Monthly Archives: February 2014

52 Ancestors – Titus Townend

I know little about Titus Townend but he was my Great great great great great grandfather born in Emley Yorkshire in 1749 and died in 1826, he was a weaver like many of his descendants. He was married to Mary Ambler and had at least eight children, one of whom was my ancestor Dinah Townend (an unmarried mother).

This description is twenty years before Titus was born but I expect things hadn’t changed much in that time.

Daniel Defoe describing a visit to the West Riding in
“A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain” (1724):
“This business is the clothing trade, for the convenience of which the houses are thus
scattered and spread upon the sides of the hills……hardly a house standing out of a
speaking distance from another……..and we could see that at almost every house
there was a tenter, and on almost every tenter a piece of cloth…… Wherever we
passed any house we found a little rill or gutter of running water….running into and
through their work houses. Then, as every clothier must keep a horse, perhaps two, to
fetch and carry for the use of his manufacture… every manufacturer generally
keeps a cow or two or more for his family and this employs the two, three or four
pieces of enclosed land about his house……..the women and children…are always
busy, carding, spinning etc, so that no hands being unemployed, all can gain their
bread…… we presently saw a house full of lusty fellows, some at the dye vat, some
dressing the cloths, some in the loom… all hard at work and full employed upon the

Yorkshire weaver

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , ,

52 ancestors Sarah Sellars-Airey

Sarah Sellars was my Great Great Grandmother, I am not going to describe her in my own words, but in those of her Granddaughter Winifred Airey, my Grandma. She took the sampler that Sarah sewed, aged nine years old, to a women’s meeting and did a little talk about her, this is what she said.IMG_20140212_182449.

This sampler was worked by my Grandmother Sarah Sellars aged 9 in 1838. She was the only child of her father who was a schoolmaster in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire. Her mother died when giving birth to her.

After her father died she went to relatives in Manchester for a short time and then went to keep house for an uncle, who was a shepherd on the moors between Swaledale and Wensleydale. There she met and married William Airey a builder of Preston -under-Scar, Yorkshire.

Sarah had 13 children, of whom her three eldest and two youngest lived to grow up; one being my father, some died of scarlet fever which was a killer in those days.

William and Sarah and several children went to live in Darlington, County Durham, where scarlet fever took the other children. Two more were born to her, my father and my youngest aunt. She had a good share of illness and grief, but I believe she was always cheerful and bright.

She was only 4ft 10 inches tall, but was described by contemporaries as a jolly pretty little woman. She died at 60 having become a widow a little previously.

Winifred W Jackson

IMG_20140212_182503And this is me,

Sarah’s parents were Sarah Pickard and Joseph Sellars, Joseph was a schoolmaster but Sarah signed her name with a mark on the marriage certificate.

Sarah can be found three years after the sampler was completed, orphaned and living with an Anthony Grange, his wife Hannah and Hannah’s father George Wilkinson aged 82,  I have not discovered any relationship between them and Sarah it is a mystery as to why she is there.

By 1851 she is married to William Airey and the censuses fit in with my grandmother’s notes. In 1871 an Isobel McMain is visiting them, she was born in Preston-under-Scar but again does not appear to be any sort of relation to Sarah or William. In 1881 Sarah is living with four children (son Joseph is away working in Leeds). By 1891 she is widowed and again living with four children, but  this time it is son John who is missing (he would be married by this stage).

Sarah died later that year, an executor in her will is  John William Keelip, wood carver. I cannot work out what connection he is, but he may have worked with Sarah’s husband or sons.

The other mysteries I have worked on solving are who the shepherd is that she kept house for and also who were the aunts she stayed with in Manchester.

It seems that the shepherd could be an Emanuel Cleasby who lived in the right area, he had a sister Sarah  who married a James Pickard, this Sarah is the same age as Sarah Sellers mother Sarah Pickard. So it seems likely that James died making Sarah a widow and she then married Joseph Sellers, this would also explain why she was 39 when she gave birth to Sarah and met her death.

As for Aunts in Manchester, Emanuel and Sarah had sisters Jane and Isabella both living in Manchester, so Sarah could have stayed with either or both of them.

I just wish I could have that final piece of proof.

14th August 2016 an update!

The final piece of proof has been found. I had my DNA tested on Ancestry and the results show matches with three Cleasby descendants, all descended from Sarah’s sister Margaret who married an Edmund Dinsdale, this branch moved to the USA, I am hoping they will contact me at some stage.

I have now had contact from this branch of the family, I need to piece together all I have found out about the Cleasbys.



Tags: , , , ,

52 ancestors Olive Pearson/Jackson

Olive Pearson is my Great Great Great Grandmother, my father’s father’s father’s father’s mother. She was baptized on 28th June 1813 28 at Park Lane Presbyterian, Cradley in Worcestershire, her parents were James Pearson and Sarah Davies, she married John Jackson on 8th December 1833 in Clent, Worcestershire. James was a nail maker as were many of the people living in that area.

James Pearson family

Olive Pearson baptism

Olive had one son John, my ancestor, who was born deaf and dumb, I have found another “dumb” Pearson in this area so wonder if this was a hereditary condition. She also had two daughters Mary Ann and Jane Celena, Mary Ann almost certainly died before 1841 but Jane Celena married a James Smith and moved to Darlington (like her brother John did eventually). It seems likely that Olive died in 1844 and by the time of the 1851 census John had remarried a Matilda and had a son Edward with her.


Tags: , ,

52 ancestors Jane Townend/Walker

I am going to start with my Great Grandmother Jane (Ginny) Walker, my mother’s mother’s mother.

She was born on 7th April in Featherstone, Yorkshire, her parents were Sam Townend a miner and Hannah Shaw. She had three older sisters, Harriet, Elizabeth (Lizzie) and Clementine (Clemmie) and a younger brother called Seth, Harriet’s son, Wilfred, was brought up with the family as a younger sibling to Jane (although really her nephew). Jane and Seth had fair complexions, the other siblings were darker, I think the fairness was from the Shaw side.Jane T 16

I don’t know anything about her childhood except that her mother was a strict Methodist and wouldn’t let her go to the fair, so her boyfriend, (later my Great Grandfather) brought a ladder to her bedroom window and she escaped through it and went to the fair with him!

She married James Walker when she was 19 on 24th December 1900, on the 1901 census they are living in Purston Jaglin (near Featherstone). In July 1902 their daughter Hannah Elizabeth (my Grandmother) was born and two years later, the family moved to Clowne, Derbyshire, because James (Jim) had been promoted by the gas board. In 1905 Jane had a son called James (Jimmy) but sadly he died in 1912 in a flu epidemic that also killed his father’s sister Harriet. The next day, Jane gave birth to her third and last child, another boy called Leslie.JamesHannahJane

I don’t know where or if Jane worked before she married, but she was probably in service. After marrying she made extra money by taking in lodgers and the census in 1911 shows a Robert Smith boarding with them, a regular short term lodger was a jewish man called Lewis Lichtenstein, he was a jewellery salesman. At first the family lived in a house owned by the gas board at 7 Station Road Clowne, but later moved to a larger house, again gas board owned, at 71 Creswell Road, Clowne. Jane kept chickens and from time to time, a pig, which she would fatten up for slaughter, She gave up keeping the chickens when she no longer had access to a field for them to run around in (obviously an early free-range advocate).

She was a great cook and food lover and family from Yorkshire would often visit. Her legs gave her a lot of pain, so she would often prepare the meals (peel potatoes etc) sitting down. She would also eat the meals in the living kitchen, while the rest of the family would sit round the table in the dining room. Her sister Clemmie’s Grandson Geoff, who was a picky eater would sit with her in the kitchen and she would let him eat what ever he liked. She tended to take a child’s side over an adult’s, “leave the poor kid alone” being her general philosophy. She wasn’t one to be bossed about by people, when her granddaughter Joan was in service and wasn’t given leave to attend a family wedding Jane told her to attend the wedding anyway (so Joan lost her job). When her daughter Hannah had been in labour for a long time, she told the Doctor in no uncertain terms “that poor lass has had enough pain to bring an elephant into the world, put her out!” (he did) the baby weighed 12 lbs.

She wasn’t an early riser and when my mother got up for school as a small child Jane would shout downstairs “give that babby an egg”, (the babby never wanted one). She made custard with six eggs and trifle with “bottoms”* in it. She sharpened her own knives!Grandma Walker and house

* sherry

Despite her strict Methodist upbringing Jane never went to church but would happily bake for them if the occasion demanded. She would sing Old Time Music Hall songs to her granddaughter Mollie in bed “the man that broke the bank at Monte Carlo”, it is unclear how she ever learnt the words. She employed a woman to help with the washing each week and another woman who would decorate a room each year in slightly garish wallpaper. The woman who delivered the milk would come in and play the piano from time to time. Jane’s corsets were specially made by Mrs “corsetière” Rogers

When a mole on her leg became cancerous Jane was sent to hospital in Sheffield, it was wartime and during her stay the hospital was bombed and she was sent back home with the dirt from the rubble still on her face. She would try knitting from her sick bed, having to call on granddaughter Joan to unravel her mistakes. Jane was doted on by her Grandson Ron who used to try and sit on her knee when he was about 15 and would slide off her sloping lap o to the floor.

Jane never returned to hospital and died in bed at home, she was visited daily by the doctor who would come and dress her wound, letting himself in by the back door if nobody was around. She died when the cancer reached her liver, she was 59 years old.

Grandma Walker


Posted by on February 2, 2014 in genealogy, family history