James Shawcroft was born on 19th May 1899. He was the first child of John and Hannah Shawcroft. According to the baptism register below and later census John was working as a miner.

James was baptised on 7th June 1899 at Old Whittington Church and the address given was Church View.


The next record I can find for James is the 1901 census.

At the time of the census the family are living at 40 Church Street Old Whittington James’s father, John, was born in Brampton.

1901 census


 His mother Hannah had been born at Barlow.

Sadly I cannot find any school records for James but he is shown as a scholar on the 1911 census.


The family live at 131 Church Street Old Whittington.  James now has three siblings, Walter born in 1905, Elsie born in 1909 and Annie born in 1910.  (The 1911 census was taken on 2nd April and Annie is listed as being five months old).

What is sad to note is the entry on the top line of the census next to John Shawcrofts details.  It would appear that whilst the couple had four living children, they had also lost four in infancy!

James enlisted on 28th October 1916 at the age of 17 years and five months. He enlisted in Chesterfield and joined the 3rd Battalion Notts and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwoods).His service number was 118949.


The family address is now 223 Church Street at Old Whittington.

James occupation on enlisting was a ‘clipper on’. James worked in the pit and his job would have involved attaching the wire or rope to the coal carts so that they could be dragged to or from the coal face.His descriptive report on enlistment above is quite interesting because for some reason his age has been altered to show 19 years rather than 17 years!  There is no way of knowing whether this was changed deliberately or whether it was an honest mistake, but it would make James eligible for service overseas.

The next record shows that James was held in a Reserve Battalion but on 19th June 1918 his Battalion was mobilised.


The 3rd Battalion Sherwoods were not sent overseas but to Sunderland.  As there are not many records relating to the 3rd Battalion, I can only assume that they were sent there as a Coastal Defence Force, as Sunderland was a major ship building and coal mining area.

As you can see from the above record James served a total of  1 year and 285 days and James died on 8th August 1918 (according to the  CWGC report below) in a Sunderland War Hospital.  The cause of death is recorded as pneumonia.


A further newspaper report on 24 August 1918 in the Derbyshire Times states that James enlisted on 19th June, however that was the date he was posted. It also clarifies that James was admitted to hospital on 5th July after contracting the Spanish Flu, however the Derbyshire Times have his date of death as 18th August. I suspect the Commonwealth War Graves Commission may possibly be the correct version!

DEATHScreenshot 2023-01-29 144804

He was 19 years old.

Bede Tower in Sunderland served as a hospital in World War


Picture taken from  

The full report on Bede Tower in WW1 can be read here

James is buried in St Bartholomews churchyard Old Whittington. His grave is registered with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at

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In total there are ten Whittington men (Old and New Whittington) buried in Old Whittington churchyard who died in WW1.


The inscription on James grave reads:

‘Deep in our hearts his memory we keep’

John and Hannah were still living at 223 Church Street Old Whittington when the 1939 Pre War Register was taken.

Hannah died in 1955 and John died in 1957.

Walter married Beatrice Vickers in 1929 and in 1939 they were living at 229 Church Street Old Whittington. Walter died in 1980.

Elsie married J B Westlake in 1929 and in 1939 lived in Dronfield.  Elsie died in 1973.

Annie married Cecil Thompson in 1931 and in 1939 was living in Stapleford Notts. Without any legal certification I cannot be sure of the date Annie died.

There was another daughter born to John and Hannah in 1913, Doris.  I think Doris married in London and continued to live in that area but I would need to see official documents to be able to confirm this.


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