Monday 26 June 2017

WW1 Soldier's Story - Fergus O'Connor Law Buried at Rawmarsh

Two weeks ago the OH and I called in at the cemetery on Haugh Road, Rawmarsh.  It is a bit out of our local area, but we were on the way back from the Parkgate Shopping precinct in Rotherham, and I can't resist some WW1 gravestone potential! Little were we to know that just a short while afterwards I would be taken very ill and spend the next few days in and out of hospital.

It is only now that I've finally been able to concentrate enough to start processing the pictures we took that afternoon, and I can still only use my tablet in short bursts. I haven't turned my laptop on to do research yet. Happily the temptation of these photos is helping me overcome some of my tiredness, and hopefully I'm now on the mend.

Fergus Law's grave at Rawmarsh Cemetery
This is the CWGC gravestone of Fergus Law, born 1883 in Barnsley, died of wounds in May 1917 in a military  hospital in Epsom, Surrey. Follow the link to his page on the IWM site Lives of the First World War where you will find a photo of Fergus from the Barnsley Chronicle (with thanks to Barnsley Archives). He was a Private in the 2nd/5th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, one of the Territorial battalions.

The family citation at the foot of the stone reads, "Some Time We'll Understand."  I must confess it made me tear up a little at the time to read that sentiment. Yes, I expect the loss of a loved one in his prime is very difficult to come to terms with. Fergus would have been around 34 years old, although the CWGC have his age as 39 for some reason.

But who requested that message?
Citation instructions and contact details - CWGC website
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) recently added sone additional documents to their site which give more information on the graves and gravestones listed. On Fergus Law's page the document above tells us that his citation was billed to a Mrs F Smith of Upper Haugh, Rawmarsh. As I understand it despite a request for payment at three and a half pence per letter and space, six shillings and five pence in this case, families and/or next of kin were not obliged to pay if they could not afford it.
1911 census for 60 Upper Haugh, Rawmarsh (from
In 1911 Fergus Law was a lodger in the Smith household at 60 Upper Haugh, Rawmarsh. He is a 27 year old Iron Moulder. None of the detail of the Smith family suggests a kin connection, so I can only assume he was a genuine, unrelated lodger. He must have had a very good impression of the family for Mrs Smith to be his named sole legatee. This is confirmed on the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects which can be seen on Ancestry. In the report of his death in the Barnsley Chronicle on 30 June 1917 it notes that he had worked at the Low Stubbin Colliery in Rawmarsh before enlisting.  His entry in Soldiers Died in the Great War tell us that he enlisted in Rotherham.

Fergus was born in Barnsley, probably on Waltham Street off Sheffield Road in the autumn of 1883. His parents were Fergus Law (b.1841) and his wife Sarah Ann (nee Tingle, b.1850). They had married on 4 September 1871 at St John's church in the Barebones area of Barnsley. There were seven children born to the couple, two of whom died before the 1911 census (I have identified one as Fred Law who died aged 18 months in 1877) and all three of their surviving sons served in the Great War. Fergus, as we know, died of wounds in May 1917, Walter, who served in the KOYLI, was killed in action in December 1917 and Arthur, who served with the Royal Engineers, survived the war. Both Walter and Arthur had Fergus as a middle name which does make for some confusion in their records! In addition both Fergus and Walter have O'Connor as a middle name.
Baptism in the St Peter's District of St Mary's Church, Barnsley 3rd February1884 (from
Feargus O'Connor (1794-1855) was an Irish Chartist, who led a movement to try to provide smallholdings for the working classes. His name was obviously well known to the Law family for them to give it or part of it to their sons.

Fergus and Walter Law are both remembered on the additional name panel below the main war memorial in St Peter's Church on Doncaster Road in Barnsley.  These names were added in November 1921 after the main memorial was dedicated in June of that year.

Fergus Law senior had predeceased his sons in October 1914 and is buried in plot R 222 in Barnsley Cemetery. His widow Sarah, still living on Waltham Street, died in 1922 and is buried in the same plot. This makes me wonder why Fergus jnr was buried in Rawmarsh, not in the family plot in Barnsley? Brother Arthur died in 1946 and was also buried in R 222.

Walter Law had married Bertha Dewsnap in 1910 and when he left her a widow in 1917 she had four children. One of the Law daughters, Eva, also married and had at least eight children with her husband William Walton. So there are probably Law descendants in Barnsley today. I wonder if they know about their WW1 ancestors?

