No. 7025, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died in hospital on Thursday 16 December 1915 (aged 29)
Ste Marie Cemetery, France (Div 19. N. 2)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark)
Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for
Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards
Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour
In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) was born in the townland of Ballymacarrett, Belfast, lived in Newtownards and enlisted in Holywood. In the Army Register of Property and Effects his widow Elizabeth was named as his sole legatee.
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) was in fact born around 1886 in Whitehaven, Cumberland and he was a son of John and Mary Jane Boyd (nee Rooney, sometimes Roney) whose marriage was registered in the fourth quarter of 1881 in Whitehaven, Cumberland.
Mary Anne Rooney was a daughter of Robinson and Agnes Rooney. In the Griffith’s Valuation completed for County Down in 1864, Robinson Roney was named as the occupier of a house and garden owned by Joseph Dugan in the townland of Castleaverry, Newtownards.
Robinson Rooney worked as a freestone quarryman and he and Agnes had at least five children: Mary Jane, Agnes, Ellen, Hugh and Elizabeth. In the 1881 census the Rooney family was listed as living in the Harbour Ward, Whitehaven.
Robinson Rooney died of stomach cancer in Thompson’s Court, Charles Street, Whitehaven on 19 June 1882 (aged 52). His daughter, Mary Jane Boyd, was with him when he died.
John and Mary Jane Boyd had at least four children:
Annie (born around 1882 in England)
Agnes (born around 1884 in England)
John (twin, born around 1886 in England)
William (twin, born around 1886 in England)
By 1901 Mary Jane Boyd was widowed and she was living in Balfour Street, Newtownards with her widowed mother, Agnes Rooney; her four children who were born in England – Annie, Agnes, John and William – together with her daughter Thomasina who was born on 7 February 1896 in William Street, Newtownards.
Agnes Boyd and William Francis were married on 24 December 1907 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. Agnes Boyd from Newtownards was a daughter of John Boyd, a labourer. William Francis from Newtownards was a son of Elisha Francis, a labourer.
In 1911 the following family members were living at 52 James Street Newtownards:
Agnes Rooney; Mary Jane Boyd; Annie Boyd, John Boyd and Thomasina Boyd together with Agnes Francis (nee Boyd), William Francis and their two children, Mary Jane and William.
Annie Boyd and David Mullan were married on 4 June 1913 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. Annie Boyd from Newtownards was a daughter of John Boyd, a labourer. David Mullan from Newtownards was a son of John Boyd, a labourer.
Agnes Rooney died of cancer on 19 February 1921 (aged 75) in Talbot Street, Newtownards. Her daughter, Mary Jane Boyd, was with her when she died.
Thomasina Boyd and Alexander Skimin were married on 28 September 1921 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). Thomasina Boyd from 1 Talbot Street, Newtownards was a daughter of John Boyd, a labourer. Alexander Skimin from Frederick Place, Newtownards was a son of George Skimin, a seaman.
William Boyd and Elizabeth (Lillie) Weir were married on 5 July 1909 in Newtownards Registry Office and they lived in George’s Street, Newtownards with Elizabeth’s widowed father, Thomas Weir.
William and Elizabeth Boyd (nee Weir) had two children:
Mary (born 11 April 1911 in George’s Street, Newtownards; died of infantile debility on 21 April 1911 in George’s Street, Newtownards)
William (born 28 March 1915 in William Street, Newtownards after his father had enlisted and while his father was stationed in Holywood)
The death of Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) was reported in the 15 January 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle. It was reported that William Boyd had joined the Royal North Downs on the outbreak of war and had gone to the Front in April 1915.
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) stated that he was 24 and a labourer when he joined the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles on 25 August 1914.
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) served with 25th Brigade in the 8th Division, lost his hearing in the trenches and underwent an operation in No. 2 General Hospital at Le Havre.
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) died at 4.30 am on 16 December 1915 after having been unconscious for many hours.
A year after the death of Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) on 16 December 1915, his widow Elizabeth and little son placed an Our Heroes – In Memoriam notice in the 16 December 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle. Their address was 81 William Street, Newtownards.
There was another notice from his mother, grandmother, sisters and brother John (on active service). Their address was 1 Talbot Street, Newtownards.
The notice placed by his widow and son contained the verse:
Oh, call it not death, it is life begun,
The battle’s fought, the victory won;
The ransomed soul has reached the shore
Where he will weep, and suffer, and sin no more.
God knows the way, he holds the key,
He Guides us with unerring hand;
And soon with tearless eyes we’ll see,
Yes there, up there, we’ll understand.
The notice placed by his mother, grandmother, sisters and brother contained the verse:
His king and country called him,
The call came not in vain;
On Britain’s Roll of Honour now
You will find our loved one’s name.
Too far away thy grave to see,
But not too far to think of thee.
When Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) died, his twin brother, John Boyd, was serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. There is on record a Short Service (Three years with the Colours) Attestation for John Boyd who enlisted on 17 September 1914 at Clandeboye Camp. A labourer aged 28, he was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland and he served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Riffles. It was noted in his attestation papers that he was 5 feet 2½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and brown hair. He cited his mother Mary Jane Boyd of 1 Talbot Street, Newtownards as his next-of-kin. Rifleman John Boyd (No. 17306) was discharged from the Army on 20 March 1915 after 185 days.
