Midgley            Midgley of  Cawthorne

Cawthorne Roses

All Saints ,Cawthorne , S. Yorkshire.                   Some Historical Aspects for Cawthorne and district:

  Cawthorne in South Yorkshire was originally called Caltorne in the Domesday Book of 1086(12) an O.E. meaning for "cold thorn-tree", that is an exposed place probably with thorns abundant. There was also a farmstead here called "Milnestede" the homestead of the Milnes family. Cawthorne was occupied by an Anglian Thane called Ailric. Ailric’s son was Swein (hence Hoyland-Swaine a village close by) Swein’s son was Adam Fitz-Swein. The Fitz prefix indicating that Adam had perhaps married into Norman-French lines and was considered of the illegitimate line to the Swein family. The village of Hoyland-Swaine was called Holande in the Domesday book in 1086 and by 1266 referred to as Holands Swayn. The manorial affix is taken from possession in the 1100’s by Swein [O. Scandinavian Sveinn.] (36)

In 1066 William I confiscated lands held by Edwin Earl of Mercia and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria and all their supporters. In 1069 William I laid waste all the lands between the Humber and the Tees (“Harrying of the North”). By 1086 the Domesday book was being used to value every manor in the country.

The Domesday entry for Cawthorne near Barnsley.
                                                                                                                              See Domesday Defined

The Norman family the Bosvilles (Boswells) later replaced the land ownership at Cawthorne. Then over the years by a series of sales it came into the hands of the Spencers and  Spencer-Stanhopes. See History of Cawthorne


The original site of the Cawthorne Anglian wooden manor house is on the north side and very near to the church. (18). This was probably replaced during the Tudor period and again in the 1870’s. In 1872 Mr. Stanhope acquired this house. In the 1880's Mr. Beaumont (Wentworth Canning Blackett Beaumont)  still retained lordship of the manor, he also still owned Cinder Hill, the site of an iron forge, Low Mill Farm and Cawthorne Park to the north (18) The Beaumonts were married into the Wentworths and other families of West Bretton Hall. The Beaumonts have links to the present British royal family viz:

William Beaumont of the Oaks d. 1713>George Beaumont of Chapelthorpe + Gertrude Bagshaw> Jane Beaumont + Abel Smith I of East Stoke>Abel Smith II + Mary Bird> George Smith of Selsdon + Frances Moseley*>Oswald Smith of Blendon Hall, Kent + Henrietta Hodgson>Frances Dora Smith +Claude I Bowes-Lyon> Claude II Bowes-Lyon>Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon [late Queen mother] + Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor, d. 1952>Queen Elizabeth II. * Sister of Sir Oswald Moseley 2nd baronet great grandfather of Sir Oswald Mosley 6th baronet the renowned 'blackshirt'.

< The Cawthorne manor house in 2011.



This tax on each adult provides the names of persons residing in each vill or township with the tax amount that was to be levied . In some instances their occupation was listed particularly when they were to be levied more than the nominal 4d. For Cawthorne the names are as follows:


Some local names that seem to have survived until more recent times are evident such as Moakson [Moxon], Milner [Milnes], Charlesworth, Hunter, Hepworth and Moseley.


During the Anglian period of occupation Cawthorne  like many other Christian English settlements was associated with a stone cross. This cross acted as a central point around which local families gathered for prayerful meetings under the guidance of itinerant preachers. The base of the original Anglian cross can be seen in the present churchyard with the original head of the Anglian cross itself built into the church wall.

       The head of the Anglian cross symbolically built into an early part of the Cawthorne church wall.


The engraved Anglian stone cross base

Window from All Saint's Church Faith [Fides] overcoming the folly of the world.Also within the church is the original Anglian font, a deep square-cut stone structure with the remains of carving on the exterior..



     Fidelity                                                                           Cawthorne Church font                                                                Cawthorne Church tower  

A road connecting “Halifacks” and Wakefield called the “Magna Via” connected the two regions in medieval times and possibly Anglian times as packhorse routes. They both formed manors within the manor of Wakefield. There was also a packhorse route that ran from Cheshire to Penistone through Cawthorne to Wakefield. In 1554 Cawthorne was granted a 40 year  licence to sell woollen cloth by the “good Waterhouse family of Halifax”(12). Dewsbury at the midpoint became an important woollen town. The area to the S.W. of Wakefield was prevented from developing by the Wakefield Guilds, with the collusion of local land owners.



The cryptic figure Robin Hood of ballad fame frequented the region that was densely forested prior to the iron industry. There is evidence that the historical character representing this ballad hero had a connection with Cawthorne that can be substantiated by primary evidence. References exist in local place names, his supposed gravesite at Kirklees near Mirfield and the existence of the so-called Little John’s thigh bone and Little John's bow formerly at Cannon Hall, Cawthorne give quasi-evidence for his second in command's presence.

"CANNON-HALL,Cawthorne (which was the seat of John Spencer Stanhope) anciently pronounced Camel-Hull, is rendered famous by being the retreat of Wm. Lockwood, of Lockwood, after the battle at Eland,with the Elanders, in the reign of Edward III.  In this house, Lockwood commenced an amour with a young woman of loose principles, who betrayed him into the hands of his enemies.  --Watson.  In the library, which contained a valuable collection of books, among other curiosities, was the bow of Little John, the famous outlaw and companion of Robin Hood.  It was brought many years ago from Hathersage, in Derbyshire, an estate formerly belonging to the Spencer family, where Little John was buried.  The bow bears the name of Colonel Naylor, 1715, who is said to have been the last man who bent it.  It is of Yew, and though the two ends, where the horns were affixed, are broken,it still measures above six feet."  --Watson.  --Neale (37)

Besides Alan-a-dale, Little John and Friar Tuck there was also  a member of the band  called Much, the miller's son, in later ballads phonetically referred to as “Midge”.
'Robin of Locksley' was probably active during the early 1300’s during  the reigns of Edward II and III. References in King Edward II's accounts refer to a Robert Hood, where payments were made for his services. See notes on Robin Hood


From 1535 the destruction of the monasteries began and by 1538 the Vicar-General, Thomas Cromwell, had issued orders to each parish church to keep records of baptisms, marriages and burials (called a register) (12,p105) By 1661 the word ‘baptized’ was becoming the usual term in the Cawthorne church register rather than “borne” (12, p110). Other records can be found in Poll Tax lists, census records and The Domesday Book. 