Monday 5 June 2017

The Moorhouse Family and the Pindar Oaks Hotel

First published in November 2016 in Barnsley CAMRA's BAR magazine

As part of a project to Remember all of Barnsley’s WW1 servicemen and women last year the Barnsley War Memorials Project transcribed the 1918 Absent Voters’ List which gives the names and military details of over 6,000 men from Barnsley who served in the war, most of whom came home safely. Two thirds of service records from WW1 were destroyed in the blitz in WW2 so this listing is often the only clue we have to these men’s time in the armed forces. A copy of the transcription can be found in Barnsley Archives where you can also view the original document on request. Pubs are not named in the Voters’ List but if on checking the address in the 1911 census the occupation of the residents suggests the pub trade the Tasker Trust website is the next place to call to find a photo of a lost pub.

The Moorhouse brothers, Ben and Henry appear in the Absent Voters’ list at 274 Doncaster Road. Ben is listed as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers and Henry as a Lance Corporal in the 4th Reserve Battalion of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Trying to find Ben on the Lives of the First World War website the only match available was a Captain Ben Moorhouse – but checking his Medal Index Card confirmed his home address as above, so he had been promoted quite rapidly. Only men who served abroad have medal cards and nothing could be found for Henry, suggesting he served his time entirely in the UK. 

Pinder Oaks Hotel copyright the Tasker Trust
In the 1911 census no. 274 Doncaster Road is named as the Pindar Oaks Hotel, and is the home of the Moorhouse family headed by George Henry Moorhouse, occupation beerhouse keeper, aged 38, married to Sarah, with five surviving children (a baby, Walter, died in 1897 aged just 3 months) living at home along with a niece, a servant girl and a visitor. His son Ben is 16 years old and ‘assisting in the business’, whilst Henry is 14 years old and is an apprentice joiner.

On the Tasker Trust website a search for the pub brings back this picture and a list of occupants covering one hundred years.

The first licensee listed was John Harper in 1872, then Henry Moorhouse took over in 1883. A quick search of local newspapers on the Find My Past website returns a few mentions of Henry at the pub. In September 1883 the York Herald reports that H Moorhouse of the Pinder Oaks Hotel, Measbro’ Dyke, offered £15 in prizes for a Pigeon Flying Leger which was advertised as the largest competition to take place in South Yorkshire for some time. The birds flew from Doncaster Railway Station to their own cotes at Ardsley and Barnsley. Henry advertises a Grocer’s Shop and House to let at Barugh Green in the Barnsley Chronicle in 1885, which could have been the family’s previous home. Henry died in June 1898 aged 66 and is buried in Barnsley Cemetery. The pub passed to his widow Betty and then on her retirement in 1908 to their son George Henry Moorhouse, who had previously been a Pork Butcher at 260 Doncaster Road. Betty dies in 1922 aged 84 and is buried with her husband. In 1929 George Henry and his wife Sarah retire to a nice new semi-detached house in Doncaster and their son Henry Moorhouse jnr, who had been the KOYLI soldier in WW1, takes over the pub very briefly until his death in October 1929 aged just 33. The next name listed on the Tasker site is Elsie Moorhouse, who is Henry jnr’s widow. The pub passes out of the family in 1932 with five more licensees until its closure in 1972.

Top of Portland Street (from Google Maps)
A picture from a similar viewpoint on Google Maps today shows new housing on Portland Street has replaced the pub.

The 49 year tenure of the Moorhouse family at the Pindar Oaks Hotel was not their only connection to the pub trade. Tracing the family backwards through the census returns before their arrival on Doncaster Road I found that they were at the Spencers Arms at Barugh in 1881. Henry Moorhouse snr, born 1833 in Hepworth, nr Holmfirth, is listed as a Beer Seller. Henry and his family were in Barugh at an unnamed establishment in 1871, where he was listed as a Miner and Publican. A newspaper cutting from 1869 mentions Henry Moorhouse applying for a spirit licence for a beerhouse in Ardsley, which was refused, but with a watching brief for the next year. In 1861 they were living at Low Hill, Higham and Henry’s occupation was solely as a Miner. The family appear to have progressed from a modest background and worked their way up by taking on various pub businesses and expanding over the years.

I did wonder why Ben Moorhouse, being the elder son, had not taken over the Pindar Oaks Hotel in 1929 when his father retired. It seems that obtaining a commission in the Royal Engineers during the war changed his life. He had enlisted early in the war, first arriving in France in October 1915. He was commissioned in September 1917 and would have had some special training as a ‘temporary gentleman’ as part of this. After the war he took a B.Eng Degree whilst still living at the Pindar Oaks Hotel. 

