Tag Archives: Yorkshire

A Short Life Remembered: Death by Dentition

This is another in my “Short Lives Remembered” series. It is another child discovered as a direct result of the General Register Office (GRO) birth and death index search facilities introduced in 2016. I’ve not found any baptism details for this child. She was born and died in between censuses. Her burial gives no family details. So tracing her relied on civil registration and mother’s maiden name in the new search options. 

What I find most shocking about this child is the cause of death, which is put down to an ordinary, if painful and occasionally distressing, right of passage for babies and toddlers today. 

Ann Jennings was born on 12 February 1869 at Carlinghow Lane, Batley. The daughter of coal miner Herod Jennings and his wife Ann Hallas, she had 10 older siblings. All were still living by the time of Ann’s birth. This was no mean feat in an era of high infant mortality, when the most seemingly trivial illness or incident could extinguish life. Poverty, locality, environment, housing, sanitation, medical care, public health and class all played a part. The 34th Annual Report of the Registrar General (1871) illustrates the perilous nature of early years survival. Looking at the under 5 age-group, between 1838-1871 out of every 1,000 girls, 62.7 died. The corresponding figure for boys was 72.6. In the five years 1866-1870 the figures were 63.4 and 73. And looking only at 1870, 64.4 per 1,000 girls under 5 and 75.0 of boys died. 

Ann Jennings was one of the girls in 1870. She died on 15 January 1870 at Spring Mill Yard. Cause of death was dentition. In other words teething. This seemed incredible, that something so innocuous resulted in death.  

Yes, it can be an unpleasant time. I remember my daughter’s intermittent episodes of irritability, sleeplessness, drooling, flushed cheeks and raised temperatures. Calpol and Bonjela became medicine cupboard staples during this period. Teething rings, some special cooling ones, were added to her array of toys. But that’s as far as it went. I never realised it could be a cause of death. So I investigated further – and became more astounded at how common it was.

A bit of background first. As with many childhood development milestones there are no hard and fast dates for the emergence of that first set of baby teeth. It normally starts at around the six to nine months stage, with each of the 20 teeth taking about eight days to emerge. The whole process lasts for around two years.

Back to the Annual Report of the Registrar General. This time I looked at the 33rd report covering the 1870 statistics, the year of Ann’s death. In the West Riding of Yorkshire 232 female deaths and 287 male deaths were attributed to teething. In total 4,183 deaths registered in England had teething as the cause.

In 1783 Frenchman Jean Baptiste Timothée Baumes wrote “A Treatise on First Dentition and The Frequently Serious Disorders Which Depend on It”. In it he claimed teething “….may often be be found the cause of death of a great number of infants”. The view was still prevalent almost a century later. According to the 35th Annual Report of the Registrar General, looking at 1872 statistics: “Teething is one of the first marked steps in development after birth, and by inducing convulsions and other irritative reflex diseases, it is chargeable with a certain number of deaths”.

The conclusion reached by medical professionals of the time was because the teething coincided process with the ages of high mortality, it was actually responsible for infant illness and death. According to accepted medical wisdom teething led to a number of afflictions and displayed a variety of symptoms including convulsions, diarrhoea, bronchitis, croup, vomiting, neck abscesses, insanity and meningitis. The teething phase was perceived as fraught with risk, a process to be dreaded.

Added to misdiagnosis, teething treatments could in themselves prove fatal. Even today there are stories of homeopathic teething tablets causing death. Back in the 19th century treatments ranged from dangerous to downright barbaric, with some treatments a combination of the two.   

What could you do to make the passage of teeth through gum easier? Well, the obvious answer was to lance the gum, making a deep incision to facilitate the emergence of the offending tooth. This in a pre-anaesthetic, pre-sterilisation era carried it’s own risks. Leeches applied to the gums provided another solution.

Gum Lancing for Teething – “Cassell’s Household Guide”

And what could you do to relieve the pain, reduce excitement, regulate the bowels and induce sleep in the restless teething babe? Newspapers were full of the answers, with adverts for soothing remedies which parents, fearful of the dangers of dentition, were induced to purchase. In this unregulated, uncontrolled period of medicine druggists and pharmacists made their own propriety and patented concoctions with no details of ingredients. But these included opium, cocaine, mercury, morphine and alcohol, with rubbing whisky in gums of teething children even touted in more recent times. All of these could lead to addiction and death. The risk was not unknown. Cassell’s Household Guide of 1884 for instance acknowledged the danger of giving narcotics to children – but reassured parents that it was acceptable if such remedies were recognised as teething powders. So by trying to do the right thing and following advice, parents were in fact endangering their babies.

“Dewsbury Reporter” advert, 9 November 1872

In fact in 1869 a 9-month old girl from Gravesend, Catherine Sarah Cobham, was poisoned as a result of a chemist dispensing strychnine instead of powdered sugar as a teething remedy. Incredible too that sugar was touted for teething – presumably leading to tooth decay later if the baby survived! 

So who knows if Ann really did die as a result of teething. Was it actually a case of misdiagnosis, or even a teething remedy gone wrong. We will never know. So she is just another statistic, amongst thousands of others, whose death was attributed to dentition. Her funeral took place on 17 January 1870 at Batley Parish Church. 

Others who feature in this series of “Short Lives Remembered” posts are: 

Sources:

  • GRO Birth and Death entries for Ann Jennings
  • 33rd Annual Report of the Registrar General (1870) 
  • 34th Annual Report of the Registrar General (1871) 
  • 35th Annual Report of the Registrar General (1872) 
  • A Treatise on First Dentition and The Frequently Serious Disorders Which Depend on It” by Jean Baptiste Timothée Baumes (1783) – Google Books 
  • Cassell’s Household Guide to Every Department of Practical Life: Being a Complete Encyclopaedia of Domestic and Social Economy Vol 1” (1884) – Internet Archive 
  • Dewsbury Reporter” – 9 November 1872 
  • Treatments for Children: Teething – https://www.rpharms.com/museum-pdfs/g-teethingtreatments.pdf
  • Parish Register – Batley (All Saints) Parish Church  

 

Happy Birthday and Farewell: A Father’s Love

16 December 1914 marked a momentous day for my family. My grandma celebrated her sixth birthday. But not any old ordinary birthday in Batley for her, spent with her mum, dad and seven year old sister Nellie. This birthday was unlike any other.

Astonishingly, I discovered this of all days was the day her 46 year-old father, my great-grandfather Patrick Cassidy, chose to enlist with the local regiment, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI). Patrick, born in 1868 in Hagfield, County Mayo, even knocked several years off his age to ensure he would be accepted. His attestation papers show he claimed to be 35 years and 11 months.

I knew my great-grandfather had been in the Army. My grandma told a tale of a motor vehicle turning up at their Hume Street home containing someone to see her dad. The story goes that the officer inside was the one he’d acted as batman for. I had no date for this event, but given my grandma remembered it, I’d guessed in sometime after 1912.

However, because of his age, I’d discounted him seeing his military service during the Great War. Combined with his age, his uniform in one of the family photos, with its three point-up chevrons on the lower left sleeve indicating 12 years good conduct, indicated pre-war service. I’d marked it as pre-1904, as he’d first turned up in Batley in January of that year. And by then he was a labourer. That was also his occupation when he married Ann Loftus in 1906. And also in the 1911 census.

Patrick Cassidy

As it happens his attestation papers backed up this earlier service theory. He confirmed to the attesting officer he had previous time-expired service with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding). He described it as 33rd and 76th West Riding, harking back to 1881 and the Cardwell Reforms when the Halifax depot 33rd and 76th Regiments of Foot merged.

One thing I found amusing from these papers: My grandma, who adored her father, always gave the impression of him being a tall man. According to his army forms he stood at the incredible height of…….5’ 3.5”. Just goes to show, don’t take all oral family history as gospel!

Anyway, back to the lie over his age. As an ex-soldier, by this stage of the war, the age limit was 45, not 38 as for other volunteers. So he really did go overboard with his age reduction. In fact, with his precise 35 years and 11 months, it seemed he was still working to the end of August 1914 rule change for volunteers without previous service, when the upper age limit was increased from 30 to 35. He really was determined to do his bit.

