Thursday 28 October 2021

News about the 1921 census and how it might impact my academic plans

Some of the historians I follow on Twitter are complaining about the recently revealed starting prices for the Find My Past (FMP) release of the 1921 census from 6 January next year. As usual when new census or census-like collections are released access to the information will be charged at a premium rate and on top of any subscription we already hold. This time the prices proposed feel much higher than we paid at similar releases for the 1911 census and 1939 Register.

Current prices for Find My Past subscriptions 

The extra premium charges are particularly irritating as Find My Past recently moved their old newspapers collection to the Pro subscription as part of their restructuring of their subscription packages, which means I'll be paying more than £60 extra next year to get the access I have now. Newspapers are something I use in my research nearly every day. My old subscription was the British one, all the census, parish and military records, roughly what they now call the Plus package, but with the newspapers included. With the FMP loyalty discount I paid £93.46 in January 2021. I expect to pay £159.99 next January, I have no idea if the loyalty discounts will still be applied. 

I did compare the new prices to a subscription with the British Newspaper Archive itself (all part of the same umbrella company) but the Pro package, even at £60 more still beat the price of two separate subscriptions. Ok, so the Pro will include their Worldwide records too, but I hardly ever want to use those, as my main areas of study are family (mainly Barnsley and the North East) and local (Barnsley) and military history of the First World War.  My strategy for occasional overseas records on Ancestry has usually been to go to the library to look them up, and email them back to myself from there. I could have visited a library in Sheffield to do the same for Find My Past if I had wanted to badly enough. 

1921 census pricing as announced yesterday

Sadly paying £2.50 per 1921 household census transcription and another £3.50 for the image of the actual document is prohibitively pricy. I will probably pay for my grandparents, as they'll be of interest to my extended family, but certainly not for all the 450 Barnsley born First World War soldiers I was planning to research for my PhD. Apparently I will get a 10% discount on the prices as a Pro package subscriber, but that only reduces the prices to £2.25 and £3.15, not a huge difference. 

Eventually the 1921 census will no doubt become part of the subscription price, or available on Ancestry as part of my subscription with that provider,  as the 1911 census and the 1939 Register did, but will happen within the next two years? Probably not. I may have four more years to go in which to complete my PhD, but I can't cross my fingers and hope to look up all the families I want to at the last minute, all the information would need to be analysed and tabulated and interpreted.  

People will be able to view the digital images for free at The National Archives in Kew from 6 January 2022, but that's a very long way for me to go, and if you factor in travel expenses and a hotel for two (I could not manage without the OH's help these days) I suppose buying some selected images at £3.50 a time begins to look more reasonable.  Sadly to buy all the ones I would need to research my soldiers' families would cost thousands of pounds [£3.15 x 450 = £1,417.50] and that is if I only look up one image and no transcription per man. I am more likely to need multiple household images per man, for his immediate family (widow and children), his parents and his siblings.

I would have paid £1 or maybe even £1.50 per household (after all research expenses are part of what my student loan is for), making prices reasonable surely would have led to bulk purchases by many people. When wills were reduced from £10 to £1.50 each a few years ago I bought 10 in one go! When birth and death certificates were, for a limited time, £5 for a pdf instead of £11 for a paper copy I sent for all the ones on my 'to do' list in one batch . I've always been happy to buy chunks of credits for Scottish digital certificates as they work out at £1.50 a time, even if it takes me a few months to use all the credits up.

Changing Family Size in England and Wales

Some academic historians (for example Garrett, Reid, Schurer and Szreter, see left) were given special access to the 1911 census before the general public, but they could only use the data on marriages and fertility, not any personal information. I can remember going to a talk given by two of the above historians before the book was published, it all sounded very fascinating,  but it took me until relatively recently to be able to afford a second-hand copy.  The link below the image takes you to the Amazon page where the book description gives more information.  

I wonder if anyone was given similar access to the 1921 census?

Saturday 16 October 2021

Happy Birthday Blog! How have things changed in the last nine years?

It's my blog's birthday today. I wrote my first post on 16 October 2012. Happy 9th birthday blog!

I just had a look at the original post and some things have improved.

I applied for, and eventually got, Personal Independence Payments (PIP) after my ESA was stopped, with much help filling in the forms from AgeUK and the local Citizens Advice Bureau.  This year, as I turned 60, my occupational pension started paying out. But my  three attempts and nine years of trying to get it released early due to my ill health had got me nowhere and caused a huge amount of stress. Each time the pension panel doctors stated that I would be well enough to return to work, full time and doing what I did before I left, within three years. Well, obviously that didn't happen. 

At least now I have some personal money coming in to buy books, clothes, boots and contribute to the household bills (reviewing that sentence I think it shines a light on my priorities, which do appear a bit odd ... books more important than clothes? ... well of course they are, clothes can be worn until they drop to bits, but you always need more books). Buying disability aids was made possible by the PIP money, but steps and wrist rests and walking aids, etc, etc aren't cheap. Yesterday I even considered (but resisted) buying a very expensive device to hold my books for me when I'm reading. I ordered a £7 neck support cushion instead. The book holder is on my Amazon wishlist though if all my family want to chip in and get it for me for Christmas?  

I am still studying, not with the Open University anymore, but at a bricks and mortar Uni, albeit at a distance and online (following the introduction of Student Loans for postgraduate study). The increase in OU fees was a blow and as I understand their student intake has reduced by a third, I am obviously not the only older person that decided lifelong learning was no longer affordable.  I am now in my second year as a part-time PhD student examining war memorials in Barnsley.  

The very best thing to happen this year was the arrival of my granddaughter Ffion in July, and tomorrow she comes to Barnsley (with her parents of course) and my mum and mum in law will finally get to see their first great-grandchild. 

Sadly other things are no better, or even somewhat worse. 

My health, which collapsed so suddenly in 2004, has never recovered, and as I get older more and more bits of me are wearing out, adding to the permanent problems caused by Crohn's and Fibromyalgia. I am currently wearing a quadruple layer of tubigrip on my left ankle because two nights ago it dislocated while I was lying in bed. This is a recurring problem, but usually only happens when I turn my ankle on uneven pavement or put weight on it when climbing into bed (buying a step to help me get into bed helped with that). Having it pop out of joint when I wasn't actually doing anything was very scary.

I see that in 2017 I was worried because proving my identity was a problem, the only thing I had was my driving licence. Now I don't drive at all, and after a black-out a few years ago I should really have sent my licence back to the DVLA. It runs out in 2023, but we have since renewed our passports (for a holiday that didn't happen because of the Covid pandemic), so I will be able to prove I'm me for a few more years. Not that going on holiday seems likely at the moment as my mobility (even with a functioning ankle) has declined to the point that last year we spent lots of my PIP on a wheeled walking aid with a seat. Even my 83 year old mum hasn't got a seat on her rolator (though my mum in law has, and I'm quite jealous of her all terrain wheels as mine is quite hopeless on bumpy grass in cemeteries).

The pandemic has meant that I haven't been to a library or an Archives for nearly two years, my PhD seminars and supervision meetings have all been done over Zoom and the highlight of last week was my first trip to a 'virtual' pub with the Great War Group. The OH did take me to the cinema this week to see the new Bond film, and we ate in the Wetherspoons afterwards, but I didn't feel safe surrounded by people not wearing masks.  I probably had Covid in March/April 2020 and I've been double jabbed (eventually, but that's another story) but as I understand you can still get infected again I don't want to risk it with my underlying health problems.  Unfortunately after our meal it was a long and slow walk, with only my walking stick, to get back to the bus station. We hadn't brought my rolator because we were going to the pictures (where do you put it in the cinema?) and I was expecting to get a taxi home, but the OH was unable to book one when we needed it. That walk probably didn't help my ankle, I have noticed my joints fail (in dramatic ways, not just swelling) much more after a longish walk. 

