Category Archives: OSSETT PEOPLE


©️ Anne-Marie Fawcett 2020

Richard Ashton has shared with us these photos from his father’s collection. I’ve put together a little about Richard’s family and their connections to Ossett.

Richard’s great grandfather was Walter Ashton. Here he is, standing in front of his shop on Prospect Road where he was a wheelwright.


Walter was born in Wakefield in 1863 to Charles and Mary (née Giglow). On Christmas Day 1888 he married 23 year old Jane Hallas, who also lived in Wakefield. Their first son, Charles, was born in Wakefield in May the following year. A year later and the family had moved to Ossett and Stithy Street, where their second son Arthur was born. Another son, William, followed in 1893 and by the time their third son, Walter jnr, was born in 1896 they were living at Little Field. Ernest arrived in 1902 and their only daughter Nora was born in 1905.

Walter, Nora, Jane (née Hallas) and Charles Ashton.

Three of Walter’s five sons worked in the family business, which was expanded to become a vehicle body building shop, at 3 Bank Street, on the site of what is now Iceland supermarket. The Ashtons built wagons, carts and wheelbarrows for a number of Ossett businesses, including the Co-op and Langley Brothers, mungo manufacturers. In later years the Ashtons lived at 14 Church Street.

Richard’s grandfather Charles Ashton didn’t join the family business. Instead he served as an apprentice to JH Nettleton’s butchers.

Charles Ashton as an apprentice at Nettleton’s butchers, Wesley Street, Ossett

Although Charles was born in Wakefield, he was baptised at Holy Trinity Church when he was 5 years old. In October 1912 he married Beatrice Maud Lucas and they had three children. Charles went on to become the manager of the Ossett Co-op butchers department and the family lived at “Crown Lands Cottages”, Kingsway. (Crown Lands Cottages is 100 Kingsway).

Richard’s father, George, was born in Ossett. On July 15 1939, just two days after his 20th birthday, George Alfred Ashton enlisted at Pontefract “for the duration of the emergency”. George joined the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment.

On September 3, 1939, the day Britain declared war on Germany after the invasion of Poland two days earlier, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, returning to the old post he had left dejected after the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign of World War I; he joined the War Cabinet the next day.

Churchill had several pressing concerns before him, including the inadequate defenses of the Royal Navy’s anchorage at Scapa Flow and the shortage of destroyers, but top of the list was Norway and how to stop the Germans from using its territorial waters to gain access to the Atlantic and the convoy routes.

Churchill was still pressing the War Cabinet. His memorandum began, “The effectual stoppage of the Norwegian ore supplies to Germany ranks as a major offensive operation of the war. No other measure is open to us for many months to come which gives so good a chance of abridging the waste and destruction of the conflict, or of perhaps preventing the vast slaughter which will attend the grapple of the main armies.”

The Hallamshire Battalion were a part of Mauriceforce (Norwegian Campaign) in Norway in April 1940. Many of the photos from George Ashton’s collection were taken in Norway where he was a part of the Iceland ‘C’ Force. The campaign in Norway saw some of the first combined operations of World War ll, with naval, air and land forces cooperating in coordinated attacks.

Throughout the war, British officers referred to the country as Iceland (C) on Churchill’s orders – because, early in the war, someone had mistakenly sent a ship to Ireland instead of Iceland! By the time British forces left Iceland, in the summer of 1941, there were over 25,000 troops stationed there.

In late 1942 George was seconded to Catterick as a Signals instructor. Later he rejoined his battalion in France. A month later he was wounded and consequently discharged and sent home.

George married Doreen Tyson in 1945.

Eleven years later George and Doreen moved their family to South Africa. That must have been quite a trip – all the children were under 10 years of age and their youngest child was less than a year old. They subsequently moved to New Zealand where, in 1977, George and Doreen gained citizenship.

Although Richard Ashton lives in New Zealand, he was born at 34 Wesley Street, Ossett.

Below is a group of photos that remain unidentified. Are you able to name anyone? Please email me at:



©️ Anne-Marie Fawcett 2022

When 75 year old Joshua Pickersgill died in Australia in 1897 he had lived there for almost half a century. Joshua was born in Ossett so how did he come to spend two thirds of his life in one of the largest countries on Earth?

Joshua was born in 1822 and was christened at Holy Trinity Church. His father David Pickersgill, who was a shoemaker, died in 1826 at the age of 25, leaving his young wife Martha (née Gomersal) bereft of income. They had been married for less than seven years. Martha’s young family included George b1819 and two more sons: William b1823 and Edward b1824. Joshua and George were put to work in one of Ossett’s many textile mills.

Ten years later Martha married engineer John Lucas and in 1837 they had a daughter: Emma. John Lucas died in 1840 and, once again, Martha was left struggling to keep a roof over the heads of her family. The 1841 census records Martha Lucas living at Low Fold with her four youngest children and her mother, Fanny Gomersal. George Pickersgill, Martha’s oldest son, was recently married and had moved to Dewsbury.

(Image courtesy of Jennifer Bragg)

What’s left of Low Fold runs down the side of the Ossett United football ground.

Joshua Pickersgill married Ann Bolland (1821-1886) in 1845 at Dewsbury Parish Church. Both were residents of Ossett and Joshua was now a clothier. Ann, who was from Stanley and was the daughter of a butcher, already had a five year old son, William Bolland, whom Joshua took as his own.

After they married they lived in Horbury where Joshua worked as a weaver. They had two children: George Thomas b1846 and Elizabeth b1849. Joshua never saw the arrival of his daughter as he was convicted of theft on January 3 1849 and, due to a prior conviction for felony, was sentenced to seven years transportation. His crime? Stealing four hens from Thomas Harrop. His family were clearly hungry. At his trial Joshua pleaded guilty.


The first nine months of Joshua’s sentence were spent in solitary confinement at Wakefield Prison, before being transferred to Pentonville.

He was then sent to Portsmouth where he worked on the docks (fettered with heavy chains and overseen by armed guard) and was held on the convict hulk ‘Stirling Castle’ until he was transported to Western Australia in 1850.

The fear of incarceration in a prison hulk was an all too dreadful prospect. It must have haunted the memory of many a criminal awaiting trial, transportation or the prospect of facing a life sentence on board a prison ship. They were created following the 1776 statute which ordered that male prisoners sentenced to transportation should be put to hard labour improving the navigation of the Thames.

In 1849 the British Government authorised the conversion of Western Australia from a free settlement to a penal colony. On 9 January 1868 the convict transport Hougoumont arrived at the port of Fremantle. On board were 269 convicts, the last to be sent to Western Australia.The ship’s arrival marked the end of 80 years of continuous penal transportation to the Australian continent.

When Joshua embarked on the convict ship ‘Minden‘ for Australia he was 29 years old, and a convicted felon. By the time he arrived in Fremantle his good behaviour whilst imprisoned had earned him a conditional pardon and his ‘ticket of leave’, which allowed him to ‘live at large’. With good conduct, a convict serving a seven year term usually qualified for a ‘ticket of leave’ after four or five years, whilst those serving 14 years could expect to serve between six to eight years. ‘Lifers’ could qualify for their Conditional Pardon after 10 or 12 years. One has to wonder how Joshua earned his pardon so soon. I suppose we’ll never know. He took with him some of the money he had earned whilst incarcerated – a total of £3 and sixpence.

Back in Ossett, Ann Pickersgill was destitute and living on Parish Relief and the meagre wages of her 12 year old son William who was working as a factory boy. Joshua applied for permission to have his family join him and sought references from the two parish vicars, Rev Collins and Rev DC Neary.

After sailing from Plymouth in November 1852, Ann Pickersgill and her three children arrived in Western Australia in April 1853 on board the ‘Palestine’.

Joshua went on to own farmland in Bunbury, a new town just south of Perth founded in 1843 and named for Lieutenant Henry William St. Pierre Bunbury, who had explored the area. Over the years Joshua employed a dozen or so ‘ticket of leave’ men.

Ann and Joshua contributed to the growth of the new colony and had five more children in Australia – Martha b1854, Jane b1856, Emma b1858, Joshua b1860 and Ann b1862.

An article in The Western Australia Police Gazette an article on December 31 1880 described Joshua as 50 years old, 5′ 10″ tall, grey haired with dark complexion, round visage and sallow complection. It said that was indebted to the Bunbury Timber Company for thirty pounds. According to the Gazette there was some concern that he may have been going to leave the country and if so he was to be arrested on the ship he was on.

Ann died in 1886 and, after a fatal heart attack on May 4 1897, Joshua was buried alongside her in the East Perth Cemetery.

