11. Final Scenes

Other Deaths

In 1918, grandad noted other deaths in addition to Joe’s.

John Smith

On 19 November 1918, he noted that “Mr John Smith died”. John Smith is a common name. So, I have not been able to pin down if this is any of the John Smiths mentioned in grandad’s diary. It seems that only one adult John Smith died in Basford that quarter. He was a 70-year old coal miner who lived in Prospect Street. As far as I know, he was not related to grandad’s brother-in-law John William Smith.

Mr W Smith

Also, on 30 December 1918, grandad noted that Mr W Smith committed suicide by cutting his throat. The next day, Cyril Smith came to live with John. John had a younger brother called Cyril and his father was called William. So, I put together a story in my head that it was John’s father who had committed suicide. As a result, Cyril had gone to live with John and Olive.

Cyril Smith

However, this story is, at best, only partially true. It may have been John’s brother, Cyril, who went to live with John and Olive. He was 23 at this point. At the end of 1919, he married Jane Stanbury in Tynemouth. By 1921, Jane and Cyril lived together at 42 Welbeck Street.

Not William Smith

However, John and Cyril’s father, William, did not die at this point. In the 1920s, he lived with John and Olive!! In addition, Basford registrations did not record any death of a William Smith in quarter one of 1919.

Walter Smith

However, two Walter Smiths died during this period. One was 55 and the other was 69. Based on an article in the Mansfield Reporter of 3 January 1919, it seems the former committed suicide. Apparently, he was troubled and depressed about the war. In particular, he was concerned about the involvement of his only son, Bertie, in the war.

Bertie survived the war. Based on the 1939 Register, he was married to Dot, living in Bourne Avenue and working as a fish salesman. Indeed, this suicide happened just after the war had ended. But perhaps Bertie had not yet been released from the army. I have not established any connection between Walter Smith’s death one day and Cyril Smith moving in with John and Olive the next.

News article concerning the inquest into the suicide of Walter Smith in 1919. This is from the Mansfield Reporter of 3 January 1919 and has been obtained from Find My Past

1918 General Election

Grandad always had an interest in politics. But, he did not speak particularly openly about his affiliations. What he was clear about was the democratic responsibility to vote. My parents felt the same way.

On 14 December 1918, he noted that there was a parliamentary election. He noted the results for each candidate as Sir Charles Seeley, Lib 4,500; Geo H Spencer, Lab 11,000; and Capt H H Whaites , Coalition 4,000.

Broxtowe Constituency Won by George Spencer for Labour

The constituency that grandad voted in was Broxtowe. In this constituency, Labour’s candidate, George Spencer, won handsomely with 11,159 votes. The Liberal candidate, Sir Charles Seely came second with 4,681 votes. The National Democratic (coalition) candidate, Herbert Whaite, came third with 4,374 votes.

George Spencer won three further election victories. He continued to represent the constituency until 1929.

Although Sir Charles Seely had previously been a Member of Parliament, he did not stand again for Parliament after this defeat.

David Lloyd George and the Coupon Election

From other sources, it is clear that the governing coalition led by Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, sent letters of endorsement to candidates who supported the coalition government. These were called “coalition coupons” and this became the “coupon election”.

Election Results

Coalition candidates won a total of 523 seats. Labour won 57 seats and non-coalition Liberals only 36. It was the first general election held on a single day. Also, it was the first general election in which women were able to stand as candidates and in which all men over 21 and all women over 30 could vote.

Dramatic Results in Ireland

There were dramatic results in Ireland with Sinn Fein winning 73 seats. The Irish Parliamentary Party won only seven. The result of this was that a breakaway government formed. This declared Irish independence. This led to the Irish War of Independence. This was the last UK general election to cover the entire island of Ireland.

Silk card of David Lloyd George
1946 picture postcard of Llanystumdwy the boyhood home of David Lloyd George
1918 Punch cartoon which shows the choices facing voters in the general election of that year
1918 article in The Sphere about the general election