Finally, in a not unexpected blow yesterday, our electricity and gas supplier went out of business so I anticipate our bills going up to the cap with the new, allocated, supplier. We are still waiting to see if a builder can be found to extend our small 1930s kitchen, still decorated 1970s style, as it was when we bought this house 10 years ago, into our coal shed. And I discovered that Howdens don't have kitchen displays to look at, it's all done on a computer these days. I nearly cried, I just wanted to see what sage green cupboard doors look like in real life before we committed to them. Fortunately Wickes do have displays still and the OH had enough spare time to take me there instead. At least the money we have saved not going on holidays or on trips out during the pandemic will buy some new cupboards. If it doesn't all get gobbled up by power bills and rising food prices.

My ankle is quite painful (stiff upperlip now quivering I'm afraid) and currently stopping me sleeping. I hope today's Amazon delivery of various ankle supports will help with its recovery. Not worth troubling the doctors about of course, there's nothing they can do to fix it. It's going to make Tai Chi at the local Methodist Church tricky on Tuesday though. I suppose I could just stay at home and watch the next Doctoral College seminar, which is on Blogging as a Research Student!

Monday 23 August 2021

Why is Herbert Bethell, lost at Jutland in 1916, not on a War Memorial in Cudworth or Barnsley?

 I have several reasons for writing this post:

  1. Herbert Bethell was born in Cudworth, which is not only in Barnsley, but also the village (?town) where I actually live.
  2. He is not in the 'Lest Cudworth Forgets' book, which did surprise me as it is generally a good book.
  3. He is not remembered on any memorial in Barnsley - like 701 other Barnsley servicemen - but at least I think I've worked out why in his case. Sadly not possible for all of them.
  4. His grandparents, on his mother's side, lived very near to where my mum lives now!

It would be wonderful if I could find out why all of the men from Barnsley who are not remembered on any of our war memorials came to be omitted from commemoration here. During the Barnsley War Memorials Project in the Centenary period called them our 'Not Forgotten' men, because by remembering them in a Roll of Honour and on our website the men were not forgotten by us.

There was no central list of men from Barnsley who had enlisted - that is why creating the Barnsley First World War Roll of Honour took so much work to complete. Advertisements in local parish magazines or newspapers asked for names to be submitted, or volunteers went door to door asking for suggestions. Some men are on more than one memorial, some men are on memorials that appear to have no connection to where they were born, or where they lived before the war.

In some cases it is because they were lodgers, recent incomers to Barnsley working at local collieries or similar, when they enlisted. These men left no-one behind in Barnsley who would have submitted their names to the various war memorial projects. These men are frequently remembered in their original home towns, or where their parents lived after the war. 

Sometimes families moved during or after the war, but before the Barnsley war memorial projects got to the stage of asking for names. If we can trace the family, either parents, siblings or a widow, after the war it might be that we find where the man is commemorated. The information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website is useful for this as it often includes addresses for next-of-kin collected some years after the war. 

I have heard stories about other reasons men were not included on war memorials. A mother who didn't want her son included because seeing his name when she passed the memorial in the village would have been just too sad.  Or a refusal to give up hope that a man 'missing presumed dead' might come home. 

If any of my readers can suggest other reasons why a man is not on a memorial in Barnsley, or indeed tell me where one of our 'Not Forgotten' men is actually commemorated, please do get in touch, either by emailing me or via the comments section below.

The 'Not Forgotten' pages

A few days ago I started some long overdue checking and re-organising of the 'Not Forgotten' page(s) on the Barnsley & District War Memorials website (B&DWM).  The original 'Not Forgotten' page, listing with brief details, all the men on the B&DWM master spreadsheet who are not on a Barnsley memorial was last updated in 2016. Since then we have discovered some more memorials, and some new memorials have been erected in Barnsley, most notably the Somme Centenary Artwork which names 300 men who (mostly) lost their lives on 1 July 1916 on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. This meant that some men on the existing page WERE now remembered in Barnsley, and therefore they would be named elsewhere on the B&DWM website, so their details could be moved from the 'Not Forgotten' list. On the other hand more men have been discovered with links to Barnsley, one in only the last week (a school teacher in Grimethorpe, remembered near his birthplace), since the Barnsley First World War Roll of Honour was completed in November 2018. The current count is 3794 names in total, 702 who are not commemorated anywhere in Barnsley that we are aware of. The whole thing is very fluid (a word I seem to have heard a lot this last week on the news!)

Having 702 names on one webpage is far too many, I was taught that excessive scrolling of webpages should be avoided, menus, links and return links were a much more user friendly way of laying out websites. I decided to split the page alphabetically, and try to get a similar number of entries on each chunk. The first page, with the explanation of the concept of 'Not Forgotten' would have the 'A' entries and a set of links to the other pages. 

Here is an actual working copy of the links in case you want to go and take a look, now or later. 

A  B  C D E  F G H   I J K L  M N O P  Q R S  T U V W Y

I ended up with eight pages instead of the one I had started with. Mostly they have 75 to 120 entries on each page. It all depended on the number of names for each surname letter - B is very large, with 77 entries on the B&DWM master spreadsheet. We call them 'Orphans' but it is just a name for simplicity in searching - not any kind of reflection on the man himself.  Letter W is probably the next most common, with 65 names, but the TUVWY chunk only has 112 names in total. Please note that this is still a work in progress!

I have only got about half-way through checking B so far because I was distracted by one particular man for the reasons I outlined at the start of this post. Later that day, when I was having difficulty sleeping, I decided to look him up on various family history and military history websites and see if I could find out why he wasn't on the memorial in Cudworth.

Cudworth War Memorial in St John's Churchyard

Herbert Bethell

This is what I discovered about this man. 

I already knew that he was born in Cudworth, Barnsley, in 1893, that he had died at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916, and the names of his parents were Reuben and Harriet Bethell, from the research logged on the B&DWM spreadsheet by my colleague Pete. He had also noted that their home address after the war was 36 Stables Street, Derby. This information was from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. Pete had also noted that Herbert's death was not mentioned in any local newspapers. That did suggest a good reason for Herbert not being on the Cudworth War Memorial originally - for if his whole family had moved away before he died, and/or before the Cudworth memorial was completed in 1920/21 (the names were added later) there might have been no-one left in Cudworth or Barnsley to submit his name to a war memorial committee. However I know that the Cudworth Local History and Heritage Group (CLHHG) did a lot of research prior to the repairs to the memorial in 2004, adding a number of men to the lists on the new panels, so I was surprised they had missed Herbert. 

The reason for this omission was probably that a lot more records are now available online than could be easily accessed in the early 2000s. The first record I consulted for Herbert was the 'Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919' on Ancestry. That was very complete. (I have added the letters in square brackets [ ] for clarity.)

Name:    Herbert Bethell
Rank:     Sto[ker] 1st [class]
Birth Date:     21 Jan 1893
Birth Place:     Cudworth, Yorkshire, England
Branch of Service:     Royal Navy
Cause of Death:     Killed or died as a direct result of enemy action
Official Number Port Division:     S.S.114133. (Po)
Death Date:     31 May 1916
Ship or Unit:     HMS Black Prince
Location of Grave:     Not recorded
Name and Address of Cemetery:     Body Not Recovered For Burial
Relatives Notified and Address:     Mother: Harriett Ann, 36, Stables St[reet], Derby

As you can see it gives his full date and place of birth and the name and address of his mother in Derby. I expect this is one of the records that Pete used to add the detail to the Master spreadsheet.

Unless Reuben and Harriet were Methodists, or some other type of Non-conformists, I would have expected Herbert to have been baptised locally to his place of birth. St John's Church in Cudworth was opened in July 1893, so prior to that children were baptised at St Paul's Monk Bretton or somewhere ad hoc in Cudworth (maybe a temporary chapel) by the curates at St Paul's, who recorded the details in two separate books. One which is kept with the St John's records and the details were recorded in the official St Paul's register as well. (My thanks to Bill S of the CLHHG for this detective work.) Herbert's elder sister Evelyn was baptised at Monk Bretton in November 1890 (and that's an story in itself!), but none of Herbert's other siblings were baptised in Monk Bretton or Cudworth. 

Barnsley Chronicle 29 August 1891, p. 5
Marriage listing for Reuben King Bethel and Harriet Anne Beaumont

The newspaper cutting here from the Barnsley Chronicle reports that Reuben and Harriet married in Barnsley Register Office on 27 August 1891, which is nine months after the baptism of Evelyn, who appears in the 1901 and 1911 census returns as their eldest daughter. 

Evelyn was baptised Evelyn Bethel Beaumont, daughter of Harriet Ann Beaumont of Cudworth, single woman, at St Paul's Monk Bretton on 16 November 1890. Giving a child born before marriage the surname of her father as a middle name was fairly common, and is sometimes the only clue to his identity. Happily, as we have seen, Reuben and Harriet did marry, eventually.

In 1901 the census shows the family already at 36 Stables Street in Derby. If you click on the image it will enlarge to let you read the details, but I have also transcribed them below.

1901 census entry for the household of Reuben Bethell (RG13/3221/115F on

Listed are:
Reuben Bethell Head Married aged 38 Railway Goods Guard born in Whitfield, Hertfordshire
Harriett Bethell Wife Married aged 30  born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Eveline Bethell Daughter Single aged 10 born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Herbert Bethell Son   Single  aged 8    born in Cudworth, Yorkshire
Claribelle Bethell Daughter Single aged 6 born in Normanton, Yorkshire
Doris Bethell    Daughter Single aged 4 born in Normanton, Yorkshire
Frank Bethell   Son    Single  aged 2   born in Normanton, Yorkshire

It turned out that Herbert was baptised in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Normanton, near Wakefield in May 1896 along with his younger sisters Claribel (b. 1894) and Doris (b. 1896). Frank who was apparently born in Normanton in 1898, was not.

Reuben and Harriet had not lost any children in childhood so far, which suggests they were healthy, had a reasonable income and could afford a decent house and sufficient food. Reuben's work as a Railway Goods Guard may account for this as the railways were known as being good employers.  His job was probably also the reason the family moved from Cudworth to Normanton and then to Derby. 

1911 census entry for the household of Reuben Bethell (RG14/20921/207 on Find My

The 1911 census returns that we see are actually our ancestor's own writing. In this case Reuben has filled in and signed the form himself. He did make a few mistakes and they were corrected by the census enumerator in red ink. Such as putting the information about how long he and Harriet had been married and the number of children they had on the wrong line. The enumerator seems to have also added some detail to the columns concerning the type of work Reuben and his children did.  Eveline (the spelling of her name varies) was a Braider and the enumerator has expanded this to 'Electric Wire Works' as added explanation. Doris also worked in the same industry, maybe even in the same place, as a Cotton Winder, note the ditto marks under 'Electric Wire Works'.

By this census three more children have arrived in Reuben and Harriet's household:
Harry Bethell   Son  Single aged 9  born in Derby, Derbyshire
Lily Bethell     Dau  Single aged 5  born in Derby, Derbyshire
Ivy Bethell       Dau Single aged 2  born in Derby, Derbyshire [actually Ivy May Bethell]

Using the General Register Office online index to births and deaths I can fill in a few more details about the children of this couple (all in the Derby Registration District):
Violet Bethell born March Quarter 1905 in Derby, died March Quarter 1905 in Derby
Claribel Bethell died March Quarter 1911, in Derby, aged 16 years
Olive Bethell born September Quarter 1911, in Derby.
Doris Bethell died September Quarter 1911, in Derby, aged 16 years

Eveline Bethell married Thomas H Brentnall in December Quarter 1911, in Derby

The only other baptism for the Bethell children I have found was for Violet on 18 February 1905 at St Alkmund, Derby from The Children's Hospital. I think they must have had time to have her baptised in the hospital when it became apparent that she was not going to survive. 

Stables Street is in the parish of St Barnabas, and although the baptism registers are on Ancestry there is a missing register which covers 1886 to 1909, exactly where the baptisms of most of the younger Bethell children might have been found. However as Reuben and Harriet showed a preference for a Wesleyan Methodist ceremony for Herbert, Claribel and Doris, they may have continued this preference in Derby. Basically I haven't found anything online for the younger children, except for Violet's baptism in 1905 and Ivy's marriage in 1929. 

I wonder what caused both Claribel and Doris to die aged 16? You might expect that having survived childhood they would have been safe from most common diseases of the time. 

Herbert Joins the Royal Navy
Herbert, now aged 18, was not at home with the rest of his family in 1911, this is because he was 'living in' as an Under Cowman at Hill Farm on Ashbourne Road, Derby. The farmer and his wife had just two young daughters and employed five 'live in' servants, two cowmen, a domestic help, a labourer and a waggoner. The farm was only half a mile away from Stables Street just outside the built up area of terraced housing on the western edge of Derby. 

Herbert did not remain on the farm for long. His record in the 'Royal Navy Registers of Seaman's Services, 1848-1939' on Ancestry, shows that he joined the Navy in June 1913. He had left the farm before he joined up as his occupation was recorded as Railway Shed Porter.  Initially he was a Stoker Second Class but after joining the H.M.S. Black Prince in April 1914 he was promoted to Stoker First Class on 1 July 1914. His record has a stamp across it, 'D.D. 31st May, 1916. Killed in Action'. I believe D.D. means died drowned? 

Herbert's record is really detailed, he was 5' 8" tall (that's quite tall for the era, young miners in Barnsley who joined the Barnsley Pals (the 13th and 14th battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment) were often just a few inches over the minimum of 5' 3" (which was at the start of the war - not long afterwards shorter men were able to join 'Bantam Battalions'). Herbert had brown hair and bluish-brown eyes, his complexion was fresh. We know he was used to hard outdoor work on the farm and the railway. Being a Stoker on a ship was a very heavy manual task, and was very far from being outdoors, so I wonder what the attraction was for Herbert in 1913?

Barnsley War Memorials Project Poster for the Battle of Jutland Centenary

Herbert was not the only Barnsley man killed at the Battle of Jutland. On 31 May 2016, 100 years after the battle, my husband laid the above poster, with a poppy cross attached, at the foot of the main civic war memorial in front of Barnsley Town Hall on behalf of the Barnsley War Memorials Project. You can see Herbert's name second on the list. Fourteen men were killed and research has shown that at least 67 Barnsley men served on ships involved in the battle. 

News of the Battle of Jutland appeared in the newspapers in Derby on 3 June 1916, but there are few details.  Herbert's parents would have known their son was serving on the Black Prince, but not whether it was in involved in the battle. Details like that would have been kept out of the newspapers for as long as possible. 

Barnsley Chronicle 10 June 1916, p. 6
(with thanks to Barnsley Archives)
Looking at the Barnsley Chronicle, which I have better access to, I see that the news was reported on 10 June 1916 with a sub heading 'Wounded Men's Thrilling Stories'. The article does mention that the H.M.S. Black Prince and a number of other ships had been sunk, but there is no mention of the extent of the losses of personnel. Note that this article says, 'The Admiralty entertain no doubt that the German losses were heavier than ours ...', part of their effort to keep up the morale of their readers. The Imperial War Museum website about the battle notes that the Germans were 'outgunned', but that we lost many more men and ships than the enemy. It appears that the battle was not a decisive victory, but it did confirm 'British naval dominance'.

By 17 June some names were coming through in the Barnsley Chronicle, but the word 'Jutland' was not used, the battle was referred to as 'the recent Naval Battle in the North Sea'. The following week a few photographs of sailors who had been killed appeared, but there is very little mention of the battle itself, other than another patriotic editorial about our sea power compared to the Germans.  It seems to me that the powers that be wanted to keep the details of the battle quiet. 