I’m grateful to the family of Joshua Pickersgill for relating to me some of their family history. Any errors are mine. If you have any further information you’d like to add to this story please contact me at:


Mark Jubb

Anne-Marie Fawcett July 2021

I have a thing about place names and Jubb’s Yard, just off the Market Place in Ossett town centre, has intrigued me for a few years. I eventually got around to having a look into some of the history of this place. This is what I learned.

Born in Soothill in 1815, Mark Jubb was the son of William (1776–1859) and Mary née Armitage (1786–1855) and he lived with his parents and siblings at Chickenley Lane. 

In August 1842 Mark Jubb and Mary Schorah were married at Wakefield All Saints Church (now the Cathedral). Mary was the daughter of shopkeeper Joseph Scorah and his wife Rachel (née Wilby) who lived and worked at Town End. As a younger man Mark worked as a woollen spinner but when he married Mary he gave his occupation as ‘clothier’; this might imply that he was a self-employed weaver working at home. Later Mark would be employed as a slubber in a woollen mill where he prepared wool for spinning, removing the “slubs” or imperfections in the yarn.

The Jubbs lived at ‘Town, close to the church’. Their first child, a daughter Emma, was born in 1843 and in 1845 they had a son, Edwin. It appears that Mark and Mary may have had at least six children though not all survived infancy. In May 1852 Mary Jubb gave birth to her last child, Joseph Schorah Jubb and died soon after he was born.

In April 1853 Mark Jubb married 33 year old Hannah Jubb (daughter of William Jubb and Mary Lister) a dressmaker of Hanging Heaton. They had two children together – in January 1854 Charles was born, followed a year later by Arthur. In 1861 their address was South Towngate and Mark was now a shopkeeper. Town End, Town, South Towngate or simply ‘near the church’. (This would be the original Trinity Church that once stood in the Market Place). Are they all the same place? Following the enumerators who were responsible for the census returns gives us the answer – yes they were. Could it be that Mark had taken over the business of the parents of his first wife Mary Scorah? 

By 1891 Mark Jubb was widowed again and was still living at Jubb’s Yard with only his eldest child Emma still living at home. In 1881 his son Edwin had married Mary Wilson, the daughter of woollen manufacturer James Wilson and his wife Ann née Megson of Northfield House, Field Lane (now Church Street). Joseph Scorah Jubb had taken advantage of the government funded assistant passage to Australia and set sail for New South Wales in 1884. Also in 1884, Charles Jubb had married Eliza Briggs and they moved to Dewsbury where Charles worked as a clerk for a firm of solicitors. There’s a ‘Jubb’s Arcade’ in Dewsbury. Could there be a connection? The youngest of the family, Arthur Jubb married Maud Elizabeth Nettleton in 1892. They also moved to Dewsbury where Arthur became an accountant. 

Mark Jubb died on January 6 1892. Emma Jubb never married and she continued to live at 8 Jubb’s Yard until her death in 1912. 

I’ve included below the names of those who were resident in Emma’s time. Perhaps your ancestors are among them. 

12 Tom Wilby 44 teamer (highways) Ossett Corporation worker, Mary Eliza 43 née Hampshire, daughter Ethel Josephine 6 b 8 May 1904. 2 rooms 

11 Jane Hannah Tasker 47 née Newsome widow cloth dresser for a rag merchant. Married Charles Herbert Tasker in 1885. Son Joseph White Tasker 24 dyers labourer. Daughter Louisa 18 cloth dresser. Charles Tasker died in 1901. 2 rooms 

10 Joseph Spencer 72 retired wife Selina 69 née White married 23 years. No children. 2 rooms 

9 David Mitchell 58 rag puller, wife Annie 55 née Dixon married 5 years, no children, Annie’s son John Oldroyd 14 trammer below ground, Sarah Harrison 28 boarder milliner. 4 rooms 

8 Emma Jubb 67 no occupation. 2 rooms 

7 Herbert Brown 31 journeyman bricklayer contractor, wife Emily 30 née Dews and two children Ernest 7 and Irene 4. 2 rooms 

6 William Harrison 33 journeyman joiner shopfitter, wife Sarah Hannah 32 née Dews and daughter Nellie 7. 2 rooms 

5 Fred Clayton 47 foreman rag grinder, his wife Ann 46 née Richardson, and their three children: Harry 10, Ethel 9 and Fred 6. 2 rooms

4 Walter Dews 29 journeyman joiner, wife Elizabeth Ann 29, married 3 years, son 7 months old William. 2 rooms 

3 Edward Driver 54 woollen rag merchant, wife Annie 55, son Herman 25 feeble minded at 21. 3 rooms 

2 Emma Acklam née Dawson 36 char woman and taxi driver 34 Fred Marsden. 2 rooms

1 James Smith 44 mill hand, wife Sarah née Spurr 40. Married 13 years. No children. 2 rooms – James filled in this info as ‘house and bedroom’ which I guess would imply a ‘one up, one down’.

Jubb’s Yard, Market Place 

The 200 year old terrace in Jubb’s Yard, made up of eleven houses and a shop, was demolished in April 1968. Mark Jubb is long forgotten and his yard is now a car park.


The Day School was started in 1850, the year of Denis Creighton Neary’s appointment as Curate in Charge, with a view to building up the new parish of South Ossett. It was held in a long room previously used as a weaving chamber in what were called Fawcett’s Buildings on Middle Common, when there were only footpaths where Station Road now is, Sowood Lane and Horbury Lane being little more than occupation roads and Manor Road was the one main road from Ossett to Horbury.

New Church Schools were erected in 1856–7 and opened 15th April 1857, close by the church. A pair of small cottages occupying part of the site was converted into a Schoolmaster’s House and it was to this house that Mr Joseph Cox came as Master in 1858, Miss A. Ainley (known to many later as Mrs Ben Priestley) at the same time taking charge of the infants then in the north end of the big room.


Joseph Cox, the second Mayor of Ossett from 1896 – 1897, when he visited Buckingham Palace on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.

Many people think that the Church of South Ossett was financed by the State – this was not so. The Ecclesiastical Committee, from which the Vicar got his stipend was only appointed by Parliament to secure the best administration of Church funds in public investment, had much the appearance of a State Department, whilst the Government Grants based on the average attendance of scholars did help to finance the school the same grants were made to others e.g. the Wesleyan School in Wesley Street, Ossett.

Joseph COX was born circa 1833 and baptised 4th Nov 1833 in Holme-upon-Spalding Moor, Yorkshire; the son of John COX, an agricultural labourer and Jane BILLINGHAM, who were married in Holme on Spalding 10th February 1829. In the 1851 census Joseph was aged 17, living with his parents, his occupation being given as a ‘scholar’! This suggests that he may have been studying whilst working, (possibly a correspondence course or even as a Pupil Teacher), but this would have not earned much, if any, money to contribute to the family of an agricultural worker. Perhaps we will never know the answer to this but he was evidently very clever and gained his qualifications to be a teacher.

Joseph, aged 24, married Sarah ANELAY, born circa 1834 and baptised 11th January 1835 in Eastrington between July & September 1857 (registered in Howden).Sarah’s family were also agricultural labourers, and in the 1851 census she is described as a servant. Joseph evidently gained sufficient teaching experience during the next 10 years to be offered the post of Headmaster of South Ossett Christ Church School in 1859; Sarah was also installed as Schoolmistress. Perhaps she was taught by Joseph? She was an experienced needlewoman, possibly learning this skill when she worked as a servant.

Sarah COX must have been an exceptional working mother as over the next 20 yrs she produced 13 children! They were: Annie, 1858; Frederick 1859; Eleanor 1860; Lizzie 1862; Bertram 1863; Emily 1864; Mary Jane 1866; Gertrude 1868; Ernest George 1869; Harry Anelay 1872; Florence Edith 1873; Catherine Maud 1874 and Sydney 1877.This was in addition to teaching needlework in the school. How she coped with the demands of a mother, especially nursing the children through the usual childhood illnesses prevalent at that time, such as Scarletina (Rubella) Chicken Pox, Small Pox and Measles, it is hard to imagine.

In 1864 the three youngest children were very ill; two of the children died in the space of 8 days. Bertram was buried on Oct 12th aged 16 months and Lizzie on Oct 20th aged 30 months. Amazingly baby Emily aged 3 months survived. As a working mother for a time, I cannot begin to imagine how difficult and stressful this must have been!

1881 Census Joseph Cox and family living on Manor Road, Ossett

Joseph and Sarah’s daughters Annie, Emily, Mary Jane, Gertrude and Catherine Maud all followed in their parents’ footsteps and became teachers. Two of his sons Sidney and Ernest were ironmongers. His son Harry Anelay COX was a clerk but later became a Rag Merchant with large premises in Dewsbury.Mary Jane married Samuel Norman PICKARD on 17 Oct 1893 in South Ossett Christ Church and Harry Anelay COX was later known to have lived in Highfield Cottage in 1907 (former home of the author) when it was owned by Alfred Hinchliffe PICKARD. He later purchased Sowood House from Lois Pickard.

Joseph Cox retired from his position as Headmaster of the school (sometimes affectionately referred to by ex pupils as ‘Cox’s College’) on 10th November 1899 after almost 40 yrs dedicated service. He helped out again in 1900 and acted as a School Manager for the next 6 yrs. He died on 17th and was buried on 21st September 1906. His wife Sarah survived him by only 8 months and was buried on the 6th May 1907. They lived on Storrs Hill Rd., Ossett and their burial services took place at Holy Trinity Church. They were both aged 72 yrs. Two very remarkable people!

Information from the South Ossett School Log Books, published in the Ossett Observer in 1986), posted on the ‘OLD OSSETT’ website by Joe HONEY, Gt. Grandchild of Joseph Cox.

The following information has been collated by Debbie Hawke-Wareham

Children of south Ossett school headmaster Joseph Cox (1833-1906) and Sarah ANELAY (1834-1907) 6 august 1857 in Wilton

  1. Charles (1857–1859) died in infancy
  2. Annie (1859–1938) m1883 Nettleton (1850-1925) 3 children, div 1896
  3. Frederic (1860–?) 
  4. Eleanor (1860–1935) spinster
  5. Lizzie (1862–1864) died in infancy from scarlet fever
  6. Bertram (1863–1864) died in infancy from scarlet fever
  7. Emily (1864–1932) m1898 Wright no children
  8. Mary Jane (1866–1950) m1893 Pickard (1867-1944) 3 children
  9. Gertrude (1867–1930) m 1893 Giggle (1873-1922) no children
  10. Ernest George (1869–1939) m1901 Andrew (1873-?) 2 children
  11. Harry Anelay (1871–1942) m1901 Moys(1876-1942) 4children
  12. Florence Edith (1872–1924)m 1899 Fawcett (1874-1940) 3 children
  13. Catherine Maude (1874–1950) spinster
  14. Sidney (1877–1937)m1909 Nettleton (1882-1964) 4 children

Unfortunately neither Joseph Cox (1833-1906) nor his wife Sarah (1834-1907) lived to be enumerated in the 1911 census when an accurate number of children born and died would have been recorded, however by careful searching local records I have located 14 children for the couple:

•1-Their first son Charles Cox was born either late in December 1857 or early January 1858 in Eastrington, Yorkshire and baptised in the local church on 10 Jan 1858.( FHL Film Number:#991066)  his parents had married on 6 Aug 1857.  Baby Charles lived a very short life and was buried on 29 Jul 1859 aged just 1 year 7 months in Christ Church, South Ossett. This gives an indication of the year that the couple moved to Ossett as early 1859.

•2-Their first daughter Annie Cox was born in 1859 in Eastrington, Yorkshire, soon after the family moved to Ossett where they were enumerated at Giggle Hill, Ossett Cum Gawthrope in 1861.  Father was already a school master as was her mother and a servant looked after the three children. The family were enumerated in Little Horton Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and domestic servant. Annie and her siblings were attending school. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children, Annie by now was a certified teacher at Public Eleven Plus School.  Annie married Peter Augustus Nettleton aged 23 cloth manufacturer, son of Oliver Netteleton on 22 Nov 1883 in Ossett witnessed by her father Joseph Cox and Charlotte Neary. Their son Frank Nettleton was born 6 June 1884 and baptised 24 August 1884; he died aged 2 and was buried 8 May 1886 in ChristChurch South Ossett. Their daughter Edith Nettleton b:18 March 1887 (Edith Nettleton married Thomas Philips 1910, Q3 in Penzance, Cornwall.  She died aged 74 in 1961).  Their daughter Marion was born 24 November 1889 and privately baptised 9 January 1890 at ChristChurch South Ossett.  Marion died in infancy aged 2 months and was buried 27 January 1890 Christ Church, South Ossett. In 1891 the couple and their daughter Edith lived at Intake Lane in Ossett. Annie filed for divorce in September 1895. Final Decree on 27 July 1896 for adultery coupled with cruelty claiming £5p/wk alimony for their daughter Edith. Peter was granted weekly access under the supervision of a third party. In 1901 Annie Nettleton 42 was living on own means with daughter Edith 14 at Station Road, Ossett. Edith married Thomas Philips in 1910, Annie was living with them and their baby son in Cornwall in 1911. Her estranged husband Peter Augustus Nettleton (aka Henry Newton) died on 20 October 1925 in Falmouth, Cornwall leaving effects worth £4337 5s to daughter Edith Philips (wife of Thomas Philips). Annie died in 1938.  She left her daughter Edith Philips (wife of Thomas Philips) £10 2s 2d in Probate.

•3-Frederick Cox was born (possibly) born in Giggle Hill, Ossett in 1859 and baptised on Christmas day 1859 at Christ Church, South Ossett.  The family were enumerated in Little Horton Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Frederick and his siblings were attending school.  In 1881 Frederick Cox 21 was enumerated at 47 Haymarket, London the home of  Irvine Hazlett 51 retired Colonel RA and his 3 children as one of 3 servants, all Chemists Assistants..  

Two Frederick Cox’s are suggested as disabled from or died in WW1, research show neither to be ours, however unable at this time to discover what Frederick did after Chemist assistant.

•4-Eleanor Cox was born in Giggle Hill, Ossett on 28 December 1860 and like all her siblings was baptised at Christ Church Ossett on 27 January 1861 and was enumerated for the first time at Giggle Hill with the family in 1861 aged just 3 months.  The family were enumerated in Little Horton Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Eleanor and her siblings were attending school. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children. Eleanor aged 20 has no occupation listed. Eleanor never married and continued to live with her parents as a mothers help in Ossett until they died in 1906 and 1907.  In 1911 Eleanor was living with her sister Maud.  Eleanor died in 1935 and is buried with her sister and parents in Holy Trinity grave yard with the headstone inscription

“In loving memory of Joseph Cox JP an ex Mayor of this town and for 49 years headmaster of South Ossett Church school and

Also of Sarah wife of the above named born 7 December 1834 died 3 May 1907

Also of Eleanor daughter of the above born 28 December 1860 died 28 January 1935

Also of Catherine Maude daughter of the above born 21 November 1874 died 26 May 1950”

Eleanor left her sister Catherine Maud Cox £175 8s 11d in probate.

•5- Lizzie Cox was born 4 Feb 1862 and baptised in ChristChurch, Ossett on 23 March 1862. Lizzie lived only 2 ½ years and died during the out break of scarlet fever in South Ossett, she was buried on 20 October 1864 in ChristChurch, South Ossett.

•6- Bertram Cox was born on 16 June 1863 and baptised on 26 July 1863 in Christ Church, South Ossett.  Bertram lived only 1 1/3 years and died during the out break of scarlet fever in South Ossett,. He was buried on 12 October 1864 at Christ Church, South Ossett just days before his sister Lizzie who was buried 20 October in the same graveyard.

•7-Emily Cox was born 9 July 1864 and baptised at Christ Church, South Ossett on 28 August 1864. The family were enumerated in Little Horton Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Emily and her siblings were attending school. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children; Emily by then a pupil teacher, progressing to assistant school mistress by 1891. On 9 August 1898 Emily 34 married after banns Samuel Wright 34 school master son of George Wright.  In 1901 the couple were living in Penge Surrey, Emily not showing an occupation.  The couple never had children. In 1911 Emily Wright 46 was in Mowbray Nursing Home, 51 Cintra Park, Upper Norwood for an Operation – under matron Elizabeth Hamilton 53, while her husband James Wright 47 was home alone at 27 Stodart Rd, Penge.  A quick glance at 1921 census finds Emily Wright living with her sister Mary Jane Pickard née Cox and family in Ossett. By this time Emily was probably a widow though no confirmable date of death was identified for James Wright between 1911 and 1921. Emily Wright of 61 Sowood Avenue, Ossett widow died on 15 December 1932 leaving probate to brother Harry Anelay Cox and Charles Herbert Cox, rag importers and merchants, of £2,066 17s 11d.

