Author Archives: carol

West Yorkshire History Center

West Yorkshire History Center

Yesterday afternoon I met my friend for lunch. I have known her nearly 60 years and we seem to have, over the years gone through good times, very good times and the not so good – we have dealt with things in our own way but always been there for each other. We may not be in each other’s pockets on a day to day basis but if anyone asks who my best friend is, I do not hesitate and say her name.

Anyway, soppy stuff over.

West Yorkshire Family History Centre

West Yorkshire Family History Centre

Before lunch, it was suggested that we pay a visit to the Open Day of the West Yorkshire History Center, which opens on Monday. The purpose built building sits on a plot of land in Kirkgate and it a very modern building, the very opposite of its predecessor on Margaret Street, Wakefield.

The weather outside was cold, wet and windy so it was pleasant to be in the warm new building. The entrance is an open space, which includes a reception desk and a few tables to sit and have a drink from the installed vending

West Yorkshire Archives, Margaret Street

The previous home of the West Yorkshire Archives on Margaret Street, Wakefield

machines. As you walk up the corridor to the research area you are greeted with a few display cases, which at the moment are focusing on WW1 items.

The research area is large, bright and airy with plenty of tables and computer terminals, also having a reception desk area for ordering archive material. This room was quite busy but we were greeted as we entered by a member of staff, who we chatted to and my friend, Judy Gorbutt nee Alexander, explained that she had been brought up within yards of the centre, as her grandfather and father owned Alexander’s, which at one time had been a pet shop and seed merchants then became well known in the area as the place to go for fishing tackle. The member of staff suggested that Judy look in the Register of Deeds to see if she could find any information about the purchase of the Kirkgate shop. Guess what we did next?

The Register of Deeds indices are housed in sliding units, well, we were like kids in a sweet shop. We had only a vague idea of the date of the purchase of the Kirkgate shop, therefore, a process of elimination took place. We did find him owning property on Haddingley Hill, Milnthorpe Lane and a few other places – the Kirkgate shop seemed to be as elusive as the man himself, as he had been hard to find in many records, his life still remains a mystery in many decades.

Armed with this information, Judy and I continued our visit looking at the conservation area -many items looking familiar to those in my art teacher’s room at school.

Extracted from -

The archival collections held by are an unparalleled record of the history of the West Riding of Yorkshire and its communities from 1194 to the present day.

The West Yorkshire Archive Service in Wakefield is the third largest local authority archive in Great Britain comprising over 10 million documents. The service exists to make this history accessible to the public and to look after the region’s heritage for future generations.

Many collections have national significance, among them the unique records of the pioneering Stanley Royd Mental Health Hospital, recently awarded international status as part of the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.

Other major collections that will be cared for at the centre are the unparalleled West Riding Registry of Deeds made up of 12,763 volumes containing 7 million extracts of property transactions from 1704 to 1970, as well as the massive National Coal Board collection of over 2000 boxes relating to collieries and coal miners in Wakefield and the south Leeds area.

The History Centre cares for the late John Goodchild’s collection which represents an unrivalled and rich source of information for local history research and contains manuscripts, books, maps, illustrations, indexes and research files covering a vast range of subjects and stories associated with local individuals and organisations.

Our visit over it was time to venture out back into a cold, wet and dismal Wakefield to decide where to go for lunch and a chat. But with so many records available to researchers it looks like another visit is on the cards.

The centre is open on the following times:-
From Monday 13th February 2017
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
Wednesday, Sunday
Open 2nd Saturday a month
Bank holidays

A Walk around Sugar Lane – Myers Peterkoswky

A Walk around Sugar Lane – Myers Peterkoswky

Continuing my walk around Sugar Lane cemetery I came across a headstone now darkened by years of industrial grime but yet not badly worn and still very readable. The medium sized stone has a pointed arched top, inset with small carved flowers and the works ‘Thy will be done’.

Myers and family headstone © C Sklinar 2015

Myers and family headstone © C Sklinar 2015

The family name on the headstone gives a hint that the family may not be of British origin, well that is the man named on the headstone may be European – the women named, however, could be British.

Myers Peterkowsky is found in the 1851 census living as a lodger in the home of Mary Brown. Home for the Brown family was Woods Yard, Providence Street, Wakefield. Myers, aged 34, told that he was a General Dealer and his place of birth was Poland – other sources have his place of birth as Prussia.

Ten years later in 1861, Myers is living in a house on New Street, Wakefield and still working as a general dealer. He is married to Elizabeth who is aged 40. Also in the house is Christiana Crawshaw aged 16, classed as daughter and servant, along with William Crawshaw aged 13 – the enumerator has very kindly written sideways, the words ‘step children’. So, along with two stepchildren, Meyers has three children to Elizabeth – Paulina Meyers aged 9, Louisa age 7, Caroline aged 5 and Joseph M aged 1. The ‘M’ included as a second name appears to be ‘Meyers’.

Going back to Christiana, there is a transcribed Christening entry for a Christiana Crawshaw baptised on the 31st of January 1847 in Ardsley by Barnsley whose parents were Thomas Crawshaw and Elizabeth, while an entry for Williams Christening in 1849 in – Royston could this be Christiana, William and Elizabeth in a former family? But, what was Elizabeth’s maiden name? There are quite a few family trees on Ancestry that include Elizabeth – only having her as a Crawshaw or blank surname. One of those trees has census and other documents linked to people that have died before the document event took place, Wonderful! With a little back and side tracking, there is a marriage for Thomas to either Elizabeth Ward or Elizabeth Watson in the March Quarter of 1843 in the Ecclesfield area, this area includes Barnsley, Ardsley, Monk Bretton and Royston, all areas relating to the Crawshaw family.

In 1865 Christiana married Patrick Sherry, a Serjeant in the 13th Regiment in the Parish Church (now Wakefield Cathedral). Thomas Crawshaw is included in the register but is not marked as deceased.

