Monday, December 11, 2017

The unfortunate Bridget Jules

As a family historian, I often find myself researching the lives of people who are not genetically related to my family. Friends, neighbours, in-laws and god-parents are all of interest, since their lives often illuminate the lives of my forebears. I've mentioned how tracing the friends of John and Catherine Mason helped me to finally prove (at least to my own satisfaction) that John was an Irish convict.

One of the unrelated people who has fascinated, but eluded, me up to now is Bridget Jules, the friend of Susan Mason. She appeared in the Adelaide court with Susan, David Whybrew and Richard Hughes in 1868. I wrote a little about her in my book "Susan: convicts daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool" but since then I've discovered more details of her life.

Bridget began life either in Galway or Clare (both are mentioned) in the west of Ireland, as Bridget Bradley, the daughter of Henry Bradley. She arrived in Adelaide aboard the Rockcliff in 1864, at the age of 19. She came with hundreds of other English and Irish migrants, including 16 year old Mary Bradley, who was perhaps a younger sister. Bridget was looking for an opportunity to create a better life. But like many young single women from Ireland she probably had little education or experience in the sort of domestic work that employers wanted.

Adelaide Hospital in the 19th century
Despite this, Bridget apparently found work. In March 1866 she was admitted to the Adelaide Hospital. The admission index doesn't say for what reason, but it does reveal that she was working as a domestic servant in Bowden, in the north of Adelaide.

The Genealogy SA database shows that in 1866 a child was born  to Bridget Bradley, so perhaps her hospital admission was related to that event. Neither the baby or the father's names are recorded. I haven't been able to trace any further records for the child, but certainly it doesn't seem to have been in the care of Bridget.

Some time before 1868 she changed her name to Jules, or Julius (both versions appear in the records). Whether this was through marriage is unclear. If a Mr Jules existed, he seems to have disappeared from her life very quickly. Nevertheless, she kept the name for several years, and she is variously described as married or widowed in the records.

Bridget seems to have stayed out of trouble with the law until the episode in 1868, when she and Susan and the two soldiers were involved in relieving the sleeping Frank Jones of his pocket watch. Susan Mason managed to wriggle her way out of being tried for larceny, but poor Bridget was not so lucky. Fortunately she and the two soldiers were acquitted.

A downward spiral

Part of the Destitute Asylum in Adelaide
(now the Migration Museum)
After that her name appears regularly in the Adelaide newspapers. She was charged with larceny, the use of bad language, prostitution and disturbing the peace. In the newspaper account of one court appearance in January 1870 she was described as "an unfortunate", a term used for women with no means of support. Several times she was sentenced to imprisonment for a few days or weeks. In 1871 she spent time in the Destitute Asylum, where her usual occupation was listed as "prostitution".

In 1873 she gave birth to another child, a boy named James. The father was also named this time, as John Ross. The baby died before the age of two. Bridget's name is associated several times with that of John Ross in the newspapers, at least once as a result of a fight between them.

Bridget was in hospital again in March 1876 (as Bridget Julius). The hospital records show a 6 year old child named Mary Jane Julius from Bowden was admitted in April the following year - perhaps another of Bridget's children. Her age suggests a date of birth of about 1871, which co-incides with the birth of a Mary Jane McCarthy, whose parents are listed as John McCarthy and Bridget Julius Bradley. Again there is nothing to suggest that the child was in Bridget's care.

By 1878 Bridget was seldom out of trouble. In September she was charged with larceny in company with John Ross, They were said to have been living together for five years. Ross was discharged, she was sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour. The South Australian Police Gazette for 6 November 1878 provides a description of Bridget when she was about to be released: 
Bridget Jules, married woman, native of Ireland, aged 34 years, height 5ft 2in, sandy hair, grey eyes, small scar above nose.
In September 1881, when she was in her thirties, Bridget married Henry Tilley, a "cow keeper" from Somersetshire in England, and the son of George Tilley. They were both witnesses the following year during a coroner's inquest into the death of a young man, Thomas Maloney, from a head injury. It seems Maloney had accosted Bridget late at night, when she was out in the street, and two other men had come to her defence. During the fight Maloney had hit his head on the ground and fractured his skull.

Henry Tilley denied being involved. He explained the blood found on his clothes by saying that he had hit Bridget across the mouth when she was drunk. Despite this, he was exonerated, while her conduct was described as "disgraceful".

Last appearance

During the 1890's Bridget had several spells in hospital. She was listed as Bridget Tilley, married, but her address was constantly changing and she was employed as a charwoman, so she may not have been with Henry. In 1892 and 1893 she was back in the Destitute Asylum, which suggests Henry had died by then, or they had separated.

The last appearance I can find for Bridget is a hospital admission in 1897, when she was 49 years old. What became of her, or her children if they survived, is (so far) unknown. A Bridget Tilley died in South Australia in September 1919, but I'm not certain that this is her. Henry also disappears, so possibly they left South Australia.

Susan Mason, my great great grandmother, had a hard life as a soldier's wife, as I've described in the book. But compared to her friend Bridget, it seems she had much to be thankful for. Had she remained in Adelaide she might well have followed poor Bridget into chaos and destitution.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The story of two John Alfreds, part 2

In a previous post I looked at the life of the first of Alfred Pearson Bentley's sons to be named John Alfred. He was born in Salford, England, in 1873 and died there in 1933. Now it's time to look at the second John Alfred.

Boston docks about 1900
As we've seen, Alfred P. Bentley left his first wife and family in England in the middle of 1879, and married Annie Jane Smith a few months later in America. Their first and only child, John Alfred, was born in Boston several years later on 21 January 1884.

It seems strange that the boy was given the same name as his older half-brother, who was still alive and well in England. Could it be that Annie, unaware of Alfred's other family, wanted to call the baby John after her father, John Smith, and Alfred because it would be natural to give him his father's name? Did Alfred find himself unable to explain why "John Alfred", the perfectly obvious name for this child, was not a good choice? Or did Alfred and Annie perversely choose to name him John Alfred, both fully aware that Alfred had another son with this name?

