Friday, May 30, 2014

Thomas Brown Orton

Name:Thomas Brown ORTON
Father:John ORTON (1813-1880)
Mother:Mary Ann BROWN (1819-    )

Individual Facts
BirthJan 1842–Mar 1842Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, England1
Baptism18 May 1845 (about age 3)Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, England2
Census1851 (about age 9)Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, England3
Census1861 (about age 19)Market Place, Leicester, Leicestershire, England4
Census1911 (about age 69)24 Medlock St, Droylsden, Lancashire, England5
Death1918 (about age 76)Droylsden, Lancashire, England6


1. Sarah GREGORY (1840-1923)

ChildrenPercy Gregory ORTON (1865-    )
Albert Edwin ORTON (1867-    )
Ernest Frank ORTON (1869-    )
John Sidney ORTON (1870-    )
Augusta Eleanor ORTON (1873-    )
Charles Walter ORTON (1875-    )
Bertha Annie ORTON (1876-    )
More about Thomas Brown Orton:

Thomas Brown Orton 1842-1918
A romance in a grocer's shop?

1. "FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 [database on-line]," database, Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006, ( online 25 May 2014), ; citing General Register Office. England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. London, England: General Register Office.
 2. "England, Select Births and Christenings," database,, ( : online ), .
 3. 1851 census, England, , ; digital image, 1851 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005, ( : online May 2014).
 4. 1861 England and Wales Census, England, , ; digital image, 1861 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA, ( : accessed ).
 5. 1911 census, England,  digital image, 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011, ( : accessed )., .

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Another Thomas Brown Orton

While I was looking for details about Thomas Brown Orton from Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire, I came across another Thomas Brown Orton, this one born in Eaglehawk, Victoria, Australia in 1880. I was intrigued, since the name is not a common one, and it would be fun to discover some more Australian relatives. So I decided to find out a little more about him, to see if there was any distant connection between the two.

The Australian Thomas Brown was the son of James Orton and May Fulton Eaglesim. May's father's name was Thomas Brown Eaglesim, which probably explains where the middle name came from.

This Thomas Brown Orton was the grandson of James Orton (born about 1817), who was transported to Australia for 14 years on the Barossa in 1839. James was tried and convicted (for what crime I don't know) in 1838 in Leicester. In 1844 James married a Jane Waddell who arrived on the ship Trinidad as a free settler.

It's tempting to think that perhaps James was somehow related to the Ortons of Husbands Bosworth, but I haven't been able to make any connection. He would be a contemporary of John Orton, but I don't have a firm date or place of birth for either of them.

York and Oriental Hotels,
 Kalgoorlie ca. 1900

image via wikipedia
The Australian Thomas Brown Orton lived in the Western Australian mining town of Kalgoorlie for a while. By a strange co-incidence he seems to have been a grocer, like the English Thomas Brown Orton. Unfortunately he died in Belgium in 1917 while fighting in the war.

If anyone can tell me more about the elder James Orton and his origins, or if you would like more details about where I found the information in this post, please contact me, either through the comments section or by email. (stella DOT budrikis AT gmail DOT com)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thomas Brown Orton 1842-1918

By a strange quirk of fate, my paternal great grandfather John Ward and my maternal great great grandfather, Thomas Brown Orton, were both born within weeks of each other in early 1842, the one in Walton le Dale in Lancashire, the other in Husbands Bosworth in Leicestershire. The disparity in the "greats" comes about because John Ward's youngest son, my grandfather Thomas Henry Ward, married relatively late in life.

Thomas Brown Orton was the first son of John Orton and Mary Ann Brown, arriving 6 months after their marriage in August 1841. John Orton was a carpenter, and it's likely that he travelled here and there, wherever work was available. At the time of their marriage he and Mary Ann were living in Great Hampton Row in Birmingham, so possibly John had found work on the nearby building of St Chad's Cathedral, which was begun in 1839 and completed in 1841.

Husbands Bosworth
(image from Wikimedia
Thomas' birth was registered in Market Harborough in Leicestershire, but from later census information it seems he was actually born in Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, a small town right in the centre of England. (In case you are wondering, the strange name came about because there was a need to distinguish the town from the nearby Market Bosworth. Husbands Bosworth was the place of husbandry, ie it was a farming community.)

Thomas and his younger siblings William (born 1843) and Lucy Ann Brown (born 1845) were all baptised at All Saints Church in Husbands Bosworth on the same day, 18 May 1845, another clue that perhaps John led a fairly mobile existence. There was another batch of christenings of John and Mary Ann's children in March 1862, when Alfred (1850) Fanny (1853) Mary Jane (1854) and Agnes (1862) were baptised.

Leicestershire, England 
The Orton family were in Husbands Bosworth at the time of the 1851 census, with two of Mary Ann's sisters and a niece present as visitors on census night. At the 1861 census the 18 year old Thomas was living with the family of Joseph Harvey in Leicester and working for Joseph as a grocer's assistant.

Thomas married Sarah Gregory, a girl from Leicester, early in 1865. They seem to have carried on the family tradition of marrying in haste and giving their first son his mother's maiden name as a middle name. Percy Gregory Orton was born in the second quarter of 1865. Albert Edwin followed in 1867, then Ernest Frank in 1869 and John Sydney in 1870.

The Bell Inn, High St, Husbands Bosworth
image: Ian Rob
The 1871 census shows Thomas employed as a police constable in Leicester. Another young police constable, Henry Muddimer was lodging with the family in Great Holme Street.

More children came along in the years that followed - Augusta Eleanor in 1873, Charles Walter in 1875 and Bertha Annie in 1876. Thomas' father John Orton died in 1880.

The Ortons move to Lancashire

Sometime between the birth of Bertha in 1876 and the census in 1881 the family moved from Leicester to Wynford St, Pendlebury, in Salford, Lancashire. On the census record, Thomas was looking for work as a grocer but was unemployed. However, Percy was now working as a hairdresser.

This move must have been a major event for the family. The Ortons had lived in Leicestershire for several generations. Perhaps Thomas and Sarah were following a general trend, looking for work in the cities as rural areas declined. The population of Husbands Bosworth had decreased from 1002 in 1851 to 831 in 1881.

The Ortons moved again before the next census in 1891 to Hyde Rd in Ardwick, Manchester. By now Percy had married and left home and Thomas was working again as a shop keeper. Another grocer, a local named William Robinson, was with the family on census night, along with Frank Beesley, an enameller and future son in law. Many of the residents of Hyde Rd were shopkeepers or tradespeople of various kinds.

Market St, Droylsden
Photo: Gene Hunt
By 1901 Thomas, now 59 years old, was working as a warehouseman. He and Sarah had moved to Medlock Street in Droylsden, a few miles east of Manchester city centre. Here their neighbours were predominantly mill workers, and other labourers. None of the children were still at home, although all were still living except for Percy, who had died in 1891.

Thomas continued working into his old age and was employed as a general labourer in a foundry in 1911. Three cotton mill workers, William Haydock and his two sons, were boarding with the Ortons in the house in Droylsden, and a cousin, Gladys Sharp, was recorded as a visitor on the census. Their house had 4 rooms including the kitchen, so it must have been fairly crowded.

In 1918, at the age of 76, Thomas died. Sarah continued on until 1923, when she died at the age of 82. Their lives seem fairly typical of many of their generation. Perhaps their most remarkable achievement was in raising 7 children to adulthood, and a marriage spanning more than 50 years.

Monday, May 19, 2014

What about the clippers?

The 'clogs' of this blog's title refers to the three generations of cloggers and bootmakers on my father's side of the family - Thomas Henry Ward, John Ward and Richard Ward. I've written quite a bit about them. But what of the 'clippers', the gentlemen's hairdressers on my mother's side of the family? Who were they?

The first to take up hairdressing seems to have been my Grandfather's uncle, Percy Gregory Orton. Born in 1865 in Leicestershire, he was the eldest son of Thomas Brown Orton, a grocer, and Sarah Gregory, the daughter of an engine driver. Percy was listed as a hairdresser on the 1881 census, at the age of 16. Where and how he learned his trade isn't known. The Orton family moved to Manchester sometime between 1877 and 1881, so perhaps he did his apprenticeship in the Manchester area. 

Percy married Mary Jones in Salford in 1886 and by 1891 they were living at 28 Hankinson Street, Pendleton, a four roomed dwelling which was to remain in the family for some time. It had previously been used as a "refreshment house". When Percy and Mary lived there, one room on the ground floor was used as a  barber's shop. The other three were used to accommodate the family.

In the 1891 census Percy's 24 year old brother Albert Edwin also gave his occupation as "Barber, hair", although he was unemployed at the time of the census, so it seems he wasn't working with Percy. After his marriage to Sarah Jane St Ledger, Albert lived at 21 Hankinson Street for several years. 

Percy died late in 1891. His widow, Mary, continued living at 28 Hankinson Street and the address was listed as a hairdresser's business in her name in the 1895 Kelly's directory of Manchester. After Mary remarried and left Pendleton, Albert and Sarah Jane moved into number 28.

Albert was recorded as a hairdresser working 'on own account' in the 1911 census. He died in 1919. His property went to his widow, Sarah Jane. However his sons Harold (1898) and Albert Edwin (born 1903) carried on the hairdressing business. In the 1929 Kelly's directory of Manchester and Salford, Albert Orton, hairdresser is listed at both Hankinson Street, Pendleton and Kenyon Lane, Moston. For some reason, despite being the older of the two, Harold isn't mentioned, and I only have word-of-mouth evidence from family members that he was in fact a hairdresser.

I'm also told by family members that when Albert (junior) developed tuberculosis in the late 1930's and had to have treatment in a sanitorium, his mother Sarah Jane refused to let his wife and daughters stay on in the house in Hankinson Street. They moved into one room in the home of a friend nearby. Harold apparently refused to work in his mother's premises as a mark of solidarity, and the rift with Sarah was never mended.

Albert eventually recovered and he and his family moved to Yarborough Street. The outbreak of World War II resulted in the family being divided again as the younger children and their mother were evacuated to various places considered safer than Manchester. Eventually they all came together again in the village of Crawshawbooth, Lancashire. Albert died of cancer in 1946 and Harold in 1947, bringing to an end the hairdressing business.

Why Gentlemen's Hairdressers rather than Barbers?

When I was a child my mother always referred to her father as a barber. The term 'barber' was in general use then to describe someone who cut men's hair, while 'hairdresser' usually referred to someone who cut and styled women's hair (and the words are still used that way, though less so now.) However on the various records of their occupations, Percy and the two Alberts almost always referred to themselves as 'hairdresser' or 'gentlemans hairdresser'. Only once, in 1891, Albert senior referred to himself as 'barber, hair'.

The word 'barber' comes from the Latin word for 'beard' and traditionally barbers not only trimmed men's beards and hair, but also used their skills with the razor to act as surgeons and dentists. Over time the surgical side of their occupation disappeared as it was taken over by the medical profession. 

Albert Orton, my grandfather, certainly trimmed beards - my mother has childhood recollections of being asked to lather up men's faces in preparation for them being shaved, a job she didn't relish but she liked the few pennies she was paid for doing it. But perhaps Albert and his father and uncle preferred to emphasise a different aspect of their profession, one less associated with the cut-throat razor.