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Chapel Street Chapels
The Chapel Street area is one of the oldest parts of Ormskirk. Formerly a small lane projecting from Scarth Hill Lane, which became St Helens Road, the building of Chapel House and several rows of cottages along the lane in the 17th Century meant that the town extended further East to the edge of the Moor and being close to the road in from Wigan and St Helens it would have been a busy area. From the late 1650s, Chapel House was the home of Rev. Nathaniel Heywood M.A. (Trinity College, Cambridge).
Nathaniel Heywood was baptised at Little Lever, Bolton-Le-Moors Sept 16th 1633. Despite being a sickly child and often considered to be failing in health he survived his weakness. He was an exceptionally gifted scholar and was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge at the age of 14 on May 4th 1648. After he graduated he went to work as a minister in Eccleston near St Helens where he married a local girl and they then moved to Illingworth, West Riding.
Nathaniel had been Minister at Illingworth Chapel, West Riding, living with his older brother Oliver, the Minister at Coley Chapel, Northowram, Nr Halifax, before coming to Ormskirk in the spring of 1657. Nathaniel and his wife had nine children and he was well known in the town for his ability to never get into debt and manage his family with good judgement.
In 1672, Nathaniel built two small chapels outside of the town, one adjoining Lady Stanley’s house at Bickerstaffe, 2 miles South of Ormskirk, and one at Scarisbrick, two miles north of Ormskirk Parish Church. He preached on alternate Sundays and found them very well attended. It was whilst preaching in the pulpit at the Bickerstaffe Chapel in 1674 that, after several warrants had been issued against him for his continued non-conformity, a band of soldiers took him from the pulpit with a pistol pointed at his head, even as Lady Stanley (Elizabeth Bosville, 1645 – 1695) bravely stood her ground trying to prevent them seizing the minister.
He was taken to Up Holland where he was bound over to appear at the next assizes at Wigan, once there, his accusers expected him to be sent to Lancaster Jail but the JP intervened and he was acquitted and sent home.
He then continued his travels around the district on foot or on horseback, travelling to preach as far away as Toxteth Park and for a week he travelled to the West Riding to visit his brother and to preach there. On his journey home, he stopped at Rochdale and Bolton to preach .
In 1662, the brothers were both ejected from their respective parishes after refusing to adhere to the Uniformity Act of 1662. Nathaniel and Oliver were used to conducting their sermons without direction or prayer book. In 1662 Nathaniel set up a dissenters meeting house at Chapel House after being ejected from his role as Vicar of Ormskirk. After Nathaniel’s death on 16th Dec 1677 aged 44 and after being ill for over a year, Nathaniel’s Brother Oliver wrote : ‘My dear and only Brother, ten years a public preacher and half that period Vicar of Ormskirk, but turned out on Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1662, having preached in private since,and prophesied in sackcloth, is now clothed in white robes before the throne of heaven….He was a Christian, and a minister if great ability,an ornament to his generation, eminent for zeal, piety, humility and all ministerial endowments’
The funeral took place at the Parish Church and was attended by ‘a vast confluence of all descriptions of people’. He was interred in the chancel in the burial place of the Stanleys of Bickerstaffe with their ‘free consent and desire’. The Constable of the town led the funeral procession, carrying the town mace.
Descendants of Nathaniel Heywood include the Liverpool Banking family of Sir Benjamin Heywood, the first Baronet of Claremont being the owner. Another descendant is William Ewart Gladstone, MP and Prime Minister four times between 1868 and 1894,
The dissenters meeting house remained open after The Rev. Heywood died, his son, also Nathaniel, carried on his father’s ministry, building a Chapel on the street in 1696 which remained there until the land was bought in Aughton Street to build a new one.
An Ormskirk Tradition: The Sunday School Walks
St Peter and St Paul Sunday School anniversary walk holds so many memories for many people in the town, apart from during the War years when children walked from their own schools in groups, the procession has walked through the town during June.
Several followers of Ormskirk Bygone Times have shared images from over the years with followers of the OBT Social Media page, these are worth sharing with the readers of the Advertiser too.
Many people will remember Miss Leatherbarrow, Miss Potter and Miss Webster from the 1960s, when the Sunday School was held at Greetby Hill School. Prior to that it was held at the Derby Street School for girls and the Aughton Street Boys School.
