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 (  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

Friday, 7 August 2020

Lister Beckett - Part 2 - His marriage to Elizabeth Haigh

This is the second 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 2 - His marriage to Elizabeth Haigh

Lister Beckett's father Adam had a been a publican like his own step-father, and Lister's step-grandfather, Joseph Thackrah. Both men had eventually retired to comfortable houses in the cleaner northern part of the town, above the smoke and dirt. Lister's elder brother Joseph Thackrah Beckett was his father's assistant in the Railway Hotel in Dewsbury in 1871 and had taken over the pub by the time of his father's death in 1895. Lister Beckett, the second son, had to find another career.

Lister Beckett had married by the 1881 census and was living in Batley at Cross Mount Street with his wife Elizabeth A. aged 21 and daughter Edith aged 3 months. His occupation is listed as painter. The houses on Cross Mount Street are small back to back terraced houses with an additional upstairs room over passageways leading to the next street which probably also served let some light into the rear rooms of the houses. On the 1890 map of the area the houses are surrounded by yet to be developed plots suggesting they are fairly new. This is not the kind of accommodation where I would have expected to find Lister and his new wife.
1890 1:500 map of Batley showing Cross Mount Street (Old Maps)

As I cropped and labelled the image above I noticed that the street below Cross Mount Street is called Beckett Street. Coincidence? Speculative builders would have sought investment and may have named streets after their investors. Could Adam Beckett have invested money in this development?
The houses in the development above are of a number of different sizes - the garden at the top belongs to a large house 'Rock Villa', one of two on the site, then there are the terraced houses on the right which have no particular distinguishing features and facing them the terraced houses on the other side of the road with offshot extensions at the back. The map makes it clear that the houses on Cross Mount Street are actually back to backs ... although I expect by today they may have been knocked through and made into houses with access at front and back (a search of Zoopla and other estate agent websites informed me that I was wrong! These houses are still back to backs - in the 21st century!) At the bottom of the image is a brewery and a skating rink. This is a very odd juxtaposition of classes of housing mixed with industry and leisure. Off the map to the right was the Batley sewerage works ... not very pleasant to live near I imagine in the 19th century.  Yet off the map to the north are a cricket ground, a football ground and a bowling green. We do know Lister Beckett played cricket, maybe this was an attraction!

The marriage of Lister Beckett and Elizabeth Ann Haigh took place in the Dewsbury Registration District (RD) in Q4 of 1880 according to FreeBMD, but I can't find the marriage in the parish records on Ancestry, suggesting they married in the Register Office or in a Non-Conformist place of worship. Edith's birth was registered in Q1 of 1881 in the Dewsbury Registration District - but the 1881 census says she was born in Batley. (Was Batley in the Dewsbury RD? Yes, it was until 1939 and then it was in Spen Valley. The UK BMD downloadable place name list for RDs is very useful for queries like this.)

Even if Lister and Elizabeth married in October 1880 (Q4 covers October, November and December) as Edith was 3 months old on 3 April 1881 (the date of the census return) she was conceived before their marriage. Was this a 'shotgun' wedding or the West Yorkshire equivalent at least? Had the marriage between the woollen manufacturer's daughter and a painter only been sanctioned because Elizabeth had fallen pregnant? Or was the son of the landlord of a large public house in the town an equivalent social status? Maybe they got sent packing to a back to back in Batley to get them out of the way? *sigh* So many questions!

My estimation of William Haigh's status is based on his declared occupations in the census returns from 1891 onwards and the size and location of the houses in which he lived. However taking a step backwards to the beginning of his career and as a bridegroom we can see that in the 1861 census his occupation was woollen spinner, which does not sound as middle class as woollen manufacturer although I know weaving was a more profitable trade before the introduction of power driven machinery. He had apparently been born in Stalybridge in about 1836 and had married Mary Exley in All Saints church in Dewsbury on 29 June 1856 (marriage register entry in the West Yorkshire parish records on Ancestry). His occupation at the time had been a clothier (which seems to cover a lot of different of cloth related processes) and his father John Haigh was a tailor. Mary's father Abraham was also a clothier.

By 1871 William and Mary had three children. The eldest was Abraham aged 13, who had been away from home for the 1861 census, probably visiting Mary's sister Ann. Then came Elizabeth, who had been shown as 1 year old in 1861 and finally William H. aged 4. Abraham was already working in the Woollen Mill, possibly for his father, who was now an overlooker and something else I can't read in a Woollen Mill. Edit: After putting out an appeal on Twitter one suggestion for the mystery word was Partner - which might make sense given what we see 10 years later (I was also offered Postman, Printer or Picker).