Still, I couldn’t get my head round it. Not the fact he chose to sign up. Not even the fact he lied about his age to do so. But why on earth would he do it on his young daughter’s birthday? Why not wait till a few days later? In fact, why not wait till after Christmas? Had there been some major family row that prompted it? Or had a close family member or friend, as yet unidentified by me, died whilst serving? Was my great grandfather out to avenge their death? Those were the only explanations I could come up with.

His papers offered no clues whatsoever as to why he would act in this way and leave his wife, children and labouring job in Batley to take this huge risk. Or did they?

Several months later, whilst doing some general research, I realised the papers did contain the answer. The key was in the date. I’d been looking at it in narrow family terms, my grandma’s birthday. I’d not looked at any wider historical events. Besides being my grandma’s sixth birthday, Wednesday the 16 December 1914 marked the day German Imperial Navy ships Seydiltz, Moltke, Blücher, Derfflinger and Von Der Tann bombarded the east coast towns of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool with a final toll of over 130 killed and almost 600 injured. 

The attacks occurred from around 8am to 9.30am that morning. In the immediate aftermath, in scenes reminiscent of Belgium and France, refugees fled their homes seeking safety inland. Distressed residents from the stricken towns, some still in slippers and nightdresses, disembarked in local railway stations with tales of terror and destruction and reports of “scarcely a building left standing.” The historic landmarks of Whitby Abbey and Scarborough Castle suffered damage. Famous seaside hotels, like Scarborough’s Grand Hotel, bore shell scars.

The Grand Hotel, Scarborough

From 16 December onwards newspapers the length and breadth of the country carried the stories of this exodus, along with tales of death, injury and destruction wreaked. This from “The Yorkshire Evening Post” of 16 December reporting of arrivals in Leeds at 11 o’clock “One woman who arrived was wearing her bedroom slippers; in her arms was a two-year-old son in her nightdress and an outer garment lent by someone on the train.”

Another refugee was Mrs Knaggs, who lived in the vicinity of Scarborough’s damaged Grand Hotel. She arrived in Leeds on the 1 o’clock train into Leeds with her eight-year-old daughter and a few hastily packed groceries. She recalled meeting “…scores of women and children. All seemed unconsciously making for the railway station. Some were half dressed, and carried with them all manner of household articles. Another refugee had a child of a fortnight old in her arms, and with her was another partly-dressed girl of fourteen…..The streets of Scarborough were filled with women. These refugees were without food, money and very scantily clothed.”

Whitby resident Mrs Hogg was another Leeds arrival. Her house was struck by a shell. She recounted: “Outside shells were flying about, tearing up the pavement and damaging houses….In the fields in the outskirts of town big holes were torn in the ground and all the telegraph wires were down. People were hurrying along, some with a few belongings they had managed to get together. One man was carrying a parrot and two bird-cages. My little boy had run out of the house in his slippers. He lost his slippers on the way, and had to walk in his stocking feet.

The German navy were dubbed the baby-killers of Scarborough, a reference to one of the victims, 14 month old John Shields Ryalls. In a letter to the Mayor of Scarborough on 20 December 1914 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty wrote: “Whatever fears of arms the German Navy hereafter perform, the stigma of ‘Baby-Killers of Scarborough’ will brand its officers and men while sailors sail the seas.” 

Baby Ryall’s picture along with another victim, 15 year-old boy scout George Harland Taylor, featured prominently in the press with inflammatory headings like “Slain by Germans” and “Killed by the Raiders.” Others included 28 year-old Miss Ada Crow, due to be married to her army fiancé, Sergeant G.R. Sturdy, on what turned out to be the day of her funeral.

Some were of the opinion that the attack was the best thing that could have happened – it would give a boost to recruitment, now waning after the initial rush following the declaration of war. Battalions would be filled on the back of the attack.

By 18 December newspapers were reporting a material increase in numbers coming forward to recruiting offices, particularly in the areas affected by the bombardment. And from 18 December a new recruitment poster made its appearance:

AVENGE SCARBOROUGH 
Up and at ‘em now!
The wholesale murder of innocent women and children demands vengeance.
Men of England, the innocent victims of German brutality call upon you to avenge them. Show the German barbarians that Britain’s shores cannot be bombarded with impunity. Duty calls you now.
Go to-day to the nearest recruiting depot and offer your services for your King, home, and country.

This theme was echoed in subsequent recruitment poster campaigns. This included a depiction of the ruins of 2 Wykeham Street, Scarborough where four died: Johanna Bennett (58), her son Albert Featherstone Bennett (22) a driver in the RFA, and two young boys John Christopher Ward (9 according to newspapers, although GRO entry gives his age as 10) and George James Barnes (5).

My great-grandfather didn’t wait for these rallying call to arms. He went to the recruiting office on the very day of the attack. Though I can’t be 100 percent sure, it looks like he enlisted because he wanted to protect his family. The bombardment of east coast town, with the huge loss of life and the streams of refugees which followed, brought the war so much closer to home. The Yorkshire seaside resorts of Whitby and Scarborough were particularly popular local holiday destinations. In fact when war was declared only four months earlier the local Territorials, 1/4th KOYLI, were on their summer camp in Whitby. No longer was it a distant war affecting civilians – women and children – in foreign lands. It was now in Yorkshire. His family were now under threat. He couldn’t stand aside any longer.

So what became of him? The attestation papers indicated his resurrected army career with the KOYLI proved short-lived. On 15 January 1915 he was discharged as unlikely to become an efficient soldier. Unsurprising given his age. But the discharge setback did not deter him. It wasn’t the end of his military service.

By pure chance I found an entry in the “Batley Reporter and Guardian” of 27 August 1915. Private Patrick Cassidy of Hume Street appeared in Batley Borough Court charged with being absent without leave from the 3/4th battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who were stationed at Halifax. So he’d gone back to his old regiment. The Batley Borough Court records gave the offence date as 24 Aug 1915. He pleaded guilty and was remanded to await a military escort.  I wonder if this has any link to the vehicle my grandma recalled?

The 3/4th Duke of Wellington’s was formed in March 1915 so it seems Patrick may have remained a civilian for as little as a couple of months after leaving the KOYLI. The battalion remained in England throughout the war, stationed at Clipstone Camp, Rugeley Camp, Bromeswell (Woodbridge) and Southend, training and supplying drafts for overseas service. I’ve traced no Medal Index Card for Patrick so it seems he remained on home shores. However he did see the war out. In the Batley Electoral Register of 1918 he is listed as being absent as a naval or military voter.  Unfortunately the detailed Absent Voter List for Batkey does not appear to have survived. This would potentially have confirmed his service number and regiment.

So this tale goes to show that when researching family history you need to look at wider historical events be it local, national or international. They too have an impact on the lives and decisions made by ancestors and can help you see your family history in a new light.

Sources:  

  • Batley Borough Court Records – West Yorkshire Archives
  • Batley Register of Electors – 1918
  • GRO Indexes
  • Imperial War Museum Poster from 1915: “Men of Britain! Will You Stand This?” © IWM (Art.IWM PST 5119). Shared and re-used under the terms of the IWM Non Commercial Licence
  • Newspapers including:
  1. Batley Reporter and Guardian – 27 August 1915.
  2. Leeds Mercury – 17 December 1914
  3. Yorkshire Evening Post – 16 and 18 December 1914
  4. The Leeds Mercury – 21 December 1914
  • WO 364 -Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War

Grim Times for an 18th Century Coal Mining Family 

The most common occupation in my family tree is “coal miner”. Unsurprising given my paternal and maternal West Riding roots. As a result I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching the history of coal mining: the social and political aspects as well as the general occupation and its development through time.

This research could form the basis of many posts. The aspect I’m focusing on this time is the perilous nature of the work. “Poldark” brought this to mind. Different type of mining, but the death of Francis highlighted the dangers of underground work in the late 18th century and made me think once again about my coal mining forefathers. However grim I think my job is, I only have to think about my ancestors, men, women and children, who worked down the coal mine to realise how lucky I am. 

