Tuesday 29 December 2020

Just One Street - Waltham Street off Sheffield Road in 1891

My interest in history began back in 1991 when a family friend asked me about names in my family - she started me on the path of a 30 year journey investigating my own and the OH's family trees (and I was happy to research for anyone else who asked or who looked interesting!) By 2012 I had begun to investigate war memorials as a way of finding out more about the OH's servicemen ancestors and now I am in the first year of a PhD studying Barnsley War Memorials. I've come a long way in those 30 years.

Sometimes a photo or a historical image grabs my attention because it says something about my research of all the different varieties. Today's blog post is about a page of the 1891 census return and in particular some families who I could see at a glance were people whom I knew more about.

1891 census for Barnsley, Piece 3770, Folio 120B - showing Waltham Street

I had begun the day by looking for more information about Esther Fisher who married into the Kellett family who are ancestors of the OH. I don't just go backwards in direct lines in our trees, I like to look at brothers and sisters and the families of wives and husbands who married into our families. It is always useful to examine a page of census information to see what you can find out about the area where your family lived.

Waltham Street is off Sheffield Road and useful sites for photographs of the area before the clearances of the 1930s and 1960s are The Tasker Trust and YOCOCO. You might also try the Barnsley Streets books from Pen & Sword publishers, Waltham Street appears in Volume 1.

The top of Waltham Street (with thanks to the Tasker Trust) Image ref: EGT1442

1906 map of Sheffield Road showing Waltham Street (from Old Maps)

Here is a map of the area in 1906 from the Old Maps website, which is also the date and scale of the Alan Godfrey historical maps you can buy from Experience Barnsley (for our area) and online. The houses on Waltham Street are larger than some nearby, and of later date than those on Taylor Row nearby or in Wilson's Piece on the other side of Sheffield Road. The large building at the top of the street on the left was the Rising Sun pub (details on the CAMRA ?What Pub website).

The census page above shows part of the Elliott family, who are living in a Court off Waltham Street, at the top, then:

56 Waltham Street - the Fisher family - William and Sarah with three children and two boarders Harry and Clara Sherburn. William was a Wood Turner and both he and his wife were incomers to Barnsley from Kendal in Westmoreland (now part of Cumbria). Esther, the daughter I was researching, was born in Barnsley in about 1871 and popping back 10 years to 1881 I could see that she had an older sister, Isabella, born in Barnsley in early 1868. So the family had been in Barnsley for at least 23 years by the time of the census shown above. The houses on Waltham Street were quite small, only four rooms (look in the column just before the names) not counting the kitchen. I do wonder how they fitted in the boarders, but I suppose they brought in some extra money for the family. Technically a boarder shares meals with the family, while a lodger has to provide their own. Sarah Fisher died a few months later and is buried in Barnsley Cemetery, William remarried within a year and appeared to have done well for himself moving to Park Road by 1901 (maybe his new wife had a little money - she was also a widow) and running a lodging house on Doncaster Road in 1911. Esther Fisher, aged 19 in this census return, married Alfred Kellett, who was the OH's 1st cousin 3x removed, in 1892.

54 Waltham Street - John and Mary Ledgar - an elderly couple, both from Ireland. Mr Ledgar was a Coal Carter. I hope that at the age of 70 he only had to drive the cart rather than carry the coal - but our ancestors had to do what they could to make a living. They appeared to have a lodger too - although the census entry is amended showing that John Clarke, age 24, was a separate household within their house although how they separated the four rooms is a puzzle. There was a second lodger at number 54 listed out of order lower down the page, John Corley, aged 20. Goodness knows how they fitted him in as well.

52 Waltham Street - the Law family - this is a family I know quite well as they had several sons who served in the First World War. Head of the household was Fergus Law, aged 50, a Coal Miner, his wife and five children were all fitted into another of the four roomed houses. Sons Fergus and Walter were killed and son Arthur survived service in the Royal Engineers. I wrote a post about Fergus in 2017 after visiting his grave in Rawmarsh Cemetery. Fergus Law, head of the household was born in Barnsley in 1841 and his parents had married at St George's church here, but I have not yet found details of his father during my research. He appears to have gone missing before the 1841 census return so I don't know his age or where he was born. One for the 'to do' list.

50 Waltham Street - the Jaques family - this family is distantly related to the OH as a cousin, Ernest Jaques, also married into the Kellett family.  I have researched the Jaques family back to the beginning of the 19th century in Barnsley. At least five members of the extended family served in the First World War, and there may have been more as the Jaques ran to large families and there were a number of sons the right age to have served that I haven't researched yet. Bearing in mind that consciption was introduced in early 1916 by the end of the war most men aged 18 to 50 had been called up. Tom Jaques, son of the Tom Jaques aged 21 in the census return above, was killed in 1917 at Bullecourt. Another fatality in the family was George Frederick Jaques, a cousin of the above family, who was accidently killed whilst guarding a military camp in South Shields, Durham. He was buried in Barnsley Cemetery and has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission gravestone. An older man, he had served in the Boer War. Mary Ann Jaques, head of the household at 50 Waltham Street had been widowed in 1887 when her husband Peter, a Quarryman, died age 50 at 7 Copper Street. I can find nothing about his death in the Barnsley Chronicle so I can only assume it was due to natural causes. He was also buried in Barnsley Cemetery.

A few days ago I discovered a Jaques was killed in the Swaithe Main Colliery disaster in 1875, Henry Jaques aged 27, a cousin of the deceased Peter Jaques.

48 Waltham Street - the Carroll family - is the last household on this page. One member is on the next page. I have not researched this family. 

But having looked up this page, 1891 Barnsley, Piece 3770, Folio 121F, I scanned quickly down and found a very familar name!

40 Waltham Street -the Priestley family - these were the OH's direct ancestors. Robert and Fanny Priestley, from Nottinghamshire, are his 2x great grandparents with Fanny also a Kellett before her marriage. In 1891 there were five children at home, although they had thirteen in all eventually. Robert was a coal miner at this point in time and in this census one of his teenage sons was already a hurrier down the pit. The OH's great grandmother was just six years old - my mother-in-law remembers her as her 'little grandma' who didn't pass away until 1970. I find it amazing that someone I might have known (if I'd lived in Barnsley in those days) might have been able to give me a first hand account of life on Waltham Street in the 19th century. I never knew my own great grand parents as my father and mother were by far the youngest children in their respective families.

The youngest Priestley son, Walter Clarke Priestley, who was born in 1896, a few years after the census return above, was lost in First World War in April 1918 as the Germans made their last advances. His older brothers Robert and William, who were listed with their parents in the 1891 census, both served and survived the war. The husbands of two of the Priestley daughters also served and survived. Walter, William and their brothers-in-law were all in the Barnsley Pals, either the 13th or 14th Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment. 

I wrote a series of posts about the Priestley family back in 2014. These two concern the First World War. The Priestley Home Front pt1 and The Priestley Home Front pt.2.

The Kellett family, who linked several of these households in Waltham Street together, came to Barnsley from Retford in Nottinghamshire between 1868 and 1874. I can see from the births of the children in the various branches that Robert and Fanny came here first and must have sent word back to their siblings and cousins as other branches arrive over the next few years. Fanny's father George Kellett and her youngest sister also moved to Barnsley before 1874. The family had been mainly agricultural labourers, although George Kellett had a stint as a toll-bar keeper and as a publican. 

Examine just part of one street and you can see inward migration, changes in occupation over time, family experience of mining disasters, the First World War and even (at a stretch) make a connection to the present day. I recommend you expand your family history into the streets around the area where your ancestors lived, you will find out so much more about the way people lived over a hundred years ago.

This is the top of Waltham Street on Google Maps today from a similar angle to the photo above. A lot of the terraced houses have been replaced by bungalows, the pub is a Chinese restaurant and you can't even access it from Sheffield Road because of some traffic calming bollards. Very different.

Waltham Street (Google Maps)


Thanks for reading and good hunting.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Our Ancestors Didn't Have It Easy - what with Pit Disasters and the First World War

About five years ago I wrote the story of one Barnsley born man, William Malkin, who emigrated to Australia in 1909. He left behind his wife and child behind (I don't know why) and made a new life for himself over there which caused some problems for his wife in Barnsley after he was killed on 28 September 1916 whilst serving in the Australian armed forces.

Pte. William Malkin, whose parents live at Ward Green, Worsbro' Dale, and who emigrated to Australia seven years ago, has fallen on active service with the "Anzacs". (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 28 October 1916, p.10.)

His wife's story was quite inspiring for me - she was Barnsley's First Health Visitor and remarried after the war to an ex-serviceman with his own problems. 

From the Barnsley Chronicle 26 Dec 1914
with thanks to Barnsley Archives

Click the links above to read those two stories - or carry on reading here - I will try to make this post stand alone but there will be more detail about William and Frances' stories in the posts above.

