My Family

Posts about my family

Sunday’s Obituary – Thomas Fawcett (1855-1885)

Thomas Fawcett was born in Lancaster, Lancashire – his birth is registered in the fourth quarter of 1854.

Thomas married Hannah Musgrove on 28 May 1876 in Lancaster. Hannah is my 1st cousin 3x removed. Her parents are William Musgrove and Elizabeth Leach. Our common ancestors are William Musgrove and Harriot Francis, my 3x great grandparents.

Thomas and Hannah had at least six children (one of whom died in infancy) and on Christmas Eve 1885 the children would have gone to bed excited, eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. However as things turned out they would have a totally different Christmas.

I recently discovered the following article in the Lancaster Gazette of 30 December 1885.

FATAL ACCIDENT THROUGH FALLING DOWNSTAIRS

On Saturday, at noon, an inquest was held at the Town Hall, before Mr Holden, coroner, touching the death of Thomas Fawcett, table baize grainer, who met with his death through falling downstairs early on Christmas morning.

The Coroner said the jury had been called together to enquire into the death of Thomas Fawcett. The first aspect of the case, as reported to him, was rather alarming, but he believed that the medical evidence, when legally directed, had somewhat modified that aspect.

The following evidence was then given:-

Hannah Fawcett said: The deceased was my husband, and was 31 years of age. He lived in Railway Street, and was a table baize grainer. He had his supper about a quarter or twenty minutes past eleven on Thursday night, and then went out “singing” with some friends. When I next saw him, about half-past four, he was in Mr Woodhouses’s – my next door neighbour – and both Mr and Mrs Woodhouse were then in the house. He came home with me. I took him into the children’s room for the purpose of putting toys into their stockings, as he was very fond of the children, and I left him there. I never saw him again alive. I went to bed – leaving him in the children’s room – and fell asleep almost immediately, and at ten minutes past nine on Christmas morning I found him lying at the bottom of the stairs.

Thomas Winder, labourer, of Scotforth, was called to give evidence, but appeared to be under the influence of drink, and the Coroner requested the police sergeant to lock him up for contempt of Court.

Robert Woodhouse, painter, of 8 Railway Street, said: I live next door to deceased, and saw him soon after four o’clock on Christmas morning. I had not been with him, but he came with a party and sang in front of my house, and I invited a few of them in – deceased being amongst those who came in. Deceased appeared as if he had had something to drink; but I could not say he was drunk. They stayed with me a short time – not more than five minutes altogether. I did not see Mrs Fawcett come into the house. Deceased was able to walk and went out of the house unassisted by anyone. I gave them something to drink, and did not see any of the party drink anything, while in my house. They sang in front of deceased’s house as well as mine, as we lived next door.

James Gifford, cowman, of 12 Railway Street, said: Deceased’s house is between mine and last witness’s. I did not see deceased on Christmas Eve; but about a quarter or half-past nine on Christmas morning Mrs Woodhouse told me “Tom Fawcett has tumbled downstairs and is dying.” I went into the house at once to render what assistance I could, and he was dead. He was lying at the foot of the stairs with his back to the passage – his feet being towards the stairs bottom. The information was that “he was dying;” but I found him dead and cold, as if he had been dead a few hours. There was a small pool of blood underneath his head. Mr Woodhouse and I took him up and carried him into the parlour. There was no sign of a scuffle having taken place at the bottom of the stairs when I went in; and his clothes and the furniture were not disarranged.

Robert Woodhouse recalled, said he had assisted the last witness to carry deceased into the parlour, and was present when PC Baxter came. The body was in the same position when the policeman came as when they left it in the parlour, and had not been touched.

PC Baxter said: I received information of the deceased’s death at twenty minutes to eleven o’clock on Christmas day from William Fawcett, deceased’s brother. He asked me to go up to his brother’s house as he had dropped down dead. I went up at once, and found deceased lying in the parlour on the floor fully dressed – except his hat and shoes. His clothes were not disarranged. I examined his head and found a wound at the back of it which had been bleeding. The pool of blood was about a yard from the bottom step to the middle of the passage. There was not much blood then; it had dried up. He was cold and dead, as if he had been dead some hours. There was no disarrangement of the furniture. I saw a slipper about half-way up the stairs which had belonged to deceased. The stairs were not very steep – being ordinary wooden stairs. I saw no obstruction at the bottom of the stairs, and examined carefully for any trace of blood but could find none except that mentioned.

Dr Parker said: I was called in to see the deceased about ten o’clock on Christmas morning, and got there about half-past. Deceased was lying in the front parlour. I did not examine him then. I saw he was dead and had been dead sometime. Subsequently under your directions as Coroner I re-examined him at about quarter-past twelve. He was then in the same position as before, and I examined the body externally. There was a wound about the size of half a crown on the back of the head. It was almost as deep as the bone – about 3-8ths of an inch. I made a post mortem examination – being assisted by Mr ???? – and we opened the chest first. We found all the organs quite healthy, and there was nothing to account for death. We then opened the head. Beneath the wound was a fracture of the skull extending about half an inch upwards and two inches down from the wound. On removing the skull cap and in the cavities of the brain we found about four [ounces?] of blood, pressing on the whole surface of the brain substance. That of itself was sufficient to cause death and was practically the cause of the deceased’s death. The fracture could have been caused by falling backwards downstairs and knocking his head against the tiled floor. The external wound was not of such a nature as to have been caused by falling against a sharp substance, as the tissues were crushed, and must have been caused by falling against a flat [surface?]. We examined the other parts of the body – [particularly?] the hands, and they did not appear to have been in conflict with any one – and found no sign of violence whatever. In my opinion deceased’s death was caused by falling backwards downstairs. The witness Gifford mentioned something to me last [night?] about hearing a noise, but he has not said anything about it in his evidence.

James Gifford was then recalled and said he had heard a sound coming out of deceased’s house as of a [????] falling about six o’clock in the morning. It was [????] thud, and was followed by no cry for help. He had no idea what it might be, but thought, in his own mind, that the table must have fallen.

The Coroner, in summing up, said the jury had heard the evidence relating to the untimely death of the man. Deceased had been out singing till half-past four on Christmas morning, and on returning home went first to a neighbour’s house where he stayed five minutes, and where it was observed he was not quite [????]. His wife was looking out for him, and took him home. She left him, as she said, very tenderly [????] putting toys into his children’s stockings, so that when they woke on Christmas morning they might find some little token of affection from their father. The evidence seemed to show that the deceased had been in children’s room, and might possibly have gone to sleep for an hour or two. About six o\clock he seemed to have awakened, and in trying to get to his room in a drowsy, sleepy, almost helpless condition about half-way up the stairs, he fell back and fractured his skull, and so met with his death. [I am happy?] to think no one seemed responsible for the unhappy death, and if the jury were satisfied from the evidence, they would say that “the deceased met his [untimely?] death by falling down stairs.” – The Jury immediately returned a verdict to that effect.

Referring to the witness Winder, the Coroner asked Chief Constable Ward what had become of him, and was informed that he had been locked up. The Coroner asked when he might be expected to have recovered from the effects of libations, and the Chief Constable said “probably about five or six o’clock.” – The Coroner then gave orders that he might be set at liberty directly at four o’clock, and hoped it would be a lesson to him.

It’s hard to imagine what life must have been like for Hannah and the children following Thomas’s death.

After more than four years Hannah remarried to Alexander Billington, a mason’s labourer. In the 1891 census Hannah and Alexander are living together at Fosters Court in Lancaster – none of Hannah’s children are there.

In that 1891 census three of the children, Arthur (12), Agnes Ann (10) and Elizabeth Leach (8) are recorded at Ripley Hospital, Endowed Charitable Trust for Fatherless Children. Another, Christopher Nathan (5) is with his grandparents William and Elizabeth Musgrove and Florence (15) is working as a “cotton rover” and living at Adelaide Street, Lancaster.