There is also on record a Short Service (For the Duration of the War) Attestation for ex-Rifleman John Boyd (No. 17306) who re-enlisted on 23 September 1915 in Newtownards. A labourer aged 29, he cited his mother Mary Jane Boyd of 1 Talbot Street, Newtownards as his next-of-kin. This time it was noted that he was 5 feet 2 inches tall and he was appointed to the 12th Reserve Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (No. 12/26389). He went to France on 21 July 1916 and returned to the Home Front on 14 August 1917. On 26 August 1918 he was posted to the 30th Battalion London Regiment (No. 802394 and No. 643979). Private John Boyd (No. 643979) was discharged as no longer physically fit for war service on 11 October 1918 after 3 years 19 days service. He was given War Badge and Certificate Number B.32056. After the war John Boyd lived at 5 Upper Cargill Street Belfast.
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) was buried in Ste Marie Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial; in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s); in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards and in the Journey of Remembering Belfast Book of Honour.
Available records confirm that other soldiers named William Boyd were born in Ballymacarrett and this may have contributed to the error in citing the townland of Ballymacarrett as the birthplace of Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) who was in fact born in Whitehaven, Cumberland. This conclusion is supported by the fact that there are errors in the surviving records of Private William James Boyd who was discharged from the Army on 16 March 1919. Personal details relating to Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7025) were entered by mistake in his records and then subsequently scored out and corrected.
For interest, details from some surviving records about soldiers named William Boyd are included below:
There is on record a Militia Attestation for William Boyd who enlisted on 25 January 1901 at Ballymacarrett. A labourer aged 17 years 3 months of 38 Church Street East, Belfast, he was born in Ballymacarrett, Belfast. It was noted that he was 5 feet 2½ inches tall with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He had a scar on the back of his head. Private William Boyd (No. 4236) served with the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. He served for 63 days, left the Army and then re-joined on 26 September 1902. On 17 October 1903 he was transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery.
There is on record an Army Reserve (Special Reservists) 6 Years’ Service Attestation for William Boyd who enlisted on 24 September 1908 in Belfast. A labourer aged 17 years 8 months, he was born in Ballymacarrett, Belfast. It was noted that he was 5 feet 3½ inches tall with hazel eyes and black hair and he was a son of Robert and Rachel Boyd of 32 Carew Street, Belfast. Private William Boyd (No. 8276) served at Ballykinlar, Holywood and France before being discharged on 23 September 1915.
There is on record an Army Reserve (Special Reservists) 6 Years’ Service Attestation for William Boyd who enlisted on 26 August 1914 in Newtownards. It was noted that he was 5 feet 2½ inches tall with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He served with the Royal Irish Rifles Special Reserve, the 4th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, the Labour Corps (for a few months in 1918) and the 13th East Lancashire Regiment (from which he was discharged on 16 March 1919). He had numbers 7151, 32771 and 516550. It was noted that he was born in Workington, Northumberland and his age was 27 years 232 days. Later in his records his full name is recorded as William James Boyd. One of his previous addresses is recorded as 81 William Street, Newtownards but there is correspondence on file which confirms that this isn’t correct.
Private William James Boyd’s sister, Nellie Cinnamond, wrote to the Army seeking information about her brother’s whereabouts after having been informed that he had been wounded. Nellie Boyd and William James Cinnamond were married on 31 August 1912 in Castlereagh Road Methodist Church Belfast and they lived at 3 Bryansford Street, Belfast (off the Woodstock Road).
In April 1915 Mrs Elizabeth Boyd wrote to the Army from 81 William Street, Newtownards stating that ‘Pte Wm Boyd at this address is stationed in Holywood’ and his regimental number (7025) was superimposed on the letter.
Private William James Boyd served on the Home Front, in France and again on the Home Front. He was discharged from the Army on 16 March 1919 after 4 years 203 days service.
On one of the pages of Private William James Boyd’s record it is recorded that he was married to Elizabeth Weir. This has subsequently been scored out and replaced with Agnes Anne Allely which is correct. A replacement page with only the correct details has subsequently been added to his records.
William James Boyd and Agnes Anne Allely (nee Tolerton) were married on 15 February 1917 in St Clement’s Church of Ireland Church Belfast. William James Boyd, a labourer from 44 Edith Street, Belfast was a son of Samuel Boyd, a labourer. Agnes Anne Allely (nee Tolerton), a widow from 104 Saunders Street, Belfast was a daughter of Alexander Tolerton, a labourer. Agnes Anne Allely (nee Tolerton) already had four children:
Mary Isabella (born 25 July 1906 at 20 Victor Street, Belfast)
Sarah Jane (born 30 July 1908 at 25 Malcolm Street, Belfast)
John Hunter (born 6 November 1910 at 14 Clermont Lane, Belfast)
Agnes Anne (born 8 January 1914 at 104 Saunders Street, Belfast)
Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7151) was wounded in 1915 and again in 1917.
There is on record that Rifleman William Boyd (No. 7275) was examined on 25 September 1914 at Holywood Military Hospital and on 24 October 1914 he was assessed to be ‘not likely to become an efficient Special Reservist’.