cowling

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas’s Tale

I guess there is nothing remarkable about this tombstone.  It’s not especially grand or pretentious in any way.  The tombstone is at the grave of Thomas Dawson and his wife Sarah (Cowgill).

There isn’t any glowing eulogy – just a simple message In Memory of.  Is anything else really necessary?

As you will see from the photograph (apologies for the poor quality) Thomas was born in 1863 in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire.  He is my 2nd cousin 3x removed.  He had a sister, Sarah born c1857.  Their mother was Priscilla Dawson.  I haven’t been able to find any evidence of who the father was.

Thomas worked in the local mill as a cotton warp dresser and his sister Sarah worked as a cotton weaver.

In 1888 at the age of about 25 Thomas married Sarah Cowgill, a local girl from the same village.  They had two sons, Watson (named after his great grandfather) born c1892 and Ernest born c1896.

I get a real sense that this little family unit stuck together and relied on each other.  The census returns show that right up to 1901 Thomas, his wife and two sons, and sister Sarah were living with Priscilla.

Within seven years three of them would die.

Priscilla died in 1903 about a year after her daughter Sarah.  Thomas passed away in 1908 at the age of 45 and after only 20 years of marriage.

The remarkable thing about this story for me is that Sarah lived a further 42 years until 1950 and died at the age of about 86.

I hadn’t bothered to get a copy of Thomas’s death certificate but writing this post has persuaded me to send off for it.  I am interested to see what caused his death at such a young age.  I know times were hard in those days yet Sarah lived a long life and, I assume, raised two sons on her own.

Amanuensis Monday – Preacher John Gawthrop

Religion in the village of Cowling, West Yorkshire is likely to be the subject of a future post.   However it provides me with something to write about for Amanuensis Monday this week.   My Dawson ancestry is firmly rooted in Cowling.   My 2xgreat grandfather, John Dawson married Ellen Gawthrop on 8th April 1844 in the Parish Church of Kildwick.

So I am connected to John Gawthrop by marriage. He is my 1st cousin 3x removed.

John was born c1853 and he married Elizabeth Thornton in 1890.   As far as I have been able to determine they had at least two children – Elsie and John.

On the 1871 census John was living with his parents and working as a weaver.   In 1881 he was still with his parents but his occupation had changed to a local mission preacher.   By 1891 John was away doing mission work and he and Elizabeth are shown as visitors at an address in Gravenhurst, Bedfordshire.   His occupation is shown as Wesleyan Minister. In 1901 John, Elizabeth and their two children were living in Kirkby Stephen, Cumberland.

I guess it’s a sign of how much they moved about the country that Elsie was born c1892 in Northampton and John was born c1896 in Foleshill, Warwickshire.

OK, that just about sets the scene!

John became active as a preacher during the period known as Revivalism. These revivial services were well attended and John was a regular and popular preacher at the Ickornshaw Chapel.   This article refers to John as:-

a typical product of the revivalist era and whose unorthodox methods and powerful personality made him one of the most successful mission workers of his day.   He gained a high place in the Wesleyan ministry, conducting several large missions in various cities and serving as pastor of important churches throughout the country”.

This article from the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald of November 2000 includes a look back to 100 years ago and tells the story of John speaking in Kirkby Stephen and complaining that “there were no young men in the Wesleyan societies.   At Dent Head, Blencarn and Milburn, where he had just held missions, there was not a single young man and scarcely a young woman to be seen.   It was a shame that the devil should have the cream of the young people”.

I get the impression that John was a bit of firebrand and I would love to be able to get copies of some of his sermons if they still exist.   Writing this post has motivated me to see if the Methodist Church have any records remaining of John Gawthrop and his work.   So I may be talking about him again if I am successful.

Happy 210th birthday grandma

Today in 1800 my 3xgreat grandma was born.  So join with me and a raise a glass or two to clebrate the 210th birthday of Margaret Snowden.

Margaret was born in the West Yorkshire village of Cowling – situated on the road between Keighley and Colne.  The road crosses the Yorkshire – Lancashire border.  Back in 1800 the main road through the village was still a dozen years away.  The building of it was said to be under the supervision of Blind Jack of Knaresborough, who constructed roads throughout Yorkshire.

Here’s a couple of links to websites about Cowling village.

http://www.cowlingweb.co.uk/about/about_cowling.asp

http://www.moon-rakers.co.uk/wordpress/

Cowling is an important part of my family history and will get regular mentions in future posts.

Anyway back to Margaret.  She married Thomas Dawson on 2nd September 1819.  They had nine children between 1819 and 1840.  On the census returns Margaret is always shown simply as “wife”.  That really doesn’t do her justice does it.  Thomas was mainly employed as a cotton warp dresser (see explanation below) all his working life.  So Margaret would have been responsible for the house – I really can’t imagine what it must have been like to raise nine children in rural England in the mid 19th century.

I suspect that their homes were really quite small cottages built near the local mills – which is where Thomas probably worked.

A warp dresser is someone who prepared the long worsted threads for weaving. This consisted of sizing the warp threads with "paps" - a flour and water mix – which strengthened the warp threads and lessened the possibility of them breaking during weaving.

In 1800 King George III was still on the throne, John Adams was well into his presidential term in the USA and in Europe, Napoleon was about to start throwing his weight about.

I can't let a post about the Snowden family go without mentioning Viscount Philip Snowden who was born in Cowling in 1864. He was a British politician and the first Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924. I know I may be clutching at straws but I am hoping that I can eventually find a family connection to this famous son of Cowling – even if it is only by distant marriage. Watch this space!!

Here's a link to more information

http://www.cowlingweb.co.uk/local_history/cowling_people/philip_snowden.asp

Happy Birthday Margaret.