Private Thomas William Cheshire


Thomas William Cheshire (or Chesher) was born on 19 September 1886 at 29 Gibson Street, Belfast, the first of at least seven children of butler (later labourer and coachman) Robert William Chesher and his wife Jane (nee Willis). By 1901 he was living with his mother and some of his siblings at 18 Blythe Street, Belfast and working as a 'tracer for trams'. It appears that his father had left the family and was living in Monaghan.

On 26 December 1904 Cheshire married linen winder Bridget Murphy. The couple had three children over the next six years, but two died very young.

In 1904 Cheshire was recorded as a soldier. However he must have been discharged soon after, as six months later he was recorded as a labourer. By 1911 he was living at 12.2 Elmfield Street in Belfast with his wife and child and working as a groom. A newspaper report in September 1911 has Cheshire in the civil court claiming damages after being dismissed from his employment without notice.

Cheshire enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast between 17 and 20 August 1914 (No.1018). He embarked for France on 20 August with C Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons and advance to the Aisne.

On 26 November 1914 Cheshire faced a field general court martial charged with: drunkenness while on active service; resisting an escort; and feigning disease. He was sentenced to imprisonment with hard labour for 90 days.

In March 1915 he was hospitalised with ascites – an abnormal buildup of fluid in the abdomen – and was evacuated to the UK for treatment. On 26 June that year he was discharged from the service under Paragraph 392 xvi of King's Regulations – being no longer physically fit for war service.

He died on 27 February 1938 at 59 Herbert Street, Belfast, as a result of neurasthenia and chronic epilepsy. At the time his occupation was recorded as 'soldier', so it is possible that he had not found other employment since his discharge.