I am very grateful to Margaret Middleton and Doreen McIntyre for some of the information on this page.
Ernest Harold Johnson was born on 24 January 1893 (birth certificate) at 42 Mill Lane, Treeton, Yorks, to George Johnson and Elizabeth late West formerly Baines, and baptised at Treeton 31 July 1893, a son of George and Elizabeth Johnson of Treeton.
In 1901 he was aged 8 and living at home at Darley Bank, St Thomas, Rotherham.
In 1911, living in 6 rooms at 15 Ferham Park Avenue, Rotherham, he was single and aged 18, a general labourer at a colliery and born at Treeton. With him were his mother, Elizabeth and brother Joseph Edward.
A coal miner, he married Florence Naylor on Christmas Day 1912 in the Parish Church of Rotherham. He was aged 21 and a bachelor of 12 Frederick Street (his father, George, deceased, was a miner) and Florence was a spinster, aged 18 also of 12 Frederick Street. Her father was Arthur Naylor, a labourer. They both signed the register. The witnesses were Daniel Skelly and Mary Scarles.
In June 1917, Ernest Harold and Florence were probably living together at 44 Charles Street, Rotherham (birth certificate of Winnie Johnson).
Ernest Harold enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps 31 December 1917 (at that time a section of the army) and deserted on 10 November 1918. His number was 116743 and he appears to have begun in the 2 B squadron (unit Trig dept). He was transferred to the RAF when it was formed on 1 April 1918. His next of kin was Florence, his wife, of 24 Charles Street, Rotherham, married on 25 December 1912, and his details were verified from his marriage certificate. He was 5 ft 9 ins tall and had a 34 ins chest. His civilian job was ‘labourer’. He was apparently born in 1888 (!), aged 29 (!) when he enlisted – he was actually aged 24 - and his religion was Church of England. He was transferred to ACS 25 August 1918 and deserted from ACS 10 November 1918. His record was not a good one, as he had a district court martial 14 May 1918 and the sentence was 21 days (to 3 June 1918). He was in civil custody for 4 days and military custody for 20 days. He was awarded 14 days detention by his commanding officer 26 June 1918 to 9 July 1918 and forfeited a (or 11?) days pay for overstaying leave 15 October 1918 to 26 October 1918.
In a book of absentee voters for 1918, Ernest Johnson, home address 44, Charles Street, Rotherham, was listed as No.116743-3/a.m. 8th Balloon Apron RAF[ii].
On 4 July 1922 a child Irene was born to Florence and Ernest Harold who were both of the same address at 24 Charles Street, Rotherham. This is close to Arthur Street, Rawmarsh, where Florence had been living before her death in the workhouse.
Florence Johnson died 12 January 1933 at 42 Alma Road, Rotherham - the address of Rotherham Union Workhouse. She was aged 38 and described as of 44 Arthur Street, Rotherham, the wife or widow of Ernest Harold Johnson, steelworks labourer. She died of Ia cardiac failure and Ib bronchopneumonia (no post mortem). The informant was Nellie Wigley, niece, of 76 Arthur Street, Rotherham. Arthur Street is near Victoria Park, Rawmarsh. In the December quarter 1926 Nellie Skelly married Joseph W.G. Wigley in the Rotherham district. Her mother, Nellie Wistow (married Richard Skelly in Rotherham in the June 1906 quarter), was a half-sister of Florence as their mother, Fanny Tempest had married first a Wistow and secondly Arthur Naylor.
Ernest Harold Johnson’s later life proved difficult to research. In the various indexes, registers and censuses there are many Ernest Johnsons and some Ernest Harold Johnsons but the events recorded below are secured by the address of Ernest Harold at death with that of the Ernest of the 1939 register who has the correct date of birth for Ernest Harold, the known child of George and Elizabeth Johnson, and there is only the one birth registered in the March quarter 1893 for ‘Ernest Harold Johnson’. It was Margaret Middleton was able to link these together conclusively.
It seems that between 1922 and 1925 he deserted his wife, Florence, and their family and moved in with Harriet Smith in Mansfield and with whom he had a second family.