Then, just a few weeks later, the beginning of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916 took over the front pages of all the newspapers from mid July onwards, and apart from annual 'In Memoriam' notices from some of the families of the lost sailors, the naval battle is rarely mentioned again.

I can only assume that the Derby newspapers followed a similar pattern. 

Do we know how the Bethell family were affected?
Herbert's younger brother, Frank, had enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in December 1915, but he was only 18 years old. Men did not serve overseas until they were 19 years old. Frank must have gone overseas at some point because he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but his surviving Army Service Records on Ancestry don't give much detail. He would probably still have been in England doing his training when Herbert was killed. His records do say that he was transferred to the 1/5th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment in February 1918, that may have marked when he went overseas. 

Herbert's mother was awarded a small pension, 5 shillings a week from 6 November 1918.  There is not a lot of information on the Pension Card that I found for Herbert on the Western Front Association website compared to some of the soldier's cards I have seen. But this does suggest that Herbert had been sending her some of his pay as his dependant.

Herbert's older sister Evelyn (or Eveline) had married in late 1911. She had four children, including, towards the end of 1916, a son whom she called Herbert. I like to think that this may have been in memory of her brother.

The third Bethell son, Harry, was too young to enlist and the younger girls, Lily, Ivy and Olive would have been too young to work in munitions or as nurses. Reuben was too old to have been conscipted, even towards the end of the war when they raised the maximum age. He would have been 55 in 1918 and the limit was 51. I imagine there was plenty for him to do on the railways though during war time.

After the war was over: (information from FreeBMD)
Frank Bethell married May Burton in March Quarter 1921, in Derby
Ivy May Bethell married Charles F. Storer in September Quarter 1929, in Burton Registration District
Harry Bethell married Gladys Markland [nee Gregson] in December Quarter 1930, in Derby
Olive Bethell married Alfred R. Williams in March Quarter 1931, in Derby
Lily Bethell married Alfred E.A. Read in September Quarter 1933, in Derby

In 1939, as another war began, a huge census-like Register was created. This enables us to catch up with details of the Bethell family for one last time. (I am really looking forward to the release of the 1921 census next year - that will fill a big gap in the information I have about so many of my ancestors and Barnsley service people.)

Reuben and Harriet were still living at 36 Stables Street, with Lily Read also in residence. This is the daughter who married in 1933. She is recorded as a Widow, but an entry in a different coloured ink above her name suggests she remarried to someone called Measures. Reuben's occupation is now General Labourer (Retired), and he would have been 76 years old. 

Just a few doors away, at 28 Stables Street, was Frank and May Bethell, Reuben and Harriet's second son. Frank was a Milk Roundsman - and when he enlisted in 1915 his occupation had been Dairyman, so he must have returned to his previous trade after the war. I suggest he had experience driving a horse or a wagon when he joined up, maybe he was able to drive an ambulance or supply vehicles during his service in the Royal Army Medical Corps? Frank and May have three children, I assume, but their details have been redacted in the 1939 return because they are less than 100 years old and their deaths had not been notified to the authorities when the 1939 Register was released. Every now and then the images online are updated. I did notice that the images on Ancestry and Find My Past are currently not in sync - more of the redactions have been removed on the FMP versions.

Evelyn Brentnall, her husband Thomas and younger children Herbert, aged 23 and Doris, aged 21, were living at 94 Parliament Street in Derby. This was just a 15 to 20 minute walk from Stables Street, not far to pop around and visit. Thomas was a Baker's Labourer and Herbert, the son, was a Bread Loader, suggesting they both worked for the same company. Herbert and his two older brothers are the right age to have been called up for service in the Second World War. I wonder how they got on?

We have seen that Evelyn had four children, and that Frank had at least three children, so there were plenty of grandchildren to visit Reuben and Harriet at Stables Street. There may even have been great-grandchildren as it appears that Evelyn's older sons may have been married by 1939. Brentnall is a more common name than Bethell so with only the index entries to refer to I can't say for sure. Looking for the men in the 1939 Register should help - but it's not vital today.

Harriet died in 1944 and Reuben in 1946. Bethell is quite a rare name in Derby, but it looks as if there were still Bethells in Derby in the 1980s, which is as far as the FreeBMD indexes go. I wonder if they know anything about Herbert?

Derby Daily Telgraph, 23 September 1920, p. 2.
Unveiling of the war memorial at St Barnabas

I have found a newspaper cutting, shown above, that reports the unveiling of a large war memorial tablet in the church of St Barnabas, the parish in which Stables Street lies. It says that the memorial, 'a fine bronze tablet on an alabaster base', listed 150 men from the parish. Sadly the report doesn't give any of their names.

I have written to the church administrator to ask if a Herbert or H. Bethell is included. They have a very nice informative website, with details about lots of activities, but no picture of the war memorial or any information about it, is included. I do hope the people at the church take the time to reply to me. It would be nice to be able to report that another of Barnsley's First World War men is remembered somewhere, even if it is not in Barnsley. 

Thanks for reading. I hope you found it interesting.  

Edit 6 March 2022:
Yesterday a member of the Barnsley's History - The Great War Facebook group sent me some photos from St Barnabas in Derby - I have since had it confirmed by a lady from the church that two Barnsley men visited on Saturday 'for the match' and had some tea with a lady cleaning the silver. 

These are some of the photos Wayne Bywater sent me. Herbert Bethell IS named on the St Barnabas war memorial. His name is second on the list, which is sorted by service and regiment.

Stkr H. Bethel, H.M.S. Black Prince

The location of the memorial to the Great War in St Barnabas Church in Derby
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

Great War memorial St Barnabas, Derby
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

Herbert Bethell's entry on the memorial
(photo by Wayne Bywater on 5 March 2022)

Thursday 12 August 2021

Child and Female Pallbearers in England: A Barnsley example following Jane White's mysterious death in 1870, with a deviation into the history of Cudworth

A year ago I wrote about the funeral of a seven year old girl, whose ten bearers were described in the newspaper as girl friends of the deceased. That was in 1902 in Mexborough. At the time I was quite surprised at this, remarking that we would not consider such a thing today. This morning I came across another example, this time a 15 year old girl whose coffin was accompanied by sixteen female bearers.  

From a blog called Art of Mourning: Children in Mournin

I did some online research and discovered that, in fact, in previous eras it was the accepted tradition for young friends of the deceased to attend and play a ceremonial part in the funeral of a child. The engraving above was apparently published accompanying a hymn called 'The Tolling Bell' written by John Newton, author of the rather more famous 'Amazing Grace'. I have included the date, the 1840s, in my snip. The text below the image continues noting that bearers white clothing and the white coffin itself donates innocence and purity on the part of the deceased.

Child Pallbearers

The above photo, which I find rather unnerving, is from an American blog post called Funerary Darlings: The Tradition of Child Pallbearers. Although I am not a costume expert these girls clustered around a small white coffin in white dresses, look late 19th, early 20th century to me.  Another photo on the same blog post shows some young girls in more modern clothing carrying a small white coffin, that one is dated 1938.

The report I found in the Barnsley newspapers was the result of a search for items about a pub landlord in Monk Bretton. Thomas White was the licensee at the Pheasant Inn in the 1861 and 1871 census returns, and as he is dstantly related to the OH I wanted to find out more. My first hit concerned him being fined for allowing his customers to bet for beer on games of bagatelle, but the second was a lengthy report of the inquest into the drowning of his granddaughter in the local canal. 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 30 May 1870, p. 3.

It seemed that the girl had lived with her grandparents since she was a child, and had, claimed her grandmother, been born in their home, although I don't think that was the Pheasant Inn in 1854, and as she is listed at her parents' home in the 1861 census return, that casts some doubt on the complete truth of Ann White's statement.

