Dawson

Married 88 years ago today

On 14 November 1922 my paternal grandparents were married at the Parish Church of Cononley in Yorkshire.

St John's Church, Cononley, North Yorkshire

Joseph Dawson was 19 and Alice Hurtley was 22.

Joseph’s occupation is listed as “engine cleaner”. His father James Dawson (see photograph in my gallery) was a “warp dresser”. There is no occupation shown for Alice and her father, James Hurtley is shown as a “farmer”.

The witnesses were James Dawson (Joseph’s brother) and Maggie Hurtley (Alice’s sister).

Joseph and Alice had two sons – Harry and Graham (my dad).

Grandad Joe and his work mates

As far as I know Joseph (or Joe as he was known) spent all his working life on the railway. As the marriage certificate shows he was an “engine cleaner” which is probably how he started. He worked on the railway during the golden age of steam and I know he was a fireman and a driver.

In the photograph Joe is standing up with his arms folded.  I don’t know when, where or why this photograph was taken – but I like it.

At some point Joe and Alice moved away from the Keighley area of West Yorkshire to Rotherham in South Yorkshire. That’s where my dad was born. They moved there because of Joe’s work on the railway. He worked for the London Midland & Scottish Railway company and then for British Rail after the railway was nationalised at the end of 1947.

Eventually Joe and Alice moved back to West Yorkshire and lived in Leeds.

Joe retired from the railway in the late 1960′s. I haven’t been able to track down his employment records yet – that’s on my “to do list”.

I’m not too sure about Alice’s working life. I do remember that she worked in the local newsagents / post office for many years on the estate where they lived in Leeds.

After retirement from the railway Joe had a part time job working sweeping up in the cloth room of the John Collier factory in Leeds. At that time in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s John Collier was still a big name in the clothing industry of West Yorkshire and was famous for made to measure men’s suits.

My first job after leaving school in 1969 was working in that same cloth room with my grandad. My job at the tender age of sixteen was hauling the rolls of cloth from the shelves and taking them to the “cutters” to cut out the suit lengths and taking the roll of cloth back to the storage shelves.

Joe passed away in July 1978 and Alice in May 1987.

Happy anniversary Joe and Alice.

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas’s Tale

I guess there is nothing remarkable about this tombstone.  It’s not especially grand or pretentious in any way.  The tombstone is at the grave of Thomas Dawson and his wife Sarah (Cowgill).

There isn’t any glowing eulogy – just a simple message In Memory of.  Is anything else really necessary?

As you will see from the photograph (apologies for the poor quality) Thomas was born in 1863 in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire.  He is my 2nd cousin 3x removed.  He had a sister, Sarah born c1857.  Their mother was Priscilla Dawson.  I haven’t been able to find any evidence of who the father was.

Thomas worked in the local mill as a cotton warp dresser and his sister Sarah worked as a cotton weaver.

In 1888 at the age of about 25 Thomas married Sarah Cowgill, a local girl from the same village.  They had two sons, Watson (named after his great grandfather) born c1892 and Ernest born c1896.

I get a real sense that this little family unit stuck together and relied on each other.  The census returns show that right up to 1901 Thomas, his wife and two sons, and sister Sarah were living with Priscilla.

Within seven years three of them would die.

Priscilla died in 1903 about a year after her daughter Sarah.  Thomas passed away in 1908 at the age of 45 and after only 20 years of marriage.

The remarkable thing about this story for me is that Sarah lived a further 42 years until 1950 and died at the age of about 86.

I hadn’t bothered to get a copy of Thomas’s death certificate but writing this post has persuaded me to send off for it.  I am interested to see what caused his death at such a young age.  I know times were hard in those days yet Sarah lived a long life and, I assume, raised two sons on her own.

Happy 210th birthday grandma

Today in 1800 my 3xgreat grandma was born.  So join with me and a raise a glass or two to clebrate the 210th birthday of Margaret Snowden.

Margaret was born in the West Yorkshire village of Cowling – situated on the road between Keighley and Colne.  The road crosses the Yorkshire – Lancashire border.  Back in 1800 the main road through the village was still a dozen years away.  The building of it was said to be under the supervision of Blind Jack of Knaresborough, who constructed roads throughout Yorkshire.

Here’s a couple of links to websites about Cowling village.

http://www.cowlingweb.co.uk/about/about_cowling.asp

http://www.moon-rakers.co.uk/wordpress/

Cowling is an important part of my family history and will get regular mentions in future posts.

Anyway back to Margaret.  She married Thomas Dawson on 2nd September 1819.  They had nine children between 1819 and 1840.  On the census returns Margaret is always shown simply as “wife”.  That really doesn’t do her justice does it.  Thomas was mainly employed as a cotton warp dresser (see explanation below) all his working life.  So Margaret would have been responsible for the house – I really can’t imagine what it must have been like to raise nine children in rural England in the mid 19th century.

I suspect that their homes were really quite small cottages built near the local mills – which is where Thomas probably worked.

A warp dresser is someone who prepared the long worsted threads for weaving. This consisted of sizing the warp threads with "paps" - a flour and water mix – which strengthened the warp threads and lessened the possibility of them breaking during weaving.

In 1800 King George III was still on the throne, John Adams was well into his presidential term in the USA and in Europe, Napoleon was about to start throwing his weight about.

I can't let a post about the Snowden family go without mentioning Viscount Philip Snowden who was born in Cowling in 1864. He was a British politician and the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. I know I may be clutching at straws but I am hoping that I can eventually find a family connection to this famous son of Cowling – even if it is only by distant marriage. Watch this space!!

Here's a link to more information

http://www.cowlingweb.co.uk/local_history/cowling_people/philip_snowden.asp

Happy Birthday Margaret.

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog about my family history.  I have been researching my family for about 16 years now.  I haven’t found anyone famous or even infamous – yet!  Just good solid working folk.

Some pages have information already and others are work in progress.

I hope you will find my stories sometimes interesting and ocassionally humorous.  All comments welcome.

Let me hear from you especially if your name is Dawson, Musgrove, Hurtley, Paley….or any of the other family names that crop up in future.