Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Discoveries in Adelaide (part 1)

Who would have thought that the word "English", written in faded ink on yellowing paper could make my heart sink. But it did.

South Australia's magnificent State Library.
The Spence Wing is in a modern building behind this one.
Last week I spent a few days in Adelaide, looking for information about the Mason family, while my husband attended a conference. Although I'd been to Adelaide before, this was the first time I'd been there since I discovered that my father's forebears had once lived there. I had a wonderful time exploring the city on foot, and using the Spence wing of the State Library to check out some original documents and records that aren't available on-line.

One of the first things I wanted to see was the minutes book of the Destitute Board. As I've mentioned previously, the local newspapers reported that Catherine Mason applied to the Board for relief several times, both before and after her husband John died in 1857. The Board minutes seemed the most likely place to find more information about the family and their circumstances.

Unfortunately there is a gap in the records between 1857 and 1869. But I found the entry for Friday November 21, 1856, a couple of months before John died, in the big tattered ledger. The record was in John's name rather than Catherine's.

Cottages in North St, off Currie St.
Most of Currie St is now taken up by
businesses and warehouses.
It stated, in a neat copperplate hand, that "Jno. Mason" lived in Currie St (no number given), had 4 children under the age of 7 and 4 over 7, that he arrived in Adelaide on the Dorset 12 years prior, and that he was a labourer. His application was recommended by Dr Shole.

Under "Circumstances" it said "Has been ill, unable to work since last Christmas." Type of relief provided was "outdoors", that is, provision of rations rather than "indoors", admission to the Destitute Asylum. All this confirmed what the newspaper report had said. In fact, one of the things I discovered on this trip was that the newspaper reports at the time were remarkably detailed and accurate.

The only new information, apart from Dr Shole's name, was the comment in the last column . Whoever wrote the minutes felt that it was important to record the nationality of the applicants, even though it wasn't required. In most cases they also recorded the religious denomination, though it was omitted in John Mason's case. But there was that word:  "English". Drat!

The Edinburgh Castle Hotel, Currie St,
one of the oldest pubs in Adelaide.
The Ship Inn, frequented by the Masons,
no longer exists.
For some reason, the entry for John in the Destitute Board minutes was duplicated a few lines down, on the same date, but with a minor correction to the ages of the children. Perhaps this entry was made after the information had been checked by the Relieving Officer, as the newspaper reporter indicated was going to happen. But that word English was 'dittoed'. No correction there.

After all the research I'd done trying to discover where John Mason came from, before he married Catherine Murphy in Sydney in 1841, that word "English" was depressing. By a long process of eliminating every other John Mason I could find, I'd come to the conclusion that he was probably the young convict of that name who arrived in New South Wales on the Parmelia in 1834. And that John Mason was an Irishman from Limerick.

The most obvious explanation is that I've got the wrong John Mason. After all, I have no proof that the convict on the Parmelia was the one who married Catherine Murphy. But so much that I know about John and Catherine suggests they were Irish. Almost everyone associated with them - the witnesses at their wedding, the sponsors at their children's baptisms, the person who registered John's death - was Irish. So I've been trying to think of some other possible explanations.

We know from the newspaper report that it was Catherine, not John, who fronted up to the Board to ask for relief, so the recorder didn't actually meet John on that occasion. Did he know the family? Where did the information come from?

If John had arrived in Australia as a teenager in 1834 and he had lived in Australia for 22 years, perhaps he had lost his accent. Or perhaps he lived and worked in Ireland but originally came from England, though convicts' records usually recorded where they were born. Maybe Catherine sounded, looked, or claimed to be English.

Or perhaps, just maybe, the recorder made a clerical error. My faith in official records was rattled when I found a couple of entries in 1882 for Harriet Whybrew, when she was admitted to the Industrial School at the age of 15 for stealing a watch. One entry mentioned that her parents were in England, but both entries said that her uncle, David Whybrew, a turner, lived in Adelaide.

Part of one of the records for Harriet Whybrew.
(Taken with a phone camera from a microfilm,
so not great quality. Click to enlarge.)

In fact, David Whybrew was her father, a soldier who was living in England with his wife Susan Mason and their other children at the time. Harriet's uncle Henry Atkin, husband of Mary Ann Mason, was a wood turner living in Adelaide. (More on this later.)

Since I've been home I've been going back over my previous research, looking for an English John Mason that I might have overlooked before. So far I haven't found one that wasn't dead or married by 1841 or still in Sydney after 1845. I'll keep looking.

As a footnote, I still don't know why John was bed-bound for twelve months before he died. While I was at the library I checked the Adelaide Hospital admissions records for 1855-1857, but didn't find any of the Mason family mentioned. Never mind - it was great fun and fascinating looking at original records from 160 years ago. The library and State Records people were all very helpful. I just wish Adelaide wasn't quite so far away.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Heroes and heroines of Salford

Every family has its villains and heroes. In my last post I looked at one of the apparent villains. Now seems an appropriate time to look at some of the more heroic members of the family, those who served in the 1914-18 war.

I've written previously about members of my father's side of the family who fought in the 'War to end all wars', including my grandfather Thomas H Ward, his brother-in-law William J Beales and the Whybrew brothers. Here are a few stories from my mother's side.