Jane White was described as a tall, well built girl; the medical examiner reported that she could have passed for 25 not 15 years old. There is no mention in the reports of Jane working, but I expect she helped her grandmother about the house. Children commonly left school at the age of 12 at that time, so I expect Jane considered herself quite grown up. In several of the reports she is quoted saying on the Thursday afternoon that she was going to put her hair in papers and dress herself 'slap up' to go for a visit to her mother. Her ulterior motive seems to have been meeting up with a young man, Tom Stephenson, with whom she had been 'keeping company' for a number of years, much to her grandmother's displeasure. 

I relate this description of Jane in order to suggest that she was not, in many ways, a child, by the standards of the 1870s. That would seem to put her funeral, as an adult, in a different category to that of seven year old Ada Sokell Beckett, my earlier encounter with young pallbearers. Yet maybe the fact that she was an unmarried girl (and presumed to be innocent) caused to her to be treated at her funeral in the same way as a child. Her coffin was accompanied by a large band of young women, probably around the same age as the deceased, and the coffin (see cutting below) fitted the description of one used for a child.

Barnsley Independent, 4 June 1870, p. 2. 

Her coffin appears to come within the specification for a child, oak, which is usually a pale wood, with white handles and name plate, possibly with other metal decorations too (together known as coffin furniture). I was interested to see if any of her sixteen bearers were relatives, but most do not appear to have been. I assume they were girls from Monk Bretton about the same age as Jane. We don't know if they wore white like the girls pictured above - would working class families have been able to afford a white dress as well as work day clothes?  I will try to discover more about these girls below. 

Introduction to the case of Jane White in the West Yorkshire,
County Coroner Notebooks (from Ancestry)

Jane's death was investigated by the Coroner and his notebooks are available on the Ancestry website.  This account is very similar to that reported in the various local newspapers (and it appeared in newspapers across the country in early June as I suppose it was quite a sensational story). There are more details and precise timings in the notebooks, for example Jane was in the habit of going to her mother's at noon on Fridays and the comments about doing her hair and dressing up were made on Thursday afternoon while she and her grandmother were sitting together sewing. It seems that her grandmother last saw Jane at 10pm on Thursday night standing outside the pub. Her body was spotted in the canal at 6.30am the next day by a witness George Batty, a shepherd.  It was taken to her father's pub, the Philip Inn at Burton Bridge, where it was seen at 8am by a surgeon from Barnsley, a John Blackburn. That was also where the body was viewed by the jury the following day, just before the inquest at the Sun Inn at Monk Bretton. A post mortem was carried out on the Saturday morning and Blackburn's report was very complete, even down to noting that her uterus had not been impregnated although there was evidence of 'connexion' having taken place frequently (detail omitted from most of the newspaper reports). His conclusion was that she had suffocated due to drowning.

Tom Stephenson's sister Augusta was also a witness, and her remarks were also omitted from many of the newspaper reports - she said that she had met Jane outside the Pheasant Inn at 10pm on Thursday and Jane had asked her to take a message to Tom. The family sat up all night waiting for him to return from his meeting with Jane, but he did not come home until 5.30am when his clothes wet through. Tom himself gave a long and detailed account of how he and Jane had spent the evening and night, fooling around on the edge of the canal - he said Jane had initially appeared tipsy although that had worn off by morning after they had spent the night together in a field. He said that he left her about 250 yards from her father's house at Burton Bridge, and that she had commented that she needed to get home before her grandfather got down (came down from bed?) and that she would 'catch it' for staying out. Tom passed her grandfather as he was making his way home but no words were exchanged. Apparently the young couple had promised, on Friday morning, to 'stick' to each other and not 'go' with anyone else. 

Tom Stephenson was born in 1851 and his sister Augusta in 1855. Their mother was a single woman named Selina Stephenson, who eventually married in 1873 to a much younger man called George Chapman. Tom and Augusta were born in Monk Bretton, then Selina moved to Bolton in Calverly near Bradford where, in 1861, she claimed to be a widow and had another child, Caroline (although other records say Caroline was also born in Monk Bretton). The family had obviously returned to Monk Bretton at some point before Jane's death. In the Coroner's report Tom said that he had known Jane for seven or eight years (so they met in 1862/63). The Stephenson family were still living in Monk Bretton in April 1871at the time of the census. Augusta married in 1872 and stayed locally, her mother in 1873 as I have said, but Tom left Barnsley and appears to have married and settled in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. Caroline married in 1879, aged 21, and also stayed in Barnsley. 

Tom's irregular parentage may have been a contribution to the dislike Jane's grandmother apparently had for him. However Tom claimed in his evidence that they had been 'going together' for two or three years, so since Jane was about 13 years old and he was 16, so it does seem that their relationship was well established and no evidence was provided at the inquest to suggest anything had happened to come between them.

The description of Tom's behaviour at Jane's burial is quite poignant. According to the Barnsley Independent report on 4 June 1870, p. 2 (note Stevenson rather than Stephenson):

During the reading of the prayers, Stevenson stood close to the clergyman, nervously grasping a handkerchief in one hand, while in the other he held a few flowers. When all was over, and nothing remained but to "bury the dead out of their sight," Stevenson very quietly approached the head of the grave, and gently dropped the flowers on the coffin lid. He remained there for some time, evidently unconsious of the presence of the vast crowd around him. Several times while looking in the grave he muttered to himself and sorrowfully shook his head. He was at last persuaded by a neighbour to leave.

The verdict of the inquest jury was simply, 'Found Drowned', but I can imagine a number of other scenarios based on this evidence. It does seems unlikely that Jane committed suicide as Tom claimed she was happy with him, she was not pregnant, she had sobered up, so it was unlikely she had fallen into the canal by accident, though not impossible I suppose. To my mind that only leaves foul play - but the surgeon had found no evidence of violence. Quite the mystery.

Before I look into the pallbearers I'll give some factual background to Jane herself for the purposes of comparison of her life and situation to that of the girls who accompanied her coffin:

Jane White was born in the third quarter (July, August, September) 1854 to George White and his wife Ann (nee Hobson). She was baptised on 11 March 1855 at St Mary's church in Barnsley Town centre. As baptisms at St Paul's in Monk Bretton began in 1839 I suggest that the family was not living in Monk Bretton in 1855 or they would have used that church. Her parents were married on 14 May 1854 at Silkstone and it doesn't require much counting on your fingers to work out that Jane was well on the way by that time. Indeed, that might be the reason for the delay in her baptism, to allow a more respectable period to elapse between wedding day and the baptism.  Sadly on both marriage and baptism records 'abode' is recorded simply as Barnsley. 

Jane's family were living on Low Street in Monk Bretton by the time the census was taken on 7 April 1861 and her grandparents were in the Pheasant Inn in 1861 and 1871. We know that Jane was living with her grandparents at the time of her death, but also that she regularly visited her mother, so there was no disagreement or break up in their family. I thought that in 1871 Jane's parents would still in the Philip Inn at Burton Bridge as noted in the reports of her death, but there is no address against their census listing and her father is recorded as a Bleacher (but that doesn't mean he or his wife couldn't have been running a beerhouse on the side). The family were recorded in the Cudworth census returns three households beyond Providence Place and two households before the Post Office. The direction in which the enumerator walked to collect the census schedules is further evidenced by the fourth entry beyond the Post Office being the Star Inn. I had a look at the old maps online and I suggest the enumerator walked downhill from the Methodist Chapel to the Star.  I actually live opposite and slightly below the Star in Cudworth myself and am familiar with the geography, but on the 1892/3 maps there was, as yet, no sign of housing on the other side of the road or beyond than the Star until you reached the railway bridge at the foot of the hill.

