The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 2.9b

A History of the Tilley family: Cottingham Part 2a, the family of James and Martha Tilley

by Alan D Craxford and Janice Binley

with contributions from Chris Blenkarn, Averley Everett, Louise Hamlyn, Julie Hill and Judith Smith


This article, which is a continuation of "A History of the Tilley Family: Cottingham Part 1, the early generations" [Article A.], follows the progress of one of the branches of the Tilley family from Cottingham, Northamptonshire from the early part of the nineteenth century to the middle years of the twentieth century. It concentrates on the offspring of James Tilley, who was the eldest son of John Tilley and Mary Asher. John and Mary had four other children: Mary Ann who married Samuel Tilley - her first cousin, once removed; Louisa Tilley whose marriage with Thomas Lambert was described in the previous article; Susannah Tilley born in 1836 and disappears from the records after 1841 and John Tilley who lived for 18 weeks and was buried in the churchyard on September 28th 1842.

A future article will feature the children of Mary Ann Tilley and Samuel Tilley, who was the youngest son of William Tilley and Catherine Woodcock. John and William were first cousins [Article B.] . As the articles proceed they will demonstrate the many and varied interconnections with other families which have been long term residents in the village. Links to other articles describing these relationships can be found in the table in column 3.

About James Tilley and Martha Hector

John Tilley, the oldest of the four sons of John Tilley and Susannah Ingram, was born in Cottingham and baptised at the Church of St Mary Magdalene on February 9th 1800. He married Mary Asher from Marston Trussell on October 29th 1829. Mary was born on January 4th 1800. Her twin sister, Elizabeth, was on hand to act as a witness at the marriage. He spent his working life as an agricultural labourer and died of liver disease before his fiftieth birthday. His wife survived him by three years.

St Peter

The Church of St Peter the Apostle, Stanion (2)

James Tilley, the oldest of five children was born on October 3rd 1830. He married Martha Hector, a girl from Brigstock at St Peter's Church, Stanion on Christmas Day 1853. Between 1854 and 1862, the couple had five children. He spent his time working on the land, dying aged 50 years in March 1881. Martha was to marry again to William Sculthorpe on November 1st 1887. The two families had been next door neighbours in Church Street for over ten years including the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses. William was the son of William Sculthorpe and Sarah Crane - who belonged to two of the other well known families of the village (referred to in [Article C.]).

1. John James Tilley (1854-1938)

John James was born almost a year after James and Martha married. He married a local girl, Clara White in 1875 and remained in the village throughout his life. The couple had ten children who will be reviewed in the next section.

2. Sarah Louisa Tilley (1857-1860)

Sarah Louisa, the first of James Tilley and Martha Hector's daughters, was born at the beginning of 1857 and baptised on February 8th the same year. She died on May 25th 1860 at the aged of 3 years of "croup" (presumably whooping cough) although no medical officer actually certified the diagnosis and was buried on May 28th 1860.

3. Mary Elizabeth Tilley (1859-1939)

Second daughter, Mary Elizabeth was born in 1859. In her twenty first year she married George Albert Kemshead. They had five children and most of their family was destined for emigration. Their story continues in the next section.

4. Harriet Tilley (1865-)

Chamberlain's shop, Cottingham

Chamberlain's Shop, Cottingham about 1900 (3)

Harriet, one of twin girls, was born in latter part of 1865. As a teenager she was sent into domestic service with grocer John Chamberlain, who owned a shop in Church Street. She was his first cousin once removed as his father John Neville Chamberlain had married her great aunt, Elizabeth Tilley (full story in "Elizabeth Tilley and the grocery connection" [Article D.]).

She married William John Slater in Cottingham on February 26th 1885, their first son Harry William was born in the summer the same year. Her brother John James and sister Martha witnessed the ceremony. By 1911, the couple had moved away from the village and had settled in a house in Abbey Lane, Leicester where they lived for more than forty years. William was employed as the driver of a steam dredger. They had six children: three boys and three girls. William died in 1954. A Mrs Slater was still resident at that address in 1960 (4) although no formal record for Harriet's death has been found.

5. Martha Louise Tilley (1865-1919)

Twin sister Martha Louisa also went into domestic service. At the time of the census of 1881, the sixteen year old was resident with the family of William Henry Peake at Bury Lane House, Middleton. William was a farmer and grazier of 140 acres and employed two men and a boy. On April 14th 1884, the nineteen year old Martha married twenty year old railway porter Benjamin Martin, one of the eleven children of Thomas Martin and Maria Brittain, from Caldecott. The ceremony was witnessed by her sister Harriet and George Claypole, originally from Great Easton in Leicestershire, who had married Benjamin's sister Charlotte Maria Martin in 1870. George Claypole's grandparents were John Claypole and Sarah Ashby who were the progenitors of many of the branches of the family which intertwined with the other families resident in the Welland Valley. George's brother, Thomas, was one of the subjects of the article "Claypole - Nutt: A Saga Of Finedon" [Article E.]

