Tuesday 29 November 2011

Welcome Home Hector

Surname      First name(s)      Spouse      District      Vol      Page
Marriages Jun 1936 
Hearn          Rosina M           Murdoch     Uxbridge     3a    257   
Murdoch     Hector W A        Hearn          Uxbridge     3a    257  

The marriage of Hector and Rosina led to one of the most famous photographs to have come out of the Second World War. And is certainly in my opinion one of the finest ever taken 

Gunner Hector Murdoch arrives at his new prefabricated house in Tulse Hill, London, — on his birthday no less - and is greeted by his wife Rosina and 9 year old son John. He has been away for four and a half years, three and a half years of which he was a prisoner of the Japanese after the fall of Singapore in 1942.

"They are virtually airborne with joy as they charge down the garden path to greet him".

There was nothing staged about this photograph which was taken by Harry Todd. Hector nearly died of cholera in Singapore. For 18 months, Rosina had no idea if he was alive or dead. Yet here, a new age dawns before them all, just as it did for a whole generation.

I wonder what happened to Hector, Rosina and John - the new prefabriacted house in Tulse Hill is no longer there. They were built to last for ten years but in some parts of the country a few have survived to this day. Ah the UK's post war housing policy!  

Monday 28 November 2011

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Author of the Sherlock Holmes detective novels

I was not aware of the following information 

Whilst sudying medicine, Arthur Conan Doyle had a brief acquaintance with Burngreave in Sheffield. In 1878 he came to Sheffield to work as an assistant to Dr Charles Sydney Richardson on Spital Hill. This was in the building on the corner of Spital Hill and Hallcar Street, which is now the New Roots Café and Burngreave Ashram. It seems that Conan Doyle did not get along with Dr Richardson or Sheffield patients as he later wrote:

'These Sheffielders would rather be poisoned by a man with a beard than saved by a man without one"

It appears that he only lasted three weeks with Dr Richardson before moving at first to Shropshire working for a Dr Elliot and then to Birmingham where he was employed by a Dr Reginald Hoare
1882: Doyle set up as a Doctor in Plymouth with a fellow student from Edinburgh Dr George Budd but it was unsuccessful and the two did not get on. Doyle then set up in Elm Grove, Southsea near Portsmouth but had very few patients and therefore little money. He subsidised his income writing detective stories. His first story was accepted by Chambers Journal in Edinburgh.

Five years later he published the first of his Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet" in Becton's Christmas Annual and had enough money to give up medicine. Holmes was reputedly based on one of his medical school lecturers Doctor Joseph Bell.

It makes you think that if Conan Doyle had got on with Dr Richardson would Sherlock Holmes have had offices in Spital Hill Sheffield as opposed to Baker Street London mmm....

Doris Best 1896 - 1998 - Britain's First Girl Guide

Tuesday 15 November 2011

"Something Must be Done"

One of the best photos ever taken is that of the Duke of Windsor visiting South Wales in the 1930's and being introduced to unemployed Welsh miners. 

I can never understand why the miners look as though they are "on parade" and for the life of me, what are the row of wooden planks there for? It looks as though they have flattened t'tip especially for his visit. The other thing to note is that the Duke is the only person there wearing a hat. All the flat caps
belonging to the miners are held behind their backs. Very strange! Anyway after viewing the grinding poverty and hopelessness in the Valley,s the Duke was heard to say "Something must be done". Unfortunately he did not elaborate on this observation and in the light of that, nothing was done. 

However this lack of action must have bothered him. A few years after the visit, a now hatless Duke and his new wife were introduced to 

 There is no record of the Duke asking his host to "do something" but within two years "something" did happen and the Valleys returned to full employment. 

Thought for the Day

"Philosophers do not solve problems but create them in forms ever more difficult to solve, thus perpetuating philosophy. This is not unique; economists, sociologists and politicians behave in exactly the same way with corresponding consequences"

James William Longman Beament, entomologist and biophysicist (1921-2005)

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Ten Ancient Trees

I came across the following cutting and thought it may be an idea to visit all these trees sometime in the future. Anyway reviewing the list I was puzzled about the ninth tree listed - the Big Belly Oak in the Savernake Forest. Quite why anyone wants to summon the Devil up when we already have "Old Nick" Clegg is beyond me. But I suppose each to there own.