Ernest Reed Bentley (1878-1940)

Ernest was my grandmother's uncle, the youngest son of Alfred Pearson Bentley and Annie Reed. He was born in January 1878, shortly before Alfred disappeared to Boston. In 1902 he left his job as a labourer and joined the Royal Navy as a second class stoker.

His early years in the navy were not exactly glorious. In 1903 he deserted his first ship, the Duke of Wellington II, and after being 'recovered' he was given hard labour. His record shows numerous stints spent in the cells for disobedience, and his character was described as 'fair' or 'indifferent'. However by about 1910 he seems to have settled and was described as being of "very good character".

He remained in the navy when war broke out in 1914, serving on the Victory II, and his subsequent story is told in the National Roll of the Great War:
"(A)t the outbreak of war in August 1914 (he) was sent to Belgium with the Royal Naval Division, and was taken prisoner at Antwerp. During his captivity he suffered many hardships. After a short time in Doeberitz Camp he was forced to repair trenches on the German front in Russia, where he was often under heavy fire, worked at the docks at Libau on the Baltic Coast, and also down the coal mines in Saxony. He was repatriated and discharged in March 1919, and holds the 1914 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals."
After the war he joined the RFR (Royal Fleet Reserve). He was discharged in 1921 to 34, Brunt Street, Rusholme, Manchester, the address of his sister, Margaret Bentley.

(For some reason his date of birth is recorded on his service papers as 1882, although his stated age of 22 when he joined makes a clerical error seem likely.)

John Henry Bentley (1892-1915)

John, my grandmother's cousin, was the grandson of Alfred Pearson Bentley and Margaret Bentley's only child. Born in 1892, he was 22 and still single when he enlisted in 1914 as a driver in the Royal Engineers Corp. 

Sadly his career in the army was brief. In 1915 he became unwell with TB and was allowed to go home. In February 1915 he died.

It seems the army wanted some evidence that he hadn't simply deserted. In a letter to his army officers, his grieving mother Margaret wrote:
Dear Sirs
In reply to your request, my son 52301 Driver, J. H. Bentley was buried in consecrated part Southern Cemetery, grave number 666 Q section, Manchester. He was buried on 23 February 1915.
I remain yours,
Mrs M. A Bentley.
34 Brunt St, Rusholme.
George Orton (1898-1916)

HMS Powerful
George, my grandfather's cousin, was the son of John Sidney and Julia (Annie) Orton. He joined the navy in 1914, when he was barely 16, in the rank of Boy Ist Class and served initially on HMS Powerful and then on the Defiance. On  31 May 1916 he was killed in action during the battle of Jutland. His body was never recovered.

Sidney Thomas Orton (1890-1916)

The main street of Longueval in 1916
Sidney was George Orton's older brother, born 1 Nov 1890. He married Edith Hulwe in 1912 and they had a child. In 1914 he joined the Rifle Brigade and then became a private in the Machine Gun Corp and was sent to France. On 18 August 1916, just a few months after his brother George's death, he too was killed in action. He was buried at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval in France.

James Thomas Hough (1890 - 1937 ) and John Hough (1892 - )
The battle at Vimy Ridge

These brothers, my grandmother's maternal uncles, both enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers. My grandmother had a rosary, made of ivory or bone, which I believe one of them had brought back from their time in France. In the centre of the cross was a small lens, through which could be seen, as if by magic, scenes from some of the battles. 

Their military careers are described in the following entries in the National Roll of The Great War:

"HOUGH, J. T.. Private, Lancashire Fusiliers.
He joined in February 1916, and was shortly afterwards drafted to France, where fought at Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Arras, Ypres and Cambrai, He also took part the Retreat and Advance of 1918, and after the Armistice proceeded to Germany with the Army of Occupation, with which he served until invalided home owing to illness. He was eventually discharged in July 1919, holding the General Service and Victory Medals.
18, Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton."
(James and John's sisters Lily and Alice Hough both lived at 18 Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton when they married in the early 1920's.)
"HOUGH, J., Corpl., 8th Lancashire Fusiliers.
Volunteering in August 1914, in the following month he was sent to Egypt, and served there until drafted to the Dardanelles, where he took part in numerous engagements until the evacuation, and was wounded. He then returned to Egypt, and in March 1917 proceeded to France, where he fought on the Ancre at Ypres, and in the Retreat.

After the Armistice he was sent to Ireland and Served there until, owing to ill-health, he was invalided home and discharged in November 1920, holding the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.
18, Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton."
What is interesting is that directly above these two entries is this one:
"HOUGH, C. J. (Mrs.), Worker, Q.M.A.A.C. (Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps)
Having joined in March 1918, she was sent to France, where she did excellent work as waitress in the Officers' mess at Abbeville, and was wounded during an air raid on that place. She remained in this area until June 1919, when she returned home and was demobilised, holding the General Service and Victory Medals.
18, Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton."
Members of the QMAAC in Rouen, France, 1918
The address is the same, but I haven't been able to trace any woman with the initials C. J. in our family. James' wife's name was Elizabeth, so perhaps C J  was John's wife. Or perhaps she was the wife of a C. J. Hough, but again there is no-one known in the family with those initials. 

