Tag Archives: family

Nunhead Cemetery, who is named on the headstone ?

Lloyd headstone courtesy of Margaret McEwan

Lloyd headstone
courtesy of Margaret McEwan

Ooops, I’ve done it again! But I have done a lot on my project this weekend, so thinking I need a diversion.  I have had a couple of diversions lately, namely the headstone from East Ardsley churchyard, the newspaper article, and now I have another – a photograph of a headstone.

Why is it such a nice photograph? Why does it have information on it that I can read…..why? And why is he not called John Smith, that might be impossible, but he is not called John Smith!

He is Frederick French Lloyd and his tilting and damaged headstone in Nunhead cemetery, still retains some dignity.

‘In every loving memory of FREDERICK FRENCH LLOYD, devoted husband and father, who passed away 13th February 1953, aged 52 years.  “Good was his heart and in friendship sound.  Patient in pain and loved by all around.  His pains are o’er, his griefs forever done, A life f everlasting joy he’s now begun. Also in ever loving memory of RICHARD LLOYD, devoted **** and  *****, who passed away 27th April 1953′

The remainder of the headstone is covered by undergrowth but you can see part of another sentiment.

What relationship does Frederick and Richard have? Are they father and son, brothers or cousins?

Frederick French Lloyd was the son of Robert Horatio Lloyd and Emily  nee Groombridge, who he married in the late summer of 1872, in the St Saviours Registration District of London and was one of nine children:- Susan, Annie, Margaret, Elizabeth, Harriet, Maude, Richard, Albert and Frederick – born between 1870  and 1901.  At the time of Frederick’s birth, the family were living at 110 Brandon Road, Newington.  Robert was employed as a Fish Porter, Susan and Margaret were ‘mother’s helpers’ and 19 year old Annie, she, ironed collars to add to the family coffers.

It was ten years later in 1911. that the family, now consisting of six people, lived at 1 Eltham Street, Walworth, London – a six roomed house.  Robert was now classed as a General Dealer. Emily, who had been married to Robert for 36 years had given birth to 13 children with 10 surviving to the 1911 census.  Susan, now ironed collars, Maud Pearl was an Ironer, Albert was a Printer’s Assistant, while Frederick was still at school

"1899 Gus Ellen" by Kbthompson (talk · contribs) - The Theatre Museum (London). Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1899_Gus_Ellen.jpg#/media/File:1899_Gus_Ellen.jpg

“1899 Gus Ellen” by Kbthompson – The Theatre Museum (London). Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia -

Frederick left school and started working ‘on the markets’, as a Costermonger – a street seller of fruit and vegetables. In 1920 he was living with his parents, still at 1 Eltham Street with his parents, according to the Electoral Registers.

He married Hannah Tobin in the March quarter of 1924 in the Southwark Registration District and they went on to have five children.  In 1939, 1 Eltham Street is still home, but Frederick seems to be the head of the household, with his wife, Hannah also still living there as is Robert Horatio, but no Emily, as she had died in 1933 aged 77.

I think this now answers the question asked about the relationship between Richard and Frederick, they were brothers.  We know where they rest but where is Hannah ……….oh no! is that another question to answer?


A Letter sent home

While researching for a project, I came across an article in the Wakefield Express issue of the 3rd of March 1915. Instead of continuing, as I should do with the project, I ended up going off on a tangent and finding out who the soldiers were…………Not, I might add, good for the project, but my curiosity would be fulfilled!



The following is an extract from a letter from Ernest Turner, one of the two sons of Mr Joshua Turner, of Woolley Colliery, who are both serving with the R.A.M.C. at the front. Ernest is in the Field Ambulance Section, belonging to the 27th Division of the R.A.M.C. :-

     “We go down for a rest shortly for three weeks, I believe, so you see it is A1 now.  We are not hard worked up here, still a rest won’t do us any harm.  I am pleased to tell you that I am in very good health.  Thank God, I haven’t clicked a German bullet yet.  I now know where poor Jack Melson is buried, but I daren’t go to his grave; it is too dangerous, but it is marked with a cross.  We had a bathing parade before we came here; I mean hot baths.  Just fancy about 50 of us in together and the fun we had.  We are then given a complete change of underclothing.  I felt a different man afterwards.  I have been helping to fetch the wounded in for a while now.  There is plenty of mud out there.

     “Poor Jack Melson said to his sergeant “Is my hour up yet, sergeant?” and the sergeant replied “No, you have 20 minutes more duty yet.” Just then a shrapnel shell came up, and killed them both.  Poor Jack got caught in the side with one of the bullets”

     Melson was in the King’s Royal Rifles and was brother to A Melson, of Woolley Colliery.

Long Row, Woolley, source unknown but acknowledged

Long Row, Woolley, source unknown but acknowledged

Who is mentioned in the above article – Ernest Turner, Jack Melson and his brother A Melson, lets start with Ernest Turner, our very clean soldier.  We know from the article in the Wakefield Express that he is the son of Joshua Turner of Woolley Colliery. But from 1901 the census – there are two Joshua Turners living in Woolley.  One of the Joshua’s is from Barugh, and the other from Hoyle Mill.  One has a family and the other is just listed with this wife, and would seem to be older that I presumed him to be, aged 61, especially with young children…..but not impossible!

The second Joshua is 38 years old, his wife Charlotte E  is also 38 and their children range from 15 down to 1 – this seems more like it!  The census has Charles E Turner, could this be Ernest?  A brother is also mentioned.  I am going to eliminate the youngest brother, Frank, aged 1.  So that leaves Earle aged 7 and George Bennett aged 15.

A Service Record survives for George Bennett Turner – the article said ‘both brothers are serving in the R.A.M.C.’  George is serving in the Coldstream Guards (service no. 16667), was living at the time of enlistment at the Villas, Darton, Barnsley, with his wife Mary (nee Overend, who he married in June of 1911) and daughter Eileen Mary, when he attested in August of 1915.  George survived The Great War, even though he had been gassed in May of 1918, and was demobilized on the 9th of February 1919.

Looks like ‘the other brother’ is Earle, who served as Private, No. 54, in the Royal Army Medical Corps.  Earle, like his brother’s seemed to survive the war and he married Ivy Ellis in the summer of 1920.

Menin Gate Last Post  C Sklinar

Menin Gate Last Post
C Sklinar

The Wakefield Express letter also mentions that Ernest is sending home news of a friend, or someone from the village – Jack Melson, well after looking for Jack and drawing a blank I started looking for John Melson (Jack and John being interchangeable), and there he was.  John Melson.  John served as Rifleman 9530 in the K.R.R.C., into which he enlisted in Huddersfield.  He was Killed in Action on the 25th of January 1915 and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, after entering France in December 1914.  He certainly won’t have been lonely this year, always busy at 8pm, the last couple of years have seen many

Menin Gate C Sklinar

Menin Gate
C Sklinar

more visitors drop by and look at the enormous panels of names to remember and reflect.

