Haston, Henry (1892-1918)

CO who died at Princetown Work Centre

Henry Haston was a coal miner and Primitive Methodist. He was born in 1892, and lived at Stonebroom, near Alfreton, Derbyshire, in a two up and two down miner’s cottage. Henry was the youngest of nine children, and both his parents worked in the coal mine, his father George as a coal hewer, and his mother Sarah as a coal putter, working underground to push the tubs of coal along the tunnels.

On 26 May 1917 he married Lilian Elsie Caldwell at Stonebroom Primitive Methodist Chapel, and on 21 September 1918 their daughter Annie was born.

Sadly, Harry may never have seen his baby daughter, as he was arrested on 12 July 1918 for disobeying military orders. As a Conscientious Objector, he was sent to Princetown Work Centre, Dartmoor, where he died of pneumonia, on 25 October 1918, at the age of 26.

His name is recorded on a wooden plaque made in 1923 giving the names of 70 British WW1 COs known to have died as a result of their treatment. The Plaque is now held in the Peace Pledge Union office.

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  • I am grateful to Bill Hetherington, Honorary Archivist, Peace Pledge Union, for the following information: ‘Lilian was sent for, and after making the long train journey from Alfreton, accompanied by Henry’s sister Alice, she arrived shortly before he died. Some years ago I was contacted by Alice’s granddaughter, who was my informant as to Alice’s part, but the grandaughter was not sure whether the two women arrived in time; she was relieved by my assurance that Henry’s obituary makes it clear that they did. Although the baby is mentioned in the obituary, nothing is said as to whether the baby was brought, but it is certainly possible that a factor in Alice accompanying Lilian was to help to look after the child, who, in any case, would not have been weaned.’

    ‘A further point is that Henry’s family obviously being financially strapped, the Sunday School teachers of his church provided the headstone for his grave in Shirland (St Leonard) Churchyard (Grave ref 9 G), Derbyshire, including the inscription, “From the Stonebroom Primitive Methodist Sunday School Teachers”.’

    By Jill Barber (04/04/2016)

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