For a list of BDM's I have a microfiche for the parish church records of Cawthorne that lists all those in the Cawthorne Parish Church register. Contact if you need a look-up.

The Spencer and subsequently, Spencer Stanhope families dominated the land ownership and tenancies in the district and left a strong legacy upon the life of the village. See Spencer-Stanhopes.  


Census Records.
The census was begun in England and Wales in 1695, the total population was not surveyed.
In 1801 the first true census was taken and every 10 years thereafter: i.e:
1801 - 10 Mar
1811 - 27 May
1821 - 28 May
1831 - 30 May
1841 -  6 Jun
1851 - 30 Mar
1861 -  7 Apr
1871 -  2 Apr
1881 -  3 Apr
1891 -  5 Apr
1901 - 31 Mar
 1911 -  2 Apr
                   1921 - 19 Jun*
                   1931 - 26 Apr

[*those in bold type not yet available,100 years has to elapse before census's are released] 

Some parish churches began to keep a record of births deaths and marriages in 1538. In 1665 the word “christening’ enters the Cawthorne register, seldom is the name of both parents given (12, p110). In 1774 occupations start to be given in the Cawthorne church register (12,p110)


Midgley Pedigree showing descent from Robert I Bruce, king of Scotland?

James Schaw 1488^-1528==== LADY CHRISTINA BRUCE (GATEWAY ANCESTOR) 1470-1532
Lord Treasurer of Scotland  4x gt. granddaughter of Robert II Bruce and 6x gt. granddaughter of Robert I Bruce, king of Scotland

                                          | * Note: This can be disputed..  ^ Birth dates only 8 years apart.                                                           

            James Gilbert Shaw1480^-1528===Elizabeth                 ?===Richard Midgley of Halifax 1495-1555
                                                              |                                    |                                                                                            
                   Agnes Schaye (Shaw) 1519-1585=========William Midgley of Halifax 1515-1578
                                    Sybil Furniss====John Midgley of Halifax 1549-1650
                    Elizabeth Beane====William Midgley of Halifax and Bingley 1576-1636
                         Walter Midgley of Bingley 1601-1680===Ann Illingworth
                                                         John Gaulter (Walter) Midgley of Bingley 1643-1716=== Isabella Ambler
                                                                                              John Midgley of Keighley 1674-1738===Ann Holmes
                                       Elizabeth Fielder = = 1732== William Midgley of Brayton, b: 1716, Leeds, d. 1759 - brother of John a predecessor of  Midgley of Hainworth
                                                 Mary Wilson ====William Midgley b: abt. 1736 of Burn, Brayton and Thorpe Willoughby
                          Susannah Cheesbrough === Joseph Midgley b:1771 Hambleton
                                                                      Ch 15th October 1771 Brayton
                       Sarah Peace === William Walter Midgley
                                                  Ch: 3rd Nov. 1808 Normanton
                               Elizabeth Hill=== Thomas Midgley
                                                          Ch: 27th Aug.1845 Cawthorne
               Lavinia Milnes === William Midgley
                                               b: Easter Day 1884 Cawthorne
                           John Patrick Midgley====Eunice Evelyn Bath
                   b:23rd July 1919 Cawthorne

Marriage entry in Brayton Parish Church register for William Midgley and Elizabeth [Fielder], 'both of Thorp' [Thorpe Willoughby], 1732.


William Walter Midgley
Son of Joseph Midgley of Normanton and Hambleton. See Midgley of Normanton. Christened 3/11/1808 at Normanton (6) . The eldest male in the family. A farmer later at Cawthorne (Cawthorne register,Wakefield Archives)  

William Walter Midgley and Sarah Ann, his wife moved from Normanton to Cawthorne about 1844 (from childrens christening records).
William Walter Midgley moved into Jowett House. At this time the property was not part of the Cannon Hall Estate.
It was not until 1859 that the property was sold to the estate (12,p57) William Walter Midgley may have died just prior to this date. From the headstone in Cawthorne Churchyard the death dates may be indecipherable 47
[Download a beautiful high resolution photograph of Cawthorne Churchyard and use it as your computer wallpaper. provided by Derek Hirst of Barnsley]
The rebuilt Jowett House. dates from 1763 (14). North Lodge also is sited near Hood Wood on the north side of the estate.

Related Cawthorne Families from the 1881 census

The last two children Thomas and Susannah were born here. Later Jowett House was the pigeon loft of the Stanhopes’ Cannon Hall Estate and housed 600-700 pigeons (14). It may have been a family delicacy and were commonly eaten. Normally the tradition in England was that only the lord of the Manor could partake of the pigeons because they ate the lord’s grain. William Walter Midgley looked after Lord Stanhopes pigeons.
William Walter Midgley married Sarah Peace (Pease) on 28th December 1829 at Dewsbury(6) when he was 21 years old. In the Strays Index, William Midgley, farmer and Sarah Peace were married by licence, where these survive they can be useful with additional details they are mostly held at York as are wills (Borthwick Institute, University of York). Today [2006] Jowett House is a working dairy cattle property. Note: Jowett is a local family name but also found in the Halifax area. See also “History of Jowett House”.
In the IGI Peace is held under Pease. Pease Grove is the family house next to Thimble Hall, a Midgley residence after1918. See O.S. map of the Midgley farmland, Cawthorne, 1850 with names added later This connection between the Midgley’s and Cawthorne could have come about as a result of William Waller being  notified of the house and property availability by a member of the Peace family.
Described on 19th October 1858 a “Mr. Midgley, church warden (Jowitt House) issued tickets at 6 pence each for tea for the opening of the new Girls’ School”(12,p156).
Later in 1918 the Midgley family (14) under Thomas and Elizabeth moved to Thimble Hall(5) in Tivy Dale

