Grandparents and parents
Percy’s paternal grandparents were Samuel Rudd Higginbotham and Jane Gee Stopford. Samuel was born in Cheadle, Cheshire, on 23 March 1843, son of James Higginbotham, a farmer. He was baptised on 2 July 1843 at St James’ church, Didsbury. Jane was born in Withington about 1846, the daughter of James and Mary Stopford. James Stopford was a draper and seems to have separated from Mary by 1871. We have been unable to trace the maternal grandparents.
Samuel Higginbotham and Jane Stopford married on 2 February 1868 at St John’s church, Manchester. In 1871 and 1881 they lived with Mary Stopford in Queen St, Wilmslow Rd. In 1871 Mary was described as the householder and in 1881 as a monthly nurse. Samuel was a coachman and Jane a seamstress. They had at least 4 children, Frederick Stopford (Percy’s father), Walter, born about 1869, William, born about 1871, and Percy (uncle to soldier Percy), born about 1875. Jane died in 1893. Frederick Stopford Higginbotham was born in Withington about 1865. By the age of 15 he was a groom. Percy’s mother was Ada Scott, born in Essex about 1864. In the 1881 census she was a servant for the Welsh family at Bowbutts House, Kinghorn, Fife. She and Frederick married about 1888. In 1891 they lived at 50 Moorfield St, Withington, with their first child, Annie, born in Fallowfield about 1889. In 1901 they lived at Tolland Lane, Hale. This address seemed to have multiple families living there, most of whom were in domestic service of some kind. By this time Frederick was a coachman and they had 5 children, Annie, Christopher Walter (later a butcher), born about 1890, Percy, Mabel, born about 1898, and Ellen, born about 1900.
In 1911 the family lived at 6 Orchard Grove, West Didsbury. Frederick was now a labourer/coachman for the Corporation. The census records that there had been a sixth child who had died. All the children were born in the Altrincham area. Frederick died on 3 March 1934 and is buried in Southern Cemetery.
Percy was born in Altrincham in 1896. In 1911 he was a grocer’s apprentice. He signed attestation papers on 13 November 1915, aged 19 years and 10 months. His service number was 31378. He was attached to the 25th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He was promoted to lance corporal on 7 February 1916. He left for France with the Expeditionary Force on 23 July 1916. As battalions were reconfigured, he became a member of the 19th Battalion on 29 July 1916. He served for 338 days before being killed in action on 16 October 1916.
His death was remembered in family notices in the Manchester Evening News on 16 October 1917 and 17 October 1918. From these notices it is clear that both his parents were alive, his brother Walter was serving and Annie’s husband was serving in Mesopotamia. In the 1917 notice Mabel seems to be married to Arthur who was serving in France. There is no mention of him in 1918, suggesting that he had died. Percy’s medals (British War Medal and Victory Medal) were finally sent to his father “without fastening” on 17 May 1921.
Percy’s name is on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 13A and 14C.