However when I did a bit of research I found that there is a bit more than just jigging about naked in front of an old oak tree. According to legend anyone wanting to summon Old Nick up has to

"to dance naked at midnight twelve times anticlockwise around the Big Belly or Decanter Oak in Savernake Forest. "

To compound one's difficulties, the tree is reached by a short walk down a busy and quite dangerous road, the A346.Mmmmm....

Private Harry Wilkinson of the 2/Lancashire Fusiliers

Private Harry Wilkinson of the 2/Lancashire Fusiliers. body was found in 2000, and he was reburied in 2001 with full honours.- the above cutting is from The Daily Telegraph

A cross commemorating Harry Wilkinson stands by the side of the road near to where his remains were found, 86 years after he died. This cross is not too far from Prowse Point Cemetery, and is located south of the St. Yvon craters. Private Harry Wilkinson was killed in action on the 10th of November 1914, and there is a faded picture of him next to the cross.
In the field behind this cross, the remains of three more British soldiers were found in March 2006. An identity disc was found with one, and he has been "identified" by the press as Private Richard Lancaster who, like Harry Wilkinson, served with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers and also died on the 10th of November 1914. Private Richard Lancaster was re-interred at Prowse Point Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery on  Wednesday 4 July 2007.

 Harry's Grave at Prowse Point Cemetery with its memorial stone

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Notice To Quit - Sheffield 1958

In the BMD registers there is the following entry - Deaths Mar 1958
LIGHTBROWN     Margaret    Age 79     Sheffield    Volume  2d Page 160

Lightbrown is not a common name in Sheffield  - this is the entry in the 1911 Census for margaret
Name     Margaret Lightbrown
Relationship to Head of Household     Wife
Condition     Married
Gender     F
Age     30
Estimated Year of Birth     1881
Employed     N
Working at Home     N
Place of Birth     Lancashire Burnley
Enumerator Information
Address     206 Firth Park Road Sheffield
Parish     Sheffield
Town     Sheffield
Type of Building     Private House
Number of Rooms     6
Inhabited     Y
Reference     RG14PN27955 RG78PN1598 RD510 SD5 ED32 SN14
Administrative County     Yorkshire (West Riding)
Registration District     Sheffield Registration Sub District     West Brightside
Enumeration District     32

According to the census Margaret had been married less than a year to her husband James Edward Lightbrown, a 34 year old manager of a joiner's shop in a steelworks. Both originated from Lancashire, James from Accrington and Margaret from Burnley.
I know nothing else about their lives together after this point. But neither would have envisaged that Margaret would have ended her days in misery and turmoil.

The Manchester Guardian dated 19th March 1958 reported

I have come across the coroner Mr Alan Lockwood before in connection with the deaths of the Derbyshire family in 1945 and I was not very impressed with his demeanour and attitude then, and this inquest has into Margaret's death merely confirms that impressison. He was correct in his assertion that the tennancy agreeement was not within the remit of the court, but his comments with regards to a possible "future" resolution, and Mrs Lightbrown's right to consult lawyers are both vacuous and meaningless. Margaret was 79 years of age when the notice of eviction was served - did she have the wherewithal, or more importantly from the lawyers perspective, the money to contest the notice - I very much doubt it.  

"It may well be that nearer the time (for the eviction) some arrangement  might have been come to for her to continue living there on suitable terms". By far the more likely scenerio given the greed and avarice inherent in private landlords, is that Margaret would have been turfed out of her home. She had received "Notice to Quit" end of story, a notice that led to her be terribly upset". So upset in fact that she killed herself in a tragic manner
As a final note for younger readers - prior to the 1960s most domestic gas supply in the United Kingdom was coal gas aka town gas, which in its unburned form contained high levels of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide poisoning by intentionally inhaling coal gas was a common suicide method, accounting for nearly half of all suicides in the UK in the late 1950s. After the British government phased out coal gas in favor of natural gas (which lacks carbon monoxide) in the 1960s, the suicide rate in Britain fell by almost a third and has not risen since.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Lieutenant William John Clegg MC

