Tag Archives: 1911

Who Do You Think You Are – a Wakefieldfhs Road Trip!

Thursday morning bright and early – well, early, but not necessarily bright, my two friends and I set off for the NEC at Birmingham.  The 7am start set us in good stead as the roads were not all that bad, even though we were travelling in the commuter hours – luckily the traffic queues were all heading north.

20150416_095805We arrived slightly after 9:30am, parked the car and after my friend said goodbye to her ‘hubby’, who had been out driver, we caught the shuttle bus to arena 2.  So, after a committee meeting to decide whether to have a coffee of not.  It was a very short meeting with a unanimous decision – yes, a cuppa was in order.

I was very surprised that there was no queue of people waiting to show their tickets and enter the arena.  Once inside we decided we would go our own ways, but meet at 12:30 for lunch and fresh air.

20150416_10520720150416_105215As we entered the stand that was prominent was Ancestry, well they had a couple of stands – one with people using the free access to find their long lost family, another had a bank of three laptops for membership questions, discounts and offers.  A membership discount was available but the laptops seemed to be having problems and we had to go back again – infact we went back a few times, but the problems seemed to be all day.  Behind the laptops was a nice man who was the the technical side of the company and offered help on searching techniques.  There was also the Ancestry DNA stand.  After the Ancestry section I decided on a  system so as not to miss anything.  Row by row, I progressed down the area one side and up the other – it worked.

The night before our visit I had made a very rough list, and I mean rough list, of people I had wanted to ask questions about, that was if there was any stand that fitted my needs. The list consisted of :-

John Kaye, a Home Child, who later became a regular soldier.  A divorcee, who married my aunt.   John Younie, who died while in a court in India in the war. How could I get a copy of a death certificate and where would he be buried?  Relatives from Germany.  Members of the Grace family, carvers, gilders and one an artist (a friend of Whistler) who lived in Wakefield and Chiswick.  PLUS two distant relatives who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Aswell as the professional associations i.e. AGRA, ASGRA etc., there were a plethora  of Family History Societies and Groups, quite a few companies wanting you to have your DNA tested, a few software companies, research supply companies and other companies that had no connection to our subject at all but seemed to need ‘footfall’.

I was surprised at a few well known companies i.e. online research and software companies that had staff manning their expensive stands, and whose staff on Thursday stood around talking to each other, while customers, prospective customers, waited for help. The staff at one particular stand not only had staff stood in a huddle, but they either did not care about the product they were trying to get you to purchase or had not been trained.    Saying that there were a couple of other stands, non-family history stands, whose pressure selling would have been welcomed by the  aforementioned companies.  Apart from this negative bit, the rest of my day was a pleasure.

Some of the stands I will tell you about individually, while others will be mentioned here.

Who did I talk to and why was I impressed enough to tell you about them!

20150416_105743………with my leaflets and brochures sorted and besides me, lets work through them. Firstly, I met a very nice lady from Rootsbid, an online company where you place a request for help, a photograph etc., and people place their bid for the request.  You simply then chose the person you wish to do the job, pay and upon completion the monies are passed over.  Seems a good idea but I would have liked the option of having more than one area where you are willing to help.  But other than that, take a look – could be an idea for out of area or out of country photographs and archive work.

I had a nice chat with a man from the Guild of One Name Studies, who nearly persuaded me to join and register  one or two unusual names – that may have to wait as too much on at the moment…………but maybe one day!  But after a look at their website and searched a few of my family names, it seems I may have to register a lot of names, sometime,  as no one at the moment seems to be specialising in them.

20150416_161715FIBIS – Families in British India Society, seemed like a stop to ask about John Younie.  The stand was well presented and manned with lots of friendly and willing people.  One of the ladies showed me their website and we looked for him.  A few with the same surname were there but not him.  I was however, given a few hints and tips and suggestions of where to look next.  I was given a few hints and tips on where to go and what to ask for.

We, as family  historians research and record information about people who have gone before, but sometimes we forget that there are living relatives.  These family members may be older in years but hold such a vast amount of information.  There were two companies at the exhibition who specialised in recording memories.  Both companies were manned by nice people who knew their product. One was Speaking Lives and the other was Love Your Stories.

cardsThe previous companies were for the recording of history, but there was a stand, promoting Family Legacy Cards. Wonderfully designed cards with a suitable sentiment, covering a variety of occasions.  Set up by two friends, whose children both suffered with Autism and Learning Difficulties.  The cards, each with a thought provoking cover,  can either be sent to an older relative for them to write their memories or stories,  or they can be filled in by parents, grandparents or other relatives to children and kept until an appropriate time to be read.

My attention was caught by a banner advertising Surrey in the Great War – the county are looking to record how the Great War affected those within the area and are asking for volunteers – they say unlike 1914 enlistment, they have no age, height or medical restrictions, all are welcome.  They are also wanting school, college and community group involvement, including family and local history societies.

The Belgian Tourist Board had a small but impressive stand.  They had available wonderful brochures which gave wonderful information about places with WW1 connections.  Their Trade Manager, was a very nice man and promised to post a brochure for around the Ypres area.

In a small corner of one stand were a few people representing F G Marshall Ltd., The skill shown on the stand was amazing and the patience these artists must have, could put us all to shame.

A number of stands were promoting education i.e. courses on family history, heraldry, military subjects.  Some of the courses were complete in a matter of weeks, while others, could take a year or two. Some of the courses were organised by –  University of Oxford Dept., for Continuing Education; University of Dundee, Centre for Archive and Information Studies; Strathclyde University, genealogical studies.  Finally, Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd., 

20150416_155732If you had Caribbean roots, there was a stand that catered for your needs – the Caribbean Family History Group.  The leaflet I collected proved very informative about what is available in the UK, the link take you to Solihull Council website, which give more pointers.

The Imperial War Museum, had a large stand promoting their20150416_145524 website Lives of the First World War.  The site aims to add life events to the men and women who played a part in the Great War.  You can simply remember a person or add facts, pop along and see who is there.

20150416_155527The Jersey Archives had a stand and I met a lovely young lady, who was pleased and surprised when I told her of a connection between Wakefield and the Channel Islands.  The General Register Office were also there armed with facts, information and leaflets to aid research.20150416_115114

I was drawn to a very large dome, 20150416_114048enclosing a statue of a soldier standing at ease, with his rifle barrel down.  On regular invervals hundreds of poppies were blown around.  The Royal British Legion were promoting their site Every Man Remembered at Who Do You think You Are this year.  Met a couple of nice men, one of them gave me a quick tour of the site – he made it look easier than it actually is, but I got there in the end and remembered my Great Uncle Herbert Siddle.

20150416_163456I picked up a few leaflets from the Jewish Genealogical Society of GB – one for a friend who has researched a cabin trunk owned by a lady who managed to get out of Germany a short while before war was declared, I thought they may be of interest to her.   I also picked up a leaflet or two from the Ministry of Defence20150416_142920 stand.  The leaflets were guides to WW2 Casualty Packs, Medal Office Guide, Personnel and Record Guides – all very interesting and useful.  They also had on display a collection of medals, including the V.C., which a couple of my family members were awarded.  I was also told to take the A3 prints they had of all the medals, nice things to keep for reference.

If you do family history you will know of the next stand that caught my attention, the stand of the Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, namely Family Search, who have been the forerunners in family history research for decades. I don’t need to say anymore about this site, just to to the website and lose an afternoon or a weekend looking for your family.

Another site I stopped at was manned by Chris Patton for Unlock the Past Guidebooks.  Chris has written quite a number of books but all with the family history link. All of the publications can either be purchased in book form or available as an e-book as a PDF document, well worth a look as some of the titles look very interesting.

