Dawson Parsons (1869 - 1941) - Sheffield

In St Mary's Church of England cemetery in Walkley, Sheffield, there is the following grave which is unmarked.

In April 2012 the Friends of Walkley Cemetery were on a workday, and so I took the opportunity to tidy up the grave of my great grandparents EDWIN and MARY SANBY. In doing this, I was ware of this grave as it lies more or less in front of my great grandparents grave. I was then offered the information that this was the last resting place of DAWSON PARSONS and a couple of days later I received the following details

These are the burial details from grave G170:
Grave G170
PARSONS Richard Neville 19 Aug 1909 177 Abbeyfield Rd. 18 m. D. Parsons
PARSONS Elizabeth Mary 6 Mar 1934 Bethlem Royal Hospital 68 Dawson Parsons (Husband)
PARSONS Dawson 9 Jul 1941 Royal Infirmary 73 G.C. Parsons? SCF? Dore Garrison____? [Priest Vicar of S James Sheffield]
WALKER Vivienne Maude 18 Dec 1967 Scarsdale Hospital, Chesterfield 72 F.H.Flood? rector S.Normanton
PARSONS Egerton Claud 16 Jan 1968 51 Crookes Rd 61 D.Bonser? Curate of St.Georges.Sheffield
PARSONS Margaret Amy Patricia 24 Aug 2005 51 Crookes Rd. 95 Melanie FitzGerald [Ashes (Loose)] died 27.6.2005

This is the text of the eulogy from the funeral of the last-named: -
Margaret Parsons
Eulogy given at Underbank Chapel

Margaret Amy Patricia Parsons was a daughter of the vicarage. She was born on 18 November 1909, the youngest of twelve children of the Reverend Dawson Parsons, Vicar of St James's, Sheffield. The family home was by then the substantial Georgian vicarage in Gell Street, just behind the Somme barracks. Indeed, one of Margaret' s early memories was of the preparations for the Great War which she could see over the vicarage wall. She was educated at Ladbroke House School in Sheffield. Margaret was in the 1920s the secretary of her father's Parochial Church Council and was also a chorister at St lames's. She was still living at home in 1940 when Sheffield was blitzed and incendiary bombs rained on the vicarage roof and into the garden. Her father's church took a direct hit from a rather more substantial bomb and was wholly destroyed. He died the following year but several members of the family continued to live in the house until the church repossessed it at the end of the war.

Purchased in 1869 by subscription and a grant from Queen Anne's Bounty; used as a Vicarage for St. James Church. (Memorials of Sheffield It's Cathedral & Parish Churches, Odom Ref: 283.4274 S ) The house was numbered 34 Gell Street and recorded in Directories as a St. James Vicarage until 1941.

Margaret and one of her brothers, Egerton, then went to live close by in Favell Road where Egerton - one of the many eccentric personalities in the family - filed his immense collection of gramophone records on the staircase. Needing a home of her own, Margaret bought 51 Crookes Road in 1951 and lived there for the rest of her life. It was there that she formed strong bonds with her neighbour, Vera Percy, and Vera's sons and, later, their families. Vera regularly sent her a card to mark Mother's Day.

After early working years as a secretary, Margaret became a radiographer with a private practice of consultant radiologists, the Doctors Grout and Wilkie, about 1930, in Wilkinson Street. She was at one time the chair of the Sheffield and District Radiographic Sociey. In the last few years of her long service with the consultants, probably in 1977, they moved to the Sandygate Clinic. She took x-rays of many of the great and the good, including at least one race-horse.

She retired from the Clinic in 1986 but continued working for some time dealing with the radiography and radiology accounts from the offices of Wells Richardson, retiring finally only in 1988 at the age of 79.

Although she never married, Margaret had a series of devoted male admirers. One of the first was Barrington Budd, a great Sheffield character who achieved fame by redesigning an Austin 7 car, giving at a two-stroke engine. Many a time did that little car putter-putter into the vicarage driveway. Her longest companionship came from Stanley Pearson, a compositor with the Sheffield Telegraph. There was a break when she became engaged to a lovely man whose name her family remember only as Leslie and who died of cancer. Her friendship with Stanley resumed and they remained close until his death, while they were on holiday together, in Ireland in 1973.

Margaret's leisure interests were music, craftwork, cooking, and her family and friends. She had a lovely contralto voice, singing out at church and chapel services even in the months before her death.

Much earlier she had sung solos at many Sheffield concerts and performances of oratorios. She was one of the founder members of the Handsworth and District Choral Society in 1943. She was also a long-term member of the Sheffield Recorded Music Society. She joined it in 1967 or 1968 and became a member of the committee three years later. She was especially close to the youngest of her brothers, John Gordon (better known as Primus) who was a remarkable cellist.

She loved knitting, plying her crochet hook, and sewing and well into her nineties she was a member of a craft group. Whenever she heard of a pregnancy in the family or among her friends or the families of her professional colleagues, she would set to work on a beautiful christening shawl.

