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Samuel Kirkwood Gothard

Samuel GothardRifleman Samuel K. Gothard, 202422, 20th Rifle Brigade

Born in the Dewsbury district in 1873, Samuel Kirkwood Gothard was the son of John Gothard and Sarah Ann Kirkwood. John Gothard was born in Ossett in 1816. He married Ann Archer in 1842 and together they had three children: Mary Ann, John and Albert.

The 1851 census records John, Ann and the two older children living at Almondbury, Huddersfield where John worked as an iron moulder. The death index for the first quarter of 1871 includes the death of an "Ann Gothard", who was likely to be John's first wife.

The 1871 census, taken in April, records John, 54, and his second wife, Nottingham born Sarah Ann, 34, at Heckmondwike with two of John's children: 22 year old John, who was a dyer's assistant and Albert aged 13, a factory worker, although he later went on to be a brickmaker.

Sarah and John's daughter, Eliza Ann, was 4 months old at this time. Their marital status is given as "married", but I've been unable as yet to find records of their marriage. Richard Gothard, John's father. who at 70 years old was a retired blacksmith, also lived with the growing family. Since Samuel's birth was registered in Dewsbury, it's likely that the family had moved away from Heckmondwike by the time Samuel Kirkwood Gothard was born in 1873. The 1881 census shows that John and Sarah Ann were living at Battye Street in Dewsbury with the two youngest children, Eliza Ann and Samuel. John Gothard died in 1889 aged 72 and by the night of the next census in 1891 Sarah Ann had moved to Ossett with Samuel and Eliza Ann.

The family lived on Dewsbury Road near The Flying Horse inn. Samuel now 18 years old was working as a miner and his sister Eliza, 20 years of age, was a rag sorter. The Electoral Register for 1895 shows that Sarah Ann Gothard moved again and lived at Chapel Street, just off South Parade.

Samuel Kirkwood Gothard married Gertrude Rachel Harwood Margetts on September 2nd 1899 and the marriage was registered in the Dewsbury district.

Gertrude Rachel Harwood Margetts was one of nine children and was born at Woodstock in Oxfordshire on January 25th 1877. Her parents, farm hand John Harwood Margetts and Mary Ann Allen, who had married in 1857. Sometime in the 1890s, the Margett family moved to Ossett and by 1901 John and Mary Ann Margetts lived on Healey Lane (Healey Road) where John worked in a factory, dressing leather.

In 1901 Samuel and Gertrude lived at Turn O' The Nook, Wesley Street and Samuel earned a living as a banksman at a local colliery. Over the next thirteen years Gertrude and Samuel became parents to nine children, though they were to suffer the devastation of losing three of their children in infancy.

By 1911 the Gothard family had moved to 1, The Green where they lived with their five surviving children; Janet May (born on August 24 1901), Winifred Ivy (born on July 25 1905), John Allen (born on July 15 1906), Edwin Albrin (born on August 21 1909) and Fred Winston (born on September 14 1911). Their youngest child, Florence Henrietta was born on May 14 1914. After the death of Gertude's father John Harwood Margetts in 1910, her widowed mother, Mary Ann, came to live with her daughter until her death in 1925.

At some time in 1915, Samuel Gothard at about the age of 42 years volunteered for WW1 service and was ultimately to join the 20th (Northern) Rifle Brigade, most likely after joining a West Yorkshire regiment first. His Rifle Brigade army record card shows service from 17th Janary 1916 through to the 21st February 1920, during which time he served exclusively in Egypt.

The 20th (Northern) Battalion Rifle Brigade was a second line Territorial unit formed at Denham Camp on the 28th November 1915 from supernumerary Territorial Force Companies, utilising men of the Northumberland Fusiliers, Durham L.I., East Yorks and West Yorkshire Regiments and Durham R.G.A. These battalions were used for garrison duty of vulnerable points in Egypt and Palestine.

In the last days of 1915 the Brigade embarked for Egypt in the Olympic and Grampian disembarking at Alexandria on 16th January 1916, nine hundred and thirty two strong. Their history was an uneventful one, for they spent the rest of the war finding duties and guards over Prisoner-of-War and Internment Camps, and vulnerable points in the Delta area.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Cairo was headquarters to the United Kingdom garrison in Egypt. With Alexandria, it became the main hospital centre for Gallipoli in 1915 and later dealt with the sick and wounded from operations in Egypt and Palestine.

In January 1916 H.Q. were at Benha with one company at Birket-el-Saba. On the last day of February they moved to Abbasia with two companies guarding prisoners at Maadi and in July took over the duties of the 21st Rifle Brigade. Early in 1917 they moved back to Benha and Tanta and in July of that year had two companies at Belbeis.

Samuel Gothard on a camel in Egypt

Above: Rifleman Samuel Gothard on a camel during his WW1 service in Egypt.

There were no further incidents in their history and by February 1919 demobilisation had reduced the Battalion strength from about 600 to 328. They moved to Alexandria at this time and took over duties at the docks from 2nd Garrison Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers. The Battalion lingered on with a strength of under 100 until the 4th August 1919, when they were finally disbanded and the nineteen survivors absorbed by 12th Battalion The Hampshire Regiment.

Samuel Kirkwood Gothard served with the Rifle Brigade with regimental number 202422, and after his wartime service he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory medal. Unfortunately his service record appears to have not survived.

However, the UK, WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 has survived and it reveals his address was 4, Ward's Buildings, Healey Road, Ossett. It also reveals that Samuel's widow Gertrude was awarded a widow's pension of 62 shillings on September 28th 1921. It was to be paid from November 17th 1920, five days after the the death of her husband.

Women who lost their husbands in WW1 were granted the first State-funded, non-contributory pension. They also received a dependents' allowance for any children under 16.

Private Samuel Gothard 202422 Rifle Brigade was indexed in the "Disability Records". The record shows that he had a 60% disability. A further search of the WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards led to the discovery of the names of Samuel's dependents who were each awarded an allowance until they reached the age of 16.

Samuel K. Gothard died on the 12th November 1920 in Clayton Hospital, Wakefield from acute nephritis. It seems certain that due to his disability, Samuel's service during WW1 contributed to his death in 1920. He was buried in St John's Wesleyan Burial Ground, Ossett on the 15th November 1920.

Gothard Death Certificate

Samuel Gothard's death was not remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on ther web site, despite his early death after his discharge in 1919 with a 60% disability from nephritis.

However, in March 2023, after evidence was provided to prove that Samuel Kirkwood Gothard died of war related injuries, the CWGC 2 have added Rifleman Gothard to those remembered on their website and have informed the family that "in due course, a Commission headstone will be installed at his burial location to mark his place of rest".

Rifleman Samuel Kirkwood Gothard (1873-1920) will be remembered on the Ossett War Memorial when his name is engraved alongside the other Ossett Fallen still to be so honoured.

There is now no excuse by those that should know better for his exclusion.

My thanks to Anne-Marie Fawcett for her detailed research notes and the pictures used in this biography.


1. ancestry.com Redmond Family Tree for Samuel Kirkwood Gothard.

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission