Former Private Thomas Paget, Warwickshire Regiment, died on 20th December 1919 at City Isolation Hospital, West Heath, Birmingham aged 43. He was a former labourer and died of TB contracted whilst on active service.
Born in Solihull in 1877, he was baptised at St Alphege Church on 1st July 1877. It seems that his father, Henry, was a former soldier, who had enlisted with the 32nd Regiment of Foot (later the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) in 1858, aged 18, and served until discharge to pension in 1876, by which time he had achieved the rank of Sergeant.
Henry Paget served in Gibraltar, Mauritius and the Cape of Good Hope and, whilst stationed in South Africa, married Elizabeth Farmer in 1868/9. It appears that Thomas was Henry and Elizabeth’s only child.
Henry was discharged from the Army in February 1876, as a result of impaired vision, apparently caused by the climate and exposure to dust and heat at the Cape. His discharge entry (at the National Archives, freely downloadable as “digital microfilm” WO 116/111/1) notes his intended abode as Solihull. He died in February 1878, aged 39, when his son Thomas was only around one year old, and he is buried at St Alphege Church.
It seems his widow, Elizabeth, worked as a live-in servant as the 1881 census shows her, aged 29, living in the household of the Browne family on Birmingham Road, Solihull, and working as a housemaid. Her four-year-old son, Thomas, was living in London with his father’s sister, Sarah, and her husband, Joseph Brimmer.
In October 1881, Elizabeth married Thomas Smith at St Bartholomew’s Church, Birmingham and it seems that they then set up home in Mill Lane, Solihull. 14-year-old Thomas is shown on the 1891 census living with his mother, stepfather, and three half-siblings – Martha (aged 8), Joseph (aged 3) and Susannah (aged 1). His mother, Elizabeth, was widowed for the second time in 1899 when her husband, Thomas Smith, died aged 62.
Elizabeth then moved to Birmingham and appears on the 1901 census with her youngest children – Susannah (aged 11) and George (aged 9). Her eldest son, 24-year-old Thomas, was boarding with other members of the Smith family in Drury Lane, Solihull, and was working as a bricklayer’s labourer. By 1911, and still in Drury Lane, Thomas had become a railway labourer with the Great Western Railway (GWR).
Thomas volunteered to serve with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, enlisting in Birmingham on 8th November 1915. Whilst stationed in France, he went to hospital in Rouen on 28th January 1918 and was found to have a lump on the wall of his chest. He was sent back to England in March 1918 and was initially admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester.
He was discharged from the Army on 3rd December 1918 and was admitted to West Heath Isolation Hospital on 10th December. A Silver War Badge was issued on 19th December 1918, the day before his death, indicating that he had been discharged as no longer fit for war service.
We don’t know where Thomas Paget is buried, but his name is included on Solihull war memorial.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Service
tel.: 0121 704 6977
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