Thomas Harold Lawrence, Boy Soldier

One of the many posters aimed at encouraging young men to enlist.

One of the many posters aimed at encouraging young men to enlist.

At the outbreak of the First World War, especially as it was expected to be over by the end of 1914, there was a huge clamour amongst patriotic young men to join up to do their service for King and country. Rules stated that to fight abroad, they had to be aged nineteen, although an eighteen-year-old could enlist and remain in the country until they reached the correct age. Despite these age restrictions, it is estimated that as many as 250,000 ‘Boy Soldiers’ under the age of eighteen fought in the conflict. Recruitment officers were paid two shillings and sixpence for each new recruit, so it was inevitable that a blind eye would often be turned.

St. Oswald's Church, Oswestry

St. Oswald’s Church, Oswestry

Thomas Harold Lawrence, the sixth child of William Lawrence and Emily Parker, was born in Oswestry, Shropshire, in 1899. Baptised at St. Oswald’s, Oswestry, on July 23rd of the same year, he spent his early life at 22 Upper Church Street and 22 Pool Road. The untimely death of his father in 1909, seems to have created financial problems for the family with Emily having to take up the occupation of poultry dealer and the eldest five children all becoming domestic servants. This could explain why on 5th May 1915, aged only fifteen or sixteen, Thomas enlisted at Newtown, joining the 3/1st Welsh Horse Yeomanry.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the average height for a man aged twenty was 5 feet six inches and Thomas, still only a teenager, was already three-quarters of an inch taller. This teamed with his probable experience with horses (his uncle, Edward Parker, living with his family in 1911, was an ostler) meant that few questions would have been asked when he gave his age as ’19 years and 2 days.’

Thomas remained in the army until February 7th, 1916, when he was discharged in Dublin on the grounds of, “having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment.” He had served for 281 days and had been passed for active service in the field.

This was not to be the end of his war, however. Obviously determined to see active service, June 5th, 1917, saw him examined at Shrewsbury and, thirteen days later, he was being vaccinated at Kinmel Park, an army training camp. Refusing other inoculations, stating he had already received them four times in May and June 1915, he eventually joined as a Class B Reserve before being transfered to the Cheshire Regiment and later the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

Thomas eventually saw active service in France from March 30th 1918 until December 27th of the same year when he was sent back home to the war hospital in Sunderland, suffering from the effects of an old head injury he sustained whilst on leave. On January 10th  1918, he had been thrown off a motorbike in Oswestry which had resulted in a contusion to the head causing vision problems. He remained in hospital for 39 days and, shortly after, was demobilised.

The Fall and Rise of William Henry Eyes, Part 1

Sometimes, when researching your family history, some discoveries can shock you to the core. The story of my first cousin, five times removed was certainly an example of this.

William Henry Eyes

William Henry Eyes

William Henry Eyes, the son of Charles Eyes and Lucinda Ann Robinson, was born in Liverpool on 23rd October 1821. Due to his father’s position as a South American merchant and ship owner, William Henry had quite a privileged upbringing and was educated in Knutsford, Cheshire. He later found employment at Gladstone and Sergeantson, cotton brokers (Gladstone being the first cousin of Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone) where he would remain until 1838.

On 28th February 1839, William Henry Eyes embarked on a journey that would change the course of his entire life. Leaving Liverpool on the Heber, he set sail for Australia, stopping off at the Cape of Good Hope on May 28th before finally arriving at Port Jackson, Sydney on July 27th. Unlike the five children who died en route, William Henry arrived safely and ready to start his new life.

In 1841, he travelled overland to Melbourne, a journey that took four months, with cattle and horses. On his return to Sydney, he entered into partnership with a Mr. Lord, a stock and station agent, in a cattle station near Bateman’s Bay, in New South Wales. This, however, was not a successful investment.

Three years later, on April 22nd 1844, William Henry Eyes made the newspapers, but for all the wrong reasons…

Rosina Thomas, aged 9, had, along with her younger brother, left the family home at Wollongong, New South Wales, in order to look after their cows. During the journey of about half a mile, they were joined by Eyes who proceeded to accompany them into the bush. After sending her brother away to play on the beach, he assaulted the young girl.

The following day, Rosina reported what had happened to her mother who, along with Dr. Edward Boot, examined the young girl. Boot, a member of the College of Surgeons of London, concluded that no rape had been committed although there was some evidence of inflammation. He did admit, however, that this could have arisen from other causes.

On Wednesday 3rd July, William Henry Eyes was indicted of assault and a jury, without retiring, found him guilty; there was not enough evidence that the capital charge had been committed. On being asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed on him, in a written statement, he noted his, “want of moral and religious observation.”

Parramatta Gaol

Parramatta Gaol

The judge expressed his abhorrence of the crime the prisoner had committed and his regret at the inadequacy of the law as it now stood, there being no medium between transportation for life for the capital offence, and that of imprisonment for the assault. Eyes was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Parramatta Gaol, the first week in every month to be in solitary confinement.

