Charles Oldroyd Cleasby and his “unhappy Batley family”

Charles Oldroyd Cleasby was born in Kirkburton, West Yorkshire in 1857, he was the son of Robert Cleasby a weaver born in Westmorland, and Bathsheba/Bathia Oldroyd.

Charles caught my eye because I could see that he had had several brushes with the law. I was intrigued to find out more about him, were they youthful indiscretions? Was he dishonest? Did he mend his ways? How were his family affected? Was he perhaps deported?

In 1861 three year old Charles H Cleasby (two middle names maybe?) is living with his parents and brother and sister, father Robert is described as a stay weaver.

By 1871 Charles O (middle initial has changed) is in employment as a weaver, aged just 13, the family has expanded and he is the second eldest of seven siblings.

Six years later on June 23rd 1877 Charles aged 21 married Harriet Newsome aged 20 at the Parish Church in Dewsbury where both bride and groom reside. Charles is now employed as an Engine Firer, an upward move surely? Both Charles and Harriet sign with a cross.

This report shows the young Charles as something of a hero.

Within a year of marriage Charles Cleasby makes this statement in the local paper, you wonder what sort of debt young Harriet could have incurred or be about to incur.

Charles’ new family are living in Lawson Street, Dewsbury in 1881, Charles is now described as a mining engineer while Harriet is working as a woollen mill – feeder, quite how she did this is not apparent, as by now the couple have two year old James Henry and Richard who is under a year old.

“Charley” Cleasby and family are living in Ambler Street, Batley in 1891, he is now described simply a coal miner and Harriet does not have an occupation listed, however she does have six children to keep her busy; as Edgar, Beatrice, Robert and Charles have been added to the household. The children, apart from baby Charles are described as scholars, although how much schooling they received is open to question.

Life was not too good for the Cleasby children. Charles was in prison at least five times, mainly for cruelty to or neglect of children, or for drunkenness, which may have been the root of the problem.

On 22 September 1893 Charles was imprisoned for cruelty to five children and sentenced to three months hard labour, this is listed as his first offence.

The story made the local newspapers, Charles’ wife Harriet was also sentenced, it isn’t a pretty tale.

“The children were covered with filth and vermin and had for a long time been in a destitute and neglected state.

The children involved would be Richard, Edgar, Beatrice, Robert and Charles, presumably James Henry had left home by this stage. My sympathy is with Harriet, a large family and a drunken husband, she probably just couldn’t cope. Also maybe she was ill.

In 26 Nov 1897 Charles was imprisoned at Wakefield, he was sentenced to four months hard labour for cruelty to two children. This record keeper was particularly informative about prisoner’s appearances, we learn that Charles was 5 foot 8 and a half and COC (probably a tattoo of his initials) on his left forearm. Occupation is a pit sinker – a skilled occupation.

Harriet died in 1896 having given birth to three more children, Ethel Louisa who died around her first birthday, Bathsheba who was born and died in 1895 and Laura who died at just a few months old a month before her mother’s demise. Both Harriet’s and Bathsheba’s deaths were reported in the paper.

Charles wasted no time in remarrying, in January 1897 he tied the knot with a widow and mother of several children, she was named Sarah Conway (née Canon).

By 1900 Charles was in court again, this time for civil debt and being drunk.

In 1902 Charles was given seven days in prison for an offence against the Education Act, ie not sending his children to school; this was followed that same summer by a sentence of one month for neglect of family. I think the offence must have taken place in 1901 resulting in the children being rehomed/taken into care.*

Neglect was better than cruelty it would seem, as this is reflected in the shorter sentence, maybe he simply abandoned Sarah and the family. Charles occupation is now given as simply labourer, it looks like he lost his job in the mine.

Sarah does not seem to have been the ideal woman to set Charles on a straight and narrow course as she also had convictions for being drunk and contravening the Education Act. Her adult children were also before the courts for drunkenness and using obscene language.

I can’t find a census entry for Charles in 1901 but Sarah can be found living with two of her children from her first marriage.

*Charles surviving children are scattered by 1901. The older ones have left home and are looking after themselves, daughter Beatrice has been adopted by a John Levi and his wife and sons Robert and Charles Henry are at the Boys Industrial School in Bootham, presumably sent there by the court. The industrial school underwent some reforms at the end of the 19th century so hopefully Robert and Charles benefited from them after their unfortunate start in life. Robert died in WW1 but Charles Henry lived until 1973 and appears to have kept on the right side of the law.

In 1911 Sarah is still living with her son and daughter but Charles is a “patient” in Dewsbury Union Workhouse.

It is not my place to judge Charles and there is obviously so much more to his life than can be found through these documents. He seems to have some ambition in his early years as well as skill as he gained good work in the mines, but something went sadly wrong while he was still a relatively young man and he was unable to turn his life round.

I have found no further record of Charles apart from his death in 1919.

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Posted by on August 7, 2021 in Uncategorized


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It started with a mystery – Cleasby one name study

For many years of researching my family history and finding out who my ancestors were I was unaware of the name Cleasby featuring among my ancestors at all.