Even in more recent times coal mining was a hazardous, unhealthy occupation. But in terms of my 18th and 19th century family history, these were days before today’s stringent health and safety regulations. Indeed in the early days of my ancestors the working was totally unregulated. 

The cramped, damp conditions and physical exertion led to chronic muscular-skeletal problems and back pain as well as rheumatism and inflammation of the joints. Many suffered from loss of appetite, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and liver troubles. Most colliers became asthmatic by the time they reached 30, and many had tuberculosis. And all this would have led to days off sick without income to support the family. 

Then there were the accidents. No-one knows how many deaths there were in the first half of the 19th century, let alone earlier. An unreliable estimate in 1834-5 of the number of lives lost in coal mines in the previous 25 years gave the number of deaths in the West Riding as 346 and the evidence is the high proportion were children. According to the appendices of the Mines Inspectors Report’s 1850-1914 some 70,700 miners died or sustained injures in the mines of Great Britain from 1850 to 1908. However even this is not reliable, because the number of non-fatal accidents taking place between 1850-1881 is unknown. It was no-ones job to collect the information. 

It is true that miners themselves took risks, failing to set timber supports, propping air doors open and working with candles when it was dangerous to do so even after the invention of the Davy lamp. But colliery officials and managers also cut corners and costs leading to dangerous conditions, for example failing to replace candles with lamps, not supplying sufficient timbers, not ensuring adequate ventilation, using defective colliery shafts which were not bricked or boarded and contained no guide rods, as well as drawing uncaged corves (the small tubs/baskets for carrying hewn coal from the pit face) direct from the pits which resulted in falls of coal and people down the shaft. It was not until 1872 that every mine manager was required to hold a certificate of competence. 

Whilst explosions exacted a heavy toll and made headlines, it was the individual deaths and injuries sustained over weeks, months and years by falls of coal and roof which were responsible for most accidents, fatal or otherwise. 

One of the earliest mining ancestors I’ve traced is my 6x great grandfather Joseph Womack, born in around 1738. And his is the earliest family mining fatality. 

Joseph married Grace Hartley on 11 February 1760 in the parish church of St Mary’s Whitkirk. It is the oldest medieval church in Leeds and a church probably existed on the site at the time of the Domesday Book. The name “Whitkirk” or “Whitechurch” is first recorded in the 12th Century in a charter of Henry de Lacey, founder of Kirkstall Abbey, confirming the land of Newsam, Colton and the “Witechurche” to the Knights Templars. The present building dates from 1448-9 but underwent substantial restoration in 1856. So it is essentially the building in which my 6x great grandparents married. 

Whitkirk Parish Church

The man known as the father of civil engineering, John Smeaton, is buried just behind the main altar. Perhaps Smeaton’s most famous work is the 3rd Eddystone Lighthouse, completed in 1759 just the year before Joseph and Grace’s marriage. His other works included the Forth & Clyde Canal, Ramsgate Harbour, Perth Bridge, over 60 mills and more than 10 steam engines. 

Joseph signed the register in a wonderfully neat hand. It’s always a thrill when I see the signatures of my ancestors. And especially those who worked in manual jobs not associated with literacy.  

The marriage entry indicated Joseph and Grace were both residents of the parish. The location was pinpointed to Halton with the baptism of their first child, Joseph, on 22 October 1760. This location was confirmed in each of their subsequent children’s baptismal entries. Halton was about three miles east of Leeds in Temple Newsam township with Whitkirk parish. 

Another son, Richard, was baptised on 27 June 1762 followed by their first daughter Mary, my 5x great grandmother, on 12 February 1765. Four other Womack children’s baptisms are subsequently recorded – William on 21 January 1770; Henry on 24 September 1772; Thomas on 6 August 1775; and Grace on 14 February 1779. This final baptism is more detailed, giving Grace’s date of birth as 31 December 1778 and stating that her father, Joseph, worked as a collier. 

The Womacks, Joseph and his sons, were a coal mining family working at the local Seacroft colliery. Joseph and his eldest sons Joseph and Richard were there one day in May 1781 when tragedy struck in the form of an explosion. The events reached papers nationally as well as locally. The coverage is typified by this paragraph in the “Leeds Intelligencer” of Tuesday 22 May 1781. According to the newspaper the explosion took place on a Thursday, which would make it 17 May. However this may be inaccurate. I will return to this later. Typically for the time no names are given. 

In the era before the 1815 invention of the Davy Lamp, candles were the only form of light in the mine. But the risk of explosions with naked flames from these candles igniting methane gas was high, even in well ventilated pits. Firedamp was the name given to an inflammable gas, whose chief component was methane. This was released from the seam and roof during working. And on this fateful May day the Womack father and sons were caught in its ignition. 
We turn to the Whitkirk burial register for the details of how this newspaper snippet linked to the Womacks. The register gives the following burial details on 18 May 1781: 

Joseph Womack collier slain by the firedamp at Seacroft also his son Richard Womack who was slain at the same time. The father was aged 43 the son 19 years”  

Slightly later era, but illustration of a pit top after an explosion

Joseph (junior) was one of those hurt in the incident. This is shown by an entry in the same register, dated 2 June 1781: sadly another burial. It is Joseph’s. He lingered for several days before succumbing to his injuries, described as “bruises”. The entry states that his injuries were the result of the same incident in which his father and brother were killed.

Besides being emotionally devastating for the family, with the death of two members on the same day and a third receiving injuries in the same incident leading to his protracted death two weeks later, it would have been economically crippling. The three main breadwinners wiped out in a single stroke. Grace was left to bring up several children – the eldest 16 years old, the youngest just two. 

Less than two years after the death of his father and brothers Thomas died, aged eight, as a result of a fever. This is a notoriously vague catch-all description for the period indicating, yet again, that in these times the precise source of illnesses were often not known but which clearly suggests some kind of infection. There are no other clues or hints. Checking the burial register for the period around Thomas’ death reveals nothing, for example an epidemic or outbreak of common illnesses in the area. He was buried on 25 April 1783 in the parish. 

Surprisingly the family do not appear in the list of recipients receiving parish dole money. Neither are they mentioned in the parish churchwardens and overseers accounts or vestry minutes, but there is very little poor law related material in these specific Whitkirk documents. It is very possible that they were supported by the parish via this mechanism, but these records have not survived, or else I’ve not yet discovered them in my visit to the Leeds branch of West Yorkshire Archives.  

But the two information sources, newspaper and parish register, give an indication of the devastating effect a pit explosion could have on a family at a time when fathers, brothers and sons (and prior to the 1842 Mines Act women plus girls and boys under 10) worked side by side underground. 

A sad footnote to this post concerns the anonymity of those killed. In addition to Joseph senior and Richard, there were two others who lost their lives in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, as reported in the “Leeds Intelligencer” 0f 22 May. Given the date of the article, Joseph junior couldn’t have been one. Their names didn’t appear in any reports I found. I do wonder who they were though, these people who worked and died with my ancestors.

There is nothing to indicate any other Whitkirk burials of the period applied to these victims. Parishes adjoining Whitkirk were Leeds, Swillington, Rothwell and Barwick in Elmet.  Leeds St Peter’s parish church provides a cause of death for all burial entries for the period. Sadly I drew a blank in this search. Likewise for Swillington St Mary’s and Holy Trinity at Rothwell. However, Barwick in Elmet All Saints register records the burial on 17 May 1781 of 33 year old Christopher Dickinson from Lowmoor. He died on 16 May 1781, “kild in Seacroft coalpitts“. So was this the same incident? If so it indicates the inaccuracy of the newspaper date which implied a 17 May accident date. 

Providing the newspaper got the numbers right, the other individual remains a mystery. The only possibility so far is a cryptic and inconclusive 17 May 1781 entry in the nearby parish of Garforth St Mary’s “Thos son of Mathew Limbord colier aged 23 years” No cause of death. And really it’s not clear if it was Thomas or his father who worked as a collier.