•8-Mary Jane Cox was born on 27 March 1866 and baptised like all her siblings at Christ Church, South Ossett on 22 April 1866. The family were enumerated in Little Horton, Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Mary Jane aged 5 and her older siblings were attending school. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children. Mary Jane by then a pupil teacher like her sister. By 1891 she had progressed to an assistant school mistress and was still living at home with the family. Mary Jane Cox 27 married after banns Samuel Norman Pickard 25 (1867–1944) chemist son of Alfred Hinchcliffe Pickard witnessed by Joseph Leaf and Florence Edith Cox at the same church in South Ossett. In 1901 Mary Jane and her husband Samuel, a self employed chemist and optician had moved to Station Road in Ossett with their two daughters: Mary Harriet 6 and Sara Lilian 3. By 1911, still at Station Road, Samuel (chemist and druggist employer ) and Mary Jane had completed their family of 3 daughters adding Kathleen Gertrude in 1906. A quick glance at the 1921 census finds the Pickards and their two youngest daughters living in Ossett with Mary Jane’s widowed sister Emily living with them. At the start of the war the daughters had left home and the couple now in their 70s were living at 3 Canton Villas, Bridlington.  Samuel was still working as a pharmacist and they had taken in a lodger. Samuel Norman Pickard of The Knoll, West Wells Rd, Ossett died on 2 November 1944, leaving probate to Mary Jane Pickard his widow and William Crowther Chartered Accountant effects of £4662 17s 1d. Mary Jane Pickard of 3 Canton Villas Flamborough Road, Bridlington widow died on 20 October 1950 leaving probate to all 3 daughter; Mary Harriet Cropper widow, Sarah Lilian Crowther (wife of William Crowther) and Kathleen Gertrude Rigg (Wife of George Baines Rigg) effects £4,099 7s 10d.

•9-Gertrude Cox was born on 14 April 1867 and baptised like all her siblings at Christ Church, South Ossett on 14 June 1867. The family were enumerated in Little Horton, Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Gertrude was aged 3. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children, Gertrude aged 13 was not listed with any occupation however by 1891 Gertrude aged 23 had also become a school mistress like her sisters with whom she was also still living at home.  On 29 July 1893 William Hainsworth Giggal 21 book keeper son of Thomas Giggle (deceased) married after banns Gertrude Cox 25, daughter of Joseph Cox, in the presence of Joseph Cox, Ernest Cox and Lizzie Nettleton. Gertrude and William never had any children, instead they travelled a lot; on 9 June 1909 they departed Liverpool on board SS Haverford arriving in Philadelphia on 20 June 1909.  In 1911 they were back at 52 Manor Road, Ossett where William Hainsworth Giggle 38 was employed as an insurance cashier and Gertrude 43 had no occupation.  On 14 October 1920 the couple departed Liverpool returning to Canada on board ” Corsican” arriving 24 October 1920. In 1916 and 1921 they were enumerated resident in Saskatchewan, Canada.  William Hainsworth Giggle of Queen Street, Horbury died on 13 February 1922 at Pinchin Creek, Alberta, Canada and left probate to Gertrude Giggle his widow effects of £1167 15s 6d. Gertrude Giggal widow of 41 McCourt St, Sydney NSW died on 17 November 1930 and is buried at Woronora Memorial Park PLOT-Ang 2B 0541.  She left probate administration with will to brother Harry Anelay Cox merchant Attorney of Catherine Maude Cox spinster effects £10 10s 7d.

10- Ernest George Cox was born 19 September 1869 and baptised on 28 November 1869 at Christ Church, South Ossett. The family were enumerated in Little Horton, Bradford in 1871 where they had just moved the 7 children and a domestic servant. Ernest George was aged 1. The family added a son to their brood before returning to Ossett cum Gawthorpe to be enumerated at Manor Road in 1881 with 10 children, Ernest George aged 11 was a scholar with his siblings.  In 1891 Ernest George was still living at home in Manor Road, Ossett and was employed as an ironmonger’s assistant but by 1898 he is recorded on the Electoral Roll as living at Storrs Hill Road, Ossett with a shop in Station Road which he maintained until 1901. In February 1901 Ernest George Cox 31 Ironmonger son of Joseph Cox retired schoolmaster married after banns Mary Andrew 28 daughter of Harry Andrew (deceased) Chemist, witnessed by Thomas Andrew and Sidney Cox.  The couple lived at Market Place Ossett, Ernest was an Ironmonger Employer. They started their family in 1903 with the arrival of a daughter Edith Mary who was baptised in October 1902 (died in 1966). In 1906 and 1907 Ernest’s parents died and each left him and his younger brothers a lump sum in probate. Shortly after his fathers death Ernest and Mary had a son who they named after his grandfather Joseph. He was born in 29 March 1907 and baptised on 25 April 1907.  In 1911 the couple and their 2 children: Edith Mary Cox 8 and Joseph Cox 4 were living at Sowood Villas, Ossett. Ernest George Cox 41 was an Ironmonger employer. The family could not be found by doing a quick search of Ossett for 1921.  Ernest George Cox of “Clovelly” Dale Street, Ossett died aged 69 and was buried at Holy Trinity on 20 June 1939. His widow Mary Cox 67 was living at 36 Dale Street, Ossett with her son Joseph Cox32 and his wife Gertrude Marrin Cox 30 (née Betts) and one child. Ernest George Cox probate was not found.  A date of death for his wife Mary was not found.

•11- Harry Anelay Cox (his mother’s maiden name was given as a middle name) was born on 1 June 1871 while his family were in Bradford. One month later the family had returned to Ossett and he was baptised at Christ Church, South Ossett on 2 July 1871. In 1881 Harry was living at Manor Road and was at school with his other siblings. In 1891 he was still at home with his parents and siblings was employed as a book keeper.  On 1 January 1901 Harry Anelay Cox 27 married after banns Olive Moys 25 daughter of William Moys witnessed by HM Cox amongst others (very poor copy source document) and the couple set up home in Sowood Lane. He became a Rag Merchant with large premises in Dewsbury. In 1906 his father Joseph Cox died and left £987 3s 8d in probate with two of his brothers. His mother Sarah Cox nee Anelay died in 1907 and left a further £769 15s to her three sons. At this time Harry Anelay COX lived in Highfield Cottage when it was owned by Alfred Hinchliffe PICKARD. He later purchased Sowood House from Lois Pickard in 1925. By 1911 Harry was established as a Rag & Mungo Merchant dealer, with 4 children; two sons Charles Herbert and, Harold  and twin daughters  Mildred and Hilda Cox and a domestic servant at Storrs Hill. Their daughter Mildred died aged 31 in 1938.  Her parents later joined her in plot T13 at the Manor Road grave yard.  In 1939 the couple and their remaining children were still at Sowood Villa, both children being signed as ARP first aid wardens and father and son both owners of woollen rag merchants business. In 1940 on the death of his sisters widower Franklin Fawcett was left a share of effects of £390 13s 8d.  Harry Anelay Cox of Sowood Villa died on 21 May 1942 and left probate to son Charles Herbert Cox rag merchant effects £19,498 4s 8d.  His wife Olive died a few months later in November 1942 and is buried with her husband and daughter in Plot T13 of Christ Church graveyard (Manor Road).  She left probate to their daughter Hilda Hepworth (wife of Ronald Gladstone Hepworth) effects of £3,693 16s 4d.

The death of Mr Harry Anelay Cox took place at his home, Sowood Villa, at the age of 70. (In a later issue he was reported as Henry Anelay Cox). One of 14 children of the late Mr Joseph Cox, who was headmaster of South Ossett CofE School for forty years, also a member of the town council, Mayor of the Borough and a Justice of the Peace. After completing his education in his father’s school he entered the office of Galaup and Patterson, rag merchants in Dewsbury. In 1902, or thereabouts, he set up in business with partners under the name of Firth, Dalley and Cox, rag merchants in Dewsbury – eventually becoming the senior director. He never aspired to public life, but devoted much of his spare time to the parish church at South Ossett. He was a member of the choir from a boy up until his death, a Sunday school teacher and superintendent, vice chairman of the church council and manager of the day school. For many years he regularly read the lessons at the Sunday service. He was a member of the Conservative Club and Vice President of Ossett Cricket Club. His hobbies were gardening and reading. The funeral service, held at South Ossett Parish Church, was conducted by Rev D Oxby Parker and was attended by a large gathering, which indicated the general esteem in which Mr Cox had been held. Due to illness, Mrs Cox (Olive, the daughter of ex Councillor William Moys) was unable to attend the interment at the church cemetery on Manor Road. Their son Harold Cox was also absent as he was, at that time, resident in Australia.

Ossett Observer May 1942.

