Category Archives: Yorkshire

Family and Local History Talks in 2022 and 2023

After a break of a couple of years I’m now back with a new series of family and local history talks.

These are:

  • Local Links to the Lusitania;
  • Tips for Researching your Great War Ancestors;
  • My Batley St Mary’s in World War One One-Place Study;
  • The Home Front: the White Lee Explosion of 1914.

Local Links to the Lusitania focuses on people with Yorkshire connections on board the Cunard liner, torpedoed and sunk off the Irish coast on 7 May 1915. The sinking did not affect only the rich and famous. Many Yorkshire people were involved. This talk explores some of their stories.

There is a possibility this talk can be tailored to your local area.


Based on my groundbreaking book The Greatest Sacrifice: Fallen Heroes of the Northern Union about rugby league players who died in World War One, the talk investigates the stories behind some of the men. It is also packed with tips for researching your own Great War Army ancestors.


My Batley St Mary’s in World War One One-Place Study is based on my ongoing study of the Catholic parish of St Mary of the Angels, particularly during the First World War. It investigates what a one-place study is, why I embarked on one, why I chose this particular focus, as well as my findings.


The Home Front: the White Lee Explosion of 1914 is a talk based around the events of December 1914 when a devastating explosion, caused during the manufacture of picric acid for the war effort, took place at White Lee. It resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as damage across a vast area of Batley, Heckmondwike and the Spen Valley. It is an event often overlooked because of later explosions in Yorkshire at Low Moor and Barnbow. This talk aims to provide more information about this Heavy Woollen District incident, the forerunner to the later explosions. The talk will explore the unlucky history of the site as well as the events on the day and the aftermath. 


For more details about these talks, including booking one, please contact me at: pasttopresentgenealogy@btinternet.com

Lusitania Talk – 10 May 2022

A heads up that I will be giving a talk via Zoom at 7.30 p.m. on 10 May 2022 about the Lusitania sinking of 7 May 1915.

Lusitania Medal Box – Photo by Jane Roberts

Huddersfield and District Family History Society are hosting the talk and more details are in the advert below. Essentially it is free for Society members, and a minimum £2 donation for non-members. Registering is by sending an email with ‘Local Lusitania Links’ in the subject box to webmaster@hdfhs.org.uk

As well as background details, I will be exploring some of the local links from around the family history society area to illustrate why the sinking had such a huge impact on our community.

It should be a fascinating talk packed with information and some amazing tales of loss and survival.

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 30 April 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels, Batley

April saw the addition of eight new pages. Two other pages were updated.

The additions included five weekly newspaper pages for April 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have written one biography for a War Memorial man: Lawrence Carney.

This month there are two new school log book pages. These are the ones for the Boy’s Department in 1914 and 1915.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial 
3. Reginald Roberts 
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Dominick (aka George) Brannan
8. Michael Brannan
9. John Brooks
10. Lawrence Carney *NEW*
11. Martin Carney
12. Thomas Curley
13. Peter Doherty
14. Thomas Donlan
15. Thomas Finneran
16. Michael Flynn
17. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
18. Thomas Gavaghan
19. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
20. James Griffin
21. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
22. Thomas McNamara
23. Patrick Naifsey
24. Austin Nolan
25. Robert Randerson
26. James Rush
27. Moses Stubley
28. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
29. James Delaney
30. Thomas Donlan (senior)
31. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
32. Cemetery and Memorial Details
33. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
34. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
35. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
37. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
38. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
39. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
41. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
42. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
43. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
46. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
47. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
48. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
50. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
51. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
52. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
53. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
54. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
55. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
56. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
59. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
60. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
61. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
63. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
64. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
65. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
67. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
68. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
69. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
71. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
72. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
73. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
76. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
77. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
78. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
80. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
81. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
82. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
85. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
86. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
87. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
89. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
90. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
91. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
93. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
94. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
95. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
98. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
99. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
100. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
102. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
103. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
104. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
105. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
106. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
107. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
108. 1916, 1 January – Batley News
109. 1916, 8 January – Batley News
110. 1916, 15 January – Batley News
111. 1916, 22 January – Batley News
112. 1916, 29 January – Batley News
113. 1916, 5 February – Batley News
114. 1916, 12 February – Batley News
115. 1916, 19 February – Batley News
116. 1916, 26 February – Batley News
117. 1916, 4 March – Batley News
118. 1916, 11 March – Batley News
119. 1916, 18 March – Batley News
120. 1916, 25 March – Batley News
121. 1916, 1 April – Batley News *NEW*
122. 1916, 8 April – Batley News *NEW*
123. 1916, 15 April – Batley News *NEW*
124. 1916, 22 April – Batley News *NEW*
125. 1916, 29 April – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
126. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
127. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
128. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
129. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
130. Occupations: Confidential Clerk
131. Occupations: Limelight Operator
132. Occupations: Office Boy/Girl
133. Occupations: Rag Grinder
134. Occupations: Willeyer

The Families
135. A Death in the Church

School Log Books
136. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1913
137. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1914 *NEW*
138. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1915 *NEW*

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
139. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
140. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
141. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 31 March 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

A selection of school log books – Photo by Jane Roberts

March saw the addition of seven new pages. Two other pages were updated.

