Month: September 2011

Sunday’s Obituary – John Gawthrop (1853-1924)

I first wrote about John Gawthrop last October.  He is my 1st cousin 2x removed.

John became a Wesleyan Minister and since last October I discovered that the Methodist archives are held at the John Ryland’s University Library in Manchester.  I did some research about the material held at the library.  Unfortunately there are no records of John’s sermons or any other personal papers.

However I was able to access his entry in the Methodist Who’s Who.  I was also able to get a list of all the places he served as a minister from something called the Hill’s Arrangements.  Finally I was able to obtain a copy of his obituary from the 1924 Methodist Conference minutes.

The library have strict rules about using the material from the archives.  Whilst I was permitted to photograph the documents I am not allowed to publish or share them.  I can however transcribe the documents.

According to the Hill’s Arrangements published in 1922 show that John began his ministry in 1886 and finished in 1922.  Here is the list of all the places he worked.

Year Place Length of time
1886 Halifax 3 years
1889 Bedford 3 years
1892 Coventry 3 years
1895 Louth 3 years
1898 Leeds Mission 1 year
1899 Kirkby Stephen 4 years
1903 Huntingdonshire Misc. 4 years
1907 Louth 3 years
1910 Gainsborough 3 years
1913 Gloucester 6 years
1919 Bristol 3 years
1922 Huntingdonshire Misc.

The John Ryland’s library have a 1914 copy of the Methodist Who’s Who and I was able to photograph the entry for John Gawthrop.  I also found the 1912 Who’s Who at which I was able to download as a PDF document.

John died on 19 May 1924 and his obituary is recorded in the minutes of the Methodist Conference held later that year.


John Gawthrop: born at Cowling in Yorkshire in 1853.  His conversion filled him with an intense love for every kind of Christian evangelism.  He became a local preacher, and for six years served as a Lay Evangelist.  He was accepted as a Candidate, and after a term at Headingley College entered the Ministry in 1886.  He served six years as District Evangelist, and throughout his life spent himself utterly in the work of saving souls.  His name is held dear by very many in all parts of the country whom he led to Christ.  In 1922 he was obliged to retire through ill-health to Great Paxton, near St. Neots.  He was unable to preach, but loved God’s house greatly.  His light burned and shone even in his affliction.  The last months were spent in much pain till on May 19, 1924, he passed home in the seventy-second year of his age and the thirty-eighth of his ministry.

I am glad that I have been able to find out a bit more about John and to share it with you.

On this day … 17th September

1884 … John Musgrove died in Clitheroe, Lancashire.  He is my 2x great grandfather.

1909 … Fred Espley was born at Smallthorne in Staffordshire to parents Daniel Owen Espley and Betsy Skelding.  He is my wife’s father.

1945 … John William Dawson was buried at Holy Trinity church, Cowling, West Yorkshire.  He is my 3rd cousin 2x removed.

On this day … 5th September

1802 … Jane Nightingale was born in Dewsbury to parents Thomas Nightingale and Ann Wigglesworth.

1840 … Elizabeth Dawson was born to parents John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. She is my 1st cousin 4x removed.

1950 … Mary Jane Spink died. She is my 1st cousin 3x removed.

Military Monday – Prince Dawson (1893-1915)

 Prince Dawson is my 1st cousin 2x removed – in other words he is my granddad’s cousin.  He was born sometime in the third quarter of 1893 in Keighley, West Yorkshire, to parents John Dawson and Elizabeth Bradley.

I have found Prince, his parents and siblings on the 1901 census and in 1911 when he is working as an iron plainer.

Fortunately for me has a copy of Prince’s WW1 service records and they are in pretty good condition so I can work out quite a lot of information about him.

I know that he enlisted for four years in Keighley on 28th September 1914 about eight weeks after Britain declared war on Germany on 4th August.

According to the medical report Prince was not a very tall chap – in fact he was only 5 feet 4 inches.  He had normal vision and good physical development.

His first posting was to the 2/6th Battalion of The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) – part of the Territorial Force.  His regimental number was 2757.  The 2/6th was formed at Skipton in September 1914 as a home service (“second line”) unit.

On Christmas Day 1914 he was transferred to the 1/6th Battalion The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment).

Prince remained billeted in Doncaster until April 1915.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for Prince and all the other troops waiting to be shipped to France.

Anyway the day eventually came and he embarked from Southampton on 13th April 1915 and landed at Le Havre on 14th April 1915.  The 1/6th then became the 147th Brigade of the 49th (West Riding) Division.

By the 19th April the Division had concentrated in the area of Estaires – Merville – Neuf Berquin.  They remained in France and Flanders and took part in The Battle of Aubers Ridge (9th May 1915) and the defence against the first Phosgene attack (19th December 1915).

I can see from Prince’s medical record that he was admitted to the field hospital on 25th June 1915 with diarrhea.  He rejoined his unit the following day.

