Allen Percy Hilton, Greaser, Mercantile Marine Reserve, was born in Southampton on the 15th of July 1878, the youngest of three children born to John Preston Hilton and Jane Cooper Hilton (née Christopher).
His father was born St Ann’s Jamaica in 1831, the son of a West Indian Planter and his mother was born in Bincombe, Dorset in 1841.The couple married on the 20th of May 1866 in Preston & Sutton Poyntz, Dorset.
In 1881 the family was living at Marilina Cottages, Freemantle, Southampton. John Presto Hilton was working as a Builders Assistant and Jane was taking care of the children: Chris, Catherine Eliza and Allen Percy. John Preston Hilton died two years later, age 52.
In April 1891 Jane and her children were living at Queens Rd, Millbrook, Freemantle. Her son Christopher was now a Grocers Porter, her daughter Eliza was a Nurse and son Allen Percy, a Grocer’s Errand Boy.
Allen Percy Hilton was working as a Mat Maker when he joined the Royal Navy on the 26th of July 1897. He had signed on for Continuous Service for 12 years . His first posting was on the HMS Victory II, a Training Establishment, as a Stoker 2nd Class. He was still Stoker 2nd Class when he was stationed on HMS Medea, a Marathon class second class Cruiser from 1898 to 1899. From 1899 to 1901 he was on the H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, a hulk and Receiving Ship for trainee stokers. By this time he had graduated to Stoker 1st Class. From 1904 to 1907 he was on the HMS Firequeen, HMS Hermione and the HMS Fisgard.
Allen Percy Married Elizabeth Mary Banbury in 1908 in South Stoneham, near Southampton.
By the 7th of August 1909 Allen Percy had served his time and was put on shore leave. His last ship was the HMS Blake, a Blake class Cruiser, where he was Leading Stoker. By the time he was stationed on the HMS Blake it had been reclassified as a seagoing depot ship for torpedo-boat destroyers.
In 1911 at census time Allen Percy and his young family were living at 109 Firgrove Rd Freemantle. He was employed as a Grocer’s Carter. He had two sons: Allen Preston, age 2 and Archie Edward age 8 months. He had one more child, Albert Henry, born in 1912.
Allen Percy joined the crew of the Laurentic in 1915 when the ship departed for Asia, to patrol around the Far East and the Indian Ocean, heading to Halifax Nova Scotia in July 1916, before returning to Liverpool, arriving in early December 1916. By the evening of 24th January 1917, after a period of shore leave, Allen Percy was sailing out of the River Mersey once again on the Laurentic, bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia.
It is not clear whether Allen Percy Hilton managed to get to a lifeboat but we do know that his body was never recovered from the sea. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Allen’s widow Lizzie remarried after Allen’s death to George A. Grantham in 1921. She passed away in Winchester in 1966.
Allen Percy’s grandson Roy Hilton, son of Albert Henry Hilton, made the journey from Australia to Donegal to mark the occasion of the unveiling of the Laurentic Monument at Dunree on the 6th of October 2019.
Census Census Returns of England and Wales 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911. The National Archives of the UK
National Archives – Royal Naval Service Records
General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes
We are grateful to Roy Hilton, son of Albert Henry Hilton, for providing the photographs of his family reproduced here.