Arthur Beadsworth 

Name Arthur Beadsworth
Corps Leicestershire Regiment, 7th Battalion, formerly Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Rank Sergeant
Service No. 11677
Date/Place of entry Leicester
Date of death 9 October 1917 Died of wounds (gas attack)
Memorial/Grave Wimereux Communal Cemetery, VI. C. 19.

Arthur Beadsworth was the son of William and his first wife Mary Beadsworth nee Makepeace of Leicester. He is likely to be the only soldier on this website to have played for Manchester United.

Arthur’s father William was one of the eight children of Drayton-born blacksmith Isaac Beesworth and a first cousin of the Cottingham Beadsworth family. Isaac and his wife Sophia moved to St Margaret’s parish in Leicester by 1841 and later settled in Bath Street, on the edge of Blackfriars. Although largely uninhabited in the early 1800s, this historic area was by then crammed with terraced houses following the canalisation of the nearby Soar River. It was one of the poorer areas of Leicester.

His mother Mary also grew up in St Margaret’s parish. Her father Edward Makepeace was a trimmer and other family members also worked in the textile trade, very possibly in Thomas Corah’s  factory which had relocated in the 1860s to St Margaret’s. It was then one of the largest textile works in the country.  She married William Beadsworth in 1873 but the marriage does not seem to have lasted. From 1881 to 1911 she lived at number 23 Heanor Street near Frog Island, first with her parents and siblings and latterly with a brother and sister. She earned a living as a silk winder. Heanor Street is nowadays part of the industrial estate off St Margaret’s Way.

Whether Arthur had much contact with his father William is impossible to know. Divorce had been legal in England since 1858 but was far too expensive and difficult a process for all but the wealthy. Ordinary people just split up, either by deserting their spouse or by mutual agreement, and co-habitation and bigamy were far from rare. William’s whereabouts in 1881 have so far not been identified. He reappeared in later census but the details given were somewhat dubious. William’s later life is discussed in the entry for Alick Slater Beadsworth, who was Arthur’s half- brother.

Arthur was born late in 1876 and grew up with his mother and the Makepeace family in Heanor Street. He joined the Leicestershire Regiment for the first time in 1892, having lied about his age. However he was discharged a few months later when he transferred into the Kings Own Rifles Corps and his true age came to light. 
Arthur began his football career in 1893 with Leicester Fosse and later played briefly for Coventry City, Preston North End, Manchester United and Swindon Town amongst others. He scored a goal against Arsenal on his debut with Manchester United which is said to be the only one of his career. Latterly he played for Nuneaton Town and Hinckley United before retiring from football and finding work as a shoe hand in Hinckley’s boot and shoe industry. For more information on his football career see

He had got married in 1897 to Polly Farmen (Farmer?) in Hinckley. They had four children of whom the youngest died in 1915 at the age of thirteen months while his father was serving in France.

 Arthur enlisted at Leicester on 2nd September 1914 when allegedly a few days short of his thirty fourth birthday; in fact he was almost thirty eight. His attestation papers may say he had served previously but the document is badly damaged and not all the words are legible. Perversely, the words ‘Bad Teeth’ are mentioned in the column recording the reason why he was rejected earlier for military service. Arthur served with the New Army 7th Battalion, which was famously formed by Northampton’s rugby international Edgar Mobbs when he was initially rejected by the army in 1914 as too old. Mobbs’ company comprised two hundred and fifty sportsmen.  Arthur was confirmed in the rank of sergeant in March 1916 having acted as sergeant beforehand.

In April 1915 the Battalion transferred to the 110th Brigade, 37th Division and went to France that July, transferring to the 21st Division. In the autumn of 1917 the Division was part of the 2nd Army and fought in the Battles of Polygon Wood and of Broodseinde in October. It was in one of these actions that Arthur was badly gassed, which resulted in his death on 9th of that month.  

He is buried at Wimereux Communal Cemetery close to Boulogne. Wimereux was the headquarters of the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps and the cemetery is the burial place of many who died in its medical centres. They include Lt.-Col. John McCrae who wrote the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. There are also five French and a plot of 170 German war graves.

Arthur’s wife Polly did not remarry and died in the autumn of 1939. His mother had died the previous year.
Arthur is commemorated in St Mary’s Church and Castle Hill Memorials in Hinckley, and on the National Football Museum Roll of Honour.

Including Arthur there are only six men named Beadsworth listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for the First World War. All but one of them were descended from William and Alice Beesworth of Drayton and Bringhurst, and were therefore second cousins of the Cottingham branch. They were Harry, Charles Edward, William Joseph, Arthur and Alick Slater Beadsworth. The remaining soldier listed on the website, Thomas Storey Beadsworth, was descended from a Beadsworth family of Uppingham and so highly likely to be a distant relative.