William Beardsley Bowmer 1890-1973

Coal miner

Mary Annie Moss 1893-1973

By Kevin Knifton
16th September 2021
Updated 22nd June 2023

William Beardsley Bowmer, known as ‘Billy’, was born at The Gorses, Belper, in April 1890, the son of John and Elizabeth Bowmer. He was baptised at St Peter’s Church, Belper, on 20th May.

At school, Billy was a good football player. He was told he could take up football professionally, but when he mentioned this to his mother, she said no, and that like his father, he was going to work in the mines.

Between April 1891 and October 1892 Billy moved with his family to Smalley. His father, previously a farmer, found work as a carter at Mapperley Colliery, and in April 1901 the family was living at Blunt Street, Smalley Common. The family were living at 66 Blunt Street in 1911, with Billy also now employed at the local colliery and working as a loader.

Billy played football for Smalley Common and in 1915 the team made it to the final of the Derbyshire Medals competition. The match was held on 2nd April 1915 at Loscoe, but in the second half Billy came off injured.

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With the game ending in a draw, the final was replayed on 1st May. Heanor scored two goals in the first half, and Smalley ‘completely outplayed their opponents’ after getting a goal in the second half. In the closing stages of the game, ‘Heanor concentrated all their efforts on defence’ and won by 2 goals to 1.

Billy’s mother Elizabeth died on 16th April 1915. After specific bequests to Billy’s older sisters Mary and Olive, and his older brother Isaac, she directed in her will that ‘the residue and remainder of my personal estate and effects I give and bequeath to my son William Beardsley Bowmer’. The inscription on the headstone at Elizabeth’s grave notes ‘Erected by her loving son William Bowmer’.

In 1915 Billy was living at Else’s Row, Stanley Common, working as a coal miner, and it was around this time that he won a gold shield pendant from playing football. Billy can be seen wearing the medal, attached to his pocket watch chain, in most photographs, from his wedding day to those taken in later life.

refresh your browser... Billy Bowmer’s rose gold shield pendant

Also in 1915, Billy was engaged to Mary Annie Moss.

refresh your browser... Mary Annie Moss’ engagement ring.

Banns of marriage were read on 13th, 20th, and 27th February 1916 between Billy Bowmer and Mary Annie Moss at St John the Baptist’s Church, Smalley, where they were married on 1st March.

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Mary Annie Moss was born in Bowers Allerton, Yorkshire, in January 1893, and baptised on 12th March at St Mary’s Church, Kippax. She was the sixth child and only daughter of William and Sarah Moss. The family moved from Yorkshire to Derbyshire between 1894 and 1901 and were living at Glendon Row, Smalley Common, at the time of the census. By April 1911, Mary Annie had moved with her parents and three of her brothers to Hayes Cottage, Smalley Common, and was working as a dressmaker’s apprentice.

refresh your browser... Mary Annie Moss (left) c. 1912

Billy and Mary Bowmer’s first child was named Elizabeth Beardsley, perhaps after Billy’s mother. Elizabeth was born in December 1916. In 1920 the family were living at Spencer Street, Smalley Common, when their second child, Roy Beardsley Bowmer, was born on 1st June. Roy was baptised on 4th July at St John the Baptist’s Church, Smalley, but died in January 1922 from double pneumonia. He was buried in the churchyard at Smalley on 10th January 1922. Roy was 18 months old.

refresh your browser... Roy Beardsley Bowmer and Elizabeth Beardsley Bowmer c. 1921

Elizabeth and Roy were given the middle name Beardsley, being the middle name of their father, Billy, which was his mother’s maiden name. Billy’s grandfather Isaac Statham Bowmer was similarly given his mother’s maiden name as a middle name in 1829. In the late 1800’s the Bowmer and Beardsley families farmed neighbouring fields in Shottle and were well known to each other.

refresh your browser... Elizabeth Beardsley Bowmer (front) with Mary Annie Bowmer (back, centre) and Sarah Moss (centre) c. 1930

Billy worked all his life as a miner at Mapperley Colliery. In 1926 he joined other miners in the General Strike, with the family seeking food from the local food kitchen.

At some point the family moved to a house opposite 3 Main Road, Smalley, closer to where their daughter attended school.

Billy’s aunt Mary Morral, his mother’s sister, died in 1938 and Billy was appointed one of her executors and trustees, together with his cousin Frank Leonard Beardsley, and Thomas Henry Sleath. ‘As some acknowledgement for their trouble’ they were bequeathed £5 each. Mary directed that her household goods, furniture, chattels and effects be held on trust for the ‘free use and enjoyment’ of her brother George. Mary owned five houses on Baker Gate, Ilkeston, and she bequeathed number 3 to Billy. Number 4 was bequeathed to his brother Isaac; number 6 to his sister Olive, and number 7 to his sister Mary. Number 2 was bequeathed to Mary Morral’s niece Annie Sleath. Mary also directed that the remainder of her estate be converted into money and shared equally between these five beneficiaries plus six children of her brother Isaac, and the widow of her nephew Laurence Beardsley.

By October 1938 Billy and Mary Annie had moved to The Bungalow on Bell Lane, Smalley. Their daughter Elizabeth married in March 1940, although she continued to live with her parents while her husband was away during the war.

As grandparents, Billy and Mary Annie took their two grandchildren on holiday each summer, travelling by train to Skegness and Great Yarmouth.

Billy Beardsley Bowmer died on 28th October 1973 aged 83. His wife Mary Annie died five days later on 2nd November, the day of her husband’s funeral. She was 79 years old.

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William Beardsley Bowmer and Mary Annie Bowmer were my great-grandparents.