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Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates
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Author:  Ruth [ Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:14 am ]
Post subject:  Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

My 3x great grandfather, William Midgley, was a Chelsea Out-pensioner and received pension payments from Lincoln, Hull and Preston. By looking at these records I have been able to track his moves around the country to stay with different family members following his wife's death in Alford, Lincolnshire in 1847. His son, Edward, took our family to Colne.

A diversion from this activity arose from the discovery, on Find my Past, of the army discharge papers of Field Marshall Suarrow Yates, a private soldier who served in the 59th Regiment of Foot (WO 22/9 Preston 1842-45). Born in Sabden, and described as a blacksmith, he was discharged from the army in 1849 after 21 years of service and was awarded an out-pension on the grounds of being unfit for further service. The character and conduct of F.M.S. Yates were described as follows: '... he has been tried seven times by Court Martial but is in possession of a good conduct ring and consequently his conduct is good. He has been tried seven times for Drunkenness.'

He died in 1863 (registered Blackburn) and was obviously something of a family hero as his name was passed on to a grandson born in 1862 (Lancashire BMD 1st quarter 1862). The second Field Marshall Suarrow Yates lived in Blackburn (found in the 1871, '81, '91 and 1901 censuses) and worked as a cotton drawer in. He died in 1935.

I have no idea how the first Field Marshall Suarrow Yates got his strange names. I have not been able to find a baptism for him. The fact that the names Field Marshall appeared on his official discharge papers suggests to me that he already had these names when he joined the army rather than his having acquired them as a nickname. Not surprisingly, the name Suarrow appears in the records with a variety of different spellings. The origin of this name seems even more mysterious. According to Wikipedia, Suwarrow is a low coral atoll in the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean - or is this a complete red herring?

Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Sat Dec 27, 2014 6:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Field Marshall Suarrow Yates is buried in Blackburn Old Cemetery in an unmarked (and we suspect uncharted grave). Suggest you refer to Facebook Group 'Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery' where I very recently posted an item about him which has attracted a fair amount of comment. Probably easier to look at our Facebook page rather than my attempt to transfer all the info.

I am especially interested to learn what happened to Field Marshall Suarrow Yates Junior and his wife Bridget Yates (formerly McDermott) as I could find no record of his death and no apparent record of her death or remarriage. I have quite a few records of their family which I can post here or in some private message should you wish.

Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Further to my last reply (which does not seem to show up?) a member of Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery Facebook group has now tracked down Field Marshall Yates baptism (under yet another variant of his first name!)
He was baptised 15/11/1807 at St Leonard's Padiham as Souharrow Yates.
It appears that the family origins lie in the area where most family remain?
I wonder if his strange name possibly had nothing to do with Russian field marshals originally. A family surname perhaps (though Google shows up nothing obvious). Maybe he adopted the military sobriquet later? As I said earlier, Field Marshal Suvarov's name would mean little in Britain prior to his triumph in 1812.

Maurice Ffelan

Author:  Mel [ Tue Dec 30, 2014 9:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

please accept my apologies for the delay in approving the above two posts. I blame it on the festivities! :oops:

Author:  Ruth [ Thu Jan 01, 2015 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

I was very interested to find further information on Field Marshall Suarrow Yates fairly newly posted on this Forum.

Thank you Maurice (and the person who found his baptism). As Suarrow Yates was something of a diversion from my main areas of family history research, I wouldn't want to put you to any bother filling me in on all his genealogical details. I would, though, be very interested to see the article on the Facebook page of the Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery. Unfortunately, I don't think I can access this article without joining Facebook - which, to date, I have always avoided doing. Is there any other way for me to see it I wonder?

Further to the baptismal spelling of Souharrow, I suspect that the 'h' might be an attempt to overcompensate for the local habit of dropping aitches. When I first found my great great grandfather, Edward Midgley, on a Lancashire census, it was written that he was born in Halford, Lincolnshire (actually Alford, and not the equivalent of 'alifax, with which the local enumerator would have been more familiar!).

Happy New Year to Mel and all Forum readers!

Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Thu Jan 01, 2015 4:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Facebook is usually precious about posting links which often appear as blanks. I can try copying and pasting but that often comes out in basically a 'plain text ' format with odd spacings but I can have a go? Alternative might be if there is some 'hidden' way we could exchange email addresses?


Author:  Gloria [ Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Hi Maurice, excuse my butting in, but, if you go to the top of the page, members, Ruth, you will be able to send private message or email. Hope this helps.

Author:  Ruth [ Mon Jan 05, 2015 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

I spent a bit of time yesterday looking on the Lancashire BMD website for records for Field Marshall Yates junior and his second wife, Bridget. These are what I found:

Lancashire marriage index: 1908
McDermott, Bridget Yates, field Marshall Suwarrow
Blackburn Register Office or Registrar Attended
Registers at: Blackburn
Reference: RM/168/180

Lancashire death index: 1935
YATES Field Marshal Suwarrow 71 Blackburn Northern Blackburn BN/78/88

Lancashire death index: 1949
YATES Bridget 77 Blackburn East Blackburn BE/29/15

(Note there was another Bridget Yates who died in Blackburn in 1949, aged 84, but the Bridget above, aged 77, matches the 1911 census information (found on Ancestry) to be our man's wife.

Name: Bridget Yates
Age in 1911: 36
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1875
Relation to Head: Wife
Gender: Female
Birth Place: Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Civil Parish: Blackburn
County/Island: Lancashire
Country: England
Street address: 11 Duxbury Street Blackburn
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: House Work
Registration district: Blackburn
Registration District Number: 474
Sub-registration district: Blackburn Northern
ED, institution, or vessel: 19
Piece: 25045
Household Members:
Name Age
Field Marshall Suwarrow Yates 47
Bridget Yates 36
John McDermott 4
Frances McDermott 4
Elizabeth Yates 2
John McDermott 67

Once a genealogy addict, always a geneology addict!


Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Mon Jan 05, 2015 2:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Thanks, I had found some of this in less detail but was a little puzzled as to which of the two Bridget Yates was the correct one. Sorry, I still haven't got round to passing on the burial info that I have.


Author:  Ruth [ Sun Jan 11, 2015 6:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

I still haven't seen Maurice's article so don't know whether my current research push is duplicating research that has already been done by others. However, I continue to be fascinated by the Suarrow Yates story.

It is clear from the St Leonard, Padiham parish register that Souharrow, son of James and Elizabeth Yates, was born on 10 October 1807 and baptised at that church on 15 November 1807. His father's occupation was Smith and the birthplace was Pendleton.

Why the baby was named Souharrow remains conjecture, but it seems to me that the most likely explanation, especially in view of the later addition of Field Marshall to his name (as evidenced by his Army discharge papers in 1849), is that he was in fact named after the Russian Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov (variously spelled, including Suworow). This great Russian hero (see numerous Google entries) died in 1800, having come out of retirement in 1799 to fight against Napoleon's forces in Italy. Suvorov had never been defeated and was famed for writing his military manual The Science of Victory. Although he was already dead by 1812, his 'disciples' followed his tactics and turned the tide against Napoleon at the Battle of Borodino.

In an attempt to find out why James and Elizabeth might have decided to name their child after a Russian Field Marshal, I decided to see what I could find out about Suwarrow's father, James Yates. Might James have served as a soldier in the war against the French? As yet, I have no proof that I have found the correct James Yates. However, I have come up with a possible candidate (having first checked that there was no likely James Yates married or baptised at St Leonard's, Padiham).

I began by looking on Ancestry for marriages of James Yates to an Elizabeth in 1802 + or - 5 years, and found only three (of which two were in 1795): James Yates to Elizabeth Hall in Penwortham, Lancs (no occupation given for the father), and James Yates to Elizabeth Bull in Great Waltham, Essex (judged unlikely). The third possibility looks much more promising: James Private Yates and Elizabeth Davis, married 25 August 1799 at Kingstone, Kent England.

The marriage of James Private Yates and Elizabeth Davis can be found on both Ancestry and Find my Past, but only as an index entry, with no additional details. However Find my Past also has an image of their banns record (source: Canterbury Marriage Banns), confirming that he was in fact Private (his rank) James Yates. It also states that he was a Private in the 9th Regt of Foot, and that both he and Elizabeth were 'of this parish'.

Looking at the regimental history of the 9th Regiment of Foot (available online at archive.org), I found (page 38) that in the summer of 1799, the regiment's three battalions were encamped on Barham Down, (a few miles from Kingstone, where James married). In early September, two battalions of the 9th left for service in Holland, where they fought, together with Russian troops, under HRH the Duke of York, against the French and the Dutch. Little was achieved and the soldiers of the 9th withdrew after a few weeks to return to England.

I have spent quite a lot of time online trying to find more about this Private James Yates' army career, without success. It is hoped that a trip to the National Archives at Kew will turn up muster rolls to prove that James was in one of the two battalions that went to Holland. Assuming that he did indeed fight alongside Russian troops, it would not be surprising for him to have heard tales of the victories of the great Russian Field Marshal Alexander Suvorov and to have remembered them when choosing a name for his son in 1807.

With luck, the trip to Kew might also provide evidence of where James Yates of the 9th enlisted and where he was born, which might just bring this fascinating story back to Lancashire.


Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Apologies for not providing the info before now. It is mostly about the family of Field Marshall Yates junior (the grandson). Ruth already has already provided lots about Grandfather (which in part corrects information I had posted in Facebook' Friends of Blackburn Old Cemetery' group.

To actually get some of my information reasonably speedily into this forum I have simply lifted a section from the Facebook postings with a little editing, bits of which may make little sense to others. As I suspected I can only transfer text from one site to another. I can if desired give links later to salient burial records (which are the basis of my 'research' together with checks in FreeBMD.org

The text is as follows:-

It was John Riley (Who else?) who first drew my attention to this burial in Grave no CE K 12319, the records of which he had stumbled across in the library. I searched in vain for the grave until we finally realised it (with possibly several hundred more?) simply did not appear on the plans. I had realised from the outset that he was not a real field marshal but had assumed that it was the name chosen by his parent.
Using the census information provided by Dave Heaps I have been able to piece together with reasonable certainty more family history. Field Marshall Suarrow YATES died in 1863 in Blackburn but I can find nothing about his birth or marriage. He would of course have been born before BMD records started and if, as Dave suggests, Field Marshall Suarrow was a name assumed later, perhaps after marriage, there would be no record of a marriage in that name.
He may not have married of course but the birth in Blackburn of another Field Marshall YATES was registered in 1862 the year before he died so one assumes this was his son. This must be the man found by Dave in the 1911 Census living at 11 Duxbury St. Field Marshall Suarrow YATES junior appears to have married in Blackburn in 1886 but in 1908 remarried Bridget McDERMOTT in Blackburn.
She appears to have brought with her twin sons Francis and John (born in 1906 in Blackburn) and her widowed father John MCDERMOTT. In 1909 the couple had Elizabeth but then had three more children who all died in infancy. James Harold died at 4 months in 1910. Honor died at 2 months in 1911. Frederick died at 5 months in 1913. All were buried in grave RC I 2216.
John McDERMOTT senior died in 1923 and is buried in the same grave. He is described in the burial register as the widower of the late Honora McDERMOTT (after whom Honor was named?) Various persons of that name of likely ages had died elsewhere in the country but I can make no positive link with this family. However also buried in the grave in 1909 is Ann McDERMOTT who is described as the wife of John MCDERMOTT so I may have conflated two John McDERMOTTS who may or may not have been related to each other?
I can find no record of what happened to Field Marshall Suarrow Yates Junior or Bridget Yates.
I think Bridget's son Francis McDERMOTT may have been buried at Pleasington in grave RC K 122 in 1976'

I now know of course that the second Field Marshall Yates was in fact the grandson. I have also realised that the eponymous Field Marshall Suvorov was long dead by 1812 and that his campaigning was over by the end of the previous century

Hope this info may be of interest at least, though I suspect it is going off at a tangent from the main story and Ruth's family history? I shall certainly be interested to see what else comes to light.

