Michael Joseph O’Neill Goulding was born on 5th May 1884, the oldest of six children to Michael and Ellen Goulding (née O’Neill). Michael Sr worked for the inland revenue and his job took him around most parts of the British Isles.
Michael Jr had been born in Limerick – both of his parents came from Ireland – but his subsequent three siblings (Patrick, Margaret and William) had all been born in Scotland. His second youngest sibling, Lily, was born in County Durham, the youngest back in Scotland, while, by the time of the 1901 census, the whole family were living in Forest Gate, East London.
The census also shows that Michael Jr, having left school, was working at Customs House (presumably where his father was employed), as a boy copyist on tea accounts. The inland revenue at that time was a career for life; by the next census in 1911, the family had moved to Hertford, where Michael Sr was a customs and excise supervisor, and Michael Jr was an assistant clerk at the same place of employment.
War was on its way, but Michael seems not to have enlisted immediately. While specific dates for his joining up are not available, it appears that he was still working for the Inland Revenue when he got married in Shoreditch, in April 1917. His wife was called Bridget Mary Gough (known as Bryde), and she had also been born in Ireland. The couple went on to have a daughter, Ellen (or Eileen), the following year.
By this time, Michael had definitely enlisted. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and was based at HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment in Chatham, Kent. This was the location for the Navy’s main accounting base, so it is likely that he was employed for financial, rather than his military, skills.
Able Seaman Goulding served through to the end of the war and beyond, and it was while he was based in Kent that he became unwell. Admitted to the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, he succumbed to a combination of bronchitis and pneumonia on 22nd February 1919. He was 34 years of age.
Michael Joseph O’Neill Goulding was laid to rest in the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. His family were still in Hertford, while his widow and daughter moved back to Ireland.