Who had John been in life?  John was the brother of A Melson, but from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site, we now know that Alfred was his name.  So, in 1911 John was already a serving soldier, aged 20 he was in the New Barracks, Gosport with over 300 others, including 5 women.  The Medal Card for John/Jack tells – his medals earned, his entry into France and his demise.  The Soldiers Register of Effects confirms

Menin Gate  CWGC image

Menin Gate
CWGC image

already known information, but also includes how much was owed to him by the Army and the recipients were ‘Mo & Fa joint Regotees Norah and Alfred Giggal’, who in 1915 received £7 8s 9d and later in 1919 shared another £5.

The war memorial in Woolley, does not bear the name of John Melson.

Alfred, there is an Alfred in the R.A.M.C., service no. 41962. Alfred according to his Medal Card, had started service in Egypt in June 1915 and was eligible for the three medals – 1915 Star, British and Victory Medal (Pip, Squeak and Wilfred).

As to who the parents of John and Alfred were, there are a few entries in the census but nothing that gives a perfect clue to the family – if anyone knows, why don’t you drop me a line!

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

Holman headstone copyright C Sklinar 2015

Holman headstone copyright C Sklinar 2015

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of the back of a  headstone from the village churchyard.  The only part visible in the image was the unusual back, making the headstone quite unique.

A walk up to the churchyard on a very nice Thursday morning brought me face to face, well face to stone, with the real thing.  From the back it looks like something you might see on Ilkley Moor – stones piled up in a random fashion.  But does the monument mean something more?

Who were these people mentioned on this headstone?  What connection do they have to East Ardsley?  And why does one of the people mentioned have such an unusual name?

First mentioned is ‘Jane Holman of East Ardsley, who died Feby 2nd 1907, aged 56 years‘.  Jane Holman, was born Jane in 1851, the daughter of William Haley and Hannah Walker.  Jane was born in North Brierley, but gave her place of birth as Oakenshaw and in 1881 was living with her family on Green Lane, Cleckheaton, working as a cotton and worsted weaver.

On the 9th of August 1876, Jane Haley went to The Parish Church in Bradford with her family and friends and married Horace Holman, born in Norfolk. Jane was now 24 and gave her residence as Oakenshaw, Low Moor, while Horace was 21 years old, employed as a carrier and also from Oakenshaw, Low Moor.  Horace, was the son of Charles Holman (deceased), a cattle dealer.  The marriage, after banns, was performed by Henry Prosser, B.A., and both Horace and Jane signed their names, as did their witnesses  G J Sewell and Emma Holman – Emma’s signature being quite naive.

By 1901 Horace and Jane were established in East Ardsley, living at Allinsons Buildings, with five children living at home. Horace was aged 45, a farmer, working on his ‘own account’ and a carting agent.  His sons also worked on the farm.

By February, 1907, we know that Jane had died.

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

The inscription following that of Jane says ‘Also, Laban Holman, died 1st April 1966, aged 88 years’. As Laban was Jane’s son quite of a few of the census entries cross.  In 1881 Laban was with his family, he was four years old, being born on 2nd of April 1877 at Bottoms, Wyke and baptised on 20th May 1877 at the Wesleyan Methodist, Oakenshaw.

1891, Laban is living and working at Low Street Farm, in the Civil Parish of West Ardsley – he is a farm servant working for William Scott.  We know from his mother Jane’s entry,  that by 1901 the family were living and working in East Ardsley on the family farm and carting business.  Within six years of the 1901 census, we know that Jane had died.  Her will, proven in Wakefield, left all her business dealings to ‘my son Laban Holman for his own use absolutely in return for the good work he has done for me in managing the business and keeping myself and younger children thereout now for many years.’  Jane also left ‘all those Policies of Insurance on my life in the Prudential Insurance Office together with the household furniture and any money that may be in the house at the time of my death and the residue of my estate to my Trustees upon trust to sell, call in and collect the same and pay my debts, funeral expenses and the costs of proving this my will thereout so doing to pay and divide the same amongst all my children inclusive of the said Laban Holman, share and share alike.’…….what happened to Horace?  Probate to Jane, wife of Horace Holman, granted on 21st March to Laban Holman and Charles William Holman, electrical engineer, effect £189 6s.

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

In 1910 there are Tax Valuations showing that Laban had access to various plots of land in East Ardsley and Thorpe  – some he rented from the Great Northern Railway, others he owned and sub-let.

Ten years later, in 1911 Laban is living with his sister Mary, her husband George Harper and their children, at 12 Allinsons Buildings, East Ardsley. Laban is a carting agent, his brother in law, George is employed as a teamster –  is he working for Laban?  The early 1920’s saw Laban, in directories as a haulage contractor working out of Thorpe with the telephone number of Rothwell 6.

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

Laban Holman courtesy of Alistair Kennedy

Laban, was also a member of a Masonic Lodge.  Laban, as we know, died on 1st April 1966 aged 88.  His Probate entry read ‘ Holman Laban of Oaklea, Wetherby Road, Bardsey, Yorkshire died 1 April 1966 at St Helen Hospital, Barnsley, Yorkshire.  Probate London 22 August to George Harper, coal and coke merchant and George Stone, bank manager.  £4245.

Another section of the memorial mentions ‘Francis Holman who died on 3rd of August 1903, aged 23 years’. Francis is living with his parents at Allinsons Buildings, East Ardsley in 1891 – so the family were in East Ardsley while Laban was living and working on the farm in West Ardsley. Horace gave his occupation as colliery labourer.  Francis can also be found on the census as Frank.  Also, on a section of the memorial ‘also of Edgar Holman, who died Septr 2nd 1889 aged 1 year ad 8 months , interred at Westfield Chapel, Wyke’.

But. what happened to Horace?   The 1911 census has an entry for a Horace Holman, carter, living at 19 Queen Square, Leeds, with his wife Clara…..could this be Jane’s Horace, who married Clara Hudson in the September quarter of 1907 in the York Registration District?  Could Horace have left the family home after the 1901 census.  That could be the reason why Jane left the business to Laban.   Anyway, there is a death for a Horace Holman in the Leeds area in the June quarter of 1923.

Rear of Holman headstone courtesy of Glyn Sherborne

Rear of Holman headstone courtesy of Glyn Sherborne

The headstone, some say the stonework resembles blocks of coal, or could it be stone.  Coal from the local mines or stone from local quarries that the business transported ………..you make your own mind up!

Thanks to Alistair Kennedy for allowing me to use his images, he also tells me that other members of the family have interesting stories to tell!

Irish Catholic Church Records Going Online

Irish National Archives, Dublin

Irish National Archives, Dublin

Tracing your family history in Ireland is to get a lot easier as the National Library of Ireland getrs ready  to give FREE online access to its Catholic Church records collection from this summer (2015) according to IrishCentral.

Genealogy expert John Grenham wrote in The Irish Times that it is “almost impossible to overstate the importance” of what will happen.

The records that will go on line mainly consist of baptismal and marriage records, the earliest of which dates back to the 1700’s and cover the 1,091 parishes in the country.  This will enable the millions of people worldwide to access their Irish roots much easier.  The records are currently available at the National Library of Ireland on microfiche and therefore you need to visit in person or hire a researcher but demand has put a great strain on this service and the cost of hiring a professional researcher has put these records out of many people’s price bracket.