Benjamin and Martha initially settled in the village of Caldecott, about four miles north of Cottingham over the border in Rutland. Benjamin continued to work on the railway as a porter. After a brief spell in Northampton, the couple made their home Loddington, a village three miles west of Kettering. That coincided with Benjamin's change of occupation to ironstone labourer. At the time of the 1911 census, Martha's mother Martha Sculthorpe, now widowed for the second time, was living with the family.

Over the course of their twenty six year marriage, Martha Louise gave birth to sixteen babies (6 boys and 10 girls). Only one died in infancy, a daughter they had named Caroline, in 1889. Martha Louise died on March 3rd 1919. Benjamin lived on on his own in the village next door to his now married youngest daughter Charlotte Cook. He died on February 4th 1951.

Two of Benjamin's brothers also shared an entanglement with another of the Welland Valley families of interest.On December 24th 1889, his older brother John married Julia Liquorish in Caldecott. She was one of the nine daughters of William Liquorish of Rockingham and Lucy Craxford of Gretton. She had previously given birth to a daughter she named Edith Lucy in 1886, who died within the first year. John had enlisted in the Army as a gunner with the Royal Artillery. He saw service in the Afghanistan Campaign but was discharged medically unfit for further service on July 14th 1891. He died on October 3rd 1891 of profound anaemia and "Indian fever" ([an archaic term probably meaning chronic malaria - - Ed.]) Although no marriage has ever been found, after John's death, Julia set up home with the youngest of the Martin sons, Britton William who had been born in 1868. This would not have been an unusual arrangement for the time because marriage to a dead sibling's spouse was illegal until 1907 for men and 1922 for women (5). By the turn of the century they had moved to the village of Rothwell together which is where Julia died in May 1924. Britton ultimately entered and died in the Oundle Union Workhouse in June 1949. The full story is told in the article "The Gretton Craxfords: Exodus II - All sorts of Liquorish" [Article F.]

John James Tilley and Clara White

The first of the sons of James Tilley and Martha Hector was born on November 17th 1854. He was baptised John James on December 23rd the following year although for many documentary purposes he was known as James. As a young man he worked as an agricultural labourer and learned to drive the steam threshing machine, which was under the proprietorship of his mother Martha, at harvest time under the tutelage of his father. At the turn of the century he had gained his own smallholding and employed a man to help him. Still farming, in the census of 1911 he listed his primary occupation as engine driver.

A steam thresher

Steam threshing about 1890 (6)

Tilley grave

Headstone for John James and Clara Tilley

On November 25th 1875, John James married Clara White at St Mary Magdalene Church. She had been born in the hamlet of Middleton in 1857, the youngest daughter of agricultural labourer John White and Mary Woodcock (no relationship between Mary and Caroline Woodcock, the wife of William Tilley, has been found to date). Clara was baptised and remained in Middleton as a child, moving to Cottingham after her marriage.

John James and Clara were to have ten children - five boys and five girls. The couple remained in Cottingham thoroughout their lives. The turn of the century found the family in residence in Corby Road, next door to John James first cousin, Thomas Tilley. Clara was the first to die on September 7th 1935. John James followed her three years later on June 7th 1938. They were buried together in Section G1 plot 17 of the graveyard of St Mary Magdalene Church.

There had been a relationship between the Tilley and White families in Middleton sometime before. On October 6th 1863 Lucy, the wife of John Tilley (John James' first cousin once removed) died. Her death was reported by Hannah White. Hannah, born Hannah Goodman, was the wife of William White who was the brother of Clara's father John. William and Hannah were living next door to his parents, Thomas and Elizabeth White, in Middleton in 1861.

1. John James Tilley (1876-1959)

St Andrews

The Church of St Andrews, Grimsby from an old postcard (7)

Eldest of the children of John James Tilley and Clara White was born almost a year to the date of their marriage. He was baptised John James on December 10th 1876. By the turn of the century he had trained as an engineer and moved to Grimsby in Lincolnshire. He met Alice, the daughter of Edward and Sophia Johnson. John and Alice were married at St Andrew's Church on Freeman Street, Grimsby on March 8th 1902, witnessed by her father and sister, Florence. They set up home at 109 Garibaldi Street in the town around the corner from the church and next door to her parents. John James took on work as an engineer for a steam fishing company. In the first nine years of their marriage they had three sons although second son John, born in 1905 died within weeks.

By the time of the outbreak of the second World War, John James and Alice had moved to a house on Heneage Road. He was recorded in the 1939 Directory as incapacitated and had given up working as a trawler engineer. He died in Grimsby in 1959; Alice followed him in 1969.

