Benjamin Gawthrop

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!!

Military Monday – Jack Gawthrop (1899-1918)

Jack Gawthrop is my 3rd cousin 2x removed. His parents are Benjamin Gawthrop and Emily Ann Thurlow. Our common ancestors are John Gawthrop and Sarah Brown, my 4x great grandparents.

Jack was born about 1899 – his birth is registered at Hendon, Middlesex in the March quarter of that year.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any remaining records of Jack’s military service either on or I did find some details on and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website,

I know that Jack served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Prince of Wales’s Own West Yorkshire Regiment. His service number was 52976.

Jack died of wounds on 2 April 1918 serving in France and Flanders and he is buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension.

The following information is from the CWGC website.

For much of the First World War, Abbeville was headquarters of the Commonwealth lines of communication and No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals were stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. The communal cemetery was used for burials from November 1914 to September 1916, the earliest being made among the French military graves. The extension was begun in September 1916.

During the early part of the Second World War, Abbeville was a major operational aerodrome, but the town fell to the Germans at the end of May 1940. On 4 June, an attempt was made by the 51st Division, in conjunction with the French, to break the German bridgehead, but without success. Towards the end of 1943, eight large ski shaped buildings appeared near Abbeville. These proved to be storage units for flying bomb components and they were heavily bombed by Commonwealth air forces. Abbeville was retaken on 4 September 1944 by Canadian and Polish units.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery contains 774 Commonwealth burials of First World War and 30 from the Second. The Extension contains 1,754 First World War burials and 348 from the Second.

The Commonwealth sections of both cemetery and extension were designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.

Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension

Christmas Eve Weddings

Happy Christmas 2012 to all my blog followers and readers.

I thought I would just have a look and see what family events have taken place on Christmas Eve in the past.  I discovered at least three weddings within a seven year period between 1859 and 1866.

Benjamin Gawthrop & Elizabeth Eastwood

Benjamin is my 2nd great grand uncle and he married Elizabeth Eastwood in 1859. According to the record in Ancestry they were both 21 years old. The marriage is registered in Colne, Lancashire. The grooms father was Martin Gawthrop (my 3x great grandfather) and the brides father was Richard Eastwood.

Benjamin and Ann had at least two children – Ann and Benjamin.

Ellen Carradice & Robert Brockbank

Ellen is my 2nd great grand aunt and she married Robert Brockbank in 1864. According to the marriage certificate they were both 24 years old. The marriage took place at Kendal parish church in Westmorland. The grooms father was Samuel Brockbank – a woollen spinner and the brides father was John Carradice (my 3x great grandfather) who was a weaver.


Margaret Dawson & Abel Ellison

Margaret is my 2nd great grand aunt and she married Abel Ellison in 1866. Abel was about 28 years old and Margaret one year younger. The marriage took place at St. Andrew’s church in Kildwick, West Yorkshire. The brides father was Thomas Dawson (my 3x great grandfather).

What a magical time to be getting married. I hope they all had wonderful celebrations.

Sunday’s Obituary – Benjamin Gawthrop

I have written about my cousin, Benjamin Gawthrop, twice already, here and here.

Since then I have been lucky to make contact with one of Benjamin’s grandchildren and she very kindly send me the photograph and the article below from The Australian Baptist, 3 July 1928.

Death of Rev. B Gawthrop

“ Christian Gentleman”

Tributes to his life and ministry

After a protracted illness, Rev. Benjamin Gawthrop, A.T.S., passed into the Eternal Presence late on Saturday night last at a private hospital in Randwick (Sydney). Though his death, judged from the nature of his illness, seemed imminent, the end came more suddenly than was expected. Within twenty-four hours of his passing, all the members of his family had been with him, but none of them thought he was so near life’s close. Happily, those closing hours brought consciousness and Mr. Gawthrop was able to enjoy his last fellowship with those dearest to him

In his death the Baptist denomination in New South Wales has lost one of its ablest, wisest and most gifted ministers, and his passing leaves another gap in the fast thinning ranks of our senior ministers.

It is twenty years since Mr. Gawthrop came to Australia, and up to the time that his health began to fail, he occupied a commanding place in our ministry, and exerted wide and beneficient influence. He was one of our Greathearts, radiating sunshine and goodwill wherever he went and in whatever he did.

Mr. Gawthrop was a native of Colne, Lancashire, England. Had he lived till August he would have reached his  59th milestone on life’s journey. Educated at Rawdon College, where he gained his A.T.S. degree, he entered upon his first pastorate as minister of the church at Heaton (Newcastle-on-Tyne).

After a ministry there extending over 14 years, the call came to succeed the late Rev. Dr. Thomas Porter at Petersham, and 1908 Mr. Gawthrop made his great adventure and followed the gleam which led him to Australia. His fruitful ministry at Petersham continued for ten years, and one of the happiest features of the funeral service conducted in the church previous to the interment at Rookwood was the presence of quite a number of young men who had grown up in his Bible-class, and came to pay their last tribute to his memory and his influence.