Sarah Midgley (nee Peace)
Married William Walter Midgley at Dewsbury 28th December 1829(6) by licence (20) details are now held at York Archives. The licence shows relatives names(20). Sarah may have lived at Peace Grove with her parents which is next to Thimble Hall,Cawthorne. Sarah and William Waller lived in Normanton for about 14 years before moving to Jowett House about 1844 . Jowett Ho. was not purchased by Cannon Hall Estates until 1859 (12,p57)

                                                                                                                          See Midgley Gedcom download page

The Cawthorne Cross
The Cawthorne Cross on the original     site of the village maypole


                                  Children of Sarah Peace and William Waller Midgley (sen.):

1. Benjamin Midgley
Born 1833 (44) at Normanton. Middle name, Waller/Walter.  Christened 18th May 1834 at Normanton (6), they had 10 children the first two were boys (34) but the 1881 census does not agree with this. In the 1881 census Benjamin recorded himself as a 48 year old wine and spirit merchant living at The Ship Inn, 13 Bridge Street, Castleford, North Yorks. Married to Emma Midgley 44 who was born at Ackworth, Yorkshire in 1837.
They appear to have had eleven children but only nine shown at The Ship Inn in Castleford.in the 1881 census:
1.William shown only on Midgley pedigree drawn up by solicitors (34)
2.Alice an 18 year old unmarried  daughter born 1863, Pontefract. Later married Lee (34)
3.Arthur  a 15 year old assistant in his father's trade born 1866 Pontefract.
4.Louisa  13 year old scholar born 1868 at Pontefract. Later married Wilson (34)
5.Caroline 10 year old scholar  born 1871 Pontefract. Later married Peacock.
6.Annie born 1873 Pontefract (44) but Cheesbrough pedigree shows born 1870. Later
              married Cheesbrough (34)
7.Sarah E. Later married Dibb (34), not shown on 1881 census.
8.Sophia born 1875 Pontefract.
9.Emily born 1877 at Castleford. She is not shown on the Midgley pedigree (34)
10.Gertrude born 1879 at Castleford. Later married Davies.
11.Bertha born 1880, Castleford.
In the 1881 census a domestic servant is also resident at The Ship Inn, Ann Askem, unmarried, 20 years old born at Rotherham, South Yorkshire(44)

2. Caroline Sarah Midgley
Christened 22nd May 1831 at Normanton.(6) Described in the 1851 census as Caraline (sic) Sarah, 20 year old unmarried Nurse Maid living at Badsworth Hall. Married Thomas Hobman.(46)(34) one child, Thomas Midgley Hobman Christened at Pontefract 5th October 1862.(46)(32) His grandfather could have been Thomas Hobman born abt. 1815 of 2 Littlewood Yard, Southgate, Pontefract aged 66 in 1881.(44)

3. Hannah Peace Midgley
Listed as Hannah R. Ullyott in the 1881 census. Born 1836 at Normanton (44). Christened 6th March 1836 at Normanton(6) Married Mr. George Ulliott a farmer (34). George died between 1878-1881. In the 1881 census describes herself as a 45 year old widow,  living at High Street, South Milford, Yorkshire. Children living at South Milford at this time were
George Ullyott aged 12 born 1869 Driffield (S.W. of Bridlington) N. Yorkshire
Earnest Ullyott aged 10 born 1871 Doncaster S. Yorkshire
Phillip Ullyott aged 8 born at Helperthorpe 1873 (N.E. of Kirby Grindalyth) N. Yorks.
Edwin Ullyott aged 3 born 1878 Thorpe (N. of Beverley) N. Yorks.

4. Joseph Peace Midgley
Born 1838, Normanton (44). Christened 3/6/1838 at Normanton (6) Five children(34) one was Ina Hepworth (widow no issue), rest died spinsters and batchelors. In the 1881 census Joseph describes himself as  43 year old married  salesman (gent.shop w.) living at Cow Heys, Lepton, Yorkshire. His wife is given as Mary Ann Midgley (nee Wilkinson) 45 years old born 1836 at Farnham, Surrey. At this time they had five children:
Charles P. (Peace) Midgley aged 10, born Hudderfield 1847. Died a batchelor
Florence Midgley aged 9 born Huddersfield 1872
P. (Percy) Rey Midgley aged 7 born Huddersfield 1874. Died a batchelor
Ina Midgley aged 6 born  Huddersfield 1875
Marian Midgley aged 3 born Huddersfield 1878. Died a spinster.

Also living at Cow Heys at the time of the 1881 census was  Mary Ann's mother, Eliza Wilkinson, a widow aged 95 born 1786 at Farnham, Surrey.

5. Mary Jane Midgley
Born at Woodhouse, Normanton in 1837. Christened 30th August 1840 at Normanton(6) sister to the  William Waller Midgley (jnr.).Married Thomas Bedford, a farm labourer. born "Middlenton", Yorkshire (?Middleton) (44), had three children:
Thomas William Bedford  born 1872, Bagden Denby, Yorkshire
Thomas Leak(e) Bedford, born 1873 Bagden Denby.
Sarah Ann Bedford born 1875 Bagden Denby.

The family resided in a farmhouse on Thorpe Hill Farm run by Benjamin Scarth who was a farmer with 123 acres. Thorpe Hall had a bailiff and a coachman in employment. There were two other farm labourers on the estate(44).

6.William Waller/Walter Midgley (jnr.)
Born 1840 at Woodhouse near Normanton (42) but 1881 census calculates at 1843 in Normanton(44). Christened  13th August 1843 at Normanton(6) In the 1851 census he is described as an 11 year old scholar living at Woodhouse. The sixth child, Thomas’ older brother. In the 1881 census he describes himself as a  38 year old Commercial Traveller (Tea) living at 244, Waterloo Street, Little Bolton, Lancashire.William may have been giving himself a younger age!
He is shown as married to Martha ______ aged 40, born at Elland, Yorkshire in 1841. At the 1881 census they had 5 children:
Mary Midgley aged 12 born 1869 at Bolton, Lancashire.
Sarah (Ann) Midgley aged 11 born 1870 at Bolton
Martha Midgley aged 9 born 1872 at Bolton.
Thomas Midgley aged 8 born 1875 at Bolton
Walter Midgley aged 1 born 1880 at Bolton.


7.Thomas Midgley
Born 1845 (44). Christened 27th July 1845 (in Cawthorne Parish Church records) died 1918 from the Spanish influenza virus.
Described as a farmer at Cawthorne 80 acres(20)(21)(44)son of William Waller Midgley(snr)and Sarah Peace. He was the7th of 8 children (4 boys 4 girls)
He lived at Jowett House and married Elizabeth Hill of Whitwell Derbyshire (20)(21) at Cawthorne on 25th December 1871 (Christmas Day!). Elizabeth from Derbyshire is a
descendant of  Sir Rowland Hill (5)(8)(14). She was a daughter of Sir Rowland Hill’s cousin(15)
See link to Whitwell in Derbyshire where the Local History Society is carrying out research

                                                    Thomas and Elizabeth Midgley and part of family, Thimble Hall.
                                                                                                       Photograph circa 1909-10 Thimble Hall, Cawthorne.
                                                                                                         Back: Ethel, Garnett & Sarah (Sibbie) Midgley.
                                                                                       Front: Thomas Midgley, Elizabeth Midgley (nee Hill relative of Sir Rowland Hill)

The 1881 census showed Thomas the head of the household at “Jowet House” aged 35.
Elizabeth his wife aged 32, Rowland Hill Midgley 8 years old and at school, Thomas Bernard 6 years old and at school, Herbert 4 years old, Sarah 2 years old. All the children are shown as being born in Cawthorne. At this time. Joseph Hill (Elizabeth’s father) was resident at “Jowet” House aged 71 years, he was formerly a farmer of Whitwell, Derbyshire.Also present were Sarah Hill (sister to Elizabeth) unmarried aged 20 years and an indoor farm servant, John Fish a farmer's boy, aged 16 years (20)(21)(44)

Midgley Survey for 1881-male heads of household birth places.

8.Susannah Midgley
Christened 16th July 1848 at Cawthorne, probably Jowett House (from Cawthorne  Church Register held at Wakefield Archives).Note that Susannah Wood is situated N.W. of Jowett House.
The youngest  and eigth child of William Waller Midgley(II). Married  Mr. Thomas William Hold son of-
Abel Hold who became an oil painter patronised by the Spencer-Stanhopes. Abel exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

In 1891 the census showed that the residents of ‘Jowit House” were Thomas 46 years old, Elizabeth, 43 years old Rowland Hill Midgley farmer’s son, unmarried 18 years, Herbert, farmer’s son, unmarried aged 14 years, Sarah aged 12 at school, Reginald Waller Midgley,
son aged 9 at school, William Midgley son aged 7 at school, Garnett son aged 4 at school, Annie Ethel, daughter aged 2.
Sarah Hill Elizabeth’s sister was still resident at Jowett House unmarried aged 30 (20)(21)

Later Thomas became a Board of Health inspector for the district based on Penistone and undertook his rounds on a horse(14)

In 1832 there had been a great concern regarding the outbreak of cholera in Britain. A Board of Health was established in this year (18,p61). By March 1896 the drainage scheme for Tivydale had been carried out (19,p150)

A prominent churchman at Cawthorne: “1882 Mr. T. (Thomas) Midgley and Mr. C. (Charles) Wemyss, sidesmen and Mr. C. Wemyss observer for the poor (Barnby Green)”(12)

In 1918 there was a Spanish influenza epidemic (18) Thomas died  from the effects of the 'flu'(28)

Elizabeth (nee Hill) Midgley
Married Thomas Midgley 25th December 1871 at Cawthorne. Originally from Whitwell, Derbyshire.
She is the daughter of Sir Rowland Hill’s cousin(14).
She lived at Jowett House and afterwards at Thimble Hall. Thimble Hall stood in front of the Wemyss residence (Dale House) in Tivydale. Dale House has  since been demolished?
Others state emphatically that the Wemyss residence was at "Monkey Puzzle Tree House", Tivydale, where an Araucaria species still grows.

                             Children of Thomas Midgley and Elizabeth nee Hill:

1.Rowland Hill Midgley
Born 12th or15th August 1872 at Jowett House First child of Elizabeth and Thomas Midgley. Married Elizabeth Whinham (8). He served in the army cavalry (Nov. 1914 serving but not living in Cawthorne(19,p162)
Later he was a private detective (14) with the Leeds police.
He lived at 7 Lowther Street Leeds (8), buried in Leeds cemetary(14)
Rowland had a daughter Dorothy Louise Midgley.(8)

2.Thomas Bernard Midgley
“Bernard” born 8th November 1874 at Jowett House, Cawthorne. Farmer continued to live at Thimble Hall after his father died.
Ran a meat shop in Sheffield, and later travelled for Rington [Darjeeling] Teas. Whilst on his rounds he was bailed up by two “highwaymen” on the Derbyshire Moors, he often travelled to Sheffield in this way he was carrying 400-500 pounds sterling, he fought back using a steel lined whip stock and broke their fingers, then putting the whip round the back of each he gave the pony a crack and made his escape(14)
Bernard later farmed at Cawthorne (Thimble Hall), the house contains stone steps and floors.
He drove Violet, the horse and cart which fell down a shallow coal seam being worked by two men during WWII on Bernard’s property (Thimble Hall). The ground caved in and he pulled the horse out (5)
Another story says the horse and cart and himself fell through the ground into a pit shaft below (thin crust), he managed to jump clear but the horse Violet was unfortunately killed.(4) Boxer was the foal of the mare Violet(5).
Bernard looked after Ronnie Midgley, Bernard never married. He also looked after three aunts of William Midgley at Thimble Hall, they were :
Charlotte Hill (spinster)
Aunt Sarah Hill (spinster)
Aunt Pallister (widow) nee Hill
When they were living at Thimble Hall John Patrick remembers aunt Charlotte being old
and unsure on her feet, Sarah the organiser was in bed all the time, bright as a button and a joker even when bed ridden and aunt Pallister living in a very ornate room with expensive furniture and clothing (5).

List of sale of equipment from Thimble Hall after Bernard died:
    Sold by Arthur E. Wilby & Son at 1.30pm Friday 18th April 1947 
     All values in pounds, shillings and pence (5)
Boxer  73.10.3 
Cows  32.2.0 
Calves  26.0.0
4 steers  25.0.0 
3 steers  23.0.0 
3 heifers  55.0.0 
cart  20.0.0 
Wagon   20.0.0 
rake  10.0.0 
hen house 20.0.0 
poultry   35.0.0 
chicken house  10.0.0
Dobbin  12.0.0 
Turner  13.0.0 
?Mucking  6.10.0 

 Thimble Hall was the Midgley farm until 1952 when Bernard died (5).

3.Herbert Midgley
Born 25th December 1876 at Cawthorne. Originally a farmer. Son of Thomas Midgley.
Herbert emigrated to Canada and died in Calgary where he had worked as a butcher. He had some children but number not known (5). He moved to Canada to be with his
children(5) but another tale says he died a batchelor(3).
Calgary is a ranching town, I passed through here in 1969, the main street was a dusty dirt road with cattle and stockyards from the western movie.

4.Sarah Midgley
“Sibbie” Born 21st December 1878  Jowett House,Cawthorne.
Daughter of Thomas Midgley. Over 80 when she died.
She looked after her uncle and aunt Pallister for 40 years at Whitewell, Derbyshire.

5.Reginald Waller Midgley
Born  Christmas Day, 25th December 1881, Cawthorne.
Originally a farmer, son of Thomas Midgley.
In October 1914 R. Midgley was reported to be in 45th Battery Royal Field Artillery, he was on war service (19, p161)
 Reginald then married a widow and went to live in Budleigh Salterton, Devon.(28), they had two children, a son who died in his 20’s and a daughter who emigrated to South Africa(28)
Reginald died at sea on his way out to see his daughter in South Africa (5).

6.William Midgley- photograph
Born  Easter Day 1884 at  Jowett House, Cannon Hall Estate,Parish of  Cawthorne.
The 6th child of 8. carpenter, skilled woodcarver, worked on Cannon Hall oak Panelling etc. He served part of his carpentry apprenticeship at Oakenthorpe (Jowett) Mill, which was then a saw-mill(5). William married Lavinia Milnes of Cawthorne, a seamstress. At the time of making his will (29th August 1916) wife Lavinia was still a resident at Rose Cottage, Cawthorne.
Later lived in the Old Toll House at the Toll bar  after it was used to house refugees during WWI, now a shop. They moved to Thimble Hall and later to Shepley, then Almondbury.(5)

Tom Morgan writes:

"This was another of the nine fortified villages which were part of the objectives planned to be reached and taken on 1st. July, 1916. Serre was a significant target on that day because from their trenches in front of the village, the Germans had a high view over a wide area of No-Man's Land, including the part which would be crossed slightly to the South, in the attack on Beaumont-Hamel and Hawthorn Ridge. To the North, there was a stretch of the front about a mile long, in which no attack was to be launched, although the men holding the trenches there had carried out patrols, cut conspicuous gaps in their wire, and done all they could to convince the Germans that whatever was being prepared for in the rest of the battle area was being prepared for here, as well. On the morning of the attack, men in these trenches were detailed to create a smoke barrage across No-Man's Land to try to conceal the fact that nothing was happening there, for as long as possible, so as to draw German artillery fire which might otherwise have been directed at the attackers around Serre, to the South, and Gommecourt, to the North, where a full-scale diversionary attack was being launched to draw fire and resources even more. In the event, the smoke failed, as the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, but even if the wind had been more helpful, the Germans in the area would not have been confused for long but, hopefully, for just long enough. The Plan, of course, meant that the Germans had to be fooled only for a few minutes - the time it took for the Battalions gathered around Serre to walk across No-Man's Land and occupy the smashed German trenches. Then the benefit of observation would be with the British.
Lord Kitchener
The story of the attack on Serre has become one of the most powerful and emotional Somme Legends. All over Britain, in the early stages of the war, young men rushed to enlist, urged not so much by Kitchener's steely eye, frighteningly martial moustache and pointing finger as by a genuinely-held belief that it was the Right Thing to Do. In many parts of the country, particularly in the industrial North, many groups of friends and workmates enlisted together and expressed a desire to serve together. The town leaders themselves often fostered this natural desire, and declared an intention to raise as many men as possible to serve in the name of their community, the natural target being a whole Battalion. The result was the famous "Pals Battalions." They were keen to serve. Their enthusiasm and comradeship were among their greatest virtues. They were proud to be members of the "Citizens' Army" who had left their homes and loved ones and enlisted to help in their country's hour of need. These may seem quaint notions in 1998, but these men believed in these things, and we must respect them for this alone. How many of us would do as much?

They were hard workers and they became Good Soldiers. However, in the eyes of many senior officers, they were not Real Soldiers, and this would be their first battle. The Commander of Fourth Army, Sir Henry Rawlinson, may have been thinking of the inexperience of many of the battalions under his command when he planned his attack. He placed great faith in the power of artillery to do the job of actually killing or subduing the Germans. Following the pounding bombardment, there would be little for his quickly-trained and inexperienced Pals to do beyond taking the German positions and holding on until more experienced military minds were able to direct them as to what to do next. The orderly, parade-ground march across No-Man's Land, five yards between each man, rifles to be held at the high port, with following lines of men to follow the bombardment as it moved from line to line, was part of this simple plan. The Accrington Pals, the Barnsley Pals, the Bradford Pals, the Durham Pals, the Leeds Pals and the more formally known Sheffield City Battalion rehearsed and believed. These were trusting, obedient men. They were also intelligent men, but this initiative was not really required by the battle plan for this area. They would advance and accomplish as one communal force - in keeping with the history of their recruitment. A nice touch.

