No. 337, 16th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Friday 20 August 1920 (aged 23)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 13. 36)
John Thompson (No. 337) served with the 16th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, the Pioneer Battalion of the 36th (Ulster) Division.
In the CWGC Debt of Honour website it is recorded that Rifleman John Thompson (No. 337) died on 20 August 1920 and was buried in Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery.
In the Movilla Cemetery burial records John Thompson is described as a labourer from Belfast who died of apoplexy (bleeding within internal organs).
On John Thompson’s death certificate, it is recorded that he was 23 when he died at 21 Ewart’s Row, Belfast as the result of otitis media (an ear infection) and a cerebral abscess. His step-uncle, William Hart, was present when he died.
In the 1918 edition of the Belfast Street Directory, the occupant of 21 Ewart’s Row is listed as Mrs Rebecca (sometimes Rebekah, sometimes Rebecka) Hart.
In civil records there is some ambiguity about Mrs Rebecca Hart’s familial relationships.
In the 1911 census return, Rebecca Hart (aged 36) is recorded as living at 54 Oregon Street, Belfast with her husband James Hart (aged 72). She had been married to him for 13 years and they had four children – Mary Jane (aged 12), Vera (aged 10), Hugh (aged 8) and Rebekah (aged 3). Also living with them were Elizabeth Thompson (aged 15) and John Thompson (aged 13). They were described as James Hart’s stepdaughter and stepson, respectively.
James Hart (aged 74) from 28 Argyle Street, Belfast died of senile debility in hospital at 51 Lisburn Road, Belfast on 22 May 1915. His widow, Rebecca Hart, was with him when he died.
In the 1901 census return, Rebecca Hart (aged 27) is recorded as living in Fortingale Street, Belfast with her father-in-law James Hart (aged 50). Also living with them were Lizzie Hart (aged 16), John Hart (aged 4) and Mary Jane Hart (aged 10 months). They were described as James Hart’s grand-daughter, grand-son, and grand-daughter, respectively. Also living there was the widowed Mary Jane Maxwell (aged 90).
John Thompson was born on 21 May 1897 in Newtownards Workhouse and he was a son of unmarried Rebecca Thompson from Newtownards. Rebecca already had a daughter, Eliza Thompson, who was born on 26 December 1874 in John Street, Newtownards.
Rebecka Thompson herself was born on 8 February 1874 in South Street, Newtownards and she was a daughter of William and Eliza Thompson (nee Maxwell) who were married on 27 December 1866 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). William Thompson, an umbrella maker from Newtownards, was a son of John Thompson, a sailor. Eliza Maxwell from Newtownards was a daughter of David Maxwell, a labourer.
Civil birth registrations have been found for the first two of James and Rebecca Hart’s children listed in the 1911 census return – Mary Jane Hart, born on 10 June 1900 at 22 Conlig Street, Belfast, and Vieria Gorman Hart, born on 22 April 1902 in Lower Sydenham, Belfast.
To date, civil registrations for the marriage of James Hart and Rebecca Thompson (around 1897/1898) and the births of the second two of James and Rebecca Hart’s children listed in the 1911 census return children have not been found – Hugh, born around 1903/1904 and Rebekah, born around 1907/1908.