Category Archives: Uncategorized

Covenanting ancestor discovered

I have understood for a while that I have some sort of family connection to William Swan of Braehead, Kirkmahoe a “famous” covenantor. I mentioned this in my blog post about another William Swan my 4 x Great Grandfather, however I wasn’t sure what the connection was.

Today I found the obituary of GGGG Grandfather William’s son, John brother to my GGG Grandmother Flora Swan and according to the obituary Great Grandson of William of Braehead.

But is this right? I had his Gt Grandparents as James Swan and Janet Swan, could the newspaper have missed a generation out?

It does seem that the newspaper entry was incorrect. Flora and John Swan’s father was William Swan married to Mary Beck, their Swan Grandfather was James Swan married to Florence Wilson, their Great Grandparents were James Swan and Janet Swan (Swan marrying a Swan), but Janet Swan’s father on her marriage records is a William Swan, dates would make this fit in with William Swan of covenanting fame, so maybe the newspaper just missed out a Great!




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Posted by on September 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


Which Elizabeth Halden?

I have drifted from writing about my direct ancestors for this blog post. It serves merely to alert any Halden researchers worldwide (and they are worldwide) that two Elizabeth Haldens have become, understandably, confused with each other.

I have always known via my Grandmother that her Grandmother Rachel Halden had two sisters and one brother. She also told me that Rachel, her siblings and parents had emigrated to the USA. The brother had run away, never to be seen again but the oldest sister had married and had children and the second may have done.

Through census research I found the family in 1841, minus the brother and with the addition of another sister. So there are Elizabeth, Mary (guess Elizabeth is the elder as ages rounded for census) Jemima (who sadly died in 1845) and Rachel.


The next census finds the family in the USA, Edward has died, brother Edward has joined them but eldest sister Elizabeth is not with the family.

Screenshot 2016-05-14 18.37.07

I thought it was likely that Elizabeth had married by 1850 and that was the reason she was no longer living with the family. I looked for marriages in the USA and even for English Elizabeths living nearby, but to no avail.

It did occur to me that Elizabeth may have married in England before leaving for the USA or maybe my Grandmother was wrong and she never left England at all.

There were two possible marriages Elizabeth Halden to Joseph Briscoe  on 18 Apr 1844 at Saint Chad, Stafford and Elizabeth Holden/Halden to Thomas Hiden 21 Jul 1844  Rugeley, Staffordshire.

I looked at the original marriage record for the Halden/Briscoe marriage and found this to be the daughter of Joseph Halden, Tailor. Interestingly both Elizabeth’s and Joseph’s names were originally recorded as Hawthorn and then changed to Halden.

Joseph is in fact cousin to Edward Halden, the father of the family who went to America and my GGG Grandfather. Joseph’s father William and Edward’s father Roger were brothers, their Grandparents in common were Thomas Halden and Dorothy.

Screenshot 2016-05-19 09.35.32

So eventually I looked at the record for Elizabeth Holden and Thomas Briscoe which I had dismissed earlier for some reason. It shows this Elizabeth to be daughter to Edward and his occupation is given as schoolmaster and hers as governess, a seemingly unlikely profession for someone marrying a coal miner.

Halden Hiden marriage.png

If further proof were needed that this is my GG Grandmother’s sister, she named her daughters Elizabeth, Jemima and Rachel like herself and two of her sisters.

So how did people get confused? Well currently there seem to be no baptism records for either Elizabeth. Elizabeth daughter of Joseph is not living at home in 1841 and there are a couple of possible female servants that may be her but the only definite Elizabeth Halden is daughter of Edward. Then when it comes to marriages there is only one Elizabeth Halden marriage, the Joseph Briscoe one, the other is mistranscribed (quite reasonably) as Holden.

By 1851 both Elizabeths are married, Elizabeth Briscoe is well reported appearing in censuses up until 1901 and not dying until 1907, she spent her latter years living with her daughter Mary Elizabeth who married a Samuel Walker. However Elizabeth Hiden and family disappear from the censuses, so what became of them?

Something for another blog.








