Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Four brothers Moorhouse from the Concrete Cottages in Brampton who Served in the First World War

There are 100 names on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour and the men appear to have come from a small community focused on the 106 Concrete Cottages which were on the boundary of Brampton and Wombwell [now] in South Yorkshire.

Now that I am about halfway through the list, having reached 'M' for Moorhouse a few days ago, I have discovered that the connections of the men with the area are sometimes more obscure - but in every case I have researched, at some point, the man or his family have lived in either the Concrete Cottages or on Wath or Brampton Roads nearby. The families sometimes intermarried and brothers, cousins and in-laws have been remembered together.

1930 amended 1955 map of The Junction and Concrete Cottages.
From the National Library of Scotland.
This map from 1955 shows the Concrete Cottages. Compared to the 1907 map in my first  post about researching the names the school and chapel have moved south down Knoll Beck Lane. I know that the cottages were built in 1876 for Cortonwood Colliery, and judging by an Ordnance Survey map from 1964 available on the National Library of Scotland's website they had disappeared by the 1960s and been replaced by Garden Drive, which according to Street View on Google Maps is a street of council style bungalows and houses.  An aerial photograph dated 1958 published in the 'Barnsley Memories' magazine for Winter 2007 appears to show the Concrete Cottages partially demolished.

It would be interesting to discover whether the people from Concrete Cottages were rehoused locally and if anyone can remember them or indeed used to live there.

In my last post I discussed the possible origin of the Roll of Honour. I am satisfied that it was not a Cortonwood Colliery related document, but it may be connected to the Methodist Chapel or school associated with the Concrete Cottages. Someone who used to live in the area might know the origin of the Roll of Honour - or even have donated it to the Parish Hall.

The Four Brothers Moorhouse

Four men named Moorhouse on the Brampton RoH
The Roll of Honour lists four men with the surname Moorhouse.  I suspected that it was possible they might be brothers, but now my research has proven that this was indeed the case. Sydney Moorhouse b.1881, William Moorhouse b.1882, both born in the Wakefield area and their brothers John Moorhouse b.1892 and Henry Dean Moorhouse b.1894 were born in West Melton, were four of the sons of George and Julia Moorhouse who had married in 1880 in Wakefield. The family lived at 49 Concrete Cottages in 1891 and 46 Concrete Cottages in 1901. That, in itself, suggests that John and Henry were actually born in the cottages. 
1901 census snip for 46 Concrete Cottages (from Ancestry)
The family included another son confusingly also called Henry in the 1901 census. He was born in 1884 in the Bramley near Leeds and registered and baptised as Harry Moorhouse. It could be that his listing in 1901 as Henry was an error on the part of the census enumerator. To complete the household in 1901 there were four daughters, Ethel b.1887, Gertrude b.1890, Laura b.1896 and Doris b.1899.  A further daughter, Mabel b.1886, was living a few doors away at 65 Concrete Cottages, as a boarder with the Simpson family. She was listed as a Domestic Servant, and may have been there to help the wife, Maria, with her 7 month old baby.
1911 census snip for 16 Concrete Buildings, Wombwell (from Ancestry)
 Unusually for a family of so many children, 10 that I can trace, none had died in infancy.   George Moorhouse, the father of the family, died in unfortunate circumstances in December 1902 and Julia remarried in early 1905 to Joseph Ray.  She and six of her Moorhouse children were living at 16 Concrete Buildings (aka Cottages) in 1911. She has added another child to the family, Charlotte Ray b.1906.

Sydney Moorhouse presumably moved out of the family home when he married on 25 December 1902 at Christ Church in Brampton, to Lydia Hunston who had lived at 72 Concrete Cottages.  The terrible thing that I noticed about this connection is that Lydia was named in the newspaper report dated 9 December 1902 that relates the circumstances of George Moorhouse's death. It seems that Julia borrowed a bottle of laudanum from Lydia (her daughter in law to be) on Monday 1 December when George came home from work sick and unable to rest. He became progressively more ill during the following week and with the bottle of medicine left at his bedside he made a dreadful mistake on the Friday evening. Instead of taking a drink of the whisky his wife had also left for him he had taken the remainder of the bottle of laudanum, and he died the following morning. 
1911 census for 6 Concrete, Wombwell (from Ancestry)
Sydney and Lydia Moorhouse are living at 6 Concrete [Cottages] in the 1911 census. Sydney's occupation was Colliery Banksman, a surface worker. They have three children, George b.1906, and presumably named for his father, Ivy b.1908 and Gertrude May b.1910.  In the following years were added Arnold b.1912, Walter b.1914, and Stanley b.1917.  Their children also appear to survive the dangerous childhood years.

On the outbreak of the First World War there was a flood of volunteers to serve in the forces, but this had slowed by late 1915. Following the Derby Scheme which encouraged men to attest that they were willing to volunteer for the war, conscription came into force in early 1916. Sydney Moorhouse had attested on 26 October 1915 for the York and Lancaster Regiment, but was discharged the following April as 'not likely to become an efficient soldier'. His service number was 23788. His discharge records show that he had been suffering from arthritis for several years and that he was 'edentulous', ie lacking teeth, in his upper jaw. Sydney would have been 34 years old in early 1916 and the family were still living at 6 Concrete Cottages. I can only presume that he went back to work at the colliery.

I have previously found that there are gaps in families when men join up to serve in the First World War, but Sydney was not away from home long enough to make a great deal of difference.  The only observation I can make is that Walter was born in December quarter 1914 and Stanley in December quarter 1917, so at least Lydia had slightly more time to recover than she had with her earlier children who appear to have arrived regularly at two year intervals.

William Moorhouse's family in his FWW Service Records (from Ancestry)
The first of the brothers to join up had been William, who enlisted on 4 September 1914, just a month after the war broke out. He served in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) and his service number was 15536. He was 31 years old. William had married Mary Ellen Eyre on 26 December 1911 at Rotherham Register Office. In the 1911 census, taken in April, William's occupation had been Coal Miner - Hewer, one of the better paid roles in a colliery. It is a puzzle therefore why William and Mary Ellen had not married before this, especially in light of the information in his Army Service Records which shows that he and Mary Ellen already had one child together, Mabel Moorhouse Eyre, born 25 October 1910. Mabel was clearly registered under both names suggesting that despite being born before they were married William was happy to accompany Mary Ellen to the Registrar and have his name put on the birth certificate. Two days after they were married William and Mary Ellen's daughter Ethel was born.  We know this because when she was baptised on 29 April 1912 at Christ Church Brampton, her birth date, 28 December 1911, is given in the margin. Maybe having one child out of wedlock was enough and Mary Ellen was unwilling to have another, managing to get William to the Register Office just in time!  Sadly Ethel died aged one year in early 1913.

William and Mary Ellen had a son, George William in early 1913, but he is not mentioned on William's service records either for he died only a few months later.  The couple had lost two babies in the same year.  The burial records on Find My Past (FMP) for Brampton are only available up to 1911 so I am unable to be more specific about the dates that Ethel and George William died or were buried. A daughter, Lottie, was born 26 June 1914, so at the time William enlisted his wife had a four year old and a very young baby to care for. Her address, as William's next of kin is given as 50 Concrete Cottages. I do wonder what prompted William to volunteer with such a young family and presumably his wife in a fragile state after the loss of two previous children - sleepless nights maybe!

The next brother to enlist was John Moorhouse who joined the 14th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment. This was better known locally as the 2nd Barnsley Battalion. As this battalion started recruiting in November 1914 and John's service number is 182, which is fairly low, we can assume he joined up in November or December 1914. His Service Records do not appear to have survived. John was not married and was 22 years old.  There was still a wave of enthusiasm in late 1914 and a worry among some young men that the war would be over before they had had a chance to join in. John may have been one of these.

Henry Dean Moorhouse attested for the York and Lancaster Regiment at the same time as Sydney, October 1915, as his service number was 23791, just three numbers on from his brother. He would have been 21 years old. 

The choice of Sydney and Henry Dean Moorhouse to attest in late October 1915, two years after their brothers had volunteered, may have an underlying reason.  William Moorhouse's Service Records, which include his Pension Records, have survived. He was granted a pension in March 1916 after being wounded in action on 26 September 1915 at Loos. He had suffered a gun shot wound to the head with 'a gap in the skull on each side of the middle line in the upper occipital region'. This is a bone at the base and back of the skull. As a result William has lost almost all vision. He had been discharged on 29 February 1916.

William's wounding had been reported in the local newspapers. From the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on 20 November 1915:
Bomb-thrower Blinded
Private W. Moorhouse, 25, Concrete Cottages, Wombwell, had the misfortune to be shot through the head whilst engaged in bomb-throwing in France. He is now in hospital, and in spite of careful nursing has not yet regained his sight. It is feared that he has been permanently blinded. He formerly worked at the Dearne Valley Colliery.
Did the wounding of their brother prompt Sydney and Henry Dean Moorhouse to enlist?  It is certainly possible. In the book 'Barnsley Pals' Jon Cooksey relates a story told to him by one old soldier, Frank Lindley, who enlisted aged 14, after his brother's ship was sunk. He clearly stated that his motive for enlisting had been to 'avenge' his brother's death.

William Moorhouse died on 20 March 1918 aged 35 and his death was registered at Hampstead in London. I suggest he might have been in hospital in that area. The cause of his death is noted on his Pension Card as Cerebro Spinal Fever. William had been discharged from the army in February 1916 and had received a pension of 25/- a week for six months plus 2/6 for two children. I assume this continued until his death and his card notes that at that time he was in receipt of 36/8 per week. In his Service Records, as seen above, a son, Jack, is born to the couple on 4 January 1917. As Mary Ellen receives no pension for this child we could assume he died young, unless pension was not payable for a child born after a soldier's discharge.

After his death Mary Ellen received a grant of £5 in July 1918 and 25/5 a week from 11 September plus a lump sum for the arrears owed.  The dates of birth for Mabel and Lotty were noted on the Pension Card, and their entitlement to pension will have ended when they reached 16 years of age.

William is not remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, although if the cause of his death can be shown to be attributable to his wound a case could be made via the 'In From the Cold' project to have him added. 

By the time of William's death the Moorhouse family had already suffered a loss. Corporal John Moorhouse was killed in action on 25 July 1916. He was 24 years of age. As he was not married his next of kin was his mother Julia Ray, and according to his Pension Card she was living at 87 Brampton Road, Wombwell. She received his back pay, a war gratuity and eventually a pension of 15/- for life.  John is buried at Rue-du-Bacquerot No.1 Military Cemetery, Laventie, in the Pas De Calais area of France.

I cannot imagine the worry that Julia must have suffered whilst her sons were at war. She and Lydia must have been relieved when Sydney was sent home. The loss of John at such a young age must have hit her hard, especially after the news of William's serious wounds. Mary Ellen and Julia must have suspected that William would not come home, and I hope that they were able to visit him in hospital in the years between his wounding and his death. 

There was more bad news to come. Henry Dean Moorhouse, aged 24, died of wounds in France on 27 May 1918.  As he too was not married his mother was his sole legatee and the recipient of a gratuity in lieu of pension. In his surviving service records (available on both Ancestry and Find My Past) there is no record of the cause of his wounds, however the Mexborough and Swinton Times (available on the Dearne Valley History website) notes on 8 June 1918, that he died 'in a casualty clearing station in France of wounds received in action the previous day'. He is buried at Bagneux British Cemetery, Gezaincourt in the Somme area of France. 
Army Service Records Next of Kin form for Henry Dean Moorhouse
(from Ancestry)
In his records is a copy of the form his mother completed in September 1919 listing his next of kin in order that his commemorative plaque and scroll be sent to the correct person. His brother Sydney, aged 38, is living in Cortonwood Cottages, presumably the Concrete Cottages, his sisters Ethel, Gertrude and Laura have married and are living not much further away. His other brother Harry aged 34 and Doris, his youngest full sister, aged 20, are still at home as is his half-sister Lottie Ray, now 14 years old.
Pension Card for John and Henry Dean Moorhouse.
On the Fold3 website and accessed via the Western Front Association.
John and Henry Dean Moorhouse's details appear on the same Pension Card. These cards can be accessed via Ancestry by paying an additional subscription to the Fold3 website, or as a member of the Western Front Association (WFA), as part of their membership package.  There is actually one card for each man but both have their brothers listed as well. Their Pension Ledger entry, from the same source, lists the amounts of pension paid to Julia Ray.

Mary Ellen Moorhouse, William's widow, remarries in 1924 to an older widower named Edward J Sale. At the time of her marriage she was living at 25 Concrete. It was common for widows to remarry after the First World War, especially if they had dependent children. Mary Ellen's daughters Mabel and Lottie were still only 14 and 10 years old respectively in 1924. Jack, presuming he was still living, would have been 7 years old.

Mary Ellen is listed with Edward Sale in the 1939 Register at 19 Orchard Street in Goldthorpe. Also in the household is Lottie Freeman, married, born on 26 June 1914, who must be William's last child. Mary Ellen was 41 years old when she remarried, but also listed in the 1939 register is a Mary Sale, single, born on 24 September 1925. So despite her age she was able to bring at least one child to her new marriage. It could be more because two of the entries for the address are redacted meaning that the people named there might still be alive.

Julia Ray dies in Q2 1939 (Apr May Jun) aged 76, so before the 1939 Register. In that census substitute, Sydney, Julia's eldest son is listed living with his son Walter at 12 Knoll Beck Lane, not far from the Concrete Cottages.  With the information from the Next of Kin form in Henry Dean Moorhouse's service records we could track down Julia's daughters as three of them give their married names and addresses in 1919. 

Julia may have had many grandchildren, but the pain of the loss of three of her sons in the Great War must have always been with her.  Mary Ellen Sale dies in Q2 1962 aged 79, we can hope that she too had grandchildren as a consolation for the loss of her husband after such a short marriage. Researching what happened after the war is not really part of this story, so I will finish here.

Thanks for reading.

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