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Remembered Today:

Soldiers members of the various churches pre war


Skipman
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Have noticed that quite a number of the local soldiers were members of one or other of the churches and their names appear on the various church memorials after the war. If for example soldier X was named on the Free Church of Scotland War Memorial in the church, he would have been what we might call a 'wee free' who I think were quite strict in their ways. Is that a fair conclusion to draw or might they have been members of the church because it was the right thing to do and perhaps might help their careers etc.

 

non-churchy Mike

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As a general comment, the majority of people took their religion seriously in those days. In England, the vicar or rector was often well-educated and likely a university graduate, who was considered a patrician figure in his community. Adherence to one's denomination (CE, RC, Methodist etc.) would have been a serious issue and churches would have felt a strong ownership of those of their flock who were serving, commemorating them as a result. Soldiers would have been church wardens, lay readers, choristers, religious teachers and servers.

Naturally, some people would have attended their church because everyone else did: 'the right thing to do'. But I suspect that cynical church-going was somewhat unusual.

Acknown

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Vignette. 25057 Pte Christopher Charles WATERMAN from Rockbourne, who served with the 1st Battalion The Hampshire Regiment, died on 10 April 1917. His fulsome obituary in the parish magazine relates that he was: ‘A man much loved and respected by everyone who knew him, for his genial ways and straightforward and simple character. He had a sweet tenor voice and sang at concerts and in the church choir.

Acknown

 
 

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4 hours ago, Skipman said:

Have noticed that quite a number of the local soldiers were members of one or other of the churches and their names appear on the various church memorials after the war. If for example soldier X was named on the Free Church of Scotland War Memorial in the church, he would have been what we might call a 'wee free' who I think were quite strict in their ways. Is that a fair conclusion to draw or might they have been members of the church because it was the right thing to do and perhaps might help their careers etc.

 

non-churchy Mike

To comment on church going and membership first. Some men took their religion seriously. Others belonged because their family belonged or because someone like their girlfriend belonged (My grandfather, serious in his religion changed denomination whe he married. In plabes going to church was the thing to do. Some employers in rural areas expected it. I've looked at a lot of kirk session records; more single farm workers than I expected joined the local church (away from their homes).

Church war memorials can be quite interesting. In one of parishes I have been working on the same seven names appear on both the CofS (parish church) War Memorial and the UF (United Free Church of Scotland) War Memorial. Incidentally two of them don't appear on the parish war memorial.

In general men who were members of the non- conformist and free churches were a little more likely to be members by conscience or at least by family connection. But there still could be a certain social status in belonging to one of those churches. An obvious and rather simplistic example is a church which was built by a mill  owner's family.

You are probably wrong about the wee frees, incidentally. It's perhaps easiest if you try to make sense of this time line:

Churches_of_Scotland_timeline.png

The Wee Frees were and are the relatively small number of churches which did not go into the union of the Free Church and the United Presbyterian Church in 1900. Since the United Presbyterian Church was itself a union of denominations there were quite a lot of United Free Churches in the same town in 1914.

RM

Edited by rolt968
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Another man I am researching was a leading light of his local Wesleyan Methodist Church. He was a draughtsman and designer for a local textle company. He created the church's Roll of Honour then joined up later the same year - so his name appears on the ROH - and on the War Memorial.

RM

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Thank you RM.  Have you found any church records that give any details of soldiers you're researching. Is that something I should follow up?

 

Mike

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In my personal experience I would never take appearance of a name on a church memorial as an indicator that the individual soldier followed a particular faith without supplementary evidence.

I'm currently doing a project on the men of a small Norfolk Town where the memorial in the C of E church lists 25 Parishioners, (as opposed to "Men of this Parish"), who made the ultimate sacrifice. The implication being that all 25 were C of E.

But the Baptist Chapel in the same town has a memorial to the members of the Congregation and Sunday School who gave their lives in the Service of King and Country. Ten of the 11 names there are in common with the C of E Memorial. But a search for surviving service records turned up one of the ten who gave his faith as Wesleyan.

Meanwhile where I've been able to track local down reports in the local newspapers two of the 25 "C of E" have mention of their roles in the local Primitive Methodist circuit.

