Thursday 24 December 2015

A YMCA Canteen Volunteer - Gladys H A Alderson of Huddersfield Road

Women's stories have not exactly been turning up thick and fast during the First World War period in Barnsley, so when a name I have had 'on file' for a while is finally resolved it's a time of quiet jubilation for me.

I was aware Gladys Alderson's name in connection with the YMCA during WW1 because she is one of just four women listed on the 1918 Absent Voters' List for Barnsley.  Her occupation was listed as "YMCA Canteen" and her address was 31 Huddersfield Road; at the same address was a Major Lionel Alderson, of the Army Service Corps.  I could have pursued the usual family history routes and found out if this pair were married, who their families were and so on, but without more information about Gladys' YMCA work it didn't seem worth going in that direction at the time.

Last weekend I started reading Kate Adie's recent book Fighting on the Home Front which describes the role of women in WW1.  In chapter eight she covers the work of the YMCA's Women's Auxiliary Committee who provided 'voluntary lady workers' to staff YMCA huts in France which supplied a wholesome alternative to the various cafés and estaminets.  The huts provided a place to sit, paper on which to write letters home and hot drinks and biscuits.   The workers had to pay their own way, although a small grant was available for uniforms, which was grey with a straw hat in the summer and a velour one in the winter, so they were mainly from the middle and upper classes. 

With thanks to the IWM
One lady named in Kate's book, a Betty Stevenson, was killed by a German bomb and was given a military funeral and a French Croix de Guerre for her devotion to duty.  This photo of Betty is taken from her Life Story on the Imperial War Museum's website Lives of the First World War which has been well populated with detail by IWM staff and other interested parties.

Being an experienced user of the site I was able to see that one of sources used to create Betty's (or Bertha to give her official name) story was her medal card.  I have only recently learned that volunteers who worked for organisations like the YMCA and the Salvation Army qualified for British campaign medals.  Women's medal cards are available via The National Archives online but not via Ancestry unfortunately.

Gladys Alderson's Life Story had been 'seeded' onto Lives of the First World War along with the other YMCA recipients of campaign medals and once I had found her I clicked the 'Remember' button so that a link was saved to my dashboard for future reference.  

I was able to find Gladys Alderson's record at TNA but was unwilling to pay £3.30 to view it.  A colleague on the Lives Facebook page suggested I look at the partially hidden preview of the card as sometimes it is possible to make out useful information.
Gladys H A Alderson's partial Medal Card (from TNA)
The year 1917 is visible at the centre bottom of the card on the line which usually gives the date a person first entered a theatre of war.  That is indeed useful, but I am still not tempted to buy the full image of the card - I'll leave that to any interested relatives.

Having discovered a little more about what Gladys would have been doing as a YMCA Canteen Worker and now knowing that she did serve abroad I was more inspired to investigate more of Glady's story.

Gladys Helen Audrey Thomson was born in Wath upon Dearne in 1887 to Joseph Frederick Thomson, a mining engineer from Houghton le Spring in Durham.  Her mother Mary Ann Jane Mossom was from London and her parents had married there in 1870.  In all there were twelve children born to the couple but three had died before this information was recorded in the 1911 census.  In 1901 Gladys is not enumerated with her family but instead appears under the name Audrey Thomson listed in London in a school lodging house along with several mistresses and lots of other young ladies.  I am used to seeing young men away from home at boarding school in the census returns, but it is comparatively rare to see examples of middle class women's education.  
Dunholm, now a Social Club, on Carr Road, Wath (Google maps)
Still using the name Audrey she has returned to Wath by the 1911 census and is listed with her now widowed father and five of her surviving nine siblings at Dunholm, a house with fourteen(!) rooms.  She marries from here in 1913 and a report appears in the Yorkshire Post on 5 February 1913 (accessed via Newspapers on Find My Past).
A Wath-on-Dearne Wedding
The wedding took place at Wath-on-Dearne Parish Church yesterday, of Mr. Lionel William Alderson, son of Mr. C. Alderson, of Wellfield House, Barnsley, and Miss Gladys Audrey Thomson, youngest daughter of the late Mr J.F. Thomson, of Dunholm, Wath-on-Dearne.  The Revs. H.E. Alderson, C.E. Whiting, and W. Keble Martin (Vicar of Wath) were the officiating clergymen, and the service was fully choral.  The bride, who as attired in a gown of ivory satin charmeuse, draped with Mechlin lace, and full court train, was given away by her eldest brother, Mr A.T. Thomson.  The bridesmaids were Miss K.F. Thomson, Miss B.W. Thomson, and Miss Alderson, who wore dresses of Parma violet ninon over satin charmeuse, with satin coatees.  After the ceremony a reception was held at Dunholme [sic], and later Mr. and Mrs. Alderson left for Switzerland.
The Aldersons settled at 31 Huddersfield Road in Barnsley but sadly they do not seem to have had any children.  Lionel, who had been born in Wakefield in 1885, was the second son of Charles Sibbald Alderson, a bank manager.  His occupation is given as manager of a bleach works in the 1911 census when he is living at Wellfield House, in Barnsley.