Another large stand, this time belonging to Find My Past – not only did they have laptops available for look-ups, very helpful staff, they also had a series of free talks during the show.  They were also promoting the 1939 Register.  All making a very busy stand.

The National Army Museum had another good stand packed with very useful information leaflets giving information on events, the study and research centre etc., and again, manned by very nice and helpful staff.

20150416_120926As one of the groups I am a member of is within a non-conformist area, so it seemed natural that I should pay a visit to the Methodist Heritage stand.  Leaflets packed with the history of Methodism plus places to visit that have a Methodist connection.

Just taking a final look through my collection of leaflets and I have very nearly forgotten to mention Forces War Rec20150416_152149ords.  It is a site that I have found when googling the name of many soldiers who were KIA or DofW during the Great War.  While I was chatting to a couple of the people on the stall I mentioned my two V.C. awardees. So, they set too to find them, and show me what the site could do.  Well initially, they could not be found, but eventually we found one and I sneakily took down the edition of The Gazette – tell me you haven’t done the same!  While we were looking for the other elusive VC recipient, other staff members came and started chatting, laughing and joking.  I said that if you can find them, I would join  but would want a discount to do so – I was given a discount code. A few Tweets went back and forth and one told me the elusive man had been found.  A Tweet said, looks like I should join……………I did and used the discount code.    Thank you very much.

20150416_145105I also paid a quick visit to the Western Front Association while wandering around, such a nice set of people and very knowledgeable on their subject.

Lastly, but my no means least, was the stand of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Again a wonderful stand packed with information and resource material.  Over the years I have acquired a few of their booklets and pamphlets, now it was time to add some more to the collection.  Some of the booklets would be wonderful as information fillers in a book that I am researching for.  One of the staff was very helpful when I mentioned an error on a headstone – so to gather the evidence and forward to them.

Epsom College men with a Wakefield connection

At a family history fair a few years ago I bought a book – Epsom College Register, 1855-1905.  It was bought in a bit of a rush, while having a break from manning a stall for one of the local family history groups I am a member of.  But, and there is always one of those! I glanced at the title, thought it was a good purchase for the price and I could make use of it later, for research and additional information purposes.  Idiotic me, I had glanced at the title and read Eton for Epsom, an easy mistake, while reading the title in a dimly lit section of the hall.  But never mind, I would still make use of the book………….sometime!

Well, it looks like today is that sometime.

While having a quick look through the pages of the 105 year old book, 100’s of names and places jumped out.  Places in England, France, Canada, North and South America, South Africa, India, Burma, Australia and New Zealand to name a few.

A few names and places seemed interesting enough for me to put fingers to keyboard and give you a very small snippet of their lives.

Bertram William Francis Wood, born on 19th of August 1887 to Francis H Wood, a General Practitioner, and his wife Maude M B Wood.  When the census of 1891 came around the family were living at 130 Northgate, Wakefield.  Bertram, aged 3 had an elder sister, Margaret aged 11.

Ten years later, in 1901, William is a student boarder at Epsom College, with other young men, including John Athelston Braxton Hicks, Canute Denntzer, Cedric Heuchman Harnsey Clubbe, Claude Fitzroy Clarke and Samuel Alwyne Gabb.

William left Epsom College in the early years of the 1900’s and by the time of the next census in 1911, by now he was 23 years old and  living with his parents who still lived at 130 Northgate, Wakefield.  His occupation was given as Medical Student, so he was obviously following in his fathers’ footsteps.

William’s entry in the Epsom College Register ‘Wood, Bertram William Francis [F H Wood, Esq., Arundel House, Wakefield] ; b.Aug. 19, 1887, e. Jan., 1. Dec., 1902. W.


 

Another young man with a Wakefield connection is James Stansfield Longbotham.   In the 1881 census, James is with his parents, George Longbotham, aged 35 and his wife Sarah, also 35. George is a General Practitioner of Medicine, living at 1 Grange Road, West, Middlesborough.  Twenty years later George and Sarah were living at Woodlands, Putney, where George, now classes his occupation as that of Surgeon, temperarily retired.  James is the only child still at home and he is a student at the Pitman Met. College.

Longbotham, James Stansfield [George Longbotham, Esq., 1 Grange Road, Middlesborough] ; b. 1878, l 1892. C. Southgate Chambers, Wakefield.

The Southgate Chambers, mentioned above was the address of the Official Receivers’ Office.


 

Bridgefoot, Castleford. Image Twixt Aire and Calder

Bridgefoot, Castleford. Image Twixt Aire and Calder

An entry for a William Kemp born in 1862 – who is this young man?

The 1871 census finds William and his family in Castleford, his dad has been wrongly transcribed as Elmyra Walker Kemp, where it very clearly says Ebeneze Walker Kemp, born in Wakefield and earning his living as a Surgeon, General Practitioner.  It seems by sheer chance I have chosen young men whose families were all in the medical profession.

Some 20 years later the family were still at Bridge Foot, Castleford.  The whole census page looks a little cluttered, as the people who had their details taken that night were originally entered as initials and surname. Someone at a later date, and I say someone, as the writing differs from the original, has entered the first name of all the entrants.  Mr Kemp, is now a Surgeon and J.P., while his son, William, is entered as M.B.C.M. Edinbro’.

Surgeons' Hall, Edinburgh

Surgeons’ Hall, Edinburgh

Ten years on, William is now aged 38 and living a Bridge Foot, Castleford, with his Scottish born wife, Sarah, also aged 38 and their two children, his mother-in-law, Helen Blair, a widow, William Somerset, another man with the same qualifications as William.  There is also a nephew, Gray L Gibson, Isabel  McGreggor (the two latter being born in Scotland) and three servants.

Another ten years later, brings 1911 and the first census that gives information about infant mortality.  Sarah had given birth to three children in her 16 year marriage to William and all had survived to be included in the census.  There are two servants listed, but at the very bottom there is an entry for Helen Blair (William’s mother-in-law) but now she is listed as ‘other relative’. William now vaguely gives his employment as  ‘Medical Profession’.  he signs the census sheet as W Kemp, Castleford – no address, but probably still at Bridge Foot (a look at the schedule, confirms that Bridge Foot is still his address.

Kemp, William [E. W. Kemp, Esq., Castleford, Normanton] ; b. 1862, l. 1881.  XI., Factory Surgeon, Castleford District, M.B.C.M. Edin. 1887. Bridge Foot, Castleford

 

 

Guy Victor Baring

It must be nearly 30 years since I started my family tree and it is nearly 15 years since I started my websites, and about 10 years since I started transcribing war memorials, but only 4 years since I started blogging.

During those years of transcribing war memorials I have travelled the country and seem to have gathered thousands.  I have not just photographed the more traditional memorial, but have also gathered into my fold of photographs   memorials of a more individual nature, you know those to one man or woman, who is remembered not only on a village or town memorial, or a workplace or scholastic memorial but also by either their family or individually by their community.

Winchester Cathedral interior from Wikipedia

Winchester Cathedral interior from Wikipedia

While on a visit to Basingstoke a few years ago to see my daughter and her boyfriend (now fiance) we ventured into Winchester Cathedral (read blog) and while photographing the memorials on the ancient walls, I came across a familiar name – Guy Victor Baring.  A name that is on my extended family tree.

I am not one of those people that say ‘I’ve done my tree’, I am one of those who like the chase, like to see who is connected to who and what kind of life they lead – how did they fair during their years on this earth.  I like to solve a mystery or you could just say I am nosey!

