Saturday, January 5, 2019

Other places, other times

Happy New Year everyone! The start of a new year seems a good time to decide on a theme for the posts on Clogs and Clippers for the next twelve months.

Last year I chose to review some of the unsolved mysteries in my family history. Having just come back from visiting some of the locations in England where my ancestors lived, I've decided my theme for this year will be "places".

I'll be looking particularly at the cities, villages and towns where my family lived for several generations, and asking questions such as: When did they move there? What did they do there? What was the place like at the time? How did their environment influence their lives, and what influence did they have on the place itself? Why did they leave?

By learning more about where my forebears spent their lives, I find I understand their stories better. Visiting some of the places in England and Australia that my family once called home has helped me to imagine more clearly what their lives were like. I hope to be able to share my impressions with you (along with some of the many photos I've taken!)

So, I hope you'll come along for the ride. First stop will be the little English village of Walton le Dale.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Was the convict James Orton related to John Orton?

Back in 2014, I described how I'd found records for a man in Australia with the same name as my Leicestershire-born great great grandfather, Thomas Brown Orton. My curiosity was piqued and I looked into this younger man's story a little. I soon realised that it was probably co-incidental that the two men were both named Thomas Brown. My great great grandfather (born 1842) was named after his mother, Mary Ann Brown, while the Australian (born 1880) was named after his maternal grandmother, Ruth Moore Brown. (I previously said he was named after his grandfather, but this wasn't correct.)

Along the way I discovered that the Australian Thomas was descended from a convict named James Orton from Leicestershire. I kept digging, hoping that he might still be related in some way to the Ortons in my family tree. He would be from the same generation as my ggg grandfather, John Orton, born in Husbands Bosworth in about 1813. But I couldn't find a link and eventually gave up.

The Australian Thomas Brown Orton came to mind again this week with the centenary of the Armistice at the end of World War One. I recalled that he enlisted in 1915. Sadly he died of war wounds in Belgium in September 1917, a terrible blow to his widowed mother in Victoria. I decided to look again at his story to see if I could find any new information to link his Orton family and mine.

His grandfather, James Orton, was sentenced on 31 December 1838 at the Leicester Assizes for his part in stealing a large quantity of wool from a hosier in Leicester. His sentence of 14 years transportation was much more severe than that of his companion, Thomas Tomkins, because he had a prior conviction for stealing. (Leicester Chronicle 5 January 1839, p4). He was transported to New South Wales in 1839 aboard the Barossa, at the age of 18.

In 1844, while still serving his sentence, he successfully applied for permission to marry Jane Waddell, a single woman from Glasgow who had arrived as a free settler aboard the Trinidad in 1841. They went on to have at least five children - Allison (1846), Anne (1847), Hannah (1849) James (c 1851) and George (1853).

James Orton received a conditional pardon on 10 June 1850. It seems he and his family moved to Sofala, near Bendigo in Victoria. On 22 March 1856 this advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

(JAMES ORTON left his wife and four children about the middle of February 1855, and has not since been heard of. Should this meet the eye of any person who has seen the above James Orton, will please communicate with his wife.JANE ORTON, Sofala.)
Whether poor Jane ever managed to locate James is unknown. Possibly he was the James Orton imprisoned in Darlinghurst Gaol in 1862 for being "of unsound mind". There were many James Ortons in New South Wales and Victoria at the time and the prison record contains few details, so it's impossible to be sure.

Jane died suddenly of heart disease in 1872. I haven't been able to find a definite date for James' death. Their son James married May Fulton Eaglesim and became the father of Thomas Brown Orton. He died in 1912.

So, was the convict James Orton related to 'my' Orton family from Leicestershire or not? Until I discover who his parents were, I won't know. I still haven't been able to track him down prior to his appearances in court in Leicester. Several James Ortons were born in Leicestershire around the right time (1820). Some of these I've excluded because they were still living in Leicestershire after 1839. None of the others have clear links to my Orton family.

If there is a connection, it may be much further back than I've been able to go so far. I know that 'my' Thomas Brown Orton's grandparents were John Orton and Mary Steans. (Not to be confused with his parents, John Orton and Mary Brown, though it certainly is confusing!) Mary was baptised in Husbands Bosworth in 1784, and she and John Orton were married there in 1804, but John's origins are still a mystery. Another of those mysteries yet to be solved.


