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Robert Madgen (1880-1917)

Weardale miner who emigrated to South Africa but returned to serve in Belgium

Robert Madgen was born on 26 Feb 1880, son of Robert and Mary Ann Madgen of Rigg House. He had two brothers, John and Leonard, and two sisters, Jane Anne and Margaret. He was a pupil at the Barrington School until it closed, and was admitted to St John’s Chapel School on 29 August 1888, leaving on 18 August 1893. In the census of 1891, Robert was living with his aunt and uncle, Joseph and Betty Brown at Pryse. His mother had died when he was an infant and it is possible his father was not living in the area during these years for there is no record of him.

By 1901 Robert was working as a horse driver, and with several others of his family still living with his aunt

In 1904, aged 24, he and his older brother, John, sailed to South Africa on the Walmer Castle. Both gave their occupation as miner. They must have returned, for, in 1906, they went out to South Africa again, this time on the Kenilworth Castle.

In 1913 Robert was married in Teesdale to Margaretta Marshall. She would live until 1971 when she died, aged 73.

When Robert enlisted is unclear, but it was at Stanhope and he gave his residence as St John’s Chapel, at Burnfoot. It isn’t clear why he served first with the Norfolk (30638) Regiment and then with the Essex Regiment, number 41903.

He was killed in action in Belgium serving with the 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment on 2 July 1917. He has no known grave but is recorded on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Civil Parish: Stanhope

Birth date: 26-Feb-1880

Death date: 02-July-1917

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: Rigg House, Saint John’s Chapel
Pryse, Stanhope

Education: Barrington school
Saint John’s Chapel school

Employment: Horse driver

Family: Father: Robert Madgen
Mother: Mary Ann Madgen
Sisters: Jane Ann, Margaret
Brothers: John, Leonard

Military service:

Private, number 60638, Norfol Regiment, later in Essex regiment, number 41903
Served in Belgium where he was killed in action

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Memorial(s): Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium
Saint John’s Chapel, village green, war memorial (spelling – Madgin)
Saint John’s Chapel, town hall, roll of honour

Gender: Male

Contributed by John B | Mel Brown