The Barber of Rhos – Alfred Dawson Sproston

Using public records Dave Edwards has pieced together this very brief biography of Alfred Sproston, a popular hairdresser of Hall Street, Rhos. The story includes details that go back to the birth of Alfred’s father George in 1847.

ALFRED DAWSON SPROSTON

Although this story is about Alfred Dawson Sproston, I feel it will be of interest for us to know more about his background, so let’s start with his mother. Ann Dawson was born in 1852 at Hatherton, Staffordshire and her birth was registered in the District of Penkridge. During the 4th Quarter of 1875, Ann Dawson’s marriage to Joseph Hibbert, of Brighton, was registered in the District of Penkridge. A son, Ernest George Hibbert, was born to Ann in 1877 and a second son, Charles Henry Hibbert was born at the end of 1878.

By 1881, 28-year-old Ann, 35-year-old Joseph Hibbert and their two children were living at 13 Sibell Street, Boughton, Chester; a few streets north of the Shropshire Union Canal. Joseph was a clerk and manager for a timber Merchant. Shortly after the 1881 census, Ann gave birth to a daughter, Lilian Mary Hibbert. Early in 1884, Ann Hibbert had a son called William John Hibbert. In early 1887, Ann had a daughter called Daisy Alice Hibbert.In 1888, Joseph Hibbert died aged 42 and his death was registered during the 2nd Quarter of the year in the District of Chester.The 1891 census showed Ann Hibbert, a 38-year-old widow, to be living at 4 Nelson Street, Boughton, Chester, with her five children. Nelson Street was slightly north of the Shropshire Union Canal.

We shall now spend a little time familiarising ourselves with George Sproston’s family background.George Sproston was later to become the father of Alfred Sproston. George was born at Birkenhead in 1847 and his birth was registered in the District of Wirral, Cheshire. In the spring of 1870, George married Mary Emma Ball at Chester. George and Mary had the following children – Thomas Edward Sproston (born 1871); Frances Mary Sproston (born 1873); Emma Sproston (born 1875); Charles William Sproston (born 1877 and baptised 2ndJune 1878 at St. Peter’s Church, Chester); George Herbert Sproston (born 1880); Arthur Sproston (born 1881) and Robert Sproston (born 1884).

The 1881 census showed George and Mary Emma Sproston living at 21 Gloucester Street, Chester with their children. 34-year-old George was a locomotive driver. By 1891 they had moved along the street to 44 Gloucester Street and George was still a train driver.

At the beginning of 1893 Mary Emma Sproston died, aged 47.

We now return to Ann Hibbert, who had been widowed in 1888 and was still living in Chester. Ann somehow met George Sproston, who had been widowed in 1893. On 17thNovember 1896, 44-year-old Ann Hibbert gave birth to a son and registered him as Alfred Dawson Hibbert, although his father was George Sproston.

For reasons unknown, Ann Hibbert didn’t marry George Sproston until early in 1898, when Alfred would have been less than one and a half years old. Alfred was henceforth known as Alfred Dawson Sproston, so we can only assume that his father legally adopted him to give him his rightful surname.

In 1901 Ann and George Sproston were living at 12 Crewe Street, Boughton, Chester. This was near to the Shropshire Union Canal and very close to Ann’s former home at Nelson Street. 54-year-old George Sproston was a train driver from Birkenhead. His 48-year-old wife, Anne, was from Hatherton in Staffordshire. George’s son, 20-year-old Arthur, was from a previous marriage and had been born in Chester. Arthur was a railway engine cleaner. Anne’s two daughters, from a previous marriage were 19-year-old Lilian M Hibbert and 14-year-old Daisy A. Hibbert. Anne also had a son, 17-year-old William J. Hibbert, an engine fitter’s apprentice. George’s son 16-year-old Robert Sproston, was a machinist in a foundry. Those children were from the first marriages, but of course George and Anne had one son of their own marriage, 4-year-old Alfred Dawson Sproston, who is, of course, the subject of this story.

Alfred’s mother, Ann Sproston died in 1906, aged 54 and by 1911, his father, George was boarding at the home of Edward Johnson, 28 Water Tower View, Chester. As I once stayed in a hotel on the opposite side of the canal, I am familiar with this area, which is quite picturesque. With George was his 14-year-old son, Alfred Dawson Sproston. George was a train driver for the North Western Railway and Alfred was an apprentice hairdresser working for Evans & Co., Chester.Alfred’s father, George Sproston, died in the autumn of 1911.Alfred enlisted in the Royal Berkshire Regiment on 15th April 1915 and his regimental number was 37044. In 1917, Alfred was mentioned on the WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards as being with the Cheshire Regiment, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire) Regiment. He was awarded a Victory Medal. He was a Private with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was residing at Brighton. On 26th March 1917 Alfred was awarded a War Badge (Number 155,150). On 4th April 1917 Alfred was discharged from the army because of a disability. Cause of discharge was “Para 392 XVI K.R. Wounds.”

During the last Quarter of 1927, the marriage was registered of Alfred Sproston and Bertha Williams (born 26th November 1906) in the Wrexham District. In 1927, Alfred was known to have a Barber’s shop beneath the Liberal League in Hall Street, Rhos.Towards the end of 1928, Bertha Sproston gave birth to a son, Gerald Sproston and in Spring 1931 she had another son, Jeffrey Sproston.The 1939 Register showed Alfred Sproston as a hairdresser living at Bristol House, Hall Street, Rhosllanerchrugog, with his wife, Bertha and their 8-year-old son Jeffrey. There was one other person in the household by the name is blocked possibly because of their age. This may have been their son Gerald, who was 10 years old. Alfred had moved his shop premises and was now working next-door to his house.

Alfred and Bertha had a son called David Sproston early in 1944.Alfred Sproston died on 15th February 1975, aged 78. At the time of his death he had been living at Drill House, Chirk. He left £2,605.

Researched by Dave Edwards April 2020. with permission from David Sproston.