Sunday, 18 August 2019

Bell and Harrison families of Gilberdyke Mill

I was recently asked to look at one of the names on the roll of honour in Gilberdyke memorial hall. This was JO Harrison.

James Oswald Harrison 1894 - 1914

James who was brought up in Gilberdyke,  was killed in October 1914 aged 20.

His father John William Harrison had moved from Gilberdyke to Garthorpe with his family to run the Bay Horse hotel there.

The Bay Horse at Garthorpe. John Naylor, the landlord whose name is shown on the board, died in 1908 and his widow emigrated to Iowa to be with her family. John Harrison then came from Gilberdyke to Garthorpe.


But the further back I went in the family history the more interesting - and complicated it got.

John William Harrison was born in 1864 at Spaldington Mill. His father was James who was the miller there, as his father had been before him.

James Harrison snr had died in 1840 aged 46 and in 1845 his widow Mary married another miller, Thomas Bell so by 1851 the mill was being worked by Thomas and the Harrison children were living there too.

Thomas was part of the long established and extensive Bell  milling family of Gilberdyke. His grandfather [I think], Alexander had been at Gilberdyke since the 1760s.

In fact the Bell family history illustrates the fact that millers' families often intermarried and that younger sons often went off to become millers elsewhere. I have found various Bells also milling locally at Newport, Reedness, Barmby and Atwick.

Then James jnr's mother Mary died and in 1861 James was the Spaldington miller and his sister was his housekeeper. Two years later at Eastrington he married  21 year old Elizabeth Bell - whose father, Nathaniel was the miller at Gilberdyke.

I am not sure of the exact relationship but Elizabeth would be a sort of distant niece of James' stepfather Thomas.

James and Elizabeth at Spaldington  had at least five children but then tragedy struck. Two days before Christmas  in 1873, while at Selby market, James suddenly collapsed and died aged only 38. This left Elizabeth with a mill and a large family as well as being pregnant with her daughter Minnie [who went on the marry Harry Gossop].

Spaldington Mill got a new tenant and Elizabeth moved back to her parents' home at Gilberdyke Mill. Living next door was retired farmer John Harrison Stather. John was born in 1815 at Everthorpe and so was quite a lot older than Elizabeth.

[ I said it was complicated !! I  cannot yet work out why he was called Harrison Stather and whether there was any connection with the other Harrison family]

However they married in 1881 at Eastrington church and in 1883 their son was born - named Harrison Arthur Stather.

In 1891 John William and his brother Bell both described as millers were living with them. Also there was young Harrison Arthur Stather while  James was an apprentice in Hull.

Elizabeth died in 1895 and  her husband in 1899. The four brothers [ three Harrison and one Stather] at various times worked as millers but eventually moved to different jobs, leaving Bell Harrison to run Gilberdyke mill

Gilberdyke Mill with Bell Harrison centre

When he retired his younger half brother Harrison Stather took over. By then the mill was used mainly for grinding grain for cattle feed. His son Mr John Stather, who was the last owner of the mill, remembers that his father frequently had to get up in the night to take advantage of the wind and it was this unreliability which led to the removal of the sails. The mill was then powered by a tractor which stood in a shed behind the house. Most of the grinding was done during the winter months, since the Stathers were also farmers and worked the land the rest of the year.


Family group at Gilberdyke mill: Tom Jackson, left of Sunnycroft, his wife Mary [nee Harrison],  Bill Harrison, Harry Gossop. Standing front right Minnie Harrison, later Gossop.  

But back to James Oswald Harrison [with thanks to the Crowle soldiers memorial page]

http://www.crowlesoldiers.co.uk/?page_id=862t


James enlisted in the Royal Dragoons at Hull on 1st December 1913. He was posted to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons and joined them in camp at Dunbar the following day. When the Dragoons returned to South Africa, James stayed behind in the UK to finish his training and was posted to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) in York on 4th February and then the 5th Dragoon Guards on 16th August 1914. On 24th September with the 1st Royal Dragoons now returned back from South Africa, he rejoined them again.
When James rejoined the 1st Royal Dragoons they were at Windmill Hill Camp at Ludgershall, Wiltshire, where they had joined 6th Cavalry Brigade in 3rd Cavalry Division in preparation for service on the Western Front. On 5th October the Division left Windmill Camp for Southampton and began to embark next day for Belgium. After some sailing delay due to suspected submarine activity in the English Channel, they arrived at Ostende on 8th October and proceeded to Bruges as part of IV Corps.
The Division had originally been intended to assist the Belgian Army at Antwerp, but following the fall of that town they made their way south to Ypres, and on 13th October were the first British troops to enter that town.
The following day the 1st Royal Dragoons  were active south of Ypres, skirmishing with German cavalry near Neuve Eglise and camping with their brigade in Wytschaete that evening. On 15th they again patrolled south of Ypres, moving north to St Julien that evening. On the 17th and 18th the Brigade sent forward squadrons towards the Menin to Roulers road where they again skirmished with German cavalry patrols. The night of the 17th was spent at Zonnebeke and the 18th at Moorslede, near Passchendaele.
On 19th October the two armies finally met in what was to become the First Battle of Ypres. 7th Cavalry Division had intended to attack Menin and whilst 1st Royal Dragoons and 10th Hussars advanced from St Pieter to capture Ledeghem, it was soon clear the force opposing them was much larger than anticipated and under sniper fire from German Cyclist Battalions, they fell back west of Ledeghem towards Rolleghem Cappelle (Rollegem-Kapelle). The German infantry now appeared and supported by several artillery batteries launched a determined attack on Rolleghem Cappelle, forcing the Brigade to withdraw back towards Moorslede.
James Harrison was one of the five men of the 1st Royal Dragoons to lose his life that day, the unit’s first casualties of the war. It appears he was killed in the initial withdrawal from Ledeghem to to Rollenghen Capelle, his body left on the field where he fell, 1 mile south of Rollenghem Capelle. James has no known grave and is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
Not having heard from him since he went over to Belgium in December his parents had become extremely concerned so they wrote to the War Office. The reply came back with official notification of his death in October. 

If anyone would like to add more to this post I would be pleased to hear from them. But now it's time for Sunday tea and Poldark!!!













No comments:

Post a Comment