In October 2016, Vic Charlesworth, Curator of the Warrington Masonic Museum, became aware of the existence of a Mason’s grave in the cemetery at St Thomas Church, Stockton Heath, Warrington. Vic visited the grave and discovered that the memorial and gravestones were in a very poor condition.
Vic asked Caroline Crook, Archivist at Warrington Masonic Museum, to research the history of William Brittain Roberts, the Mason buried in that grave, and she discovered that William was born in London, worked in Liverpool for a time, where his son was born, and then became head brewer for Greenall Whitley, living in Stockton Heath at Wilderspool House.
At the time of his death in 1909, William lived at Bleak House in Lymm, a village neighbouring Warrington. His only son, Victor George, a medical student, married May Houghton in 1914. Victor was killed in action, in the First World War, in 1918. They had no children and therefore no direct descendants. William’s wife, Hilda Marian Roberts, passed away in 1936.
William was initiated into Royal Victoria Lodge No 1013 in Liverpool, on 6 February 1884, resigning in 1890. He later joined Merchants’ Lodge No 241, Liverpool, (1886-92 and 1905-07), Lodge of Lights No 148, Warrington, (1887-1909) and Lathom Lodge No 2229, Southport, (1904-1909). In 1903 William was a founder member and the first senior warden of Lodge of Friendship No 2963.
Vic applied to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity Communities Grants Committee requesting funding to enable William’s memorial and gravestone to be renovated and a grant was made earlier this year. The restoration work has now been completed and is, once again, a fitting tribute to a loyal Mason.
William’s memorial is very close to the main entrance to St Thomas’s Church and therefore can be easily located by anyone wishing to visit.
The Warrington Group extends their thanks to Vic Charlesworth and Caroline Crook for their work in researching this case.
Story by Caroline Crook and Chris Gleave, pictures by John Starkey.