For many years volunteers have been working to make these records ready for digitization and online research.  These records could be the most important records to go online since the 1901 and 1911 census for Ireland at the Irish National Archives.


Batley Lads – Roll of Honour of Batley Grammar School – Book Review

We recently published an article by Guest Blogger, Philip L Wheeler, who wrote about Drighlington ‘pub lads ‘ who gave their lives during WWI.  Well I am pleased to say that Philip, with three others has written a book about the lads from Batley Grammar School, who died in the Great War 1914 – 1918, with the support of the National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund.

Batley Lads cover

Batley Lads cover

The paperback book, A4 in size contains over 300 pages. Before you visit the pages of the young men, you are invited to become familiar with life in Edwardian Batley and Batley Grammar School at the time leading up to 1914 enlistment and the period when the ‘old boys’ started to enlist.

You are then introduced to the 61 fallen boys and one headmaster from the school who paid the ultimate sacrifice, by a full colour page bearing their rank and name, lifespan and regiment, with at least one image per entry. Each of these pages has a selection from a poem or prose for example:-

“Earth has waited for them, All the time of their growth Fretting for their decay: Now she has them at last! In the strength of their strength suspended—-stopped and held.” Isaac Rosenberg 1917.

The book is easy to read, and is overflowing with information about the men and their families; what was happening during their war and where they now rest.   One of the men mentioned and highlighted on the back cover is Private Horace Waller, V.C., born in 1896, he served in the KOYLI 10th Batt.  Horace died on the 10th of April 1917 aged 20 from wounds received while throwing bombs at the enemy.  It was a result of these actions and actions earlier in the day that he was awarded The Victoria Cross.  Another young man was Corporal Gilbert Pattison, who served in the Royal Flying Corps.

The Epilogue, goes on to tell how the school and other schools continued after the war and bringing the school to the future, hoping that the current pupils will visit the cemeteries of their fallen.

Finally, there are the resources and index.

If you have a connection to Batley Grammar School, or the Batley area, this is a wonderful book to ‘pop in and out’ of.  All in all, this book has been researched in depth by Philip, an ex-pupil of Batley Grammar School and his co-writers – this is a book to be proud and well worth the £10 price tag!

If you would like a copy of this very informative book please email :  info@projectbugle.org.uk

Lizzie Riach’s little black book

A while ago I wrote about my Aunt Dolly’s autograph book, a book that I had looked through many times as a child, pondering over the small painting and pencil sketches and wondering who had taken the time to write within its pages.

Original white heather

Original white heather

While looking through my ‘stuff’, mainly photographs, I found my mum’s autograph book. Many of Aunt Dolly’s entrants had been nurses at Stanley Royd, family and friends, mum’s was different and at the moment it seems fitting to write about the people in Lizzie Riach’s little black book, as the other day it was 70 years since the war ended  in Europe and most of the writers in the little book are members of the forces.  Wouldn’t it be nice for a relative to find their entry now, years, many years later!  Or what would be even better, would be for someone who wrote their little dittie to see it  – and wouldn’t it be fantastic if they remembered my mum!

Opening the book, Jimmy (James 427), in March 1943, also wants the privilege of being first.  The following page has two twigs of white heather still sticking to the page by their original tape.  Eve Cook, writes simply ‘ To one of the nicest girls I’ve known, Best always’, she goes on to say ‘not so primitive as I sound’.  What did that mean?  Obviously, it meant something to Eve and my mum.

To Ann, wishing you all the happiness you deserve – for they who look only for the best in everyone they meet are too rare’ .  Neville Sibley, Dunearn House, 26 Jan. ’43.  Who was Neville and where is or was Dunearn House?  That was an easy one, a quick google, and there it was!  I know it is the correct one, Dundearn House, Burntisland, as mum served in the A.T.S. at Burntisland during WWII. Now to answer the question ‘Was Dunearn House a billet during the war or did it have some other purpose.

Neville Sibley

Neville Sibley

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

Dunearn House, source not known but acknowledged

No drawing, no little dittie or simple sentiment, just a name – Clark D L, O.F.C., 501 Hy. AA bty, Donibristle Point, 19/4/1943.  And so back to Google maps to find that Donibristle is just inland from Burntisland, but where Donibristle Point is, Google is keeping that a secret! ‘In the parlour there were three. Ann, the parlour lamp and he.  Two’s company without a doubt.  So the parlour light went out’. Nan Cunningham penned that on 17th January 1943.

‘What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult to each other.  In your golden chain of friendship, regard me as a link’. W Blackwood, A.T.S., who is she?  Could she be called Winifred?

Audrey Kettle

Audrey Kettle

The next few words are from Audrey Kettle, H.P.C., Notts (mum was also posted there and it was there that she met her future husband).  What Audrey wrote, although then, was meant in all innocence and probably is featured on many pages, in 100’s of autograph books, the wording in this politically correct culture, would be taken in the wrong context by a few.  But needless to say, Audrey’s words made me smile – all based on the sound of words and a space in the right place!  A google search brought up the Burma Star Association website telling me that HPC was Home Postal Service.

 An earlier entry for J M that gave nothing away as to who J M was now, further in the book, ‘a lonely spot’, they now tell they are at Arlands (?), Fochabers.   Later in the book I may find out a little more.  Back south of the border to Nottingham and Joan (A.T.S.). ‘Happy memories of the “Vic” at Nottingham’.  What memories, what happened at the Vic, that mum and Joan shared in 1944? Was the ‘Vic’ a theatre, was it a pub, one this is for sure it is not a shopping centre.

A pretty pencil sketch of a lady wearing a flowing, frilly dress and bonnet.  In the background

P Gregg

P Gregg

birds flutter and drink from a birth bath.  The artist is P Gregg – who was she, I am presuming a lady drew this.

It is sad that modern technology has done away with the autograph book, as within the pages, filled with words, poems, all written in different styles of writing………making the book very personal to the writer and the owner of the book……many memories held within those pages.

S D Williamson, 2 Forest Crescent, Thornton, Fife writes ‘Health, Happiness and the Best of Luck, where every you may be….. Mac’.  Looking again at the page – the name and address are in a different pen and a different hand.  Conclusion……..they are two people, Mac and S D Williams of Fife.  Now another question…..who is Mac?

Still only about half way through and Sig med, Rita, A.T.S, on 17th of January 1943, writes ‘ Down the street there walked a peach.  Who was both pretty and fair. A stealthy look, a half closed eye, and the Peach, became a Pair’.

D Watson 'Wot no!'

D Watson ‘Wot no!’

Another page with two entries, this time both from men.  ‘We’ll miss you at camp, Ann. how much, we only know, but your, smile, your wink in our memories lingers, where-ever you go’ A starred Romeo………..D Watson.  At the foot of the page and just managing to say ‘Wishing you all the best of Love……Josh, Wot no Kisses’.

Frank Smith writes ‘Thank God for girls like you Ann.  I shall miss your happy smile, and with you all you wish yourself, where-ever you may go’.

‘Long may you live! Long may you love! and long may you be happy’. S W Lewis wrote on the now faded and blotched page on 19th of January 1943.

