Posts about genealogy research and my experiences

Strictly Ballroom – Arthur & Mary Louisa Cambage

Mary Louisa Myers is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. Her parents are Tom Myers and Mary Ellen Procter. Our common ancestors are William Stowell and Ellen Lane – my 3x great grandparents.

Mary Louisa was born on 2 May 1899 in Burnley, Lancashire. Sometime in the September quarter of 1922 she married Arthur C Cambage in Burnley.

Now no one could ever accuse me of being able to dance – I have two left feet and no sense of rhythm or coordination whatsoever.

I’m very glad to say that was not the case for Arthur and Mary Cambage – in fact you could say they were the Fred and Ginger of their day in Britain.

According to the newspaper article below Arthur was “the outstanding personality in dancing, not only locally but in many parts of the country, for years”. Either by himself or with Mary he gave dancing demonstrations and was also in demand as a judge at both amateur and professional competitions.

In the 1939 Register Arthur and Mary lived at 19 Broadway, Fleetwood, Lancashire. Arthur was employed by Fleetwood Corporation as Entertainments Manager. Before moving to Fleetwood Arthur had been organising manager at the Nelson Entertainments Company.

The Nelson Leader of 24 January 1936 reported on Arthur and Mary’s impending move to Fleetwood.

Arthur Cambage - Nelson Leader 24 January 1936.png




Scores of friends and literally thousands of people who know him by sight if not by name will be interested to know that Mr Arthur C Cambage, the organising manager for the Nelson Entertainments Company, Imperial Ballroom, is leaving Nelson shortly to take up the position of manager of the new Marine Hall and sun parlour and colonnades at Fleetwood.
Mr Cambage has been at the Imperial for the last six years, and for several years before was the manager of the Empress Ballroom, Burnley. Undoubtedly Mr Cambage has been the outstanding personality in dancing, not only locally but in many parts of the country, for years. He alone, or accompanied by his wife, has given demonstrations of dancing in London and other big cities, and at one time he was also in great demand as an adjudicator at both amateur and professional dancing competitions. Mr Cambage has also been well-known as a teacher of dancing, a profession which his father and mother were expert in for many years, and his departure from this district will bring an end to the Cambage family’s connection with local entertainments since 1902.
Mrs Arthur Cambage’s departure from the district will also be felt by many organisations in which she has been interested, and particularly the Burnley Garrick Club. She has played many leading roles for the club in productions privately and at the Victoria Theatre, Burnley, and about three years ago she was invited by Col. Robert Loraine to go to London to take part in his productions. Mrs Cambage has also appeared on the concert platform as a pianist, and her fame as a ballroom dancing expert is also well-known.
The position Mr Cambage has secured is regarded as one of the plums of the profession. The Marine Hall at Fleetwood was only opened in November last, and is one of the finest of its kind in the country, the ballroom being most modern and up-tp-date.
Mr and Mrs Cambage will take with them the good wishes of everyone who know them.

So as well as being an extremely accomplished dancer Mary Louisa played the piano and was a leading actress.

Arthur and Mary Louisa spent about eight years in Fleetwood before Arthur took over as manager of the Excel Hotel in Garstang, Lancashire.

Away from the world of entertainment Arthur served in the Army in WW1 for over three years, mostly in France and Belgium. During WW2 he joined the Home Guard in Fleetwood as a private in May 1940, eventually rising to Major and Commanding Officer in May 1944.

Arthur and Mary Louisa both died in 1966.

Joseph Frank Musgrove (1925-1987) – Cycle Accident

Joseph Frank Musgrove is my 1st cousin 1x removed. His parents are John Robert Turner Musgrove and Phoebe Scott. Our common ancestors are Joseph Musgrove and Elizabeth Ann Turner – my great grandparents.

Joseph was born on 2 November 1925 in Clitheroe, Lancashire. In the 1939 Register, taken at the outbreak of WW2, Joseph was living with his parents and brother at Hayhurst Street, Clitheroe.

In September 1941 Joseph was involved in a motor accident while riding his pedal cycle. Details of the accident were reported in the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times on Friday 19 September (images from

Joseph Frank Musgrove (1) - CAT 19 Sept 1941.png

An accident occurred on Friday, at the junction of Duck Street and Shaw Bridge Street, when a pedal cyclist, Joseph Frank Musgrove, a bobbin turner, residing at 32 Hayhurst Street, was knocked down by a motor car driven by John Brandwood, of 4 Rawley Street, Burnley. The unfortunate man’s left arm was fractured, or splintered. After receiving attention from Dr. Cooper he was taken home.

The case came to court on Thursday 25 September 1941 and the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times reported the outcome the next day.