Firstly I'll mention the Swaithe Main Colliery Disaster which is how I linked these stories to family trees that I am researching. The above is a link to a dedicated website with full details of the events of 6 December 1875 and a list of names of the 143 men killed that day.  I discovered that my OH (other half) and one of his friends have family links to several of the men who lost their lives and, in an unhappy co-incidence, to the soldier, William Malkin, mentioned above.

One of the men killed down Swaithe Main that day was William Greenbank, aged 27, from Lancashire. He had married a Barnsley girl, Hannah Crank, in Lancaster on 13 November 1871 and moved to Worsborough (the second 'o' in Worsbrough comes and goes over the years before finally vanishing in the mid twentieth century). Hannah's father William Crank (sorry about all the Williams in this story - it was obviously a popular family name) was from Ulverston in Lancashire but had somehow moved to Barnsley before 1850 where he married Rachel Sedgwick that year at St Mary's in the town centre. Here's a snip of a section of their family tree to help you sort it out. 

William Crank b.1823 in Ulverston,
and some of his descendants

William and Rachel had six children in all, the first three were born in Barnsley and the last three in Ulverston. As the two places are 109 miles apart by the most direct route I can see on Google Maps, it fascinates me that the family moved back and forth so much. 

Their moves must have been driven by the availability of work. In Ulverston the main occupation appears to have been Iron Ore mining, and in Barnsley before 1850 it was weaving. In 1851 when William and Rachel were living at Croft Ends in Barnsley town centre (roughly where New Street and Wellington Street meet at the top of the hill nowadays) William was listed on the census return as a Weaver as were both his and Rachel's fathers on their marriage register entry in 1850. The linen trade had brought hundreds of men and their families to Barnsley from across Britain - from Ireland and Lancashire where they had experience in weaving linen and from North and West Yorkshire where men had experience in weaving wool.

But hand loom linen weaving as a well paid job for men in Barnsley was coming to an end by the mid 1850s with the introduction of power looms, which could be more cheaply worked by women, and William Crank may have decided to take his new Barnsley family home to Ulverston where there was better paid work in the Iron Ore mines.

Sadly, as indicated on my snip by a little explosion symbol, William Crank was killed in a mining accident. On 25th November 1868 William and another man were drilling in the No.41 Pit at Lindal Moor, near Ulverston, to make a hole ready for blasting. The second man walked away to attend to some other work and a few minutes later 'he heard a tremendous explosion' and when he ran back he found William had been killed on the spot. An inquest late returned a verdict of 'Accidental death caused by a blast of gunpowder'. (Details from Soulby's Ulverston Advertiser and General Intelligencer 3 December 1868 p.5 available via Find My Past or the British Newspaper Archive.)

William's widow Rachel and some of her surviving children returned to Barnsley between 1871 and 1875. This was within a few years of William's death and Rachel may have been seeking support from her own family in Barnsley. One son, John Crank, who was already married and employed as a Iron Ore miner, remained in Ulverston at that time, though he too eventually came to Barnsley. Another son, George Crank, had met a girl in Lancashire, but they had both arrived in Barnsley by 1879 when they married at St Mary's church in Worsborough village. Rachel's eldest daughter Hannah is the Barnsley born girl who had married William Greenbank in Lancaster in 1871 and they appear to have travelled to Barnsley with or soon after Rachel's return.  Hannah had been born some months before her parents' marriage but William appears to have always considered her his daughter when completing the census returns and she names him as her father when she marries. 

William Greenbank and Hannah Crank's 1871 marriage entry (from Ancestry)

William and Hannah Greenbank were living at Kingwell, Worsborough Dale, in the widowed Rachel Crank's household in 1875. They had one daughter, Mary Alice Greenbank, born in 1872, possibly in Ulverston (although later census returns mention various places in Cheshire). I know about William's living arrangements because Rachel, his mother-in-law, was a witness at the inquest after the Swaithe Main Disaster.  Images of the Coroner's Notebooks are available on Ancestry.

RACHEL CRANK of King Well in Worsbrough aforesaid, Widow, on her oath says, The deceased Wm Greenbank was 28 years old & a Colliery underground labourer. He was my son in law & lived with me. He set off to his work about a quarter past 5 o'clock on the 6th inst: & I saw his dead body the same day at Swaith Main Colliery. His right foot was off & and he was much bruised all over his body. He was in a club.

We also know that William Greenbank was buried at St Thomas's, Worsborough Dale, as the funerals of the men killed in the disaster were reported in the Barnsley Chronicle. From the details in the report I calculate that William's funeral took place on 11 December. Other funerals took place across Barnsley in the following week and all were reported in a very long article on 18 December 1875.

No fewer than twenty interments took place at St. Thomas's burial ground, Worsbro' Dale, on Saturday afternoon. The names of the deceased were: Charles Henry Vine (20), Whitecross Farm, Swaithe; William Hudson (38), Worsbro' Dale; Joseph Robinson Mowbray (19), Worsbro' Common; Benjamin Bennett (26), the Row, Worsbro' Dale; Leonard Galloway (16), Worsbro' Common; Tom Kilburn (49), Swaithe; Charles Goodman (19), Swaithe; William Laughton (17), Whitecross Farm, Swaithe; Joseph Harrison (20), Worsbro' Common; Alfred Hoyland (29), Ward Green, Worsbro'; John Semley (17), Swaithe; Charles Harrison (13), John Henry Gilbert (20), and George Beresford (53), all from one house in Swaithe; William Greenbank (27), King Well, Worsbro'; William Balmforth (22), Worsbro' Dale; John Dawber (24), Worsbro' Dale: John Thomas Smith (18), King Well; and the boy who was not identified. 

The full article takes up several columns in the broadsheet newspaper. 

The Crank/Greenbank family had suffered the loss of a second male breadwinner in just over seven years. 

Hannah had to seek work to support herself and her little daughter and in the 1881 census I found her working as a Housemaid in the household of Samuel Joshua Cooper of Mount Vernon - famous in Barnsley as the founder of the Cooper Art Galley. I wondered how the daughter and widow of miners had the experience to be a Housemaid in a wealthy household, but on investigation in earlier census returns I discovered that she had worked in 'service' before her marriage. She may also have been charitably viewed by the Cooper family as the widow of a man killed in the course of his work. While Hannah was working her little daughter Mary Alice Greenbank was boarded out to an elderly couple in the Ward Green area (again according to the 1881 census returns).

Hannah remarried on 1 October 1881 in Darfield All Saints to William Malkin who was four years her junior. She gave her occupation as Servant at her marrige, and note that she signed the register with a X, William Malkin was a miner but he could write his own name.

William Malkin and Hannah Greenbank's 1881 marriage register entry (from Find My Past)

As a point of interest it is worth noting that parish records for Barnsley can be found online in two separate places - due to the different Diocesan archives where the completed registers from the churches were deposited. The records for churches in Barnsley town centre and places to the north and west can be found in Barnsley Archives and the West Yorkshire Archives in Wakefield and have been published online by Ancestry. The registers for churches to the south, including Worsbrough, Wombwell and Darfield, are in Sheffield Archives and have been published online by Find My Past. Depending on where you live one or the other of these two websites will probably be free to access in your local library. It is worth making enquiries (after the current Covid crisis has passed of course) before you visit to find out what your library has and whether you need to book a computer in advance.

After their marriage Hannah and William Malkin lived at Ward Green and had three children. William Malkin (jnr) who was the young man who married and then emigrated to Australia, and two daughters, Ethel and Florence. Mary Alice Greenbank was also living with William and Hannah in 1901, but not for long as she married Thomas White on 7 April that year. 

Hannah Malkin became a widow again in 1913 with the death of her second husband. She lived until 1920 so she also knew about the death of her solder son William Malkin jnr 1916. William and his wife Frances had one son, Clifton Trevor Malkin who had been living with Hannah in 1911 whilst his mother was working as a Health Visitor. I thought that spoke well of Hannah, caring for her grandson so her daughter-in-law could work, especially after her son had gone to Australia without them. It suggests to me that there was no (or little) ill feeling between the women of the family.

Mary Alice's husband, Thomas White joined the Barnsley Pals (13th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment) on 26 September 1914 and remained in service without incident until the end of the war. His Service Records are available online. They do not appear to have had any children of their own, although the 1911 census shows that they adopted a little girl.

Hannah's daughter Ethel Malkin married Herbert Simmons on 21 December 1912 and had one daughter, Florence, before the war, and a second, Ruby, on 31 August 1916. Their sons Cyril, Herbert jnr and Joseph were born after the war.  Herbert was a soldier in the Reserve from early 1915 but I am not yet sure whether he served overseas or whether his occupation as a miner kept him at home. He also noted, in his discharge papers, that he had suffered from rheumatism for twelve years and fits (epilepsy?) since he was a child, so he may never have been fit enough to serve overseas.

Hannah's daughter Florence Malkin married Allen Edgar Scales in 1929. She would have been 37 years old by this time so I'd be interested to know what caused her to marry relatively late in life. Allen Scales had also enlisted in the First World War but was discharged shortly afterwards as unfit to serve due to poor vision. Florence and Allen had one daughter, Margaret, born in 1931.

