George and Nellie Webb

It would be wrong for George and Nellie Webb to be known only for the manner of their deaths and so I have begun to assemble their life stories which I hope to add to in the future.

George Webb was born in 1879, the son of William, then a 36 year-old farm labourer living at Noah’s Ark, and Ann then aged 35 who worked as a laundress. By 1891 the family was living at Knowle Hill (then spelt ‘Knoll’)

His future wife, Nelly Piggot, was born in 1882. Her father, Phillip (from Oldbury) had been the licensee of the ‘Clarendon Arms’ from the late 1870s, and it was probably there that Nellie was born. Her mother, Harriett, was from Southam.

By 1891, the family were lodging at a house in New Row (Castle Hill) and Phillip was a ‘late publican’. Although his wife and two teenage daughters (Kate and Harriett) were with him, 8 year old Nellie was living with her sister Lizzie Jane who was now Mrs George Freeman, he being a blacksmith living on the Birmingham Road. Nellie had other sisters, Fanny Beatrice (born in 1876), and Florence (1879), and a brother also Phillip (1880).

Phillip Piggott snr was not a well man, perhaps the reason he gave up the ‘Clarendon Arms’ in about 1890; he died aged 49 on 13th September 1894. In 1901 the family, Harriett, Phillip jnr and 18 year-old Nellie, and sister Kate (now Kate Clifford) and her 2 year-old son, another Phillip who was born in Kenilworth, was living in Rugby.

In 1911, Harriett Pigott was aged 66 and working as a Housekeeper and Shopkeeper at 2 Garrison Lane, Aston, Birmingham, for 21 year-old Charles Percy Leek, a Milling Machinist at a Motor Works. Nellie, now 29, was there as an Assistant Housekeeper and Shopkeeper.

Nellie Pigott (33) married George Webb (37) on 18th September 1915 at the church of Ashted St James the Lesser in Birmingham; the witnesses were George and Lizzie Jane Freeman. How they came to be together during the war is unknown.

In October 1918, with husband and wife now living at St Johns Street, 40 year-old George Webb appeared before the War Tribunal, having had his case adjourned in September for a medical re-examination; he had been rejected as unfit once, then passed first as 'G2' then as 'G1'. He was claiming exemption on the grounds that he was employed on steel cutting work in the manufacture of aeroplanes. The Tribunal agreed with the National Service Representative that there were no grounds for granting exemption; however, with the end of the war not far away, it is unlikely that George ever crossed the channel. (The Class ‘G1’ was a National Service Classification in operation from November 1917 to November 1918: “Those who attain the full normal standard of health and strength and are capable of enduring physical exertion suitable to their age”.)

At their inquest it was revealed that Nellie had an operation for cancer at the Coventry & North Warwickshire Hospital, “some years ago”.

George and Nellie had no children; their probate records show they left their effects, totalling £443 18s 2d to Fanny Beatrice Insall, Nellie’s eldest sister who was now a widow (Fanny had married Samuel Henry Insall snr in 1895, he died in 1929). She was the mother of Samuel Henry Insall jnr, killed in action in 1915 aged just 19, and Thomas Insall who appeared at the inquest. It is notable that at their wedding, inquest and probate, that no other member of the Webb family is mentioned.

With thanks to Sue Tall for many details in this account.

 

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This is the memorial to Kenilworth's WW2 civilian casualties that is on the wall of the chapel at the Cemetery. It is quite clear that George and Nellie Webb were added later, just put in the available space either side of Isabel Smith, as they are out of aphabetical order. The plaque was made in 1952 and placed in the Chapel in 1954; presumably George and Nellie had not been added to an 'official' list after their inquest but the oversight was spotted later.