Christopher Alderson – an unexpected hero

Christopher Alderson is buried at Beacon Edge cemetery, Penrith, with his wife Isabella. In looking to find out something about them, he turned out to have a story of bravery in his past.

The grave

Christopher Alderson, of the Museum Hotel, Penrith, died Dec 4, 1902, aged 42

Isabella his wife, died Jan 21 1929, aged 68 (at Bourne End, Buckinghamshire).

Christopher’s personal effects were worth a humble £47 3 shillings in the probate entry: about £4,700 in today’s values.

The basics

Christopher Alderson was born in Hilton, Westmorland, in 1860, to Christopher Alderson senior and Jane née Mark. Chris senior was then an agricultural labourer.

By 1871, they were living in Bongate, Appleby.

In 1881, Christopher Alderson shows up as a horse driver, lodging in Long Eaton, Derbyshire

There’s no sign of him in 1891, but in September 1892 he married Isabella Lunson, at Long Marton, Westmorland.

Isabella Lunson, born in 1861, was the daughter of John Lunson, a master carpenter and joiner and wife Isabella, née Williamson.

By 1891, John Marton, retired, was at the Temperance Hotel in Long Marton – with wife Isabella and ‘our’ Isabella, now aged 30 and listed as a grocer. John and Isabella both died in 1892, and the hotel and grocery shop were sold – shortly before Isabella married Christopher Alderson. 

The Museum Inn, Penrith

The Museum Inn was at 17 Castlegate. It was not a temperance hotel, but a ‘regular’ pub. In December 1899, Grace Elizabeth Ridley of the Museum Inn ‘died suddenly. She was just 38 and had been ‘in feeble health since the death of her husband, four years ago’. Her husband Joseph had died at the Museum Inn in September 1896, aged just 37. 

Somehow, their daughter Annie, who was just 17 when her mother died, kept the family together. 1901 shows her at 21 Castlegate with siblings Mary Elizabeth 18, Maud 15, Ernest 13, Edith 12, and Joe, 6.

1901 also shows the Aldersons at the Museum Inn. With them are their three sons, Rowland 8, Wilfred 6, and Hubert Gordon 4, and a domestic servant.

The Temperance Hotel

Christopher died just a year later. On the 1911 census, Isabella is a Temperance Hotel keeper, at the Albion Hotel, Penrith.

With her are sons Christopher R 18 (ie Rowland), Wilfrid L 16, Hubert G 14, a domestic servant and a visitor.

Rewind to 1908 and Jenkinson’s Temperance Hotel, in Castlegate, was up for auction. A Mr Sharp bid £450, acting or Mrs Alderson, of the Museum Hotel. 

No coincidence she was interested, given her (1891) background?

The Penrith Observer carries a lengthy account, in January 1915, of Private Christopher Rowland Alderson’s experiences at Ypres.

An interesting narrative of hardship and danger’.

His account of crossing a field with bullets flying around was deemed ‘most exciting’.

An act of courage

There is no sign of Christopher Alderson on the 1891 census. We know he married in 1892.

And the later census returns tell us the three boys were all born in Bradford.

So, so circa 1893-97 the family were in Yorkshire….

PRESENTATION TO AN APPLEBY MAN. Warrant Sergeant Christopher Alderson, son of Mr. C. Alderson, Appleby, was yesterday week at Bradford presented with a marble timepiece and two bronze side ornaments, by the members of the Bradford City Constabulary. He has been for sixteen years in the force, but for over twelve months has been unfit for duty, and had to stay at Torquay for six months . 

Sergeant Alderson had to have a finger amputated some time ago owing to an injury which he sustained while bravely stopping a runaway horse.

A Bradford paper describes the sergeant as “one of the most courteous and intelligent in the force” 

Penrith Observer, June 1899

The incident occurred in 1896.

Sad consequences for Christopher Alderson

If he was a police officer for 16 years, that puts the start date of his service as 1883.It is from Isabella’s 1929 obituary that we get more of the story.

She married Mr. Christopher Alderson, Appleby, who soon afterwards went to Bradford, where be rose to the rank of senior detective-sergeant in the police force.

After losing his fingers (it says two), stopping the runaway horse:

..he came to Penrith, and took the shop in Victoria Road, now occupied by Mr. Wilkinson, and he was appointed market inspector.

But his health contined to fail:

…he went for fifteen months to Cape Town in the hope of affecting an improvement. This, however, was not obtained, and he died a few months after returning to Penrith.

The sons

The obituary tells us Mrs. Alderson took the Museum Hotel, then the Albion Temperance Hotel, and in 1921 went to live with her son, Hubert, in London. By 1929, Hubert and and Wilfrid were ‘in business’ in London, whicle Rowland was a doctor at Eastbourne.

Christopher Alderson senior

Christopher Alderson senior died in 1900, aged 72, after collapsing while clearing rubbish in the yard behind his house in Chapel Street, Appleby.

His life was also outlined in an obituary:

Mr. Alderson waswidely known in the district and in his day played many parts. 

In his early days he followed agricultural pursuits, and was also prominent in the wrestling ring, being a very powerful man. 

Many are the tales he could tell of his feats with scythe in the good old days before the introduction of machinery. 

In later life he was engaged in the coal trade, and only retired a short time ago, but, alas, has not lived to enjoy his ease very long.

Beacon Edge Cemetery

This post is one of a series on people buried at Beacon Edge, above Penrith.

Some of the others include publican Thomas Dixon and the local bonesetters, the Dennison family.

And Charles Gilder, a yeast merchant. And William Weight.