Family History Sources

From the Archives: NarrowBoat, Summer 2024

Joseph Boughey

Joseph Boughey uncovers the lives connected to the tragic drowning of a boater in 1881

The lock-keeper’s cottage beside Wheat Leasowes Lock. Andy Tidy The Wellington Journal of 13th August 1881 and Eddowe’s Shrewsbury Journal of 17th August 1881 noted the death of a young Shropshire Union boatman at Wheat Leasowes on the Trench Canal. The then lock-keeper, John Chilton, helped to recover the body. The deceased, Thomas Rowlands of Grindley Brook, was aged 13 years, eight months. His elder brother Richard testified that their boat was descending at the time with a load of iron wire for Ellesmere Port. Thomas had gone on ahead from Hadley Park Lock and raised the top paddle at Wheat Leasowes Lock but, when the windlass slipped, he fell into the water, was sucked down into the culvert and drowned. An inquest on 16th August recorded a verdict of “accidentally drowned”. Family history sources provide further details of Thomas Rowlands’ family, although his brother Richard proved more difficult to trace. The 1881 census, taken at Grindley Bro…

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