Seaman John Elston

This is one of a series of posts about local men named on the Keighley Union Workhouse roll of honour.
John and his brother James Helston were both under the care of the Keighley Guardians under the name Elston although various records show their surname as Helston. This may have been down to poor literacy on the part of their parents.

Boy Seaman John Helston, Royal Navy. Service number J38500.

John was born on April 12, 1899 in Keighley to parents John and Catharine Helston (sic) née Sweeney. His father was an ironfounders labourer.
In 1901 he was four years old and living at 11, Rhodes Street, Keighley with his parents and sisters Elizabeth, Jane and Catharine, and a brother, James. His father John was employed as an ironfounders labourer. John was a scholar at that time.
By 1911 he was aged 12 and a patient in the Keighley Union Workhouse. Normally he would have been recorded as an inmate but he must have had an illness. His younger brother Samuel aged one year was also a patient (Samuel died aged three in 1913). No occupation is entered for John but he likely would be a scholar and under age for part time work.
His father John (senior) was in court several times for violent behaviour towards his wife and deserting the family, which is why the children were in the workhouse.

War service:
John left the care of the Guardians on February 15, 1915 and enlisted with the Royal Navy as a Boy, second class two days later on February 17, 1915. He trained at HMS Ganges with the service number J38500.
He reached the rating of Boy, first class on June 17, 1915 and was posted to HMS Victory I (shore base) for further training and served at this rating until August 18, 1915 when he was invalided out of the Navy. Character: Very Good. Ability: Satisfactory.

Illness and death:
John was admited to Dean Head Sanatorium at Horsforth in Leeds for treatment for tuberculosis, but after a long illness he died on 25th March 1916. He was buried in Horsforth Cemetery in 'Green' plot, row C, grave 974.

Source information:
England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
Keighley Union Workhouse roll of honour held at Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939
Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Special thanks to James Rhodes of Leeds who kindly supplied some of this information.

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