Private Frank Hibbert
18330, 3rd Bn., Leicestershire Regiment
who died on 14th August 1915, aged 38
Remembered with Honour
Barrow Hill Memorial
Staveley Parish Memorial
Abel Hibbert originated from Edensor where his father was employed as a gamekeeper on the estates belonging to the Duke of Devonshire. His future wife, Kezia Hewitt, was born at Sycamore Cottage, off Private Drive, on Hollingwood Common where her father John was a cottage farmer with 11 acres for many years. After their marriage in 1858, Abel and Kezia made their home with their in-laws, eventually taking over the smallholding themselves. It was here that their children Zillah, Annie, Harry and Reginald were born.
FRANK HIBBERT was born in 1877, the fifth child and third son of Abel and Kezia. He was baptised at Staveley on 19th August 1880, along with his younger brother, Hanes, and sister, Jennie. Another sister, Kezia, was born in 1881.
By 1891, Zillah, Annie and Harry had left home. Zillah was working as an assistant warder in a Staffordshire women’s prison and Harry had joined the army. 18 year old Harry had enlisted with the Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment) and served overseas for 6 years in India and 2 years in Africa.
Frank’s records list him as a Wesleyan and the family would probably have attended what was then known as the Ebeneezer Methodist Chapel in Barrow Hill. Franks’ father, Abel, worked as a carpenter in addition to working on his land with the support of his sons. The 1891 Census describes 16 year old Reginald as a nursery gardener and 14 year old Frank as a Garden Boy.
The small holding would not have been enough to support a large family and Frank left home to work as a domestic gardener in Huddersfield. There, he met and married woollen weaver, Annie Gibson, in 1898, and the couple made their home at 65, Longwood Road, Huddersfield.
Older brother Harry had completed his army service in 1902 and returned to the area, finding work at the blast furnace belonging to the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. Brother Reginald and his wife, Phoebe Walker, emigrated to Canada and, around 1907, Frank and Annie returned to the parish with their young son Norman. Frank found work as a gas regulator on the coke ovens in the “By Products” department at Staveley Works. With the job came a brand new house, 17 Devonshire Cottages, Barrow Hill and it was here that his second son, Reginald, was born.
Frank was a popular member of the Barrow Hill Rifle Club and was in the Barrow Hill section of the Home Guards before enlisting at Staveley in May 1915. He was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment as a Private with the service number 18330. The battalion was a reserve and training unit which remained in the U.K. throughout the war and which was based in Kingston upon Hull for duty with the Humber Garrison.
On Thursday 12th August, 1915, Frank was sent from Hull to Nottingham with a corporal to act as an escort to a deserter. He broke his journey at Chesterfield to pay a surprise visit to his sister Kezia at Brimington Common, and then set off to see his mother at Sycamore Cottage. It was dark as lights were “put out” and cars were not allowed to have headlights. At about 9pm, as Frank walked in the middle of the road, down the hill from Brimington towards Ringwood Hall, he was knocked down by one of two cyclists who were returning from the Chesterfield Hippodrome. He was taken to his sister Jennie’s house at the bottom of the hill, and from there was sent to hospital by Dr Blight, the Barrow Hill doctor. Frank was deeply concussed and never regained consciousness, dying at 4pm on Saturday 14th August.
Frank’s funeral took place on Wednesday 18th August, at Staveley Cemetery, with full military honours. As an early casualty, and being well known in the area, “the ceremonial furnished one of the most impressive scenes that had been witnessed in Staveley for many years. Hundreds of people lined the thoroughfares that the procession passed through, both at Barrow Hill and Staveley.”
The procession included family, friends and workmates, 6 soldiers acting as bearers, the Home Guard headed by their band, and a firing party and buglers from the Notts and Derbys regiment. They “slow marched” through the crowded streets from Frank’s home in Barrow Hill, via Hall Lane to the cemetery at Staveley.
Three volleys were fired over the grave and the buglers sounded the General Salute, the Tattoo and the Last Post. “At that moment, three among the mourners were pathetic figures; the widow and the deceased’s two little boys, who appeared bewildered at the proceedings.” The band of the Home Guards then played “Fallen Heroes,” “Let me like a soldier fall,” and “The Vacant Chair,” before marching back to their headquarters.
© Ann Lucas