ROWATT, David – Gresford War Memorial

By Mavis Williams

Second Lieutenant ROWATT, DAVID Died 01/07/1916 Aged 26 “A” Bty. 10th Bde. Royal Field Artillery. Son of Mr. and Mrs. David Crawford Rowatt, of The Coppice, Abbey Rd., Rhos-on-Sea, husband of Sadie Williams (formerly Rowatt, nee Harvey-Gibson).

David Rowatt was born circa 1891 in Waterloo, Liverpool, the son of David Crawford Rowatt, a Tobacco Merchant born Scotland and his wife Eleanor, born in Liverpool, Lancashire.   This is also  the census that David first appeared, age 11 months,  living at Kenilworth, Waterloo, Lancashire with his parents who were both age 26 years.    There were 2 servants in the household.

By the 1901 census , the family had grown somewhat, but living at Waterloo Park, Waterloo, Lancashire.    Head of the household and still a Tobacco Merchant was David Crawford Rowatt, now 36 years old as was  his wife Eleanor.    Their family had grown with David, 10, Robert, 9, Marion, 7, James, 5, Edmund, 3, Eleanor, 2 and Crawford 9 months and there were now 4 servants.

The 1911 census shows the family at a different address, now 23, Esplanade, Waterloo.    David Crawford Rowatt, 46 and his wife Eleanor, 46 tell us that they had been married 21 years and 11 children had been born to them and all were still living.    David, 20 and Robert, 19, were both single and both Clerks to a Tobacco Merchant, possibly their father?   Marion, 17 and single, James, 15, Edmund, 13, Eleanor, 12 and Crawford, 10, were at School.   A new baby had joined them, a sister Jean age 1.   5 servants were in the household.

The family must have bought The Beeches, Gresford, which had been lived in on the 1901 census by the JAMES family, who’s son Alyn Reginald also died and is on the memorial and the gap of no children shown on the 1911 census between Crawford & Jean is explained by the fact that 3 children, Stewart* and Agnes, twins of 9 years and Allison, age 7 were being looked after at The Beeches, Gresford, by the Coachman/Gardener William Holland and his wife Katherine, Housekeeper  and the Nursery Governess, Ada, age 40 and who also wrote out and signed the census.

*Stewart was to die age 17 in the December Quarter of 1918 (W.Derby  Vol. 8b Page 495)

David married in the (Free BMD) September Quarter of 1913 to Saidee H. Gibson (sic), (Sadie Harvey-Gibson) (Liverpool Vol. 8b, Page 18).

David Rowatt in the British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 tells us that he was awarded the Victory & British War Medals and the 15 Star – This also tells us that his medals were applied for on the 11th August 1922.   It also gives David’s first Theatre of War as France and he entered it on the 30th November 1915.   He died the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

Reverse of the card:- Next of Kin- Address – Mrs WILLIAMS (Widow remarried), 27, Cashmere Avenue, Leamington Spa

David Rowatt in the UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919 tells us that he was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery and he was killed in action on the 1st July 1916

D Rowatt in the UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 tells us that the Executors  were  Mrs. Sadie ROWATT & Robert ROWATT Esq. (Jointly) £55 6s 5d – 2nd June 1917.

David Rowatt in the UK, Memorial Books WWI and WWII, 1914-1945 – Roll of War Service:- David ROWATT, Second Lieutenant Royal Field Artillery, s/o Mr. D.C. ROWATT of Liverpool, Killed in action in the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916, reburied at Peronne Road.

David Rowatt in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 :-

ROWATT, David of 18, Gambia Terrace, Liverpool died 1st July 1916 in France on Active Service.    Probate London 7th September to Saidee(sic) ROWATT widow and Robert ROWATT Officer in His Majesty’s Army.   Effects £6354 16s 11d.

I believe that Saidee (Sadie) remarried in the June Quarter of 1921 to Hugh M. Williams in Warwick (Warwick Vol. 6d, Page1285)

Sadly both brothers, David & Edmund died  in July 1916, only 29 days between them, David dying first on the 1st July and then Edmund on the 30th July, so it must have been so hard of the parents and siblings of these 2 men when the dreaded news came through so close together.  Another son Robert had been in the war and been badly wounded, but survived and lived a long life after.

However, by the end of 1918, David Crawford and Eleanor Rowatt had lost 3 sons.

ROBERT ROWATT, David & Edmund’s brother

(Courtesy of

Captain Robert Rowatt. He was born on the 14th February 1892 in Crosby, Lancashire. Although badly wounded he survived the war and it is thought that his name was added to the War Memorial after a case of mistaken identity when both his brothers died and he didn’t return to Bristol.

His grandfather, David Allison Rowatt (1825-1902) together with a Mr.Lyon set up the firm of Rowatt & Lyon in Glasgow, and around 1871 moved to Liverpool, setting up a Rowatt & Lyon office there in Castle Street. Rowatt & Lyon are believed to have had the only Tobacco Import Licence for Liverpool, and they were also active as forwarding agents, and in the Ships’ stores trade. It seems that David Allison Rowatt ran the office side of business, and his partner the sales side, operating from a London office. When Lyon died, so too did his family’s connections with the firm. D A Rowatt’s son, David Crawford Rowatt (1864-1951), joined the business at the age of 14, and by 1902 had taken over the management of the firm from his father.

Above the Rowatt Family. Image courtesy of British American Tobacco. (see Folder)

Robert Rowatt joined BAT at Ashton Gate, Bristol in 1913 as a factory pupil before being posted to Liverpool. When World War 1 broke out he joined the Kings Liverpool Regiment and was discharged in February 1919. Although badly wounded he survived the war.

Both his brothers David and Edmund were killed within a month of each other in World War 1. 2nd Lt. David Crawford Rowatt of Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales died on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, aged 26. He was with the “A” Bty. 10th Bde., Royal Field Artillery and was the husband of Sadie Williams (formerly Rowatt, nee Harvey-Gibson.). He is remembered at the Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt. Private Edmund Rowatt died on the 30th July 1916. He served with The King’s (Liverpool Regiment). He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial and St. Andrews Church, Liverpool.

In 1901 Robert was living at Kenilworth, Waterloo Park, Liverpool.

His brother 2nd Lt. David Rowatt who died in World War 1 on the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Image courtesy of British American Tobacco. He is buried at the Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt.

He married Mary Stuart Dow (born 13th July 1892 Blundellsands, Liverpool) on the 16th June 1917 at St. Andrew’s , Waterloo, Liverpool whilst in the Army. She was the daughter of Captain and Mrs Dow of Blundellsands, Liverpool. His son Robert Edmund Rowatt was born on the 12th August 1922.

He resigned from BAT to join his father at Rowatt & Lyon, where he took over as Company Secretary.

In 1924 BAT’s Ships’ Stores organisation took over the Rowatt & Lyon, which ceased as an operating concern. Robert Rowatt joined BAT later in the year and was posted to Bangalore, India, as Assistant Factory Manager. He spent the next 20 plus years here, in Hyderabad, Calcutta and Monghyr as well as Bangalore.

Above the founding members of the Bangalore Rotary Club of Bangalore which was chartered on 27th October 1934. Robert Rowatt appears to be seated 5th right. Image courtesy of the Bangalore Rotary Club.

Researched and compiled by Mavis Williams

Gresford War Memorial

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