Squadron Sergeant Major Emmanuel Parratt. Yorkshire Hussars (Alexandra, Princes of Wales' Own). Service number 2479.
Later, Corps of Hussars. Service Number: 42776.
Emmanuel was born in Otley in 1876 and his birth was registered in Wharfedale in the second quarter of that year. His parents were Samuel and Ruth Parratt and his father's occupation was iron turner. They were living with Ruth's parents Thomas and Caroline Myers, on the Gay Lane estate in Otley. By the time of the 1881 census Emmanuel was five and had an older sister Caroline aged seven and two younger siblings, Ethel aged three and their baby brother Walter aged just one.
By 1891 the family had moved to 31, Holker Street in Keighley and father Samuel was now a foreman mechanic for a loom shop. Emmanuel was now 15 and working as a telephone clerk and also still living at home were Ethel and Walter, plus sister Eliza aged six and brother Samuel aged one. Ruth's 70 year old widowed mother was also living with them at this address.
Army service in India:
Emmanuel had been serving part time with the 3rd Volunteer Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment which was based just a few streets away at the Lawkhome Lane Barracks. He was working as a clerk when he enlisted for the 5th Dragoon Guards at Otley on 6th September 1893, with the regimental number 4167. This enlistment was for seven years with the colours and five years in the reserve and he would have been 17 years old at the time, but he stated that he was 20. He also stated he had served with the Royal Marines and had been discharged from them by purchase.
His medical at Leeds gives a few details about him. He was five feet eight inches tall and weighed 133 lbs with a 38 inch chest and good physical development. He had grey eyes, dark brown hair and a fresh complexion. Religion: Wesleyan. He was declared fit for service in the Corps of Dragoon Guards of the Line.
His service record shows he suffered with influenza in December 1893 and two bouts of rheumatism in April and July 1894. Promotion wise, he was appointed Lance Corporal on 23rd October 1894. He had a bout of jaundice for two weeks at the end of August 1895. and on his recovery he reverted to Private on 11th September when he went abroad to India, arriving there on 3rd October and on the 12th October he arrived at Meerut to the North of Delhi, site of the Indian Mutiny just over forty years earlier.
Emmanuel was apointed to Lance Corporal again on 10th April 1896 and after another eighteen months he discharged himself by purchase in India for the sum of £18 on 8th December 1897. He had served for four years and 94 days with just over two years in India. He would have been about 21 years of age by the time he left the Army.
Emmanuel married Ada Butterfield on the 15th August 1898, at Temple Street Wesleyan Methodist Church in Keighley, when they were both aged 22 and Emmanuel was a Police Constable. He was living at 31, Holker Street and Ada was at 11, Bradford Street at the time.
They must have moved to live at Leeds Road, Hanging Heaton which was the North East side of Dewsbury because their son David Walter Parratt was born here on 3rd December 1898. He was baptised on 2nd September 1900 by Charles James Barton, the assistant curate at St Paul's Church in the village. At the time Emmanuel was employed as a police clerk, although six months later in the 1901 census he was described as a police constable for the West Riding Constabulary.
They had moved home again, to 16 Barker Street in Todmorden by the time their first daughter Edith was born on 16th July 1904. She was baptised at the York Street Methodist Chapel on 9th November.
Two years later they were living at 3, Back Allerton Terrace in Chapel Allerton in Leeds, where on 23rd December 1906 their second daughter Kathleen Mary was born. She was baptised early in 1907 at St Matthew's Church in Chapel Allerton and Emmanuel gave his profession as insurance agent so he may have left the Police force by then.
By 1911 the family had moved back to Keighley and were living at 17, Ashleigh Street. Emmanuel was 35 and working as caretaker of the Municipal Hall for Keighley Borough Council. He and Ada had three children, Walter aged twelve, Edith aged six and Kathleen aged four, who were all at school. Emmanuel appears on the electoral rolls for 1912, 1913 and 1914 at this address, so they may have been living there in the early part of 1914 before war broke out.