From Auchonvillers, a road runs North. After about a mile, one reaches a crossroad. Straight on is Hebuterne. The road to the right is the Serre Road. Driving along it, towards Serre, one can see, off to the right, the trees of the Newfoundland Memorial Park and Hawthorn Ridge Mine crater. I found it difficult to keep my eyes off these landmarks. The road, which had been quite straight for a long time, swung to the right and then to the left. Time to look ahead. And there, to the right of the road, I saw the huge Serre Road Number 2 British Cemetery, the largest on the Somme.
soldiers   redy to go over the top WW1
Up to this moment, I had followed what I thought was a noble practice. Whenever I visited a cemetery, no matter how long it took, I looked at every gravestone and read every name. Even the ones with over two hundred graves! Serre Road Number 2, with its 7,139 graves, cured me of this habit. This is a cemetery which started off originally as a burial-ground when it was safe to begin the work of clearing the battlefield. In this area, this was not possible until the village of Serre and its formidable defences had been captured and this did not happen until 1917. The original burials were added to later, during the many searches of the Serre battlefield, which did not finish until the 1930s.

The cemetery today is immaculately-kept. When I was there, gardeners were laying new turf between some of the rows of graves, in preparation for the summer visitors. This cemetery receives many, but even the smaller and more isolated ones like Frankfurt Trench on the Redan Ridge nearby, are maintained with the same breathtaking devotion.

From the cemetery, one can look across fields towards the village of Serre. The village is actually out of sight at this point, but one can see the nature of the open land towards it, which the British had to cross. An indication of the size of the tragedy which took place in this area is visible however - in the shape of another two big cemeteries - Serre Road Number 1 (2,412 graves, almost three-quarters of them unidentified) with, next to it, the French National Cemetery. This cemetery , strangely enough, is also the work of the British. By the time the last search for British bodies in these fields was made, in the 1930s, the bodies of 817 French soldiers had also been found. These men fell in the days when this had been a French sector of the front. As French bodies were found, the British buried them in a cemetery of their own. Eventually, the completed cemetery was handed over to the French Government.

Opposite these two side-by-side cemeteries is a track, leading to the Redan Ridge cemeteries. Those who have read Part 1 of this diary might remember my description of my walk up the Sunken Lane near Beaumont Hamel, to the cemeteries on the sites of Frankfurt Trench and Munich Trench. I returned home the way I had come on that occasion, but if I had carried on along the site of the German front line, I would have arrived in about ten minutes at the Serre Road, by this track. The track leading from Serre Road is the "official route" to the Redan Ridge cemeteries and at the junction with the road stands a multiple signpost, pointing the way to them. At the foot of the signpost were about half a dozen unexploded shells. These are still being ploughed up, eighty years after they were fired. The farmers always leave these relics next to a cemetery signpost. I suppose that this is where the collection and disposal teams look for them. In all guidebooks to the Somme, the reader is warned of the danger of meddling with these shells. Presumably the farmers themselves don't read these guidebooks. All the shells I saw awaiting collection, apart from one huge monster, had been attacked with hammer and chisel and the valuable copper driving bands removed.

 Just beyond the twin British and French cemeteries, another farm track leads off to the left towards a very historic part of the front. This is the Sheffield Park area dedicated to the memory of the Sheffield City Battalion. The track presents a major challenge to the suspension of any car, but I drove up and down it four times during my visit, because the sites it gives access to mean a great deal to me. Driving up the track with the car windows open meant that everything inside the car was covered in a fine, white dust
the dust referred to by so many men who served here that summer.
over the top

(The farmer was harrowing his field. This is where all the dust was coming from. He wore a dust-protector over his face as he drove his tractor. He seemed to be doing this all the time, using powerful lights on an overhead bar over the cab when it got dark. By the last visit, we had waved to each other sufficiently often for us to become acquaintances. So, as he was working near to the road, I asked him if I might inspect his pile of scrap. Every farmer in this area has such a pile, brought in from the fields. This is how I came to bring home a complete British screw-picket, used to support barbed wire.)

The track peters out at the top, and I parked next to the first of three small cemeteries which mark the halfway point across the old No-Man's Land in this area. This is Serre Road Number 3 Cemetery. A little further away is Queen's Cemetery and beyond that is Luke Copse Cemetery. These cemeteries mark the No-Man's Land of the Northern limits of the main British attack front on 1st July, 1916. Opposite Queen's Cemetery is the Sheffield Memorial Park. In 1916, there were four small copses here, marked on British maps as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They now form one continuous line of trees, and this is the boundary of the Park. Behind the Park area, the land falls away into a little valley, where a light railway ran, and on this spot, next to the biggest shell-hole I have ever seen anywhere on the Western Front, is Railway Hollow Cemetery, which was started, like so many cemeteries in this area, in 1917. It contains the graves of many Pals who fell on 1st July. At the edge of the Park, facing the German positions, a shallow depression snakes along the line of the perimeter fence. This is trench from which the Accrington Pals attacked. The Germans were about 250 yards away. Hardly any of the Pals reached the German lines. The three cemeteries in the old No-Man's Land tell their own story.

These fields were the anvil on which the metal of the Pals was tested. The metal may have been beaten, and rendered shapeless and unrecognisable, but as any blacksmith will tell you, its purity and worth were not destroyed, only enhanced.

Here, about ten minutes before zero-hour, the Accrington Pals climbed out of their trenches, passed through the gaps in their wire and lay down in No-Man's Land until all the leading "waves" were in position.  At 7.30 a.m. the barrage stopped, the whistles blew and the Pals stood up. Then the steady walk forward began. This was also the land of the deep German dug-outs. As soon as the barrage lifted, the Germans were quick to respond, manning their parapets and staring in disbelief at the slow, regular advance of the Pals. The first shots began to ring out and other German defenders joined in. They couldn't believe that the British were just walking towards them, wave after wave. One German soldier in this place, facing the Accrington Pals, later wrote to Martin Middlebrook, who was collecting information for his book, "The First Day on the Somme." "If only they had run," said the German, "they would have overwhelmed us."
The Pals' advance was broken. Those who were still alive lay scattered around No-Man's Land, at a loss. They had been trained to follow orders, and had done this proudly. Now, a situation had arisen which they had not been prepared for. Their communal attack had failed. They had not been prepared for this and simply didn't know what to do. From the direction of Serre, they were being shelled. The Germans in the trenches opposite were firing at them. They were weighed down with the equipment which they would have needed to consolidate the German trenches which, they had been led to believe, they should have occupied so easily.

The British barrage, which could have relieved the pressure on them, was now dropping its shells far into the rear of Serre, according to a previously-planned timetable which could not be changed. It had all gone horribly wrong. Their leaders had been mistaken, but had not allowed for this possibility.

Those who survived, emerged as different men. They and their friends had offered their all, trustingly, and they felt, right or wrong, that this trust had been squandered. The belief that their leaders knew best and knew all, this Victorian belief which had enabled them to entrust their very lives to the will and care of others, was as dead as the 5,415 men who lay out in the No-Man's Land of this Northern Sector. From now on, men would begin to think of themselves first, a little more often, and would want to have more of a say in the control of their own future.

I firmly believe, in spite of what the calendar may say, that the 20th Century began in these fields, around Serre, on 1st July, 1916. "

                     .The Somme 1916
That blasted heath


William enlisted  on 23rd November 1915 at Barnsley in the 233rd Field Company [Ripon] Royal Engineers, 41st Division. The Field Company of the Royal Engineers provided technical skill and know-how in support of the fighting units of the formation known as a Division. The 233rd Field Company  (Royal Engineers] was a unit of the  41st Division. The units of 41st Division moved to France between 1st and 6th May 1916 and by 8th May had concentrated between Hazebrouck and Bailleul. The division then remained on the Western Front until October 1917, during this time William was  in the following engagements:-

The Battle of Flers-Courcelette
The Battle of the Transloy Ridges

[Both phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916]

The Battle of Messines (Belgium) where soon after William was injured in the leg during action on the Somme.

World War 1 shells
Shells left under signposts today by farmers at Serre ready for collection.
He received a letter of commendation from his commanding officer, Major E. Moore, stating that he was “thoroughly reliable and trustworthy and that his name had been put forward for special mention in connection with gallant conduct and coolness under fire on many occasions, particularly during the time that the 41st Division was in action in the Somme on September 15th and October 7th 1916”
                         barbed wire
“A standard sight on the first day of the battle was the few British troops who had somehow crossed to no-man’s land alive standing puzzled in front of the uncut German wire to be shot down in their turn. When the first day of the Battle of the Somme was over, it would be found that of the 100,0000 men who had attacked, 20,000 lay dead  between the lines. It was the greatest loss of life in British military history. On the Somme Haigh had sent the flower of British youth to death or mutilation”(40).

William received a commendation from Major General Sydney Lawford Commander of the 41st Division, the father of the actor Peter Lawford, “for good conduct and exemplary behaviour under fire", May 1916 to September 1916. William served as a Lt. Corporal one year 313 days with the colours and one year and eight days.
At the 1st of October 1917 he was described in his war papers as aged 33 years and 9 months was 5’11 1/2” tall with blue eyes, fair hair.
He was on Active Service 2nd May 1916 to 9th May 1917 with the 233rd Field Company,  [Ripon] Royal Engineers, B.E.F., France. 

post card 1916 William's final discharge came on 1st October 1917 due to being hit above the right knee by shell fire in May 1917.
He was hit when their group pulled back for 48 hours rest, they were showering in the bath-house when a shell landed  killing many of his companions and injuring William.  After injury William was hospitalised at No.8 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station from 4th May 1917. After recuperation William enrolled as war munition volunteer on 20th April 1918.
He became a member of the District War Pensions Committtee, resigning from this in January 1937. In 1924 William moved with his family to Shepley to an address on Marsh Lane. William bought the house and also rented the house next door. William worked as a coachwork builder for Rolls-Royce.(3) The family stayed here until 1936(5). A photograph of the two houses occurs in the “Shepley A village History 1890-1990 on page 23 and is incorrectly labelled as” Station Road 1859”(5).
J.P.M. believes that the boy in the photograph could be himself(5).
On page 43 of the same book Mr. W. Midgley is shown as being the chief marshall of the Grand Carnival Procession. William died  in 1955.
In the 1964  the B & W film 'King and Country' portrayed a court martial scene in the WWI trenches. James Villiers played the part of “Captain Midgley” for the prosecution, which appears 5th or 6th on the credits.


The Great War cost 41st Division 32,158 men killed, wounded or missing. There is a memorial to the 41st Division in the village of Flers, Somme. The village was captured by units of the Division on 15 September 1916.

Map 1 of Cawthorne showing residences, footpaths etc.
Map 2 of Cawthorne showing residences, footpaths etc..

7. Garnett Midgley
Born 12th September 1886, Cawthorne, probably at Jowett House, 7th of 8 children of  Thomas and Elizabeth Midgley.
Garnett lived at Oulton near Leeds(28), he was a doctor’s dispenser(28)
He owned a racehorse called “Gunboat”.
Garnett was buried at Horbury, Yorks. (West of Wakefield)

8. Annie Ethel Midgley
Born after 12th September 1886 at Jowett House. The last and 8th child of Thomas and Elizabeth Midgley. She was a nurse in WWI (28) Married Mr. Mapleback, one child, Clive.

Helen Midgley
Eldest daughter (8) of Rowland Hill Midgley. Was a nurse in Leeds(28).

Evelyn Midgley (nee Newton)
Married to Ronnie Midgley, she was born in Lancashire.

Ronald T. Midgley
Born about ?1913 at ? Cawthorne , died February 1989 Cawthorne. Worked as a coal miner, lived at Thimble Hall (Boston Spa!) of his mother’s family(5)
Ronnie tells a story of “Spring-heeled-Jack” who was reputed to have been sitting on a stone wall on the opposite side to Thimble Hall and about 50 yards towards the Toll Bar (near Ronnie’s Cottage). He had a fluorescent appearance and wore a tin hat. He was seen by two young men in a wagon in the early 1940’s as they drove past.. They were so shocked they were obliged to repair to the Spencer’s Arms for a XXXX(5) This story was designed by the locals to keep rustlers and poachers off lands and woods(11).
Ronnie was the last Midgley living in Cawthorne, he died in 1989, he was survived by his wife Evelyn.


                                                     The Cawthorne Cricket Club 193649

Back Row: Edwin Lisle | Harry Fish | Charlie Hopton | Jack Fish | Jack Buckley | Fred Buckley | Edwin Fish

Front Row: Raymond Fish | Clive A. Buckley | Noel F. Moxon | Fred Lisle | Ronnie Midgley | Colin McNaught

John Patrick Midgley
Eldest son of William Midgley and Sarah nee Milnes of Cawthorne. Born 23rd July 1919 in the  former Toll House, Cawthorne.  Whilst in the R.N. in WW2, saw action on the Russian convoys to Archangel and after the war (1947-9) action on H.M.S. London during the Chinese Revolution in the Yangtze Incident when H.M.S. Amethyst was trapped on the Yangtze river and the London tried to help rescue her. Died 12th June 1999,Oakville N.S.W. Australia.

                    Toll Bar House, Cawthorne. In the background to the lower right postcard can be seen Thimble Hall, a Midgley residence after 1918.


Walter Midgley [see photograph]
Born September 13th 1912 Yorkshire, died 18th Sept 1980.
Tenor singer in operettas, concerts and radio broadcasts particularly between WWI and WWII. Walter married Gladys Vernon of Essex.
After WW2 Walter made his debut at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, later he  performed many leading tenor roles here.
Two children, Maryetta [soprano] and Vernon, both have musical talent as Juliet Midgley his grand-daughter, born in Surrey of parents Vernon and Anna who are both opera and concert singers of considerable musical talent. His wife and two daughters joined him to complete the last programme in his radio series
“Walter Midgley Remembers". Maryetta and Vernon Midgley went on to become radio and T.V. stars (Stage & Radio 2), they had their own series.

Paul Hesketh's parents of Barnsley knew Walter when Walter lived in Thorpe Hesley near Rotherham. Walter was a member of Thorpe Hope Methodist Church.and he sang at their Eastwood Methodist Church on several occasions.

In “Arsenic & Old Lace” written by Joseph Kesselring twelve bodies had been buried by the two aunts, the first of whom was “poor Mr. Midgley”. The play is reputed to be acting somewhere at some time and was filmed in 1944 with Cary Grant, Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre.







Home HOME                             floral


1. Letter of war Service by commanding officer for William Midgley.

2. “History Today” Vol 40 Dec 1990

3. pers comm. Patrick and Eunice Midgley.

4. pers. comm. Mary Richardson (nee Seeley) daughter of Annie Milnes Jan. 1984.

5. pers comm. John Patrick Midgley son of Lavinia Milnes and William Midgley.

6. I.G.I. DO769 or DO768 Yorkshire.

7. Cawthorne Centenary Booklet (1980) Barry Jackson churchwarden.

8. pers. comm. Gillian McDougall  nee Midgley of Springwood, N.S.W.

9. Letter to Sarah Wemyss from brother James C. Wemyss 28/6/1916

10. Letter from Anthony Hindley of Cawthorne containing pedigrees drawn up by Henry Milnes Walker(1989)

11. Letter from Charles Brian Midgley.

12. “History of Cawthorne” C.T. Pratt (1880)

13. Letters from Lt. Col. Charles Crossland (1983,1984)

14. Letter from the late Ronald T. Midgley (1982)

15. Letter from the late Roy Wemyss Milnes of Cawthorne.

16. Copy of Mildred Holroyd’s letter to Charles Crossland.

17. I.G.I. CO668 Northumberland (batch M109171, serial sheet 0594)

18. “Cawthorne 1790-1990, a South Yorkshire Village Remembers Its past”, Barry Jackson June 1990

19. Letter from Anthony Hindley March 1992

20.Letter from Audrey Town, 33, New Lane, Skelmanthorpe, July 1992

21. Census returns for 1881 (RG11/4611 Ed. 2, folio 30, p.20) and 1891 (RG12/) held at the Wakefield Local Studies Library and Barnsley Local Studies Library.

22. Taken from videotape made by Peter Arnold in Cawthorne late 1980’s

23 I.G.I. DO583 Yorkshire

24. English Parish Records, State Archives, Kingswood, Sydney, N.S.W.

25. Church of Latter Day saints (Mormons) I.G.I. Centre, Ryde, Sydney, N.S.W.

26. The Letterbag of Lady Spencer-Stanhope ed. by Anna Stirling pub. 1913 compiled
from The Cannon Hall Papers 1806-1873 2 volumes, published by John Lane, London,
Bell & Cockburn, printers, Toronto 1913.

27. I.G.I. Ayrshire

28. Letter from Dyone Dodson (nee Midgley) 11th May 1993.

29. Organic Chemistry p.109 Morrison and Boyd.

30. Huddersfield Examiner article 1993.

31.”Country Eye” Geoffrey Young p.99

32. Biographical Encyclopaedia of Science  Asimov pp930-1

33. Thomas Moules maps of old England  printed 1930

34. Pedigree drawn up by solicitors for Ina Hepworth Estate in 1950’s

35. Letter from C.B. Midgley June 1995

36. Dictionary of English Place Names”  A.D. Mills  O.U.P. 1997

37. Internet resource: Cities & Towns of the West Riding

38. According to Jens Raunkjaer Graungaard, Parkvej 63, DK 4140  Borup, +45 57 52 2181      jensg@centrum.dk, https://www.danbbs.dk/~jensg/

39. Survey & Depth A. Barcan Griffin Press 1972.

40. The First World War, John Keegan, Hutchinson 1998.

41. E-mail communication with David Midgley of Tasmania.

42. Census 1851 for Wakefield district.

43. Census 1881 for Cawthorne, South Yorkshire.

44. Census 31st March 1881 for England.

45. Dictionary of English Place-Names, A.D. Mills, O.U.P.

46. L.D.S. on-line I.G.I.

47. Derek Hirst of Barnsley

48. Normanton Marriage Index 1813-1837 W&D FHS

49. From a postcard kindly provided by Chris Moxon. Chris has a strong interest in postcards of Cawthorne. If you have any he would be pleased to hear from you.

Tasker Trust Photographs - taken in the Barnsley - Cawthorne area.

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© Tim Midgley 1998, revised 28th January 2024