I had so many clues as to the identity of my Great Great Great Grandmother Sarah but I thought she was a Sarah Pickard which sent me on a wild goose chase, ordering Pickard wills and creating mini trees of Pickards in the right geographical area. I blog about this discovery and how I found my Cleasby connection in this post about Sarah Sellars, my Great Great Grandmother.

I felt that I wanted to study an aspect of family history in depth and a one name study appealed, I wanted a name that was manageable but not too obscure, Jackson, Green and Walker did not fit this bill. I also wanted a name I had a DNA connection to, so although I had never met anyone called Cleasby (yes I know it isn’t that unusual) that was the name I chose.

I haven’t found any particularly mysterious characters and the one black sheep Henry Cleasby turned white (good for him) but who knows what discoveries are round the corner?


Posted by on July 23, 2021 in Uncategorized


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James Jackson

My Great Grandfather James Jackson was born in Dudley in the West Midlands on 28th March 1872, he was the eldest child of his parents, in fact I am the only daughter of the eldest son of an eldest son of an eldest son (James).

James’ parents were John Jackson, a painter and glazier, and Hannah Elizabeth Griffiths. Although both parents were from the Midlands the family of three moved to Darlington when James was a baby or small child, they were certainly living in Darlington by 1874 when James’ sister Jane Selina was born.

By the 1881 census James has acquired siblings, John George (aged 3) and Clara (aged 1), James now aged 9 is attending school. The family are living at 4 Backhouse Street.

In the 1891 census 19 year old James can be found working as a general labourer and the family have moved again, now living in King Street, Darlington. Jane Selina is, sadly no longer with them having died in 1888 aged 13, but there are some new additions to the family, Olive aged 9, Albert E Jackson aged 2 and one month old “Baby” Jackson.

The baby was Reuben (who I understand was known as Pete), he was followed by Ethel born in 1895 so James was the eldest of eight.

James married Mary Hyslop Stevenson in Carlisle in 1895, I don’t know how they met but I understand that James worked as a hotel waiter for a while and moved around the country a bit. I am told that the couple were living in Chesterfield when they were expecting their eldest child Jane, (although she was actually born in Gretna Green where Mary’s father William Gibson Stevenson was a policeman).

James and Mary’s second child, my Grandfather William Andrew was born in 1897 in Gosforth, Newcastle.

By 1901 James was back in Darlington with Mary and three children, Jane (Ginny), William (Billy) and John (Jack), his occupation is now Railway Rail Planer. For years I thought he was a Railway planner, some sort of draftsman, but a close inspection of the original census showed there was only one N in the word. Always read the original document carefully!

Dictionary of Occupational Terms

planer ; planing machine worker sets-up work and operates reciprocating machine which cuts shavings from metal articles to bring them to desired shape; fixes gauges and tools in position making necessary adjustments; sometimes specifically designated, e.g., axle box planer, flat planer (carding engine), girder planer, machine knife planer, rail planer, switch and crossing planer.

James Jackson around 1914

In 1911 James, Mary and the six oldest children (Mary the youngest not born yet) are living at 35 Vulcan Street, Darlington, James is now a metal sawyer for a wagon building company.

By the 1939 electoral roll James is widowed and living alone at 115 Tennyson Gardens, he is described as a retired bond sawman.

James died in 1954, after my parents married and less than a decade before I was born, this surprised me as I often heard my Great Grandmother mentioned in family anecdotes but rarely him. I had presumed she had outlived him, but the reverse was true, he lived 14 years after her death.

So what else do I know about James? I know he liked a bet at the races, but that winnings were rare. He also had what was described as “a good hand” in that he had nice handwriting, a family trait apparently, although clearly not passed down the eldest son line, as my father would avoid writing anything by hand if humanly possible.

I have some samples of James’ handwriting and his father’s as they copied by hand a series of letters relating to an inheritance from which the family was apparently cheated. James also kept notes about a letter he wrote to the News of the World about a William Jackson whose descendants were being sought.

The letters were helpful in confirming some aspects of the family tree and in presenting a few new puzzles.

As to the fortune and the missing William Jackson, more post/s to follow.

A “fair round hand” I’d say.

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Posted by on July 11, 2021 in Uncategorized


Just saying(s)

A recent discussion started me thinking about all the sayings, words, phrases and even rhymes that I know because they were uttered by my ancestors, some I use myself, others I am simply aware of, but I feel the need to share them with my family or anyone interested in words and the people who spoke them.

Great Grandmother Mary

Half in jest and wholly in earnest – I never met my Scottish Great Grandmother, but whenever my father or his mother coined this phrase they always paid homage to her. I use it infrequently but often think it, as it is apt on many occasions.

You took the luck through the house – more of a superstition really but you were reprimanded with this phrase if you entered via the front door and exited through the back (and presumably vice versa), I’m sure it just caused a draught.

Great Grandmother Nellie

Well you’re the little brown hen who never laid astray – said to anyone who is being a bit smug or pointing out their own virtues usually in comparison to someone else. I like it because it tells a whole story in my imagination and sometimes puzzles people.

Grandmother Hannah

I love the funny sayings and words that she came up with, here are the few that spring readily to mind.