2. Mary Elizabeth Tilley (1878-1916)

Oldest of the Tilley daughters, Mary Elizabeth, was born in the winter months of 1878. She moved with the family and took up employment as a tailoress at the Wallis and Linnell Clothing Factory on Rockingham Road. On October 17th 1903, Mary Elizabeth married Arthur Thomas Claypole at The Kettering Register Office. Harry, Mary Elizabeth's younger brother was on hand to act as a witness. Arthur, who was always known around the village as Tom, was the son of John Claypole and Mary Anne Tansley. The Claypole family lived in Blind Lane, but Tom and Mary Elizabeth moved to School Lane after their marriage. In common with many other village workers, during that first decade he left the land to become an ironstone labourer.

Tom Claypole's first wife: Mary Elizabeth Tilley

Mary Tilley

Mary Elizabeth was to endure a particularly tragic obstetric history. She was probably in the early stages of pregancy at the time of their marriage and she duly gave birth to a boy they named Arthur Cyril on January 20th 1904. The little boy was not well and died aged 22 months on November 23rd 1905. The registered cause of death was epileptic convulsions. That same summer, Mary Elizabeth became pregnant again and their daughter, Hilda Louisa, was born on January 21st 1906. A second son, Maynard John Thomas, was born on May 11th 1908 but died aged 18 months on November 17th 1909. He had suffered from measles for five days which led to bronchopneumonia.

By the Christmas of 1915, Tom Claypole was proud to announce that his wife was expecting another child. Happiness turned to tragedy as the new year progressed. In the later stages of pregnancy she started bleeding which was discovered to be due to a condition called placenta praevia (the placenta develops low in the uterus and blocks the birth canal). She was also pregnant with twins. On July 7th 1916, during childbirth, the haemorrhage which ensued became uncontrollable and both she and her two unborn sons succumbed. Tom was by her side when she died. [ - It is of note that, in 1915, the use of caesarean section in the management of placenta praevia in even the most advanced surgical practices was considered both novel and controversial. (8) - Ed]

Tom did marry again in the autumn of 1917 to Florence Edith Claypole, the nineteen year old daughter of his third cousin, Thomas Claypole. The further history of this branch of the Claypole family is explored in the article "The Sorrows of Mary Atkins" [Article G.]

3. Harry William Tilley (1881-1974)

Second son, Harry William, was born on August 6th 1881. By the turn of the century he had moved out of the village 8 miles east to Deene. He was employed as a waggoner (old name for the driver of a four wheeled cart) by farmer John Thomas Warren. Also on the farm, working as a cattleman was 19 year old John Henry Tansley. He was the first cousin of Tom Claypole who would marry Harry William's sister Mary Elizabeth. Harry William married Georgina Hannah Wright, who had been born in Deenethorpe on December 19th 1885, in the village in the spring of 1905. For a time they lived in Gretton where Harry worked looking after horses on a farm. After the first World War the couple returned to Deenethorpe where they lived for the next fifty years. They ultimately moved back to Cottingham where Georgina died in 1973, Harry a year later. They had no children.

4. Ernest Albert Tilley (1884-1969)

Main Street, Middleton

Main Street, Middleton (about 1904)

Ernest Albert Tilley (usually known by his middle name) was born on February 28th 1884. In the closing months of 1907 he married Gertrude Claypole, the daughter of Joseph Claypole and Elizabeth Jarvis and fourth cousin to Mary Elizabeth's husband Tom Claypole. She had been born in the hamlet of Middleton on January 30th 1886. After their wedding, they settled into a property on Main Street in Middleton. Ernest Albert became a labourer at a steel works. Between 1909 and 1921 they had six children (2 boys and four girls). Their youngest son, Harry, married Freda Kemp and had twin sons immediately after the end of the second World War. Ernest died in the village in 1969; Gertrude nine years later in the early spring of 1978.

Old map: Middleton 1902.
Old map: Cottingham 1886.

Maps of Middleton (1902) and Cottingham (1886) showing variations of street names and places of interest

Continued in column 2...

Page added: July 1st 2019
Last update: August 19th 2019

John James Tilley and Clara White (Continued)

5. Sarah Louisa Tilley (1886-1977)

Workers at the Cottingham Clothing Factory

Factory workers 1899

Their second daughter, Sarah Louisa Tilley (often recorded in documentation by her middle name) was born on May 28th 1866. Like her older sister before her, she was employed as a tailoress in the Wallis and Linnell factory. In the spring of 1909, she married John Coles, the son of Charles Coles and Elizabeth Jarvis. This Elizabeth was the aunt of Gertrude Claypole's mother of the same name. John worked as a blast furnaceman. In 1911, with the first two of their infant sons (John and Alexander James) they were living in a house in Chamberlain's Yard, part of Church Street. Three doors away lived 66 year old widow Alice Claypole, earning her living as a charwoman. As Alice Baker she had married Thomas Bellamy Claypole, the uncle of Tom and third cousin of Gertrude, in August 1867.

