The small North Lincolnshire village of Bigby is about ten miles south of the Humber Bridge and four miles east of Brigg, where the land rises steeply at the edge of the Wolds. In his series The King's England, Arthur Mee writes "From its charming setting on the western slopes of the Wolds there are lovely views over the Ancholme valley, and the village has the added attraction of gay gardens and fine trees". The Viking Way long-distance footpath, which starts on the southern shore of the Humber estuary, passes through the village on its way to the great city of Lincoln.
Photo: Jacqy Braithwaite
This area of England was part of 'Danelaw' in Saxon times and it is therefore unsurprising that the name of Bigby is derived from an old Norse name Bekki combined with the Norse word for settlement byr. Bigby is listed in the Domesday Book as Bechebi. The 13th Century All Saints Church has numerous monuments to the Tyrwhit family dating back to medieval times, including Sir Robert Tyrwhit and his wife Lady Bridget Manners who was Maid of Honour to Queen Elizabeth I but eloped to marry Sir Robert.
On the north wall of the nave in All Saints Church is the memorial to the village's only fatal casualty in the two World Wars. Pilot Officer Harold Howsam of Bigby was killed over Holland on the night of 12/13 June 1943. He is buried in Friesland. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists a soldier as from Bigby - 1391 Private Hubert Cox, 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, killed in action 4th October 1917 aged 24, the son of John and Maria Cox of West Street, Barnetby, Lincolnshire. The CD-ROM says that Pte Hubert Cox was born in Bigby and enlisted at Grimsby, but does not state a place of residence. The 1901 Census shows Hubert Cox age 7, born Bigby, living with his parents John (a carpenter) and Maria at Barnetby. Other children age 11 and 12 were born in Barnetby, and one age 2 was born in Bigby. So it looks as if the Cox family only resided for a few years in Bigby before returning to Barnetby. A letter to 'Stand To' from a nephew confirmed that when Hubert Cox enlisted he was living in Barnetby. So the death of Pte Cox does not prevent the claim of Bigby to be a Thankful Village. (Our thanks to the Librarian of the North Lincolnshire Reference Library for locating the Cox family in the 1901 Census.)
Bigby is one of four Thankful Villages in Lincolnshire, and the only one to have no form of memorial to its good fortune in the Great War of 1914 - 1918.
Text: Rod Morris
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