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Saturday 12 April 2008

More on James Denton Lee

The small memorial to Lt James Denton Lee in Busk wood, Little Langdale, continues to intrigue both me and others.

A posting on the Manchester Regiment forum produced an excellent response from Agnes Ebrey of Oldham which together with details available on the web begin to paint a picture of the guy's life.

So what do we have? Firstly, the family gravestone in Lister Lane Cemetery, Halifax:

.......Also of Nanney, wife of the above Thomas Edward Denton, who died 19th May 1903, aged 66 years.
Also in loving memory of William Lee, son in law of the above.......:
Also Second Lieutenant James Denton Lee only son of the above William and Mary Lee. Who died of wounds received in France, 22 January 1918, aged 27 years.
Peace perfect peace.......

A William and Mary, also buried in this grave, died in 1898 and 1950 respectively almost certainly JD's father and mother.

The 1891 census shows James D Lee as aged 1 and living with his parents, William Lee, Grocer/ Greengrocer aged 28, born Shipley and Mary Lee aged 23, born Halifax and a Grocer shop manageress. The home address appears to be 7 Coco H(??) located between Northgate and Cross St in the parish of St John the Baptist. The parents were probably married in 1889 in Halifax.

However, the 1901 census shows James Denton Lee, aged 11, as a Resident Scholar in Crossley Orphanage on Manor Heath.

There is also a Kate A Lee in the orphanage, born Halifax and aged 7. Probably his sister named on the medal card, below.

On the same 1901 census Mary Lee, aged 33, a widow is employed as a Foster Mother in the Upperthorpe Cottage Homes, Nether Hallam, Sheffield, looking after a number of what were to all intents, workhouse children.

There is also JD's medal cards which show that the medals were applied for on May 29 1921 by K Lee of 31 Parsons Street, Banbury, Oxford, ... on behalf of Mary Lee, his mother. So clearly his mother was indeed still alive in 1921.

So what do we know? Seems that James Denton was born into the family of a Greengrocer in Halifax, and had a younger sister, Kate. But, when he was 8 years old his father died, leaving his widowed mother with no alternative but to seek work where she could. Obtaining a position as a Foster Mother with the Sheffield Union Cottage Homes necessitated her putting her own two children into Lister Lane Orphanage. What a choice! At some point to be discovered James Denton joined the Lancaster Yeomanry (Duke of Lancaster's Own?), but obtained a commission with the Manchester Regiment before proceeding to Gallipoli perhaps and Flanders where he was wounded. Returning to Blighty he died and was buried, it seems, in the family plot. By 1921 his sister was living at Banbury in Oxfordshire.

But there is still no indication as to why the memorial in Little Langdale!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.