From Petersham, Mr. Gawthrop went to Katoomba, and later to Newcastle, where he was minister of the Tabernacle for four years, with conspicuous success. In both these spheres of service his memory will long remain as a sweet savour. From Newcastle Mr. Gawthrop returned to Katoomba, but as an invalid. It was hoped that the mountain air and a subsequent visit to England, would cure him an his malady. But it was not to be, and soon after his return to the lowlands his friends realised that his days of active service were over.

Mr. Gawrhrop is survived by his widow, his only daughter (Mrs. Horace Simpson) and three sons (Mr. Clifford Gawthrop, Mr. Martin Gawthrop, and Master Jack Gawthrop).

Sunday’s Obituary – Benjamin Gawthrop (1869-1928)

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my cousin Benjamin Gawthrop and his work as a Baptist minister here in the UK and in Australia.

Benjamin died on 30 June 1928 – he was living in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.

Here is an obituary from The Sydney Morning Herald of Tuesday 3 July 1928.


A large and representative gathering attended the funeral of the Rev. B Gawthrop at Rockwood yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Gawthrop fulfilled ministries at Petersham, Newcastle, and latterly at Katoomba Baptist Churches.  He occupied for a full term the presidential offices of the Baptist Union of New South Wales, and the Northern Baptist Association, and he also rendered services during the war as a local army chaplain.

A graduate of Rawdon College, Leeds, his first pastorate prior to his receiving a call to Petersham Baptist Church was at Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

The Rev. G A Craike conducted a service at the Petersham Baptist Church prior to the interment, with the assistance of Revs. J Barker, S Sharp, W Lamb, W Higlett and Rev. A P Doran, president of the Congregational Union.  At the graveside the service was conducted by Rev. G A Craike, Dr. Waldock, and other ministers.  Mr Gawthrop leaves a widow, three sons, Clifford, Martin and John, and a daughter, Mrs. H H Simpson.

Among those present were Messrs. F R King, J A Young, F H Searl, A Lord, R H H Butler, H Palmer, C J Dixon, W L Turnham, D Barr, J Maclean, F E Hood, Dr. H T C MacCulloch, H J Morton, H H Simpson, F W Oliver, and J A Packer, and the Revs. W Higlett, E G Hockey, A Jolly, E L Leeder, J Worboys, and W Lamb.

Ancestor Profile – Benjamin Gawthrop (1869-1928)

Benjamin Gawthrop is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors are my 3x great grandparents Martin Gawthrop and Ann Kighley.  Benjamin is the son of Benjamin Gawthrop and Elizabeth Eastwood.  He is also the cousin of John Gawthrop who I have written about here and here.

Benjamin was born on 10 August 1869 at Trawden in Lancashire.  I have found him on the census returns for 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901.

In 1891 Benjamin is living at 3 Heath Street, Burnley, Lancashire and is described as a ‘theological student’.  By 1901 he is a ‘Baptist Minister” and living at 91 Cardigan Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Benjamin married Jane Hargreaves in Burnley sometime in Q2 1895.  They had four children

• Helen May – b. 1896

• Benjamin Clifford – b. 1899

• Annie – b. 1900 (and died as a baby)

• Robert Martin – b. 1908

On 16 April 1908 Benjamin, Jane and their three children left England.  They sailed from London on the SS Orontes bound for Sydney, Australia.

Sadly Jane died after only six years in Australia.

Benjamin later married Constance Lillian Butler on 7 November 1916 in Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.  At some point around 1918 Benjamin and Constance returned to England but I have not been able to establish exactly when this was.  They had one son – John Richard – born 1920 in Sabden (near Burnley), Lancashire.

All three of them went back to Australia on 23 June 1927 sailing from London on the SS Barrabool to Sydney.  Here’s the extract from the ship’s passenger list.

It was in Australia that Benjamin had much influence and made a big impact in the communities he served.

The Baptist Theological College of New South Wales was established in 1916 and Benjamin was a founding member of the faculty when the college opened.  Here’s a link to The Baptist Recorder from July 2006 commemorating the 90th anniversary of the college’s opening.  There is a brief biography about Benjamin which reads as follows:-

Gawthrop was a scholarly fellow and became the College’s first lecturer in Church History.

He came from Heaton Road church at Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, where he had been the minister from 1894.  When he arrived there the membership was 60 and when he left 14 years later the number had risen to 388.  It had been his first and only English church to that time.  Born at Colne, Lancashire, and educated at Rawdon College.

He came to Australia to take the pulpit of the Petersham Church where he began in June 1908 and remained until April 1918 when he returned to England.  He was a strong church man and wrote and preached regularly on the importance of the church, which he firmly believed was  the direct creation of Christ.  He considered that being a Christian meant being a member of the church.  Strongly evangelical, he shared Waldock’s conviction that being called to be a preacher of the Gospel was the highest honour Christ could bestow on any man.

Both Benjamin and John Gawthrop seem to have done great work in their respective faiths.  I am proud to have them as ancestors.