Although March may therefore appear to have been quiet, I have been working away in the background on a new strand to the St Mary’s One-Place Study – the school. More of that later.

The additions included four weekly newspaper pages for March 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have written one biography for a War Memorial man: Robert Randerson. A Batley rugby league player and St Mary’s school teacher, his first days at the school are also recorded in the brand new section to the study – the school log books.

These log books were kept regularly by the school – the infants, mixed and boys’ departments. They record the everyday routine of their running. Some of the entries may be mundane, register checking for example. But amidst these entries are some real gems – for example unusual incidents, disease outbreaks, school outings, and issues relating to individual school children or teachers. Interwoven through them is the religious context to St Mary of the Angels school, and how local and national events also impacted on it. They provide a snapshot of Catholic school life in a bygone time. Crucially for this study, these particular logs are not available online or in the archives.

This month there are two new pages relating specifically to these log books. The first is a general introduction. The second is the 1913 log book entries for the newly formed Boys’ Department. And it is on these pages Robert Randerson appears.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Dominick (aka George) Brannan
8. Michael Brannan
9. John Brooks
10. Martin Carney
11. Thomas Curley
12. Peter Doherty
13. Thomas Donlan
14. Thomas Finneran
15. Michael Flynn
16. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
17. Thomas Gavaghan
18. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
19. James Griffin
20. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
21. Thomas McNamara
22. Patrick Naifsey
23. Austin Nolan
24. Robert Randerson *NEW*
25. James Rush
26. Moses Stubley
27. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
28. James Delaney
29. Thomas Donlan (senior)
30. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
31. Cemetery and Memorial Details
32. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
33. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
34. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
35. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
37. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
38. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
39. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
41. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
42. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
43. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
46. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
47. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
48. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
50. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
51. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
52. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
53. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
54. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
55. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
56. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
59. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
60. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
61. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
63. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
64. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
65. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
67. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
68. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
69. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
71. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
72. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
73. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
76. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
77. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
78. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
80. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
81. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
82. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
85. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
86. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
87. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
89. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
90. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
91. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
93. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
94. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
95. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
98. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
99. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
100. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
102. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
103. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
104. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
105. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
106. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
107. 1916, 1 January – Batley News
108. 1916, 8 January – Batley News
109. 1916, 15 January – Batley News
110. 1916, 22 January – Batley News
111. 1916, 29 January – Batley News
112. 1916, 5 February – Batley News
113. 1916, 12 February – Batley News
114. 1916, 19 February – Batley News
115. 1916, 26 February – Batley News
116. 1916, 4 March – Batley News *NEW*
117. 1916, 11 March – Batley News *NEW*
118. 1916, 18 March – Batley News *NEW*
119. 1916, 25 March – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
120. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
121. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
122. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
123. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
124. Occupations: Confidential Clerk
125. Occupations: Limelight Operator
126. Occupations: Office Boy/Girl
127. Occupations: Rag Grinder
128. Occupations: Willeyer

The Families
129. A Death in the Church

School Log Books *NEW*
130. Boys’ School – Log Book, 1913 *NEW*

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
131. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
132. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
133. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 28 February 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

Sam Sykes – One of the Newspaper additions this month

It has been a busy month. In total eight new pages were added. Eight others were updated.

I focused on occupations during February, with three new work descriptions added – those of confidential clerk, office boy/girl and willeyer.