In 1939 (register), at 16 Southwell Road West, Mansfield, Ernest Johnson was married with a birth date of 24 January 1893. He was an unemployed miner and a fulltime air raid warden. With him was Harriet Johnson who was married (to whom?) and with a date of birth of 2 May 1896. There were also 1 closed record, then Ada Smith (later Eames) with a date of birth of 28 September 1921 corrected to 28 August 1921 a radio and wireless worker, Ivy Smith (later Gray) with a date of birth 4 May 1923 a leather factory hand, Roy Smith with a date of birth of 29 May 1924 at school, Doris Johnson (later Hull) with a birth date of 1 January 1926, at school, Ernest Johnson with a date of birth of 9 June 1927 at school, then 1 closed, Sylvia Johnson (later Robinson then Bartle with an added name Audrey) with a date of birth 16 February 1931, Rita Johnson (later Nixon) with a date of birth 10 February 1933 at school, and then 1 closed (a total of three whose records are closed, probably one Smith and two Johnsons).
Harriet Smith, Ernest’s partner, was born Harriet Ann Rose and registered in the Mansfield district in the June quarter 1896 (the only likely entry). She married William H Smith in the June quarter 1916 in the Mansfield district. There are two possible deaths for William in the Mansfield district, in the March quarter 1924 aged 53 and in the December quarter 1926. Given that Doris Johnson was born at the beginning of 1926 the former seems more likely. Harriet and William appear to have had four, possibly 5 children - Alice A in 1916? Who died as an infant, William Henry Vincent in 1919, Ada in 1921, Ivy in 1923 and Roy in 1924.
Ernest Harold Johnson died 30 May 1959 at the General Hospital Mansfield. He was aged 66 and of 16 Southwell Road West, Mansfield, a gas yard labourer (retired). He died of a cerebral haemorrhage (perhaps a fitting end given the circumstances of his mother’s death!). His death was registered by WHV Smith, stepson of 11 Gordon Avenue, Mansfield.
Ernest and Florence’s children were:
Elizabeth Johnson (1913 – 1988), was born 31 December 1913 at 38, Cavendish Road, Rotherham (the home of his brother GWW and Elsie Johnson)[iii]. Elizabeth was baptised at St Thomas Kimberworth, 14 January 1914[iv]. The birth was registered in the March quarter 1914 in the Rotherham district (mother: Naylor). Elizabeth was brought up by her Naylor grandparents and believed she was an orphan. She married James William Ashby (born 25 July 1912 and died 29 March 2003) in 1933. James was a wagon builder/repairer. From about 1934 the family lived in Doncaster. In 1939 (register) at 42 Tudor Road, Doncaster CB, James W was a railway wagon builder/repairer with a date of birth of 25 July 1912 and Elizabeth had a date of birth of 31 December 1913, and Derek had a date of birth of 2 August 1936. Elizabeth died 22 October 1988.
Vincent Johnson (1916 – 1986), birth registered in the September quarter 1916, in the Rotherham district (mother: Naylor). He died at Rotherham in January 1986 (registered with a date of birth of 22 July 1916). He may have married Violet Bailey in the December quarter 1943 in the Rother Valley district.
Winnie Johnson (1917 – 1959), born 20 June 1917 at 42 Alma Road [the workhouse], Rotherham. Ernest Harold was a coal miner of 44 Charles Street, Rotherham. She was registered as Winnie (maiden name of mother Naylor) in the Rotherham district in the September quarter 1917. Florence was still at the workhouse when she registered the birth 2˝ weeks later. Winnie was adopted and brought up by the Jago family who lived in Cambridge Street, Rotherham[v]. (In 1911 (Index) there is just one couple named Jago, in Rotherham, Edwin aged 44 and Elizabeth aged 50.) Winnie married George Allcock and had no children[vi]. Their marriage certificate records that on 5 December 1938, after banns, in St Paul’s Church, Masbrough (Rotherham), George Allcock aged 20, a bachelor and soldier, married Winifred Johnson aged 21 a spinster. They were both of 108 Josephine Road. He was a son of Harry Allcock, a labourer and she was a daughter of Ernest Johnson (deceased, so she believed) a miner. The witnesses were James and Irene Fisher.