Joseph Frank Musgrove (2) - CAT 26 Sept 1941.png

Collision Sequel


“As there appears to be a conflict of evidence, we have decided to dismiss this case,” said Councillor French, presiding at the Borough Sessions, yesterday, when John Brandwood, a fitter, of 4 Rowley Street, Burnley, was summoned for driving without due care and attention and for failing to conform to a halt sign.
It was stated that defendant’s vehicle collided at the junction of Duck Street and Lowergate with a cycle ridden by Joseph Frank Musgrove (15), bobbin worker, of 32 Hayhurst Street, who was thrown from his machine, fracturing his left arm and bruising his leg.
Evidence was given by Mrs. Ida Gradwell, of Shaw Bridge House, and Thomas Ainsworth, of 44 Shaw Bridge Street, that defendant, who proceeded out of Duck Street, did not stop at the halt sign.
Defendant, who was represented by Mr. C. S. Corder, of Manchester, maintained that he did stop, but not at his usual place, because of the position of two other vehicles, and that Musgrove, who was riding at a fast speed, collided with his vehicle when it was travelling at only two miles an hour.
Corroborative evidence was given by John Wood, 31 Bank House Street, Burnley, and Eric Heyworth, 35 Myers Street, Burnley, who were passengers in defendant’s car.

Seems to me that Councillor French and others on the bench decided to take the easy option here.

Military Monday – Cononley War Memorial

On a recent visit to Cononley village looking for ancestral graves at St. John’s church we photographed Cononley Institute and War Memorial. I have one relative named on the memorial – Jack Hurtley Thompson who I previously wrote about here.

Cononley Institute.jpeg

Because Cononley had such a big part in my dad’s early life – he was evacuated there to stay with his aunts and uncles during WW2 – I decided I would try to write a brief biography of all the people named on the War Memorial.

For my research I used various online resources. The most valuable being Craven’s Part in the Great War. This website has details of all the local people who lost their lives in WW1 including photographs, family information, military records and newspaper articles.

I also used information from:-

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Find My Past

Cononley Institute war Memorial.jpeg


George William Gott (1893-1918)

George was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire – his birth is registered in the September quarter of 1893. His parents were James William Gott and Sarah Ellen Heaton of Gill Top, Cowling. He had a younger brother, Samuel John born in 1900.

In the 1911 census George was living as a boarder at 18 Aireview, Cononley – the home of Hannah Wormwell, a widow. He was working in the printing trade as a compositor.

George enlisted in Keighley, West Yorkshire on 10 December 1915 and his service number was 17994. He was initially assigned to the Army Reserve and was eventually mobilised on 22 January 1916 as a Private with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.

He was posted to the 9th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment and on 1 September 1916 George embarked for France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He returned to England on 5 December 1916.

Six months later George was posted to the 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment and embarked from Folkstone on 10 June 1917 arriving in Boulogne the same day. Shortly after arriving in France he was posted to the 1/4 Battalion, West Riding Regiment on 27 June 1917.

During October 1917 George was admitted to hospital at least four times with a condition described on his medical card as I.C.T. – which I understand is “inflamed connective tissue”. This was a condition experienced by many soldiers due to the amount of marching done and the poor weather conditions experienced for long periods in the trenches.

On 13 April 1918 George was reported missing – presumed to have died in service.

There is a manuscript note in his service records saying that George was “buried in isolated grave at roadside, 1.5 miles west of Loker, 2.25 miles north of Bailleul.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website George is now buried at Mont Noir Military Cemetery, St. Jans-Cappel, France.

Harry Grimston (1882-1918)

Harry was born in Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire – his birth is registered in the June quarter of 1882. His parents were George Grimston and Louisa Dale. He was one of eight children born to George and Louisa.

In the 1911 census Harry was living as a boarder with his uncle and aunt, Tom and Annie Petty, at Longroyd Farm, Earby, Yorkshire. He was working as a stone mason.

Sometime in the March quarter of 1916 Harry married Hannah Green in Keighley, West Yorkshire. They had two children – Alex and Nellie.

Harry enlisted in the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment in Cross Hills, West Yorkshire – he was a Private in the 2/4th Battalion and his service number was 267211.

He was killed on 24 May 1918. According to reports in the local newspapers at the time, Louisa received official notice that Harry had been killed by the bursting of a shell on a dugout in which he and another man were sleeping. At the time Louisa was living at Aireside, Cononley.

Harry is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Hannah Grimston remarried in 1927 to James P Madden. She passed away in 1964.

Basil Spencer Jennings (1890-1915)

Basil was born on 12 April 1890 to parents Jonathan Sutcliffe Jennings and Hannah Mary Spencer. He was baptised on 22 Jun 1890 at St. Mary’s, Riddlesden, near Keighley.

In the 1911 census Basil was living at home in Keighley with his widowed mother and his brother and sister, Roland Spencer and Doris Spencer. He was working as a clerk.

When war broke out Basil was in Morocco. He immediately returned home end enlisted in the King Edward’s Horse cavalry regiment. He subsequently transferred to the infantry and was given a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 14th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

Basil went to the Dardanelles in 1915. He died at Suvla on 7 November 1915 from wounds received trying to save one of his men. He is buried at Hill 10 Cemetery in Turkey.

Cyril Lee (1891-1917)

Cyril was born on 26 September 1891 in Cononley to parents Frederick Lee and Miriam Fitchett. He was the second of seven children.

In the 1911 census Cyril was living at Aire View in Cononley with his widowed mother and his siblings. He was working as a weaver.

On 16 November 1914 Cyril married Lily Dobson at St. John’s church, Cononley. His occupation on the marriage certificate is shown as “Sergeant in Army”. They had a son, Denis, born 13 February 1915.

Cyril was the first Cononley boy to voluntarily enlist from the village in September 1914. He served in the 2nd/6th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment and was quickly promoted to Sergeant.

Cyril took part in the charge at Bullecourt on 3 May 1917 and was seriously wounded. Because of heavy bombardment by the German lines he was left out in the open for four days and five nights before he could be rescued to a dressing station. Sadly it proved necessary to amputate his right leg, but unfortunately on account of the long exposure pneumonia had set in, and he died on 15 May 1917.

Cyril is buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Lily didn’t marry again and she passed away on 28 December 1979.

Norman Muller (1886-1918)

Norman was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire on 4 January 1886 to parents George Herbert Muller and Josephine Wadsworth. He had one older brother, John.

In the 1911 census the family were living at 28 Park Grove, Frizinghall, Bradford. Norman was employed as a salesman of cotton, silk and worsted yarns.

On 30 January 1915 Norman married Doris Spencer Jennings at Saints Philip and James, Clifton, West Yorkshire. They had one daughter, Josephine in 1917. Doris is the sister of Basil Spencer Jennings mentioned earlier in this post.

At the time of his marriage Norman was a Captain in the 6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (the Bradford Rifles). His father, George Herbert, was at the same time commanding officer of the 16th (Bradford) Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment. His brother John, was also a Captain in the Bradford Rifles.

Norman was invalided home a couple of times and returned to the front line. In Spring 1918 he was sent back to France for the last time. On 28 July 1918 Norman was leading “C” Company 8th Battalion (Leeds Rifles) in the battle for the capture of Montaigne de Bligny when he was killed in action.

Norman is buried at Chambrecy British Cemetery, Marne, France.

Doris never remarried and she passed away on 4 September 1969.

Tom Millward (1897-1917)

Tom was born at Glasshouses near Pateley Bridge, Yorkshire in 1897 to parents Joseph Millward and Sarah Ellen Ingleby.

In the 1911 census Tom is living at Aireside, Cononley with his widowed father and nine siblings. At the age of 13 he is working as a millhand doffer.

Tom enlisted for military service on 7 January 1916 and was initially assigned to the Army Reserve. He was mobilised and posted on 29 August 1916 as a Private in the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. His service number was 6231.

Tom was hospitalised with illness in March 1917 while serving with “A” Company, 1st/4th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. He died on 18 March 1917 as the result of blood poisoning which started in his right arm and quickly spread to his shoulder and back.

He is buried at Calais Southern Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

John William Rogers (1895-1917)

John was born in Lothersdale, Yorkshire to parents Thomas Rogers and Martha Stansfield – his birth is registered in the December quarter of 1895.

In the 1911 census John is with his father Thomas and brother, Lowess, at Grove Street, Earby, Yorkshire. He is employed as a cotton weaver.

John married Christiana Collins sometime in the June quarter of 1915 – the marriage is registered in Skipton, Yorkshire. They had one daughter, Ivy.

John was a Private in the Northumberland Fusiliers – his service number was 29/595. He went missing on 9 April 1917 while serving with the 21st (Tyneside Scottish) Battalion. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.

Fred Spencer (1887-1918)

Fred (Frederick) was born at Kirk Sandall, near Doncaster to parents Francis Spencer and Alice Speak. His birth is registered in the June quarter of 1887.

In the 1911 census Fred is recorded at Mountain House, Queensbury, near Bradford. He is a boarder in the home of Amelia Davoren. He is employed as a warehouseman. In the same census his parents and two sisters Alice and Sarah are at Springbank, Cononley.

Fred served in the 62nd Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps. with a service number of 142556.

He was killed in action on 9 April 1918 and is buried at Bienvillers Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

Charles Stoddart (1879-1915)

Charles was born in Bramley, Leeds, West Yorkshire to parents Thomas Laycock Stoddart and Sarah Ann Gaskell. His birth is registered in the December quarter of 1879.

In the 1901 census Charles was living at Sun Street, Cononley with his widowed mother and siblings. He was employed as a stone mason. In the 1911 census Charles was still working as stone mason but was now in Fleetwood, Lancashire.

During WW1 Charles served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers – his service number was 2635.

Charles was killed in action on 7 July 1915. He is buried at Talana Farm Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Percival George Scott (1888-1919)

Percival was born in Leeds on 21 May 1888. His parents are John Rhodes Scott and Susannah Quilter Witham. He was baptised on 17 June 1888 at St. Clement’s church, Sheepscar, Leeds.

Sometime in the September quarter of 1909 Percival married Isabella Grace Scott – the marriage is registered at Skipton, Yorkshire.

In the 1911 census Percival and Isabella are living at Watkin Street, Colne, Lancashire. Percival is employed as a platelayer with the Midland Railway Company. The couple moved to Cononley in April 1914.

During WW1 Percival served in the Royal Navy Sick Berth Reserve (RNSBR).

Before the war Percival was a member of the Colne Branch of the St. John Ambulance Association, and the day following the declaration of war he received a telegram to report to the R.N.S.B.R. Hospital at Chatham. He proceeded there at once, and two months later he was transferred to Shotley Hospital, Harwich.

He remained at Shotley Hospital until his death on 31 March 1919 after an operation for appendicitis.

Percival is buried at St. Mary’s churchyard, Embsay, near Skipton.

Isabella never remarried and she passed away in 1976.

Harold Edward Shingler (1893-1918)

Harold was born in Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire on 24 April 1893 to parents William Shingler and Sarah Jane Stevenson. He was baptised at St. Paul’s church on 17 May 1893.

In the 1911 census Harold is living at Water Street, Stoke on Trent with his widowed mother and three other siblings.

Sometime around 1912 Harold moved to Cononley to work as an electrical engineer for Messrs. Horace Green & Co.

When war was declared Harold enlisted for service in Keighley in September 1914. Just over a year later he embarked for France on 16 November 1915 as a Rifleman in the Kings Own Rifle Corps. His service number was C/802. He served in “D” Company 16th (Service) Battalion (Church Lads Brigade) attached to the 33rd Division.

Harold was killed on 12 October 1918. It is believed his body lay on the battlefield until 26 October on which day it was interred between the villages of Montay and Neuvilly. He now buried at Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, Nord, France.

Ernest Speight (1893-1918)

Ernest was born in Leeds on 23 December 1893. His parents are Samuel Speight and Susannah Stead Clark.

On 29 May 1915 Ernest married Matilda Berry at St. James church, Bolton, Bradford, West Yorkshire. Ernest’s occupation on the marriage certificate is given as Railway Porter. Before enlisting for service Ernest was employed as a porter at Cononley railway station and he and Matilda were living at Aire View in the village.

Ernest joined the Navy on 19 July 1917 as an Ordinary Seaman – his service number was J/73844. He served on board HM Trawler Gambri – a Grimsby trawler requisitioned by the Admiralty in April 1917 and converted for minesweeping.

On 18 January 1918 the Gambri struck a mine three-quarters of a mile off the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel, Sussex and sank with the loss of twenty-one men. Mines had been laid in the area earlier that day by the German submarine UC71 (Ernst Steindorff).

Ernest is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.

Robert Coates Walker (1898-1917)

Robert was the son of Charles Walker and Mary Elizabeth Coates. He was born in Cononley in 1898 and baptised at St. John’s church in the village on 10 July 1898.

In the 1911 census Robert, his parents and siblings are living at Prospect House, Cononley and Robert is still at school.

Robert enlisted in February 1916 and was posted to the Training Reserve Battalion at Hornsea, Yorkshire – his service number was 37118. He was subsequently transferred to the 16th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers.

Robert was killed in action on 14 September 1917. He is buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium

Willie Webster (1895-1918)

Willie was born at Harden Kelbrook, Yorkshire in 1895 – his birth is registered at Skipton in the March quarter. His parents are Hartley Webster and Agnes Whitaker.

In the 1911 census Willie, his parents and sister Ellen Elizabeth are living at Moor Top Farm, Cononley. Willie is working on the family farm.

Willie enlisted with the 90th Battalion Training Reserve in January 1917 – his service number was 41534. Subsequently Willie served as a Lance Corporal with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, “D” Company 2nd Battalion, 36th (Ulster) Division.

Willie died from gas poisoning in France on 21 March 1918. He is buried at St. Souplet British Cemetery, Nord, France.

Harry Wilson (1895-1919)

Harry was born at Bolton Abbey, West Yorkshire to parents Nathan Wilson and Sarah Naylor. His birth is registered at Skipton in the March quarter.

In the 1911 census Harry, his parents and five siblings are living at 11 Skipton Road, Cononley. Harry is working as a weaver.

Harry enlisted with the 1/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Yorkshire Regiment in December 1915. He was sent to France in April 1916. After wounded in the battle of the Somme and at Passchendaele he and spent some time at home. Harry was also gassed at Nieuport while serving with the 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

He survived the war and was demobbed in March 1919. Very sadly the awful effects of the poisonous gas eventually took its toll on Harry’s health. He died on 1 December 1919. He is buried at St. John’s church, Cononley.

Thomas Clifford Whiteoak (1894-1916)

Thomas was born in 1894 in Lothersdale, Yorkshire to parents Alfred Whiteoak and Margaret Ellen Boocock. He was baptised on 24 June 1894 at Christ Church, Lothersdale.

In the 1911 census Thomas, his parents and sister Olga Mary are living at Wedding Hall Fold, Lothersdale. Thomas is working on the family farm.

Thomas joined the Duke of Wellington’s West Yorkshire Regiment on 26 January 1916 and was drafted to France in June 1916 – his service number was 242230. Thomas was a Private in the 1st/5th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment when he went missing, presumed killed in action, on 3 September 1916.

Thomas is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

Geoffrey Basil Beck (1925-1944)

Geoffrey is the son of Ivy Blanch Beck. He was born 19 April 1925.

In the 1939 Register Ivy and Geoffrey are living at 43 Skipton Road, Cononley. Geoffrey is working as an unpacker in a mail order office.

Geoffrey served with the 43rd (2/5th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment) Regiment Reconnaissance Corps, R.A.C. – his service number was 14660651.

He was killed on 24 June 1944 and is buried at Hermanville War Cemetery, Calvados, France.

Jack Hirst – I haven’t been able to find any biographical information yet.

Sam Law (1918-1944)

Sam was the son of John Law and Lily Garnett. He was born on 11 May 1918.

In the 1939 Register Sam was living with his widowed mother at 2 Aireside Terrace, Cononley. He was working as a shop assistant in a grocery store.

Sometime in the December quarter of 1943 Sam married Frances Mary Higgins.

Sam served as a Sergeant in the 6th Battalion of the Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment). His service number was 4392414.

He was killed on 27 July 1944.

He is buried at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Calvados, France.

George Alfred Mattock (1918-1940)

George was the son William A Mattock and Annie Cooke. He was born in 1918 and his birth is registered in the December quarter at Skipton.

In December 1937 George successfully passed exams set by the Chartered Institute of Secretaries for centres in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Presumably he had been looking forward to a career in that sort of work.

In the 1939 Register William and Annie and their daughter Mary are living at 91 Beech Mount, Cononley.

George was a driver with 59 Field Company Royal Engineers. His service number was 2193183.

He was killed on 29 May 1940 during the Dunkirk Evacuation and is commemorated at the Dunkirk Memorial, Nord, France.

Leonard Peel (1918-1940)

Leonard was the son of Thomas Ernest Peel and Annie Hey. He was born in Cononley on 23 September 1918.

In the 1939 Register Leonard and his parents are living at 48 Main Street, Cononley. Leonard is employed as a costing clerk in the office of a textile firm.

Leonard served as a driver with the Royal Army Service Corps – his service number was T/113850.

He was killed on 23 May 1940 in the days leading up to the Dunkirk Evacuation. Leonard is buried at La Basse Communal Cemetery, Nord, France.

Jack Hurtley Thompson (1921-1941)

Jack is my 1st cousin 1x removed. His parents are Alfred Clark Thompson and Rhoda Hurtley. Jack was born in 1921 – his birth is registered at Skipton in the June quarter.

He joined the Merchant Navy and was serving on the British motor tanker Arthur F Corwin as a 5th Engineer when it was sunk on 13 February 1941. Jack is commemorated at the Tower Hill Mmemorial, London.

Jack (John) Throup (1920-1942)

Jack was born in 1920 to parents Lewis Throup and Lilian Blackman. His birth is registered in the December quarter.

In the 1939 Register Lewis and Lilian are living in Cononley with some of their other children.

Jack was an Able Seaman with the Royal Navy – his service number was D/JX240005.

I have established that Jack died on 9 January 1942 while serving on SS Rembrandt. The Yorkshire Evening Post of Thursday 26 February 1942 reported that Mr & Mrs Lewis Throup had received information that Jack had been accidentally killed.

Jack is buried at Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial, Egypt.

A Right Royal Occasion – Florence Neale (nee Neville)

Florence Neville is my wife’s 3rd cousin 1x removed. Her parents are Charles Neville and Sarah Jane Espley. Their common ancestors are James Espley and Martha Silvester – my wife’s 3x great grandparents.

Florence was born on 26 October 1905 in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

In the 1911 census Florence is living at 126 Sandford Street, Lichfield. She married Philip James Neale sometime in the September quarter of 1931.

When the 1939 Register was taken, at the outbreak of WW2, Florence and Philip are living at 165 Lower Sandford Street. About sixteen years later they took over running the Queens Head pub also on Sandford Street.

During all this time Florence was a true Royalist – and very proud of it. So much so that her devotion to the Royal Family was reported in the local newspapers a couple of times.

The Lichfield Mercury of Friday 20 August 1982 recalls the visit by the Queen Mother to Lichfield in July 1942 (images from

Florence Neale (nee Neville) - Lichfield Mercury 20 August 1982.png

Forty years on – but Florence remembers

ROYALIST and proud of it – that’s Florence Neale, landlady of the Queen’s Head pub in Lichfield.
And Florence has proof of her devotion hanging in the lounge bar of the pub – a photograph of herself and her 15-month-old daughter Linda taken with the Queen Mother 40 years ago.
Florence, now 76, waited with the crowds outside Lichfield Cathedral during a Royal visit in 1942.
And now a grown-up Linda and her mum give the photograph pride of place beside other portraits of the Queen.