The "English" Thomas Brown Orton
b 1842, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire
m Sarah Gregory, 1865, Leicester
d 1918, Ashton, Lancashire


John Orton
b about 1813, Husbands Bosworth
m 1841, Birmingham
d 1880, Husbands Bosworth

Mary Ann Brown (daughter of Joseph Brown and Mary Berry)
b 1819, North Kilworth, Leicestershire
d 1901, Leicester, Leicestershire


John Orton
b ? 1780, location unknown
m 1804, Husbands Bosworth
d October 1840, Husbands Bosworth

Mary Steans (daughter of Thomas Steans and Elizabeth Illiff)
b 1784, Husbands Bosworth
d July 1863, Husbands Bosworth

The "Australian" Thomas Brown Orton
b 1880, Eaglehawk, Victoria
d 1917 Hell Fire Corner, Belgium

James Orton b about 1851, 
m 8 March 1873, the Manse, Eaglehawk
d 1912, Victoria

May Fulton Eaglesim (daughter of William Eaglesim and Ruth Moore Brown)
b March 1853, Eaglehawk, Victoria
d 1926, California Gully, Bendigo, Victoria

James Orton
b about 1820, Leicestershire. Transported 1839
m 1844, Port MacQuarie, NSW
d ??

Jane Waddell
b about 1821, Glasgow, Scotland
d October 1872, Bendigo, Victoria

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Did William Whybrew have a son after all?

This week, 24 October, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of William Whybrew (1884-1918). He died in France as the First World War was coming to an end, only three weeks before the Armistice was signed on 11 November, and just a few days before his 34th birthday.

His body was never recovered from the battlefield. He is honoured at the Vis-en-artois Memorial in Pas de Calais. His military service is also remembered on the Ipswich War Memorial (pictured).

William was the youngest of David and Susan Whybrew's sons (of those who survived infancy). When I last wrote about him I said that he and his wife Adelaide, nee Williams, were childless when he died. Now it seems that wasn't the case.

In 1939, just before the Second World War began, the British Government compiled a register of every civilian in Britain and Northern Ireland. It has been made available online since I last wrote about the family. Adelaide appears on this 1939 register at 7 Rydal Walk in Ipswich, with her second husband John Sanders. Living with them is 27 year old William Whybrew, born 20 August 1912.

Finding his name was a big surprise. One reason I previously believed that Adelaide and William senior were childless was that I couldn't find any births registered in the relevant period, with a father named Whybrew and a mother with the maiden name Williams. And I still can't, even knowing his date of birth. No matter what tricks I use with various search engines to try to find the younger William, I haven't found any evidence of his birth being registered. Perhaps it wasn't. Or possibly he was registered under a completely different name.

It has been suggested to me by the ever-helpful members of the British Genealogy Forum that he might have been adopted, which would mean he could have been registered with a different birth name. That would make sense. Especially since Adelaide and William senior had been childless for seven years by 1912.

So far the only trace I've found of the younger William, besides on the 1939 register, is his death in November 2002, in Colchester. It would be interesting to know if he was in any way related biologically to William or Adelaide. Did they take in a child from some other member of the family, perhaps to help out a single mother or widowed father? If so, I haven't discovered any likely candidate.

Adelaide's other adopted son

As I mentioned in the previous post, Adelaide also seems to have fostered a young soldier named Henry Alan Lawrence. He named her as his mother and gave her address on his military papers. I'm still trying to discover where and how their lives became linked.

Henry was born in Hertfordshire in 1890. His own mother, Martha Lawrence, (nee Archer) died sometime before his twelfth birthday and his family were scattered. He was an inmate of the workhouse at Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire at the time of the 1901 census. He joined the army as soon as he was eighteen.

I haven't found any evidence of Adelaide Williams living in Hertfordshire, but that doesn't mean much. I can't find her at all between 1871 and when she married William Whybrew in 1905. She spent time as a motherless child in the Stowmarket workhouse in Suffolk, so wherever she met Henry Alan, she would have had a bond with him. Fortunately for both of them, he survived the war, despite being badly injured.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Albert and Hannah Hough's puzzling family life

The spire, all that remains of
Stowell Memorial church where
Albert and Hannah married in 1878
I've written a little about Albert Hough and Hannah Holt before. Their daughter Alice was my mother's maternal grandmother. But there are several gaps and puzzling details in their story that I've yet to resolve.

Albert Hough and Hannah Holt married in Salford, Lancashire, in August 1878. At the time Albert was working as a brickmaker like his father William.  When they married they both gave their address as 51 Jane Street in Salford. For some reason Albert’s name was recorded as ‘Alfred Hough’, although his name was registered as Albert both when he was born and when he was baptised. He was also listed as Albert on his children's baptism records.