Myers and Elizabeth in 1871, are living on Queen Street, Wakefield and this entry gives more information about their places of birth. Myers informs the enumerator that he is from Kempen, Prussia, while Elizabeth says she is born in Hemsworth – her children all being born in Wakefield.

During the next ten years Elizabeth Crawshaw dies (possibly in early 1879) and by 1881, Meyers can be found still living in Queen Street, but with a new wife, Ann Bartrop, whom he married in Doncaster in the late summer of 1879. This census tells that Meyers was now a British Subject (as of January 1881). Also living in the house are Ann, his wife aged 62, his unmarried daughter, Sarah aged 19, Frances Ward, sister in law, aged 39 who acts as his housekeeper (it looks like Elizabeth was definitely a WARD!), along with Gertrude Stephenson a 7-year-old grandaughter.

While Myers is classed as a General Dealer, there are Trade Directories that have him listed under the heading of ‘Watchmaker, Jeweller and Silversmith’. An article in the Leeds Mercury of 22nd of August 1872 tells: ‘STEALING A RING BELONGING TO A WEST RIDING MAGISTRATE. At Pontefract Court-house, yesterday, before Mr. A. Jessop, John Thomas Roberts, painter, was charged with stealing a gold ring, the property of Mr. W. F. Tempest, Ackworth Grange. The prisoner had been employed as a painter upon the premises on the 10th of August, and shortly afterwards the ring was missed from a cupboard where it was kept. The ring was identified by Mr. Tempest, who said the stone was missing. The stone bore the crest and arms of the owner, and a gryphon’s head with the motto, ‘Loywf as thow fynde.’ (sic). The prisoner went to the shop of Mr. Watson, jeweller, Wakefield, and asked the value of the ring; and subsequently sold it to Mr. Meyers Peterkowsky, jeweller, Wakefield, for 10s, being its value as old metal. The stone had then been taken from the ring. – Prisoner pleaded guilty to taking the ring but said he intended to take it back. – Committed for trial at the West Riding sessions at Wakefield.’

A few years later, in 1883, Ann dies. By the following year, 1884, various family trees have Myers marrying a lady called Hannah or Anna Schofield – there is no FreeBMD entry for this union. There is, however, a transcription from Owston Church telling that Myers aged 66 married Hannah Schofield on 26th September 1883 – giving his father as Lionel Peterkowsky. Hannah is transcribed as being 55 years old and the daughter of George Kaye. With a little more patience a marriage is found for him and Hannah. FreeBMD also has him indexed as KOWSKY Myers Peter – don’t you love some transcribers?

In early 1888 Myer’s son, Joseph died aged 27, the following spring Myers also died aged 71. There is an entry in the Coroner’s Diary for recording Myers last few hours with a report from Hannah Peterkowsky of 5 Queen Street, widow……..further confirmation that Myers did marry again.

Hannah told the Coroner that she had known Myers for 10 years and been married to him for the last five years. She told that a Dr Wright had attended her husband for the last two years for occasional spasms of the chest. He had recently been to Leeds to and brought back a bottle of medicine. Hannah went on to say that last Friday he had been out all day last Friday. Hannah had gone to bed, leaving her husband reading the paper, who followed her shortly afterwards. About 1 am Myers gasped and Hannah went to fetch a drink for him. Later, placing his hands across his chest, he requested some ginger and water. After complaining of the cold, hot water bottles were placed at his feet. Hannah said that Myer had said he would get up to the commode. He became worse and a servant was called who brought warm earthenware places to apply to his chest. The servant just before 3 am was sent to get Dr Wright. The spasms became worse while trying to get to the commode so was helped back to his bed. He told his wife ‘I am poorly, Hannah’. With that neither speaking or moving he died very quickly at 4.20.

A further witness, John Todd, told the Coroner that he had known Myers for over 50 years and had attended many furniture sales with him and was a frequent visit to the Peterkowsky house. Todd had been at the house from about 8.30 the night before Meyers death and found him in good spirits with his wife, granddaughter and servant.

A notice in the Sheffield Independent for 11 March 1889: Death of a Well-Known Dealer in Vertu – On Saturday Mr Myers Peterkowsky, residing in Queen Street, Wakefield, and who has been in business in that town for 52 years as a furniture dealer and plate broker, died suddenly from heart disease, aged 72.  The deceased has left a remarkable stock of curios, worth, it is said, several thousands pounds, which may now come to the hammer‘.

Probate for Myers estate was granted on the 2nd of May 1890 – ‘The Will of Myers Peterkowsky late of Queen Street Wakefied in the County of York General Dealer who died 9 March 1889 at Queen Street was proved at Wakefield by John Thomas Hall of Wood Street Wakefield Bank Manager and Charles Henry Marshall of New Scarborough nr Wakefield Commercial Clerk the Executors‘.

Finally, going back a few decades there is an Alien Arrival on Ancestry on 30th of May 1837 for a Nobel Myer Pieterkowsky, a dealer, native of Prussia. The arrival paperwork tells that Myer has a passport from the Prussian Government, the sheet being duly signed by the Port Officer ***** Fabian and by Nobel Myers Pieterkowsky……….could this be Myers entering the country to have a long career in Wakefield.

This now brings to the fore another question, what made Myers make Wakefield his home?

Dallas War Memorial, Morayshire

dallas war mem 1Although I have Garrow, Petrie, Grigor, Gow, Innes and Denoon links to the Dallas and wider Moray region the name Andrew Izatt stood out, when I looked at my images of Dallas, Moray war memorial. The above-mentioned names were included on the memorial and as there were no Riach’s listed I decided to tell you a little about Andrew Izatt.

Andrew was born in the latter part of 1890 in Dallas, Elginshire. He was the son of Andrew and Annie Milne Izatt nee Shand. Andrew senior, son of Andrew Izatt and Rachel Gain, was born around 1861 in Whitburn, Linlithgowshire and was employed as a school teacher. Annie, on the other hand, was born around 1865 in Ordiquihill, Banffshire. As well as Andrew junior, Alexina Shand born in 1876 was also included in the 1891 census entry – Alexina being Andrew snr’s sister in law.

