The unidentified John Sarginson

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.

If you have any information about John then do please contact me. I have also posted this blog to my other genealogy website

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.

Yorkshire family trees – my latest research challenge

Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to resolve a number of issues related to the family trees which I’ve included under the Yorkshire family trees heading. Two were particularly challenging: the Home on Spalding Moor tree and the one I’ve called South Cave and further afield. In both cases the furthest ancestor I could find was called Thomas. In the Holme tree his surname seems to be spelt Sergetson and in the South Cave tree the spelling is Sergeson and in both cases Thomas seems to have married a woman called Margaret. At the moment I don’t think these two Thomas’s are the same person. In both trees there are also a number of spellings of the surname I am researching. If you have any further information about either of these two Thomas’s then do please contact me.

I have also decided to finalise, as much as I can, some other trees I am working on before I venture further afield from Yorkshire. There are though some Canadian Sargisons in the South Cave and further afield tree and if you know anything about them do please get in touch.

Research update

I have been spending quite a lot of time on my own family history researches this year and, although I have a number of family trees for the study which I’m working on, I don’t think they are ready to be added here.

However, that doesn’t stop me finding more people with the name Sarginson or one of its many variants. I am always pleased to find people and their families which fit within the remit of my study. While I was looking for some information about one of my own ancestors (not a Sarginson) I came across a family of Sergison’s who lived in Cuckfield, Sussex in the 18th and 19th centuries. It seems that some of them were famous in their day, for example, Charles Warden Sergison, who served with the Scots Guards in South Africa. It seems that a collection of family papers has been lodged with the West Sussex Archive; another one I will need to visit in 2018.

I am currently working on a series of family trees for Sarginson’s (and variants of their name) in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Primarily they lived in Holme on Spalding Moor, Cottingham, Eastrington, South Cave and Hotham. So far I’ve been unable to connect any trees to each, or to my own tree, which includes Sarginsons living in Howden in the late 18th and 19th centuries. If you too are researching any of these families do get in touch using the contact button.

Lottie’s afternoon tea

My Granny Sarginson (born Barrett in 1908) was called Lottie by her family and friends. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I realised her name was Charlotte. I think it was on the day she looked at my hands and said that they were well kept and that you could tell I hadn’t done any real work. Hers were worn and cracked from years of looking after her ever growing family. My father was one of eight children.

There were a number of things I now realise that I learnt from my Gran. One of the most important of which was that meals should be eaten at the table. Every Sunday afternoon she would put on a tea for members of the family. Sandwiches of different kinds: ham, cheese and egg were the most popular. There would often be other savouries like sausage rolls and pork pies. A cake she had made herself usually took centre stage, together with jelly, tinned fruit and evaporated milk. I remain fond of tinned peaches to this day, especially now as it seems rather tricky to buy fresh peaches that aren’t hard or go rotten before you’ve had time to eat them!

Members of the family who didn’t live in the same village as my grandparents took it in turns to go to their house for afternoon tea. We were often there with my aunt, uncle and cousins from York. We would all sit up at the table to eat our food and drink our tea. If we were really lucky we would be offered fizzy pop: dandelion and burdock and cherryade were particular favourites. They were delivered to my Grandparents door in glass bottles with a refundable deposit

After we had eaten our tea we usually went to see which cousins were around to play with and spent time with them. That allowed Gran time to tidy up and for the grownups to have their own conversation without us children.

From time to time Gran would surprise us with something we hadn’t eaten before. The day we all shared a pineapple was particularly memorable. It took pride of place on the table when we arrived for afternoon tea. Both my father and grandfather were great gardeners; however this fruit wasn’t something they had experienced before. The pineapple was a major topic of conversation all the way through tea until eventually my Gran took it into the kitchen to cut it up. She removed the outer skin and sliced it or us to eat. What she didn’t do was remove the core and to this day I won’t eat that part of a pineapple even though I have been reassured many times that it is edible!

Sadly my Gran died in 1983 and looking back on her life now I can see that there are a number of things I learnt from her: the importance of sitting at the table to enjoy a meal, that there are many different ways to look at work and to be adventurous, particularly with food. She was a practical woman, born to a tenant farmer, her occupation described in the 1939 register as unpaid domestic duties and the mother of a large family with many Grandchildren and now Great Grandchildren; a legacy to be proud of.

John Sarginson born about 1802 died 1876

John Sarginson was born about 1802, probably in Melbourne, Yorkshire, and his father given as Elias. After some extensive research I’m reasonably sure i have enough evidence to identify his parents: Elias Sargeantson and Mary Gray. Although Elias’s parents are my current research challenge.

John was 20 when he married Hannah Fletcher on 18 May 1823, in Howden, Yorkshire. At the time of his marriage he was described as a cordwainer. In other records he is described as a boot and shoe maker. He continued this trade throughout his life; it is included on his death certificate as well as in Pigot’s directory of 1828-1829 where he is listed as a boot and shoe maker in Bridge gate. The following extract from Pigot’s gives the following description of Howden:

PigotHowden1828

John and Hannah had six children in 12 years: John (born and died in about 1823), Mary (1825-1902), Elizabeth (born about 1828), Ann (1930-1876), Thomas (1933-1911) and John (1835-1911). They did not all survive until adulthood and sadly John’s wife Hannah died on 28 April 1844 when she was 40. John and Hannah had been married for 20 years.