The “UK Coal Mining Accidents and Death Index 1700-1950” doesn’t offer a solution either. This was on the now obsolete “Coal Mining History and Resource Centre” website, which I wrote about in my previous post. As indicated in that post, the index is now available on Ancestry.co.uk – but this accident is not recorded. I may never know who the fourth person was. And it makes me think how many other mining deaths are similarly lost.

 Sources:

  • St Mary’s Whitkirk Parish Register and records 
  • Leeds Intelligencer” 
  • National Coal Mining Museum: http://www.ncm.org.uk
  • The North of England Mining Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers: http://www.mininginstitute.org.uk
  • The Durham Mining Museum: http://www.dmm.org.uk
  • Voices from the Dark – Women and Children in Yorkshire Coal Mines” – Fiona Lake and Rosemary Preece 
  • “Working Conditions in Collieries around Huddersfield 1800-1870” – Alan Brooke 
  • My Ancestor was a Coalminer” – David Tonks 
  • British Coalminers in the 19th Century” – John Benson 
  • The Yorkshire Miners: A History – Volume I” – Frank Machin 
  • The history of the Yorkshire Miners 1881-1918” – Carolyn Baylies 
  • Tracing your Coalmining Ancestors” – Brian A Elliott 

The Start of my Aveyard One-Name Study

I mentioned in my WDYTYA? Live 2016 write-up that I had registered a one-name study with the Guild of One-Name Studies. My chosen name is Aveyard, the maiden name of my great grandmother (maternal).

It is a predominantly Yorkshire surname. According to the British Surnames Database there were 343 occurrences of the surname in the 1881 census. The overwhelming majority of these were in Yorkshire (293), with a smattering in Cheshire, Leicestershire and Lancashire. So Yorkshire had a tad over 85% of the total.

Looking purely at total numbers of the surname, the main census districts were Gildersome, Gomersal, West Ardsley, Manningham and East Ardsley (the location of my direct line ancestors in 1881). In terms of frequency (the percentage of people with that surname) Middleton in Hunslet came top, followed by Gildersome, East Ardsley, West Ardsley and Lofthouse cum Carlton.

The top forenames for the Aveyard surname in the 1881 census were – William, John and George (male) and Sarah, Mary and Elizabeth (for female): So nothing startling there.

The top occupations, excluding scholar, were those typically Yorkshire ones of coal miner and woollen weaver.

The Database has approximate 21st century statistics for the surname. In the UK there are 138 surname-bearers (still mainly Yorkshire), USA has 107 and Australia 40.

So in theory a perfectly manageable number for a study.

The Internet Surname Database indicates it is a locational surname, believed to originate from “some minor place believed to be in Yorkshire”. The meaning is said to derive from the personal name “Afa” plus the word for an enclosure “geard”. The surname first made its appearance in the latter half of the 16th century. This was John Aveyeard, a witness at a 29 September 1587 Mirfield christening. Other early Yorkshire parish record occurrences of the surname cited by the Database are:

  • Robert Aveyard’s 18 June 1592 marriage to Anne Arandell at Mirfield;
  • Nycholas Aveyard’s 27  August 1621 Dewsbury marriage to Mary Bothe;
  • Ann, daughter of Richard Aveyard, was christened on 1 January 1624, at Thornhill;
  • Nicholas Aveyard married Debora Westerman on 29 November 1641, at Rothwell;

George Redmonds’ impressive book “A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames” has a slightly different take. The Huddersfield historian and local surnames expert states the interpretation of the surname is difficult. The earliest reference he discovered is in 1540 in the Dewsbury Parish Register. The register refers to Robert Janyn alias Hayvyerd. Redmonds theorises as Janyn was a diminutive of John frequently used by French immigrants, the surname may be linked to Robert Janyn’s French ancestry. He discovered a reference Robert Janyn of Soothill in 1524, so believes there may be examples of the surname earlier than 1540. He also makes reference to the interpretation by Peter McClure that the name might be a form of Halfyard, a predominantly Somerset and Devon surname, but he seems to discount this: Aveyard is occasionally spelled as Haveyard and Halfyard, but not until the 1800s.

The enormity of the task facing me is now sinking in. I’ve read the Guild of One Name-Studies book’ “Seven Pillars of Wisdom: The Art of One –Name Studies”. Tomorrow I begin a Pharos Tutors “Introduction to One-Name Studies” course. I hope this sets me on the right track in terms of collection, analysis and presentation of data for this new genealogy journey. And on 10 May 2016 I hope to attend the Huddersfield and District Family History Society talk at Dewsbury Town Hall by the Guild’s Yorkshire Regional Representative, David Burgess.

It’s very early days so will take a while for me to get up to speed and collect, collate and analyse data. In the meantime, the email address for my study is aveyard@one-name.org

Sources:

 

My “Holey” Birthplace Pedigree: The (Bad) Luck of Irish Ancestry

Everywhere seems awash with birthplace pedigree charts based on the one created by J. Paul Hawthorne. His template can be found  here: http://bit.ly/1RjfZEZ

So, as a bit of Easter fun, I thought I’d have a go at my own. I’ve modified his template and created two charts. One for my dad’s origins:

Birth Pedigree Dad

Paternal Birthplace Pedigree

The other is for my mum’s side of the family:

Birth Pedigree Mum

Maternal Birthplace Pedigree

What strikes me is how geographically constrained my family is: a mix of Yorkshire and County Mayo on both maternal and paternal sides. Only in the 18th century does my English family extend beyond the Yorkshire boundaries – and then only into County Durham and Northumberland on my paternal side. This is beyond the scope of the generations on the charts. This is why I’ve made an adaptation, to include the birthplace and year. Otherwise my chart is way too boring – and I haven’t broken the geographical mould. Guess it’s an illustration of how wonderful Yorkshire is!

The  other notable feature illustrated in the chart is the challenging nature of discovering my County Mayo ancestry. Whereas I can extend my English roots back to the 18th and, in some cases, 17th century there is no such luck with my Irish side. From the 1850’s onwards things are difficult with my County Mayo ancestors, but no real brick walls. Prior to this date it’s a real struggle. In fact I only know the names of two of my 20 Irish 3x great grandparents, and can only assume they all hailed from Mayo. And I’ve had to make that birthplace assumption for six of my 2x Irish great grandparents, based on the fact it’s their location in the earliest records I can find for them.

So I’m very envious of those who can fill in all their pedigree chart ancestral locations, many covering a wonderful array of almost holiday-like destinations. Sadly my birthplace pedigree chart will never match that, even in the unlikely event of tracing my Mayo roots.

 

 

A “German” Family in WW1 England – Pork Butchers in Liversedge

Whilst browsing a September 1914 edition of “The Batley News” an announcement in the public notices column caught my attention. Addressed “To All Whom it May Concern” it read as follows:

Notice is hereby given that Mrs Christiana Schulz and her family are all naturalised British subjects and, in the present circumstances, it has been deemed advisable that the public of the immediate neighbourhood should be made acquainted with the following facts, namely:-

1. Mrs Christiana Schulz, now residing at Frost Hill, Liversedge, is the widow of the late Mr George Schulz, and she, along with her late husband and family, have resided in England for a period of nearly 50 years.
2. The late Mr George Schulz and his wife and family for a period of over 14 years have been naturalised British subjects and gave resided in the immediate neighbourhood.
3. All the children of the late Mr George Schulz are British-born and are loyal British subjects.
4. The late Mr George Schulz prior to his death carried on, and since that date his Widow in conjunction with her family have carried on, business in the immediate neighbourhood as ‘Pork Butchers’ under the style of ‘George Schulz and Sons’ in an honourable and straightforward manner. The said business has been carried out at the following addresses namely:- Frost Hill, Liversedge, Batley Road, Heckmondwike and 165, Bradford Road, Moorend, Cleckheaton.
5. Since settling in England they gave to the utmost of their ability discharged in a proper manner all their obligations as British subjects.
6. England is the country of their adoption and their interests and sympathies are entirely British, and notwithstanding rumours to the contrary they have neither relations in nor any interests whatever in Germany. On the other hand they desire it to be publicly known that as loyal British subjects their interests and sympathies are purely British, and by this Notice to intimate to the public that their sincere desire is for the ultimate success of the British and their Allies in the present regrettable struggle.

