George Prideaux 1871 – 1926

After the death of his parent’s, George Prideaux went to lodge at 77 Grape Street with Elizabeth Catton and her daughter Hannah Holgate. George was working as a labourer at the brickyard, one of the many industries in Victorian Leeds. Within two years Mary Ann Hobson and her family had moved into No 93 Grape Street and George moved to No 89. The Hobson family worked in the mills. I have all their history too, but this is not the place for the relating.
George Prideaux and Mary Ann Prideaux married in St Silas Church on 21st January 1893. Incidentally Leeds was granted city status later that year.

st silas church

After the wedding, George carried on working at the brickyard. One of the many in Leeds. The yard was a filthy place to work, but then, there were very few clean places to work. Waste from  industry was thrown into the River Aire, to add to the waste from slaughter houses, sewage, dye works and chemical soap. The smell around the place was  disgusting. I remember my father telling me how foul the water courses were, when he was a child during the 40’s. And how dangerous it was to go anywhere near them. The irony was that he and his friends learned how to swim by jumping in the river and the only thing they worried about was hitting something metal and becoming trapped or cut by that.
The young George Prideaux was glad of the work though, as the alternative did not bear consideration. The workhouse and dire poverty still beckoned to those who were not of private means or able to earn. The family would have been more than aware that prostitution for women and crime for men were the other alternatives to starvation.
After the wedding they moved to 7 Burniston Place.

7 burniston place

They lived in the far house on the left next to the midden and the shared toilet.
Their children were George  Prideaux born in 1893, Arthur Prideaux born in 1894, and Annie Prideaux  born in 8th April 1895. Benjamin Prideaux was born in 1898 but he sadly died on 24th December 1899 aged 21 months. He suffered convulsions following Diphtheria. There had to be an inquest, but it was decided on 27th December that he had died from natural causes. What a great Christmas that must have been. Then there was Jane Prideaux born in 1900, Clifford Prideaux ( my grandfather) born on 25th December 1902, which hopefully helped the anniversary trauma of Benjamin’s death. Not finished yet, there was Herbert Prideaux born in 1907, Albert Prideaux born in 1910 and finally Wilfred Prideaux  born in 1912.
I have a photograph which was taken at the funeral of Agnes Prideaux (my grandmother) on the 14th February 1988. It is of Herbert Prideaux and Wilfred Prideaux. I was not told until after the funeral that this was who they were and I was a bit miffed because I would have talked to them about Grandad. They had not made themselves known because of our grief. Another missed opportunity. They are both dead now. They could have told me so many things that I would be interested in today. I would have listened for hours, but I suppose when older people want to tell you stuff, you are too young and disinterested to listen.

A Xmas Story cover

When Agnes was dying, I was living in Shropshire in my first marriage and with a small child. I got a telephone call from mother that Grandma was fading fast and the family should get to her bedside in Leeds as soon as possible. I was unable to go as my husband would not take me and my car was not the kind which would make the journey. I have never been as bound by circumstances as I was at that period of my life. I was very unhappy.
So, I determined to get as many family members there as I could. I knew my father was on a course that day, but mother could not remember where and through much effort and coincidence, I found him. At one point I rang the wrong number while trying to track down a friend of my father who was also on the course, but the person who answered knew who I wanted and went out of their way to help me. After an hour or so, I tracked him down and he joined my mother and brother at the hospital.
They stayed with Grandma all day and into the night. Eventually Dad went along the corridors and searched out food and coffee. As he returned, Grandma walked past him in the opposite direction and said, ’Goodbye Martin, take care.’ He turned, shocked that they had let her out of bed in her nightgown. She vanished and Dad ran into the hospital room. The family were crying, holding the hands of the now dead Agnes.
At exactly the same time, all the china fell from my Welsh dresser and smashed. Grandma had given it to me. Then Dad rang to give me the news. I was so upset. But, I felt that she had been giving me a message. So I dyed my long brown hair blonde, went to her funeral and determined to get a divorce. Life is way too short and I was going to make the most of it.
Incidentally, when Dad died suddenly only four years later, my brother Mark saw him soon after his death and then Mark died a few years after that.  I shall not say who saw Mark after he died.
Back to this story.