These are just a few of the family members who served in World War 1. If you would  like to see others included, or have more information about those I've described, please email me, or leave a comment.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

To Boston and back - Alfred Pearson Bentley

The SS City of Richmond
Alfred may have arrived in America
in 1879 on this ship or one like it.
When Walter Bentley married Alice Hough in 1898, his father did not attend the wedding. Although his father's name, Alfred Pearson Bentley, was recorded on the register, it was followed by "deceased." But Alfred was far from deceased, in fact he was living less than 60 miles away in  Cheshire, with his second wife and son. Whether Walter or his mother Annie, Alfred's first and only legal wife, knew this is one of those intriguing mysteries.

According to family lore, Alfred, an engraver by trade, left England for America in the late 1870's, with a promise to send for his wife Annie (nee Reed) and their four children when he had established himself there. But, the story goes, he died in America, leaving the widowed Annie in Salford to fend for herself as best she could. Her youngest child, Ernest, was only a few months old, and the oldest, Margaret, was seven.

What the records show is that Alfred did indeed go to America. But he didn't die there. Soon after arriving in the US, Alfred married Annie Jane Smith, the daughter of John and Catherine Smith. Their wedding took place in Boston, Massachusetts on September 3, 1879. Both claimed that this was their first marriage - which was true at least for Annie Jane. Alfred's parent's names, Ben and Harriet, were noted on the marriage record, along with his occupation, 'dial writer' (a trade sometimes taken on by engravers).

North Grove St, Boston, 1888. Alfred and Annie Jane
were living at no. 11 in 1884.
The fire house, no. 16,  is circled in red.*
Alfred and Annie were still living in Boston at the time of the 1880 US census, and his occupation was then listed as 'engraver'. Their son, John Alfred, was born in Boston in 1884. While the child may have been named after Annie Jane's father and Alfred himself, it was a strangely insensitive name to give him, since Alfred already had a ten year old son named John Alfred back in England.

Sometime between 1884 and 1890 the family returned to England, to Cheshire, which was Annie Jane's home county. They remained there for the rest of their lives. John Alfred was their only child.

All sorts of questions spring to mind but seem unanswerable. Did the first wife, Annie Reed, know that her husband had gone through a bigamous marriage in America? Or did Alfred somehow arrange for false evidence of his death to be sent to her? In the 1881 census she was still listed as married, but she described herself as a widow on the 1891 census. Was that her belief, or a face-saving fib? Divorce was not an option because of the cost, and admitting that she had been betrayed and abandoned for another woman after ten years of marriage would have been hard.

While bigamy was illegal, it was not unusual among the working classes in England at a time when divorce was out of their reach. According to one researcher, it was considered tacitly acceptable only if the three parties involved were all aware and agreed to the arrangement, and the husband was willing to support both families. Annie Reed Bentley was taking in laundry to support herself and her family in 1891, so it doesn't appear that Alfred made any financial arrangements for her.

And what about Annie Jane Smith. How and where did she and Alfred meet? He was born in West Yorkshire but lived his early adult life in Salford in Lancashire. She was born and raised in Weston, on the Cheshire coast near Birkenhead. Her mother died some time in the 1860's, and Annie was no longer living with her father in 1871, but I haven't been able to trace her on the census of that year. Did they meet in England and travel to America in order to marry, or was it a chance encounter in Boston that led to their relationship? Did Annie Jane Smith know that Alfred had been married, in fact was still married, with a family back in England, or did he deceive her too?

All Saints' Church, Runcorn
(photo from Wikimedia)
Alfred's story takes another odd turn in  December 1890 when, at the age of 41, he was baptised into the Church of England at All Saints' church, Runcorn. Unlike his marriage, this was not double-dipping. His parents, Ben and Harriet, belonged to a non-conformist denomination and maybe for this reason Alfred had not been baptised as an infant. Was he simply seeking social conformity, or was he looking for peace from a troubled conscience? If he ever confessed his bigamy to the parish minister, it remained a secret.

Alfred outlived both of his wives and his son Walter. He died in September 1922 at the age of 73, leaving all his estate of over £1500 to his Boston-born son, John Alfred. His first wife, Annie Reed Bentley, died of cirrhosis in Salford in 1899 at the age of 55, leaving no will. We'll never know the full story, but perhaps my cousin David's description of him as "The Cad" is apt.

