Monday, December 15, 2014

From Hell hole to Hebden Bridge - Samuel St Ledger and Alice Dodd

Today Angel Meadow, near Manchester's Victoria Station, is a pleasant park. But in the middle of the 19th century it was a pauper's burial ground next to St Michael's church, and was surrounded by the most notorious and overcrowded slums in Manchester.

This is how journalist Angus Reach described it in 1849:
"The lowest, most filthy, most unhealthy, and most wicked locality in Manchester is called Angel Meadow. It lies off the Oldham Road, is full of cellars and is inhabited by prostitutes, their bullies, thieves, cadgers, vagrants, tramps, and, in the very worst sties of filth and darkness, live those unhappy wretches the low Irish.” 
Clearly Angus didn't have a high opinion of the Irish. But his description of the slum conditions around Angel Meadow is confirmed by other sources. Tanneries, dye works, breweries, tripe works, timber yards and other industries added to the noise and stench of the area.

In the 1850's this was home to Samuel St Ledger and Alice Dodd, the future parents of Sarah Jane St Ledger and grandparents of Albert Edward Orton, my grandfather.

At the time of the 1851 census Samuel was living at 6 Style Street, just off Angel Meadow. Although he gave Manchester as his place of birth, it's quite likely that he was the son of one of the many thousands of Irish people who swelled Manchester's population in the early part of the 19th century.

Samuel shared the house with Ann St Ledger, an Irish widow listed in the census as his sister-in-law, along with 15 other people, most of them from Ireland. He was employed then (and in every future census) as a fustian cutter in one of the many mills.

Possibly Samuel was a son, grandson or nephew of Samuel Ledger (sic), born in Ireland in 1774, who in the previous 1841 census lived with his wife Ann in St Michael's Place, just around the corner from Style Street. So far I haven't been able to make any firm connection between the two Samuels.

In 1851 Alice Dodd lived a few blocks away from Samuel, in Brooks Court, just off Long Millgate St, with her three surviving children, Ralph (born 1841), Samuel (born 1848) and Alice (1850). Another child, the first Sarah Jane (1845), had died in infancy. Like Samuel, Alice was a fustian cutter. Whether or how she worked with three children to care for is unknown. Perhaps better not to think about it.

Given her surname and her address, it is quite possible that Alice too was of Irish descent. According to the 1851 census she was born around 1816 and listed Manchester as her place of birth. However in later censuses her date of birth is closer to 1824.

I have some doubts about whether Samuel St Ledger was the father of Ralph Dodd (more of that later) and I can't be certain that he was father to Alice or the first Sarah Jane. They were both registered and baptised under the name Dodd. However he was surely father to Samuel Dodd, and William Dodd (born 1853) who both had 'St Ledger' registered as their middle name. (In later censuses all of the children took on the name St Ledger as a surname, and all except Ralph listed Samuel as their father when they married.)

Both Alice and Samuel claimed to be married in the 1851 census. However the minister who baptised the younger Alice in November 1850 recorded her mother as "Alice Dodd, spinster". So if they were married to each other, it must have been in the few months between then and the census in March 1851.

It's quite possible that Samuel and Alice (the parents) simply couldn't afford to marry or live together, and found whatever accommodation they could, while maintaining a relationship with each other. Another possibility is that Alice was already married and so couldn't marry Samuel, but I haven't found any record that suggests this. My impression is that the normal niceties of social life fell apart in the chaos that was Manchester at this time, and Alice and Samuel were fairly typical of this. So far no record of a marriage has come to light.

All that can be said is that, by the time of the 1861 census, Samuel and Alice were living as man and wife under the same roof. Mary Ann, who was born in 1857, was registered under the surname St Ledger, so the move to the same address probably occurred sometime between 1853 and 1857.

By 1861 the family was living at 7 David Street in Salford, and had now expanded with the birth of Frances in 1860. Sadly she died the following year. Sarah Jane (named, as was common then, after an earlier sibling who hadn't survived) arrived in 1862 while the family were still in Salford.

If there were other children between 1862 and the birth of David Saul St Ledger in 1868 they aren't recorded. David was born in Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, so the family must have moved in this period. As I suggested previously, this may have been as a result of the so-called 'cotton famine' in Lancashire in the 1860's, with many families moving to Yorkshire to look for work.

In 1871 the family were living in what seems to have been part of a row of workers cottages on Foster Mill Lane, in Wadsworth, a village close to Hebden Bridge. While their accommodation may not have been luxurious, it's difficult to imagine that it could be any worse than the slums of Angel Meadow.

UPDATE: check out this informative video about Angel Meadow

Angel Meadow and St Michael's Flags by David Dixon
View of Chiserly, Wadsworth by Humphry Bolton

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sarah Jane St Leger

In my mother's family, Sarah Jane Orton (nee St Leger*) has an unhappy reputation. She was apparently a hard-hearted business woman, who turned her son's family into the street when he developed tuberculosis and was unable to work in the barber's shop attached to their accommodation in Hankinson Street, Pendleton (which Sarah Jane owned). While Albert was in a sanatorium being treated, his wife and four children (including my mother) were taken in by a kind neighbour or friend. Meanwhile Sarah Jane brought in another hairdresser to work in the shop.

