Commander and educator, whose family founded Bath City Bank.
The ornate chain-and-anchor memorial to William Milner Moger is a substantial clue to his unusual choice of career.
William was born on 29 March 1840 in Highgate, Middlesex and baptised at St Michael's, a local Anglican Church on 6 May of that year. He was the third child and second son of Robert G Moger and Eliza Moger (nee Gottreux). William's mother died 3 years later at the age of only 29. His father remarried in 1856, but that was after William had left home.
His father was a surgeon who had first practiced in Bath where he was surgeon to the City Gaol and to the Lying-in Charity (for childbirth). In the 1840s he moved to Highgate where he was much appreciated by the local community who, one New Year, presented him with a silver salver inscribed: Presented .. by the poor of Highate as a token of gratitude for his kindness to them in sickness and for his successful exertions in getting them plentifully supplied with water. He died on 3rd October 1885, aged circa 78. His son William was eventually to show a similar propensity for looking after those less fortunate than himself.
William Moger attended University College School, founded in 1830 by the recently established University College, London. The school had a modern and secular outlook for the times, teaching modern languages and science, and was one of the first schools to abolish corporal punishment.
On 11 May 1854, at the age of just 14, William joined the Royal Navy. His late mother came from a naval family and it could be assumed he would have been accepted as a midshipman at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth. In the 1861 census he is shown to have been at sea with the rank of Mate on HMS Jason, a corvette, which patrolled the Atlantic coast of North America and the West Indies. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 28 August 1862 and by 1864 was serving on HMS Royal Adelaide, a gun ship that had been converted to a depot ship.
Subsequently, records show that in 1867 he was aboard HMS Redwing, a gunboat which acted as a tender to HMS Cambridge which was moored in Devonport Dockyard. The same year, William married Gertrude Mary Gardner, from Bebington in Cheshire, the daughter of William Pugh Gardner, a Collector of Customs, who was working in Plymouth at the time. Their wedding took place on 5 September 1867 at St Peter's in the Wirral.
In 1868 Lieutenant Moger served on HMS Pembroke, a coastguard ship, and in 1869 joined HMS Penelope, a coastguard and drill ship which patrolled the English Channel. In 1871 the census records that he was a Lieutenant on board the Prince Consort anchored in Naples harbour.
The London Gazette recorded on 3 October, 1873 that: … the undermentioned Lieutenants have been this day placed on the retired list, with permission to assume the rank of Retired Commander: William Milner Moger. He was only 33 years old, but with plenty of experience under sail and steam.
Just over a year later Rtd Commander Moger gained a commercial Masters and Mates Certificate issued by the Port of London. This would have undoubtedly been an essential requirement for his next venture - which was to be his life’s work.
On Saturday, 7 August,1877 a ship called ‘the Clio’, an industrial training ship, arrived in the Menai Straits, North Wales, under the command of one William Milner Moger. The HMS Clio had been a 22-gun pearl class corvette, built in Sheerness of African oak with mahogany beams and copper fastenings. She ran aground on a New Zealand rock but was repaired and returned to England. She was adapted for training ship status by the Clio Training Ship Society and £150 had been spent on removing the engines and boilers in order to maximise accommodation space. Two and a half years had been spent on planning and discussion as to the ‘desirability’ and location of such a vessel.
There were numerous training ships dotted around the coast of Britain in the latter half of the 19th century, some were reformatories housing young offenders, whilst others were naval cadet training ships which prepared boys of good social standing for the role of officer status. But the industrial training ships, like the Clio, fell between these two categories and were aimed to provide a home for boys of poorer backgrounds and those who may have made a small transgression, and training for a life at sea. Known locally - and unfairly - as the ‘Naughty Boys’ Ship, they nonetheless complied with two of the main objectives which faced mid-19th century British society: the better care and reformation of youthful offenders and a remedy for the shortage of seamen for both the Royal and Merchant Navy.
Initial monies for the project were raised through subscription, Training Ship Concerts and financial backing from the locality that had sent the boy. The Navy would also make a contribution for each individual that joined their ranks on leaving the Clio.
Daily life on board the Clio, which accommodated between 200-300 boys, was hard with a strict routine from Monday to Friday which included rising early, drill sessions, maintenance of the ship and an education in all aspects of seafaring, together with gunnery, tailoring, shoemaking and band practice. All the boys' boots and clothes were made on the ship, thus giving the boys a useful training over and above that they received in seamanship.
Whilst life was tough on the Clio the boys were not only well-clothed and but also given three substantial 'plain and wholesome' meals a day which was far better than the diet of some local children in North Wales. Some of the boys did die, through sickness or accident and they were buried in Llandegfan churchyard in graves depicting an anchor and chain – not unlike that of their Captain’s in Smallcombe.
The 1881 census, taken on board the Clio, includes William Milner Moger, Institution Superintendent, Retired Commander and, surprisingly, his wife, Gertrude Moger. Her role on board is not known. At least she saw her husband more often than when he was in the Royal Navy.
Captain Moger, as he was known on the Clio, was well respected by the Industrial Training Ship Charity whose patrons included the Duke of Westminster, local dignitaries and a bishop. Each year a government inspector submitted a report on the running of the Clio which consistently praised the leadership of William Moger and the welfare of the boys. In 1881 the Duke of Edinburgh visited the ship and complimented Captain Moger on the smartness of the boys and the quality of the staff.
Soon after joining the Clio, Moger helped to establish a home in Liverpool where the boys could stay after they left the Clio as many were orphans and had no homes to return to. Most of the boys joined the Royal Naval Reserve or the Merchant Navy. Only a few managed to get into the Royal Navy.
In 1894 there was an influenza outbreak on the Clio and Captain Moger had a 'severe attack of the malady' followed by 'great prostration' requiring leave of absence for a fortnight. This bout of illness appears to have taken a long-term toll on his health and in 1895 he informed the trustees he would be looking to retire in the near future due to this fact. However, he remained in his position, probably out of a sense of duty, until the end of 1899 when he did finally retire at 59 after twenty three years service. He was awarded a Naval pension of £50 a year on his retirement from the Clio.
It would appear that he then came to Bath, the birthplace of his father and where his grandfather, George Moger, had established a bank in Union St at the beginning of the 19th century which became known as the Bath City Bank. William died five years later at the age of 65, while living at 16 Russell St, near the Assembly Rooms, and was buried on 14 Jun 1905. His funeral took place at Bathwick Cemetery (Smallcombe) the officiating clergyman being the Reverend T Dunn.
The death of his widow, Gertrude Mary Moger, aged 72, was registered in 1916 in
Portsmouth. She was living at Dunarnon, 47 Granada Rd, Southsea, but she was brought back to Bath to be buried with her husband in Smallcombe. She left her effects amounting to £3,988 3s. 3d to a relation, Horatio Nelson Gardner of no occupation.
The memorial to William and his wife Gertrude Mary (nee Gardner) consists of a large three-dimensional anchor and chain, which embraces a cross. It is a superb example of stonemasonry. On the plinth beneath is a modest inscription, but it could be speculated that this ornate gravestone had been organised by the Trust of the Clio, in honour of his long and respected service.
Carridice, Phil Nautical Training Ships: An Illustrated History (2009, Amberley Press)