Every autograph book has ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, honey is sweet and so are you’, this time written by  E Aitken of 11 Manse Avenue, Whitburn, West Lothian.

The next entry came as quite a surprise, well not the wording but who had written the words.  Firstly, the entry……….’Life is but a great hotel, a hand shake and our au-revoir.  We’ll meet again if all is well.  When we have passed the open door’.  Now who wrote the words.   They were  written by a man who would have had to travel many miles  – John Wilson, Gladstone, Queensland, 5.11.45.  As to whether John was in the services, I have no idea, but it would be nice to know if he made it back to Gladstone.

Blantyne Camp magazine

Blantyne Camp magazine, image Secret Scotland

‘Women darn their husbands socks, with never ceasing care.  But when they get a whole in theirs, they buy another pair’.  So true, and written by Irvin Skelton(?), 501 Bty, R.A., Blantyne Farm Camp, 24 May 1943.  Turning over the faded yellow page Joan Hemingway, A.T.S. wrote ‘Ann now, Ann ever, Riach now but not for ever. This book I see in later years, I wonder what your name will be’.

On the 6th of May 1945, Helen F Caldie, A.T.S., H.P.C., R.E., Wittingham, wrote about friendship being a chain that is never broken.   A greeting from A Hepburn, (42 Land S***d), Kirklands, Fochabers, written in a pen that seems to have had better days!  While Len, thanks Ann, for the letters she brought and her smiling happy face that added to the happiness contained within the envelopes from home.

The 24th of February 1946, two young men named Joe and Ted, wrote ‘Remember the Paiaise, Nottingham that afternoon?  We kept the ‘Poles’ up alright didn’t we!!!‘.  Also on the same page, but tucked into a corner, Mary wished Ann, her old pal, all the best.  Barbara, signing herself (Lady) Barbara, wrote ‘I wish I had someone to love me. Someone to call me his own. Someone to buy me chocolate. As I’m sick of buying my own!’.  Barbara writes from Craigend, Bathgate, West Lothian on 23rd Jan 1943.

Other entries are from J Mathieson, 69 Mid Street, Keith and G Newton Burntisisland, 16 January 1943. Turning the faded pink page, Val Peek, A.T.S., wrote on 18 January 1946, ‘Very best of luck from a ‘little’ Cockney girl’.  Well at least we have a clue as to where Val originated from.  Another entry is written by S Frost, West Melton, on 26 October 1945.

A little saucy poem follows ‘Ann, had a little lamb, she also had a bear.  I’ve often seen her little lamb, but never seen her bare!’ ‘Wishing you all you wish yourself, Rita M Cromrie, 24 February 1946′.  Doesn’t the English language make you chuckle at how two words pronounced the same can mean something totally different, and so many autograph books have similar entries.

Signaller Rita Walker penned her effort on 17th of January 1943, while over the page, Frae Rosie Vernon of the A.T.S., wrote about roses being red. No poem, no greeting came from the next page but details that looked as though they should be on an envelope – Pte D.Abbott, A.T.S., 501 (M) Bty R.A., Woodend Camp, Helensburgh. 

A E Walker

A E Walker

An entry on one of the faded yellow pages is from A.E. Walker, ex-trooper. Written on an angle in very small writing and in Italian (?) and using Google translator for one word, I think that A.E. Walker wrote the following ‘Un notta in Campo Concentraimento di Prigioanieri de Guerra’ – something about a prisoner of war camp, possibly.

Joan Bradshaw and Mary Wilkinson, both serving with the A.T.S., wrote on 9th June 1943 – Mary having two entries back to back.   Mac or Mal Pearson B.H.Q., wrote ‘A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint. Makes the ladies faces, really what they ain’t’, on 14 May 1943.  I get the feeling that how the verse is worded that Mal or Mac was a soldier.

D Robinson

D Robinson

M Jamieson, Seaview, Kingston-on-Spey, wrote another little dittie with a play on words, ‘ A tablespoon is rather large, a teaspoon rather small.  But a spoon upon the sofa, is the best spoon of all’. While Pte., Emilia Race, A.T.S, on 6 May 1943 wrote the words to the well known Vera Lynn song, We’ll meet again. A simple one liner  ‘ Two mugs from Milltown, remember the kilts!’ was written by D Robinson, R.A.F., and what could be L Kenneth R.A.A.F. Feb 1945, followed very quickly by ‘Just another mug, Alice Milne, Seafield Bank, New Elgin, 18 February 1945′.

‘Twinkle Twinkle little star, I took a girl out in a car.  What we did we’re not admittin’, but

Joy Wood

Joy Wood

what she’s knittin’ ain’t for Britain!’ Another cheeky little poem from ‘Daisy’ Day, 8th May 1943.  Getting close to the final pages, Joy Wood W.A.A.F., C.R.S., Nottingham, on 11 November 1946, wrote her own poem and apologised for the ‘shocking poetry’.  J Cumberland, C.R.S., January 11th 1946.  A rather bold entry from W.A.A.F., Jean Brown of Lossiemouth was written on 20 June 1943, while on 8th of August, 1944, Joan Demers wrote ‘ Sincerest wishes always Ann! Remember Just 1 of Room 5, 5 Carrisbrook’.  I wonder what that meant?

Entries by Gladys Rowberry and E Freeman, are followed by ‘I’d lie for you my darling, in thrilling tones she cried.  She was brunette. He preferred blonde, and so the damsel dyed’. Yet another play on words by Mitch, who wishes Ann, all the best in Civvy Street.

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham

E Elizabeth Bingham, 12 Sect. E. Coy., H.P.C. (V), Notts., wrote on 5 June 1944 – the day before D-Day – ‘This ring is round and hath no end, so is my love for you, my friend.

The Bridle Pie, by Peggy Innes is the next entry ‘Take a cup of kindliness, a tablespoon of trust.  Add a pinch of confidence. Roll out a loving crust.  Flour with contentment and keep free from strife. Fill with understanding and bake well for life’.  Followed by Doris E Wells on 16th January 1945.



A young man called Artie seems to have reserved his page by writing ‘? leave this for me’.  He then draws a line down the page, thus reserving for later.  He then writes’ Remember the hilltop.  Remember the lake.  Remember me on your wedding day, but remember my piece of cake! Artie’

Finally, two entries, back to back by Pte Wells, A.T.S.,  501 Bty on 6

May 1943.

Who were these people who thought so much of my mum, Elizabeth Ann Riach.  At home in

Pte., Wells

Pte., Wells

Urquhart and to her family she was Lizzie.  In the army, to her husband and friends in Yorkshire she was Ann.  Oh!, how I would have loved to know the smiling, fun loving woman written about so fondly in her little black book.

A new princess

On the second of May 2015 HRH Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana of Cambridge came into the world.  Her birth was officially registered on the 5th of May and signed by her father William.

William, gave his occupation as that of Prince of the United Kingdom, and informed that his wife, Catherine Elizabeth, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, was a Princess of the United Kingdom – people laughed at this!  Is he the first to enter such a position as his occupation?  I am not going to discuss his reasons, if it is correct in this day and age, even though one day he will be a King.

Lets have some fun looking around the census, birth entries and other records to see if others have done the same as William.