Can you read the last word on the top row? The first word is Overlooker.

Something important must have occurred between 1871 and 1881 because by the 1881 census William Haigh's status has improved considerably. His occupation is given as a woollen manufacturer employing 7 men, 4 boys and 35 women. His son Abraham, now aged 23 was also listed as a woollen manufacturer and son William Henry Haigh aged 14 was the office boy. Elizabeth was of course living with Lister Beckett at this time. The family are living on Camden Terrace off West Park Street in Dewsbury. This is immediately adjacent to Trafalgar Terrace  and Claremont Road in the enumerator's listing. That information allowed me to locate a Trafalgar Road on the 1890 map and I spotted Camden Terrace actually on West Park Road not far away.

1890 1:500 Town Plan of Dewsbury showing Camden Terrace and Trafalgar Road (Old Maps)

There was something irregular about Lister Beckett and Elizabeth's marriage by the time of the 1891 census. Elizabeth Ann Beckett had moved back to her father William Haigh's house at 12 Trafalgar Terrace, Dewsbury, which I think is the uppermost house on Trafalgar Road as only the even numbers, 2 to 12, of Trafalgar Terrace are listed on the census return. William was a woollen manufacturer aged 55 and his wife Mary aged 61 years was present. Elizabeth had her two daughters living with her, Edith aged 10 and Freda aged 8.  Freda's birth was registered in Q4 1882 in the Dewsbury RD, the census return also says she was born in Dewsbury.  Elizabeth's elder brother Abraham was now a woollen mill manager and her younger brother William was a woollen salesman. The other houses on Trafalgar Terrace were occupied by a Land Surveyor & Insurance Agent, a Retired Schoolmaster, a Solicitor, and a Woollen Cloth Merchant. It appeared to have been an area for the professional and business classes. These houses are still existence (

I have just noticed, while searching for the right maps to illustrate this section, that Victoria Crescent and Trafalgar Terrace are not very far apart. In the 1890 map (above) the area where Victoria Crescent would be was empty, and it looked a bit like a quarry. But by 1894 the space had been filled with two attractive crescents of medium sized and large housing.

1894 1:2,500 map of Dewsbury showing Victoria Crescent and Trafalgar Road (Old Maps)

What is the relevance of this? Well, Lister Beckett's father Adam Beckett died in 1895 while living in Victoria Crescent (report of his funeral in a local newspaper, see the first blog of this series) - he had previously lived a little further to the east in Eightlands.  This means that it was very likely that at around the same time Elizabeth Beckett was living with her father in Trafalgar Terrace (i.e. 1891 and onwards) her missing husband's father was only living a few hundred yards away. I wonder if the families knew this? Or was this side of town with all its new houses the place to be in the 1890s?

Where was Lister Beckett in 1891?  Fortunately as I had been working backwards from Sydney Beckett (a First World War soldier remembered on the Brampton Roll of Honour) I already knew the answer to this.  In 1891 Lister Beckett was a visitor at 74 Blythe Street, Wombwell in the household of George and Ann Siddall and their daughter Edith Sokell.  Her surname was different because Edith was Ann's daughter from a previous relationship (this was made clear on the 1911 census when she is referred to as George's step-daughter). I would have included a snip of this information from the census images but the household runs over two pages so here's a transcription with expanded detail instead.

1891 Census for Wombwell in the County of York, in Barnsley. Parish of St Mary's Wombwell
74 Blythe Street. Four roomed property.
George Siddall    Head    Married    30 years old     Coal Miner, Worker     Born Holmesfield, Derbyshire
Ann Siddall        Wife    Married    38 years old                                       Born Worsborough, Yorkshire
Edith Sokell        Daughter Single   18 years old    Dressmaker's Apprentice Born Wombwell, Yorkshire
Lister Beckett     Visitor    Single    26 years old    Painter                        Born Ravensthorpe, Yorkshire

Note that Lister Beckett is recorded as Single and has knocked five years off his age! Of course this could have been a mistake by the census enumerator ... or not.

So far so good, no evidence of impropriety so far. Lister Beckett may have been working away from home in 1891 and lodging with the Siddalls to be near the job and Elizabeth had returned to her father's house for company and assistance with the children. 

