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.
(image from Wikimedia
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.
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
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
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
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.