Obituary of Arthur Stead Midgley (d.1894)

This obituary was printed in the Bucks Herald on 28 April 1894.

We regret to announce the death, which took place on Friday, 20th April of Mr. A.S. Midgley of this town. Until visited by illness, Mr Midgley was one of the most busy and useful men in the district. For about twenty years he was managing clerk to the firm of Messrs. Willis and Willis, solicitors, his insight into magisterial and poor-law routine was thoroughly to be depended upon. He was secretary to the Floral Society from its commencement down to three or four years ago; secretary to the Oddfellows Lodge for its first few years, and secretary to the Gas Company in succession to the late Mr Grace; also for some years secretary and correspondent to the United Parochial School Committee. He was in his time one of the best cricket players in the town, and took a great interest in the game.

A longer obituary was printed elsewhere in the same issue:

The week's obituary will also contain the name of Mr. A.S. Midgley, who passed away at the comparatively early age of 54. Had we lost Mr. Midgley a year or two ago, his death would have caused quite a blank in the little town of Winslow, for but to few people is given the "all roundness," if I may venture to coin the word — enabling them to fill so many offices, and fill them well, as did Mr. Midgley. Secretary to the Floral and Horticultural Society, secretary to the Gas Company, secretary to the School Committee, secretary to the Oddfellows' Lodge, as well as the trusted and respected managing clerk to the firm of Willis and Willis — all those posts did Mr. Midgley worthily occupy until severe affliction laid him aside.

His great characteristic was the earnestness which he threw into everything he undertook. Those who remember the time when a big poultry show was held in connection with the Flower Show at Winslow will call to mind how he threw himself heart and soul into the making of it a success. It was the same even with amusements — there was no surer bat for an average score of about 25 than he; and what he lacked in strength was made up in skill, earning for him the title of "the prettiest bat" in the club — and, by the way, the Winslow C.C. of that day was something like a club. It was at a cricket match that Mr. Midgley received the blow on the head that laid the foundation of the malady which ultimately brought his career of usefulness to a close.

Midgley family c.1893

This photograph of the Midgley family must have been taken shortly before Arthur Stead Midgley died in 1894; it shows his wife and 8 children listed in the 1891 Census, + Edward Robert ("Bert"), who was a grocer's assistant in Henley in 1891 (he later moved to Thrapston, Northants).

1891: Census
High Street [now no.79]

Arthur Stead Midgley head married 51 Secretary to Gas Company b. Sicklinghall, Yorks
Sophia Burrows Midgley wife married 42   b. Watlington, Oxon
William Norris Midgley son single 23 Solicitor's clerk b. Watlington
George Arthur Midgley son single 21 Ironmonger's assistant b. Winslow
Sarah Jesse Midgley daughter single 18   b. Winslow
Stanley Walter Midgley son   14 Solicitor's clerk b. Winslow
Sidney Richard Midgley son   12 Scholar b. Winslow
Charles Henry Midgley son   10 Scholar b. Winslow
Donald Frank Midgley son   8 Scholar b. Winslow
Harold Morley Midgley son   3   b . Winslow

1881: Census
Buckingham Road [now no.32]

Arthur Stead Midgley head married 41 Solicitor's Clerk b. Sicklinghall, Yorks
Sophia Burrows Midgley wife married 32   b. Watlington, Oxon
William Norris Midgley son   13 Solicitor's clerk b. Watlington
George Arthur Midgley son   11 Scholar b. Winslow
Edward Robert Midgley son   10 Scholar b. Winslow
Sarah Jesse Midgley daughter   8 Scholar b. Winslow
Kathleen Sophia Midgley daughter   6 Scholar b. Winslow
Stanley Walter Midgley son   4 Scholar b. Winslow
Sidney Richard Midgley son   2   b. Winslow
Charles Henry Midgley son   6m   b. Winslow
Sarah Norris mother-in-law widow 71 Baker's widow
Blind
b. Watlington
Anne Faulkner servant unm 17 General Servant b. Great Horwood

1871: Census
Horn Street

Arthur S. Midgley head married 31 Solicitor's General Clerk b. Sicklinghall, Yorks
Sophia B. Midgley wife married 22   b. Watlington, Oxon
William N. Midgley son   3   b. Watlington
George A. Midgley son   1   b. Winslow
Edward R. Midgley son   9m   b. Winslow
Frances E. Yeulet servant unm 17 General Servant (domestic) b. Dimbery Hill, Beds

Additional notes by David Noy, Arthur Stead Midgley's great-grandson

Gravestone of Arthur Stead MidgleyArthur Stead Midgley was born on 25 July 1839 at Sicklinghall, Kirkby Overblow (near Wetherby), West Yorkshire, where his father Robert was a grocer (previously a husbandman). The name Stead came from his maternal grandmother Esther. He was still living with his parents Robert and Elizabeth (who was also née Midgley) in 1861, when he was recorded as a brewer's clerk. His older brother Edwin was a teacher at Wisbech then, and got a teaching job at Watlington, Oxon., c.1862. Arthur followed him there to work as a solicitor's clerk. He married Sophia Burrows Norris (b. 26 Sep 1848), whose father was a baker at Watlington, and moved to Winslow as clerk to the solicitors Willis & Willis in 1869.

Apart from the activities listed in the obituary, Arthur Midgley was also involved with the Congregational Church (of which his granddaughter Jean Midgley was the last deacon when it closed in 1989). He was presumably a strong Liberal as a son who died as a baby in 1886 was called Ewart Gladstone Midgley. Kelly's Directory of 1891 lists him as Deputy Superintendent Registrar for Winslow.

According to the probate record, Arthur Midgley's effects were valued at £180 1s 6d. His executors were his sons George and William. The latter, known as Will or Willie, followed his father in working for Willis & Willis and in many local government and community activities. He was the secretary of Winslow United Football Club when it was founded in 1891, and a well-known local poet. He is the central figure in the back row of the photo above.

Anyone interested in the Midgley family is welcome to contact d.noy at btinternet.com.

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