Tombstone Tuesday – William and Elizabeth Dawson

This gravestone is in the grounds of Holy Trinity church, Cowling, West Yorkshire.  The stone marks the resting place of William Dawson and his wife Elizabeth (nee Bracewell).

William is my 2nd cousin 3x removed.  He was born in Cowling on 13 June 1851.  His parents were James Wright Dawson (1825-1893) and Mary Thompson (1825-1891).  He was the third of five children.  The other children were – Thompson (c1846), Alice (c1848), Dinah (5 May 1853) and Martha (22 September 1857)

In the 1861 census William is living at home with his parents and siblings at an address in Middleton (a part of Cowling which at that time was not much more than two rows of terrace cottages).  At the age of 9 he is shown as a scholar.

The 1871 census has the family still living in Middleton, although I can’t say whether or not they are in the same house as neither census shows a house number.  William is working as a “worsted weaver” as are his sisters Dinah and Martha.  The two older children have moved out by this time.

Elizabeth Bracewell was born about 1852/1853.  The first time she appears on the census with William is 1881 and her place of birth is recorded as Cowling.  I haven’t been able to locate a birth for an Elizabeth Bracewell in Cowling or any other nearby Yorkshire town around that time.

I have found an Elizabeth Bracewell on the 1861 and 1871 census returns for Great Marsden, Lancashire.  This is not too far from Cowling and I know that families regularly moved across the Yorkshire/Lancashire border to live and work.  So I am making an assumption here that this is the right person.  Of course I could obtain the marriage certificate for William and Elizabeth and this would go a long way to resolving this for me.

Anyway, William and Elizabeth married sometime in Q4 of 1875.  The marriage is registered in Skipton, North Yorkshire.

The 1881 census has them living at Well House in the village of Glusburn, about two or three miles from Cowling.  William is working as a “farmer of 39 acres” and they have one son, John William who is 11 months old.

The 1891 census shows the family are still living at Well House and William continues to work as a “farmer”.  Two more children have been born now – Martha Ann (c1882) and Freddie (c1885).  All three children are “scholars”.

Elizabeth died on 27 November 1895 at the young age of 42.  I haven’t obtained a death certificate so I have no information as to the cause of death.

Dover Street, Nelson, LancashireBy the time of the 1901 census William has given up farming and has moved to 16 Dover Street, Nelson, Lancashire (second house from the left in the photograph).  He is now working as a “cotton weaver”.  Two children, Martha Ann and Freddy are still at home and they are also working as “cotton weavers”.

Sometime in the next ten years William returned to farming.  In the 1911 census he is living at Lane Head Farm, Laneshawbridge, Colne, Lancashire.  William is shown as a “retired farmer”.

His son John William is single and living back at home working as a “dairy farmer” – I am assuming that he is now running the farm.  Also living there is William’s daughter Martha Ann and her husband, John Williamson and their two children William Henry (7) and Mary E (2).  Martha is shown as “housekeeper” while her husband is working as a “cotton warp dresser”.

This is the last information about William and he died on 29 January 1920.


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