The more I learn about the history of Barnsley the more events and people connect with each other. If I had not already researched Barnsley's First World War soldiers I wouldn't have spotted the significance of  Hannah's second marriage so quickly.  Was her experience unusual for the time? She lost a father and husband in mining accidents and a son in the Great War ... only further research will tell. 

Thank you for reading.


Dedication on the Swaithe Main Memorial in Worsbrough, from the WayMarking website where you can find other pictures of the memorial.

Friday 9 October 2020

Being a Research student in Lockdown

In May this year I achieved one of my greatest ambitions - I was accepted to study for a PhD at the age of 59 years. I could probably have chosen a better year in which to start!

Since beginning my higher education journey in 1998, with an Open University course on family history, I have been hooked on the idea of personal development and continuous education for adults. I see the government is currently looking at opening out the A level (and equivalent) sector to more people and I hope access to university study for older people will also be made easier - I abhored the steps the Open University had to make not so long ago when it applied the same funding model as brick and mortar universities. Back in May 2013 I wrote a post explaining what that increase had meant for me.

I had started researching the First World War in Barnsley as part of the OH's family tree long ago and extended my studies to individual soldier's stories and war memorials in 2012. I wrote an impassioned post on the meaning of remembrance in October that year. As I saw my Open University studies drawing to a close, with my last two modules covering Heritage and the First World War, I looked around for something else to do with my time.  I think my first war memorial post was this one about Monk Bretton in June 2013. By September 2013 I had really begun look into the existing research on war memorials and the gaps in that research with regards to Barnsley.  In one post that month I said, "I would dearly love to pull all this together ... with one source of reference for all Barnsley War Memorials". By the end of November 2013, with a group of like-minded people, we had launched the Barnsley War Memorials Project. That project kept me busy until the autumn of 2016 when sadly my health and personal differences with some of the other people in the group caused me to take a step back. I did keep a watching eye on the project and was recently (Summer 2020) informed that it has been wound up after having successfully published its First World War Roll of Honour as a book and online in November 2018. 

The BWMP's website - constructed by myself for free on a Blogger site and supplied with a dedicated domain name by one of the members of the group at his own expense - has been moth-balled. No further updates will be added. By spring 2019, at the point I was writing my MA dissertation, 806 war memorials had been identified in the Barnsley borough and although there were some updates to the BWMP website after I left there are hundreds of memorials which didn't get their own photo and page, and hundreds which still need to be added to the Imperial War Museum's War Memorial Register, which was also one of the BWMP's aims. I would love to address this, if and when I have the time and energy, and I do have a new blog under construction as part of my PhD, Barnsley's History - Commemoration and Rememberance, but that is meant to be about the way people remembered and research into the projects behind the memorials not a catalogue of all the memorials in Barnsley.

Following my departure from the BWMP I was in rather a dark place (not joking - even my cat had died!) and I really needed something to help me buck my ideas up. Happily I discovered that Postgraduate Student Loans had become 'a thing' and that the government would pay me to do a Masters Degree! In the spring of 2017 I applied to the University of Wolverhampton and was accepted to do the MA in the History of Britain and the First World War. Getting the Student Loan application passed was another story and I related it in a blog post in August that year. It is noticable on my blog achive list that my posts really dropped off in frequency around the time of the start of that course in October 2017. 

My classmates for the MA came from all over Britain - one man even flew over from Northern Ireland - so most of our study was undertaken at home. We met up in Wolverhampton for Saturday Schools - 9am to 4pm, once a month - where we had lectures on a wide range of FWW related topics. I was disappointed when there wasn't one on Commemoration and Remembrance though as that was still my preferred subject. I did learn a lot about the technical side of the war, about generals and planning, and campaigns away from the Western Front that I'd barely ever heard of before. There were about 30 of us on the course when it started and I think 17 of us at the end. Some had dropped out due to illness and personal problems, or had deferred until another year when they had difficulty with balancing work and study. After our last Saturday School in May 2019 we all went to the Lych Gate pub in Wolverhampton (our regular meeting after lectures) and promised to keep in touch, wishing each other well with our dissertations which were due in just after the New Year. We have a Facebook group and I bumped into some of the others at Western Front Association meetings in 2019. Most of us did keep in touch and supported each other through the dissertation period. I was hugely relieved when my 15,000 word effort was submitted just before Christmas!

In March 2020 I received the news that I'd passed my MA with Merit. My final dissertation had been awarded a distinction and I had only been a few points off an overall distinction (one hard-working chap on the course did achieve this - my heartiest congratulations to him!) With this under my belt I applied for, and was accepted, to do a PhD at the University of Wolverhampton.

Lockdown ...

Sadly, due to the coronavirus lockdown, our Graduation ceremony was postponed from April to September and then to summer 2021. Last week our MA cohort got together for a Zoom meeting - there were nine of us in attendance altogether and it was great to see their faces and chat. If nothing else the lockdown has taught us oldies how to use these new technologies and not to be scared of them (which I really, really was to begin with).

Prof Laura Ugolini, my PhD supervisor, had the great idea to run a weekly quiz during lockdown. She got together some of her colleagues and other PhD students and a varying number of us met up each week on Zoom and had a laugh over some silly quiz questions. One of Laura's other students is also looking at Remembrance, although his topic concerns battlefields rather than war memorials. I have also helped a student at Sheffield Hallam University by taking part in an individual and a group interview via Zoom for his PhD which is on the meaning of memorals to war and mining disasters to the communities around them. 

I have been watching web presentations on FWW topics. The Western Front Assocation (WFA) have a very busy programme and the talks are put up on YouTube afterwards so anyone who missed them can watch them later. The presenters of the talks include academics such as my MA supervisor Prof Gary Sheffield and WFA members. I have also 'attended' a virtual conference organised by the Social History Society as recommended by Laura, and where several of her PhD students gave short talks. One thing I have really missed during lockdown is conferences - I was booked on at least three FWW related conferences in early 2020 and of course all these were cancelled. 

Sadly the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Members' Weekend and AGM in York in early April was also cancelled. I do look forward to these events since I can no longer work at beer festivals. They are attended by large numbers of my 'friends in CAMRA' and it is wonderful to see them face to face and give them a hug. None of this is possible at the moment and may not even be possible next year. Since March I haven't been to a pub for a social drink - we managed a few meals out with my mum and the OH's mum during 'Eat Out to Help Out' in August but we have called a halt on them for now as the infection numbers rise.

The Doctoral College at the University of Wolverhampton provide a very wide selection of online talks and web discussions on becoming a Research Student which cover various aspects of study and personal development. There were some talks that explained how the PhD research life cycle worked over the four to eight years (full-time or part-time) that were really useful. Although I thought I understood what I was letting myself in for, actually hearing about it from current students was very helpful. 

As the new term started the other week I noticed that the cycle of talks was beginning to repeat - I am being bombarded with emails for days on end inviting me to things I've already done in some cases. I am beginning to throw uni emails in the 'trash' without even opening them, which is probably bad of me, but I don't need to know about the library opening or procedures to cope with the lockdown on campus as I am not there and probably won't be for a very long time. Many of the messages seem to be for undergraduates who are just starting at uni, and some have even invited me to open days to find out more about moving on to postgraduate study in the future! As a new(ish) PhD student I seem to have been caught up in a chunk with all the other new starters. But it's not just me ... during that Zoom meeting with my MA colleagues last week several of us commented that we didn't receive anywhere near this number of emails when we first started in October 2017. Even the people who haven't progressed to a PhD are getting the messages. Of course they should have completed and graduated by now and become alumni, but that process is probably on hold along with our ceremony. Having worked with university administration computer systems in the past (oh so long ago now in 2000-2009) I know that messages and emails can be targeted, but I suppose with people working from home in the crisis some fine detail is being skipped for convenience. I hope I don't miss anything important.

The post I published in May 2020, to which I have already referred, ended with me looking forward to writing my first 10,000 word PhD literature review for Laura. Since then I have written and submitted two reviews, one on physical war memorials and one on Remembrance. I haven't visited a single library and I have not seen Laura face to face except on Zoom! I have discovered that footnotes and bibliography count as part of the word limit at this level of study - so a 10k piece with a long list of references might actually only contain 8,600 words in the actual report. It is quite tricky to balance this when writing. 

Happily my huge book collection, gathered together over years of Open University study and during my MA, has meant that I have only had to buy a few more books to do my literature reviews.  The focus of my research may be war memorials but there are lots of ways in which I could study them, so my recent book buying has been a bit eclectic. I think I know what I want to do - but the 'themes' under which I construct my thesis are very fluid at this point. My most recent purchases have been to do with the economic and social situation in Britain during the inter-war period as I know that in Barnsley the construction of war memorials was greatly affected by strikes and unemployment and the resultant shortage of money amongst miners and their families. Something else to talk to Laura about.

