Harry Leaney, Foreman Navvy Engineer

Harry Leaney was born on the 29th of June in Goudhurst, Kent to Henry Leaney (22) and Elizabeth J Leaney (20). Harry’s first brother, John D Leaney was born in Ticehurst, Sussex around 1878 or 1879. Seven weeks before the 1881 census another brother, James W Leaney was also born. The family lived on Rosemary Lane, Ticehurst, Sussex along with a 35 year old lodger, William Barrow. Henry Leaney was an agricultural labourer. Henry and Elizabeth had their only daughter, Caroline, in 1872 or 1873, and another son, Herbert, a year later. By 1891 Harry and John had joined their father as agricultural labourers. The family still lived on Rosemary Lane, but now Henry Leaney’s widowed mother Caroline (65) lived a few doors down from them. With Caroline lived Harry’s unmarried uncles James (35) and William (29), they were also agricultural labourers.  By 1901 Harry had taken up work as a bricklayer, he was boarding with the Whyborn family of Bexhill, Sussex. George Whyborn (44) was a carter for a coal merchant.

On the 21st of May, 1907 Harry married Rose Pickaring in Doncaster, she was from South Wales. On the 7th of March 1908, their first son Henry Leaney was born. By 1909 Harry was living at 30 Wellington Street, Doncaster, and in 1911 the family moved into 42 Nelson Street, Hyde Park, Doncaster. They lived with the Crosland family. Although Harry is listed as the Crosland’s son-in-law none of the family seems to be connected to his wife, or even to Wales. Ellen Crosland (60) had 3 sons: Benjamin (21), Arthur(19), Oswald (16) and a boarder  George Hemp (50). All of Ellen’s sons worked, or had worked, for contractors. Arthur was a labourer for a contractors called Johnson. Oswald and George worked for Logan and Hemingway; Logan as a Stoker, George as labourer. Benjamin was an out of work engineer, who used to work for a contractor. Harry was still worked as a bricklayer and labourer, for Bentley Colliery, it is not clear whether he was working for contractors yet. Perhaps Benjamin Crosland helped Harry into the engineering trade. Harry and Rose had a daughter, Florence Elizabeth Leaney on the 13th of June, 1911.

In 1916 Harry was a foreman navvy engineer building 200 miners houses for Thomson & Dixon on a contract from Staveley Coal and Iron Company. In 1916 Thomson & Dixon applied for exemption from service on his behalf. The advisory committee recommended against him being exempted, maybe because even though he was a foreman and an engineer he was still a navvy, and so a labourer. There do not seem to be records from his service. In 1939, Rose and Harry still lived at 42 Nelson Street. There is a closed record under the same household suggesting they had a third child. They lived at 42 Nelson Street until at least 1948. Harry passed away at the age of 79, in 1957.

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