Author: mike

Military Monday – Richard Henry Espley (1906-2006)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Richard Henry Espley is my wife’s 1st cousin 1x removed. In other words he is a nephew of her grandfather.

Richard was born on 27 December 1906 to parents Frank Espley and Florence May Phillips.

In the 1911 census Richard was living with his parents and sister, Margaret, at 25 Duke Street, Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Up until recently I didn’t have any information about Richard between 1911 and the date of his marriage to Isabella Keddie Cuthbert on 7 November 1934 at St Andrews & St Leonards, Fife, Scotland.

I now know that he joined the RAF at the age of about 18. He met Isabella while stationed at St Andrews and they went on to have three children.

In the 1939 Register the family are living at 73 Oakenhall Avenue, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire.

Richard was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his valour in connection with Coastal Command during WW2.

Below is an article from the St Andrews Citizen of 30 January 1943.

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AWARDED BEM – Pilot Officer Richard Henry Espley, whose wife is a St Andrean, has received the BEM from the hands of the King at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his valour in connection with the Coastal Command. Pilot Officer Espley is a native of Pontefract and has served 18 years in the RAF. He is 36 years of age and his wife and three children have resided in Hucknall for the past four years. Before her marriage Mrs Espley was Isabella Keddie Cuthbert daughter of Mr Alexander Cuthbert of 2 St Nicholas Street, who was in three wars, the Zulu and the Boer Wars and the Great War. Mr Cuthbert is at present undergoing treatment in DRI for internal trouble. He is 75 years of age. Mrs Espley was married eight years ago, and met her husband when he was stationed in the neighbourhood of St Andrews.

Richard died at the age of 99 in May 2006. Isabella had died 22 years earlier about May 1984.

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British Empire Medal

 

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Workday Wednesday – Zimri Skelding (1854-1906)

Workday Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

Here’s a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc.

Zimri Skelding is my wife’s 1st cousin 2x removed. His parents are Jesse Skelding and Sarah Taylor. Their common ancestors are William Skelding and Catherine Taylor, my wife’s 2x great grandparents.

Zimri was born sometime around 1854 – his birth is registered in the March quarter of that year in Stourbridge, Worcestershire.

I have Zimri on the 1861, 1881 and 1901 census returns. At the moment I can’t find him in either the 1871 or 1891 census.

In 1881 his occupation is given as “nail maker”. However I know from the newspaper article below that he was subsequently employed as a bricklayer.

Although I haven’t been able to find a marriage for Zimri I know that he was certainly living as husband and wife with Jemima Marsh. The census returns show that they had at least three children:-

George Richard – born 1880
Julietta Elizabeth – born 1885
Thomas Herbert – born 1885

I believe that they also had two other children who died young:-

Herbert (1875-1883)
Arthur (1882-1884)

In the 1881 census Zimri is shown as a “boarder” with his son George Richard at the home of Charlotte Marsh – Jemima’s mother. So far I have not been able to locate Jemima in this census.

In 1901 the family are living at Love Lane, Lye, Stourbridge, Worcestershire. There is no occupation shown for Zimri and he is described as being “lame”. Which really brings me to the reason for this blog post.

I recently found the following article in the Birmingham Daily Post of 17 December 1885.

Birmingham Daily Post - 17 December 1885DAMAGES UNDER THE EMPLOYERS’ LIABILITY ACT