1893 map of part of Cudworth from Old Maps

In the map snip above you can see the Star Inn at the bottom, with not even the beginnings of Bloemfontein Street on the opposite side of the main road (the name is a clue ... it was built after the Boer War, 1899-1902).  The Post Office is a hundred yards or so higher up the main road, and I suggest that Providence Place was the short row of terraced houses which curves right off the road, just above the Post Office.  The next side road up is Bow Street - called that, we assume, because it curves roughly around and comes out again opposite the chapel. I know there was also a Wright's Yard and a Guest's Yard in the same area, all just off the main Barnsley Road. None of the maps available online are of a large enough scale to name the individual terraces and yards. Very few of these houses still stand. I noticed, on a walk up to the Methodist Chapel earlier this week, that two of the houses in the terrace across from the Methodist Chapel have a name and date stone - Gladstone Cottages A.D. 1893, probably the two that lie at a slight angle to the road, so that terrace was built later the period I am interested in. Cudworth was still a very small village in 1871 with a population of 657 people according to the census summary books.

Compare the map above to this snip from the 1931 map of the same part of Cudworth. Look how much Cudworth has filled out! The population in 1931 was 9377 people, more than 14x the number in 1871.

1931 map snip of Cudworth from Old Maps

The Miners' Welfare Ground has been laid out and was officially opened in 1932, Bloemfontein Street has appeared, Prospect Street has been named just above the Star and Bow Street clearly bends around to meet the street above the little row I think might be Providence Place. On this map, it looks as if it might consist of back to back houses although they could be little gardens fronting onto the narrow street. The Post Office has moved across the main road and slightly higher up. All the far side of Barnsley Road is now filled with houses and shops.

How did this compare to where Jane's parents had lived in 1870?

1893 map snip of Burton Bridge from Old Maps

The cluster of housing in Cudworth described above is about a mile from Burton Bridge, which is down the main road past the Star, past the Cudworth railway bridge (removed only recently) along Burton Road (the area known as Klondyke) and the modern Fire Station and over the railway bridge shown on the right in the snip above. So Jane's parents were not running the Philip Inn anymore. The main features at Burton Bridge in 1893 were a large mill complex, the canal and two railway lines with a spur leading to the mill. I can only see one drinking establishment at Burton Bridge on the 1893 map above, the Bridge Inn, (now the Old Bridge Inn as there is no longer a bridge or a canal there).  I have found Burton Bridge in the 1871 census and the only public house or inn was the Bridge Inn run by Thomas and Mary Kenyon. There was no drinking establishment recorded in Burton Bridge in the 1861 census or the 1851 census. It appears that either the Philip Inn was a very short lived establishment or it was renamed the Bridge Inn.

All of Jane's six younger siblings are at home with her parents in Cudworth in 1871, four brothers and two very young sisters. This is relevant, I'll come back to it later. 

Jane White's Sixteen Female Pallbearers

This is what I could discover about Jane's bearers. I searched for them in the 1861 and 1871 census returns assuming they all lived in Monk Bretton or nearby. If I could not find them that way I tried looking at baptisms in the area and marriage records for girls by those names. I have given estimates for their ages at the funeral in 1870 based on the census information. My assumption was that they would all be unmarried girls close to Jane's age (15, almost 16 at the time of her death).

  • Mary Wilkinson - could be Mary L Wilkinson aged 18 (in 1870) and recorded as working in the Bleach Works in 1871. She is the only girl on the list who was listed working in any other job besides domestic servant.
  • Selina Hobson - there was no Selina Hobson living in Monk Bretton or Barnsley, but there was a Sarah Hobson aged 21 born in Goldthorpe or Rawmarsh living with her relatives in Monk Bretton in 1871. She was the cousin of Mary Hobson, named further down the list. This family had been in Rawmarsh in 1861, and based on the places of birth of the children had moved to Monk Bretton after 1867. Sarah would have been about 20 years old when Jane died. There was also a Sarah Selina Hobson baptised in Worsborough in 1849 according to a transcript on Ancestry, but when I checked that on the original records on Find My Past she turned out to be Sarah Selina Watson (how on earth did someone transcribe Watson as Hobson?)
  • Emma Winscot  - there was an Emma Winscott in Monk Bretton in 1861, when she was an unemployed servant. By 1870 she would have been 26 years old, however as she had married (as Emma Wainscot aged 24 from Monk Bretton) to an older widowed man in May 1868, this cannot be the right girl unless she gave her maiden name to the newspaper reporter? In their family in 1881 is an Mary Anne Wilcock who was baptised on 7 July 1869 at Monk Bretton, perfectly reasonable timing after their marriage, but also with the family in 1881 was Anne Wilcock one year older who was baptised on the same day. Why the similar names? Why the delay in baptising Anne, who must have been born shortly after their marriage (allowing for the conception of Mary Anne in September or October 1868)? I suggest that Emma Winscot was expecting Anne when she married - I have come across the phenomenon of a pregnant girl being married to an older man, especially a widower with children, before.
  • Emma Smith - there was a girl by this name in Monk Bretton in 1871 when she was a domestic servant, she would have been 20 in 1870. 

  • Sarah Ann Oxley - there was a seven year old by this name in Monk Bretton in 1861, so she would have been 16 in 1870. Quite close in age to Jane White and she lived right next door to the Pheasant Inn, so very likely to be a friend. She might be a domestic servant in Worsborough in 1871 although the birth places in the census returns don't match. This girl marries in Royston in 1884 giving her address as Monk Bretton.
  • Emma Slater - who was also an unemployed servant (was there a glut of servant girls in 1871 or was the occupation only just beginning to be recorded in the census returns?) would have been 21 years old in 1870.  In 1861 her family lived in Pheasant Fold which was a group of six dwellings adjacent to the Pheasant Inn. 
1893 map of part of Monk Bretton showing the Pheasant Inn (from Old Maps)

[Monk Bretton changed very little between the 1890s and the 1930s, but none of the maps available online are large enough in scale to name the various closes and terraces. The 1962 map is a larger scale but by then most of the older houses have been cleared for council bungalows and neat new terraces.]