We'll probably never know the full story, since no-one is alive who can still remember the details. Certainly I can't remember my Mum ever talking about her grandmother as someone she knew and loved. But what is known about Sarah Jane?

Sarah Jane St Leger was the youngest daughter of Samuel St Leger and Alice Dodd. Samuel and Alice had a rather unusual relationship. Five of Alice's children - Ralph (1841), an earlier Sarah Jane (1845, died 1848) Samuel (1848) Alice (1850) and William (1853) were born while Alice was still single, though Samuel seems to have been their father.

Sometime between the birth of William in 1853 and Mary Ann in 1857 they seem to have moved in together and Alice took on the name St Leger, though I can't find any record of a marriage.

Hebden Bridge
Sarah Jane was born in Salford, the dockland area south west of Manchester city, in November 1862. Sometime before she turned 6 years old the family moved to Hebden Bridge, near Todmorden in Yorkshire. (Her younger brother David was born there in 1868.) As I mentioned in my previous post, it's possible that the family were one of many who moved from Lancashire to Yorkshire seeking work during the Lancashire "cotton famine" of the 1860's.

The family were still in Hebden Bridge at the time of the 1881 census. Samuel senior died there in 1882. It seems that Alice and most of the children except Ralph moved back to Manchester, though not as a family. In the 1891 census Sarah Jane was boarding with a family named Stokes in Napier Street, Gorton (an area of Manchester) and she was working in a cotton mill.

Later that year she married Albert Edwin Orton (senior), a barber who lived at the time with his parents Thomas and Sarah Orton in Gorton. Albert's sister Augusta and brother Ernest were the witnesses.

Their first child Edith May was born in July 1893, when Sarah was 30 years old. Lillian (1894), Harold (1898), Frederick (1901) and Albert Edwin (1903) followed. Lillian and Frederick both died in infancy. The family lived at 28 Hankinson St, previously owned by Albert's brother Percy, for many years. Albert senior died in 1919 and Sarah seems to have inherited the property.

The notorious eviction of Albert junior's family seems to have happened in the mid to late 1930's, not long before Sarah Jane died in 1938. She would have been in her seventies at the time, and may well have been suffering from dementia. Her cause of death (provided by my cousin David) was myocarditis and senility.

*The name St Leger is not an easy one to research. It appears as St Leger, St Ledger, Ledger, StLedger and several other variants. Samuel and Alice seem to have changed the spelling to St Ledger as time went on, and sometimes they were recorded as plain Ledger.

Photo of Hebden Bridge By Leg1ndyoll at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

War and its effect on families

On this Remembrance Day, which marks the end of the First World War, I've been reflecting on the effect that wars have on families and the impact of war on my own family's history. 

In some cases a war has had a very direct effect on individual's lives. If there had been no war in 1914, my grandfather Thomas Henry Ward would probably have stayed in Milnrow, Lancashire. He almost certainly would never have travelled to Colchester if he hadn't been sent there to train for military service, and he wouldn't have met my grandmother, Rosina Beales. He wouldn't have experienced the horrors of the Mesopotamia campaign. And Grandma would probably never have moved from Essex to Lancashire.

Rosina's mother, Eliza Whybrew, also came from a family that knew well the impact of war. Eliza's father David Whybrew, an Essex teenager, joined the British Army and travelled via the Maori Wars in New Zealand to Australia. There he met Eliza's mother, Susan Mason. Susan and David's children were born in three different countries as the family moved around with the army.

Susan and David lost one son (David Henry) to the Boer war, and, it seems, another son (William) and a son-in-law (George Howard) in WW1. Rosina's brother William James Beales also fought in WW1, but fortunately survived.

On the other side of my family, two of my grandmother's cousins, John Henry Bentley and Thomas Bentley died in WW1. But it was the second World War which had most direct impact on my maternal grandparent's and families, with the blitzing of Salford and the evacuation of my grandmother and the younger children to Rossendale.

Wars have emotional and psychological impacts which affect not just those who experience the war directly, but their children and grandchildren. Fears and anxieties get passed on, sometimes without any explanation. Attitudes learned in war-time become the next generation's norm. As a simple example, I was brought up with a strong sense of 'waste not, want not', a carry-over from the rationing and scarcity of my parent's childhood.

Wars also have economic and social impacts. For instance, the Napoleonic Wars of 1803-1815 resulted in taxes being raised steeply to fund the war. This resulted in great hardship for many people. How many of the children who died in infancy in this period might have lived if their parents had been even slightly better off? It's difficult to say.

A major factor in the "Lancashire cotton famine" of 1861-1865 was the American Civil war, with imports of raw cotton blockaded and exports reduced. Unemployment in some places rose dramatically, and many families found themselves in poverty. 