Return to England

Whatever the case, the young John Alfred lived in Boston until he was about 6 years old. Then the family moved back to England. When the 1891 census was taken they were living in Runcorn in Cheshire. For the first time in his life John Alfred would have had aunts, uncles and cousins around him, since this was Annie Jane's home county.

After leaving school John Alfred found work as a clerk. He was still living at home with his parents and working as an insurance clerk when the 1911 census was taken. As far as I can tell he never married. His mother Annie died in September 1914 when he was 30 years old, just after the first world war began.

I haven't been able to discover what John did during the WW1. If he enlisted, there's no clear record of it. That's not to say he didn't enlist, but none of the many records for men named John Alfred Bentley or John Bentley have details such as a date of birth, parent's name, or an address that would confirm that they belong to him.

John Alfred disappears

In fact his whole life becomes something of a mystery between the age of 30 and when he died at the age of 87. His father Alfred's name was listed (posthumously) in the 1923 Kelly's directory for Cheshire, still at the same address in Woodhey, Higher Bebington as in the 1911 census.  Although there's no mention of John at that address in the directory, Alfred's will indicates that he still lived there.*

Alfred died in September 1922, leaving all of his estate of £1509 18s 1d to John. After this, John disappears from the records. I can't find him in the 1939 Register of England and Wales, created at the beginning of WW2. He was no longer living at his old address, and his name doesn't appear using his exact date of birth as the search term. Could he have migrated overseas - back to the USA perhaps, or to Australia? Was he an inmate in an asylum or prison? So far I haven't found any trace of him.

Cheshire Lunatic Asylum in the 1830's,
later became the West Cheshire Hospital
now known as Countess of Chester Hospital.
The next confirmed record of John's existence came with his death on 20 September 1971. His probate record shows that he died in the West Cheshire Hospital, Liverpool Rd, Chester, which at the time was an asylum for the mentally ill. According to his death certificate, he died of broncho-pneumonia. Despite being of "no fixed address", he left an estate of £12,000.*

Even allowing for the change in value of the currency over time, this was a fortune compared to the £278 4s left by the first John Alfred in 1933. The younger John Alfred lived nearly 30 years longer than his older half-brother. He had the benefit of being an only child and living with both parents rather than with a "widowed" mother who was struggling to make ends meet. He may have lived quite comfortably. Yet there are hints that his life was a rather lonely one. Perhaps if we knew more about those missing fifty years the impression he gives might be different.

*Details supplied by my cousin David. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Win a copy of "Susan"

If you're a member of Goodreads, you may be interested in this giveaway for my book "Susan". There are 3 paperback copies to be won.
Already read the book? Please let other readers know what you thought of it by leaving a rating or a review on Amazon, Goodreads or ibooks.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Susan by Stella Budrikis


by Stella Budrikis

Giveaway ends December 13, 2017.
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Saturday, November 11, 2017

The story of two John Alfreds, part 1

Nine Elms British Cemetery, Belgium
As I've mentioned before, my great great grandfather Alfred Pearson Bentley (b 1849) had two sons named John Alfred, one born to his wife Annie Reed in Salford in 1873 and the other born, through a bigamous marriage to Annie Jane Smith, in Boston in 1884. Despite sharing the same name and the same father, the two John Alfreds led rather different lives. In this post I'll tell the story of the older of the two half-brothers.

The first John was only four or five years old when his father left for America. He and his four siblings grew up in Salford, surviving on what their mother could earn from taking in laundry and renting out a room. When he was old enough to leave school he found work as a bricklayer's labourer and added his earnings to the family income.

In March 1897 John married Elizabeth Ann Brown, a girl from Stalybridge, a few miles east of Manchester. They were married in the Registry office in Salford. Their first child, Thomas, was born in August that same year while they were living at 20 Arthur St in Seedley, Manchester. 

St Ambrose Church, Salford,
where most of John and Elizabeth's children
were baptised.
Two years later, in August 1899, a daughter, Annie, arrived. By this time the family had moved to 49 Mayor St in Pendleton, and they remained at this address for several years, adding John Alfred (1902) Ernest (1905) and Elizabeth (1908) to their family. Two of the children, John Alfred and Elizabeth, died in infancy.

When the census was taken in  1911 John and Elizabeth had moved with their family to 11 Hodgson St. It was a four roomed house, but besides their family they had two single men from Stalybridge, both labourers, and apparently brothers, boarding with them. John was working as a contractors labourer.

John and Elizabeth's eldest son Thomas was 17 years old when the war began in August 1914. Like many young men, he enlisted as soon as he could, joining the 2/7th battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. He was given regimental number  281894, and after a long period of training was sent to Le Havre in France early in 1917.

This must have caused his parents some concern, but worse was to come. On 12 March 1917 John Bentley received a letter from the Borough Engineers Office in Salford. It didn't even address him by name, but read:

Dear Sir,  
Road Service in France 
I enclose a form from the War Department which you are requested to present to the recruiting officer at the Town Hall, Broad St, Pendleton on an early day between the hours of 9.00 am and 5.30 pm on Saturday between 9.30 am and 2.00 pm. 
Yours truly 
Ernest B Martin.
At the age of 43 John Alfred was being conscripted to build roads across other men's fields in France. Conscription had been introduced in 1916 and anyone under the age of 51 who was not a widow with children or a Minister of Religion could be called up. In reality, many of those called were rejected as unfit, or claimed exemption on the grounds that they were doing work of national importance or their absence would cause domestic hardship. However, like Thomas Henry Ward, John Bentley received no exemption.

He was enlisted on March 16 in the Royal Engineers, 338 RC (Road Construction) company as a "pioneer", regimental number 25500. He was later transferred to the 303 RC company. The army doctor who examined him noted two tattoos, one on his right arm saying "E A Brown", and the other a pair of butterflies on his left. After spending time at Salamanca Barracks in Aldershot, John was sent to France. 