Winifred Ann Allcock, aged 33, of Turner Lane Whiston, was committed for trial[vii] at Leeds Assizes charged with attempting to murder her husband, George Allcock, a British Rail employee, by administering rat poison containing enough yellow phosphorus to cause death. She pleaded not guilty. From January 1949 to January 1950 she had been a voluntary patient at a mental institution from which she discharged herself. She had been let down badly by her husband and had discovered that he was having an affair. She couldn’t bear to be near him. She went to a probation officer in February to discuss her domestic matters. On 16 March 1950 she put rat poison in her husband’s sandwiches but then confessed this to a probation officer. The police were able then to confiscate the sandwiches from George before he had eaten them. George said in evidence that on 16 March he went to Canklow railway sheds taking with him potted meat sandwiches prepared by his wife. It was his practice to eat between 4pm and 5 pm but just after 3pm a detective had taken the sandwiches off him. He smelled them later in the police office and they smelled of phosphorus. A tin of rat poison was found in the pocket of a pinafore upstairs at Turner Lane. Analysis showed that two out of three sandwiches contained rat poison, one of them 60 mg of yellow phosphorus. She died in London and had had a brain tumour. The death certificate records that Winifred Helen (sic) Allcock aged 42, the wife of George Allcock a goods guard, British Railways, died on 30 June 1959 at 4H Block, Broad Street Dwellings, Whitecross Place, Shoreditch. She died of asphyxia in accidental phenobarbitone overdosage for epilepsy (the epilepsy may well have been a consequence of the removal of the brain tumour). The death was reported by the coroner for London and the inquest was held 2 and 7 July 1959.
Sidney Johnson, birth registered in the December quarter 1918, in the Rotherham district (mother: Naylor)..
Horace W. Johnson (1919 – 1920), birth registered in the December quarter 1919, in the Rotherham district (mother: Naylor). In a telephone call from the superintendent registrar in Rotherham it was established that his mother was Florence Johnson formerly Naylor, but his father’s name was left blank. There is a death entry for Horace W Johnson aged 0 in the December quarter 1920 in the Rotherham district and he was buried at Moorgate Cemetery.
Irene Johnson (1922 – 1922), born 4 July 1922 at 42 Alma Road, Rotherham [the workhouse] to Florence formerly Naylor and Ernest Harold, both of 24 Charles Street, Rotherham. Ernest was a coal hewer. Her death appears to have been registered in the September quarter 1922 in the Rotherham district. She was aged 0. She was buried at Moorgate Cemetery.
The deceased children of Ernest Harold Johnson and Harriet Smith (they appear never to have married) are likely to have been:
Doris Agnes Johnson (1926 – 1992), born 1 January 1926 (1939 register) and registered as Doris A.J. Smith in the March quarter in the Mansfield district. She, as Doris A Johnson, married Reginald W Hull in the Mansfield district in the June quarter 1945. Reginald William Hull’s death was registered with a birth date of 1 November 1920, in the Mansfield district in April 1991. Doris Agnes Hull’s death, was registered with a date of birth of 1 January 1926, in the Mansfield district in August 1992.
Ernest H Johnson, born 9 June 1927 and registered as Ernest H Smith with maiden name of Rose in the Mansfield district in the September quarter 1927.
Sylvia Audrey Johnson (1931 – 1991), born 16 February 1931 and registered as Sylvia A Johnson and Smith in the Southwell district in the June quarter 1931 (maiden name Rose). She, as Sylvia A Johnson, married Leonard Robinson, in the September quarter 1950 in the Mansfield district. As Sylvia A Robinson, she married John W Bartle in the September quarter 1977 in the Mansfield district. She, registered as Sylvia Audrey Bartle, died in April 1991 aged 60 in the Mansfield district. The online register of the crematorium of Mansfield records the dates of death of Sylvia Audrey Bartle as 15 April 1991 and of John Walter Bartle as 30 June 1992.
Rita Johnson (1933 – 1993), born 10 February 1933. She was registered as Rita Johnson and not as Smith (maiden surname Rose) in the Mansfield district in the March quarter 1933. She, as Rita Johnson, married Roy J Nixon, in the Mansfield district in the September quarter 1953. Rita Nixon’s death, with date of birth of 10 February 1993, was registered in July 1993 in the Mansfield district.
Posted September 2017
[i] Rotherham Advertiser, 10th July 1915 p8
[ii] Margaret Middleton at Rotherham Library, email dated 10 Oct 09
[iii] Birth certificate Elizabeth Johnson, 1913
[iv] Baptism of Elizabeth Johnson, daughter of Ernest (miner) and Florence Johnston (sic) of 38 Cavendish Road, Masbrough, 1914, St Thomas' Kimberworth
[v] Doreen McIntyre, telephone conversation 2 May 2009 and 7 September 2017. Doreen remembered going to see Winnie with her mother Elizabeth in London and seeing that Winnie’s head was bandaged.
[vi] Doreen McIntyre, letter dated 5 May 2009
[vii] The Daily Mail Friday 31 March 1950 and Sheffield Telegraph Saturday 1 April 1950