Dated this 2nd day of September 1914.
Thomas Mitcheson
Market Place, Heckmondwike
Solicitor for the said Mrs Christiana Schulz and her family”.

Public Notice in the “Batley News” 5 September 1914

I was intrigued by the notice and wondered what became of the family. However I failed to find any further reference to Christiana Schulz in the GRO indexes. I could track her up to the placement of the notice, but thereafter I drew a blank.

In terms of family prior to this public proclamation of British sympathies, I first traced what appears to be George Schulz in the 1871 census. A 21 year old pork butcher from Germany named George Schalz is lodging with the Wray family in New Bridge Street, Dewsbury. As this is just one of a number surname variants which occurred in records for the family I’m not too hung up about the spelling. All other details fit in with what I’ve discovered.

The following year, GRO indexes record the marriage of a George Schulz and Nanette Egner in Dewsbury Registration District (Q3 1872). From subsequent census entries, combined with Parish Register baptismal entries, I suspect Nanette is Christiana.

Thereafter followed a steady flow of children born country-wide. These are detailed in the table below:

Schulz

Ancestry.co.uk (West Yorkshire births and baptisms 1813-1910 and West Yorkshire non-conformist records 1646-1985). GRO indexes and Huddersfield and District FHS Heckmondwike St James baptism booklet 

The censuses corroborate the family’s journey round the England, with their children’s birth locations corresponding with baptismal details. I’ve not discovered George Frederick’s baptism, but censuses identify Birmingham as his birthplace (1). GRO baptism indexes record the Q2 1879 birth registration of a George Frederick Schulz in the Birmingham Registration District.

The family census addresses were:

  • 1881: 9, Doncaster Road, Liverpool;
  • 1891: Woodhall, Healey Lane, Batley;
  • 1901: Frost Hill, Liversedge; and
  • 1911: Frost Hill, Liversedge

I’ve not traced a death for Nanette or a marriage for a George and Christiana. But, as mentioned, the censuses combined with the baptism details are the main reasons for my suspecting Nanette is Christiana:

  • The 1877 baptism of Caroline names her mother as Christiani [sic];
  • The 1881 census taken on 3 April 1881. This was prior to the birth of George Arthur. The family address is 9, Doncaster Road, Liverpool. The household comprises George Schulz, his wife Christina [sic] and children Fanny E, Caroline and George F. All details match the family. Then in July 1881 the Parish Register of St Martin in the Fields, Liverpool has the baptism of George Arthur. The address corresponds with the family, as does George’s occupation – but the baby’s mother is Nanette;
  • Adolphus Egner, brother-in-law, is in the household in 1901. Not conclusive as it could be a brother-in-law through a previous marriage, but it is another nugget of information; and
  • The 1911 census states George and Christiana have been married for 39 years – which would correspond with a 1872 marriage

I’d love to obtain some certificates to prove or disprove the theory. However, given their cost, it may be on permanent hold. The Schulz family are not part of my ancestry and I still have certificates I want relating to my own family history research.

Some censuses indicate George and Christiana were from Württemberg, Germany. George’s birthplace is confirmed in his February 1900 naturalisation papers. He was born in the Württemberg town of Langenburg,  the son of George and Margaret Schulz.

Probate records show George died on 6 April 1911. He was 61 years old. But there were plenty of family members to continue his business. Sons George Frederick, George Arthur, Charles, John Herbert and Ernest were all engaged in the trade. Son-in-law Carl Schuler, also from Langenburg (2) and husband of Caroline, owned a pork butcher’s business in Shipley.

However, their Great War fate continued to niggle me. It wasn’t my ancestry but so many of the locations associated with the Schulz’s were familiar to me. Staincliffe Church is less than ten minutes walking distance from my home; the location of their Batley Road shop is a similar distance and I can recall a butchers shop there, although it may not be the same one; I can see the Woodhall area from my window, about five minutes walk away; and I discovered they had a Healey business which burned down in 1891 – the area I’ve spent most of my life in. So I wanted to know how their story ended.

Staincliffe Church, scene of a number of Schulz baptisms & marriages

I knew British attitudes to foreign nationals changed at the outbreak of war, with Germans living in the country categorised as “enemy aliens“. I was also aware that, naturally enough, anti-German feelings were prevalent and hardened as the war progressed, especially after incidents such as the May 1915 Lusitania sinking.

From August 1914 newspapers carried numerous reports ranging from boycotting of German businesses, to attacks on and looting of German shops, even those belonging to naturalised British subjects. Many of these attacks were on the shops of pork butchers, a trade particularly associated with Germans. And many occurred in West Yorkshire.

One incident was far too close to home for the Schulz family. On 29-30 August 1914 anti-German riots broke out in Keighley. Over the course of the weekend a huge, angry, largely Irish mob attacked shops owned by tradesmen of German origins, including several pork butchers. Fuelled by alcohol and spurred on by cries of “Down with the ***** Germans”, “Come on: Let’s do to the ***** Germans the same as they are doing to the Belgians” and “Who will join Darcy’s Army” (3) they caused pandemonium in the town, terror to the citizens and injuries to several policemen. They also caused damage estimated at over £400. One shop was even set alight.

As I’d discovered from the 1911 census Charles Schulz had a pork butcher’s shop in Low Street, Keighley. And indeed his was one of the shops attacked. The 12 September edition of the Yorkshire post states:

Next the crowd went to the shop of a pork butcher named Schulz, in Low Street, which was also damaged and rifled, the windows being kicked through”.

The violence is also referred to in Lyn MacDonald’s “1914: The Days of Hope”. It contains the reminiscences of Eva Leach, daughter of a Keighley publican. She recalls the attacks on, and looting of, the pork butchers in Keighley. She recalls the Schulz’s as a “nice couple with a baby“. When the looting of their shop commenced “the Schulzes rushed next door and sheltered with the Mitchells until the trouble died down. Mrs Schulz was in an awful state, quite terrified“.

Undoubtedly this is the incident which prompted the family to employ a solicitor to place the newspaper notice within days of the Keighley events. If Christiana’s son’s Keighley shop could come under attack, so could the family’s Frost Hill business. The notice is powerful testimony to their concerns and the threat they were under.

But I was still no nearer to finding out what happened to Christiana after September 1914.

Then finally in January 2016 the final jigsaw puzzle piece clicked into the place. Not by any research on my part other than generally sharing the September 1914 notice on social media (4). As a result someone told me they believed the family adopted the English surname Schofield.

The Gate Hangs High” is a book by Mildred Coldwell. It recounts her family memoirs about living in Heckmondwike between 1909-1921. A passage from it provides confirmation of the wartime name change:

….there were quite a number of families in the Spen Valley of German descent who were ostracised by a section of our community. One such person was Mr Schultz [sic] (5), the pork butcher, whose spotless shop was up Frost Hill, a man and his family respected by us all. I cried when I heard that a stone had been thrown through his shop window. Mr Schultz wasn’t a German, he was one of us, a Spen Valleyer. Arthur, his little boy, was in my class at school and would even fight in the playground. Anyhow, the Hun wore helmets with a spike on top, and I couldn’t imagine Mr Schultz wearing one of those. But he stood his ground and showed everybody that he didn’t want to be a German, he was English, so a new sign was put up over his shop ‘Schofield’s Pork Butchers”. Mr Schultz had made his choice. It was lovely to go down with a basin as usual for half a pound of warm, roast pork covered with gravy, and served by the now Mr Schofield, smiling once more, standing there in his lovely, laundered blue and white striped apron, sharpening his long knife on the hone fastened on to a polished leather belt round his ample waist. Quite a few more families with German names followed his example”.

The changing of Germanic surnames to British sounding ones was not unique to the Schulz family. Many adopted this device to hide their origins and proclaim their Britishness.  Even the Royal Family did it in 1917, ditching Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in favour of Windsor.

Further corroboration of the Schulz to Schofield change comes with the death of Christiana in 1922. The National Probate Calendar has the following entry:

SCHOFIELD Christianna [sic] Rosina Sophie of Frost Hill, Liversedge, Yorkshire died 21 April 1922 Administration London 8 June to George Frederick Schofield butcher. Effects £1913 15s 7d

The GRO indexes (Q2 1922) confirm that Christiana R S Schofield was 69.

I’ve loved researching this family and feel there is so much more to discover. The early 20th century is my favourite period of history and I enjoyed researching it from a slightly different perspective: that of families of German origin in England during World War 1. This is just one family. I’m delighted to find they remained in England. 

The Schulz Family


Footnotes:

(1) The 1911 census says Worcester, Birmingham. Others state Birmingham, Warwickshire
(2) Taken from his 1912 naturalisation papers
(3) One of the ringleaders was William Darcy
(4) Spen Valley Family and Local History Group on Facebook
(5) A son of George carrying on the family business

Sources

  • Ancestry.co.uk – England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858-1966
  • Ancestry.co.uk – HO 334 Naturalisation certificates and declarations of British nationality 1870-1912
  • Ancestry.co.uk – West Yorkshire births & baptisms 1813-1910 and West Yorkshire non-conformist records 1646-1985
  • Batley News” – 5 September 1914
  • Find My Past – 1871-1911 Censuses
  • Find My Past newspapers
  • GRO Indexes via FreeBMD and Find My Past
  • Huddersfield & District Family History Society Heckmondwike St James Baptisms 1883-1907 (note this West Yorkshire parish is not covered by Ancestry)
  • The Gate Hangs High” – Mildred Coldwell
  • 1914: The Days of Hope” – Lyn MacDonald

January Sale: Huddersfield & District Family History Society Publications

A proper January sale for me. Not clothes or household goods. But Parish Register index booklets.

Many of my ancestors are from the area of West Yorkshire covered by the Huddersfield & District Family History Society (FHS). So naturally this is one of the societies I’m a member of. This month they are reducing the price of their Register Transcription booklets to £1.00 and CDs to £5.00. Here is their Publication Page link.

img_0310

A Selection of my HDFHS Index Booklets

Although the Ancestry West Riding Parish Register collection is wonderful, and nothing can beat a visit to the local Archives, I must admit to a strong attachment to these index booklets and the hard work of all the FHS transcribers they represent. So in part this post is a shout out for all the fantastic work they do.

Yes, I do check my ancestral finds against the Registers for the rare, but inevitable, transcription error. And I do enjoy  looking through the Registers. But I still love the physical comfort and solidity of a book(let), not to mention the eye-relief especially when browsing generally.

And despite the big push by genealogy companies and the impression they sometimes give, not everything is available on the Internet…including some of the Parishes covered by these indexes.

I’m fortunate to live in the same area of many of my ancestors, so I can easily visit West Yorkshire Archives, local studies libraries and the excellent local libraries, including the one in my hometown of Batley. Others do not have this luxury. These indexes are excellent finding aids and another gateway to the Registers, providing a complementary, alternative source of information.

So whilst my husband was out at work on New Year’s Day, I spent part of it perusing the several hundred booklets produced by the FHS, checking against my list of previous purchases, and placing my (large) order.

My Bizarre Christmas-Associated Family Name: AKA There’s more to Family History than DNA

In “Shrapnel and Shelletta[1] I wrote about war-associated baby names. This is a more seasonal post about a particular Christmas-associated family name.

When naming a baby at Christmas-time, which names conjure up this magical time of year? Which can be considered as festive and beautiful as this special period? Holly, Ivy, Joy, Noel/le, Merry, Nick or Rudolph might spring to mind. Perhaps Caspar, Gabriel, Emmanuel, Balthasar and Gloria? Or maybe the Holy Family names of Jesus, Mary and Joseph?

In contrast, which name would make you recoil with shock and horror? Which name would you think “No way! How inappropriate! What on earth are they thinking of?”

Probably near the top of the list would be the one associated with my family tree.  For on 24 December 1826 at Kirkheaton’s St John the Baptist Parish Church (oh, the irony of date and church name)[2] the baptism of Herod Jennings took place.

Saint-Sulpice-de-Favières_vitrail1_837 Herod

Magi before Herod the Great, Wikimedia Creative Commons License, G Freihalter

Herod was born on 3 November 1826, one of five children of coal miner George Jennings and his wife Sarah Ellis. They married in October 1818 at St Mary’s, Mirfield and by the time of Herod’s baptism had settled in Hopton, a hamlet in that township, midway between Mirfield and Kirkheaton.

Herod’s siblings included the equally wonderfully named Israel (baptised 20 June 1824) and Lot (born 8 March 1830), so some fabulous biblical associations there too. The other family names of James (baptised 24 September 1820) and Ann (baptised 20 October 1822, buried 7 July 1823) seem disappointingly ordinary in comparison.

Sarah died in 1832, age 36 leaving George to bring up his four surviving children. James married Sarah Pickles on 25 December 1839, another example of Christmastime events in this branch of the Jennings family![3]So, by the time of the 1841 census, it was just George and his two sons, Israel and Herod, along with a female servant Jemima Gibson living in the Upper Moor, Hopton household. Youngest child Lot was along the road at Jack Royd, with the Peace family. This may have been a permanent arrangement given the family situation.

By the time of this census young Herod already worked down the mine, a job which ultimately would possibly contribute to his death.

On 7 October 1850 he married Ann Hallas at St Mary’s, Mirfield. Both Herod and Ann lived at Woods Row, Hopton. Ann was slightly older than Herod, being born in 1824. By the time of their wedding, she was already the unmarried mother of two. Her son, Henry, was born in 1843; and my 2x great grandmother Elizabeth’s birth occurred in November 1850, 11 months prior to Ann’s marriage to Herod.

This then is my family connection to Herod: His marriage to my 3x great grandmother. And it is one of the mysteries I still hope the DNA testing of mum and me will solve. Was Herod the father of Elizabeth? She was certainly brought up to think so, with all the censuses prior to her marriage recording her surname as Jennings, whereas her brother Henry went under his correct Hallas surname. And when registering the birth of her son Jonathan, there is a slip when Elizabeth starts entering her maiden name as “Jen”. This is subsequently scored through and correctly written as “Hallas”.

It appears Henry too was minded to look upon Herod as his father-figure. At his baptism at St Peter’s, Hartshead in June 1857 he appears in the register as Henry Jennings, not Hallas. When he married Hannah Hainsworth at Leeds All Saints on 24 December 1866, his marriage certificate records his father’s name as “Herod Hallas”. And in 1870 he named his eldest son Herod. Although by no means a common name, a glance at the GRO indexes shows it did appear occasionally, along with its alternative forms of Herodius and the feminine Herodia. The fact Henry gave his son this unusual name seems to indicate a measure of affection for the man who brought him up. Finally, at the time of the 1871 census Herod, son William and nephew Charles were boarding in the Leeds home of Henry.

So, whether or not there is a DNA link, he is still a major figure in my family tree. And for me this brings home the fact that there is more to family, and family history research, than DNA links alone!

Herod and Ann had nine other children: Ellen (born April 1851), Louisa (born January 1853), Harriet (born November 1854), Mary (born May 1858), William (born 1860), Eliza (born April 1862), Rose (born 1864), Violet (born 1866) and James (born 1871).

The family moved frequently, presumably due to Herod’s work as a coal miner. They are recorded at various locations in the area, many within walking distance of where I live. These included Mirfield, Battyeford, Hopton, Hartshead, Roberttown, White Lee and Batley.

Outside of work Herod had a keen interest in quoits, arranging and taking part in park challenge games especially around local Feast times. This game was particularly popular with miners and mining communities in Victorian times, with the metal rings being made of waste metal from mine forges. Challenge matches were also a way to raise funds, for example for sick and injured miners.

Herod died age 52, at Cross Bank, Batley as a result of asthma and bronchitis, which presumably owed something to his mining occupation. Working in cramped, filthy, air-polluted, damp, sometimes wet conditions from an early age, this was a hazardous and unhealthy occupation. The conditions and physical exertion led to chronic muscular-skeletal problems and back pain as well as rheumatism and joint inflammation. Most colliers had lung associated problems, with many becoming asthmatic whilst still relatively young. So Herod’s cause of death, from a lung-related illness, is unsurprising.