In the winter of 1841 Edward, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was registered as Gotha being his family name and his first names being Prince of Wales – not a mention of Edward!  gotha saxe coburg

1851, the first census to give a place of birth other than ‘in county’, and we find Her Majesty Alexandria Victoria, wife, aged 31 and her occupation is ‘The Queen’.  Her husband, HRH Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emanuel, head of the house, and his occupation is Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha. Their children are also listed as having occupations as :- Princess Royal, Prince of Wales, Princes and Princesses, while Arthur William Patrick Albert aged 11 months is recorded as Prince of the United Kingdom, Duke of Saxony, Prince of Coburg and Gotha.

The census of 1881 is  similar with Victoria’s occupation being Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and her children being Prince of Princesses.  I must say this census return is rather untidily written to say who is the Head of the Household!

By 1911 King George was on the throne, his census has him as the Head of the Household, been married 17 years to Mary, his Queen and they had at the time six children, all who were alive at the time.  His occupation, as with that of his wife’s is blank.  Their sons, Princes Albert and Edward both give their occupation as being in the Royal Navy.

Also in 1911, the Duke of Northumberland, Harry George, aged 64, gave his personal occupation as Peer.  The Duke of Buccleuch, was just entered as ‘Buccleuch’ with the later addition of ‘The Duke’ in parenthesis.  His wife is listed as Peeress, while their son,  Lord Herbert Scott is a Lieut. Col.  in the 23rd London Regiment.   A visitor at the time of the census, Lord Claud Hamilton, aged 68 gives his occupation as Member of Parliament.

While Edmund, Lord Faber, gave his occupation as Banker, being an old Etonian, and a senior partner in Becket’s Bank of Leeds and York.  He was also a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Lord Stratheden aged 81, gave his occupation as that of private means.

Princess Elizabeth on her birth certificate is indexed as Windsor Elizabeth A M and her mother’s maiden name is Bowes-Lyon.

Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding certificate to Philip Mountbatten, her rank or profession is given as Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, while he entered HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, KG.

It looks like it boils down to how you understand the question asked.  To other generations the wording would be ‘your rank of profession’, while today it seems to be just ‘occupation’ as the wording on the certificates – but who asked the question of occupation and how was it asked!  Simple questions but could mean a world of difference.

Giving an example of census questions asked by the enumerator.  1. Where are you from?  2. Where were you  born?  I suppose they could be classed as similar questions, but when rooting your your ancestor  it could mean a world of difference.  1. Where are you from?  Could be understood as ‘I’m from Methley’.  The enumerator has an answer, he is happy.  Ten years later our family member has moved and he now says he is from Sheffield, again the enumerator has an answer and he may now know the family, so he is happy with the answer.

2. Ten years have passed and the enumerator asks ‘where were you born’ and our head of the household says ‘Bradford’.  Both questions could be understood as the same, but they could also mean something totally different.

It is not always how someone perceives themselves but how someone asks a relevant question.



It’s May – an eventful month

Well, only a few days into the merry month of May and so much has happened.

We have see the birth of another great grandchild to Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, but that will have to wait for another blog.  There has also been celebrations taking place for the end of the war in Europe – V E Day.

We have see the commemorations to those who lost their lives in the sinking of the Lusitania, 100 years ago and we have seen an election which I don’t think anyone predicted the outcome of.  But enough of politics, so back to the Lusitania a more fitting subject for this blog.

RMS Lusitania - Wikipedia

RMS Lusitania – Wikipedia

She, RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner and holder of the Blue Riband (an unofficial accolade given to passenger liners crossing the Atlantic at a record high speed – of 35 holders of the Blue Riband, 25 were British).  She was launched on 7th of June 1906, becoming part of the Cunard Line.  RMS Lusitania was the biggest passenger ship – for a short time.  Built by John Brown & Co., at Clydebank, she weighed in at 44,060 tons. She had 9 passenger decks, provided approx. 50% more passenger capacity that any other ship at the time.  The ship was equipped with lifts, electric lights, wireless telegraph and her first class accommodation and decks were magnificent in their furnishings.

The Lusitania left New York on the 1st of May 1915 for the port of Liverpool with 1962 people onboard including a crew of 850.

Advert from American papers - Wikipedia

Advert from American papers – Wikipedia

By this time the German Government had declared that all Allied ships would be in danger of being attacked in British waters.  Submarine activity was intensifying around the Atlantic making any vessel in our coastal waters a target for attack.  It is said that the German Embassy in the United States placed an advertisement in newspapers warning passengers of the danger of being a passenger on the Lusitania.

On the 7th of May, RMS Lusitania, was off the coast of Ireland ready to complete her 202nd crossing and was due to dock in Liverpool later that afternoon.  A course running parallel to the south coast of Ireland,  and roughly 11 miles off the Old Head of Kinsale when the liner crossed in front of U-20 at 14:10hrs. The Commanding Officer of U-20, Schwieger, gave the order to fire one torpedo, which struck the Lusitania on the starboard bow – just beneath the wheelhouse.  Shortly after, a second explosion came from within her hull, and the ship began to founder with a prominent list to starboard.

The crew rushed to launch the lifeboats but the position of the vessel and the conditions made their deploy quite difficult and in some cases almost impossible.  As it was only six of the 48 boats were launched.

Eighteen minutes after the torpedo struck, the bow touched the seabed, with the stern still visible above the surface of the water – finally, sliding beneath the waves to her grave.

Of the 1962 passengers and crew on board the Lusitania 1,191 lost their lives, 405 members of the crew lost their lives including John Henry Lowrie Hayes .

 The Lusitania had signalled her distress which brought Irish rescuers to the scene.

By the following morning the news if the sinking, of this unarmed passenger liner,  had spread worldwide.  Most of the passengers were either British of Canadians, there were 128 Americans on the passenger list who lost their lives and this outraged many in their country.

Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, a German spokesman published a statement saying that the Lusitania carried ‘contraband of war’ and also she was ‘classed as an auxiliary cruiser’ Germany had the right to destroy her regardless of any passengers on board.  He also stated that because of the published warning in American papers that Germany were relieved of any responsibility for the deaths of the American citizens.  He stated the ammunition and military goods listed as her cargo, which included an estimated 4,200,000 rounds of rifle cartridges, 1,250 empty shell cases and 18 cases of non-explosive fuses.

Cunard denied that she was carrying munitions but admitted her transportation of small-arms ammunition.

100 years later on the 7th of May 2015, Cunard’s MS Queen Victoria underook a voyage to the site of the sinking to lay a wreath to remember those who lost their lives on that day.

Previous commemorations had taken place, including  a lifeboat crew rowing the 12 miles to the site of the disaster.

Albert Edward Shepherd

A few years ago my cousin and I were jointly researching branches of our family tree.  I was doing the internet side by looking at census, military service records and other online sources.  He was going the ‘old school’ route by visiting the archives and viewing the church records on microfilm.  Normally, on a Sunday morning we would have a long chat on the telephone, compare notes and decide what other routes to go down and people to search out………..It worked for us and we found a lot of information about our joint relatives, their spouses and children.

