Eliz's Grave Appeal
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Joseph Sheldon (22-Jun-1882 to 23-Jun-1915)
In Robert Steatham sons Joseph Steatham's tree we have a James Arthur Steatham (1874-1950), his relationship to Robert Steatham was [Robert > Joseph > Joseph]
So James Arthur Steatham was a great grandson of Robert Steatham
James Arthur Steatham married firstly on Saturday the 21st December 1901 in All Saints, Darlaston, Hannah Devey, born Bradley Staffs.
They had six children, Arthur (1906), Ethel (1908), Thomas (1910), Sarah (1913), Hilda (1913) and Mary (1913).
Hannah died in 1917.
James Arthur Steatham's marriage
to Elizabeth Shedon [nee Smith].
James Arthur now a widower, on Saturday the 4th October 1919 in Walsall Registrar Office married Elizabeth Sheldon (nee Smith) who was herself, also widowed.
On the certificate shown his "Rank of Profession" has been clearly altered, a later copy dated the 20th October [I wonder why they needed it?] omitts this, but they are uncannily identical except for this as they were both written by the same "hand" - the Registrar, George T. Thompson.
In the 1911 census we find both James Arthur and Elizabeth Sheldon [nee Smith] with their previous spouses.
James Arthur, aged 36, born King Hill, Wednesbury, is living with his wife Hannah [nee Devey], aged 34, Stamper Machinist - Cycle Works, born Brdley, Staffs, and children, Arthur Steatham, aged 4, Ethel aged 2, Thomas aged 7 months. All the children were born in Station Street Darlaston, Staffs.
Elizabeth, aged 27, born West Bromwich, is living with her then Husband Joseph Sheldon, aged 29, Labour Forge Tube Worker, born Walsall, and Children, Joseph Henry, aged 8, and Clara Jane Fanny, aged 1, at 62 Sandwell Street, Walsall.
James Arthur and Elizabeth now have seven children, Kate (1919), Alfred (1919), Gertrude (1919), Lily (1920), Florence Emily (1922), John William (1923), Richard Samuel (1924) and Freda Margaret (1926).
So James Arthur Steatham has two Steatham branches...
1) with his first wife Hannah [nee Devey].
2) with his second wife Elizabeth [nee Sheldon nee Smith].
The above covers the circumstances of how Joseph Sheldon fits into the Steatham Story.
So we now continue with the story of the life of Joseph Sheldon who was killed in action in WW1.
Joseph Sheldon's life is worthy to be told in it's own right, but we have to also remember that without his tragic death the second branch of James Arthur Steatham's tree would never have happened.
Joseph Sheldon (22-Jun-1882 to 23-Jun-1915).
We have seen from the above how Joseph Sheldon fits into the Steatham story.
Let's now discover his life before and after his marriage to the then Elizabeth Smith.
Over fifty years ago I knew of Joseph Sheldon. That he had married Elizabeth and we also had some items related to Joseph passed down through the family.
Since the 1980s Family History research tools if we like to call them that are now superbly detailed and more records are being added all the time. This has enabled me to deep dive into his life and also this has revealed interconnections into my own life, which I will reveal as I tell Joseph's story.
Joseph Sheldon was born on Thursday the 22nd June 1882, in Caldmore, Walsall. He would have likely been baptised at St Matthews, Walsall.
Joseph Sheldon just missed the 1881 census.
In the 1891 census we find a match for him...
Aged nine down as a Josiah Sheldon living with his parents, Joseph Sheldon aged forty four, Gas Fitter Maker born Wednesbury and his mother Mary Jane aged thirty three born Walsall. His siblings are Clara aged eleven, Mary aged five, Martha aged three, and finally Alfred H aged one, all born at Walsall. The family are living at 59 Upper Darlington Street, West Bromwich.
Note - we see Alfred above in the next census.
In the 1901 census we see him with his father who is now a widower at 39, Doveridge Fold, Walsall...
Clara Rudkin Head Single aged 22 born 1879 Yard labourer on farm,
Joseph Sheldon Step father Widower aged 53 born 1848,
Joseph Sheldon Step brother Single aged 19 born 1882 Labourer in tube works,
Matthew Sheldon Step brother aged 13 born 1888,
Alfred Sheldon Step brother aged 11 born 1890,
Alfred Lightwood Boarder Widower aged 35 born 1866 Silver plater.
All the above were born in Walsall.
His mother Mary Jane Sheldon died aged forty nine in the last quarter of 1896 at Walsall.
Our last census is the 1911 census and at last find him with his wife Elizabeth at 62 Sandwell St, Caldmore, Walsall...
Joseph Sheldon's marriage.
Elizabeth Sheldon [nee Smith].
Joseph Sheldon had married Elizabeth Smith on ? the 26th day of January 1908 at Saint Judes Church, Eldon Street, Caldmore, Walsall.
As this is the original copy given to them at the church we can see the correction of "Lizzie" to "Elizabeth". One copy was signed and the other was for the couple to keep - note the hand is the same on this one. As this one is technically the copy.
