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John Harrison Beesley was born in Adlington near Chorley on the 8th November 1884 the son of John and Ann Jane Beesley (nee Harrison). John`s father had been living in Horwich and his mother in Adlington and the couple married in the church of St. Paul in Adlington on Christmas Day 1875. Ann Jane already had a four year old daughter Agnes when she married John and the couple went on to have a further ten children together;

  • Joseph (1876)
  • William (1877)
  • Ann (1878)
  • Elizabeth (1880)
  • Margaret (1883)
  • John (1884)*
  • Mary Jane (1887)
  • Arthur (1889)
  • Ernest (1891)
  • Thomas Woodburn Harrison (1893)

By 1901 John and his family had moved into Chorley and the Census of that year shows them living at 62 Harpers Lane in the town. John was employed in one of the cotton mills as a weaver along with his father and all of his older siblings. Sadly, his father passed away a few weeks after the Census was recorded, his death was registered in the September quarter of 1901.

In 1911 the family home was still in Harper`s Lane although the house number was now 88 and only John, Mary Jane, Arthur and Thomas were still living at home with their mother. There was one more member of the household, a boarder named William Harrison, a widower aged 53. John`s occupation was now a bricklayers labourer but his three siblings were all still involved in mill work. In 1912 John married Fanny Barnes at St. Peter`s Church in Chorley, the marriage being registered in the March quarter of that year. Two years later the couples` only child was born and they named him John, his birth was registered in the September quarter of 1914.

Unfortunately it looks as though John`s service papers have not survived and in the absence of any paperwork it is impossible to say when he actually enlisted. He was at some point posted to the 3rd Battalion LNL and his service number was 18568. He does not have a Medal Index Card nor does he appear to have been awarded with any medals post war which indicates that he did not serve abroad.

From newspaper information we do know that he was released to go and do munitions work as many other men were, John, it seems had been sent to work at Dalzell Steel Works in Motherwell, and whilst working there he was lodging at 35 Roman Road in Motherwell.

On the 25th June 1917 a terrible accident occurred and on the 30th July 1917 the local paper, the Motherwell Times reported on what had happened;

As the newspaper reported, John did not survive his injuries and he passed away in hospital in Glasgow on the 14th July 1917. The body of Private John Harrison Beesley was returned to his home and he was laid to rest in the graveyard at St. Peter`s Church in Chorley.

On the 12th October 1925 John`s widow Fanny Barnes remarried to Bertie Stringfellow in St. James` Church in Chorley and the couple went on to have one child together.

Rank: Private
Service No: 18568
Date of Death: 14/07/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Grave Reference: 544

Janet Davis
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