At the Stourbridge County Court, yesterday – before Mr J Amphlett (deputy judge) and a jury – a case under the above Act was called on, in which Zimri Skelding, a bricklayer’s labourer, was plaintiff; and Messrs Dorse and Sons, contractors, of Cradley Heath, the defendants. Mr Waldron appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Colbeck for the defendants. The plaintiff had lost a leg by the accident which formed the subject of the action, and he came into the box on crutches. He said he had been in defendants’ employ over eight years, and on July 23 was working for them at a chapel they were erecting at Smethwick. Witness and two other men, named Edwards and Brown, were pulling up a pole from the ground when the cross pole on which they were standing broke through. Witness fell a distance of fifty feet to the ground, and his leg was smashed. He was taken to the General Hospital, Birmingham, and his leg was taken off in consequence of the accident. His head was also injured by the fall. He used to earn a pound a week, and should be unable to follow his occupation again. Plaintiff said the poles in the scaffolding had been in use three or four years. The pole that broke must have been tender. Cross examined: His wages used to be 4 1/4d per hour. In the three months before the accident he would be making about forty two hours per week. He understood scaffolding a little, and had erected many a scaffolding. This particular scaffold was erected about three of four days before the accident, Brown, Edwards, and himself put it up. Edwards chose the poles for the scaffold. No person could have found this pole that broke was a bad pole by looking at it. He did not know the pole came from Messrs Adam, of Gloucester, two years ago. Mr Dorse was not there on the day of the accident. Mr Waldron asked if Edwards was the foreman, and witness said he was. Mr Colbeck objected that Mr Waldron was putting words into witness’s mouth. Witness, replying to another question, said he was bound to conform to Edwards’s orders. – Joe Edwards said he worked for defendants at the time of the accident, and he was bricklayer managing the job. Plaintiff was under his command when the master was not there. It was witness’s duty to test the scaffolding pole before it was used. He did so by picking it up at one end and shaking it, plaintiff holding the other end. That was the way they generally tried the poles. It was an old pole, with a crack or two in it. It was not sufficient for the job, but they had not another. He told young Mr Dorse they had not enough scaffolding, and he said he wanted the scaffolding away for another job, and they were to take what they wanted from round the building. He was not in the employ of Messrs Dorse now. Witness was on the middle of the pole when it broke, and plaintiff and another man at the end. The pole snapped, because it was not good enough. It was rotten. Cross examined: He was foreman at this job. His wages were 6 1/4d an hour. Bricklayers earned 6 1/4d and 7d up to 8d, but was only just out of his time. Asked if he should not consider it small pay for a foreman to get less than other bricklayers, witness said people must first creep and then walk. Plaintiff was bound to conform to witness’s orders. A man might please himself whether he obeyed him or not. Skelding did what he told him, and did so on this particular day. He could have got poles from another scaffolding, but did not want to disturb it. – Joseph Brown, another man engaged at the work, was also examined. – Mr Colbeck contended that negligence had neither been established against defendants or Edwards. All these men were working together, and they could not discover any defect in the poles they were using. Edwards told Mr Dorse they had not enough scaffolding, and was told to take some from round the building. Edwards was a foreman, and did not come within the meaning of the Act as a person having superintendence at the work. – His Honour thought there was a case to go to the jury, and Mr Colbeck then addressed himself to the evidence, putting it to the Court that the plaintiff had not made out his case. – Mr Dorse, jun. was called, and said that Edwards was not a foreman, but only an ordinary bricklayer, and he received the wages of a medium class man. He received no complaint that this pole was defective or unsafe, and his attention was never drawn to it. Edwards complained of being short of planks, and he told him where to get some. – After His Honour had summed up, the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff for £75. Costs were certified on the higher scale.

So there we have it – Zimri got £75 compensation for losing his leg and not being able to work again.

It’s difficult to imagine how the family managed after Zimri could no longer work. In the 1901 census both sons are working as general labourers so that brought in some wages at least.

Zimri died in 1906.

In the 1911 census Jemima and the three children, plus a granddaughter, Sarah (this is Julietta’s child) are living at 46 Crab Street, Wollescote, Worcestershire. Under occupation it says that the two sons are unable to work.

Jemima Skelding died at the age of 68 in 1918.

Tombstone Tuesday – James and Mary Ann Paley

James Paley and Mary Ann Paley (nee Spink) are my 2x great grandparents. They’ve only had very brief mentions in my blog up until now. So having recently found their gravestone at St Peter’s church in Rylstone, North Yorkshire it’s time to write about them.

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James Paley

James was born c1828 to parents William Paley and Mary Blackey. He was baptised on 23 March 1828 at Linton in Craven, Yorkshire.

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As far as I have been able to establish James was the third of at least six children – his siblings were:-

Thomas – baptised 20 June 1824
Mary – baptised 25 December 1825
William – baptised 11 April 1830
Francis – baptised 1 February 1835
John – baptised 2 May 1841

I have James on the 1841 census at Threshfield, Yorkshire and in 1851 at Drebley (about 5 miles from his home) living and working as a “farm labourer”

Mary Ann Spink

Mary Ann was born 20 June 1832 to parents John Spink and Sophia Shuttleworth Kitching. She was baptised 4 days later at Conistone, Yorkshire.