However ... in the Yorkshire Evening Post on 1 September 1891 there is a short article of interest. (All newspaper articles referenced in my blog posts are from Find My Past, though I do find the search on the British Newspaper Archive a lot better, I already have a subscription for FMP. I sometimes search on the BNA and then look the items up on FMP.)

At the Dewsbury Police Court to-day Lister Beckett, formerly a prominent member of the Spen Victoria Cricket Club, and a native of Dewsbury, was charged with neglecting to maintain his wife and two children. Mr. Moore, the relieving officer, said the Guardians allowed the prisoner's wife 6s a week, and the amount due to the Guardians was £3 12s. Mr Hinchliffe (the chairman) said the prisoner appeared to be a strong looking fellow, and thought he was well able to maintain his wife and family. The fact of the matter was prisoner would not pay for the maintenance of his family. Mr Moore said the prisoner was playing at Wombwell, near Barnsley, at cricket on Saturday when he was apprehended. The chairman remarked that Beckett would evidently play cricket or anything else if his wife were dying of starvation. He would be committed one month in default of making a satisfactory arrangment with Mr. Moore.

There is another report of the same case in the Huddersfield Daily Examiner on 2 September 1891 which adds a little more detail. Lister apparently pleaded guilty but said in court, that "if his friends would not pay for him he couldn't" and that he had been "under a doctor for seven weeks" to which the chairman made the reply stated above but it words it slightly differently "he would play at cricket or anything else, if his wife was dying; anything before work" which is a bit harsh if he had been off work sick. The sentence of one month mentioned would have been in the House of Correction with hard labour if Lister made no satisfactory arrangement.

As we know Elizabeth's father was quite comfortable financially I think suggesting she was about to starve to death is a bit of an exaggeration, but the article does confirm that Lister had been living away from her for some considerable time. My pre-decimal maths is not too good but running up a debt of £3 12s[hillings] at a rate of only 6s a week comes to twelve weeks. The Huddersfield Daily Examiner report confirms my calculation. So it appears that Lister had not been supporting Elizabeth since April or May. What happened in May 1891?

There is no mention in the article about Lister's father's funeral in 1895 in my last post of Lister's wife Elizabeth, and she is not listed amongst the people sending a wreath although Lister's brother Joe's wife is. 
In 1901 Elizabeth Ann Beckett is still living with her father William but now at 3 Oxford Road in Dewsbury. Both her daughters Edith and Hilda (who was surely Freda in the last census?) are recorded as Assistant Elementary School Teachers. William Haigh is now 65 and is a widower, is recorded as a Woollen Manufacturer and the category of Employer has been selected (as opposed to a worker). That was a new question in 1901 and was also seen in the 1911 census. Oxford Road is another street of large houses and number 3 is a large bay windowed terraced house with long gardens front and back. The property can still be seen on Google maps ( There is no sign that the Haigh family is living in reduced circumstances so Elizabeth's claim for support from the Guardians must have been a matter of form rather than a necessary appeal for money. 
The authorities continued to try to get Lister to pay up the maintenance for his wife. 

From the Yorkshire Evening Post on 13 January 1903.

At Dewsbury today, Lister Beckett, who is respectably connected in Dewsbury, and who is in business at Mexborough as a painter and paper-hanger, was charged with deserting his wife.
Mr Nicholson, who appeared for Mrs. Beckett, said Mr. Beckett left his wife 18 years ago, and since then had been in business in Wombwell and Mexborough. He was also in receipt of £1 a week left by his father. He asked for an order for 10s per week.
Mrs. Beckett said she had been receiving 6s a week from the Guardians.
Defendant denied having deserted his wife.
The Bench made an order for 10s per week.

So my earlier estimate for the date Lister left Elizabeth, based on Elizabeth having been paid by the Guardians for 12 weeks in 1891, was quite wrong. Apparently he 'abandoned' her in 1885 although he denied deserting her! That was less than three years after his daughter Freda's birth (towards the end of 1882). By the time he appears in Wombwell living with the Siddalls he had already been making his way independently of his family for about six years. In the circumstances I don't see how he can deny deserting Elizabeth, but maybe deserting her is not the same as leaving her - it could hinge around making financial provision for her. This is the last notice I can find in the newspapers about the case. 10 shillings in 1903 would be equivalent to around £60 today - so not a huge amount, but more than double the value (nowdays) of 6s in 1891. If Elizabeth had been receiving the same 6s a week for 18 years had her payment been hit by inflation so she was, by 1903, in need of more money? I don't know enough about the economy at the turn of the century to say. But again I stress that she was not destitute - her father was still alive. 
The final item of note from this report is that Adam Beckett had left Lister £1 a week which wasn't a great deal of money (equivalent to 3 days wages for a skilled man in 1890) from a man who left effects of over £7000 (see my previous post) when he died in 1895. I assume Adam had either given Lister money prior to his death or had left him an amount in trust to provide this income because he didn't trust Lister not to spend his interitance all in one go!
Lister Beckett may have heard about the marriage of one of his Dewsbury daughters, he may even have attended her wedding. Freda Beckett, aged 23, was married in Dewsbury parish church on 25 May 1906 to Frederick W M Clive, a theatrical manager. Her home address was given as Oxford Road, which as we have seen was her grandfather's home in 1901. She clearly states that her father was Lister Beckett and his occupation was decorator.
Elizabeth was still living with her father in 1911, but now describing herself as head of the household and a widow (Lister Beckett had died before this date - but see the fourth part of this series of posts for more details). They had moved to 7 Thornville Place, Huddersfield Road, Dewsbury since Freda's wedding. They were the only people in the household so I assume Edith Beckett had also married. There are just too many Edith Becketts in Dewsbury to trace Lister and Elizabeth's other daughter's marriage from the index alone. I didn't have any hits on the West Yorkshire marriage records on Ancestry so she may have married in a Register Office or a non-conformist place of worship.  
Rather than tabbing through the 1911 returns to try to find Thornhill Place I used the 1911 Census Summary books. Fall Lane is before Thornhill Place and Ravenfield Road is after it in these lists. I had to go to a map from 1922 to find the houses - they were not present on the 1907 map. 

1922 1:2,500 map of Dewsbury showing Thornhill Place (Old Maps)

The houses on these short streets are all small terraces and are still in existence today. (See Google Maps They are a lot smaller than the houses William and his family had lived in before but maybe this was because there was only him and Elizabeth so they only needed a few rooms. Maybe William had left his larger house to his son (in 1911 Abraham Haigh, retired woollen manufacturer, and the correct age, is living on Oxford Road in Dewsbury) or downsized to enable him to give his family some of their inheritance before his death. The five little Thornhill themed streets must have been very new. It looks as if it was a nice area with a large house and garden on the other side of the main road and presumably trees and grass between them and the railway line. Number 7 was four houses down on the left. 

Thornhill Place, Dewsbury from Google Maps

I was surprised to not find a newspaper report of William Haigh's death in the local newspapers as he had seemed to be a man of means before his retirement, but it may have appeared in a paper that hasn't yet been digitised. There were a large number of deaths of men named William Haigh in the Dewsbury RD in the years after 1911, of these the two which best fit Lister's father-in-law, who gave his age as 75 in the 1911 census, are Q3 1917 aged 82 or Q1 1919 aged 83. Elizabeth Beckett's death was indexed in Dewsbury in Q3 1932 age 73. I did find a probate calendar entry for her on Ancestry which shows that she was still living at Thornhill Place at her death.

National Probate Calendar entry for Elizabeth Ann Beckett (Ancestry)
The £2013 6s 3d that Elizabeth left in effects would be worth about £92,000 today - so I don't think she really needed Lister Beckett's 10s a week. Although we don't know why Lister left her it seems that there must have been a reason that was more important than her money.

A search of local parish burial records or cemetery records might eventually help find a gravestone or burial record which gives more information about William Haigh and his daughter who stayed with him until his death.

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
Genuki - Dewsbury: Geographical and Historical information from the year 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.
Index of English and Welsh Registration Districts - on the UK BMD site - a downloadable resource
The National Archives - Currency Converter - gives value of money in history by its purchasing power
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

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Lister Beckett - Part 1 - father of Sidney Beckett Sokell a First World War soldier from Concrete Cottages

The saga of Lister Beckett has taken me four sessions to write, and has become more complicated than I ever imagined. Further questions became apparent during the writing requiring additional research. As a consequence I am going to split his story into more than one post. I am not as able to concentrate as I used to be, which is why I don't post very often any more, and now I have my wonderful academic studies to fill up my time as well, but researching this story presented some intriguing puzzles and has been very satsifying to write.

Part 1 - this post - Lister Beckett's birth and his parents

Those of you who have read my blogs before will not be surprised to learn that I have managed to link Lister Beckett to my husband and have, in the process, added the potential for connecting to many more First World War soldiers. According to my 'Family Historian' software: Nigel R. CROFT (my OH) is the great (x5) great-nephew of Charles HAWCROFT and Charles HAWCROFT was the husband of the great-aunt of the wife 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.

Sydney Beckett named on the Brampton Parish Hall Roll of Honour
(photo by Andrew Taylor)

One of the main things that intrigued me about this story is the difference in social class between Lister's first wife, daughter of an apparently comfortably off woollen manufacturer, and his second 'wife', daughter of a coal miner. None of my research has (as yet) supplied any answers to my questions about why Lister deserted one for the other ... and why this appears to have been socially accepted not only by the working class and cricketing communities in Barnsley but also by his family. It may be that our ancestors 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 the new grounds of desertion were accepted and the number of divorces per year almost doubled. (See Rebecca Probert's 2015 guide to marital breakdown for family historians, which is listed in my references below for more information).

Lister Beckett's family has a well referenced page on WikiTree ( The author is aware of the irregularity in Lister's marriages, but has not used (or had access to) the newspaper sources and local history resources that I have used to fill in more details of the background to his story.

Part 1: Lister Beckett's birth and his parents

On 22 January 1860 a boy was baptised Lister Beckett in St Mary's church in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. His parents were Adam Beckett, a clothier and Anne, his wife. They lived in Newthorp, Dewsbury.  Lister had been born on 7 July 1859. Six months seems a long time to wait to baptise a child, but looking down the pages of the baptism register he was not the only child of a similar age or even older. The vicar of St Mary's Mirfield seemed to have had a lot of late baptisms in his parish.

I can also see the baptisms of two potential siblings for Lister in the Ancestry West Yorkshire Parish records. Joseph Thackrah Beckett, was baptised on 28 June 1857 (born 13 April 1857) in the parish of Dewsbury, father Adam a clothier and living in Mirfield, and Jane Ann Beckett, was baptised on 17 May 1884 in the parish of St Phillip's, Dewsbury, father Adam a gentleman, living at Eightlands Cottage, Dewsbury.

Adam Beckett had married Ann (no 'e') Lister in Q1 1856 in the Dewsbury Registration District (RD) according to 'FreeBMD'.  I was able to find this marriage on Ancestry in the West Yorkshire records. It had taken place in the Parish Church in Dewsbury on 6 March 1856. Where the name of Adam's father should have appeared there was a remark: 'Declined to Answer'.  Both Adam and Ann's father, Isaac Lister, were recorded as clothiers. It seems safe to assume that Lister Beckett was named in acknowledgement of his mother's maiden name.

There is a tree on Ancestry for Adam's family. I am not in the habit of accepting the information in an online tree as fact, however I am happy to consult them in case they have spotted a connection I have missed. I always seek confirmation of the information by looking for primary sources such as parish records and/or census returns.

In this case the online tree showed that the reason for Adam not declaring his father at his marriage probably was because he was born in 1827 prior to his mother, Tallis Beckett (baptised Beckitt), marrying Joseph Thackrah in 1829. This would explain where Lister's older brother Joseph obtained his unusual middle name of Thackrah, he was named after Adam's step-father. Giving children surnames as middle names was not uncommon in the 19th century - I have several examples in my own family tree. I was able to confirm these circumstances by accessing (via Ancestry) Adam's baptism record from Dewsbury Parish Church on 25 July 1827 which only records his mother's name, Tallis Beckett, and the marriage register entry for Joseph Thackray and Alice Beckett, in Dewsbury All Saints (which is the parish church) on 12 January 1829. Neither Joseph nor Alice could write their names - both had signed the register with a X - so they would have been unable to check the way in which the minister had written their names. The only explanation of the name 'Tallis' I can find is that it is a habitation related surname meaning 'a clearing in woodland', so maybe Tallis Beckett was also named for a relative or ancestor's surname.

With the help of the above online tree I was able to find 1841 and 1851 census returns for Joseph Thackrah and his family. Although there was an interval of more than two years between Adam's conception and Tallis' marriage Joseph Thackrah appears to have accepted Adam into his family giving him his name and in 1851 recording him as his son. In this census return Adam's occupation was woollen spinner and Joseph Thackrah was a publican (I do love a pub connection!) at Daw Green, just to the south west of Dewsbury. Adam obviously knew that Joseph was NOT his father, otherwise he would have declared him when he married and not used his mother's maiden name. We have found an example of illegitimacy being socially accepted in shape of Lister Beckett's own father.