After the first World War, the couple moved to Wilbarston near Market Harborough. In total they had 11 children and six were still at home in 1939. John died in the winter of 1953; Sarah Louisa in early 1977.

6. Sidney Thomas Tilley (1889-1963)

Next son, Sidney Thomas Tilley was born in the early months of 1889. From a fairly early age he appears to have been destined for the military. His first engagement about 1906 was with the 2nd Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment where he became Private 7815. The 1911 census found him stationed at Fort St George in Madra, India. At the outbreak of the first World War the battalion was moved back to Europe. It served on the Western Front in 1914 and 1915, the date of Sidney's entry with the Battalion into that Theatre of War was October 12th 1914. This was followed sometime later by his transfer to the Somerset Light Infantry where he was Private 37465. By 1915 he had been moved again, this time to the 1st Garrison Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) where he was stationed in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Holy Trinity

Holy Trinity Church, Hull (9)

On August 15th 1915, whilst still in uniform, he married Clara, the daughter of porter Tom Davidson and his wife Harriet, at Holy Trinity Church, Hull, East Yorkshire. In the early 1920s their registered address was 14 Vine Terrace (off Barnsley Street) in the Sculcoates district of Hull. Sidney's occupation on several documents is described as "bacon washer and roller". The couple had two sons and two daughters.

Their first child Sydney Thomas was born at Clara's parents' home in Vicar Lane, Hull on April 9th 1916. First daughter Nellie was born on July 11th 1920, presumably on a visit to the family in Cottingham (her birth was registered in Kettering). Next born daughter arrived in the early months of 1922. The tragedy struck the family when Clara became pregnant for the fourth time. She went into labour in the latter part of the year. A son Fred was born in the first week of November but mother and son died within days of one another. Clara died on December 17th 1924 with a diagnosis of cerebral paralysis (10) (a possible post partum complication of eclampsia). Seven week old Fred died of gastroenteritis and exhaustion on December 22nd. They were both buried in the Hedon Road Cemetery, Hull.

Sidney remained alone in Vine Terrace for the next two years. He then married again at Sculcoates Register Office to Elsie Kirkham Sharpe who was born in Hull on November 17th 1892. They had one daughter, Elsie, in 1931. Sidney is absent from the 1939 Directory records but Elsie was at home with stepdaughter Nellie and Elsie. Nellie subsequently married Leslie Coppins in the Eastry District of Kent in 1941. By 1960 the couple had moved to 2 Edinburgh Street in Hull. Sidney died in Hull on Christmas Day 1963 and was buried in Hedon Road Cemetery on December 30th 1963 in the same plot as Clara. Elsie Kirkham Tilley died towards the end of 1982.

7. Agnes Tilley (1891-1983)

Little is currently known of the history of third daughter Agnes Annie Tilley. She was born on May 25th 1891. She married Alexander George Moore on February 20th 1911. Alexander was one of the seven children of Frederick George and Mary Elizabeth Moore who was born on November 28th 1886 in Brandon, Suffolk. The couple made their home in Rockingham where Alexander worked as a gardener. By the start of the Second World War, they had settled at The Lodge in Wellingborough where he was employed as head gardener. Alexander died in the town on August 23rd 1974; Annie seven years later in 1981.

8. Frances Omar Tilley (1894-1917)

Francis Tilley

Francis in uniform

Francis Omar Tilley, youngest son of John James and Clara Tilley, was born in Middleton on March 20th 1894.He remained in the family home throughout his teens and in 1911 was working as a blast furnaceman.

Shortly after this he enlisted with the Regular Army following his older brother Sidney Thomas, becoming Private 9423, 2nd Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. After the beginning of the First World War, the Battalion was moved to France on October 12th 1914. The Battalion fought at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 after which Francis was made a lance corporal. He was injured during the Battle of Festubert in May 1915. Following this he was transferred to the 1st Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment.

Francis was awarded the Military Medal following the capture of German trenches at Ribecourt during the Cambrai offensive of November 1917. He was subsequently assigned to the 16th Light Trench Mortar Battery and was severely injured with multiple gunshot wounds the German counter attack on December 10th 1917. He was taken by the 31st Ambulance Train to the Abbeville field hospital where he died of his wounds on December 14th 1917 (11). He was buried in the Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension. His death was reported locally in the Northampton Mercury on December 21st 1917. He was also Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette on March 12th 1918 (12).

After the war his mother received a postcard which had the above photograph of Francis on the reverse. On the address side were notes of the award of his three stripes and his four medals. She also received one of the Next of Kin Memorial plaques upon which was inscribed his name. The family were also entitled to a War Gratuity in respect of his service and this was duly remitted to them in the sum of £ 22 10s. (13). Frances' name was ultimately inscribed on the Cottingham War Memorial along with the names of other fallen men from the village.

