John Bernard Hemsworth (1897-1917)

This page is part of a project by David Verguson to research the lives of those who appear on war memorials and rolls of honour in the Lindley area.


John Bernard Hemsworth was born in 1898, the fourth child of William Hemsworth, a domestic gardener, and his wife Lucy (née Scriven) who were married in Huddersfield in early 1888. It seems likely that Lucy died giving birth or as a result of giving birth to John, in the early summer of 1898. Both parents are named at the baptism at St. John's, Roundhay, Leeds, on 5 June.

With a baby and three other children to raise — Mabel was aged 7, Gertrude 5 and Harold only two years old — William soon re-married. In Huddersfield at the end of 1899 he married Emily Kitchingman, of West Street, Lindley, twelve years his junior. Within two years they had a daughter of their own, Olive and two years later a son, Harry.

In 1901 the family were living in three rooms at 18 Marsh Terrace, just off the New Hey Road between Thornhill Avenue and Cleveland Road. A son, Harry, was born in 1903

By 1911 they'd had two more: Agnes born in 1903 and Ralph born 1910. The family of two adults, four working-age children (one aged 20), four children aged between five and thirteen, and a baby were all living, by then, in five rooms and a cellar at 6 Mint Street, Marsh. John, and probably the other too, attended Holy Trinity Church School.

William still worked as a gardener, no doubt on many of the gardens of the large houses along Thornhill Road or down in Edgerton. Describing himself as a "domestic gardener" suggests he did not work for the Parks Department.

With the three oldest children working, the family were probably not badly off.

After leaving school, John worked as a wheelwright, possibly serving an apprenticeship, learning to make cartwheels. He joined the army on New Years Eve 1916, probably after being conscripted. But his military career was tragically short-lived: he died of pneumonia — easily fatal in the days before antibiotics — at Chatham, Kent, less than a month later 21 January 1917, aged 19.

John's body was returned to Lindley for burial in St. Stephen's church. He is remembered on the memorial at Holy Trinity church opposite Greenhead Park.

Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922

The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:

HEMSWORTH, JOHN BERNARD. Sapper. No 223179. Royal Engineers. Born New Hey Road, Marsh. Son of William Hemsworth, 6 Mount Street, Marsh. Educated Holy Trinity Church of England School. Employed as a wheelwright. Single. Enlisted 31.12.1916. Died at Chatham of pneumonia on 21.1.1917, aged 19 years. Buried St. STEPHEN'S CHURCHYARD, LINDLEY. Grave location:- 7, T.
ROH:- Holy Trinity Church, Huddersfield; memorial in St. Stephen's Churchyard, Lindley.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

  • regiment: Royal Engineers
  • died: Sunday, January 21, 1917
  • age: 19 years
  • record ID: 2752171