Sergeant Joshua Milner Singleton

A white circle with a glove crossing it's fingers and the words: Made Possible with Heritage Fund.This man is a candidate for addition to Keighley's Supplementary Volume under the proposal to add further names in 2024, the centenary of the original roll of honour.
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Supported by the National Lottery's Heritage Fund, our project intends to submit about 120 names for peer review to add them to the book which is kept at Keighley Library. The unveiling of the book with it's new names is planned for November 2024, 100 years after the unveiling of the original war memorial.


Private. 14th Battalion, Canadian Infantry. Service number 26665.

A portrait image of a man wearing an Army jacket. He is facing the camera, looking slightly towards the left of the camera

Joshua with the uniform of the Imperial Yeomanry

Early life:

Joshua was born at Dewsbury in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in 1869. His birth was registered in the town in the third quarter of that year. His parents were Ralph Singleton and Jane Singleton née Milner.
In the 1871 census Joshua was aged just one and living at Knowle Place in Mirfield with his parents and older brother Thomas, aged five. Their father Ralph was 25 year old a Railway Agent and their mother Jane was aged 25. Also living with them was 13 year old Henry Lees, a twister at a cotton mill.

In the 1881 census Joshua was eleven years old and living at Lawkholme House with his parents Ralph aged 36 and Jane aged 36. Ralph was now a Railway Station Master. They now had four children who were Thomas Henry aged 15 and a grocer's assistant; Joshua was eleven and a scholar; Edith Clara was aged just three and the baby of the family was Margaret Maude, aged just one year. Also there with them in the census were Herbert Brook, nephew of Ralph and Jane who was 16 and a Railway clerk plus Mary Jane Bland, aged 23 and a dress maker who was probably just visiting.

In the 1891 census Joshua was 21 and boarding at 53, George Street in St. Pancras, London. He was a Railway shipping clerk and likely to be here in some connection with work.

By 1900 Joshua was living at Keighley and had secured the position of Vaccination Officer for the Keighley Board of Guardians. He applied for a year's leave in order proceed to South Africa to serve in the Boer War as a member of the Imperial Yeomanry. They also accepted his father Ralph for the deputy vaccination Officer's position.

Boer war service:

Joshua attested with the Imperial Yeomanry at Sheffield on 16th January 1900. He gave his age as 30 years and seven months and that he was a Poor Law Officer. He stated that he was in the Yorkshire Hussars at that time.
His details were that he was 5 feet six inches tall, wighed 143 lbs and had a chest measurement of 32 inches. His complexion was fresh and he had grey eyes and light brown hair. He gave his religion as 'Other Protestants' (Baptist or Congregational.) He was declared fit for the Army on 16th January 1900. His enlistment to the Imperial Yeomanry was approved on 18th January 1900 at Sheffield with service number 575.
He was at home for 26 days until 10th February and began his service with the 9th Company, 3rd Regiment Imperial Yeomanry (Provincial Battalion) entering South Africa on 11th February.
He served there for 90 days until 11th May, when he requested a discharge on medical grounds with severe rheumatism.
Returning to the United Kingdom, he served at home for 156 days until his discharge on 14th October 1900.
He received a war gratuity as a private, under Army Order no. 5 of 1901. His total service was 272 days.
He later received the Queen's South Africa Medal, with clasps for Cape Colony and Orange Free State

Return to civilian life:

In the 1901 census, Joshua was living at 15, Sunny Mount, Keighley with his parents Ralph aged 56 and the Keighley registrar of births, deaths and marriages, and a shipping agent's clerk. His mother Jane was aged 55. Joshua was aged 31 and the Deputy Registrar, and a shipping agent's clerk. His siblings were Edith C. aged 25 and Margaret M. aged 21 who were both shipping agent's clerks. Ethel B. was 18 and apparently not employed. Also living with them was Sarah Singleton, Joshua's widowed grandmother and their cousin Maggie Iredale who was an elementary school teacher. Lastly they had a domestic servant, Elizabeth Reed.

Bingley Chronicle and Pioneer: Saturday 6th September 1902:

Mr. Joshua M. Singleton wrote reporting the death of his father, Mr. Ralph Singleton, registrar of births, marriages and deaths for the Keighley sub-district, which took place on Monday. He added that it was his intention to apply for the vacant post - on the motion of Mr. W. Clapham, seconded by Mr. J. Walsh, and supported by the Rev. Hugh Davies, a vote of condolence was passed to the widow and family. It was decided to advertise for a successor, and Mr. J. Pickles and others argued that more convenient hours should be arranged. It was decided that a selection should be made from the applicants on Wednesday next, and the appointment made on Saturday.

