Harry Mountford Hills

Harry Mountford Hills was born on 28 September 1886 at Mayland, Essex. He played cricket for Essex.

His mother Emily Constance Hills came from Wealdstone and his father, Harry Hills, from Mid Essex.

After their marriage in 1885 the Hills set up home in the Wealdstone area although the Mills seem to have had several relatives who lived at Mayland.

Harry's father was a decorator when Harry was born but by 1901 he was a publican at Pinner and was wealthy enough to have a live in servant. Harry, by this time 15 years old, was working as a clerk.

As a boy Harry Mountford Hills had sporting prowess and took part in Cricket which was turning from a sport of the gentry into a sport enjoyed by working class young men.

He became a very useful all-rounder who was able to bowl left arm spin and provide a useful bat.

Harry obtained a job as a clerk at Marconi, Chelmsford and moved to Little Waltham.

Ladies Man

He appears to have been a ladies man as on  28 June 1909 he married Emily Josephine Bevan and moved into a house at Goldhanger, Essex but in 1908 he appeared in a court case that made many national newspapers for breach of promise of marriage.

The case centered on his engagement in 1905 as an 18 year old to 23 year old Bessie Attridge who was a school teacher at  Little Waltham. The engagement was cancelled later that year after Harry was found to have been telling Bessie lies about a holiday he had taken. After a while the friendship resumed and in 1907 they became engaged again but when Bessie became pregnant Harry initially agreed to be married before the birth of the child but then decided not to do so. Their child ,  Imogen Mary Bevan was born on 29 June 1908. The court made negative remarks about the conduct of Harry and  ordered him to pay £175 in damages to Bessie.

After the birth of his child Harry refused to pay any maintenance and so he appeared in court in 1908 when a maintenance order was made and again in 1910 as he had still refused to pay the damaged or maintenance. By this time he was working as professional cricketer and groundsman at Mountmore Cricket Club, Bedfordshire and manager of the Stag Public House for Lord Roseberry.

Rather than pay the money as ordered Harry declared himself bankrupt and despite further efforts the Court were legally unable to make him pay or imprison him in default although in 1913 when he attempted to have the bankruptcy order lifted , the court refused.

Harry seems to have been away , probably playing cricket or running a public house in 1911 as Emily is staying with Harrys Parents at Wethersfield.

Harry and Emily had  sons Harry Charles Hills in 1910 and  John Mountford Hills in 1912 but Emily died in 1914

Harry remarried Alice Cooke in 1916 and they had a son Eric Victor Hills in 1917.

By 1916 Bessie seems to have given up getting maintenance from Harry as she married John Bonner but Imogen remained single until her death.

Cricket and the Great War

By 1912 he had broken into the Essex County Cricket Team making appearances for Essex at the base at Leyton.

On the outbreak of WW1 like many young men of his generation he enlisted in the the Grenadier Guards as Private 19249  on 21 September 1914.

Harry who gave his home as Burnham on Crouch  was trained and then assigned to the reserve barracks before being sent to the French front line on 21 August 1915.

He was wounded in action when he was shot in his left hand, losing a finger and was invalided home.

As a professional left handed cricketer he must have wondered if his career was over.

He recovered to the extent that he was returned to the front line in November 1916 where he served until the end of the war.

He was demobbed in February 1919 and immediately became the Cricket Professional for Burnley Cricket Club before moving on the Read Cricket Club in 1920.