Private John Hadley

Sherwood_Foresters_BadgePrivate John Hadley

35728, 3rd Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derbys Regiment) who died on 4th December 1916, aged 26

Remembered with honour
Barrow Hill Memorial
Staveley Parish Memorial
Staveley Cemetery EE.55 (U).


George Hadley and his wife Mary (Siviter) married in 1882. They both originated from Old Hill in Staffordshire where their first four children, William, Elizabeth, JOHN and Thomas were born.  The family moved to the Staveley area in the early 1890’s, soon after John was born, and lived in a cottage by the Seymour Colliery, Woodthorpe,  where George had found work underground as a miner.

Life was hard for many during this era. Mary herself had spent some time in the workhouse before her marriage and would have been relieved to move to a place where a house was provided with the job.

The Staveley Coal and Iron Company Ltd had built four parallel rows of houses, near to the colliery, for their employees.  There were 104 houses in each row and each house had two bedrooms and one main room downstairs with outbuildings, an earth midden, and allotment gardens.  Downstairs was just one room with large red tiles or flag stones lit by paraffin lamps. There was an open, cast iron, fireplace with an oven on one side of the grate and a boiler on the other.

In this small home, with just 3 rooms, John Hadley lived with his parents, his three Staffordshire born siblings and his two younger sisters, Emma and Mary Ann who were both born in Staveley. His brother, William, had followed his father and found employment as a collier.

When John was 21, he too had become a miner and his younger brother, Thomas, also worked in the colliery as a pony driver. Both William and Elizabeth had married and left home but the cottage was still overcrowded with Uncle Enoch Siviter now lodging with the family.

In 1914 Mr W J Hands H M I (school inspector) made a reference in the school log about Seymour.  He vigorously and unhesitatingly denounced it as being, absolutely, the most disreputable, squalid and filthy-looking piece of property he had ever seen during the whole of his inspectorial experiences. The over-laden ash middens, the exposed character of the earth closets and the foetid atmosphere being a revelation to him. He expressed surprise that the Chesterfield Rural District Council had allowed such a state of things to exist for so long.

John left the mining industry soon afterwards and, by 1914, was working as an Insurance Agent. It is probable that he was unable to continue as a manual worker as later evidence shows that he had undergone an operation for mastoid disease.

John enlisted at Staveley on 12th December 1915 when he was 25. He was 5’ 10” tall and weighed 143lbs. John was posted to the Reserve before being mobilised on 16th February 1916. He was initially posted to the 4th (Extra Reserve) Bn, Sherwood Foresters, No 2 Works Coy, at Grantham before being transferred to “B” Coy., 3rd (Reserve) Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derbys Regiment) on 22nd November 1916. Both battalions were depot training units and John was based at Sunderland as part of the Tyne Garrison which defended the east coast.

3rd Sherwood Foresters Sunderland 1915After several periods of illness shortly after his arrival, John was admitted to the Monkwearmouth and Southwick hospital in Sunderland on Saturday 2nd December 1916 suffering from pains in his head. The mastoid disease had recurred and an emergency operation was carried out on Monday 4th December. John survived the operation but died a few hours later. He had been with the 3rd Battalion for just 12 days.

John Hadley is buried at Staveley Cemetery in plot EE.55 (U).

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©Ann Lucas