Lionel's older brother Bernard Henry Alderson, who was unmarried, accidentally lost his life in the First World War and was remembered on the memorials at St George's and St Mary's churches in Barnsley.  His youngest sister was left a widow when her husband died in service in 1916. The Absent Voters' List gives Lionel's rank as Major in the Army Service Corps in the war - medal roll records also suggest he was a Captain in the York and Lancaster Regiment, initially arriving in France in April 1915.  Gladys' brother Reginald served in the war as a Private in the Liverpool Regiment - he survived. 

With this great family involvement in the war and no children to keep her at home it is not surprising that Gladys felt the need to 'do her bit' and volunteer.  

Later Gladys and Lionel move to Surrey where she dies in 1985.  I have found their names together on a couple of ships' passenger lists in the 1950s - it looks as if they enjoyed a cruise or holidays in Tenerife!

I will keep looking for more information about Gladys in the local newspapers - maybe her service or that of other YMCA volunteers from Barnsley is mentioned at some point.

Thanks for reading.


Friday 6 November 2015

The Marquis of Granby on Thomas Street, Barnsley

This article was first published in the Summer 2015 issue of Barnsley CAMRA's magazine The BAR.

Not so long ago there were parts of Barnsley with a pub on every corner, but now most of them have been swept away by redevelopment, or in the case of the Marquis of Granby, for a car park. 

Map snips from YOCOCO and the 1889 town plan of Barnsley
According to a map available on YOCOCO, Barnsley Council’s own online digital archive, this pub and the Earl of Strafford across the road, both survived the clearance of most of the surrounding houses for a short while.  Compare this with the map on the right, which shows the same area in 1889.  There are not just houses lining the streets, but also in courts between the streets.  This densely packed part of Barnsley was known as Wilson’s Piece, after the owner of a local linen mill who owned the land and who had many of the houses built at the end of the 18th century.

The Marquis of Granby in the 1960s (from the Tasker Trust)
This photo from the Tasker Trust website shows the Marquis of Granby standing amid a sea of rubble, alone near the top of Thomas Street.  

Looking up Thomas Street (from Google maps)

Even the junction of this road with Heelis Street no longer exists, the road now turns into what’s left of Burleigh Street in a smooth curve just below where the pub stood.

My interest in the pub was caught when I found the records for two soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War who were both connected to the pub.  Joseph Swift, aged 30, of the Rifle Brigade was reported missing in May 1918.  At the end of the war he was still presumed missing and this fact is noted against his name in the list of Absent Voters for Barnsley’s first post war election due to be held in December 1918.  Earlier in the year the vote had been given for the first to every man over 21 and some women over 30 and the names of over 6,000 men and 4 women who were expected to still be absent from home, mostly on war service, are listed in this source at Barnsley Archives and on the Barnsley War Memorials Project website.  Joseph’s father, another Joseph Swift, was the publican at the Marquis of Granby from 1881 to 1917 but he also worked as a blacksmith, suggesting that the pub was mostly run by his wife, Mary Ann (née Nixon). Joseph and Mary Ann had seven sons in all.  In a move we might find strange today after their sixth, a boy named Ernest, died at 6 months they named their seventh child who was born the following year after his dead brother.  All of their children, including Joseph in November 1883, were baptised at nearby St John’s Church and the latter four were probably born in the pub itself. 

The younger Joseph married Agnes Marshall in the same church in 1905 and had, by the time his name is recorded in the Electoral Register, moved a short distance away to Silver Street.  Joseph and Agnes had one child who survived, a daughter named Mary Ann after her grandmother.

The Swift’s eldest son, George, who was nine years older than Joseph the soldier, took over the pub from his father in 1917 and kept it until 1936.  He also worked as an Engineer’s Pattern Maker at an Iron Foundry.  In October 1918 the new landlady of the Marquis of Granby, Mrs Swift, advertises in the Barnsley Chronicle (available to browse digitally and on microfilm at Barnsley Archives) for a General Servant.  This suggests that she needed a bit of help with running the pub while her husband continued to work in his own trade.

Barnsley Chronicle 7 December 1918 (thanks to Barnsley Archives)
Unfortunately the family’s troubles in the war were not over.  New landlord George Swift and his wife Eva also suffered a loss.  The report in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7 December 1918  tells us that, “Signaller George Swift, 13th Y & L, whose home was with his parents, Mr and Mrs Swift, of the Marquis of Granby Inn, Barnsley, has died of broncho-pneumonia at the age of 20 years in Aubengue Hospital, France, where he has been visited by his parents.  The deceased, before enlisting in July of last year, worked at Messrs Qualter and Smith’s foundry, Summer Lane.”  In the same edition of the newspaper is a poignant message addressed to Signaller G. Swift from a Kittie Brown, “The evening star shines o’er the grave, Of one we loved, but could not save.”  Could this have been young George’s sweetheart?