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52 ancestors – James Walker “owd Jim”

James Walker my mother’s Grandad Jim was born in 1877 in Barnsley, West Yorkshire, his parents were Elizabeth Gillett a Yorkshire lass and the rather grandly named George James Archer Walker who was born in Welney, Cambridgeshire. Grandad Jim had said that his ancestors were farmers in Huntingdonshire and research has proved him right, it seems that his father came to Yorkshire to work on the railway.

Although Jim was born in Barnsley his sister Elizabeth, born a year later, was born back in Welney, maybe on a holiday or perhaps a failed attempt to return to Cambridgeshire, whate13090616_10153893652199279_352476208_over the reason, Jim’s other siblings brothers Alfred and Herbert and sisters, Emily, Harriet and Edith were all born in Yorkshire.

The first job that he had that we have a record of is listed on the 1891 census as a Down Quilt Weaver, I don’t think he ever mentioned this in later years, he lived and breathed (not too much we hope) gas.

By the 1901 census Jim is newly married, living in Featherstone, Yorkshire and working as a gas stoker. I think he was moved to Featherstone by the gas board.

JamesHannahJaneHowever, he was promoted and moved again with Jane and baby daughter Hannah to Clowne, Derbyshire where he spent the rest of his days.

The 1911 census finds them at 7 Station Road, Clowne with the addition of James born 1904 to the family. Jim’s occupation is Colliery Gas Manager.

I am now going to hand over the blog to my mother who has written down her memories of her Grandfather, her words in blue, I have added notes in red.

My memories and some history of my grandfather. He was a father to me from my being five years old which makes him rather special in my eyes.

Most of his life was spent in Clowne (Derbyshire) but still maintained that ‘aura’ of a Yorkshire lad – which indeed he was!

Working in the gas trade, he took a promotion to work and move to Clowne. Gas was being fitted nationally and expanding. Jim worked placing pipes all over the village. He also was a “jack of all gas trades” in this small outfit – stoker, fitter, collector etc. He had been given a house with the job. It was very near the mine and the gas works. His wife Jane hated it at first and longed for Yorkshire. They had a daughter Hannah and later two sons.

This house was 7 Station Road as mentioned above. The sons were James and Lesley, James died of flu in 1912, Lesley was born the day after James’ death.

Photo 05-11-2014 18 35 51His wife Jane discovered that a detached four bedroom house belonging to the gas company was vacant and badgered Jim to ask for it. He was succesful. “71” became a very happy home until the end of the 1940s.

Jim became known locally as “owd Jim” as the years progressed and was very popular.

I remember him working on Sundays for extra money – this was stoking – in other words making gas. My sister and I often took him a pint of beer to refresh him.

I would be six or seven years old and was fascinated to see the red hot coals being dragged from the very long retorts on to the ground with a special long pole, they were immediately drenched in cold water and the result was ‘coke’ which was used in industry and some heating processes. My Grandad was the one using the long rakes or poles in this furnace.

The other work I remember him doing and I watched some times was when the coal for the furnaces came in wagons, from the station nearby. There was a small private link railway line from there to the works. There had to be people to move the lines on to the private track, Jim was one of them. (This was in the years after the mine was closed; originally the mine itself would be providing coal to make the gas.)

Mum also told me that she on several occasions would be walking along the street and would see her Grandad’s head pop out from a hole in the road where he was fixing a pipe.

He was a member of the Constitution Club to which he dressed in his suit and tie to look smart, perhaps once or twice a week. He did not go to the local pubs at all. His friends there were his manager from work – Arthur Seston (Jeanne Smith’s Dad) and Dr Knowles. This was where he took his brothers-in-law when they visited – they were Caleb Butterfield (Geoff Green’s Grandad) and Fred Spivey (Joyce’s Grandad) from Pontefract and Heckmondwike, Yorkshire. They came back slightly tipsy and very amusing. Caleb was a wit and a comic, Fred a little slow getting the jokes (more hilarity!)

Grandad gave my mother the complete run of the house both financially and housekeeper, after my Grandma died.

He actually used to give her his wages and just keep a bit of spending money for himself.