And while I can't vouch for it being his faith, one of the officers listed attended a Catholic Prep School before going on to a minor non-denominational Boarding School.

In the absence of other evidence then generally I would suggest that the presence of a name on a church memorial, (or any other for that matter), is as likely to reflect the wishes (and denomination) of those who put the fallen soldiers name forward for inclusion.

Cheers,
Peter

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Just now, Skipman said:

Thank you RM.  Have you found any church records that give any details of soldiers you're researching. Is that something I should follow up?

 

Mike

It can fill in where men were between the 1911 Census and 1914. You may also find that men did some kind of church work or held positions in the church. I have found one or two cases where special arrangements were made for men to become members of the church (to use the Anglican term; be confirmed) before they joined up. You may find a list of people belonging to the church who are away from home involved in the war. One session clerk to whom I am very grateful, after the first service of intercession for the war in January 1915 wrote into the session minute book the names and units of all the men from the church who were serving at the time.

To some extent you have to be usd to reading church minute books. Also most of the CoS and UF records are at the Scottish National Records in Edinburgh and the 1900 to 1920 records are quite frequently not digitised yet.

RM

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Hi Skipman,

In the case of my Grandfather, he was raised by his maternal uncle who was a Methodist lay preacher, so inevitably (perhaps) he followed the same faith, and enlisted as a stretcher bearer.

Hope this helps with your understanding of some of the issues.

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Thanks again. I know a few people who are connected to the local churches will see if there's anything held locally.

 

Cheers Mike

 

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1 minute ago, Interested said:

Hi Skipman,

In the case of my Grandfather, he was raised by his maternal uncle who was a Methodist lay preacher, so inevitably (perhaps) he followed the same faith, and enlisted as a stretcher bearer.

Hope this helps with your understanding of some of the issues.

 

Yes thanks you. Quite a number of the local men ended up as stretcher-bearers. There were a few in the local VAD.

 

Mike

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5 minutes ago, PRC said:

In my personal experience I would never take appearance of a name on a church memorial as an indicator that the individual soldier followed a particular faith without supplementary evidence.

I'm currently doing a project on the men of a small Norfolk Town where the memorial in the C of E church lists 25 Parishioners, (as opposed to "Men of this Parish"), who made the ultimate sacrifice. The implication being that all 25 were C of E.

But the Baptist Chapel in the same town has a memorial to the members of the Congregation and Sunday School who gave their lives in the Service of King and Country. Ten of the 11 names there are in common with the C of E Memorial. But a search for surviving service records turned up one of the ten who gave his faith as Wesleyan.

Meanwhile where I've been able to track local down reports in the local newspapers two of the 25 "C of E" have mention of their roles in the local Primitive Methodist circuit.

And while I can't vouch for it being his faith, one of the officers listed attended a Catholic Prep School before going on to a minor non-denominational Boarding School.

In the absence of other evidence then generally I would suggest that the presence of a name on a church memorial, (or any other for that matter), is as likely to reflect the wishes (and denomination) of those who put the fallen soldiers name forward for inclusion.

Cheers,
Peter

You raise a good point. In some but certainly not all cases the war memorial in the parish church might be the parish rather than the church memorial. I've actually come across one which is even more confusing as it records the men of the Parish and Estate of" X and the estate extended a considerable distance beyond the parish.

It's worth remembering that church war memorials like parish war memorials reflect the affiliation of the relations (or friends) who put forward the name.

I am fairly sure that one man is missing from a war memorial I have researched because there was no one to submit his name.

RM

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15 minutes ago, PRC said:

In my personal experience I would never take appearance of a name on a church memorial as an indicator that the individual soldier followed a particular faith without supplementary evidence.

I'm currently doing a project on the men of a small Norfolk Town where the memorial in the C of E church lists 25 Parishioners, (as opposed to "Men of this Parish"), who made the ultimate sacrifice. The implication being that all 25 were C of E.

But the Baptist Chapel in the same town has a memorial to the members of the Congregation and Sunday School who gave their lives in the Service of King and Country. Ten of the 11 names there are in common with the C of E Memorial. But a search for surviving service records turned up one of the ten who gave his faith as Wesleyan.

