Harry Ernest Johnson

Harry Ernest Johnson was born either in Newport Pagnell or Castlethorpe on March 1st 1890 and his family lived in Castlethorpe. He was baptised at Castlethorpe on 6th April 1890, but none of his immediate family have records there.

By the time Harry was 11, in the 1901 census, he and his family – dad George (40), Mum Ellen (43) and three sisters Ada aged 8, Edith aged 6 and Daisy aged 4 were living in 8 Skevington’s Buildings on Main Street in Cosgrove. The family must have moved to Cosgrove between 1895, when Edith was born and 1897 when Daisy was born in Cosgrove.

George, Harry’s father, was working at Wolverton Carriage works as a general labourer.

There were eleven cottages in total in Skevingtons Buildings at the time including some down “Suet Alley” at the canal end of the buildings.

By 1911 the Johnson family appeared in the census in the fourth of the New Buildings cottages from the Green. Edith was not with them – she was in service “living in” at Ecton House in Northamptonshire.

Harry, aged 21, was working as a coach finisher at Wolverton Railway Works, where his father George was cleaning coaches. Ada, now aged 18 was a domestic cook, although living at home

Between 1911 and 1912 Harry carved a hymn number board for Cosgrove Church.

Wolverton Express 12th June 1914


The judging of the work done during the past session at the Woodwork Classes held in the County under the auspices of the Committee, took place on Thursday last at the Technical School, Abingdon Square, Northampton, the work having been collected from the various centres for the purpose. The judge was Mr R. Holmes, FBICC, Headmaster of the Building Trades and Manual Training Departments at Keighley Technical Institute, and in his awards Cosgrove was represented in Carpentry by H. K. Johnson (senior) and J. Kilburn (junior).

H K Johnson may be a mis-type for Harry E Johnson.

During the First World War Harry was honoured on the Cosgrove Roll of those who served. We know that he survived, and his marriage to Annie Ellen [Barton] took place at St Thomas’s Portman Square, Ealing, on 18 May 1918, shortly before the end of the war, when he was 28 and Annie 25.

Harry and Annie returned to Cosgrove and rented one of the cottages next to the Church from the Whalley’s Charity:

Cosgrove Estate Sale 1919

Four Stone-built and Slated Cottages

each containing Two Upper and Two Lower Rooms, and having outside Wood Barn and E.C.,
together with Gardens fronting the Village Street, being Part No. 108 on Plan, occupying an area of

lr. 17p.

and let on Weekly Tenancies to Miss Willison, and Messrs. H. Johnson, E. H. Jelly and H. Meakins
at 2s. 6d. per week each, making a total rental value of £26 per annum. Landlord paying Rates.

The couple had six children – all baptised in Cosgrove Church:

Gladys Mabel baptised 1921

Elsie Marjorie 1922

Dorothy Ellen 1923

Jean Alma 1925

Harold George 1926

Phyllis Mary 1927

Harry was listed on the electoral roll of Cosgrove from 1922 as continuing to live in the Church cottages, presumably with Annie, his wife – although she would not get her vote until many years later.

Marjorie Cannings recollected in 2016 that she knew the younger girls and recalled them as being “always immaculately turned out”. She said that her own mother could never understand why the Johnson children never seemed to get dirty! It is likely that these memories are from the New Buildings, where Marjorie’s family, the Browns, and the Johnson children’s grandparents continued to live.

In this photo of 1927 the face at the top right is H Johnson – then Treasurer of Cosgrove Football Club.

Harry was also a good husbandman, winning prizes at the Horticultural Show next door at Cosgrove Hall in 1930 for his spring sown onions, hens’ eggs and cooking apples!

Around 1931 Harry disappears from Cosgrove’s records. Marjorie recalled that they moved to Stony Stratford.

Harry Johnson lived to the ripe old age of 87, dying in 1977 somewhere in North Buckinghamshire.