With both her husband and a son on the front line, and a ten year old child, Ernest, to care for alone at home, Elizabeth must have been beside herself with worry. Her fears were not unfounded.

Street corner, Poelcappelle, Belgium 1918
Twenty year old Thomas was injured, probably at the Battle of Poelcappelle in Flanders on 9 October, and died of his wounds on 12 October 1917. He was buried at the Nine Elms British Cemetery in West Vlaanderen, Belgium. The cross on his grave bears only his name and regimental details. 

In his brief will, written on 8 April 1917 on a standard issue form provided by the army, he left all his possessions to his mother "Mrs E. Bentley of 5 Swan St, Pendleton." He apparently was aware of his father's enlistment.

John Alfred was admitted to hospital on 12 April 1918, for reasons unknown. He was discharged on  the 19 April. He arrived "TTBD" on 26 April and was released from "TTBD" on 6 May 1918. (The most likely explanation I can find of this abbreviation is "Temporary Transfer Base Depot" but if you can improve on that, let me know.) He was officially demobbed in 1919 while on home leave.

He returned home to Elizabeth on 26 December 1918. They were still living at 5 Swan St when their daughter Annie married the following year. When he died at the age of 59, in March 1933, he left an estate of £278 4s to his widow Elizabeth.

My next post will cover what I know of the younger John Alfred.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More on boatmen and baptisms

The Leeds Liverpool Canal at Wigan Pier
Never publish in haste! I wrote my last article based on research I'd done quite a while ago, but after digging into things a bit more, I find I now need to correct a couple of statements in my previous post about Hannah Holt and her family.

First, I said that her father John Holt was a boatman, and guessed that this meant he was a labourer on the docks. But after doing more research I've realised that it's more likely that he worked on the actual canal boats.

Even before the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, there was an extensive network of canals all over England, which were used for transporting raw materials and goods. It was much more efficient to have a horse (or a man) pull a fully laden boat along a canal than it was to have the horse pull a cart along an unpaved road.

Some of the canals dated back as far as Roman times, but the canal system was greatly expanded during the industrial revolution. The port in Liverpool was linked to industry in Manchester and Yorkshire by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and there was an extensive network of canals linked into this. Eventually the railways took over as the main means of transporting goods. But the canals still exist and it's apparently still possible to travel from London to Lancaster without setting foot on dry land.

Many boatmen lived on their boats, since the journey between the port and their destination could take several days. In some cases their families lived with them. But it seems from the census returns that John Holt and his father William had homes that they returned to regularly.

John and Elizabeth Holt's children

The second thing I need to correct is my statement that Mary Ann, the first child of John Holt and Elizabeth Hardman, appeared to have died in infancy. In fact I've now found her as a seven year old in the 1861 census, staying with her grandparents Patrick and Margaret Hardman in Eagle St, Pendleton. Whether she was there just for the night of the census or more permanently is unclear. I haven't been able to trace her in the 1871 census, but she would have been a teenager then and may well have been working away from home. In March 1876 she married Thomas Ogden in St John the Evangelist Church in Salford. She was still living in Salford, though widowed, in 1911.

While on the topic of John and Elizabeth Holt's children, I've recently discovered their baptism records on the Lancashire Online Parish Clerk site (which is where I also found Mary Ann's marriage). They were all baptised in the Catholic Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist, in Salford, except for the youngest, John, who was baptised in Christ Church, Salford, which is an Anglican church.

Perhaps this was because his mother Elizabeth, an Irish Catholic, had a say in where the other children were baptised, but she had already died before John came for baptism. I haven't been able to find a burial record for Elizabeth but her death was registered in the first quarter of 1870 and John was born on 13 March 1870, so she probably died towards the end of March. When John was baptised on 6 April, his father, or his father's family, apparently chose to have him "done" in the Church of England.

I usually try to check my facts before posting, but if you come across any errors in any of my blog posts, do please let me know, either by posting a comment or messaging me.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hannah Holt and her family

Salford Quays today would be unrecognisable
 to Hannah Holt and her family
When I wrote about Alice Hough, I mentioned that she was the child of Alfred (aka Albert) Hough and Hannah (or Anna) Holt. I've already described the Hough side of her family, who were brick makers in Salford. Now it's time to say something about the Holts. Unfortunately there's little to tell about them besides details of births, deaths and marriages, and even some of those are hard to find. They seem to have been one of the many families living in crowded, poor conditions in Salford during the late 19th century.

Hannah's background

Hannah's father John Holt was described in the various census returns as a boatman or waterman, which probably means he worked as a labourer on the docks in Salford (but see below).  He was born in Salford in about 1831. His father, William Holt, was also a boatman.

Hannah's birth registration indicates that her mother's maiden name was Hardman.* Elizabeth Hardman arrived in Manchester from Galway, Ireland with her parents, Patrick and Margaret Hardman (nee Jenkins), around 1840 when she was about 6 years old. Patrick was a labourer, so it's likely that John and Elizabeth began their married life in July 1853 with very little.

John and Elizabeth's first child, Mary Ann (born 1854) seems to have died in infancy, since she doesn't appear in the 1861 census (but see below). The next child, Harriet, was two years older than Hannah (born in 1858). In the 1861 census Hannah is listed as Anna, and the family were living in "Slater's building" which seems to have been some sort of tenement off Hampson St, not far from the docks.

Elizabeth gave  birth to five more children after Hannah, (James 1861, Sarah 1863, Samuel 1865, Elizabeth 1867 and John 1870) but it's not clear how many survived. I can't find the family in the 1871 census. Elizabeth herself died during or soon after giving birth to John in March 1870. Hannah would have been about 12 years old at the time.