•12-Florence Edith Cox was born 20 August 1872 and baptised like all her siblings at Christ Church, South Ossett on 22 September 1872.  In 1881 Florence was living in the family home at Manor Road at school with her other siblings. In 1891 she still at home with her parents and siblings. Florence was a mother’s help. On 17 October 1899 at Christ Church Franklin Fawcett 28 Draper, son of Joshua Swallow Fawcett, married after banns Florence Edith Cox witnessed by; Edwin Fawcett, Joseph Cox, CM Cox, Thomas J Fawcett and Joseph Walker. Their daughter Kathleen Mary was born in November 1900.  The family moved to Harrogate where Franklin was employed as a General Draper, super salesman. The family moved back to Ossett between 1904-10. In 1911 they lived at Illingworth Street, Ossett. Franklin Fawcett was employed as a Drapers Assistant and Florence Edith was at home with three daughters: Kathleen Mary, Margaret Edith, and Florence Marion. Kathleen Mary 1900 married 1926 Tom Brooksbank Haigh 1900-1973. Margaret Edith 1903–1983 spinster, Florence Marion 1909–1985 married 1936 Leslie Handley,

Florence Edith Fawcett 52 of Newfields House, 7 Horbury Road died on 6 July 1924 and was buried on 9 July 1924 at Christ Church South Ossett (Manor Road Burial Ground) plot NG N12.  She left her husband effects of £102 19s 7d in probate. Franklin Fawcett, draper, died 3 July 1940 at Staincliffe County Hospital, Dewsbury and left probate to son in law Tom Brooksbank Haigh (husband of Kathleen Mary) clerk to agricultural committee, daughter Margaret Edith Fawcett spinster and brother in law Harry Anelay Cox rag Importer effects of £390 13s 8d

•13-Catherine Maude Cox was born on 21 November 1874 and baptised like all her siblings at Christ Church, South Ossett on 27 December 1874.  In 1881 Catherine Maude was living in the family home at Manor Road and was at school with her other siblings. In 1891 she was still at home with her parents and siblings. Catherine Maude was a pupil teacher like her sisters and in 1901, still at home with parents and siblings she was employed as a school mistress.  Catherine Maude never married.  In 1911 she was living with her spinster sister, Eleanor Cox, at Clifton Cottage, Manor Road, Ossett employed by the county Council as an Elementary Teacher (assistant). A quick search of the 1921 census did not find Catherine Maude, however in 1939 she was livng alone, a retired Elementary School Teacher, at Kaleno, Sowood Lane, Ossett. Catherine Maude died on 26 May 1950 and is buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard with her parents and sister Eleanor. Catherine Maude left effects of £1901 1s 2d to nephew Charles Herbert Cox Rag importer son of her brother Harry Anelay Cox.

•14-Sidney Cox completed the family, arriving in 1877. In 1881 Sidney 4 was living in the family home at Manor Road and was at school with his other siblings. In 1891, still at home with his parents and siblings, Sidney 14 was stil in education.  By 1901, many of his siblings had left home, but he still lived at Manor Road, close to Rose Cottages,and was employed on his own account as an Ironmonger. On 29 May 1909 Sidney Cox 32 ironmonger son of Joseph Cox (d) married after banns Ellen Maria Nettleton 27 daughter of Ezra Nettleton, witnessed by Walter B Nettleton and Emily Nettleton, at Christ Church, South Ossett  Their first daughter Muriel arrived in 1910, and three more children were added to the family; Dorothy 1915–1982, Margaret 1918– and Janet 1923–1992 Sidney Cox 60 of 19 Woodfield Road, Doncaster died on15 February 1937 and was buried at ChristChurch South ossett NG plot N17 (Manor Road Burial Ground). He left effects in probate to Ellen Maria Cox widow of £546 6s 5d . Ellen Maria, otherwise Helen Maria Cox, of 68A Jenkin Road, Horbury widow died on 8 July 1964 in probate left daughter Janet Audrey Cox spinster effects £625.



When Susan Naylor Peace was born in March 1844 in Gawthorpe her parents, Ann and James were farmers of 32 acres of land at New Park. She was the second of five children and by the time she was 14 years old she was apprenticed to a dressmaker, walking to and from work every day, two miles each way. She worked incredibly long hours from 6am til 8pm and earned 2s 6d a week. A long, tiring day for anyone but imagine if you were born with an impaired leg or foot as Susan was.

By the time he was 65 years old James Naylor Peace was retired from farming and had moved his family to a home on Upper Street. To better understand where that was, the Hammer and Stithy was just a short stride away. Susan was now a milliner and her younger sisters Sarah and Elizabeth were dressmakers; both respectable occupations for young women from middle-class or lower middle-class families. The oldest of the four girls, Mary, had married a year earlier and moved to Batley, whilst John, their only brother, had died in 1854 aged only four.

In 1874 Susan’s sister, 27year old Sarah, married George Henry Wilson, a mungo manufacturer and the owner of Heath House on Chancery Lane. George would be elected as the Mayor of Ossett in 1894 and their son George Frederick Wilson would go on to be the mayor for five terms! Later, their grandchildren Peter and Margaret would also serve Ossett. More about them here: Ossett Through TheAges (OTTA)

On August 19 1875 Susan married John Wray at West Parade Chapel, Wakefield. John’s parents, William and Maria (née Richardson), had a grocer’s shop at Northgate in Horbury. The shop passed to John and Susan (now Susannah) and for almost two decades they worked side by side. Records reveal that their shop was a part of their home.

John Wray was a member of the Horbury Urban District Council (formed in 1894) and both he and Susannah were prominent members of the Congregational Church. John’s time with the newly formed HUDC was short-lived and he retired in 1894 due to his ill health. At this time they also retired from their grocery business and moved to Portsmouth where John stood as a candidate for the Town Council.

Horbury Town Hall, Westfield Road.
Photo: Anthony Oldroyd.

In 1915 six cottages, for poor widows or spinsters over 60 years of age, were erected by John and Susannah Naylor Wray at Leeds Road, Ossett, not far from where Susannah once lived with her family. The Wray’s Homes Charity was constituted on October 25 1915 and still exists today. The six cottages were eventually converted into four to make them a better living space and all had extensions added at the back.

John Wray died in Portsmouth in 1927 and in 1934 Susannah had four ‘Wray’s Homes’ built on Northfield Lane, Horbury, in memory of her beloved husband. In 1967 the Common Lands Trust, with the approval of the Charity Commission, disposed of these almshouses and proceeds from the sale were invested for the benefit of the people Susannah and John Wray intended to help.

Duke Street Cemetery Southport, Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, Merseyside, England
(image sourced from Find a Grave)

As a child, Susannah was described as ‘delicate’ and wasn’t expected to live very long. Well she proved everyone wrong when she passed away on May 9 1946 at the age of 102.

If you have any more information about Susannah and John Wray, or the homes they built, please email:




by Michael Frankland

A History of Ossett

Ossett is a corporate town with a population of rather more than 11,000 souls. It stands in the West Yorkshire coal field; the carboniferous rocks are overlaid with glacial debris. The Grammar School, selected by the officers of the ordnance survey as the centre of the town, lies in longitude 1 degree 34 minutes 4 seconds West and latitude 53 degrees 40 minutes 46 seconds. The railway station is 9 miles from Leeds, 11 from Bradford, 3½ from Wakefield and 2 miles from Dewsbury.

Roughly speaking, the principal streets lie in the form of a horseshoe, stretching from Flushdyke to the eastern extremity of the Common. The greater portion of the town is built on a plateau whose surface is some 300 feet above the level of the sea. The area of the township is 3,105 acres and it is traversed by 15 miles of highway.

The town was lighted with gas in 1855; the sewering of the town was completed in 1878 and the water supply in 1877. Up to the middle of the last century Ossett consisted of four villages, Gawthorpe, Street Side, the Towngate and Southwood Green. The pack horse road from Rochdale to Wakefield crossed the Calder at Healey; the track in those days ascended the hillside and crossed the fields at the bottom of Kay Lane, where portions may still be seen trending to the Common. A Roman road ran 1600 years ago along Street Side from Wakefield to KIrklees.

The town forms part of the ancient parish of Dewsbury, of the Wapentake of Agbrigg, of the County Council District of Ossett and Soothill, and the Parliamentary Division of Morley.

The word Ossett means God’s Hall and Gawthorpe means Cuckoo Town.

From the Domesday Book compiled about A.D. 1086 we learn that Osleset contained 3½ carucates of land, 4 villanes, 3 bordars and 2 ploughs; Orberie, 2 carucates, 7 oxgangs; Ettone, 1 carucate; Morlei 6 carucates. Ossett, Earlsheaton and Horbury belonged to the king. In Osleset stood a wood half a mile long and half a mile broad. We may note that no church or chapel stood here, that there was no great local lord, and that the district escaped the devastation that fell upon the East Riding.

In the year 1379, when Richard II was King, and two years before Wat Tyler’s insurrection, we find that the Poll Tax levied that year: Ossett paid 27s 0d, Soothill paid 13s 8d, Dewsbury paid 14s 4d, Horbury paid 18s4d, Ardsley paid 19s4d, Thornhill paid 26s6d, Batley paid 39s0d, Morley paid 11s4d, Mirfield paid 48s8d, Wakefield paid 95s8d, Leeds paid 60s4d, Bradford paid 23s0d.