Prior to this Ada had been admitted to Menston Lunatic Asylum on 10th February 1912 and sadly died just a few months later on 30th May. We have not managed to discover where she is buried.
War breaks out:
Emmanuel was probably not in the Army Reserve when war broke out, but he went straight back in the Army, probably enlisting on 9th August. He may have assumed a former rank because he is recorded in 'Keighley's Gallant Sons' as Sergeant Major Parrott (sic) of Holker Street, serving with the 18th Hussars.
His enlistment is also recorded in the November 1914 issue of the Keighley Wesleyan Circuit Magazine, where he is listed as a member of Devonshire Park Wesleyan Church.
He disembarked in France on 17th April 1915 with the Yorkshire Hussars. His Army records did not survive the Arnside Street War Office repository fire in 1940 during the Second World War blitz, but snippets of information are mentioned in the newspapers.
Emmanuel was allowed home on leave in late 1915 to get married to divorcee Margaret Jean Renton née McLaughlin. It seems they met at work as Margaret was also employed as a caretaker at Keighley Municipal Hall. Perhaps after Ada's death and with Margaret's marriage struggling, they found solace in each other's company. They already had a child together, Emmanuel Parratt (junior) born in summer 1914. His birth record shows his mother's maiden name of McLaughlin, which confirms Margaret as the mother. It's possible they had been waiting quite some time for Margaret's previous marriage to be annulled before they could get married, which took place on 3rd December 1915 at Devonshire Park Wesleyan Chapel in Keighley. In the marriage record, Emmanuel is described as 39 and a Warrant Officer in the Yorkshire Hussars and a caretaker at a Technical School. Margaret is described as 36 and also a caretaker at a Technical School. This would be the Keighley Trade and Grammar School which was part of the Municipal Hall building. Both Emmanuel and Margaret were resident at 20, Lund Street at the time, so they were already living together, presumably with Emmanuel's three children and their infant son Emmanuel. Witnesses were Emmanuel's brother Walter and his wife Annie.
Keighley News Saturday 14th July 1917. Page 6:
TRAGIC DEATH OF A KEIGHLEY SOLDIER
The death took place on Wednesday at Buzzleigh's, Andover, it is understood, as a result of a revolver accident, of Sergeant Major Emmanuel Parratt of the Yorkshire Hussars, whose home is at 20, Lund Street, Keighley. On Tuesday Mrs Parratt received information that her husband was dangerously ill and proceeded to Andover.
On Wednesday she sent a telegram informing a neighbour that her husband had been killed by accident whilst later another telegram was received from the officer commanding the 5th Cavalry Reserve that Sergeant Major Parratt died as a result of a revolver accident on Wednesday morning.
Sergeant Major Parratt saw service in the South African War [he actually served in India] and afterwards rose to the rank of Sergeant in the West Riding Constabulary.
For some time before the war he was caretaker at the Keighley Institute. After rejoining the Army at the outbreak of war he quickly reached the rank of Squadron Sergeant Major.
To clear up any confusion over names... The Keighley Mechanics Institute was a large building on the corner of Cavendish Street and North Street in Keighley, opposite the Library and Town Hall Square with the impressive Keighley War Memorial. It comprised the Institute itself with a library, the Municipal Hall, and the Keighley Boys Trade and Grammar School. It suffered a catastrophic fire in 1958 and was partly demolished a few years later. A modern building was built alongside and the whole was used as Keighley College for many years. The college moved across town and this whole site was up for sale since 2006 but it was eventually demolished by Bradford Council in 2017. It is currently an open grassed area in the centre of the town:
The Andover Advertiser. 13th July 1917:
FATALITY AT ANDOVER
On Wednesday (11th July) evening Mr P.E.J. Talbot held an inquest at the Board Room of the Workhouse on the body of Emmanuel Parrett, whom the Coroner said had died from the effects of a revolver shot; it was either suicide or an accidental, there was no trace of anyone else having shot him.