I have added four weekly newspaper pages for February 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have also written one biography for a War Memorial men: Dominick Brannan, also known as Dominic or George Brennan. I have updated five others (Michael Brannan, Michael Flynn, Thomas Foley, Patrick Naifsey, Austin Nolan). Also updated is Reginald Roberts, who was linked to the parish but not on the Memorial.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial
3. Reginald Roberts *UPDATED*
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Dominick (aka George) Brannan *NEW*
8. Michael Brannan *UPDATED*
9. John Brooks
10. Martin Carney
11. Thomas Curley
12. Peter Doherty
13. Thomas Donlan
14. Thomas Finneran
15. Michael Flynn *UPDATED*
16. Thomas Foley D.C.M. *UPDATED*
17. Thomas Gavaghan
18. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
19. James Griffin
20. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
21. Thomas McNamara
22. Patrick Naifsey *UPDATED*
23. Austin Nolan *UPDATED*
24. James Rush
25. Moses Stubley
26. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
27. James Delaney
28. Thomas Donlan (senior)
29. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
30. Cemetery and Memorial Details
31. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
31. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
33. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
34. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
35. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
37. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
38. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
39. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
41. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
42. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
43. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
46. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
47. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
48. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
50. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
51. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
52. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
53. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
54. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
55. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
56. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
59. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
60. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
61. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
63. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
64. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
65. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
67. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
68. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
69. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
71. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
72. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
73. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
76. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
77. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
78. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
80. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
81. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
82. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
85. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
86. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
87. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
89. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
90. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
91. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
93. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
94. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
95. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
98. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
99. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
100. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
102. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
103. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
104. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
105. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
106. 1916, 1 January – Batley News
107. 1916, 8 January – Batley News
108. 1916, 15 January – Batley News
109. 1916, 22 January – Batley News
110. 1916, 29 January – Batley News
111. 1916, 5 February – Batley News *NEW*
112. 1916, 12 February – Batley News *NEW*
113. 1916, 19 February – Batley News *NEW*
114. 1916, 26 February – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
115. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
116. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
117. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
118. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
119. Occupations: Confidential Clerk *NEW*
120. Occupations: Limelight Operator
121. Occupations: Office Boy/Girl *NEW*
122. Occupations: Rag Grinder
123. Occupations: Willeyer *NEW*

The Families
124. A Death in the Church

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
125. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
126. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
127. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 31 January 2022 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels Church, Batley

In the past month I have added five weekly newspaper pages for January 1916. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have also written two new biographies for a War Memorial men: those of Peter Doherty and Thomas Gavaghan.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial *UPDATED*
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Michael Brannan
8. John Brooks
9. Martin Carney
10. Thomas Curley
11. Peter Doherty *NEW*
12. Thomas Donlan
13. Thomas Finneran
14. Michael Flynn
15. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
16. Thomas Gavaghan *NEW*
17. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
18. James Griffin
19. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
20. Thomas McNamara
21. Patrick Naifsey
22. Austin Nolan
23. James Rush
24. Moses Stubley
25. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
26. James Delaney
27. Thomas Donlan (senior)
28. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
29. Cemetery and Memorial Details
30. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
31. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
32. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
33. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
34. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
35. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
36. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
37. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
38. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
39. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
40. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
41. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
42. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
43. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
44. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
45. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
46. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
47. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
48. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
49. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
50. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
51. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
52. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
53. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
54. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
55. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
56. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
57. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
58. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
59. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
60. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
61. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
62. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
63. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
64. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
65. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
66. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
67. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
68. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
69. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
70. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
71. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
72. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
73. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
74. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
75. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
76. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
77. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
78. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
79. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
80. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
81. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
82. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
83. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
84. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
85. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
86. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
87. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
88. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
89. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
90. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
91. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
92. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
93. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
94. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
95. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
96. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
97. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
98. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
99. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
100. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
101. 1915, 4 December – Batley News
102. 1915, 11 December – Batley News
103. 1915, 18 December – Batley News
104. 1915, 23 December – Batley News
105. 1916, 1 January – Batley News *NEW*
106. 1916, 8 January – Batley News *NEW*
107. 1916, 15 January – Batley News *NEW*
108. 1916, 22 January – Batley News *NEW*
109. 1916, 29 January – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
110. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
111. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
112. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
113. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
114. Occupations: Rag Grinder
115. Limelight Operator

The Families
116. A Death in the Church

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
117. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
118. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
119. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 31 December 2021 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels Church, Batley

In the past month I have added four weekly newspaper pages for December 1915. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies for these men have been added this month. They will follow in due course.

I have written one new biography for a War Memorial man, that of Thomas Finneran.

