Sarah Brown

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