Riot At Ormskirk
The Historical Market Town of Ormskirk was rocked to the core on Wednesday 20th October 1824 when a riot broke out in the town and shots were fired.
The trigger which led to no less that 2000 of the townsfolk taking part in the riot was the appointment to Deputy Constable at the Court Leet by the Jury Foreman, Harvey Wright, of Mr Thomas Howard, instead of the re-elected Deputy-Constable, Mr Derbyshire. The Earl of Derby, as Lord of the Manor, was the Steward over the Court Leet and seemingly the remainder of the 12 man jury took the dismissal of their elected Deputy very badly. (The High Constable of Ormskirk in 1824 was Robert Barton).
The Jury were dismissed but as is the custom, the name of the new Deputy Constable was announced at the door of the Town Hall and all those who heard the announcement immediately responded with hisses and groans.
Jury Foreman Harvey Wright ordered the outgoing Deputy Constable. Mr Derbyshire, to give up his Staff of Office to Mr Howard. Derbyshire refused to obey the order at which point Wright ordered the newly appointed Deputy Constable, Mr Howard, to take the staff by force.
The court was dismissed and Harvey Wright left for his home on Aughton Street but he was followed by a huge mob shouting and hissing after him. Wright was being bombarded with rocks and stones and had to take refuge in the store of Mr William Garside down Aughton Street. The only person who was there to help Wright escape the mob was town Surgeon Mr Henry William Ellis, (later to marry Wright’s second Daughter Mary) who himself was hit and injured by a rock and managed to drag Wright into the Garside shop.
The mob remained outside the shop and continued to yell and hurl missiles into the store and at one point a shot was fired which narrowly missed hitting Mr Wright in the chest.
The noise and shattering of plate glass must have woken Mr Garside who was sleeping above his shop,he came down and bravely confronted the mob begging them to consider his home and his family. The mob moved away but only to set fire to a barrel of tar and roll it further down the street to Wright’s house where they placed it against the front door.
The barrel burnt quickly however and caused little damage, but the mob continued to march through the streets with blazing torches with the deposed Deputy Constable Mr Derbyshire raised on the shoulders of a few of them.
The rioting carried on for a good length of time, with local shopkeepers supplying the rioters with shot, crackers and squibs to keep the uproar going. None of the Jury, nor the town officials nor the newly elected Deputy Constable Howard made any attempt to calm the offenders. (Crackers and squibs were small sticks of explosive or fire crackers, the term ‘damp squib’ meaning one which didn’t work properly due to moisture.)
It was Saturday, 3 days later, when the town Constable and new Deputy finally made between 20 and 30 arrests, including Mr Derbyshire, the ex Deputy Constable. All were bound over to the Quarter Sessions to answer to the charge of rioting.
Ormsirk Men & The First Weeks Of The Battle Of The Somme
The Battle raged on after July 1st, a day which has gone down in history as the worst in British Military History for losses.
Ormskirk District lost men on the first day of the battle like most other places. Isaac Allman and Clifford William Bales were both with the 18th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment, they had both attended Ormskirk Grammar School and both were pack leaders with the 1st Ormskirk Scouts. They had signed up just a day apart in the first month of the war and no doubt they were pals during their first years of service. They are remembered on the Aughton Civic Memorial, the 1st Ormskirk Scouts Memorial, and the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of honour, both at buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetary at Mametz.
Isaac Allman had been born in St Kilda, Victoria, Australia in 1893, his parents had set out to Australia after marrying to start a new life and a new family, sadly his father, also Isaac, died and his mother Jane returned to England with her two children, settling at Trenchfield Cottages, Prescot Road after re-marrying. Isaac worked at a local Hotel when he left school but then started work for Lever Brothers. He signed up the day after Clifford Bales, 1st Sept 1914 and he too joined the 18th Bn King’s Liverpool, the white collar Bn as it was termed. Isaac is also remembered on the Lever Brothers Employees Memorial .
Private Clifford William Bales. Clifford was born in Toxteth, 23rd Sept 1894, son of William Ellis and Alice Ann Bales. The family moved to Rockville, Altys Lane, Ormskirk before 1901. Clifford signed up in August 1914, prior to that he been working at the District Bank on the corner of Moor Street and Aughton Street, for 4 years. He joined the 18th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment, one of Lord Derby’s battalions. The 18th Bn were amongst the first over the top at 7.30am on 1st July 1916, going over in four lines, their goal being to take the enemy line, the Glatz Redoubt and the village of Montauban, enemy machine-guns cut down many men, those who reached the enemy engaged in hand to hand combat, Clifford was lost here and buried in haste, in 1919 his remains, like hundreds of others, were reinterred in Dantzig Alley British Cemetary, Mametz. Clifford is also remembered Holy Trinity Church Bickrstaffe memorial.
