CWG: Private Frederick Slaughter

Private Frederick Slaughter

Frederick John Slaughter was born in around 1878, one of eight children to Stephen and Frances (who was better known as Fanny) Slaughter. Stephen was a brewer’s drayman, who had gotten himself in trouble with the law the year before Frederick was born.

Stephen Slaughter charged with feloniously embezzling five several sums of 10s each, which he had received for and on account of his masters, Octavius Coope and others, at Worthing, on the 7th September 1876, was sentenced to six calendar months’ hard labour

Sussex Advertiser: Saturday 14th April 1877

Stephen was imprisoned in Petworth Jail, but took ill there. Two months later, a further newspaper report shed further light on him:


On Thursday another inquest – the second within a week – was held at Petworth Gaol… on the body of Stephen Slaughter.

Mr Linton, the governor, said the deceased was about 36 years of age, was a brewer’s drayman and was sentenced at the April Quarter Sessions to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour for embezzlement. He was a very quiet, industrious, and well-conducted prisoner.

On admission he was put to a labour machine, which consists of turning a handle, weighted to 10lbs, and making 14,000 revolutions daily as a maximum. About a fortnight after he was reported to the surgeon. He was looking pale, and was put in the open air to work at the pumps.

About the middle of June he was put to spinning wool, a very light description of work, and on the 18th June witness again reported him to the surgeon. He continued wool spinning until taken ill on Sunday morning last. Warder Daughtery then reported his illness and witness at once sent for Dr Wilmot, and at that gentleman’s request Dr Hope was also called in consultation.

From that time till his death, early on Wednesday, he was under the care of the surgeons, in his cell, which was a roomy, airy one. The Infirmary was occupied by another case.

On Sunday witness wrote to deceased’s brother, and two of them visited him on Monday. (Witness produced a letter, since received from one of deceased’s brothers, in which he said “In conclusion I beg to thank you and all the officials connected with the prison for your kindness to my brother during his illness, as he told me on Monday when I saw him he was treated with the greatest kindness.”)

The evidence of Mr Wilmot and Mr Hope, surgeon, showed that the nature of deceased’s illness necessitated an operation, which was performed with his consent, but that after it he gradually sank and died of exhaustion.

Horsham, Petworth, Midhurst and Steyning Express: 24th July 1877

Stephen died before Frederick was born, leaving Fanny, to bring him and the youngest of his siblings up alone. Fanny found work as a dressmaker and, according to the 1881 census, she lived in a small cottage just off Worthing seafront with her 15 year old daughter, Emily, and her three youngest boys, Walter (who was 8), Arthur (5) and Frederick (3).

When he left school, Frederick found work as a errand boy for the local fishermen; his two older brothers we employed by a local dairy, and the three of them were living with their mother, a paternal uncle and lodger in a cottage in the centre of the town.

Fanny died in 1902, at the age of 62. Seven years later Frederick, now working as a carman for a grocer, married Gertrude Lawrence, who had been born in Kent. The couple went on to have a son – also called Frederick – the following year.

When war came to European shores, Frederick was quick to enlist. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment on 9th October 1914, and was assigned to the 7th (Service) Battalion as a Private. Full service details are not readily available, but he certainly served in France, having been posted there in June 1915.

While Private Slaughter’s military records are scarce, his medical ones are very detailed. In June 1916 he was treated in the field for scabies, in December that year, he received treatment for pediculosis, an infestation of lice. Eight months later, he was admitted to a hospital in Camiens with an inflamed knee, something which subsequently recurred two months later, when he was admitted for treatment in Etaples. Frederick was received treatment for a fifth time in January 1918, this time for a deformed toe, but after this, his overall health seemed to stabilise.

Private Slaughter was demobbed in March 1919, and returned to England. Sadly, it seemed that his health wasn’t as good as it might have seemed; on 17th July 1919, he died at home from heart failure, which was subsequently attributed to his was service. He was 41 years old.

Frederick Slaughter was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in his home town of Worthing, West Sussex.

The war years were particularly tragic for Stephen and Fanny’s children. Along with Frederick’s passing in 1919, his oldest brother Harry had died in 1914, two other brothers – Henry and William – had died in 1916, while a fourth brother, Walter, passed away in 1920.

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