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..
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
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.