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Pictures and information from Ken Smith, additional research by Kay Collins, 2012
Smith & Cowley Families

Florence, Annie & Emma
left: Florence, with Annie
& Emma (seated)
George Smith and Emma (nee Pearson) were living at 26 Francis Street, Northampton when their son John was born on 3rd October 1891. John joined a sister Mary Agnes who was six and brother George two, and two more sisters, Emma and Annie, were born after John. George and Emma then brought the family to Rushden in about 1898/9 and another daughter, Florence May was born here in 1900. They lived in Pemberton Street, and George was working in the shoe trade. Sadly George died in 1902, aged just 41, leaving Emma pregnant, as their daughter Martha Lillian was born afterwards.

Five years later Emma remarried to Henry Cumberpatch, also from Northampton, and with his son Henry and daughter Catherine, the family moved to 25 Spencer Road.

Jabez W B Cowley was born at Clapham, Bedfordshire in 1829, and worked as a shoemaker. He married Jane Draper from Higham Ferrers, daughter of John and Rebecca, in 1853. They had six children: Samuel 1857, Charles 1859, Ann 1862, Jabez 1864, Isabella 1867, and Joseph 1869, and they lived in High Street, but moved to Sargent’s Cottages in the 1870s (renamed Upton Place in 1899). Following Jabez senior’s death, Jane remained in the cottage with their youngest son Joseph and his wife Jane.

Jabez & Harriet 17 Church Street
Left: Harriet & Jabez Cowley and above Jabez outside his
shop at 17 Church Street
For an older picture see Old Shops - Church Street
Jabez Cowley junior also worked in the shoe trade as a currier. He married Harriet Meadows from Raunds, in 1885 and their first child John William was born at Raunds in 1886, Grace was born in 1889 at Rushden, Elsie Harriet in 1893 and Harry Edward in 1895, and the family lived in Upper Queen Street.

Jabez Cowley was one of the founder members of the Mission Band in 1898.

In 1908 Jabez was living at 17 Queen Street and two years later had opened this shop in Church Street. In the cellar below the shop there was a well, and a coal shute.

In 1915 their son Harry Edward was killed in action. Jabez died in 1928 and Harriet in 1935, and they are buried in Rushden Cemetery Grave F.55 and all three are commemorated on the gravestone: In loving memory of Jabez COWLEY who died July 4th 1928 aged 64 years. Also of Harriett his beloved wife who died April 3rd 1935 aged 72 years. Also their son Harry Edward killed in action in France 1915 aged 20 years. Reunited.

old well looking into the cellar coal shute
No 17 Church Street - left the old well,
above - looking into the cellar, - far right is the coal shute that was below the shop window.

John Smith enlisted with the 7th Northamptonshire Regiment and 15932 Private Smith was issued with Rifle No. 48626 on the seventh of September 1914. John was wounded in November 1915 whilst in France, and was posted as missing on 1st and then confirmed as ‘wounded in the left foot and taken prisoner of war’ in a letter dated 29th November. Whilst he was held as a prisoner of war, John was taken to a coal mine near Leipzig, where he was put to work. He survived the war, and was demobbed on 7th April 1919 into the Reserve. In August the same year he was married at the Independent Wesleyan Church to Elsie Harriet Cowley (born 14th Jan 1893) on 2nd August 1919, daughter of Jabez Cowley. They had one son, Kenneth, born in 1934.

Church Steward demob
John's WWI demob certificate March 1919
Fire Service Certificate
(above) Fire Service WWII - (below) Church Steward

John when a Prisoner of War Elsie
John when a prisoner
Elsie Harriet Cowley

Rushden Echo, August 8th 1919, transcribed by Kay Collins

Smith – Cowley

A very pretty wedding on Saturday was that of Miss Elsie Harriett Cowley, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. Cowley, of Church-street, Rushden, and Mr. John Smith, second son of Mrs. Cumberpatch, of Spencer-road, Rushden, which took place at the High-street Independent Wesleyan Church, Rushden, the Rev. C. J. Keeler, officiating. The bridegroom who joined up early in the war, was taken prisoner in September 1915, and was not released from Germany until January 3rd 1919. Fortunately he soon recovered from the harsh treatment he received at the hands of the Germans, and he has the congratulations of many friends on his happy marriage.

John & Elsie
John & Elsie 1919
The bride was tastefully attired in cream silk crepe-de-chine, with a bridal veil trimmed with orange blossom. She wore a gold bracelet, the gift of the bridegroom, and was given away by her father. The bridesmaids, Misses Florrie and Lilian Smith, sisters of the bridegroom, wore dresses of white silk, with pale pink and blue georgette hats. Each wore a gold brooch, the gift of the bridegroom. The duties of best man were ably discharged by Mr. Geo. Smith, brother of the bridegroom. Suitable wedding music was played by Mr. Wrighton, and the hymns “The voice that breathed o’er Eden” and “O Perfect Love” were sung. A reception was afterwards held at the bride’s home. Mr. and Mrs. Smith left by the 1.24 train for Brighton for their honeymoon, the bride’s travelling costume being of navy blue, with a white hat. Amongst the many beautiful presents were a silver tea-pot from the bride’s fellow-teachers of the high-street Independent Wesleyan Sunday School, and a rug from the bridegroom’s colleagues of the Wellingborough-road mission Cricket Club.

In WWII John joined as a part-timer in the fire service from 1940 to 1945. His certificate shows that the Local Fire Brigade trained these men to act as an Auxiliary Fire Service, and this was renamed as the National Fire Service on 18th August 1841.

Gates' lorry used by the NFS
Herbert Gates, fruiterer, loaned his lorry to the NFS - John Smith standing left

John was also presented with an illuminated address by the Mission Church to recognise 18 years of service as a Church Steward.

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