Ironically Herod’s date of death occurred on 5 January 1878, a day we associate with the Christmas period, falling before 12th night. And in the Western Christian tradition the 6 January is the Epiphany, marking the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. This brings us once more to the King Herod connection, at Herod Jennings’ death as well as his baptism.

This is what Matthew’s gospel says about those events at the first Christmas:

Then Herod summoned the wise men to see him privately. He asked them the exact date on which the star had appeared, and sent them to Bethlehem. ‘Go find out all about the child,’ he said ‘and when you have found him, let me know, so that I too may go and do him homage.’  Having listened to what the king had to say, they set out. And there in front of them was the star they had seen rising; it went forward and halted over the place where the child was. The sight of the star filled them with delight, and going into the house they saw the child with his mother Mary, and falling to their knees they did him homage. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. But they were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, and returned to their own country by a different way. 

After they had left, the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod……Herod was furious when he realised he had been outwitted by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were two years old or under, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men”.[4]

Herod was buried in Batley Cemetery on 7 January 1878.

I have a great deal of affection for Herod, whether or not there is a direct family blood-tie. The fact he took on one, possibly two children when he married Ann; and they in turn acknowledged him as a father, which speaks volumes for him. I can relate to the location links. And I can totally sympathise with his asthma suffering.

This is my final family history blog post of 2015, and an apt one given the time of year. Thanks ever so much for reading them. As someone new to blogging your support, encouragement and feedback has meant so much over the past eight months.

Merry Christmas everyone – wishing you all peace, health and happiness for 2016!

Sources:

[1] Shrapnel and Shelletta: Baby Names and their Links to War, Remembrance and Commemoration | PastToPresentGenealogy https://pasttopresentgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/shrapnel-and-shelletta-baby-names-and-their-links-to-war-remembrance-and-commemoration/
[2] Herod the Great was responsible for trying to elicit the three wise men to reveal the  whereabouts of Jesus and, when this failed, subsequently ordering the killing of all infant boys under the age two and under, the so-called “Massacre of the Innocents”. His son, Herod Antipas, had John the Baptist killed.
[3] It was not uncommon for working-class people to have wedding ceremonies on Christmas Day. It was, after all, a holiday so they had time off work.
[4] The Jerusalem Bible, Popular Edition 1974 – Matthew 2: 7-17

Festive Adverts and Shopping in Batley: A 1915 Christmas – Part 3: Food for Man and Beast

In the final part of my seasonal shopping blog I look at Batley’s food and drink shops, as featured in the local press during the weeks leading to Christmas 1915. These shops catered for festive meals in households across Batley. But many also provided a taste of home for those serving overseas.

Mr Geo. Brown, a popular Branch Avenue caterer and confectioner was one such business. He supplied amazing quantities of chocolates, biscuits, fancy cakes and larger currant cakes to men in khaki and navy blue.  Of his cakes, going to soldiers, the Batley News eulogised “and won’t they welcome the toothsome and nourishing comestibles that they are so fond of in peace times”! He also sold boxes, crackers, stockings and a variety of decorative tins and jars filled with sweets, chocolates and toys. And what would Christmas be without its Christmas cake? I find Brown’s 8 December Xmas show opening date a notable difference to Christmas shopping today, when festive goods start appearing on the shelves months earlier.

Brown confectioner 18 Dec 1915

Meat shops were plentiful. Mr John Fox’s establishment at 39, Wellington Street had an array of Norfolk turkeys, Yorkshire geese, pheasants, game, rabbit and poultry. His products included oysters, fish, potted meats, even apples and oranges. His shop was described as “like a picture of Christmas as it should be”.

Fox

Jesse Roberts’ pork butchers was located almost at the Hick Lane corner of Commercial Street. His polony, a tasty delicacy, was relished both at home and abroad with hundredweights of it sent to those serving King and Country. The newspaper said patriotically “it has come as a real reminder of the tea-table at home, for many of the local KOYLIs on war service”.  The demand for that Christmas staple, the stand pie, from those serving overseas caused a shortage at Mr Roberts’ depot in mid-December. His shop also sold bacon, mincemeat and even tomato sauce!

Roberts

Another pork butcher was Mr John Batty. His spotlessly clean shop was located at 52, Wellington Street. He too sold bacon, cooked hams and those stand pies so sought after by soldiers and sailors and those keeping the home fires burning. Potted meats, sausages, polonies, tongue and mincemeat also helped “give the Christmas bill of fare a most acceptable variety”.

Batty

Alfred Milnes owned butchers shops at Town Street, Batley Carr and Mill Lane, Hanging Heaton. He also had a Saturday Dewsbury market stall. A veteran judge of beef and one of the district’s most popular butchers, he was the beef go-to man.  Prime mutton was another of his fortes and his beef sausages were noted as “amongst the most reliable commodities of their kind”.

Milnes

Mr J C Ridsdale, provision dealer, wine and spirit merchant, dispatched large quantities of figs, raisins, plum puddings and biscuits from his Market Place store to soldiers and sailors.  Whilst admitting that the price of some products, such as raisins, were dearer than in previous years their superb quality repaid the price. Prize cheese and smoked Wiltshire bacon also featured amongst his wares. As did table delicacies ranging from jellies and biscuits to bottled fruits and sweets; from muscatel, almonds and mincemeat to champagne and cigars. And his shop was the only local agency for Gilbey’s wines and spirits.

Ridsdale's 18 Dec 1915

On the subject of drinks and cigars, Mrs Chadwick’s Crown Hotel on Commercial Street boasted a fine stock with sherry cask matured spirits and whiskies including brands from some of the world’s most famous distilleries. Buyers though we’re reminded of the curtailed hours due to the new Liquor Control Order.

Crown Hotel

Sam Wilson’s establishments, one at the Market Place corner of Upper Commercial Street and the other near the Tram Terminus at the Bradford and Station Road junction, provided another sign of the times. A popular local tobacconist, “every local worshipper of the Lady Nicotine” knew his shops. He stocked a wide price range and flavour of cigarettes, boxes of cigars and blends of tobacco. He also had a wonderful array of pipes, “a rare stock of beauties, just right for using or giving when the Christmas spirit is greatly developed in men”.

Wilson cigars 18 Dec 1915

And finally not to be forgotten at Christmas was the horse. This was still a society heavily reliant on horse power, both on the land and in terms of transporting goods locally. Henry Rhodes, corn merchant, located at Station Road was “excellently situated for supplying the quadrupeds with as good a Christmas dinner as anyone could wish”.

Henry Rhodes

I hope this series of posts has given a flavour of a 1915 Christmas. Although a century ago it is still recognisable as the Christmas we celebrate today. And although these shops have long since disappeared, forced out by supermarkets such as Tesco’s,  I can relate the locations to my ancestors lives and picture them doing their Christmas shopping in the multiplicity of individual retailers lining the thriving town’s teeming streets.

My two earlier post can be found at:

Part 1: https://pasttopresentgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/festive-adverts-and-shopping-in-batley-a-1915-christmas-part-1-the-home-beautiful

Part 2: https://pasttopresentgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/festive-adverts-and-shopping-in-batley-a-1915-christmas-part-2-gifts-galore-for-man-woman-and-child

Festive Adverts and Shopping in Batley: A 1915 Christmas – Part 2: Gifts Galore for Man, Woman and Child

In Part 2 of my blog about Christmas shopping in Batley in 1915 I focus on gift-giving. Although the shadow of war cast a cloud it could not, as the papers put it, “eclipse the public’s desire to remember the season of goodwill”.

The war had made a mark though, in terms of presents given. Children’s toys took on a distinctive, militaristic theme. And the postal system and Army Transport were inundated with food and presents for soldiers, sailors and nurses serving overseas or training on home shores: Cakes and plum puddings to revive memories of home; grocers reporting a run on goods men in the trenches could relish; butchers supplying hundredweights of comestibles; clothing retailers, ironmongers, tin-ware merchants and jewellers selling practical goods aimed at those serving King and Country. Batley folk had a wealth of local shops to satisfy these needs.