Finally for this month, I have added a new name to the page relating to biographies of men associated with St Mary’s who died but who are not remembered on the War Memorial.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial *UPDATED*
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Michael Brannan
8. John Brooks
9. Martin Carney
10. Thomas Curley
11. Thomas Donlan
12. Thomas Finneran *NEW*
13. Michael Flynn
14. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
15. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
16. James Griffin
17. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
18. Thomas McNamara
19. Patrick Naifsey
20. Austin Nolan
21. James Rush
22. Moses Stubley
23. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
24. James Delaney
25. Thomas Donlan (senior)
26. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
27. Cemetery and Memorial Details
28. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
29. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
30. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
31. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
32. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
33. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
34. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
35. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
36. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
37. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
38. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
39. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
40. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
41. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
42. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
43. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
44. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
45. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
46. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
47. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
48. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
49. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
50. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
51. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
52. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
53. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
54. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
55. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
56. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
57. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
58. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
59. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
60. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
61. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
62. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
63. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
64. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
65. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
66. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
67. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
68. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
69. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
70. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
71. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
72. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
73. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
74. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
75. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
76. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
77. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
78. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
79. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
80. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
81. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
82. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
83. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
84. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
85. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
86. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
87. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
88. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
89. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
90. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
91. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
92. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
93. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
94. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
95. 1915, 6 November – Batley News
96. 1915, 13 November – Batley News
97. 1915, 20 November – Batley News
98. 1915, 27 November – Batley News
99. 1915, 4 December – Batley News *NEW*
100. 1915, 11 December – Batley News *NEW*
101. 1915, 18 December – Batley News *NEW*
102. 1915, 23 December – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
103. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
104. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
105. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
106. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
107. Occupations: Rag Grinder
108. Limelight Operator

The Families
109. A Death in the Church

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
110. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
111. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
112. Michael Flatley

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 30 November 2021 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels Church, Batley

In the past month I have added four weekly newspaper pages for November 1915. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies have been added this month. These will follow in due course.

Finally for this month the biography for Second World War man Michael Flatley had been updated to include a colour photograph.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial 
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Michael Brannan
8. John Brooks
9. Martin Carney
10. Thomas Curley
11. Thomas Donlan
12. Michael Flynn
13. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
14. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
15. James Griffin
16. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
17. Thomas McNamara
18. Patrick Naifsey
19. Austin Nolan
20. James Rush
21. Moses Stubley
22. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
23. James Delaney
24. Thomas Donlan (senior)
25. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
26. Cemetery and Memorial Details 
27. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
28. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
29. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
30. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
31. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
32. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
33. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
34. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
35. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
36. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
37. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
38. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
39. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
40. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
41. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
42. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
43. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
44. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
45. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
46. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
47. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
48. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
49. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
50. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
51. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
52. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
53. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
54. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
55. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
56. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
57. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
58. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
59. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
60. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
61. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
62. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
63. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
64. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
65. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
66. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
67. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
68. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
69. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
70. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
71. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
72. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
73. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
74. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
75. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
76. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
77. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
78. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
79. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
80. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
81. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
82. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
83. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
84. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
85. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
86. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
87. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
88. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
89. 1915, 2 October – Batley News
90. 1915, 9 October – Batley News
91. 1915, 16 October – Batley News
92. 1915, 23 October – Batley News
93. 1915, 30 October – Batley News
94. 1915, 6 November – Batley News *NEW*
95. 1915, 13 November – Batley News *NEW*
96. 1915, 20 November – Batley News *NEW*
97. 1915, 27 November – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
98. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
99. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
100. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
101. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
102. Occupations: Rag Grinder
103. Limelight Operator

The Families
104. A Death in the Church

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
105. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

World War Two
106. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
107. Michael Flatley *UPDATED*

St Mary of the Angels, Batley: One-Place Study Update – 1 to 31 October 2021 Additions

This is the latest update of the pages relating to my Batley St Mary’s one-place study, the details of which I announced here.

St Mary of the Angels Church, Batley

In the past month I have added seven new pages. These include five weekly newspaper summary pages for October 1915. I have accordingly updated the surname index to these During This Week newspaper pieces, so you can easily identify newspaper snippets relevant to your family.

There is one new War Memorial biography, that of James Rush.

More men who served and survived have been identified. I have updated that page accordingly. No new biographies have been added this month. These will follow in due course. However, the biography of Thomas Donlan (senior) has been updated, with additional information.

The final new page for this month is an occupational one, that of a limelight operator.

Below is the full list of pages to date. I have annotated the *NEW* ones, plus the *UPDATED* pages, so you can easily pick these out. Click on the link and it will take you straight to the relevant page.


1. About my St Mary of the Angels Catholic Church War Memorial One-Place Study;

Batley Descriptions – Directories etc.
2. 1914: Borough of Batley – Town Information from the Annual Report of the Medical Officer of Health.