Full up for Doncaster – when you’d had enough to eat, not sure if she made this expression up, was it something they shouted on the train? However she would always say about herself when she had eaten enough, “I’ve had sufficient” which makes no sense when you think about it.

Bobby Dazzler – all dressed up/new and shiny.

Christmas box – not a present

Starved – meaning cold, not hungry

He was in his eyeholes – very excited about something, I confused my school teacher by putting this in a history topic about the Vikings, “the Vikings were at their eyeholes when they saw fancy armour” all the more confusing for the poor teacher as the Vikings called their windows eyeholes.

Tearing your soul case out – doing something physically exhausting that wrecks your body (the case for your soul) I do use this one, particularly in reference to moving large pieces of furniture.

Nowt so funny as folk – well there isn’t is there?

In and out like a dog at a fair – probably taking the luck from the house at the same time.

Black as ‘ummer – filthy dirty, my mother said it should be hummer another word for hell, but I can find no reference to this maybe someone can enlighten me. I also don’t know how it should be spelt.

It needs bottoming – a house that needed cleaning.

It needs a good fettle – an object that needed cleaning.

It’s two O’Clock and not a pot washed – we aren’t getting much done today

This won’t get the baby a new bonnet – I’d better get going

My father

It’s black over Bill’s mother’s – when there is an ominous cloud on the horizon, I use this occasionally, my husband has finally stopped asking “who is Bill?”

Better than a slap on the belly with a wet fish – well aren’t most things? I love this one and say it whenever I get the chance. I was surprised to hear it said on Neighbours!

My mother

Was fascinated by the expressions but more in telling me about them rather than using them, two that spring to mind are:

Gormyruckles – a bilious attack, do I need to explain bilious?

All hot and floury – in reference to a meal being served.

Grandmother Winnie

She was very amused by a family friend saying that someone “doesn’t go to church, but he goes to all the dog hangings”.

She loved words and sayings, I remember her version of “This little piggy went to market” had the line “This little piggy had sugar and bread” rather than roast beef, perhaps the vegetarian version.

She also recited this alternative version of Mary had a little lamb.

Mary had a little lamb

His fleece was black as soot

And into Mary’s bread and jam

His sooty foot he put.

Great Aunt Lena

It’s very dirty underfoot – good put down if anyone asked her “is it cold up there?” She was a tall woman.

That’s all that comes to mind for now, I’ll add more as they occur to me, I’d love to know if you use any of them too or have any idea about their origins.


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Aunty Clemmy

I’ll start with the words of my mother.

Clementine (Clemmie) was the third daughter and was very loving and close to Jane and her family. Clemmie married Caleb Butterfield – what a character!

Can’t describe Clemmie – only what Hannah my mother told me, she was very smart and with a nice figure. Mum said she wore high-neck blouses with a cameo brooch. Hannah adored her Auntie Clemmie and admired her, Nellie, Clemmie’s daughter was Hannah’s pal).

Clemmie died with some blood complaint only in her forties and left everyone heart broken. She left a husband, a son and daughter.

The son was Percy and was in the army. He was an organist and played at the church (Methodist). He married another Nellie but had no family. This Nellie certainly paid a visit to Clowne. 

She had a very turned up nose, her husband said “Nellie’s nose is like a walking stick!” (She was a very nice friendly person). Percy died quite young.

Nellie (Sarah Ellen) Butterfield – Clemmie’s daughter married Harry Green and had Stanley and Geoffrey.

My mother had no memory of her Great Aunt Clemmy though, but she would have heard a lot about her as she was much loved by the family. We do have some photographic evidence.

Clemmy centre with friends from the Methodist Church, what splendid hats!
Clemmy with husband Caleb, son Percy and daughter Sarah Ellen (Nelly)

I am amazed to have discovered that Clemmy was not baptised Clementine but Clemmy with a Y, although she appears to have spelt her name with an ie, but who are we to worry, at least she could write her name unlike her poor sister Harriet. This letter was found in the family bible, it is from Clemmy to her parents, she was in hospital in Leeds.


My Dear Mother and Father

just a line or two to let you know I am going on allright I have begun to eat a bit now they are giving me meat dinners I have had a bit of Rabbit 2 days and it tasted very nice I think I shall be another week

before I get home but I am not going to worry no more than I can help as I had got tired of being like I was for 4 or 5 years nobody but myself know how I have done and then it has been a struggle but I hope it is God will I shall be stronger after this. Caleb and our Ginnie have been today its very nice to see them. The doctor has been wanting me to go to the convalescent home to day but I don’t know what I shall do yet excuse writing but my arm aches so bad. Best love Good night and God Bless you from your loving daughter Clemmie xxxx xxxx

Not sure how the letter got delivered, as this is written on the envelope.

I’ve looked the poem up and it seems to be a little rhyme people put in autograph books, the words vary a bit from one place to another!

Think of me in the hour of leisure

Remember me in the hour of pleasure

If I’m forgot in the hour of care

Remember me in the hour of prayer

Clemmy died aged 40, the family were distraught, my Grandmother cried for two days.

Two Clemmy memories that have been passed down, Clemmy ran a shop, (this isn’t apparent in the censuses but in 1901 the family are living with Clemmy’s mother-in-law Hannah Butterfield who is described as a Grocer/Shopkeeper of her own account, I presume that is where Clemmy worked.