Ernest Henry Milson, medical practitioner, said he was called by telephone the previous morning to see the deceased at the restaurant of Mr Burley. He found him in bed with a towel wrapped round his head; he was suffering from a gunshot wound and unconscious. There were two wounds in the head, on the right side, just above the ear a clean punctured wound, on the left side two inches above the ear, a lacerated wound, rather extensive. He ordered removal to the Cottage Hospital, where he was attended until he died, about 12.30 midnight. The case was hopeless from the first. He saw a revolver in the room with one cartridge discharged, the other chambers were loaded. It was possible for the wound to be self-inflicted, but the revolver was not held close to the skin, as there was no singeing of the hair, and very little blackening of the skin, which showed the revolver was not close.
By a juryman: The wound on the right side tapered to the top, the hole on the entrance side was two inches lower on the head than the hole of the exit.
Geoffrey Varlo Whitehead, of Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage, designer of toys, said he was staying at the restaurant on Tuesday. He spoke to the deceased, he had spoken to him on the morning, when he seemed to him quite rational. Witness was sitting in his bedroom writing letters about 9.45 in the morning, when he heard the deceased talking to a young lady. He heard the words “Are you ready, Betty, we have not much time.” Five minutes after that he heard a shot, which seemed to come from the next room. He left his room at once and went to the next room, which was just open. He saw deceased lying in the room, he was across the bed.
The young lady rushed past him into the room. He could see blood flowing on the left side of the head. A revolver was on the floor near a bag, which was close to the feet of the deceased, who was insensible. He could not say which of the two bags produced was the one he saw. The deceased was lying partly on his back, not quite, the head was on the pillow.
By the foreman (Mr W. Watson): The deceased was fully dressed. The young lady was in the next bedroom to the deceased when he was talking to her. He did not think there would have been any time for anyone to leave the room of the deceased between the shot and the time witness was in the passage outside his room. The young lady came from her room.
Ronald Charles Knight, 2nd Lieut. 5th Reserve Cavalry, Tidworth, said the deceased was sergeant-major in the regiment; He had known him for five to six weeks. He was cheerful, quite an educated man, and he was wounded in France, but he never noticed any signs of nervousness. The revolver produced belonged to witness, he had been out with deceased practicing revolver shooting, and on Friday week (29th June?) deceased asked for loan of his revolver for the following Saturday afternoon, which witness did. There was no ammunition lent, and he did not know how deceased obtained it; he could not go and draw it.
By Supt. Cox: The revolver and the cartridges were both Government issued. He bought the revolver from the Government. He had it from his own lips that the deceased had been wounded, and wore a stripe.
William Pearson Littlewood, Captain 10th Royal Hussars, attached 5th Reserve Cavalry, Tidworth, said he had seen the deceased about the barracks. He was reported as absent without leave from the N.C.O. School of Instruction from July 3. On July 9 a wire was sent by the Adjutant to the police at Keighley ordering arrest of deceased. Keighley was his official address. Deceased enlisted on Aug. 9, 1914, at the age of 38. He was in France from April 18, 1915 to July 19, 1916, invalided home with displaced cartilage in the knee. There was no record of him ever having been wounded in the service.
By the Coroner: He had noticed two marks on his hand. It was extraordinary for him to absent himself as he did, as with less than three years’ service he had risen to be a warrant office, class 2, so he must have been a well behaved soldier. They receive no reply to the wire to Keighley.