I do wonder whether Alexander Billington didn’t want to take on the children or perhaps it was just not practical – however I do feel some animosity towards him, maybe unfairly.

Did Hannah lose touch with her children after she remarried?

In any event Hannah was dead by early 1896 at the age of 41.

I really need to do some more work to find out what became of the children after Hannah’s death. Maybe that will be the subject of another blog post.

Sunday’s Obituary – Philip Melville Cardell (1917-1940)

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Philip Melville Cardell is my 3rd cousin 1x removed. His parents are Harold Stanley Cardell and Elsie Louise Gawthrop. Our common ancestors are Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley, my 3x great grandparents. Philip is on the right in the above photograph

I wrote about Philip in Military Monday back in January 2012.

I have now found a report of his death in the Biggleswade Chronicle on 11 October 1940.

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P/O P CARDELL KILLED

Pilot-Officer Philip Cardell, elder son of Mr and Mrs H S Cardell, Paxton Manor, St. Neots, has been killed while on active service.

Pilot-Officer Philip Cardell had taken part in a number of air battles and accounted for a number of German aircraft. In his last battle he had just shot down an enemy plane when his plane was seriously damaged. Both he and his companion baled out. Mr Cardell fell into the sea, his companion landed safely. After the rescue, attempts at artificial respiration were made, but without success.

Philip Cardell, who was 23, was a general favourite. He was always cheerful, bright, energetic and kind. He was educated at Paxton Park. After leaving school he joined his father and became a very efficient and capable farmer, with an excellent knowledge of both the practical and scientific sides of the industry. He thoroughly enjoyed various kinds of sport; hockey, badminton, golf and lawn tennis in particular. Some time before the war started he and his brother entered the RAF Vol. Reserve for preliminary training.

Mr Cardell was a Society Steward at St. Neots Methodist Church.

The funeral was at Great Paxton Thursday week.

Philip had made a will, presumably before starting his RAF service. You can see from the image below that he left £432 6s 8d to his parents Harold Stanley Cardell and Elsie Louise Cardell.

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Travel Tuesday – Luther Espley (1915-1989)

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

Do you have images, quotes or stories about trips your ancestors or family took during their lives? Or have to ventured out on travels to your ancestral homeland as part of your genealogy research?

Luther Espley is my wife’s 2nd cousin 1x removed. He was born on 20 April 1915 in Burnley, Lancashire, to parents John Espley and Sarah Booth.

Luther married Edna Adelaide Currin in Burnley on 11 May 1940 and they had one son, John in 1945.

The family decided to emigrate to Los Angeles, California, in 1947 – following in the footsteps of Luther’s step-sister Jenny Booth.

Luther passed away on 11 January 1989, and Edna on 1 August 1993, both in Los Angeles.

I have just come across the following article from the Burnley Express of 8 March 1947 about their impending departure.

Burnley Express - 8 March 1947.pngGoing Where The Sun Will Shine

To seek sunshine, a better standard of living and better prospects for the future, Mr Luther Espley, his wife, Mrs Edna Espley, and their 19-months-old son, John, will leave England in three weeks’ time for California, where they will live near Los Angeles.

Mrs Espley and the baby leave this week-end for Liverpool, and the family will sail from Southampton in ss America on March 28th. In America they will join Mr Espley’s sister, who went to live there 22 years ago. Now Mrs Jeny Holden, she was well known in Burnley as a tailoress in Briercliffe Road, where she took a shop after having been employed at Primrose Bank Institution. In Burnley she will be remembered as Jenny Booth. Mrs Holden, who came to Burnley on a visit 10 years ago, is connected with the Lancashire Society of Los Angeles.

Mr Espley is at present employed in the Water Department testing office. He joined the department on leaving school. Being a local Territorial he was called up with the 52nd LAA Regiment, RA, on the outbreak of war, and served in France, being evacuated at Dunkirk. Later he served with the Eighth Army throughout the desert campaign, and was released from the Forces in December, 1945.

“During my travels,” he says, “I was attached to the American Fifth Army in Italy for a long time, and their descriptions of life in America fitted in with what I am looking for. We are going because we think living conditions are better there, and there will be better opportunities and prospects, especially for the youngster. And there’s plenty of sunshine all the year round.”

I have lots of admiration for Luther, Edna and John, especially for their adventurous spirit. I hope that they enjoyed their new life in California.

Black Sheep Sunday – Sarah Dawson (nee Hopkinson) – Part 2

Four months have passed since the troubles reported in the Burnley Express on 18  August 1886. But it seems as though things came to a head again before the end of August. See part one here.

Part two of the feud between the Quinn’s and the Dawson’s in Barrowford, Lancashire, was reported in the Burnley Express of 18 December 1886

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COLNE COUNTY COURT

Monday – Before his honour Judge Gates QC

A QUARREL BETWEEN NEIGHBOURS. Charlotte Quinn, weaver, of the Park, Barrowford, sued John Dawson, Barrowford, for £12, damages for an assault committed upon her by defendant’s wife Sarah Dawson. Mr Robinson, Keighley, appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr J Sutcliffe represented the defendants. Mr Robinson stated that upon the 31 August John Dawson was in the house of the mother of the plaintiff. Mrs Dawson appeared to object to him staying there, and she went to fetch him out. He went out and some disturbance took place in the street between Mrs Dawson and one of the plaintiff’s sisters. Plaintiff heard a noise and she went out of the house to ascertain the cause, but she took no part in the bother. She had been standing on the door steps a minute when Mrs Dawson rushed into the house and brought out a large four-legged wooden stool, which she threw and hit her a violent blow upon the side of her face. She was rendered insensible by the injuries, in consequence of which she had been very ill for over a fortnight. The damages were for loss of work, doctors’ bills etc. Mr Sutcliffe stated that the row arose in consequence of the Quinns harbouring Mrs Dawson’s husband. He admitted that Mrs Dawson had thrown the stool, but it did not strike the plaintiff who stumbled and fell over a parapet. His honour said the only question to decide was whether the stool thrown by the defendant struck the plaintiff or not, and upon that he did not think there could be any doubt. He would therefore give a verdict for £5 5s.

So ended an “Annus Horribilis” for John and Sarah – which started badly with John’s accident at work back in February.

As far as I know there were no other incidents involving the Dawson family and the Quinn family – at least none that I can find in  the newspaper archives!!

Black Sheep Sunday – Sarah Dawson (nee Hopkinson) – Part 1

John Dawson is my 1st cousin 4x removed. His parents are John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

John married Sarah Hopkinson sometime in the Summer of 1857 – the marriage was registered in Q3 at Skipton, Yorkshire.

posted last week about John being injured working as an “engine tenter” in February 1886 and whet your appetite for more posts.

Some six months later in the Summer of 1886 it seems as though there was a bit of marital and neighbour disharmony as reported in the Burnley Express of 11 August 1886.

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Sarah Quinn, of Barrowford, was summoned for assaulting Sarah Dawson, wife of John Dawson, of Barrowford. There was a cross summons charging Dawson with assaulting Quinn. Mr Robinson appeared for Quinn, and Mr M Stuttard represented Dawson. Mrs Dawson stated that on the 31st ult. she saw her husband coming up the street in drink. He went to Quinn’s house, and she followed, and asked him to go home, but he refused. Mrs Quinn, sen., and her daughters followed her home, and defendant hit her on the eye, and pushed the door in her face. By Mr Robinson: She did not strike her husband. She did not call Sarah Quinn a foul name, nor slap her face. She threw a stool in self defence at the family, but it did not strike either of them. Elizabeth Smith spoke to seeing the Quinn family surrounding Mrs Dawson’s house, and saw Sarah Quinn strike Mrs Dawson on the face. She did not see the stool strike any of the girls. Both cases were dismissed.