It was while researching a joint relative – nearer to him than me by just a little, we ventured into the Shepherd line.  There were a few ups and downs and a few hiccoughs along the way but with a joint effort we got there.

And so it was that in 2010, one sunny but cool Sunday afternoon I ventured forth with car keys, camera, spare batteries and music for my journey a few miles down the road.  But before I tell about that day, it may be good to know who Albert was.

Albert Edward Shepherd was the son of Noah Shepherd and Laura Darwin born in 1897 in the small town of Royston near Barnsley.  Albert was not our main interest, it was his brother Jabez born in 1905 that was the direct relative.  But you know how it is with family history, you start of in a nice orderly fashion then off you go at a tangent.  It seemed that Albert was our tangent, but at least some of the information fitted them both.

Noah was a Shropshire man, a miner by trade and it looks like he followed the coal fields ending up in Royston where he met Laura who was from Hoyland Common.   The couple married in 1896 and went on to have 6 children born between 1897 and 1908 in and around Royston.

1901 the family were living at 2nd 5th Hallam Street, Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield.  By the time the 1911 census came around Noah was a widower bringing up his children in Royston.  Not only had he lost his wife but one of their six children had also died.  Albert was working like his father, down the mine.  Also in living in the house was Thurza, Noah’s mother;  Percy his 15 year old brother and Joseph Darwin, his father in law, also a widower.

One source says that while he was working at New Monkcton Colliery, his main sources of recreation were boxing and running.

sheherd a e picAlbert enlisted, but some say it was on the first day of the war, while others say it was  on the 4th of August 1915, but his Medal Card says he enlisited on 18th of August 1915 being drafted into one of Lord Kitchener’s service battalions, the 12th King’s Royal Rifle Corps – that regiment all are agreed upon.  Again I seem to be highlighting a member of this regiment, but this time it is not intentional.  During his service he was seriously wounded in the arm and gassed twice – thus qualifying for a Silver War Badge and an Army Pension.

He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal on 28 August 1916 and became acting Corporal one month later on 28 September 1916. He was still a young man, but had taken part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and the Battle of Passchendaele in late 1917.

His love of running served him in good stead as it was while a company runner that he was awarded the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces – The Victoria Cross.

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

Villers Plouich, France, 20th November 1917-

The citation reads:

No. R/15089 Rflmn. Albert Edward Shepherd, K.R.R.C. (Barnsley).

For most conspicuous bravery as a company runner.

When his company was held up by a machine gun at point blank range he volunteered to rush the gun, and, though ordered not to, rushed forward and threw a Mills bomb, killing two gunners and capturing the gun. The company, on continuing its advance, came under heavy enfilade machine gun fire.
When the last officer and the last non-commissioned officer had become casualties, he took command of the company, ordered the men to lie down, and himself went back some seventy yards under severe fire to obtain the help of a tank.
He then returned to his company, and finally led them to their last objective.

He showed throughout conspicuous determination and resource.

—London Gazette, 13 February 1918

Rosezillah Shepherd, headstone in Royston Cemetery. Copyright C Sklinar

The Great War, the war to end all wars, came to an end for Albert on the 2nd of January 1919, when he was discharged and he returned home to Royston. He went back to the colliery as a caretaker and on 17th of February of 1919 he married Rosezillah Tillman.  Rosezillah died in September of 1925 and rests in Royston Cemetery.

On the 6th of November 1926 Albert married for the second time, this time to Gladys Maud Lees.

He later joined the Corps of Commissionaires.

croix de guerre

Croix de Guerre

In early 1920 he heard that he had been awarded the French Medaille Militaire, followed a few months later in January of 1921 he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre.

As well as the Silver War Badge, for being injured,  his tally of military and civilian medals added up to quite a few:-

mdaille militaire

Medaille Militaire

 * Victoria Cross
* 1914 – 15 Star
* British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
* Victory Medal ( 1914-19 )
* King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
* Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
* Croix de Guerre ( France )
* Medaille Militaire ( France )

In June of 1920 he attended the Buckingham Palace garden party, given by King George V for Victoria Cross Recipients.  His Majesty was accompanied by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family. The recipients assembled at Wellington Barracks and marched to the Palace via Birdcage Walk.  The King inspected the Victoria Cross Recipients who later filed past his Majesty and all had the honour of being presented to The King and Queen. Nine years later was a guest at the Prince of Wales’ House of Lords’ dinner on 9th of November 1929.  He retired in 1945 and the following year attended the Victoria Cross dinner at the Dorchester.  It was his normal practice to attend most of the Victoria Cross / George Cross functions, one of which was the Hyde Park Review in june 1956 and the review f the Corps of Commissionaires in May three years later.

The Imperial War Museum has within its vast collection invitations and souvenir programmes for the Victoria Cross Garden Party.

Albert E Shepherd VC

Albert E Shepherd VC

Albert Edward Shepherd, V.C. died at his home in Oakwood Crescent, Royston on 2rd of October 1966 aged 69.


Albert Edward Shepherd V.C. copyright C Sklinar

He was given a full military funeral at St John the Baptist Church, Royston.  His cortege as it made its way to the church was given a guard of honour.  The Union Flag was draped across his coffin and his Victoria Cross and Croix de Guerre were proudly laid upon his countries flag.  The Last Post and Reveille were played at his graveside.

In 1968 his second wife, Gladys presented his Victoria Cross and his other medals to the Royal Greenjackets at Winchester.

It is said that a vicar in the 1980’s used part of the DSCF1812archway, which bares Alberts memorial, as part of a washing line – needless to say it did not go down well with the local British Legion.

And so………..back to that day when I ventured forth with keys and camera.  I eventually found the cemetery and proceeded to walk up and down scanning the headstones, but Alberts could not be found. I had found Rosezillah’s headstone, but no Albert.  There were quite a few people around mostly using the cemetery as a short cut.  I asked many of them if they knew where Albert was, after explaining why I was looking for him and why he was special to Royston.  Sadly, not one of them had heard of him or knew where he rested.  Finally, I spoke to a man who suggested I spoke to a couple who were just making there way down the path.  With a quick turn around and the couple in my site – I found him, within feet of where I stood, and therefore, did not need the couple proceeding down the path.

A few weeks ago, I spoke to Barnsley local studies, wondering if they had any information that had eluded me.  I was told that Barnsley were very proud of Albert – my previous experience led me to take that with a very big pinch of salt.  I came to the conclusion that money had been made available in the form of a grant and like a lot of other councils, schools etc., have got on the 100 year bandwagon.  But, how long with they remember after 2015 or even 2018 I ask?

Many groups, associations and individuals have been remembering for much longer and will remember long after 2018 – personal rant over!


The inscription on the arch ‘This memorial was erected with monies raised by public subscription and by his regiment the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. to the memory of Albert E Shepherd, V.C., Croix de Guerre, Medaille Militaire who died 23rd October 1966.

Although the arch looks a little worse for wear these days, with the varnish crackling and the wood rotting a little, but the memorial stand proud.  If you take a walk to the back of the memorial that now stands to the rear of the War Memorial, you will sill the original gate that someone covered over with what looks like plyboard.

shepherd memorial new

Memorial to A E Shepherd V.C. on Royston War Memorial copyright C Sklinar

Amos Bates, born 1844

I seem to have written about a great deal of military ‘stuff’. This will please quite a lot of people, including myself, but I think I need a change of research material.

