Category Archives: News

A Walk around Sugar Lane Cemetery – Thomas C Greenwood

A Walk around Sugar Lane Cemetery – Thomas C Greenwood

In the 1861 census for Liverpool, there is an entry for a five-year-old boy named Thomas C Greenwood. He is living at the Forge public house, Lime Street, Liverpool with his parents, Joshua T and Catherine, his father is the publican. Thomas was not their only child, he had two younger siblings. All the children had been born in Liverpool, while Joshua was from Lincoln and Catherine was from Wales.

By 1871 Joshua is now a General Agent and Collector and he and his wife had another addition to the family. If you are looking for Thomas C in the census you might find that a bit of a task if using Ancestry as his surname has been transcribed as Greenwald.

In the following years, Joshua and Catherine went on to have over six children. Catherine died in 1874 and the following year the children had a stepmother, Rebecca Bannister later Sewell.

While living in Liverpool, Thomas Collingwood Greenwood met a young lady named Margaret Ann Fairclough and on the 25th of December 1875, the couple tied the knot in a ceremony in St Silas Church, Liverpool. Thomas told the minister that he worked as an ‘Agent’, the same as his father. The minister, John Harrison, earned his wage on the 25th of December as there were five weddings that day, well five weddings in that register. The wedding of Thomas Collingwood and Margaret was the second entry in the new Register.

In the following years Thomas Collingwood returned to education and in 1879 was Ordained at Chester Cathedral after studying at St Aidan’s College, Birkenhead and licenced to St Columba’s, Liverpool. His entry in the Clergy List for 1897 confirms him being curate of All Saints’ Rainford, 1879-1881, followed by two years in Blackpool. In 1883, he crosses the border and is at Sowerby Bridge. He then moves to All Souls, Halifax from 1887 to 1891. All Saints Salterhebble is his next parish and during his time there Thomas Collingwood and his family live at 12 Ventnor Terrace, The Heath, Halifax.

While at Rainford he was mentioned in The Ormskirk Advertiser for 22nd September 1881. ‘Presentation to the Rev T C Greenwood, of Rainford. On Thursday evening last the Rev T C Greenwood was presented with an elegantly bound musical album by the Young Men’s Bible Class connected with All Saints’ Church, Rainford, and with a purse of gold containing £22, which had been subscribed for by the parishioners, in consequence of his giving up the curacy of Rainford. The members of the Bible class were entertained by the rev. gentleman and his wife at his house, and Mr G Robinson, in a few well chosen words, presented the album. He said that it had always been a great pleasure for them to meet Mr Greenwood, and he felt sure none would miss him more that the Bible class’. They hoped, however, that his future life would be happy and prosperous. They could assure him that they felt greatly indebted to him for his past services, and they trusted that when he left it would be a kind remembrance of his connection with the Young Men’s Bible Class.

The first page of the album contained the following inscription:- ‘Presented to the Rev. Thomas Collingwood Greenwood by the members of the Young Men’s Bible Class, September 15, 1881, in token of their appreciation of his services to the class as a teacher, and also as a testimony of their good wishes for his future prosperity, together with their prayers that he may long be spared to carry on the good work so ably begun in this parish.’

The newspaper column continues with Thomas Collingwood finding great difficulty in finding the words to convey his thanks and gratitude for the presentation. Mr Robinson then went on to present the gold bag containing £22 on behalf of parishioners and again thanks were prolific from both parties and that they would always have fond memories of times in Rainford.

In 1900 the Greenwood family, Thomas Collingwood, Margaret and six children move a little farther away than they have done since their move from Rainford, this time they move to Wakefield where Thomas Collingwood become the vicar of St Mary’s Church, Primrose Hill. The next census, 1911, gives more information than the previous with the inclusion of length of marriage and number of children. Thomas Collingwood and Margaret had been married 36 years and had eight children in total thankfully all were alive at the time but not all were living at home.

I’d seen examples of Thomas Collingwood’s signature on his marriage entry but with maturity and possibly his position within the community his hand had developed a flourish. A kind signature, one devoid of arrogance. Even his everyday writing seems to be of a man that cares – it is clear, easy to read and thoughtful in its manner.

The signature of Thomas Collingwood Greenwood as seen in the 1911 census

Thomas Collingwood could still be found at St Mary’s in 1921. The following year life would take a turn for the worst as on the 18th December 1922, just days before her wedding anniversary, Margaret died.

Thomas Collingwood continued his service to the parish of St Mary’s until his death in the vicarage on January 25th 1927 and he rests with his Margaret in Sugar Lane Cemetery.

The monument remembering Thomas Collingwood Greenwood and his wife

According to the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer dated the 2nd of July 1930 The Bishop of Wakefield, Dr J B Seaton dedicated two memorials in St Mary’s Church. The first was erected to the memory of Thomas Collingwood Greenwood who had been the vicar of the parish for 27 years – he must have enjoyed the area and felt at home there. The second was to Margaret Greenwood. The Greenwood family gave an oak Communion table in remembrance of their parents while parishioners and friends gave a ‘fine’ oak pulpit. As I lived as a child in Hardy Croft, and attended St Andrew’s Sunday School and church, on occasions we went to St Mary’s so I must have seen the Communion table and pulpit. Little did I know that one day I would be telling you all about the vicar who was held in great stead by his family, parishioners and friends.

This year has been a landmark in British history with the Jubilee celebrations but before we say goodbye to Thomas Collingwood and Margaret I would like to tell you about his early years in Wakefield.

Wakefield and West Riding Herald 13 Aug 1904. ‘Monday, the 29th of this month will bring about the jubilee of the consecration of St Mary’s Church, Wakefield and the vicar and Churchwardens are making the necessary arrangements for the celebrating of the jubilee in a manner worthy of the occasion.’ Special services were held and the 110-foot spire was to be examined. Which resulted in it being practically rebuilt. A Mr Thicket, who was regarded as a spire specialist as he had worked on the City Cemetery Chapel previously, was put forward for the task of repairing the 50-year-old spire, which upon examination had tons of dust from the crumbled into the belfry, with some places being no more than a skeleton. The school also needed an amount of work to be done. So an appeal was put in place and fundraisers were organised. All in all the church spire was rebuilt, and the body of the church was repointed. The pews, some of which were uncovered were now furnished throughout with the addition of kneelers. The brass eagle lectern which was tarnished was now lacquered. A new Communion table, coverings and carpets were installed. It was thought that this would mark the 50 years in a suitable fashion. Little did the communion know that in just over two decades there would be a new lectern!

Back to the article ‘The Rev. Thomas Collingwood Greenwood, the present Vicar, who was appointed soon after Mr Parrish’s death, has proved himself an energetic and hard-working clergyman. In fact, he has to be, for having to work the parish single-handed, as he has done for the past twelve months, including Sunday afternoon services at the Chantry-on-the-Bridge, attended to the Workhouse, and the Parochial Mission Room, it is doubtful if a busier clergyman can be found in the city, His loyally supported by his churchwardens and parishioners…The coming jubilee celebration will, we doubt not, mark a new era in the church, educational and social life of St Mary’s.

I wonder what happened to the Greenwood Communion table, the lectern and the two memorials? Lost in the demolition no doubt! Unless someone knows otherwise.

Two Soldiers of Bleue Maison

Two Soldiers of Bleue Maison

Bleue Maison CWGC © C Sklinar 2022

While on a long-awaited visit to my beloved ‘bolt hole’ in France I took another walk – a ten-minute walk down the road to the CWGC Bleue Maison near the Commune of Eperlecque. I’d been there many times and at one time had photographed all the headstones and later blogged about some of the young men who rest there.

This time though, I’d left the hard drive with all my photographs at home but the short walk down the road on a nice day was very pleasant.

In the cemetery are quite a few Royal Engineers and Cameron Highlanders with the odd other regiments and Canadians thrown in for good measure.

The cemetery covers the period 1918-1919 and sits between the main road through one of the centre villages and the back road to the main village. 

On this visit, I only photographed a few of the headstones – one with an unusual name or something that I thought would make research easy. A Canadian headstone would certainly do that but there was one British grave that stood out not only by the surname but by the regiment. One soldier, a captain by the name of Ronald Newton Caws of the Gloucester Regiment had been awarded the Military Cross but due to his rank I knew his service record would be only accessible via the National Archives, I gave him a miss and settled on E E Setchfield, Private SE/7275 in the Royal Army Vet. Corps., who died on the 19th of September 1917. The date I noticed was before the date carved into the boundary wall of the cemetery.

E E Sketchfield’s CWGC headstone © C Sklinar 2022

Anyway, back to E E Setchfield. I like to add meat to bones and find out who these men were before they served their King and Country. The Forces-war-records website has three entries, each providing a little more information as to E E’s full name. It is the latter of these that not only give a full name – Edward Ernest Setchfield but also additional information that could help find him in the census and other records.

Edward, according to the record, was born around 1980 in Emneth, Norfolk and served in the No. 2 Mobile Vet Section. 

In 1901, Edward was 20 years old and living with his parents, George and Mary and a younger sister, Maud. There is quite a gap between Edward’s and Mary’s age, so there may have been other children in between. Edward was working as a bricklayer at this time. Later this year Edward married a young lady called Rose Adamson in the Wisbech Registration District, but probably in Walsoken, Norfolk – where he is living in the census.

Ten years later Edward and Rose are living at 40 Elizabeth Terrace, Wolsoken. Rose and their two children, Hilda and Mabel, were all born in Wolsoken but Edward seems to change his place of birth on each document. Now he either didn’t understand the question or maybe it was ‘where are you from?’ This could mean the last place he lived or where he was born depending on how the question was understood. If the question had been ‘where were you born?’ this could have been the actual place. But all the documents seem to have listed his previous village as a place of birth. A tad confusing for those new to research.

Edward enlisted in the county town of Norfolk, Norwich and by May 1915 was in France. With only doing a quick search I can’t seem to find much about the No. 2 Mobile Section but at some time they must have been around the St. Omer region of France. The area has vast tracks of canals that were dug out many, many years ago and are known as the Marais. A wonderful place to visit and enjoy a guided tour on an electric boat – a slow tour as there is a strict limit on boat speeds. In the clear water, there is plenty of fish. and the air is countless dragonflies and birds. Ernest, as we know died on the 19th of September 1917 – he was not KIA as his entry simply states DIED. How did he die? His pension card indicates he drowned by accident while on AS. I can be a little more specific in this as the Roll of Honour website tells that Edward drowned whilst fishing. Could he have been fishing in the wide canal at Watten or one of the sections that are more like a maze where you could easily get lost? 

It took a week for the notification of his death to be received by the authorities and even longer for Rose to get the money from the Army. Rose also was to receive money for two children – Hilda Mary born 31 July 1902 and Herbert Edward born 8th of February 1913. There is no mention of Mabel who was a month old in 1911.

Rose never remarried and died in 1964 aged 86.

F S Stewart CWGC headstone. © C Sklinar 2022

In total contrast to Edward, the second soldier to be named in my ramblings is F S Stewart of the Canadian Army Service Corps, 2nd Canadian Aux. HT Coy. According to the CWGC F S Stewart is Fred Sidney Stewart served as Driver 2114941 and died on the 9th of September, 1918 aged 22 years of age.

Fred was the son of Adela and Donald Stewart of 38 Toronto Road, Buckland, Portsmouth. He enlisted in Calgary. Canada on the 4th of January 1917. And unlike many of the British WW1 Service Records the ones for Australia and in this case, Canada have survived. There is so much information to be learnt from such records including wills, soldiers’ movements and something I find most fascinating – a description. So the 38 pages can tell a great deal.

At the time of his enlistment, Fred was born on the 31st of March 1896, giving his address as Gen. Den. Calgary. His family were living in Portsmouth, Hampshire and from passenger records, Fred, a teamster, could have travelled to Canada around 1915-1916.

At 5’7½” in height, Fred was reasonably tall for the time. He had a fair complexion, hazel eyes, and black hair and weighed in at 138lbs.

On the 26th of March 1917, Fred left Canada and disembarked in Liverpool on the 7th of April from SS Metagama and was taken on strength at Shorncliffe. On the 9th of August, he left the UK and arrived in Le Havre the following day as a reinforcement. The following months are detailed as to his whereabouts including 14 days’ leave on the 2nd of March 1918. Rejoining at Caestre (between Hazebrouck and Steenvoorde). At midnight on the 27-28th May 1918, his status was changed to No2 Canadian Army Aux. (Horse) Coy. 

On the 9th of September 1918, Fred was admitted to 36 CCS and died the same day of Phthisis due to active service conditions. Currently, Edward and 58 others rest in Bleue Maison CWGC in the Commune of Eperlecque. 

The base of Fred’s headstone says ‘Until we Meet’.

Bleue Maison entrance gate © C Sklinar

A Headstone in St Ninian’s, Enzie, Banffshire

A Headstone in St Ninian’s, Enzie, Banffshire

During the night the 1911 was taken, 14-year-old William Spence Kerr lived at 2 Old Town, Keith. Also in the house was his father, Alexander, the caretaker of the local cemetery; his mother, Jessie who worked as a baker. William, who worked in the local grocers had three siblings – Charles, Winifred and George, the youngest aged just two.

Alexander had been born in Keith. Jessie (nee Spence) came from Boharm. William had been born in Enzie, while his siblings came from Huntly and Keith. They moved about a bit, didn’t they?

In 1915 William was serving in the Gordon Highlanders after enlisting in Keith. His Medal Card has information about William being awarded the 1915 Star. He entered the regiment with the rank of private and service number 1661/6, which was amended to 266003 later during his service.

William Spence Kerr.
Newspaper source unknown but acknowledged

William served in the 1/6th (Banff and Donside) Battalion Territorial Force. In early August 1914, the regiment was stationed at Keith, then moved south to Bedford. After transferring to the 7th Division, the mostly young soldiers took part in various actions on the Western Front, including in December the Christmas Truce.

In 1915 the Gordon Highlanders took part in the battles of Neuve Capelle, Aubers, the Second action of Givenchy, Loos before being moved to defend the communication lines. In 1916 they saw more action on the Western Front after being transferred to the 51st Division, including High Wood and Ancre. The division was becoming a force to be reckoned with and was handed more difficult assignments, including assaults on Arras throughout the year and in November the assault on Cambrai. By 1918 the division was well below strength due to their huge losses in 1917. The 51st, low in numbers managed to hold back the enemy as the front moved back and forth.

William, however, never had the chance to see the end of the war as he died of wounds on the 17th of February 1917 around Arras. He rests in Maroeul British Cemetery, about 6km northwest of Arras, between Houdain and Aubigny. The cemetery begun by the 51st (Highland) Division, was in Arras from March 1916. Almost half of the graves are those of the Highlanders. The London Territorials also have a number of soldiers buried there. Over 25 officers and men of the Royal Engineers who died in a mine explosion. All in all the cemetery contains 563 Commonwealth graves from the First World War and 11 German soldiers who also lost their lives during this time.

Back to William. In March 1917 his death is recorded in a local newspaper, followed by his obituary in August. By 1920 his mother had been awarded all monies due from the Army.

The Kerr family headstone in St Ninian’s Catholic Cemetery© C Sklinar 2021

In the small Catholic cemetery of St Ninian’s, Braes of Enzie stands the Kerr family headstone.

‘In loving memory of Jessie Spence beloved wife of Alexander Kerr. Died at Keith 24th May 1933 aged 63. And their family. William Fell in Action 17th Feb. 1917. Aged 20. Interred in British Cemetery, Maroeuil France. Allan, Mary and James died in infancy. Also their grandchild Magaret Kerr Grant daughter of Andrew and Winifred Grant. Died at Rothes 13th Dec. 1948 aged 8 years. And Alexander Kerr beloved husband of the said Jessie Spence. Died at Rothes 26th Sept. 1953 aged 83. R.I.P.’

Book Review – Fred’s Letters by Jo Fox

Book Review –  Fred’s Letters by Jo Fox

Towards the end of 2021, the 11th of November to be precise, I was invited by a WFA (Western Front Association) friend to a book launch taking place at Elland Road. I didn’t know the author, but we did, however, all share a common interest in World War 1. My particular interest is in the soldiers, not the battles. So this book was right up my street.

Fred's Letters book cover

Fred’s Letters book cover

The book – Fred’s Letters by Jo Fox is an insight into the war of Fred Emms, a Leeds man who wrote to his sister from January 1915 to August 1918.

Jo tells the story through Fred’s letter and includes photographs, information on how the soldiers spent their days – either passing time or during battles. Jo in telling Fred’s story includes details on events at the time Fred’s letters were sent to his sister.

Not only do the 10 letters give an insight into a soldier’s war but also tell the reader how life and events carried on at home – home being the Holbeck area of Leeds.

To me, the battles, important to many WW1 researchers, are not as important as the men who fought. No matter what their rank or their status they were all part of a family loved by someone and part of a community that cared.

Jo Fox cares deeply that her great uncle Fred should not be forgotten. This book completes her task, Fred will not be forgotten.

If you have family who lived in and around the Holbeck area of Leeds or is just interested in soldiers’ lives and times in the 1914-1918 time frame, give Jo’s book a try – you will not be disappointed.

Fred’s Letters is £10 and is available from:
Etsy or searching Fred’s Letters


Little Wooden Cross

Little Wooden Cross

As I’ve said before, family history friends are the best. Not forgetting the family of family history friends! I was recently given a little wooden cross by one of these friends. It is nothing extraordinary to look at. It does, however, become two separate sections – the cross detaches from the tiered base. Was it meant to be portable? Or, has it over time become two pieces?

Hartlepool Wooden Cross © 2022 C Sklinar

This item is supposed to have been made from debris wood as the result of the Hartlepool Bombardment. It was said to be from World War 1. Was there a bombardment during this time? I know from my family history that Scarborough was bombed in the later war, WW2 – close relatives of mine were killed as a result of a direct hit on their house. The house was destroyed. My dad used to tell me that he cycled from Wakefield to the Scarborough house to watch cricket from one of their bedroom windows as it overlooked the cricket ground.

Anyway, back to the little cross and Hartlepool.

Who made the cross and why is this unknown but the story of the bombing and the impact it had on the area is documented.

On the 16th of December 1914, roundabout breakfast time 130 people were either killed or injured in forty horrific minutes when it is reported that over 1000 shells were directed at the town from a German warship. During the same day, Whitby and Scarborough were also the targets of enemy warships. As I’ve said, I knew about Scarborough during the 1939-1945 war but, in 1914, that was all new!

In 2020 found in a box of broken cameras and lenses was a short newsreel showing the aftermath of the bombardment and photographs taken at the time showing the damage and the people of Hartlepool getting on with their lives.

To see the newsreel and read about the events of the day click on the following links

March 2020 BBC News

The Newsreel on the Yorkshire Film Archive

When Germany Bombarded Hartlepool December 2014

Wikipedia’s information on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby

A Walk Around Sugar Lane with the Addition of a Surprise!

A Walk Around Sugar Lane with an Added Surprise!

Why is it when you have a plan, something always gets in the way? In this case, it was two things! The first was out of my control. I’ll not bore you with that, the second was my daughter’s fault! Bless her she sent me a short video of a churchyard and two close-up shots of a tomb. Why did she do that? Being kind and knowing that mum likes that kind of thing, she also sent me a photograph, with details of a war memorial. Last night, I did a little research on the names on the tomb when I should have been writing about Sugar Lane. They were, however, an interesting family who lived in very different times and are worthy of having their story told – later!.

But back to Sugar Lane. From all the photographs I have of this cemetery, I always find it hard to decide which headstone to tell you about. Why did I choose this one? Did I have the slight inkling where it would lead? A subconscious feeling?

Harrison, MacKenzie, Grace headstone © C Sklinar 2014

The headstone – a rounded top, now darkened with age has the words ‘In Affectionate Remembrance’ following its curve.

The first name on the carved stone is that of Lucy Eleanor Stewart the beloved wife of Henry Harrison. Lucy died on the 10th of August in the year 1874. At first glance, you could think that ‘Stewart’ was her maiden name. Well, if you were in Scotland, it could well be, as older Scottish headstones 99% of the time use the wife’s maiden name. As it happens, this could be the case as Lucy was born in Jedburgh, Scotland. And what a time I had finding her, as in the 1871 census she is Hampshire living with her aunt, Henrietta Powell. Lucy is 18 years old now and has no occupation. Her name was difficult to find as at first glance it looks like ‘Lucy EMc’ with Kenzie written half a line above. By now I was aware that her maiden name was MacKenzie. How did I know this? Her marriage entry in the Parish Register’s held the information. On the 19th of February 1873, Lucy, aged 20, of Clarendon Street, Wakefield, the daughter of William Richard MacKenzie, draper, married Henry Harrison, full age, living on Hatfield Street, Wakefield, a Police Clerk and son of Edward Harrison a chemist, in the beautiful St John’s Church, Wakefield.

St John’s Church, Wakefield via Google

Both Henry and Lucy signed the register, as did Thomas Ashmore and someone whose name looks like Kington (?). On close look, it could be McKenzie?

Lucy’s short life ended on the 10th of August 1874, after only 18 months of marriage. Probate Administrations were in Wakefield on the 4th of December 1900 – why such a long time between her death and Probate? Her effects totalled £82 11s 5d. By now Henry was a Police Superintendent.

Question? Could Lucy’s death have been due to giving birth? Leonard Stewart Harrison was baptised on the 21st of August 1874 at Holy Trinity Church, Wakefield, after being born on the 4th of the month. Leonard joined the Navy at an early age and by 1911 had been married for 15 years, had two children (aged 15 and 4 years old) and held the rank of Petty Officer and was living in Devonport. He died in 1928.  He rests in Harehills Cemetery, Leeds.

Henry married again on the 26th of April 1876 in St John’s Church, Wakefield. His second wife was called Elizabeth Grace, she was aged 23 when she walked down the aisle. Both Henry and Elizabeth were living on Hatfield Street at the time – could this have been how they met? Elizabeth’s father was John Grace, who worked as a joiner. As well as the ‘happy couple’ signing the PR, John Hardman, Betty Lawson and Mark Grace also wrote their names.

In 1881, Henry, Elizabeth and Leonard were living on Wakefield Road, Soothill, nr Dewsbury. Henry was now an Inspector and Clerk of Police aged 32 and stated that he was born in Sheffield.

In 1886 Elizabeth gave birth to a little boy, who they called Fred. Sadly, Fred was to die on April 8th 187 aged 23 months.

Ten years later in 1901, Leonard is no longer in the family home. As we know, he is now in the service of the Queen. Henry and Elizabeth are living in Hook, near Goole. Home is on Escourt Terrace – The Police Station, in fact, the Superintendent’s House. There are two new additions to the family, Anne, aged nine and Henry, aged two. The family seem to have been on the move in the past 10 years as Anne was born in Dewsbury and young Henry in Otley.

Another ten years on and the family now live in the Police Court House, Goole. The family has increased with the addition of Lawrence aged eight and Nowill also eight – were they twins?  A look at their birth certificates will tell you as the times of birth would be included.  Unlike a Scottish certificate where all times of birth are included regardless of multiple births.

The year 1910 was a sad year for the Harrison’s – Henry died on the 10th of August and his death was registered in the Selby Registration District. Henry of Barff Holme, Brayton Road, Selby had his Probate granted on the 26th of September when Elizabeth was responsible for £1144 12s 3d.

1911, Elizabeth now aged 58 included information about her marriage and children, don’t you just love Elizabeth! She added that she had been married 34 years, had had 6 children and two had sadly died. On census night included with Elizabeth were Henry, Lawrence and Nowill, along with Edith Hardman, a cousin, aged 40, who was the housekeeper.

A clue to what happens next can be found on the base of the families headstone. ‘Elizabeth Harrison widow of the above (Henry) died January 22nd 1927 aged 74 years interred in Mount Royal Cemetery Montreal Canada’.

On the 19th of June 1914, Elizabeth, Henry, Nowill and Olive E (Who is she?) disembarked at Quebec after being onboard the vessel SS Tunisian. Olive, it appears, was going to Canada to marry!

In 1916 Lawrence was living at 317 Gordon Avenue, Verdun, Quebec. with his mother. He worked as a teacher but on the 4th of March, he Attested into the Canadian Army. He was 25 years old, rather small in height at only 5′ 3″. He had fair hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion and signed his name with a very fine hand. Serving as Sgt, 3082370 in the 1st Quebec Regiment. On the 14th of March, 1918, his enlistment was cancelled. In between time he was back in Yorkshire but appears never to have gone to Europe. His Canadian Service Records hold a great deal of information.

Henry  Jnr also served in the Canadian Forces and at the time of his enlistment was married to Charlotte. Henry, taller than his younger brother was 5′ 10″ tall and again had fair hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion. He also had a scar on his right forearm from an accident in 1909. Serving as 2753299, he held the rank of C.S.M (Company Sgt Major). And again, so much information about him is included in his Service Records.

Henry, Lawrence and Nowill married and had families.

Nowill and Henry are not mentioned on the family headstone, however, a little about them adds to their families information.

One thing I did find and was it was quite a surprise! When researching Elizabeth Grace is that she is connected to the Grace family I link into – another relative or two added to the tree, albeit at a bit of a distance.

The story of this headstone comes to an end. From a few names and dates on a headstone, another story has been told.

Another Walk Around Sugar Lane – Elvey

Another Walk Around Sugar Lane

The past two years have affected so many families – I hope you have written up your part in this worldwide event as part of your history. Your thoughts, your actions, how you have tried to keep life normal. And what you have done to keep busy. All this information forms part of who you are – family historians like to have this kind of information, well I know I do!

Some of you may have increased your efforts to add names and dates to your family history. I for one, have done this, concentrating on my One-Name Study. During July, I spent another two glorious weeks in Scotland visiting family farms, kirkyards and cemeteries and a wonderful time with the curator of the Highlanders Museum, but that’s another story.

I don’t know why but, I always feel at peace in a nice cemetery – could it be that not many people visit or I am happy on a nice day to get my daily 10,000 steps in a sometimes beautiful place. Well, although Sugar Lane is a nice cemetery and I do find its inhabitants fascinating and it is one of my favourite places it is not one of the most beautiful burial grounds I have visited. But, saying that, there are, some wonderful stories waiting to be found within its stone boundaries.

Edward Anderson Elvey. What can that name and his headstone tell us and where will we be led? Well, for a start he lived at Gathorne Terrace, Sandal when he died on the 20th of February 1919. Probate was granted in May of the same year to William Henry Kingswell, solicitor, William Scholey, solicitor’s clerk, May Roberts, wife of Walter Harold Roberts and Arthur Edward Elvey, music teacher. His total effects were £36137 13s. Who was Edward to have amassed this amount of money during his life?

Edward, born in 1840 in Lynn, Norfolk, was the son of John Elvey, a bricklayer, and his wife, Elizabeth.

In 1851, the family were living in the parish of Tilney St Lawrence. John Elvey was aged 48 and working as a Master Builder. Edward was the youngest of four children living at home.  

The 1861 census, however, does raise an important question. John Elvey was by 69 years of age and his wife, Elizabeth, was 60. Edward and an elder brother were still at home but, there was also a child. Who was the child? Her name was Eliza, aged three years old, her relationship to the head of the household was … daughter! Daughter, who’s daughter? Could Eliza be her mother? Although an interesting question, this is Edward’s ‘This is your life’ and an interesting life it is.

Two years after the 1861 census, in 1863, Edward married Elizabeth Markham in the Lincolnshire market town of Boston. The couple moved to Wakefield before 1865 as Arthur their son was registered in the town. Why a move to Wakefield? A look on the FreeBMD website shows quite a few Elvey people were in Wakefield at the time. Did they have family in the area?

The 1871 census narrows down the question about moving to Wakefield. The census entry, hard to find on Ancestry due to a mistranscription, was easily found on FMP. The family living in Regent Street, Belle Vue has Edward but his surname does need the researcher to know the family as the enumerator’s writing looks like ‘Sloey‘. Anyway, the 1871 census shows a child older than Arthur by one year being born in Skirbeck, Lincolnshire – a girl named ‘Char E’ (according to FreeBMD Charlotte Elizabeth was born in 1864 and registered in Boston). This census also shows that the couple had another child, Rob, aged two. 

Ten years on the family are still living in Regent Street but the family has grown a little. Charlotte is not with the family but Maud aged seven and Mary aged one join their elder siblings. Things must be looking up for Edward as he now employs seven men and one apprentice. Regent Street at the time was home to clerks, pork butchers, Inspector of Police (W.R.C.), tailors, assistant to H.M. Inspector of Schools, cabinet makers etc., skilled or semi-professional people.   

Charlotte Elizabeth has rejoined the family by 1891, while Arthur seems to have left. The two younger children Maud an apprentice milliner and Mary, a scholar are still with their parents.  

By 1901 all the children have left home that is except 21-year-old Mary. Edward has taken an extra step in his building work and is now a ‘builder and contractor’. But home is still on Regent Street. just a stone’s throw from Sugar Lane.  

The final census available at the moment is 1911 and what a trail to find Edward and his family. I always start with a general search and in this case simply Edward’s full name – Edward Anderson Elvey. The usual results came up – census 1851-1861, 1881-1901 – no 1871 or 1911. I’ve already mentioned the 1871 and the transcribed name but the 1911 census, well that took a little while longer.

There was nothing on FMP. so Ancestry would have to find him. There was no Edward Anderson Elvey. No E A Elvey. No Elvey living in Wakefield that matched. A sideways tack was needed. It came down to searching solely the 1911 census for any Edward Anderson Elvey with any variants. Nothing. My next and final search came up with the goods. Edward Anderson, no surname and living in Wakefield. Found him! Edward Anderson Etrog, I ask you? 

Edward and Elizabeth were still together but now living at 13 Gawthorne Terrace, Barnsley Road, Sandal. As the old song goes ‘Been together now for 40 years but in this case 47! Mary aged 31 was still at home and still single. But there were a few additions to the household, so the house needed to be big enough (7 rooms) to house them all. There was a 16-year-old grandson, Joseph Edward Dawson. Dorothy May Baldwin aged 29, a sick nurse, possibly born near Bridlington (which member of the family was sick?) and finally, a general servant, Beatrice Patrick age 18 and born in Leeds. It could have been Elizabeth that was not feeling well. But I’ll come back to her later.

What happened during the intervening years? Well, five children were born but one sadly had died before 1911. One event that could have changed their lives took place in May of 1901 with subsequent taking place in December of that year. Archers (Limited) of Westgate, New Mill, Wakefield, cocoa-matting manufacturers took Edward to court for the loss of light. In 1898 Edward owned adjoining property known as Plumpton House Estate and sold a building on that site to Archers. In 1901 Edward began building a row of cottages approximately 10 feet away from the office windows, which if completed, Archer’s would have almost all of their light entirely shut off. Edward denied all the accusations insisting that there would be ample light for the company to continue their work. He offered £25, which he brought into the court in notes, with the denial of liability. Witnesses, including architects, gave evidence in support of the plaintiff’s case – the hearing was adjourned. Did he think that he could buy them off? Sadly, I don’t know as I can’t find another newspaper entry.

1917, Elizabeth died on the 26th of June. Had she been ill since 1911? Had Elizabeth had several nurses during her illness? The reason I bring this question forward is that on the 15th of January 1918 widower, Edward Anderson Elvey, builder of 13 Gathorne Terrace, Sandal married Louisa Smallwood Talbot, aged 42, a trained nurse of 16 Eddlesburn Street, in All Saints, Leeds (Parish Church). Louisa was included in The Midwives Roll 1926, which tells that she enrolled in 1905 after taking her exam in 1904.

Just over six months later on the 20th of February 1919, Edward died. Probate for his estate was granted on the 14th of May to Henry Kingswell solicitor, William Scholey solicitor’s clerk, May Roberts (daughter), wife of Walter Harold Roberts, and Arthur Edward Elvey (son) music teacher. With the effects being valued at £36,137 13s.

The burial plot in Sugar Lane does not have a headstone or kerbstones, instead, the plot is covered in a granite tomb-like structure. Edward and Elizabeth seem to rest together and their names, birth and death dates are carved in the dark grey surface. There is another name included but that again is being written up along with others in a larger format.

Finally, Louisa Smallwood Elvey who was born on the 4th of December 1875 died in the September quarter of 1969. Probate tells that Louisa of 21 Wintrley La Rushell Staffordshire died on the 15th of August 1969. Probate was granted in Birmingham on the 22nd of October the same year. With effects being £3,800. She rests in Ryedroft Cemetery, Walsall, along with at least one other person named Upton.

From two names on a grave marker so much information can be learnt from just a little bit of research.

Riach’s in Dingwall

Patrick Scott Riach.

Patrick Scott Riach was born at Edinkillie in January of 1892. He was the son of James Alexander Riach and his wife Janet Scott. James Alexander Riach was Station Master at Dingwall Railway Station.

Dingwall Railway Station via Wikipedia

Patrick was born the middle child of five born between 1886 and 1895.  Patrick and his siblings had each been given a middle name that connected them to their forebears, on both the maternal and paternal lines.

The small village of Edinkillie had been home to the Riach’s until about 1894. Patrick and his elder sibling were all from the village while the two youngest were born in Muir of Ord, Dingwall.

Edinkillie to Dingwall via Google maps

In 1901 the family were living in Station Square, Dingwall. Station Square is still there, surrounded by the Victorian Station and houses.

The time of the 1911 census came and the family were still living at Station House. Patrick was now 19 years old and working as a Post Office clerk.

In the centre of the square is a small grassy area which is surrounded by wrought iron railings and within its centre is the local war memorial with a rustic wooden cross at the top which remembers the fallen from the 4th Btn Seaforth Highlanders.

In 1917, while James Alexander Riach was working at Dingwall Station he would have seen the ‘Jellico Express’.

What was the ‘Jellico Express‘? I hear you saying!

In May 1917, while Patrick Scott served his Country, his home town played a great part in the war. A rail route had been introduced from London to Thurso – the nearest station to Scapa Flow in Orkney where the Grand Fleet was stationed. It was Britain’s longest railway journey, just over 700 miles, and is said to have transported about 500,000 military personnel and mail in two years. The train’s carriages could hold up to about 500 for the long, 22-hour journey. The journey was the safer option, and quicker than by sea – it was also safer than the sea with the constant threat of U-boats.

The railway station cafe was also a very busy place and is said to have served over 134,800 cups of tea – served during the entire war by Red Cross volunteers.

Patrick’s Post Office record has him working from 1908 to 1915. By the time April 1918 had arrived Patrick Scott Riach was serving with the Royal Flying Corps, later the Royal Air Force. He served in France and by October 1918 he was in Russia. In June 1919 his records tell that he was in Archangel. He was a wireless operator and had completed numerous courses in this field. He had experience and qualified as a telegraphist. He had knowledge of telegraphic engineering and held a Class 1 Postmaster Generals Certificate for Wireless and attended courses in Valve Detectors at Brooklands and British School of Telegraphy, London. During his time serving his country, he had been given the rank of Lieutenant. It was while in Archangel that he was Acting Captain. He was transferred to the ‘unemployed’ list.

Royal Flying Cross via Wikipedia

In October 1919 he was awarded the A.F.C. (Air Force Cross)

Upon return to civilian life, he returned to working for the post office. In 1922 he married Christina Laurie Hood. Christine had also worked for the post office – could they have met through work? The couple went on to have at least two children.

Patrick retired from the post office and lived the rest of his days in Dingwall.

He died on the 16th of October 1958. He rests in Mitchell Hill Cemetery, Dingwall.

Officer’s in Elgin

Officer’s in Elgin

Elgin War Memorial © C Sklinar 2020

While looking through a series of photographs I’d taken this summer, I came across a familiar surname on the Elgin War Memorial. The surname is not on my mother’s side, the Riach’s, but on my father’s side from Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The surname of OFFICER links into the Siddle family and the research I have done on them (with an Officer relation), seem to have them all around the Yorkshire region. I was quite surprised to find the surname in Elgin.

On the memorial’s front plaque are three C.S.M’s – James Catto; T E Dean, A R Rogers, D.C.M., and finally Wm Officer.

William, who is he?

Elgin War Memorial section © C Sklinar 2020

Born circa 1892, William was the son of Andrew Officer and his wife Agnes, nee Clark. When the 1901 census enumerator came to call on the family at 55 North Street, Elgin, who was in the house? Andrew, born in Portsoy, was aged 39 and worked as a confectioner. Agnes, born in the same year was from Johnstone, Berwickshire. William was one of seven children aged between 13 and 7 years of age – the youngest two may have been twins. There was one other child, Frederick Clark Officer who was born the year after this census.

The census time came again on the 2nd of April, 1911, when William was 18 years of age and still living in Elgin. William was working as a carpenter for Mr James George. It would not be too long before his life and, that of his family would change forever.

William was going to war.

He enlisted in Elgin and became a soldier in the 1st/6th Seaforth

Seaforth Highlanders CWGC

Highlanders. He served with the Regimental Number 526 and rose through the ranks to become a C.S.M. His Medal Card shows he was eligible for the 1915 Star, the Victory and British Medals. The award of the 1915 Star gives an insight when William went to the recruiting office in Elgin.

The 1st/6th Seaforth Highlanders stationed at Elgin along with the 1st/5th (stationed at Golspie) were both parts of the Seaforth and Cameron Brigade of the Highland Division who moved to Bedford. By the 1st of May 1915, they were in French and Belgian theatre of war. During 1915 they saw action at The Battle of Fesubert.

William ended up in the Somme region of France. At the end of July, wounded was more than likely taken to the 36th Casualty Clearing Station Heilly. On the 1st of August, his few days of suffering came to an end. He rests in the Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abbe with over 2000 Commonwealth casualties and over 80 German casualties. The cemetery started in spring 1916 begun under pressure, as a result of this, some burials are closer together than in other CWGC cemeteries.

The Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects include William and show that his father Andrew and mother Agnes were joint legatees in his estate. There was a sum of over £40 that would eventually reach William’s parents in two parts.

There is a set of records that the Western Front Association shared with the pay per view website, Fold3, these thousands of record cards can tell you, the researcher, so much information compared to the Medal Card, The Effects Register and Service Record – if it has survived. This set, The Pension Record Cards, included the standard soldier information – name, rank, service number, they also include a great deal of information about the recipient(s) of the pension. Where the recipient lived? What was their relationship to the soldier? How much was the payment and how long were they to last? Other information may include, the date of death of the recipient and who took over. You could find alternate names for wives or mothers if they remarried. The soldier could have fought under an alias. But there may be information about an illness or detailed cause of death.

What information is on William’s card? Andrew Officer of 15 Union Street, Elgin, died in 1926. The official document then includes his mother, Agnes. William’s brother, Robert of 15 Lossie Wynd, Elgin also has an inclusion. The first entry is on the 26th of September 1919, with the final date being on the 25th of June 1926. Did Andrew get any money? I don’t know as no figures for money are written on the cards.

The Aberdeen Weekly Journal of Friday 11th of August 1916 includes ‘C.S.M. Officer, Elgin. Mr A Officer, confection, Lossie Wynd, Elgin, has received intimation that his son, Company Sergt.-Major William Officer, Seaforth Highlanders, has died of wounds received on 29th July. Although only 23 years of age, C.S.M. Officer had for several years been a member of the Territorials and was most popular in the battalion. Before mobilisation, he was a carpenter with Mr James George’.

As well as being included on the Elgin War Memorial, William’s name is with many others in The Morayshire Roll of Honour. It was while looking for William that I came across five other Officer young men who went to war, including his brothers Robert and Andrew.

Who were these Officer young men? The young men that lived and came home to their family and friends.

Robert Officer (William’s brother), was born in July 1889, at 4 Bridge Street. Before enlisting, Robert had been a marine engineer. He joined the Navy at Glasgow in 1915 and served as a Lieutenant on H.M.S. Caledonia in Home Waters.

Andrew Officer (William’s brother) served as a Seargent in the 20th American Engineers. He was born in October 1887 at 4, Bridge Street, Bishopmill, Elgin. He joined at El Paso, Texas, America, December 1917. He also served in France.

Royal Engineers CWGC

Thomas Frier Officer (William’s brother), served as Sapper 221596, in the Royal Engineers. He was born at 55, North Street, Bishopmill, Elgin, on the 29th of June 1898. He enlisted at Elgin in January 1917. He, like his brothers, served in France.

Andrew Officer served as number 39292 as a Seargent in the Army Pay Office and 10th Scottish Rifles. He was born at Buckie, on the 13th of June, 1893. He enlisted at Elgin in August 1914 and served in France. Andrew was the son of William and Isabella Officer of 67 Moss Street, Elgin. Before joining the military, Andrew worked as a chemist.

William Officer (brother of Andrew) served as Private 266195, in the 3/6th Seaforth Highlanders and Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. William was born at Elgin on the 7th of December 1898. He enlisted at Elgin, in June 1915. He also served in France. William, during his service he was gassed and wounded. The son of William and Isabella Officer, 67, Moss Street, Elgin. Before the war, he worked as a clerk.

James Alaister C MacKay – Seaforth Highlanders

James Alaister C MacKay – Seaforth Highlanders

By the 22nd of July 1916, the Battle of the Somme was 22 days old. Shortly after the 22nd, the family of J Alaister Culbard Mackay would receive the news that they had dreaded.

James Alastair Culbard Mackay was born in 1891 in Rathven, Banffshire, the son of Robert Young Mackay and his wife, Edith Culbard. His father Robert had been the Procurator Fiscal for Dumfriesshire – later to be the same in Banffshire and died in 1929. From the collection of family memorials in Linkwood Cemetery, Elgin, so much can be learnt about the Young family and the people who they married. Two large ornate memorial stones are attached to the boundary wall, with several others forming an ‘honour guard’.

It appears that one of the Mackay’s, a doctor, lived at The Tower, Elgin, and probably ran his practice from the building. My parents were married in the building in the early 1950s when the building was a hotel. The Doctor Mackay, according to, remodelled the house and all that remains of the original building is the three-story 1600 tower.

At the time the 1901 census was taken, James was 9-years-old, his younger brother Robert had been born 14 days earlier. Could it have been due to the recent birth that Edith’s sister Alice was in the house on the census night? Also at 6 Seaview, Buckie was a visitor (sick nurse), housemaid and cook. His father Robert, as a solicitor and would, had the means to pay for the extra staff.

James joined the army, initially as a Lieutenant in the 6th Seaforth Highlanders before being promoted to the rank of Captain. The 1/6th Battalion was a Territorial Force known as the Morayshire Battalion. This Battalion landed in France in May 1915 as part of the 51st (Highland Division) – the same period that James landed in France.

As James as an officer, had no service number – it was not until he 2nd World War that a soldier retained his service number after a transfer and an officer had a serial number. Due to James being an officer, his service records are available to view at the National Archives, Kew. Other records appertaining to James service can also be found at the NA or on many pay-per-view websites. One of the available records is his Medal Card which tells that he was eligible for the 1915 Star, Victory and British Medals. Unusually enough, there is a small amount of information on the reverse of the card – application dates for his father and his father’s address (Procurator Fiscals Office, Dumfries. Home, Mayfield, Welltown, Dumfries).

The medals previously mentioned were not the only ones given to James. In early June 1916 in the King Birthday Honour List – His Majesty, the King had been graciously pleased to approve the award (Military Cross) for the Distinguished Service in the Field.

The 51st Division took part in defence of Ypres during the late spring of 1915 before moving to an area north of the River Somme where they relieved the French near Hamel. By now, the 51st were starting to build a reputation for themselves as a hard-fighting lot! In 1916 they took part in attacks on High Wood and the Battle of Ancre in which the 51st captured Beaumont Hamel. During this time they captured over 2000 prisoners. It was more than likely during the battle that James died. The cemetery where he rests is only a short distance from the River Somme and the centre of Ancre. The CWGC cemetery (La Neuville British Cemetery) is slightly off the beaten track, accessible via the Route de Daours, Corbie. Surrounded by fields, the cemetery is the final resting place of over 890 casualties of war.

The Book of Remembrance, available at each site of commemoration, tells James, aged 25 Died of Wounds and also gives his farther’s details. His headstone shows the badge of his regiment and a simple cross along with his identifying information.

The Probate Calendars for Scotland include James, now of Bemreay, Banff. The information – his regiment, that he died on active service, date of Will and Grant, to who granted and the amount of £772 11s 10d.

The website FindaGrave includes a photograph of James’ headstone plus a picture of a very handsome young man wearing a Glengarry Bonnet.