One day a customer commented on how clean the shop was and asked if Clemmy used anything special to clean it with.

Elbow grease, was the reply, you can get it at Idle’s” and the customer went off apparently in search of this amazing product. As a child I thought the Idle’s part was made up too, implying that the customer was too idle to use elbow grease, but apparently it was a shop in Featherstone or nearby – perhaps someone can enlighten me further? I feel quite sorry for the poor customer.

Another day a gypsy woman left a tablecloth behind in lieu of payment for the goods she has bought, with the promise that she would come back and pay and retrieve the cloth. The gypsy never returned, and the cloth was passed through the family (probably went to my Great Grandmother because she had the largest table) and I still use it on special occasions. It is beautiful, with pictures of teapots and cups and saucers depicted in the “lacy” edging. I think it is tatting.

The “gypsy never returned” cloth

As for documentary evidence about Clemmy, well according to the censuses she was born in Woolley, Yorkshire although in later censuses she describes it as Woolley Colliery. In the 1891 census she is a servant for the Iredale family in Huddersfield. The other censuses find her living with her parents or with her husband and family. In the 1911 census she has a servant named Mary Ann Davies, this seems to have been the way of things, going out and working in service while young and strong, but equally employing a servant if you could afford to.

I was told Clemmy died from pernicious anaemia which is a lack of vitamin B12 which would be curable today, I also heard that she haemorrhaged to death so I’m not sure what to believe, she does sound weak in her letter home, clearly putting a brave face on things, she died in 1917 leaving behind a very sad family.

Her branch of the family remained close to mine and she now has descendants in Italy and France, they too have run shops, hotels and small businesses with the same creative flair.


Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Uncategorized


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I never remember Seth being called Uncle Seth, so I will just refer to him by his name. He was in fact Seth Shaw Townend and the youngest child in a family of sisters, but would have had a male friend to play with in nephew Wilf who was just a year younger.

Here is my mother’s memory of an ancestor she never met:

Seth in uniform

Seth was the youngest child of the family, married Louisa; he was killed in the 1914-18 war. Louisa was very pretty and a good mother to Renie and (I think) two boys, one boy was called Sonny. A small party of them came to Clowne one day. (I remember Louisa and Renie). My mother and Nellie were fond of Renie – their cousin. They lived at Featherstone. I believe Renie and brothers had children – not sure!

Of course, she was right. I have been in touch with one of Seth’s grandsons and all three children had families, Seth has a collection of descendants.

Seth’s life was short, he was born in 1885 in Featherstone and died in April 1917 in Flanders, he had attained the rank of Sergeant in the Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire) Regiment 10th battalion, he was killed in action aged just 32.

Seth was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

In the 1891 census Seth is described as a scholar and is living with his parents Sam and Hannah, sister Jane, nephew Wilf and a couple of coal-miner lodgers, Amos Horne and Jos Haigh. By the next census his mother Hannah is widowed and the house holds Seth and Wilfred who are now both working as “Colliery pony driver – below ground”. Lodger Joseph Haigh is still living with the family.

It looks like Seth and Wilfred had a double wedding, they married Louisa Hill and Mary Ann Littlewood respectively, at the Parish Church Purston cum Jaglin on Christmas Day 1907.

The 1911 census finds Seth living with wife Louisa and one year old baby daughter Irene, his occupation is now a miner-hewer, boarding with them is Louisa’s brother George. If there was a spare room in a house it was filled with a lodger!

Seth appears on the 1913 electoral register, his name appears next to that of Wilfred.

Seth’s children, Renee, Sunny and Jim with their mother Louisa

Seth and Louisa had two further children:

George (known as Sonny) born in 1912.

James born 1914.

I have learnt from the family that Seth’s best friend was Dick Copeland and that they signed up together. Dick survived the war and went on to marry Louisa Seth’s widow.

Seth’s grave is at Departement du Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.

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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Uncategorized


Aunty Lizzie

Lizzie with a neighbour, Mum said that Lizzie’s neighbours were called Senior, I don’t know if this smiling lady is one of them

In Mollie’s words.

Auntie Lizzie was more of the 30s than her sister Harriet.

Dressed in “older person’s ” ’30s. Calf length dress, smart but comfortable. She had a nice house where we slept. There was always “comings and goings” between the sisters’ houses.

Auntie Lizzie, I now remember had a lodger – Sydney Nailor. He got married to a Ruth and the couple visited Clowne by car. Sydney was good looking and smart and popular.

How right she was, down to the spelling of Sydney if not Naylor.

I hope Sydney kept Lizzie good company during her final days. This electoral register for 1937 is probably out of date as Lizzie died in the January of that year. I can find no record of a Sydney Naylor marrying a Ruth, there is one married to a Rebecca, maybe that is them, or maybe Ruth was just a girlfriend.

So what else can be found about Lizzie?

Elizabeth Townend was born in October 1871 registration district Wakefield, according to the censuses in Crigglestone. Narrowly escaping the 1871 census she can be first found in 1881 with her parents and younger sister Clemmy, aged 9 she is a scholar.

