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Thomas Burton Bellas was born on the 17th November 1898 in Glenridding and baptised on Christmas Day of that year in the Methodist Chapel in Glenridding. His father Thomas had been born around 1848 in Warcop, and had started his career as a Lead Miner in Kirkby Stephen. By 1881 he had moved to Glencoin Cottages and was working as a leadminer at Greenside. He married Dorothy Jane Sedgwick in Patterdale on 12th October 1885. At the time Thomas was a miner living in The Square Glenridding and Dorothy also lived in Glenridding, and was the daughter of William Sedgwick. Dorothy’s twin sister Mary Agnes married James Blamire (father of John Blamire).
We think that by the time Thomas Burton was born his parents already had at least 6 children. Their eldest, William, was baptised on the 15th November 1885, just a month after his parents marriage. Mary was born in 1887, Joseph (1888), Margaret (1890), Sarah Hannah (1892), Agnes Jane (1894), Ada Elizabeth (1896). Thomas Burton also had two younger sisters, Dora (born in 1901) and Annie (1905).
The family had moved around within the Dale. In 1891 they were living at Deepdale Bridge and Thomas senior was listed as a General Labourer, and a year later when Sarah was born they were living at Beckstones. By 1901 they were living in Glenridding and Thomas was a miner at Greenside. At the start of 1901 the family had been struck by tragedy when young Maggie Bellas, aged just 11, died and was buried in Patterdale in February 1901. By 1911 they were living in 5 The Township Patterdale, opposite the White Lion Inn. Thomas senior was still working as a miner despite by this time being 62. One of his other sons William was also living with his parents and younger siblings at this point (including Thomas Burton) and was working as a groom and gardener.
At some point between 1911 and 1913 the family moved en masse to Chorley in Lancashire. Thomas Burton’s sister Agnes Jane married Thomas Smith (a laundryman) on the 5th April 1913, and by that time the family were living at 69 Steeley Lane Chorley and Thomas senior was (finally) retired. He died in January 1915 aged 66.
We’re not sure exactly when Thomas Burton joined the army but it is likely to have been around 1916. He joined the Machine Gun Corps which had only been formed in October 1915 and into which many men including the likes of John Edward Pool from Patterdale, transferred from other infantry battalions. All we know from Thomas’ medal card (see below), was that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, which means we would have seen active service abroard, most probably in France. Interestingly although his medal card lists him as a private, the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour has him recorded as a Lance Corporal. It is possible the Roll of Honour is wrong, especially as Thomas and his family have left the Dale before the war, or it’s possibly just that he stayed in the army after the war and gained his stripe then. Certainly his Uncle John Sedgwick (his mother’s brother) was still living in Glenridding when the roll of honour was commissioned as he died living at the Square Glenridding in March 1930.
After the war it seems that Thomas returned to his mother and sisters in Chorley. At the start of 1919 his sister Ada Elizabeth married James Lucas, at the time a Soldier. We know then that the family were living at 22 Limbrick Road, Chorley. In 1926 Thomas Burton got married himself, to Florence Ethel Wren, in Chorley. We know that they has a son, also called Thomas, who was born in early 1931. After that we do not have any details so far of their life until their deaths, Thomas Burton in June 1970 in Chorley at the age of 71 and Florence Ethel in September 1979 in Preston, at the age of 78. Thomas is remembered on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour alongside his cousin John Blamire.
In terms of the other members of his family we believe that Thomas’ mother Dorothy Jane died around March 1950 aged 84, and his youngest sister Annie married Peter Berry in 1936.
If you can add anything to the story of Thomas or his family please contact us.
Lance Corporal Thomas Burton Bellas
118901 Machine Gun Corps
Born 17th November 1898, Glenridding Died June 1970 Aged 71 Chorley
Son of Thomas and Dorothy Jane (nee Sedgwick) Bellas, Deepdale Bridge, The Square Glenridding, The Township Patterdale and Chorley Lancashire
Husband of Florence Ethel Wren and Father of Thomas Bellas
Thomas’s Medal Card