FROM DEVON TO YORKSHIRE – a migration story

South Yorkshire Times and Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 30 March 1940 (Transcript adjusted by Helen Shields November 2021, with thanks to British Newspaper Archive)




Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Osborn: A life partnership of forty-odd years founded on the background of a boy and girl courtship in Devon reached a bittersweet ending yesterday when the couple were laid to rest, side by side in Wombwell Cemetery. 

The couple were Mr. Albert Thomas Osborn (66), and his wife Lucy Osborn (67), of 25, John Street, Wombwell. Mr. Osborn died on Saturday and his wife on Monday. Mr. Osborn formerly worked as a deputy at Mitchell Main Colliery where his brother, Mr. William Osborn, of 23, John Street. Wombwell, is also employed in a similar capacity.  In August, 1938, however, he met with an accident In the mine, and had not worked since. 

The inquest was opened at Wombwell on Monday. Mrs. Osborn had made all the arrangements for her husband’s funeral, and had chosen the spot in Wombwell Cemetery where, in the ordinary course of events he would have been interred on Wednesday. Within four or five hours of the opening of the inquest she was dead, and Mr. Osborn’s funeral was deferred a day so that they could be buried side by side in the same plot. 


Mrs. Osborn had been in poor health for some time, but it is said that her husband’s death was a great shock to her. The news was conveyed to her as feelingly as possible by an old friend, Mrs. Williams. Mrs. Ada Osborn, wife of Mr. William Osborn, told a “Times” reporter: “On being told of her husband’s death she was broken-hearted and gradually sank.’ Mr. and Mrs. Tom Osborn were known as a very devoted couple and with their death a shadow of personal bereavement has fallen on the district in which they lived. Mr. Tom Osborn was born in the little Devonshire village of Sticklepath, near Okehampton, and his wife, whose maiden name was Lucy Hill, in the neighbouring hamlet of Thrawley. As a boy, Mr. Osborn was employed in a tin mine, ‘ his father also being a tin miner. 

It chanced that during a period of slack trade a James Friend and his son left the Devonshire village to try their luck in Yorkshire, and worked first at the old Lundhill Colliery and later at Mitchell Main. Apparently Mr. Tom Osborn was impressed by their stories of big money to be earned in the Yorkshire coalfield, because when Mr. Friend’s son was returning north from a holiday in Devon, Tom Osborn was persuaded to come back with him, as also was Tom’s father, who worked at the sinking of Cortonwood Clliery. The Friends ultimately returned to Devon, but Mr. Tom Osborn and his brother, Mr. William Osborn, remained in Yorkshire. 

Mr. Tom Osborn was a deputy for eleven years, but for the greater part of the time prior to that was a contractor in stone. Mr. William Osborn has been a deputy at Mitchell Main for 23 years. 


Mr. William Osborn told our reporter that Mr. Tom Osborn and his wife Lucy had been sweethearts since they were boy and girl and, true to promise, Tom made a home for his bride as soon as possible. On his 22nd birthday, he returned to Devon, married Lucy, and brought her back to Yorkshire. “They have always been lovers,” he said, “and have always lived for each other. As a youth. Tom never wanted anyone else.” Mr. Osborn spoke of many touching evidences of the deep devotion the couple entertained toward each other. 

Mr. and Mrs. Osborn leave nine Children (five sons and four daughters), seven of whom are married. Their youngest son. Albert Osborn, whose photograph was published in the “Times” last week, is at present serving with the B.E.F. in France, and it was stated during the week that if he could be got home in time the whole of the nine children would be present at the funeral yesterday, together with five grand-children. 

For 34 years Mr. and Mrs. Osborn have lived in the same house in John Street, Wombwell, and prior to that they lived in Melville Street, Wombwell, Mr. Osborn has been a member of Wombwell Reform Club for many years, but apart from that association his interests have been centred in his home.  His mother, Mrs. Martha Osborn (84, is still living at Sticklepath, Devon. For a long time she lived with her two sons at Wombwell, but being on holiday in Devon at the outbreak of the war she decided to remain there for the duration. She was too trail to travel to the funeral. 

The family circle of Mr. and Mrs. Osborn was completed in pathetic circumstances at Wombwell Cemetery yesterday, when all their nine children followed them to the grave where they were laid to rest, side by side. The ninth and youngest child, Private Albert Osborn (22), turned up at the last moment after a dramatic dash from France. where he has been serving since January. He had come home to attend the funeral of his father, not knowing that his mother had since died, and that it was to be a double burial. The method of burial was unique for Wombwell, and had been achieved by the reservation of a double grave space near the Summer Lane entrance to the Cemetery. 