There are three instances of a Mr. J. M. Singleton travelling between the UK and America and the details match closely. He was working as an emigration agent but it's possible he was looking to emigrate to Canada himself in the future:
On 1st February 1904 he was aged 34 and travelled from New York in the U.S.A., to Liverpool on the SS Campania.
On 15th October 1904 he was aged 36 and travelled from England to Halifax in Canada on the SS Buenos Aryean of the Allan Line.
On 21st December 1905 he was aged 37 and travelled from England to Halifax in Canada on the SS Sicilian of the Allan Line.

First marriage:

Bradford Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 6th February, 1907:
Mr. Joshua Milner Singleton, secretary of the Keighley Victoria Hospital, the Keighley Chamber of Commerce, the Keighley Charity Organisation Society, and the International Brotherhood Alliance, was yesterday married at the Temple Street Wesleyan Chapel, Keighley, to Miss Isabella, Ambler, of Malsis Crescent, Keighley. The officiating minister was the Rev. T. Ogden Taylor.

On 17th April 1908, tragedy struck when Isabella died aged 32. Her death was registered in Keighley in the second quarter of the year. She is buried in the Ambler family grave at Utley Cemetery.

Second marriage:

On 6th June 1909, Joshua married again, to Jeanie Martin at Christ Church in Battyeford, near Mirfield, (about three miles South West of Brighouse.) The record shows he was a 39 year old railway agent of Sandywood House, Knowle in Keighley and Jeannie was a 28 year old spinster of Ingrow Cliffe in Keighley. It might seem odd for them both to travel to Mirfield to get married but it was Joshua's home town, so maybe there was a family connection locally.

They had a son, Fred Milner Singleton, born on 12th February 1910 and baptised at St, Andrew's Church in Keighley on 19th April the same year. By then they had moved to 66, Cavendish Street in Keighley.

As an aside, in the next few years, Joshua is listed in the Keighley Electoral Registers for the following addresses:
1906 Keighley 57, Cliffe street. Qualifying property 4, North Street.
1907 Keighley 57, Cliffe street. Qualifying property 4, North Street.
1908 Keighley 31, Unity street. Qualifying property 4, North Street.
1909 Keighley Highfield lane. Qualifying property 4, North Street.
1910 Keighley Highfield lane. Qualifying property 4, North Street.
1911 Living at Keighley 66, Cavendish street.
1912 Living at Keighley 66, Cavendish street.

In the 1911 census he was aged 41 and living with his wife Jeanie aged 30, at 66, Cavendish Street in Keighley. He was a Railway, Steamship and Emigration Agent. They had been married for one year and had a son, Fred Milner Singleton. Also living here was Eleanor Hollingsworth, a 17 year old domestic housemaid.

Joshua emigrated to Canada, probably after 1912.

War service:

He enlisted with the Canadian Army on on 21st September 1914 at Montreal in Canada. A card notes that he'd served with the South Middlesex Regiment for 14 years and the 3rd Regiment, Victoria Rifles (Canada) for 1 year.

Whilst serving with the 12th Reserve Battalion (formerly 14th Battalion) a medical document dated 1st February 1916 states he had chronic appendicitis and shortness of breath. He was hospitalised for 17 days at Bulford, having first noticed the shortness of breath while on route marches as he could not keep up with his unit. Origin of disability was December 1914. He looked older than his actual age of 47. He had considerable pain and tenderness over appendix. Bowels moved twice a day. Short of breath n the least exertion.

Joshua was examined at No. 11 Canadian General Hospital at Shorncliffe on 8th February 1918. His service was described in this report:

After enlisting with the Canadian Army on on 21st September 1914 at Montreal in Canada, he was at Valcartier until 1st October 1914, then came to England and was in West Down South, until February 1915. Was in Bulford, to April then Shorncliffe, St. Martins, Plains, until October 1915, Napier Barracks, until October 1916; Crowboro to May 1917, where on 4th January 1917, he was promoted to Acting Sergeant (with pay);

A man wearing the uniform of the Canadian Army in the Great War. He has a field cap and jacket on and sergeant's stripes on his arms.

Sergeant Joshua Milner Singleton.