He suggested one day that she sent me for Elocution lessons, what his idea was – we did not know – but I went and it – drama – became a big slice of my life, (Molly Francis, teacher of Speech and Drama).

Mum had had Speech and Drama lessons in Clowne but when war started her teacher joined the forces and the classes finished. “owd Jim” kept reading out the advert in the local paper, “Molly Francis, teacher of Speech and Drama” until eventually Hannah said “do you want our Mollie to go for lessons? He said “yes” and that was that.

I had a few boyfriends who were allowed to visit. If however they touched my hand at all a cough was heard from “owd Jim”.

As a very young girl he’d give me some pennies and always told me to get “acid drops” a tease because he knew I hated them!

It was actually “get me a ha’porth of acid drops”. He also used to ask Mum how July Palmer was, he knew perfectly well that her name was June.

When Spring showed its head he often told my mother that “Stella has got her anniversary dress” – a hint that she should get hers and mine. (Stella was a glamorous, smart lady at our church!) He always hinted, never was dogmatic.

This was for the church and Sunday School anniversary when everyone had new outfits specially for the occasion.

He worked until 68 or 69 and had a few years retirement. He did see me in a play in rep in Wellington – so glad he did. 

After he had retired, occasionally gasworks employees would knock on the door to ask about the location of gas pipes in Clowne. Jim had a map of them in his head.

A true and gentle – man.

And a final added note…

He only put his teeth in when he wore his jacket and tie!

And a couple of other things, Jim could tinker out a tune on the piano by ear, (his sister Harriet could play well).

He would not be drawn into discussions on politics, he said “all I will say is we all have to Labour”. When Mum asked him what Conservative meant he said “leave it alone”. Is that what Laissez Faire means? He was pretty shrewd I think.

Photo 05-11-2014 18 39 26

He always carried things behind himself rather than in front.















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52 ancestors – John Collier, benefactor of Bescote

St Lawrence church gnossall

John Collier is my 7 x Great Grandfather, all that I know about him can be gleaned from his will which I have done my best to transcribe below.

We learn that he had seven children, each of them received 20 shillings (a pound) in his will as well as anything stated below. So his offspring were:

Ann Scott I think she was married to a Richard Scott.

John Collier

William Collier, he was given £10 for funeral expenses.

Thomas Collier

Joseph Collier

Mary Podmore my 6 x Great Grandmother, she was married to John Podmore.

Eleaner Collier, who appeared to be the favourite and inherited £100, a bed and a chest of linens, maybe she looked after him after his wife died.

He also gave twenty shillings to Mary Collier of Woodford his daughter in law, I don’t know which son she was married to, maybe she was a widow of an unnamed son.

He gave £10 a year to the poor of the parish to be given at Christmas Day by the church wardens. I hope it was used wisely.


John Collier 1704 top


John Collier 1704 bottom

The transcription

In the name of God Amen I John Collier of Bescot in the County of Stafford yeoman being sick and weak in body but of sound and perfect memory thanks be to God for it do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following (Viz) first I commend my soul to God that gave it hoping for salvation through the merits of Christ my savor and my body to the earth to be decently buryeed at the discretion of my executor herein after named and as for all the worldly estate it hath pleased God to bless me with after my funeral expenses and just debts are paid and discharged I give and bequeath in manner and forme following
I give and bequeath to my Daughter Elenar one hundred pound and one chest of linnens and one bed. Item I give to the poor of the parish of Gnossall ten pounds to be laid out upon security by the parish church wardens
and overseers of the parish aforesaid at my decease & to their successors for ever
and it is my will that the use of the said ten pounds shall be given
and distributed to the poor by the churchwardens and overseers of the aforesaid
parish yearly and every year upon the Nativity of our savior Commonly called
Christmas Day Item I give unto my son William Collier ten pounds
Towards his charge in expenses for my funeral. Item I give and bequeath
Unto every one of my children that is to say Ann Scott John Collier William Collier Thomas Collier Joseph Collier Mary Podmore Eleaner Collier and my daughter in law Mary Collier of woodford the sum of twenty shillings
a piece and I do nominate and appoint my son William Collier
the executor of this my last will and testament and do hereby revoke
all former wills by me heretofor made. In witness whereof I have
hereunto put my hand and sealed this fourth day of March in the second
year of the Reign of our sovereign Lady Queen Ann over England
the Queen and in the Yeare of our Lord God 1703/4

The mark of John Collier

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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Bescote, Collier family, Gnossall, Uncategorized


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52 ancestors – John Podmore of Coten End

John Podmore of Coten End was born in 1665 he was my 6 and 7 x Great Grandfather, son of Humphry Podmore.