Also lost on that first day was 8234 Lance Corporal Robert Francis Rogers, aged 31, 1st Bn Royal North Lancs., KIA 1st July 1916, Robert had worked for the waterworks since leaving school, then enlisted in the Territorials in 1904 for a number of years, His family lived at Moss Delph Lane, Aughton. He married Jeanie McConnachie Tromp in 1907 and they lived at Toxteth Villa, 16, Halsall Lane. He became a postman in the town in 1912. At the outbreak of war he re-enlisted in 1914. Wounded in 1915 twice, he was in the retreat at Mons, he returned in 1916. Robert was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and is remembered on the Thiepval memorial with no known grave. He is also remembered on the Aughton Civic Memorial and the Post Office Memorial. He left a widow and two children,
33193 Lance Corporal John Kirby, 21,17th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment, was killed on the 3rd July 1916, born Liverpol Road, Bickerstaffe,Ormskirk. His father George worked at Bickerstaffe Colliery when John was born, then the family moved to Rock Lane, Melling but when John was killed, his widowed mother Jane nee Bradley had moved back to Ormskirk and was living at 71, Wigan Road. John is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial as having no known grave, he is also on the Memorials at St Thomas C of E Church, Melling and the Liverpool Town Hall Memorial.
29648 Private Peter Cave, 22, also serving with the 17th Bn King’s Liverpool Regiment with John Kirby, was also killed 3rd July 1916, born Long Lane, Aughton, his parents were John and Mary Cave nee Balmer and they lived next to the Dog & Gun, Mary’s father, John Balmer, who was from a local Quarrying family. Peter and his family moved to Johnson’s House Farm, Ulnes Walton before the war. Peter has no known grave and is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial and the Aughton Civic Memorial.
These men and the many others lost at the Battle of The Somme from July to November 1916, as well as all other local men lost during World War One are included in a display at The Civic on Thursday 7th July, 7 – 9pm, when in partnership with WLBC , we will be screening a film made by the Imperial War Museum which tells the story of the Somme and the men lost. The film last 1hr 13mins and is a cert PG.
Admission is free, a small donation to the cost of room hire is optional.
Ormskirk Men Killed At The 1st Battle of the Somme
The Thiepval Memorial is dedicated to the 72,195 missing British and South African men who died in the Battles of the Somme over a 4 years period from 1915 to 1918.
The memorial includes the names of the following men, who were amongst those lost who were local to or with an association to the town and district of Ormskirk during the 1st Battle of the Somme between 1st July 1916 and 18th Nov 1916. These men have no known grave.
John Ball of Maghull, aged 19. Grocer’s Assistant, John is also remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, the Maghull Civic Memorial and St Andrews School, Maghull memorial.
Richard Ball, 21, Richard and his two brothers worked in the railway goods yard before the war, the family lived at 33 Derby Street and then The Lodge at the Green Lane Isolation Hospital. Richard is on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Street Boys School Memorial.
Benjamin Billen, 22, Gardener, born Liverpool Rd., Aughton, named after his paternal grandfather who was a gamekeeper on the Scarisbrick Estate. Benjamin is on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Civic Memorial.
Herbert Samuel Bray, 31, of Maghull, Herbert was a Master Baker working in his father’s business. Herbert is on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, the Maghull Civic Memorial and on St Athanasius C of E Kirkdale memorial.
John Critchley, 21, 2nd Lieutenant, John was the son of Capt William and Mrs Mary Ellen Critchley . He was educated at Wolverhampton Orphanage where he was appointed assistant Schoolmaster. John is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Southport C of E memorial.
Edward Culshaw, 29, of Plex Lane, Halsall. Edward was a signalman before enlisting. Edward is remembered on the Halsall Civic Memorial.
Thomas Foster, 19, Son of Thomas and Alice Foster of Halsall Lane, Thomas worked for a Tailor from leaving Aughton Street school. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, Aughton Street Boys School Memorial and the Aughton Civic Memorial.
John Gaffney, 23, John was from a large family of Ball’s Yard, Aughton Street, close to ParkAvenue. His parents were both Irish but he himself and all his older siblings were born in Ormskirk. John was working as a farm labourer before enlisting. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll.
James Goulbourne Galland, 27, son of Henry Galland of 7, Mill Gardens, James was a collier before joining the army. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Street Boys School Memorial.
Richard Collins Gibbon, 19, his baptism at Lathom Chapel records he was born at Ring o’Bells, he was a member of a large boat family, Richard was in service at Watson House Farm, Halsall, before the war. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Memorial and the Halsall Civic Memorial.
John Hogarth, 24, born and raised at Scarth Hill, baptised at St James, Lathom (now Westhead) 1892, his father was a farm labourer as was John before the war. John is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Street Boys School Memorial.
James Howard, 26, Son of Henry and Hannah Howard, the family had moved to Liscard Cheshire when James was still a small boy but he moved back to Ormskirk when he started work as a bricklayer, boarding at 18 Mill Street. James is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour.
Hugh Kennedy, 23, son of Dodson Kennedy, of Aughton , Hugh was from the Tile and Brick manufacturing family of Asmall Lane, his career was as a Stock Broker, he married in 1915. Hugh is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Halsall Civic Memorial, Aughton Civic Memorial, Merchant Taylors School, Crosby, Aughton Institute, St Cuthbert’s Church, Halsall and the Liverpool Stock Exchange memorials.
Christopher Longton, 21, son of John and Mary Ellen Longton of North Moor Lane. Halsall, Christopher went to work as a cowman on his grandmother’s farm after leaving school. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, the Halsall Civic Memorial and St Cuthbert’s Church Halsall memorial.
David Oswald, 22, David was born in Bonhill, Dumbarton, his father, also David, brought the family from Scotland in the 1890s to work as the Farm Bailiff on the La Mancha Estate, Halsall. David was an agricultural student before the war, also working at La Mancha. He is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, the Halsall Civic Memorial and St Cuthbert’s Church War Memorial.
Edward Lea Philips, 29, baptised at Ormskirk in 1887, he had 5 sisters, his father was the secretary to the Liverpool Stock Exchange and the family lived at Belmont, Aughton Park. Edward is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Civic Memorial.
James Whalley, 23, of Middlewood Road, Aughton, James, his older sister and his father all worked at the Powder Works, Melling, prior to the war. James is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour and the Aughton Civic Memorial.
Thomas Winrow, 18, son of Mary Winrow of the Alms Houses, Church Lane, Aughton, Thomas was the only son of John and Mary Winrow, Mary being widowed by 1911 and living with 13 year old Thomas in the Alms houses. Thomas is remembered on the Ormskirk Comrades Roll of Honour, he is also the youngest casualty on this list.
This is just a very small group of men lost from the town and district during the Battle of the Somme. A full list will be available at the OBT Live event in partnership with WLBC on Thursday July 7th at The Civic. A film complied by the Imperial War Museum to commemorate the Anniversary of the Battle of The Somme has been made available for a free public screening at 7pm. The film lasts just over an hour and is a cert. PG. Everyone is welcome,a donation to cover room hire is optional. This is expected to be a well supported event.
Philip Forshaw of Bath Springs Brewery seems to have been a very hard working and dedicated business man. He had built a small empire out of his investments in Brewing and distributing Ale to Inns, Public Houses and Beer houses across the County.
Not everything in Philips life followed the same pattern of success, by August 1862 he had been struggling with ill health, (he was partially paralysed after a stroke), he had been involved in several legal battles with clients, employees, tenants and his own family. No wonder that he tried to sell his Bath Springs Brewery that August. His plan might have been to retire to his newly built home on Lord Street and take things easier.
The tragic circumstances surrounding the sudden death of his eldest daughter Martha, just weeks after her second child was born, would have been a great blow to Philip. His legal fight to regain control of his business interests from his next of kin had most likely caused considerable animosity between his Family. After Martha’s death, within a week, Philip and his nephew John Forshaw had drawn up Philips last will and testament.
The will goes a long way to help see what kind of a man Philip Forshaw really was. Within the first few sentences he names his two illegitimate sons, John and Philip Baldwin, as his executors. These young men had been living with their mother in the cottage at the back of Forshaw’s Ship Inn since they were young boys. Their mother Catherine Baldwin had lived in Up Holland when she gave birth to her sons, John in early 1845 and Philip born 1st October 1848. A relative had the licence at the Bird ‘ith Hand beer house, Hall Green, Upholland and it is probable that Philip Forshaw had business interests at the Beer House.
It is not possible to say for sure whether when Catherine and her sons relocated to the Ship Inn Cottage in Ormskirk, any of Philip’s family knew Catherine and her sons were the other family in Philip’s life but quite possibly they did not move there until after both his daughters were married.
The first bequest Philip makes in his will is one for the sum of £1000.00 to be used for the sole purpose of building a parsonage for the vicar or incumbent of the Parish of St Mark’s Church Scarisbrick.
The second bequest is for the sum of £1000.00 to be invested by the Vicar of Ormskirk for benefit of the poor of the town, whereby £100.00 per year from the annuities should be used for consumables such as coal and bread for the needy however the Vicar sees fit. He also left £100.00 each to the Foreign Missionary Society and the Southport Strangers Charity.
There was a further legacy of £100.00 to be used to fund medical care for the poor of the town at the Dispensary, and the Rev. James Taylor Wareing of Wellfield House, Westhead in Lathom Parish, was charged with seeing to it that the money was used wisely.
There was however, the strangest of provisos added at the end of the first set of charitable donations. It appears that Philip Forshaw had misgivings about one or two members of the town’s legal fraternity. His words are as follows:
‘I Declare that the legacies or sums of money before given for the benefit of the Incumbent or pastor of the church at Scarisbrick aforesaid; For the poor of Ormskirk; To the Ormskirk dispensary And for the Southport Strangers Charity, shall be null and void in case William Welsby of Ormskirk aforesaid, Solicitor, Charles Hill of Ormskirk aforesaid, Solicitor now or later his clerk or any partner or partners of them or either of them shall be holding any appointment, office or employment, honorary or otherwise or be Trustee Manager Chairman or Clerk or otherwise connected so as to give them or either of them directly or indirectly a voice in the mode or manner of the distribution of such Legacies or any of them or concerned in any way as to the investing of the same or any of them.’
The above declaration is on page one of Philip’s eight page will, the will was made public within days of his death and the details of the charitable donations made the newspapers in several local towns that same week. Philip’s solicitor was his nephew John Forshaw of Preston.
Another declaration on page three reads, ‘The sum of £100.00 lent by me to the Reverend Joseph Bush, Vicar of Ormskirk aforesaid on a note of hand I forgive him and release him from the payment thereof and all interest due thereon.’ Rev Bush was the Vicar of Ormskirk from 1853 – 1870 and in 1909, a stained glass window was put in at the church to commemorate the work of Rev Bush and his wife Annabel Theodosia Bush.
Philip’s only surviving daughter Annie, who was married to bank manager William Henry Smith and lived in Southport, was included in the will along with her two half-brothers John Baldwin and Philip Baldwin and she was left one third of the estate. There was however another declaration :
“and in the case of the said Annie Smith for her separate use free from the control of any husband and without power of anticipation”
‘Any Husband’? Philip covered all his bases! By 1871, William Henry and Annie Smith had 8 children and lived at 132, Lord Street, Southport. Philip had died in 1865 and his estate was valued at under £25,000.
Interestingly, William Henry and Annie Smith are not enumerated at their home address in 1871, all eight children are left at home in the care of servants. It took a while to find out where the Smiths had gone, then they turned up, as house guests at ‘The Firs’, Lathom, home of Charles Hill, solicitor of Ormskirk…..
The next episode will cover the property Philip left, the bequests to the ordinary people in the town and the tragedies of the 30 years beyond his passing.
Trouble Brewing – Part 3
Philip Forshaw had been trading as a saddler in the Golden Lion yard but at sometime between 1841 and 1844 he took over the lease of the Golden Lion. When the out buildings at the rear of the Old Ship Inn across the road came up for sale in October 1844, the auction was held at Forshaws’ Golden Lion. Thomas Williams was the highest bidder at the sale with his bid of £162.00.
The Old Ship Inn itself came up for sale in 1846 and Philip Forshaw took out a mortgage and moved into the Inn. Philip had lost his wife and baby son in 1842 and his two daughters, Martha and Ann went away to boarding school in Litherland after their mother died. Martha was born 1837 and Ann was born 1839. Whilst his daughters were away at school, Philip carried on adding to his business interests, taking over the Aughton Brewery in 1849. Joseph Richardson, from a well known Rainford brewing family, had built up the Aughton Brewery for some years and it also ran the White Bull and the Swan Inn, Burscough Street. When he died in July 1848, his executors put the brewery up for sale as separate lots, selling off some of the building land around it, where villas were built quite quickly.
Forshaw took over the brewery but it would seem that he was not happy with the efficiency of the layout or the production. To really make the success he wanted from brewing, he needed a purpose built modern brewery. In 1851, he sold on the Aughton Brewery to Joseph Pye (later to partner with his brother-in-law Captain Edward Sudbury) and moved into the newly built Forshaw Brewery at the Bath Springs site.
By the late 1850s Philip Forshaw and his Bath Springs Brewery had become the biggest brewery in the town and not only supplied ale to many many Houses, he also owned and sub-let dozens of Houses across the county from Preston to Wigan and Southport to Liverpool.
By the time his youngest daughter Annie married in March 1857, Philip Forshaw was a wealthy and successful businessman. Annie married William Henry Smith, who had been one of Philips Brewery Managers, but shortly after the marriage, William became a Bank Manager in Southport.
On 6th September 1859, Philip’s Eldest daughter Martha married Captain William John Chambers Martin of the 6th Royal Lancashire Militia, he had been born in Bengal, India and his father had also been in the Army.
It was in the summer of 1859 however that Philip Forshaw suffered a stroke, which left him paralysed and incapacitated. He had recently built some houses in Birkdale and he was unable to run his business or visit the premises around the county which he owned. His physician was so concerned with the grave state of his patients’ health, that the doctor felt it wise to inform Philip that this may be his last few months on earth.
Being the type of man he appears to have been, this set in motion a plan to oversee the transfer of all the business to the control of his offspring, which at that time were his two married daughters. Of course that really would have meant that the son-in-laws would be in control. By early 1861, a couple of changes took place. Philip made an unexpected recovery, although he was still paralysed. William J.C. Martin became Superintendant of the Police and moved into the Police Superintendant’s house on Derby Street with his wife Martha and their little boy William Arthur born Aug 1860.
Once he found that he had recovered enough to take back his empire however, Philip realised that he would have to fight to get control back through the courts. It is unlikely that his daughters would have stood against him, but they were both married to men who were used to being in charge and this forced Philip to apply to the Chancery Court to reclaim his property and businesses.
This set in motion a sequence of events which changed the business and the family.
Martha gave birth to a baby girl, Emma Charlotte, in the summer of 1862. Her father Philip, still unwell but in control of his business, seems to have been estranged from his family. In November 1862, his eldest daughter Martha died aged just 25. She left two small children and a great deal of turmoil. At the inquest on her death held at the Coroners Court in Ormskirk, adjacent to the police home where she died, the coroner, Mr C. E. Driffield, took the court before a jury, and the evidence from Martha’s Doctor revealed the cause of her untimely death. Her father was not in court, but his nephew, John Forshaw, who was also the family solicitor, was present.
Medical evidence put before the court revealed that some weeks prior to her death, Martha had received a blow to the temple by a blunt object and this caused a fracture of the skull. A further witness, Dr Ashton, who had attended Mrs Martin after the accident, repeated two conversations he had had with Superintendant Martin, Martha’s widower, after the original injury. Martin explained that during the night the little boy, William, had been restless and needed attention. Martha and her husband had argued over the care of the boy and Martin explained that the argument had escalated to objects being thrown across the bedroom after a brief physical struggle. As Martha was leaving the room she slipped, and hit her head on the door handle.
On her deathbed, Martha, who was struggling to speak and was very weak, was unable to answer questions put to her by two physicians as to the exact cause of the injury to her skull. Due to any evidence to the contrary, a verdict of accidental death was recorded.
William John Chambers Martin moved to West Derby as the Superintendant of Police there. His son William Arthur grew up and went to medical school, Emma Charlotte married a Scottish businessman.
Philip Forshaw was left with just one daughter to carry on his business but her family was growing and her life was with her bank manager husband in Southport.
Philip relied on John Baldwin,a young man who was running the brewery and who had been living at the Ship Inn for a number of years with his younger brother Philip Baldwin. Both boys were the illegitimate sons of Catherine Baldwin of Up Holland, who had brought the boys to Ormskirk in the 1850s to live at the Ship Inn. It would not be until Philips death in 1865 and the acknowledgement in his will of his two illegitimate sons, John and Philip Baldwin,that the real Forshaw wars started.
Part 4 of the Forshaw Saga to follow.
On Saturday night into Sunday morning of May 5th/ 6th 1956, sisters Margaret Jane (69) and Mary Ormesher (67) were viciously killed in their own home, ‘Ivy Dene’, 8 Asmall Lane, Ormskirk. The house was the former Brickmakers Arms, a ten room house with a court yard behind, which contained several small dwellings, all accessed via a passage way between number 6 and number 8.
The spinster sisters lived a quiet life with their black spaniel dog ‘Trixie’, being regarded as a reliable alert dog,Trixie was known to greet people noisily. The dog was in the kitchen of the house where the two ladies were found and Trixie had received a considerably heavy blow to the head, she was in a poor state when the house was entered by a neighbour and followed the neighbour out of the back door.
Minutes later P.C. Mellor arrived, there being police houses at that time just 100 yards up the road. At the September inquest, P.C. Mellor states that apart from the victims and various items he noticed, a small mongrel dog came out from under the kitchen table as he stood surveying the awful scene. The sisters did only have the one dog, known to be a black spaniel.
At the inquest several people made statements to the court about hearing a variety of noises, groans, breaking glass, bin lids clattering, voices, both male and female. These noises appeared to have been heard from around 11.15 and 11.30 pm.
The area behind the Brickmaker’s Arms was a small compact yard overlooked by no’s 1 & 2 cottage to one side and No’s 3 to 7 cottage along the back, residents at no 2 and no 3 all heard the noises later reported in depositions, however, on the night they were dismissed as ‘someone having a bit of bother’ or ‘someone drunk’ and everyone went to bed again.
Mary Ormesher had arrived home from her shop alone between 10-10 and 10.25 pm, she was carrying the brown attaché case she always used for the shop takings in her right hand and something else in her left hand, but the neighbour who saw Mary from the window did not see what else Mary was carrying.
At around 10.18pm, another neighbour who had been out and was returning to his cottage in Brickmakers Yard, saw a man he did not recognise across the road from the Yard. Sometime later, another neighbour left his house by the front door to take some golf clubs across the road to a neighbour, returning at 11.20 but he did not mention seeing or hearing anyone in the area.
Despite a witness coming forward in the days that followed the murders saying they also saw a man with a similar description in the same area, that man does not seem to have been identified in the days/weeks following.
The police searched the house and found that the brown attaché case was on the kitchen table and contained a small amount of silver but the two khaki cloth money bags which Mary used for the takings were missing. After a thorough search of the house, small quantities of money, wrapped in paper, were recovered from various rooms. Despite local rumour that said the sisters were hoarding cash, only a modest amount was recovered and the house had not been ransacked at the time of the murders. Mary had not left a will but the letters of administration granted on June 12th declared an estate of £1722.14s.4d. Margaret had not left a will either and in the letters of administration granted on June 20th her estate was £249.13s .4d.
The town came to a standstill for the joint funeral of Margaret and Mary, it was a poor day and rained constantly but hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral cortege passed through the town from the hospital to the Parish Church. The sisters were laid to rest together in the Parish Church and for many years their grave was tended by Stanley Draper C.B. E. Church Sexton.
Five weeks after the murders, and after searches using police dogs at Ruff Wood, Edge Hill College and the Burscough Brick Works, the investigation was not progressing and although 1000 fingerprints had been taken and eliminated, the decision was made at a special court on June 14th to begin to fingerprint every male in the district aged over 16 who was living in the district on the weekend of the murders. This was to be done by plain clothed detectives visiting people in their own homes and it was expected to take up to a month to complete the exercise.
The person or persons who committed these murders has never been officially named and identified, rumours would emerge over the years as to the identity and fate of the killer. The case will never be closed.
Memories recently shared by a cousin of the family, paint a picture of a hard working woman in Mary and a gentle caring person in Margaret Jane.