Mary Ann Spink - Baptism.jpg

Mary Ann was the first of at least seven children – her siblings were:-

Ellen – baptised 19 March 1834
James – baptised 1 May 1836
Joseph – born 11 March 1838 and baptised 15 March 1838
Sophia – baptised 8 September 1839
John – baptised 5 June 1841 and died early 1842
John – baptised 6 August 1843

I have Mary Ann in the 1841 census at home and in 1851 living and working in Keighley, West Yorkshire as a “servant”.

And that is where I thought I was going to move on and tell you about James and Mary Ann after they married. However, sometimes when you look at the records afresh you spot things you might have previously missed.

Searching the “Spink” baptisms in Conistone for this blog post I noticed one for Annie Elizabeth Spink on 18 June 1852. The baptism record shows the mother as Mary Anne Spink (spinster). Could it be that my Mary Ann became pregnant while living in Keighley and returned home to have her baby?

Annie Elizabeth Spink - Baptism.png

Looking again at the 1861 census for John and Sophia Spink (Mary Ann’s parents) there is Ann Elizabeth Spink listed as “granddaughter”. I’m sure that I would have spotted that before but for some reason didn’t try to find out who the parents were – well now I know!! More research required about Annie Elizabeth I think.

Ok – back to James and Mary Ann. They married on 11 April 1857 at Conistone.

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Over the next eighteen years they had at least ten children:-

John – born 1857 and died 1858
Ellen – born 2 December 1858 (my great grandmother)
Mary – born 2 December 1858
Sophia – baptised 25 August 1861
James – born 20 January 1864
Margaret Ann – baptised 22 October 1865
William Thomas – born 21 October 1867
Martha Jane – born 24 January 1870
Betsy – born 19 December 1871
Francis – born and died 1875

I have James and Mary Ann on all the census returns from 1861 to 1901. James is variously described as a farmer, road contractor or general labourer. For all of their married life they lived in the village of Hetton in the Yorkshire Dales.

James died of bronchitis on 16 April 1903 – five days after their 47th wedding anniversary. He was 75 years of age.

Mary Ann lived for a further four months and died of angina on 18 August 1903 at the age of 71. In her will she left effects valued at £451 6s 2d to her son James.

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Workday Wednesday – Nail Makers

Workday Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

Here’s a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc.

David Skelding is my wife’s 2nd great grand uncle – the brother of her 2x great grandfather William Skelding.

David was born sometime in 1825 to parents George Skelding and Elizabeth Roberts – his baptism is recorded at Old Swinford, Worcestershire on 21 August 1825.

Sometime in the June quarter of 1855 David married Emma Apperley and they had two children, William and Alice Jane.

In the census returns from 1841 to 1881 David’s occupation is given as “nailmaker” or “horse nailmaker.” In 1891 he was described as a “general labourer”.

In the Black Country during the mid 19th century nail making was one of the main industries. Many of the Skelding family are shown in the census returns with this occupation.

Trawling through the newspaper archives on Find My Past I came across the following story from the Worcestershire Chronicle of 30 October 1861.

Worcestershire Chronicle - 30 October 1861.png

BELLOWS CUTTING – On Wednesday night last, the nail shop of David Skelding, of Oldswinford, was entered and a pair of blast bellows and two pairs of puffers were cut. On the same night the nail shop of John Hill, of the same place, was also entered, and bellows and puffers were cut, besides a quantity of nails stolen. It appears that Skelding and Hill refused to pay the union, which it is believed was the reason of the tools being destroyed.

Intrigued by the story I decided to do an Internet search to see what more I could find. I found the following article published in the Black Country Bugle from December 2004.

Even before Richard Foley fiddled his way around the continent and brought the secrets of the slitting mill to the banks of the River Stour, thereby allowing the production of cheap rods for nail-making, the manufacture of hand-made nails was a central trade in many parts of the Black Country. For every purpose there was a specially designed nail, often with such delightful names as billycocks, sheepnet hooks, cricket spikes, holdfasts, mop nails, dogs and uglies, battins, fine wing clasps, brads, coopers’ clips and sparrables (this latter was a corruption of “sparrow bills,” tiny triangular nails that were used to hold panes of glass in frames). The skilled nail makers often specialised in the production of one or more of these types of nails, often depending upon the district in which they lived.