My second review was returned by Laura yesterday with constructive comments and my next task to do some amendments and corrections based on her advice. We are planning a Zoom meeting next week to talk about it - there are one or two things I'm not sure I am quite getting my head around - 'moving the topic forward', 'how they [authors] have contributed to new understandings' and 'key contributions to the literature'. I did use the words 'developing trends' at one point and Laura noted that this was the kind of thing that needed highlighting. At the moment I am summarising the books I have read on the topic, usually in chronological order, remarking on what the authors have concluded and noting points where they seem to relate to my proposed studies on Barnsley (although Laura has commented that the proper place for detailed comments along these lines is in my actual thesis). I think I am missing some analysis that is required at this higher level of study. 

But that is the whole point of having a supervisor I suppose ... to lead me in the right direction ... and after all, I have only just begun my six (maximum eight) year journey to a PhD. 

I understand that studying for a PhD can be a lonely thing - several of the potential supervisors I spoke to mentioned that - but as someone who has studied with the Open University, has been away from the world of work since 2009 and almost housebound since 2016, I am used to being alone, so I expected I would be ok with that. To be honest only my usual health issues are preventing me from completely enjoying the research and writing, and there's not a lot I can do about them except pace myself and take things one step at a time. Even if it means only writing for two or three hours a day a few days a week - reading and note taking on the days in-between - or looking for relevant articles and newspaper cuttings online when I'm awake in bed at 4am.

It is this other loneliness that I am finding difficult - no weekend trips away, no visits to Archives with the OH, no sitting in on the OH's CAMRA meetings (the beer festival ones in one of our local Wetherspoons were best as lots of people turned up and they were quite informal), no taxi rides with my mum-in-law to the pub for a meal every other week (the OH used to walk and meet us there!), no visits to my daughter in Leicester or my son in Bedford. 

I remember the last weekend before the lockdown very clearly - on the Saturday the OH took me to Christ Church at Brampton near Barnsley to look at their war memorials (I was starting my research into the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour), there was a coffee morning so it was easy to gain access. The man taking the money for the drinks and cake was wearing gloves, a sign of things to come, and we didn't shake hands, although I made a move to do so as I introduced myself only to realise I shouldn't! Afterwards we went a CAMRA Regional meeting in a pub in Elsecar, near Barnsley (these meetings move around Yorkshire each quarter and seem to visit Barnsley about once every three years, and they are the only ones I attend now) where someone was coughing in a corner saying it wasn't the virus ... by the following Friday we had moved my elderly mum to our house and my OH had gone to live at her bungalow as he was still working doing repairs in public buildings, schools and police stations. I didn't hug him for 16 weeks. 

I started showing Covid-19 symptoms shortly afterwards and had to isolate from my own mum in my bedroom, coughing and coughing ... I lost my voice and had to write notes to communicate with her during late April and into May even after the rest of the symptoms had gone. Happily I didn't give the virus to mum as far as we can tell, although neither of us were tested as that was only for people who were really ill or in hospital at that time. It is also difficult to tell, given my pre-existing conditions, whether I have Long Covid symptoms, but I am quite unfit as a result of the lock-down, no Tai Chi classes, no walking around shops or cemeteries or museums for months and months. A few minutes housework or gardening makes me very tired now, much more so that in the past. We have even employed my mum's cleaning lady to come and 'do' for us once a week - at least I have my PIP to pay for that so I don't feel quite so guilty.

Of course things started getting back to normal in the summer, but it seems that was a false hope. I wonder how long it will be before both of our mums and myself are locked down as vulnerable once again? The OH and I managed a trip to the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley for our 16th wedding anniversary in early September, but I was so tired just looking around Dudley town centre the day after the museum trip that he bought me a rolator walking frame with a seat there and then. That has been tried out walking to my mum's bungalow, but it takes me 35-45 minutes to do a walk that Google Maps says should take 10 and the next day I don't get out of bed.

Next month I have been invited to the socially distanced dedication of a war memorial bench at Carlton near Barnsley ... a few years ago the Barnsley Branch of the Yorkshire Regiment Association set themselves the challenge to install benches near to all Barnsley war memorials. Obviously only the main outdoor ones as 806 [the total discovered by the BWMP before they wound up] might might be a few too many! Several of the members have joined my Barnsley's History - The Great War Facebook page and that is how they got in touch with me. They have even suggested I might give them a talk on Barnsley war memorials when the current situation is resolved. I am probably looking forward to the dedication in a way that is completely out of proportion to the scale of the event - but I haven't been to anything like this since March and it would be lovely to see other faces in real life, not just on Zoom.

Thursday 13 August 2020

Lister Beckett - Part 4 - His death and what happened next for his family

This is the fourth and final post in a series of four about the life of Lister Beckett.  

Part 4 - this post - His death and what happened next for his family
This is a story of a man who had two 'wives'. Charged with deserting his first wife in Dewsbury, he was caught by the authorities playing cricket but claimed in court to be 'under the doctor' and thus unable to pay any maintenance! Lister's second family lived in Concrete Cottages in Wombwell after his death and his son Sydney (or Sidney) served in the First World War and is remembered on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour, hence my initial interest.

Websites and books used for reference are listed at the end of each blog post.
Part 4 - His death and what happened next for his family

At the end of the previous section of this story Lister Beckett and Edith (was Sokell) were living in Pudsey and I mused that he may have attended the marriage of his younger Dewsbury born daughter, Freda, in Dewsbury Parish Church in 1906. Lister had two daughters by his wife Elizabeth in Dewsbury and eight children by his Wombwell born partner Edith, of whom three died in infancy and one in a shocking accident aged 7 years (see Part 3 - linked above). Evidence suggests that at some point after the birth of Elsie, his youngest child, in Pudsey in 1905, Lister, Edith and family returned to Wombwell.

The next reference I have found to Lister Beckett in the newspapers on Find My Past was from the Mexborough and Swinton Times on 10 July 1909 and it appeared in amongst the sporting news. There were many brief appearances of his name connected to cricket matches in the local newspapers - he was usually favourably mentioned. Sadly for Edith the 1909 mention was a report of his death.

So another of our giants of the cricket field has gone to the pavilion for the last time. I heard with something of a shock of the death of Lister Beckett, at Stairfoot, last week-end. As a matter of fact, we had lost sight of Lister for the last few years of his life. Twelve seasons ago he was in his prime as a slow bowler with a deadly break, and at that time was without doubt the best bowler in the League, topping the averages more than once. Many a stubborn wicket did he get for Mexboro', bowling from the top end, and on a wicket that suited him he was almost irresistable. But he was approaching the old-man stage when he was at the height of his reputation and eight seasons ago Mexboro' cricket saw the last of him. He was a genial breezy cricketer, and would bowl for a day with a big heart and an unruffled temper. He left Mexboro' for Pudsey, but he also left the best of his cricket behind him. We heard little of him afterwards, though I understand he has turned out once or twice for Mitchell Main. He was a fine bowler and one of the best of men.

A fine obituary indeed. His death was registered in the Rotherham RD in Q3 1909 (which includes July of course) which included West Melton and Brampton. Wombwell and Stairfoot were, at that time, in the Barnsley RD. He was only 49 years old despite the article suggesting he was 'approaching the old-man stage' in his cricketing career. I would be very interested to see his death certificate. Was this a sudden unexpected death? The article mentions Stairfoot 'last week-end' which suggests it was not at work, unless it was a protracted death? 
The burial records for Wombwell Cemetery provide the final piece of evidence concerning Lister Beckett. In my last post I identified two areas in the cemetery where members of the Sokell family, both Edith's parents and Lister's children, were buried. Lister himself was buried in the same plot as Edith's unnamed 4 hour old son, born in 1891 and Louisa, their 8 months old daughter, who died in 1893. The 'Place of Death/Address' column in the records states both these children were from Wombwell, although we know Louise's death was registered in the Doncaster Registration District (RD) so I am not sure how much credence we should give the information in this column. Lister's record gives his address as 105 Concrete Buildings, Brampton - this was the home address of Edith's parents. His death was recorded as occurring on 1 July 1909 and his burial on 4 July 1909. The 1st of July 1909 was a Thursday and the 4th was Sunday. This leads me to think that the writer of the newspaper report above had heard about Lister Beckett's funeral 'at Stairfoot, last week-end' rather than his actual death, but that causes more confusion as Stairfoot is about four miles from the area in Wombwell where Edith's parents lived and just under three miles from Wombwell Cemetery. I suppose a funeral service could have been held in a place of worship in Stairfoot if Lister had some religious attachment to a particular church or chapel, followed by his interment at Wombwell. Another clue is in the Barnsley Chronicle for 26 June 1909 which records a cricket match (no date given) played between Hickleton Main (a colliery) and Stairfoot in which a bowler called Beckett took seven wickets, confirming that Stairfoot had its own cricket team with a very good bowler named Beckett. This may or may not be Lister Beckett of course. Searches for 'Beckett' in Barnsley and Mexborough newspapers are complicated by the fact that the main Barnsley hospital was the Beckett Hospital which greatly increases the number of results. 
Edit 11 October 2020: I sent for Lister Beckett's death certificate in August and received it back in a timely fashion. No idea why I haven't done anything with until now!  Here are the details:
Where and When Died: First July 1909, 105 Concrete Row, Brampton Bierlow
Name and Surname: Lister Beckett
Age: 49 years
Rank or Profession: House Painter (Journeyman)
Cause of Death: Phthisis Pulmonalis 
Informant: Geo Siddall Father in Law Present at the Death, 105 Concrete Row, Brampton Bierlow.
Registered: Second July 1909

Phthisis Pulmonalis is now known as Tuberculosis. 
Note that George Siddall, who was Edith's step-father, was happy to be recorded as Lister's father in law. Another example of the way in which irregular relationships were recognised in communities in the early 20th century.