The next available information shows that Prince was wounded in action with gas poisoning on 19th December 1915 – the first day of the Phosgene attack mentioned above.  He was admitted to hospital at Paris-Plage but died at 5.50pm on 21st December 1915.

The following extract is from the book “Craven’s Part in The Great War” by John T Clayton (editor of the Craven Herald, Skipton).

On the 22nd December 1915 a telegraph was received at the Territorial Force Records Office in York notifying them of Prince’s death with instructions to “inform relatives”.  I don’t know when the knock on the door came or when the family telegraph arrived but you can bet it was a lousy Christmas in the Dawson house that year.

Just over two month’s later on the 1st March 1916 the War Office at St. James’s Park, London wrote to the Territorial Force Records Office asking them to despatch any of Prince’s personal property in their possession to Mr John Dawson at 42 High Street, Steeton, Keighley.

The next document is dated 7th March 1916 and is a signed acknowledgement from John for Prince’s effects which included a badge, belt, cig case, knife (pocket), letters, 2 pencils, photos and wallet.

I felt really sad when I came across that document and was left wondering how John and Elizabeth must have felt.

Prince served for 1 year and 85 days and didn’t come home.  This same story can be told for many, many thousands of military casualties from the UK and around the World.

Prince is buried at Le Touqet-Paris Plage Communal Cemetery in Plot II. A. 35.

The Duchess of Westminister’s Hospital (No.1 B.R.C.S) was at Le Touquet from October 1914, to July 1918, and the British graves in the Communal Cemetery were made from that hospital.  The Communal Cemetery contains a number of French and Italian military graves, and two British Plots in the corner.  A wooden obelisk in memory of the British dead was erected in the cemetery by the Lifeboat men of the commune.  There are now 142 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war here.  All of whom died in the period November 1914, to April 1916.

I very much doubt that John and Elizabeth had the opportunity to visit Prince’s grave.  So I make a promise now that I will go and pay my respects for them.

Surname Saturday – Cottam

I have only one person with the surname Cottam in my family tree – Jane Cottam is my 3x great grandmother.

Jane was born about 1806 in Over Darwen, Lancashire.  So far I haven’t found a record of her birth and have no information about her parents.

According to surnamedb Cottam is of English locational origin.  It is said to date from Anglo-Saxon times and comes from one of a number of similarly named settlements throughout England.

There is Coton in Cambridgeshire and Oxfordshire; Cotton in Cheshire, Shropshire and Northamptonshire; Coatham in Durham and the North Riding of Yorkshire; Cotham in Nottinghamshire; and Cottam in Nottinghamshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

All of these names stem from the Old English aet cotum – which means at the cottages.  So,then, people who lived at or near cottages.

There are many spelling variations of the name including – Cotton, Coton, Cotten, Coten, Cottan, Cottain, Cottone and Cottane.  A bit of a nightmare for a One Name Study perhaps.

Early recordings of the name are believed to be Ralph de Cottum in 1212 in the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire; on January 16th 1701 Sarah, daughter of William Cottham, was christened in Great Mitton, Yorkshire; William Cottam married Mary Ellesker on the 29th November 1655 at Brantingham, Yorkshire.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Cotton, which was dated 1185 in The Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire.

It is not a very common name these days.  According to sources on the Internet there are currently only 2574 people in the UK with the name Cottam.  That is an increase of only 752 since the 1881 census when there were 1822 people named Cottam.

Despite it being not very common there has been some noteworthy people bearing the name Cottam over the years.

• Major-General Nicholas Cottam CB, OBE (b. 1951) – British Army Officer

• Robert “Bob” Michael Henry Cottam (b. 1944) – former English cricketer

• Harold Thomas Cottam (1891-1984) – English wireless operator on the RMS Carpathia who heard the SOS from the sinking RMS Titanic

• Francis Cottam (1900-1987) – English cricketer

On this day … 3rd September

1845 … James Wright Dawson and Mary Thompson married at St. Andrew’s church in Kildwick, West Yorkshire.  James is my 1st cousin 4x removed.

1909 … Frank Webster was born at Hawkswick to parents Matthew Heseltine Webster and Betsy Paley.  He is my 1st cousin 2x removed.

1909 … Robert Webster was born at Hawkswick to parents Matthew Heseltine Webster and Betsy Paley.  He is my 1st cousin 2x removed.

1919 … Joseph Spink died.  He is my 2nd great grand uncle.

On this day … 1st September

1798 … Martha Emmott and David Snowden married at St. Andrew’s church, Kildwick, West Yorkshire.

1856 … William Robert Stowell died in Burnley, Lancashire.  He is my great grand uncle.

1860 … Ann Gawthrop and John Riley married in Colne, Lancashire.  Ann is my 2nd great grand aunt.

1966 … Mary Espley (nee Fox) died in Stockport, Cheshire.  She is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed.