My Family

Posts about my family

Sunday’s Obituary – John Musgrove (c1833-1884)

John Musgrove is my 2x great grandfather. He was born c1833 to parents Joseph Musgrove and Jane Dewhurst.

On 6 October 1855 John married Catherine Ainsworth at the Parish Church in Blackburn, Lancashire. They had at least 5 children:-

Susannah – born 2 August 1856 – died 1 February 1869
George – born 20 August 1857 – died 20 August 1857
Thomas Ainsworth – born 12 December 1860 – died 16 April 1928
Joseph – born 13 April 1864 – died 3 June 1948
James – born 5 August 1868 – died 23 November 1868

I have found John on the 1841, 1851, 1861 and 1881 census returns. His occupation varied over the years and he was described as a crofter, a carter and a general labourer. In the 1871 census Catherine is living at 18 Ellen Street, Over Darwen, Lancashire and I assume that John was away from home at the time of the census.

On the 2 December 1858 tragedy struck the family when John’s father, Joseph Musgrove, died as the result of a fall at home. Here’s a blog post about his death – Sunday’s Obituary – Joseph Musgrove

Ever since I started my interest in genealogy and researching my family history my mother has regularly told me of a story about a suicide by hanging somewhere in the past. So I was aware that at some point I may find the evidence.

Back in August this year I finally got round to ordering a copy of John Musgrove’s death certificate. And now I have the confirmation of the family story – cause of death was “suicide by hanging – unsound mind”.

John Musgrove - Death Certificate

According to the death certificate John died at Railway Road, Clitheroe, Lancashire, on 17 September 1884. An inquest was held by the Deputy Coroner J C Anderson on the same date.

The family story was that John returned home one night and the door was locked. Whether he had been drinking, whether John and Catherine had argued, I guess I will never know. Catherine refused to let him in and John replied that he might as well kill himself. If the story is to be believed then Catherine threw him a rope.

Despite my best efforts I have not been able to find any record of the inquest. I have tried Clitheroe library and been to Blackburn library to search the newspaper archives. I’ve also spoken with the Blackburn Coroners Office.  There is a death notice in the local Blackburn paper but no report of the inquest. I discovered during this search that inquest records/reports were considered to be the property of the coroner and were most likely destroyed when the coroner retired.

So sadly it seems I will never learn any more about the tragic events of Wednesday 17 September 1884.

Mining Disaster – James Ernest Gawthrop (1887-1928)

I was recently trawling through the newspaper archives on Find My Past and came across the article below from the Leeds Intelligencer of 17 January 1928.

Leeds Intelligencer 7 January 1928

Leeds Intelligencer
7 January 1928

I soon realised that this looked suspiciously like my relative James Ernest Gawthrop, my 2nd cousin 3x removed. His parents were Thomas Gawthrop and Christiana Hey. Our common ancestors were John Gawthrop and Sarah Brown, my 4x great grandparents.

I already had a bit of information about James – I know for example that he was born in 1887 – his birth is registered in Q3 in Keighley, West Yorkshire. As far as I can tell James was the youngest of nine children.

In the 1901 census, at the age of 13 James was working as a “worsted spinner and doffer”.

Sometime in the summer of 1909 James married Annie Morris in Halifax.

In the 1911 census James and Annie are living in Keighley with their son Benjamin (born in 1910) and James is employed as a “mohair warehouseman”.

They had two more children – Nellie in 1912 and Lewis in 1914. I assume that James served in WW1 but I can’t find any remaining military records for him on either Ancestry or Find My Past.

I already knew that James died in 1928 and his death was registered in Q1 in Hemsworth, Yorkshire. This is supported by the newspaper article in terms of date and location.

However there is one obvious discrepancy – the newspaper report says that “Gawthrop leaves a widow and eight children”. That clearly doesn’t agree with the information I already had. So what’s going on? I decided to do a bit more digging.

I found a death record for Annie Gawthrop registered in Keighley in Q2 of 1914. That was the same quarter that the birth of Lewis was registered. Had Annie died in child birth? That’s certainly a possibility.

Next I found another marriage for James E Gawthrop – this time to Maud M Morris registered in Q2 1919 in Halifax. OK, same surname as Annie and same location as the marriage to Annie. Is this just a coincidence? A bit more digging required I think.

Searching the 1891 and 1901 census returns for Halifax and things started to look a bit clearer.

Below is the 1901 census clearly showing Annie Morris (14) and Maud M Morris (10) – sisters. Interestingly there are two other siblings called Nellie and Lewis – the same names that James and Annie gave two of their children. Their other son Benjamin was probably named after James’s grandfather Benjamin Gawthrop.

Morris Census - 1901

So I am as confident as I can be that I now understand what happened here.  James married his sister-in-law.

James and Maud it seems had five children between 1919 and 1925, all registered in Barnsley, South Yorkshire:-

Margaret and Hilda – December 1919
Doreen – March 1921
Betty – March 1923
Ada – June 1925

After James died on 3 January 1928 Maud Mary married William Martin sometime in Q4 1928, this marriage is registered in Barnsley. There is a death record for Maud M Martin registered in Halifax in Q2 1957.

So without any certificates I can’t confirm any of this but it makes for an interesting story anyway.

I suspect that after Annie died inn 1914 maybe James was called up for service in WW1. Perhaps Benjamin, Nellie and Lewis went to live with Annie’s parents in Halifax while James was away. When James came back home romance blossomed between him and Maud Mary. The rest as they say is history!!

Sunday’s Obituary – Harrison Musgrove (1858-1911)

Harrison Musgrove is my great grand uncle.  His parents are Harrison Musgrove and Jane Rooking (my 2x great grandparents).

Harrison was born on 29 May 1858 in Kendal, Westmorland.  He remained in Kendal until sometime in the mid 1880’s.  On the 1871 census at the age of 12 his occupation is given as “tobacconist” and in 1881 he was working as a “farm servant indoors”.

Sometime in Q2 1883 Harrison married Jane Harrison in Kendal.  As far as I can tell Harrison and Jane had at least six children:-

Agnes Jane – 1881; Eliza – 1886; Alice – 1888; Elinor – 1892; Rachel – 1894; Elizabeth Ann – 1896

In the 1891 census the family were living near Horton in Ribblesdale and Harrison was working as a “general labourer”.  By 1901 they had moved to Holme, Lancashire and Harrison was now a “limestone quarryman”.

The family continued their regular travels and in 1911 they were living in Halifax, West Yorkshire.  Harrison was employed as a “quarryman”.

I have today found the following article from the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer of 15 July 1911.

Harrison Musgrove 1911DEATHS FROM HEAT

A farm labourer, named Harrison Musgrove, aged 45 years, died from the effects of the intense heat on Thursday, at Burton-in-Lonsdale, four miles from Ingleton.  Dr Troughton was able to certify that death was due to heat apoplexy.  Musgrove hailed from Jubilee Street, Halifax, where his wife is now living.

This was the first time I had come across suggestions  that there was a heat wave in the summer of 1911.  I was able to find a report from The Independent newspaper from July 2006 with details about the Long, hot summer: The Great British heatwave of 1911

Harrison Musgrove ProbateHarrison left a will with effects of £5 going to his wife Jane.


Military Monday – Ernest J Jackson

Ernest J Jackson is my 2nd cousin 2x removed. He is the son of George Ernest Jackson and Elizabeth Ann Gawthrop. Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley – my 3x great grandparents.

Ernest was born about 1897. He had and older brother and sister – Harry Jackson and Florence May Jackson. The family lived in the Padiham area of Lancashire.

Below is a newspaper cutting from the Burnley Express of 11 September 1915.

Ernest Jackson


Mr and Mrs Jackson, of The Anchorage, East Beach, Lytham, had a postcard from their son, Sapper E Jackson, of the Royal Engineers, recently, to say hat he had been wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel, Sapper Jackson took part in the fighting around Hooge, and there it was that he was wounded. The same night that he was wounded he was taken to a dressing station away from the firing line, and subsequently reached the Canadian Hospital at Le Treporte. He is progressing favourably, though the wound is painful. Sapper Jackson pays a tribute to the nurses, who, he says, are kindness itself.

Sapper Jackson has been recommended for the D.C.M. for bravery in carrying his officer, who was wounded, out of danger, under a heavy fire. He is only 18 years of age. He was educated at Sedbergh School, and was a member of the Officers Training Corps there, but preferred going in the ranks to obtaining a commission. He is a son of Mr Jackson, who until two and a half years ago lived in Padiham as a cotton manufacturer, being also interested in the Sadden Printing Co. Sapper E Jackson is a nephew of the late Mr Charles Laycock, of Sabden, and grandson of the late Mr Israel Gawthrop, of Sabden.

His brother, Corpl. H Jackson, is serving in the County Palatine R.F.A., and Miss Jackson has gone for training as a nurse.

Thriller Thursday – Ernest Espley (1884-1956)

Ernest Espley is the brother of my wife’s grandfather.  He was born in 1884 in Biddulph, Staffordshire.  His parents were Frederick Espley and Frances Owen.

I have Ernest on the census returns for 1891 and 1901 in Biddulph.  In 1901 he was working as driver in a coal mine.

By 1911 Ernest had a complete change of career and location.  He was now employed as a Police Constable and living in the West Derby area of Liverpool.

1911 Census

1911 Census

A trawl through the newspaper archives on Find My Past produced the following article from the Manchester Courier on 26 August 1905.

Manchester Courier

Manchester Courier

All in a days work for a brave “bobby”.

Sunday’s Obituary – Ellen Hurtley (1858-1934)

My great grandmother Ellen Hurtley (nee Paley) died on this day in 1934 at the age of 75.

Ellen is one of my ancestors with missing information because I can’t find a registered birth for her. I know from census returns and from her death certificate that she was born about 1859. I have searched the GRO records both online and on microfiche at Leeds Library. I am fairly confident that there is no birth registered [UPDATED].  Well what do I know!!  One of my regular readers, Richard Thornton, has emailed me with details of a birth registered in Skipton Q3 1858 for Ellen Saley – I’ll be ordering the certificate today.

Ellen’s parents were James Paley and Mary Anne Spink. They had at least six other children and I have been able to find registered births for five of those children. The other missing birth is for Mary Paley.

Thankfully I made a breakthrough recently!!!

I discovered a baptism record for Ellen Paley and Mary Paley on 3 December 1858 at Conistone in the Yorkshire Dales. Ellen and Mary were twins.

Ellen & Mary Paley Baptism - Burnsall 1858







I have been able to find Ellen on all the census returns from 1861 to 1911. She was at home with her parents in 1861 and 1871. Then in 1881 she was working as a “domestic servant” at 4 Water Street, Skipton for Margaret Cooper (widow).

Ellen married James Hurtley on 5 February 1885 in the parish church at Rilstone, near Skipton. They were living in Flasby at the time of the 1891 census then in Silsden (1901) and finally Cononley in 1911.

James and Ellen had at least seven children:-

Rhoda – Abt December 1885
Jim – Abt March 1887
Jessie – Abt June 1889
Maggie – Abt March 1892
Nellie – 9 September 1894
Tom – Abt September 1897
Alice – 29 October 1900 (my grandmother)

It also seems that Ellen had a daughter before she married James Hurtley – Annie Paley (birth registered September1881). I haven’t yet obtained a birth certificate for Annie so haven’t been able to confirm whether or not a father is shown.

Ellen’s death certificate shows that she died at home – 58 Main Street, Cononley and that her daughter Jessie Brown was present at death.

Below is a photograph of Ellen Hurtley (nee Paley) and my grandmother Alice Dawson (nee Hurtley).

Ellen Hurtley & Alice Dawson