“Maggie and Polly were such gentle souls – there wasn’t an ounce of animosity in them. Mother and I visited quite a lot and were always made very welcome. Polly was the bread winner and Maggie the homemaker who also looked after their mother Emma – she died aged 84 in 1951. Auntie Maggie always ‘read our tealeaves’. Polly opened the shop every day –including Sundays- she was so very well known in the town, she always had a roaring fire burning, like everyone else they had evacuees during the war, there was a young boy and later a mother and son.
Their murder was a dreadful shock for everyone, not least the family – it was unbelievable.
If only the one witness- Trixie their little dog, could have talked.
Although the house was quite big they only seemed to use the one room-it always felt very homely, Maggie made delicious pies!”
The shop in Church Street had been the subject of a demolition order due to the condition of the old building since the early 1950s and following the deaths, the order was carried out and the shop demolished and re-built.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has copies of the reports of the events following the murders and the details on the coroner’s enquiry.
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Sixty Years On: Part 1
On May 6th this year, it will be 60 years since the town was rocked with the tragic news of the brutal double murder of the Misses Margaret Jane and Mary Ormesher.
The sisters were the daughters of the late Edward and Emma Ormesher, who had brought their family up on Asmall Lane, close to “Ivydene”, the house which was to become the scene of their deaths.
There were five daughters born to Edward and Emma, of which Margaret was the eldest, Mary the second child and then three more daughters, Emily, Ellen, who sadly died aged just 2 years old in 1897, and May. When May was born in 1900, Margaret was 12 years old.
Edward worked as a carter for a Mineral Water Company, he had moved the family to Chapel Street for a short time in the early 1900s where they ran a small beerhouse known as the John Bull at the corner of Chapel Street and St Helens Road, but they moved back to Asmall Lane where Edward took the licence for the Brickmakers Arms. Margaret Jane left home to become a live in domestic servant for a newly married couple Albert Kelsall and Hilda Clarice his wife, at ‘Highfield’, 31,Greetby Hill.
Younger sister Emily was married in 1917 to a soldier who was serving in the war, her younger sister May was a witness, the husband John William Allen was from Halsall Lane, Emily’s father Edward (Ned) Ormesher set up his own business after the Brickmakers Arms licence was made redundant selling small hardware like brushes and oil lamps from a horse and cart, he travelled around the district and was well known in the area. He had a brother Robert from Westhead and 2 married sisters, Mrs Lydia Light and Mrs Annie Lownsbrough, there were therefore several cousins of the sisters in the Ormskirk, Westhead, Lathom and Skelmersdale areas.
Mary Ormesher took a lease on a small shop at 24 Church Street and ran a sweet and tobacco business for a number of years. She became well known in the town and very well liked and respected as was her sister Margaret.
Whether it was because of local rumours that suggested the sisters were money lenders and were hoarding large sums of money, (rumours proved false by the C.I.D. team after the murders) or whether it was an opportunist robbery gone badly and devastatingly wrong, one or more people committed the murder at the Asmall Lane Cottage overnight from the 5th to the 6th May 1956. There had been intelligence sources relayed to the local police 18 months before the murders suggesting that the shop was going to be a target for a robbery and the sisters were advised to be vigilant.
The sisters apparently put up a desperate fight to fend off their attacker, police statements at the time were clear that whoever did enter the cottage, will have left with some serious wounds which would need medical attention.
Specific items of jewellery were taken, of which there were very precise descriptions, an 18ct gold patterned ring, similar to a man’s signet ring but with a large blue sapphire and two smaller sapphire stones on it. A lady’s oblong faced platinum bracelet watch made by Russell, with diamond chipping surround and sapphires at each corner, quite distinctive. Bought in 1942 for £95.00, which is almost £45.000.00 in today’s money, although the piece sounds so unusual it could well be worth more because of its quality.
The beloved family dog, a black spaniel called ‘Trixie’ was also killed on that night, which explains the lack of barking which might have alerted the neighbours more than they already had been that night, when breaking glass and ‘groaning’ and a man’s voice were discounted as anything serious.
The Ormskirk Advertiser immediately posted a reward of £50 to anyone providing information which would lead to the culprit.
There are so many aspects of the case which in modern times would most likely lead to an almost immediate arrest of a suspect, unfortunately it happened at a time when crime scene investigation was not supported by the technology and science available now.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a large collection of information surrounding the sad loss of these two well known and well liked residents of Ormskirk. Part 2 of this article will follow soon
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