In December 1870 Hannah's father remarried, to a woman named Margaret Gill who was 27 at the time. I haven't been able to find the family in the 1871 or 1881 census. Possibly a child, Mary Ellen, was born to Margaret in 1871, but I can't find any others, so John or Margaret may have died soon after that. (The name John Holt was common in Salford so it's difficult to know for certain which death registration is his.)

Marriage and children

Hannah Holt married Albert Hough, a brickmaker, at the Stowell Memorial church in Salford on 18 August, 1878. She was 20. When they married they both gave their address as 57 Jane St. This was in a typical Salford row of two storey brick houses built "back to back" on a cobbled street with flag-stone pavers.

When the census was taken three years later Hannah and her daughter Alice were living with her bother-in-law John Hough and his family in Lynton St, Salford. Albert was lodging with another family in Ardwick St. Was this for financial reasons, or had they separated? They had another child, Albert, the following year, and another five children after that, so perhaps it was for practical reasons.

By 1891 Hannah was boarding with another family, along with four of her children, and she was working as a charwoman, which suggests that she was in very difficult circumstances. Albert is nowhere to be seen on the census.

In 1899, at the age of just 41, Hannah died. Albert went to live with his daughter Alice and was with her family in 1901, but he seems to have died before 1911.

NOTE: I've updated and corrected some of the information in this post in my next post. See More on Boatmen and Baptisms

*(GRO Reference: 1858  S Quarter in SALFORD  Volume 08D  Page 77). 

Monday, September 4, 2017

7 tips for searching newspapers on Trove

The digitised newspaper collection at Trove, the National Library of Australia site, is an amazing (and free) resource. It proved invaluable when I was doing the research for my book about Susan Mason. Trove has many more resources available besides newspapers of course - maps, diaries, journals, government gazettes, and videos, to name but a few - but for those researching their family history, or other historical events, newspapers can be a fantastic source of information.

If you're lucky you might even find images related to your search. This photo of  Adelaide Police Magistrate, Mr Samuel Beddome, comes from the Evening Journal, 1 Sept 1888.
The Trove site itself offers  a comprehensive online help page on how to search the newspaper collection effectively, but I thought I would list a few tips that I've found most useful in my own research. For starters, I suggest going straight to the Advance Search page.

1. Start with a fairly wide search under Places and Titles. Even if you know that someone only ever lived in one state, include newspapers from all the states in your search to begin with. (This is the default if you don't tick any boxes). News items were commonly shared from one newspaper to another, within states and interstate, so even if the search misses an item in a local newspaper, you might find a similar item elsewhere. You may even find relevant news from overseas newspapers published in Australian newspapers.

2. Don't restrict the publication date too much. You may know the person you are looking for died in, say, 1860, but search beyond this date. You might come across an "in memorium" notice, one or several years later. The same goes for other events, not just deaths. Newspapers often published anniversary articles many years after an event.

3. Try variations and spelling 'mistakes'. If you're looking for a person's name, use as many variations as you can think of in your search. For instance, to find items mentioning John Mason, I searched for "John Mason", "Mr Mason", "J Mason", and "Jno. Mason". (Jno was often used as an abbreviation for John, just as Thos was used for Thomas and Hy for Henry.) Sometimes it's worth trying some deliberate mis-spellings of a name as well.

4. Make good use of excluded words. If your search brings up a lot of items that are similar to what you're looking for but irrelevant, use the box labelled "without these items" to get rid of most of them. The results of my search for "John Mason" included a lot of items about a much more famous Rev. John Mason Neale. I also got a lot of results referring to Masonic meetings. By putting "Neale" and "Masonic" in the "without these words" box, I could exclude many of them.

5. Build on what you've found. Once you've found an article that you are fairly sure refers to the person you're looking for, look carefully for other information in the article that might be useful in narrowing down or expanding your search. For instance, I discovered from one article that Susan Mason lived in Currie Street in Adelaide. By combining "Currie" with "Mason" I found several other references to people named Mason in Currie St. Other clues helped me decide whether these were about the right family or not.

Similarly, after finding a funeral notice for Brother John Mason inserted by the Court Perseverance of the Foresters, I was able to search for "Mason" with "Court Perseverance" and/or "Foresters" to find other articles that mentioned him. I also did some research about who the Foresters were, which helped me to understand why John Mason might have been a member.

6. Don't rely on the article titles in search results. When going through the results of a search, don't take too much notice of the article titles shown in bold capitals. Scan the snippet of news instead, if there's one provided. The search results seem to use the closest heading on the page, but the item you want may not have a heading, or the heading may be too small to get noticed. I found an article about the Court Perseverance annual dinner listed under the heading "Representation of Willunga" in the search results. The heading referred to the previous item and had nothing to do with the item about the dinner underneath it. I've also found several useful short articles listed under "Advertising". Birth, marriage and death announcements are not always under "Family notices".

7. Get updated results on your search. The information on the Trove newspaper site is being updated and corrected all the time. After doing a search, you can ask to be sent an email alert whenever new results are available, by clicking on the "Subscribe to this webfeed" link down at the bottom of the page of search results.

Don't forget that newspapers are not always accurate! Once you've found information from a newspaper, always try to check it out some other way. My own experience is that the information in most newspapers from the past has been pretty reliable, and has sometimes provided invaluable clues about dates of birth, marriage and death, and family relationships. But it's always better to have more than one source of information.

Do you have a favourite tip of your own for using Trove newspaper searches? Why not share it with everyone in the comments below.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Muslin by the yard - John Mason's trial

Limerick c 1900
John Mason was 18 years old when he was transported to Australia aboard the Parmelia. Until recently all that I knew about his crime came from his convict records, which stated that he had been sentenced in Limerick for 'stealing cotton'. The Limerick prison records (available at Find My Past) showed that he had been tried on 27 June 1833 and sentenced on 11 July, but gave no other details.

This week the British Newspaper Archive posted a new batch of pages from Irish newspapers, including the Limerick Chronicle, and I was finally able to discover a little more about John's trial. On 13 July 1833, under the heading "Limerick City Sessions" this appears:
John Mason, for stealing 29 yards of muslin goods from Thomas Evans.
James Evans sworn - He was behind the counter when he heard a pane of glass broken in the window; jumped over the counter and saw the prisoner outside with the piece of muslin in his hand; his brother coming out, they took the muslin from him.
George Evans sworn - corroborated the evidence of his brother, whom he saw struggling with the prisoner outside the window.
Thomas Evans; fully confirmed the testimony of the two preceding witnesses, young boys, who gave their evidence in a most correct and intelligent manner. Verdict - Guilty.
The sentence, transportation for seven years, given a few days later, appears on page 3 of the same paper.

Since reading this I've been trying to find out more about the shop owned by Thomas Evans. Where was it? What did it sell? On a genealogy site I found a Thomas Evans in Limerick with sons named George and James, born in  1817 and 1818 respectively. That seemed promising

The Evan's family in the 1846 Slater's directory p 264
Then I came across an entry in the 1846 Slater's National Commercial Directory of Ireland for Thomas Evans in William St, Limerick  (pg 264). But according to this he was an ironmonger, and the correct and intelligent George and James were hardwaremen in Rutland Street. Another entry showed Thomas Evans and his sons also held a license to sell gunpowder (p 274). It didn't seem likely that either of these stores would sell muslin by the yard. Had Thomas Evans changed his business in the thirteen years since 1833, or was this a different family?

George St, Limerick c 1880
The mystery was solved when I noticed a Hannah Evans listed as the owner of a haberdashery store in George Street, Limerick. Thomas Evans' wife and James and George's mother was named Hannah, so I'm guessing that it was the Evans' haberdashery shop rather than the hardware or gunpowder store that John Mason robbed. 

John was not the only Limerick resident sentenced on 11 July to being transported. Just below the newspaper account of John's trial is one for Mary Lynch, who stole a coat. She freely admitted that she was guilty, adding that she had deliberately stolen the coat in the hope of being transported, since so many of her family and friends were now in New South Wales. She was found guilty and had her wish granted.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Annie Reed

Market place, Barnard Castle 
(cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Ben Gamble )
Now that I've traced back through Alfred Pearson Bentley's forebears, it's time to have a look at his wife Annie Reed. As I've mentioned before, Alfred and Annie were married in Dewsbury in Yorkshire in 1869, and moved to Salford in Lancashire before 1872. In 1879, soon after the birth of their fifth child, Alfred sailed to America, apparently promising to send for his family as soon as he was settled. Instead he entered into a bigamous marriage in Boston with another Annie (Anne Jane Smith from Cheshire in England) and poor Annie in Salford either believed, or made believe, that he had died in the USA.

The castle at Barnards Castle
photo by Francis Hannaway
via Wikimedia Commons
At first glance it's not clear how Alfred and Annie Reed could have met, since he was born in Hunslet, part of the city of Leeds in West Yorkshire and she grew up in Barnard Castle, a market town in Teesdale, County Durham. However, her father, Henry Reed (b 1804), a carpet weaver, originally came from Leeds, so perhaps Annie's childhood family maintained some connections with Henry's family in Yorkshire. Her older half-sister, Jane, also married in Dewsbury in Yorkshire in 1853 and went on to live there, providing another connection to that county.

Annie's childhood

Annie's mother, Margaret Waite, was Henry's second wife. His first wife, Elizabeth Stout, bore him at least six children, all girls, but only two, Sarah (b 1827) and Jane (1831), survived childhood. Elizabeth herself died soon after the birth of the last ill-fated child in 1834.

Annie was the youngest of Margaret's four children. Hannah (b 1838) and John (1841) were a part of her childhood, but Annis (1844) died soon after birth. Henry, Annie's father, died in 1859 when she was about 13 years old.

In the 1861 census she was the only child still living at home with Margaret. The financial hardship caused by the loss of Henry's income might have led to Annie being sent to her relatives in Yorkshire, or perhaps she found work as a servant there. Her mother continued to live in Barnards Castle until her death in 1875.

Marriage to Alfred Pearson Bentley

When Annie married Alfred at the age of 23, she most likely thought her chances of having a more comfortable life than her mother were fairly good. Living standards for the working class in England had been improving over the previous years, and Alfred's skills as an engraver gave him good prospects for employment. He may well have inherited his father Ben's ambitiousness.

Their first child, James Henry was born in Dewsbury in 1870, and they were still living there at the time of the 1871 census. By the time their second child, Margaret Ann, was born they had moved to Hollinwood St, in the Ordsell district of the city of Salford, Lancashire. Their neighbours in this area of booming population included a "gold beater" and a lithographic printer along with masons, bricklayers, shop keepers and mill hands.

Sadly little James died in 1873. The following year Annie gave birth to another son, John Alfred, then Walter Horatio in 1876 and Ernest Reed in 1878. It was then that Alfred senior decided to go to Boston.


Perhaps he and Annie really believed that he was going to find a better life for his family in America and they would join him there, but then, somehow, he just got sidetracked from his plans after he arrived. Or perhaps the promise of a better life was just the story he told Annie, while secretly planning all along to meet up with Miss Annie Jane Smith in America. Or possibly his marriage with Annie had fallen apart and they tacitly agreed that, since they couldn't afford a divorce, he should conveniently disappear to America.

Whatever the case, Annie was still describing herself as 'married' on the 1881 census. By 1891 she had begun to call herself a widow. Whether she had received news that led her to believe this to be the case, or simply found it best to make this her story, she clearly didn't expect Alfred to return. Did she ever learn that he and his new wife and son had returned from America in the late 1880's and were living just across the county border in Cheshire? We'll probably never know.

Life must have been hard for Annie as a single mother with four children. In the 1881 census the family had an elderly woman, Jane Bastow, boarding with them, but she was on Parish relief, so she couldn't have provided much in the way of rent.

