He was known for most of his life as George. He was born William George Hawes on October 16, 1899, in Stoke Newington, Hackney, Middlesex, England to Percy Walter Hawes and Alice Mary (Palmer) Hawes. All was proceeding ‘normally’ (for very early 20th century London) until late 1902, when disaster struck. The next four years were very hard until, finally, young William was admitted into a Home on July 19th, 1906. This is the account of the case worker who admitted him.
This boy was admitted to the Home as the outcome of a personal application made by the mother.
The mother is a cripple, having lost her left foot from diseased ankle bone when ten years of age and now wears an artificial foot and limps badly. She married the father, a widower with three children, at Pentonville in November of 1896. For six years they lived at Stoke Newington, the father being employed as a confectioner’s assistant. On December 30th, 1902, he died from enteric fever (Typhoid) at the Fever Hospital, Homerton.
The mother had three children by him, one of whom died. After the father’s death she managed to support herself and the five children by going out sewing, charing, etc, and by taking in washing. For some time she worked for Mr. Henser, ladies’ belt manufacturer, 58 King Edward Road, Hackney, but trade becoming so slack she has of late been able to earn only 5/- or 6/- per week washing, etc. Last May she applied for parish relief, and was granted 7/- worth of groceries and bread per week ending the 7th June last.
Some ladies then bought her a sewing machine so that she could work at home, and the three step-children were taken by the Guardians and are still in the Parish schools in Dorset. The mother now rents at 3/6 per week one room, which was almost bare of furniture.
She is a respectable hard-working woman of good character. An application had been made for the boy’s admission to the Home Of Industry, London Fields, but owing to an attack of mumps having broken out there the authorities could not receive him, and referred the case to these Homes.
Both William and the brother Harold were very poorly clothed. Had not the neighbours given them food sometimes, they would have been well nigh starved. Wiliam is said to be healthy.
An incredible story, but all too common in those times. His later life will be covered in a separate story.