However, the cream of the nail makers were those who made horse-nails, used to affix horseshoes. Although numerous attempts had been made to make horse-nails by machine, unlike other machined nails they had failed miserably, unable to compete with the firmer and more ductile hand-hammered product. This was rapidly recognised by the horse-nail makers, mainly based in the Dudley, Old Hill, Halesowen, Lye and Cradley areas, who considered themselves vastly superior to the mere “common-nail” makers.

However, things reached a head by the middle of the nineteenth century, when the prices paid by the nail masters to their already over-worked and underpaid employees began to spiral rapidly downwards. In addition, the nail masters continued to pay the nail makers in “truck,” or in kind with exorbitantly-priced goods from their own “tommy shops” and pubs, rather than in cash, and went to every possible length to pay the lowest price they could for the completed nails. The horse-nail makers established a trade union to safeguard their wages and rights; but in 1860 tensions, not only between the horse-nail makers and their employers, but also among the nailers themselves, erupted into violence – and almost murder.

Pressure upon the horse-nail makers to join the union was great, but many were mindful of previous strikes. These had been frequent throughout the nineteenth century, and often descended into disorder. This was particularly so in the nail makers’ strike of 1842, when several nail masters were seized by an angry mob and frog-marched into Dudley. This sparked further disturbances amongst nail makers all over the Black Country, and had ended in the calling in of the military and the reading of the Riot Act.

Feeling began to run high as the unionist nail makers believed that, in order to have their demands met, they would all have to stand and strike together. Blacklegs, or “knobsticks” as they were known, were seen as profiting in the misery of the strikers. However, involvement in such strikes not only meant the cessation of pay for the nail makers, often for months at a time, but also the very real threat of imprisonment, hard labour, or even worse, transportation to Australia. With wages already meagre and with wives and children to feed and clothe, it was perhaps little wonder that some horse-nailers refused to join the trade union.

Those that opted not to join soon found that their lives were made a misery. Ostracised by their co-workers and neighbours, they soon found it difficult to continue their employment as well as a normal social life. They would awake to find that the bellows in their backyard nail shops had been slashed, preventing them from making any more nails. And in January 1860 the attacks took a more sinister turn.

A Cradley horse-nail maker, Job Dunn, was one of those who had refused to join the union, and like the others had become the constant target of attacks and abuse. He had so far managed to avoid any serious injury by keeping a sharp lookout for any trouble, so when he was roused by a strange noise outside at one o’clock one morning, he was immediately suspicious. Job threw on some clothes and rushed outdoors, only to see four or five men beating a hasty retreat from his property. On that dark winter’s night, Job was only able to recognise two of the men, William Felton and Zachariah Willetts, whom he knew to be committee members of the trade union. However, nothing seemed amiss, so Job crawled back into bed and was soon fast asleep beside his wife and young child.

Only three hours later, there was a terrific explosion. Job awoke to find that the wall of his house had been blown in by the force of the blast, and that a large portion of it had toppled over the bed. It now hovered menacingly over Job and his wife and child, just inches above where they slept. Lucky to be alive, Job was able to extricate himself from under the precarious masonry and rescue his wife and child, who were shocked but relatively unharmed.

Job then went to survey the damage. His workshop had been totally destroyed in the explosion, evidently the object of the attack. The Dunns’ brewhouse had also suffered irreparable damage, and for the radius of some fifty yards there was barely a neighbour’s wall or window that had escaped harm.

It was discovered that the explosion had been caused by a bag of around a quarter of a hundredweight of gunpowder, let down the chimney of the nail shop on a cord. A long fuse attached to the bag had been the means of detonation.

Dunn identified Felton and Willetts as the suspicious prowlers to the police, and they were hauled before Stourbridge magistrates. They were flatly refused bail, and brought to trial on Friday 27th January 1860.

Job Dunn appeared for the prosecution, and the accused were defended by Mr Best and Mr Burbury. However, Police Superintendent Freeman could offer no further evidence that they had been the culprits, aside from Job’s questionable identification in the dark. The magistrate, Mr Hunt, announced that there was not enough evidence to bring the prisoners to trial, and Willetts and Felton were discharged.

