Jack Slack and the Froggatt Edge Mystery

Like quite a few articles on the site, I came across Jack whilst I was researching something entirely different. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 23rd February 1920 carried this report on the Froggatt Edge Mystery and how it was solved by Jack Slack

But what I found striking was that the local newspaper should send a report to cover the funeral of a person who pursued a "singular mode of life" and was itinerant to all intents and purposes. The death of an old itinerant labourer would normally result in a paupers funeral but the people of Dore ensured that Jack had a "decent internment". And it is also apparent from the report that Jack had the respect of all that met him. The attendance at his funeral was little short of amazing for someone of Jack's status.

The excellent Totley Local History Group has a bit more information on Jack and his life

The first abstract is from Dan Reynolds who actually sang in the choir at Jack's funeral 

The Memoirs of Dan Reynolds
George Daniel Reynolds 1910-2009
(Dan began writing his Memoirs around 1976 but this version appears to have been written between 1983 and 1995).

Part 5

We now come to Jack Slack, but before referring to him I have to explain how his main function in our life came about. In the days of my early childhood, there was no gas, electricity or sewers, just cesspools and middens were cleaned out every fortnight. This is where Jack comes in as it was his job to jump in and shovel the garbage and such into a tank type of horse drawn cart, after which all was swept and a generous amount of powdered disinfectant was strewn around. 

I was never interested in -finding out where this was tipped, and to this day do not know of any tipping area. ' It was never understood how a man like Jack was doing such a distasteful job. He lived rough, much the same as Sweedy in farmers barns, but his mannerisms, vocabulary and his respect of others befitted any learned man, always tipping his bowler to the womenfolk, addressed the menfolk and always greeted you with the time of day - a true gentleman. It was assumed, though he would not give any inclination, that he belonged to the aristocracy and maybe differed with his family as to the way working class were exploited. The clothes he wore were all given to him, and more often than not his shoes were much the worse for wear. 

He was very much respected in Dore as he spent much time there and would help the gardeners in Dore Road. Here were the homes of many Sheffield industrialists. You would describe it today as the millionaire belt. After having him to talk to you, you could not help but like him - a great chap, but alas ill health claimed him and it was thought he would be buried in a paupers grave, but they were mistaken. The residents rallied round and he was given a proper funeral. I was in the choir at Dore church on the day of his funeral. He was given a full service and the church was packed with mourners from all walks of life. On coming out of the church to the burial, I had never seen as many flowers and wreaths in my life waiting to be placed in the grave. It would be nice if anyone had a photograph of this mark of respect for a true gentleman.

The second abstract is from Jo Rundle who reminisces about Old Totley 

In those early days, the Brickworks were open to the sky, when Jack Slack passed our door every evening just before dark, carrying his lantern and 'Snap-bag', knowing that he would probably have company through the night, for Tramps passed regularly up the road from the Workhouse at Sheffield on their way to the next Workhouse at Bakewell, and a warm night and the possibility of a mug of tea was not to be missed. The Kilns then were open to the sky, the light from the fires being visible for miles around and it was not unusual for a tramp to walk in and have a cup of Jack's tea and a warm seat for an hour.

Jach is buried in an unmarked grave in Dore Chuchyard.


The Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 23rd February 1920

Totley Local History Group

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This page was last updated on 24/07/15 14:37