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Photo of James Yates

James Yates

Deputy Chief Police Officer, Gretna Police
Birthplace Lancashire Middleton EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna 14 P West Date of Birth: September 18, 1872


Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : James ‘Hallam’ Yates
Gender: Male
Date and place of birth: 11th September 1872, Middleton, Lancashire
Date and Place of Death: Not known
Nationality: English
Childhood: Impoverished- no schooling mentioned on census returns
Parents : Peter Hallam and Ellen nee Lees
Parents occupations : Cotton dyer
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance:  None known
Occupation: Chief superintendent of police, Gretna- Police superintendent Lancashire County constabulary
Place of residence at Gretna: 14 P West
Marital status: Married
Children: One son
Travels : None known
Awards/recognitions:  MBE , 1920
Positions held : Superintendent of various divisions of Lancashire County Constabulary
Trivia / any other information:


Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):


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James Hallam Yates ( Yeates/Yeats) MBE 1872- 

James Yates is listed on the Electoral register for Gretna 1918-19 as the deputy superintendent of  Police residing at 14 P West.. This is also alluded to in The Penrith Observer of 6th April 1920 when local people receiving MBEs are listed. Yates is spelled as Yeates in this report and he is described as the deputy chief officer, Gretna Police. The timing of the honour strongly indicates a recognition of his work at H.M.Factory Gretna but also possibly his long and successful career with Lancashire County Constabulary– a post we later learn he took up in June 1917 to November 1918. 

James Hallam Yates was born on 11th September 1872 at Middleton, Lancashire to Peter Hallam Yates a labourer and Ellen nee Lees. His baptismal record of 1872 unusually lists the surname as Hallam-Yates. It is unclear whether his father was Peter Hallam and his mother Ellen Yates and this remains a mystery throughout all official records. There is no evidence that James was born before his parents married in July 1871 nor that Ellen had been married before to a husband of surname Yates. Their marriage banns offer the most comprehensible explanation- Peter has no father named so perhaps he was illegitimate to someone names Yates. It is clear that James dropped the Hallam quite early in his police career. 

Peter and Ellen married at St Mary’s church, Prestwich, Manchester on 31st July 1871. Peter was 24, a Dyer of Bowden Lane , no father is listed . Ellen was 21 of Little Heaton. Her father Zebedee Lees was a farmer.  

Ellen 21 of Little Heaton father Zebedee Lees farmer. 

The 1871 census cannot be found but the 1861 census for Peter , 13,a plater down  lists him as Peter Yates with father  William Yates a Blue Dyer and mother Elizabeth Yates . Her birth registration names her as Elizabeth Hallam.  One of 6 children at the time.  

The 1881 census is the first available for Peter, Ellen and family. At the time known as Hallam. Their address is 39 Ashdown Fold, Gt Heaton, Middleton. Peter 33, born in Prestwich is a cotton dyer, Ellen is now 31 born in Little Heaton. In 10 years of marriage they now hav 5 children. James the eldest aged 9 , Mary 6 (1875 ), John 5 (1876 ),Alice 3 (1878), and Ellen 2 months. ( 1881). None of the children are listed as at school or scholars. 

10 years later in 1891, the family are still called Hallam. Peter at 43 is still working as a cotton dyer, Ellen is 41, James now 18 is also employed as a cotton dyer, Mary at 16 is a seamstress, John at 15 is a blacksmith’s apprentice, Alice now 13 is a ‘weaver cotton’ and 2 more children have been born. Peter in 1883 and Willie in 1886. Neither of these are at school. They are living at 93 Bowlee, Middleton. Ellen’s 63 year old widowed father is also living there and is working as a general labourer.  

A further son , Arthur Hallam was born in 1891. 

As his mother was having her final child, James joined the Lancashire County Constabulary in 1892 and began his rise to prominence and took himself away from his working class roots. The Wigan Advertiser June 1917 lists dates when James moved from post to post. He was posted to Wigan. We learn later that much of this work was clerical.   

It was in 1895 that 23 year old Police Constable James Yates married 26 year old Mary Burrow(s). Very little evidence can be found regarding Mary. Public member trees include her but there are no parental names. It does indicate that she was born in Middleton, like James, and they married in Middleton. 

6 years later, the 1901 census lists James and his wife at  15 Richmond Street , Wigan, now a 29 year old Police Constable. 

The same census lists the rest of his family at 3 Bonny Brow, interestingly all now named Yates rather than Hallam. Peter now 53 continues as a cotton dyer, Ellen is 51, the rest of the family who were eligible worked in the cotton industry. Mary 26, a grey ? bleacher, Alice 23 a calico weaver, Peter 18 a cotton bleacher, Willie 15 a bleach work labourer and Arthur 9  not at school. John appears to have moved.  

On 27th October 1902, Mary had what was to be she and James’ only child, Arthur James in Wigan. They had been married 16 years , Mary is 43 and their only child is 8. They live in a 6 room house at 399 Rochdale Old Road, Bury. 