By 1901, Andrew jnr. had two siblings – Meta aged 8 and Ella, just three months old. The transcription for Andrew has him as 18, but he is more likely to be around 11-year-old mark, working on his birth being late 1890. Also included in the census is Maggie Agilvie, probably Ogilvie, of Dallas, who is the families servant. Andrew snr. is now the Head Master of Dallas School – who could have possibly still been the head of the school when my grandfather John Riach was of school age.

Sometime before February 1915, Andrew set off for Canada. There is a St. Albans, Vermont entry for an Andrew Izatt aged 23 born in Dallas, Scotland who arrived on SS Grampian (?) in July of 1910 – this gives a couple of years leaway on age. There is also  striking difference, in a another document, which I will go into detail later – information to Andrew’s description. Andrew declared 1$ and told he had never been arrested or deported from or excluded from any admission to the USA. He gave Moose Jaw as his last addressed, telling that he had no relatives in America and he had paid the price of the crossing by himself and gave his occupation as labourer.

Andrew Attested in Calgary on 9th March 1915 before Geo. Morfett (?) Approving Officer and Justice. Andrew declared he was from Dallas, Morayshire, giving his date of birth as 1st Nov. 1890. He gave his father as his next of kin and gave his trade as a dairyman. He also stated he had done 3 years with the 6th Gordons and duly signed his name. ~The second page of the Attestation a description of Andrew – he was 5′ 6″ tall with a fully expanded chest of 36 ½”. He had a light complexion, grey eyes and dark hair with a birthmark on his left thigh. He was a Presbyterian by faith. Now the height, hair and eye colourings differ on this document from the border crossing where he is described as 5′ 2″, fair complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes – not too much difference apart from he has lost four inches in height!

Andrew served as Private 434940 in the 50th Bn. Canadian Infantry.
He died on the 9th of November 1916 aged 26 and is remembered on the Vimy Memorial along with over 11,160 others who fought in the Canadian forces, with many of them in the fight for Vimy Ridge . The Memorial designed by W S Allward was unveiled by King Edward VII in July 1936 has a commanding view over the French countryside.

The area leading up to the Vimy Memorial is set in a wooded area of which some is still cordened off to the public. The actual memorial stands proud on the hightest part of the ridge, overlooking the Douai Plain. In the lower areas of the memorial park are the underground tunnels and trenches once running busy with the acts of war.  During a visit to the underground tunnels one of the Canadian guides said that the woodland area was planted with one tree for each Canadian soldier during the battle who lost his life. The guides at Vimy are Canadian students who spen time in France telling the history of the battle and the people.

RBL Somme 100 Lapel Pin – Pte. 22851 G F Ward

RBL Somme 100 Lapel Pin – Pte. 22851 G F Ward

box-coverEarlier this year I toyed with the idea of buying a Somme 100 lapel pin – you know the one. Anyway, for those of you who have not seen the promotions on various web and media sites, each pin, according to the RBL shop  is ‘made from British shell fuses fired during the Battle of the Somme and collected from the historic front line. The stunning red enamel in the centre of each poppy is made from a small amount of finely ground earth that was collected from Gommecourt, Hebuterne, Serre, Beaumont Hamel, Thiepval, Ovillers, La Boisselle, Fricourt and Mametz, and red enamel mixed together to create the iconic red colour.’


© Carol Sklinar Dec 2016

Not only is each pin made from shell fuses fired 100 years ago, each pin remembers a soldier who lost his life during this battle.

When I stopped thinking about getting one for me and another for my friends birthday pressie there were none left.  Disapointed not only for myself but saddened that I could not get one for my friends birthday gift – alternate plan soon sorted the gift out.

In mid-December more promotional information started filtering through about the lapel pins. This time not to be outdone, I went online and bought two pins – my next problem was would they be here in time.  Two days later a large box arrived at work and they were worth the wait.

As I have said, and you probably know, each pin remembers a soldier, my soldier is Pte. 22851, George Frederick Ward of the Suffolk Regiment.

George Frederick was the son of Robert Ward and his wife Ellen.  Robert was aged 27 in the 1891 census, born in Layham, working as a labourer and living in Hadleigh with Ellen and their two children at Parker’s Cottage. George was one year old at this time.

Robert Ward (1833-1912) &Emily Hynard (1838-1910) via J Ward

Robert Ward (1833-1912) & Emily Hynard (1838-1910) via Jeffrey Ward

There have been Ward’s in the Layham area for a very long time, with the manorial rolls including their names as early as the 1400’s and are regularly mentioned for the next 200 years.  In the 16th century the family were yeoman farmer according to some wills of the time.  In later years the family seem to have come down in the world a little.

George’s father, Robert, was the son of Robert (1833-1912) and Emily nee Hynard (1838-1910). The couple had 12 children. Robert snr., during the 1840’s worked in the Silk Mill at Hadleigh – Robert jnr., (1862-1927) also worked there.

Back to George, his parents and siblings, who are still at Parker’s Cottage in 1901. The family has now grown to include four more siblings for George.  Robert now works

Robert Ward (1833-1912) via Jeffrey Ward

Robert Ward (1833-1912) via Jeffrey Ward

as a horseman on a local farm, his eldest son Robert, yes another, aged 13 also works on a farm – probably the same farm.

Another 10 years in the life of the Ward family and 1911 has arrived.  What will that year bring to the country?  In January the Siege of Sydney Street takes place. March sees 11,000 workers at the Singer sewing machine factory go on strike.  RMS Titanic is launched in Belfast and across the water, RMS Olympic sails for Liverpool.  At the height of the hottest British summer on record, George V and Queen Mary are crowned. Later on in the year the Official Secrets Act 1911 came in to effect and Suffragettes storm the Houses of Parliament.  On April 2nd the census was again taken, differing from previous years census forms, more information is now requested – the number of years married and details of how many children to that marriage.