‘I can remember leaving Linda’s pram near Stowe Pool and walking the rest of the way. We didn’t have to wait long to see her and the next thing I knew she was speaking to us!”

“She was beautiful,” Mrs. Neale added. “The photograph was taken by the Mercury, where I ordered my copy. But this framed picture was bequested to me in a friend’s will.”

Seven years later on Friday 21 April 1989 the Lichfield Mercury reported on the latest visit of the Queen Mother to the city – incidentally 21 April is the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

Florence Neale (nee Neville) - Licfield Mercury 21 April 1989.png

Family Favourite

A Lichfield family that first met the Queen Mother 47 years ago was given VIP treatment for the Royal visit.
Florence Neale, her daughter and son-in-law Linda and Richard MacCormack, other daughter Cynthia McDonald and sister Susan James were all allocated special tickets for the Cathedral service so that they could be presented to the Queen Mother.
The meeting was arranged after Mr. MacCormack wrote to Clarence House telling how his wife, then just 15 months old, and her family had been singled out from the crowd by the Queen Mother during her first visit to the city in 1942. Accompanying King George VI, the then Queen Elizabeth had approached Mrs. Neale outside the Cathedral to comment on her beautiful curly haired baby daughter.
The moment was captured by a Mercury photographer and Mr. MacCormack, landlord of the Queen’s Head pub, in Lichfield, enclosed the old press cuttings with his letter to London asking if the family could meet the Queen Mother again.
“We wondered if we would even get a reply and we never thought she would stop to speak to us.” said Mr. MacCormack afterwards.
But at the start of the Cathedral service, the family was ushered to one side to be presented to the Queen Mother. And Mr. MaCormack was able to show the Royal visitor the treasured framed photograph of the first meeting, which now hangs proudly in the lounge of the pub, pointing out the family.
“It was wonderful, I was filled with emotion.” said Mrs. Neale, who gave the Queen Mother a posy of roses and spring flowers. “She thanked me and said what lovely memories she had of Lichfield.”
After the meeting the Queen Mother’s Private Secretary Sir Martin Gilliat came over to the family to reveal that Her Majesty had recalled the wartime visit while looking at the Mercury cuttings during her helicopter flight to the city.

What a smashing story and lovely memories for the family.

Black Sheep Sunday – John Britliff (The Killing Field) – Part 3

John Britliff is my wife’s 3x great grandfather. I have written about him twice before here and here.

In a nutshell John killed his wife on 27 November 1842. He was convicted of manslaughter at Lincoln assizes on 8 March 1843 and sentenced to 10 years transportation.

In fact John never left the country and he served his sentence aboard a prison ship the Warrior hulk at Woolwich.

In the 1851 census John was back living in Lincolnshire. So he must have been released early from his prison sentence.

In the last few weeks I found the evidence of his early release – a free pardon granted by Queen Victoria.

Below are the document images from Find My Past.

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Screenshot 2018-11-25 11.08.26

Victoria R

John Williams et al

Free Pardon

Whereas the following persons are under sentence of transportation on board the Warrior Hulk at Woolwich they having been convicted of felony at the times and places hereafter mentioned. Viz

John Williams at Welchpool in March 1843, Hy Biggs Horn Gardener at Hereford in March 1843, Wm Martin, Geo Jarvis, Chas Martin and Hezekial Folkes at Chelmford in March 1843, Morris Thomas at Haverford West, Edward Lilburn and John Britcliffe at Lincoln in March 1843, Edward Shenton, Jas White and Thomas Johnson at Stafford in March 1843, Neil Mc Gilvary at Glasgow in September 1842 and Jas Whistow at Chester in April 1843.

We in consideration of same circumstances humbly represented (?) unto us are Graciously pleased to extend our Grace and Mercy unto them and to Grant them our free pardon for the crimes of which they stand convicted.

12 April 1848

To be honest I could hardly believe it when I first found details of the pardon. Despite Internet searches I haven’t been able to find any other information about what seems to have been a whole raft of pardons granted by Queen Victoria around that time. Perhaps there was a need to create space for new prisoners – who knows. I would appreciate any information anyone might have to help me understand what was going on here.

I had wondered what became of the ten children of John and Sarah and believe I have been able to trace them all.

Thomas (born 1822 – my wife’s 2x great grandfather) – married Jane Johnson on 29 January 1848 at Waddingham, Lincolnshire They had eight children. Thomas died on1 July 1870 and is buried at All Saints, Wrawby, Lincolnshire.

John (born c1826) – married Sarah Lancaster in 1849. They had ten children. John died in 1901 in Wrawby.

Elizabeth (born 1828) – married William Greenwood on 23 June 1849 in Waddingham. As far as I can tell they didn’t have any children. Elizabeth died in January 1912 and is buried at Ulceby, Lincolnshire.

George (born c1828) – died at the age of 18 in November 1846 and is buried at St Mary & St Peter in Waddingham.

Robert (born c1831) – married Elizabeth Rhodes in 1856. They emigrated to Australia on 26 September 1859. They went on to have at least eight children. Robert died on 8 May 1907 in St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia.

Ann (born c1834) – married Gilbert Tyson on 23 October 1852 in Waddingham. They had ten children. Ann’s death is registered in Knaresborough, Yorkshire in the September quarter of 1914.

Mary (born c1836) – married John Risen on Christmas Day 1860 in Pocklington, Yorkshire. They had seven children before emigrating to Australia on 3 December 1880. Mary died in 1907 in Toora, Victoria, Australia.

William (born 1839) – married Hannah Girdam on 3 May 1866. They had two children before Hannah sadly died at the age of 24 in 1868. William remarried to Eliza Brader in 1883 and they had one son. William died in Waddingham in 1913.

Jane (born 1839) – married Thomas Hardy (no, not that one!!) at the age of 50 on 9 February 1890 at Holy Trinity & St Mary, Old Clee, Lincolnshire. Jane died at the age of 91 – her death is registered in the March quarter of 1930 in Glanford Brigg, Lincolnshire.

Joseph (born c1840) – married Charlotte Lacey in 1871. They had two children before emigrating to New Zealand on 18 September 1874. They had four more children in New Zealand. Jospeh died on 30 June 1906 at Southbridge, Canterbury, New Zealand.

So despite the terrible events of 1842 the children for the most part went on to have families of their own. Three moved to the Southern hemisphere and built lives far away. 

Given the wonders of the Internet and my blog I have been contacted by descendants of Robert Britliff who live in New Zealand and the family continues to thrive.

Allen Simpson (1923-1943) – Update

Allen Simpson is my 1st cousin 1x removed – in other words my dad’s cousin. Our common ancestors are James Dawson and Emma Buckley, my great grandparents.

Allen was killed in action during WW2 and in May 2012 I wrote about him here.

Allen was involved in Operation Slapstick in Italy and was a casualty in the sinking of  HMS Abdiel on 10 September 1943.

Earlier this year I was contacted by Philip after he read my post about Allen.

Philip’s father served in the same regiment as Allen and he survived the sinking of the Abdiel.  Philip was taking a trip to Italy to do some research and very kindly offered to photograph Allens grave in Bari War Cemetery and to place a poppy for me.

I received some fantastic photographs from Philip – see below.


I am extremely grateful to Philip – I know he had a wonderful time in Italy and that it was a very moving experience.

I have visited a number of Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemeteries in Northern France and it is just so emotional – the grounds are always immaculate and the atmosphere so peaceful.

Thomas Musgrove – Sunday Cinemas in Clitheroe

Thomas Musgrove is my uncle – my mum’s brother. His parents are Fred Ainsworth Stowell Musgrove and Florrie Musgrove.

During WW2 Tommy was a Stoker in the Royal Navy.

While home on leave in February 1942 he wrote to the local paper, the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times about Sunday opening of cinema’s. His letter was published on 13 February 1942.


Sir – I would like to make a suggestion regarding Sunday Cinemas. Being a member of the Forces, I am able to fully appreciate the enjoyment derived by attending a cinema performance, or any other form of entertainment on a Sunday evening. Regarding the letter by “Interested,” in your issue dated January 30th, he stated that if only one percent were saved the necessity of occasional visits to “the local,” the proposal was justified. I am in complete agreement with him on that.

We will now take for an example a young man, a teetotaller, called upon for service with the Forces, being stationed shall we say in the Clitheroe district. Being allowed to go “ashore” (as we say in the Navy), his first thoughts would be to find some form of entertainment, whereby he could occupy his few brief hours away from the hum-drum routine of the Forces. Meeting some of his friends, they would inform him that there were no cinemas open, and the young man would find himself wondering how he would spend his few precious hours. “As you know, there is no pleasure to be derived walking the streets in the black-out, whether it be wet or fine.” Meanwhile, his friends, who perchance like a drink, finally by a great amount of persuasion might induce him to “come and try one”; no doubt, feeling a bit down in the dumps, he might fall in with their suggestion. This can be used as an example of driving a man to drink. As being “ashore” say on the next Sunday, no doubt he would spend his evening by another visit to the “local.” If cinemas or any other places had been open the young man would not have fallen to the temptation.

That is one side to the question. Now we will deal with the public side. There are many men and women working on jobs of national importance. As most of these Government workshops are working on “full time,” a number of people are working whilst the majority of Clitheroe people are asleep. Working on the “night shift” for a week, Sunday may become their rest day before taking over a different shift. Working through the night necessitates the greater part of the day, after which they are back again at work. After six days of night work, it would be a great boon to these people to be able to go to some form of entertainment on a Sunday evening.