Biographies: Men Associated with St Mary’s Who Died but Who Are Not on the Memorial 
3. Reginald Roberts
4. William Frederick Townsend

Biographies: The War Memorial Men
5. Herbert Booth
6. Edmund Battye
7. Michael Brannan
8. John Brooks
9. Martin Carney
10. Thomas Curley
11. Thomas Donlan
12. Michael Flynn
13. Thomas Foley D.C.M.
14. Michael Groark (also known as Rourke)
15. James Griffin
16. Michael Horan
William McManus – See William Townsend below
17. Thomas McNamara
18. Patrick Naifsey
19. Austin Nolan
20. James Rush *NEW*
21. Moses Stubley
22. William Townsend, also known as McManus

Biographies: Those who Served and Survived (this includes a list of those identified to date and who will later have dedicated biographical pages) *UPDATED*
23. James Delaney
24. Thomas Donlan (senior) *UPDATED*
25. Michael Rush

Burials, Cemeteries, Headstones and MIs
26. Cemetery and Memorial Details
27. War Memorial Chronology of Deaths

During This Week
28. During This Week Newspaper Index *UPDATED*
29. 1914, 8 August – Batley News
30. 1914, 15 August – Batley News
31. 1914, 22 August – Batley News
32. 1914, 29 August – Batley News
33. 1914, 5 September – Batley News
34. 1914, 12 September – Batley News
35. 1914, 19 September – Batley News
36. 1914, 26 September – Batley News
37. 1914, 3 October – Batley News
38. 1914, 10 October – Batley News
39. 1914, 17 October – Batley News
40. 1914, 24 October – Batley News
41. 1914, 31 October – Batley News
42. 1914, 7 November – Batley News
43. 1914, 14 November – Batley News
44. 1914, 21 November – Batley News
45. 1914, 28 November – Batley News
46. 1914, 5 December – Batley News
47. 1914, 12 December – Batley News
48. 1914, 19 December – Batley News
49. 1914, 24 December – Batley News
50. 1915, 2 January – Batley News
51. 1915, 9 January – Batley News
52. 1915, 16 January – Batley News
53. 1915, 23 January – Batley News
54. 1915, 30 January – Batley News
55. 1915, 6 February – Batley News
56. 1915, 13 February – Batley News
57. 1915, 20 February – Batley News
58. 1915, 27 February – Batley News
59. 1915, 6 March – Batley News
60. 1915, 13 March – Batley News
61. 1915, 20 March – Batley News
62. 1915, 27 March – Batley News
63. 1915, 3 April – Batley News
64. 1915, 10 April – Batley News
65. 1915, 17 April – Batley News
66. 1915, 24 April – Batley News
67. 1915, 1 May – Batley News
68. 1915, 8 May – Batley News
69. 1915, 15 May – Batley News
70. 1915, 22 May – Batley News
71. 1915, 29 May – Batley News
72. 1915, 5 June – Batley News
73. 1915, 12 June – Batley News
74. 1915, 19 June – Batley News
75. 1915, 26 June – Batley News
76. 1915, 3 July – Batley News
77. 1915, 10 July – Batley News
78. 1915, 17 July – Batley News
79. 1915, 24 July – Batley News
80. 1915, 31 July – Batley News
81. 1915, 7 August – Batley News
82. 1915, 14 August – Batley News
83. 1915, 21 August – Batley News
84. 1915, 28 August – Batley News
85. 1915, 4 September – Batley News
86. 1915, 11 September – Batley News
87. 1915, 18 September – Batley News
88. 1915, 25 September – Batley News
89. 1915, 2 October – Batley News *NEW*
90. 1915, 9 October – Batley News *NEW*
91. 1915, 16 October – Batley News *NEW*
92. 1915, 23 October – Batley News *NEW*
93. 1915, 30 October – Batley News *NEW*

Miscellany of Information
94. The Controversial Role Played by St Mary’s Schoolchildren in the 1907 Batley Pageant
95. The Great War: A Brief Overview of What Led Britain into the War
96. Willie and Edward Barber – Poems
97. A St Mary’s School Sensation

Occupations and Employment Information
98. Occupations: Rag Grinder
99. Limelight Operator *NEW*

Population, Health, Mortality and Fertility
100. 1914: The Health of Batley School Children Generally, with a Particular Focus on St Mary’s School Children

The Families
101. A Death in the Church

World War Two
102. World War Two Chronology of Deaths
103. Michael Flatley

From Bread Making, to a Medieval Crypt and a Deadly Lancaster Bomber Crash

Confession time. I have a terrible habit. One that I’m finding impossible to kick. One that regularly annoys my family, and drives them to distraction. I do try to break it. Honest. But every year I lapse back into this irresistible vice.

Wherever I go on holiday it ends up becoming something akin to a field trip. If the location is not linked to family history, I look for other avenues to explore. And this includes spending some time finding out a little about the local history.

