Private William James Hughan



William James Hughan was born, as William James Boyles, on 11 June 1881 at Barnamaghery, Killinchy, County Down, one of nine children of Eliza Boyles (nee Jordan). William's mother had been widowed about four years before he was born, and he was one of at least four children she bore out of wedlock. The birth records do not state the name of the father. On 17 December 1895 his mother married widower Stewart Hughan, a tailor from Belmont Street, Belfast, who had previously lived at Raffrey, County Down (close to Barnamaghery). Her children, those born after she was widowed, including William James, took the name Hughan. Given this background it is reasonable to assume that William's natural father was Stewart Hughan.

Stewart Hughan died at the Down Asylum on 4 March 1901, aged 62. At the time William James was living with his mother and two siblings at Raffrey and working as a farm servant. Ten years later the family had moved to 61 Cherryville Street, Belfast, William and his younger brother John working as tram conductors. On 5 June 1913 William married Mary Jane Kennedy at Raffrey Presbyterian Church.

Hughan enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 3 and 5 October 1914 (No.1260 – later Corps of Hussars No.71307). Between 1916 and 1918 he embarked for France, probably with E Squadron in January 1916. In May 1916 E Squadron joined with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until March-April 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

Hughan was wounded in August or September 1918 during the initial phase of the Advance to Victory offensive. He was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve, on 21 February 1919.

After the war he returned to work as a tram then a bus conductor. He lived at 61 Cherryville Road until his death, at the Belfast City Hospital, on 7 February 1968.


Image from Belfast Evening Telegraph kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (