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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking Kilbourn's grave, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings.
Person Details
24 Sep 1882
St Ann's Nottingham
George Henry was the second son of John and Fanny Kilbourn (nee Mann). John Kilbourn was born in Chilwell about 1858 and Fanny in Beeston in about 1857. They had at least four children who were named on the 1891 Census: William Howard b. 1880, Ellen Elizabeth [Nellie] (birth registered 1881 J/F/M Nottingham), George Henry b. 24 September 1882 and John b abt. 1886/1887. William and Ellen were born in Beeston and George and John in Nottingham. In 1891 John, a police constable, and Fanny (33) were living at 10 Fireman's Lodge, Nottingham, with their four children, William Howard (11), Ellen (10), George Henry (8) and John (4). Also in the household was Ann Mann (64), Fanny's mother, who was a retired housekeeper. Fanny died aged 34 in July 1891 (J/A/S Nottingham) and was buried on 28 July. George joined the Royal Navy in April 1898 when he was 15 years old. In 1901 the widowed John was living in Radford. Only his daughter Ellen and his grand-daughter Constance Kilbourn (1) were in the house on the night of the census. His two other sons, John and William, have not yet been traced on the Census and no further details have yet been found about Constance Kilbourn. Ellen married George Herbert Copley in 1909 (O/N/D Nottingham) and in 1911 they were living at 52 Gordon Road, Sneinton, Nottingham. George was a newsagent on his own account and Ellen helped him in the business. They did not have any children. Records show that by 1916 at the latest, Ellen (Nellie) had emigrated to Canada. On the night of the 1911 Census, George (28) was a petty officer serving in HMS Naiad a second class cruiser (mine layer) which was at Stokes Bay, Alverstoke, near Gosport. Also in 1911, William (31), a window cleaner, was living at 56 Sneinton Boulevard, Sneinton, in the home of his brother, John (23), a caretaker at a music hall, and John's wife of three years, Sarah (28), and their son George Frederick (2, b. 11 April 1909). Sarah Ann (Annie) was born in Oxton, Nottinghamshire, in about 1883 and in 1901, before her marriage, had been working as a live-in domestic servant in the Meadows, Nottingham. Their father, John (53), now a police pensioner, was living at 10 Hutton Street, Nottingham, in 1911 with his son Stanley (8) whose name was registered as Stanley Kilbourne Dobson (1903 J/F/M Nottingham). He employed a domestic servant, Lily Forge (nee Dobson) who was described as a widow. It seems likely, therefore, that John and Lily were living as man and wife and that Stanley was their son. It is probable that Lily Dobson was born in Grimsby (Lincolnshire) in 1867 (O/N/D Caistor Lincolnshire) the daughter of George Dobson. She married John William Forge on 21 March 1887 in the church of Great Grimsby St James, Lincoln. No record has yet been found of her husband's death. At the time of the 1901 Census a Lily Forge, described as 30 years old and single, was a domestic servant in the household of Thomas and Mary Ann Mann at Pelham Crescent, The Park, Nottingham. There are records that a John Kilbourn and a Lily Forge travelled to Canada - probably after the war - and the names of both John Kilbourn and Lily Forge appear on the marriage index for Ontario, Canada (1785-1935). None of the Canadian records have been sighted but it would seem that John and Lily were married in Canada, perhaps during a visit to John's married daughter, Ellen, who had emigrated. George's older brother, William, died on 9 January 1915 aged 34 (buried 12 January 1915). A Lily Kilbourn born about 1867 died in 1942 (March Nottingham) at the age of 75. John Kilbourn probably died in Nottngham in 1940 (June Nottingham) aged 82. Stanley married Doris EM Stilton in 1928 (A/M/J Hendon, Middlesex) and there is a record of the death of a Stanley Kilbourn (b. abt 1903) in 1959 (May Basford); he was 56 years old. Probate: Kilbourne Stanley of 11 Hawthorne Avenue Long Eaton Derbyshire died 30 January 1959 at Central Ordnance dept Chilwell Nottinghamshire Administration Nottingham 17 March to Doris Evelyn Maude Kilbourn widow. Effects £1646 12s. 3d. George's surviving brother, John, and his wife Sarah probably continued to live in Sneinton as there is a record of the death of a John Kilbourn in 1959 (March Nottingham) at the age of 72, address 20 Dale Grove, Sneinton.
He was an errand boy when he joined the Royal Navy in April 1898.
26 Nov 1914
2750482 - CWGC Website
198785 (PO)
Petty Officer
HMS Bulwark Royal Navy
George entered the Royal Navy on 26 April 1898 as a Boy 2nd Class and joined on a 12 year engagement on his 18th birthday, 24 September 1900, then re-engaged on 24 September 1912 'to completion' (volunteer). Geprge's first ship was HMS Impregnable, 26 April 1898-30 August 1899 (Boy 2nd Class, Boy 1st Class 9 February 1899). He was advanced Ordinary Seaman 24 September 1900 (HMS Indefatigable), advanced Able Seaman 13 February 1902 (HMS Indefatigable), advanced Leading Seaman 1 October 1905 (Victory II), advanced Petty Officer 2nd Class 1 April 1906 (HMS King Alfred), advanced Petty Officer 1st Class 15 February 1911 (HMS Naiad). He served in HMS Bulwark from 17 August 1914-26 November 1914. His Naval Record is annotated, ‘NP 3063/14, DD 26 November 1914 when Bulwark was sunk.’ His body was recovered and identified by his tattoos. He was buried in Nottingham General Cemetery on 10 December 1914. HMS Bulwark belonged to a sub-class of the Formidable-class of pre-dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy known as the London class. Entering service with the Royal Navy in 1902, she sailed with the Mediterranean Fleet until 1907. She then served with the Home Fleet, for a time under Captain Robert Falcon Scott. After a refit in 1912, she was assigned to the 5th Battle Squadron. Following the outbreak of the First World War, Bulwark, along with the rest of the squadron was attached to the Channel Fleet, conducting patrols in the English Channel. On 26 November 1914, while anchored near Sheerness, she was destroyed by a large internal explosion with the loss of 736 men. Two of the 14 survivors died later in hospital. The explosion was likely to have been caused by the overheating of cordite charges that had been placed adjacent to a boiler room bulkhead. (origin Wikipedia ) On the afternoon of Thursday, November 26th, 1914, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill made the following statement to the House of Commons : ‘I regret to say I have some bad news for the house. The Bulwark battleship, which was lying in Sheerness (on the River Medway) this morning, blew up at 7.35 o'clock. The Vice and Rear Admiral, who were present, have reported their conviction that it was an internal magazine explosion which rent the ship asunder. There was apparently no upheaval in the water, and the ship had entirely disappeared when the smoke had cleared away... I regret to say the loss of life is very severe. Only 12 men are saved. All the officers and the rest of the crew, who, I suppose, amounted to between 700 and 800, have perished. I think the House would wish me to express on their behalf the deep sorrow with which the House heard the news, and their sympathy with those who have lost their relatives and friends.’
His next of kin while in the navy was given as his brother John pf 56 Sneinton Boulevard, Nottingham. Personal inscription on CWGC headstone: ‘He lived loved and tried and for us he died.' Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Deaths’, 2 December 1914: Kilbourne. On November 26th, George Henry Kilbourn, first-class petty officer of HMS Bulwark, beloved brother of J Kilbourn, 56 Sneinton-boulevard. Did his duty.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, 10 December 1914: ‘Funeral of a local victim of the Bulwark. Many people lined Manvers-street and other thoroughfares leading from his home on Sneinton-boulevard to the General Cemetery this afternoon when the funeral took place of George H Kilbourn, late first-class petty officer on HMS Bulwark, who lost his life in the recent disaster. He had seen 16 years’ service, having been a member of the crew frozen up in the Gulf of St Lawrence on HMS Indefatigable, and also a witness of the Montpelier volcanic eruption. His body, which had been identified by the tattoo marks on the arm, and was brought here yesterday from the Gillingham Naval Hospital, was borne to the grave in a coffin draped with the Union Jack on a gun carriage, furnished by the Notts. Royal Horse Artillery. There was another big gathering at the cemetery, where the Robin Hoods provided the bearing and firing parties, and a regular sea of heads was uncovered as the coffin was lowered to its last resting place. In the crowd were a few sailors, anxious to pay their final respects to a departed comrade, and many soldiers also attended.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 10 January 1916: ‘Kilbourn. In loving memory of William Kilbourn, who died January 9th, 1915. Bless him At rest. Father and family.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 10 January 1916: Kilbourn. In loving memory of William Kilbourn, beloved brother of J Kilbourn, who fell asleep January 9th, 1915. At rest. Jack, Annie and Freddie.' (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 10 January 1916: ‘Kilbourn. In loving memory of W Kilbourn, beloved brother of Nellie Kilbourn (nee Copley) [sic], Canada, who fell asleep January 9th, 1915. Sadly missed. Nellie.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘Births’, 5 September 1916: ‘ Kilbourn. On September 4th, to Mr and Mrs J Kilbourn, of 56, Sneinton-boulevard, a son.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Note: possibly William Kilbourn b. 1916 d. 1918 (Dec Nottm) aged 2. Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 27 November 1916: notices from Nellie and Jack, Annie and George.' (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 26 November 1918: notices from Nellie (Canada), Jack and Annie.' (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 26 November 1920: ‘Kilbourn. In loving memory of GH Kilbourn, 56 Sneinton-boulevard, who lost his life on HMS Bulwark, November 26th, 1914. Ever in our thoughts. Jack, Annie, and children.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Nottingham Evening Post, ‘In Memoriam’, 26 November 1920: ‘Kilbourn. In loving memory of GH Kilbourn, 1st Class Petty Officer, lost with HMS Bulwark, November 26th, 1914. Never forgotten. From his loving sister Nellie [Ellen] in Canada.’ (www.british newspaperarchive.co.uk) Peter Gillings.
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking Kilbourn's grave, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings.
    George Henry Kilbourn - Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking Kilbourn's grave, Nottingham General Cemetery. Photograph Peter Gillings.