The Prescotian Webzine

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J.R.Hawthorne [PGS, 1935 to 1945]
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An appreciation with a difference : the Editor received an e-mail from Caroline, a drama teacher in York on Friday, 17th February, 2012, as follows, "We have recently purchased an old piano and within the stool there was old report books and essays from Prescot Grammar school dating back to the 1930s. The name on the items is Hawthorne. We have looked on this site and found the name in one of your lists. It seems a shame to throw these away and wondered if you may appreciate these? Or be able to reunite these with the family? Look forward to hearing from you."
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The Editor then contacted both the St. Helens Star and the Liverpool Echo for assistance to track down "Hawthorne" after speaking to Caroline on the phone. The documents contained two PGS report books for J.R.Hawthorne and some essays by Liv Birgit Hawthorne. It was quickly ascertained that J.R.Hawthorne attended PGS from 1935 to 1945 in the days when the school accepted children younger than eleven years.

Steve Leary, Editor of the St.Helens Star e-mailled, "Thanks for the message. Wasn’t the Mr Chips-like physics teacher ‘Judd’ a Hawthorne too? Or is my memory finally imploding?"

Ian Bolland of the Liverpool Echo then contacted the site, requesting more information, "Your email and details were forwarded to me by the Liverpool Echo to me as I am working as the Community Reporter."

St.Helens Star reporter, Ron Vose then made a significant breakthrough to the mystery on 23rd February, 2012, "I'm writing the article concerning the excercise books of your 'J. R. Hawthorne', but I also did a bit of independent research. Thought you might like to know what I've learned, though you probably know most of this already.
His full name is John Richard Hawthorne. He was born in 1927, and died in 2000, apparently somewhere in Yorkshire according to some BMD research I did. He received a scholarship from Prescot Grammar School to attend Brasenose College in 1945, where he studied Modern Languages. He only graduated from there in 1957. According to the woman I spoke to at Brasenose Alumni, she said that kind of delay is common, as at Oxford you only graduate once you have collected your degree. Our editor Ste Leary said that the reason for that delay could have been military service?
At any rate, Brasenose told me that he then went on to Plymouth College of Further Education, now know as Plymouth City College, but thats where the trail ends for me - the college only keeps records for 6 years prior.
With relation to Liv Birgit Hawthorne, I've found nothing.
Keep an eye out for the request for public help in the paper next week."

One further mystery regarding John Richard Hawthorne comes from the report books themselves. Those of us who had the PGS style career report books will remember that a parent's signature was required when it was returned to the school the following term. J.R.Hawthorne's father's signatures suggest the name of J.E.Hawthorne. Is it too much too assume that his father was indeeed, J.E. "Judd" Hawthorne who taught at the school from the mid 1930s to the early 1960's?

Ron then made the final breakthrough to solve the mystery of the "Hawthorne Find" as descibed in his next e-mail on Friday, 24th February, 2012, as follows,
"I've found the family of your J. R. Hawthorne.
First and foremost, let me make it clear that this has been a personal effort at home - so my findings won't be in the paper. I think that, if we run it,  we'll still be running it as a feature asking for input from locals. I agree with the editor that appealing to the public is a key feature of this piece, and we will probably find that our readers know much much more than I've dug up by myself - perhaps even people who knew the man when he was growing up?
At any rate, this is what I've found. With a bit more digging, I found that a family tree for a Hawthorne family had been put together on ancestry.co.uk. Ancestry is exorbitantly priced, but I managed to grab a free trial. On there, I found that a Karen Hawthorne has been putting together a family tree. Through working through the family tree, and by getting in touch with Karen (who is the wife of John Richard Hawthorne's nephew) this is what I've learned.
John Richard Hawthorne was born on Sunday, July 3 1927. He died in York, some time in May 2000. He had two younger brothers - Michael Edward Hawthorne (1929-1997), and Noel David Hawthorne (1930-1998). They were all born to John Eric Hawthorne, who was born in 'South Liverpool' in 1898, and an Elsie Dresser, born 1900, who I think came from York. Apparently, the family moved to Prescot when John Eric Hawthorne got a job teaching physics at - you guessed it - Prescot Grammar School.
As for Liv Brigit Hawthorne? That was John Richard's wife, and she was originally from Norway. They lived in York. As far as I understand it from Karen, Liv has recently sold her house and her possessions, which included an old piano - bringing us full circle..
Karen is going to contact the Hawthorne clan in York to let them know we've all been looking for her, and put them in touch with me. Karen lives in Colne, which is where Noel David moved. Michael Edward's descendants apparently now live in either Chester or Ellesmere Port - the website wasn't specific. So they are pretty well spread out. If you want, I can pass on your details to them, and they can contact you directly?
I hope I've been of some use to you, and I hope that my efforts won't shut this mystery down for others - there is still a lot more that we could learn, I'm sure!

Further details of John Richard Hawthorne come from John Willmott:
"I met John (Richard) Hawthorne in York when I came to work at the University of York in 1968. We were living in Rawcliffe Lane, in Clifton at the time, in a rented house until our new bunglow had been built in Hovingham. We bumped into one another purely by chance - he and his wife were living in the nearby Shipton Road.

He was working, teaching modern languages - needless to say, French - at an independent school in York, Bootham School run by the Quakers. We got to know one another and indeed, we went to his home for dinner on one occasion and we reciprocated. He was 7 years older than me so that at PGS, I was in the Prep Department while he was in the Sixth Form.

Sadly we lost touch when we went to live in Hovingham for no other reason that the University is located out at Heslington and Hovingham is about 18 miles from York. We only went into York for shopping or for a coffee at Bettys. Heslington is on the completely opposite side York from Clifton.

The one thing about John I can especially recall is that he smoked a lot!!


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