Samways J.W.

Private J.W. Samways  Service number 27207 royal defence corps

Regiment Royal Defence Corps

Date of birth 1869

Date of death 16th July 1918

Age at death 48 years


His Story

SAMWAYS, Joseph William.   1869 – 1918

Joseph was born on 2nd November 1869, the son of Joseph William, a mariner, and Mary Samways (nee Long) at 4 Reynold’s Terrace, Old Church Road, Mile End Old Town and was baptised at St. Dunstan’s church in Stepney on 6th March, 1870.   The following year his father is at sea but Joseph, his mother and two much older sisters of 15 and 17 are at 4 Old Church Road.

In 1881 he is living with his parents at 18 White Horse Street, Ratcliff where this time his father is home but still described as a mariner.   It would appear Joseph is the tail end of this family as his parents were approximately 48 and 47 when he was born.  In fact his parents were married on 19th May 1850 at St. Dunstan’s, where Joseph Snr’s father is revealed as John Samways, an undertaker.   Mary Ann Long’s father John is a labourer and he may be the John Long who is a witness together with Mary Ann Daniell.

Joseph is 21 in the 1891 census and has already chosen a different way of life to his father as he is a railway porter living at his previous address with his parents.   His father is shown as a general labourer aged 65, obviously too old now to go to sea and they are supplementing their wages by taking in a lodger, John Bacon, also a railway porter.

On 12th June 1892 at St. Thomas’ church, Stepney, Joseph now a 22 year old signalman living at 33 Stepney Causeway married, by banns,  Alice Elizabeth Alchin, the 19 year old daughter of George, a shipwright who gives the same address.   The witnesses are interesting as one is the above John Bacon and the other is Sarah Jane Southgate.   A George Southgate. a 30 year old general labourer was lodging with the Samways family in 1881 in Ratcliff.

Joseph was admitted into the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants as No. 275453 on 26th November 1909 aged 40 as a signalman with the Great Eastern Railway Company (Poplar Branch No. 462) but was excluded at the end of 1911.   However, on 1st December 1911, aged 43 he again became a member of the union No. 339710, still a signalman and now working at the Canning Town branch but transferred on 30th October 1913 to No. 462 branch.

Between 1896 and 1903 the family are at 12 Robeson Street, MEOT, where the family has increased by 3 young children between the ages of 3 and 8 in addition to 18 year old Louie Alchin, his sister-in-law.   Between 1905 and 1909 a Joseph Samways is living at 4 Barnes Street, Limehouse but by 1911 they are settled at 99 Ravenscroft Road, Canning Town, much nearer to his place of employment.   Now they have 7 children (none have died) aged between 18 and 7 months old –  Arthur born in Canning Town.  Despite having 3 members of the family in employment they have taken in a boarder, a 21 year old single railway porter.

On 28th December 1914 Joseph William Samways aged 45 and the father of 9 children, enlisted as a member of the Royal Defence Corps, Regimental No. 27207.   He was discharged on 4th May 1917 due to illness and was issued with a Silver War Badge on 11th May (No. 172756).   He received a war gratuity of £6.5s. but sadly died on 16th July 1918 aged 48 from influenza???   William’s name does not appear on the Great Eastern Railway Company memorial at Liverpool Street Station in London.