Watson Emmott Dawson

Madness Monday – Watson Emmott Dawson (1877-1944)

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

To participate in Madness Monday simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor who either suffered some form of mental illness or an ancestor who might be hard to locate and drives you mad.

Watson Emmott Dawson is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.

Watson was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire, on 24 June 1887 to parents Thomas Dawson and Jane Emmott.

I have written about Watson before – Military Monday and Madness Monday. He also gets a brief mention in Tombstone Tuesday and Sunday’s Obituary.

I recently came across these articles in the Burnley Express of 23 January 1915 and the Burnley News of 17 February 1915.

Burnley Express

Burnley Express - 23 January 1915CAUGHT IN HUT – At the Colne Police Court, on Thursday, a farm labourer named Watson Dawson, of Cowling, was charged with breaking into the shooting box used as a warehouse and stealing a bottle of whisky, the property of Mr W F J Green-Emmott, JP. – Mr A Bracewell defended. – Martin Ogden, gamekeeper, said that on the 13th December he went to the shooting box and heard a noise. After waiting a few minutes he saw accused come creeping through the window. Prisoner said, “I have got a bottlee of whisky here it is.” Witness lighted a candle, and accompanied by accused, they re-entered the shooting box and found that the cupboard door had been broken, the lock having been sprung off. There was another bottle of whisky inside, and a quantity of the contents had been consumed. – Cross examined by Mr Bracewell, witness admitted that he had been on very friendly terms with accused. On the very day of the offence Dawson had his tea at his (witness’s) house. Dawson’s family had offered to make reparation for the damage done. He knew that accused had been in an institution for the mentally deficient. In his application for bail, Mr Bracewell said that Dawson was a member of a very highly respectable family. A few years ago accused had the misfortune to meet with a serious injury, and this had resulted in his having been sent to an asylum. – Dawson was committed to take his trial at the Preston Quarter Sessions, bail being allowed.

Burnley News

Burnley News - 17 February 1915THEFT AT COLNE

FARM LABOURER BOUND OVER

REMARKABLE STORY OF A PASSION FOR WANDERING

A remarkable story was told at Preston Sessions, on Monday, in a case in which Watson Dawson (27), farm labourer, pleaded guilty to stealing a bottle of whisky from a shooting hut at Colne, on December 13th.

Mr Yates, prosecuting, said accused was seen by a keeper climbing out of the window of a shooting hut on the moor. He had a bottle of whisky in his pocket.

Mr Hodgson said Dawson was the son of respectable parents, and up to six years ago had never caused them a moment’s anxiety. He was then employed in a cotton mill. He was always extremely fond of shooting, and spent much of his time on the common moor, over which there was free shooting of grouse. One day he was found lying unconscious on the moor, and it was thought that he had been sun-struck. He had to be taken to the Menstone Asylum, and the medical superintendent there said he had had a violent blow on the head. It was now believed that somebody who had shot at a bird at the same time as Dawson had quarrelled with him as to whom the bird belonged, and that in the quarrel Dawson had been struck on the head with the butt end of a gun. The result of this injury was such that his parents were advised that he must live an open-air life. They took a farm at Cowling, and defendant and the whole family worked there.

Defendant also developed a passion for wandering, and about the same time every year he wandered away with the clothing he was then wearing, and without a word of warning to anybody. He would stay away for a month or two and then come back. His parents had been warned by the medical superintendent at the asylum that he was likely to develop these wandering fits. During these journeys he had wandered away to Ireland and even to France, and apparently supported himself by casual employment. He left home early in December in his usual way, and was lost sight of until he was seen by the keeper getting out of the window of this hut on the moor, which was close to his own home, where plenty of food and shelter awaited him. The keeper, who knew defendant well, took him to his own house and gave him some tea. Dawson then left to go home, as the keeper thought, but he was not seen again until December 31st when he returned home in a bad state of health.

The Chairman said he was sorry to see defendant there in this trouble. He would be bound over to come up for judgment if called upon.

These newspaper stories provide some background to why he might have been in the West Riding Mental Hospital in 1939 (High Royds / Menston) – see Madness Monday post mentioned above.

I’ve also located Watson in the Lunacy Patients Admission Register on ancestry.co.uk. The image below shows that he was admitted to Menston on 19 August 1908 and released on 26 April 1909.

