Alfred’s paternal grandfather was William Merchant, born about November 1826 in Hereford, son of a wheelwright also called William. On 27 August 1849 he married Jane How, born in Luton about 1829. Her father, another William, was a baker. The marriage was at the parish church, Bengeo, Hertfordshire. At the time William was a baker and Jane a bonnet maker. In 1861 William and Jane lived at 4 Dunstable Rd, Luton, with 6 children and William was a straw hat manufacturer. By 1871 they were at 92 Queen’s Rd, Manchester with 8 children. William was described as a hat and bonnet cleaner, employing 2 women. William died aged 82 and was buried at St Luke’s church, Cheetham, on 16 May 1908. He had been living in Moss Side.
Alfred’s maternal grandparents were Thomas and Emma Ferris from Ashburton in Devon. Thomas was a tailor and draper.
Alfred’s father, another William, was born on 18 May 1851 in Luton. He was the first of his parents 8 children. He married Sarah Harriet Ferris (1853–1937), a dressmaker, in Lymm on 16 August 1876. In 1881 they lived at 122 Smedley Lane, Cheetham. William was a hat manufacturer and they had 2 children. In 1891 they lived at 18 Chatham Grove, Withington, with 4 children, including Alfred who was 8. William was now described as a warehouseman. They were at the same address in 1901 with 6 children. William was now a millinery agent. The eldest son, William, was a shipowner’s clerk. There had been 2 other children who had died within a couple of years of being born. In 1911 the family lived at 38 Reynard St, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, and William was an agent in fancy goods. William and Sarah subsequently lived at 81 Claude Rd, Chorlton. William died in 1933.
Alfred was the fourth child of his parents. He was born on 13 November 1882, in Cheetham. He attended William Hulme’s School from 1895 to 1897. He was a county lacrosse player and held the office of Assistant General Secretary of the Old Hulmeians Association for several years. By the age of 18 he was an accountant’s clerk. In 1911, aged 28, he was still living with his parents and was an accounts clerk, chartered section. In 1915 he joined the OTC and obtained a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was promoted to temporary lieutenant in April 1917.
Elizabeth Beatrice Taylor was born about 1890 in Pendleton, daughter of Job Taylor, a designer for a calico printer (later a coal agent), a British subject but born in Belgium, and his wife, Eliza or Elizabeth, born in Ormskirk.
Elizabeth was probably known as Beatrice. She and Alfred married on 11 July 1917 at the Macfadyen Memorial Church in Chorlton. His address at the time was 81 Claude Rd, and hers was 8 Lime Grove, Chorlton-cum-Hardy.
Alfred joined the Manchester Regiment, Lancashire Fusiliers, service number 36921. He fought with the 6th Battalion, attached to the 11th Battalion. He rose to the rank of lieutenant. On 18 April 1918 the Manchester Evening News stated that he had been reported missing on 23 March but had subsequently written home to say that “he was all right and with his battalion.” The MEN reported on 17 April that he had previously been reported missing on 21 March and “is now reported wounded. After much fighting he succeeded in rejoining his battalion on 26 March.” On 24 April the MEN reported that he was wounded and missing. In fact, he had died on 10 April 1918, reflecting delays in getting information home at that time.
Alfred is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial, Hainaut, Belgium, Panel 4. Elizabeth died on 9 April 1927 at Manchester Royal Infirmary. The cause of death was acute appendicitis and peritonitis.
Macfadyen Memorial Church
Chorlton-cum-Hardy Congregational Church started life in a masonic hall in 1879. It was initially under the control of the Chorlton Rd and Stretford churches but the former took over full responsibility in 1881 under Rev J A Macfadyen. A combined school and chapel was opened in September 1883, with 47 members enrolling in December. Dr Macfadyen died in 1889 and in 1890 a fund was set up to build a new church in his memory. The opening service of the Macfadyen Memorial Church was held on 25 October 1894. With the union of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches it became known as Macfadyen United Reform Church. In October 1975 it joined the McLaren Baptist Church to become Chorlton Central Church.