Sergeant Major Joseph Siddall – funeral report

Sergeant Major Siddall in uniform. Also a picture of the funeral procession

Sheffield Daily Telegraph
28  Jul 1915
page 3 column c






    Pathetic scenes were witnessed at Walkley
Cemetery, Sheffield, yesterday, when the remains
of Company Sergeant-Major J. Siddall, of the
Hallamshire Rifles, whose death occurred in
peculiarly distressing circumstances, were in-
terred. A little over three weeks ago the
deceased, who was 48 years of age, having joined
the Hallamshires when only 18 years old, returned
from the front to see his wife, who had been
taken seriously ill, but when he arrived home
she had passed away only half an hour before.
This sad occurrence affected him greatly; he
was taken ill on the eve of rejoining his regi-
ment, and pneumonia developed. He was re-
moved to the Base Hospital, and despite the
attention of the medical staff he passed away on
Thursday last.

    Several thousand people lined the route from
the house in Freedom Road to the cemetery,
where the crowd was so dense that it was found
advisable to close the grounds to the public.
It was impossible to hold a complete military
funeral owing to the fact that a gun carriage
could not be procured. Apart from this, how-
ever, the deceased was accorded full marshal
honours. A firing squad from the 3rd 4th Bat-
talion (Hallamshire) York and Lancaster Regi-
ment, marched at the head of the cortège, being
immediately followed by the regimental  band
under Mr. J.Tait, the Battalion fife band,
and a detachment of the rank and file. Then
came the hearse containing the coffin. At the
approach to the cemetery gates about four
hundred members of the 3rd-4th Battalion York
and Lancaster Regiment, in command of Captain
C.E.Levick, acted as a guard of honour.

    On reaching the cemetery the body was met
by Major M.J.Duggan, Quarter-Master of the
1st 4th Battalion of the York and Lancaster
Regiment (who is home from France on a week’s
furlough), Major J.Wortley, and Major W.
Tozer, Captain S.G.Robinson and Captain
Gilbert Hay, past officers of the Hallamshires.
As the coffin was conveyed from the gates of
the cemetery to the chapel the band played
Chopin’s funeral march.

    The service was conducted by the Rev. S.T.
G. Smith (Vicar of Walkley), Rev.T.M.Archer
(senior curate), Rev.P.J.Kelly , (of Whitwood
Mere, formerly curate at Walkley Church), and
the Rev.J.R. Cooper (minister of Walkley
Baptist Church).

                Walkley’s Sacrifices

The remains were laid to rest on the hill side
in the same grave as that in which his wife
was buried, the coffin, which was covered with
the Union Jack, being borne by six sergeants.
The firing party and buglers, the Regimental
band, and a squad of the rank and file took up
positions round the grave, and at the conclusion
of the committal sentences the Rev S.T.G.
Smith gave a deeply impressive address.

    On behalf of the family and the clergy,  said
Mr.Smith, he thanked them for coming to do
honour to their comrade. He might take it that
the residents of Walkley represented by the great
mass of people outside those grounds also appre-
ciated the honour they had done to a Walk-
ley soldier. They felt that there was a pathos
about that service because the family there
represented were experiencing a terrible bereave-
ment. Only a week ago they buried in that grave
the wife, the helpmeet of him whom they had
just laid to rest. It was their comrade’s terrible
grief, they believed, that had hastened his death.
Round that grave were standing the deceased’s
brother and son, both back from the front
wounded. While all that was indeed a sore blow
to them it was only an example of what the
people throughout the country were experiencing
at the present time. In Walkley they knew of
some 700 men at least who had enlisted, while
they had experienced more than their proportion
of deaths. As far as he could gather that would
make the forty-sixth. They were Walkley men
who had given their lives for their country. All
this it seemed to him should appeal to any who
had not yet given their services on behalf of
their country in some way or other. Such inci-
dents as those should appeal to every man to
be up and doing.

    Three volleys were then fired and the “Last
Post” sounded.

    Among a large number of floral tokens were
wreaths from Lieutenant-Colonel F.Revell
Sutton and officers of the 1st 4th York and Lan-
caster Regiment; Major J.Wortley and Captain
C.E.Levick; the retired officers of the Hallam-
shire Regiment; Sergeant-Major and Sergeants
of the 3rd 4th York and Lancaster Regiment;
Sergeant-Major and Mrs. W.Pinder; the work-
men of Messrs. W.Turner  and Sons; and friends
at the Freedom Hotel.

    Corporal A.Siddall, of the Royal Garrison
Artillery, was granted leave to return home from
the front to attend the funeral, and the other
son, on active service, who was present, was
Cyclist V.Siddall of the Army Service Corps.
He has been wounded.

    Included among those present at the cemetery
were Colour-Sergeant Cowlishaw (now retired)
and several wounded members of the Hallam-

A group of soldiers, returned wounded from the front. They formed the firing party at the funeral of Sergeant Major Siddall
The firing party who fired 3 volleys over the grave
Sergeant Siddall's stripes pasted into a family album
Sergeant Siddall’s stripes pasted into a family album
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Lost at Sea


I have always been intrigued by this footstone. I couldn’t find a mention of this young man in the newspapers. I couldn’t find any official records that might tell me what happened to him.

I invented scenarios that might have taken a Sheffield boy as far as the salty sea.

A school trip? – I don’t think they did that sort of thing back then, except for the wealthy perhaps.

His family moving to find work abroad? It seems his father worked for many years for the Sheffield Water Works Company. No evidence of foreign travel.

A boy soldier?

As you’d expect in the golden days of the Empire there were military operations here and there across the globe in 1897. There were at least two sieges on the North-West frontier (a young Winston Churchill was part of one of these), and another colonial action in what is now Nigeria. There is no reason why Ernest couldn’t have chosen a military career. I suspect though that if this was the case some mention of his death in service might have found its way into the newspapers, or onto the gravestone.

But I no longer need to speculate. A new resource has appeared online recording those who died at sea 1781-1968. It turns out that Ernest Reynolds was a sailor.

A sailor from Sheffield? How many can there have been of those? How would you answer that question? Something to think about.

This is the information from the Record:

Deaths at sea, 1781-1968

Reynolds E (Male)
age: 18
rank: O.S. [Ordinary Seaman
birthplace: Sheffield
last place of abode: 196? Marylebone Rd N.W. / 7 Western ville terrace Winter St Sheffield
cause: vessel missing, supposed lost. Supposed drowned
date of death: 6.10.97
where: At Sea
vessel: Glenfinlas
registered: Liverpool
trade: Aust.

The date of death is notional – it is the date the ship left port and was last seen. The address in Westonville Terrace proves this is the right Ernest (the site of that street is now covered by the Geography department of Sheffield University)

Here is a picture of the Glenfinlas:


She was a four-masted, iron-hulled cargo ship, built in Sunderland and registered in Liverpool. She had set sail on 6 Oct 1897 from Newcastle (New South Wales) for Manila (Philippines) with a cargo of coal (3,060 or 3,700 tons according to two sources).

[Shetland Times, 9 Oct 1897]

By Christmas Eve she was considered overdue:


The ‘Overdue Market’ is described as a way that the insurers list missing vessels, though it seems a mercenary and cold-hearted way to refer to vessels with human as well as cargoes at risk. If I unerstand it correctly the figures in guineas  represent the cost of re-insuring the ships, a high price implying that there is little hope of the ship reaching harbour.

The Glenfinlas, listed in this report at 20 guineas, was listed at 80 guineas on February 17th. Just over a month later all hope was lost and the ship was ‘withdrawn’ from the market…

Morning Post 26 Mar 1898

The final official word was this brief report compiled in Australia and published in London in March 1899:

Why did Ernest go to sea? A sense of adventure, a need to get away from home?

Perhaps it was the eventual result of the strains put on the family by his father’s conviction for embezzlement in 1885. He had been collecting water rates from customers but reducing the amounts he recorded and keeping the difference. He served three months in prison, probably in Wakefield.

The family was together in 1891 but by 1901 Ernest’s parents were living apart. Only his mother (and a sister) are buried in the grave in Walkley Cemetery which records in a few words his own fate.

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Spring Sunshine

Bright sunsine and deep shadows. Ivy creeping up the stones.

Just a quick visit to the cemetery today to photograph a couple of graves and some trees.

Always a patch of sunlight and bluebells at this time of year. Benjamin Philip Bamforth, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers Airborne died 4th April 1944, age 20.

Not many cherry trees in the cemetery – blossom on this one.IMG_7612

War Grave F207 Bernard Morton, 6th Bn., York and Lancaster Regiment

Tootle grave – flower carving.

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May 2016 events

Saturday 21st May 10am-3pm
Work Session in the Cemetery

We will be aiming to spruce up the cemetery ready for a summer season of events. Come for an hour or bring a packed lunch and stay for the day.



Sunday 29th May 2pm- 3.30pm
Cemetery Tour

A leisurely stroll around our Victorian cemetery with Spring in full swing. Meet inside the cemetery gates in Nichols Road, off Waller Road.

Cemetery tour with the Rev. Melanie FitzGerald


Any questions? Call Hugh 07743 394203 or email

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Baby-farming at Walkley

Walkley History

1887-11-07 baby farming elton street SDI

Sheffield Independent 7 November 1887

“On Wednesday last, a man and his wife,
who gave the address of Elton street, Walkley,
visited Eckington in search of the parents of
an infant child who had died whilst in their

The couple and their address are not revealed in this article but other evidence
shows that they were Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Slack of 41 Elton Street.

Elton Street 1950s map

(Visitors to the Walkley Ways marquee in Ruskin Park last Saturday will have
been standing close to the site of this house).

A month ago in answer to an advertisement
for a baby to nurse at Elton street, a man carrying
a child a few weeks old presented himself at the
address named, saying he wished to put the child
with them.

An example of these advertisements (from the following year, 1888)…

1888-07-24 baby farming advert

A young woman having had a misfortune by him,
he had…

View original post 642 more words

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Work Session this Saturday, July 26th


Our next regular work session in the Cemetery takes place this Saturday between 10 am and 3 pm. There is a variety of tasks that we may be doing, from going back into battle with the bracken (if it has not reached the spore-releasing stage) and tackling some ivy, now that the birds have fledged.

You are welcome to come for part of the day, or to bring refreshment and join us for the whole session.

We have a supply of work gloves for those who need them, but we recommend old clothes and sturdy shoes.

Any questions? Please call Hugh on (0114) 2339805 or 07743 394203

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Today’s Guided Tour, part of Environment Weeks in Sheffield

After so much rain in the last 24 hours we were remarkably lucky – just a minute or two of spots of rain during the whole 90 minutes. Although the conditions under foot restricted the steps and slopes I was prepared to risk taking the party down, it was an enjoyable tour. I got the chance to tell some new stories that I had been keeping to myself since the last tour when nobody came.

Our next tours will be the three in one day on July 6th, so if you are not planning to be following Le Tour that day, come for a leisurely walk round on one of our non-wheel-based-transport tours (sadly without feeding stations).

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Here are some of our events over the next few months:

Sunday 25th May                             2 – 3 .30pm
Guided Tour of the Cemetery
Part of Sheffield Environment Weeks 


Sunday 22nd June                           2 – 4.30pm
Gravestone Recording
A Walkley Festival Event
Come and help us record the inscriptions on recently cleared gravestones. All equipment and instruction provided.


Friday 27th June                    7.30pm
AGM and 10th Birthday Celebration
(Guild Room, St Mary’s Community Hall, Howard Rd)
A Walkley Festival Event
An illustrated talk on our first ten years, including popular stories told on our guided tours, followed by our AGM. Display of photos and research materials.
Free Refreshments from 7pm.


Thursday 3rd July                  2 – 4pm
Bracken Bash      
A Walkley Festival Event
Our annual assault on the bracken in the cemetery.


Sunday 6th July                      2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm
Festival Tours   
A Walkley Festival Event
Three chances to hear the latest news and stories

For events in the cemetery meet inside the main gates on Nichols Road
(off Waller Road) postcode: S6 5DU

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The first Vicar reads his own obituary

SMITH Thomas portrait
The Rev. Thomas Smith. (From Sheffield at the Opening of the 20th Century(1900))

The actual obituary of the Rev Thomas Smith mentions that there was a previous, premature, outing for the summing up of his life and career, in the Sheffield Independent. I have finally managed to track it down. The episode is most entertainingly described by that newspaper’s rival, the Sheffield Telegraph!

SMITH Rev Thomas premature obituary 1893-10-02 SDT
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 2 Oct 1893

SMITH Rev Thomas premature obituary 1893-10-07 SDT part 1
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 7 Oct 1893 (part 1)

SMITH Rev Thomas premature obituary 1893-10-07 SDT part 2
Sheffield Daily Telegraph 7 Oct 1893 (part 2)

When Thomas Smith died in 1901, the Telegraph added to the above story…

A Sheffield newspaper appeared one morning with the
announcement of his death, followed by an apprecia-
tive sketch of his career. Fond of a joke, he called
at the office of the paper in question to return thanks,
and next day preached from his own pulpit from the
text, “Can these dry bones live?”

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Walkley Festival Tours

Sunday July 7th

2pm, 3.30pm, 5pm

Each summer as part of Walkley Festival we run three back-to-back guided tours of the cemetery when you can hear stories of Walkley residents resting here and enjoy the semi-wildness of the cemetery in high summer. Each tour lasts 90 minutes; meet just inside the cemetery gates in Nichols Road (off Waller Road)

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