Herbert Oswald Spencer was born on 28th May 1869 at The Parsonage in Newton-by-Daresbury and was baptised at Daresbury All Saints church in the August of that year. His father William Henry Spencer, who was the vicar at Daresbury, had been born in Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire and his mother had been born Jane Walker in Preston Brook.
Herbert was their sixth child (of eight) and in the census of 1871 the family were living at the Parsonage on Morphany Lane with Hannah Walker, Jane’s unmarried sister living with them. Herbert’s older siblings were William Edward Albert (10), Charles John (8), Henry Nelson (7), Christopher (6) and Annie Charlotte (4).
Ten years later the family was complete, with the addition of Frederick (11) and Septimus Alfred (9). Hannah Walker continued to live with them. The eldest son was working on a farm and Charles was apprenticed to a builder. The only girl, 13-year old Annie, was not there: she was at St.Elphin’s College for the Daughters of the Clergy in Warrington.
Sadly, in October 1883, the vicar died at the age of 65 years. He was buried at Daresbury churchyard. Jane and most of her family went to live in Stockton Heath.
In early 1891, Herbert Oswald married Georgina Reid, who was born at Wilderspool. The census of that year showed the newly-married couple living with Georgina’s brothers and her widowed mother in Appleton-with-Hull. Herbert was employed as a tanner, converting hides into leather at a tannery.
Ten years later they had a house of their own and were living in Upper Leonard Street in Stockton Heath. Herbert was a joiner/carpenter. They had Susan Mary Bell (9), Beryl Walker Moules (4) and Doris Edna Primrose (11 months). Sadly, Doris died in 1902 and another daughter, Mona Reid (born 1901) also died that year. A son Herbert St. Elmo was born in 1903.
In 1903 Herbert Oswald travelled to Canada and the rest of his family emigrated in 1906, going to live in West Hamilton in Ontario. By the time of the 1911 Census of Canada, Herbert was employed as a carpenter and the two daughters as an office stenographer and a tailoress in a shop. Georgina’s two brothers were also lodging with them.
During the Great War, Herbert spent some time in the Canadian Army Medical Corps before enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and serving in the 129th Battalion. This was also known as the Wentworth Battalion, based in Dundas, Ontario. It began recruiting in late 1915. At the time Herbert was living at 56, East 32nd Street in Hamilton. He was “taken on strength” on 24th February 1916 and went to Camp Borden (100km north of Toronto) for training in trench warfare. He embarked from Halifax, Nova Scotia for Europe on S.S.Olympic on 24th August. Herbert was a lance-corporal with the service number 785119.
After the Great War he lived in Barton Township in Wentworth, Ontario at 58, East 31st Street. He had resumed his job as a carpenter and whilst Georgina was not employed outside the home, Beryl was a bookkeeper, his son Herbert was an electric meter maker and Susan had married in 1912 and gone to live in the U.S.A.
Herbert Oswald Spencer died on 3rd March 1937 in Hamilton. At the time he was living at 67, East 31st Street in Mount Hamilton. It was decided that he had died as a result of war service in the Great War, but it was too late a death for a “regulation “headstone. He was buried at Westmount Memorial Park in Ontario. He was 68 years of age.