Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Thomas Burns 1880-1916

Thomas Burns from the Barnsley Chronicle 15 April 1916
(Thanks to Barnsley Archives)
1880 Wolverhampton, Staffordshire

Son of: *possible*
Michael Burns b.1850 Dublin, Ireland  Iron Hurdle Maker in 1891

married at ** on **
Jane *maiden name* b.1846 Shifnal, Shropshire

Position in family: Only child?
1. Thomas Burns

Home address, age and occupation:
1891: *possible* 15 Brick Kiln Croft, Wolverhampton age 10
1901: **
1911: 15 Britannia Street, Barnsley age 29 Coal Miner Filler
1914: 21 Britannia Street, Barnsley age 32  Miner at Barrow Colliery


Thomas was married at St Luke's, Dudley on 4 October 1903
to Mary Elizabeth Prince b.1879 Fenton, Staffordshire

Her parents were William Henry Prince, b.1856 Netherton, Dudley, Staffordshire and Emily.  William's father was Thomas Prince, a Drayman or Brewer.

William's brother Samuel Prince b.1865 Netherton, Dudley, Staffordshire married Eliza in Normanton, Yorkshire on 25 May 1888 and this couple are also living on Britannia Street, Barnsley in 1901 and 1911.  William appears to be living with them in 1901, however there is no sign of Emily and he claims to be single.  He dies in 1905.

Mary Elizabeth Burns continued to live at 21 Britannia Street without remarrying until shortly before her death.  When she died in 1962 she was buried in the same plot (G 685) in Barnsley Cemetery as her uncle Samuel and aunt Eliza.

Thomas and Mary Elizabeth had no children.

Military Service:
Enlisted: In Barnsley December 1914
Regiment and Battalion:  14th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment (2nd Barnsley Pals)
Service number and rank:  14/16  Private
Awards: British War Medal, Victory Medal

Death:     5 April 1916  age 36
Buried at: Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps, France
Grave Reference:  I. I. 111.

Thomas does not appear to be remembered on any memorial in Barnsley.

A large article appeared in the Barnsley Chronicle on 15 April 1916 about Thomas' death.  He was the first member of the Barnsley Pals (discounting those who had transferred to the Royal Engineers in 1915) to be killed in France.

The article notes, "He was home on leave for the last time at Christmas, when the whole of the Battalion were given permission to return for a final farewell prior to going to Egypt".  The circumstances around his death were reported to his widow by the army chaplain, "It happened last night and was without doubt a machine gun shot which penetrated the steel helmet he was wearing at the time.  Death was instantaneous. [...] His head was up for just that fatal fraction of a height to receive a dropping shot."

Thomas' story is also told in the book, Barnsley Pals, by Jon Cooksey, pp.152-3.
Some helpful information about Mary Elizabeth Prince and her family was found in an Ancestry online tree.

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