Having researched my own family – STREET, ASH, and HAWLEY in Derbyshire, ASHFORTH in Blackpool, and all the other in-between names – and my husband’s family – KELLAND in Dartmouth, Devon, CROSSLEY in Lancashire, and HOLESGROVE in Chelsea, London, etc. – I haven’t come across any illegitimate children! Some children were born quite soon after the parent’s marriage, but none openly as children of single women.
Today of course this is not something we consider ‘abnormal’, but in the past it was something to be ashamed of. In upper class families it was easy to send the young mother-to-be ‘away’, away from her friends and gossiping neighbours. In the poorer families, it just happened and it was either accepted or covered up with some story of it being a relative’s child.
Great great uncle ALBERT STREET’s wife was SARAH JANE HITCHCOCK. Her father brought her up together with his mother and father-in-law when his wife died within a couple of years of Sarah Jane’s birth. Her father THOMAS HITCHCOCK, maybe had a little more help and tolerance having seen his sister HANNAH HITCHCOCK, bring up three children as an unwed mother!
HANNAH was born in 1821 in Derbyshire. The 1851 census lists her parents, JAMES and MARY with their son SAMUEL, unmarried, son THOMAS, unmarried, daughter HANNAH unmarried, but three grandsons, JOHN, AMOS and SILAS HITCHCOCK. It was only when a fellow genealogist sent me the All Saints Ockbrook list of baptisms that the relationships came to light.
JOHN, AMOS and SILAS (not many kids with those names so easy to trace!) were HANNAH’s children and the baptism records note that she was a “Single Woman”. Where the father’s name is usually written, the name “WILLIAM TWIGG” was apparently crossed out! (The TWIGG family still a big name in Steel work in Matlock Derbyshire!)
One can imagine a one-off ‘mistake’, but Hannah had three children as a “Single Woman” with WILLIAM TWIGG noted – and crossed out on the baptism record – as the father! All three were baptised on 21 September 1849, but from the 1851 census record JOHN was born in 1842, AMOS in 1844 and SILAS in 1846.
So who was WILLIAM TWIGG? Why did he not marry HANNAH HITCHCOCK? Was he already married!? Was he her boss at the Cotton Mill she worked at, and she felt ‘obliged’ to do what he wanted to keep her job? Or were they both simply rebels?! Quite the thing stories are made from!
In 1861, HANNAH was still with her parents and JOHN and AMOS, both boys now working. JOHN, 19 years, was an agricultural labourer and AMOS, 16 years, an operative in the cotton mill, probably the same one as his mother. SILAS was living in Shardlow and a cow boy, age 15.
The British Newspaper Archives can keep me occupied for hours, so with names like SILAS and AMOS I was sure I’d find something in the Derbyshire papers. Sure enough, there was Amos – proving the need for the much disparaged UK Heath & Safety laws!!
Derby Mercury 18th February 1863.
On Wednesday last, Mr WHISTON held an inquest on the body of AMOS HITCHCOCK, labourer, Ockbrook, who met with his death under very distressing circumstances. The deceased was employed at the mill of Messrs. TOWLE, of Borrowash, and on Tuesday was engaged with others in repairing the water wheel, which was out of gear. The water having previously been stopped by planks, the deceased was in the drum or interior part of the wheel, when the wheel began suddenly to revolve. It was soon discovered that the water was falling upon the wheel. Mr BILLINGS, the manager, was on the spot, and heard the unfortunate man cry out, “Oh, dear!” The wheel was at once stopped, and deceased extricated in an insensible state. He had received a deep flesh wound on the forehead, and a bruise on the temple, and though he rallied for a few hours, notwithstanding medical aid, death put an end to his sufferings. He was 19 years of age, and bore an excellent character for steadiness and sobriety. The jury returned a verdict of “Accidental death.” They were, however, of opinion that the planks were not sufficiently safe, and desired the coroner to recommend a permanent paddle for the prevention of similar occurrences. The coroner stated these facts to the manager, who said he had no doubt the recommendation would be complied with.
