‘West African Britisher Dies Whilst Serving the King’

The above words are the title of an article appearing in the ‘Birkenhead News’ of 31st July 1915. I discovered it on 8th August 2012 in Wirral Archives and it rather took me by surprise, firstly because I was not expecting to read any detailed references to African people in the local press and secondly because of the largely favourable way in which John (or Jack) Libby (or Lebby) was described. Here is the article in full:

John Libby 31 July 1915b

The Birkenhead News of 31st July 1915 Reports on the Death of John (Jack) Libby in Birkenhead

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History From The Bottom Up: John Lodge of Ellesmere Port and the Great War

Ellesmere Port is a remarkable place. It lies on the banks of the River Mersey, at the southern end of the Wirral Peninsula. It grew as a result of its links with the Midlands via the Ellesmere Canal (later called the Shropshire Union Canal)  and access to Liverpool, Manchester and the wider world via the Manchester Ship Canal and River Mersey.  Two ironworks arrived early in the 20th century –  Burnell’s in 1903 and The Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company in 1905. By 1911 the two works were employing over 3,000 people between them and the town’s population had risen by 142.5 percent since 1901.

Ellesmere Port on the 1912 6-inch O.S. Map

Ellesmere Port on the 1912 6-inch O.S. Map. Notice the two ironworks north and south of the railway line and Oldfield Road (where the Lodge Family lived) and Cambridge Road (where the Lodge children attended school) in the bottom left corner.

Ellesmere Port Ironworks from Above in 1926

Aerial View of the Ironworks in 1926

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Two George Yoxalls Of The Cheshire Regiment

George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The First George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The Second George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

The Second George Yoxall on Middlewich War Memorial

For a couple of years, we had a base in Middlewich. It was a remarkable coincidence because my wife and I are sixth cousins via the Yoxall family, which must have begun in the village of Yoxall in Staffordshire, but, in the 18th and 19th centuries, lived in the Cheshire village of Sprowston near Middlewich. We are descended from Moses Yoxall (born in about 1700), our six greats grandfather. During my frequent strolls around Middlewich I noticed the town war memorial and saw the two Yoxalls –  G. and G.W.; there is also a George Yoxall on nearby Winsford War Memorial; his inscription appears at the top of this post. I wanted to know firstly whether they were related to each other and secondly whether they were related to my wife and I.

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