End Edit.
There is no gravestone on Lister Beckett's plot in section Con 8, number 2061, in Wombwell Cemetery, however the adjacent plot, section Con 8, number 2062, has a gravestone which records William Pickard who died in January 1902, 'the beloved husband of Hannah Pickard'. I noted in my last post that James Whittaker and Augusta (nee Sokell), with whom George Siddall and Ann (nee Sokell) lodged in 1881, were buried nearby, actually in plot Con 8, number 2060 (there is no stone on their grave either). It transpires that Hannah Pickard had also been a Sokell, the sister of Ann Siddall and Augusta Whittaker. I suggest this makes her the Mrs Pickard (aunt) who attended little Ada Sokell Beckett's funeral in June 1902 in Mexborough. I have found marriage register entries showing that William Pickard married Hannah Sokell in Otley in 1873 and subsequently realised that Hannah Pickard was a witness at James Whittaker's marriage to Augusta Sokell, also in Otley, in 1875.  That section of Wombwell Cemetery is definitely a Sokell family area. 

From left to right - Plots 2060, 2061 and 2062 in Con 8 Wombwell Cemetery

In the 1911 census Edith was living with her step-father and her mother, now at 105 Concrete Buildings (aka Concrete Cottages) in Wombwell. We cannot tell how long she may have been there, but as this was the place of Lister's death in 1909 (or at least the address given at his burial) we might assume the family had been living with her parents for at least that long.

1911 census snip for 105 Concrete Buildings, Wombwell (from Ancestry) Click to enlarge

Edith was quite clearly recorded under the surname Sokell, as single, and as George's step daughter.  She was now 38 years old and because she was recorded as single we have none of the usual detail about length of marriage and children born to her in the centre section of the census return. Living with their grandparents are Edith's surviving four children by Lister Beckett. All four are listed as '...... Beckett Sokell' and as George Siddall's step-grandchildren. Sydney Beckett Sokell, aged 14, was working as a 'glass hand taking up', that is fetching a blob of molten glass from the furnace for the glass blower to work. Probably not what he expected to be doing whilst his father was still alive, when I assume he would have followed him into the painting and paper hanging trade. Also in the household are Freda aged 11, Eileen aged 7 and Elsie aged 6.

A 1910 West Yorkshire Tax Valuation on Ancestry gives Lister's address as 14 Greenside, Pudsey. The data must have been collected prior to his death so this does not prove Lister and Edith were living in Pudsey in the summer of 1909, they could already have moved back to the Barnsley area.

I know Sydney Beckett Sokell served in the First World War because he is named on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour as Sydney Beckett and it was, in fact, his name that started me on this journey to tell Lister Beckett's story. It took me a while but eventually I found his medal card and medal roll on Ancestry under the name Sidney B Sokell (note the 'i' instead of a 'y').  He was a Driver in the Royal Horse Artillery, service number 618389. He did not qualify for a 1914 or 1914/15 Star but he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal which means he did serve overseas for a time.

Sources which suggest the way in which the irregularity of the births of Lister Beckett's children with Edith Sokell were regarded by their children themselves include their marriage register entries. Freda B Sokell married Arthur Pilling in Q4 1919 in the Rotherham RD - but no record of their marriage in a parish church has been found as yet so I am unable to see whether she named her father without buying the marriage certificate. However Find My Past's Yorkshire Marriages collection includes Brampton so when Eileen Beckett Sokell married to Walter Leather in Christ Church Brampton on 1 September 1923, her home address was 46 Concrete Buildings, Brampton Bierlow and I can see that no father's name was given on her marriage certificate. When Sidney Beckett Sokell married Ethel Jackson on 23 August 1924, also in Christ Church in Brampton, his home address was also 46 Concrete, but he did name his father as Lister Beckett (with Sokell added afterwards in smaller letters) and gave his father's occupation as Painter. Eileen (or the clergyman presiding at her wedding) chose not to name Lister Beckett, yet Sydney did mention him. One reason for this could be that Sydney was old enough when his father died to have a good memory of him, whilst Eileen would only have been six years old. 

At her death in 1920 Edith's mother Ann was living at 105 Concrete Buildings, and indeed when George Siddall, her step-father, died over twenty years in 1946, his address too was 105 Concrete Buildings. As both Eileen and Sidney were married from 46 Concrete Buildings this suggests Edith and her children had moved into a separate home from her parents between 1911 and 1923. The 1921 census, due to be released at the beginning of 2022, will have more information on the families and their addresses.
Meanwhile a search of the Electoral Registers revealed Sokell, Beckett Sidney (I think the compiler of the register may have got his names confused!) was living at 46 Concrete in the Brampton Bierlow Township of the Wentworth District in 1918 (as an Absent Voter in the Armed Forces), 1919 and 1920. George and Ann Siddall were both registered at 105 Concrete.  Edith and Fred Beedon were also recorded at 46 Concrete in these three years. This turned out to be a huge clue! 
Sydney Beckett and Fred Beedan listed on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour
In Q3 1912 Fred Beedan, who is listed immediately below Sydney Beckett on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour, married Edith Soakhill. The mangling of Edith's surname meant I had missed this until I was going over the records again in order to write this post. Fred had served in the 7th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment, service number 23599, and had been discharged as physically unfit on 23 August 1917. He had been born in the Barnsley Union RD in Q1 1887 making him 25 years old when he married the 39 year old Edith Sokell. In the 1911 census he had been one of twelve members of the Beedan family living at 92 Concrete. 
Details of Fred Beedan's wife and children from his Army Service Records (from Ancestry)
Fred Beedan's Army Service Records (on Find My Past and Ancestry) contain his family information. The records are somewhat washed out at the edges, this may be water damage associated with the fire during the Second World War which destroyed 60% of the First World War Service Records. Fred married Edith Soakhill on 24 September 1912 at Rotherham (from this terse information I assume this was at the Register Office). Under (c) 'as above' refers to the address given for his next of kin where the number of the house is totally illegible and the place has been amended from Concrete at 'Brampton nr Rotherham' to 'Wombwell, Barnsley' - a confusion which has persisted throughout the records I have seen for Concrete Cottages.  He recorded Eileen Beckett Soakhill, born 9 April 1903 in Darfield and Elsie Beckett Soakhill, born 24 March 1905 in Pudsey, as his children (that is: his dependants for the purpose of his separation allowance). As Edith's children were still quite young when Lister Beckett died, Freda aged 9, Eileen aged 6 and Elsie aged 4, I imagine she needed the support of a working man - she may have worn out her welcome in her step-father's home. Fred had enlisted on 22 September 1915 and served in France from 2 March 1916 until 29 June 1917. He was awarded a pension of 27 shillings and 6 pence with a disability caused by a gun shot wound to the head and a fractured skull. His address in 1917 was 46 Concrete, Wombwell. He had previously worked at Cortonwood Colliery for nine years, but felt he was unable to return to work underground, though he did suggest that he could take work at the pit heads. A letter from Fred himself is included in his records where he asked about his Silver War Badge noting that he had been awarded a pension after being shot in the head and arm.

Edith Beedan, who had been Lister Beckett's partner and mother of eight of his children, died on 26 July 1936 aged 63 and was buried in Wombwell Cemetery section N/C 18 number 1215 (N/C stands for new consecration and plots with this suffix appear to be later additions to the cemetery). There are no other burials in this grave and I have not yet investigated whether it has a gravestone. Fred Beedan appeared in the 1939 Register living at 46 Concrete and was recorded as a surface colliery worker, living with him was Norah Beedan, born in 1907, who recorded as performing unpaid domestic duties. I wondered if this might be a sister or niece living with him as a housekeeper but could not find a record of a Norah Beedan born in 1907. Fred Beedan died in 1964 aged 78 and was buried in a plot in Wombwell Cemetery where he was later joined by a Nora Beatrice Beedan who died, aged 100, in 2007. This helped - Fred Beedon (another vowel shift) married Norah B Lovell in the Rotherham RD in Q1 1938. In 1911 Nora Beatrice Lovell aged 4, had been living at 100 Concrete Cottages with her parents, widowed grandmother and two sisters.

