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Horace Southern Dawson 1893 - 1917

By Jack Blyth. © Copyright 2005 - 2007

On the 20th December 2005 a voluntary group numbering about 15, made up of locally based US military personnel undertook the onerous task of clearing up years of accumulated vegetation in the lower graveyard of St Peter, Navenby. Why were they doing this? Well, after the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11th 2001 when their families back home were comforted by each other, it was the unselfish act, by the people of Sleaford, of compiling a book of condolence that sparked a renewed interest in fostering the Detachment’s community relations with their hosts. To quote the US Navy’s MCPO Dave Worcester,

In our Nation’s darkest moment, the hand of friendship left a permanent mark of gratitude at this Detachment. We have since worked within our limited resources to foster relations with the local community. We have done projects at schools, Ancaster cemetery, Scopwick cemetery, Sleaford in Bloom, Sleaford art expo and several other smaller projects and not forgetting Navenby. We also have participated in small sporting events such as softball with various members from Sleaford, Darts with Sleaford Fire Station, lawn bowling with the Holdingham bowls club and I have spoken at the combined cadet force at Oakham school about the United States Navy. While many other U.S. service members in the UK have all the conveniences of large U.S. military bases, our small Detachment is reliant on our community for its services. Thus, meeting people and building these friendships is very important. Before After

The group did a wonderful job and brought to light many memorials which had lain hidden from view for a long time.

One grave in particular attracted a lot of attention. Situated in the southwest corner, at the lower end of the graveyard, is an official Commonwealth War Grave Commission burial site. Interred there is Private Horace Southern Dawson of the 2nd County of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders) a Battalion of the Westminster Dragoons. Why, you may ask, is he buried here, so far from London? To answer that question we need to go back in time and trace his family history.

Horace’s grandfather was Robert Dawson, born in November 1839 in Swineshead. Some time during the 1850s he moved to 10 High Street, Wellingore to work with his uncle Samuel as a tinner and brazier. On the 25th July 1868 in Boston, Robert Dawson married Ann Shaw, a dressmaker, and set up shop as a brazier. Ann had been born in 1840 in Thornton le Fen, the daughter of Samuel Shaw and Mary Ann Graham. It is possible that Robert took over the brazier business in Bassingham from Edward Davies who is thought to have died about this time. They went on to have eight children. The first two, Samuel Shaw Dawson and Anne E (Annie) Dawson were born in Bassingham. The other six were born in Wellingore to which Robert and his family had returned following the death of his uncle Samuel. Robert remained there until his death in 1914.

Samuel Shaw Dawson did not follow in his father’s footsteps. He went to work as a rates and tax collector’s assistant with his maternal grandfather Samuel Shaw in Sibsey Road, Thornton le Fen. By 1891 he was living at 85 Aswell Street, Louth and working as a clerk. On the 8th August 1891 he married Kate Southern in St Peter, Navenby.


Kate was the daughter of George Southern, a farm bailiff, and Lucy Crosby. They lived at 10 Church Street (now Church Lane), just a couple of doors from St Peter’s, pictured here on the right The house later became the residence for the village school master.

Shortly after their marriage, Samuel and Kate moved to Neithrop near Banbury in Oxfordshire. It was here that their two children were born.
Horace Southern Dawson was born on 5th April 1893 and Byron Eric Dawson was born in 1896. By 1901 Samuel, Kate and the boys had moved to 46 Pool Road, Leicester where Samuel was working as a granite merchant’s clerk. Kate died in August 1906 in Navenby, the cause of death being given by Dr Campbell as phthisis pulmonalis (tuberculosis). She was buried on the 17th August 1906 in St Peter’s, Navenby with her brother Crosby Southern being in charge of the funeral arrangements. In early 1932, in Leicester, Samuel married again, this time to Jane Peacock. Later on they moved to Burgh le Marsh, her home town. Samuel died in Burgh le Marsh on the 4th March 1946 aged 79. Jane Dawson died on the 28th June 1949 aged 73.

Before continuing with Horace’s story we should look at the life of his younger brother Byron. After the death of his mother and his elder brother, Byron moved to Newcastle upon Tyne to serve an engineering apprenticeship. His drawing skills were recognised by his employers and he was encouraged to enrol as an art student at the city’s Armstrong College (later King’s College and now Newcastle University). After finishing his studies he was invited to stay on as an assistant master of painting which he did until 1927 when he left to pursue a career as a professional artist. His first submission to the Royal Academy, Panel for a Morning Room, was accepted and shown in the 1928 exhibition. From this he gained several commissions. He also exhibited three works at the Royal Scottish Academy. He exhibited one further work at the Royal Academy in 1931 – Shepherd and Three Graces – but by 1933 he ceased exhibiting outside Northumbria, concentrating on local scenes as a member of the Artists of the Northern Counties.

This watercolour painting of Hexham Market is typical of his work. The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne still has over 100 of his works. Following a chest operation in 1966, Byron Eric Dawson died in Wooley Hospital in the Tyne Valley in 1968. He was buried in St Andrew’s Cemetery, Newcastle upon Tyne, his grave being marked by a vase inscribed “Byron Eric Dawson RIP”.
In the meantime, Horace, like his father, had embarked on a career as a clerk. He moved to the London area where he joined the Civil Service. He gets three mentions in the London Gazette as follows:

London Gazette - 4 May 1909, page 3398
"For registration as temporary boy clerk" on 19 April 1909

London Gazette - 1 November 1910, page 7820
Appointment as assistant clerk (abstractor), local government board, England on 27 October 1910 "after open competition".

London Gazette - 2 April 1912, page 2406
Appointment as second division clerk on 13 March 1912 "after open competition".
It looked then like he had a promising future in the Civil Service but, just two years after his third promotion, the First World War broke out. Like so many young men of the time, Horace volunteered for service at the front and at Elverton Street, London SW, just off Horseferry Road, he enlisted into the Westminster Dragoons, part of the 2nd Mounted Division of Cavalry, becoming 2882 (later115922) Private Dawson H S. His unit was the 2nd County of London Yeomanry (Rough Riders). This Battalion, formed in August 1914, remained in the UK and converted to a cyclist battalion in 1916. Sadly, the rest of the Battalion history has been lost so very little more can be gleaned about Horace’s military service.

However, we do know, from his death certificate, that he died of epilepsy on the 23rd April 1917 at Nell Lane Military Hospital, West Didsbury, to the south of Manchester, in the Chorlton District. His death certificate also records his address as 43 Grantham Road, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne. Nell Lane Military Hospital
Chorlton
43, Grantham Road
Jesmond
The electoral rolls for 1921 and 1922 show that this was Byron Eric Dawson’s address. He does not appear at this address in later electoral rolls.

Horace was buried, not far from his mother, following a service conducted by the Reverend Handford, in the graveyard of St Peter, Navenby on the 28th April 1917.

There is one other possible memorial to Horace in the Church of St John, Green Hill, Harrow, Middlesex. There is a Horace S Dawson commemorated on the left hand panel of the war memorial in that Church.

No photograph of Horace Southern Dawson has yet been found. However, it is quite possible that he would have borne a resemblance to his younger brother, pictured here at the age of about 50.

If you would like to visit Horace’s grave, leave the Church by the south porch, turn right and walk down the grassy slope until you reach the lowest part of the graveyard. Horace’s gravestone is the horizontal marble slab in the far left corner.

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