Job Dunn now found himself in desperate circumstances. His workshop was completely useless, rendering him unemployed, but he was so afraid of the continuing threats that he was afraid to construct another. Furthermore, he was so frightened for his life, and that of his family, that he had to employ men to watch his premises around the clock. The watchmen endeavoured to catch several people who repeatedly trespassed on the property, to no avail.

In March, an anonymous benefactor offered a reward of £20 to those who might catch the culprits of the outrage, later increased to £100. A free pardon was also offered to any perpetrator who confessed on his abettors. However, the horse-nail makers remained staunch, refusing to succumb to the reward, and the perpetrators remained shrouded in mystery.

However, acts of intimidation, abuse and bellow slashing continued throughout the Black Country as the trade union and the nail masters headed inexorably towards a dispute. In June 1860, the trade union gave one of the nail masters notice for an advance in wages, which by that time were so low that they were barely keeping body and soul together. The nail masters ordered that either the horse-nail makers withdraw their notice, or they would all be locked out. The men refused to withdraw their demands, and the lock-out began.

Violence towards those who were not on strike increased, but eventually the strikers achieved their demands and such acts abated. However, for all involved it had been a hard-won battle; for twenty long weeks, both strikers and blacklegs had had to endure no pay, hungry bellies and cold hearths.

So it seems that David Skelding was taking a stand against the union and made some enemies as a result.

Military Monday – Clement May (1895-1916)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

Clement May is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. His parents are John May and Mary Ellen Buckley. Our common ancestors are Thomas Buckley and Henrietta Mason, my 3x great grandparents.

Clement was born sometime in Q2 of 1895 and was the fourth of at least ten children to John and Mary Ellen May.

There doesn’t appear to be any surviving military service records for Clement. However I have been able to establish that he was a Private in the West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales Own) Regiment. He was in the 16th Battalion and his regimental service number was 32857.

His entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website shows that Clement died of wounds on 13 November 1916.

I have tried to find out which battle he might have been in at the time of his death. The Battle of the Ancre seems to be the most likely.

At the time of his death Clement had £2 12s 3d credit in his military account – authority was given on 3 March 1917 for this to be paid to his father. The in August 1919 a War Gratuity payment of £3 was also paid to the family. The image below is from the Army Register of Soldiers Effects from www.ancestry.co.uk

Clement May - WW1 Effects.png

Clement is buried at the Couin British Cemetery in the Pas de Calais region of France.

The following information is from the CWGC.

Couin Chateau was used as a divisional headquarters from 1915 to 1918.

The British Cemetery was begun in May 1916 by the field ambulances of the 48th (South Midland) Division, and was used by units and field ambulances during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. It was closed at the end of January 1917 because further extension was not possible, and now contains 401 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and three German graves.

The new British Cemetery was opened across the road and was used by field ambulances from January 1917 (with a long interval in 1917-18) to the end of the war. One grave was moved there after the Armistice from a cemetery at Coigneux. It now contains 360 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and two German graves.

Both cemeteries were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

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Military Monday – David Musgrove Bratherton (1894-1916)

Military Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

We all have ancestors who have served in the military. Military Monday is a place to post their images, stories and records of their service in various branches of the military.

David Musgrove Bratherton is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. His parents are William Robert Bratherton and Rachel Musgrove. Our common ancestors are William Musgrove and Harriot Francis, my 3x great grandparents.

David was born in Lancaster, Lancashire in 1894 – his birth is registered in the September quarter. He was the only son of William and Rachel.

In the 1901 and 1911 census returns the family are living at Park Road, Lancaster. In 1911 David’s occupation is given as “cotton weaver”.

Unfortunately I can’t find any remaining service records for David either on Ancestry or Find My Past.

I do know that David was a Private in the Royal Fusiliers, 8th Battalion. His service number was 1917.

Looking at the information available at http://www.1914-1918.net it seems as though the 8th Battalion were under the command of 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division. They landed in France in May 1915 and disbanded in France on 6 February 1918.

I know that David was killed in action on 7 July 1916. It is possible that David was killed during The Battle of Albert – one of the many Battles of the Somme in 1916. Below is an extract from http://www.1914-1918.net about the 12th (Eastern) Division battles during WW1.