The link to Guy is via my great aunts husband family – it goes back and then comes forward, ending up with Guy Victor Baring.

Some of you may think that the surname is familiar, I did, and then I found out why.  The Baring family are synonymous with banking and commerce, and have been for over two hundred year. But, back to Guy.

The Grange

The Grange

Guy was born on 26th of February 1873 in Piccadilly, London to Leonora Caroline (nee Digby (1844 – 1930)) the wife of Alexander Baring (1835 – 1889).  Alexander Hugh Baring, 4th Baron Ashburton, was a landowner and Conservative politician.  Guy was one of seven children in the household born between 1866 and 1885 and brought up at The Grange.  Guy was educated at Eton College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, being commissioned into the Coldstream Guards in 1893.

in 1899, Guy was sent with his unit to fight in the South African War, and was there during the battle of Belmont, Graspan, Modder River, Magersfontein, including the occupation of magersfonteinBloemfontein. During his time in South Africa he was mentioned in despatches, and received the Queen’s South Africa Medal with three clasps.

A detachment of Coldstream Guards was sent to Australia in 1900 when the Earl of Hopetoun was inaugurated as Governor General of Australia.  The year of 1901 saw him being promoted to Captain and it was during this time that he wa attached to the King’s African Rifles as a special service officer with the CaptureJubaland Expedition against the Ogaden Somalis  for this he was awarded a medal with clasp.

It was after his return, that in the late summer of 1903 that Guy married Olive Alethea Smith, in  London.

His political career started in 1906 when he was elected as Member of Parliament for Winchester in the general election and  was re-elected in the 1910 elections and officially left the regiment in 1913.

6 Hobart Place

6 Hobart Place

Back a few years to 1911 when the census was taken, and you would find the family at 6 Hobart Place, S.W. Guy was recorded as a Member of Parliament and on Staff Pay from the army.  He stated he was born at 82 Piccadilly, London.  Olive, 33, told she had been married to Guy for seven years and bore him four children, but one of them had died.  Living at home with their parents was Simon Alexander Vivian aged 5 and Amyas Evelyn Giles aged 1.  Looking after the family in their fourteen room house were seven servants.  His elder brother Hugh Alexander Vivian born in 1904 had died in Winchester in 1908 aged 3.

Guy and Olive went on to have six children.  One of their children, Amyas Evelyn Giles Baring (1910-1986) known as Giles went on to become a 1st class English cricketer between 1930 – 1946.

82 Piccadilly, Bath House - interior

82 Piccadilly, Bath House – interior

As we know Guy was born at 82 Piccadilly, known as Bath House, which stood on the western corner of Bolton Street, facing Piccadilly.  This fine building was ranked with the like of Devonshire House, Burlington House, Northumberland House and Lansdowne House, full to bursting with fine artwork, fine furniture and large numbers of staff.   The building had seen seen a few disasters including  a fire in 1873.  A letter from Charlotte Polidori, quoted in another letter to Dante Gabriel Rossetti told about  the damage: “All the pictures except three

8s Piccadilly, Bath House interior

8s Piccadilly, Bath House interior

(Leonardo, Titian, and Rubens) in the Bath House drawing room are destroyed.”  The three paintings referred to were subsequently identified as Christ and the Baptist as children (likely by Bernardino Luini, now lost), Wolf and fox-hunt (Rubens, now in the Metropolitan Museum, from the collection of Lord Ashburton), and A woman with a dish of roasted apples (Pieter de Hooch, in fact destroyed in the fire). Rossetti’s correspondence regarding the losses described two pictures attributed to Giorgione, two attributed to Titian or Paris Bordone, and a Velazquez. Bath house was demolished in the 1960’s.

Coldstream_Guards_WWI_posterAt the outbreak of WW1, Guy rejoined the military and was posted to Windsor where he was in command of a training company until 1915 when he was posted to France.  During this time he was second in command of the 4th (Pioneer) Battalion.  After the Battle of Loos he commanded the 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards.

On the 1st of July 1916 the Battle of the Somme started and by November, when winter approached the battle was abandoned there had been  some 420,000 Commonwealth casualties, 200,000 French and 500,000  German – the reward for this had been a movement of 6 mile into German territory – some might ask, was it worth it?

lesboeuf map source coldstream guards bookLess than three months into the Battle of the Somme, Guy’s Battalion, with two other battalions,  were advancing along the Ginchy to Lesboeufs road to attack a German position. This had been the first time that three Coldstream Guard battalions had attacked together, but advancing ‘as steadily as though they were walking down the Mall’  the action took a heavy toll. There were 17 officers and 690 other ranks walked down the road but only 3 officers (one injured) and 221m other ranks lived to walk back.

The Hon. Guy Victor Baring

The Hon. Guy Victor Baring

Lieutenant Colonel, The Hon. Guy Victor Baring was one of the 14 officers who were killed in action that day and he rests in The Citadel New Military Cemetery, nr Fricourt, with 362 other identified casualties and 16 young men whose name is known only unto their God.  Guy was one of 22 Members of Parliament who were Killed in Action during the Great War.

The entry for Guy in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission holdings tell that Olive was now living at Biddesden House.  Olive died in 1964 in the Petersfield area.

Biddesden House

Biddesden House

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:-

The Baring Archive - is here

Winchester Cathedral – click here 

Military map can be found - here 

Eton Memorials are here 

Lost Heritage - click here

Ancestry, Find My Past, Freebmd, Wikipedia

W Epps, PNR

A few weeks ago a set of medals was posted on a Facebook groups page.  The ribbons looked a little unloved, as though they had seen better days and a little on the sad side.  I contacted the person who had posted the photographs, asking would they mind if I blogged about the medals.  The reply came back…………….Yes, I could.   There has been a week or two gap since the positive message, but here goes!

The back of one of the medals bares the information  –   11658, PNR. W. EPPS. R.E.

As search of Soldiers who Died in the Great War with that service number came up with nothing.  The same with the Medal Cards and a few other sources.  A different route was needed.

wickhamTrying again, with renewed vigor, I looked at the Medal Cards, as I knew there was one as we had pictures of the medals to prove it.  This time I entered EPPS and Royal Engineers, and there he was – EPPS, William, Pnr., 116158 and his list of medals.  What I now knew was that he also served as Pte., 292069, in the Labour Corps., and had entered France on 28th August 1915.  But, what is more important is that we know he is called William.

Why is it that you can find Service Records for every one else, but not the ones who you are related to…………….it is some kind of law but whose, Sods or Murphy’s?  More information about William from his Service Records –  William was living at The Square, Wickham, Hampshire.  Leaving his military records for a while and back to Civil Records.

HMS Vulcan

HMS Vulcan

In 1911, William was 38 years old and had been married to Eliza Jane for five years and they had two children, George Thomas, 2 and Dorothy Alice aged eight months.  William had bee born in Portsmouth and earned his wage as a bricklayers labourer.  Ten years earlier in 1901 there is an entry for William Epps as a Royal Marine, as a crew member on the ‘Vulcan’ in the Grand Harbour Malta.  His place of birth varies slightly, so not completely sure this is our man.

Back to his service records – His Short Service Attestation is a Duplicate and the service number 116158 has been struck through and over written with 292069.  His Regiments also have multiple entries, starting on the line with Royal Engineers, written above is Labour Corps and then atop them all Pioneer Corps.  His address, we know as The Square.  He is a British Subject aged 43 and is married – this we know from the 1911 census.  He has also given previous service – this could have been him in the 1901 as there are the initials RMLI – cold this this be Royal Marine Light Infantry as seen in the census? He is also willing to serve for the duration of the war and he signed these papers at Whitehall London on 19th August 1915.

The next page. brings William more alive, as he is 5′ 8″ tall, with a fully expanded chest of 36″ and a 2″ range of expansion.  His wife Eliza Jane also added information to his records – that they were married on 14 of July 1906 at the Register Office, Portsmouth.  Her maiden name is not all that clear, therefore, a quick look at FreeBMD tells her maiden name was Hatton and she was a spinster at the time of their marriage.  Eliza also gave information on their children:  George Thomas was born on 2nd January 1909 and Dorothy Alice followed on the 9th of July 1910, with both children being born in Fareham.

William embarked for France, as a Private on 28th August 1915 as part of the British Expeditionary Force.  He was transferred to the Labour Corps on 31st of July 1917.

Epps, William, medals 2

Epps, William, medals 2

Epps, William, medals 1

Epps, William, medals 1

Also among his service records is the Discharge Documents.  It is so nice to write about a soldier that does not have a grave in a foreign land, a man who came home to his family, friends and neighbours.  After enlisting on 15th August 1915, William was Demobilised on the 15th of March 1919 in Nottingham.  In among the service records is a small slip of paper, the slip of paper is signed y William as a receipt for his British and Victory Medals.  There is also a receipt for another medal, as he only had three, this must be for the 1915 Star. which he duly signed for on 28th (?) October 1920 and he gives his details as 202069, 5th Labor Batt. R.E.

William, in February 1919, was issued a sheet of paper – his ‘Protection Certificate and Certificate of Identity (Soldier not remaining with the Colours’ which he would have had to carry with him.  it gives his regimental details, year of birth and where he would rejoin in case of an emergency, plus his occupation and address, and that was issued at Shorncliffe on 16th February 1919.

Further into the collection of his records is his original Attestation Paper.

There is a death entry for a William Epps aged 51 in the summer of 1925, which fits in with his birth being around 1874.

Sources

Jay Hewitt for allowing me to use the photographs

Ancestry

Wikipedia – HMS Vulcan

Royal Engineers Museum – click here 

Royal Pioneer Corps Museum - click here 

Find my Past

Freebmd

Younie Brothers in Arms

This is a blog I started a couple of weeks ago and saved as a draft, with it being late in the evening.  In the meantime I, after having a chat with a fellow researcher, did the long awaited entry for Alexander Riach who had an accidental death.

It has been a while since I have touched anything connecte to my family history, I’ve been too busy researching for a couple of projects I have on the go.  But tonight I took the bull by the horns and transferred my family tree from my pc to my laptop.

So I have been having a mooch around and seeing who is there, been looking through the pictures I have added to the many people and I came up with a piccy of a headstone, my friends will say ‘well what a surprise, a headstone!’  I had totally forgotten taking this one on a visit to Forres, Morayshire, years ago – I think it could have been one of those ‘I’ll do a little research on that one at a later  moment…………………the moment has come!

Isn’t it wonderful what a headstone can tell you, and especially a Scottish headstone as they nearly always have the wife with her maiden name for all to see – a woman keeps her name from cradle to grave…………wouldn’t that be wonderful if that was done in other countries!

This simple headstone is to William Younie who died at Bank Lane, 1926 aged 77.  His wife, Mary MacDonald died in 1935 aged 80.  But there are another couple of entries to their children.  Two of these entries I will go into further detail in a while, but now I will name Leslie, Alexander and William who die din infancy.

So, to the children I other children, namely, James and Thomas. 1891 sees the family living at 34 St Leonards Road, Forres, where William is a mason.   In 1901 the boys, were living at 3 Bank Street, Forres, with their parents, William Younie and Mary Ann MacDonald, and siblings – Donald, John and Emma.  In 1901 James McAndrew Younie and his brother Thomas P Younie were 12 years old – yes, they were twins!

I had some left over credits on Scotlands People, not a place I like to spend money as I wish they would do an annual subscription, but hey ho!  The William and Mary are living at 3 Bank Lane, Forres, with two of their children – James aged 23 and Emma aged 13.  Also in the household is James Munro aged 25, a boarder, who speaks both Gaelic and English.  William and Mary had bee married 33 years and had had eight children born alive, but only five had survived to be in the census of 1911.   William was still a mason, but this census specifies house building.  James was aged 23 and employed as a grocers assistant. Just for interest James Munro was employed as a law clerk.

During the Great War both James and Thomas fought for their country.  Lets look for James first.  He had been living in Glasgow, so it was there that he enlisted, joining the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, with the service number S/2469 and rising to the rank of Lance younie james mcandrew kiaCorporal in the 6th Battalion.  And so it  was that  on the 16th of July 1917 that James McAndrew Younie died of wounds received in action aged 29.  He rests in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, near Krombeke, north west of Poperinge, in the West Vleteren region of Belgium, along with 3239 other casualties from  the  Commonwealth, the Chinese labour force and  Germany.

Westvleteren was outside the front held by Commonwealth forces in Belgium during the First World War, but in July 1917, in readiness for the forthcoming offensive, groups of casualty clearing stations were placed at three positions called by the troops Mendinghem, Dozinghem and Bandaghem.

The 4th, 47th and 61st Casualty Clearing Stations were posted at Dozinghem and the military cemetery was used by them until early in 1918.

A book about the War Memorial Unveiled in the United Free High Church has the following entry for James McAndrew Younie.

younie james moray n nairn fhs

Now to James’s twin, Thomas – while looking for James in the 1911 Scottish census, there was not one entry that I could 100% say was him.  Looking for Thomas has been a lot harder going that his brother, but we got somewhere in the end.  Thomas enlisted at Fort George in 1906. During the Great War, Thomas Petrie Younie served in the Seaforth Highlanders and became, Company Serjeant Major, 9500.  He served in France and on 2 July 1919, nearly 2 years to the day since his brother James died, Thomas died as the result of a gun shot wound to his leg.  As the war had ended Thomas had been sent back home and he rests in Cluny Hill Cemetery, Forres.

Younie Cluny hill cem forresThomas had been awarded the Military Medal and a similar article to his brother tells more about his life and war.

younie thomas moray n nairn fhs

 

So it was that three brothers went to war, Mary’s twins both died and  one came home. But one question still remains – which other brother went to war, was it Donald or John?

Younie Cluny hill cem forres

Sources

Ancestry

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Find My Past

Find a Grave

Soldiers who Died in the Great War

Moray and Nairn FHS click here 

Alexander Riach, 1828 – 1900

The blog about Alexander, seems to have been so long in the making.  It seemed only a few months ago I was asking for information from libraries, archives and companies. The truth is that I started enquiring in January of 2014…………….dosn’t time fly when you are having fun!  I must have been having too much fun…..but then I can’t remember enjoying myself that much last year!

My quest for information about Alexander had started many years ago, and like many other researchers, have put certain people on the ‘back burner’ ready for another day……….well they are not going anywhere, are they?  It was during  a long weekend in Lossiemouth, while visiting my aunt Gladys that my husband and I trawled the kirkyards in the area looking for Riach, Hay, Younie, Petrie and other names connected to mums family.  The weather was sunny, but a little bit cool as I scanned the headstones, three rows at a time, looking for family connections or something of interest on the family markers.  Although, the headstone to Alexander and Helen was interesting due to the family name, it was how and where Alexander died that struck me as interesting and quite surprising.

Who is Alexander?  Well, he is the husband of my 2nd cousin, 3 x removed. But saying that his wife’s grandmother was also a Riach.

Rothes map - Vision of Briain.