And yet another mail I received this week but this time I was receiving information rather than researching it

"I came across your site on the Clegg family and your appeal for information. I have some information on William John Clegg as part of research into the Great War poarticipation of the former pupils of Hazelwood Prep school at Limpsfield in Surrey and thought you might like to see it, and if you would like to,  include it on your site
His entry is below and I hope you find it useful/interesting

(98) Clegg, William John Lieutenant MC
1/1st Yorkshire Dragoons (Queens’ Own) Yeomanry
He was born in September 1897 the son of Leonard Johnson Clegg JP, a solicitor, and his second wife, Kate M (nee Turton) Clegg of Whiteley Wood, Sheffield in Yorkshire. He left Hazelwood School in the summer of 1911 for Uppingham School where he was educated from September 1911 until April 1914.
On leaving school he was articled to the firm of L.J. Clegg, solicitors of Sheffield.
He was appointed as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Yorkshire Dragoons on the 12th of November 1915. He was later promoted to Lieutenant and served in France, Belgium and Germany from September 1916 to May 1919.
He was awarded the Military Cross which was announced in the London Gazette of the 4th of October 1919 and the citation read:-
"On 20th October 1918, south-west of Vichte, for conspicuous gallantry and good work whilst leading an advanced platoon. He continually came under very heavy machine-gun fire from his flank. He pressed forward, and succeeded in capturing seven field guns and over thirty prisoners. It was greatly owing to his fearless leadership that his company were able to advance about a mile and a half in front of the infantry."
After the war he returned to work as a solicitor.   
He married Audrey Ivy (nee MacLaren) at Hove Parish Church on the 2nd of September 1926 and they lived at Bay House, 1 Marine Parade, Budleigh Salterton.
During the Second World War he served with the War Claims Commission and he died in February 1969"

Needless to say I have posted this information to the site 

The Hendersons Were There After All

The other day I received the following e-mail which refered to an article that had been on the site for a few years The Hendersons Were Not There (neither was Mr Kite) - Sheffield 1848

"Found your site via google and was intrigued to read your article on John and Agnes Henderson at which I thoroughly enjoyed.

You mention that the history of John Henderson was detailed in 'King Pole' (not familiar to me) and I wondered if you had any information on his ancestry or place of birth. I am descended from a line of Hendersons from Dumfries in Scotland and would be interested in trying to trace John Hendersons ancestry if it is not already known".

Basically the article is based on the Beatles (John Lennon) song "For the Benefit of Mr Kite" which appears on the Sgt Pepper album. Pablo Fanques Fair did appear in Sheffield in 1848 but Mr Kite and the Hendersons did not.

Anyway I decided to check the UK censuses to see if I could help the correspondent out but found out that John Henderson was born in Lambeth London and not Scotland. The ODNB gives the following information

"Henderson, John (1822–1867), circus performer and proprietor, was born in London, the son of John Henderson, an actor. He was advertised as a rider with Price and Powell's circus at Bristol in 1842. After a spell with Pablo Fanque in Lancashire, he was with Powell's circus at Hammersmith in 1843, performing as a trampolinist, clown, vaulter, and somersault thrower. He married Agnes Selina (c.1825–1879), the fifth daughter of Henry Michael Hengler, the circus rope-dancer, on 2 October 1843, at Canterbury. Their only child, a daughter, died at the age of twenty-one. In 1844 Charles Hengler (Mrs Henderson's brother) took over Powell's company; Henderson and William Powell were joint ringmasters in 1845. Henderson appeared as a leaper at Astley's Amphitheatre, London, in 1847, in William Batty's time, and returned in 1850 to perform on the iron wire. He continued with Hengler's company for many years, a brilliant all-round artiste, although he occasionally appeared in other arenas.

In October 1858 Henderson left Hengler to fulfil engagements in Moscow and St Petersburg, first selling his black mare Bess. By 1859 he had become involved in circus management, probably for Hengler, ostensibly of Frowde's Cirque Modele, at Sheffield, while at the same time appearing on the slack wire. The company was then transformed into Henderson's Grand Cirque, at Chester. Although he was always associated with Hengler, Henderson always strove towards success in his own right. During 1860 his circus toured England. For the next seven years he alternated between Hengler's, other circuses, and his own temporary companies. He was manager of the Christmas circus at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, London, for three seasons from 1863 to 1864, and ran the winter 1866–7 circus at the London Music Hall, Manchester. Henderson died of pleurisy on 10 May 1867 while his circus was at Ipswich, and was buried on 13 May in Ipswich cemetery. He was a fine tall man with curly hair and a bushy moustache.
John M. Turner
J. M. Turner, ‘The excitement and romance of circus history’, King Pole, 71 (June 1986), 4ff. · T. McDonald Rendle, Swings and roundabouts (1919) · G. Van Hare, Fifty years of a showman's life, or, The life and travels of Van Hare, new edn (1893) · Boase, Mod. Eng. biog. · The Era (19 May 1867) · Suffolk Mercury (11 May 1867) · Suffolk Mercury (18 May 1867) · m. cert.

But whilst researching this information I came across the following entry from the 1861 Census

"From the 1861 UK Census
Name Agnes Henderson Age 33 Estimated Year of Birth 1828 Relationship to Head of Household Lodger Occupation ...artist Address Sidney Street District Sheffield, South Sheffield Parish Sheffield Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Birth Place Canterbury Birth County Kent

Staying with Agnes was her 15 year old daughter Jane.

The word that was missing was "equestrian" Agnes was an equestrian artist and the wife of John Henderson. She was lodging with her daughter (Martha) Jane in Sydney Street in 1861, Her husband John was lodging in Soho mmmm Name John Henderson Age 37 Estimated Year of Birth 1824 Relationship to Head of Household Lodger Occupation Equestian Address 5, Spur Street District Strand, St Anne Soho Parish St Anne Administrative County London, Middlesex Birth Place London Birth County Middlesex

The Hendersons were of course "immortalised" in the Beatles (John Lennon) song "For the Benefit of Mr KIte" which appears on the Sgt Pepper album. Sadly their daughter died at the age of 21 and is buried with her father John in London's Highgate Cemetery. His body was exhumed from Ipswich Cemetery where he was first laid to rest in May 1867. His wife Agnes died on 10th October 1879, in Liverpool. She was buried in Toxteth Cemetery, Smithdown Road, with no surviving children



Frederick Nodder - A Child Murderer from Sheffield

The other day I received the following e-mail about an article that I had written quite a few years ago cocerning the abduction and murder of Mona Tinsley in Nottinghamshire
 "I have just read your excellent article on the murder of Mona Tilsley but I am unable to agree with your opening statement that ‘Frederick Nodder’s case is a rarity in British legal history because he was convicted on separate charges, at two trials, in different towns of the SAME offence’

He was firstly convicted of ‘child stealing’ under S.56 of the OAP 1961 then, following the discovery of Mona Tilsleys body, murder at common law. Clearly, these are two separate offences though both convictions resulted from his actions!"
Initially I was sceptical but after reviewing the article and sentence I agreed with the writer and replied
"Having reviewed the sentence and the wording I can see where you are coming from - they were indeed two offences. I have altered the wording to reflect this."
But I also got around to thinking that I knew very little about Nodder's early life. I tried to find material when I posted the article but was unsuccessful. The newspaper reports did not give much background but they all stated that Nodder was 45 years of age at the time of his execution. and so I based my checks on this fact but to no avail. But I should have checked the BMD register. Free BMD gives the following information
Deaths December 1937
Nodder     Frederick     Age 50     Lincoln    Volume 7a Page    603
Nodder was 50 years old when he was hung and not 45 as stated in the press. Based on this new information there is a corresponding entry for his birth
Births September 1887 Nodder     Frederick           Sheffield     Volume 9c    Page 440.
After that I was up and running and had enough material to post a supplement to the main article - my research did show that Nodder and his family were from Sheffield and that they lived for quite some time in the Crookes/Walkley area. But given the horrendous nature of his crime it is not something that is likely to be publicised