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

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