The town centre had a good selection of jewellers.  The universally popular product stocked by all, aimed especially at those serving in the Armed Forces, were Radiolite wrist watches with luminous dials, readable in the dark. These were also promoted as useful in the dark for people at home.

Joe Fox, whose clock was a much-loved time-teller for shoppers on Commercial Street, was one retailer of these wrist-watchers. He also had a good number of other clocks which, the paper remarked, were not easy to obtain nowadays.

Joe T Fox Batley 11 Dec 1915

Commercial Street’s Messrs Gerald Brooke, Ltd also retailed these “luminous levers”. Diamond and gem rings glittered in the window of this shop, described as “ranking high amongst jewellers and silversmiths in the West Riding”, making a display worthy of their big reputation. Upholding its good name, Brooke’s sold clocks, alberts, signet rings, canteens of cutlery, silver and plated goods such as cake-stands, and dessert dishes and other goods “at prices that cannot be repeated”.

Brooke

Mr F E Morton was a third Commercial Street jeweller who boasted the sale of luminous watches, a number which had already been sent to soldiers. Silverware marked the other outstanding feature of his shop, with a beautiful home-enhancing collection of vases, bon-bon dishes, cruets, cake, fruit and jam stands. If that wasn’t enough to entice the discerning Christmas shopper, there was also, of course, the alluring range of mantelpiece and wall clocks, watches, rings, bangles and pendants.

Morton

The town’s choice in shoe and clothing shops was equally impressive.  Salter and Salter’s heavily stocked Commercial Street shop’s advertising ploy was “The best is cheapest” when buying winter boots, shoes and slippers. Leather was becoming more difficult to purchase so the public were urged to spend their money to the best advantage and see Salter and Salter’s plainly-marked goods.

Messrs George Jessop and Son, clothiers, hosiers, boot and shoe dealers was one of those stores making a virtue of selling stock bought in at old prices without wartime additions. The famous firm used this tactic to encourage people to buy quickly as “much of the stuff cannot be replaced” at these current quoted prices. They stocked fashionable dark grey overcoats with silk velvet collars. They also held a good supply of blue nap and real indigo blue serge which some tailors could not buy for “love nor money”. They had a display of Scouts outfits in one window. Seasonable presents for those at home included ties, hats, hosiery, snow-shoes and galoshes. Cardigan jackets were suggested for soldiers and sailors.

Jessops

Mr M Watssman of Town Street, Batley Carr also held a stock of cloth bought at old prices. Supplying a choice of new materials and up-to-date patterns cut to a perfect fit, his motto was “no fit, no pay”. He also had a special ladies department with sealskins and raincoats.

Watssman

Well-known in Dewsbury and Wakefield, Messrs J Pickles and Son, hosiers and outfitters, opened their Batley branch in time for Christmas 1915. Located at 18-20 Commercial Street this was an establishment where “gentlemen can have their every wish gratified in the latest design of ties, shirts and socks”. Soliciting trade from those with military loved ones, they claimed one local officer made repeat sock orders, proof of his satisfaction with them during active service.  They stocked fashionable soft hats and the latest ties with open ends. Raincoats were made to order, so the customer could have his particular ideas catered for. And their vast quantities of underwear, gloves and scarves made the purchase of a sensible Christmas gift easy.

Pickles 2.JPG

Mr Thos. Hull, old-established Batley outfitter and draper, located in Exchange Buildings, Commercial Street, had been remodelled and boasted new fitting rooms. One wonders if this was a response to new local competition in the form of the Pickles’ shop. Managed for more than 20 years by Mr W Bainbridge, the shop sold hats, suits and “superb” raincoats. The latest fashion in knitted silk ties in bright, mixed colours featured here. Scarves were touted as a suitable Christmas gift. But the real big selling point was khaki mittens of a quality far superior to anything Mr Bainbridge had handled.  With over 240 pairs sold for soldiers, these mittens were popular with warriors who found them so useful. Khaki colours also appeared in the shop’s handkerchiefs, socks and shirts.

Hull's clothes 18 Dec 1915

But the ladies of Batley did not miss out. Miss Kendall’s store at 11, Commercial Street was described as “a revelation and a joy for ladies” and “a shopful of ladies’ delights”.  It stocked exquisite, beautifully made Maltese lace, embroidered frocks and handkerchiefs, perfume, pinafores and dainty blouses in the latest fashion, as well as  a supply of gloves noted as one of the best and biggest in the district. They also stocked “a delightful array of cushions, table centres, and other articles that go to make home life truly bright and agreeable”.

Kendall 27 Nov 1915

Miss Hazzlewood was Batley’s blouse specialist. The “Batley News” enthused that “some of the dainty creations now on view will make charming gifts for the fair sex at Christmas”. The on-site staff, in this domain for ladies, also manufactured large quantities of underclothing. But men were not overlooked by Miss Hazzlewood who, in conjunction with Batley Ladies’ Sewing Guild, cut over 1,000 shirts for soldiers and other garments “for the fighting boys”. 

Hazzlewood

Toy shops abounded too. Mr Lionel Leach had taken over the 68 Commercial Street business previously known as C T Mellor’s, selling handbags, cards and books. His leather goods included wallets, purses, writing and jewel cases.  Fountain pens, photo frames and antimony ware made ideal gifts too. Books catering for children and adults and toys and games were in particularly brisk demand. Christmas cards featured khaki, Union Jacks and other patriotic war-themed embellishments.

Leach Christmas Cards 4 Dec 1915

Leach's 18 Dec 1915

Military toys, electrical goods, cycles and motors were found in the shops of Mr Herbert Hainsworth, on Branch Avenue and Well Lane in Batley and 42, Northgate, Dewsbury. Air-guns, some firing 1,000 shots without the need to re-charge, trained the eye to accuracy. A toy machine gun with wooden “shells”, emitting sounds mimicking the “bark” and “crack” of the weapon, was described as “wonderfully reminiscent of its big brother at the Front”. Then there was the new Sandy Handy, a mechanical toy which filled and emptied buckets of sand.

Hainsworths

Hainsworth’s shop also catered for adults. For fighting men they recommended their pocket lamps, leather vests and motorcycle clothing. Their motor and cycle departments held countless accessories which made useful presents, such as capes, gloves, tools and lamps. They sold bicycles. And motor cycles by Triumph, P and M, BSA, Sunbeam, Lloyds and Wolf were available, including new lightweight models for 1916.  They also served the business customer through their light delivery van and commercial motor trade arm.

Mr Thos Wood (late Mr E H Tate’s) was one of the Heavy Woollen District’s foremost ironmongers. The toy shop element of the business was located in Well Lane, with its forts, guns, cannons and building sets. His Commercial Street shop window proved a seasonal delight, reflective of the times. One window portrayed in detail a Red Cross Hospital. They also had a miniature Charlie Chaplin! Christmas novelties for the soldier in the family included a bullet-proof shield which doubled as a mirror and periscope. Cigarette lighters made a nice Christmas gift. And the visitor was urged not to miss the trench stores containing “wonderfully simple little things that Tommy Atkins values immensely”.

Wood

But the shop which delighted the children of Batley, Santa’s very own Toyland, was Misses Western’s Commercial Street shop. The “Batley News” proclaimed “it may be aptly called the Batley Home of Santa Claus. He fills his pack and reindeer sledge there”. This year the toys had a largely military theme with soldiers, forts, guns, battleships, miniature tents, cooking stoves, aeroplanes and Scouts outfits. In addition to boys mechanical toys manufactured in England or France, girls could choose from dolls made in Britain, France or Japan. Meccano sets were aimed at both sexes. Adults too were catered for with brushes, combs, oak trays and basket-ware.

Westerns

So in this selection there are many gifts familiar to today’s Christmas shoppers; and many which typify the war-torn times of 1915.

In Part 3 I will look at Christmas food and drink vendors.

Part 1 can be found at https://pasttopresentgenealogy.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/festive-adverts-and-shopping-in-batley-a-1915-christmas-part-1-the-home-beautiful

Sources:

“Batley News” – various November-December editions.