He married Phyllis Crossland, daughter of the Registrar at Barnsley Cemetery in 1924 giving his occupation as Engineer; his brother Henry had married her sister Elsie in 1920. He had finished his Electrical Engineering degree by 1927 because by then he and Phyllis had moved to a new semi-detached house in Osbaldwick near York. In 1939 he is a Works Manager for a firm of Chocolate and Confectionary Manufacturers in York (maybe Terry’s?). The Moorhouse family’s journey from coal miners to professionals had continued, helped along the way by Ben’s experiences in the First World War. No wonder he hadn’t wanted to take on the family pub!

WW1 Soldier's Story - Harold Peart and the Thorpe Hesley War Memorials

On Saturday I was double checking the last few 'Orphans' on the huge list of WW1 casualties the Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) have accumulated over the past three and a bit years against my particular interest, the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World War website.  I am no longer on the Committee of the Project but I couldn't possibly stop researching the men (and women) just yet and I fully support the Project's current campaign to develop and print a Roll of Honour naming all the men by November 2018.  Many of the Project volunteers are currently working on trying to solve mystery names on the various war memorials and on other aspects of data checking before compiling the final version of the Roll of Honour.

Orphan names are those of men who were killed in WW1 who were either born in Barnsley or who demonstrably lived here at the time of their enlistment into the armed services but who are not named on any of the 649 war memorials found in the borough.  
Harold Peart's SDWG index entry from Ancestry
Many men enlisted in Barnsley from other parts of the county, travelling from Sheffield and Wakefield and even further afield to do so. Soldiers Died in the Great War (SDGW) includes a line to tell you where men enlisted but that doesn't mean that I can take it for granted they actually lived in the borough at the time. Sometimes a line for Residence is included, but for Corporal Harold Peart, above, this has not been shown. Other problems around the SDGW dataset include mis-spelling of Barnsley and the surrounding villages, inclusion of areas such as Woolley and Wath in Barnsley (they were part of Barnsley in the early 1900s but are not any more) and especially for officers, the total lack of useful information!  
A report on Harold Peart's death from the Barnsley Chronicle 23 November 1918
with thanks to Barnsley Archives
A search of the local newspapers for mentions of the man can often help.  The BWMP have recently completed an index to the Barnsley Chronicle from August 1914 to March 1919 which is available at Barnsley Archives. It makes looking up a name very easy and you can often find multiple mentions of a man and trace their war time career through the newspaper reports.  Other local newspapers, the Barnsley Independent and the South Yorkshire Times, are also available at Barnsley Archives on microfilm and other Yorkshire newspapers can be found on the British Newspaper Archive or on Find My Past.  Harold Peart's death was reported in the Barnsley Chronicle in late November 1918 and the article helpfully states that the family lived at 3 Newton Street, Barnsley and that Harold had worked locally before his enlistment. As he was only 22 and unmarried I think it is fairly safe to assume that he still lived at home with his parents when he enlisted.  The article also gives confirmation of Harold's Military Medal which was noted in the SDGW entry although I could see no reference to this in the Chronicle index for the previous year.

A further check is provided by the 1918 Absent Voters' List, also transcribed by the BWMP and available on the open shelves at Barnsley Archives.  

Ward    PD    No    Surname    Forenames    Street    House     No    Service No    Rank    Battalion    Regiment  
West    13P    4010    Peart    Harold        Newton Street    3                   2333        Pte    1/5        Y & L  

This confirms that Harold's last known address was the family home at 3 Newton Street.

Newton Street runs off Summer Lane onto Farrar Street and is on the same side of the town centre as Cranbrook Street where I found the Peart family in the 1911 census. At that time Harold's mother Mary Elizabeth was still alive having had eight children, three of whom had died before the census was taken.  I can find burials for two of these children in Barnsley Cemetery, Colin in 1910 aged 4 months and Elsie aged 8 months in 1912, both from 48 Cranbrook Street but their mother is not buried with them. The index to burials in Barnsley Cemetery is also available at Barnsley Archives - it is a great place to visit if you are doing your family history, with so many more local resources than are available online! Sadly the grave plots mentioned in the two children's burials appear to be 'pauper graves' as all the burials are around the same dates. FreeBMD tells us that Mary Elizabeth died in 1913 aged just 36. So where is she buried?  Harold's father Wilfred did not pass away until 1960 and he is not buried in Barnsley Cemetery either. With a family of young children to support I was not surprised to find him remarrying in 1918, somewhere in the Barnsley area.  His second wife, Mary Ann is buried in Barnsley Cemetery in 1937 from 3 Newton Street, aged 70.