At least George’s parents were able to visit him.  The fact that Joseph was still noted as missing in the Absent Voters’ List suggests that there was still some doubt as to whether he was alive or dead. This may be why his name was not included in the 140 recorded on the memorial which was dedicated in St John’s Church in September 1921.  Oddly, though, neither was young George.  You would have thought a family with such a close and long connection to the area, and a proven link to the church by baptisms and marriages, would have asked for their men to be included. I suppose we will never know why they were not.

Soldier Joseph Swift’s widow Agnes remarries towards the end of 1921, so presumably official notification had reached the family by then.  Her married name, Connor, is mentioned along with Joseph’s parents on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry which tells us that he is remembered on the Soissons Memorial in France confirming that he has no known grave.

After George Swift left the Marquis of Granby in 1936 he was followed by eight more landlords according to the Tasker Trust website, which gives the name of every landlord from 1830, when presumably the pub first opened, right up to its closure in 1969.  However none equalled the Swift family who, in a tenure spanning two generations, ran the pub for 55 years.  

Thanks to Barnsley Archives
Update November 2015:

After the publication of this article Barnsley Archives co-coincidently received a donation of some papers from the Swift family.  These included a photo of George Swift junior's original wooden grave marker in Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, France.

Photos like this were sent to families on request by the Imperial War Graves Commission, the forerunner of today's Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 


Tuesday 3 November 2015

The History of the Brig Euxine from Hartlepool

On our way back from our short break in Sunderland last month the OH and I stopped off in Middlesborough for a few hours so that I could call in at Teesside Archives.  

Since early 2013 I have been trying to trace the whereabouts of the ships' registration documents for Hartlepool which mention my 4x great uncle Robert Elstob Hutton. Despite them appearing online in several places attributed to Hartlepool museum, on both a site called Ookl and more recently on the Hartlepool History Then and Now site, when I contacted the museum they could not find the relevant documents.  However a random search on Google a few months ago turned up a reference to them in Teesside Archives - they must have been transferred to this regional Archives but no-one at Hartlepool can remember!  I immediately contacted Teeside and enquired about the documents - I received several helpful emails and made a booking to visit on the last day of our holiday.

I had been told by email that the books containing the ship's registration documents (NG/SR/H/1) were very large and could not be photocopied so the OH and I went prepared to pay for a day licence to photograph the pages I was interested in.  I knew of at least seven ships in which Robert Elstob Hutton owned shares and each registration appeared to cover two or more pages.  On our arrival, we were told that some of the books had been digitised and that we could browse indexed CDs, printing out the pages we required.  Of the four books I wanted to consult, three had been digitised but we did get the chance to handle and photograph one of these 160 year old volumes as we followed the histories of Robert's ships.  Many of our printouts had to be at A3 size in order to read the small handwritten details on the registration forms, and our total bill came to £12.50 for the visit.  But well worth it for the fascinating stories these documents tell.

This is the story of just one ship, the brig Euxine (pronounced yook-sin).

The header of the Euxine's registration (thanks to Teeside Archives)
Names of the owners of the Euxine from her registration (thanks to Teeside Archives)
"No 11 Port of Hartlepool dated 2 April 1855
Name Euxine  268 tons Burthen  Robert Hutton Master
When and where built or condemned as Prize, referring to Builder's Certificate, Judge's Certificate or last Registry:

Built at South Stockton in the County of York in the Year One Thousand eight hundred and Fifty Five as appears in the Certificate of William Turnbull the Builders, dated 24 March 1855."

The header of the registration gives us the date of construction for the Euxine and the place where it was built.  As there are only a few days between the certificate of the builder, William Turnbull, of Stockton on Tees, on 24 March 1855 and the registration at Hartlepool on 2 April 1855, we might assume the ship was built for the declared owners.  
Robert Elstob Hutton of Hartlepool owns 32 of the 64 shares in the Euxine and Thomas Belk, a Solicitor, also of Hartlepool, the remaining half of the ship.  Interesting to note that ships shares come in 64 parts - apparently this is still the case in English law.  

In the 1851 census Thomas Belk is listed as Town Clerk and Solicitor.  In one of those small world moments you get in family history I notice he was born in Pontefract in 1809 and married in Ackworth in 1837 - which is about 7 miles from where I am currently sat!

A similar ship to the Euxine (from an art auction website)
The Euxine is a small ship, 100 feet long and 23 feet wide with a hold depth of no more than 15 feet.  Her stern is square and her figure head is a female bust. She has two masts and is noted as snow rigged. Despite this description she appears in the newspapers and Lloyd's lists as a brig, which suggests a slightly different arrangement of sails (according to Wikipedia) although it seems the two terms were becoming interchangeable by this period.