Ossett contained at that date 74 householders, representing a population of about 400, that of Leeds being between 180 and 200. In the list of names we find a merchant, two tailors, two shoemakers, a blacksmith, a joiner, and other trades. Below are a few of the names with the amounts they paid in silver pennies, which may be taken as the equivalent to eighteen pence or two shillings of our present money: Thomas de Westerton, marchaud – xijd. William, filius Hugoni, taillour – vjd. Johannes Bull, souter – vjd. Ricardus, filius Johannis, smythe – iiijd. Magota Scott – iiijd.

Thus, in 1379, Ossett was a considerable town for the middle ages. Handloom weaving had already been introduced, and also coal mining, alas also with its accidents. Thirteen years previously, Adam Adamson of Gawthorpe had fallen down a pit and broken his neck.

Ossett from the earliest times has been inhabited largely by middle-class people; I can find no record of any rich man living here; on the other hand the extremely indigent seem to have been equally absent.

A rate was levied in 1662 on the basis of an assessment made in 1568: Bradford paid 1s8d, Batley paid 0s7½d, Dewsbury paid 1s 0½d qr, Horbury paid 0s 10d, Halifax paid 1s7½d qr., Mirfield 1s1½d qr., Morley 0s10½d, Soothill 0s10d, Thornhill 0s10d, Wakefield 2s3d, Leeds 3s4d, Ossett 1s0d.

But in 1523, a tax had been levied on a principle somewhat resembling that on which income tax is now levied, and towards this: Bradford paid £4/2s/10d, Batteley paid £1/8s/8d, Mirfield £0/15s/10d, Morlay £0/6s/0d, Ardislaw £0/7s/0d, Wakefield £37/9s/10d, Dewysbury £2/1s/10d, Horburry £1/9s/8d, Sotehill £2/17s/8d, Ossett £0/9s/0d.

John Awdislay was the largest contributor; he owned lands valued at 40s. a year in rental. This return shows very plainly the marked absence of rich men in our township.

Insomuch as Ossett lay near the fortress of Sandal it has seen military operations. During the wars of the Roses, the Battle of Wakefield was fought in the Ings between Horbury and Sandal; bands of insurgents streamed through the township in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Fairfax passed Ossett on Sunday morning, May 21 1642. Thornhill Parish Church was bombarded by cannon planted at the foot of Runtlings Lane.

Ossett was strongly Royalist during the Civil War. William the Conqueror granted the government of Osleset to William de Warrene, and this caused our town to be ruled from the Manor Court in Wakefield, remnants of whose jurisdiction remain in the testing of weights and measures by that court and in the “copyhold” of the land. The lordship reverted to the Crown in 1315; in 1362 Edward III gave it to his son Edmund de Langley. After passing through various hands, the Duke of Leeds purchased the lordship of the manor in 1700. In 1816, William Ingham, Charles Adams and Joseph Smith made an attempt to rid the township from the galling burden of the soke, but failed. In 1853 Wakefield, Ossett and Sandal purchased exemption at a cost of £18,000.

The year 1834 saw the formation of a Select Vestry, followed in 1836 by the Board of Surveyors, by the Local Board in 1870, and the Charter of Incorporation in 1890, Alderman Clay being the first mayor. A borough bench was granted in 1894.

During the present century Ossett has made steady progress. In 1801 the population was 3,424, in 1811 it was 4,033, in 1821 it was 4,775, in 1831 it was 5,325, in 1841 it was 6,077, in 1851 it was 6,265, in 1861 it was 7,950, in 1871 it was 9,200, in 1881 it was 10,952 and in 1891 it was 10,984.

To come to matters ecclesiastical, Sir John Gillott emerges out of the darkness in 1538 as the probable curate-in-charge of Ossett, and Sir George Mawde with more certainty in 1557. The first three entries in the parish registers of Dewsbury are Robert Longley, Richard Nettleton and John Audsley; all these names are strongly suggestive of residence in our town. In 1572, Richard Bowman, “reder” of Ossett, was buried at Dewsbury.

The year 1729 saw a gallery erected in the Chapel-of-ease, which stood in the Market Place; this chapel was rebuilt in 1806. South Ossett was made a separate ecclesiastical district in 1846; North Ossett in 1858, and Gawthorpe in 1894. South Ossett Church was consecrated in 1851, Holy Trinity Church, the pride of Ossett and a beautiful edifice, in 1865, the foundation-stone having been laid by Mr. B. Ingham of Palermo in 1862. The Rev. H.C. Cradock, M.A. is the present vicar.

The history of the Non-conformist Church at the Green has been told in an admirable manner by Mr. E. Pollard. Itself a branch from Westgate, Wakefield, and organised in 1717, the first meeting being held in a dry-house, it became the mother of seven other churches. The present handsome chapel was opened in 1883.

Wesleyanism dates in this town from 1758; the first chapel, situate in Land’s Fold still remains. Mr. John Phillips was an enthusiastic supporter of the movement; in fact, the denomination has had a Phillips as its most prominent member for 140 years; the fine chapel in Wesley Street was opened in 1868. Horbury introduced Primitive Methodism into Ossett in 1822; the denomination now owns chapels in this parish which have cost in the aggregate £4,900; the Rev. B. Haddon, an author of ability, is the present minister.

The pretty chapel in Dale Street is the home of the Methodist Free Church; this body dates from 1849.

Altogether there are 20 separate congregations in Ossett, most of them possessing handsome places of worship; the number of “sittings” exceeds the population of church-going age. A feature of all these churches and chapels is their excellent organs – the Ossettonian loves music.

Ossett Mechanics’ Institute was commenced in 1850; the present building. “The Ossett Mechanics’ Institute and Technical School,” dating from 1890; County Councillor H. Westwood is the president; it contains a reading room, library, chess and committee rooms, a lecture hall, seven classrooms, a laboratory, and is well supplied with the requirements for instruction in science, art and handicraft. The Reference Library, presented by Mr. C.M. Gaskell, is noteworthy for its collection of Ruskin’s works. There is also a small Grammar School, founded as a Town’s School in 1745, and five excellent elementary schools.

The compiler’s space is more than exhausted; still mention must be made of the staple industry of Ossett, namely, the manufacture of mungo, introduced into Ossett by Mr. D. Phillips in 1845; it gradually supplanted cloth weaving; one hand-loom, however, is still to be heard; when that is silent, the craft, which dates in Ossett from the days of the Magna Carta, will be extinct; “power-loom weaving” is a rapidly declining industry. In other towns, “rags and poverty” go together; in Ossett, “rags and riches.” This trade suggested the Borough Motto –Inutile utile ex arte.

In Ossett we find Liberal and Conservative Clubs, a Temperance Society, Band of Hope, a Benevolent Society, the Choral Union (1837), two Brass Bands, a Chamber of Commerce, a Tradesman’s Association, a Cricket Club, a Football Club, with numerous auxiliaries. The writer has already collected enough information on Ossett’s past and present to fill a book instead of a leaflet, but the publication of this material must be reserved. This curtailed account is written to furnish an ephemeral description of our township for the convenience of the delegates to the Annual Meeting of the Union of Yorkshire Institutes in 1895, and to assure our visitors of the hearty welcome which Ossett has from time immemorial given to its friends.

M. Frankland. 1895

Sourced by: Anne-Marie Fawcett 2022


©️ Anne-Marie Fawcett 2020

Rev. G.H Marshall

In 1931 a new vicar, the Reverend George Herbert Marshall, was taking up residence at the Holy Trinity vicarage on Dale Street, Ossett. Few in town knew then, or even now, of his connection to Baron Manfred von Richthofen, aka the Red Baron; the Prussian aristocrat who was said to be the deadliest flying ace of World War I.

I aim to try and change that with research I collated over a period of four months.

On July 15 1889, George Herbert Marshall was born at Old Royd, Heptonstall, situated in the hillside above the Calder Valley, and he was baptised at St James’s Church¹, Heptonstall on September 17 that same year.

Below: St. James’s Church, Heptonstall

George was the fourth of five sons born to Richard Marshall and Annie Elizabeth Gomm who had married on Christmas Day 1882. Whilst their sons flourished, Clara, their only daughter, died in 1888 before she reached her first birthday.

The Marshall family, circa 1910. Left to Right: Amos, mother Elizabeth, William, Norman, father Richard, George, Thomas.

In 1892 George’s father moved his family to Bankfoot House, Hebden Bridge, where he set up in business as a corn dealer. As the boys grew older, two of them in particular: George and his youngest brother, Norman, attracted the attention of the Reverend Sidney Marshall Smith, who was then the vicar of Hebden Bridge, and he encouraged them to enter the ministry. George matriculated at the University of Manchester and in 1912 he took his Bachelor of Arts degree. A year later he became a Master of Arts. He studied for Holy Orders at Egerton Hall, a new theological college in Manchester, and in 1913 he became a deacon, licensed to the curacy at Kirkburton, Huddersfield. The following year he qualified as a priest.During his time at university, George had been recruited by its Officer Training Corps. In the first sixth months or so of WW1 over 20,000 officers and more than 12,000 other ranks were recruited from British universities. On May 13 1915 George was commissioned as a Chaplain of the Armed Forces² with the rank of captain. On July 15 1915, instead of celebrating his 26th birthday, George embarked on the journey to Gallipoli with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. According to the requirements of King’s Regulations, his role was to “conduct the army’s compulsory religious services and bury its dead.”

