Sunday, January 12, 2014

On this day in 1914

This year I thought it would be good to write some posts about the other side of my family tree, the Ortons and the Bentleys. Not that I've said everything there is to say about the Wards and the Beales, and I will keep adding posts about them, but my original intention was to cover the history of all four of my grandparent's families.

So as a sort of segue from one side of the family to the other, I thought it would be interesting to imagine what each of my four grandparents might have been doing 100 years ago today, on 12 January, 1914. It was a Monday and bitterly cold. (I like to think it was cold - we're having a heatwave here at the moment.)

Model T Ford c 1910
The first commercial airline flight had just taken place in the USA, and Henry Ford was about to open the first assembly line for Model T Fords. In England the Liberals were in power and George V was on the throne. Trouble was brewing in the far-away Balkans, the Suffragettes were becoming more and more militant, and there was industrial unrest. But the war that some were predicting was still 6 months away and unimaginable to most people.

Annie Kenney and
Christabel Pankhurst
The oldest of my grandparents, Thomas Henry Ward, would have been 31 years old. He was living with his widowed mother and his sister Fanny in the village of Milnrow, Lancashire. Perhaps his mother still owned the shoe retailing business in which he worked as a boot repairer, although by now she was over 70 years old. Thomas Henry's brothers and sisters were all married now apart from Fanny, and all were still living in and around Milnrow.

The 18 year old Rose Beales was probably working as a domestic servant with the Orsborn family in Ipswich, as she had been when the census was taken in 1911. Work as a domestic servant was the most common occupation for unmarried women at the time. Like her parents, the Orsborns were members of the Salvation Army. Their first daughter, Maria Evelina, was born in Colchester in 1910 so the two families no doubt knew each other. According to my father, Rosina was very much appreciated by her employers.

For the 10 year old Albert Edwin Orton in Pendleton, near Manchester, it would likely have been a school day. His father would have been at work at his gentleman's hairdressing shop, his older sister Edith May was working in a cotton mill and his brother Harold, 15, had probably also started work. His mother Sarah Jane may have been at home, or she too might have been working.

Gazette du Bon Ton
fashion plate 1914
Meanwhile the youngest of my four grandparents, the 9 year old (Margaret) Annie Bentley, was probably also at school. Home for her must have been a crowded, bustling place. According to the 1911 census, the family lived in a 3 room house. Along with her father, Walter Bentley, lived his three brothers-in-law, Albert, James and John Hough, his sister-in-law Lily Elizabeth Hough, Annie's brothers Walter (14) and Albert Bentley (5), and her sisters Alice (11) and Harriet (5). Annie's mother had died in 1909 and Lily acted as mother to the younger children.

While some were predicting war ahead, no-one could have forseen how drastically the coming years would change the lives of these individuals and the society in which they lived.