Back to George and his family in 1911. The information in the census now tells that Robert and Ellen Mary had been married for 24 years, Ellen giving birth to seven children (all still being alive in 1911), six of the children had been recorded as living with Robert and Ellen – Margaret who would now be around 18 was not with the family. The eldest four children were employed as farm labourers, jobbing gardener at a local market garden, a carpenters help and an errand boy at a local farm house. Home for the family was Hill Cottage, Layham. Robert while completing the form entered the number of years married and children details in the wrong row. He also went into detail about the rooms in the cottage.  Robert entered ‘two bedrooms one downstairs room’, the enumerator struck through that information and wrote ‘four’. By that added extra bit of information it is now known the size of property the Ward family of eight existed in.

1914 came around too quickly, men enlisted, men went away but not as many came home.

George served as 22851 in the 7th Btn. Suffolk Regiment, which has been raised in 1914 aspart of Kitchener’s First New Army, after enlisting in Ipswich and had been with his regiment on the northern edge of the Somme battlefields during July of 1916.  After being injured he was taken to 76th FA (Field Amblance) where Albert Victor Moth was taken and died on the same day as George.

Robert, George’s father, would have received his Victory and British Medals, along with monies owning to George from the Army. As the service records for George have not survived, the information, including a description of George, his postings etc., which would be fascinating, is sadly missed.

George Frederick Ward

George Frederick Ward via Jeffrey Ward

George Frederic Ward rests in Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension along with over 1,330 other identified casualties from the Commonwealth and France including Albert Moth. The CWGC website tells ‘The first Commonwealth burial took place in the communal cemetery in October 1915 and the last on 1 July 1916. By that date, field ambulances had come to the village in readiness for the attack on the German front line eight kilometres away, and the cemetery extension was begun on the eastern side of the cemetery.

Although George rests peacefully in France he is

Layham War Memorial 2014 via Jeffrey Ward

Layham War Memorial 2014 via Jeffrey Ward

remembered on the Layham War Memorial, Suffolk, a few message boards, mailing lists and websites including Suffolk Roll of Honour.

The Ward family had been featured in the Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury on 29th of March 1918 – all five of the male family eligible for military service had been or were on active duty.  Only George was killed in action. George’s brothers, Robert William, Henry Walter, Frank Bernard Jubilee Ward and brother-in-law, F Orvis saw service in France, Italy, Egypt and the Dardinelles. F Orvis was Francis G S Orvis who married Margaret Ward in the winter of 1914.


© Carol Sklinar Dec 2016

‘Only the dead have seen the end of war’

West Riding Police War Memorial

West Riding Police War Memorial

During the Great War West Riding Police Force went along with their daily working lives – patrolling the streets on foot, being a presence on the streets and dealing with the unsavoury side of life that arose. During this time they had the added an extra burden of vast numbers of soldiers, either stationed in the West Riding, on leave in the area, passing through on their way to postings or returning to the war. One task that became an everyday occurrence was being on the look out for soldiers overstaying leave, absconding – being AOL (Absent without leave).

The everyday lot of the local ‘Bobby’ was about to change for them and their families.

The police were exempt from enlisting for the early part of the war. This all changed in December 1915, when all members of the police force under 41 years of age (including Walter Siddle) attested and were placed n the reserve list under Lord Darley’s Scheme (World War 1). By March 1917, the goal posts were moved and all under 41 years of age were to be examined by the Army Medical Board.

West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

John Pinion Sleaford, West Riding Constabulary War Memorial

John Pinion Sleaford, West Riding Constabulary War Memorial © Carol Sklinar 2016

The memorial to the men of the West Riding Constabulary situated at Laburnum Road, Wakefield carries the names of over 60 men from WW1 and 26 names from WW2.

Of the 60+ names from the WW1 memorial one name stands out amongst the rest due to the unusual middle name – John Pinion Sleaford, now doesn’t that roll off the tongue?

John’s early years were spent in Lincolnshire. He was born in or around Walcot, Lincolnshire on the 24th May 1890 and baptised on the 26th of February 1899. The entry for John in the registers of St Michael’s Billinghay and St Oswald, Walcot show that his parents, Charles and Hephzibah Sleaford had four of their other children baptised on the same day. The entry also shows where John, his sister Sarah and brother Arthur came by their unusual middle name ‘Pinion’, Hephzibah’s maiden name was Pinion. Charles on this day gave his occupation as a cottager.

The 1901 census gives the details of Charles, his wife and nine children living at Fen Road, Walcot – Charles now classes himself as a farmer. Ten years later in 1911 census more information is given and it appears that John was one of 10 children, nine of which survived to be included in the census. Home for John, a 20 year old farm worker, and the rest of the family was Walcott Fen, Billinghay. Later working for James Franklin a local farmer.

John aged 21 left his native Lincolnshire and signed, on the 5th of January 1912, the Declaration to become a constable in the West Riding Police. Aged 21 years and 7 months, John was 5′ 9 ¼” tall, with a fresh complexion. He had dark brown hair and grey eyes, having no particular marks and stating that he was a single man. John also had to give a specimen of his handwriting.

John's handwriting from Police Records

John’s handwriting from Police Records

John Pinion Sleaford, warrant number 7785, was from November 1912 stationed in Staincross and by January of 1913 had advanced from third to a second-grade constable.

In the early summer of 1915, John returned to Lincolnshire to marry Ellen Blundy. Using both John’s and Ellen’s surnames in a search it seems that there were two children born – Leonard in Grantham, 1915 and Edith in Penistone, 1916.

John joined the Navy, becoming Stoker 2nd class, K 39557, serving on HMS Victory II from 10th January 1917 to February 7th of the same year (this could have been a shore base). From 7th February John was in the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire, which had been a naval hospital since the mid 1700’s and was the last to lose its military status in 2007.

Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire via Wikipedia

Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, Gosport, Hampshire via Wikipedia

John died on the same day of his admittance to HMH Haslar, the 7th of February, from pneumonia and heart failure and rests in the churchyard of his native village of Walcott near Billinghay. By this time Ellen was living at Hill Top, Clayton West.