So Edith Sokell married Fred Beedan, fourteen years her younger, three years after Lister Beckett, who had been thirteen years older than her, died. Fred Beedan, having supported Edith and her younger children by Lister Beckett through the First World War, remarried two years after Edith's death to Nora(h) Lovell, who was twenty years his younger. I am surprised at these age differences, but I am not sufficiently expert on marriages at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century to say whether they are very unusual. 
The social interactions at Concrete Cottages continue to interest me - I have previously investigated the origins of some of the families living there, in particular distances travelled from the places of birth of the men recorded on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour or their fathers. I wonder if how many other marriages there were between war widows and their near neighbours? Or simply between the families living in the 106 cottages?  There does seem to be a pattern that the mother of a single illegitimate child, if marrying someone other than the child's father, married an older man in comparison with other marriages in the same period. Widows (or apparent widows in Edith Sokell's case), on the other hand, married younger men. Again, I emphasise, I am no expert on this subject, these are purely my observations from this extended example.

Lister Beckett's Surviving Children

Edith Beckett, born 1881 in Batley.
Last identified in the 1901 census, aged 20 years, as an Elementary School Teacher living in Dewsbury.

Freda Beckett, born 1883 in Dewsbury.
Freda married Frederick William Maclachlan Clive in the Parish Church at Dewsbury on 25 May 1906.
Freda's husband, who served in the Royal Army Service Corps, died just after the First World War. The cause, according to his Pension Card, was smallpox on 10 December 1921 in a hospital in Mesopotamia. As Frederick died after 31 August 1921 he is not listed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
In 1939 Freda and her son William, born 1907, are living at 7 Thornhill Place - where Elizabeth, her mother and William Haigh, her grandfather lived in 1911 and where Elizabeth was still living when she died in 1932.

Sydney Beckett Sokell, born 1896 in Wombwell.
Sidney (note the vowel shift) married Ethel Jackson on 23 August 1924 at Christ Church, Brampton.
Sidney B. Sokell appeared in the 1939 Register living at 20 Orchard Street in Wombwell. He and Ethel (nee Jackson) have one son, Jack, born in 1926. This register recorded civilian volunteer work for the Second World War and Sidney is recorded as an A.R.P. Warden. Jack Sokell married Ethel Charlesworth in Q1 1959 in the Barnsley RD.
Sidney B Sokell died in November 1967 aged 71 and was cremated at Ardsley, near Barnsley from 20 Orchard Street.

Freda Beckett Sokell, born 1900 in Mexborough.
Freda had a child, George Booth Sokell, in 1918. He was baptised at Christ Church, Brampton on 21 February 1918 and her residence at the time was 105 Concrete - the home of her grandparents George and Ann Siddall. He may be the 2 year 11 month old child George Sokill (that vowel shift again), buried in Wombwell Cemetery in 1921.
Freda B Sokell married Arthur Pilling in Q4 1919 in the Rotherham RD. He was a widower with at least four children already (as at 1911 census).
The FreeBMD index suggests they had three children together - Mary, born in 1920, Edith, born in 1923 and Leonard, born in 1925.
In the 1939 Register Arthur and Freda were living at 35 Becknoll Road, which is in Brampton, quite near to the Concrete Cottages. Arthur's date of birth was recorded as 19 Febuary 1876 and Freda's as 6 March 1900, which made her 24 years younger than Arthur. One other person was in their household but the record is redacted. An Arthur Pilling aged 77 died in the Rother Valley RD in Q1 1953 which fits this Arthur's given date of birth in 1939. Freda may have remarried in 1955 and she may be the Freda Hoyle who was cremated at Ardsley in 1983 aged 82, from an address in Wath-on-Dearne.

Eileen Beckett Sokell, born 1903 in Wombwell.
Eileen married Walter Leather on 23 September 1923 at Christ Church, Brampton.
They appear to have had one child, Walter, born in Q1 1928.
Walter and Eileen were living at 4 Cromwell Road, Mexborough when the 1939 Register was compiled. One other person was living in their household but the record is redacted. Walter Leather, born 22 December 1900, was a railway worker (toolman).
Eileen Beckett Leather died in the Rotherham RD in 1985.

Elsie Beckett Sokell, born 1905 in Pudsey.
Last identified in the 1911 census aged 6 years, living in Wombwell.

Ancestry - for census returns, parish records and electoral registers
Dearne Memorial Group - Barnsley Cemeteries - for a small fee that goes towards the upkeep of various grave and memorials sites they provide a searchable index to all cemeteries in Barnsley.
Find My Past - much the same as Ancestry plus newspapers covering the whole country, but with parish records for the more eastern parts of Yorkshire
FreeBMD - a free index to births, marriages and deaths from 1837
GRO Online Index - as FreeBMD but you have to create an account and helpfully shows mother's maiden names all the way back to 1837 unlike the FreeBMD index.
Old Maps - very good map site with a variety of dates and scales. I hope adding links to the snips I have used covers me for copyright! My blog has no commercial links.
UK BMD - Index of Places in England and Wales - for use with Registration Districts 1837-1974

Saturday 8 August 2020

Lister Beckett - Part 3 - his relationship with Edith Sokell

This is the third post in a series of four about the life of Lister Beckett.  

This is a story of a man who had two 'wives'. Charged with deserting his first wife in Dewsbury, he was caught by the authorities playing cricket but claimed in court to be 'under the doctor' and thus unable to pay any maintenance! Lister's second family lived in Concrete Cottages in Wombwell after his death and his son Sidney served in the First World War and is remembered on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour, hence my initial interest.

Websites and books used for reference are listed at the end of each blog post.

Part 3 - His relationship to Edith Sokell

In 1891 Lister Beckett was listed in the census as a visitor in the household of George Siddall, a 30 year old coal miner, in Wombwell near Barnsley. He was apparently single and 26 years old. These 'facts' are untrue. Lister Beckett had been married since 1880 and his wife Elizabeth was still alive and well in Dewsbury. He had been born in 1860 which means that in 1891 he was actually 31 years old. 

Evidence from local newspapers has shown that Lister left Elizabeth in approximately 1885 and had been 'neglecting to maintain his wife and two children' (Yorkshire Evening Post 1 September 1891). At the point Lister Beckett is a visitor in Wombwell he had been living away from his legal wife for about six years. He had two daughters with Elizabeth, Edith Beckett born in early 1881 and Freda Beckett born towards the end of 1882.

Also in George Siddall's household in 1891 was his wife Ann who was 38 years old and born in Worsborough and his step-daughter Edith Sokell aged 18 and a dressmaker's apprentice born in Wombwell. According to FreeBMD George and Ann had married in Q1 1881 in the Barnsley Registration District (RD).  I have been unable to find a parish marriage record for George and Ann's marriage on either Find My Past (which covers Wombwell, Worsborough and other places to the south and east of Barnsley town) or Ancestry (which covers Barnsley itself and places to the north and west). This suggests they married in a Register Office or in a non-conformist place of worship of some kind. Although Edith Sokell is recorded as George's daughter in the 1891 census later, in 1911, she is recorded as his step-daughter. 

Ten years earlier, in April 1881, not long after George and Ann married, I had found them living as boarders in the household of James and Augusta Whittaker at 4 Park Street, Wombwell. Spotting that Augusta was born in Worsborough I dug a little deeper. In Q1 1875 James Whitaker (one 't') had married Augusta Sokell in the Wharfedale RD.  George and Ann Siddall were living with Ann's sister and her husband! I found the Whitaker/Sokell marriage register entry in Otley on Ancestry and Augusta had declared that her father William Sokell (correct) was a colliery manager (not correct). This was probably because James Whitaker's father Ambrose, was a coal agent (true in 1881 - though he had been a carter in 1871) which was a managerial job and besides Otley (which is in the Wharfedale RD) is at least 32 miles from Worsborough so who would ever know! I wonder how James and Augusta met? That is really going off topic though so I shall reserve that question for another day.

It is important for this story to investigate Edith Sokell's background because by 1901 Lister Beckett had set up home with her and had at least three children with her. Their relationship appears to have been socially accepted by her family and the communities in the areas in which they lived and acknowledged by Lister's family in Dewsbury. At the start of my first post in this series I mentioned that our ancestors might have had a much more relaxed view of illegitimacy and unmarried cohibitation than we tend to imagine. This could have been because divorce was very difficult and very expensive before 1938, after which additional grounds of desertion for three years were accepted in divorce cases.