Large crowds gathered along Barnsley Road, at the entrance to the Cemetery, and at the graveside. Mr. R. Rowley, of Barnsley Road Methodist Church, Wombwell, conducted the service. The ages of the nine children present at the funeral ranged from 43 to 22. They were Mrs. Minnie Palmer (and Mr. Oswald Palmer), Wombwell; Mr. William Osborn (and Mrs. Osborn), Sticklepath, Devon; Mr. Irving Osborn (and Mrs. Osborn), Wombwell; Mrs. Lydia Read (and Mr. V. Read), Wombwell; Mr. Wilfred Osborn, Wombwell; Mrs. Florence Wolsey (and Mr. Harold Wolsey), Brampton; Mr. Edgar Osborn, Cornwall, whose wife could not attend because of another family bereavement; Mrs. Lucy Utley (and Mr. Herbert Utley), Wombwell; and Private Albert Osborn. 

Other family mourners present were: Mr. and Mrs. William Osborn, Wombwell; Mrs. Thornhill, Miss Joan Osborn, Miss Florence Osborn. Miss Dorothy Read, and Miss Marian Wolsey. Among the numerous wreaths was one from Mr. Osborn’s mother, Mrs. Martha Osborn. of Sticklepath, Devon: and others were from Mrs. Osborn’s twin sister, Mrs. F. Harper, of Bishop’s Taunton, N. Devon, and another sister Mrs. Annie White. South Zeal, Devon. Mr. Osborn’s sister, Mrs. Hilda Endacott, who lives in Toronto. Canada, cabled for a wreath to be sent. There was another from Mr. Willie Endacott. of South Zeal. All the children, and the families of the married ones, sent wreaths. 

Workmen and deputies at Mitchell Main Colliery were bearers for Mr. Osborn, while members of Wombwell Reform Club acted in a similar capacity for Mrs. Osborn. The former were Messrs. A. Mosley and R. Honing, representing the Yorkshire Deputies Association; J. Sykes. W. Bashford and A. Wood (deputies): B. Sherridan, W. Thomas. J. Haywood, W. Chapman and C. Cooper (workmen). 

Mrs. Osborn’a bearers were Messrs. Walter Turner. George Oldfield, Horace Schofield, Charles Cooper. George Martin. Frank Salter, W. Stenton and Harry Moore. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Messrs. M. Charlesworth and Son, funeral directors. 3. York Street, Wombwell. (‘Phone. Wombwell 208).

Hasping! #OnePlaceStudies #Sticklepath

Hasping. Such a strange word hasp. Lovers of DIY and pirate kings know the slotted hinged metal plate that secures a door or chest lid, is called a hasp. Fitted over a metal loop and secured by a pin or padlock, that is a hasp. A picture is much easier to understand – sorry no treasure chest to hand!

Hasp above the latch, ready for a pin or padlock to secure the shed door

In “Family History Nuts and Bolts” (and hasps!) Andrew Todd describes hasping as a sophisticated family reconstitution tool (chapter 7). Basically it is securing the facts. Ensuring that this Mary Smith is the right one in the right place and time and is actually the mother of this particular John. I find prisoners and court cases particularly difficult to hasp – perhaps appropriate given the metaphor of lock up! Whilst I might get a thrill from having a petty criminal in my family or feel ashamed and not want this to be someone in my family, there are often few details to help us feel secure in the correct identification. Locking the criminal out of your tree, secure in the knowledge this can’t be your Harold Shipman is equally important – as is recording the evidence and negative findings so you don’t repeat the process next time.

Arguably for One-Place studies involving many families it is difficult to provide the many layers of proof we might like. At least two original sources for each fact is just not always possible in a reasonable time frame.

We might start with a memorial, a gravestone which, if we are lucky, names a wife and child. This may lead us to census information and we can often follow a family over decades through the census. The same names ages and relationships help confirm this is the same family. There are always those outliers though – the teenager who goes off to be a domestic servant in another household. Then there are those cousins who have almost exactly the same names and are similar ages, to confuse us. Hasping allows us to confirm the people are correct despite a move for example. There are many techniques and tools described in genealogy text books and family history blogs to ensure your research is valid. Today I am just thinking about one softer tool, that which comes from sharing your findings with others, perhaps enabling another person to check your findings, not in a formal way, but another opinion nevertheless.