The 1910 electoral register lists James as one of 3 living at Police Station, Rawtenstall, North Street, a dwelling house . 

We learn from a June 1917 Wigan Advertiser that   in January 1914 Police Sergeant James Yates “ was elevated “ to the rank of Superintendent – the youngest in the County and we know from The Manchester Evening News of Wednesday 11th February 1914 that he was being welcomed in his new role to Ashton-Under Lyne. 

Seemingly James stayed at Ashton until the end of August 1915 when The Fleetwood and Fylde Advertiser of 24th August 1915 include  

“Police Change  James Yates , Superintendent  of Ashton under Lyne Division, headquarters of which are at Hurst ,… is to take charge of Fleetwood Division” 

Mary and son Arthur must have become very used to moving around or perhaps Arthur went to boarding school. The transfers appear to have come every two years or so. He stayed at Fleetwood until June 1917 when he was transferred to “ an industrial centre” 

The full report of P.S. J. Yates move to H M Factory Gretna appeared in The Wigan Advertiser , of course the location was kept secret.  

“APPOINTMENT FOR FORMER WIGAN POLICE OFFICER. Superintendent James Yates, of the Lancashire County Police, who for the past eighteen months has been in charge of the Kirkham Division, left Fleetwood on Monday, to take up an important position under the Minister of Munitions, having been appointed chief superintendent of police in an industrial centre. Mr. Yales, who came to Fleetwood from Ashton-under-Lyne Division, joined the County Constabulary in September, 1892 and gained rapid promotion, seeing the climb of elevation to the rank of superintendent in January, 1914. One of the youngest superintendents in the county. For many years he was on the clerical staff the Wigan County Police Office, Wigan, and for nine years he was secretary of the Wigan County Police Sports. Later for five years he was a member of the Cricket Club Committee. Is a member of the Manchester District Committee for the Northern Counties Athletic Association during his connection with the Kirkham Division Mr. Yates  departure will be regretted .” 

Arriving at Gretna in June 1917 he would have missed the occasion of the Royal visit on 18th May. It seems unlikely that Mary would have been  with him as she does not appear on the electoral register of the time and would have been eligible to vote. He is listed as James Yates, chief superintendent of police. 14 P West, Gretna. 

We have a clear picture of how long he stayed in his role as deputy chief police officer as it is clearly reported in The Lancashire Evening Post of 2nd November 1918. This still does not name Gretna but does acknowledge a “large munitions area “ 

“PRESENTATION TO P.S JAMES YATES. Police-Superintendent James Yates the Lancashire County Police formerly Fleetwood, and who for the past 18 months has been deputy chief officer of police in a large munitions area, has been recalled for police duty in the county. Before leaving the district in which he has so ably served on war work Mr. Yates was the recipient of a number of presents as a token of esteem in which he was held by the men and women who had served under him. The male members of the force presented him with a gold watch whilst the members the women’s police force presented him with a travelling case, pocket wallet, and writing case, suitably Inscribed. The Chairman of the Magistrates of the munitions district (Mr. Peter Bell) said the Bench were sorry they were losing the service of Supt. Yates, whom they congratulated on the way in which he had conducted the cases before the Court. They were difficult cases to deal with, and the Bench were glad to say Supt. Yates had done his part ably and well. The Clerk said he did not think any cases had been unduly pressed by Mr Yates, or put before the Bench in a way detrimental to the accused.” 

This account does give us a part overview of the duties performed in his role and an insight into the fact that he worked with both male and female police officers.  

It appears that his recall to police duties put him in charge of North Lonsdale Division of the Lancashire County Constabulary based in Ulverston which at the time was part of the Furness district of Lancashire now part of Cumbria. The Penrith observer of 6th April 1920 include James in a list of local recipients of the Member of the British Empire. “ Mr James Yeates, deputy chief officer, Gretna Police Force “ 

Local War Honours- Appointments in the Order of the British Empire.  

“ much delayed section of the New Year Honours list” 

This was the start of the trail but the name is incorrect.  

PS James Yates left quite a legacy at Ulverston – it is reported in The Lancashire Evening Post of 10th July 1920 under the headline “ Revival of Athletics in Furness” and displaying a picture of James in uniform , that he has revived the Police sports in N Lonsdale Division an absence of 20 years. He is reported as raising funds and subscriptions from leading residents as well as support from Ulverston Victoria High School. This report also mentions some time spent in Rawtenstall prior to his move to Bury. Over the subsequent years his name appears regularly in ‘Athletics News’ which seems to have a focus on Police Sports Associations and clubs.  

The next transfer for  James now aged 49 was announced in the Lancashire Evening Post of 17th December 1921 was to take charge of the Manchester Division effective from 1st January 1922. 

Very little, other than athletics reports in ‘Athletic News’ over the years is known about James or Mary including when they died.  The latest mention found on BNA is 1927 when he is in Old Trafford. We also know that his mother died in 1924. 

James Arthur went on to follow in his father’s footsteps, the 1939 register lists him as a married police sergeant living in Lancaster. 

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