George Siddall was, according to all the census returns I have seen for him, born in Holmesfield in Derbyshire in about 1861. He may be the son of George, a stone waller, and Mary Siddall who were living at Holmesfield Common in 1861. The elder George appeared to have married late in life, he was 53 in 1861 and his wife Mary was 30; a daughter Anne Fox aged 5 is listed on the census along with John I Siddall aged 2 and George Siddall aged 8 months. The General Register Office (GRO) listing for the younger George Siddall's birth registration states that the registration took place in Q3 1860 in the Chesterfield Union in the County of Derby and that his mother's maiden name was Fox. This is corroborated by the registration of his brother John Isaac Siddall in Q3 1858 also in Chesterfield and also mother's maiden name Fox. It appears from this evidence that the elder George married a lady named Mary Fox who brought a child, Anne, to the marriage. I found their marriage on FreeBMD in Q4 1857 in Sheffield RD. Anne Fox would have been two years old when the elder George Siddall married her mother. This example of taking in a single mother and her child and listing the child as his daughter is an example of how illegitimacy was accepted in the 19th century. It may be that Mary had no other option but to marry an older man because of her situation, but that cannot be proven.

Sadly Mary Siddall died between the 1861 and 1871 census returns. In 1871 George Siddall the elder is a widower with three small boys, John I. aged 12, George aged 10 and Thomas aged 4. The family is still living at Holmesfield Common. I found George junior's baptism on 5 July 1863 in Holmesfield when he would have been nearly 3 years old, the entry before his, on 1 June 1863, was for an Elizabeth Hannah Siddall daughter of George and Mary Siddall of the Common, Holmesfield. I cannot find a birth registration for this girl of this name however there is a death registration for a infant (under 1) Hannah Elizabeth Siddall in Q3 (July, August, September) in Chesterfield, which led me back to a birth registration for Hannah Elizabeth Siddall Q3 1863 in Chesterfield, mother's maiden name Fox. I assume the family had Elizabeth Hannah (or vice versa) baptised in June 1863 because she was sickly and did not register her birth straight away (six weeks after the birth was allowed) so it fell in the quarter afterwards. They may have decided to baptise George shortly afterwards as the death of their infant daughter had reminded them that he had not been baptised immediately after his birth.  The GRO indexes confirmed that Mary Siddall aged 40, so a match for Mary's age in the 1861 census return, died in the Chesterfield RD in Q1 1871 - just before the census was taken that year. 

George Siddall junior, step-father of Edith Sokell, had a difficult childhood - his father was quite elderly (by the standard of the time), his mother and a younger sibling had died before he was 10 years old, and, as I soon discovered, his father probably died in 1879 at the age of 73. It seems that both George Siddall junior and his older brother John Isaac Siddall moved to the Barnsley area between 1871 and 1881. Presumably seeking work.  John Isaac Siddall married Jane Elizabeth Schofield in Q3 1877 in the Barnsley RD. She was, like Ann Sokell, born in Worsborough. By 1891 they were living in Wath upon Dearne caring for Tom Schofield their nephew. John Siddall was a coal miner. In the 1901 census Tom S. Siddall, aged 11, is listed as the son of John Isaac and his wife Jane Elizabeth. It seems they had no children born to them, who survived, so they adopted their nephew. Younger brother Thomas Siddall (born about in 1867 in Holmesfield according to the 1871 census) is a little more elusive - he does not reappear until 1911 when he is living in Norton Woodseats, Sheffield with a much younger wife Lily May, and a 4 year old daughter Lorna May Siddall.

William and Elizabeth Sokell, parents of Ann and Augusta Sokell, were from Barnsley or Worsborough, at least they both declared that they were born there in the census returns. This family is how my OH (other half) connects into the story of Lister Beckett. I have a working theory that if a family can trace their roots back to Barnsley at the beginning of the 19th century then I will be able to find a connection to my OH's family tree - however tenuous. In this case the OH's 5x great-uncle Charles Hawcroft had married William Sokell's sister Ellen in 1829 in Darfield. 

In the Sokell family too there is evidence of the acceptance of illegitimacy. In 1881 Edith Sokell (who, if you need the reminder, later set up home with Lister Beckett) is living with her grandparents in Wombwell at 88 Wombwell Main. We know that her mother had recently married George Siddall and the newly weds were boarding with her aunt Augusta in Wombwell. Maybe her grandparents offered to take her in for a while until George and Ann got sorted out with a house of their own. The 1881 census return states that she was born in Darfield in about 1873, although in the 1891 census she is recorded as having been born in Wombwell. I have found neither a baptism nor a birth registration for Edith. Which is unusual. It could be that her surname was mis-spelt or transcribed very badly and just doesn't show up in the online indexes.

William Sokell was 62 years old and a timekeeper in 1881, a job often taken by an older trusted man. As he is living at Wombwell Main I assume he was working at this colliery.  In 1871 at the age of 52 he had been a labourer living at Wombwell Main, and in 1861 a coal miner living at Wombwell Main. In 1851 he had been a linen weaver living in Wilkinson's Houses in Worsborough, next door to his parents John and Mary Sokell who were by then in their 70s. This career progression is common in Barnsley. As mechanised looms were introduced linen weaving, which had previously been a high status job, became a job for women and children. Men moved into the collieries and younger men took on the skilled trades like coal hewer whilst older men with less strength became labourers or worked on the surface screens sorting coal, and then in old age (if they lived that long) they took more sedentary roles like lamp cleaner or time keeper.

The gravestone of William and Elizabeth Sokell in Wombwell Cemetery
(photograph taken 3 August 2020 by Barnsley Historian)

Now Lister Beckett's connections are in my territory I am able to show you more than just snips of old maps and pictures from Google. This is the gravestone of Edith Sokell's grandparents in Wombwell Cemetery in plot 1220 in the Consecrated section number 11.

In Affectionate Remembrance
The Beloved Wife of
William Sokell
Who Died July 8th 1883
Aged 62 years
Also of the Above Named
William Sokell
Who Died June 9th 1902
Aged 83 years
In Life Respected in Death Lamented

The burial register tells us that Elizabeth died at Wombwell Main and William in Alms Houses in Wombwell. 

Base of a cross marking the graves of Ann and George Siddall in Wombwell Cemetery

Nearby is a cross style grave marker, sadly broken, for George and Ann Siddall; Ann was William and Elizabeth Sokell's daughter. My OH had to scuff away the soil from the base of the stone to make George's name visible for my photograph. If his date is lower down it would need someone with a trowel to expose it. The shaft and top of the cross are lying nearby.

In Memory of [on the shaft of the cross]
The Beloved Wife of
George Siddall
Who Died May 23, 1920
Aged 67 years
"Her End was Peace"
Also the above named
George Siddall

From the burial records again I know that Ann died at 105 Concrete Buildings, and George at the Montague Hospital in Mexborough in June 1946, although his home address was still 105 Concrete Buildings.

On the other side of William and Elizabeth's stone is another Sokell family marker - for their son Herbert, his wife Sarah and their son Stanley, who was killed in the First World War. You can find this stone recorded on the Wombwell Soldiers Remembered blog created by my friend Fay Polson.

When we were in the cemetery it felt to me like that corner was a Sokell family plot and George Siddall was buried there because of his marriage to Ann, who had been a Sokell.

Meanwhile in 1901 in Mexborough, about 24 miles away from his wife Elizabeth in Dewsbury, Lister Beckett had set up home with Edith (who was Edith Sokell) and their three children.  You will remember that Lister was visiting Edith's parents when the 1891 census was taken. Here's an image of their 1901 census entry cropped but with all the reference details visible - RG13 Piece 4408 Folio 106 and Page 49 - from the Ancestry website.

1901 census extract for Adwick Road, Mexborough (from Ancestry)

As you can see Lister and Edith were listed as married, and their eldest child is Ada who is 6 years old and born in Mexborough. The nearest record in the GRO I can find for this child is Ada Sokell, born Q4 1894 in Doncaster RD and no mother's maiden name. This clearly indicates that Ada was illegitimate. I also noted that she was born before the death of Adam Beckett and his funeral in June 1895 that Lister attended in Dewsbury. Did Lister's father know about his new little family I wonder? Having found Ada listed as Sokell I looked back to check for previous children to the couple who may have died before the 1901 census. Louisa Sokell, no mother's maiden name, was born in Doncaster RD in Q4 1892, but died in Q3 1893 in the Barnsley RD age 0.  There is a burial in Wombwell Cemetery for a Louisa Sokell that fits - died 10 July 1893 and buried 12 July 1893 aged 8 months. She is buried in plot number 2061 in section Con 8. That is at the far side of the cemetery from the previous Sokell plot - so much for my sentimental feeling for all the family being buried together.
As I have a spreadsheet of the burials in Wombwell I can sort them by grave details. My next discovery was very sad. On 3 August 1891 an un-named boy child just 4 hours old, 'son of Edith' Sookel, was buried in the same plot. The co-incidences are too great - this must be the Edith's first child, maybe with Lister Beckett, if so the baby was concieved in late 1890. At the point the census was taken on 5 April 1891 Edith was probably 3 or 4 months pregnant. She, and I imagine her mother, would have known her condition by then. So my assumption, in my last blog post, that there was nothing 'going on' at the time of the 1891 census was incorrect. If the baby wasn't Lister Beckett's Edith would have had the opportunity to marry the true father before the birth, but she couldn't marry Lister as he was already married. Did they declare him as single in the census return as this was how they were presenting him to the neighbours? Did Lister and Edith move away to Mexborough before Louisa was born (Mexborough is in the Doncaster RD) to disguise the fact that they couldn't marry, but sadly brought another baby back to be buried in Wombwell Cemetery just two years after their first born.

There is another burial in that same plot which is relevant to my story - but I will get to that in the proper chronological order. And nearby is a plot in which James and August Whittaker are buried - I mentioned them earlier - Augusta was Ann Sokell's sister, and therefore Edith Sokell's aunt. Quite the family gathering at this end of the cemetery after all.

The next child listed on the census return is Sydney aged 4 born in Wombwell. The registration record that corresponds with him is more obvious - Sydney Beckett Sokell, born Q4 1896 in Barnsley RD again with no mother's maiden name. Finally there is Freda aged 1; she was registered Freda Beckett Sokell, born Q2 1900 in Doncaster RD with no mother's maiden name.  I was slightly amazed that Lister now has two daughters called Freda - one in Dewsbury and one in Mexborough! Maybe this is why the elder Freda had become Hilda by 1901.

There is a child, George Sokell, born Q4 1898 in the Doncaster RD with no mother's maiden name who might fit between Sydney and Freda.  This child appears to die in the same quarter according to the registration records. A definite fit for the family is Eileen Beckett Sokell, born Q2 1903 in Barnsley RD with no mother's maiden name recorded.

There are no baptisms for a children of Lister and Edith Beckett on either Ancestry or Find My Past for 10 years either side of 1900. Mexborough and Wombwell baptisms are included in the record sets on Find My Past so I had expected a result or two. However I did find a record for the private baptism of George Sokell, son of Edith Sokell single woman, in Mexborough on 21 November 1898. This gives George's date of birth as 31 October 1898 and their address as 11 Dyson's Yard, Adwick Road, Mexborough. Private baptisms were often carried out if a child was not expected to live, and it seems likely that George passed away soon after as the registration of his death was in the final quarter of 1898. The baptism was performed by the local vicar W. H. F. Bateman, and he was obviously aware that Lister and Edith were not married and recorded George's baptism accordingly.

I did find the following in the Sheffield Independent dated 4 June 1902.

At the Montague Cottage Hospital, yesterday, Mr. Dossey Wightman, held an inquest touching the death of Ada Beckett, aged seven, who was killed whilst at play on Sunday afternoon. The child is the daughter of Lister Beckett, painter, of Adwick Road, Mexbro'. Mr. Mason, solicitor, Rotherham, attended the inquiry on behalf of Mr. Cavill, the owner of the property.
The father identified the body, and said he had visted the place where the child was killed by the fall of a stone pillar, and found that this had been snapped off close to the ground.
The Coroner: Can you form any theory as to the cause of the accident?
Witness: No, sir.
The Coroner said the action of the weather sometimes caused stones to crack.
Mr. Mason: You live near the place, and must know the gateway well?
Witness: Yes.
Do you remember noticing the stone at any time prior to the accident? - Yes, but I haven't noticed any flaw in it.
Did it appear to be in any dis-repair? No.
Florrie Brammer, seven years old, explained that the unfortunate child and herself had been to Sunday school and were walking along Adwick Road when the deceased and another little girl proposed that they should swing on a wire which was stretched between two stone gate-posts. Deceased got onto the wire and had a swing when one of the posts gave way and fell on her and then rolled off again.
The Coroner remarked that the children were evidently in the wrong to be swinging on the wire, and there was no blame to be attached to the owner of the property, who had a perfect right to have a cracked gate-post if he wished.
Police constable Farr said that the pillar was 14 inches square, and the crack appeared to be a new one, and had probably been caused by a passing cart. It had been up for some four or five years.
The jury returned a verdict of "accidental death".

I think the owner of the property might find themselves in a different situation these days as I assume the wire was between the gateposts to prevent their use, or hold the damaged one up and therefore he was aware of the damage and possible danger.

An article on 13 June 1902 in the Mexborough and Swinton Times reports Ada's funeral.

Widespread sympathy has been aroused by the untimely death of Ada Sokell Beckett, the youngest daughter of Mr. Lister Beckett, the Poplars, Adwick Road, Mexboro', who, it will be remembered, was fatally injured by the fall of a gate post. The funeral took place on Wednesday week at Mexboro' Cemetery. The bearers were the deceased's girl friends, viz, Misses Emma Briggs, Ada Briggs, Nellie Sharpe, Nellie Waddington, Phoebe Atkinson, Jennie Beaumont, Ethel Hunt, Annie Hulley, Betsey Walker and Gertie Harrop. The principal mourners were: Mr. and Mrs. Lister Beckett (father and mother), Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Siddall (grand-parents), Mr. and Mrs. Tom Beckett (uncle and aunt), Mr. John Beckett (uncle), Mrs. Pickard (aunt), Mr. Ambrose Whittaker, Mr. Albert Whitaker, Miss Dorinda Whitaker and Miss Clara Rogers (cousins) [... and many more names]

This report of the attendance of Lister's brothers Tom and John from Dewsbury at the funeral of their niece is very important - it means they were aware of his life in Mexborough with Edith and of his second family. Tom Beckett had brought his wife to the funeral too - so it wasn't something kept secret from incomers to the family. The newspaper reporter was obviously under the impression that Lister and Edith are married. Other relatives were mentioned including a number of Whittakers, children or grandchildren of Edith's aunt Augusta (nee Sokell) I should think, a Mrs. Pickard and a Clara Rogers - all useful information for future research.
I don't think we would consider it suitable for the bearers of a child's coffin to be her 'girl friends' nowadays - ten little girls of about seven years of age or thereabouts. Florrie Brammer, who was with Ada when she had her accident, is not amongst them. She was probably too upset to attend. But 100 years ago the Victorians and Edwardians had different ideas about death and funerals and children were more accustomed to funerals than they are today.

The Poplars, noted in the report of the funeral as the Beckett family home, is visible on the 1903 map for Mexborough and here on Google Maps (https://goo.gl/maps/RBexP5UYmX59MSy69).  The name is applied to a pair of semi-detached houses with off-shots at the rear.  There is a name and date stone in the modern photos, I think it may say The Poplars 1894, although it is not very clear. The houses are not present on the 1893 map of the same area. Not a large house, but fairly new at the time of Ada's death.

The Poplars, Adwick Road, Mexborough (from Google Maps)

At this point, June 1902, Lister Beckett and Edith had lost three children in infancy and a child of seven in a dreadful accident. They have Sydney aged 5 and Freda aged 2 at home.  To add to their problems the case of Lister's abandonment of Elizabeth was revived in early 1903. 

The full details of this event are in my previous post as they have more bearing on Lister's relationship to Elizabeth but here's the brief version. In January 1903 the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that Lister Beckett had been charged with deserting his wife in Dewsbury eighteen years previously. The court had made for 10s a week against Lister. The report also mentioned that Lister had been left an income of £1 a week from his father, so the court order takes half of this for Elizabeth. I can't help but wonder what effect this would have had on the income of the family in Mexborough.

I am aware that Lister Beckett and Edith moved to Pudsey in West Yorkshire after Eileen's birth in the second quarter (April, May, June) of 1903. Their next child, Elsie, was born in Pudsey in 1905 according to her entry on the the 1911 census return.

GRO entry for the birth of Elsie Beckett mmn Sokell

The North Bierley RD mentioned above includes Pudsey and a number of other towns between Bradford and Leeds (UK BMD).

It seems that Lister and Edith took advantage of being further from home (Pudsey is about 31 miles from Mexborough and 26 miles from Wombwell, but only 9 miles from Dewsbury) to pass themselves off as married. Certainly Elsie's birth was registered as if they were. This was a popular way for unmarried couples to appear to be in a regular socially acceptable relationship. If the couple wanted to marry bigamously (I am not saying Lister and Edith did, I have found no evidence of this) travelling a distance from their home town made it difficult for anyone to object when the banns were called or the notice posted at the Register Office.
In May 1906 Lister's second Dewsbury daughter, Freda Beckett, married in Dewsbury Parish Church. Did he attend the wedding - after all he may have been only 9 miles away!
At some point in the four years following Elsie's birth Lister Beckett and his family moved back to Wombwell, and his story will continue in the final part of my blog.

Ancestry - for census returns, parish records and electoral registers
Find My Past - much the same as Ancestry plus newspapers covering the whole country, but with parish records for the more eastern parts of Yorkshire
FreeBMD - a free index to births, marriages and deaths from 1837
GRO Online Index - as FreeBMD but you have to create an account and helpfully shows mother's maiden names all the way back to 1837 unlike the FreeBMD index.
Old Maps - very good map site with a variety of dates and scales. I hope adding links to the snips I have used covers me for copyright! My blog has no commercial links.
UK BMD - Index of Places in England and Wales - for use with Registration Districts 1837-1974