  • Emily Wilson - probably the six year old butcher's daughter in Monk Bretton in 1861, so 15 by the time of Jane's death. She may be a servant at the parsonage in Dodworth in 1871 though again the places of birth given in 1861 and 1871 don't match. Did the householders not bother to ask their servants where they were born before they filled in their returns, or did the girls just not understand the question? "Where are you from?" could be open to wide interpretation.
  • Susannah Balmforth - no results for this girl in 1861 or 1871, but I did find a girl by that name in 1851 in Monk Bretton. She was enumerated as Bamforth in '61 and '71. She would have been 22 years old at the time of the funeral and a servant in the household of an Attorney's Clerk in Barnsley town centre.
  • Mary Helliwell - although there are two girls by this name in Monk Bretton in 1871 one is closer in age to Jane White. The daughter of a widow from Wakefield, who was a recipient of the Oak's Relief Fund (so her husband had died in the 1866 disaster) this Mary Helliwell was a domestic servant in 1871 and would have been 16 at the time of Jane's funeral. Given the surgeon's comments on Jane's sexual conduct it is worth noting that in the Helliwell household there was a one year old grandchild Kate Helliwell, apparently illegitimate, and born in Monk Bretton. Mary had an older sister Charlotte, who was 23 in 1871, so quite a bit older than Jane. Charlotte married in 1876 still claiming to be 23 years old, probably because her husband, Alfred Richings was only 21. Having an illegitimate child in the 1870s was apparently not a completely insurmountable problem - Charlotte's husband appears to have taken Kate into his home according to the 1881 census return. Sadly Kate turns up in Wakefield Prison for vagrancy with prostitution in 1886 aged just 16 after Alfred divorced Charlotte for 'divers cases' of adultery in 1883/4. I can only hope Mary learnt from her sister's example and had a less complicated life, sadly I cannot trace her further as her name is quite common in the Barnsley area.
  • Charlotte Bury - no results for this girl in 1861 or 1871. The broad searches didn't help on Ancestry so I tried Find My Past instead. Got a hit on a 22 year old Charlotte Berry in 1871 in Monk Bretton, unfortunately it turned out to be a mis-transcription. Charlotte was actually the wife and mother and 45 years old in 1871. She doesn't fit the profile of the other pallbearers. There are two daughters, Eliza aged 22 and Elizabeth aged 19 who might fit the bill if the names got mixed up?
  • Eliza Edson - found an Eliza Eadson in 1861 who would have been 21 at the time of Jane's funeral. But I can't find her or her family in 1871 on Ancestry. Find My Past helpfully pointed to the 1851 census for the family, also in Monk Bretton, I hadn't spotted that Eliza's father Francis (b. 1812/13 in Pateley Bridge, near Harrogate) was widowed by 1861. I assume the family had split up by 1871 after the children were old enough to work. Going back to Ancestry for a wider search I found Eliza Edson in a public online tree - apparently she had married in December 1870 and moved to Doncaster and then Bradford. One of her brothers died in December 1866 .... that was suspicious. I was not surprised to see, on checking his burial record, that he was killed in the Oaks Colliery Disaster. Referring to an online list of the men killed in the disaster,  apparently five (yes, five!!) Edsons died in the disaster. More about the Edsons and the Oaks Colliery can be found at the end of this post.
  • Martha Wroe - this was probably the daughter of John Wroe, Hand Loom Weaver, in Monk Bretton in 1851, 61 and 71 (although his name is spelt Roe in 1851 and Row in 1861). She would have been 20 years old at Jane's funeral. Martha was herself listed as a Hand Loom Weaver in 1871, but married the following year at Monk Bretton giving no occupation and stating that her father (unnamed) was dead. Hand loom weaving was on the decline as machine looms became more widely used.
  • Martha Ann Barraclough - no relation despite Jane White's grandmother's maiden name being Barraclough. Martha was born in Leeds in 1856, but the family were in Monk Bretton by 1861. She would have been 15 when Jane died, and was recorded as a domestic servant in 1871.
  • Mary Hobson - there was no-one by this name in Monk Bretton in 1861 or 1871 according to Ancestry. There was only one Hobson family in Monk Bretton in 1871 and they had been living in Rawmarsh near Rotherham in 1861.  At that time a daughter called Mary, aged 8 years, born in Sheffield, was listed in their family. The Hobson family moved to Monk Bretton between census returns giving ample time for Mary to have met Jane. She would have been 17 at the time of Jane's death. She may be a Linen Weaver boarding in Barnsley town centre in 1871. This is the same family mentioned above who had a niece, Sarah Hobson, living with them in Monk Brettton in 1871.
  • Phoebe Gaunt - there was no family named Gaunt living in Monk Bretton in 1861 or 1871. The closest I can find is Phebe Gaunt who was a domestic servant in Dodworth in 1861, aged 13, making her 22 when Jane died. If this is the same girl who married in Dodworth in 1873 there is no evidence that her family had ever lived in Monk Bretton. I suppose she may have known one of the other girls through their domestic work and been a friend of Jane's at one remove.
  • Helen Hammerton - Ancestry lists several Hammerton families in 1861 or 1871, all in Barnsley town centre, but none of them have a daughter called Helen. However Find My Past found an Ellen Hammerton aged 8 in 1861 born in Worsborough, who was a domestic servant in the centre of Barnsley aged 18 in 1871. She would have been about 17 years old when Jane died. Again this may have been a girl who knew a girl who knew Jane ... I don't know why she didn't come up on my search of Ancestry the first time, as once I knew her father's name I found her on there straightaway in 1861 in Worsborough. It is possible that Ancestry's algorithms don't include Worsborough in searches for Barnsley?

After considering all the above I conclude that the young women who acted as pallbearers at the funeral of Jane White in 1870 were young women with a wider spread of ages than I had expected. From Jane's age (15) and up to seven years older. None of the sixteen were appear to have been related to Jane. Most had left home by 1871 to take up posts as servants. Of those who were at home, some were recorded on the 1871 census as unemployed domestic servants suggesting they were between positions. Monk Bretton was a small village in 1871, and most girls moved into Barnsley town centre for positions. If I have found the correct girls they didn't all come from Monk Bretton originally - some may have been connections of families who did live there, or the search to find a sufficiently 'respectable' number of pallbearers may have stretched far beyond Monk Bretton with a message for suitable young women sent out via a network of domestic servants. 

Most of the young women married within a few years of Jane's funeral, one appears to have married just before Jane died, if so her maiden name was given to the newspaper. There does not seem to be much evidence that pre-marital sex was common amongst these girls, although one had a sister who had 'got into trouble' in this way and the girl who was married by 1870 appears to have been pregnant at her marriage. Tracing the girls and their sisters further in the historical records and looking for more information in the newspapers might change my opinion of this, as I am well aware that pre-maritial pregnancy, as long as it was swiftly followed by marriage, was not wholly condemned at the time.

I would also like to search the newspapers (if only I had the time) for other lists of female pallbearers like this - but I suppose they were only reported when the deaths were particularly newsworthy, as Jane's had been.

I had not realised that female pallbearers and the participation of young women and girls at funerals was commonplace in earlier centuries. When funerals of wealthy or well known men were covered in the local newspapers (which are those most frequently reported) women seemed to take a very background role. It appears that I must re-adjust my thinking when considering the funerals of young single women and of children. 

Thank you for reading, I hope you found it interesting.

Keep reading for more information on the Oaks Colliery connection to pallbearer Eliza Edson follows.

 Additional findings - Investigating a False Lead in a Newspaper Article

At the very end of the Barnsley Independent article reporting Jane's funeral was this little snippet.

Barnsley Independent, 4 June 1870, p.2.

I was momentarily excited when I first read this, thinking, more Oaks Colliery Disaster casualties in the OH's family! - and I rushed to find an online list of the names of the dead in 1866.  But there was not a single White amongst them. Then I remembered that Jane was the eldest child in her family, if she was 15 in 1870 there was only a small chance of her younger brothers being old enough to work down the pit four years previously, and besides, as I commented above they were still all present and correct in Cudworth in 1871. So I dropped that investigation and returned to my original topic, an investigation of female pallbearers (although I was quite disappointed not to have found another family connection to the Oaks Disaster).

Once I had done more of the research into the young women pallbearers it became clear that the paragraph may have referred to Eliza Edson's brothers.  Should it have read, "Two brothers of the deceased's bearer Eliza Edson, who lost their lives at the Oaks, were also buried on the last Sunday of May"? However the two Edsons buried on 30 May 1869 (which was the last Sunday in May that year) were NOT Eliza's brothers, but may have been her cousins. It is also possible that some of the other pallbearers had brothers who were killed. After all, there were hundreds of casualties, many from the Monk Bretton area. One girl seems to have lost her father. I wonder if that paragraph was edited to fit the available space and thus lost its intended meaning.

Summary of the Five Edson men Killed in the Oaks Colliery Disaster (base data from the Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership project website).

Edson, John  [This is definitely Eliza Edson's brother]
Role:     Hurrier                 Age:     20
Born:     Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England
Lived:     Back Lane, Monk Bretton
Buried:     23/08/1868        Burial Location:     St. Paul, Monk Bretton,

Edson, George [Son of Thomas and Ann Edson - Thomas born Pateley Bridge like Francis so this may be Eliza's cousin]
Role:     Hurrier                Age:     21
Born:     Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England
Lived:     Back Lane, Monk Bretton
Buried:     30/05/1869        Burial Location:     St. Paul, Monk Bretton,

Edson, William [This is definitely Eliza Edson's brother]
Role:     Hurrier                Age:     25
Born:     Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England
Lived:     Back Lane, Monk Bretton
Buried:     16/12/1866        Burial Location:     St. Paul, Monk Bretton,

Edson, William [This could be another son of Thomas and Ann Edson, see above. It was noted in the burial register that he was buried in same grave as the William Edson above]
Role:     Miner                Age:     25
Born:     Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England
Lived:     Barnsley
Buried:     16/12/1866           Burial Location:     St. Paul, Monk Bretton,

Edson, John [Probably another son of Thomas and Ann Edson]
Role:     Miner                Age:     27
Born:     Monk Bretton, Yorkshire, England
Lived:     East Square, Monk Bretton
Buried:     30/05/1869            Burial Location:     St. Paul, Monk Bretton,

Trying to make sense of that final paragraph of the report on Jane White's funeral by researching all the Oaks Colliery connections to the female pallbearers would take another whole week's worth (at least) of research, so I will let it go for now. 

Thanks again for keeping reading!

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Public Engagement - Reactions to First World War Local History Posts on Facebook

Today I was very happy when a couple of posts I made on Facebook produced information useful for my research. 

As part of the research for my PhD I have been searching through the local newspapers on Find My Past for mentions of war memorials, rolls of honour and other types of physical commemoration. The search term 'memorial' is proving very productive as it brings back 'memory' and 'memories' as well. Following up a lead from an 'In Memoriam' notice in 1929 I found this report in the Mexborough and Swinton Times (MST) from June 1958. 

MST, 7 June 1958, p. 16.

This article is a report of the donation of a number of small pieces of furniture to All Saints Church at Darfield, near Barnsley. The report notes that they were 'gifts from various parishioners in memory of parents and relatives'. The last item listed was a small oak table presented by 'Mrs. Greenhow in memory of her husband Mr. Albert Greenhow, who was killed in the war'.

I was already familiar with this little table, you can find a post about it here. My husband had spotted and photographed the table in 2014 when I was giving a local history talk at the Darfield Parish Hall in aid of the work of the Friends of Darfield Churchyard. When I found the cutting I was surprised at the length of time (nearly 40 years) that had elapsed before his wife had marked his death with this donation.

Being a tangible item in commemoration of a conflict the table was a war memorial and thus was listed and recorded by the Barnsley War Memorials Project. Albert Greenhow is also commemorated the website (now the Barnsley & District War Memorials website) on the Wombwell war memorial outside St Mary's Church, on a family gravestone in Darfield Churchyard and (oddly) on a Second World War Memorial in Wombwell Working Men's Club (this is a mistake, as he died in 1918, it may be his nephew, Arthur Greenhow, ... I must investigate that). 

As a result of finding this cutting I decided to investigate Albert Greenhow in more depth. I looked up census returns on Ancestry and found his marriage register entry on Find My Past. I searched for any children born to Albert and his wife Elinor (nee Williams) on the General Record Office Online Indexes to Births and Deaths. I looked up his Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) record and his Pension Cards via the Western Front Association website plus any other military records for him that could be found on Ancestry. Sadly his Army Service Record had not survived. Finally I searched for any more newspaper cuttings mentioning his name.

Albert was born in Darfield in 1889. His father was a coal miner and Albert worked down the pit himself in 1911. He married in St Matthew's Church in Darfield in June 1911. St Matthew's was a daughter and mission church attached to Darfield All Saints. By 1913 Albert was working as a motor bus driver and he enlisted in approximately July 1916 (calculated from the gratuity paid to his wife at the end of the war). He served as a lorry driver in the Army Service Corps, and was attached to the Canadian Corps Siege Park (a kind of motor pool for moving artillery from place to place). He was killed on either 2nd or 3rd October 1918 in action in France. Elinor did not remarry, and she died in 1965.

I posted my initial findings and the cutting about the donation of the table on the Barnsley's History - The Great War Facebook page. Within a few hours a member had replied that the Greenhows were family friends and he had photographed Albert's CWGC gravestone for them in 2019. He even attached the photograph to his reply. Another member commented that like her own grandmother, Elinor had been widowed at a very young age. 

I wrote up my full post that afternoon, including some newspaper cuttings and the photo of Albert's gravestone and commemorative table. I had decided to make a feature of the long duration of Elinor's dedication to Albert's memory. She appears to have inserted an 'In Memoriam' post for him every year from 1919 to at least 1935 (subject to confirmation as not every year of the MST or its sister newspapers (which often contain the same articles and notices) the Penistone, Stocksbridge and Hoyland Express and the Eckington, Woodhouse and Staveley Express are available online yet). I included two notices which gave her address and one which I had found particularly moving - the final line before the sign-off was, 'God's Greatest Gift - Remembrance'.

Eckington, Woodhouse and Staveley Express, 6 October 1928, p. 16.

The following morning, I reviewed and spell checked the post and then published it online on my Barnsley's History - Commemoration & Remembrance blog and added a link to the Facebook page.  Comments this time included a lady who commented that she had found Elinor's story of love and her life after Albert's death fascinating, especially as she was aware that so many war widows had quickly remarried to avoid poverty.  The man who had posted the CWGC photo the previous day had been inspired to visit Darfield Churchyard that afternoon (I hope he waited until it had cooled down a bit - we are currently having a major heat wave) and tidy up the grave plot where Albert is remembered. He attached two more photos, one of the whole plot and one a close up of Albert's inscription. I thanked him and asked for permission to use them on the B&DWM site, which he gave very quickly.

The Williams Family plot in Darfield Churchyard
Photo by MH, taken 19 July 2021.

As you can see above, Albert is not remembered on a Greenhow plot, but on a Williams plot. Mary Harriet and William Williams were Elinor's parents. The family must have thought a great deal of Albert to have included him in their commemorations.

My correspondent also noted that the Darfield Remembers: The First World War book contains a transcription of a letter sent to Elinor from Albert's section officer. I had to explain that although I have the book, because I was visiting my daughter and new granddaughter for a fortnight, the book was about 100 miles away! A short while afterwards the same man added a newspaper photograph of Albert taken from a local history website. It turned out that this page also included extracts from the letter to Elinor and gave a newspaper reference - MST,  26 October 1918. As this newspaper is on Find My Past (FMP) I could not understand why it hadn't come up on my searches the previous day. So I had a look at the British Newspaper Archive, which is the same company as FMP, has the same newspaper issues  but uses a slightly different search format.

Index entry for the article about Albert Greenhow on the BNA

The above transcription snip shows that Albert's surname had been mis-transcribed as Oreenhow! No wonder I hadn't found it. Helpfully the BNA search engine also gives you the page reference so I could go straight to the right page on FMP. The article was quite long, included a photo and a very full transcription of the letter I had been told about. At the end of the piece about Albert was a short paragraph about Pte. Edward Williams, of Stoneyford Road, Low Valley. This was Elinor's brother!

MST, 26 October 1918, p. 6.

My previous research had shown that after the war Elinor, Edward and his wife were all living at 65 Stoneyford Road. I wonder if Elinor had moved in to help support her sister-in-law? Although this is straying away from my original research it would be interesting to know if Edward had children, or if his internal complaint continued to bother him after the war, necessitating assistance from his sister.

What I have learnt:

Share research with other people with an interest in the subject - they may be able to help you with your research or point you in the direction of other useful sources.

Try alternative search engines when looking for online resources.

Writing about something that is at quite a tangent to my main PhD aims is not a waste of time if it helps highlight a particular aspect, such as a very long period of remembrance for a man killed in the war. 

Always check the original, neither the Darfield History Society or the Dearne Valley History people had spotted that at the foot of Albert's obituary was a piece about his brother in law, and they had only published edited extracts of the letter from the officer reported in the newspaper article.

Not all war widows remarried.

Families provided support both emotional (there were a lot of 'In Memoriam' notices for Albert posted by both his and her family in 1919) and physical - Elinor living with her brother for reasons yet to be determined - after the war.

Check other people's posts on the older websites for errors due to lack of knowledge at the time - the plot in Darfield Churchyard where Albert was remembered was not that of Albert's parents, but his parents-in-law. And the Albert Greenhow on the Second World War memorial in Darfield Village Club has been incorrectly linked to the First World War Albert - it is probably his nephew.

What I might do with this knowledge:

Would research into 'In Memoriam' notices be a unique and significant contribution to knowledge about Remembrance processes?

Were any of the other items donated at the same time as Albert Greenhow's table also war memorials?