Some left Lancashire to find work in the woollen mills of Yorkshire. Perhaps that was the reason why Samuel and Alice St Leger moved with their family to Hebden Bridge about that time. (More of that in my next post.)

Image  © Copyright Oast House Archive and licensed for reuse under thisCreative Commons Licence

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Albert Edwin Orton (1867 - 1919)

Individual Summary5 October 2014

Name:Albert Edwin Orton14
Father:Thomas Brown Orton (1842-1918)
Mother:Sarah Gregory (1840-1923)
Individual Facts
BirthJan 1867Leicester, Leicestershire18
Residence1871 (about age 4)Relation to Head of House: Son; Leicester St Mary, Leicestershire, England4
Residence1881 (about age 14)Relation to Head of House: Son; Pendlebury, Lancashire, England3
Residence1891 (about age 24)Relation to Head of House: Son; Gorton, Lancashire, England8
Occupation1893 (about age 26)Hair dresser,  confirmed by Edith May's baptism entry; 21 Hankinson St, Pendleton
Residence1901 (about age 34)Relation to Head of House: Head; Pendleton, Lancashire, England2
Occupation1901 (about age 34)Gentleman's hairdresser; Pendleton (near Salford), Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Residence2 Apr 1911 (about age 44)Marital Status: MarriedRelation to Head of House: Head; Pendleton, Lancashire, England1
DeathMar 1919 (about age 52)Salford, Lancashire, England7
1. Sarah Jane St Leger (1862-1938)  Married 1891
ChildrenEdith May Orton (1893-1965)
Lilian Orton (1894-1899)
Harold Orton (1898-1946)
Frederick Orton (1901-1901)
Albert Edwin Orton (1903-1947)
        1. 1911 England Census ( Operations, Inc.), Class: RG14; Piece: 24037.
        2. 1901 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG13; Piece: 3713; Folio: 38; Page: 30.
        3. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1881 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG11; Piece: 3949; Folio: 93; Page: 42; GSU roll: 1341943.
        4. 1871 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG10; Piece: 3286; Folio: 88; Page: 37; GSU roll: 839289.
        5. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 ( Operations Inc).
        6. Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 ( Operations, Inc.).
        7. England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 ( Operations Inc).
        8. 1891 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG12; Piece: 3173; Folio: 6; Page: 6; GSU Roll: 6098283.

More about Albert Edwin Orton (1867):

Sarah Jane St Leger (or St Ledger) 1862-1938

Individual Summary5 October 2014

Name:Sarah Jane St Leger13
Father:Samuel St Leger (1821-1882)
Mother:Alice Dodd (1824-    )
Individual Facts
BirthOct 1862Salford, Lancashire, England17
Residence1871 (about age 9)Relation to Head of House: Daughter; Wadsworth, Yorkshire, England7
Residence1881 (about age 19)Relation to Head of House: Daughter; Wadsworth, Yorkshire, England6
Residence1891 (about age 29)Relation to Head of House: Boarder; Gorton, Lancashire, England3
Residence1901 (about age 39)Relation to Head of House: Wife; Pendleton, Lancashire, England2
Residence2 Apr 1911 (about age 48)Marital Status: MarriedRelation to Head of House: Wife; Pendleton, Lancashire, England1
DeathJun 1938 (about age 75)Salford, Lancashire, England4
1. Albert Edwin Orton (1867-1919)
ChildrenEdith May Orton (1893-1965)
Lilian Orton (1894-1899)
Harold Orton (1898-1946)
Frederick Orton (1901-1901)
Albert Edwin Orton (1903-1947)
       1. 1911 England Census ( Operations, Inc.), Class: RG14; Piece: 24037.
       2. 1901 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG13; Piece: 3713; Folio: 38; Page: 30.
        3. 1891 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG12; Piece: 3175; Folio: 34; Page: 5; GSU Roll: 6098285.
        4. England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 ( Operations Inc).
        5. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 ( Operations Inc).
        6. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1881 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG11; Piece: 4354; Folio: 26; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1342040.
        7. 1871 England Census ( Operations Inc), Class: RG10; Piece: 4324; Folio: 6; Page: 5; GSU roll: 846983.

More about Sarah Jane St Leger:

From hellhole to Hebden Bridge Samuel St Leger and Alice Dodd
Sarah Jane St Leger

Thursday, September 18, 2014

James or William? - James Ward (1837- maybe 1882)

A few weeks ago I was looking again at the Ward side of the family tree and noticed that I had the dates of death for all the children of Richard and Mary Ward (nee Baines) except for James, born in about 1837.

Being a bit obsessive, I decided to tidy things up by finding his date of death. Not a good idea! After many hours of searching over several days I'd managed to add quite a few details to his life story, but I still don't know his date of death for certain.

