Three Times A Mayoress
Mrs Elizabeth Annie Huggins MBE Mayoress of Gravesend 1914,15,16.
The Woman Elizabeth Annie Huggins nee Boorman was born during the fourth quarter of 1861 in Fobbing, Stanford le Hope daughter of Charles Spencer Boorman, a Miller who had moved to Stanford to build Flour Mills in the town, and Caroline. She was one of eight children, Thomas Benjamin born in 1854, Caroline 1859 and Fanny Elizabeth 1864, Emma 1866, Ada 1868, Hilda Moss 1873 and Charles M 1877. By 1871, Elizabeth was living with her Grandparents, Benjamin and Sarah Moss at their Farm 1, Rose Cottage in Basildon, ten years later and now aged 19 she was back with her parents and family at 98 Southend Road. Elizabeth met and married her husband, Henry Huggins, who was a keen cricketer when he was Honorary Secretary of the Gravesend Cricket Club during the third quarter of 1889 aged 27 in Orsett. They were presented with an inscribed clock by the club and this remained in their house for the rest of their lives. They moved to 48 Park Place where they lived with their servant Alice E Hammond. Henry and Elizabeth had three children, Henry Charles born in 1892, who later served as a Private in the Northamptonshire Regiment during World War I and was later Manager of Westcliffe of Sea Branch of National Westminster Bank. Hilda Elizabeth 1893 who married Elton Ede, and sadly died in 1937 aged only 44 and Gerald Farn 1895 who also served as a Private in the Great War in the Norfolk Regiment and later in charge of the Eastern Telegraph Company’s Station at Valetta in Malta. By 1901 the family were living at 13 Clarence Street in Milton. It was around this time that Henry became interested in local affairs and in 1904 was elected as a Councillor onto Gravesend Town Council and by 1911 the family had moved to 17 Clarence Street and later 25 Portland Road, Gravesend where they lived for the rest of their lives. During Henry’s time in local government Elizabeth not only supported him but maintained a prominent part in public life in the town herself.
Henry was elected as Mayor of Gravesend in November 1914, just three months after the start of World War I with Elizabeth as Mayoress, a position they held for the next three years until 1917. During this difficult and important time in the country's history, Elizabeth undertook outstanding works to raise funds on behalf of the local men serving in the armed forces, including her own two sons. She organised many events including fetes and with a small committee had stalls outside the town Hall to help those had been taken Prisoners of War raising over £5000.00 to send parcels to them. As the war progressed it became clear there were a large number of severely disabled and maimed ex service personnel who would be returning to Gravesend, so together with her committee she became instrumental in raising an even greater sum of around £8000.00 for the building of 10 cottages in Cross Lane West and Wrotham Road for disabled servicemen and their families. The land was donated by Sir T Colyer-Ferguson Bart in memory of his son, Lieutenant R Colyer-Ferguson VC who had been killed in action. The homes were called Elizabeth Huggins Cottages and were a constant reminder of the work she sponsored. They remained in use until 2014 when planning permission was received to replace them with 34 more modern homes for use by disabled and ex service personnel. During the War Elizabeth was recognised for her efforts and presented with one of the last Russian Decorations by the Empress Czarina Alexandra for a flag day she organised raising raise funds for that country. In March 1920 she was further recognised and appointed as a Member of the most Excellent Order of the British Empire as Treasurer of the Gravesend Prisoners of War Fund. Elizabeth continued her public duty by leading the local committee of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, the annual collection had been very small, but Elizabeth involved her friends and increased the fund raising to such an extent that the branch became self supporting and enabled funds to be sent to their headquarters. She was also elected with her husband onto the local Education Committee in 1922 and the local press reported "There must be thousands of young men and women who remember this gracious lady at their school prize distributions". She was seemingly always delighted to attend the events and always had a cheery smile and kindly word for the children. She was in addition a visiting manager at Wrotham Road and Gordon Schools. Elizabeth died at their home 25 Portland Road, Gravesend on Sunday 15th January 1939 aged 77 following a lengthy period of ill health. Her funeral was held on Thursday 19th in St James Church and all the local schools were closed for the afternoon and at her express wish there was no mourning. The ceremony was conducted by the Rev F St Clair Goldie and was attended by numerous local dignitaries, representatives from local schools, the NSPCC, tenants of the Elizabeth Huggin’s Cottages and children from St Johns RC school lining the path to the church door. Elizabeth was later interred in the family plot in Gravesend Cemetery. She left £1725.14s.8d to Henry. Following her death Henry continued serving on Gravesend Council and died three years later on 6th November 1942 aged 80, he too was interred in the family plot at Gravesend Cemetery.
The Story to see the story beind Elizabeth Huggins research see Henry Huggins
All photographs are copyright property of Kent County Council, to whom thanks are offered for their assistance in piecing together Henry Huggins' biography.
- Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: Unnamed as awarded.
Page last updated 20 Jul 16