The master of the ship at its registration is Robert Hutton, this is not my 4x great uncle, but rather his eldest son, born in 1829 in Sunderland.  
Extract from Robert Hutton's Mate's Claim (from Ancestry)
He had first gone to sea as an Apprentice in 1842 when he would have been 13 years old.  He had claimed his Mate's Certificate in 1855 when he was 21 after serving on several ships in which his father had shares, the Hotspur, the Ireby and the Acacia.  He appears to have travelled all over the world, from Australia to the Arctic Circle.

The Euxine's entry Lloyd's Register of Ships 1855 (note: two ships by the same name)
Lloyd's Register of Ships is shows us that there were two ships called Euxine in 1855, our ship, the brig Euxine, built in Stockton in 1855, owned by Hutton & co and voyaging under R. Hutton from Stockton to the Mediterranean and the other a larger ship, a barque, master W. Bell, voyaging from Dundee to Brazil.

It is possible to follow the voyages of a ship in the 19th century newspapers now they have been made available online with easily searchable text on websites like the British Newspaper Archive and Find My Past, which both require a subscription.  However you can also search a limited selection of 19th newspapers for free via a membership in some libraries - I am a member of Newcastle Library and can search the newspapers via the Internet from home 

With two ships the same name in the same period the search becomes a little more diffcult, but as ship's masters are often mentioned as well a search for Euxine and Hutton limits the hits to four in the newspapers on Find My Past.  
North & South Shields Gazette and Northumberland and Durham Advertiser 30 August 1855 (from Find My Past)

On 27th August 1855 the Euxine arrived in Falmouth from Alexandria, Egypt.  Her cargo was probably grain, this seems to be usual from that port. A similar voyage is reported in the Liverpool Mercury in March 1856.  In June 1856 the Euxine sailed from Troon for Smyna,Turkey on the Aegean Sea.  The final hit tell us that in March 1857 she sails for Antwerp, Belgium.

My previous family history research had uncovered another clue to the voyages of the Euxine.  Robert Hutton is mentioned on his father's gravestone in Hartlepool Spion Kop Cemetery.
Inscription from Robert Elstob Hutton's grave (from Billion Graves)
(You will have to create a free account to see the images on Billion Graves now - this is a change since I wrote a blog post about finding this image on the site in 2013.)

As you can see from the inscription above Robert Hutton dies in Havana on 24 July 1857 aged 27 years.  As the last newspaper mention I could easily find has the Euxine sailing to Antwerp in March I did wonder if Robert was still on board her when he died in Havana four months later - as it is on the far side of the Atlantic Ocean!

There are over 400 hits for the Euxine on Find My Past in 1857, but many refer to the Euxine Sea, an older name for the Black Sea, and many others to a steam ship of the same name, however eventually I did find the entry that solved the mystery.
Newcastle Journal 05 September 1857 (from Find My Past)
The name Hutton had been indexed as Button, and the text is twisted as it wraps around the edge of the page which is why this entry had not come up on any of my previous searches.  Without knowing the name of the ship Robert was sailing on it is doubtful I would ever have found this little snippet of family information.

"At Havanna (sic), lately, of yellow fever, in his 27th year, Capt. Robert Hutton, of the brig, Euxine, of Hartlepool, eldest son of Mr. Robert Elstob Hutton, ship-owner, Hartlepool." (Newcastle Journal 5 September 1857)
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser 25 September 1857 (from Find My Past)
The ship appears to have been sailed home by a man called Fairburn, as it is reported arriving off the Isles of Scilly from Havana on 18 September 1857 with a master of that name.  Maybe he had been the mate and had taken over after Robert died 

Entries for Euxine in Lloyd's Register of Ships 1858
By 1858 there are four ships called Euxine registered in the Lloyd's List.  However by picking out the name of the new master, Robertson, from the list we can track our Euxine in the newspapers as we did before.  Note that in this entry the Euxine is still owned by Hutton & Co.  The owner has changed to T Belk by 1860.

We know that Robert Elstob Hutton dies in April 1858, his shares in the Euxine must pass into the possession of Thomas Belk, who now owns the whole of the ship. Robert dies intestate so I assume the proceeds from the sale of his various ships shares and other property were divided between his wife and children.  

The following spring and for several years afterwards the Euxine sails captained by Alexander Robertson.  The newspapers document her voyages from April 1858 with several trips to Alexandria, a mention of Table Bay which is Cape Town, South Africa and of Archangel, in the Arctic Circle. Then in 1861 disaster strikes. 
Newcastle Journal 16 November 1861
(from Find My Past)

It seems that the Euxine, master Alexander Robertson, was returning to Liverpool from Alexandria with a cargo of beans when a storm blew up and she got into difficulties off Lytham (between Blackpool and Southport) on Monday 11 November.  She was offered a tow by a steam tug, the Brother Jonathan, and Captain Robertson was sufficiently confident that this would get him out of trouble that he put a message in a bottle to the effect that the Euxine had been towed ashore and abandoned (Shields Daily Gazette 05 December 1861).

Unfortunately the tow cable broke and Captain Robertson apparently declined a second hawser, saying he would let go his anchor and ride out the storm (Reading Mercury 16 November 1861).  By the following morning the ship had been lost.

On 13 November a body is picked up by a fishing boat off Fleetwood.  It is identified as Alexander Robertson aged about 60 years. The papers in his pockets, according to this piece in the Newcastle Journal of 16 November, document his last fatal voyage.

There was a receipt for £220 which was paid into a bank in Newcastle upon Tyne to the credit of Alexander Robertson on 31 May 1861 and a bill of exchange for £75 drawn in Alexandria on 7 August by Alexander Robertson in favour of Thomas Belk.  Details of the documents were telegraphed to the bankers at Newcastle "in the hopes that through them the friends of the deceased may be found."
Final entry in the Euxine's ships' registration book (thanks to Teeside Archives)

The last entry for the Euxine we found in Teeside Archives was in the original volume dated 1855 to 1862 which we were allowed to photograph.  "Ship lost with all her papers the 11th Nov 1861 off Lytham."  The entry in the register was closed on 14 December 1861.

It took me most of a weekend to put together just these few details of the history of the Euxine, and I did not examine all the entries for her voyages with Alexander Robertson in detail.  However it was satisfying to see how her story fitted into my own family history, especially to see evidence of Robert Hutton junior's death from yellow fever - which I would never have found without knowing the name of the ship he had been sailing on.

Thank you for reading ... I still have another six ships owned by R E Hutton to research, so I'll be getting back to you soon!

Sunday 11 October 2015

Re-occurrence of a lifelong knee problem not helping my mobility!

At approximately 7am on Friday morning I turned over in bed and my knee popped out of joint.  This post is by way of recording that fact and is also a musing upon why this should have started happening to me again so frequently.

A diagram of the knee joint (from
Since I was a small child my knees and ankles have been very unstable.  I can clearly remember sitting cross legged, as children do so easily, and my knees popping in and out. The image in the background is the living room of first house I ever knew, in West Rainton, County Durham, so this memory dates back to me being less than seven years old, as we moved to Staffordshire after that.  

I seemed to have had continually have 'sprained' ankles and knees, I became very good at applying beautiful herringbone patterned support bandages to my ankles.  Probably due to my asthma in the summer - we now know I was allergic to grass and tree pollen - and my bronchitis in the winter I didn't 'play out' much, but I can remember sitting with both ankles strapped up jealously listening to everyone else on our street playing some loud game.  
1960's Marmite advert (from Twitter)

My childhood was dogged with asthma attacks and discovering more and more about my allergies.  On being told I was allergic to eggs my mum had the idea of writing to various manufacturers to ask what was in their products, we still have a file of the letters they wrote in reply.  Marmite, for example, refused to tell us what their 'secret ingredient' was - these were the days long before compulsory ingredient lists on foods. I am able to eat Marmite quite happily these days, so whatever it was that used to make my skin itchy and shorten my breathing back in the early 1960s must have been removed from their ingredient list at some point.

I can't clearly remember a serious knee incident until I was at secondary school.  I was playing netball ... I was quite hopeless at this game being so much shorter than the other girls in my year.  I turned and stretched for the ball and my knee just crunched.  My memories are a bit vague for the next few hours, but the thing that sticks in my mind is that by the time my mum had got me, lying on the back seat of her little Mini and in huge amounts of pain, to the local hospital in Stafford about nine miles away, my knee had apparently put itself back in place and the doctors could find nothing wrong.  I think this incident has coloured the way I handle all subsequent incidents of my knee problems.
A very scary looking dust mite (from Wikipedia)
I continued to have joint problems throughout my time at secondary school - try limping from class to class on two sprained ankles!  But to be honest they were overshadowed by my asthma.  At some point the doctors had discovered I was allergic to house dust and dust mites, which meant that all my bedding had to be replaced.  No more feather pillows, no wool blankets and no candlewick bedspread.  This was in the very early days of duvets, but I think that is what my parents had to buy for me as it was the only non-fluffy bedding available.  I also had to get rid of anything in my bedroom that would become dusty, or that would prevent easy dusting (with a damp duster to keep down the dust).  I still have a shoebox full of Whimsies, little collectible Wade ornaments of pets and zoo animals, that I had to pack away because they would just have made dusting my bookshelves far too fiddly a job.  They are all in their original boxes - maybe they'll be worth something one day!

After we moved north and I left home to live in first Doncaster and then Sheffield my asthma continued to be a problem until one memorable winter, probably 1983, when I was admitted to the Northern General hospital after an asthma attack that had frightened my new flat mates to the extent that they called an ambulance.  The follow up appointments led to me being prescribed a drug that I still take which controls my asthma wonderfully.  Thank goodness!  

I can remember problems with my ankles and knees throughout that period, but nothing that couldn't be sorted by a support bandage and a few days with my foot up.  It was years later that a doctor, surprised by an odd movement in my left ankle, sent me to see a consultant at the Hallamshire.  I was subjected to a stress x-ray of the ankle - not recommended!  Basically the doctor, wearing a natty lead jacket, pulls on your foot while the radiographer takes the picture.  Very painful!  
Walls Viennetta Ice Cream!

Unfortunately despite recommending an operation to stabilise my very weak ankle when they opened me up they discovered that very little could be done. Apparently the bottom of my fibula (the thinner of the two bones in your lower leg and the one which forms the outer side of the hinge joint of your ankle) looks like a Viennetta (ah ha! now you understand the picture!), with layers of bone chips interspersed with flexible tissue.  So nothing for them to screw a metal plate to then ...

The consultant theorised that all my joints are very weak and over flexible.  He even demonstrated on my other ankle while I was still under the anaesthetic (a spinal block, as I'd asked if I could stay awake and given my asthma they were very glad to do that) by bending it almost to 90 degrees. *Shudder*  One possible cause of this is the high doses of steroids I was given as a child to help with my asthma.  

So you win some and you lose some.  

I can only imagine that my joint problems are becoming more frequent now because my general health is deteriorating and my muscle tone, never wonderful, is now much, much less due to days and days of not being able to get out of the house.  Maybe the yoga I started a few weeks ago will help.
My friends will be happy to hear that at around 1am this morning - I was lying quite still in bed - there was an audible crunch and my knee now appears to be realigned correctly, unfortunately the strain of the last two days means that the pain is still there and I now have it supported in the hopes of preventing it from popping out of joint again while the muscles heal.  I will be hobbling around for a few days yet, being very careful when sitting and turning.  But, hey, that's no different to usual is it?

If you got this far, thanks for reading.  And thanks to the OH for being very patient with me this weekend and apologies to my mum for not being able to visit.  We will catch up!

Friday 4 September 2015

An Appeal for First World War Lives to be Remembered

You might remember that over a year ago I got quite enthusiastic about Lives of the First World War - the Imperial War Museum's online tribute to all the men and women who were affected by the war.  

To start with the site was difficult to use, but eventually things began to improve, especially with the introduction of the Timeline view.  Since then Lives Mail has appeared - a facility to exchange messages with other people who are using the site - a bit like messaging on Facebook.  This means that you can easily and securely make contact with other people who are remembering stories that you are interested in.  There is also a little notification bell symbol at the top of the screen which shows a red spot when someone else adds to a story that you have 'remembered' or added some evidence to yourself in the past.  I love seeing those red spots!
The new features on Lives (that's me on the right!)
Clicking that little arrow by the profile picture of the user will bring up a menu that lets you access your notifications, your mail, your profile, your subscription and most importantly your Dashboard, where all the men you are remembering are displayed.  The Help option takes you through several improved screens of helpful hints - although I still think my User Manuals on this blog were pretty good!  Try this page if you haven't looked at Lives before. Then eventually you reach the Forum pages where you can ask for help, suggest improvements and request Lives to be added.

In the last few weeks there have been some great strides in improvements to the site, all thanks to a group of IWM Volunteers.  I am very proud to be able to say that this hallowed group includes yours truly!

Previously only men and women who appeared in the various categories of 'seed' data were available on the site for the users to add their own photographs and family stories to.  The forum dedicated to requesting stories to be added had hundreds of posts going right back to the start of the project - and I am happy to say that the volunteers have now cleared most of the backlog and are keeping up with the requests that are added on a daily basis.

Follow this link to ask for your relative's Life Story page to be added to the site: 

There were also a large number of duplicate names on the site - mainly due to the award of medals for bravery and so on.  As each of these generates a separate medal card some men have two or three or more cards and thus multiple "Life Stories" on the Lives website.
These are now being merged by the IWM Volunteers too!

Can't stop - got loads of work to do!  Hundreds of the men listed in the 1918 Absent Voters' List for Barnsley didn't serve abroad - so they don't have Life Stories yet ... and there are quite a few Commonwealth War Graves Commission burials around the Barnsley area for men who died while training or through sickness or by some accident or other who are also not yet remembered on Lives. 
Charles Senior - accidentally drowned and Edward Hesford - died in hospital

Today I added stories for two young men, Charles William Senior and Edward Hesford who are buried in Barnsley Cemetery - you can read about them on Lives or on our Barnsley's History - The Great War Facebook page.

Friday 10 July 2015

Thomas and John Edward Davies - Two Brothers Who Lose Their Lives in Very Different Ways in WW1

I've had this post in 'draft' with just a title for nearly a month now.  I think I saw a good story and thought I'd write it up then something happened (I was probably taken ill and had a couple of those 'couldn't bear to even turn on the laptop' days!).