Perhaps a satisfactory end to a domestic dispute you might be forgiven for thinking. However this is not the last you will hear about “the stool”. Part two of the saga continues next week.

Workday Wednesday – John Dawson (Engine Tenter)

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.

John Dawson is my 1st cousin 4x removed. His parents are John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

John married Sarah Hopkinson sometime in the Summer of 1857. The marriage is registered in Q3 at Skipton, Yorkshire.

John’s main occupation as described in the census returns for 1871, 1881 and 1891 is “engine tenter”. I have mentioned John in an earlier post here.  He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather (my 4x great grandfather – John Dawson) of looking after the machines and engines at Ickornshaw Mill in Cowling, West Yorkshire.

I must admit I hadn’t given much thought to how difficult and dangerous the job of “engine tenter” might be – that is until I came across the following article from the Burnley Express of 6 March 1886.

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ACCIDENT – On Friday week, John Dawson, engine-tenter, Barrowford, met with an accident. He and three or four other workmen were fixing a new beam-key in the engine-house at Mr Barrowclough’s mill, when suddenly the jenny chain which had been used for raising the beam broke, and the beam fell with a force of over ten tons on Dawson’s left hand, cutting off two fingers, and holding the man fast with the long finger, which had subsequently to be amputated. The accident happened in the chamber of the engine shed, and Dawson, realising his position, kept from falling below. A new chain was procured, and Dawson was released. The hand has been dressed by Dr Pim.

As it turned out 1886 would continue to be a difficult year for John – he appears in the next two instalments of Black Sheep Sunday together with his wife Sarah.

Military Monday – Thomas Baldwin (1888-1917)

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.

Thomas Baldwin is my 1st cousin 2x removed. He was born sometime in the September quarter of 1888 in Eastburn, near Keighley to parents Francis Baldwin and Ellen Dawson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ellen Gawthrop, my 2x great grandparents.

Thomas is a cousin of my grandfather, Joseph Dawson and also of Prince Dawson who died in WW1 on 21 December 1915.

In the 1901 census at the age of 12 Thomas was working as a spinner at a local worsted mill. Ten years later the 1911 census describes his occupation as a warp dresser.

Unfortunately there are no surviving military records for Thomas on either Ancestry or Find My Past so I can’t find out very much information about his service.

I know that he served in the 2nd Battalion / 4th Division of Duke of Wellingtons (West Riding Regiment) holding the rank of Private and his service number was 267218.

Thomas died of wounds on 4 May 1917 while serving in France & Flanders. It is highly likely that he was wounded during the Battle of Arras.  According to information on the excellent website Craven’s Part in The Great War news of his death wasn’t given to his mother until August 1917.

From the same source it seems that Thomas was a prominent player in the Eastburn Cricket Club’s first eleven.

Thomas is buried in Douai Communal Cemetery in France.

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The following information is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Douai was occupied by French troops and the Royal Naval Air Service on the 22nd September, 1914, and captured by the Germans on the 1st October; it remained in enemy hands until the 17th October, 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station was posted in the town from the 28th October, 1918, to the 25th November, 1919.

Douai Communal Cemetery was used during the occupation years of 1914-18 by the Germans for prisoners of war and British, French, Russian, Rumanian and Italian soldiers, as well as German soldiers were buried in it.

During the 1939-45 War Douai was in British hands until the German break through in May, 1940. The 1st Corps Headquarters were at Cuincy, on the western edge of the town, from October, 1939 onwards and Douai was one of the towns from which the Allied advance into Belgium was launched early in May, 1940, only to be followed by the collapse of the French and Belgian units and the consequent withdrawal of the British element towards Dunkirk.

There are now 222 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war commemorated in this site, 19 being unidentified. There are a further 46 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-1945 war here. There are also 247 French, 113 Russsian and 13 Romanian burials of the 1914-1918 war here.