*Map from the Boston Fire Historical Society site.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Annie Reed

Name:Annie REED
Father:Henry REED (    -    )
Mother:Margaret WAITE
Individual Facts
Census1891 (about age 42)Pendleton, Lancashire
Death 1899 Salford, Lancs
1. Alfred Pearson BENTLEY (1849- 1922   ) Married 4 Sept 1869 Dewsbury Yorkshire
ChildrenJames Henry BENTLEY (1870-1873)
Margaret Anne BENTLEY (1872-    )
John BENTLEY (1874-    )
Walter Horatio BENTLEY (1876-1916)
Ernest BENTLEY (1878-    )

Alfred Pearson Bentley

 created 14 October 2015
Name:Alfred Pearson BENTLEY
Father:Ben BENTLEY (1819- 1897   )
Mother:Harriet SMITH ( 1817 - 1876 )
Individual Facts
Birth16 Mar 1849Wortley, West Yorkshire
Census1851 (about age 2)116 West St, Leeds, Yorkshire
Census1861 (about age 12)Bond St, Dewsbury, Yorkshire
Census1891 (about age 42)Runcorn, Cheshire
Emigration1891 (about age 42)New York to England
Census1901 (about age 52)Higher Bedington, Cheshire
Census1911 (about age 62)Higher Bedington, Cheshire
OccupationDial writer/engraver
1. Annie REED (1849-    ) Married 4 Sept 1869 in Dewsbury, Yorkshire
ChildrenJames Henry BENTLEY (1870-1873)
Margaret Anne BENTLEY (1872-    )
John BENTLEY (1874-    )
Walter Horatio BENTLEY (1876-1916)
Ernest BENTLEY (1878-    )
2. Annie SMITH (1850-    ) Married 3 Sept 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts
ChildrenJohn Alfred BENTLEY (1884-    )

More about Alfred Pearson Bentley:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An interesting snippet of news about John and Catherine Mason


Adelaide Observer, 22 November, 1856, p. 3
This snippet of news from the Adelaide Observer may be only 16 words long, but it's actually quite informative. It's taken from the Observer's report of the meeting of the South Australian Destitute Board on Monday November 17, 1856, so we're looking at a date about two months before John Mason's death on January 22, 1857, at the age of 42. 

First of all, its mention of "12 years in the colony" confirms that the Mason family arrived in South Australia about 1844. That ties in with their assumed arrival in Adelaide from Sydney on the Dorset in January 1845. It also confirms that they had 8 children.

What is new is the information that John Mason was bedridden for nearly a year before his death. What would cause a man in his early forties to be incapacitated for such a long time before his eventual death? Did he have an accident, or a work-related injury? He worked as a labourer, which in those days meant a lot of heavy work with little safety equipment, so it's quite possible, though I haven't found any reported accidents in the newspapers. His death certificate says he died of heart disease, so some sort of heart condition or a stroke is another possibility. 

Whatever the case, poor Catherine must have been in a desperate state. It seems unlikely that the family could afford any sort of medical care. With eight children to look after, and a husband not only unable to work but also in need of care, it's not surprising that she was applying to the Destitute Board. 

Previously I'd only come across reports of her appearance before the Board some months after John's death. Whether or not the 'enquiries' of the Relieving Officer resulted in some relief before his death isn't clear. At it's peak in 1855, the SA Destitute Board was providing relief to over 3,000 men, women and children. This was a time when lots of women found themselves abandoned by their husbands who had gone off to the goldfields. Perhaps out of necessity, the Board was not known for its liberality, and many cases were refused. 

By the time the Board discussed her case again in June 1857, the three oldest girls (aged 14, 13 and 11) were working and receiving board, but the widowed Catherine still had five daughters at home to feed. On that occasion Catherine was granted two rations.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The invading hordes R' Us

The sudden, overwhelming influx of refugees into Europe recently is causing much heated discussion, not just in Europe but around the world. Images of desperate crowds surging around the port at Calais, or arriving by the boatload in Italy are on our screens daily. Talk of Europe being invaded or over-run by these 'illegals' is common.

Such waves of migration by desperate people is nothing new though. Most people in the world today have ancestors somewhere along the way who were once migrants fleeing from war, famine, poverty or disease. Not all were welcomed by their new countries.

Although I am Australian, I was born in England. My parents were born in England and so were my four grandparents. I’ve always thought of myself as thoroughly English. But go back another generation or two and families of Irish migrants start to appear in the mix.

These were not well-educated Irish people who migrated to England in an orderly way, like the family of C S Lewis in a later era. Nor were they the transient labourers who had always gone back and forth between Ireland and England. My Irish ancestors were most likely part of the mass migration of hungry, unemployed Irish into England in the early 19th century.

They were not illegal immigrants, and didn't require passports, but neither were they well received. (The fact that they didn't require passports and no record was kept of their arrival makes them difficult to trace, which is frustrating from a genealogical point of view.)

Many, though not all, lived in tenements, dozens of them together, in what had once been elegant family homes on the inner edge of cities such as Liverpool and Manchester. Angel Meadow in particular had a high concentration of Irish migrants.

Without any kind of welfare payments or social services, they managed to make a life for themselves. Most eventually found work in the building and construction industry, textile mills and other industries, or made a living as hawkers, publicans or lodging house owners.

These Irish migrants were not popular, except among those seeking cheap labour. They were perceived as dirty, ignorant and a cause of disease, violence and crime. This negative image was encouraged by commentators in the popular press and academic reports.

Another Irish strand in my family found its way to England via Australia. An Irish ex-convict named John Mason married a girl who had come to Australia to escape dire poverty in Ireland. They settled in South Australia. Eventually one of their daughters returned to England with her English soldier husband. It seems from newspaper reports at the time that poor Irish immigrants to Australia aroused just as much disapproval and public discussion as those who went to England.