The Battles of the Somme 1916

The Battle of Albert

By 18 June 1916 the Division was based at Flesselles. It immediately carried out a training exercise to practice a planned attack to capture Martinpuich. This action never materialised. The Division moved up to Baizieux on 30 June and reached Hencourt and Millencourt by 10am on 1 July, in reserve to the British infantry attack that had begun earlier that morning. It moved to relieve 8th Division, which had suffered a severe repulse at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, during the night of 1-2 July.

Ordered to continue the attack on Ovillers, 35th and 37th Brigades went in at 3.15am on 2 July (just before this, Divisional HQ received information that a British attack on their left, by X Corps against Thiepval, was cancelled). Unlike the troops of 8th Division who had to cross a wide no man’s land in the bright morning sun, the 12th Division attack, at night, adopted sensible tactics of advancing across no man’s land while the artillery bombarded the enemy and rushed the last few yards when it lifted. The first wave of the attack met with mixed success: for example the 9th Essex came under heavy shellfire before it had reached even the British front line; it was difficult to keep direction in the deep shell holes; yet the 5th Berkshire and 7th Suffolk crossed, finding the enemy wire was well cut, and took at least two lines of German trenches before becoming bogged in intense bombing fights in the trenches. 6th Queen’s were held up by wire and machine gun fire from Mash Valley. Heavy fire from the Leipzig salient – where X Corps would have been attacking – halted supporting units in no man’s land, and the attack failed to achieve its objective.

On 7 July 36th Brigade, with 74th Brigade attached to the Division for the purpose, attacked again and in spite of heavy casualties from German artillery and machine guns in Mash Valley, succeeded in holding the first and second lines that they captured on the spur on which Ovillers stands. By the time the Division was withdrawn to the area on Contay on 9 July, 189 officers and 4576 men had become casualties.

David is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. The following information is taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916. The memorial also serves as an Anglo-French Battle Memorial in recognition of the joint nature of the 1916 offensive and a small cemetery containing equal numbers of Commonwealth and French graves lies at the foot of the memorial.


The memorial, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, was built between 1928 and 1932 and unveiled by the Prince of Wales, in the presence of the President of France, on 1 August 1932 (originally scheduled for 16 May but due to the death of French President Doumer the ceremony was postponed until August).


Thiepval Memorial

Black Sheep Sunday – Dent Stowell (1882-1948) – part 3

Black Sheep Sunday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

To participate in Black Sheep Sunday simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.”

This is the third and final part of the Dent Stowell trilogy.

Dent Stowell, is my 2nd cousin 3x removed. Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2

We left the story last week with Dent having appeared before Magistrates in Burnley and committed for trial at Manchester Assizes on charges of bigamy.

There are a couple of reports in the local papers about the trial. One of them in the Lancashire Evening Post of 3 May 1933 recaps much of the story from my blog post last week. During the trial Dent handed a written statement to the judge.

Announcing his decision the judge (Mr Justice Lawrence) is reported to have commented:-

You appear, very soon after going through the ceremony with her in Carlisle, to have told the woman with whom you are now living, that you were married. Though at the time of that ceremony you did deceive her. You have now lived with her 14 years, and apparently have treated her very well. In binding you over, I have taken into account the circumstances of your past life, as you have set them out in this statement, and the way in which your real wife behaved to you.

So there we have it Dent pleaded guilty to bigamy and was bound over indefinitely.

There are still loose ends to tie up in the story.

I was curious to discover why I hadn’t found a marriage for Dent Stowell and Helen Gordon in 1918. I checked the marriage indexes again and found a marriage listed for Helen Gordon and Samuel Stowell in the March quarter of 1918. So it seems that Dent used a different name, presumably to try and avoid complications. I wonder what name Helen knew him as at the time.

Rose Ann Stowell died in 1939 – her death is recorded in the June quarter in Burnley, Lancashire. Sometime during the same quarter Dent and Helen married legally.

About nine years later Dent passed away and was buried in Burnley Cemetery on 1 April 1948.

According to some online sources it appears that after Dent’s death Helen went back to the USA in 1949, although she did visit the UK at least once in 1955.

There is a record of Helen’s death in Los Angeles, California on 11 February 1984. Also a burial on 20 February 1984 in Burnley Cemetery where she was laid to rest in the same grave plot as Dent.