Previously I had only his baptismal record from St Leonard's church in Walton le Dale, and his presence with his parents in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. James was the fourth child of Richard and Mary and was baptised in June 1837. His next older brother, William, died in 1838, a fact that seems to have some relevance to James' later story. After 1851 James seemed to disappear.

I'd managed to find a James Ward, born in Walton le Dale, in the 1881 census before. He was a house painter, married to Alice, with children named Enoch (22) and Mary Alice (19). They were living in Salford. But I couldn't find any of them in the 1861 and 1871 censuses, despite Enoch's unusual name. Nor could I find a marriage to Alice that would fit in with the ages of the children (both born in Bury, Lancashire, according to the 1881 census). This was the point where I'd given up on James before.

"Hundred of Salford" by John Speed - John Speed's Map of Lancashire (1610)
The town of Salford ("Sauford") is just north of Manchester (near the bottom of the map).
Heywood ("Hawood") lies between Rochdale and Bury.
Preston and Walton le Dale are off to the north west of this map.
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 

This time I decided to widen my search, so I looked in the 1861 census for a house painter named Ward (leaving the first name blank) born Walton le Dale in a 20 year period around 1837. What came up, apart from all of James brothers and sisters, was a William Ward, a house painter living in Bury. He was a lodger in a house with a woman named Susan Harwood. She had a baby daughter, Mary A.

It seemed a long shot, but I did a bit of research on Susan and her daughter. It seemed that Susan, nee Barlow, was the (ex?)wife of Enoch Harwood, who was still living. They had a son named Enoch who was living with relatives at the time of the census. I couldn't find a Mary A Harwood born in Bury, but I did find a Mary Alice Ward, born in Bury in 1860, whose mother's maiden name, according to the site was Harwood. That seemed promising.

The problem was, why would James be calling himself William? Perhaps he adopted his dead brother's name because he was living with a married woman? Or maybe I was just joining too many dots together, and this wasn't really James at all.

Next I looked for Susan in the 1871 census - and found her living in Heap (near Heywood) with a lodger named  James Ward, a house painter born in Preston. Preston is a large town close to the village of Walton le Dale. This time Mary A was gone (I still haven't found her in this census) but Susan had a daughter, Amelia Ann Harwood, aged 10, living with her. I couldn't find a birth for Amelia Harwood that fitted, but an Amelia A Ward was registered in Castleton, Rochdale in 1862.

Again it seemed intriguing, but I was worried that I was joining too many dots. So next I looked for Susan Harwood and Amelia in 1881. They were still living in Heap, but their lodger had disappeared.

To Salford, perhaps? If James was married to Alice in the 1881 census, they must have married between 1871 and 1881. One marriage that fit those dates was James William Ward's marriage to Alice Iddon (nee Alice Kirkham Hill) in Preston in 1876. The groom was a house painter, and his father, Richard Ward, was a gardener, which fit the facts from the 1871 census. Not only was Alice a widow, but James William claimed to be a widower too.

So it seems quite likely that at the time of the 1881 census James was living with his wife Alice, his stepson Enoch Harwood and his daughter Mary Alice.

By 1901 Alice Kirkham Ward was a widow again, living in Walton le Dale. I haven't been able to find her for sure in the 1891 census, so I don't know when she became a widow. It seems most likely that it was in 1882, when a James William Ward died in Salford. But I have no way to be certain of that.

Amelia Ann Harwood married Charles Frederick Falshaw Lupton in 1885. On the marriage record her father is named as "William Harwood, painter, deceased." Her mother, Susan Harwood, was living with the Lupton family in Oldham in 1891, along with Amelia and Charles' two sons, John and Enoch. Susan died in 1893.

Laid out like this, it all seems fairly straight forward. What took me hours of research was weeding out all the other possible James and William Wards born about the right time in Lancashire, many of whom also had fathers called Richard. One had a wife called Alice. I also needed to make sure that there wasn't a house painter named William Ward born in Walton le Dale in any other census. (I didn't find one.)

In the end, James William is just a side branch on my family tree. But tracking down his records has given me some insights into how tricky it can be to trace people who were trying not to be easily traced. It has also given me hope that I might one day be able to tie up some other loose ends that so far have been impossible to unravel.

As usual, I haven't given detailed references to the census records etc in order to keep things easy to read. But if you would like more detailed references to the records that I've mentioned please contact me (stella(dot)budrikis(at) and I'll be happy to pass them on.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mary Ann Brown (1819 - 1901) - wife of John Orton

Farmland near North Kilworth
(image by Stephen McKay,
Mary Ann was the eldest daughter of Joseph Brown, a farmer of North Kilworth in Leicestershire, not far from Husbands Bosworth. According to "The Modern Doomsday Book" printed in the Leicester Chronicle and Leicestershire Mercury 11 March 1876, Joseph owned just over 35 acres of land, worth  £97.15s.  He seems to have been an active member of his community, serving on a Grand Jury in 1842, supporting the Liberal candidate for parliament in 1868, and being listed as a partner in the Leicestershire Banking Company in 1870.