Fanny Smitheren, New Houses, Taffswell, said she had known the deceased since last October; she met him at York, and understood him he was a single man. They had arranged to be married within the last week, and she came to Andover on July 2 to talk matters over with him at his request. She stayed at the restaurant all the time she was in Andover, and the deceased was there the whole time. The deceased was absolutely in possession of all his faculties, as he told her he was on long leave pending discharge. He had written to her that by the time she reached Andover he would probably be done with the army, and wanted to talk things over. She heard deceased ask her to look sharp, as they had not much time. She was in her bedroom with the door shut, and it was about five minutes to ten. They were going to catch the 10.19 from Andover to London. She heard a muffled sound several minutes after, it did not strike her as a gun report, but she went to find out what was the matter. She saw Mr Whitehead on the landing, and they both went into the room together, the door was wide open and Mr Parratt was on the bed. She did not look about the room, but ran back to her room, soaked a towel and put it around his head.
The kitbag was between his legs, and she had to move it to put his legs on the bed. She then noticed the revolver. There was nothing in his manner or in anything he had said to lead her to believe deceased would committee suicide. He told her he had been wounded in the knee, but had never complained of his nerves. He had never appeared to her to be nervous.
By the Coroner: He called out to her in his ordinary voice, she was packing at the time. She had seen him with a revolver at York, but she had never seen him with one at Andover. She knew now that the deceased was a married man.
By the foreman: They had not fixed a definite date for marriage, but it was to be sometime within the next six weeks.
The Coroner said the wife was present, but could throw no light on the tragedy, they had four children and he had been a good husband and father. The jury found that death was due to gunshot wounds in the head from a revolver, which was in the possession of the deceased, but there was not sufficient evidence to enable the jury to say whether the discharge was accidentally caused or not.
Andover Advertiser 20 July 1917. MILITARY FUNERAL:
Sergt-Major E. Parrett, Yorkshire Hussars, who met his death last week from a revolver shot, was buried with semi-military honours in Andover on Friday [13 July 1917] afternoon. The procession, composed of a party from Tidworth, including Lieut. Ryder (Oxford Hussars), Lieut. Wright (Gloucester hussars) and the Regimental Sergt.-Major Hourigan (18th QMO Hussars), and the civil police, left the Town Hall at 2.45, and formed a Guard of Honour at the churchyard entrance. NCOs drew the coffin, which was shrouded in a Union Jack, and the service all through was conducted by the Rev CL Tabraham (Wesleyan minister). The widow was present, also deceased's brother in khaki. When the committal sentences had been read, the firing party fired three volleys, and Tptr-Major Hall (18th QMO Hussars) sounded the “Last post”. The coffin was inscribed:-
EMANUEL PARRETT. Died July 11, 1917, Aged 41 years.
There were several beautiful wreaths and they were by: Brother Warrant Officers, Staff-Sergts. and Sergts., 5th Reserve Cavalry Regt., with sincere and deepest sympathy; with deepest sympathy, from Capt. and Mrs Littlewood; with deepest sympathy, from Mr, Mrs and Miss Burley; Bettie; with deep regret and sympathy, from a Friend; with Mr and Mrs JW Rennie’s deepest sympathy; in loving memory, from Mabel Boyd; with deepest sympathy, George, Johnnie and Dolly Burley.
Messrs Bell and Co carried out the funeral arrangements, and there was a large concourse of people in the cemetery.
Emmanuel was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service. These would have been sent to Margaret after the war, along with a memorial plaque and the King's certificate. She received his back pay of £5 8s 7d on 27th March 1918 and a war gratuity of £20 10s 0d on 27th October 1919.
The war pension was refused as he was absent without leave when he died. The Soldier's Effects record states his death was a suicide, although intent was not proven at the coroner's inquest.
His name does not appear on any war memorial in the Keighley District and he really ought to be listed in Keighley's Great War roll of honour book for his war service as he died whilst in service.
UK Birth, Marriage and Death records.
1881 Census, 1891 Census, 1901 Census and 1911 Census records of England and Wales.
Baptismal and Marriage records - West Yorkshire, Non-Conformist Records, 1646-1985
Keighley News archives at Keighley Library.
Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records, 1760-1920
Andover Advertiser transcriptions courtesy of Craig Fisher.
Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Personal thanks to Bill Smith and Craig Fisher for their help with this research.