So what was it about the Davies brothers that interested me?  John Edward Davies is one of the men who was named on St John's Church war memorial plaque, now sadly lost after the church was demolished in the 1960s. I have been researching the 140 names listed in a newspaper cutting from the Barnsley Chronicle reporting the dedication of the plaque in 1921 - you can see a copy of the cutting on the webpage linked above.
Barnsley Chronicle 28 April 1917
(thanks to Barnsley Archives)

According to his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry John Edward Davies was in the 2nd Barnsley Pals, the 14th battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, and had died on 9 April 1917 and is buried in Chocques Military Cemetery in France. No family information is given on the entry so I had to search a bit more to find out who he actually was.  The extra documents you now get at the bottom of the page gave me a name and address, although no inscription had been requested for John's CWGC gravestone.

Mrs P Allenby, 64 Copper Street, Barnsley

So who was she?  His widow remarried?  His married sister?  His mother under another married name?

His obituary in the Barnsley Chronicle (available to search digitally at Barnsley Archives) confirmed 64 Copper Street as his home address, but stated that he was a widower with one child.  So not his wife then ... I additionally learnt that he had joined up in January 1915, which fits nicely with the known timeline for recruitment to the 2nd Barnsley Pals.  He had previously worked at Barrow Colliery and had been 27 years old when he was killed in action - making him born around 1890.  A death notice in the same issue of the Barnsley Chronicle was from "his daughter and mother-in-law" so maybe Mrs P Allenby was his deceased wife's mother, who was caring for his little girl for him?  However I could not find a marriage in Barnsley for Davies and Allenby on FreeBMD even with imaginative use of wild cards in the two surnames.  A second death notice was from "his loving brother and sister, James and Gertrude".  I noted this just in case it was a vital clue!

During searches of the census on Ancestry I discovered that Allenby was actually Allemby - there is no-one in Barnsley by the former name during the period covered.  Eventually, in the 1911 census, I found a Mrs Phoebe Allemby living at 31 Brittania Street which is very near Copper Street.  Neither of these streets still exist - they were in the vicinity of Joseph Locke House off Sheffield Road in Barnsley - although there are a Copper and Britannia Close nearby. No sign of a daughter, married or otherwise, although Phoebe does declare that she has been married for twenty-one years, having six out of seven children still living and yet there were only three sons at home, the youngest being Joseph Wilkinson Allemby aged just 3 years old.  All the family listed were born in Barnsley.  I also found an Ann Allemby, aged 19, born in Barnsley, in service at a farm in Flockton, near Wakefield. 
The Old Royal Oak, Peel Square (from the Tasker Trust website)

Nipping back 10 years to the 1901 census I found Phoebe, together with husband Arthur and four children, including Ann aged 8, living in the Old Royal Oak, Peel Square!  I do like a pub connection! Arthur Allemby is listed as the Innkeeper, working on his own account.  He was born in Clayton West, but the rest of the family were from Barnsley.  He must have been away from home on census night 1911.

The idea of Ann living away from home as a servant suggested I widen my search for an Allemby Davies marriage.  It turned up in Sheffield in the September quarter of 1911.  Ann Allemby married John E Davies.  Good - that's sorted then. As John was a widower by the time of his death I looked for Ann's burial in Barnsley cemetery.  Sure enough, Ann Davies aged 22 (oh, dear) was buried in March 1915 from 58 Britannia Street.  So this was after John joined up, but while the Pals were still in training in Barnsley, how sad for him.  In the same grave plot was Lily Wilkinson Davies aged 3, of 66 Copper Street, who died in December 1915 aged 3 years.  Could this be his daughter?  But his daughter was alive when the death notice was posted - so Ann and John must have had at least two daughters.  Just to confirm matters Phobe Locke Allemby aged 77 is buried in the same plot in 1944 from 5 Dobie Street.  The family seem to move around a fair amount, maybe from one rented property to another depending on needs and income. 

Oddly there was no sign of husband Arthur Allemby in Barnsley Cemetery and a general search on FreeBMD did not turn up any likely candidates. A chap dying in Hyde in Cheshire in 1942 was the closest match.  I wonder what happened to him?  

So the Mrs P Allenby mentioned in John's CWGC record was his mother in law.  Why was she his next of kin - and who were James and Gertrude?  Not Allembys, neither name appears in Phoebe and Arthur's family.  So Davies then ... I had not yet identified any census returns showing John Edward Davies - I had a couple of possibilities but nothing certain.  Maybe James and Gertrude were going to be a clue after all.  
1901 census snip showing the Davis family at 32 Shaw Street, Barnsley (from Ancestry)
After finding a James Davies (b.1883 in Barnsley) married to a Gertrude living in Wombwell in 1911 with their three children I tracked them back and discovered that William and Ellen Davies of Shaw Street, Barnsley (see above) had sons James and John who were the correct ages to fit the other known facts.  
1911 census snip showing the Davis family at 46 Grafton Street (from Ancestry)

I went forward to the same family in 1911 - lo and behold - John is now listed as John Ed confirming that I've found the right family.  Thank you James and Gertrude!  The Davis family are now living at 46 Grafton Street (I had to look that one up on Google maps!) which is off Racecommon Road and not very far from Shaw Street.  Nice little terraced houses with new doors and windows not long before the Google camera went around from the looks of it.  William and Ellen had not been very lucky with their children - on this census return they declare they have had ten children and that six of them have already died.  They have two adult male boarders living in, probably for some extra income - but that must have made the house very crowded, it only had five rooms.

