Sunday, October 21, 2012

Frances Dickinson

We've recently returned from Italy, where we caught up with Zoe. It was lovely seeing her. We also had a great time exploring Italy. As far as I know, we don't have any Italian ancestors, but who knows...the Romans surely left some descendants in Britain. There were certainly Romans soldiers stationed in Lancashire, and they can't have spent all their time building roads. Walton le Dale was apparently a major Romano-British settlement.

Which brings me to the subject of this post, Frances Dickinson, who lived in Walton Le Dale with her first husband, Thomas Ward. Frances, the daughter of John and Margaret Dickinson (nee Ainsworth) was baptised at St Laurence church in Chorley in January 1780. A number of Dickinson and Dicconson families lived in the Chorley area (which includes Standish, Wrightington and Charnock Richard) at this time.

Interior of St Wilfrid's Parish Church, Standish
(courtesy of Alexander P Kapp)
Thomas and Frances were married on November 9, 1802 at St Wilfrid's parish church in Standish, the same church where John and Margaret were married. The church, built betweeen 1582 and 1584,  is noted for it's ornate Tudor ceiling (visible on the picture.)

On the parish register, Thomas was described as being "of the Parish of Bolton", but this doesn't necessarily mean that he was born there. It's interesting to note that Margaret Ainsworth was also said to be "of the Parish of Bolton when she married John Dickinson. Frances was "of this Parish", ie Chorley. She signed the register with an 'X'. Richard Dickinson, her brother, was a witness along with a Robert Ainscough.

Thomas and Frances' first son, John was baptised as St Laurence in Chorley in March 1803. At some stage the family moved to Walton Le Dale, where Margaret (1805), Esther (1807) and Richard (1809) were born.

Frances was only 33 when Thomas died in 1813 (cause unknown). How she managed alone with four children can only be guessed. In 1818, 5 years after Thomas' death, she gave birth to another child, Frances (also known as Fanny). In the parish register the officiating minister at her baptism records only Fanny Ward, widow, as the mother, with no father named.

In May 1829 Frances remarried, to William Tomlinson, a widower. The banns of marriage were read at St Mary's Eccleston (not far from Chorley), and both were said to be living at Wrightington, near Eccleston. Perhaps Frances had moved back to the Chorley area to be closer to her family. The marriage, on May 29, also took place at St Mary the Virgin, Eccleston. Robert Dickinson was one of the witnesses.

According to census records, William was born in Lancaster in about 1792, which makes him quite a bit younger than Frances. It seems likely that he is the same William Tomlinson who lived in Walton Le Dale for several years with his first wife, Ellen Porter. He was a labourer and later a weaver. They were married in Walton Le Dale in 1816 and their children John, Richard, Mary, Catherine and Ellen were all born there. Baby Ellen died a few days after her baptism in February 1828 and her mother Ellen died in August 1828. Note that if this is the same William who married Frances Ward, then he would have been already married when the younger Fanny was born in 1818. Was he her father? We'll probably never know.

After their marriage Frances and William moved to Salford. In the 1841 census they were living in Mason Street with Richard and Catherine Tomlinson and Esther and Fanny Ward. By 1851 all the children had moved on - Esther, still single, was living with Catherine Tomlinson in Butler St, Manchester, and Fanny seems to have married a George Hayes from Manchester and had three children of her own.

Possibly Frances Tomlinson's mother Margaret also lived with them for a short time. A Margaret Dickinson, aged 64, was buried at St Laurence, Chorley in December 1832. Her abode was said to be Manchester. However, since I don't know for sure when Margaret was born, this is just speculation.

Frances died at the age of 81 in Salford in 1861. This makes her one of the longest-lived of our ancestors prior to the last century. Her second marriage was also a long one, at over 30 years. William appears to have lived on until 1866. I'll describe what happened to Frances' other children in a later post.

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