He was at Canadian Records to January 28th 1918. General Depot at Shorncliffe up to present time. While at West Down South had attack of Cholecycstitis. (gall stones)
Present condition: Complains of shortness of breath, and chest pain on exertion. Mitral lesion present, Pain in region of gall bladder and appendix, on pressure.
Pain continuous, increase on walking. Systolic murmur, heart beat atapox. (Not propagated). Heart out to the nipple line. Murmur accentuated on exertion. Becomes dizzy when asked to touch his toes rapidly for six times. Arteries palpable. Pulse rate 76 per min & regular. Other systems apparently normal. He was classed as fit for base duty. Classed as B3.

At this time (February 1918) he was over age (46) and was discharged from hospital. He was allowed to continue serving on permanent light duties, due to his condition.

Joshua died on 8th August 1919 aged 50 whilst on Army leave. Their family home at Morecambe was 'Bayview' 93, Marine Parade, Sandylands, Morecambe in Lancashire.
His obituary in the Yorkshire Post stated that his funeral took place on Tuesday 12th August 1919.

The Lancashire Daily Post:

Monday 11th August 1919.
TRAGIC DEATH ON LEAVE.
Joshua Milner Singleton (50), a former Keighley man, who emigrated to Canada some years ago, and when war broke out enlisted in the 1st Royal Montreal Regiment, died suddenly whilst on leave at Morecambe. He was stationed at Buxton, and came to spend four days leave with his wife, who resides at Morecambe. On arriving home he went straight into the kitchen, and before he could speak a word he dropped dead from heart failure.

He was buried in grave 345 of Heysham (St. Peter) Churchyard in Lancashire. He has a standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone and at the bottom of it, there is an inscription to his wife Jeannie Singleton:
'Also his wife Jeannie died Oct. 19th 1920 in her 39th year. At Rest.'

Post war and Financial:

His Soldier's will dated 8th September 1916, states that he left all his real estate and his personal estate to his wife Jeannie. If she had died, everything was to go to their son, Fred Milner Singleton and in case of his death it was to go to Joshua's sister Edith Clara Grace of Devonshire Street in Keighley.

Jeannie had been receiving a separation allowance of $20 per month from Joshua's pay.
After he died, she received a war gratuity payment (special pension bonus) of $80 on 8th August 1920. Her pension was granted on 1st September 1919 and further gratuity payment of $100 was paid to her.

His wife Jeannie remarried, to Harold Edgar Abbott, the marriage was registered at Lancaster in the second quarter of the year. She was murdered by him at Morecambe in October 1920.

The Leeds Mercury gives a short account:

October 20, 1920. Page 10. DOMESTIC TRAGEDY AT MORECAMBE. LATE BRADFORD BUTCHER KILLS WIFE AND SELF.
At Sandylands, Morecambe, yesterday, Harold Edgar Abbott, who formerly kept a butcher's shop in Edinburgh Street, Listerhills, Bradford, deliberately cut his wife's throat in the street with a razor. Then he used the same weapon on his own throat, almost severing his head from his body.
He died almost instantaneously. The woman was conveyed to the hospital, where she died shortly after admission.
The woman was the widow of Joshua Singleton, of Keighley, when Abbott married her about a year ago.
Some months ago domestic differences arose, and recently Abbott left the house on his wife ordering him out. Recently he has been strange in his manner, and had been closely watching his wife.

Her estate was left to the Singleton side of the family, probably in some sort of trust to her son Fred who was orphaned when she died.
In the 1921 census the house at Morecambe was in use as a holiday hotel, run by Henrietta Smith, aged 44, of Cross Roads near Keighley. The 1921 census was taken on Sunday 19th June and they had quite a full house of ten visitors, including Fred. We hope they all had a good holiday!

Fred married Ruby Waterhouse on 4th June 1932 at Cross Roads near Keighley. They had a daughter, Jaqueline born in 1935. Fred was a master printer in Keighley in the 1939 register and he may have served with the RAF in the Second World War. He died on 5th August 1983 aged 73, his death was registered at Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
1871 England Census
1881 England Census
1891 England Census
Imperial Yeomanry Records, 1899-1902
Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949
1901 England Census
UK and Ireland, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1911 England Census
Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) Digitized service file - PDF format: B8948-S043
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
UK and Ireland, Find a Grave® Index, 1300s-Current
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
British Newspaper Archive
1921 Census Of England & Wales
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
1939 England and Wales Register

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