Did Ellen remarry to give her two young children a father? Did Ellen move back home to Lincolnshire? Well, the 1939 Register answers both those questions. Still living at Hill Top, Ellen

CWGC headstone for John Pinion Sleaford © Lorna

CWGC headstone for John Pinion Sleaford © Lorna

can be found doing ‘unpaid domestic duties’, while Leonard works as a clayware labourer and Edith is a worsted spinner.

Leonard married Madge B Carter in the Hendon area. Edith, however, there are a couple of entries for a marriage that could be her, one in Bradford and the other in Sleaford……….so I will leave that one for others to sort out.

Ellen died in 1960 and it seems she did not tie the knot again.

James Riach of Fochabers and Yorkshire

During Heritage Weekend I attended a performance of History Wardrobe’s White Wedding – another fantastic event, but more of that later apart from the event was held in Wakefield Cathedral. Wakefield Cathedral being the link to my post.

I arrived early, so I thought I would ‘kill one bird with two stones’ as they say and off I went looking for a memorial to a WW1 soldier, that a relative of his had lead me to believe was there. I hasten to add the last time I visited with the aim of searching for this memorial it was the previous year’s Heritage Weekend, and the building was partially closed for renovation work. Well, with time to kill I set off on my mooch around but sadly the memorial could not be found – I walked up and down but no, it was not there. Had the relative mistaken the church, was it in another within the vicinity – note to self, send her an email!

As I have said, I walked up and down the Cathedral looking for this memorial but on one aisle there was a short row of chairs – why were they there?

Well, with a History Wardrobe event and my new find I was well made up for the day.
It seems that my find was part of a five-year touring installation commemorating the casualties of WW1 – What a find as I had not seen this advertised or promoted anywhere.
The installation comprised of five chairs from Passcendaele’s St Audomarus Church – each chair represents a casualty as shown by the small numbers on each chair, Accompanying the chairs is a book – each left-hand page bears the name of all the casualties from the British Isles who died in Belgium, some 173,000 names, with each name being followed by the regiment and date of death.

The opposite page of this huge book is for personal stories, and there are some wonderful ones told by relatives and researchers. Some of which I will tell at a later date, but in the meantime, I will tell of someone from the left-hand page, whose family name has a connection to me.
RIACH – J Riach of the West Riding Regiment – did he have a connection to my Scottish Riach family? I did know that some of the family moved to the Brighouse area of Yorkshire and others went to the London area. Did J Riach belong to the Yorkshire, London or Scottish side?

James' Medal Card via Ancestry

James’ Medal Card via Ancestry

The medal card for J Riach confirms his service number, always a good start and gives his first name, James (the CWGC only gives his initial). Did James have a surviving service record? Yes, he did and this told me that he was born in Fochabers, but at the time of his enlistment was living at 35 Birkby St, Wilson Road, the town being unreadable! Having previously resigned twice from the services. James was working as a mechanic for J G (?) Sharp after serving a five year apprenticeship at E Fairburn’s in Brighouse.

James, aged 34 was 5′ 5½” tall and considered to be in good health. He appears to have been a stocky man as his chest was 41″, his medical report was signed off in Halifax and enlisting in Brighouse – proving which line of the family he comes from. And so James Riach signed his name and became Private Pioneer James Riach of the West Riding Regiment, serving as , witnessed by Harry S Atkinson Commanding Officer. Further reading of the service records tells that the enlistment at Brighouse was on the 24th of July 1912. James had attended annual training in Flamborough and Aberystwyth, sadly the dates have been erased by water damage but appears to have been discharged in 1902 after serving two years, of which some time was in South Africa, due to being under height.

James embarked as part of the BEF from Folkstone on SS Invicta on the 14th of April 1915 for France and Belgium, after serving ‘At Home’ from the 5th of August 1914 – 12th of April 1915. In July of that year, he was appointed in the field, unpaid Lance Corporal. Just over a month later he was killed in action.

As of yet, the name of James’ wife is unknown, but a receipt for one of his medals is signed for by A L Riach – could A L be Ada Louisa Macaulay who married James in St Mary’s church, Elland on the 26th of March 1894. James was the son of John, a police constable, while Ada was the daughter of Frederick, a dentist.

J Riach via Findagrave

J Riach via Findagrave

It looks like it is as another paper has the full name of his wife and the full address – Mrs Ada Louisa Riach, 25 Birkby Street, Wilson Road, Wyke, Bradford. Don’t you feel a sense of satisfaction when firstly, the service record you want has survived and secondly when the page containing the relatives is intact and readable – pure joy and worth a celebration. This page was completed by Ada after James’ death and lists his children, his father and a full list of all his siblings and their addresses. By the time this form was completed on the 20th of July 1919, Ada was now living at 11 Norwood Street, Bankfoot, Bradford. Most of his siblings had stayed around the Brighouse and Rastrick area but the odd one had moved just up the road to Clifton and one to Gomersall, but still quite close to the family hub.

Ada was given a pension of 21/- a week for herself and two children – strange as the list of children on the previous sheet clearly, states that there were three children to the union of James and Ada – what happened to the third?

One other piece of information I found about James was in the Leeds Mercury dated 20th of August 1915 and reads ‘FRIENDS KILLED TOGETHER. News is to hand from Belgium that Corpl. Norman Hirst (Clifton), Lance-Corpl James Riach, and Private Charles Lee (Wyke), of the 1st-4th West Ridings, were killed by a German shell on Saturday last, while working on a dug-out.

Two other men were wounded by the same shell, and it was while assisting the stretcher-bearers to get these away that Capt. Andrews (headmaster of the Hipperholme Grammar School) was fatally shot by a sniper‘.

Riach was instrumental in getting Lee to enlist, both men being employed at the same works and living in the same street, and it is a notable circumstance that they should have been killed by the same shell.