Their first child, Alice, was born in 1879. But when the census was taken in 1881, Hannah and little Alice were living with Albert’s brother John Hough and his family in Lynton Street in Salford. Albert wasn’t with them. I thought I’d found Albert/Alfred boarding with another family in Ardwick Street, not too far away. Now I'm not so sure. This man was listed as Alfred, and was described as a dyer, which would be quite a leap from being a brick maker. Albert’s occupation was listed as ‘labourer’ when his children were baptised. So far I haven't found any trace of him in 1881.

So why were Albert and Hannah not living together? The obvious explanation would be that as a young working-class couple they couldn’t afford to rent a place for themselves, and found lodging where they could. Little Alice and her brother Albert (born 1882) weren’t baptised until 1885, another hint that the family might have been hard up. Although, as we'll see, there may have been other reasons for the delay in baptising them.

Other possibilities come to mind. Was Albert working somewhere away from home for long periods? Was he perhaps in prison, or the workhouse? None of these ideas have produced any results so far.

Still missing, or missing again?

By the time of the 1891 census Hannah had four living children (another died in infancy) and she and the children were all boarding with a family in Siever Street in Pendleton, Salford. She was working as a charwoman. Again Albert is nowhere to be found. That’s not to say he wasn’t living somewhere in Salford or Manchester, but I haven’t been able to find him.

It seems strange that the couple should still be living apart. They had obviously spent some time together in the previous ten years to produce five children! The census is only a snapshot on a single night, so perhaps they had been living together for most of the intervening ten years.

Still, it would be interesting to find Albert’s whereabouts in 1881 and 1891. By 1901 Hannah had died and the widowed Albert was living with his eldest daughter Alice, her husband, their son and four of his own younger children – nine people in a four-roomed house. He was employed as a labourer.

Some unexplained baptism records

The Lancashire Online Parish Clerks site offers another strange puzzle related to this family. Most of Albert and Hannah’s children were baptised at St Ambrose church in Pendleton. Until 1902 this was a mission church of the parish of St Thomas, an Anglican (C of E) church. But James, born 26 June 1889, appears to have been baptised on 20 November at the Catholic Mother of God and St James church. There’s no photo of the record available, but the transcription reads:

Baptism: 20 Nov 1889
Mother of God and St James, Pendleton, Lancashire, England
Joannes Jacobus Hough - filius Alberti Hough & Hannae (formerly Holt)
Born: 26 Jun 1889
Abode: 40 Dawson St.
Godparents: Julia Anna Donovan
Baptised by: P. J. Markey
Source: Salford Diocesan Archives

(Catholic churches at the time recorded baptismal names in Latin).

Even more strange, Albert and Hannah’s next son John, born on 16 October 1892, was also baptised in the Mother of God and St James church in Pendleton on 1 November 1892. But then on 2 November 1892 he was apparently baptised again, this time at the Anglican church of St Ambrose in Pendleton.

Baptism: 1 Nov 1892 Mother of God and St James, Pendleton, Lancashire, England
Joannes Hoff - filius Alberti Hoff & Annae Rosae (formerly Holt)
Born: 16 Oct 1892
Godparents: Helena Bower
Baptised by: Henrico Van Wtberghe
Source: Salford Diocesan Archives

Baptism: 2 Nov 1892 St Ambrose, Pendleton, Lancashire, England
John Hough - [Child] of Albert Hough & Hannah
Born: 16 Oct 1892
Abode: 24 Buckingham St.
Occupation: Labourer
Baptised by: G. Morgan
Register: Baptisms 1881 - 1894, Page 175, Entry 1393
Source: Parish Register

The names are spelled a little differently, but it certainly looks like the same child. But why would he be baptised twice? As far as I’m aware, the Catholic and Anglican churches have always recognised baptisms carried out in each others’ churches as valid, so there would be no reason to have a child “done” in both churches, even if the parents were of different denominations. I've heard of baptism records being accidentally duplicated in the same church register, but not across two different churches. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

Albert, the father, was baptised in St Phillip's Salford, an Anglican church. I haven’t found a baptism record for Hannah,  but her mother Elizabeth Hardman was Irish, so perhaps she was brought up Catholic. By the time Albert and Hannah's youngest child Elizabeth (a.k.a. Lily) was born they seem to have resolved the issue and she was baptised just once, at St Ambrose Anglican church.