Arthur St, Pendleton (just north of Liverpool St)
from 1930 map of Manchester*
Click to enlarge.
By 1891 the family had moved to Arthur St in Pendleton, between Langworthy Park and the Salford cattle markets. Annie was taking in washing and ironing to make ends meet, and had another lodger staying with her. Any hope she might have had of her children having a better standard of living had gone west with Alfred. Nineteen year old Margaret had by now left home and was working as a servant, and the two older boys had jobs, John as a bricklayer's labourer and Walter as an office boy. A year later Margaret, still single, gave birth to a son, John Henry. She never married.

Annie died in 1899 at the age of 53. The doctor who wrote the death certificate gave "cirrhosis of the liver, ascites, syncope" as the cause of death. (Thanks to my cousin David for this information). It's impossible to know whether the cirrhosis and the associated ascites (fluid in the abdomen) were the result of alcohol abuse or some other cause, but her last few years must have been spent in very poor health. Neither the registrar nor the person providing the information were aware that Alfred was still alive and well. Annie was described on the death register as "widow of Alfred Pearson Bentley, an engraver journeyman".

*Map extracted from:
The site has a wonderful collection of old maps from all over Britain.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Harriet Smith, gentleman's wife

St James Church, Tong, built 1727
 © Copyright Humphrey Bolton
licensed for reuse under this CC Licence
Harriet Smith is one of those people whose story can only be told in terms of "daughter of..", "wife of...", mother of...". Anything we know of her character or actions has to be deduced or guessed.

She was born in Armley, near Leeds in Yorkshire, on 18 July 1817, the second daughter of James Smith and Martha Naylor. Her baptism in September that year took place in the Bethel Independent Chapel in Leeds. Her mother's family, the Naylors, were stonemasons from Pudsey, a market town between Leeds and Bradford. Her father's background is obscured by the difficulty of accurately tracing a name like James Smith.

Harriet married Ben Bentley in October 1839. The ceremony took place at St James church in the tiny village of Tong, chosen perhaps because it was mid-way between Pudsey and Ben's home town of Gildersome. Their first child, William, was born the following April. Perhaps Harriet had a miscarriage or still birth between William and her next child, Martha Ann, born in 1845. John Henry arrived in 1847, Alfred Pearson in 1849 and daughter Harriet in 1851. Then came a twelve year gap before Walter Smith was born in 1863.

I've described previously how Ben Bentley became a little too ambitious in making money and in 1856 found himself sentenced to four years penal servitude. He was in Portland prison in Dorset, on the south coast, from 1857 until December 1860. For his wife Harriet the whole experience must have caused both shame and anxiety. She would have had little or no opportunity to visit Ben so far away from Yorkshire. Did she miss him? Was their re-union a joyful one, or did Harriet take a while to come around to accepting Ben back into the marriage bed? We can only guess.

The death in 1861 of her daughter Martha, still in her teens, must have been a great sadness for Harriet. More sadness would have surrounded the bankruptcy in 1865 of her son William. Her first grandchild, as far as I can tell, arrived in 1870 with the birth of a son, James, to Alfred Pearson Bentley and his first (and only legitimate) wife Annie Reed. Several more grandchildren followed.

Harriet died in Dewsbury on 19 December 1876 at the age of 59. She was buried in the Soothill Nether cemetery at Earls Heaton, and the burial is recorded in the Dewsbury Quaker records. The record notes that she was "NM", not a member. Ben's burial, twenty one years later, appears in the same records without the "NM", so perhaps he was, or became, a member. Less than twelve months after Harriet's death he remarried.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Whybrew family past and present

This is a rather special post. A few weeks ago I received an email from Dawn Spradlin, who introduced herself as the great great granddaughter of Jeremiah Whybrew, David Whybrew's older brother. She had come across this site and realised that we must be related. I asked if she would be willing to write something about her research into her own family's history, or share some photos, and to my delight she said she would. Here's what she sent me.


Finding ancestors today is at our fingertips, through the internet, and that is how I met Stella. My daughter, Erin, researched the English Whybrew line of my great great grandfather, Jeremiah Whybrew, who immigrated to NY from Liverpool and settled in Oro, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada in 1851. He travelled on a ship named the Forest Queen along with his girlfriend, Hannah Leatherdale and 16 members of the Leatherdale family.

The Crown Inn, Wormingford, and Whybrew's house opposite.
Jeremiah is mentioned in chapter 5 of Stella’s book, “Susan”. He spent his childhood living in Wormingford, Essex, England along with his family, James (father), Sarah (mother), and siblings including his little brother David. The 1841 census states that they lived opposite the Crown Inn, which is still operating, having been built in the 1600’s.

In 1851 Jeremiah’s mother and father had died, his sisters had gone into service, Jeremiah had boarded the Forest Queen and little 10 year old David had gone into a work house. My heartfelt curiosity about a little boy enduring the workhouse all alone prompted many internet searches, until I found Stella’s Clogs and Clippers blog, with a wealth of information about David and his wife Susan Mason, Stella's great great grandmother.

Stella brought Susan Mason alive in her book "Susan". It was a real page turner for me and brought me closer and more connected to the Whybrews, along with the added benefit of meeting (via email) a current living relative.

Lumber camp, Oro
I can only imagine how my great great grandfather Jeremiah and his new wife, Hannah, coped with their first harsh Canadian winter in Oro, Simcoe, Canada. The area was booming with lumber camps, ore mining camps, shipping and railroads along the Great lakes.

Hannah died in 1867 at 38 after giving birth to a daughter, Emily. Jeremiah was distraught and his children were absorbed into other families. Jeremiah died drunk and prostrate in a snowbank in 1878. He was 43. All the children survived and moved to Escanaba and Gladstone Michigan. 

Vira Whybrew
My grandmother, Vira Whybrew, was born in Escanaba in 1894. She fell in love with an amateur baseball player and moved to Chicago where I grew up. My Whybrew line ends here.