When I see a man is not remembered on a Barnsley memorial my next thought is to search the place where he was born.  In the case of Harold Peart I was lucky to find a list of names on the Thorpe Hesley war memorial on the Genuki website. A H Peart is included on the list which could be Harold. In an attempt to find some good pictures of the war memorial at the Holy Trinity church in Thorpe Hesley I came across the church's own Flickr account.  What a wonderful resource!  There were pictures of all kinds of social and religious event in the area going back a number of years including several Remembrance Sunday services.  I was intrigued to see that the congregation, including Scouts, Guides and Brownies all paraded through the village on these occasions to another memorial for a second wreath laying.  So much so that I got the OH to take me up to Thorpe Hesley yesterday to have a look at the two memorials.
Holy Trinity

The soldier on top of the memorial outside the church reminds me of the one at Dodworth in Barnsley, the detail of his uniform and rifle are quite amazing.  And those look like shell cases surrounding the base!  H Peart is named on the right hand side of the pillar.  

It looks well cared for, although the soldier could do with a little cleaning as he is a bit greenish.
Flanders Court

The second memorial is at Flanders Court, a little housing development higher up in the village.  It consists of two stone plaques laid down in a brick paving frame, it is set at a slight incline but sadly the names are already weathering.  According to the entry for this memorial on the War Memorial Register there are 212 names listed of men from the village who served in WW1.  H Peart MM is named near the foot of the middle column of names. This is a rare and special kind of memorial as most list only the men who lost their lives. A passing resident was able to tell us that the plaques had been saved from the nearby Mechanics' Institute, which, to my surprise, was still standing.  She told us that the building could not be demolished as it was listed (which was not substantiated by a search of Rotherham Council's website; the cottages beside it are but not the old Institute) but that the new owners had not wanted the enormous Roll of Honour. (Click on the OH's pictures to see them enlarged.)
Former Mechanics' Institute Thorpe Hesley
In the picture above taken from Thorpe Street, you can see a large centrally positioned stone frame which we guessed had been the original position of the Roll of Honour. It now contains an advertisement for the occupiers of the building. To the left is a gennel (alleyway) leading to the Housing Association development Flanders Court (built in 1988) where the Roll of Honour now lies.

I think that the inclusion of a Military Medal citation on the Roll of Honour strongly suggests that the H Peart listed on this and the church war memorial are the same Harold who lived in Barnsley. There was another H Peart who was awarded the Military Medal, but he survived the war.

The Peart family appear to move from Thorpe Hesley to Barnsley between the the birth of the youngest child shown on the 1911 census, Miriam b.1907 and the birth of Colin in Barnsley in 1909. The three children already lost by 1911 are Eva, b.1904 in Thorpe Hesley, Josiah b.1905 in Thorpe Hesley (both buried in Thorpe Hesley) and Colin b.1909 in Barnsley. Subsequently Elsie b.1911 dies in Barnsley in 1912 and a further child Arthur John is born in 1913 who survives.  It could be this last child who contributes to his mother's death. She bore ten children in total between 1896 and 1913.

It seems that despite the move the family still retained ties to Thorpe Hesley as I found the burial of Mary Elizabeth Peart aged 36 recorded in the church there on 1 July 1913. This is undoubtedly Harold's mother. It would be nice to think that she rejoined her two little lost babies there.   

Harold, meanwhile, is buried in York Cemetery, Haspres, Northern France in plot D.4. His headstone bears no family citation but probably does record his Military Medal.

Harold Peart's Lives of the First World War page

Friday 2 June 2017

WW1 Soldier's Story - Thomas William Halton

I became interested in this man's family and his story when I began to add his war memorial gravestone to the Imperial War Museum's War Memorial Register.
Halton family memorial
in Barnsley Cemetery

The family gravestone is unusually elaborate and wordy for Barnsley Cemetery. It seems that Thomas' father Matthew Corri Halton was the mayor of Barnsley from 1892 to 1894 and had been a doctor in the town since 1868, marrying a local girl, Lucy Ann Allen here in 1876.

His section of the inscription reads, "Of Your Charity / Pray For The Soul Of / Lieutenant Surgeon Matthew C.S. Halton / M.D., J.P. / Late mayor of Barnsley / Born June 3rd 1843 / Died March 7th 1899 / R.I.P. / Jesus. Mercy. Mary. Help."

An obituary for Matthew in the British Medical Journal (25 March 1899) explained that he was originally from Mullingar, Ireland and his father had been the organist in the Catholic Cathedral there for fifty years. The family were living in Church Street in Barnsley in the 1881 and 1891 census returns. He died of influenza complicated by pneumonia leaving his wife, Lucy, two sons, Thomas and Patrick and a daughter Mary. 

Lucy Halton passed away herself in 1902 from the house in Hopwood Street where she had been living with Thomas and Mary in 1901. Her occupation was given as 'Living on own means' and she left £4,600 when she died.