9. Clara Edith May Tilley (1896-)

Next born child, Clara Edith, of John James and Clara Tilley arrived in the summer of 1896. She married Thomas H Hilliard (also recorded variously as Hillyer and Hillyard) in Cottingham in 1914. Their sons named Omar and Thomas H were born in 1923 and 1926 respectively. The family were living in Rothwell in 1939 where Thomas was employed as an ironstone labourer. Thomas died in 1953. Clara married again, to John Hayes in 1963.

10. Florence Tilley (1898-1898)

Clara became pregnant for the last time during 1898. The baby, a daughter they named Florence, was born towards the end of the year but only survived for a seventeen days. She died on October 6th 1898, the cause of death being given as convulsions and Foramen Ovale Persistens (an atrial septal defect or hole in the heart).

Mary Elizabeth Tilley and George Albert Kemshead

Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene

St Mary Magdalene Church, Cottingham: view from Blind Lane

Second daughter, Mary Elizabeth was born on July 2nd 1859 and was baptised ten days later (although the Parish Register records her as Sarah Elizabeth). She remained in the family home in Church Street through her teenage years. Mary Elizabeth married George Albert Kemshead at St Mary Magdalene Church in Cottingham on August 9th 1880; the service witnessed by her brother, James, and George's sister Rebecca. George was the son of boot and shoe maker John Kemshead and his wife Elizabeth Crouch and had been born on October 13th 1859 in Wollaston, a village about three miles south of the town of Wellingborough. As a boy he supplemented the household income making mats, presumably from local straw. Immediately after their marriage, the couple lived in Park Street Dallington, a district of Northampton, where George was working as a railway goods porter. The following year, George and Mary Elizabeth moved to Bedfordshire where he took up the post of foreman porter. They lived for a time in the hamlet of Girtford near the town of Sandy. On his subsequent transfer of the family back to Cottingham he took over the licence of the Three Horseshoes Inn in the High Street, one of four public houses in the village. The previous landlord had been Thomas Craxford and his wife Susan Curtis since the 1860s. George remained landlord there for twenty years.

The Spread Eagle Inn

Spread Eagle and Three Horse Shoes
The Three Horse Shoes is the property beyond the Spread Eagle on the right hand side of the photograph next door to the house that has smoke rising from its chimney. (3)


RMS Virginian (14)

After the turn of the century George moved the family to Easton on the Hill, a small village in the very tip of north east Northamptonshire about three miles south west of Stamford. He set up a business as a baker and shop keeper with Mary Elizabeth helping him on the premises. That arrangement lasted for about ten years. The licence of the Three Horse Shoes was taken up briefly by John James Tilley and Clara White before it passed to John Coles, the husband of Clara Elizabeth Tansley, in 1906. John, full name John Thomas Crane Coles was the grandson on his mother's side of Thomas Crane, one of the Crane brothers whose story is told in "The Crane family of Cottingham: Part 1: Victim or Villain? [Article H.]. His mother was Susannah Claypole, the second cousin twice removed of Rebecca Kemshead's husband John Henry Claypole.

Then the decision was taken to emigrate. On August 15th 1912 George and Mary Elizabeth boarded RMS Virginian at Liverpool and made the ten day crossing to Montreal, Canada. They had followed one of their sons and set up home in the town of Galt, just outside Cambridge, Ontario where they spent the next twenty years. George died there on December 29th 1934. After his death, Mary Elizabeth moved to Georgetown, Ontario to live with her son John James. She died on July 14th 1939. They were both buried in the Mountainview Cemetery, Cambridge.

Headstone card

Headstone for George and Mary Elizabeth Kemshead

1. Martha Elizabeth Kemshead (1881 - 1949)

Martha Elizabeth was born in the spring of 1881. Before the turn of the century, she spent some time as a barmaid in her father's pub. In 1899 she made the move to Leicester taking a position as barmaid at the Champion Inn in Humberstone Gate in the centre of the town. On a holiday back in Cottingham she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter she named Florence Ellen on July 3rd 1900. [Presumptive evidence about the identity of Florence Ellen's father is laid out below in the Footnote to this article - Ed]

Martha Elizabeth returned to Leicester working first as housekeeper for John Lovett at the Crown and Anchor Inn in Belgrave Gate and then for china and picture dealer William Rumbold in Waterloo Street. She told Rumbold, a 54 year old widower, of her daughter. He did not seem to mind and had become enamoured of her and proposed marriage. Intimacy ensued after which Martha Elizabeth became pregnant again. When Rumbold's son came to live with them Martha Elizabeth was told she had to leave and was locked out of the house. Ultimately she sued Rumbold for breach of promise at Court at the Leicester Castle in June 1903. She was awarded £ 85 11s. in damages and costs involved for the purchase of a wedding dress. She named her daughter Vera Rumbold Kemshead who was born towards the end of that year. [One small item of interest was found on the 1911 census for Leicester. Living in Wellington Street (which formed a T-juction with Waterloo Street) was fine art dealer W Rumbold now aged 64 years with his wife of four years, Amy. She was 25 years younger than him. - Ed]

In 1905 Martha Elizabeth decided to leave the country and was sponsored by the South African Colonization Society, an organization that assisted single women to migrate to the colonies. She embarked at Southampton on RMS Braemar Castle which departed for Durban, South Africa on December 16th 1905. Although the passenger list gave her occupation as nurse her immigration record shows that she intended to seek employment in domestic service.