In the 1841 census John was living in Bridge gate, Howden with his wife Hannah and three of his children: Mary, Ann and Thomas. His occupation is described as a shoemaker. By the 1851 census John is a widower, living alone at 3 Pinfold St, Howden working as a cordwainer journeyman. His birth place is recorded as Melbourne, Yorkshire.

The following extract from a short history of Howden (http://www.howdenshirehistory.co.uk/howden/howden-history.html) gives a sense of how Howden changed during  John’s lifetime:

“The nineteenth century began well for Howden, with the Wells family at nearby Booth ferry developing the river crossing and making it a popular route for stagecoaches. Howden had over 20 inns and almost every trade was represented in the town.

But the growth of Goole took business from Howden, and its population fell. The Hull and Selby railway, opened in 1840, passed Howden a mile to the north although the Hull and Barnsley railway later built their line closer to the town.”

By the 1861 census John was living in Wrights Row, Howden, still a widower and shoemaker journeyman. Again his birth place is recorded as Melbourne, Yorkshire. In the 1871 census John has moved back to Pinfold Street, a widower, shoemaker journeyman born Melbourne, Yorkshire.

Both Pinfold Street and Bridge Gate are key roads in Howden today; however Wrights Row seems to have disappeared.

John died of natural causes on 16 September 16 1876, in Howden, Yorkshire, at the age of 74, and was buried there on 19 September 1876.

Yorkshire – East Riding

The Vikings played an important part in the naming of Yorkshire, as they called York Jorvik and ‘riding’ is thought to be derived from a word meaning third part[1]. A shire, as in Yorkshire, usually refers to land controlled from a castle. York itself is a well known city with medieval walls and a long history.

St Helen's Church EscrickI was born in a village called Escrick in the 1950s. The Gazetteer of British place names[2] places Escrick in the historic county of the East Riding of Yorkshire and currently in the district of Selby in the administrative county of North Yorkshire. The administrative changes to the three Ridings of Yorkshire (East, North and West) were brought about as part of a significant reorganisation of England and Wales on 1st April 1974. As a school girl I remember completing a questionnaire on the proposed changes on behalf of my father. There was a lot of bad feeling locally about the proposed introduction of Humberside and one concern was that our village would be included in it. Further changes in 1998 re-instated the East Riding County Council as a unitary authority[3] and abolished Humberside. However, Escrick remained in North Yorkshire and the current East Riding County Council boundary is different to the one which existed before the changes in 1974. Prior to the 1974 changes, each of the Ridings had been governed from their own county towns; in the case of the East Riding this was Beverley.

Between about 1900 and 1974 the main form of administrative governance in Yorkshire was a mixture of urban districts, rural districts and parish councils[4]. These seem to have replaced the wapentakes, as until about the year 1900, each Riding[5] had been further sub-divided for administrative purposes into them. They were similar to the concept of “hundreds” used in the more southern counties of England and thought to be derived from the use of a “show of weapons” when a vote was taken at an assembly or meeting point. The East Riding was divided into six wapentakes which were further sub-divided. The borough and county of Hull was treated a separate entity. York itself was also treated as a separate county before the boundary changes in 1974 which “moved” it into North Yorkshire.

Bulmers’ Gazetteer of 1892[6] also explains that the name wapentake has an Old Saxon form “woepen-tac” and that they were probably formed for military purposes. It seems that each wapentake had its own court until 1340. These were discontinued by a statute passed during the reign of Edward III (in his 14th year) and their business was then taken over by the courts of the county. In the case of the East Riding this would have been by the courts at Beverley.

Escrick[7] was part of the Ouse and Derwent wapentake while it was still part of the East Riding. It remained in the Derwent registration district when the 1939 register[8] was taken. My own interest in the East Riding remains though, as many of my ancestors lived in various parts of this historic county.

[1] Simpson, David. About Yorkshire: the Yorkshire Ridings. http://www.yorkshire-england.co.uk/About_Yorkshire.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[2] Gazetteer of British place names. http://www.gazetteer.org.uk/index.php : accessed 08 May 2016.

[3] Vision of Britain: East Riding of Yorkshire. http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10217660/relationships : accessed 06 May 2016.

[4] Browne, Horace Baker. (1912) How the East Riding was made. pp. 313-314. London: A Brown and Sons Ltd.  https://archive.org/details/storyofeastridin00brow : accessed 13 May 2016.

[5] Genuki civil administration http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/Misc/Definitions/AreaDefinitions.html : accessed 12 May 2016.

[6] Genuki Wapentakes. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/Misc/Descriptions/ERY/ERYDescription4.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[7] Genuki Escrick. http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/ERY/Escrick/index.html : accessed 06 May 2016.

[8] Findmypast 1939 register. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/1939register?gclid=CIn93IyS18wCFfMW0wod0CMETQ&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CIue-IyS18wCFUeM7QodeEcN_Q : accessed 13 May 2016.