William Hockett

William Hockett was born in Baldock, Hertfordshire on 23rd January 1866 and baptised on 6th February 1866. His parents were Noah Hockett and Edith Webster. They married in 1862 and William was their second child.

In his early life he was an Agricultural Labourer, but in about 1882/3 he joined the Army, and served 12 years with 2nd Btn Grenadier Guards (12 years was duration of service). Through the 1880’s he gained promotion and reached the rank of Sergeant. In 1891/2 he was with the battalion in Bermuda, on garrison duty. After 12 years he clearly had not had enough of Army life, and joined the 3rd Btn West Yorkshire regiment (as a regular NCO in a Militia battalion). This was based at Fulford barracks near York. During the (2nd) Boer War (1899-1902) the battalion served as part of the Malta garrison, as the regular army units were sent to South Africa.

He married Jessie Bradshaw on 15th November 1891 in Crewe, Cheshire. With his first wife, Jessie (Bradshaw) he had two children, but daughter, Jessie Edith Elizabeth, died shortly after birth in 1893. They then had a son, William Harold Thomas Hockett (b. Crewe 1st August 1896).

Jessie died in tragic circumstances in October 1898 at Fulford near York. William remarried in October 1899 to Henrietta Strange, a widow. William at the time was recorded as Colour Sergeant 3rd West Yorkshire Regiment. Henrietta already had one son, James Harold Strange (also one of our Scouts, sadly he was killed in the Great War), born in York in around September of 1894. In the census of 1901 Henrietta, with William’s son and her son are living with William’s married sister Elizabeth (Gregory) and her 3 children, at 62 Alma Terrace, Fulford. It is likely that William left the Regiment in about 1908 following the major reorganization of the Army (the Haldane Reforms). It seems likely that at this time the family moved to Porthill and William became our first Scout Master in the autumn of that year. He gained his warrant from Imperial Headquarters in London on 14th December 1908. Unfortunately, William didn’t stay with us for too long as he resigned on 10th March 1909.

Neither of the boys were living with their parents at the time of the 1911 census, when William and Henrietta were at 16 King Street in Burslem and was a Lodgerman and Timekeeper.

William returned to Army life in WW1 when Lord Kitchener was raising the ‘Service Battalions’. The British Empire League raised the 20th battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps on 20th August 1915, and William joined, and being an experienced NCO, gained a commission at a time of acute shortage of officer material!

The 20th KRRC served as a Pioneer battalion during the war It was initially based in Wellingborough [23rd res. bdge] In march 1916 it was sent to France assigned to 3rd division as a pioneer btn. He served initially as Lieutenant/Quartermaster. Towards the end of the war he transfered to Royal Engineers at the rank of Captain (Officers list 3rd April 1919). He was awarded Victory Medal and British War Medal and probably left the Army shortly afterwards in its’ rapid run down.

After the war he returned to his roots in Hertfordshire (Hitchen). He died in the last quarter of 1923, at the age of 57, while living in Baldock, Hertfordshire.

William Hockett’s family history is courtesy of John Bradshawe.