Gambrell headstone

Martha Elizabeth married Horace Sidney Gambrell on May 10th 1907 at the magistrate's office in Boksburg North, a community about 13 miles east of Johannesburg. They had two children, a daughter Hilda Rosalind born on June 20th 1907 and Ronald Horace John born in 1924. The family moved to the coastal city of Durban where Horace Sidney died aged 60 years on December 1st 1943. After his death Martha Elizabeth's health started to deteriorate. She was admitted to Town Hill Hospital, Pietermaritzburg where she died on June 18th 1949. The cause of death was certified as cerebral thrombosis and arteriosclerosis.

When Martha Elizabeth emigrated, little Florence Ellen was left with her grandparents and went with them to Canada in August 1912. She did ultimately make the move to South Africa and married Robert William Arthur in Durban on February 5th 1920. They had five children. Robert died on September 17th 1936 of pneumonia. Florence Ellen married again on September 4th 1943 to divorcee Thomas Charles Jones. She died on June 13th 1947 aged 46 years.

Continued in column 3...

Mary Elizabeth Tilley and George Albert Kemshead (Continued)

2. George Albert Kemshead (1882 - 1958)


RMS Empress of India (16)

The couple's son George Albert was born on September 2nd 1882 while they were still living in Girtford. By 1901 he had taken the post of mason's labourer. He too decided to emigrate on sailed on board RMS Empress of India from Liverpool bound for Montreal on May 22nd 1908. He settled in Galt, Ontario, which is where his parents and other members of the family would duly follow, working as a machinist. On July 1st 1908 he married 20 year old Annie Adelaide Tremaine. The marriage register notes that they were both members of the Salvation Army.

Kemshead headstone 2

Headstone for George Albert and Annie Kemshead

After the outbreak of the first World War, George enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force and was taken on as a bandsman. His attestation papers dated January 1st 1916 (17) record that he was 5ft 7½ inches tall with brown eyes, dark hair and a dark complexion. He served as Sapper 730306 with the 111th Battalion in England. He gave a history of epilepic fits since childhood, a condition from which his mother was also said to have suffered. He was discharged medically unfit for further service on May 20th 1918 and was repatriated to Canada.

He and Annie had five children: three before his Army service, two after. George died in the Westminster Hospital, Westminster, Ontario on May 31st 1958. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Guelph, Ontario.

3. Rebecca Louisa Kemshead (1884 - 1957)


Rebecca and John Henry Claypole

Rebecca Louisa was born on May 13th 1884 in Cottingham and was probably named after her aunt. She married agricultural labourer John Henry Claypole on April 13th 1903. Rebecca noted in the marriage register that at the time her father was a dairyman. The marriage was witnessed by Mary Elizabeth Tilley, who subsequently married John's brother, Arthur Thomas Claypole. John Claypole had been born on October 14th 1878, the son of John Claypole and Mary Anne Tansley. An account of the Tansley family's history can be found at "The Cottingham Tansleys: Two brothers who moved to Leicester" [Article I.].

Rebecca broke with the family trend of emigration and remained with John in Cottingham. John's first job was as an agricultural worker but by the early 1900s he had joined many of the other men of the village as an ironstone labourer. They made their first home in Corby Road and moved to Blind Lane at the turn of the century. They had nine children: four boys and five girls. This included twins Lily Elsie and Violet Florence who were born in April 1914. Both babies died in their first year of life: Lily Elsie on January 22nd 1915 and Violet Florence on February 25th 1915. The cause of death in each case was a chest infection. John Henry and Rebecca ultimately moved to Wilbarston where they kept The King's Head public house for a number of years. Rebecca died in the autumn of 1957; John died in the early months of 1963.

Tye, King's Head

Frank and Rose Tye
at the King's Head

The King's Head was taken over in 1939 by their youngest daughter, Bessie Rosalie (Rose) who had married Frank Tye in 1937. They had two children, Judith born in 1938 and Barry in 1946. Their tenure of the public house was marred by two tragedies. In the late 1950s a customer accidentally leaned on the cellar door which opened with his weight and he fell down the cellar steps and died from his injuries. Then in the early to mid 1960s, young Barry Tye (who would have been about 16 years old) went into the cellar to fetch up some stock and was electrocuted and killed instantly.

