Paul Lancaster


This post was written by Victoria Doran.

Paul Lancaster was a married man with a young son who died during the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe. His widow and son probably moved to Hoylake after he died.

South Wales Borderers cap badge.jpeg

South Wales Borderers cap badge

Paul Lancaster was born on 7 September 1886 at Brierfield a few miles north east of Burnley in Lancashire. He was the eldest of the 5 children of Joseph Lancaster (1865-???) and Maria Ashworth (1863-1908).

His eponymous grandfather who was also born near Burnley, Paul Lancaster senior (1813-1866), enlisted in the 35th Regiment of Foot at the age of 20 in 1833, and served as a Private for 21 years before being given a pension of 8d per day due to hepatitis, a chronic cough and dyspepsia.

Whilst stationed in Plymouth, Devon in October 1852 he married Jane Newman (1831-???). Jane’s age varies in every record found, and 1831 is the absolute earliest year she could have been born.

Paul Lancaster & Jane Newman marriage.jpeg

Paul Lancaster senior & Jane Newman marriage

Jane was apparently born in Scotland, though one record gives Ireland. No birth record has been found for her, and her surname is not common in either Scotland or Ireland, so she may possibly have come from a military family.

After leaving the Army in 1854, Paul senior and Jane moved to just north of Burnley, and he worked as a groom and a coachman. No record has been found of any child being born in the first 9 years of the marriage, then 3 are recorded in less than 4 years. Joseph Lancaster was the youngest, and only his elder sister Annie Lancaster (1861-1929) also survived the first year of life. Paul senior died when Joseph was just a year old.

Jane was remarried 3 years later, to James Varley (1822-1878) and had they had a son and a daughter. James was a cotton weaver and they were not well off as Jane was working as a laundress in 1871. Sadly James died in 1878.  Jane married yet again in 1881, this time to James Vernon Clegg. This was not successful as he disappeared by 1891 and Jane was keeping house for her original sister in law Annie and her family, as well as her own children and some other relatives.

So Joseph Lancaster was brought up in difficult circumstances. He worked in the cotton mills, and married Maria Ashworth in 1884, when they were both under age. Maria came from a family of weavers from the same area of Lancashire. They had 4 sons and a daughter. When their youngest son, Joseph Lancaster (1896-???) was baptised, Joseph senior was still working in the cotton mills, but 5 years later he was in a white collar job as a commercial traveller for a wine and spirit merchant. Maria died at the beginning of 1908 and Joseph was remarried before the beginning of April to Elizabeth Ann Kirk (nee Kidd) a widow with a grown daughter.

In January 1909 Paul Lancaster married Lillie Rodgers (1882-1954) in Burnley. Lillie has not been positively identified before the marriage, and the couple have not been found at the 1911 census.

On 5 June 1913 a son Paul Oscar Newman Lancaster (1913-1985) was born in Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester. The address was a boarding house in the 1911 census, and may still have been in 1913. Paul Lancaster was a commission agent.

Paul Oscar Newman Lancaster baptism.jpeg

Baptism at All Saints, Chorlton upon Medlock

Paul Lancaster joined the army in Wallasey, Cheshire probably in 1916 as a conscript. He certainly did not serve overseas before 1916.

He died on 23 April 1917, the first day of the Second Battle of the Scarpe, during the Battle of Arras. He was 30 years old and Lance Corporal 44101 in the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers. They were part of the 87th Brigade in the 29th Division. The 2nd Battalion was a regular army battalion that was in India when war was declared and fought at Gallipoli before moving to the Western Front at the end of 1915. They will have lost a great many men during this time, and Paul will have been a replacement.

Paul’s body was nor recovered and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

Arras Memorial jpg.jpg

Arras Memorial

It is not known when Lillie and young Paul moved to Hoylake. The first record found is 1939, but they must have been there by about 1921 at the latest as Paul is also commemorated on Grange Hill War Memorial. Both of them lived in Hoylake for the rest of their lives.

Paul’s next eldest brother, Arthur Lancaster (1890-1964) enlisted in the Border Regiment in November 1908, and served throughout the war. He was wounded in 1916, and was finally demobbed in November 1920 when he was a Private in the Labour Corps. He earned the medals known as ‘Pip, Squeak & Wilfred’.

It is not known if Paul’s other 2 brothers served in the war.

Birth: 7 Sep 1886 in Brierfield, Lancashire
Death: 23 Apr 1917 killed in action at Bullecourt, France
Addresses: 16 Castle Street, Brierfield, Lancashire (91); 45 Commercial Street, Brierfield (01); 20 Rumford Street, Chorlton upon Medlock, Lancashire (13)
Occupations: cotton warehouse boy; commission agent
Unit: 2rd Battalion, South Wales Borderers
Number and Rank:44101; Lance Corporal
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated: Grange Hill War Memorial, West Kirby; France : Arras Memorial, France
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, RSE Census: 91, 01, PR, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Records 


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