A holiday in October 2021, based in a cottage in the North Yorkshire hamlet of Spaunton, proved no different. Falling within the parish of Lastingham, a parish which is widely scattered across an expanse of moorland, in 2013 Spaunton had a population of 72.1 This is little changed from a century ago and its 1911 census population of 78. It is therefore tiny in terms of population, but big on history. The 1890 Bulmer’s Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, History, Topography & Directory described the Spaunton Township area as:

…comprising 1,540 acres, of which 1,287 are cultivated….Spaunton is the head of an extensive manor formerly held by a family which took its name from the place, and resided here in a castle, the foundations of which are still visible near Manor House….the hamlet consists of about half-a-dozen houses situated on the brow of a hill, half-a-mile from Lastingham.2

Ordnance Survey Map showing Spaunton and Lastingham – Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952, Yorkshire Sheets LXXIV
NE and SE, Revised: 1910, Published: 1914 – National Library of Scotland, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC-BY-NC-SA) licence

I had no family history connections to the area. But, as usual, I did not let that stop me. I’m so glad I pursued it. Because who could have thought such a quiet, rural backwater, and its environs, could contain so much history? From medieval crypts and a crashed Lancaster Bomber, to a manorial history with a Court Leet still operating today, dealing with petty transgressions. The area is chock full of history. Even my husband got involved in finding out more. Especially as there ended up being a food interest!

And it really does have a long history. Pre-Norman conquest a manor and 6½ carucates at Spaunton were held by Gamel.3 Documented in the Domesday Book, with nine households and an annual value to the Lord of 10 shillings,4 the overlordship in 1086 was held by Bernegar de Toni. He gave six carucates to the abbey which had been removed from Lastingham and refounded outside York.5 More of Lastingham, and the York connection, later.

Taking a look around Spaunton, Woodman’s cottage, a Grade II Listed building, originally of Cruck Frame construction, has the year 1695 inscribed on its lintel, and is described as a “fine example of a 17th century yeoman’s house”.6

Woodman’s Cottage, with its date inscription

Another Listed building in the hamlet is the Grade II 18th century Hill Top Farmhouse. This was the farm neighbouring the one where our cottage was located, and is better known today as the home of Yorkshire Organic Millers.7

As an avid bread maker I brought home some of their milled bread flour for my next batch of loaves.

The Hill Top Farm product

The land in front of many of the properties is common land, with grazing and common rights still in existence.

Sheep grazing on the common land in Spaunton

Remnants of the court system of the Manor of Spaunton still operate, with the Court Leet still meeting annually in October to levy fines for those who breech grazing and access rights. The current Lord of the Manor is George Winn Darnley, and the manorial jurisdiction covers land in five parishes.8

A sign in neigbouring Hutton le Hole, showing the wide extent of Spaunton’s Court Leet jurisdiction

There is a restored Grade II pinfold, dating from probably the 18th century. This enclosure, also known as pound, was where stray animals were confined, with a fine payable by the owners to the pinder, a manor official, to release them.

Spaunton’s restored pinfold

The next piece of history associated with Spaunton came as a real surprise.

The 1939 Register shows farmer William Strickland, his Special Constable nephew George, also a farmer, and his niece Elizabeth Ann (Annie), living at Manor House farm at Spaunton.9

The Stricklands were an old, established farming family, residing at the Manor House. In fact the Strickland’s home was the venue for the annual Court Leet, referred to earlier. Prior to her elderly grandmother’s death in 1915 Annie had assisted her in providing the excellent meal in the Manor House, traditionally served after the court proceedings.10 So it was a family embedded in the community and history of Spaunton and its manor.

On 10 July 1940, less than a year after the Register entry, William Strickland died. This left George and his sister at Manor House farm. They were there, along with an evacuee girl, on the evening of 7 October 1943.

What was the Manor House farm as photographed on my visit in October 2021 – photo by Jane Roberts

That night Lancaster Bomber II D.S.724C took off from Linton-on-Ouse. It’s a RAF base with which I’m acquainted, having visited and flown from it (that’s another story). Part of Squadron 408 of the Royal Canadian Airforce it was bound for a bombing raid on Stuttgart. On board were Flight Sergeant John Douglas Harvey (Pilot), Sergeant Eric James Hurd (Navigator), Flying Officer Stephen William Dempsey (Bomb Aimer), Pilot Officer G.R. Butchart (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner), Sergeant Stanley Enos Campbell (Mid Upper Gunner), Sergeant K.L. Davison (Rear Gunner) and Sergeant H.J Branton (Flight Engineer).

