VAD Betty Haggas

Voluntary Aid Detachment page

Red Cross, St John Ambulance Brigade and Royal Army Medical Corpsbadges

Betty Haggas

Betty Haggas. Photo credit: Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 27 September 1929

Early life
Betty was born Alice Maude Haggas on 13th November 1895 in Cross Roads, to Thomas Henry and Alice Maude Haggas nee Bailey. Thomas was a worsted manufacturer, his wife was a British Subject, born in Queenstown, South Africa. The family had a strong history in industry, with Betty’s third great uncle being James Haggas, founder of the Keighley wool merchants which is based in Keighley to this day. That branch of the family lived at Oakworth Hall for several generations, including James Ellison Haggas who was knighted for charitable work. Betty and her family lived at Myrtle Grove in Cross Roads in 1901 and seems to have been the family home for several years. She had an older sister, Sarah Ann, who died at the age of five or six in 1900, and a younger brother John Bailey Haggas.
As well as the Haggas family history of successful wool merchants, Betty had strong links with other prominent family members. Her maternal uncle was Sir Abraham Bailey, a diamond tycoon, politician and cricketer in South Africa, he was one of the richest men in the world in the 1930s. He had seven children, one of whom married Sir Winston Churchill’s daughter.
The 1911 census shows that Betty was resident at Heathfield School, Ascot, Berkshire, a girl’s boarding school. Her parents and younger brother were at Myrtle Grove.

Prior to World War One, the family travelled extensively around the world. I have found passenger manifestos to and from China via Quebec and Chile. In 1914 Thomas travelled to the USA on SS Olympic – one of Titanic’s sister ships, and would be used as a troopship during the war.

Great War service
The VAD records from the Red Cross show that Betty worked as a Nurse from 6th May 1915, at the Auxiliary Military Hospital on Spencer Street in Keighley. She worked there full time and was still serving at the time that the records were compiled a few years later.

Spencer Street Auxiliary War Hospital in Keighley around 1918.

Former Spencer Street Auxiliary War Hospital in Keighley. Photo taken by Andy Wade in 2014.

Miss Betty Haggas and Lieutenant-Commander Adrian Pigott
Betty married Adrian Marriner Pigott in 1929. Their banns were read in September in Cross Roads, but they actually married in Hong Kong on 6th November. Adrian had joined the Royal Navy in 1912 and served during World War One, earning the Star, Victory and British War Meals. At the time of their marriage he was Paymaster Lieutenant of HMS Tamar, stationed at the Royal Navy base of the same name, in Hong Kong. Although Essex born, Adrian’s parents were from Keighley and they lived near Betty at the time they were growing up, so she may have known him prior to the war.

Later life
Betty continued to travel, one record seeing her in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1934. She was travelling alone, possibly to meet her husband?
Betty and Adrian had one son, James Christopher Marriner Pigott, born in 1932 in Plymouth. He died in Dorset in 1983 at the age of 51. I have found possible marriage records and possible children but have not been able to confirm.
The Haggas family can be found on the electoral registers at Myrtle Grove for several years (with Betty there on the 1939 Register, and Adrian and Betty there in 1940), however on other records they have different addresses also, indicating they had more than one home. When Betty’s father Thomas died in 1941, his address was Walmsgate Hall, Louth, Lincolnshire ( he was the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1932). In 1925 their address was Ranby Hall, Lincoln, and in 1934 Betty had her address as Little Court, Crown Hall, Devon.
Adrian died 9th September 1964, his address at that time was Redstones, Amersham, Buckinghamshire. Betty died 14th March 1973, still at this address.

I wondered if Betty’s husband might be related to the horse rider Lester Piggott, though noted the slight difference in spelling. However, I later found that Lester Piggott’s daughter married a William Haggas of Skipton. Upon researching William’s ancestral line – it became clear that this is the same family. William’s fourth great grandfather was the same James Haggas that started the wool merchant business.

Information sources:

Red Cross VAD card database.
Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 27 September 1929, Page 11 (Photo)
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
1939 England Register
England & Wales, Civil Birth Index, 1837-1915
New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957
UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
San Francisco, California, U.S., Surrendered Alien Certificates, 1906-1946
UK and Ireland, Outgoing Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1945
UK, Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
West Yorkshire, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
England & Wales, Civil Marriage Index, 1837-1915 (Photos of Walmsgate Hall and Ranby Hall)

This research has been carried out by volunteer Carole Hodge.

0 Responses

  1. […] followed his father’s footsteps and became a Lieutenant in the navy and went on to marry VAD Betty Haggas in Hong Kong in 1929. Incidentally, Betty was also a VAD Red Cross nurse during the Great War and […]

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