Three Horse Shoes

The King's Head, Wilbarston
Outside is David Claypole, John Henry and Rebecca's youngest son

[An entry from the 1939 Directory found John and Rebecca Claypole resident in Wilbarston at the start of the Second World War. Their next door neighbours were Cecil and Hilda Binley. Cecil's mother was Clara Rosina Binley who subsequently married Arthur Panter. Arthur's great great grandparents were Edward and Elizabeth Tansley. Clara Rosina's sister, Maud Matilda Binley married Thomas Bradshaw who was the son of Ann Elizabeth Darker Tansley. Thomas' paternal grandmother was Elizabeth Beesworth, a family with several connections with the Claypole family - Ed]

4. John James Kemshead (1886 - 1965)

Kemshead headstone

Headstone for John and Elizabeth Kemshead

John James was born in Cottingham on December 18th 1886. He moved with the family to Easton on the Hill where, by 1911, he had become a farm labourer. He remained in England after his parents had emigrated and married Elizabeth Phillips in Peterborough on June 2nd 1914. They had three known daughters although second born, Dorothy died in infancy. They emigrated to Canada on December 13th 1919, embarking on the Cunard line RMS Carmania at Liverpool bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia. John James died in 1965; his wife Elizabeth in 1978. They are both buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Georgetown, Ontario.

5. Ethel May Kemshead (1891 - 1965)

Third daughter, Ethel May was born in Cottingham in the spring of 1891 and moved with the family to Easton on the Hill where she spent some time in domestic service. Ethel had a daughter, Margaret Ethel, in 1911. She emigrated to Canada with the family on RMS Virginian. She settled in Galt where she became a music teacher. There is a record of a border crossing from Canada to the United States at St Albans, Vermont dated April 1913 (18). Ethel May was described as 5 ft 4 inches tall, of fair complexion with brown hair and blue eyes. She also had a noticeable goitre. Ethel May married William Barber at Guelph, Ontario on August 13th 1917. When they died (Ethel in 1970, William in 1982) they were both interred in Mountainview Cemetery, Cambridge.

Barber headstone

Headstone for William and Ethel Barber

Footnote: Who was Florence Ellen's father?

In the evidence reported at her breach of promise court case given at The Castle, Leicester in June 1903, Martha Elizabeth Kemshead left some tantalising clues as to the identity of the father of her daughter Florence Ellen. Having taken up a position as barmaid at a public house in Leicester in 1899, she took a holiday at home in Middleton, Northamptonshire later that year. Whilst there "improper relations took place with a man named Jackson. Shortly after he was called up to the reserve and went to South Africa". Upon his return, Jackson offered to marry her but the father did not approve of it.

Arthur Jackson was born on February 2nd 1883 the youngest of six sons born to John Jackson and Elizabeth Tansley, long term residents of Middleton (story told in [Article I.]). Available records show that on his 18th birthday, he enlisted for a 12 year term with the Army in 1901. Prior to that at the age of 16 years and 6 months he spent a three month spell from August 12th 1899 on HMS Boscowan. This was a Royal Navy training establishment moored at the time on the River Tyne at North Shields (Referred to in "The Beverley Brothers" [Article J.]). He was discharged after three months as "invalid" on November 3rd 1899.

Arthur found himself in the Army Barracks at Maryhill, Glasgow in 1909 where he married Barra Lennie Shearer from Stronsay, Orkney. They were to have six childen. He served in the Royal Field Artilley in the first World War and took part in the fateful Gallipoli landings at Suvla Bay in August 1915. His experiences left such as lasting impression on him that he named his first daughter, born in 1918, Suvla. Arthur never returned to live in Northamptonshire. Barra died in 1937. By the time of the start of the second World War Arthur, now living alone, had moved to Wellington Lane in the centre of Kingston upon Hull. On the night of August 31st and September 1st 1941, this area of Hull sustained heavy bombing by the Luftwaffe. There was considerable damage to local housing including the destruction of 16 air raid shelters. Arthur was amongst 44 civilians killed alongside another 36 injured that night (19, 20).

It is unclear "which father" disapproved of the marriage, but Arthur would have required parental consent from his considering that at the age of 16 years he was clearly underage. Was his sojourn aboard HMS Boscowan a cautionary lesson at the behest of his parents? If this line of reasoning is correct, the families certainly knew of each other and indeed Arthur was Martha Elizabeth's sister (Rebecca Louisa)'s husband (John Henry Claypole)'s first cousin.

Further Reading

Medal card

Christine Blenkarn has developed and devoted a website to honour the men of Cottingham and Middleton who served in the Great War. It notes principally those who were killed while doing so (as was the case of Francis Omar Tilley). It also looks at the impact on their families and the local community.