Some feedback is positive, but when others have different findings it is initially disappointing – It is always heartening when someone looking into the same family pays a compliment, suggesting they agree with your findings. The occasional knock-back, for example, leaving me red-faced when I bumped off Adelaide Finch in a place she never visited and deprived her family of many happy years was a welcome wake up call to double my efforts to hasp and correct my findings. A very good learning point too. Do not assume the only death for the name coming up on a search is necessarily the person you are looking at, even if the age is about right. Sharing your research is also a motivator for getting it right!

So how do you share findings? Many advise only sharing some of your findings to draw relatives in – cousin bait. Certainly something to think about, as we might learn something useful from each other. Websites to share your findings might include the Findagrave website, Family search, Wikitree (free genealogy website with an emphasis on sources), Lost Cousins, the common commercial sites – how many might you add information to? How can you find other opportunities to share your findings? The answer is within our grasp….

The One-Place Studies conference on 20th November 2021. This year we will learn about the first steps to studying a place; sources to consider from family and local history and social history perspectives: not only researching a bunch of individuals, families and landmarks, but making connections to form a bigger picture. Our fourth and final talk is all about publishing and publicising your research – easy if you know how! This talk promises those answers – ways to promote and share your research with the world, both online and offline. Plus plenty of friendly discussion.

There is still time to join in time to ‘come’ to the online conference if you are interested in learning ways to investigate the place your ancestors lived, are a seasoned One-Placer or are considering starting a One-Place study. Membership of the Society is just £10 and some people (eg #GenZ) are entitled to free membership! Membership entitles you to attend the conference for free, tap into the support of this friendly group and a range of stimulating monthly webinars and discussions. See you there!

Ref: Todd, Andrew The Nuts and Bolts Series:1. Family History Nuts and Bolts Problem Solving through family reconstitution techniques. 3rd edition August 2015 First published by Allen & Todd 1998


My #OnePlaceStudy (OPS) research this week has involved an outlier, someone buried in Sticklepath but who I suspect never lived here, though her mother did, and her mother’s family were one of the key Sticklepath families during the 19th century. She is also an outlier in terms of her death being barely 50 years ago, generally a boundary I have set myself for the OPS (focus on 1770-1970).

Artist Katharine Jowett


I am starting to think about Childhood in my place #OnePlacestudy #Sticklepath. I would welcome any thoughts and contributions. Why now?  We have just celebrated bonfire night and my husband made treacle toffee, an annual tradition from his childhood.  For me 5th November was one of the few days in the year when we had baked potatoes, with lashing of butter!  The style of celebrations with a small bonfire in the back yard, a home-made ‘Guy’ to raise a few pennies to buy a few small domestic fireworks of my childhood had changed completely pre-covid to dramatic public displays for huge crowds, at enormous cost, raising vast sums for charities.  Incidentally did you make ‘genies’ as a child – definitely not to be recommended now – collecting the remaining powder from spent fireworks the next day and creating your own bangers and ‘genies’ of smoke?  Do not try this!

I recently acquired some school records from my visit to the Devon archive and some more through an extremely generous genie who scanned some at The National Archive for me. Such an amazing gift of her time and the recent scanning abilities we now all take for granted.  I am just starting the new Pharos online course with Linda Newey all about childhood, and have had the benefit of discussions in a small group run by Janet Few based on her book “Remember then” which is a great guide and activator for thinking about the changes that have occurred over the decades of our own and our grandparents lives. 

Many schools were formed in the 1870s and luckily centenary guides were often produced in the 1970s – Sticklepath included. In fact the 150th anniversary of your local school may well be approaching fast. (Note I have not yet seen the all important school log book, but many interesting snippets are included in that Jubilee guide).  Then of course I bring my own experiences of childhood, bringing up my own children, my experiences as a GP, of living in Malawi and now seeing my grandson develop.  Couple that with our ever increasing ability to access detailed records and newspaper articles and to seek free advice from fellow genies on all aspects online. 

Doubts often weigh heavy on my mind and it is hard to see what purpose there is in creating yet another snapshot of history, a further dusting off and re-telling of stories from the past.  This reflection illustrates my answer.  Our individual experiences, knowledge and abilities mean we can not only ‘update’ the presentation but we also bring a potentially unique and valid perspective too. Watch this space for aspects of childhood- coming soon!