Rothes map – Vision of Briain.

Alexander Riach was born in Dallas in 1828, and being baptised in Rothes on 18th October 1828. He seems to have  spent most of his time in Rothes, the son of James Riach and Annie Innes – James was from Rothes, but not sure about Annie.  In the census of 1841 and 1851 he is living on New Street, Rothes and working as a mason.

Alexander Riach, on Friday the 18th of January, walked up the aisle of Rothes kirk as a married man, after marrying Helen McKerron.  Wet and unsettled conditions had set in a few days before their wedding day and did not turn for the better until April – I hope they had a reasonably fine and clear day for their nuptials.

The census came around in 1861 and the couple, now with two young children were living at Kirton Street, West Side, Marnach, Mortlach. Alexander, still working a a mason, was now working on the railway.   Ten years down the line in 1871, the family has grown and Alexander is now father to four children, aged between 13 and 5 month old Margaret.  Home is now Easter Ardchyle Hut, 2, in the Perthshire village of Killin, where Alexander is aged 42 and a mason.

Alexander and his family seems to be quite elusive in the 1881 census but a bit of a tea break, finds the family not together.  Helen is living with 2 of her children in the home of Margaret McKinnon, the widow of a mason, at Station Street, Rothes.  Where is Alexander and the other children?   After searching through the census for Scotland, with knowing  where he died………….you will have to wait a little longer for that  information! I looked in the England census and there is an Alexander Reach, aged within reasonable ‘give or takes’ from the last census and born in Scotland. living in Barden in Skipton, working as a contractor manager for the new reservoir………..could this be him, living on his own and stating he is married?

Ten years later in 1991, there was quicker success – Alexander and Hellen are now living back together at Cressbrook Cottage, Queens  Road West, Old Machar, Aberdeenshire and now employed as a manager at one of the local granite quarries.

You now know a little about Alexander up to 1891 but what happened to him later………..?

I did the usual quick research by Google, looking for anything that could be remotely connected with how he died.  You know the things, confirming his death on the GRO, just incase the headstone was wrong – it would not be the first time.  I looked for any notification of any thing connected with his death that might have been in a local paper and scanned for online research……….nothing, but I did come up with a place that could be worth a visit sometime.

It was some years later while visiting our daughter who lived in Chiswick at the time, we were staying in a very nice pub opposite Kew Green.  We were due to meet her for lunch where she worked but had a while to kill, so we had a little drive around the area and drove past a building that woke the old grey matter and a eureka moment came.  It was after lunch and on our way back to our lodgings that we called in.  The place was closed but a few of the workshops were open.  The one I called in at, was a blacksmiths, a lady blacksmith and her work was fantastic.  After asking if this was Kew Bridge Works, she said yes, but everything was closed for the day….another visit was called for.  The next day I had found myself in a small, cluttered office, talking to one of the curators, who knew nothing of my man and his demise but she took my details and would pass them on to a volunteer researcher who went on a regular basis to the Metropolitan Archives……………I should wait! Waiting is not a thing I am known for where family history is concerned when I have bitten the bullet, but sad to say I am still awaiting their reply, probably six years down the line.

Kew Bridge Works, now London Museum of Water and Steam

Kew Bridge Works, now London Museum of Water and Steam

So it looks like I would have to continue something I started years ago, but on my own terms, with this new vigor, I rang the Registry Office for a death certificate but which office to contact would it be Richmond or Brentford.  I said I would tell you later about how and where he died – it looks like now is a good time to tell you.  Alexander Riach died on 31st of March 1900, as his epitaph tells ‘accidentally killed at Kew Bridge Works’.  I tossed a coin and came up with Richmond as my first port of call, as I was convinced he had died in an accident at what is now the Museum of Water and Steam, Kew.  The very nice person at the Richmond office, assured me that if I had the wrong office, I would, of course, get a refund.  Five long days later I had the certificate in my hands and although saddened by how Alexander met his maker, for a family historian, the way in which someone leaves their mortal coil, can mean there is more information to be found.

In 1900 he was living at 14 Bushwood Road, Kew and although, 71 years of age, was te Contractor’s Manager at Kew Bridge Works – as per his headstone, and still had me thinking about the steam museum building.  I had the impression, that with this information being marked on his headstone, for all the world to see, well those who visited the kirkyard, that te family were upset, annoyed and probably felt that it was someones fault, but whose?

The death certificate, as you know, gave me the date of death, his age was 71 years and we know his occupation but it was the cause of death that came as a shock.  He died of ‘Syncope from shock due to fractured ribs crushed by crane toppling over whilst being moved from barge to landing stage’.  There was a post-mortem and a verdict of Accidental Death was given by the Coroner for Surrey, A Broxton Hicks after an inquest held on the 4th of April 1900.

I felt surely that this would have caused a ripple through the Kew community at the time, so a telephone call to a wonderful man at Richmond Local Studies, who turned out to be the head of the department.  After a quick tale of who, where and when, I was promised he would let me know if anything was in the local papers.  He was very true to his word and in less that 24 hours I had a scanned copy of the entry in the Richmond Herald, which told me

‘An inquest was held in Richmond on Wednesday, touching on the death of Alexander Riach, manager of the Kew Bridge Works, who was killed by the falling of a crane.  Mr Gibb, the contractor for the works, was represented by a solicitor.  Evidence as to identity having been given by Margaret Riach, daughter of the deceased.  William Watson, a labourer, 2 York Villas, Kew, said that for the purpose of assisting in taking down the old bridge they had a steam crane on runners on a barge.  On Saturday, the manager asked witness and three others to remain behind to take the crane from the barge on to the wharf.  It was quite steady in the barge, but (the crane) had not been used in it, only being there for the purpose of moving.  The deceased came to the wharf about 2 o’clock, and they began to move the crane a few minutes later.  The top of the barge was level with the wharf, and they were going to move the crane on to the wharf by means of rails.  They had begun to move it,  ad it was half-way across, going by steam, when some steamers came up river,  and the wash caused the barge to rock.  Deceased was standing on the wharf near the crane, when it suddenly toppled on to him.  As it swung back, they managed to get the deceased out, and assistance having been called, he was conveyed in a cab home.  

Henry Kennison, a labourer in the employ of the firm, corroborated the evidence of the previous witness.  He was on the barge, and the crane as it was tilted, caught the witness by the clothes, but did not injure him.  Thomas Graham Menzie, 17 Bushwood Road, Kew, engineer to Mr Gibb, said he was o the crane on the barge on the Surrey side, and it was then quite steady, standing so for several days.  Deceased had had over fifty years’ experience with cranes.  After the accident happened, witness had the photographs produced taken.  In answer to Mr J T Mackie, factory inspector from the Home Office, the witness said he thought the crane was safe with the jib on.  The crane was not in steam at the time of the accident.  Dr Ernest Payne, who saw the deceased, said about eight of his ribs were fractured, and he was considerably bruised on the side of his body.  He died from syncope, following upon the shock of the accident.  A verdict of ‘Accidental Death’ was returned’.

Kew Bridge

Kew Bridge being demolished

It was this article in the paper that told me where the accident occurred, I had wrongly thought that he worked at the Kew Bridge Waterworks, but no it was infact, Kew Bridge, works.  It was a very nice man at, yes, the Steam Museum, formerly, Kew Bridge Waterworks, that confirmed a few points.  Firstly, that Mr Gibb, the contractor, at the inquest, was in fact the contractor for Kew Bridge, when the new bridge was built between 1899 and 1903.  The dates fit with Alexander being in Kew and Mr Gibb, also fits in.  It looks like Alexander was involved with the building of the new Kew Bridge and the demolishing of the old bridge. Kew Steam Museum, came good in the end!

After years of waiting to find our why ‘accidentally killed at Kew Bridge Works’ is written on Alexander’s headstone, I now know.  But, this information make me want to ask more questions, such as:- How long had he been in London, and were his family with him.  We know Margaret, his daughter identified the body. But, was that as she was the only family member with him and was basically, his housekeeper. Or, had his wife Hellen, been too upset to view her husband, or had she stayed in Scotland?

The inquest tells that he had worked with cranes for fifty years, was that because his job as a mason involved moving heavy stones and he had gained his experience there.

I may never know the answers to some of the questions, but my family tree certainly has more information about Alexander and his family now than it did.

The third Kew Bridge opened in 1903

The third Kew Bridge opened in 1903

As I have said I know more about Alexander than most people now.  There are many trees on Ancestry that include him, but some have his birth details, some have his death details, and some don’t even have his parents, but although the odd one, and I do mean the odd one, has his death but nothing else.  Could it be that none of these people have seen his headstone?  It is possible that his demise is not common knowledge as many researchers could be from America, Canada or Australia and have not ventured to Morayshire.

I looked for a Will in the English records but nothing, so I took my ‘plastic’ in my hand and I might add it took some prizing out of my purse, but eventually, I paid a fee to Scotlands People, now that breaks my heart – why will they not do an annual subscription?  Wills are free to search, and there he was, confirmed by his wife Helen McKerron, also being in the index.  I now have his will and can see that he had property in Rothes, its proximity given quite clearly on the written pages and how after both his and Helen’s death, which occured in December of 1909, what should happen to their property.

Sources:-

London Museum of Water and Steam – click here

Ancestry

Find My Past

Scotland’s People

 

Frederick Cooke and the Gyme

east ardsley mapFrederick Cooke was born in East Ardsley in 1880/2 as when looking at documents there is a slight variation, but there is an entry on Freebmd for a birth registration for a Frederick Cook in the March Quarter (January, February, March) of 1881 in Wakefield – so that looks like him but with a spelling variation in his name.

He was born to Arthur William Cooke and Martha Hardaker along with two other children between 1879 and 1883.  Arthur William was originally from Cheverell in Wiltshire, while Martha was from Bishop Auckland – I bet that was a fun household with the variation in accents!  The couple married in St Michaels church, East Ardsley on  the 15th of September 1877.  Sadly, Martha died in the spring on 1890 and with young children to look after Arthur William remarried Emma Wright, when on the 3rd of February 1891, he again walked down the aisle of St Michaels church.  The couple went on to have more children.

But, back to Frederick – In the census of 1891 Frederick is living at Allinsons Buildings, East Ardsley, with his father, a furnace keeper;  his step-mother, Emma; his brother George;  sister Margaret and Emma’s nine month old baby boy – written in the census as ‘William Wright, son of wife’.

The Christmas of 1903 must have been a busy and exciting time in the Cooke household as within the next few weeks a family event was to take place.  On the 16th of January 1904 cook fleming marriageFrederick would be found standing with his family and friends in St Michael’s church, East Ardsley, waiting for Ethel Fleming to walk down the aisle and become his wife. Fred’s father, Arthur William, was now a lamplighter, while John Fleming, Ethel’s father was a miner.  The two witnesses to this event were Edmund Lee and Jane Hunt.

Life, does not always deal the cards we would wish, and like many others Frederick, seemed to have been given a few ‘duff’ cards.  He had already seen his mother die, his father re-marry and the 1911 census told of another ‘duff’ card.  The census shows the couple living at 6 Mary Street, The Falls, East Ardsley, a house with 3 rooms.  It tells that he was 30 years old and Ethel was 26; that they had bee married 7 years – we know that from the Parish Register entry, but the paper from 100 years ago also tells that the couple had had one child, and that it had died – died between their marriage and the date of the census.

Before I continue with Fred’s life, curiosity was getting the better of me, and it dosn’t take a lot for me to go off on a tangent looking for another story…………..here I go again!

Who was this child? When was ‘it’ born?  Was it a boy or a girl? How old was he/she when it died?  Questions, lots of them, and they seem easier to come up with than answer.  Let the questions stop and the answering begin.

What do I know, not a lot really apart from his surname would be cook(e) and death occurred between 1904 and 1911, which is too early for a mother’s maiden name to be entered.  A search of Freebmd with the search criteria being  Cooke and West Riding, brings up a lot of entries  – do you know how many there is to search through?  A lot!  I need to lessen the number of entries.  The Ancestry website has very considerately scanned West Yorkshire Parish Registers for certain periods, what can that come up with?  Straight to the West Yorkshire section for deaths and burials using just Cooke and East Ardsley came up wit five possibilities, but by the dates of burials I could eliminate three straight away, leaving two to have a look at.  After viewing the first I could also now eliminate that entry as the address was Morley.  One remaining, a John Arthur Cooke.

John Arthur Cooke was buried on the 23rd of March 1904, his address was given as Whitaker’s Fold, he was five days old and the entry states there was no service.   Without purchasing a birth certificate and death certificate John Arthur seems to be the most likely candidate, along with  both his grandfathers being Arthur and John.

Back to Fred.  Life carried on for him and Ethel until 1914 when events took place that would not only shock the world for years to come but would also impact greatly on East Ardsley. But the passing of time and the generations that followed would mean that events locally, would be forgotten sooner within the community.  The Great War, the war to end all wars, had begun and men were enlisting inn villages, towns and cities all over Great Britain.  Fred enlisted

Fred, platelayer, on the Great Northern Railway and  being an old Territorial, re-enlisted, some sources say August, while other state September and November, but all agree on the year of 1914.  He became Pte., 2425, F. Cooke, in the 1/4th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI).  The 1/4th’s were training near Malton, but bad weather was continuing they, (about 4000 of them) were moved to Gainsborough and be billeted within the community.  Training continued while some of the men moved to the coast, other stayed and on one particular day, the 19th of February, 1915, they were in the village of Moreton at a place called the Gymes.  The men were training on an enclosed pond to build rafts, readying themselves for crossing the Belgian canals. A Dewsbury man, Captain Harold Hirst, was in charge of the operation.  The rafts were constructed from rope, straw, tarpaulins and a wooden platform.

The Gyme, with the remains of the pontoon

The Gyme, with the remains of the pontoon

20150226_125332

Reverse of the Gyme photo

 

It was at 12:10 on Friday the 19th of February 1915, that as men from ‘D’ Company boarded their raft. As the raft started to leave the bank, their ‘vessel’ crowded with soldiers (some say up to 40) in their heavy kit and boots seemed stable for a while, but Pte., Punyer, who was in charge of a very long pole to push the raft forward, was soon, even with his arm fully in the water, could not reach the bottom of the gyme with his pole.  The raft was beginning to become unstable and tragedy soon struck and the men were very quickly fighting for their lives.  Those who were closer to the bank dragged men out of the water, others gave artifical respiration.  Higher ranking officers were called for, Field Ambulances were on their way and a roll call was sounded but seven were unaccounted for.  Five men were found and later in the afternoon, the final two soldiers were accounted for.

Their bodies were taken to stables behind the Crooked Billet pub in Morton.  An inquest was held the following day in Morton School, presided over by Philip Gamble, a local solicitor with a local builder, Mr Fox, being the foreman of the jury.  The jury viewed the bodies and visited the Gyme.  After the jury had viewed the bodies they were placed in coffins and taken by Army Ambulance to Holy Trinity Church Hall, Gainsborough, from where they would be taken the next day for their journeys home.  Some of the families of the seven men made the journey to Morton for the inquest, where after hearing various statements a verdict of Accidental Death was given but the Officer was criticised for his lack of experience and the lack of adequate safety precautions i.e. life buoys and trained first aid staff.