In 1881 now 19, she is working as a domestic servant for a manufacturing chemist in Linthwaite, going into service like many of the females in her family.

In 1894 she married William Oldroyd, this was another surprise as we thought she was a Holroyd, a case of adding an H rather than dropping one., but William’s records are consistently Oldroyd. William is described as a navvy in 1901 but as a Blacksmith by the 1911 census, the couple had no children and William died in 1931.

Lizzie left just over £400 when she died, appointing sister Harriet as the administrator.

And now for Clemmy.

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Posted by on February 21, 2021 in Uncategorized


Aunty Harriet

I remember being told that Harriet was like someone from a different era to her younger sister Jane, my Great Grandmother, but there was an age gap of 17 years between them, so in a way they were.

I remember a shrivened old lady of the Victorian age, but living in the 30s in England, quite slim.

She spent no money on herself but bought her daughter a car (Ford 8) whose fiancé drove! (Jack Booth).

She and Clemmie ran a fruit and veg shop near where they lived and seemed to help finances and her husband Fred Spivey worked in carpets locally.

Harriet wore black full length (bombazine) high neck, beads stitched for decoration. Hair silver, centre parting, tight bun. Black kid boots (ankle) can’t remember her hands).

One felt that she was kind to all.

Illegitimate son – Wilf brought up like a brother to younger sisters.

Despite this age gap, Harriet’s daughter Clemmie was eight years younger than my Grandmother, born when Harriet was 45. I’m not too sure about the “kind to all”, she was a tough mother to Clemmie and threatened to lock her in the cellar when she misbehaved, whether she would actually have done this I have no idea. She also pestered Clemmie about wearing her bonnet to the extent that sister Jane would jump in and defend her niece. This element to the story was told to be not by my mother but by my Grandmother Hannah, usually when I climbed into bed with her early in the morning before my parents woke up.

I also understood that when her mother died Harriet objected to her son Wilf benefiting from her estate, from what I remember from listening in on grandmother Hannah and her cousin Nellie’s conversations, the solicitor sorted everything out so that everyone got their due.

Robert Fred Spivey, “Uncle Fred” did indeed work in carpets but weaving them, not fitting them as I had naively imagined. Uncle Fred still visited the family after Harriet’s death, taking Grandfather James Walker out for a drink with another widower brother in law Caleb Butterfield.

Harriet was born in November 1865, two months after her parents Hannah Shaw and Samuel Townend’s marriage (not sure what to make of this). She was baptised at Scissett, St Augustine’s in July the following year. She next appears on the 1871 census aged 5 and living in Crigglestone, she is living with her parents, described as a scholar, her birthplace is given as Cumberworth.

By the 1881 census Harriet has left home and is in service in Pontefract working for a young grocer John White and his family.

In 1886 Harriet gave birth to a son, he was brought up by his grandparents fitting in neatly at one year younger than their youngest child. It seems clear that she had no more to do with him than as an Aunt and seemingly a distant one. Her reluctance for her son to receive his rightful inheritance implies she resented him in some way, we can only speculate on the reason for this.

By the 1891 census Harriet was back in service, again working for a grocer but a much older one (aged 60), maybe she was learning the trade because by the 1901 census her life has taken a surprising turn that my branch of the family knew nothing of. It was thanks to another family researcher that this discovery was made.

In 1895 Harriet had married a Herbert Gomersal, a fishmonger. Not only was I surprised by this marriage I was also shocked by Harriet’s lack of signature on the marriage document. Could she really not write her name? What did she learn as a scholar aged 5?

Herbert Gomersal died around October 1900, he would have been 30, so Harriet was widowed after just five years of marriage and aged just 34. The following year in the 1901 census Harriet can be found living with her mother-in-law Emma Gomersal. The interesting part is Harriet’s occupation, she is a fish and fruit dealer, maybe taking over her husband’s business and adding some skills she picked up working for the grocer? Clearly she could do addition and subtraction even if writing evaded her.

Harriet didn’t hang around, Herbert Gomersal died around October 1900 and Harriet married Fred Spivey in the October quarter of 1902, he was eight years her junior.

Daughter Clemmie (not Clementine) was born to the couple in 1907 when Harriet was 41. Harriet died in 1938 just short of being recorded on the 1939 census and narrowly missing WWII.

Sadly I don’t have a photograph of Harriet.

Mollie would go with my aunt, her sister Joan, for a “holiday” in Featherstone, Clemmie gave them a lovely time, taking them to Leeds to the big store Schofields where they would go up the escalator and down the lifts and have tea and cakes while watching the mannequins parade in the latest fashions.

Mollie would be kitted out in her best clothes if not the latest fashions for these trips to Yorkshire. The local children would shout after her, “swanky cat, swanky cat”, she remembered that some of the children were playing barefoot, something she never encountered in Clowne, the mining town in Derbyshire where she grew up.

Mollie would stay at Harriet’s house and would share a bed with Clemmie. The house was one up, one down (large rooms apparently) and Clemmie slept in an alcove off the main room downstairs and Mollie would sleep in the same room as Harriet and Fred with just a curtain to separate them. They had a lovely time with Clemmie and were extremely well fed. There wasn’t room for sister Joan at Harriet’s house, so she would stay up the road with Aunty Lizzie… This is a postcard sent from Aunty Lizzie’s house to Mollie’s friend Jeanne, apparently they visited Golden Acre Park as well.