UK Lunacy Patients Admission Registers 1846-1912.png

I am now on the hunt for any patient records that may exist for the West Riding Mental Hospital. I know that some records are available at the West Yorkshire Archives just up the road from where I live. However because the records I am interested in are less than 100 years old then there will need to be a Freedom of Information request to the relevant NHS Trust. I will also need to demonstrate my relationship to Watson and my right to access the records. Does being a 1st cousin 3x removed qualify me as having a right to access the records? At the moment I don’t know the answer to that question.

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Sunday’s Obituary – Jane Dawson (nee Emmott) 1859-1949

Jane Emmott married Thomas Dawson, my 1st cousin 4x removed, on 11 March 1877 in Cowling, West Yorkshire. Thomas is a son of John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

Thomas and Jane had three sons:-

Albert Frederick (b 1 February 1883)
James Willie (b 17 May 1885)
Watson Emmott (b 24 Jun 1887)

Below is the obituary for Jane Dawson from the Barnoldswick & Earby Times of 11 February 1949. Barnoldswick & Earby Times - 11 February 1949.png

Oldest Resident

With the passing of Mrs Jane Dawson, at Beckfoot, Cowling, in her 91st year, Cowling has lost its oldest resident, and a personality with an interesting and remarkable record. The widow of the late Mr Thomas Dawson, a well known farmer in his day, at Cowlaughton and Well Head Farms, Cowling, Mrs Dawson was Jane Emmott prior to her marriage, and is the last of the James Emmott family of Beckfoot, Cowling. She was a descendant of the original Emmott family, whose connection with Emmott Hall, Laneshaw Bridge, near Colne, dates back to 1620, a family whose association with Cowling Baptist Chapel can be traced to the Trustees’ records of that church as far back as 1753. Mrs Dawson was born at Beckfoot, Cowling, and although she had for the past 14 years resided with her second son, Mr James W Dawson, in business as a bandage manufacturer, at Morecambe, she often expressed the wish in her latter years to spend her last days at Beckfoot. This was made possible by her son, who repaired and made habitable a cottage at Beckfoot where his mother was born, and during recent months Mrs Dawson has quietly and happily lived to the end of her days. She was one of a family of 12 children, and could tell stirring tales of olden days, and perhaps no one had more vivid recollections and a more definite link with the ancient past that Mrs Dawson. The story she was most fond of relating was that of an old lady who resided in the adjoining cottage at Beckfoot when she (Mrs Dawson) was only ten years of age. The old lady, known as “Owd Nan” (Hannah Hargreaves), would often recount her experiences as one of the first weavers at the Ickornshaw Mill, Cowling, in 1791, and almost to the times of her death Mrs Dawson would describe “Owd Nan”, her mode of life, and re-narrate with interesting detail those stories of the beginning of the weaving industry at Ickornshaw Mill. Mrs Dawson attributed her long, healthy life to “plenty of porridge when young, and lots of hard work.” Her husband pre-deceased her 22 years ago. The funeral took place on Saturday at Cowling Hill Baptist Chapel, conducted by the Rev. Joffre R Smith, who referred to Mrs Dawson’s long and interesting life, and paid tribute to her son’s care and kindness to her during her latter years.

The obituary refers to Ickornshaw Mill – and the Dawson family has a long association with the mill. This goes back to my 4x great grandfather John Dawson who installed the first water wheel at the mill – Amanuensis Monday – John Dawson (1768-1832)

Madness Monday – High Royds

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

To participate in Madness Monday simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor who either suffered some form of mental illness or an ancestor who might be hard to locate and drives you mad.

Although it’s not Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 in the UK until May I decided to add a blog post to the theme Madness Monday.

This was prompted by some of the results of searching the 1939 Register available on Find My Past.

I was surprised, or more truthfully saddened, to discover that I had three relatives in the West Riding Mental Hospital in Aireborough, West Yorkshire on 29 September 1939 – the date that the 1939 Register was completed.

Anyone local to Leeds and surrounding areas will know the place as High Royds or simply Menston (the area where the hospital was located) . Here’s a link to a website about High Royds Hospital  written in the early 1970’s by F E Rogers (a former employee at the hospital).

My three relatives who were patients at the time are:-

Marion Dawson (b 28 March 1905). She is my 2nd cousin 2x removed and her parents were John Dawson and Elizabeth Smith. Our common ancestors are Thomas Dawson and Margaret Snowden – my 3x great grandparents. I have no other information about Marion – she was only 5 at the time of the 1911 census – the only other available document before 1939 in which she was recorded.