Within days the regiment had been moved to York and were sent to France on the 13th of April and were soon in the trenches at Bois Grenier.

The seven soldiers were all given full military funerals in their own villages, towns or cities, where family, friends, neighbours and many others paid their respects.

And it was that on 23rd February 1915, from 23 Cardigan Terrace, Frederick made his final journey carried aloft the shoulders of his fellow soldiers and followed by many more, with many carrying floral tributes.  The streets were lined as the courtage walked slowly passed, up the hill on its way to St Michael’s church.   The party would have been met by the Rev. John H D Hill, who years before had married Frederick and Ethel  in happier times, but today was a very sombre occasion as over 2000 from the military and surrounding area paid their respects.  The Rev. Hill in his parish register wrote the required information in the set columns and lines but he also added ‘military funeral drowned on pontoon’.

We now know how the Fred’s life ended and where he rests, but what happened to Ethel, well, early in 1918 she married Peter Humberstone.  She died on 29th of November 1947 and rests within the walls of St Michael’s Parish Church, East Ardsley, along with her first husband and her son.

Batley Cemetery 100 years on

Batley Cemetery 100 years on

100 years on to the day …………. a  group of people gathered at the graveside of Private Batty, one of the 7.  They were there to remember the tragedy by laying a wreath for each one of those men an eighth wreath was laid by people from Gainborough.  The following Sunday over 20 people travelled from Yorkshire to Morton for a service and plaque unveiling.  It was a wonderful service and a visit to the Gyme followed, braving the wind, rain, bitter cold and the mud, where the wreath laid in Batley,  was laid in what remains of a now filled in Gyme.  I can’t say that walk was pleasant but having gone that far it seemed only fitting to go and complete the circle.

Tony Dunlop, PROJECT BUGLE and D Bedford, great niece of Fred Cooke lays a wreath

Tony Dunlop, PROJECT BUGLE and D Bedford, great niece of Fred Cooke lays a wreath

During the following day and weeks, the wreaths to the 7 have now been laid at the foot of each DSCF4764of their

 

 

 

headstones with a small information plaque.

The names on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones in most cases bare the name, regiment, service number and age of the casualty, but what they do not tell is the story, so when you see one of those headstones, stop and think if only you could tell your tale.

We Will Remember Them

Additional information :-  Captain Harold Hirst was the youngest of the officers within the regiment.  He was the son of Mr & Mrs Joseph Hirst of Ravensleigh, Dewsbury and a member of the firm of Messrs. G H Hirst and Co., Ltd., woollen manufacturers of Dewsbury and Batley.  He was an ‘old boy’ of Rugby School and it was on 24th of June 1915 that Harold was killed by a German sniper. He had previously killed two or three German snipers and this had been mentioned in dispatches.  He left a widow and a child which had been born two weeks after he left for the front.

So, it was that during the the war many of the men who were at the Gyme on that fateful day also lost their lives.

There has been an 8 page booklet produced as a joint project by various local and Lincolnshire groups – if anyone wishes a copy the cost is £2 plus postage – email gyme @ wakefieldfhs.org.uk

Sources :-

Ancestry, Find My Past, Freebmd,

Gainsborough’s War Years early 1914 – mid 1915 by P Bradshaw

Tony Dunlop

1911 census occupations

Just a short blog this time, thank goodness you might say!

Have you ever been a little annoyed that you can’t read what the occupation of someone in the 1911 census was.  It is either unreadable, has been struck through or written  over, but what you can see clearly are the 3 numbers written in red, or some other colour  by the enumerator.
1911 extract

This seems to be a good example of the numbers coming in quite handy.  The salt hawker, simple enough but the occupation of the lodger.  At first glance, the occupation looks like music as there is an ‘dot’ over what looks like an i, but the wording in brackets, monthly, why would someone involved with music be monthly.

A look down the list for 437 and it gives a totally different meaning to the occupation.  The reference of 437 is listed as ‘sick nurses, invalid attendants and other’. The wording looks more like music than nurse, but the enumerator must have been right!!

To view the census codes click here you may find them some help when using the 1911 census as a research tool.

1911 census code sheet

1911 census code sheet

The Great Lafayette

lafeyetteThe Great Lafeyette, Sigmund Neuberger, was born in February of 1871 in Munich. When Sigmund was 19 his family emigrated to the United States where he began his career in one of his many guises.

Sigmund imitated the career of Ching Ling Foo, who studied Chinese magic and was a very well respected magician in his own country, and developed many illusions, including breathing smoke and fire or producing ribbons and a 15′ long pole from his mouth.   It seemed likely that when Ching Ling Foo brought his act to America, a few tried to emulate him, taking similar names and developing similar illusions.  Sigmund, taking the name of The Great Lafeyette, he was famed for his quick-change routines, flamboyant costumes and his dramatic illusions, including one he developed called the  ‘Lion’s Bride’ a 25 minute routine – this routine made him very popular with audiences.  But he was always aware of publicity and how to draw more people to see his act.

He was a world class illusionist and according to many was the highest paid magician of his time. In vaudeville it is estimated that he earned around £44,000 a year, millions of pounds in today’s money.

Lafayette-with-Beauty-11Lafeyette was an admirer of Harry Houdini and the two became great friends. Harry showed his friendship by the gift of a dog, who became known as beauty. Beauty, was pampered  even by celebrity pooches today.  He had his own set of rooms, ate five course meals and wore diamond studded collars. Both were to become inseparable and life long companions.

Life was going well for him, he was involved in all aspects of the shows, including set design, costume design and the creation of illusions. He created shows the like of which had never been seen before.

Lafeyette, is reputed to have his own Pullman carriage and he and Beauty always travelled first class, staying in the best hotels and always having a second room or suite for his best friend, Beauty.  He also looked after his staff, who toured with him – he paid well, but demanded total loyalty.

In 1911 Lafeyette and Beauty were in Edinburgh and set to appear at the Empire Theatre. It was just a few days before the show was set to open that Beauty died. The artist was so distraught that he sought permission to bury his companion in Piershill Cemetery, Edinburgh. The authorities were against this request until Sigmund said that he too would be buried there when his time came. Little did he know!

Empire Palace Theatre after the fire

Empire Palace Theatre after the fire

While in a state of deep mourning, it was during his performance on 9th May 1911 that, while performing  his ‘Lion’s Bride’ routine an oriental lamp burst into flames. The fire curtain dropped, but not fully. Lafeyette was very secretive of his illusions and had all the doors locked off. The fire very soon became out of control. In less than 20 minutes, the backstage area was ablaze and full of smoke, and the fire curtain fell to the stage. The audience, even in a state of panic all managed to escape to safety, but back stage was a different matter. Ten people in the back stage area lost their lives, including Lafeyette. He was identified by his costume and later cremated. But, strangely enough days later, after his solicitor had become involved while trying to find missing ornate jewellery that Lafayette wore,  another body was found under the stage, and identified as Lafeyette by a ring. The previously cremated body was that of a man who acted as Lafeyette’s double – a 25 year old man who played in the orchestra.

The Great Lafeyette's funeral

The Great Lafeyette’s funeral

lafeyette headstoneOn 14th May 1911, The Great Lafeyette, was cremated and the urn containing his ashes was laid to rest between the paws of his best friend, Beauty.

Years ago, while in Edinburgh I visited the grave of Sigmund and Beauty, a quite simple kerbed plot, headed by a simple yet informative headstone.

In the company was one James Edwin Baines, who I was sent information many years ago, but with computer glitches lost that information, so I have had to start again.

Early in 1881, James married Sarah Bailey, in the Dewsbury Registration District  and they can be seen in the census of that year, living at 72  Kirkgate.  James is employed as a clog sole maker. By the time of the 1891 census, James and Sarah were mother and father to four children.  The family lived at 10 Kirkstall Lane and James worked as a Journeyman Clogger

James in 1901 was living on Bradford Road, East Ardsley, a few houses away from the Black Swan Inn, married to Sarah and father to Edwin, Mary, Elizabeth and Esther – working as a Rate Collector.

On the night of 2nd/3rd of April 1911 census was taken and there is a James Edwin Baines, born in Leeds around 1861, which ties in with information regarding funeral arrangements made in Edinburgh. James is a 50 year old man, working as a musician, a visitor in the house of Henry Robert Tubbs, a car-porter living in Brighton, also in the house, as visitors, are other acrobats and musicians from various countries in Europe.  How has James come from being a rate collector to working as a musician.  If James is Brighton, where is his wife.  Well Sarah, is within a few miles of her birth – Hanging Heaton. Sarah, in 1911 says she has been married 29 years, bore 11 children and suffered the deaths of 7.  But as her husband is not with her, that information has been struck through.  While her husband was away, and more than likely when he was at home, Sarah worked as a woollen weaver in one of the local mills, close to her home at 10 Wordsworth Square, Morley (bottom of Commercial Street).

Lafeyette

Lafeyette

Sigmund is also on the census, he is living at 55 Tavistock Square, London. He is entered as Mr Lafeyette, 38 years old and says he is born in Los Angeles. He is single and works as a Music Hall Artist, of independent means. Also entered is Beauty Lafeyette, aged 16 of independent means and there is a 1 in the ‘children living’ column. Both the children living and the entry have been lined through. In the infirmity section Mr Lafeyette wrote ‘too good’ that has also been struck through.

The death of Mr Baines, it is thought was due to a gallant effort to rescue two members of the show from their dressing rooms. The body of James Edwin Baines, of Hackney, London, was encased in a polished oak coffin, accompanied by his wife and sister, he was conveyed by the 10.50pm train to Wakefield, where he would be interred in Woodkirk Churchyard. The solemn event was witness by family, friends and the majority of the local communities, who held James in high regard.

On 22nd August 1911, Probate was granted to Sarah with effects if £24 18s – What happened to Sarah and her family.

The building that once was the Black Swan Inn, still remains and today 98 Bradford Road, East Ardsley has been the home of H Waterhouse and Sons, since they moved there from Waterhouse Corner, opposite Woodhouse Lane.

Note- some sources say that James was accompanied on his last train journey by his brother-in-law.

A letter of Thanks dated 1916

Some of you that know me will be aware that I have a box that  has a lot of newspaper snippets and notes all ready for the day when I will get around to telling the world their story. I also have a folder in my email and a file on my laptop that has something similar, but sometimes the donor of photographs after being saved to the laptop gets separated and I am unable to acknowledge the sender or owner of the photographs…………yes, I know, but none of us are perfect!

A while ago I was sent a set of three pictures – one was of an envelope, and the other two were pages of a letter.

The letter, by a little ragged, was franked and had two one penny stamps on the top right hand corner. It was not written in a style I would have thought was used in that time but a style that was more rounded and with rounded loops on the high letters. The envelope was addressed to Nurse Howell, The Asylum, Wakefield – followed by a full stop and a confidently underscored stroke. I will leave Nurse Howell for a while and concentrate on the sender, one Elizabeth Rudd.

Elizabeth Rudd on the top right of her letter gave her address as 32, Westcliffe Terrace, Harrogate and dated it March 5th 1916. Who was Elizabeth and why was she writing to Nurse Howell?

To find who Elizabeth was we have to pry into her life by reading her words of thanks. Elizabeth was thanking Nurse Howell for looking after her sister during her last hours of life, which as she says ‘I did not know the end was quit so near….’ The nurse was thanked for her kindness for being at her patients side while her sister was not. But Elizabeth was glad that the nurse had been spared any painful suffering – Elizabeth’s sister having a peaceful end. Elizabeth went on to say that Nurse Howell was doing ‘noble work, one which required much patience and endurance…..’

Let’s go and find these two ladies!

Firstly, Elizabeth. We know where she lived in 1916, so a look at the 1911 gave an Elizabeth Rudd living at 81 Skipton Road, Harrogate, who was 28 years old and working as a draper’s clerk. Her parents were John William Rudd, a joiner and Mary Ann, and five other children in the house. Elizabeth had one sister, Maud Mary aged 23 – could this be the sister whose life had ended with Nurse Howell by her bedside?

Back in time 10 years to 1901 the family have now swelled their ranks and are living at 4 possibly Ashworth or Charlesworth Place, Harrogate. But there are still no clues as to the missing sister.

Back to the drawing board and a cleared Ancestry. I have set up the quick links and one of the links is directly into the UK Collections, but could not find the collection I wanted. So back to the home page and ‘see all new records’ Bingo, there it was, the UK, Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846 1912. My main fear was that the date of the letter was just four years after the collection date, but hey-ho, in for a penny!

I did not know Elizabeth’s sisters name therefore a general search for Rudd and Wakefield. One entry stuck out and that was for a young lady called Hannah Jane Rudd. Hannah had been admitted on the 16th of September to the W. Yorks Asylum with no year given at the top of the page and no years on the previous pages, but her date of discharge of death on 14th February 1916, does seem to lend itself to being the lady we need.

So, if Hannah Jane is Elizabeth’s sister and she is not on the 1901 of the 1911 census, will she be on the 1891 and link her to her sister? Let’s go see!

The Rudd family in 1891 were living off Grove Road, Harrogate. John William was a joiner and builder and there was a Jane A Rudd, in the house. Could this be our Hannah Jane, who was three years older than Elizabeth?

Do you know any different?

Nurse Howell, now this could be a little trickier! Presuming, a thing I know you should never do, but where needs must…………as a nurse I presume she would have been a mature person, so over 21. I know during 1916 she was working in the Asylum, and possibly living in the Wakefield area. But, was Nurse Howell, 21ish in 1916 or older?

Back again to the 1911 census and a very, very broad search for Howell, Wakefield and female………and more ladies to search through than I cared for. I selected the search to about 1870 to 1895. I hate the new search on Ancestry, the searching does not hold the same ‘chase effect’ that it used to, but we got there after what seemed like an age – I could have made a Christmas cake quicker, or it felt that way!

One entry out of all of them stood out! Harriet Margaret Howell, aged 21, giving her year of birth around 1890. She was born at Bowes Park, Middlesex but was living in Seacroft seacroft hospitaland her occupation was Hospital Nurse. Harriet was one of many nurses and ancillary staff working at Leeds City Hospitals for Infectious Diseases, Seacroft, Leeds, Mr A E Pearson, MRCS, Medical Superintendent was in charge. The hospital cared for patients with scarlet fever and diphtheria and provided care for 482. When the need for isolation hospitals lessened Seacroft was changed to a children’s hospital.

Harriet  must have moved to work in the Asylum by 1915/16 to have nursed Miss Rudd. 

Seacroft Infectious Disease ward c1900

Is the Nurse Howell I am looking for or do you know better!

Sources:-

Leodis

Ancestry

Find My Past