I recently received a query about a Richard Sargeson who died in 1890 and is buried in the MacMillan Pioneer Cemetery, Lancaster Township, Ontario, Canada. Details from the cemetery give his birth date as 24 May 1789, died 16 April 1890 and that he was a “native of Cumberland England”. The question was: did he fit into any of my trees? Well ever one to accept a request I set about trying to find him. I have two trees which feature Sargeson/Sarginsons and other variant surnames: Sarginsons in Cumberland and Westmorland and Serginsons of Cumberland and Derbyshire.
An initial search of both trees didn’t find a Richard Sargeson baptised in 1789, or thereabouts, in Cumberland. However, I did find a Richard Sargison baptised 30 March 1806 in Cumwhitton, Cumberland. His father George (1776-1862) was listed as a blacksmith in a number of records and at least two of George’s sons: George (1796-1885) and Isaac (1810-1893), were also blacksmiths. George is included in the Sarginson Cumberland and Westmorland tree. However, he did not marry his wife Ezat Wright (1771-1843) until 1797 although their first son George (1796-1885) was baptised before their marriage. It seems unlikely though that their son Richard is the one in question, although the Richard in Canada variously recorded his occupation on Canadian censuses as blacksmith and/or farmer.
I then set about collecting as much information as I could about Richard. His cemetery records said that he was aged 101 years, 11 months and 8 days when he died so I wondered if his death had been featured in a local newspaper. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a digitised copy of The Glengarrian or Glengarry Times on the web, although it looks like the Ontario archives might have copies of these. I live in the UK so visiting the archive isn’t a practical proposition for me. Richard was also not consistent when he reported his age on a number of the documents, I found for him:
- 1851 Canadian census his age was given as 58 suggesting a birth about 1793.
- 1861 Canadian census his age was given as 71 suggesting a birth about 1790.
- 1871 Canadian census his age was given as 77 suggesting a birth about 1794.
- 1881 Canadian census his age was given as 858 suggesting a birth about 1796.
- Memorial inscription his age was given as 101 years, 11 months and 8 days.
Using primarily census records I constructed the following family tree for him and it is interesting to note that the first names George and Isaac appear in his descendants and also that in some of the later generations the surname changes to Surgeson.
So, if you are able to shed any light on this mystery do please contact me.
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.
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.