Meanwhile where I've been able to track local down reports in the local newspapers two of the 25 "C of E" have mention of their roles in the local Primitive Methodist circuit.

And while I can't vouch for it being his faith, one of the officers listed attended a Catholic Prep School before going on to a minor non-denominational Boarding School.

In the absence of other evidence then generally I would suggest that the presence of a name on a church memorial, (or any other for that matter), is as likely to reflect the wishes (and denomination) of those who put the fallen soldiers name forward for inclusion.

Cheers,
Peter

 

Thank you Peter

"In the absence of other evidence then generally I would suggest that the presence of a name on a church memorial, (or any other for that matter), is as likely to reflect the wishes (and denomination) of those who put the fallen soldiers name forward for inclusion."

Excellent point.

 

Mike

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I forgot to mention Rolls of Honour (distinct from war memorials). Some are still hanging up in churches. A lot have been lost, but some are still turning up in church cupboards having been forgotten about for years. They are quite a useful resource.

RM

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Not wanting to digress (well, I do really)...

Here's a Roll of Honour, but not of a religious Society - the Oddfellows Call was a pub near Oldham!

Unfortunately it was lost many years ago after the pub was demolished.

 

 

SalemOddfellowsCall.jpg

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Mike,

It might be an idea to contact the regional head of whatever religion it might be to see if they can assist in anyway. The Baptist's used to  print a book called "Christians Pathway" which contains many snippets such as letters from an officer at the front, sermons given during the war, pictures and small bio's of those serving from a particular church/chapel. Other Churches themselves printed books on their individual Roll of Honour.

One of the local churches in my area has a good few Italian men named in the stained glass in their local Roman Catholic church. Men that were living in the UK and worshipped in that particular parish church, but went back to Italy to serve in the Italian forces.

Andy

DSC03341.JPG

DSC03342.JPG

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11 hours ago, PRC said:

In the absence of other evidence then generally I would suggest that the presence of a name on a church memorial, (or any other for that matter), is as likely to reflect the wishes (and denomination) of those who put the fallen soldiers name forward for inclusion.

I would agree with this. One of the names on my church war memorial is that of the poet Charles Hamilton Sorley, whose father, Prof W R Sorley, was a don at King's College, opposite the church. I think that Charles himself was an Oxford man.

Two of the other men on the memorial are the sons of pre-war vicars of the parish.

Ron

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The Non-Confirmist churches had a tradition of trying to keep members of the Congregation in touch, especially if they couldn't attend through health or physical absence. This took off in the form of newsletters during the Great War as not only might members be serving home or abroad, but in an industrialised war there would have been those who moved to do war work or serve in hospitals and the like. Letters and articles from those who could not attend were actively solicited and prayers requested for them. My understanding is that while some local Methodist \ Baptist Chapels have maintained archives of these, much of it has ended up in the Non-Conformist archive at the University of Manchester. https://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/rylands/special-collections/exploring/guide-to-special-collections/

Always worth contacting your local Chapel to see if they have anything.

During the Centennial Commemoration the Wesleyan Methodist Church did have an online site with mini-bio and pictures, much of which I got the impression was sourced from these newsletters. Unfortunately just tried a couple of links I had saved for individuals and looks like they are defunct.

They do however have a list of memorials and rolls of honour - although it seems entirely about England. The website states 285,000 Wesleyan Methodists served and 26,581 died. https://www.mymethodisthistory.org.uk/category/topics-2/war_memorials/a_further_204_late_returns

From the context those numbers exclude Primitive Methodists and United Methodists. May be worth a search on the site to see if there is more.

Cheers,
Peter

Edited by PRC
Typo
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In theory the archives of Methodist churches should have been deposited with the local archives. (An instruction from the Methodist Conference in the 1970s and as far as I know still in force.) Unfortunately in a number of cases there were no local archives at the time. Some churches managed to deposit their archives with places like local university archives.

I am not surprised that PM and UM rolls of honour don't appear at mymethodisthistory.org. The site is much better for Wesleyan material.

RM

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