Stoke on Trent

Black Sheep Sunday – Elizabeth Espley (nee Stanier)

Elizabeth Stanier is the wife of my wife’s 3rd cousin 2x removed, Joseph Espley.

Joseph was born sometime in the September quarter of 1881 in Leek, Staffordshire. His parents are John Espley and Emma Gibson. The common ancestor of John and my wife is John Aspley – my wife’s 4x great grandfather.

Joseph married Elizabeth Stanier sometime in the December quarter of 1907 – the marriage is registered at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. There were four children born over the next five years:-

May – 1908
Joseph – 1909
Reginald Joseph – 1911
Doris – 1912

In the 1911 census the family are living at Percy Street, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent and Joseph is working as a “tailor marker”.

In the summer of 1925 Joseph died – his death is registered in the third quarter of that year.

Three years later Elizabeth found herself in the Hanley Stipendiary Court as reported in the Staffordshire Advertiser on 8 September 1928 (image from http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk).

Elizabeth Espley (nee Stanier) - Staffordshire Advertiser 8 Septemer 1928.png

At Hanley Stipendiary Court, on Monday, Elizabeth Espley, a widow, residing in Anchor Road, Longton, was sentenced to six weeks’ imprisonment on a summons for knowingly making a false representation for the purpose of obtaining an additional allowance under the Widows and Orphans’ Pension Act. Defendant did not appear, but a solicitor, who prosecuted on behalf of the Ministry of Health, stated that she signed a declaration that her daughter, Doris, aged 16, was still attending a day school, whereas the girl had left school. As a result of the untrue statement defendant had wrongfully obtained the sum of £13 5s.

Elizabeth didn’t remarry and she died in early 1955 – her death is registered in the March quarter in Stoke-on-Trent.

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Sunday’s Obituary – Thomas Wilson Critchlow (1895-1945)

Lucy Ellen Burt is my wife’s 4th cousin 1x removed – so not very close then. Her parents are Robert Duncan Burt and Mary Elizabeth Hollins. Lucy and my wife’s common ancestor is John Aspley – my wife’s 4x great grandfather.

Sometime in the third quarter of 1919 Lucy married Thomas Wilson Critchlow – the marriage is registered at Stone in Staffordshire.

In the 1939 Register Thomas and Lucy are living at 111 Wilson Road, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire. Thomas is working as a grocery store manager.

On Thursday 20 September 1945 Thomas went to a football match and didn’t return home. He went to Stoke City’s Victoria Ground to watch Stoke City and Manchester United.

The Birmingham Daily Gazette of 21 September 1945 published the following brief account.

Thomas Critchlow - Birmingham Daily Gazette 21 September 1945.png

Two Spectators Die at Football Match

Sitting within a few yards of each other in one of the stands at the match between Stoke City and Manchester United last evening two elderly men collapsed and died within a few minutes of each other. They were Thomas Critchlow of Wilson Road, Hanford, Stoke, and Percy Legge, of Blackfriars Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme.

In his will Thomas left effects totalling £2611 12s 1d to Lucy Ellen Critchlow (widow) and Frederick John Davison (rubber factory foreman).

The final score in the match in case you were wondering was Stoke City 1 v Manchester United 2.

In 1939 at the outbreak of WW2 the Football League was cancelled. In its place were formed War Leagues and cups, based on geographical lines rather than based on previous league placement. However, none of these were considered to be competitive football, and thus their records are not recognised by the Football League and thus not included in official records.

In the 1945/46 season, when Thomas died at the match, Stoke City ended the season in 13th place in Football League North with 42 points. Manchester United finished in 4th place with 49 points. League winners were Sheffield United with 60 points and bottom of the league in 22nd place was……Leeds United with 25 points.

Sadly Thomas Critchlow and Percy Legge were not the only people to die at a Stoke City match in the 1945/46 season.

On 9 March 1946 Stoke City were playing Bolton Wanderers in the Sixth Round of the FA Cup at Burnden Park, Bolton, Lancashire.

The Burnden Park disaster was a human crush which resulted in the deaths of 33 people and injuries to hundreds of Bolton fans. It was the deadliest stadium related disaster in British history until the Ibrox Park disaster in 1971.