100 elland road

Soon after the war, the family moved to 100 Elland Road, Holbeck, a much bigger and nicer property, where the expanding family could be happier.
I finally tracked down the death certificate of George Herbert. He died on the 13th October 1926 on the Railway Bridge at Woodlesford, Leeds.

railway bridge

His son George was with him. Woodlesford was a mining village and had a quarry.  It was also the home of Bentleys Yorkshire Bitter.
George suffered from bronchitis as his mother did before him. He was a heavy smoker of long standing. He had coughed his way through the past few winters. A dose of influenza after the war had also taken its toll on him. Mary Ann Prideaux often wondered whether the years at the brickyard with all the dust had not helped. One could also take into the equation, damp houses and the shocks he had endured throughout his early life. That Wednesday, George and Mary Ann were visiting their eldest son George Junior at his home in Woodlesford. Young George married Annie Eastman in 1923 before they moved there. Often Mary Ann, her daughter Annie and granddaughter went there to visit. This time Grandad George decided to go. They caught a train from Holbeck to Woodlesford.
Whichever problem was the cause of his death that day, the effort proved too much for him and George passed out and died on the bridge after climbing the steps. He was 55 years old. He was certified to have died from pneumonia and cardiac failure, by FA Fawcett. There was no post mortem.
The family posted a notice in the Yorkshire Evening Post on Friday, October 15th, announcing the funeral the following day.

PRIDEAUX Oct 15 at 100 Elland Road, Holbeck. George Herbert beloved husband of Mary Ann Prideaux aged 55 years – interment at Holbeck Cemetery, Saturday at 3 leaving house 2.30. Friends please accept this the only intimation.


George was dead, buried and gone within four days. Mary Ann Prideaux never got over the shock.
During his life, George Herbert Prideaux enjoyed a drink at the Holbeck Working Men’s Club and had been a member there for years. His sons also joined and became regular attendees. They had a whip round after George died and paid for a marble flower pot to go with the headstone. The funeral tea was held at the club, and all his friends came. It was a very happy do. The white marble headstone paid for by his family stood proudly in Holbeck Cemetery. When Mary Ann died, her remains were placed there also. The white marble pot paid for by his many friends at the club stands alongside it. However the engraving the friends arranged to put on the pot states ‘Priddo’.
They did not know him that well.
I travelled to Holbeck Cemetery on several occasions looking for the grave of George and Mary. It took an accompanied visit with 90 year old Mary and Andrea. Mary, George’s granddaughter and Clifford’s niece, wandered around with me until we discovered the gravestone. Sadly, the marble pot had been thrown onto another grave and the whole area was overgrown and neglected. There were several contractors working there and I am not entirely sure what they thought they were achieving. The end result was a disgrace. Mary became quite emotional as both her father and grandfather had lived at the lodge and been responsible for the maintenance for the graveyard and its occupants. She told me how beautifully it was kept and the place had been a pleasure to visit. Now it seems to be a haven for drunks and litter louts. Mary remembered her father going there during the war in his position of fire warden. From this raised area in the city he could not only see fires, but also enemy bombers. He had kept watch on his own house during air raids so he could see what was happening there. She also showed me the guinea grave which contained the remains of her little sister.  She had died as a three year old and Mary became upset remembering her sister in her little coffin which remained on the kitchen table in the only downstairs room in the house until it could be laid to rest in the cemetery. She recalled that this could not be done until the grave was full of its other occupants, often ten to each grave. One cannot imagine the horror of that.
Along this research road, I came into contact with Andrea Allen who is the granddaughter of Annie Prideaux and daughter of the above named Mary. Annie married Arthur Askin in 1919 and died in April 1966 in Leeds. Annie and Arthur lived at 98 Elland Road, Holbeck, Leeds 11 and her mum and all the children lived next door.
Mary can remember Jenny, who was also known as Jinny, Herbert, George, Ben, Albert, Wilfred and Arthur. Apparently there was much tooing and froing between the houses.
She and Grandma Askin did all the ironing for Grandma Prideaux and both Clifford Prideaux [my grandad] and Herbert Prideaux wore a clean shirt every day for work and another in the evening. She was very pleased when the uncles married and left home. I also know that Clifford was very proud of the way he looked.
George had such a short life and it was full of sadness. He had a large family but I doubt he had time to enjoy them. He was always at work and in his later years he was ill.Being so young when his parents died and not knowing his grandparents must have been tough for him. He was fortunate in his choice of a wife, as she worked very hard, keeping the family together and clean and tidy. The children all managed an education of sorts and were forward thinking with ambition. The trouble was that in those days, ambition got you nowhere. There was no real chance of achieving a great deal.
Luckily their descendants did.

Collected Prideaux Ghost Stories A A Prideaux