It's easy to imagine, then, that Mary Ann's marriage to the hot-headed John Orton in 1841 may not have met with great approval from Joseph and Mary. Mary Ann must have had quite a tough life being married to John.

Their first son, Thomas Brown Orton, was born early in 1842 a few months after their marriage. Over the next 20 years at least 6 other children were born to Mary Ann - William John, Lucy Ann, Alfred, Fanny, Mary Jane and Agnes. As mentioned before, they seem to have been baptised in two batches, one in 1845 after the birth of Lucy Ann, and the second in 1862 after the birth of the youngest child, Agnes, all in Husbands Bosworth.

Two of Mary Ann's married sisters, Catherine Dent and Maria Latham, were visiting her on the night of the 1851 census, along with Maria's infant daughter Isabella. Maria had married a man from London, John Latham. Sadly she died of tuberculosis at her parents' home in 1856, an event noted by the Leicester Chronicle.

At the time of the 1871 census Mary Ann and 15 year old daughter Mary Jane were staying with the eldest of the Orton's daughters, Lucy Ann. Lucy Ann's husband John Thomas Pulford was a "beer house keeper" at the New Royal Arms, St Margaret in Leicestershire. The Pulfords had a one year old daughter Liza and a one month old, Ann, so perhaps Mary Ann and Mary Jane were there to help. Strangely, Mary Ann is described as "farmer's wife", though there is no record of John ever being a farmer.

The early 1880's were a time of change and sadness for Mary Ann. Her husband John died in the middle of 1880. Not long afterwards, in early 1881, Agnes died at the age of 19. William was an inmate of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum when the census was taken in 1881, and seems to have died not long afterwards. Fanny was working as a school mistress in the workhouse at Great Bowden. Alfred and his wife Henrietta had moved to West Derby, near Liverpool, and Thomas and wife Sarah had moved to Manchester. In the census of 1881 only Mary Jane was still at home with Mary Ann.

But Mary Ann still had many years of life in her. She was listed in the 1881 census as the publican of the Cherry Tree Inn in Husbands Bosworth, probably the same Cherry Tree mentioned in John's defence in his trial in 1861. Mary Jane was a waitress, and six year old grandson Oliver Pulford was staying with them, along with a boarder, a groom named Joseph Bacon.

In September 1886, according to the Leicester Chronicle, Mary Ann was charged with keeping her licensed premises open on a Sunday (8 August) and with allowing gaming to occur there. A zealous policeman had noticed that the back door of the inn was open, and had gone in to see what was going on. Mary Ann and her lawyer successfully argued that what the policeman witnessed was a private party in honour of her granddaughter's birthday. The case was dismissed, although the judge commended the policeman for rigorously carrying out his duties.

By 1891 Mary Ann had retired to Knighton in the Blaby district of Leicestershire and was living alone "on her own means". She went to live with Lucy Ann in Leicester some time before 1901, and died there in the second quarter of that year, at the good age of 82.

Monday, August 11, 2014

John Orton (1813-1880) - a reckless driver

In October 1861 John Orton of Husbands Bosworth was charged with 'over-driving a horse'. A witness claimed that his pony cart had been going "at a furious pace" near Lubenham (about 4 miles from Husbands Bosworth), maybe as much as 10 miles per hour, with John thrashing the poor pony relentlessly.

The witness, a gentleman by the name of Captain George Ashby Ashby Esq (sic), having failed to stop the driver or obtain his name, went to the police in Husbands Bosworth, where the pony cart was headed. The policeman, hearing the story, said 'he thought he knew who it was'. They both proceeded to follow John Orton, still thrashing his horse, to his house where Captain Ashby identified him. 

The Cherry Tree, Little Bowden (near Market Harborough)
image by Mat Fascione
In court, PC Farmer claimed that John was drunk, "his hat being to one side and nearly off". John called to his defence the proprietor of the Cherry Tree Inn in Market Harborough, who said that John had been perfectly sober when he left there at half past six. John Shirves, who had seen John Orton at the Crown Inn in Theddingworth, said he had been perfectly sober when he left there at 8 o'clock. And Esther Fox, who was charing at the Crown Inn, agreed that John Orton had left there 'perfectly sober'.

The judge decided he could give no opinion on the charge of drunkeness "since if the defendent was drunk it was at Bosworth and if riotous it was at Lubbenham." He ordered John be fined 10 shillings and 14 shillings costs on the first charge of over-driving his horse.

John Orton, born in 1813, was a colourful character. We've seen already that in 1841 he and Mary Ann Brown were married in Birmingham, although John was from Husbands Bosworth and Mary Ann from the nearby North Kilworth. Whether this was because he was working in Birmingham, or because they experienced some opposition to the marriage we'll never know. Thomas Brown Orton, their first child, was born early in 1842.