Jeanne’s son gave us the card back after she died, she had kept it for around 80 years.

More about Aunty Lizzie to follow.

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Posted by on February 21, 2021 in Uncategorized


The Townend siblings

Many people regret not talking to their parents or grandparents about their family history. I can honestly say that I have always been interested in family stories but many of them were living on in my own head and needed putting down on “paper” so I asked my mother, Mollie, to write down her memories of her relations, particularly the ones who died before I was born.

Inevitably her jottings weren’t quite what I expected, but in a way that’s a good thing too, in some ways I think her perspective changed over the years, also she clearly didn’t understand that I could find out dates etc. quite easily and just wanted the soft part of their stories.

This is what she had to say about her Grandmother’s siblings and niblings! I’ll add my own comments and things I’ve found through research.

Aunty Harriet

Aunty Lizzie

Aunty Clemmy

Great Grandma Jane


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Posted by on February 20, 2021 in Uncategorized


Anthony Eaton – spurious gentleman

I first found out about Anthony Eaton’s existence when I broke the brick wall presented by my GGG Grandmother Jemima Eaton. I had posted on Rootschat about trying to find her parents and sometime later got this response from (as it turned out) a fourth cousin.

My GGG Grandfather is Anthony Eaton who married Ann Capewell in 1816. Anthony’s siblings were Harriot, Jemima, Daniel and John Podmore Eaton. Their mother was Elizabeth who was born a Halden, to William & Mary (nee Sargent)* in 1774 in Milwich. She married my GGGG Grandfather (also called Anthony) in Brent Pelham in 1790. After they married they moved back to Shoreditch and then onto Bonsall in Derbyshire where the children were all born. Anthony senior died in 1802 (he’s buried with his parents in Darley churchyard). Elizabeth moved back to Milwich after his death and married sometime after Roger [Richard] Halden, a cousin. Jemima then married Edward Halden, a cousin of hers and her mother’s! Jemima and Daniel (who was a butcher and moved to Longton) were witnesses to Anthony junior and Ann Capewell’s wedding, and enabled me to make the link to Derbyshire.

* Elizabeth Halden married to Anthony Eaton was actually the daughter of Elizabeth Podmore and John Halden, I discovered this through the will of John Podmore, brother to the above Elizabeth who explains the relationship between Elizabeth Halden and her parents. Also explains the naming of John Podmore Eaton.

I then started to try and find out more about Anthony Eaton and soon came across Ince’s pedigrees. Number 13 on the diagram below is Anthony Eaton, 14, is his first wife Ann Noble, 15, is his second wife Elizabeth Halden (although she isn’t named, maybe the original document is illegible).

These are the details given about Anthony and his wives.

So according to the pedigrees (which though old may not necessarily be correct) Anthony was a Gentleman and a Yeoman of the Guard, as was his first father in law. He is from the Study House Bonsall and died aged 56 years and is buried at Darley in 1812.

A baptism can be found in 1745 in Stoney Middleton for Anthony Eaton son of John Eaton and Ann, however this is a little strange as all his siblings were baptized at Darley. I have since heard that he was in fact baptized at both Stoney Middleton and Darley on the same day, it was suggested that Anthony’s father John was chief barmaster for the Duke of Devonshire and may have been trying to impress him.

This document (or transcription of) shows that Anthony Eaton was a Yeoman of the Guard for the English Royal household, and may have attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, or Lance Corporal (the record refers to LC). It would explain why he thought he could term himself a Gentleman. The record (which is an index of officers), and seems to refer to a pension he received between 15 October 1771 to 5th January 1802, the time of his death.

Records do show his first marriage to Ann Noble in 1768 at St George, Hanover Square, London, they married by licence and were both single, no profession is given. Their witnesses were the alliteratively named Mary Mutch and Mary Masters, I wonder who they were.

Their children were:

Elizabeth Eaton born 1769, baptised at St George, Hanover Square.

John Eaton born 1771 he died the same year, baptised at St George, Hanover Square.

Ann Eaton 1774 baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, this record gives a parents’ address as New Road.

Mary Eaton 1776 baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, gives parents’ address as New Road.

Catherine Eaton 1779 baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, gives parents’ address as New Road.

James Noble Eaton 1783 baptised at St Luke’s Finsbury, no address but Anthony is described as a victualler. Sadly James Noble Eaton died in 1785 he was buried back at St Leonard’s Shoreditch.

George James Eaton 1785 baptised at St Leonard’s Shoreditch, gives parents’ address as “the road side”, this transpires not to be a sign that the family had become homeless or travellers but is their actual address, as shown on this land tax record for St Leonard Shoreditch 1780.

It does seem that Anthony Eaton ran into some difficult times as revealed by a couple of articles in the London Gazette. In one from 1787 he is described as a stone mason, another career change, quite when or how he acquired this skill I have yet to discover. It is definitely him as it cites the will of his father-in-law James Noble.

James Noble died in 1786 leaving money in his will for Anthony Eaton to pay off his (Anthony Eaton’s) debts.

Anthony Eaton and James Noble’s names appear again in the Gazette in 1791 by this year he had reverted or risen to being described as a Gentleman. It seems that James Noble owed money as well.

James Noble’s actual will makes much mention of Anthony Eaton, there is this telling paragraph, transcribed as best as I can.

I Give and bequeath to John Mackell of Park Lane in the Parish of Saint George Hanover Square ?? ? of Chelsea in the County of Middlesex Gentleman and my daughter Ann Eaton the Wife of Anthony Eaton or to the survivors or survivor of them upon trust in the first place to pay off and discharge all the debts that shall be justly due and owing by my said son in law Anthony Eaton to any person or persons ?? [whobocoil] at the time of my decease

Will of James Noble 1876 – PROB 11: Will Registers
Piece 1141: Norfolk, Quire Numbers 209-261 (1786)

In short it seems that in his will James Noble was trying to ensure that his son-in-law’s debts were paid off and that his daughter and her children were provided for.

There is an enormous document at the National Archives, where, from what I can make out, the beneficiaries of James Noble’s will, including Anthony Eaton and his children by Ann Eaton and their spouses have some sort of dispute with a James Bolger.

The document was so large that I felt my time could be better spent on other research, but it does leave a question as to what Anthony Eaton’s financial position actually was and perhaps shows that he was close to his children as they bonded together over this dispute.

Description:[W1800 B11].Short title: Bolger v Wilson.Document type: bill and five answers.Plaintiffs: James Bolger and wife.Defendant: John Mackell, John Ford, George Wilson and wife, Adam Wolley and ann Wolley his wife, Mary Eaton, Catherine Eaton, George Eaton, James Eaton and Anthony Eaton.XP
Note:Suit titles taken from OBS 1/653; data on parties taken from IND 1/4156 fo 53
The enormous document – one day maybe…

Ann (Noble) Eaton, Anthony’s wife died in London in 1790, she is buried at St George Hanover Square, maybe with her father James.

It isn’t long before we hear of Anthony Eaton again, this time it is his second marriage to my 4 x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Halden. The marriage took place at Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire where Elizabeth’s parents lived. He is described as Anthony Eaton, Gentleman. I have no idea how their paths would have crossed. The Halden family also had connections with Milwich in Staffordshire while the Eatons were from an adjoining county, Derbyshire, maybe the connection is there somewhere. Anthony would have been looking for a mother for his children, George James was only five when his mother died.

Brent Pelham Church – from Genealogy in Herefordshire

He didn’t waste any time, first wife Ann Noble was buried 22nd November 1790, the marriage to Elizabeth Halden took place on 3rd March 1791. The birth of Anthony and Elizabeth’s first child Harriet took place a respectable 12 months later. You may raise an eyebrow at their age differences, Elizabeth was born around 1774 (according to the 1841 census) so could be only 17 at the time of the marriage, whereas Anthony was baptised in 1745 so was about 30 years older than Elizabeth.

The marriage document shows us little new other than that Anthony was still residing in Shoreditch and that Elizabeth couldn’t write her name, dispelling my theory that maybe she had been governess to Anthony’s first family.

Anthony lived another 12 years, dying in 1802 (not 1812 as the Ince pedigree transcription implies). He kept himself (or Elizabeth) busy!

As stated Harriet was baptised in 1792, followed by my direct ancestor Jemima in around 1793, Anthony in 1795, Daniel in 1796 and John Podmore in 1798. Sadly John Podmore died the same year as his birth but the other children all survived and had offspring, several of whom I have been in contact with.

It is a bit of a mystery as to where Anthony Eaton lived in Derbyshire during these last years of his life. Records of the marriage of his daughter Ann record him as being “of Bonsall”.

This record of the marriage of his granddaughter Ann Wolley to Charles Clarke, magistrate, describes him as of The Study, Bonsall aligning with the Ince’s pedigree mentioned earlier.

However, the Study House, Bonsall was a large house apparently owned by the Flint family.

Thanks to Stuart Flint for explaining this on the Wirksworth Parish Records website.

It seems unlikely that Anthony Eaton owned the property, maybe he just lived in that general area. But this document may explain Anthony Eaton’s connection with The Study, it seems he was renting land or property from Henry Flint. It is a land tax redemption record for Bonsall properties in 1798. Note that Henry Flint and two other men (and their families?) are residing at the property.

Marriage details of daughter Harriott describe Anthony Eaton as “Anthony Eaton, Esq., of Snitterton Hall, yet another prestigious sounding address.

I have been told that John Eaton Anthony’s father baptised 1702 – buried 1777 was from Bonsall but was taken under the wing of a benefactor who lived at Snitterton Hall, and so moved there.

It’s unlikely that Anthony Eaton owned the hall, but given the above information maybe he rented a property there and farmed some of the land. The following extract from The History of Chesterfield by George Hall implies this could be true:

By 1794 this newspaper article shows him to be involved in community matters as a member of the Association of the inhabitants of the parishes of Ashover, Bonsall, Darley and Matlock, for the prosecution of FELONS, etc.

Other names included in this association and listed below are the aforementioned Henry Flint, Edmund Eaton (probably Anthony’s brother) George Wolley and Adam Wolleys senior and junior, Adam Wolley junior would have been Anthony Eaton’s son-in-law for about a year at this stage.

I’m not sure how well Anthony Eaton’s involvement in local affairs and was received. I am told by another descendant that the minutes of the Bonsall Parish Council describe him as a “spurious gentleman”.

Gentleman, genuine or not Anthony Eaton moved among some of the important families in the area and whether by accident or design, several of his daughters “married well” and his son George James Noble took articles with Adam Noble junior, son-in-law to Anthony and brother-in-law to James. This was arranged just six months before Anthony’s death, maybe ensuring his son would be taken under Wolley’s wing. George James did become a solicitor but not a particularly successful one, declaring himself our of business in 1835.

A year later Anthony Eaton wrote his will and also died. It is a fairly straight forward will compared to others that he is mentioned in. He appoints son-in-law Adam Wolley and brother Edmund Eaton as executors and leaves his “personal estate and effects” to his “dear Wife Elizabeth Eaton and the Children I now have by her or hereafter may have by her”. Maybe by this stage he thought that his children by Ann Noble could take care of themselves.

So what became of his children that survived to adulthood?

From his marriage to Ann Noble.

Eldest daughter, Elizabeth, married George Wilson they had at least two children and many of their descendants were in the spectacle making industry. I was pretty sure that George Wilson was a jeweller but I can find no record of that now.

Next daughter, Ann Eaton, married the aforesaid Adam Wolley junior, attorney at law, genealogist and keeper of the Wolley manuscripts; they had two daughters Mary and Ann, Mary married Reverend John Francis Thomas Hurt a descendant of Richard Arkwright who changed his surname to Wolley to prevent the name dying out. Descendants included a schoolmaster at Eton, a bacteriologist, and an ornithologist. Ann married Charles Clarke, magistrate, the couple had no children but if the censuses are anything to go by, entertained many relatives and employed a range of servants.

Daughter Mary remained single.

Daughter Catherine married the Reverend George Sanders, Rector of Wollaton, they had five children and some impressive descendants including a surgeon and a lunacy commissioner.

Son George James became a solicitor, he may have married the Widow Flint (according to the Ince pedigree) but the British Newspaper Archive also shows him as Step Grandfather to an Eliza Faulder who married in Sydney, Australia in the 1860s, so was the widow Faulder in fact widow Flint?

His son went on to be a fairly successful fishing tackle manufacturers in the Derbyshire area, but had a couple of brushes with the law.

Then from Anthony Eaton’s second marriage to Elizabeth Halden

Daughter, Harriott, married John Thompson a wood engraver who designed the figure of Britannia printed on British bank notes. Their daughters and one son were also engravers, one son was a well known photographer, another was director at South Kensington Museum, daughter Isabel Agnes Cowper took over as photographer at the museum after the death of her brother Charles Thurston Thompson. Isabel has her own Instagram account! @isabelagnescowper

Photograph by Isabel Agnes Cowper, ‘Hatfield House’, albumen print, 1868 from a collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum

The youngest three surviving children moved to Staffordshire probably with their mother Elizabeth who after Anthony’s death married her double cousin Richard Halden, a butcher in Milwich.

Then came Jemima Eaton my 3 x Great Grandmother, she married her mother’s double cousin Edward Halden (and stepuncle) and lived in Milwich, Staffordshire but the family moved to the USA and she ended her days in Chicago.

Anthony Eaton’s sons seemed to lead much simpler lives than their sisters (except maybe Jemima), no articled clerkships or wealthy spouses for them.

Anthony Eaton married Ann Capewell, he moved like his sister Jemima to Milwich in Staffordshire, he had a large family and was an Agricultural Labourer.

Lastly son Daniel also moved to Staffordshire, to Longton where he had several children and worked as a butcher (maybe trained by his stepfather).

Anthony Eaton’s life leaves many unanswered questions:

What was his profession? Yeoman of the guard, licensed victualler, stone mason, farmer or simply gentleman or maybe all of them?

Was he a good businessman or constantly in debt?

Was he a genuine gentleman or a spurious one? Was he a bit of a Del boy or a self made man or could he truly claim to be “to the manor born”?

How did he meet Elizabeth Halden?

Where did he really live?

But when you think that he died in 1802 I am really lucky to have so much information about this ancestor and his many fascinating descendants.

If you think I have got anything wrong or have any more that you can add, please let me know, I’m sure there is more information out there, it is just a matter of tracking it down.

Special thanks to Jeremy Evans for his research on the Eaton family and to Chris Eaton for further insights into Anthony Eaton and his Derbyshire connections.

Another interesting addition from Chris Eaton.

“I’ve also recently had a suggestion from someone that Anthony was the illegitimate son of a marauding Scotsman that came down with the Young Pretender (our YDNA is of Gaelic origin, i.e. Scots-Irish, which begs the question how we ended up in the Peak) but I’ve dispelled that as the baptisms were one year before Charlie got to our part of Derbyshire.”


Posted by on October 24, 2020 in Uncategorized