This evening was the first of 408 Squadron’s operational flights since converting to Lancaster Bombers. The entry in 408 Squadron’s Air Operation Book on 7 October 1943 excitedly notes:

At last! the Squadron is back on Operations after almost two months at converting to Lancaster Mark II aircraft. Sixteen aircraft were prepared for Bombing Operations, but two were scrubbed. The remaining fourteen took off on time. Twelve aircraft were successful in reaching their objective…one aircraft made an early return due to the rear guns going u/s…11

That left one aircraft – the one piloted by R141147 Flight Sergeant J.D. Harvey. He had a total of 331 hours flying time at the time of the crash, but only 37 of his hours were on Lancasters. It was also his first operational flight in this aircraft type.12

The details of his aeroplane’s catastrophically short flight, as logged in the Squadron’s Air Operation Book, read as follows:

This aircraft took off from this base at 20.59 hours, but had to be abandoned at 21.08 hours due to controls jamming up. This aircraft crashed at Hutton Le Hall [sic], Yorks approximately 8 miles north of Thirsk. The crew of this aircraft managed a safe parachute descent. One member of the crew Sergeant Campbell, Stanley Enos (Mid Upper Gunner) dislocated his shoulder, fractured a few ribs and suffered pains and shocks, otherwise conditions was fair. The remainder of the crew were uninjured. One civilian Mr. George Strickland, (Farmer) from Manor Farm, Spraunton [sic], Yorkshire was killed by the explosion of a bomb. The inquest to this accident was held at 1600 hours on October 8th, 1943. This aircraft is now categorized E.2 (burnt).13

The aircraft, with its full load of bombs, is believed to have come down in the field adjoining the farm. The device which killed George Strickland was a 4,000lb High Capacity bomb,14 the blast from which apparently blew the heavy farmhouse door on top of him.15 It also did considerable damage to the house, and partly demolished the farm buildings.

RAF Bomber Command 1942-1945: Armourers show off bombs for a comparison in size at the bomb dump at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. In the front are 1,000-lb and 500-lb MC bombs, behind them a 2,000-lb HC Mark I, then a 4,000-lb HC Mark III or Mark IV ‘Cookie’. Finally, at the rear, is a 12,000-lb HC ‘Blockbuster’, essentially three 4,000-lb ‘Cookies’ bolted together with the addition of a six-finned ballistic tail. © IWM CH 12450, IWM Non-Commercial Licence.

The Malton Gazette and Malton Messenger of 15 October 1943 reported on the inquest, where a verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ was returned on 53-year-old George.16

As for the cause of the air accident, according to the wonderful Yorkshire Aircraft website, which covers air accidents in the county:

The post-crash investigation found that severe icing on the surfaces of the aircraft was considered to have been a factor in the control of the aircraft having been lost. However the main theory for control being lost almost immediately after take-off was suggested to have been down to the aircraft’s auto-pilot being accidently switched on prior to take-off and this went un-noticed.17

George Otterburn Strickland is buried in the churchyard of Lastingham St Mary’s.

George Otterburn Strickland’s headstone at Lastingham St Mary’s – photo by Jane Roberts

This leads nicely on to the next piece of history, at Lastingham St Mary the Virgin Parish Church, which is the location of a historically significant crypt.

St Mary’s Church, Lastingham – photo by Jane Roberts

As Kelly’s 1913 Directory describes:

This place was the site of a monastery founded in 648 by St. Cedd, a Saxon bishop, and brother of St. Chad, bishop of Lichfield; St Cedd was eventually buried in the stone church of St. Mary, erected some time after his decease, and the present church, if it does not incorporates portions of the early structure, at least occupies its site, and the very interesting crypt below the church confirms this view….the crypt, which extends under the whole church, with the exception of the western bay, is in fact an underground church, possibly of Early Norman construction, c.1078, and consists of apsidal chancel of two bays, and a nave and aisle of three bays, with a vaulted roof carried on massive piers and capitals enriched with interlaced arches and rude volutes; in the crypt are preserved some stone crosses carved with interlaced work; an altar, possibly Roman, 17 inches high by 14 inches wide, and a pre-Reformation bier; the windows, small and circular-headed, are deeply splayed….18

The Crypt beneath Lastingham St Mary’s Church – photo by Jane Roberts

It is thought the crypt was built possibly on or near the vicinity of the earlier 7th century St Cedd founded structure, with the crypt being part of a huge Benedictine Abbey planned, but never completed, by Abbot Stephen of Whitby. The project was abandoned in 1088 when Stephen and his monks moved to York, and built St Mary’s Abbey.

It really is well worth seeking out. As you descend the stairs to it, you are enveloped in a sense of peace and calm. The early crosses and bier, described in the Kelly’s Directory, are still in situ. I found it a wonderfully contemplative space. And, for the less religious, there’s a highly recommended pub across the road (sadly shut for refurbishment on our visit).

Finally, just over two miles down the road from Spaunton is the village of Hutton-le-Hole, with land which forms part of the Manor of Spaunton. This is yet another location within the Ancient Parish of Lastingham. The village is home to the impressive Ryedale Folk Museum.

