‘cycle repairer’ and his mother and sisters still running their business his mother being a ‘Dressmaker’ and his sisters undertaking ‘Dressmaking & General Sewing’.
At some date Henry moved to 174 Murray Road. With war declared, Henry did not rush to sign up, but was recruited later in late November 1915 under Lord Derby’s Scheme,
LORD DERBY’S RECRUITING SCHEME.
LOCAL ENLISTMENTS UNDER THE GROUP SYSTEM.
The following have enlisted at the Rugby Drill Hall under the Group system. A considerable number of the men have enlisted under Reserve B for munition workers. …
Single Men … Barnett, Alfred Henry John, Newbold-on-Avon.
Although no Service Record survives, his Medal Card states that he became a Rifleman, No.236 in the Rifle Brigade, and latterly he served as No.203588 in the 21st Battalion, the Rifle Brigade.
It is assumed that he would have been under training until mid-1916, however the …
… 21st (Midland), … Battalion [of the Rifle Brigade] was formed in accordance with an Army Council Instruction on 29 November 1915. The Battalions were made up of supernumerary TF [Territorial Force] Companies, formed from National Reservists who were used for guarding vulnerable points in Great Britain. The Battalions were posted for Garrison duty overseas in 1916. The 21st went to India via Egypt, …
It seems unlikely that Henry actually went to Egypt and India, as on 28 April 1917, Henry was captured and became a ‘Prisoner of War’ in Germany. It was some months until the news reached Rugby, and the Rugby Advertiser reported in September,
Lance-Corpl F H Hadfield, K.R.R, of 4 Charlotte Street, and Pte H A J Barnett, R.W.R., of 174 Murray Road, have written home stating that they are prisoners of war in Germany. The news of Pte Barnett’s capture has only just reached his parents although he was taken prisoner on April 28th. … .
After his period of training it seems likely that Henry had missed going to Egypt and India, but had probably been attached to another Battalion in France. He would have remained a PoW for the rest of the war. Whilst it seems he returned home after the Armistice, conditions for prisoners were such that they would have been ill fed, weakened and likely in poor health when released.
His death was confirmed by the Register of Soldiers’ Effects which noted that he died on ‘21-5-19, Illness at Home’ and the death was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1919. He was aged 49. His death certificate would probably provide further details of the cause of death.
He was buried in a ‘private grave’ in Plot L.8. at the Clifton Road Cemetery, Rugby. There do not appear to be any reports of his funeral in the Rugby Advertiser.
Henry Alfred John BARNETT was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates; at the Clifton Road Cemetery; and on the WWI Lawrence Sheriff School Plaque, which reads,
‘In Commemoration of our Brother Laurentians who Fell in The Great War, 1914-1918, Orando Laborando.’
The Register of Soldier’s Effects noted that his outstanding pay of £37-15-4d, which included his War Gratuity of £26, was paid to his ‘sole Legatee, Jane’ – his mother – on 19 March 1925. She died soon afterwards; her death was registered in Rugby in Q2, 1920 – she was 79.
It seems that Henry’s elder sister, Harriett, married in 1917 with Ernest Moore; she died aged 80 in Rugby in 1949. His younger sister, Edith remained single, and was still a ‘seamstress’ in 1939 at 8 Earl Street, Rugby. She died in St. Luke’s Hospital, Rugby on 28 January 1962 aged 85.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM
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This article on Henry Alfred John BARNETT 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 RFHG, October 2018.
 https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/27th-nov-1915-lord-derbys-scheme/, transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 27 November 1915.
 https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/1st-sep-1917-french-honour-english-lady/, transcribed from the Rugby Advertiser, 1 September 1917.
 Information from https://www.rugbyfhg.co.uk/lawrence-sheriff-school-plaques.