THE CURIOUS CASE OF HAROLD DUTTON PART 3
The first blog covered Harold’s prosecution and punishment for breaking the 1911 Official Secrets Act and part two focused on his return to military service with the South Lancashire Regiment. My final paragraph ended on the marriage between Harold Dutton and Ellenor Pickles. I then begged the question why did they marry in Lytham? This is not the only question that comes to mind. Who was Ellenor and what of their life together?
Ellenor was born in Burnley in December 1880 and the youngest daughter of Joseph Henry Pickles and Mary Jane Pickles (nee Dean). Joseph had inherited his father’s cotton company Robert Pickles & Company with Cairo and Buccleuch Mills in Burnley and Alexandria Mill in Belfast. The 1891 census records the Pickles family residing at 30 Accrington Road in Burnley. At this point Ellenor is ten years old but her full name is recorded as Grace Ellen Pickles. Ellenor had two younger brothers Victor Henry aged 4 and Coronal Albert aged 2. The couple’s other children are not listed in 1891 but Ellenor also had two other brothers Joseph Henry and Louis Albert. Her maternal grandmother is also with the family and they employed a young single woman called Annie Melsip as a “general servant”.
Three years later everything changed. In November 1894 at the age of 38 Joseph passed away suddenly and Mary was a widow at 35. In 1901 we find the family living in Osborn Park in Antrim, Belfast. Ten years later Ellenor is at 38 Clifton Street, Lytham with her mother and two of her brothers Joseph 16 and Louis 19.
The question I continued to ask myself was “what was the possible connection between Harold, Ellenor, and Lytham”. After numerous searches I came across several newspaper articles which shed light upon Harold’s life. When he re-enlisted in June 1915 he joined the 2nd South Lancashire Regiment and they were billeted at Kirkham near Blackpool. It is feasable that they met at an event at Kirkham, Lytham or Blackpool. Ellenor had entered Harold’s life and as we shall see it was life changing.
Private Dutton 19396 was soon on his way to The Front. The wounds he received at Loos resulted in Harold returning to England in September 1915. As a result of his injuries it was not long before Harold was discharged from the army on 12th May 1916. On 31st May 1916 they were married at St John’s Church in Lytham.
Harold’s discharge entitled him to a Silver War Badge and Certificate. These were issued from Shrewsbury on 13th June 1917. Harold would have worn his silver lapel badge on the righthand side of his civilian clothing. This was not only a symbol of his service but it was a means of protecting men in civilian clothing who had no apparent disability. In the eyes of some people they were considered to be shirkers. An expression of this was presenting them with a white feather as a sign of their cowardice. Further analysis of Harold’s war service records reveals that in 1919 he was awarded the Victory Medal. This was because all men who had served between the period of 5th August 1914 to 11th November 1918 were issued with the Victory Medal. When his medal was awarded in June 1919 Harold and Ellenor were still in the Lytham area. They had moved to 28 Ansdell Road, North Andsell, near Lytham.
The next record of Harold and Ellenor is on 25th July 1919. On this day Ellenor gave birth to a baby boy Joseph Harold Dutton. He was born at home, at 28 Ansdall Road, North Lytham. Ellenor’s mother was present at the birth and she registered Joseph’s birth. Sadly, shortly after Joseph passed away. This must have been devastating.
The birth certificate does reveal an interesting development. Harold’s new profession, he was now a motor engineer. Rather fortuitously the 1921 census was released at the start of 2022 so I was able to research Harold further. Ellenor and Harold are living with Mary Ellenor’s mother at “Ypres” Bankfield in Lancashire. He is now a working director of Duttons (Southport) Ltd. His motor car electrical engineers company was based in the centre of the town at 1a Marlborough Road and Harold’s company is described as “Manufacturer of motor car electrical equipment such as batteries and accumulators”. From his imprisonment nine years earlier Harold’s life had been transformed. Now he was an independent business man catering for a luxury and expanding market.
I searched the British Newspaper Archive for Duttons (Southport) Limited and on May 1921 the Lancashire Evening Post published an advert. Duttons was selling a 1914 Calthorpe two-seater which is described as “thoroughly over-hauled and repainted for £200”. For the majority of the population this was beyond their means and in terms of today’s purchasing power it is around £10,000. Almost four years later, 25th October 1925 there was a notice of removal in the Ormskirk Advertiser. The company was moving from 1a Marlborough Road to new premises in Wright Street Southport. This was due to the ever-increasing clientele. The notice goes on to say that “when completed the service station would be one of the best and largest equipped service stations”. Harold was truly a changed man.
A 1914 Cathorpe 2 seater
The National Archives does give an indication of the longevity of Duttons (Southport). According to their business records the company was in existence between the period 1921 to 1932. So far I have tracked Duttons (Southport) up to 1925. Even though his company was eventually dissolved the establishment of his company and its expansion does illustrate how far Harold had turned his life around.
We move forward to January 20th 1939 and there is a report of his father Joseph Dutton’s death in the Runcorn weekly News. Harold’s father had been retired and living in Widnes but in 1937 he relocated to Darlington. He passed away on 13th January aged 79. The notice records family and friends’ floral tributes. Harold is amongst the names. From this point I have drawn a blank on Harold.
Now we come to Ellenor. She too has been rather elusive but I have managed to trace her burial. Ellenor Pickles Dutton died in Southport on 1st July 1960 and is buried at St John’s churchyard in Crossens, Southport. Her mother Mary Jane Pickles who lived at 38 The Crescent Crossens is also at St Johns churchyard. She passed away on 20th December 1937 and in her will she bequeathed her effects to her youngest son Joseph Henry Pickles. Joseph Henry is another of the Pickles family buried at Crossens.
St John’s Church, Crossen
After completing this blog I still have questions but I doubt that I will ever discover the answers. There are gaps that I have been unable to fill but how did their lives develop over the years? The main question surrounds Harold’s crime and punishment. How far, if at all did he declare this to Ellenor and her family, friends, work and army colleagues or did they find out from another source ? What did his friends and family feel about his misdemeanour and was it hidden by them? All impossible to resolve but nevertheless intriguing.