On 26th April 1893, Slinger married Ellen Augusta Lane Booth (Nellie), the 27-year old daughter of George and Frances Booth of Manchester. The couple had four children, three sons - William, George Nicholas and Tempest - and a daughter who died in infancy.
Politically, Slinger was a staunch Conservative, and served 15 years on Accrington Town Council after first being elected in 1894. A devoted Churchman, he served as Vicar's Warden at Christ Church, Accrington for 20 years.
In addition to his work as a solicitor and local politician, Slinger obtained a direct commission into the 2nd Volunteer Battalion (later, 5th Battalion) of the East Lancashire Regiment on 1st January 1898, and was promoted to Lieutenant the following year, and then to Captain on 25th May 1901. He retired from the Regiment on 17th October 1913, but within a year had resigned his practice worth some £800 a year to accept an appointment as Adjutant and 2nd-in-command of the Accrington Pals with the rank of Major. For the Slinger family, like so many others, the Great War of 1914-1919 was to bring tragedy in abundance.
Slinger's eldest son, William, was working with a firm of cotton merchants in Southern Morocco when the Accrington Pals were raised, but returned home to enlist into the ranks of the battalion. In December 1914, he was granted a commission with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and was with his father shortly after the battalion's arrival at Caernarvon when they were telegraphed to return home; on the following day, Sunday 28th February 1915, Slinger's wife, Ellen, passed away.
By the time the Accrington Pals left Caernarvon on 12th May, Slinger had been appointed to command the battalion's reserve company which was posted to Chadderton Camp near Oldham. On 3rd September, the reserve - by then two companies strong - became the 12th (Reserve) Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment with Slinger in temporary command and with good reason to expect the appointment to be made permanent. Crucially, however, he lacked the support of the 11th Battalion's commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Arthur Rickman, who instead recommended Major Raymond Ross for the post. In the event, neither officer was appointed, and Lt.-Col. R. S. Weston took over command of the 12th Battalion on 3rd February 1916. After being passed over for command, Slinger continued to work with Training Reserve battalions at Prees Heath, Whitchurch, occasionally going over to France with reinforcement detachments. Like his father, William had been posted to Chadderton and was promoted to Lieutenant and Company Commander in the 12th Battalion, before being posted to join the 1st Battalion in France in September 1916.
William's younger brother, George, had been articled to his father as a solicitor when war broke out, and had the honour of being the first to enlist in the 158th (Accrington & Burnley Howitzer) Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery on 6th February 1915. Two months later, he was granted a commission with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and on 31st January 1916 he embarked for France. After being posted to 159th Brigade in September 1916 following a battery reorganization, he was on patrol in No Man's Land when he was killed by a sniper's bullet. After the British advance at Arras the following year, George's grave was found in a German cemetery; it is said to have been inscribed "To a Brave British Officer who was killed whilst examining our wire on November 28th, 1916."
George's death was not to be the last tragedy of the war years to strike the Slinger family; on 24th July 1917, William was killed by enemy shellfire while leading a working party up to the front line. Slinger's youngest son, Tempest, had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was posted to a Field Ambulance in France in September 1916; he at least survived the war to follow his father into practice as a solicitor.
Above left: Major Slinger with his son, Tempest, in 1916; the lady is thought to be Elizabeth Alice Nutter (née Slinger). Photograph by kind courtesy of John T. Slinger. Above right: letter1 sent to the War Office by Major Slinger concerning the death of his son, 2/Lt. George Nicholas Slinger. [Transcript]
The final year of the war brought some happiness back into Slinger's life when in April 1918 he married Esther May Winifred Simpson (Molly), a V.A.D. nurse stationed at the Military Hospital, Prees Heath. After his demobilization on 15th May 1919, he returned to his solicitor's practice in Accrington, inheriting the Nutter estate on the death of his sister, Elizabeth, in 1920. Although he continued to be very active in public life, his health was deteriorating, and on Sunday 16th December 1923 he died at home in Accrington of bronchial pneumonia aged just 58. He left his wife, his son Tempest, and three children from his second marriage.
© Andrew C Jackson 2006
Compiled from the Accrington Observer & Times of 5th December 1916, 4th August 1917, 18th December 1923 and 22nd December 1923, "Accrington: Chronology and Men of Mark" by R. S. Crossley (1924), Baptism Records for Christ Church, Accrington (PR 3054/1/1), census returns for England and Wales of 1881 and 1891, TNA documents WO339/16465, WO339/16466, WO339/27229, WO339/78080, and with the kind help of F. Walter N. Slinger and John T. Slinger.