The Army Chaplain

On August 23 1915 George joined the British 13th (Western) Division. Up to then he had, for the most part, been acting as chaplain to one of the hospital ships, with the Australian troops, and had been in the trenches with them until he was taken ill with enteric and dysentery.³ When the troops were evacuated from Gallipoli on January 8 – 9 1916, George went with them. He was still attached to the 13th Division and was with them throughout the Mesopotamia campaign. The British Army in Mesopotamia would grow to about 440,000 men with almost three quarters of those who fought from the Indian Army. The 13th Division was sent to relieve Kut al-Amara in Iraq and it was during this journey that George spotted a wounded officer laying out in the open and in obvious imminent danger. For more than an hour, using an entrenching tool, George worked to build a protective shield over him; all the while in full view of the enemy. A bullet struck the shield but all that George said was: “Not this time Brother Turk”. The officer he was protecting stated that it was a mystery to him how George escaped being hit.

A tram on rails being pulled by horses, on the way to relieve Kut al-Amara. 1916.

The relief force never reached the British troops at Kut al-Amara who were, by then, starving⁴ and desperately running low on ammunition. The British Army did make several attempts to lift the siege but all were unsuccessful and on April 29th 1916, after 147 days, they surrendered to the Turks. At that time, it was the longest siege in British Army history. At home in Hebden Bridge, in May 1916 Richard Marshall received a letter from his son George saying that he was in hospital with fever. George had contracted typhoid and was hospitalised in India from where he was subsequently sent home to England. George then spent time at the Third London General Hospital in Wandsworth. The hospital had been the Royal Victoria Patriotic School but was requisitioned in August 1914 by the War Ministry and the children transferred to local houses nearby. There is no record of George having been the chaplain of this hospital which leads me to deduce that he was there as a patient. I have to wonder if this is where he first met Irene Carruthers, his future wife, who was by this time a qualified nurse. The medical staff were seconded from the Middlesex Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and University College Hospital. It is quite possible that Irene could have been among those seconded.

Postcard displaying the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth. November 1916.

Upon leaving Wandsworth, George took a post as chaplain at the Guards Training Depot at Caterham in Surrey.⁵

In the London Gazette of December 22 1916 George was “mentioned in despatches” for his heroic actions in Mesopotamia (Iraq). British commanders-in-chief of a theatre of war or campaign were obliged to report their activities and achievements to the War Office in the form of despatches, which were published in The Gazette. 

On April 25 1917, George was summoned to Buckingham Palace where King George V invested him as a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order. The DSO is awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat, serving under fire, and usually awarded to those above the rank of captain.

In October 1917, George was stationed in France, as the chaplain to the GHQ Machine Gun School in Wisques. The British Expeditionary Force had established the school three years earlier to train new regimental officers and machine gunners. From there George joined the Royal Flying Corps, 101 Squadron at Bertangles as their chaplain. The RFC had formed at Farnborough on July 12th 1917 and it was only two weeks later that it moved to France to operate as a night bomber squadron.⁶

The Red Baron

Baron Manfred von Richthofen was born on May 2 1892, into an affluent Prussian family. Growing up in the Silesia region of what is now Poland, he led a life of privilege playing sports, riding horses and hunting wild game. Under the instructions of his father, he was enrolled in military school at the age of eleven. Shortly before he turned 18, he was commissioned as an officer in the German cavalry.

After the outbreak of WWI, the Baron served on both the Eastern and Western Fronts and he was awarded the Iron Cross for his daring trips, carrying messages along the front lines. In 1915, he transferred to the German air corps, initially serving as an observer and later as a pilot. He crashed during his first solo flight, but his determination eventually caught the attention of Germany’s top ace, Oswald Boelcke, who recruited him for a new fighter squadron.

The Baron claimed his first confirmed aerial victory on September 17 1916. Over a period of 17 months he shot down 80 allied aircraft, though some historians believe the unofficial total to be closer to a hundred. He once said, “I never get into an aircraft for fun. I aim first for the head of the pilot, or rather the head of the observer, if there is one.” 

The Baron’s victims were members of the Royal Flying Corps, many of whom were boys, often with barely a dozen flying hours under their belts. The RFC was soon known as “the suicide club” because pilots were only in the air for a maximum of 11 days before they were shot down. The Baron said that the English pilots were “dare devils personified and that their intrepidness made them foes to be respected.”

In January 1917 the Baron was given command of the German squadron Jasta 11. He celebrated the promotion by painting his Albatross biplane red, soon becoming known as The Red Baron. He is reported to have said: “I want them to see me. And I want them to be afraid.” He decorated his walls with the serial numbers of the aircraft he shot down and had a jeweller make him a small silver cup engraved with the date and make of each aircraft. He would eventually acquire sixty cups before a silver shortage eventually put a stop to his commemorative trophies. But the killing continued.

The End of the Red Baron

The Red Baron was eventually shot down whilst chasing a British fighter pilot. In 1997, almost 80 years after his plane was brought down, it was claimed that British flier Captain Tilden Thompson was the pilot who had deliberately lured the German ace into his final dogfight. By flying a two seater spotter plane low over German lines as a decoy, Captain Thompson is said to have set the trap. Officially, the death of the Red Baron was credited to Canadian pilot Captain Roy Brown. With an advance in ballistics and forensics, it is now considered by some military historians that the Red Baron was actually killed by an Australian machine gunner, firing from the ground. Lewis gunners attached to the 3 Squadron Australian Flying Corp were firing at the Red Baron when his machine spun to earth. Although he was shot in the torso the Baron still managed to land his plane but soon died from his wounds.

On April 21 1918, the Allies recovered the body of the Red Baron from a field in Vaux sur Somme, France. Captain George Herbert Marshall was still serving as chaplain to the Royal Flying Corps 101 Squadron at the time that the Red Baron was shot down. He was the closest Anglican chaplain to the scene and, as the Baron was a protestant, George was given the duty of officiating at his burial.

These stills from rare film footage shows Rev George Herbert Marshall walking at the head of the funeral procession ahead of the service which took place with full military honours.

A crowd of soldiers and several townspeople gathered around as a eulogy was given by George, and then the coffin was lowered into the grave. The brass plate on the coffin said that Baron von Richthofen was killed in action and that he was 25 years old. A firing party, made up of Australian forces, fired three volleys and a bugler sounded the last post.

After WW1

Rev. George Marshall later proceeded to the 18th Division, where he remained during the allied retreat of March 1918 and the subsequent victorious advance. Demobilisation began on December 10 1918 and by March 1919 the division ceased to exist. As well as the DSO, George was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star. After the war, George returned to Kirkburton and to his wife, Irene. At the age of 28, George had married 36 year old Irene at Westminster St James the Less. At the time of their marriage, on February 5 1918, Irene gave her address as 165 Vauxhall Bridge Road, Pimlico, just five minutes from St James’s. Home on leave from the war, George’s address at that time was “Ivy Bank”, Hebden Bridge.

Irene was the daughter of Scotsman, Rev George Thomas Carruthers MA, and his second wife Elizabeth (née Cartwright). Rev Carruthers had been a senior chaplain in the Bengal Ecclesiastical Establishment and several of Irene’s siblings were born in India but Irene was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk on November 20 1881. By the time she was 18, both of her parents had died and Irene, with her sister Mabel and their brother Vincent, had moved to Edinburgh where Vincent was studying medicine. But the three siblings were soon separated when Mabel died in 1908 at the age of 31. In 1909 Vincent married and then joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and went to serve in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

In 1911 Irene enrolled as a student nurse at the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, Anglesea Road, Ipswich. In June 1919 Rev. George Herbert Marshall DSO., MA became the curate at St Matthew’s, the Anglican Parish Church of Burnley. He and Irene had been there for less than a year when, in early 1920, George was offered the office of the Vicar of Shelley, a church connected to that at Kirkburton. The vacancy arose when Rev. Hay, who had been at Shelley Church for twenty years, moved to Gawthorpe, Ossett.

George was said to have taken a deep interest in the social side of church work and had a strong connection with the Young Men’s Institute. He had also earned the respect of his parishioners and they were sorry to see him move on. He didn’t want them to think that he was keen to leave and explained that the Vicar of Kirkburton and the Bishop of Wakefield were anxious that he should accept the new place at Shelley. George accepted the office and, at Easter that year, he left Lancashire and, with Irene, returned to Yorkshire.