Poor young man. “Oh, dear!” ? Quite the English understatement!
The story didn’t end there! In 1864 HANNAH HITCHCOCK age 43 got married! She married BENJAMIN COOK a 49 year old widower also from Ockbrook. (It seems he got a 14day jail sentence for stealing a shirt & shift in 1855!)
HANNAH COOK died in 1881 and BENJAMIN COOK died in 1888.
But the real story of HANNAH HITCHCOCK will probably never be heard!
A little while ago I discovered that Great Grandfather JOSHUA STREET had had two wives! I ordered the death certificate for CATHERINE MARY STREET, and on the 2nd September 1876, Catherine Mary Street, age 22years, wife of Joshua Street, Coal Agent, died of Phthisis. Joshua Street was the widower present at the death in Borrowash, which was registered on the same date by J.C. Cade the Registrar.
Ancestry.co.uk's BMD shows a marriage between Joshua Street and Catherine Mary Nadin in the third quarter of 1874. In the 1871 Census, Joshua was unmarried, 19yrs old and boarding with Emma Bebbington out in Bunbury far west of Borrowash near Chester. In the 1881 Census Joshua was married to Agnes Elizabeth nee Hail and already had two children! So what happened to Catherine?
In the 1871 Census Catherine Mary was 16 years old and a "teacher of music" living with her parents John & Mary and younger brother John in Wilmot Street, Derby.
In December 1874 Joshua married CATHERINE MARY NADIN. In December 1875 their son JOHN JOSHUA STREET was born. However, on 2nd September 1876 Catherine died and in the first quarter of 1877, baby John Joshua also died.
Joshua, a widower at age 25 and having lost a baby son, then married AGNES ELIZABETH HAIL on 19th April 1877 at 'The Parish Church' in the Parish of Derby, St Peter. They had 10 children before Joshua died at the age of 58 and Agnes at the age of 76.
Catherine Mary and her baby son John Joshua both lived and died between two census periods. Her marriage to Joshua isn't part of the census records and her son carrying his father's name, maybe didn't see his first birthday.
The STREET family originate in Derbyshire in the midlands of England.
ALBERT PERCY STREET was born on 27th July 1886 in Baslow, Derbyshire, and was the 6th of ten children born to JOSHUA & AGNES ELIZABETH (nee HAIL). He had five brothers, four older than him and four sisters. When ALBERT PERCY was born, Joshua was a police constable, but later became the publican at the Cliff Inn in Crich.
Albert PERCY preferred to use his second name, and this tradition seemed to have been passed on to his children! Nelly MAY; Albert DOUGLAS and Margaret ELVINA (Elvie)! When ALBERT PERCY joined the WW1 war effort, he had been married for four years and Nelly May was 2 years old.
He married MARGARET DAISY ASHFORTH on Sunday 2nd June 1912 at a Methodist Church in Blackpool, which was Margaret's home town. It's possible that Albert Percy met her in a similar way to her sister Olive's future husband. A long lost cousin in Canada shared the story of his father who together with some pals went down to Blackpool, a popular sea-side resort on the west coast of England. The Ashforth's ran a boarding house (most of the houses were run as boarding houses during the summer) and Alexander Graham was trying to spend time with Gertrude Olive, Margaret's sister. Unfortunately he arrived in the middle of the busy season and ended up in the kitchen 'helping', but not seeing much of his beloved!
ALBERT PERCY's WW1 records show that he joined up with the 1st Garrison Batallion Yorkshire Regiment - also known as the Green Howards - on 6th June 1916 and was sent off to fight in India. It was over 3 years when he returned to Margaret Daisy and Nelly May. With ALBERT DOUGLAS born in May 1920, it seems safe to say he was a 'glad to be home' baby!!
Different military papers record ALBERT PERCY with different civilian occupations before he signed up but probably all in the same industry: 'Slag loader'; 'Carter'; 'Horse Driver'. His daughter-in-law remembers him as a 'lead smelter'.