The story did not end there, however, as on 24th June 1845, William Henry Eyes received an absolute pardon, less than a year after his conviction. The pardon was signed by George Gipps, Governor of New South Wales. The circumstances behind the pardon are not known.

This was not the last time that William Henry Eyes would appear in the press. It was, however, for an entirely different reason…

Killed by a Train

After experiencing the untimely death of his mother who was drowned in the Pelorus River, (https://unearthingtheskeletons.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/drowned-in-the-river/) Herbert Wilmor Eyes almost certainly hoped that the rest of his life would be uneventful. This, however, was not to be the case…

Born in Picton, New Zealand, in 1888, the eldest son of Septimus Eyes and Emily Cecelia Jones, Herbert Wilmor Eyes started to put the tragedy of his mother’s death behind him when, the following year, in 1912, he married Dorothy Thorpe of Rai Valley at St. Mark’s Church. The ceremony was reported in the Marlborough Express on 11th May 1912.

The church had been tastefully decorated by friends of the young couple. The bride, who was given away by her mother, wore a dainty white silk dress, trimmed with a silk fringe and lace, and wore a wreath and veil, and carried a shower bouquet… After the ceremony a small reception was held at the residence of the bride’s mother, to a few relatives of the bride and bridegroom. The happy couple left during the afternoon to spend their honeymoon in Blenheim and Picton.

Spending a number of years as a farmer, at some point during the 1920s, Herbert began working as a baker, establishing a bread making and delivery business in the centre of the town of Levin. Due to deliveries being made both in the town and the country, the business proved to be quite profitable.

Level Crossing at Palmerston North where the accident took place.

Level Crossing at Palmerston North where the accident took place.

On February 17th 1928, Herbert set off to make a bread delivery, his wife Dorothy accompanying him in the passenger seat of his van. On attempting to  pass over the railway line at Palmerston North, it would seem that he did not notice the oncoming north-bound New Plymouth express nor heard the sound of the whistle. It was noted, at the time, that the level crossing was a particularly dangerous one, the road running parallel with the train line for over 500 feet before turning sharply across it.

A few seconds before the collision, Dorothy, who was nearest the train, did notice it and grasped her husband. It was too late, however, and the train hit the van in the middle, wrecking it instantly and carrying the engine over 250 feet past the crossing. Dorothy received severe head injuries and died instantaneously; Herbert, however, was carried along with the van wreckage before being thrown clear.

The grave of Herbert Wilmor Eyes and his wife, Dorothy, at Levin Old Cemetery.

The grave of Herbert Wilmor Eyes and his wife, Dorothy, at Levin Old Cemetery.

The first people to reach the scene of the accident were passengers on the train – Hon J. A. Young (Minister of Health), Dr. T. H. A. Valintine (Director-General of Health) and Constable Tocker. They provided medical assistance until the arrival of L. J. Hunter, a doctor from Levin. Herbert was suffering from serious head and shoulder injuries so Hunter, under Valintine’s supervision, placed him in the guard’s van and took him to Palmerston North Hospital.

Sadly, Herbert Wilmor Eyes would never recover from his injuries and, the following day, passed away at the hospital he was taken to after the accident. Herbert and Dorothy left behind three small children and were buried together at Levin Old Cemetery.

Gomoszynski and the Polish Connection

Sometimes, when researching your family history and something unexpected is discovered, it is possible to go off on a tangent and look at something that has nothing whatsoever to do with your family. This happened to me recently.

For some time, I had been trying to prove a family connection to Thomas Green, a watchmaker from Liverpool, a task which proved successful. In the course of finding out more information about his family, I discovered that one of his daughters, Catherine Green (the sister of my great-great-great-great grandmother, Mary Green) married a Liverpool attorney, Thomas Hughes. They are both buried at St. James Cemetery, Liverpool and their monumental inscription reads as follows:

To my mother, erected 1869. Sacred to the memory of Thomas HUGHES, Attorney of this town, who died on the 26th February 1848 in the 70th year of his age.

Also James, son of the above, who departed this life on the 6th May 1852 aged 35 years.

Also Catherine, wife of the above Thomas HUGHES,
who departed this life on the 9th May 1869 aged 79 years.

Also in memory of Jane GOMOSZYNSKI, wife of the late Joseph GOMOSZYNSKI, who died 17th May 1877 aged 70 years.

I was immediately taken aback by the name Gomoszynski. Jane, turned out to be Jane Hughes, a daughter of Thomas Hughes from his previous marriage but I was intrigued about Joseph. Who was he? A bit of research answered that question.