She liked to make novelty gifts for chapel bazaars or as Christmas presents. One of the last things that she said, a few days before she died, was that she was upset because she would never finish the patchwork quilt she had begun.

Whether she was going to a meeting of the Music Society, to her craft group, to her doctor's, or to her hairdresser's, she would take a box of home-made buns, scones, brandy snap, meringues, or biscuits.

Margaret had a tremendous sense of humour and when something tickled her she would laugh almost hysterically and till tears fell down her cheeks.

She was a devoted and loyal friend remaining close in particular to Thora Teale for over seventy years.

Margaret was a devoted and generous aunt, great-aunt, great-great-aunt and godmother, greatly loved by her sister Dora's daughters and their families. Indeed, she was not so much an aunt as an institution. She always spent Christmas, and many other holiday periods, with one or other of her nieces.

In the 1970s and 1980s she took great enjoyment in holidaying with members of the family in cabin cruisers on the Norfolk Broads or in narrow boats on the inland waterways.

Still adventurous in her nineties, Margaret embarked on lip-reading classes at Sheffield College in 2001 and gained a certificate in 2003. Her loss of hearing was a devastating blow to her but she consoled herself watching television soaps and detective plays (she loved Midsomer Murders) with the subtitles on the screen.

She had led a varied and an honourable life, giving far more than she ever took, generous hearted to the last. For the past thirty or forty years she has had no church of her own in Sheffield. When she stayed in London she loved to attend her niece, Enid's, Anglican church. When she stayed with her other niece, Kate, in Wakefield, she unfailingly went with her to the Unitarian chapel there. In either place her delight lay in particular in the singing of hymns and in the friendship of the other members.

I was fascinated about this information and so I did an on-line search to find details of the bomb that damaged the vicarage and destroyed the vicarage in December 1940. I was amazed to find an article that was posted by one of Dawson's granddaughters (Kate Taylor) in August 2005 onto the BBC's website.

"My parents moved to Wakefield in 1932 when my father became the section engineer for the new National Grid. His parents, my motherís widowed father who was the vicar of a city-centre parish, and various of my parentsí sisters, brothers and friends remained in their home town, Sheffield. Although we had a telephone at home ó needed for my fatherís work in overseeing the transmission of electricity across a wide area ó telephones were still a rarity in those days and none of our family in Sheffield had one. So that, when we learned that Sheffield had been subjected to a heavy bombardment on the night of 12 December 1940, there was no means of knowing whether any of the family had been affected ó even killed ó without going to see. So the day after the blitz Father drove us all to Sheffield ó in those days long before the M1 this meant driving along the A61 and through the centre of Barnsley. Reaching the outskirts of Sheffield we could see the huge pall of smoke hanging over it. First, then, to my grandfatherís vicarage. This was a substantial Georgian house in Gell Street lying between the Somme Barracks and the Jessop Hospital for Women. There was much activity in the road outside. A bomb had fallen between the vicarage and the hospital making a huge crater but not, in fact, exploding. The vicarage was still standing but as we went inside we realised how dreadfully dark it all was. Almost all the windows had been shattered and the blackout curtains remained drawn to keep whatever warmth there was in. Four of my grandfatherís grown-up children still lived at home and we heard how they had spent the night putting out the numerous incendiary bombs which had fallen around the house and into its roof. But the devastating news was the Grandfatherís church, St Jamesís, a handsome Georgian building, had taken a direct hit and was razed practically to the ground.
My fatherís parents lived in a bungalow (which my grandfather had built himself) on the outskirts of Sheffield at Bents Green. The area had escaped the blitz altogether and none of the family (there was a daughter living at home and another living nearby) had come to any harm.
But when we went on to check on Motherís closest friend, May Newton, it was a different story. The house where she lived with her mother, in the Beauchief area of Sheffield, had been bombed and little of it remained. I recall noticing a pretty blue china salt pot lying unbroken on the lawn. What had happened to old Mrs Newton and to May? We drove on to Mayís brotherís house. Remarkably both of the women were there and unhurt. They had heard the bomb coming and rushed out of the front of the house as the building fell in towards the back.
The real casualty of all this was my grandfather. The loss of his beloved church was a blow he never recovered from. He died the following year."

The church was some distance from the vicarage - in fact it was in the centre of Sheffield near the cathedral

As you can see from the photos this fine building was totally gutted and was eventually demolished.

In July 2012 I was contacted by a descendent of Dawson who had seen this article and kindly sent me two photographs of Dawson

I have managed to piece together a few newspaper cuttings and other information that provides a "snapshot" of Dawsons life. These are on a supplementary page


Contributed by Wakefield Libraries & Information Services

People in story: Kate Taylor - Location of story: Sheffield Background to story: Civilian Article ID: A5297097 Contributed on: 24 August 2005

This page was last updated on 28/01/17 15:05

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