ALBERT PERCY died on 6th August 1959 in Dudley, near Birmingham, England at the age of 73, and MARGARET DAISY died almost two years later on 25th March 1961 at 74 years old.
Family historians and researches have probably all come across one or more ancestors who have died leaving a young family without a father - who brought in the weekly wage, or a mother who cooked, washed and cared for them. It was almost a part of life in days past as many diseases were untreatable and this was accepted.
Perhaps we've had an ancestor who has had to bring up three children under the age of seven on his or her own. They were Mr or Mrs Average, whose every day activities were not part of the national press or even the local 'rag'. They didn't keep journals or diaries, or if they did, these have long since disappeared, been destroyed or maybe lying in a dusty rusty box in an inaccesible attic. Perhaps some diaries have been found, but are illegible or considered 'uninteresting'.
FREDERICK ASHFORTH was the sixth or seventh child of GEORGE & LYDIA, and the twin of CHARLES, born in the 1st quarter of 1856 in Sale, Cheshire, England. Frederick & Charles would be my great, great uncles - they were the children of my great great grandfather on my father's maternal side!
Frederick did the usual school 'time' and at 15 years old was an errand boy. Their older brother George (older by eight years) was a butcher, so it's highly probably that Frederick and Charles were the ones delivering orders to customers and generally doing the running around in a family business. With one sister a school mistress and the other a teacher (whatever the difference is!) and one of the family's lodgers also a school master, Frederick probably had a fairly good education up to the age of 14!
In the 1871 Census, Lydia and her children were living in Talbot Road, Blackpool, one and a half miles from Blackpool's now famous beaches. She is a Lodging House Keeper - along with many others in that area. I gave up counting the number of Lodging House Keepers or Boarding House Keepers on that road on the census, there were so many, with a grocer or baker conveniently sandwiched between them.
Hundreds of years passed by and Blackpool was a small hamlet by the sea, hard to imagine nowadays. It was during the 18th century that the upper classes thought it was fashionable to travel to the seaside for the summer holidays. People came to Blackpool from the middle of the 18th century to enjoy free time and the see air, but Blackpool still remained a very small place until expansion started in 1781. It was then that two men - Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton, laid a private road to Blackpool. This brought people to Blackpool a lot faster and easier and in this year stage-coaches began running to Blackpool from Manchester and in 1782 they started to come from Halifax. (The Residence Hotel Blackpool : www.theresidence.co.uk/blackpoolhotels)
With the many visitors obviously visiting this part of the country, errands were often run for guests, delivering letters, buying newspapers, etc. I wonder if Frederick came across any famous names of the day?! Did he ask for their autograph?
Ten years later, on the 1881 census, Mum Lydia was still a Lodging House Keeper, but she had moved a little south down the coast, and Frederick was a stationer and still single at 25 years old. In June 1890, when he was already 34 years old he married EMILY ANN HOLROYD a dressmaker and 27 years old. They were married at Holy Trinity church, South Shore, Blackpool and settled in Trafalgar Road, less than half a mile from Frederick's parental home.
Within the obligatory nine months, CLIFFORD was born and two years later in June 1893, NORAH arrived. However, here's where the story takes a sad turn. When little Norah was just a year old (the records show she was born in June 1893), Emily died, in June 1894, leaving Frederick with a one year old little girl and a three year old little boy. Frederick's mother had died in 1885, so never saw her grandchildren, but Caroline, Frederick's sister lived close by in Trafalgar Road and may have helped Frederick with the little ones.
It couldn't have been easy and towards the end of 1896 Frederick remarried. GERTRUDE BRAILSFORD was about the same age as him and by the 1901 census they had moved to Sheffield with Clifford, Norah and Gertrude and Frederick's son EDGAR.
Google maps today shows Titterston Street, north east of Sheffield city, with fairly new build semi's and factories. Gertrude and Frederick lived at No. 54 Titterton Street, Attercliffe, Cum Darnal, Sheffield and Frederick worked as a clerk on the railways.
Frederick died in 1911 at the age of 55. It's probable that he also didn't see his grandchildren and maybe not even his children's weddings.