William Ronald Leeson
William Ronald Leeson
Page last modified: September 09, 2018

Although I never knew my uncle Ron, Ibecamse fascinated with him quite early on in my life. After he died my mother kept a box of his posessions in the tallboy in my bedroom. I spent many happy times rumaging through this box and wondering about the person they had belonged to.

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04 December 1923 in Merthyr Tydfil, GLA
Harvey George LEESON


02 June 1957 in South Mimms, HRT

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William Ronald Leeson was born on the 04 December 1923 in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil [1]. He was the youngest of the family and was known to them as Ron. His mother Lizzie Boneham died in 1925 and his father Harvey Leeson in 1927. Both parents died from the effects of tuberculosis and it is likely that Ron became infected at this time.

For a  while the family tried to keep together, living on parish relief. Ron was enrolled at Caedraw Infants School in Merthyr Tydfil (Glamorgan FHS CD of Merthyr Schools). His next of kin was given as his sister Lucy Leeson and his home address as Harris Court. It may be that he and the younger children were fostered for a while. The following unsigned letter to sister Maud was written in pencil and is undated but sent from 4 Harris Court in Merthyr Tydfil. The spelling and grammar are as written:

Dear Maud,
I was happy for that two shillings And I cept all my toys clean. I loning to see you and when you are coming home. Lucy bying me gloves out of the two shilling like. Bonnies once and [several words indecipherable] and Bonnie goes very day Aand we havent mist once. I like to get to work when Im a man And im in starnd two now and Bonnie still got his horse and cart And Geoffrey still got his to books

Case Papers  give the formal date of Ron’s admission to the Merthyr Tydfil Workhouse as 18 January 1930 [2]. He was just 6 years old. Both the Case Papers and the Admission and Discharges record [3]  incorrectly list Ron’s date of birth  as 14 January 1924. The Admission and Discharges gives an earlier date of admission to the workhouse of 15 January 1930. This record shows that he was admitted to the workhouse ‘school’ on 24 March 1930. In practise this meant that he was sent to the orphanage at Llwydcoed, Aberdare. Peter Higginbotham’s workhouse web site describes it as a series of cottage homes with an administrative block and receiving home. Ron was formally adopted by the Public Assistance committee under the Poor Law Act 1930 on 11 August 1931.

Ron was a sickly child and was admitted to the Merthyr Isolation Hospital on 04 August 1930 where he remained until 26 September of that year. He was admitted twice to the Merthyr Infirmary, firstly from 24 October 1939 until 02 November 1939 and then from 08 January 1940 until 09 February 1940. It is likely that these were the first signs of tuberculosis.

Like most boys in the care of the Merthyr Tydfil Poor Law Union, Ron seems to have received training in farm work. However, on 05 December 1940 Ron was discharged from the care of the Merthyr Poor Law Union and sent to the Ministry of Labour Centre, Crypt House, 171 London Road, Gloucester. The time had come for Ron to do his bit for the war effort and during WW2 Ron worked as a clerk at an aircraft manufacturers and is listed as such on his death certificate.

When I was a small child, the cupboard in my bedroom contained a small box containing Ron’s personal effects. As well as a leather boxed razor, there was a green-bound, part-work course on ‘Teach Yourself Piano’. He must have practised hard, as there were several photographs of Ron taken at any early Butlin’s camp. It was clear from the photos that he was working as a musician. Sadly the box and its contents were destroyed prior to my parents moving house in 1972.

Ron was back living in Wales during the mid 1950s. When I was born in early 1957 he started a Post Office Savings Account for me via the Mountain Ash Post Office. When he was taken ill Ron came to live with my mother, his sister Maud, at the caretaker’s flat in the Girls Grammar School, Shepherds Lane, Dartford in Kent. However, when Ron died on the 02 June 1957 it was at Clare Hall Hospital, South Mimms near Potters Bar now in Hertfordshire [4]. The post mortem by A.P.L. Cogswell, Coroner for East Middlesex showed that death was due to a combination of tuberculosis of the adrenal glands and chronic pulmonary tuberculosis. Just like both his parents, Ron had died from T.B. The death was reported by his sister Maud, who must have been worried that Ron had infected her children. Luckily both my brother and I remained uninfected.

Ron is buried in grave number 186, Section A of Watling Street Burial Ground in Dartford [5]. Maud paid £9-9s-0d for the Deed of Grant of exclusive Right of Burial for the grave. I remember visiting the cemetery with my mother as a child to clean and weed the grave and to place fresh flowers beside it. Sadly it has been many years since it was last tended.

Ron died intestate but Letters of Administration were granted to Maud on the 23 July 1957 [6]. The gross value of Ron’s estate amounted to £1105-0s-8d, with a net value of £1040-6s-6d. The reverse of this admon bears a stamp from H.M. Inspector of taxes dated 05 June 1959. Other stamps indicate that the bulk of the estate came from money in the Post Office Savings Bank and pay outs from the Wesleyan and General Assurance Society and The Prudential Assurance Company.

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Photo Gallery

William Ronald Leeson

Location of Lywydcoed, Aberdare


'Ron' Leeson

Ron and Neice

Two Leeson Boys

Final Picture

[Page Index]


[1] GRO, short birth certificate.
[2] Case Paper (Children) No. 20471 Merthyr Tydfil Union.
[3] Admission and Discharges, Merthyr Tydfil Union.
[4] GRO, death certificate.
[5] Letter and Deed of Grant of Exclusive Right of Burial dated 25 June 1957 from the Town Clerk of Dartford Council.
[6] Letters of Administration.

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