William Whitford Grave Restored

The grave of one of the men who contributed to Everton Football Club’s move from Anfield to Goodison Park in 1892 has recently been restored. After being hidden behind bushes for many years the memorial to the club’s director William Whitford is now fully visible again and has beWilliam Whitforden restored by Sarsfield Memorials on behalf of his family.

Whitford was born in 1845 in County Armagh and educated at Queens College, Belfast and London Hospital. He then came to Liverpool, setting up a medical practice at 37 Shaw Street.

In February 1884 Whitford was a key witness in one of Liverpool’s most notorious murder cases. As medical officer for the parish, he had attended to Thomas Higgins the previous October and issued a death certificate after he died of what was believed to be dysentery. After Thomas’s brother raised suspicions due to his brother being a strong healthy man who had recently had his life insured by his wife, Whitford alerted the coroner. Thomas’s funeral was halted and a postmortem found he had died of arsenic poisoning.

This led to the arrest of his wife Margaret and apprehension ten days later of her sister Catherine Flanagan. The bodies of three others, who had died in recent years soon after life insurance policies were taken out against them, including Catherine’s 22 year old son, were exhumed and traces of arsenic found in each one. Whitford was present at these examinations so he could give a corroborating opinion to what was found by Frederick Lowndes. After a trial at St George’s Hall the two sisters were found guilty of murder and hanged at Kirkdale gaol.

Later that decade Whitford qualified became a consulting surgeon at the Stanley Hospital and Liverpool Skin Cancer Hospital. He married and moved to 47 Shaw Street, where the 1891 census shows him as living with his wife, three young children and four servants. By now he was also involved with the Liberal Party and was chWilliam Whitfordairman of its Everton parliamentary division. He was also a justice of the peace, serving on the licencing bench. As a medical man he had seen the effects of excess alcohol consumption in Liverpool’s courts and was very much one of the Temperance Movement.

Whitford also became involved with the city’s only Football League club, Everton, who won their first championship in 1891. In the second half of the 1891-92 football season the club were in a dispute with John Houlding, the owner of their Anfield ground, over the rent.  Matters cam to a head and on 18th April 1892 the Liverpool Echo reported that guarantees of £1,500 had now been received from a number of gentlemen towards the cost of a new ground for the club. Whitford was one of those who had pledged money towards the cost, his contribution being £50 which equates to £5,850 in 2017.

Rent was not the only issue however, as extensive research by Merseyside football historian Peter Lupson demonstrated in 2009. Many of those who made pledges were, like Whitford, members of the Liberal Party and Temperance Movement.  For over a century it was accepted that rent was the sole reason for Everton’s move away from Anfield, but Lupson showed that Houlding’s occupation as a brewer and owner of the Sandon Hotel near the ground was the root cause of the problem. When Goodison Park opened in September 1892 there was significantly no provision made for the sale of alcohol.William Whitford

Whitford remained a director of Everton for over twenty years and retired to  Sandymount Drive in Wallasey. He died on 15th June 1930 at his home, aged 85. The following day at the police court in Dale Street a vote of condolence to his relatives was proposed  by the Chief Magistrate Mr R J Ward.

After several decades of being hidden by bushes William Whitford’s grave in Anfield Cemetery has now been restored on behalf of family members by Sarsfield Memorials. The memorial makes no reference to his Everton connection, simply referring to him as an MD and JP. Also buried there is his youngest son Herbert, who as part of the Manchester Regiment served in Ypres, Gallipoli and Passchendaele during the First World War and died in 1979.


Blue Coat Liverpool Graves

The Blue Coat Liverpool city centre’s oldest building celebrates its 300th birthday in 2017. The building that is now an arts centre was first opened as the Blue Coat School, a place where the town’s poorest children could be accommodated and learn to read and write.

Blue Coat Liverpool

Sadly there were occasions when some of the children became ill and died. After its opening in 1836 they were buried in plots that had been bought by the school in St James cemetery, which is now overlooked by Liverpool Cathedral. Most of the gravestones in the cemetery have now been removed by Liverpool council, but the two Blue Coat ones are among those that have been placed around the edges.

The Blue Coat gravestones contain the names of 23 children who died between 1867 and 1924, ages ranging from nine to fifteen. Even after the school moved to Church Road in Wavertree in 1906, they continued to bury any children who died in St James cemetery

Blue Coat Liverpool

In 1927 things changed when the school bought a plot in the graveyard Holy Trinity Church, just a short distance along Church Road. The reasoning behind the plot was a tragic one, as it was for the burial of a boy who was said to have foretold his own death.

That summer, eleven year old Charles Saggers was on a tram with his mother and sister returning home for the summer. As they passed Holy Trinity, there was a large crowd of mourners and he asked his sister if there would be a large crowd for his funeral. He was told not to be silly but one of his friends, Danny Ross, who was on the tram remained silent. That was because a few weeks earlier they had been looking at lifelines in the yard and Charles’s was very short.

Blue Coat Liverpool A week later Danny returned to his home in Everton after going to church and was met by Charles’s brother, who had some devastating news. Charles had been run over by a bus near Holywell in North Wales, where he had been staying with some relatives.

When Charles funeral took place at Holy Trinity Church, over one hundred boys were in attendance and older pupils carried his coffin. His grave is adorned by one of the largest headstones in the churchyard, but thankfully no more names were added to it prior to the school changing its role in 1948 from an orphanage to a day and boarding school.