Joseph Gomoszynski arrived in London from Danzig, Poland on 12th July 1836 on a Russian passport. He had been a Lieutenant in the 1st Regiment of Polish Lancers who had fought in the November Uprising on 1830/1 against the Russians. Due to Poland being allies of Napoleon, after his downfall, the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, assigned half of Poland to Russia. The other half was to govern itself but the Russians did not allow this to happen and, as a result, serious opression led to the uprising. He was subsequently imprisoned by Prussians, eventually leaving his country in 1832 and escaping into exile.

Marriage of Joseph Gomoszynski to Jane Hughes, Carlisle Journal, Saturday 11 January 1840

Marriage of Joseph Gomoszynski to Jane Hughes, Carlisle Journal, Saturday 11 January 1840

On 30th December 1839, Joseph married Jane Hughes at John’s Episcopal Church, Greenock. Their marriage was recorded in several newspapers including the Carlisle Journal.

In 1840, the couple had their first child, Catherine Stanislove Gomoszynski, born in Leeds. A year later, on the 1841 Census, the family were living in Headingley, where Joseph gave his occupation as ‘Professor of Languages.’ Adverts later appeared in the Leeds Intelligencer offering his services as a French and German instructor.

Liverpool Mercury,  Friday 3 December 1841

Liverpool Mercury, Friday 3 December 1841

Later in 1841, Gomoszynski gave a series of three lectures on the history of Poland in Bradford and also in Liverpool, the birthplace of his wife. At this time, he was still residing in Leeds and it was here where, in 1842, a second child, Emily Jane was born. By 1845, however, the family were back in Scotland where two more children were born – Joseph Francis Dudley and Casimir Thomas.

Grave of Joseph Gomoszynski at Glasgow Necropolis

Grave of Joseph Gomoszynski at Glasgow Necropolis

Sadly, on 27th October 1845, Joseph Gomoszynski died in Greenock, aged only 32. He was buried at Glasgow Necropolis where a headstone, sculpted by William Mossman, was erected in his honour

For more information about Joseph Gomoszynski, Morag T. Fyfe has written a very detailed profile on http://www.glasgownecropolis.org/profiles/joseph-f-gomoszynski/

His lectures from 1841 have also been reproduced and can be purchased from Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Course-Three-Lectures-History-Poland/dp/1165258978/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424111414&sr=8-2&keywords=gomoszynski

 

 

 

A Disorderly House

St. Peter's Church, Church Street, Liverpool

St. Peter’s Church, Church Street, Liverpool

Charles Archibald Irwin, the son of Archibald Irwin and Margaret Doyle, was born on 10th June 1849 in Liverpool and baptised twelve days later at St. Peter’s Church. In 1851, he is recorded as living with his family at 2 Smith Street but, for some unknown reason, cannot be found on the 1861 and 1871 censuses.

The only confirmed information about Charles during that time is taken from his marriage certificate. On 29th August 1870, he married Rosena Lilly, the daughter of Frederick Henry Lilly, at St. John’s Church, Liverpool, his occupation being given as a blockmaker.

Charles and Rosena went on to have six children, one, Harriet Lilly Irwin, being born in Birkenhead, before the family relocated to Nottingham. Whilst in Nottingham, three more children were born: Ellen Sophia in 1881, Archibald in 1883 and Margaret in 1885. It was while they were in Nottingham that Charles made the local press…

On Christmas Eve, 1886, Charles Archibald Irwin appeared at the Summons Court at the Town Hall in Nottingham accused of keeping or assisting to keep a disorderly house at 32 Rigley’s Yard. Mr. S. G. Johnson, the Town Clerk, stated that Charles was a tenant of the house, as he resided there and practically kept and managed the place. On the nights of the 11th and 18th of December, the house was watched by Sergeant Stannard and P.C. Oaks who reported that the people entering the premises were, “well-known bad characters.”

During examination, one of the police officers stated that he had worked for the Nottingham Police Force for nine years, but during that time, he had not been aware that the house was being kept as a coffee-house, but he believed that Charles had a coffee-house licence. When questioned Charles denied the charge, saying that his step-father had kept the house for many years before he had anything to do with it.

Testimonial in response to George Baker's, 'Belt of Life.'

Testimonial in response to George Baker’s, ‘Belt of Life.’

Research has shown that this ‘step-father’ was, in fact, Arthur Cresswell, the step-father of his wife, who is recorded on the 1881 Census in Rigley’s Yard as being a boarding house keeper. A testimonial appearing in numerous editions of the Nottingham Evening Post from 1880 to 1882 for George Baker’s, ‘Belt of Life,’ also backs this up – Sophia Cresswell was the mother of Rosena Lilly, the wife of Charles Archibald Irwin.

Unfortunately for Charles, the magistrates did not believe him and he was fined £10. Soon after, the Irwin family left Nottingham and moved to Cardiff where, by now, he was a Venetian blind maker. Charles and Rosena had a further child whilst in Cardiff, George, born in 1892. Charles Archibald Irwin died in Bridgend in 1903.