In the 1861 census returns Adam and Ann Beckett were living at the 'Albion Hotel' on Wormalds Row or Pattison Square in Mirfield with three children, Joseph aged 3, Lister aged 1 and Susan aged 2 months. Adam is 34 years old and an inn keeper rather than a clothier, possibly following in his step-father's footsteps. He has one live-in servant and a vistor on census night. The street names, Row and Square, suggested to me that neither place would still exist; in Barnsley names like that are indicators of 19th century close packed terraces and courts which were redeveloped in the early 20th cenury - but I checked on the maps.  There is an Albion Street on the 1893 map of Ravensthope near Mirfield which appears to lie in the correct area, between Raven House and Tanhouse (hint: page backwards and forwards from the census return showing the family of interest and note the street names either side of the one where your family lives). The 1889 'town plan' (1:500) shows an Albion Hotel at the corner of Albion Street on the main road (Huddersfield Road). This could have been the Beckett home in 1861. It no longer exists.

1889 1:500 Town Plan of Ravensthorpe, showing the Albion Hotel (Old Maps)

In the same census Joseph and Tallis Thackrah, Adam's step-father and mother, were living at 294 Middle Road, Daw Green, Dewsbury. This was the Saville's Arms public house. It could be the same place as the unnamed pub which Joseph Thackrah was running in the 1851 census. A study of trade directories or rate books might be able to prove if this was the case. It appears to have been a substantial building in the centre of a densely packed area, which had been, according to a 1837 trade directory entry on Genuki, a 'detached hamlet' as recently as 20 years previously (ie 1817).

1852 1;1,056 Town Plan of Dewsbury showing Saville Arms (Old Maps)

In this map snip from 1852 the Saville's Arms is in the centre of the image, just above and to the right of the 'N' ending the place name DAW GREEN coming in from the left. On a larger map the shapes of the roads it sits between are visibly more irregular than the surrounding geometrical blocks of back to back houses and names like High Street (the upper road), Middle Road and Lower Road suggest an original village core. If this is the orginal Daw Green hamlet the Saville's Arms could have been there before the town expanded around it. It had a long history  - the pub building could still be identified 100 years later on 1950s maps on the Old Maps site - although it had gone by the 1960s.

Joseph Thackrah had been widowed and was retired by the time of the 1871 census and was living on Barber Street near Eightlands with two adult children.

In 1871 Adam and Ann Beckett were living at the Railway Hotel on Bradford Road in Dewsbury. They now had seven children, Joseph Thackrah aged 13, Lister aged 11, John aged 7, Susan aged 9, Charles Henry aged 5, Tom aged 3 and Jane Ann aged 10 months. Adam had continued in the pub trade but moved to a larger establishement. He had one servant living in.  This location lay near the start of Northgate (using the paging back and forth method again) so I think I have located it on the 1890 town plan of Dewsbury. The Railway Hotel no longer exists, although the building behind it, the Cloth Hall Mills, is still visible on Google Maps (

1890 1:500 Town Plan of Dewsbury, showing Railway Hotel (Old Maps)

In 1881 Adam and Ann Beckett still were living at the Railway Hotel, Northgate. Six of the children listed in the 1871 census are at home with their parents. Adam is the inn keeper, with Joseph T, his eldest son, as inn keeper's assistant. The next two sons are both jeweller's assistants. One servant is living in. Lister Beckett has left home - his story continues in the second part of this lengthy blog.

At some point between 1881 and 1891, Adam and Ann moved to Eightland's Cottage. Their last child, Jane Ann, was baptised in 1884, at the age of 14 years, from that address. I can only assume they had retired from the pub trade and had used the money they had made to live in some comfort in their retirement. This is supported by the fact that Adam gave his occupation at Jane Ann's baptism as gentleman. It is not immediately obvious on a map but this location is up a steep hill from the town centre and is above the railway station. The house still exists and helpfully has its name on the gate post which can be clearly read on Google Maps.

1890 1:500 Town Plan of Dewsbury showing Eightlands Road (Old Maps)

Eightland's Cottage is the first house off Eightlands Road at the top right of the map. It appears to be divided into two houses, though (as you will see) it had been built to look like one large house. As the gateway with the post bearing its name is at the side with the triangular lawn I assume it is the second house, with the large lintel over the door. This sizable house (compare it to the back to backs further up the road to the left on the map) has good views across the town. I assume that being to the north the wind would have generally blown the smoke and dirt of the town centre in the opposite direction. This location of more expensive housing to the north and west of an industrial town can be observed in other places in Yorkshire like Sheffield and Barnsley.

The front of Eightland's Cottage on Google Maps

Joseph Thackrah, Adam Beckett's step-father, had also chosen to live at Eightlands after his retirement. In 1871 we found him on Barber Street which was the road on the second right up Eightlands Road beyond Eightland's Cottage.  He was still living there in 1881. It is possible that Adam chose to move to the area to support his step-father in his old age. Joseph Thackrah died in 1886 at the age of 79 years.

By 1891 Adam and Ann Beckett were living at 9 Crackenedge Terrace which was not far from Eightland's Cottage, directly north of Dewsbury's centre. Adam was 64 years old by now and 'living on his own means', in other words a pension or sufficient savings or investments to provide an income. Jane Ann, their daughter, who was 20 years old, was living with them. The houses in that area appear to have been extensively redeveloped now.

Adam and Ann Beckett moved again between 1891 and his death in 1895. Adam's funeral was reported in the Batley Reporter and Guardian on 22 June 1895, four years after the census return discussed above. Note that Lister Beckett attended the funeral.

Yesterday, the remains of Mr. Adam Beckett, aged sixty-eight years, of Victoria Crescent, Birkdale Road, were interred at the Dewsbury Cemetery, in the presence of a large number of people. Deceased, who owned the Railway Hotel, in Bradford Road, retired from business many years ago, and resided for some time at Eightlands. He was of a quiet disposition, and highly respected by all who knew him. He died from the effects of an operation performed upon him. The chief mourners were Messrs. Joe Beckett (the present landlord of the Railway Hotel), Lister Beckett, John Beckett, Charles Beckett, and Tom Beckett (sons of the deceased). Joe Thackrah (Heckmondwike), C. Fearnsides, Ellis Greenwood, T. Exley, F. Bould, Joe Thackrah (Boothroyd Lane), Wm. Tunnicliffe, Walter Tunnicliffe, Harry Tunnicliffe, Fred Sykes, Herbert Walker and Dr. Hall. Beautiful wreaths and crosses were sent by Mrs. Joe Beckett, Mrs Greenwood, Miss Earnshaw, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Thackrah, Mr. and Mrs. Fearnsides, Mr. and Mrs. Tunnicliffe, Mr. Herbert Walker, Mr. and Mrs. S. Lyles, Mr. C. Thornes and friends, Mr. J. Whittles and family, and the Licensed Victuallers' Association. [...] Deceased leaves a widow and seven children, five sons and two daughters, to mourn their loss.

This appears to have been the funeral of a well known and well respected gentleman.  The houses on Victoria Crescent can still be seen today on Google Maps and are bay-windowed terraced houses of varying sizes surrounding a little grassy central area with mature trees. (

1894 1:10,560 map of Dewsbury showing Victoria Crescent (Old Maps)

There is a reference in the newspaper report to Adam Beckett having lived at Eightlands for some time, which which tallies with the address given at his daughter Jane Ann's baptism in 1884. This is jumping back chronologically a little but the extra information to allowed me to track Adam and Ann's movements.  Note too that Adam's son Joseph was, at the time of Adam's death, the landlord of the Railway Inn, so he may have taken over from his father on his retirement.  In the Probate Calendar Indexes on Ancestry I noted that Adam Beckett left effects of £7076 12s 11d, this is worth roughly half a million pounds today.

So far I have demonstrated that Lister Beckett came from a line of publicans who were able to retire to live in comfortable circumstances in their old age. The report from Adam Beckett's funeral notes he was well respected with no suggestion of his own illegitimate birth. Lister's step-grandfather Joseph Thackrah had given Adam a home and his name, although Adam chose to revert to his baptismal surname of Beckett when he married.  The next section will look at how Lister appeared to settle into this comfortable class by marrying the daughter of a well off wool manufacturer.

Ancestry - for census returns, parish records, probate 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
Genuki - Dewsbury: Geographical and Historical information from the year 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.
Index of English and Welsh Registration Districts - on the UK BMD site - a downloadable resource
The National Archives - Currency Converter - gives value of money in history by its purchasing power
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.
Probert, R. Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved? (Kenilworth: Takeaway (Publishing), 2015).