All text and images © Helvellyn Consulting 2021
John Wilkinson was born in 1899, and baptised at Patterdale Church on 9th July 1899. He was the illegitimate son of Margaret Rebecca Wilkinson, daughter of John & Elizabeth Wilkinson who lived at Glencoin Farm Cottages. John’s grandfather, Joseph Wilkinson, was head of Glencoin Farm and a man of some standing. We can only guess the reasons for what happened next but all we know for sure is that aged just 1, John Wilkinson was listed as a “boarder” with the Chapplow family in Dockray in the 1901 Census. The Chapplows had a long association with the Wilkinsons with several members of the family having worked on the farm. By 1911 John had been formally adopted by the Chapplows and was living with 82 year old John Chapplow, and his daughter Margaret (46) and grandson John Chapplow (24).
We do not know anything about John’s war service but we know he enlisted in The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) as soon as he was old enough, and that sadly he died on the 28th September 1918. He is buried at Boisleux-
As well as his grave in Boisleux-
Perhaps the saddest part of this story is that on the 20th February 1922 the Commanding Officer of the Liverpool Regiment requested permission to dispose of John’s medals, as no next of kin could be found. Likewise his army pension was never issued as no next of kin could be found. We do know that his Uncle Joseph was still thriving in Patterdale, firstly at Beckstones and then at Deepdale. Joseph and his wife Annie had 6 children, all Private Wilkinson’s first cousins. One of these, also a John, died on the 30th July 1968 and lived at Moss Side Patterdale, and his son Keith and family continue to live there. John’s Great Uncles Joseph and Jonathan also lived out their days happily in Middleton Place, Patterdale before their deaths in 1919 and 1946 – and their grave can be seen in Patterdale churchyard today.
If you can add anything to Private Wilkinson’s story please let us know.
Private John Wilkinson
87009, 8th Bn., The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Born 1899 Patterdale. Died 28th September 1918, Aged 19 Arras, France
Son of Margaret Rebecca Wilkinson (Glencoin Farm), and adopted son of the Chapplow family, Dockray
John’s obituary in the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald 19th October 1918
John’s Medal Index Card stating that no next of kin could be found, and likewise below his entry in the Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects
November 2021 Update
In the summer of 2021 Jimmy Brown, who now farms at Deepdale Hall with his father Chris, was swimming in Deepdale Beck with his young children when he spotted something unusual wedged between 2 stones on the beck floor. He prised it away and realised that it was a World War One “Death Penny”. After some careful cleaning at home he realised that it was that of John Wilkinson, whose Uncle Joseph had lived at Deepdale after the War.
Maureen Wilkinson, who still lives at Moss Side in Patterdale, wonders whether one of Joseph’s 6 children had dropped it in the beck by mistake at the time, only for it to be found more than 100 years later by Jimmy and his family. Luckily Jimmy is keen on history and immediately recognised the importance of his find -
Our thanks to Jimmy for his remarkable find which helps keep the memory of John and his sacrifice alive……
The WW1 Memorial Death Plaque
The World War One Memorial Plaque was made from Bronze and was popularly known as the “Dead Man’s Penny” among front-
The plaque was an 11 centimetre disk cast in bronze gunmetal, which included an image of Britannia and a lion, two dolphins that represented Great Britain's sea power and the emblem of Imperial Germany's eagle being torn to pieces by another lion. Britannia is holding an oak spray with leaves and acorns. Beneath this was a rectangular tablet where the deceased name was cast into the plaque. No rank was given as it was intended to show equality in their sacrifice. On the outer edge of the disk it bears the inscription, 'He died for freedom and honour'. The design of the plaque was the result of a competition held in 1917. There were more than 800 entries to the competition from and the winning design was by Mr Edward Carter Preston (1894-
The memorial plaque was posted to the next of kin protected in a firm cardboard purpose made folder, which was then placed in a white HMSO envelope. They were posted out with a memorial scroll separately, typically in 1919 and 1920, and a ‘King’s message’ was enclosed with both, containing a facsimile signature of the King.
How John’s managed to find its way to Deepdale Hall whilst his medals were never issued remains a mystery.