It seems from his will that he was a farmer and that he had acquired a little gold and silver, plus goods and animals, a step up from his father Humphry.

Transcribed as best I can, this is the most informative section of his will.

And as for my Estate I doe ordere give and bequeath and dispose The same in mannor and forme following First I give and Bequeath to my son John Podmore my best sute of Close Item I give and bequeath to my Daughter Mary Podmore The Sum of twenty pounds and my Gold Ring Item I give to my Daughter Elizabeth Podmore The Sum of twenty Pounds and some Old Silver That I have by me Item I give and bequeath To my Son Joseph Podmore my Lands goods cattles and Chattells ????????moveable quick and Dead.

John Podmore marred a Mary Collier at Gnossall in 1691, it would have been at St Lawrence Church, she may be sister to the William Collier who witnessed Humphry Podmore’s will (she has a brother named William but her father is John). The Colliers and the Podmores seem to have been fairly prominent in the area at the time.

John and Mary had four children John, Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Joseph is my direct ancestor.

St Lawrence Church, Gnossall

St Lawrence Church, Gnossall, Staffs, many of the Podmore family buried here.

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Uncategorized


52 ancestors – Humphry Podmore

Humphry Podmore is my 7 x G Grandfather, he is also my 8 x G Grandfather as his Great Great Grandson Edward Halden married his Great Great Great Granddaughter Jemima Eaton. Most of the information I have about Humphry Podmore can be gleaned from his will, which actually gives quite a lot of information.

  • He was a yeoman which probably means he was a farmer who owned his own land.
  • He lived at Coten End, Gnossall, Staffordshire
  • He could write, he does not give “his mark” but signs and seals the will. He also struggles with writing in a straight line, perhaps this is in the genes!
  • He has a son called John and Grandchildren called Joseph, Mary and Elizabeth.
  • He also has a Grandaughter called Elizabeth who is married to a John Venables who appears to owe him money. I think she is a different person to the Elizabeth Podmore also mentioned in the will.
  • The inventory shows his goods and chattels and money in his pocket to add up to the grand total of £15, this would equate to about  £1,271.25 in today’s money

I have transcribed his will to the best of my ability, please let me know if you can read anything that I can’t or if you spot any mistakes.

What the will does not show is that Humphry was baptized on 23rd April at Gnossall and that his parents were John and Joan. I cannot find any record of his marriage.

Willof Humphrey 1724 1 In the name of God Amen the fourth day of February 1720
in the year of the reign of our most gracious & sovereign Lord
King George now of England, Scotland France and Ireland defender
of the faith of Humphry Podmore of Cotton End in the parish of Gnossal
and County of Stafford I being in health and memory thanks be to
almighty God for it considering my own mortality I do make this
my last will and testament in manner and form following:
First I bequeath my soul to almighty God my master and to Jesus Christ
my redeemer and to the holy Ghost my sanctifier and my body to
the earth from whence it came to be buried in such decent
and Christian manor as to my son John Podmore shall be
Thought meet and convenient there to rest until my soul
And body shall meet again and by joined together at the
Joyfyull resurrection and be made partakers of the
never ending joys of immortality and as for my estate I do order
Give and bequeath and dispose the same in manor and form following:
First I give and bequeath to John Podmore my Grandson the sum of forty shillings
I give and bequeath unto Joseph Podmore my Grandson the sum of forty shillings on my life.
I give and bequeath unto Mary Podmore my Grandaughter my
Poof now standing in the parlour and two pewter dishes now standing in the parlour frame
I give and bequeath unto Elizabeth Podmore my Grand
Daughter my good pan and two ? pewter dishes now standing
In the parlour frame and my chest now standing in the chamber
Above the parlour.
I give and bequeath unto Elizabeth Venables wife of John
Venables of Podmore my Grandaughter the sum of five shillings
And what she hath in hand already I for give her.
And lastly I constitute and appoint my son John Podmore my sole
Executor of this my last will and testament and revoke all
Wills and promises whatsoever hereto for made in witness
Thereof I put to my hand:

Signed sealed in the presence
Of us
William Collier
John Astley Humphry Podmore Willof Humphrey 1724 2 I haven’t transcribe the above section, think some of it is in Latin. Willof Humphrey 1724 3 A ? and perfect Inventory of all and singular The goods and Chattells of Humphrey Podmore late Of Coton End in the parish of Gnosall in the County Of Stafford yoman deceased  ? and appraised This fourth day of September in the tenth year Of the Reigne of our Sovereign Lord George King over Great Britain Anno Domini 1723 As followeth (viz!) £              s              D One feather Bed furniture thereto belonging                                 4              00           0 One Chest and One Desk                                                                  0              10           0 One Press?                                                                                          1              00           0 One Cupboard and Chair                                                                  1              10           0 Wearing Apparell and money in his purse                                    6              00           0 A Debt due from John Venables and Elizabeth his wife             2              00           0 Things omitted and out of sight                                                       0              05           0 Total      15           00           0 Appraised by us William Collier John Astley

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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized


52 Ancestors Winifred Willis Airey/Jackson

My Grandmother Winifred Willis Airey was born on January 11th 1896 in Darlington, County Durham. Her parents were Frederick Airey and Nellie (Eleanor) Eaton Willis. By her own account Winnie was a sickly child and missed a lot of school. I have never been able to fathom out what was wrong with her, she said she had no strength because she didn’t eat much, and she didn’t eat much because she had no appetite, maybe it was simply a vicious circle that she couldn’t get out of? Well, if it was, she did eventually break the circle, so much so she lived a healthy 99 years and always enjoyed her food and took an interest in nutrition.

Winnie with her mother and Aunts and Uncles. I think the older lady is Auntie “Tan” Sarah Ann and the lady front left is Auntie Lena.

By her own account she was quite a precocious child (in a nice sense), she was found wandering the streets one day by a well meaning lady, who asked her where she was going. “I’m going to Uncle, Aunties” Winnie replied. The lady then asked her where they lived, to which Winnie correctly replied “Lansdowne Street” which was interpreted by the lady as “lay down sheep”, but all was well in the end as her mother turned up. I have checked the address and the Aireys Sarah Anne, Joseph and Selina did live at Lansdowne Street, in fact it was probably “Airey built”. On another occasion when very small Winnie sat with her mother on a park bench reading out loud, she was most put out that an elderly man sitting near by refused to believe she was really reading as she was so tiny. I am not sure where Winnie had her primary education but am pretty sure her secondary education was at a school connected to Darlington Ladies Training College, it was certainly connected to an institute for teacher training, as they had “student” teachers all the time, she was there until she was 14. Winnie had a good command of English and a knowledge of grammar that passed me by.

Winnie had a lifelong interest in astronomy and as a young child was given the opportunity to look through a telescope in Darlington (at the college I think), she got very excited at seeing a sunspot and was also a little nervous at climbing up high to look through the viewer, so she put out her hand and grabbed hold of something to steady herself. It was only afterwards that she discovered to her embarrassment that she was holding the Principal’s tie.

Unusually for the times, but luckily for me there are several photographs of Winnie, her home and family as father Fred was a keen amateur photographer. A photograph of Winnie standing in front of the bandstand in North Lodge Park, Darlington has been included in a book about bandstands.

Winnie in front of the bandstand at North Lodge Park, Darlington.

A cycling trip, Winnie is the little girl centre front, her mother is directly behind her and next to her is Auntie Kitty, her mother’s sister.

Winnie had extremely long hair as a child.

Winnie learnt the piano and played for dancing classes, she was also accomplished at embroidery, crochet and dress making. I still have pillow cases and table cloths that she made and she made me many outfits as a child, I didn’t always appreciate them at the time.

Dressed as a gypsy for a photography competition.


Winnie about 1913


Winnie married William Andrew Jackson in 1925, she was an only child and he was the second of seven, Winnie got on well with his sisters, brothers and their husbands and wives, she enjoyed being part of a larger family.

William Andrew Jackson marries Winifred Willis Airey

In 1926 Winnie gave birth to her only child Frederic Norman named after her father who died during her early pregnancy and her cousin Norman whom she had also named but who died when just a baby. Winnie was short in height, she claimed to have been 5ft 3 at her tallest and insisted that she had only shrunk to 5ft 2, in my opinion she barely reached 5ft. Norman (the Frederic was soon dropped) however grew apace. One day when a gypsy came to the door Winnie’s mother brought her in to see Winnie because she had never seen a gypsy! The woman took one look at the baby in his pram and said “Lord love you, he’s bigger than you are.”

When Norman was one year old Winnie, Billy, Norman and Nellie moved to Widnes with Billy’s work for the asbestos company J W Roberts. Winnie did not care for Widnes, missing the greenery of the Yorkshire Dales and Durham, but enjoyed trips to Liverpool shopping, something she was to go back to in the later years of her life. After six years Billy was moved again, this time to Leeds where they lived first in Inglewood Terrace, then later at Brookfield Road, Meanwood which was the first (and only) home they owned. The war years came and many of the children  were evacuated but Norman didn’t want to leave home, so Winnie home educated him and a neighbour’s child for a short while before the school reopened. During this time Winnie went to night school classes and studied nutrition, she worked in the canteen of the department store Marshall and Snellgrove where Norman worked in the gentlemen’s outfitters department. Winnie also studied botany at night school and could tell you the Latin name of many plants. She went to the pictures every week and was interested in amateur dramatics. She sent Norman for Speech and Drama lessons from a young age and encouraged him to enter poetry festivals where he won a few awards. Despite being an over protective mother she was happy for Norman to join the cubs and scouts and let him go away to camp. Billy worked overseas for several years, so there was often just Norman, Winnie and Nellie at home.

After the war Billy bought a small general “corner shop” which Winnie ran for a couple of years, but it wasn’t financially viable and Winnie was no “Arkwright”. The children used to steal the empty bottles from near the door and then return them for money only to resteal them. Billy died in his early 60s from Pulmonary Asbestosis caused by his occupation. Winnie had the house in Brookfield Road split into two flats and rented out the lower half of the house. By this stage Norman had married and settled in Maghull near Liverpool and in 1961 just a year after Billy’s death Winnie became a grandmother to Joanna Margaret.


Winnie on the right with sister in law Lena Smith (nee Jackson), daughter in law Mollie and Granddaughter Joanna, in Lena’s garden in Darlington.

Winnie made little delay in renting out the entire house and moving to a small flat in the Central Square, Maghull.  Maghull was where Winnie spent the last 30 plus years of her life, firstly in the flat in the Square and then in a Granny flat which was built for her at 2,Hickson Avenue.


All dressed up for a family wedding, but she always was, wedding or not.


During this time she read hundreds of books, did hundreds of crosswords and played scrabble with a range of partners most of whom she outlived. She kept up her interest in astronomy and was a great Patrick Moore fan, she even auditioned for The Sky’s the Limit (a quiz show with Hughie Green) but didn’t get on the programme. She watched Countdown every day, pencil at the ready for both words and numbers. She liked snooker, particularly if Steve Davis was playing. She had a big party for her 90th birthday and made a speech and wrote a poem for Mollie and Norman’s Ruby wedding. Having been convinced she would never by a grandparent, Winnie eventually had two great grandchildren Isobel and Olivia. She spent the last few months of her life in a nursing home and was still quite bright and active until the last few weeks of her life, she died just a few months short of her 100th birthday.


With Joanna, John Heath, Mollie Jackson, Paul Heath, Janice Heath and son Norman in the garden in Maghull.


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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Uncategorized