James is now no longer a name in a book or a name on a headstone, he is a son, a husband, father, neighbour and workmate.

Did Ada re-marry?  No, she died in 1958 aged 86 in Bradford and was still known as Ada Riach. She is listed in the Probate Calendar with the following entry ‘ RIACH Ada Louisa of 4 Hillam Street Little Horton Bradford widow died 31 May 1958 at Thornton View Hospital Bradford Probate Wakefield 19 August to James Riach gentlemens outfitter and Geoffrey Gostick solicitors managing clerk.  Effects £1107 9s.  Note : there is no punctuation or very little in the Probate Calendars.

James, my distant cousin, is remembered on the war memorial at St Mary’s Wyke along with Charles Lee who served as Private 4/1679.

I had previously written about the Riach family of Brighouse but since then I have managed to find out a bit more about one member of that family, with other bits of information being amended due to better-scanned images now being available online.

A Walk around Tyne Cot CWGC

A Walk around Tyne Cot  Cemetery

Tyne Cot Cemetery © Carol Sklinar 2016

Tyne Cot Cemetery © Carol Sklinar 2016

I recently visited Tyne Cott Common War Graves Commission Memorial to the Missing and cemetery as I needed to photograph four names on the vast memorial.  It was a beautiful October day, the sun was shining, the sky was clear and a beautiful shade of blue.  As I had driven for over an hour to get there I thought a quick walk around was in order, well you have to have a mooch around, don’t you?

When I had arrived there was only two other cars in the carpark – joy!  My task was completed within 10 minutes – there was a sense of peace and calm, with the occasional bird song in the air.  This peace and calm were soon to be banished as a school party arrived -

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice © Carol Sklinar 2016

Tyne Cot Cross of Sacrifice © Carol Sklinar 2016

not that I  have anything against schools visiting military cemeteries, I think they need to see the devastation war can bring, but I do think that their teachers should instill a need for respect.  These scholars ran around, shouted at their friends and generally used the walk as freedom from the confines of the coach, while their teachers stood around and chatted obliviously to the fact that they were using the Cross of Remembrance as a launch pad to reach the ground

My camera batteries were playing up – even though they were fully charged, so I chose my headstones carefully as I moved through the rows.  By now a group of army cadets had arrived, probably only a few years older than the school group, but with a totally different attitude to their visit.

Among the vast number of Australian and New Zealand burials, there were quite a few Yorkshire Regiments but they will be saved for a later date.  I tend to focus on certain regiments, unusual names, military awards or just something about a headstone that takes my fancy. For now, I am going to focus on one of the headstones found on my way back to the entrance.

Dafter T E © Carol Sklinar 2016

Dafter T E © Carol Sklinar 2016

It was the unusual name of this young man that caught my eye –  T E Dafter as is displayed on his headstone, served as Private 33513. His headstone telling that he served in the Buckinghamshire Battn., Oxford ad Bucks Light Infantry.  He was aged 19 when he died on the 16th of August 1917.

Who was T E Dafter?  His medal card gives one snippet of detail, his first name – Thomas. Thomas had served in the Hampshire Regiment as Pte 32854 and as we know the Ox and Bucks as Pte 33513.  Looks like I need to use both service numbers when looking for more information about Thomas.

Let’s go back a few years.  Thomas Edward was the son of Thomas Dafter and his wife Ealey Ann Dixon, who had married in the summer of 1894 in Chorley, Lancashire. Thomas Edward was born on the 18th of August 1897 and baptised a few months later, on 10th of October in Apley Lincolnshire. Thomas Snr. and his wife are  in the 1901 census. There is an entry in the 1911 census that seems to fit our family – living at 90 Portland Street, Lincoln with Thomas Snr working as a labourer in a local foundry.  Is this our family?

Bringing our story back to August 1917.  The 1/4th Ox and Bucks, a territorial battalion, by the 14th had been occupying a large part of the line and suffered a number of casualties, the counter-attack had been unsuccessful.  At 2pm the battalion were relieved by the 1/1st Bucks Bn., and then moved to the trenches in the Albert-Bouzincourt line.  The 15th brought bad weather making shelter very difficult to find.  The 1/4th now relieved the 1/1st by the early afternoon of the 16th and shelling continued but not as heavy as in the previous days and several patrols were sent out. Enemy shelling increased in the morning of the 17th and by 9pm had increased according to the diaries ‘increased in intensity on Skyline and Ration Trenches‘. The diary continues ‘Between 9.45 p.m. and 10 p.m”. enemy movement on our left front was suspected, and at 10.15 p.m. suspicion of an actual attack increased. A barrage was asked for and immediately given. A patrol (under 2nd Lieut. Thompson) sent out subsequently found that the suspicious trench had been badly knocked about by the barrage, and had been abandoned by the enemy. Prisoners also stated that the enemy had intended to attack, but that our barrage had broken them up.’  Was it during this time that Thomas Edward Dafter lost his life along with one officer and 44 other ranks killed or wounded.

By the title of this blog, we know that Thomas rests in Tyne Cot Cemetery.  We know from baptism and census records his parents names, but like most evidence where a transcription is involved names, places and dates can be entered wrongly.  For example, the CWGC has information for T E Dafter including his name, rank, serial number and date of death – all correct, but the additional information is slightly misleading, as Mrs Amie Dafter of 90 Portland St. Lincoln is given, when we know from earlier that his mother was Early Ann Dafter nee Dixon. This information could have been obtained from a letter written by Mrs Dafter and her writing was not quit eligible or one military document for example, the Register of Soldier’s Effects, has a couple of additions to the original entry, two being the next of kin, where Early Ann, who was probably known as Annie, has her name entered as the sole beneficiary and could be transcribed as ‘Amie’ or ‘Amnie’.

Medal card for Thomas via Ancestry

Medal card for Thomas via Ancestry

Thomas had enlisted after 1916 and was eligible for Victory and British Medals, known as ‘Mutt and Jeff’.

Thomas is remembered on the St Andrews Parish Memorial on Portland Street, Lincoln as well as Lincoln Roll of Honour.    St Andrews memorial was unveiled by Major H E Newsum in November 1920, due to the church being demolished the memorial was moved south end of Pelham Bridge.

The base of Thomas’s headstone has a short inscription, probably chosen by his mother ‘ We have lost but heaven has gained one of the best the world contained‘.

A walk around East Ardsley churchyard – who did we find?

A walk around East Ardsley churchyard – who did we find?

On a warm and sunny September morning where else would I be than in a quiet and peaceful churchyard. My walk to the church was not my choice, more a favour for a friend, but the short time I spent there was pleasant.

I had recently been talking to a friend about the book he has had published – more on that at a later date, the last entry in his book to be precise.  I just happen to live in the village where the this person is buried with his parents and brother – photo’s taken and a quick nip into the church to take another photo and complete my task.  But, there always seems to be a but, a few more headstones that caught my attention – I was not sure if I already had them in my files, just to make sure I captured their images one more time, just to be on the safe side – one in particular caught grabbed my attention.

© Carol Sklinar 2016

© Carol Sklinar 2016

The headstone, now darkened with time, is a cross standing upon three tiers with a quite ornate embellishment adorning the centre of the cross.  The memorial is not beside any path where passers by may read the words on the top two tiers, it is in the centre of the burial ground behind the church.

Whose monument is it?

George William Young.  Who was this man? What was his occupation? Was he liked within the community?

There is a baptism entry in the St Mary, Whitechapel registers for a George William son of George William Henry and Harriet Young who lived in Pavilion Yard, Whitechapel Road.  George snr was a livery stable keeper. The year of birth from information obtained on the George’s headstone is around 1854/5, so the year of 1850 for his baptism is a slightly larger margin than I would have expected, although I am not surprised.

When George William, his parents and sibling were included in the 1861 census the family were still living at Pavilion Yard – George was 11 at this time and his age confirms his birth year as 1850. His father, George gave his occupation as Licenced Horse Dealer and Stable Keeper.

George married Frances Newton in the early autumn of 1875 in the Stepney area of London. The couple along with their family and friends gathered at St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney and were married by Banns, which had been read on the 18th and 25th of July and the 1st of August. Frances was marrying in her own parish but George W gave his parish as that of West Ardsley. The wedding party gathering on the 2nd of August. The witness were George Young, George Nicolson (?) and ***** Nicholson (?).

By 1881, but more than likely after his marriage, George and his wife are found in the census living on Wakefield Road.  Although this census does not give a house number or name, it is known that George lived at Woodhouse Hall, on the junction of Wakefield Road and Woodhouse Lane. The enumerator who entered the information included that George was a Medical Practitioner, Thomas his younger brother was employed as his assistant.

Ten years later in 1891 the census confirms that the Young family are living at Woodhouse Hall, East Ardsley. Living with George and Frances are Lilian Clara Young, their nine year old niece and Mary Ann Young, George’s widowed sister in law.

Sketch used in Yorkshire Evening Post article

Sketch used in Yorkshire Evening Post article

During the time George spent in the village he became President of East Ardsley United Cricket Club as the Yorkshire Post of 28th of May 1892 tells “Mr G W Young, East Ardsley. Mr George William Young, whose portrait we give, is the president of the East Ardsley United Cricket Club.  The ‘Doctor’, as he is more familiarly known, is a generous and enthusiastic supporter of all kinds of sport.  For several years he has figured at the head of the ‘United’. Three years ago, on the club winning the Wakefield and District Challenge Cup, for the second time, he presented each member of the team with a handsome silver medal.  Last year he gave five guineas and two bats as prizes to the members, and this year he has again offered a similar amount.  In addition he is always ready to contribute liberally to any special expense of the club.  He is a honorary member of the Yorkshire Country C.C., and a vice-president of several clubs in the locality.  He was elected unopposed as the first member of the Alverthorpe division of the West Riding County Council, a position which he still occupies.

When Aaron Bedford, farmer of West Ardsley wrote his will he asked George who gave his occupation as surgeon, and Robert Chadwick, grocer of West Ardsley to be his Executors.  It was in May of 1883 that Robert and George, as Executors placed a notice in the London Gazette calling for parties with a claim on Aaron’s estate to come forward by the end of May.  The estate of Aaron was worth approximately £270.

 George snr. died on the 18th of July 1890.  The Probate entry for him tells that Pavilion Yard was still home to the family and he was now classed as a Gentleman, leaving a personal estate of £8,225 19s – quite a sum!

Life continued in  and around the village of East Ardsley for a few years until in January 28 1895 when the following article appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

DEATH OF AN ARDSLEY DOCTOR – Sketch of Dr. Young’s career.  Much excitement has been caused in Ardsley and district by the announcement of the death of Mr. George William Young, surgeon.  An inquest will be held tonight at East Ardsley, before Major Taylor.
On Saturday night Dr Young retired to rest about 11 0’clock.  He woke about one a.m. on Sunday but dropped off to sleep again.  He continued to be very restless, and about four o’clock he got up, and, accompanied by Mrs. Young, proceeded to the surgery where he took a sedative with a view to making him sleep.  On getting back into his bedroom he suddenly rell, apparently in a fit, and expired immediately.
Dr Jackson, another medical practitioner in the neighbourhood, was sent for, but on his arrival life had been extinct for some time.  His services were, however required on behalf of Mrs. Young, who suffered terribly from the shock.
It appears that deceased – who was only 44 years of age – had been indisposed for a considerable period, and for a short time up to Wednesday last had been confined to the house, his assistants tending to his practice.  He resumed his duties on Wednesday, however, and attended to them until Saturday night.
The deceased was very widely known throughout the district of West Yorkshire, having taken a very prominent part in public affairs.  He was a native of London but came to Wakefield as assistant to Dr Thomas Walker, who has since retired, and is ow living at Leeds.  Subsequently Mr Young commenced practising at Ardsley, where he has since resided, and has held several positions as medical officer to large concerns in the neighbourhood.  He always took a keen interest in local affairs, and was for some time chairman of the East Ardsley School Board.  He has represented the Alverthorpe Division, which includes Ardsley, on the West Riding County Council ever since its formation.  Some years ago he represented West Ardsley on the old Wakefield Rural Sanitary Authority, of which body he was at one time chairman.  At the recent elections he was returned as one of the representatives of East Ardsley on the Wakefield Rural District Council.

The Leeds Mercury issue for the following day, 29th January 1895, is virtually the same as the entry in the Yorkshire Evening Post with the addition of ‘….. Major Taylor held an inquest last evening, – Mrs. Young said that her husband suffered from a weak heart, and that on a former occasion he was nearly gone.  On the present occasion she tried to administer brandy, but without success. – Dr J J Jackson said that from the appearance of the body, he should imagine that deceased had been suffering from a weak heart for some time. – The jury found a verdict of ‘Natural causes’. and in conveying it they expressed condolence with Mrs young in here bereavement’

© Carol Sklinar 2016

© Carol Sklinar 2016

The headstone in St Michael’s churchyard tells in how much he was thought of within the area –  ‘This stone erected by subscription in memory of George William Young, surgeon, who died Jany 2th 1895, aged 44 years.  As a token of admiration for services rendered to the parishes  of  East and West Ardsley.’

When Probate was granted for George in 1896, his estate of £1226 1s was granted to his widow Frances.

Morley & District Family History Open Day

Morley & District Family History Open Day

poster-snipped-versionMorley & District Family History Group are celebrating their 30th Anniversary with an Open Day on Saturday 17th of September 2016 from 10am – 3pm at St Mary’s in the Wood, (opposite Morley Library), Commercial Street, Morley, Leeds, LS27 8HY.

With Free Admission, why not pop in and see who is going to be there.

30 years ago a small group of people attended an evening class for those interested in family history. The classes ended after six weeks, and it was then that Morley & District Family History Group began and is still here today.

Morley & District FHG may not be the biggest family history society/group but they are a friendly lot, so if you have family from the local area or are thinking about beginning your family history, why not drop in on Saturday and have a chat.

Morley & District FHG will have their collection of transcriptions available for sale.

Who else is going to be there?

leaflets-1There will also be a small information desk with leaflets and information from The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Find My Past and The Western Front Association.

On the day there will be a HELP DESK which will have access to major family history online resources.  A collection of family history magazines plus a good selection of family history society magazines from various areas will be FREE for you to take away  – you may find something of interest to help with your family history research.

Bring along your family and local history questions.

But don’t forget to bring some of your research with you or make notes of the questions you wish to find an answers to!

See you on Saturday for a chat, a cuppa and a Yorkshire Welcome.

Why can’t I find them in the census?

Why can’t I find them in the census?

When transcribing a document for online research should you transcribe the document as it is written or transcribe the document, making it suitable for online searching?

A transcription by definition is ‘copied’ word for word, error for error.  But are there times when common sense should prevail?   There are other forms of transcriptions, but that can be for a later date.

Many online documents are transcribed abroad, where names and places are transcribed by those who have no knowledge of the country that the documents relate to.

Example : Latham family of 17 Cambridge Avenue, Crosby.

Example : Latham family of 17 Cambridge Avenue, Crosby.

Imagine you are looking for your maternal grandmother. You know her married name, eventually find her maiden name but her parents and siblings are unknown. A search of the census does not give any information that is helpful.  Could it be that the enumerator has tried to save his time and effort by being scrimpy with the details by using ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’. And there seems to be a large number of people with ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’ as their surname.

For example in the Great Grimsby census for 1911 Mr Myers of 10 Bull Ring, Grimsby completed his form telling he was a grocer.  His wife Rose was completed using her full name, Rose Myers, while the children, two of them were entered as Hilda Do and Harold Do. Percy Cahill, a window cleaner living at 125 Walnut Street, Hr Broughton, completed his form by entering his name in full, then completing the form by adding his wife and children’s names followed by ‘Do’.

Another example from the 1911 census is for Joseph Preedy who lived at 10 Acacia Avenue, St John’s, Wembley.  Mr Preedy, a Head Glazier, who had been married to Alice for 16 years completed her name in full, then proceeded to name his children, each one’s name followed by ‘Ditto’.

That’s all well and good but there are also a number of people with ‘Ditto’ or ‘Do’ as a first name…….

Thomas Barns of Gaul Road, March, Cambridge, seems to have been a bit unsure on how to complete his census form – there are quite a few crossings out and a good old ink blot! Thomas enters his name, his wife’s details then complete his children’s information.  Now, did he intend to put his eldest child Dorothy first, or enter his son first?  There is a ‘Do’ before Ernest’s name, which may be due to Thomas being unsure of how to complete the form, but Ernest is now on the index as Do Ernest Barnes.

Henry Charles Wills of Sackville Gardens, Hove, is an Engineer and Tea Planter living with his wife and two children plus  two servants – Mary Ann Tidball and Agnes du Cruyard, Agnes is found on the index as Agnes do Cruyard.

1911 census via

1911 census via

One young man in the 1911 is destined never to be found as he is entered by his father on the census as Ditto  ”  “.  But the transcriber has shown a bit of thoughtfulness when placing him in the index.  Michael Mcdonough, a widower, living with his family on Railway Street, Liversedge, Yorkshire, had named his second son after himself and therefore entered Ditto  ”  ”  on the line below his name.  Michael junior is followed by his elder brother Thomas, then John and a sister, Annie, whose surnames are all completed in full.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary the meaning of ‘Ditto’ is ‘a symbol that means ‘the same’ and is used in a list to avoid writing again the word written immediately above it‘.  The ‘Do’ is a shorter form of ‘Ditto’ and can save even more time when writing repetitive words.

It might be worth while looking for a ‘Ditto’ or a ‘Do’ in a first and/or last name if you have lost a relative in the census