Clowes

Walton Road, 20 May 1893: A fatal accident

When William Henry Read set off that Saturday morning on his usual round, he must have been hoping for more luck with his horse. He had had several accidents with other horses recently and this one was known to be highly mettled, with a strong dislike for the whip. The route took him as far as Rugby and back through Lutterworth: over fifteen miles each way. He had ten-year old Bertie Clowes along for company.

They had started home from Rugby with a large load at around five o’clock, stopping off at the King’s Arms in Lutterworth and the Dog and Gun at Walton. While they were on the stretch between Walton and Shearsby Read whipped the horse and it sprang forward suddenly. He had been standing on the footboard, leaning on the load and the jolt caused him to fall head first out of the cart.

Bertie Clowes managed to stop the horse and tried to speak to Read, but got no answer. As there was no-one else around he drove the cart himself on to the village to seek for help.

In the mean time a cyclist from Leicester, Thomas Haines, on his way between Walton and Bruntingthorpe, encountered Read lying at the side of the road. He turned the body over but found that him to be dead.

At the inquest held in Bruntingthorpe the following Tuesday, a Mr. R. Steele, surgeon from Peatling Magna, stated his opinion that death was instantaneous, resulting from a dislocation of the spine. The deceased, it was said, had not had too much to drink, the horse had not shied and the load had not slipped. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

In 1891 William Henry Read had been living with his uncle, Thomas W. Read, a fellmonger and his wife Zillah on Back Lane, along with their 1 year old son John, his 80-year old grandmother Hannah and Matilda Palmer, a domestic servant from Walton. Bertie Clowes lived with his father William, a fellmonger’s labourer on the Bank.

Although alcohol was dismissed as a factor in this case, the suspicion that Shearsby carriers made too many stops at inns along their routes was well founded. The previous year another local labourer had been fined for being drunk in charge of his cart and crashing it into another on the road near Great Wigston (Wigston Magna).

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, May 27, 1893; pg. 3;

Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury (Leicester, England), Saturday, January 16, 1892

Croisilles, France, 25 July 1917: William Clowes killed in action

Croisilles is a village about 13 kilometres south-east of Arras. The British Cemetery lies off a track, approximately 300 metres long, to the south-east of the village on the road to Ecoust-St-Mein/St Leger. It is there that Shearsby-born William Clowes was buried after falling caualty during the fight to defend the trenches around the village on 25th July 1917.

William was serving as a 40 year old private in the 7th Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. The regimental war diary for that date records night-time patrols aiming to catch the enemy out mending gaps in their wire. On the night William was killed there were two others wounded.

William was the son of William Clowes the fellmonger and his wife Millicent. Back in 1901 he had been working with his father, brother Bertie and sister Annie in the fellmongering trade. In the 1891 Census the family are recorded as living on the Bank, perhaps next door to the Old Crown.

Further research

How can the centenary of the death of William Clowes be best marked in the village in July 2017?

How does the action at Croisilles fit into the wider context of the Flanders campaign in 1917?


Image: By John Warwick Brooke – This is photograph Q 5238 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 1900-13), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2439185