James Dangerfield

The following biography was written by Victoria Doran.

James Dangerfield

James Dangerfield as he appeared in the "Deeside Advertiser"

James Dangerfield as he appeared in the “Birkenhead News” in 1915.

James Dangerfield was born on 20 Jan 1892 in Date Street, Liverpool the son of Daniel Dangerfield (1859-1922) and Jane Butterworth (1861-1896). The family were working class, his father being a plasterer by trade, and were beset by repeated tragedies, so James had an unsettled childhood.

Daniel Dangerfield was from a family that had been plasterers in Liverpool for several generations. Unusually he was not baptised until he was 15 years old in 1874. He married Jane Butterworth on 21 Mar 1880 at St Jude, Liverpool and they had eight children. James and all his siblings were baptised at St Saviour, Liverpool. However before James, the sixth child and fifth son was born, Daniel and Jane had already lost 2 sons in infancy. On 12 Dec 1896, the final daughter Mary Ann was born, and both she and her mother died before the end of that month.

In the spring of 1900, John Alfred Dangerfield (1892-1900), James’ eldest brother died aged 18, and within 3 months his father had remarried. His new wife was a widow Margaret Pilling née Woan (1862-1904) who already had 4 children older than James. 

It would seem that Margaret’s health was not good, as at the 1901 census, she and Daniel were living at 5a Upper Terrace, Harold Street, Toxteth, but only Albert (1887-1914) and Bertha Pilling (born 1883) and James and Margaret Dangerfield (1890-1978) were living with them. James’ surviving older brother George (born 1888) was living with his maternal grandmother Ann Butterworth (1827-1901). He was probably looking after her rather than the other way round, as she died within 3 months. Meanwhile James’ 6 year old sister Annie Dangerfield (born 1894) was living in a different area of Liverpool as a boarder with a greengrocer and his wife, who also had three adults, three teenagers and a month old baby boarding, all apparently unrelated to each other. In the summer of 1904, James’ stepmother Margaret died. His father remarried again in 1910, but as it has not been possible to find him on the 1911 census, it is not known who he married.

At some date after the 1901 census, the 4 surviving Dangerfield children all moved to West Kirby or Hoylake, those in West Kirby moving to live with an older brother of their mother, John Butterfield of 7 Acacia Grove. John Butterfield (born 1852) was a former carter in Liverpool who in 1901 was employed by the Urban District Council as a nightwatchman. He only moved his family to West Kirby after 1901. 

Acacia Grove, West Kirby, where the were living at the time of Sidney's Death. Thanks to Al Green for providing this.

Acacia Grove, West Kirby, where John Butterwoth, James’s uncle was residing in 1901. Thanks to Al Green for providing this picture.

In 1901, George and Annie Dangerfield were both living with the Butterworth family, which included their similar aged cousins John and William Butterworth. Margaret Dangerfield was working as a domestic servant to Edward Tottey, greengrocer, and his family at 17 Grosvenor Road, Hoylake.

Meanwhile James had become a house painter and had also joined the Territorials. At the 1911 census he was in barracks at Freshfield, Lancashire, presumably doing some of his Territorial training. Although his military record has not survived, he cannot have been a regular soldier as there were men from several different regiments present, but nowhere near full battalions of any of them, and they all are recorded with civilian occupations. He was a Private in the 3rd Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales Volunteers). The 3rd was the Regiment’s training battalion.

South Lancashire Regiment Cap Badge

South Lancashire Regiment Cap Badge

On 22 May 1913 James married Emma Griffiths (1892-1976) at St Bridget, West Kirby. He gave his address as 7 Acacia Grove and John Butterworth was a witness. His occupation was stage manager, possibly at West Kirby Public Hall. Emma was the daughter of a bootmaker with his own business on Neston High Street and had been a servant in West Kirby since at least 1911, working at 1 Darmonds Green in 1911 and Lea Wood, Grosvenor Avenue (now Kirby Park) in 1913. In August 1914 James and Emma were living at 13 Kington Road, West Kirby.

As a Territorial James was, of course, mobilized at the outbreak of war. The 2nd Battalion of the South Lancashire Regiment landed at Le Havre, France on 14 Aug 1914 as part of the 7th Brigade of the 3rd Division, but James Dangerfield joined the Battalion later as a reinforcement landing in France on 15 Sep 1914 to make up for the losses in the Battles of Mons, Le Cateau and the Marne. The 2nd Battalion then took part in the ‘Race for the Sea’ and from the 12 to 29 October they experienced severe fighting and heavy casualties at the Battle of La Bassée. James Dangerfield died on the 24 October when he was missing in action. His body was never recovered. He is commemorated on panel 23 of the Le Touret Memorial between Bethune & Armentières, France.

Le Touret Memorial near Bethune, Pas De Calais, France, Provided by Bernadette Acquette

Le Touret Memorial near Bethune, Pas De Calais, France, Provided by Bernadette Acquette

There are a few other points of interest to note. Albert Pilling (1887-1914) James’ step brother was a regular soldier, a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the 1911 census. He landed at Le Havre on 12 Aug 1914 as part of the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division. He was killed in action on 23 Oct 1914, one day before James Dangerfield. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres, Belgium.

Although James Dangerfield died on 24 Oct he was listed in the Deeside Advertiser of 6th November 1914 as one of those already serving. Unlike later in the war, at that time not many of the dead, missing or wounded were mentioned directly in the local newspapers. It would appear that later on families provided the information to the newspapers. It is probable that in early November he was still only considered as missing, the family only being notified that he had died later.

We only have a photograph of James Dangerfield because in September 1915 his widow Emma approached the Birkenhead News to publish an article to counter the slanders she was subject to. Firstly people were saying James was in reality still alive, and probably in England. She countered this by pointing out the War Office was paying her a widow’s pension of 10 shillings a week. Secondly it was said that either she was married again or contemplating marriage. She voiced her opinion that no ‘soldier’s widow should marry again until after the war’ In fact she never remarried. The photo at the top of this article is the only one she had of her husband.

Birth: 20 Jan 1892 in Dale Street, Liverpool
Death: 24 Oct 1914; Aisne, France; Missing Presumed Dead
Addresses: 5a Upper Terrace, Harold Street, Toxteth Park (01); Freshfield Barracks, Freshfield, Lancashire (11); 7 Acacia Grove, West Kirby (1913); 13 Kington Road, West Kirby (14)
Occupations: House Painter, Stage Manager
Units: 2nd and 3rd Battalions South Lancashire Regiment
Number and Rank: 1174; Private
Medals: 14 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: France: Le Touret Memorial, Pas de Calais; Grange Hill, St Bridget, St Andrew – all in West Kirby
Sources: GH, WK, CWGC, MC, BR, PR, BN, DA, Census: 01, 11, Ancestry Family Tree


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