Maurice Ffelan

Author:  Ruth [ Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Thank you Maurice for transferring the information gathered by you and others belonging to the Blackburn Old Cemetery group. By good fortune as regards avoiding duplication it was useful that you had worked mainly to bring the story forward in time whilst I have been concentrating on taking the story back.

FM Suarrow Yates is indeed a diversion from my main family history research but as I now have the bit between my teeth I will endeavour to find out more and then keep people posted! We live in North London so going to Kew is a bit of an expedition but I expect to manage to get there sometime during the next couple of months.


Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Mon Jan 12, 2015 1:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Had not realised you were anywhere but Briercliffe! Our little group in Blackburn tends to be pretty parochial (though we do have a few online members around the world). Kew perhaps more accessible by tube etc from North London than by public transport from Lancashire. Good luck with your researches. We shall certainly be interested to hear more of our field marshal's origins. He seems to have caught everyone's imagination!
Pity we can't find his last resting place. His appears to be one of a row of burials over about two or three days. We think his death may have been in an epidemic as a couple of days previously there had been nine new graves opened in a line, all like his apparently single burials. We rather think they now lie under a tarmac path.


Author:  Ruth [ Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

Further to Maurice's comment about where I live, I have lived in London all my adult life but was born in Colne and lived there until I was 15. My Lancashire origins are very much part of Who I Think I Am and now I am retired I enjoy keeping in touch with my roots via the Briercliffe Society Forum and other aspects of local Lancashire history!

Yesterday I found online two new traces of Field Marshall Suarrow Yates, senior:

1. Named in the marriage record of his son John:
12 May 1856 at Blackburn, Holy Trinity (Lancashire Online Parish Clerks)
John Yates married age 22 (signed)
Margaret Wilson age 23 (her mark)
father: Suwarrow Yates, labourer
witnesses: Jacob Speight (signed); Elizabeth Yates (her mark)
(Note: Suwarrow was mistranscribed as Lawrence by Ancestry, but the name Suwarrow is clear on the image of the original.)

2. In the 1861 census (Blackburn, district 46, p. 26) at 5 Riley Street, Blackburn:
Suarray Yates, lodger, widower, 51, Chelsea Pensioner, b. England (sic)

I have not found him in the 1851 census, either because of a further, as yet unidentified transcription of his name, or perhaps because he stayed on in Ireland for a time after being discharged from the Army in Fermoy in November 1849.

This morning, following on from Maurice's suggestion that Suarrow might have died in an epidemic, I googled 'Blackburn 1862 epidemic' and bingo, I was taken to an epidemics timeline compiled in 2011 by the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies (AIGS) and reproduced with permission by the Keighley & District Family History Society (KDFHS). This showed:

1862 Typhus epidemic Lancashire towns

Obviously to prove his cause of death, someone would need to pay for his death certificate!


Author:  MauriceFfelan [ Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Private soldier: Field Marshall Suarrow Yates

I think I have found out where John and Margaret Yates are buried. The ages on the register entries tie in with those in the marriage record. John was actually John Absalom Yates on his death record and is referred to as such on the entry for their daughter's burial. Grave CE N 7796. Don't know whether there is a headstone. Burial details from Deceased OnLine. Dates are of burials

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
Blackburn Cemetery
grave reference N/E/7796
Yates, Ellen aged 9 mth 08 October 1900
Yates, Margaret aged 60 17 December 1898
Yates, John aged 56 26 February 1891
Catlow, Washington aged 2 wks 26 May 1886
Yates, Elizabeth Alice aged 6 yrs 29 November 1879
Higson, (SBC Of) 08 November 1868
Hosker, (SBC Of) 06 November 1868

John Yates died at 18 (sic) Ingham St Blackburn, Margaret Yates died at no 22, their daughter Elizabeth Alice at 73 Birley St Blackburn
Ellen was the child of Albert Edward & Annie Yates of 4 Duxbury St Blackburn (I seem to recall that address cropping up earlier in this story?)
I can see no obvious connection with the Yates family for the two stillborn children or baby Catlow.

Regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of Field Marshall Yates senior, contemporary Blackburn papers should give some account of the epidemic and, who knows, the Field Marshall's life might have been considered worth an obituary? I shall ask one of our library haunting members to have a look.


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