Captain/Quartermaster/Major Charles Henry Wilson

Captain/Quartermaster/Major Charles Henry Wilson

Born. 13/1/1859, "Thorn Grange", Bransby - Cum - Stearsby, Easingwold. Died. 30th December 1930.


Sir Charles Henry Wilson was one of seven children born to John and Elizabeth Wilson of Stearsby, Yorkshire. After his education at Easingwold near York, he joined the staff of the North Eastern Railway Company as a clerk. Shortly after he married his fiancĂ© Victoria, and their son Charles Percy Wilson was born in 1880. Charles Wilson’s second wife was Elizabeth Anne Parvin Hill, (Nee Garnett) daughter of John Garnett who was dead before the second marriage took place.


Marriage of Charles Wilson (Yorkshire Post 25 06 1920)

The wedding of peculiar interest to Leeds people and in a lesser degree to residents in the North Riding took place yesterday at Kirkdale Church, near Helmsley. It was that of Alderman. C. H. Wilson, a well-known and popular figure in the public life of Leeds and Mrs. Elizabeth Parvin Hill, daughter of the late Mr. John Parvin Garnett, of Nawton. Many fellow members of the bridegroom in the Leeds City Council and other friends in the city were present at the ceremony. With their wives they motored over to Kirkdale to show in what respect they hold him, and how sincere is their feelings towards the bride and himself. Quite a procession of motor cars left Brandsby Lodge, Chapeltown Road, (Alderman Wilson’s residence), for Kirkdale. Among those who made the journey, were the Lord Mayor, and Lady Mayoress, Mr. and Mrs TB Duncan, wearing their chains of office, on arrival there the party were received by Alderman Wilson who attired in the uniform of a major in the Leeds Motor Volunteers, made his guests heartily welcome on the grounds of the pretty bungalow the residence of the bride’s son in law, Mr. G. Lloyd Prescott. The little church of St. Gregory, charmingly situated amid woodland scenery was so crowded that it was unable to hold all the well-wishers gathered.

Guests: Mrs. C. P. Wilson,  (she was the widow of Charles Percival Wilson, Charles Wilson’s son who died soon after WW1),Captain and Mrs. Aspey, and others, many from Leeds. (There was big list, most were alderman of Leeds)

After the ceremony, the reception was held at The Bungalow, Nawton.

The honeymoon is being spent in North Duffield, near Selby, where Alderman Wilson owns an estate.

Son in law Mr. Lloyd Prescott gave her away. Miss Hill and Miss Wilson were bridesmaids. Rev. F W Powell performed service, vicar of Kirkdale. Rev. Darcy Rudd gave address and lead singing.


Soon after the birth of his son he started his own accountancy business in Leeds, at the same time serving (1876 to 1887) with the 2nd Yorkshire (Leeds) Royal Engineers Volunteer Corps. In 1902 he became an Alderman of the City, also representing the North of Leeds on behalf of the Liberal Party.

On the 29/9/1914, as Chairman of the Leeds City Council committee, Alderman Wilson, moved the following resolution:

"That the Council learns with great satisfaction that the offer of Colonel Stead to raise a Battalion of Leeds business men, 1000 strong, to form part of Lord Kitchener’s second Army, which offer having being strongly supported by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Mr E A Brotherton, has now received the official sanction of the Army Council, and desires to thank the Lord Mayor for his patriotic offer to provide the necessary personal equipment and to assure Colonel Stead that the Council will heartily support the efforts he is making"

Charles Henry Wilson (5th from right - back row), with fellow members of the Leeds Pals raising committee and members of the Pals advance party at Colsterdale 23rd September 1914. The sashes were worn by campsite supervisors/officials.
Arthur Meeson can be seen 5th from the left (middle row) wearing a sash.

On the 25/9/1914 Alderman Charles H Wilson joined the battalion which he had been instrumental in raising and was appointed Temporary "Honorary" Captain & Quartermaster of the Battalion.

He had only been serving with the "pals" for seven months, when in July 1915 at Ripon Camp, a fall from his horse, caused injuries that forced him to relinquish his position with the Battalion. He was eventually succeeded, on the 12th October 1915, by Captain Robert J Anderson.
Charles Wilson’s military career did not end there for in late 1915, after recuperating, he raised and after promotion to Major, commanded until 1920, the Leeds Squadrons of the West Riding (R A S C) Motor Volunteers. These were Automobile owners ineligible or unfit for military service who offered their vehicles and services for military use as part of the war effort.

In 1917 he had been made a Freeman of the City of London, and a Liveryman, also serving throughout 1919 as L’Agent Consulaire de France in Leeds.

Soon after the War ended the "Leeds Pals Association" was formed; the first president was Charles Wilson "Cheeky Charley" has he was known to his "Pals".

After the death of his wife Victoria in 1919, he married Elizabeth Parvin a widow of Nawton, North Yorkshire on the 24/6/1920.

In 1923 he was knighted, in the same year becoming a Member of Parliament (representing central Leeds) and Freeman of the City.

Even after a lifetime working for the benefit of Leeds and its residents, when he could have rested on his laurels, still his great concern was his beloved Leeds. Troubled as to the legality of the Leeds Coat of Arms, (it had never been registered with college of Heralds) he took it upon himself to submit the matter to the college and approval after minor colour alterations was soon given.

Sir Charles Wilson a "self-made man" (non smoker and teetotaller), stands out amongst the patrons of Leeds. He was a patriot of unbelievable proportions, a bon vivont and a true gentleman. His great deeds could easily fill a book and though not born in the city, in every respect he was "Mister Leeds".

He died at 6.15am on Tuesday the 30th of December 1930, Aged 71 and was buried in the churchyard of St. Helen’s, Skipwith.  The Times carried this entry.


The Times, Saturday, Jan 03, 1931:


The funeral service for Sir Charles Wilson was held yesterday at the Parish Church, Leeds, the vicar officiated. Among those present were:-

Representatives of “The Leeds Pals” (of which Sir Charles Wilson was the first quartermaster), members of Leeds University Court, the Lord Mayor, Alderman and councillors, representatives of the Society of Incorporated Accountants, Leeds Chamber of Commerce and the National Lifeboat Institution.

The burial took place at the same time at Skipwith and was private. The family mourners were:- Lady Wilson, Miss Alice Wilson (daughter), Miss Hylda Wilson and Miss Dorothy Wilson (grand daughters), Mr. Jack Wilson and Mr. Victor Wilson (Grandsons), Miss Hill and Mrs. Illingworth (step-daughters) and Mr. Illingworth.

 We may never see the likes of him again.

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