As John Edward's brothers, James, Harry and Thomas were in the right age range for conscription in the First World War I tried looking them up on the Absent Voters' List for 1918 (full alphabetically sorted transcription now available in Barnsley Archives) but there was no sign of them.  Of course if James had remained in Wombwell he would not have been on this list as it only covers the central wards and the neighbouring townships.

Next I tried Barnsley Cemetery to see if I could find poor William and Ellen's lost six children.  Ellen dies in April 1914 aged 58 at 46 Grafton Street and William joins her in the same plot in December the following year.  Ah, ha!  That is why John Edward's parents are not his next of kin - they had both predeceased him.  There are no other Davies burials from Grafton Street and none from Shaw Street, but there are two from 7 Longcar Street, which was William and Ellen's address in 1891.  One is a child, Esther, aged 16 months, who could be one of their lost children.  The other is a 26 year old, Ernest Davies - maybe William's brother?  
Thomas Davies CWGC stone in Barnsley Cemetery
(photo by Pete Schofield)

However I did spot the burial of a Thomas Davies the right age to be John Edward's brother in a CWGC grave.  Place of death ... drowned in the canal!

We have a good collection of photos from Barnsley Cemetery now, thanks to the Barnsley War Memorial's Project's Information Officer Pete Schofield, so I was quickly able to find the image on the left.  This confirmed what I'd seen in the burial transcription - Thomas died in December 1914, very, very early on in the war - and obviously at home as he was buried in our local cemetery.

A search of the Barnsley Chronicle gave me the answer.  On 19 December 1914 it was reported that Thomas Davies, a colliery trammer, who had enlisted in the 5th battalion of the York and Lancaster regiment disappeared the day after his enlistment.  His body was found four weeks later in a badly decomposed state floating near Craik's bleach works (this is at Old Mill).

He was identified by a knife and fork found on him which his wife, Mrs Annie Davies, said he had taken with him when he went to report to the Drill Hall after his enlistment.  She also noted that he had been in ill health for some time and another witness, Robert Atherton, brother-in-law of the deceased, said that he had noticed Thomas getting very depressed recently.  The coroner's verdict was that he had, "Drowned himself whilst of unsound mind through illness and being unable to do the duties as a soldier which he had undertaken."
1911 marriage entry for Thomas Davies and Annie Hobson at St George's Church, Barnsley (from Ancestry)

The connection between this man and John Edward Davies was proved when I found Thomas' marriage certificate on Ancestry.  Note that address of bride and groom is 46 Grafton Street - William and Ellen's address in 1911.  The bride is called Annie - the name given in the newspaper cutting and her maiden name is Hobson.  The witnesses are John Edward Davies and his wife Ann Davies.  In 1905 Robert Atherton - mentioned in the newspaper report as Thomas' brother-in-law - had married Annie's sister Elizabeth Hobson at St John's Church in Barnsley.

So there we have it - two brothers, both remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, but who lost their lives in such completely different ways in the First World War.  Thomas enlisted first in November 1914, but due to ill health and other pressures upon him felt he just couldn't cope with being in the army and ended his life in Barnsley canal - I think it was good of the military authorities to recognise that his death was in service and possibly exacerbated by worries about training and combat and permit him to have a CWGC commemoration.  However he is not remembered on any war memorial in the Barnsley area that we are aware of.  The following January his younger brother John enlists and was wounded in June 1916, not long after arriving in France with the Barnsley Pals.  He misses the first day of the battle of the Somme but returns to France in January 1917 only to be be killed in action in April.  John Edward Davies was remembered on the St John's church memorial - now sadly lost.

One last thing - a search for Arthur Allemby on the web did not solve the problem of where he vanished to after fathering Joseph Wilkinson Allemby, Phoebe's youngest son, in mid 1906, but it did return a possible solution to the missing daughter of John Edward Davies.  Phoebe Locke Allemby (nee Wilkinson) left a will and it is catalogued on The National Archives website as being held by Barnsley Archives (A/1882/B/1/193).  Among the beneficiaries are Harry Allemby, presumably Ann's brother, and a Laura Davis - surely the missing daughter despite the slightly different spelling?  So next time I'm in the Archives I'll be calling that up from the store!

Thanks for reading - I hope you enjoyed that puzzle as much as I did!