The managers of the three cinemas state that in their opinion the present catering for six days of the week, for the present population involved, appears adequate. Maybe they are right, and maybe they are not. Now, if we should say that each cinemas took it in turn to open on a Sunday evening, I am sure that the operators and attendants would have no objection to sacrificing one Sunday night in three, when around them so many great sacrifices are being made.

I am sure that if this suggestion was given a trial it would prove a success. So let us hope some sort of provision will be made. Meanwhile everyone can still pursue their religious activities and find time as for enjoyment.

(Stoker R.N.)

It seems as though the issue of opening cinemas on a Sunday was quite contentious with strong views expressed on both sides of the argument. The Clitheroe Town Council debated a request from Military Authorities to open cinemas on a Sunday as a temporary measure under wartime regulations. At their meeting on Tuesday 16 December 1941 the Town Council approved a motion supporting Sunday opening by 8 votes to 6.

In the same edition of the Clitheroe Advertiser and Times that uncle Tommy had his letter published, there was a brief article saying that “Both Houses of Parliament have now approved the Order permitting the Sunday opening of cinemas in Clitheroe. It now remains for an application on the subject to be made to the local Justices. Presumably such an application would have to be made by the cinema proprietors”.

Although I haven’t been able to find out when cinemas began opening on a Sunday there are certainly adverts in the local paper for Sunday shows in late 1944.

Grave Search at Rylstone, North Yorkshire

A day out in the Yorkshire Dales today looking for the gravestone of my 2x great grandparents James Paley and Mary Ann Paley (nee Spink).

I knew that they were buried at St Peter’s church in Rylstone, North Yorkshire, about seven miles north of Skipton.


So we set off this morning under grey clouds and rain. It’s only about an hour or so from our home and by the time we got there the weather had improved – although we got wet feet tramping through the grass in the grave yard.

Anyway we found the grave and I will post a blog story and photo’s next week.

St Peter’s was built in 1852-1853 to a design by the Lancaster architect E G Paley (as far as I can tell he is no relation to my Paley’s) replacing an earlier church on the site. Its total cost was £1700 (equivalent to £160,000 in 2015).


The church is a Grade II Listed Building and is an active Anglican church in the deanery of Skipton, the archdeaconry of Craven and the diocese of Bradford.

The churchyard contains four war graves, of a Yorkshire Regiment officer and Royal Navy seaman of the First World War and a Royal Artillery soldier and airman of the Second World War. We didn’t see those graves today so I think another visit is required.

Note the obligatory grazing sheep in our rural churchyards.

Genealogy News

I thought I would try a bit harder to keep up to date with what’s happening in the genealogy world outside my own blog. So in an effort to do this I just did a simple “genealogy news” search on Google.

One of the first hits I got was blog by Amy Johnson Crow asking the question Is Genealogy Blogging Dead? This is certainly an interesting read and looks at blogging alongside the rise of social media platforms like Facebook.

I have to say I haven’t yet embraced or more accurately combined my blogging with social media. True, I do share my regular blogs on my personal Facebook page but these are lost among the many other posts that appear there.

One blog I read that has recently undergone a makeover is My Descendants Ancestors  and I know that Elizabeth, who owns the blog, also has a dedicated Facebook page and Twitter page. And I’m sure that must help with her blog’s profile and traffic.

Seeing what Elizabeth does has inspired me to try to get to grips a bit more and see what I can do to improve the traffic to my blog. I generally just blog about my own family and my wife’s family – so perhaps my audience is not that great anyway. However I have made connections from distant family members who have discovered my blog and are now “followers”.

I blog because I want to record and tell my family stories – I’m doing it for me and if others find it interesting that’s just great.

Here are some other bits of genealogy news that you might find interesting:- denies exploiting users DNA – BBC News

Abandoned baby finds family after 60 years – BBC News

Hero’s First World War medal reunited with family…99 years after his death – Dorset Echo


This is another photograph from my collection of unknown people.

The photograph is printed on a post card. The imprint on the reverse of the photograph is Charles Howell, Official Photographer, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool.

Whoever these two fine looking gentleman are they are presumably enjoying a holiday or day trip to Blackpool. I don’t know when the photograph was taken however. I do know that some of Howell’s photographs had a very helpful date stamp on the reverse – sadly that is not the case with this one.


There is quite a bit of information on the Internet about Charles Howell including this interesting blog post by Photo-Sleuth on his blog here.

It appears that Charles Howell opened a studio in 1913 at Bank Hey Street, Blackpool – just behind the promenade close to the Tower. He specialised in producing novelty caricature portraits. You could be photographed wearing a top hat, playing a banjo or holding a giant bottle of beer. You could also be “snapped” on a paper mache horse or a real live donkey.

However his trademark was a motorcycle (like the one above). If you follow the link to Photo-Sleuth you will see a photograph of the outside of Howell’s studio with the headline “Be Photographed on the Motor Cycle”.

Happy Days!!