19th century tool bench
John followed his father (also called John) into carpentry. He seems to have have been successful enough at his trade to employ others, but not always without friction. In December 1842, a young apprentice named William Rose complained to the Court of Petty Sessions that John Orton had beaten him, refused to pay him for five weeks' work and kept his clothing when he dismissed him. John's defence was that he had only given a 'gentle clout or two' to the lad's head when he misbehaved. The court determined that Rose should pay for his board, and that John Orton should return the clothing he'd seized and pay the expenses. A week later a warrant was issued against John Orton for not complying with the Magistrate's decision, but the outcome isn't recorded.

In March 1843 a John Orton, aged 29, of Husbands Bosworth, was charged with another man named George Glover of the more serious offence of assaulting a police officer. They had apparently been drunk at the time that the policeman, Thomas Bailey, called at the house in Husbands Bosworth to investigate the noise they were making. If the newspaper is to be believed, the policeman was close to death for a few days from the injuries he received. Both men were sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. 

At this point Mary Ann would probably have been pregnant with William John (born about 1844). Their first three children (Thomas, William and Lucy Ann) were all baptised on the same day in 1845, presumably after John returned home.

A one-line item in the Leicester Chronicle records that John was back in court in 1846 charged with non-payment of wages. He was ordered to pay. Perhaps he became quieter for a while - the only record of him between then and his reckless driving charge in 1861 was when he served on a jury in Husbands Bosworth in 1849.

The Leicester Chronicle mentions John once more in 1869 when he was in dispute with a William Gimson, a timber dealer of Leicester, over a load of hay which John had sold to him to offset the cost of some timber. The hay, it seems, was of poor quality and not worth anything like the 5 pounds per ton that John had claimed. 

John appears listed as a carpenter and wheelwright in various directories of Leicestershire and Rutland in the 1860s and 1870's. In the newspaper article in 1869 and in the 1871 census he is described as a builder. He died in 1880, at the age of 67. No probate is recorded.

It is worth noting that John had several namesakes in Leicestershire. One of these was born in 1791 and lived in Husbands Bosworth in 1841. He was married to Sophia and is described on the census as an "F. W Knitter W". He and Sophia had moved to Blaby by 1851. 

Another John Orton, born about 1817 in South Kilworth, was a carpenter and his first wife was called Mary, which is obviously a possible source of confusion. However he remained in South Kilworth all his life. He is mentioned in a couple of newspaper articles as John Orton of South Kilworth. All the articles I have used above specifically refer to John Orton of Husbands Bosworth.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sarah Harvey

Sarah Harvey's life left very little trace in the public records. We know that she married Robert Gregory in 1826 in Diseworth, Leicestershire, and from the census records in 1841 and 1851 we know that they had at least 6 children - Mary, Jane, John, Robert, Sarah and Ellen. Everything else has to be deduced from other sources.

It seems that Sarah was probably the sister of Joseph Harvey, a grocer with a shop in Market Place in Leicester. In the 1851 census Joseph had a nephew living with him, Robert Gregory, whose age corresponds with Sarah's son Robert (born 1835). He also had an employee, Thomas Brown Orton, who later married Sarah and Robert's daughter Sarah Gregory. And Joseph seems to have provided a character reference to Robert Gregory when he was tried for receiving stolen goods in 1838.

A newspaper item in the Leicester Chronicle, Saturday, November 27, 1841, notes the death "on 12th inst, Mrs Harvey, aged 74, mother of John and Joseph Harvey, grocers, Market-place". The only recorded death for that date which fits the description of Mrs Harvey is that of a Mary Harvey. And the only Mary I can find who married  a Harvey in Leicestershire in the period which would fit with Joseph's age is Mary Jarrom, who married Robert Harvey in April 1796. (This tallies with several online family trees which have Mary Jarrom and Robert Harvey as the parents of Joseph).

Long Whatton Baptist Chapel, built 1793
photo from Matt Fascione
Unfortunately I can't find any record of Joseph's birth, which would have been in about 1808 based on his age on the census and his age at death. But four children of a Robert and Mary Harvey were baptised in the Long Whatton Baptist church, Belton (the place where Joseph was born) according to the Non Conformist and Parochial registers - Peter (1799), John (1801), Sarah (1803) and Jane (1805).

The presence of John and Sarah in the list is interesting, especially since Sarah's date of birth would fit with Sarah Gregory nee Harvey. Joseph's absence from the same records could be explained by the fact that Robert Harvey died in 1808 (according to one on-line family tree which says the date is recorded in the Diseworth church). Possibly the crisis in the family somehow prevented him being baptised in the same church.

If Sarah was Joseph and John's sister, she seems to have had a much less successful life than her brothers, in worldly terms at least. Joseph married Selina Tyers in 1846, an event which was deemed important enough to be noted in the Leicester chronicle. Joseph's grocery business did well enough for him to employ several other people as shop assistants and servants, and when he died at the age of 73 he left an estate of nearly £600. Robert Gregory left no estate when he died at the age of 38.

Sarah herself seems to have died in Whetstone, near Blaby in Leicestershire, in May 1851. A brief notice in the Leicester Chronicle notes that "Mrs Gregory, sister of Mr J Harvey, grocer, died at Whetstone after a few days illness." She was 46. Her two youngest children, Sarah (11) and Ellen (10) were still living with her at home when the census was taken earlier in 1851. What became of them is a mystery. The young Sarah reappears when she married Thomas Orton in 1865, but I haven't been able to trace Ellen.

Sarah Harvey c 1805-1851(?)

Individual Summary27 July 2014

Name:Sarah HARVEY
Individual Facts
Birthca 1805Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Census1841 (circa age 36)Leicester, Leicestershire, England1
Census1851 (circa age 46)Whetston Leicestershire, England2
Deathposs 1851 (possibly age 46)Blaby, Leicestershire, England3
1. Robert GREGORY (1805-1843)
ChildrenSarah GREGORY (1840-1923)
 Mary GREGORY (1828-    )
 Jane GREGORY (1829-    )
 Robert GREGORY (1835-    )
 John GREGORY (1831-    )
 Ellen GREGORY (1841-    )
1. 1841, England, , ; digital image, 1841 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2010, ( : online 27 July 2014).
2. 1851 census, England, , ; digital image, 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, ( : internet 26 July 2014).
 3. "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]," database, Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006, ( online 26 July 2014), ; citing General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.

Robert Gregory c1805-1843

Individual Summary27 July 2014

Name:Robert GREGORY
Individual Facts
Birthca 1805Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Misc15 Oct 1838 (circa age 33)Tried for larceny?; Leicester, Leicestershire, England1
Death1843 (circa age 38)Leicestershire, England2
1. Sarah HARVEY (1805-1851)
ChildrenSarah GREGORY (1840-1923)
Mary GREGORY (1828-    )
Jane GREGORY (1829-    )
Robert GREGORY (1835-    )
John GREGORY (1831-    )
Ellen GREGORY (1841-    )
  1. "England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892," database, ( internet 20 June 2014)    2. Trustees of FreeBMD, "FreeBMD," database, FreeBMD ( internet 26 July 2014), 

More about Robert Gregory:

Sarah Gregory 1840-1923

Individual Summary27 July 2014
Name:Sarah GREGORY
Father:Robert GREGORY (1805-1843)
Mother:Sarah HARVEY (1805-1851)
Individual Facts
Birth1840Leicester, Leicestershire, England1
Census1841 (about age 1)Leicester, Leicestershire, England
Census1851 (about age 11)Whetstone, Leicestershire, England
Census1881 (about age 41)47 Wynford Street, Pendlebury, Salford, Lancashire
Census1901 (about age 61)Droylsden, Lancashire, England
Census1911 (about age 71)25 Medlock St, Droylsden, Lancashire, England
Death1923 (about age 83)Ashton, Lancashire, England1
1. Thomas Brown ORTON (1842-1918) married 7 March 1865
ChildrenPercy Gregory ORTON (1865- 1891  )
Albert Edwin ORTON (1867-1919   )
Ernest Frank ORTON (1869-    )
John Sidney ORTON (1870-    )
Augusta Eleanor ORTON (1873-    )
Charles Walter ORTON (1875-    )
Bertha Annie ORTON (1876-    )

1. "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]," database, Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006, ( accessed ), ; citing General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.

More about Sarah Gregory
A romance in a grocers' shop?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Robert Gregory - a lucky escape

While looking for information about Sarah Gregory's father, Robert Gregory (born c 1806), I came across these interesting snippets of news.

The first comes from "The Leicester Chronicle: or, Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser", February 16, 1833, Issue 1169

"Robert Gregory, ostler, was charged by his master with embezzling 8s. The prisoner said he would repay the money if the complainant would take him on again. "I doubt you'd take him in again" said Mr Ald. Lovell. Remanded."
Eight shillings was quite a large sum in those days. Happily for Robert Gregory, his employer seems to have been more lenient than most. The same newspaper reported a week later, Saturday February 23, 1833:

"Robert Gregory (remanded last week) was discharged, his late employer, Mr Buckley Ward, declining to proceed further against him."

The Market Place, Leicester
photo from Djiin 76 on Flickr
Whether this was the same Robert Gregory who later became Sarah's father I have no way of knowing. However, this next piece of news contains a clue which suggests that this time it was quite likely to be Sarah's father Robert:

From the Leicester Chronicle, Saturday, September 29, 1838, Issue 1454

"Robert and William Gregory, of Waterloo St., brothers, were charged with having the following articles in their possession under suspicious circumstances:- A brass kettle holding about five pints; a hand saw; a damask table cloth, 3 3/4 yards long by 2 2/3 yards; one calico sheet, 2 yards long by 1 7/8 yards' one ditto, about two yards square; part of ditto, 2 yards long by 1 1/4 yards; one clean cotton pillow case, and one ditto dirty.
The plea that the prisoners made was their mother had sent the goods from Birmingham to William at Leicester and he had given them to Robert Gregory. Mr Harvey, Market Place, said the latter had lived with him two years and was punctual, sober and honest. - Remanded."

Entrance to Market Place, Leicester, c 1904
Photo from Djinn 76 on Flickr
Later on the same page is the note:

"Robert Gregory, who was brought before the bench on Friday, was discharged. - William Gregory, Rachel Freer and William Gannon were remanded for further examination."

It seems quite probable that this is 'our' Robert Gregory. He married Sarah Harvey in 1826, and so Mr Harvey of Market Place was almost certainly his brother in law, Joseph Harvey.

Apparently it wasn't long before Robert needed Mr Harvey's good services again:

From the Leicester Chronicle, Saturday October 20, 1838, Issue 1457

"Robert Gregory was charged with receiving a quantity of articles of dress belonging to Miss Alice Fox of Castle Donington, knowing them to be stolen. The prisoner, in his defence, maintained the account he gave to the magistrate - that his brother had brought the property for him to sell, telling him that it belonged to their mother who wished it to be sold. Mr Harvey, grocer, Market-place, gave him a good character. Mr Sheen said that during the time Gregory had been in the service of Mr John Ellis, at the Railway Station, both he and Mr Ellis found him to be a steady, honest industrious man. The Jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to two months hard labour - two weeks solitary confinement: the Chairman ... that the punishment was slight on account of his good character."

Two months of hard labour may not seem a 'slight' punishment. But given the crimes with which he was charged, Robert was very fortunate not to have been transported, as the following story illustrates. In 1843, the year that Robert died, two brothers named William and Thomas Gregory appeared in court in Worcester:

From The Leicester Chronicle, Saturday January 14, 1843, issue 1676

"Caution to shopmen: At the Worcester City Sessions on Monday week, two young men, named Thos. and William Gregory, drapers assistants, formerly residents of Leicester, were placed at the bar, the former charged upon three indictments of purloining silk goods to a considerable amount, the property of his employers, Messrs Hill and Turley, and the latter with feloniously receiving some pieces of silk from his brother. To each of the indictments the prisoners pleaded guilty. The Recorder, in passing sentence, observed, that the course they had adopted in pleading guilty was a very wise one, as this most serious charge, as far as he was able to judge from the depositions, was exceedingly clear against them: and it was the more serious with regard to Thomas Gregory inasmuch as he had violated the trust reposed in him as servant of the prosecutors. He then sentenced Thomas Gregory to a fortnight's solitary confinement for each of the first two indictments, and, in conjunction with William Gregory, to be afterwards transported for seven years."

Whether this is the same William Gregory as in the earlier stories is impossible to tell. Perhaps not, as his convict transportation records show that he and Thomas were in their early twenties at the time. They were sent to Van Diemens Land (Tasmania) and from there to Geelong in Victoria. The last trace I've found of them is in 1846 when they absconded from their employer while still convicts.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sydney past and present

Last weekend we went to Sydney to meet up with some of my husband's extended family. Since we had a free day on the Monday we strolled around the city looking at some of the sights.

I'd hoped to get some sense of what Sydney might have been like in the time when John Mason and Catherine Murphy were living there in the early 1840's, long before the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House were built. However very little of the early settlement remains.

Lower George Street and Sydney Cove c.1851
 watercolour attributed to Jacob Janssen
The oldest area of Sydney, known as The Rocks because of the sandstone with which it was built, has been demolished extensively over the years to make way for more modern buildings. Even in its heyday it was something of a slum with a dark reputation. In the early 20th century plague broke out and much of it was bulldozed. It was only in the 1970's that people began to feel that some of Sydney's heritage needed to be retained.

Views of Sydney, from St. Leonards, 1842
Conrad Martens
Similarly the harbour itself is no longer what John Mason would have seen when he arrived in Sydney (probably in 1833). A marker placed to show the original shoreline near Cadman's cottage is a hundred metres from the present day wharf at Circular Quay.

An early photo of George St, the Rocks
These buildings still stand
We stopped for a coffee in a row of shops in George Street which would have existed in John and Catherine's day. Most were now boutiques and bars, and across the road was a very modern art gallery. It was hard to imagine what the area might have looked like back in 1840.

Hyde Park, St Mary's Cathedral and Belfry, 1842
John Rae
Old St Mary's Cathedral
date and artist unknown
Up the hill from the Rocks, near the Domain, we found St Mary's Cathedral, where John and Catherine were married in 1841. Unfortunately the original building burned down in 1865. The current building, although magnificent, was built long after the Masons moved to Adelaide. 

But never mind. After strolling through the beautiful botanic gardens with the glass and steel towers of the business district as backdrop, then sitting in the winter sunshine watching a lunch-hour game of soccer being played, I had to think that John and Catherine would have been both amazed and approving of what Sydney has become.

The spires and tower of St Mary's Cathedral today 
(All images except the last one are courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)