I don’t know when she was admitted to hospital but at some point she was discharged from High Royds and lived until the age of 80 when she died in February 1986.

Selina Dawson (b 27 August 1877). She is my 1st cousin 2x removed and her parents were Martin Dawson and Margaret Spencer. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ellen Gawthrop – my 2x great grandparents. I found Selina in all the census returns from 1881 to 1911. She lived in a small geographical area between Keighley and Skipton throughout all those years – Steeton with Eastburn, Sutton in Craven and Glusburn.

In 1891 she worked as a “worsted spinner”; in 1901 she was described as “house keeper for father”; and in 1911 she was a “confectioner”.

I don’t know when Selina was admitted to High Royds. However her death is recorded in the September quarter of 1941 and registered in the Wharfedale district. This is the same registration district as Menston – so I suspect that Selina died in High Royds at the age of 64.

Watson Emmott Dawson (b 24 Jun 1887). He is my 2nd cousin 3x removed and his parents were Thomas Dawson and Jane Emmott. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson – my 4x great grandparents. I have Watson in the 1891 to 1911 census returns living in Cowling, West Yorkshire all these years. In 1901 Watson is described as an “errand boy” and in 1911 as “farmers son working on farm”.

As with Marion and Selina I don’t know when Watson was admitted to High Royds. I know that he died on 14 October 1944 and his death at the age of 57 is registered in the Wharfedale district – so I believe that he died in High Royds. Watson is buried at the Cowling Hill Baptist Chapel.

It is possible that Selina and Watson were discharged sometime after 1939 and readmitted to High Royds or it is equally possible that they both spent a considerable period of time as patients and died without ever being released. Either way not a very happy end to their lives.

Marion, Selina and Watson are not my only relatives to find themselves in a “mental hospital” or asylum. However I do wonder about the extent of their illness and if they knew they were all there together in 1939.

Tombstone Tuesday – Thomas, Jane & Watson Emmott Dawson

I took this photograph on a recent visit to the Cowling Hill Baptist chapel graveyard in Cowling, West Yorkshire.

The grave is the resting place of Thomas Dawson (my 1st cousin 4x removed), his wife Jane (nee Emmott) and their son Watson Emmott Dawson.

Thomas was born in Cowling in 1851 to parents John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. The census returns show that Thomas worked as a warp dresser, a worsted weaving overlooker and also an engine tenter in a local factory. In 1911 he was working as a farmer.

Sometime in Q1 of 1877 Thomas married Jane Emmott, also from Cowling. I haven’t done any research on Jane yet so have no information about her family. Although the Emmott family name has a long tradition in and around Cowling.

Thomas and Jane had at least three children:-

• Albert Frederick – born 8 February 1883

• James Willie – born 17 May 1885

• Watson Emmott – born 24 June 1887

If you follow the link above you will see that I wrote about Watson Emmott in a recent Military Monday post.

Thomas died on 18 January 1926 at the age of 74 and Jane died aged 90 on 2 February 1949. In between their deaths Watson Emmott passed away at the age of 57 on 14 October 1944.

Military Monday – Watson Emmott Dawson (1887-1944)

Watson Emmott Dawson is my 1st cousin 3x removed.  Our common ancestors are my 4x great grandparents John Dawson and Ann Watson.

Watson was born in Cowling, West Yorkshire, on 24 June 1887 to parents Thomas Dawson and Jane Emmott.

On the 3 April 1917 Watson went to Halifax and enlisted in the 4th West Riding Regiment.  His service number was 205100.

Just fifteen weeks later, on 18 July 1917, Watson was discharged from service with a £50 gratuity. He was described as being ‘physically unfit’.

Watson was admitted to the Wharncliffe War Hospital in Sheffield on 30 May 1917 for assessment. Unfortunately the written transcript is not very clear. But I can make out some of the words and phrases.

His behaviour is described as ‘childish’ and it is also reported that Watson believed that he was ‘the King of Greece’.

The Medical Board report cites the reason for his discharge as ‘imbecility’. It goes on to say that the condition originated at birth and was ‘not the result of or aggravated by ordinary military service.’

I feel sad for Watson. Whatever the circumstances here he was most probably ill and went through a difficult experience.

Watson lived until the age of 57. His death is registered in Q4 of 1944.