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Added 3.5.11. New information added 21.11.2013, 9.12.2013. Minor edits 2.3.2014.

1740, Private Percival James WATTS - 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born at Battle, Sussex, the eldest son of James Watts, Esq., Surgeon, of No. 92 High Street, Battle, Sussex, and his wife Mary. He was christened at Battle Parish Church on the 14th of September 1825.

Matriculated at Worcester College on the 21st of March 1844 at the age of 18, later becoming a Gentleman Commoner at New Hall Inn in 1860.


Enlisted at Maidstone on the 11th of December 1854.

Trade: Farmer. [PB: sic?]

No other enlistment details are shown.


Joined the regiment in the Crimea on the 7th of July 1855.

At Scutari General Hospital from the 18th of August 1855 to the 7th of September, when he was invalided to England

Discharge & pension

Discharged, "by purchase", from Cahir on the 14th of March 1859, by a payment of £30.

Served 4 years 93 days. In the Crimea, 1 year 34 days

Conduct: "good".

In possession of one Good Conduct badge.

Medals & commemorations

Entitled to the Crimea medal with clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish medal.

Life after service

1861 Census

New Inn Hall, St Peter Le Bailey, Oxford.

Percival James Watts, 35, Lodger, Undergraduate at New Inn Hall, born Battle, Sussex.

Graduated as a B.A. in 1861.

Ordained Deacon in 1861.

Curate at Norton, Northamptonshire, 1861.

Marriage registered

Perceval James Watts [sic] and Frances Parker Walshe, April Quarter 1861, Battle, Sussex.

The name "Devenish" has been written between hers and the name above. It is unclear to which it is attached.

[PB, November 2013: She was about 17 years of age and he about 36.]

Birth registered

Mary Watts [daughter], September Quarter 1863, Morpeth.

Charles James Percy Watts [son], March Quarter 1865, Morpeth.

Percival W Watts [son], December Quarter 1866, Morpeth. [CP]

Curate at Morpeth, Northumberland, 1863.

Vicar of Nether Witts, Northamptonshire, 1863.

1871 Census

Mountfields, St George's Vicarage, St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

Percival J Watts, Head, married, 45, Vicar of Nether Witton [often written "Netherwitton"], Northumberland, born Sussex, Battle.

Frances P Watts, wife, married, 27, Douglas, Isle of Man.

Mary Watts, daughter, 7, Scholar, Morpeth, Northumberland.

Charles J P?, son, 6, Scholar, Nether Witton, Northumberland.

Percival W., son, 4, Scholar, Nether Witton, Northumberland.

Sarah Ballard, servant, unmarried, Cook, Leintwardine, Herefordshire.

Anne Paddock, unmarried, Housemaid, 16, Bicton, Shropshire. [PB]

Perpetual Curate of St. Luke's, Caterham, Surrey, 1871.

Perpetual Vicar of Kirtling, Cambridgeshire, 1874.

1881 Census

The Vicarage, Kirtling, Cambridgeshire.

Percival J Watts, Vicar of Kirtling, BA Oxford, aged 55, born at Battle, Sussex.

Frances P., 37, Vicar's wife, born in Douglas, IOM.

Mary [daughter], 17, Morpeth, Northumberland.

Two servants - a male Gardener Domestic Servant, 18, and a female Domestic Servant, 18 - are also shown.

Death & burial

Died at Kirtling on the 20th of June 1891.

Death registered

Percy [sic] James Watts, aged 65, September Quarter 1891, Newmarket. [CP]

Extracts from the "Newmarket Journal" for Saturday the 4th of July 1891:

Death - June 30th, at Kirtling, the Revd. P. J. Watts, aged 66 years.

Local News item. Kirtling - Death of the Vicar. On Thursday the 25th ult. [June] after officiating at a funeral, the Revd. P. J. Watts complained of feeling unwell and retired to rest earlier than usual, but nothing serious was anticipated until Friday last, when Dr. Wright was called in. A professional nurse was obtained from Cambridge, and although everything possible was done for the patient, this was to no avail, as the reverend gentleman gradually grew worse and expired about 7.30 p.m. on the 30th ult. at the age of 66.

He was buried on the 3rd of July 1891, the ceremony being performed by the Reverend John Wilder.

From information furnished by Mrs. Penny Close of the Cambridgeshire Family History Society in 1986, he had officiated at the previous funeral prior to his own, on the 25th of June. She further states that the first entry made by the Revd. Watts in the Burial Register was on the 5th of August 1876. She did not know if he was married or not, but there was no Mrs. Watts recorded as having been buried in the churchyard between 1876 and 1930.

A tombstone in Kirtling churchyard has the inscription:

"In memory of Percival James Watts, who after serving in the Crimea with the 13th Light Dragoons was (ordained) in Holy Orders, and for seventeen years was Vicar of this parish. Born in Battle in 1825. Died 1891."

(See photograph of this gravestone in the 13th Hussar file.)

The Marquess of Cambridge recalled an old lady from the village telling his wife that she remembered the Reverend Watt:

"The children loved him, and used to swing on his coat tails. He got drunk every Saturday night and was wheeled home by the churchwarden in a wheelbarrow. But he always preached a good sermon the next day."

Further information

Frances Walshe [wife]

1851 Census

Corner of Duke Street or 2 Market Place, Conchan, Isle of Man.

Frances Walshe, aged 7, born Douglas, Isle of Man.

She is living with her grandparents: Robert Duff, 46, a Grocer employing 2 man and 1 boy, born Castletown, Isle of Man, and his wife Harriet Duff.

A male Journeyman Assistant, 33, a married female Visitor, 40, and a General Servant are also shown. [PB]

1901 Census

The Robys[?], Huyton with Roby, Lancashire.

"The Head of family [is away] from home".

Frances P. Watts, Widow, Mother-in-law, 68, born Isle of Man.

Eileen [Evleen?] M? Gamble, Granddaughter, 8, Prescot, Lancashire.

George V[ivian] Gamble, Grandson, 7, Prescot, Lancashire.

Five Domestic staff are shown: A Cook, Parlour Maid, Kitchen Maid, Nurse and a Governess. [PB]

1911 Census

61 Warrior Square, St Leonards On Sea, Sussex.

A house belonging to a Mrs Chettle, but seemingly only occupied by Boarders and their servants and nurses.

Frances Parker Watts, Boarder, 67, Widow, Private Means, born Douglas, Isle of Man.

28 years married, 3 children born to the marriage, all 3 still living.

She appears to be accompanied by her personal Domestic Nurse, Edith Mary Pleasants, aged 25, born Edinburgh.

Other Boarders include a Retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army and a Retired Colonial Merchant.

Interestingly, she seems at this time to have moved back to the area where her husband, Percival, was born, and where they had married. [PB]


The Palace Hotel, White Rock, Hastings.

Her daughter, Mary Gamble, 46, widow, and her children Eileen Gamble, 18, and George Vivian Gamble, 17, were staying nearby.

References & acknowledgements

Additional details of a number of birth and death registrations kindly provided by Chris Poole.

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