VAD Ethel Hey

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Ethel Hey

Ethel was born 27th March 1891 in Oxenhope, Keighley to John Hey and Sarah Elizabeth Hey, nee Clapham. They had married in 1885 and had two older daughters Sarah Hannah and Mabel, and later had three more daughters Eleanor, Marion Ruth and Bertha.

In 1891 the family lived at Sykes House, Oxenhope and Ethel was just nine days old and hadn’t been named at the time of the census. John worked with wool (unable to decipher occupation on census document).

The Hey family on the 1891 Census

I have been unable to locate the family on the 1901 census. In 1911 they still lived at Sykes House and John was a wool sorter. 20 year old Ethel was working as a burler at the time. I believe Sykes House is still there.

Ethel worked as a nurse from April 1916 – V.A.D records show that she worked at King George Hospital, London (the largest military hospital in the UK), 2nd Northern General Hospital in Leeds and 1st South General Hospital in Birmingham. She is documented as earning one scarlet stripe which were awarded to Red Cross nurses under contract to the War Office to denote that they had been certificated as 'efficient' by their Matron and Commanding Officer.

The next few years saw Ethel emigrating to the USA. There are several passenger records indicating that she travelled to and from Liverpool to New York and Boston, intending to stay in Rhode Island where she had a cousin. Her occupation changed between dressmaker and governess.

On August 16th 1925 Ethel married Wilfred Ward, president of a dyeing and finishing business. He was an Englishman from Halifax who had been married previously and had two adult children. They continued to travel to and from the USA together for several years.

A passenger manifesto from 1925, from Liverpool to New York

Despite being some years younger than Wilfred, Ethel passed away before him, at the age of 64. She was buried at River Bend Cemetery, Westerley in Rhode Island. Wilfred passed away the following year at the age of 83.

The headstone of Wilfred and Ethel (nee Hey) Ward, (image from findagravecom)

England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1891 England Census
1911 England Census
Red Cross V.A.D. Records
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
Rhode Island, U.S., State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1802-1945

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