Who to bring to the fore?  Who, out of the many fascinating people in my family tree deserves their day?  Should it be the hangman?  Should it be the suffragette who was accused of attempted murder?  Should it be one of three sisters who became doctors in the early 1900’s? Should it be a Lord, a Lady, someone who has done great things or someone who lived their life to the best of their ability to feed their family?  Looks like the latter wins!

Amos Bates, born in Wakefield in 1844 was the son of William Daubna Bates and Elizabeth Ward.  William, born in 1812 was from Althorp, Lincolnshire and his wife, Elizabeth hailed from Westwoodside, also in Lincolnshire.

St Andrew's Church

St Andrew’s Church

Amos on his entry dated 21st April 1861 in the Marriage Register of St Andrew’s, Wakefield gave his occupation as Malster.  His future wife was Martha Siddle, who was born on the 1st of December 1843 in Wakefield and christened on Christmas day of that year.  Her father was Benjamin Siddle (born 1823 in Sowerby Bridge) and her mother was Elizabeth Stringer (born 1825 in Wakefield).

Life went on for Amos and Martha, during the next few years they went on to have three children – William, Elizabeth and Anaba.

In 1866, the year Anaba was born the lives of the family, living on Charles Street,  were turned upside down.

The Wakefield Journal and Examiner of 23rd of November 1866 gives details of ‘terrible floods across Wakefield the previous weekend’.  It goes onto include an account of a small community of Irish people who had settled on Westgate Common -

‘The Chald was swollen to a dreadful extent by the rains and poured down in a wide and great stream through the lower end of the town, devastation and ruin attending its steps. Brooksbank was of course soon inundated but most of the inhabitants had time to make their escape. Some five children, however, were left behind and their piercing screams were heard by the crowd which had gathered around the edge of the waters. At the lamp at the bottom of Westgate, Mr McDonnold, the Chief Constable, at length made his appearance and called for volunteers to go to the children’s rescue. Mr John Edward Kemp, Mr Evan Hunter, and a noted character named Charles Harkin at once came forward and, taking hold of a rope, the party carefully waded their way round the prison, up to their armpits in water. They had to break down some palasading (sic) to reach the hovel where the children were. The velocity of the current and the difficulty in reaching the place led to a discussion whether the children should be left behind as the lives of the adults were of much more importance, but the enthusiasm of the youthful minds, added to the piteous cries of the children to be removed, carried the day and Harkin, carrying two of the poor things in his arms, and the others carrying one apiece on their backs, the party set off on their return, which they safely The floods of 2004 at Magdalene Bridge courtesy of the Environment Agency effected. As they came into view, they were loudly cheered by the assembled crowd, blessings were poured in amazing volubility from the lips of the collected Irishwomen upon their heads. Captain Armytage, the governor of the prison, with praiseworthy generosity threw open the Industrial Home to those who had been turned out of their houses and supplied them with hot coffee and eatables. Our reporter visited the place about eight o’clock and found a number of Irishwomen and children crowded round a blazing fire, some female attendants from the prison in the meanwhile liberally dispensing among them the welcome coffee and bread and butter. Again at Brooksbank, a woman had a husband sick in bed and when the waters had risen some feet she began to fear the place would be submerged. She therefore took her husband on her back and attempted gallantly to wade through the swift current. In all probability she would have been drowned had not some men from the adjoining mill thrown her a rope which she seized and by its aid managed to reach a place of safety.’

 It seems fitting to once again turn to a newspaper entry for the next part of our life and times of Amos Bates.  This time the 17th of November 1866 edition of the Wakefield Express.



Only once, within our recollection, has this town been so deluged with water as it was yesterday and early this morning. In December 1837, Kirkgate was flooded with nearly as great a body of water as was seen yesterday, and, at that time, for several hours small boats were plying in the streets as though they were on a river.

The rain commenced to fall here between three and four o’clock yesterday morning, and continued, without the slightest abatement, throughout the whole of the day. Although it was our usual market day, the streets seemed almost deserted. The effects of such a downfall soon made themselves apparent: for between eight and nine o’clock the river and the Ings Beck had risen to a great height and about noon began to overflow. A shocking casualty occurred in Thornes Lane, by which two men lost their lives, while another had a narrow escape. From information from which we were able to gather from numerous sources, it appears that between eight and nine o’clock in the morning Mr. William Armstrong, the captain of a keel named “Peace”, of Beverley, was moving his boat down from the hoist, where it had been lying through the night, towards Mr. J. Fawbett’s flour mill, for the purpose of delivering his cargo, consisting of wheat. While he was doing this, the force of the “fresh” ? caused the rope, and the vessel was drifted down to the edge of the dam-stakes. Upon this the captain and his mate, who was also a Beverly man, appear to have done their utmost to prevent the vessel from being carried over. They secured it by ropes to the bank, and, after getting more ropes, a young man named Amos Bates, who was a miller in the employ of Mr. Fawcett, and another man named William Hepworth, a corn porter, were returning to it, when the force of the water capsized the boat, and both men were precipitated into the current. Hepworth who it is said is a good swimmer, succeeded after a hard struggle, in regaining the shore; but, we are sorry to say that Bates, who resided on Primrose Hill, was carried down the stream with great force, and, although attempts were made to secure him, he was drowned, and has left a wife and three young children behind him. The mate of the vessel also came to a similar fate; for, while endeavouring to pass from the vessel to the shore by means of two ropes, which were suspended from the boat to the bank, he was also carried away, in the presence of a large crowd, and met with a watery grave. We have heard that the body of Bates was taken out of the water at Stanley Ferry during the afternoon. The water continued to rise; the vessel was forced over the dam-stakes, and, after being moored alongside the boat yard, its cargo was removed, after which it was dragged back into the river. About noon another vessel which was moored alongside Messrs. Dunn & Co’s warehouse, and which was a new one, broke away and was carried down the river at a great speed. In its progress it came in contact with another vessel, which it somewhat damaged. On reaching the top of the dam-stakes, its mast caught the telegraph wires of the United Kingdom Electric Telegraph Company, which cross the river at that point, tearing them down. This somewhat checked its speed, but when the wires broke it was driven with tremendous force against the buttresses of the bridge. After a little hard work it was hauled back into the river again. Although as we have already mentioned, the rain continued to fall in torrents, the Kirkgate Bridge and the neighbourhood of Thornes Lane were thronged with crowds during the day.

The river continued to rise very quickly all the day, and during the afternoon it had overflowed in many places. The Ings Beck also overflowed, and all the fields in the vicinity were covered with water. In the evening the greater part of Thornes Lane, Ings Road, Bottom of Westgate, Denby Dale Road, and other low-lying districts were covered with water, which was several feet deep. In some neighbourhoods–particularly the Ings – the whole district was completely covered, and the houses were all inundated. At a late hour last night we visited the lower parts of the town. At the bottom of Westgate, the water had somewhat subsided, yet a greater portion of those districts was even then covered, the Ings being one vast sheet of water. Parties wishing to proceed to their homes which were situated in any of these districts were compelled to do so by means of conveyances, of which a large number of all descriptions were plying for hire, and as many parties out of mere curiosity took a trip through the inundated districts, the proprietors appeared to reap a good harvest. As the water increased very suddenly during the afternoon, it was impossible for many of the occupiers of houses, shopkeepers, and others to remove their goods, and many parties will have suffered considerable damage. In some of the houses in Ings Road & Grove St. the water stood as high as 5ft, and in some cottages the tops of chests of drawers were only just visible, while articles of almost every description could be seen floating on the surface. The streets were thronged up to a very late hour last night, and at the bottom of Kirkgate the water had risen up to Messrs. Simpson’s. Along the banks of the river all the fields are covered, and, as the night was clear and moonlight, the silvery surface could be easily discerned at a distance. The Pugneys, the footpath to Heath, the fields around the Low Mills, Brooksbank, and many other neighbourhoods, were also entirely covered. Several horses, pigs, cows, and other animals were seen in the water, and a great number also came drifting down from districts above the town, where it is thought the flood must have been equal to, if not worse than it had been in this town. The school-room under the Methodist New Connexion Chapel in Grove Street, the houses in Brooksbank, Denby Dale Road, &c., were all much flooded, and in some places the supply of gas was stopped. There must have been great injury done at Mr. Clay’s works, the Forge, the Glass Works, the Grease Works, and the mills in Kirgate and the neighbourhood.

This morning at two o’clock, the water had reached the end of the Brewery Street, and there seemed to be no sign of the water receding. There were a considerable number of people, even then, in the street. From further inquiry we find that Mr. Armstrong, the owner of the first vessel which went over the dam, was not on it, but in addition to the mate, there was a man named Robert Firth, and another named Hodgson. It was this vessel which tore down the telegraph wires, and not the second as stated above.

The disaster will be long remembered by those who have been driven from their homes to seek a night’s lodging elsewhere, and who, when the water subsides, will find their homes in deplorable condition.

And so, the life of Martha and her children were changed.  Amos was buried in Warmfield churchyard on the 22nd of February 1866.  As time went on there were more entries in the local newspapers and Martha had to endure an Inquest.

At the house of Mrs Mary Gibson Kirkthorp Thursday

The 21 Day of February 1867

In view of the body of Amos Bates decd

Martha Bates of Charles Street Wakefield Widow she says Decd was my husband. He was 24 years and a labourer in a Corn Mill. I last saw him alive on the evening of Thursday the 15th Nov last when after eating his supper he left home to go to his work. I saw his body this morning on the Bank of the river Calder at Kirkthorp. I can recognize him by his clothes & by his tobacco box, knife & pocket hand kerchief.

Joseph O’Rourke of Kirgate Wakefield Blacksmith, he says, on Friday the 16th Nov. last about 10 o’clock I was in the yard adjoining the Old Soke Mills & saw the decd & Mr Hepworth in a small boat trying to get a rope from a Vessel on the Dam to the shore. The water was then going 2 feet or more over dam. There was a rope from the vessel to the shore & also another from the boat to the shore. The boat got to the Vessel two or 3 times with ropes. The last time the boat got to the Vessel the boat went over the dam & capsized & decd & Hepworth went into the water. Hepworth was pulled out on the other side of the river but decd was carried under the bridge by the stream. After getting under the bridge I did not see his body until today. Signed Joseph O’Rourke

Thomas Smith of Kirkthorp Railway Platelayer he says, About 9 o’clock this morning I was on the bank of the river Calder * I saw a hand sticking out of sand & wreck on the side. I gave information to Widdop P.C. & we dug for about 2 hours & got out the body. I saw Widdop take out 4s. 4d. in money & a knife, tobacco box & a hand kerchief out of decd pockets.

Verdict. Accidently drowned.

Percy Tew

Percy Tew

The local community, did as they still do today, they started a fund for the widow and her young children.  Many of the great and the good of Wakefield donated, including W H Leatham, MP; Edward Leatham; Edward Green; Alderman Rhodes; Thomas Clayton; Josiah Walker; Mrs Leatham, Heath; Percy Tew;. Companies also helped the coffers – Robert Mackie & Sons; M Sanderson & Sons; M P Stonehouse.   The Vicar gave 10s (which vicar, no idea).  The following chapels held collections – West Parade Chapel, Zion Chapel, Methodist Free Church, Trinity Church, Westgate Chapel Offertory and the Salem Chapel, each giving a donation between £13 and £2.  The Oddfellows Society of the Commercial Inn contributed £1 and the millers of the area gave two contributions.  Other small sums were also added to the pot with a total of £129 18s  6d being raised – a great deal of money for the time.

Life would have had to carry on for Martha and her family, but there was still more to come from the newspapers – Wakefield Express 23rd of February 1867 had the following article.


On Thursday evening T. Taylor, Esq, held an inquest at Mrs. Gibson’s, at Kirkthorpe on the body of Amos Bates, a workman late in the employ of Mr. James Fawcett, miller, who was drowned on Friday, the 16th of November last, whilst endeavouring to rescue some men from a boat which had been washed from its moorings down to the dam-stakes by the flood.

The following evidence was given:-

- Martha Bates, of Charles Street, widow, said: Deceased was my husband. He was twenty-four years old, and was a labourer in a corn mill. I last saw him alive on Thursday, the 15th November last, when after eating his supper he left home to go to his work. I saw his body this morning on the bank of the Calder at Kirkthorpe. I can recognise him by his clothes, and by his tobacco box, knife, and pocket handkerchief.

-Joseph O’Rourke, of Kirkgate, blacksmith, said: On Friday morning, the 16th November last, about 10 o’clock, I was in the yard adjoining the Old Soke Mills and saw deceased and William Hepworth in a small boat, trying to get a rope from a vessel on the dam to the shore. The water was then going two foot or more over the dam. There was a rope from the boat to the shore. The boat got to the vessel two or three times with ropes. On the last time of going to the vessel, the boat went over the dam and capsized, and deceased and Hepworth went into the water. Hepworth was pulled out on the other side of the river, but deceased was carried down the stream. After getting under the bridge I did not see his body again until today.

-Thomas Smith, of Kirkthorpe, railway platelayer, said: About nine o’clock this morning I was on the bank of the river Calder, and saw a hand sticking out of sand and wreck on the other side. I gave information to Police-constable Widdop, and we dug for about two hours and got out the body. I saw Widdop take 4s. 4d. in money, a knife, tobacco box, and a handkerchief, out of the deceased’s pockets.-The jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally drowned.”

holy trinity church

Holy Trinity Church, George Street, Wakefield

With all the sadness in her life I think Martha was due for a bit of light in her life, and that was to come on the 25th of December 1869 – another visit to church on Christmas day…..remember her christening was also on Christmas day.  She was walked down the aisle the  of Holy Trinity Church where John G Patrick, a widower, was waiting for her.

The couple had more children – Agnes Patrick Bates born in 1868 and Grace Patrick…..notice the dates and the order of the names.

Martha died in Wakefield in 1875