On March 7 1922, whilst at Shelley, George and Irene’s son was born; they named him George Carruthers Marshall. George was the Vicar of Shelley for three years, until June 1 1923, when he was inducted as the Vicar of St Augustine’s Church, Pellon, Halifax. Traditional parish life at St Augustine’s was apparently in decline by this time but, with George’s natural enthusiasm and energy and the support of his wife Irene, the church gradually began to regain something of its former prosperity. Almost a decade after he first arrived, the Easter Sunday Service saw the largest congregation it had had for a quarter of a century, which was further testament to George’s determination and tenacity.

Along with his role of Vicar of St Augustine’s, George acted as chaplain to Alderman Robert Thomas who was the Mayor of Halifax in 1923-24. Both men were strong supporters of missionary work and, whilst at St Augustine’s, George was the Chairman of the Halifax Auxiliary of the Church Missionary Society.⁷


During his time in office at St Augustine’s, George was offered the living at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett but he chose to not accept it. He remained at St Augustine’s for eight years until July 1931 when he was again offered the living at Holy Trinity Church in Ossett. This time George did accept the offer and he moved with Irene, their son and George’s widowed mother Annie Elizabeth, to the Vicarage on Dale Street.

Postcard of The Vicarage, Dale Street, Ossett. Date and photographer unknown.

Rev. G.H. Marshall is mentioned many times in local newspapers in connection with births, deaths and marriages at Ossett’s Holy Trinity Church. In May 1936, the Rev. G.H. Marshall was mentioned in the Ossett Observer for something entirely different. The church was having a “Gift Day”.

The church exterior, floodlit by the Electrical Distribution of Yorkshire Ltd. The photograph was taken by local photographer JT Neville and it became widely used as a postcard.

Holy Trinity Church was built in 1866 and the total of the construction costs was more than £20,000. Today’s equivalent value is over one and a half million pounds so it’s hardly surprising that 70 years after it was built there was still a deficit of £200 (now just shy of £10,000). A Gift Day was established to raise the £200 needed to pay off the debt. To raise the funds, Rev. George Marshall volunteered to sit in the west end of the church for 24 hours between Friday and Saturday midnight and people took or sent their gifts to him. George had to break off during the day to perform two weddings and the congregation at each contributed generously to the fund. In total 580 people contributed to this novel way of raising funds for the church. Those who donated included many non-church people and many prominent Nonconformists.

The first gift of a shilling was received from an unemployed man and the last came by post from Staincliffe. After 22 hours the total stood at £170. Mayor Gladstone Moorhouse, who was also the church warden, arrived with over £25 which he had collected from friends. Shortly afterwards the £200 mark was passed and at midnight the total had reached £225.

George was in the newspaper again in September 1936. This time he was explaining why he believed that the lack of trees in the town was connected to the lack of Ossett weddings almost two decades later.

During WW1, Ossett’s many mills had used sulphuric acid in the process of making military uniforms. George explained how the acid which spewed from the mills killed off the trees in Ossett, leaving the town with no “Lover’s Lane” and no leafy parks, turning the town into “a cheerless, romance discouraging waste, in which the marriage bells are virtually silent.” George said that the amount of marriages at Holy Trinity Church in 1936 was almost zero. He was reported as saying that he had been “prodding” the Afforestation department of the Ministry of Agriculture to plant some trees in “the one treeless town in Yorkshire.”

George and Irene left Ossett in 1943. In 2001, his son, George Carruthers Marshall remembered his father telling him: “They (3 Squadron Australian Flying Corp) gave my father a cylinder from von Richthofen’s engine, which he kept in a tin box, wrapped in a sack. When he went back into the Army in WW2 he had to leave his Vicarage, so he donated the cylinder to the War Effort Scrap Drive!!!!”

Steel and iron were in short supply and so 1943 saw Ossett talimg part in the national drive to collect scrap metal. By recycling unused or unwanted metal the government could build ships, aeroplanes and other equipment needed to fight the war. How ironic then that the Red Baron, indirectly, contributed to the building of Allied aeroplanes.

This photo is in storage at Holy Trinity Church, Ossett. The photographer is unidentified. Thank you to Duncan Smith for bringing it to my attention.

The Enigma Connection

On October 9 1943 George was appointed as Army Chaplain to the Wireless School at Forest Moor near Harrogate. The establishment was part of a network of British signals intelligence collection sites which tracked and intercepted German radio transmissions.This information was so sensitive that it was taken by motorcycle riders directly to Bletchley Park, home of the famous Enigma; the encoder used by the Germans to encrypt secret messages.George served at Forest Moor until July 5 1945 when he became the vicar of St Paul’s Church in Alnwick, Northumberland.


George returned to Ossett, and to Holy Trinity Church, to officiate at the wedding of his son, George Carruthers Marshall, and Ann, the daughter of his old friend Gladstone Moorhouse, on April 21 1949, which was the 31st anniversary of the death of the Red Baron.The Yorkshire Post, dated Friday April 22 1949, reported the wedding, saying that the bridegroom had served in the RAF during WW2 and, at the time of his marriage to Ann, was employed on the Duke of Northumberland’s estate where he was engaged in forestry. Perhaps he was inspired by his father?

Alnwick – His final years of service

1949 was a year for celebration, but it was also a year for mourning when, on September 13th, George’s wife Irene was found dead on the lawn at St Paul’s Vicarage, Alnwick. At an inquest their son George gave evidence, saying that his mother had carried some carpets to the front lawn to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner. At first it was thought by a maid that Irene had merely fainted. George went out and found her, lying on her back. She was dead and the vacuum cleaner was still running. The pathologist’s report stated that death was due to cerebral haemorrhage.

The last mention in the newspapers of George was a small notice, announcing his death in 1953.

MARSHALL – January 6, aged 63 years, the Rev George Herbert Marshall, of St Paul’s Vicarage, Alnwick, Northumberland, sometime Vicar of St Augustine’s, Halifax and Holy Trinity, Ossett. Service at St Paul’s Church, Alnwick on Friday at 2pm: interment Alnwick Cemetery 2:30pm.

George and Irene’s gravestone in Alnwick South Road Cemetery


The British Newspaper Archive


1.This church was consecrated by the Archbishop of York in 1833 and was one of the “Waterloo Churches”; so called due to being built with the reparations paid by the French government after the final defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. To celebrate the end of the Napoleonic Wars, parliament passed the Act for Building New Churches, allocating £1 million for the task.

2.At the outbreak of war there were just 116 chaplains. The chaplains themselves embarked on overseas service with no special training and very little idea about the nature of the task ahead of them. Many were exposed to an environment which churchmen at home could not begin to comprehend. By the end of the war some 4,400 Army Chaplains had been recruited and 179 had lost their lives on active service.

3.The whole time the 13th Division was at Gallipoli the men were in the trenches and the chaplains’ work had to be carried out there. Sometimes they had Communion there, with boxes and bombs for an altar, and the men crowded to the services. They did so mostly when in close contact with the enemy within trench bombing range. It was understood that the chaplains of the 13th Division had suffered very heavily, both from wounds and disease. From early 1916, as chaplains were called upon to preach the justice of the Allied cause, they were given much greater access to the front line and they could be deployed wherever senior chaplains saw fit.

4.The multi-cultural nature of the British and Indian soldiers in Kut al-Amara complicated the feeding of the troops under siege conditions. Dispensation from different religious leaders in India was obtained for their followers to eat foods which they were normally forbidden to eat.

5.For more than a century the depot at Caterham played a major role in military history, with thousands of recruits; Grenadiers, Coldstream, Scots, Irish and Welsh guards, passing through its gates on their way to their regiments. The garrison’s Chapel of St Michael the Archangel was built for the Brigade of Guards in 1885-86 by William Butterfield, the acknowledged master of Victorian Gothic church architecture.

6.Around 14,000 Allied pilots were killed during the war – rather shockingly, but perhaps hardly surprising, more than half of them died during training. At the start of WW1, the aeroplane was barely a decade old and had never been used in battle. In 1914, when 64 unarmed aircraft set off from England for the Western Front, it was an achievement just to make it the 21 miles across the Channel.

7.In July 1930, two missionaries – Edith Nettleton from St Augustine’s, and her colleague Eleanor June Harrison were kidnapped by Chinese bandits who demanded a ransom of £7,500 before they would be released. In August 1930, when the ransom had not been paid, Miss Nettleton’s severed finger was sent with threats that the women would be murdered if the ransom was not forthcoming. On October 4 1930, the women were beheaded by the bandits. A memorial service, conducted by George, was held and in July 1931 a memorial to Edith Nettleton was unveiled in St Augustine’s Church, Halifax. In 1933 Nellie; the daughter of George’s friend, Alderman Robert Thomas, took up missionary work in North China, taking the place of Edith.

©️ Anne-Marie Fawcett

October 2020