An open-air site set amongst 6½ acres, it has more than 20 heritage buildings. From the thatched Manor House from Harome, to an Edwardian daylight photographic studio, a Medieval crofter’s cottage, the almost 500-years-old thatched longhouse from Stang End, Danby, furnished in the style of the early 18th century, and a Victorian thatched cottage, washhouse and dairy. There are also various workshops including that of the saddler, tinsmith, blacksmith, cobbler and carpenter. Then there’s the vintage chemist and village store, plus the undertakers. And, going back 4,000 years, there is an interpretation of an Iron Age dwelling. Think a North York Moors mini version of Beamish, with buildings from across the National Park dismantled and reassembled on the site.

You can learn about the farming year, and view the range of historic farming implements and machinery. There is also a variety of livestock – including the greedy Tamworth pigs.

This is only a small fraction of what is on site. It is a great place for all the family to spend a good couple of hours. If you’re into house history or family history, and wanting to find out more about your ancestors’ living conditions or village occupations, I’d say the museum is a must.

The Wests, the Spaunton cottage which was our home for a week

I stayed at The Wests, one of the cottages on Grange Farm. Whilst there, and finding out a little of the history of Spaunton, I must admit I did think it would make a fabulous one-place study. For a moment I felt really tempted. Really, really tempted. I even got as far as looking at the Manorial Documents Register…then reality kicked in. I’ve enough on already. But if someone else has any free time, and the inclination to embark on a fascinating piece of research, they wouldn’t go far wrong with Spaunton! And yes, there was a bread maker and bread mix in the cottage to bake a loaf!

Footnotes:
1. Appleton le Moors, Lastingham and Spaunton Parish Report, 2013: https://democracy.ryedale.gov.uk/documents/s17204/AppletonleMoorsLastinghamandSpauntonParishPlan.pdf. Accessed October 27, 2021;
2. History, Topography, and Directory of North Yorkshire: Comprising Its Ancient and Modern History ; a General View of Its Physical Features ; Its Agricultural, Mining & Manufacturing Industries ; Family History and Genealogical Descent ; Myths, Legends, Biographical Sketches, &c., &c. ; with a Map Prepared Expressly for the Work. Preston: T. Bulmer, 1890.
3. A carucate was an area of land used as a basis for tax assessment in the Domesday Book. It equated to the amount of land which could be ploughed in a year by one plough with an eight-ox team;
4. Powell-Smith, Anna. “Home: Domesday Book.” Home | Domesday Book. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://opendomesday.org/.
5. “Parishes: Lastingham.” British History Online. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/yorks/north/vol1/pp524-529.
6. Appleton le Moors, Lastingham and Spaunton Parish Report, 2013: https://democracy.ryedale.gov.uk/documents/s17204/AppletonleMoorsLastinghamandSpauntonParishPlan.pdf
7. Yorkshire Organic Millers. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://yorkshireorganicmillers.com/.
8. “Court Leet.” Hutton le Hole, March 27, 2019. https://huttonlehole.ryedaleconnect.org.uk/about/court-leet/.
9. 1939 Register, The National Archives (TNA), Reference: RG101/3279D/007/4 Letter Code: JHIJ – Relationships are not show, but these were established from additional research
10. Whitby Gazette, 24 October 1913
11. Operations Record Books, 408 Squadron RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Records of Events: Y, 1 September to 31 October 1943, TNA Reference AIR 27/1797/17
12. Lancaster DS724 at Spaunton village, Yorkshire Aircraft. Accessed October 27, 2021. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/planes/43/ds724.html
13. Operations Record Books, 408 Squadron RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Records of Events: Y, October 1943, TNA Reference AIR 27/1797/18
14. Operations Record Books, 408 Squadron RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) Records of Events: Y, 1 September to 31 October 1943, TNA Reference AIR 27/1797/17
15. Lancaster DS724 at Spaunton village, Yorkshire Aircraft. Accessed October 27, 2021. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/planes/43/ds724.html
16. The Gazette and Herald Online, 10 October 2012. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.gazetteherald.co.uk/news/9977266.from-the-malton-gazette-and-malton-messenger-friday-october-15-1943/
17. Lancaster DS724 at Spaunton village, Yorkshire Aircraft. Accessed October 27, 2021. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/planes/43/ds724.html
18. Kelly’s Directory of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, with the Cities of York and Hull, 1913. London, etc: Kelly, 1913.

Other Sources:
• England and Wales Censuses, 1841 to 1911;
• GRO Indexes;
• Imperial War Museum website;
• National Library of Scotland Maps;
• Probate Records;
• Ryedale Folk Museum. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk/
• St Mary’s Church, Lastingham. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.lastinghamparishchurch.org.uk/
• Spaunton Court Leet. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.spauntoncourtleet.co.uk/
• Yorkshire Air Accident website. Accessed October 27, 2021. http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/index.html