Cottingham and Middleton, Northamptonshire Soldiers 1914-1918


The authors would like to express their thanks for the help, comments and suggestions from the following in the construction of this article: Steve Bulman for permission to use the postcard view of Hull Holy Trinity Church, Judith Smith for photographs from Wilbarston, Corisande and MaxD at The Great War Forum; Contributors to the Northamptonshire and Yorkshire (East Riding and York) Forums (including ArthurK, Cas(stallc), Cath151, Jonw65 and MaureeninNY} at RootsChat.Com;

Links to the articles mentioned in the text are in italic capitals below:

Article A: Four Tilley families in Cottingham. A History of the Tilley Family: Cottingham Part 1, the early generations
Article B: Samuel and Mary Ann (Under construction: Coming Soon) A History of the Tilley Family: Cottingham Part 2b, the family of Samuel Tilley and Mary Ann Tilley
Article C:. The murder of Thomas Cristopher Claypole Death for threeha'p'orth of suckers
Article D: Shopkeeping in Church Street Elizabeth Tilley and the grocery connection.
Article E:. Intrigue in the shoe trade Claypole - Nutt: A Saga of Finedon
Article F: Another local family with a shared history The Gretton Craxfords: Exodus II: All sorts of Liquorish.
Article G:. Account of the Claypole family before and after World War I The Sorrows of Mary Atkins
Article H: The Brothers Crane The Crane family of Cottingham: Part 1: Victim or Villain?.
Article I: The Tansley family The Cottingham Tansleys: Two brothers who moved to Leicester.
Article J:. Reference to training ship HMS Boscowan The Nessworthys of Tyneside: Chapter 3. The Beverley Brothers


1. Family tree graphic: Freeware Graphics: Vintage Kin Design Studio, Australia
2. Photograph: Stanion, Northamptonshire: The Church of St Peter the Apostle © Maigheach-gheal, on Geograph and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
3. 'Chamberlain's Shop', 'The Spread Eagle': Photographs from A history of the village of Cottingham, Northamptonshire. Reproduced with permission .
4. Mrs Slater 419 Abbey Lane, Leicester Streets in Kelly's Directory of the City of Leicester 1960 Page 2
5. Bill to amend 1907 Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Bill Deceased Brother's Widow's Marriage Bill Hansard Lords Sitting June 28th 1921
6. "Farm labourers with steam engine and threshing machine" Photograph S.W.A. Newton The Last Main Line Image ref: 671077 © Leicestershire County Council
7. St Andrews Church, Grimsby Old postcard: Pinterest
8. Gellhorn, George: "Three cases of extraperitoneal cesarean section": A paper presented at the St Louis Medical Society October 1914. in JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) LXIV(3) 196-198: 1915
9. Holy Trinity Church, Hull (now Hull Minster): The Churches of Great Britain and Ireland. (c) Steve Bulman; reproduced with permission.
10. Burial record for Clara Tilley Film #007568495 Hedon Road Cemetery Register Book Page 56 at FamilySearch. (her baby Fred Tilley is on Page 57): Will need a sign in
11.Francis Tilley wounded in action 31 Ambulance Train Admission and Discharge Book in British Armed Forces, First World War Soldiers' Medical Records. The National Archives
12. Mentioned in Despatches 9425 A./Sjt F.O. Tilley Supplement 30573 to the London Gazette 3246 March 13th 1918
13. No. 641594 War Gratuity UK Army Register of Soldiers' Effects 1901-1929 National War Museum at
14. Old postcard. RMS Virginian at Margaret Sanger Papers Project. A vessel belonging to The Allan Line / Montreal Ocean Steamship Company
15. Leicester Breach of Promise Case: The Nottingham Eveneing Post Wednesday July 1st 1903. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
16. RMS Empress of India File HS85-10-9446, © British Library (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons
17. Attestation File: Kemshead, George Albert SPR 730306 Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), RG150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5074-38. Library and Archives of Canada.
18. US Border Crossings from Canada to US Ethel M Kemshead, April 1913 M1464 St Albans Vermont 209 1895-1954 at
18. Leicester Breach of Promise Case: The Nottingham Eveneing Post Wednesday July 1st 1903. The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
19. Schedule of Air Raids - 1941 Hullwebs History of Hull
20. Casualties Ordered by Date of Fatal Incident Index to the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour for Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire. Genuki

Please contact us

email If you have any questions or comments about the information on this site in general, or you have further information regarding this article, please Get in touch by leaving a message in our Guestbook. If you don't want the message to be added to the Guestbook, just say that in your text. We look forward to hearing from you.

Return to Top of Page

Translate this page:

SSL Certificate

Internet Beacon Diamond Site - 2010

© The Craxford Family Genealogy Magazine and individual copyright holders.
Edited and maintained by Alan D. Craxford 2005 - 2019. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission.
You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.

Search the Craxford Family Magazine powered by FreeFind
Optimal screen resolution is 1680 x 1050 and above
This page has been designed to display on mobile phone screens
- landscape orientation recommended

Hosted By eUKhost logo UK Web Hosting and

This site powered by The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding ©, v. 10.1.3cx, written by Darrin Lythgoe 2001-2019.