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




Lest We Forget

On Remembrance Sunday, my thoughts have turned to the members of my family who fought for their country, never to return. I have already written about my grandfather’s cousin, Hubert Stanley Denson, who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme https://unearthingtheskeletons.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/battle-of-the-somme-a-tragic-tale/ and I would like to share another story of an ancestor who died in World War One.

John Stephen Mills, my great-grandmother’s brother, was born on 18th December 1890 and, due to his father being a manager of a public house, he spent the early part of his life moving from house to house, living in the Liverpool areas of Bootle, Everton and Kensington. By the age of 20, he was still living at the family home of 67 Kensington, working as a restaurant porter.

North Lancashire Regiment

North Lancashire Regiment

On the outbreak of World War One, John decided to join the armed forces and was attested at Seaforth on 9th September 1914, becoming a private in the 8th battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire regiment. After moving to Boscombe, Bournemouth, back to Boscombe and then finally to Romsey, on 22nd May 1915, he was promoted to Lance Corporal in an unpaid capacity and a month later, was in a paid position.

On 25th September 1915, just over a week after being posted abroad (to Boulogne), John did what other members of the armed forces did and wrote a will in the event of him not returning. These handwritten wills were kept in the pocket service books of the soldier and tucked into their uniforms. John’s read:

In the event of my death, I give the whole of my property and affects to my mother and if my mother be deceased at the time of my death I bequeath the whole of my property and affects to my brother Edward and if he be deceased at the time of my death to my niece Margaret Mills. Signed the 25th day of Sept 1915, John Stephen Mills, L Corpl. No 15429 8th North Loyal North Lancs.

Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais

Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais

Sadly, the instructions in this will had to be carried out as John Stephen Mills was reported missing on 21st May 1916 and, later the same day, was declared killed in action. He is remembered on the Arras Memorial in Pas de Calais. His mother, Annie Florence Mills, later claimed his medals – the 1914-18 Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.

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Suicide of a Farmer

Oswestry, a market town in the north of Shropshire has a long and tumultuous history. Its name, it is thought, originates from the year 642 when the Anglo-Saxon kings, Penda and Oswald fought at the Battle of Maserfield. It is said that the loser of the battle, Oswald, was dismembered and one of his arms was carried to a tree by an eagle. As Oswald was a saint, miracles were attributed to the tree, ‘Oswald’s Tree.’ It is from this, that the word Oswestry is thought to derive.

St. Oswald, King of Northumbria.

St. Oswald, King of Northumbria.

Oswestry is divided into several townships, one of these being Morton, a largely rural area. It was here were Richard Thomas was born in about 1835. Richard was brought up by his parents, William and Elizabeth Thomas, on a farm consisting of 215 acres of land and he soon followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a farmer.

Some time around the year 1857, Richard decided that life in Shropshire wasn’t for him so set sail for Australia. He remained here for about thirteen years before returning to Morton some time in the early 1870s and reacquainting himself with the family business.


Richard Thomas and his family at Morton, Shropshire on the 1871 Census.

The fateful event happened early on Saturday March 11th, 1876. Richard had been in a happy mood as he had been drinking, on and off, for a fortnight. The previous day, it had been work as usual – he had been working with the machine in the stackyard (where hay and grain is kept) and was seen by his elder brother, William, sitting on a stool in the small room.

William worked outside for the rest of the day and, on his return, sometime between ten and eleven pm, noted that Richard was already in bed in the room the brothers shared. A little after midnight, Richard awoke, got out of bed, put on his leggings and boots and came downstairs, claiming that he could hear a noise resembling lots of small dogs. His mother, Elizabeth, told him that there was nothing wrong, probably assuming that his drinking had been the cause of these ‘noises.’ Richard returned to bed.

About 5am, William was awoken by a rattling noise, a bit like the sound of someone vomiting. He got out of bed to find the source of the noise which had since ceased. It was then that he saw what had occurred and promptly called his mother, locking the bedroom door behind him.

John Lindup, one of the farm workers, went with a servant girl to view the scene. On unlocking the door, he found Richard Thomas dead in the bedroom, blood emanating from his throat. Next to him was a penknife, the blade open and covered in blood. The knife belonged to the deceased – it was one that Lindup had seen him use many times before.

As was the custom, an inquest was called later in the day and took place at the home of the deceased. Mr Coroner Blackburne decreed that death must have been almost instantaneous as the throat was terribly gashed. A verdict of suicide was returned, it being claimed that the deceased was suffering from ‘unsound state of mind.’

Richard was buried in the family grave at Morton Parish Church on 14th March 1876.

SS Philip & James, the parish church at Morton where Richard Thomas is buried.

SS Philip & James, the parish church at Morton where Richard Thomas is buried.