William Conyers – hell for leather


Lance Sergeant 15/222, The West Yorkshire Regiment, 1st Leeds Pals

William Conyers was born in Bramley in September 1888, the first child of John Dunderdale Conyers, who had married Elizabeth Holt the previous year. They had five children in all, the others being Alfred Holt, born 1890, John Dunderdale, born 1891, Emily, born 1893 and Harold Walker, born 1895. (Free BMD website)

John the father was a one-time city magistrate, and well-known in the city as part of the leather and boot and shoe manufacturing combine that was the extended Conyers family. John was owner of the Waterloo Tannery in Bramley, while other family members owned shops in Leeds where they made and sold footwear. Joseph had a shop at 38 Boar Lane, and Thomas one at 22 Vine Street. (Hetherington p.18)

On the 1891 Census John and Elizabeth were living at Holly House, Town Street, Bramley, with their first two children.

By 1901 they had moved to 86 Westover Road, Bramley, and had added John, Emily and Harold to their tally, but William was not with them, having been sent to board at Ashville College, Pannal. As a family they were clearly quite affluent, but this may also indicate how much more difficult public transport was at that time. Commuting from Bramley to Pannal on a daily basis would be no real problem today. (Census Records)

In December 1910 John senior died, at the age of 59, (Free BMD website) so on the 1911 Census Elizabeth appeared as head of the family, along with four of her children. William is listed as a mechanic. (Census Records)  Alfred is missing, but where is not known.

In 1914, when war was declared, William was 25, and was one of the first to volunteer in Leeds. He must have joined the Pals before the end of that September. His service record is missing, but his medal card shows that he followed the standard pattern for the Pals’ Battalion, and landed in Egypt on 22nd December 1915. By March 1916 they were in France, ready for the Big Push. (Medal Card)

William was one of the Pals who went over the top on 1st July 1916, and one of the many who did not come back. Initially he was posted as missing presumed dead, but his body was later found and buried in Serre Road Cemetery No.1. (CWGC website)  He is also named on the family gravestone in Lawnswood Cemetery. (Hetherington p.19)

His three brothers also joined up, but were lucky enough to survive, Alfred in the ASC, and Harold in the RAMC. John may have joined the West Yorkshire Regiment but I have found no confirmation as yet. (Ancestry website, Find My Past website)

William was subsequently awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Medal Card)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

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  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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