Her portion of the inscription reads, "Also of Your Charity / Pray for the Repose / of the Soul of / His Beloved Wife / Lucy Ann / Born March 21st 1848 / Died June 4th 1902 / R.I.P. / Jesus. Mercy. Mary. Help."

Patrick had already left home and in 1901 was living with his uncle Michael Halton, who was also a doctor, in Leigh in Lancashire.  Patrick's occupation in the census is given as Medical Student.  He must not have found this career to his taste as in the 1911 census, after his marriage in 1909 to a Manchester girl Mary McDonnell, his occupation is given as Clerk to a Coal Merchant.  The recently married couple don't yet have any children, but lodging with them is Patrick's brother Thomas, now aged 33, a 'Gentleman with private means'.  The house at 9 Princess Road South, Moss Side, Manchester had seven rooms and is where Patrick and Mary were still living in December 1915 when he attested, although by then children Patrick (b.Dec 1911) and Mary (b.May 1913) had joined the family. Patrick was not mobilised, probably due to his age (he was 37 years old in 1915) until July 1917 when he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private, presumably being able to put his earlier medical training to good use. By then he had a third child, Matthew (b.Jan 1916).  His records show that he attended some courses of training to be a medical orderly and that he was smart and efficient in this role.

Thomas William Halton's army service records do not appear to have survived, but we know that he initially joined the Lancashire Fusiliers (Service no.30956) and was then transferred to the Labour Corps (Service no.276853). He may have knocked a couple of years off his age when he enlisted as we know he was baptised at the Holy Rood Church in Barnsley in May 1877, yet his Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry states that his age at death in 1918 was only 39 years (suggesting he gave a birth date in 1879).

The inscription on the family gravestone shown above states that Thomas was 'accidentally killed in France April 24th 1918'. Little more can be gleaned from the additional documents on the CWGC site which say that he died of 'accidental injuries'. There is nothing in the Barnsley newspapers about his death, but that is not surprising as he and his brother had been based in Manchester for some years by this time.

However his sister Mary Magdalen Halton had married locally to Harold Henry Dransfield, a Brewer, in August 1910 and was living in Darton in 1911.  I am surprised there wasn't a death notice in the local newspaper at least. In 1939 Harold and Mary are living at 22 Paddock Road in Darton and Harold is a retired Moulder of Iron and Steel. They have one son, Richard (b.1911) who is an Engineers General Turner. Mary and Harold die in Darton in 1950 in their 70s within a few days of each other and are buried in the churchyard there. 

Patrick Halton pays 6 shillings and 1 penny (or at least agrees to pay, as I understand not everyone was charged) for a personal citation at the foot of Thomas' CWGC gravestone in Guarbecque Churchyard in France.  Matching the style of the family stone in Barnsley Cemetery it reads 'R.I.P. Jesus Mercy, Mary Help".  By this time Patrick's address was 255 Princess Road, Moss Side, Manchester.  
Death Notice from the Manchester Evening News 1 May 1918 (thanks to Find My Past Newspapers)
Patrick must also have put the above death notice in his local newspaper. Although it does confirm that Thomas remained in Manchester up to the time of his enlistment (tallying with his entry on Soldiers Died in the Great War) it still doesn't give any more information about his death.  In 1939 Patrick and Mary are still living at the same address in Manchester. Patrick is now a Kitchen Clerk in a Restaurant and his two sons, Patrick and Matthew are both Insurance Agents. His youngest son, Phillip (b.1922) is blanked out in the 1939 Register on Find My Past as he may still be alive. We know that Patrick snr dies in 1942 as he is also buried in the family plot in Barnsley Cemetery. 

His inscription reads, "Also Patrick Allen / Dearly beloved husband / of Mary Halton / and son of / Dr Matthew C.S. Halton / born June 23rd 1878 / died Feby 3rd 1942 / Jesus. Mercy. Mary. Help."

Thomas William Halton left a will and his effects amounted to £2551 8s 3d. His executor was an accountant, William Peckett Moulton, who was also named on his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects

A Google search of his name gave me a hit on the Derbyshire War Memorials site. Thomas is remembered at Mount St Mary's College in Spinkhill in Derbyshire, which was a Jesuit school in the 19th century. It is about 25 miles from Barnsley so Thomas must have been a boarder.  There is no other information about his schooling on the site however.

He does not appear to have ever married and is not noted as having any particular occupation in any census return in which he appears.  All in all he's still quite a mystery.

Thomas William Halton on Lives of the First World War
Patrick Allen Halton on Lives of the First World War