Goimg back to the 1911 census, we now have Joseph Sheldon "Labour forge tube worker" aged twenty nine born Walsall,
Elizabeth aged twenty seven, born West Bromwich,
Joseph Henry son aged two,
Clara Jane Fanny aged one, both born in Walsall.
Their last child Elizabeth was born on Sunday the 14th January 1912.
We also see Joseph Sheldon listed in the 1911 & 1914 electoral registers at the above address.
We have a portrait from the period she married Joseph or shortly after, it was originally in a large square frame and we had it re-shaped and placed in this oval frame.
Elizabeth's mother Clara Jane Duke.
Clara Jane Fanny Sheldon was born on Wednesday the 30th March 1910 and was named after Elizabeth's mother Clara Jane Duke.
Clara Jane Fanny Sheldon died on Wednesday the 26th May 1996. She married and had two children, both boys.
Joseph Henry Sheldon married in 1931 and had two children, both girls.
Lastly they have another child Elizabeth born om Thursday the 13th June 1912. She married and no issue have been found.
Joseph Sheldon's now joined the army - 1st South Staffs Regiment, based at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield.
Joseph Sheldon's was killed in action in France on Wednesday the 23rd June 1915, ironically the day after his birthday.
Joseph's death was reported in newspapers.
The Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle- Saturday July 17th 1915.
ROLL OF HONOUR.
SHELDON --In loving memory of my dear husband, Private Joseph Sheldon of the 1st South Staffs., who was killed in action on June 22nd, aged 33 years.
Now rest in peace, thy course of valour run.
Soldier discharged from war, they victory won;
That glorious victory all shall gain
Who to the end by grace their faith maintain.
" A glorious death is his who for his country falls."
SHELDON-- In loving memory of Private Joseph Sheldon who was killed in action on June 22nd, aged 33 years.
"A glorious death is his who for his country falls."
- Father and Mother.
SHELDON-- In loving memory of Private Joseph Sheldon of the 1st South Staffs, who was killed in action on June 22, aged 33 years.
His toil is past, his work is done,
And be is fully blest;
He fought the fight, the victory won,
And entered into rest.
From his Sisters-in-law, Clara, Ada, Catherine, and Gertrude.
We see the name Gertrude above, Elizabeth named one her children with James Arthur Steatham, Gertrude.
Plan of Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France.
Joseph Sheldon's army number was 10328, 1st South Staffs Regiment, and he is buried at Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, France. - Grave Number IV. H. 35.
Cuinchy is a village about 7 kms east of the town of Bethune and north of the N41 which runs between Bethune and La Bassee. About 1 km north-west of the village are cross roads known as Windy Corner, and Guards Cemetery is a little west of these cross roads.
A little west of the crossroads known to the army as 'Windy Corner' was a house used as a battalion headquarters and dressing station. The cemetery grew up beside this house.
The original cemetery is now Plots I and II and Rows A to S of Plot III. It was begun by the 2nd Division in January 1915, and used extensively by the 4th (Guards) Brigade in and after February. It was closed at the end of May 1916, when it contained 681 graves. After the Armistice it was increased when more than 2,700 graves were brought in from the neighbouring battlefields - in particular the battlefields of Neuve-Chapelle, Aubers Ridge and Festubert - and from certain smaller cemeteries, including:-
BALUCHI ROAD CEMETERY, NEUVE-CHAPELLE, on the road from Pont-Logy to the "Moated Grange". It contained the graves of fifteen soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in the winter of 1914-15.
EDWARD ROAD CEMETERY No.3, RICHEBOURG-L'AVOUE, on the South side of the Rue des Berceaux, near another "Windy Corner" (Plot I only, which contained the graves of five men of the 1st East Surreys who fell in October 1914).
INDIAN VILLAGE NORTH CEMETERY, FESTUBERT, near the intersection of "Prince's Road" and the front line of early 1915. It contained the graves of fifteen soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in May and July 1915.
LORGIES COMMUNAL CEMETERY, which contained two British graves of October 1918.
PONT-FIXE SOUTH CEMETERY, CUINCHY, on the West side of "Harley Street" (the road going South from Windy Corner), a little South of the Canal. Stretching Westward behind houses, it contained a row of 42 graves of soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in 1915.
The above is most likely the cemetery that Joseph Sheldon was located in after his death and as stated they were later moved here - Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner.
Guards Cemetery now contains 3,445 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 2,198 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 37 casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials commemorate six casualties buried in Indian Village North Cemetery, whose graves were destroyed by shell fire, and four Indian soldiers originally buried in the Guards Cemetery but afterwards cremated in accordance with the requirements of their faith.
The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.
Joseph Sheldon's letter.
Many years ago (1988) I wrote a letter to obtain the details for Joseph Sheldon.
The reply was...
10328 Private Joseph Sheldon. He died in France on 23 June 1915, while serving with the 1st South Staffords. This means he died of an illness, as opposed to wounds. He was born at Caldmore, near Walsall. When he died the Battalion were in the front line area near Guivenchy [sic], a village about ten miles south west of Lens. However he may have been evacuated to a base hospital and thus buried many miles from the battalion area.
This letter and a few heirlooms passed down the family is all I had to work from.
Joseph Sheldon's scroll.
Joseph Sheldon's tube.
Here we have Joseph Sheldon's Memorial Scroll, we also have the tube it was posted in. Notice the address on the tube - 417 Darlaston Road!
Separately the Memorial Scroll was sent to relatives inside a cardboard tube 7 1/4 inches (18.5cm) long.
The Next of Kin Memorial Scroll.
In October 1917 it was announced in The Times newspaper that the committee had decided also to issue a commemorative scroll to the next of kin in addition to the bronze plaque. The scroll would be printed on high quality paper, size 11 x 7 inches (27cm x 17cm).
By January 1918 the wording on the scroll was being discussed. The committee found the choice of words very difficult and asked for advice from numerous well-known writers. Among those approached for suggestions was Rudyard Kipling, whose only son John was missing in action, believed killed, at the Battle of Loos in late September 1915.
However, even with this help the committee couldn't make a decision on the words. Dr Montague Rhodes James, Provost of King's College Cambridge, was then asked if he would write a draft for the wording. With a few changes the Provost's text was accepted by the committee. King George V asked if the King could be included in the scroll wording and the draft text of "at the bidding of their country" was changed to "at the call of King and Country".
The accepted wording agreed by the committee was:
He whom this scroll commemorates
was numbered among those who,
at the call of King and Country, left all
that was dear to them endured hardness,
faced danger, and finally passed out of
the sight of men by the path of duty
and self sacrifice, giving up their own
lives that others might live in freedom.
Let those who come after see to it
that his name be not forgotten.
The text was to be printed in calligraphic script beneath the Royal Crest followed by the name of the commemorated serviceman giving his rank, name and regiment this time individually written in calligraphic script.
Joseph Sheldon's &
Buckingham Palace Letter.
Here we have Joseph Sheldon's Kings message.
The plaque was sent out to relatives in an "On His Majesty's Service" white envelope with a printed "Official Paid" stamp. Inside this outer envelope there was another white envelope with the Royal Crest embossed on the reverse enclosing a letter with a copy of King George V's signature. The letter was written as follows:
I join my grateful people
in sending you this memorial
of a brave life given for others
in the Great War.
George R.I. [Signed].
Inside the outer envelope a cardboard envelope protected the bronze plaque.
Due to the vast numbers of the plaques and scrolls being produced and sent out in some cases the scroll and plaque were received by the families some significant time apart.
A WW1 Memorial Plaque Card Envelope
& Buckingham Palace Letter.
Lastly we have Joseph Sheldon's plaque.
The relative named as the "next of kin" in a serviceman's Service Record was sent a form to complete as a statement to confirm all the living next of kin of that serviceman and the person to whom the plaque and scroll should be sent.
Joseph Sheldon's Memorial Plague has not been passed down to this side of the family.
War pension given to
his widow Elizabeth.
We can see the information about a war pension given to his widow Elizabeth.
This confirms the date (23rd) he was killed in action.
₤3 6s. 2d in 1915, in today's money would be the equal to ₤444 - Calculated using this Link.
The daily rates of pay for a private in the Infantry in WW1 were 1s. 1d, so per annum would be ₤19 15s. 3d.
₤19 15s. 3d in 1915, in today's money would be the equal to ₤2,503.72- Calculated using this Link.
So Elizabeth's War pension was about 18% of Joseph's army pay. What an interesting fact this is.
Arthur Wright's WW1
I do have the Memorial plaque [with card envelope] for my great uncle Arthur Wright (28th March 1892 - 13th October 1915), who was killed on the attack of the Hohenzollern Redoubt in WW1.
Joseph Sheldon's would have been identical except for the name. The reverse was blank.
Ryecroft Cemetery Plan
What an interesting story this is.
James Arthur Steatham's fathered the greatest number of children for any Steatham - fourteen children with two wives.
Philemon Steatham comes a close second with thirteen children but that was with one wife - Ann Williams.
So what happened to everyone?
James Arthur Steatham's first wife Hannah died in 1917 at Christchurch, Hampshire and was buried at James Bridge Cemetery, Darlaston. on Monday the 16th July 1917. Her address stated in the burial records was 417 Darlaston road.
Elizabeth died on Saturday the 24th October 1959 and was buried with her parents Joseph Smith (1856-1917) & Clara Jane [nee Duke] (1857-1927) at Rycroft Cemetery, Walsall - grave number 35/3/621. Marked as A [RED] on Rycroft Cemetery Plan.
James Arthur Steatham's predeceased Elizabeth and died on Monday the 23rd January 1950 and was buried in his own grave on Thursday the 26th January in Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall - grave number 33/3/197. Marked as B [BLUE] on Rycroft Cemetery Plan.
If anyone's know the whereabouts of Joseph Sheldon's Memorial Plaque I would happy to put an image of it here on this website.
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