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John William Birkett was born on 17th August 1895 at High Rake Glenridding. His father Joseph had been born in Keswick in 1857 but had moved to Glenridding to work at Greenside mine where he’d met and married Mary Ellen Shaw, the daughter of another Greenside Miner. They married in 1892 in Patterdale. We believe that Mary Ellen already had daughter, Ann, who had been born in 1890. She was then joined by George (born in March 1893), John William, and Thomas Edward (1898 -
John and his siblings were joined by three younger brothers over the course of the next few year, Arthur (1903), Harry (1906), and Joseph Mark (1909). The same year that their youngest child was born, 1909, John’s father Joseph died, aged just 49. He was buried on 19th December 1909. Mary Ellen and the family continued to live at High Rake and in 1911 was there with all here sons, as well as her mother in law and brother in law. By now both John and his elder brother George were working as Lead Ore Dressers at Greenside Mine. We also know that John was a keen sportsman, playing both football and cricket, and he appeared in the photo reproduced below of the victorious Ullswater Rovers football team after their 3-
We do not know exactly when John enlisted with the army but it is likely to have been towards the end of 1915 along with the other men in the Dale as part of the Derby Scheme. What we do know from his later obituary is that he served in the Royal Field Artillery war, spending two years in France. When the war finished on the 4th April 1919 John signed on for extra service with the Royal Artillery. He attested in Edinburgh was in India for three years, rising to the rank of Corporal. At the time of his re-
We believe that when he returned to Glenridding he rejoined Greenside Mine. Although his obituary states that he “worked for 18 years in the power station at the Greenside Lead Mines from 1939 until his retirement in 1957” it is quite likely that he worked there before then as well. He was certainly living in Glenridding as he appears on all the electoral rolls from 1920 to 1939. In March 1927 he married Miss Martha Stratton, from Howdon-
Fond of all forms of sport he played football until he suffered a cartilage injury, but cricket was his main interest and in the nineteen-
He was also a keen follower of the Ullswater Foxhounds and his enthusiasm was such that when the hunt was seeking lamb-
John and Martha settled at Millcroft, Glenridding, neighbours of the father of fellow First World War veteran and Greenside worker David Brown. John died on the 20th March 1963 and was buried in Patterdale. His obituary, quoted above, appeared in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald on 23rd March. As it said
The Patterdale district lost a well-
Martha died on the 9th March 1991, aged 88, and was buried with John in St Patrick’s Churchyard in Patterdale.
In terms of the rest of John’s family, his younger brother Arthur died at the age of only 19 and was buried on the 8th May 1922. His grandmother Dinah died in December 1927 at the age of 95. His mother Mary Ellen died in early 1937 and was buried at Patterdale. His sister Ann Shaw married (John) Seymour Jones ( who born c.1888 in Wales). He was another Miner living in the from the Rakes Cottages. They married on 15th Feb 1911 and later that year were living with Seymour's parents in 5 High Rake. Seymour was a Horse Driver Below Ground at the mine. They had 2 children, Bertram George (born January 1917, and Harold Jones (born 1921 -
John’s elder brother George continued to work at Greenside and live at High Rake at least until 1939. We believe he died in Carlisle in December 1968. His younger brother Harry also stayed in Glenridding, marrying Maude and living at 6 Low Glenridding until he death aged 63 in 1968. Maude was from the North-
We are very grateful to Warren Allison for his hard work in researching John and his family. If you can add anything to their story please contact us.
Gunner (later Corporal) John William Birkett
244514 , Royal Field Artillery
Born 17th August 1895, High Rake, Glenridding. Died March 1963 aged 67 at Millcroft
Son of Joseph Mark and Mary Ellen (nee Shaw) Birkett, 1 High Rake
Husband of Martha Stratton
The Ullswater Rovers Football Team in 1914. John is in the back row in the suit on the left of the picture. The other team members are named on our Ullswater Football Team page.
John and Martha’s Grave in Patterdale Churchyard