Meanwhile no-one bothered to ask the original local inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, what they thought of any of these unwanted hordes of people who had invaded their land. What went through the minds of those standing on the shores of what is now Botany Bay when eleven ships disgorged over two hundred ragged, malodorous convicts, their soldier guards and the goods they’d brought with them? How did they react when wave after wave of ships appeared, carrying thousands of miserable men and women to their country?

The point is, of course, that while the arrival of boatloads of people seeking refuge and a better life always causes consternation and concern among the people already living in a place, history shows that generally they eventually blend into the population and become part of the heritage. That is, unless the local population go to extreme measures to keep them segregated, or the newcomers far outnumber the locals.

The mass Irish migration to England happened in the relatively recent past. But in more distant times England has seen Danes, Saxons, Normans, French Hugenots and other uninvited migrants absorbed into what was once a purely Celtic population. Some arrivals caused terror, others merely irritation at their ‘foreign’ ways. Their descendants all call themselves English now.

Monday, July 27, 2015

How Mary met William - Mary Lander (1831-1879)

Map showing location of Dorset
It's strange, and sometimes slightly spooky, to discover that you've visited many of the places where your ancestors once lived, without realising it at the time. I've mentioned elsewhere that one of our daughters was baptised in the same church as her paternal great grandfather, though we didn't know that until recently. Now I've discovered that many generations of my mother's family lived in a little village called Langton Matravers, near Corfe Castle in Dorset, which we visted with our children in 1991. Back then I had no idea that this was part of our heritage.

It's hardly surprising that I didn't associate this area with our family history. Langton Matravers, on the Dorset coast near Swanage, is about as far removed from Manchester and Salford as you could imagine, both geographically and socially. But it was here that Mary Lander, the future wife of William Hough (and my maternal great great grandmother) was born.

Coastal walk not far from Langton Matravers
At the time of her birth in about 1831-32 the village was home to only a few hundred people, most of whom, it seems, were related to each other in some way. The local area was famous for its stone quarries and infamous for its smuggling activities. Legend has it that in 1876 the ceiling space of the parish church of St George in Langton Matravers was so laden with contraband goods that the walls began to sag and it had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Mary's father John Lander (1795-1871) was a stonemason, like many of the men in Langton Matravers. Her mother, Elizabeth Cross (1797-1866) was the only daughter of another stonemason, Thomas Cross and his wife Ann (known as Nancy, nee Savage).

Mary was the sixth child born to John and Elizabeth, so far as I can tell, and was baptised at St George's church. One of her older brothers, George (born 1826) seems to have died in infancy but her other brothers John Cross Lander, (1820) Robert (1828) and Joseph (1829) along with her sister Ann (1824) all survived.

Sometime between Mary's birth and the birth of her younger brother James the whole family, including Elizabeth's parents Thomas and Nancy moved to Salford. James was baptised in Christ Church, Salford in 1836. Unfortunately he doesn't seem to have survived infancy, and neither he nor George appear on the 1841 census.

Blackfriars wooden bridge,  Manchester
c 1831-1834 by Agostino Aglio
The bridge connected Manchester to Salford 
Mary's grandmother Nancy died in Salford in 1840 at the age of 72. When she was buried at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Irwell St, her address was recorded as Muslin Street.

The family were still living in Muslin Street, off Hope Lane, at the time of the 1841 census. Mary's grandfather, Thomas Cross, lived with them or next door to them (it's not clear on the census).

What made them decide to make such a life-changing move? Economics is the most likely answer. While Dorset today might seem an ideal place for a quiet holiday, in the 1830's life was hard for most people. In the early 1830's riots broke out across southern England in protest against the use of mechanised farm machinery, which was putting labourers out of a job. While the Lander family were probably not directly affected, they would no doubt have suffered from the general stress and economic hardship.

Manchester Free Trade Hall (now a hotel)
built in 1853-56
Photo by David Dixon, used under a CC license
Meanwhile Manchester and Salford were growing rapidly. Alongside the many brick-built buildings that kept the Hough family occupied, large public buildings with impressive stone facades were being erected all over the city. Stonemasons would have been in great demand. John Lander and Thomas Cross were certainly not the only stonemasons from Dorset who moved to Lancashire.

It's not difficult to imagine how Mary might have met William Hough. Brickmakers and stonemasons must surely have worked alongside each other and got to know each other's families. They were married in Manchester cathedral on Christmas Eve, 1849. According to the marriage record, she was 19 and he was 18 years old. This must have been a rough estimate, since she claimed to be 18 years old at the time of the 1851 census. They remained in Salford for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

William Hough's mysterious beginnings

Manchester Cathedral in 1903*
William Hough was my grandmother Margaret Annie Bentley's great grandfather. As I mentioned in my previous post, a number of unanswered questions appear in his story.

The most important of these relates to his birth. According to the various census records he was born about 1831, the second son of brickmaker  John Hough and his wife Elizabeth Hurst of Salford. But unlike every other child in the large Hough family, he wasn't baptised in the cathedral in Manchester, or anywhere else for that matter. Or at least no baptism record can be found.

To put this in context, it seems from the records that John and Elizabeth had nine children:

James Hough, baptised in the cathedral in March 1830
William, born about 1831
Samuel, baptised Sept 1833
John Hough, born Sept 1834, baptised  Feb 1835
George, baptised March 1837
Isaac, baptised April 1839
Mary Ann, baptised March 1844
Elizabeth, baptised Jan 1846
Harriet, baptised July 1848

It seems strange that John and Elizabeth would have had 8 children baptised in the same church, but skipped baptising William. Even stranger is that a 5 year old child named William Hough, with parents named John and Elizabeth, was buried at Manchester cathedral in November 1833. No baptism record exists for this child either, as far as I can tell.

One possible explanation is that the original William, born in 1828, died just after his baby brother Samuel was baptised. The family then started calling the baby "William" instead of Samuel. If this was the case, then the original William would have been John and Elizabeth's first child. (They married in 1828).

In favour of this theory is that Samuel, Isaac, Mary Ann and Elizabeth don't appear in any of the census records. I've found likely deaths in infancy for Isaac (1840), Mary Ann (1844) and Elizabeth (1846) but not for Samuel. It was not unusual to name a child after a deceased sibling, though it was usually done from birth, when the later child was born after the first child's death.

Against it is that it would leave a longer-than-average gap between the births of James and Samuel a.k.a. William. Other explanations are possible - maybe the minister had a busy day and simply forgot to record William's baptism. Thousands of children were baptised in Manchester Cathedral in the 1830's. I'd be interested to hear suggestions for alternative explanations, or relevant information that might explain this puzzle.

 *Officially the Cathedral and Collegiate Church of St Mary, St Denys and St George. Image from Wikipedia.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Hough family brickmakers of Salford

Report of the 1867 Royal Commission
Brickmaking in 19th century England tended to be a family occupation. Like fustian cutting, it was a semi-skilled trade that was passed on from one generation to the next, and it was difficult to get a job if you didn't have the right family connections.

So not only was John Hough a brickmaker, but so were his four surviving sons - James (born 1829), William (about 1831), John jnr (1834) and George (1837). Several of his grandsons were also brickmakers.

It's possible that even one of his granddaughters was a brickmaker. When Elizabeth Hough, daughter of William Hough, married Alfred Greenough in St Bartholomew's church in Salford in April 1883, she was described as "Brickmaker, spinster".

Perhaps because so  many brickmakers were closely related, brickmaking was also a highly unionised occupation. Particularly in Manchester and Salford, the brickmakers established very clear 'rules' for the brickwork owners who employed them. These included such things as being paid their wages weekly, and employing only local labour. The brickmakers were also (understandably) resistant to brickmaking machines being introduced.

The brickmakers were not afraid to defend their rights, with force if necessary. In May 1843 the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser reported on a "Desperate and Bloody Attack by a Party of Armed Turn-outs" on a brickworks on the Eccles New Road near Cross Lane. (You can read an account of this incident, as reported several months later in the Southern Australian newspaper.)

It seems a group of 300 or more brickmakers attacked the brickworks of Messrs Pauling and Henfrey at night, apparently intent on setting fire to the brick croft and destroying the bricks. The group were armed with a variety of weapons, the owner's wife was intimidated, and shots were fired at those who were guarding the property. The cause of the affray seems to have been a dispute over wages and the employing of non-union labour.

This was not the only such 'outrage' committed by the brickworkers over the years. In 1867 the British government set up a Royal Commission to look into "acts of intimidation alleged to have been promoted by trade unions" in Sheffield and Manchester. It took a particular interest in the brickmakers union.

The Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, described the Commission's findings in an article in September 1867. Here's part of what it had to say about brickmakers:
The brickmakers bear the reputation of belonging to the roughest and rudest section of the working classes. They can hardly be considered as coming within the category of skilled artizans or mechanics, either in general education and intelligence, or in the technicalities of their trade and handicraft. And yet, strange to say, they have shown themselves as being at the least as cunning, astute, and inventive, both in the concoction of their destructive and homicidal schemes, and in the practical methods with which they carried them into execution, as the skilled operatives of Sheffield.
Obviously this wasn't an unbiased view. But what was the Hough family's involvement in all of this? It's difficult to say. A Thomas Hough was one of those arrested (and later acquitted) for his part in the 1843 incident. He may have been a brother or cousin of John Hough. A brickmaker named Thomas Hough, born in Cheshire in 1815, lived just a few doors away from John and Elizabeth Hough in the 1841 census.

As we've seen, John Hough seems to have started a small brick-making business of his own, with half a dozen employees. Yet this was hardly likely to have competed with large brick-making companies like Pauling and Henfreys. He seems to have remained a working brickmaker all his life. In a letter from the brick workers to the newspapers in 1851, defending their actions in a dispute with a brick manufacturer named Farr, John Hough was one of the signatories.

Nevertheless, John seems to have done fairly well for himself. His probate record indicates that he left an estate of £278 4s 6d  to his wife Elizabeth when he died in 1883, a moderately large sum in those days. His eldest son James left £1694.3s.11d in 1891 and in 1916 his third son, John Hough jnr, left an estate worth a healthy £5490 2s 9d. These sums suggest that the family were more than "the roughest and rudest section of the working class."

Strangely, no probate record exists for William, the second son, suggesting he died with very little property. This is not the only mystery attached to William, as we'll see in a later post.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

John Hough's obnoxious brickworks

 Old Buildings, Cross Lane, Salford
Old Buildings, Cross Lane, Salford.
“From the work usually known as ‘James's Views,’
published May 9, 1825.” Source:
Old Manchester, Plate 33
"On Saturday last, a case of considerable importance to the public of Manchester and Salford came on for hearing in the Salford County Court, before J.W. Harden, Esq , the judge of the court. and a respectable jury."
So began an article in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser on November 2, 1850.

The case of 'considerable importance' was brought by Mr Edward Foulkes, an attorney, who claimed that his garden at Grove House, Salford, was being damaged by smoke coming from the kilns of the brickworks nearby. The kilns, which had been erected over the previous six months, could have been built further away - 
"But the kilns, as they had been erected, smoked away within a very few yards of the boundary of the plaintiff's grounds. At the present cold season the smoke was a great nuisance, but in summer it was almost intolerable, and it was clear that the defendant sought to carry on his business in the most obnoxious manner."
Not only that, but the owner of the offensive brickworks had recently built a pig-sty right on the boundary of Mr Foulkes property. The obnoxious owner of the brickworks was John Hough.

Since the brickworks in question were located in Cross Lane in Salford, it seems highly likely that this was the same John Hough who was to become the great grandfather of Alice Hough

John Hough and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hurst) lived in Cross Lane most of their married lives, and according to the census of 1851, John was a brickmaker employing six men. All of his sons were brickmakers, including William, the father of Albert Hough, who was Alice's father and also a brickmaker.

The lawyer for the plaintiff, Mr Whigham, called on the expertise of horticulturalists and gardeners, who agreed that the smoke from John Hough's brickworks had reduced the productivity of Mr Foulkes vegetables and fruit trees. His rhubarb was blighted. He was seeking a sum of £50 in damages.

The court case was of public importance because, as John Hough's lawyer, Mr Wheeler put it:
"The jury were asked to determine whether, in this particular neighbourhood, a trade which had existed time out of mind, and one which was growingly prosperous to all concerned in it, should be absolutely put a stop to, or, if pursued at all, to be pursued with eternal law-suits. or threats of law-suits pending over those engaged in it."
The whole area, he argued, was one vast brick-field from which Manchester and Salford were supplied with bricks. Besides that, the nearby chemical and dye works could have been the cause of the damage to Mr Foulkes garden.

Salford museum and art gallery
Salford Museum and Art Gallery, opened in 1856 -
buildings like this required a lot of bricks.
It seems Mr Wheeler's arguments impressed both the judge and the jury. 
"His honour, in summing up, said the evidence of injury by the pig styes was very slight - that the plaintiff had withdrawn that part of the complaint relating to the water course, and that the remaining injury would be as to the damage alledged (sic) to be done by the smoke proceeding from the brick-kiln. He considered the occupancy of the land by the defendant suffciently proved. and the questions for the jury were: - had damage been done; secondly, had such damage, if done, been occasioned by the brick kilns of the defendant; and third, what was the amount of such damage. The judge then reviewed evidence of the plaintiff.—The jury retired, and, after a short absence, brought in a verdict FOR THE DEFENDANT".

The capitals are in the original article - was the editor shocked or pleased by the decision of the respectable jurors? Whatever his opinion, John Hough must have been very happy that he was now able to continue to run his brick kilns on Mr Foulkes boundary.

Albert Hough 1858-c 1905

Individual Summary26 April 2015

Name:Albert (aka Alfred) Hough
Father:William Hough (1831-1887)
Mother:Mary Lander (1833-1879)
Individual Facts
BirthJul 1858Salford, Lancashire, England16
Baptism6 Feb 1859 (about age 0)Salford, St Philip, Lancashire, England7
Residence1861 (about age 3)Relation to Head of House: Nephew; Salford, Lancashire, England3
Residence1871 (about age 13)Relation to Head of House: Son; Salford, Lancashire, England4
Residence1881 (about age 23)Relation to Head of House: Lodger  Occupation: dyer; Salford, Lancashire, England6 (This may not be the correct person)
Residence1901 (about age 43)Name: Albert Hough  Relation to Head of House: Father-in-law  Marital status: widower  Occupation: labourer; Pendleton, Lancashire, England1
Deathbef 1911 (before about age 53) Possibly 1905 in Salford. Does not appear on 1911 census
1. Anna (Hannah) Holt (1859-1899) married 18 August 1878 Stowell Memorial, Salford, Lancashire, England
ChildrenAlice Hough (1879-1909)
 Albert Hough (1882-    )
 Mary Hough (1886-1886)
 Harriet Ann Hough (1887-1894)
 James Thomas Hough (1890-    )
 John Hough (1893-    )
 Lily Elizabeth Hough (1895-    )
        1. 1901 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG13; Piece: 3718; Folio: 121; Page: 31.
       2.. Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
        3. 1861 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG 9; Piece: 2924; Folio: 32; Page: 11; GSU roll: 543050.
        4. 1871 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG10; Piece: 4026; Folio: 81; Page: 30; GSU roll: 846325.
        5. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837-1915 (Ancestry.com Operations Inc).
        6. 1881 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG11; Piece: 3973; Folio: 55; Page: 7; GSU roll: 1341949.
        7. Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).

More about Albert Hough:

William Hough c 1831-1887

Individual Summary26 April 2015

Name:William Hough
Father:John Hough (1811-1883)
Mother:Elizabeth Hurst (1811-1889)
Individual Facts
Birthabt 1831Salford, Lancashire, England17
Residence1841 (about age 10)Manchester, Lancashire, England7
Residence1851 (about age 20)Relation to Head of House: Head  Occupation brickmaker; Manchester, Lancashire, England6
Residence1861 (about age 30)Relation to Head of House: Son-in-law.   Occupation:brickmaker; Salford, Lancashire, England3
Residence1871 (about age 40)Relation to Head of House: Head  Occupation: brickmaker; Salford, Lancashire, England1
Residence1881 (about age 50)Relation to Head of House: Head  Marital Status: Widow  Occupation:brickmaker Address: 52 Bridson St; Pendleton in Salford, Lancashire, England4
DeathJan 1887 (about age 56)Salford, Lancashire5
1. Mary Lander (1833-1879)  married 24 Dec 1849 in Manchester
ChildrenJohn Hough (1849-    )
William Henry Hough (1852-1853)
James Hough (1853-    )
Elizabeth Ann Hough (1856-1856)
Albert (Alfred) Hough (1858-1911)
William Hough (1861-    )
Elizabeth Hough (1866-    )
George Hough (1867-    )
Aleck(?) Hough (1868-    )
Mary Hough  (1871-    )
        1. 1871 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG10; Piece: 4026; Folio: 81; Page: 29; GSU roll: 846325.
       2. Manchester, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1930 (Cathedral) (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
        3. 1861 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG 9; Piece: 2924; Folio: 32; Page: 11; GSU roll: 543050.
        4. 1881 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: RG11; Piece: 3949; Folio: 137; Page: 29; GSU roll: 1341943.
        5. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915 (Ancestry.com Operations Inc).
        6. 1851 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Class: HO107; Piece: 2224; Page: 26.
        7. 1841 England Census (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc), Class: HO107; Piece: 586; Book: 14; Civil Parish: Manchester; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 24; Folio: 11; Page: 14; Line: 10; GSU roll: 438739.

More about William Hough:

The Hough family brickmakers of Salford

John Hough c1811-1883

Individual Summary26 April 2015

Name:John Hough (parents unknown)
Individual Facts
Birthabt 1811Winsford, Cheshire, England16
Residence1841 (about age 30)Cross Lane. Occupation brickmaker; Manchester, Lancashire, England1
Residence1851 (about age 40)Relation to Head of House: Head  Occupation : brickmaker employing 6 men; Manchester, Lancashire, England4
Residence1852 (about age 41)Cross Lane, Manchester, Lancashire, England7
Residence1855 (about age 44)John Hough,  brickmaker,  Cross Lane; Blairs Cottage, Cross Lane, Salford8
Residence1861 (about age 50)Relation to Head of House: Head  Birthplace Chester  Occupation:brickmaker employing 4 men; Salford, Lancashire, England2
Residence1871 (about age 60)Relation to Head of House: Head  Address 22 Lord Nelson St, Salford. Occupation: brickmaker; Salford, Lancashire, England3
Residence1873 (about age 62)Phoebe St, Salfrod, Lancashire, England8
Residence1881 (about age 70)Relation to Head of House: HeadMarital Status: Married; Salford, Lancashire, England6
Death18 Apr 1883 (about age 72)Died at 30 Lord Nelson St, Cross Lane, Salford. Probate on an estate of £278 4s 6d granted to Elizab; Lancashire, England5,9
1. Elizabeth Hurst (1811-1889) married 8 Sept 1828
ChildrenJames Hough (1829-1891)
William Hough (abt1831-1887)
Samuel Hough (1833-    )
John Hough (1834-1916)
George Hough (1837-    )
Isaac Hough (1839-1840)
Mary Ann Hough (1844-    )
Elizabeth Hough (1845-1846)
Harriet Hough (1848-1857)
        1. Ancestry.com, 1841 England Census , Class: HO107; Piece: 586; Book: 14; Civil Parish: Manchester; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 24; Folio: 11; Page: 14; Line: 7; GSU roll: 438739.
        2. 1861 England Census , Class: RG 9; Piece: 2924; Folio: 59; Page: 27; GSU roll: 543050.
        3. 1871 England Census , Class: RG10; Piece: 4027; Folio: 17; Page: 27; GSU roll: 846325.
        4. 1851 England Census, Class: HO107; Piece: 2224; Page: 4.
        5. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915 .
        6. 1881 England Census, Class: RG11; Piece: 3969; Folio: 43; Page: 11; GSU roll: 1341948.
        7. UK, City and County Directories, 1766 - 1946 (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
        8. U.K., City and County Directories, 1600s-1900s (Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.).
        9. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 (Ancestry.com Operations Inc).

More about John Hough: