It was probably about a year ago when my brother Tim set me a family history challenge. He is interested in a specific name on the WW1 war memorial which resides in St Helen’s Churchyard in Escrick; the village we were born and brought up in. The man’s name was John Sarginson. Neither of my parents was able to shed any light on this man who shares the same surname as we do. Our uncle Taff, one of my father’s brothers, wasn’t able to help either when we asked him about him earlier this year. Mind you he didn’t know that one of his ancestors from a nearby village had served in World War One, survived and is included in one of the historical books about Riccall; the village which he lives in.
Anyway how hard can this be to identify someone who is currently unidentified I thought to myself. Well much harder than I’d anticipated is the short answer. I started with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and found some John Sarginson’s who had not survived the war but, having carried out further research, I don’t think it is any of them. Then I thought well perhaps he is in some of the other WW1 records: Ancestry, Imperial War Museum lives of the Great War, Findmypast and the National Archives at Kew. No luck there though.
Then I realised that there would probably have been some meetings to discuss the war memorial and discovered that some papers and meeting minutes had been lodged at the Hull history centre as part of the Forbes Adam collection. Perhaps this was going to be the eureka moment that we family historians crave. Yes you’ve guessed it, it wasn’t. A very interesting letter from Lady Wenlock written in 1921, just after the commemoration service for the war memorial, did reveal some of the local feeling around it and some of the the names which had been included on it. But no the papers didn’t provide any information about who was going to be included on the memorial. A separate sub-committee run by the Rector made those decisions; and so far it doesn’t look these papers still exist or are accessible.
So it was back to the drawing board. After extensive further research, including also looking at the other soldiers on the war memorial and who they served with, I am no further forward in identifying the unidentified John Sarginson. I am loathe to leave him as a mystery so have written to the local historian who wrote a book about Escrick to see if he can help.
Postscript: it looks like John may no longer be unidentified. He was probably Corporal John Sarginson of the West Yorkshire regiment. It would be good though to know more about his connection to Escrick as he wasn’t born there. If you have any further information do please get in touch.