The Gladstone Butchers baseball team

Emily Whybrew Alger
Once again heartfelt curiosity overcame me regarding Emily (my great aunt who died in 1938 in Los Angeles, CA ) and her history prompted me to do several internet searches until I found a living Whybrew. His grandfather and my great grandfather were two of Jeremiah’s children raised by other families.

To actually meet living relatives while following clues and instincts about the past is an amazing gift of this technological age, recharging our curiosity and discovering the links to each other.

Dawn Spradlin
Exeter, New Hampshire

Do you have information, stories, or photos relevant to any of the people and families mentioned here on Clogs and Clippers that you would like to share? If you do, I'd love to hear from you. You can use the contact form on the right to send me a brief message and I'll get back to you by email.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

William Bentley, tailor of Gildersome

Drawing of the first patented lockstitch sewing machine, 
invented in 1845 by Elias Howe and patented in 1846, 
15 years after William Bentley's death. He would have
done all his tailoring work by hand.
After posting a couple of articles about Ben Bentley my plan was to say something about his forebears and those of Harriet Smith, his wife. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot to say with any certainty about Ben's parents. 

His father, William Bentley, was born in Gildersome near Leeds and was baptised on Christmas day, 1785, at the parish church in nearby Batley. He was the son of Samuel Bentley, a clothier of Gildersome, and his wife Hannah Clough.

The baptismal records of several of William's children show that he was married to "Ann Wildrick", daughter of John Wildrick. I haven't been able to trace this Wildrick family or the marriage between William and Ann with any certainty. The only Ann Wildrick I've come across lived in Fishlake, near Doncaster, which is quite a long way from Gildersome and Leeds.

Possibly Wildrick is a variation on Weldrake, with several families by that name (or something similar) living in the Gildersome area. In 1785 a Nancy Weldrick, daughter of John Weldrick was baptised in Birstall, in the Cleckheaton parish, which is not far from Gildersome. Nancy is sometimes used as a diminutive form of Ann. Could this be "Ann Wildrick"?

Curiously, the only possible marriage I've come across for William and Ann, or Nancy, occurred in Oldham, Lancashire. William Bentley, tailor, "of Royton" (sic) married a Nancy Weldrake there on 3 June 1806. Unfortunately no details are given about their ages or their fathers' names. This date would fit in well with the dates of their children's births, but begs the question of why they would go to Oldham to marry. Was William there on business? Were they avoiding marrying in Gildersome for some reason? Or was this another couple entirely? For now it remains a mystery, and I'd be happy to hear any suggestions.

All the children of William and Ann were born in Gildersome. Matthew, the eldest, was born in 1808 and became a tailor like his father. John (1811) Ann (1813) and William (1815) followed before Ben arrived in 1819.

William's name appears in the 1826 General and Commercial Directory for the Borough of Leeds as one of the two tailors living in Gildersome, the other being William Dixon. In the 1830 Leeds and Clothing Directory he's listed as Wm. Bentley & Son, tailor (& draper). He probably had a shop front somewhere close to the Town Green, and would have sold fabric as well as making up clothing on commission and perhaps doing repairs. The first practical and commercially available sewing machine didn't appear until 1846, so he would have done everything by hand.

William died on 4 August 1831 at the relatively young age of 46. According to the Leeds Patriot and Advertiser on 20 August, he died "after a lingering illness". Ann, his wife, died in Gildersome in December 1849.

Image: By Frank Puterbaugh Bachman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

And it's done!

View the book
The book I've been writing about Susan Mason and her family is finally complete and published on Amazon worldwide. It's available as an e-book which can be read on any Kindle device or Kindle app. A paperback version is also available (although sadly not through the Australian Amazon site, which doesn't stock printed books yet). I'm still looking into other e-book options such as epub and ibooks.

I hope if you've enjoyed reading my articles about the Mason and Whybrew families here on Clogs and Clippers you will find this much expanded and chronological version of their stories interesting and enjoyable. The book has extensive endnotes and a bibliography.

I've had great fun writing it. My sincere thanks to all who have helped with the research, editing, and revising of the book. Thanks especially to Katie for the cover and Amy for her editing.

For UK readers, the Kindle edition is available here.
For customers of the Australian Amazon site, it can be found here.

Visit my new "author page" on Amazon for more information.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Almost there

My book about Susan Mason and her family is finally complete and almost ready to launch. In fact it's already sitting on the Kindle Direct Publishing page on Amazon. Once I set a price, then hit the "publish" button, it will be on it's way into the world as an ebook. I'm just waiting for confirmation from a couple of people that they're happy for their names to appear on the acknowledgements page. No doubt I should have thought to ask them much sooner.

In the meantime, here's a preview of the wonderful cover that Katie Stewart designed for me. The image is a detail from a painting by S.T. Gill titled "Rundle St, 1845" showing a street scene from early Adelaide. You can see more of Katie's work at her website Magic Owl Design.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ben Bentley, Gentleman, part 2

Leeds Corn Exchange,
which Ben no doubt visited. Designed by
Cuthbert Brodrick and built in 1863.
Now home to a food emporium and boutique shops.
In my previous post about Ben Bentley I left the unfortunate gentleman languishing in Portland prison in Dorset, after he was arrested for embezzlement. So what became of him and his family?

Ben was released in December 1860, having shown "exemplary" behaviour while in prison. It seems that his time in penal servitude did not damage his reputation or his relationships irreparably. By the time of the census in April 1861 he was back with his family in Dewsbury in Yorkshire and was employed once more as a flour and corn agent (though perhaps not with the same employer). As time went on Ben became a corn dealer, and apparently did quite well for himself.

After the death of his wife Harriet in 1876, Ben married again, to a younger woman named Ann Dove (b 1835). He was still living in Dewsbury and working as a corn dealer in his seventies, but he seems to have retired after that. When he died in 1897 he left an estate of ₤474.11s.1d  (An adult male clerk could earn roughly ₤50 - ₤130 per annum according to newspaper advertisements at the time.) He was buried in the Friends burial ground in Wooldale, near Holmfirth in Yorkshire.

Ben and Harriet's children

Ben might have been pleased that all his sons went into white collar work or skilled trades. But his children had mixed fortunes when it came to money and marriage.

Typesetting using a traditional composing stick.
William, the eldest son (b 1840) became a letter press printer and worked on a weekly newspaper. He married Sarah Ellen Oates in the summer of 1864. By November 1865, according to an item in the Leeds Mercury, he was bankrupt. In 1874 he filed for divorce from Sarah on the grounds of adultery, after she had an affair with a neighbour. He remarried in 1877 to a Mrs Eliza Ann Leonard, but she died only two years later.

Ben and Harriet's eldest daughter Martha Ann (b 1844) died at the age of 16  in June 1861, less than six months after Ben's release from prison.

Ben's second son John Henry (b 1847) followed his brother William to the Friends (Quaker) school at Low Green in Rawdon. As I mentioned previously, the school was unusual for the time in being co-educational. He  became a solicitor's clerk in Huddersfield and married one of his classmates, Hannah Waddington, in 1868.

By the mid 1880's he had risen from being a solicitors' managing clerk to being a solicitor and he and his family were living in Cliffe House in Wooldale (which is possibly why Ben, his father, was buried there). In 1890 John was badly shaken and his left eye was damaged when the mail train in which he was travelling towards London collided with a goods train at Retford. He successfully sued the Great Northern Railway company the following year and was awarded  ₤1800 in damages. Despite this success, his life seemed to go from bad to worse from that point.

In 1898 he was declared bankrupt. In June 1900, in a case that was publicised all over the country,  he was struck off the roll as a solicitor for misappropriating clients' funds. Part of his defence was that he had been suffering from "mental derangement". By 1901 he was back to being a managing clerk in a solicitor's office.

I've already told the story of Ben and Harriet's third son,  Alfred Pearson Bentley (b 1849) in an earlier post. In the light of his childhood experiences and his family background, perhaps his later behaviour seems a little less incomprehensible. At another level it's difficult to understand how he could have abandoned his wife and children as he did, having experienced his own father's disappearance during his early childhood.

Ben and Harriet's younger daughter Harriet (b 1851) was no more fortunate in marriage than her brothers. Her first husband was a foundry worker named Barrett Butler. They married in 1871. Barrett died in 1884, leaving Harriet with four children.

In 1888 Harriet married John Inman, a widowed mechanic and labourer. They were together in Holbeck, near Leeds, in the 1891 census, but by the time the 1901 census was taken, Harriet had separated from Inman and was calling herself Harriet Butler again. She also claimed to be a widow, though Inman was still alive and living in the Holbeck Union workhouse.

The youngest son in Ben and Harriet's family, Walter Smith Bentley, seems to have been the most stable and unremarkable of the four sons (or at least he managed to keep his name out of the newspapers).  Walter was born in 1863, after Ben's release from prison. Like John Henry, he became a solicitor's clerk, but remained in that role for the rest of his life.

In 1887 he married Martha Gosnay at the Friends Meeting House in Dewsbury. They moved south, settling eventually in Stone in Staffordshire. After Martha's death in 1899 he married Ann Childs and they moved to Norfolk.  When he died in 1939 he was living near Shaftesbury in Dorset, not very far from Portland where his father had been in prison. It would be fascinating to know whether he was aware of his father's past connection with Dorset.

Image credits:
1. Leeds Corn Exchange © Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under
this Creative Commons Licence
2. Typesetting Image by Wilhei (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (], 
via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Harriet Smith

26 January 2017
Name:Harriet SMITH110
Father:James SMITH (    -    )
Mother:Martha NAYLOR (1793-    )
Individual Facts
Birth18 Jul 1817Armley, Yorkshire, England14,610
Baptism14 Sep 1817 (age 0)Bethel Independent OR Congregational, Leeds, York, England810
Residence1841 (about age 24)Bramley, Yorkshire, England6
Residence1851 (about age 34)Relation to Head of House: Wife  Occupation: shop keeper; Leeds, Yorkshire, England1
Residence1861 (about age 44)Relation to Head of House: Wife; Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England2
Residence1871 (about age 54)Relation to Head of House: Wife; Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England3
Death19 Dec 1876 (age 59)Earls Heaton, Dewsbury, Yorkshire West Riding4,7
Burial22 Dec 1876 (age 59)Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England4
Residence Leeds, West Yorkshire, England10
Residence Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England4
1. Ben BENTLEY (1819-1897)
Marriage21 Oct 1839 (age 22)Tong, Yorkshire, England5
Census (fam)1871 (about age 54)3
 William BENTLEY (1841-    )
 Martha Ann BENTLEY (1845-1861)
 John Harry BENTLEY (1847-    )
 Alfred Pearson BENTLEY (1849-1922)
Harriet BENTLEY (1851-    )
 Walter Smith BENTLEY (1864-1939)


1., 1851 England Census, Class: HO107; Piece: 2321; Folio: 787; Page: 19; GSU roll: 87549-87552.
        2., 1861 England Census, Class: RG 9; Piece: 3409; Folio: 114; Page: 42; GSU roll: 543127.
        3., 1871 England Census, Class: RG10; Piece: 4603; Folio: 8; Page: 10; GSU roll: 848395.
        4., West Yorkshire, Non-Conformist Records, 1646-1985, C786/2/B/2.
        5., West Yorkshire, England, Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935, West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; Old Reference Number: 50D90/1/3/6.
        6., 1841 England Census, Class: HO107; Piece: 1342; Book: 11; Civil Parish: Bramley; County: Yorkshire; Enumeration District: 15; Folio: 52; Page: 13; Line: 5; GSU roll: 464285.
        7. FreeBMD, England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915.
        8., England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970.
        9., England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975.
        10., West Yorkshire, Non-Conformist Records, 1646-1985.


More about Harriet Smith: