My family

#52 Ancestors – Oops

Rather late to the party for 2020 I have decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors Challenge and this week’s writing prompt is Oops.

As far as I’m aware, so far, I have not made any serious mistakes in my family history research. It could be that I haven’t yet found them, or maybe I have been lucky. I am almost expecting something to come to light when I get my DNA test results later this month.

A mistake made by a census enumerator shortly after 5th April 1891 made finding my great-great grandfather William Richard Orme on the 1891 census very difficult. I knew that the family were from West Bromwich, and he and his wife Martha Ellen moved to Ripley in Derbyshire sometime between their second daughter Clara’s birth on 1st April 1880 and the census taken on 3rd April 1881. From conversations with my Mum and her parents I knew that by 1891 they would have five daughters, the two on the 1881 census (Sarah and Clara), as well as Annie and Matilda, and my great-grandmother Martha Ellen.

The surname Orme is relatively unusual, and the family hadn’t chosen particularly common first names so they should have been easy to find. I knew their birth places, and that they had stayed close to Ripley, and I knew their ages. But none of my searches were finding them. It was so frustrating. It was as if they had vanished, I looked all over Derbyshire but no sign. I tried leaving out their location altogether in case they were visiting family or friends elsewhere. Nothing. I knew they stayed in the UK as my grandparents knew Sarah, “Tilda” and Annie.

Eventually I tried putting in all the information, except their surname. I don’t recall which family member I chose for the search, but I found them, all the information was correct, but the surname given in the transcription was Perkins. Perkins?!? How could Orme be misread as Perkins? What kind of illegible handwriting could possibly make Orme look like Perkins?

Well I looked at the scanned copy of the census return.

It wasn’t a mis-transcription. It was not illegible handwriting. The enumerator made a mistake when he wrote up the household. Rather than putting William Richard’s surname, he continued the ditto marks from the family above. There was even a sixth daughter that I didn’t know about. I found out she died towards the end of 1891, before her second birthday.

So, when researching your family tree, do not assume that everyone compiling the records you are using is infallible. They are human and there will be mistakes.

My family

#52 Ancestors – Gratitude

Rather late to the party for 2020 I have decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors Challenge and this week’s writing prompt is GRATITUDE

Like last week this subject has made me realise how little I know about most of my ancestors. I can’t think of anything that they might have been thankful for. I’m not aware of any thank you cards, though I’ve a box of paperwork that I’ve not yet managed to go through in great detail. That is very much on my “to do” list, as I know there are wedding invitations, birth announcements and all sorts of interesting things in there.

So, time to think outside the box. I’ll tell you about the ancestors to whom I’m grateful. I mean, of course, I’m grateful to all of them, if they hadn’t married they people that they did, if they hadn’t had children, I wouldn’t be here.

However, more specifically, I’m grateful to those that took photographs of each other, particularly those who labelled the photos! There is nothing more frustrating than a pile of pictures of unidentified relatives with no clues as to who they are. Please, on behalf of your future descendents, identify your pictures! These days that probably means tagging them on Facebook, or using folders for different people. I’m as guilty as anyone of this, after all, I know who the people in the pictures are!

I’m also grateful to my grandfather Eric Tomlinson, and his father Charles Hunt, both of whom I’ve written about previously. They both kept little notebooks, “books of happenings”.

Books of happenings

These little notebooks are treasure troves. From these I know for example that Alice Meakin died 3-3-1979, the greenhouse was taken down on 6/8/79 and my Grandma had new glasses on 7/8/79. There is much more detail about some events than others but it gives me lots of useful dates. Family and friends births, marriages and deaths are muddled up with wallpapering. It’s fascinating to see what was considered important.

Charles Hunt’s book of happenings 1950

So, on American Thanksgiving Day, this year I’m saying thank you to my ancestors for giving me lots of interest to research.

My family

#52Ancestors – Good Deeds

Rather late to the party for 2020 I have decided to participate in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors Challenge and this week’s writing prompt is GOOD DEEDS.

I stumbled across this year long series of writing prompts last week and thought it was a really good idea. I’ve discovered that it will continue next year so I’ve jumped straight in.

I’ve been mulling over what to write for a few days, and if nothing else this prompt has shown me that I know very little about my ancestors characters. I’m quite sure many of them did many good deeds, but how would I know? Some good deeds may be recorded in newspapers but many will have been lost in the mists of time.

However, a few weeks ago I stumbled across some pictures on Ancestry which led me to receive copies of a letter written by my Great Grandfather Charles Hunt to his cousin, Louisa who had emigrated to Canada. The letter was to advise that his sister Phoebe had recently died, and his mother had subsequently moved in with him, his wife and my grandfather. I wrote about my Grandfather, Eric, last week, he was adopted by his Aunt and Uncle as a young boy after his mother died. The letter is well written, and Charles Hunt comes across as a very caring compassionate man. As the lady who sent me the letter, Louisa’s descendent, said to me, most men at the time would have left writing the letter to their wife.

He sounds like a man with a lot going on, a very deaf 93 year old mother in a “bedsit” and a 21 year old son at home. A daughter with a 20 month old child living close by, new tenants next door and of course working full time as a thrower at Denby Pottery. Still he takes the time to write to his cousin to let her know what happens, and apologises that he has taken three months to pass on the news. Phoebe had lived next door, in the other half of the semi-detached house with their mother.

Clara Hunt, his wife, lived to the age of 92, dying not long before I was born. My Mum has often talked about her grandmother going out to help the “old people”, many of whom were younger than her.

My family

Grandpa’s war service

Last night my sister contacted me to ask if we had any pictures that her son could share at (online) Beavers. They have been asked if they could bring “photographs or stories about relatives who served in the War”.

Zoom Beavers meeting during Covid-19 pandemic

Of course, I have plenty I could share and decided that this would be a good time to write about Grandpa and what he did.

Grandpa, Eric Tomlinson, is the one in glasses third from the left in the centre row.
Derby Evening Telegraph 8 Nov 1938

Before the war Mum’s Dad was very sporty, we have his cricket trophies, and a newspaper article mentions his entry into a table tennis tournament. He also found time to work as a hosiery dyer. I remember him talking about how he could smell if the chemical mix was correct for the colour he was making.

Grandpa enlisted on 17th October 1940, aged 22 and was posted to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC). This Corps was responsible for supplying and repairing weapons, armoured vehicles and other military equipment, ammunition and clothing, laundry, mobile baths and photography. 

His joining form includes the wonderful description “Hair ….. scanty” which I believe, in typical army sarcasm, led to his nickname “Curly”.

“Curly” with the scanty hair is in the centre.

After initial training Eric took a course and passed his test to be a storeman. He served at “home”, that is, in Britain to begin with.

In 1941 Grandpa served 20 days detention for misconduct. My Mum recalls that her father had noticed a problem with the store record keeping that would allow less honest store men to steal equipment. His superior knew that Grandpa had not stolen anything really, just tried to point out the problem but he had to be punished.

Grandpa spent most of 1942 with the 10th Anti-Aircraft Division which defended Yorkshire and Humberside. He would have looked after the stores and assisted with repairing the equipment. He was transferred to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), a new corps formed on 1st Oct 1942 from members of The Royal Artillery, Royal Army Service Corps, Royal Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Signals and Royal Engineers. REME were, and are,  responsible for maintaining and repairing the Army’s equipment.

Grandma and Grandpa got married in September 1943 at her home in Yorkshire. As far as I can tell Grandpa did not have any leave to spend time with her after the wedding.

In February 1944 he was posted to join the 115th Heavy Anti Aircraft (HAA) Regiment, and from May 1944 they were in Southampton.

A scrap of newspaper found in Grandma’s sewing cabinet reveals a little about what was happening Europe. Reading this while he was away must have been very scary for Grandma. A search on the British Newspaper Archive told me that this was published in the “Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer” on 7th June 1944. Grandpa was still in Britain at this time. I can only assume that he was not allowed to tell Grandma where he was or what he was doing.

According to the 115th Heavy Anti Aircraft regimental diary on 9th August 1944 Grandpa boarded “SS Robert Heize” at Tilbury in Essex and anchored off the town of Graye-sur-mer, Normandy on the 12th and landed across Juno Beach on the 13th August.   From then onwards he would have been helping to repair the vehicles, guns and other equipment. They moved around quite a lot in France and Belgium as the fighting continued.

His service record does not give much detail about what happened once he went to Europe, but we do know he spent some time in the Netherlands. He did mention that he stayed with a Dutch family for a while, and I think stayed in touch with them after the war. We found a photograph of a collection of toys donated by the unit to the children of Nymegan.

Collection of toys made by Grandpa’s unit whilst in Nymegen.

On 8th December 1944 Grandpa received a certificate of Good Service. A newspaper article from May 1945 mentions a football match between Alkmaar and REME, Eric Tomlinson played for REME, but his team lost 10-3 in front of a crowd of around 6000.

I don’t know where it fits into his service but I remember a story that while in Normandy he and 2 others became separated from their unit and they were sheltered by a family in a farmhouse where they played bridge and drank homemade Calvados.

After the war ended Grandpa went to Hanover in Germany where he was stationed at the Hanomag factory. Before the war the factory had made small cars and steam locomotives. During the war the factory made German military vehicles, such as large armoured personnel carriers on tracks.
Grandpa was released from military service in June 1946. His release form says that he was a “hard working, conscientious and reliable man.” Certainly someone to be very proud of, and I remember him very fondly.

Grandpa with yours truly in about 1975.
My family

Can I give Edith a hug?

My research went down a bit of a rabbit hole today. I’d been in touch with a descendent of the Sanders family who had copies of letters from my adoptive great grandfather, and continued investigating the Sanders branch of the family. They aren’t blood relations, Charles Hunt and Clara Orme brought up my grandfather, Clara’s sister’s child. Charles Hunt’s mother was Mary Ann Sanders. Mary Ann’s niece was Jane Sanders and for reasons that are lost even to me I spent sometime researching her today. I ended up just wanting to give her daughter a hug.
Jane Sanders had married Joseph Lofthouse, but Joseph died soon after their second child was born in 1908. I found Jane and her daughter on the 1939 register, taken at the outbreak of WW2. They were at 135 Pym Street in Nottingham. Jane was a shopkeeper and her daughter was her assistant.

I found a couple of newspapers that told me Jane had bought the shop where they lived in 1938. But in January 1940 Jane passed away, her daughter Edith tried to continue running the shop, but already had debts. She recognised that the shop was insolvent, but didn’t know what to do. She continued until she became ill and required an operation. The business dwindled away and by July she had no option but to file for bankruptcy. She went to London to work in a factory.

I don’t know much about what happened after that, she spent some time in New York in the 1960s and died in Blackpool in 1996.

My family

Sarah Ann, what was going on?

Today I tried to find a death record for my great great aunt Sarah Ann Wadsworth. I knew she was baptised in 1842, married James Mitchell in 1861 and had five children. James died in 1891 and in 1901 Sarah is on the census living with her brother and 2 youngest children. She gives her name as Sarah Ann Mitchell and she’s a widow. All very straight forward.

1901 Census, Wickersley, Yorkshire. Fred Wadsworth and his sister Sarah Ann are just over half way down the page.

Next I found them on the 1911 census. Sarah Ann is still living with her brother but now gives her name as Sarah Ann Rushworth and says she has been married for 13 years.

Frederick Wadsworth’s 1911 Census form.

Hunting on FreeBMD and Ancestry I found a marriage for Sarah Ann Mitchell, a 50 year old widow to 28 year old Joshua Rushworth, an engineer, son of John Mitchell also an engineer. Sarah Ann’s father is George Wadsworth so I’m sure this is her, though she’s reduced her age by 5 years.

Entry into the Eckington parish registers showing Sarah Ann Mitchell marrying Joshua Rushworth in 1897, don’t forget that she was 59 in 1901 and 69 in 1911!

I couldn’t find Joshua on the 1901 or 1911 census. But on the 1891 census there is a Joshua Rushworth, 19 year old apprentice engineer born in Barrowford, Lancashire.

I then found him with his family aged 9 on the 1881 Census, his father being John, an Engine Smith, persuaded me that this was the same Joshua Rushworth who married Sarah Ann.

The census led me to a baptism record which gave his actual date of birth. I love vicars who write that in the margin! He lied about his age at the marriage too, he was actually only 25 not 28!

The next document I saw on Ancestry was a United States of America Declaration of Intention to Naturalize. This Joshua Rushworth has the same date of birth, was born in Lancashire, England, and is a machinist. This is dated September 1920, but mentions arriving in Boston in December 1901. Except he is now married to Delia…

It didn’t take much more digging on Ancestry to find the 1910 census record, which shows Joshua and Delia, married, in Woburn on the outskirts of Boston. He is working as a machinist for a soda fountain manufacturer.

I have not been able to find a marriage for Joshua and Delia, maybe they didn’t actually marry, maybe he wasn’t quite a bigamist, although we know that Sarah Ann was alive in 1911 and Joshua and Delia claimed to be married in 1910.
I have still not found the death record for Sarah Ann Wadsworth Mitchell Rushworth.

My family

An intriguing will

A few weeks ago I had ordered a copy of my great great great grandfather, George Batterley’s will. Today I finally had time to sit and read it in detail. My previous research had confirmed that he had four children with his first wife, Maria. The children were Eliza Ann, Ada, my great great grandmother Maria and a son George.

His wife Maria passed away in 1907 and, probably because he was a farmer, he remarried very quickly, to Sarah Ann. By this time the children were all grown up and married. The youngest was 30 years old. Eliza Ann and Maria had married brothers, George and Robert Stewardson, both mole catchers originally from the Lake District but now settled nearby in Derbyshire.

At the time the will was written in 1921 all four children were living in Derbyshire, with families of their own.

The intrigue comes in the legacies. George left 5 shillings to his wife, less than £10 in today’s money. Did he regret his second marriage in his 60s?

He then divides the residue of his property, over £480, between his three children. Not four children. Just three. He lists his son George, his daughter Ada and his daughter Eliza Ann. Maria is very definitely left out.

Excerpt from the will of George Batterley, 1847-1922.

Maria was still alive in 1922, I have her death record in 1960. I have her birth certificate and her father is clearly given as George Batterley. I may never know how or why she was disinherited by her father, but once again a document has raised more questions that answers.

My family

Family history gold dust

I had a lovely walk this afternoon with my nieces. We sat for ages at the local war memorial catching Pokémon, then they found 7 geocaches including the one I hid a week ago. There was a horse in the field by that one. I’d already found the other 6 caches but it was fun to help them find them. They were really keen and wanted fewer and fewer clues for each one. We carried on and the girls helped me find a good location to hide cache at St Beuno’s church.

My niece hunting a geocache.

I had a bit of time before getting dinner ready, so having spent the week working on my sister’s house history I decided to spend a few minutes checking off a “to do” item from my old list on Legacy. The top item on the list was to find a death date for my 1st cousin 3 times removed Annie Stewardson. I knew she was born in Cumberland around 1908, and that she emigrated to Canada when she was very young. I’d seen her on the 1921 census of Canada but nothing further.

I typed her details into Ancestry and just wow, I hit the jackpot! Not only a death date but an incredibly detailed obituary. There was no doubting that this was for the right person. So I now have her sisters married names, I know which siblings were still alive in 2003, I have both her husband’s names and so many more clues.

I wonder how long it will take to trace those 12 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren. A webinar i watched during the week confirmed how important making connections like those can be for DNA assisted genealogy.

What an exciting evening! Needless to say I was late putting the roast dinner in the oven tonight.

Beginnings My family

The Ring! The real beginning.

My first serious attempt at family history research came in the mid nineties, round about the time that I was graduating and beginning a career as a teacher. My grandmother inherited “the diamond ring” from her older sister who had recently passed away. 15 years later it is all a bit hazy, but I remember Grandma describing it as a widows ring, and that it had been passed from mother to oldest daughter to reach her. As she was the youngest of three sisters this story unravelled straightaway. However Great Auntie Kathleen didn’t have any daughters so the ring was kept on the female line.

I was determined to find out what I could about the origins to tell my Grandma. The inscription reads “Ann Dawson ob 24 feb 1755 aet 22” Which I understand means that Ann Dawson died on that date aged 22. A little research back then told me that this was a mourning ring rather than widows ring and that more than one may have been made. From what I read it was the custom to leave money and instructions in a will for the rings to be made and distributed. Ann Dawson was in good company, Shakespeare left around 26 shillings for his wife and daughter to have rings made, while Samuel Pepys bequeathed over a hundred. This ring seems to be entirely typical of its time, and the black inlay suggests that Ann Dawson was probably married.

The inscription on the mourning ring.

Finding out who Ann Dawson was, proved much harder than I’d realised. I was on a steep learning curve of census returns, parish records and GRO indexes, at a time when transcriptions on the internet were still in their infancy, and I had little money for buying birth, marriage and death certificates or for travelling to archive offices. As you can see on my Tribal Pages I have found a connection to a Dawson family. Let’s work backwards, my Mum was left the ring by her Mum, my Grandma, Bessie Tomlinson, nee Wadsworth.
Grandma received it from her older sister Kathleen. It was passed to Kathleen by her mother Florence Wadsworth, nee Roberts. Now, assuming that I have the right Dawson family, Florence probably received the ring from her mother-in-law, Ann Roberts who had just one son.
Ann probably received the ring from her mother Sarah Roberts, nee Dawson. Sarah’s christening shows her parents were John and Elizabeth Dawson, and going through the baptism book in Doncaster archives I found that she was probably the eldest of 6 children. And that was where my research came to and end. Over the years I’ve looked at other lines and developed a real love of family history, but I’ve become distracted from the purpose of finding out who Ann Dawson who died aged 22 on 24th February 1755 was, and how she is connected to me. Grandma passed away in 2013 and so I’ll never be able to tell her, but hopefully one day I’ll find out enough to tell my niece when she receives the ring.

Many thanks to Vera Hopkinson for taking the pictures for me.

My family

Bluebell won the fancy dress

I’m still working out WordPress – click the title above to read this blog post. I had a few minutes spare before tea and so I checked what the next thing to do on my family history to do list was. I’m trying to tick off an item or two on my 10 year old to do list each day while I’m furloughed from work. The next item was to find a baptism for my great great aunt Doris Stewardson. Her big sister, my great grandmother, had been christened at the Wesleyan Methodist church in Matlock at almost a month old so it seemed reasonable to look for a baptism for Doris. I keyed the basic details I had of her birth from the 1939 register, and the 1901 and 1911 Census into both Ancestry and Findmypast. Ancestry didn’t have anything I didn’t already know, but Findmypast showed a school admissions log book. No baptism, but never mind.

Digging around I found that Doris, and her siblings had attended Crich British School before moving to Crich Carr National school in 1909. A quick Google revealed that Crich Carr National school is now Crich Carr Church of England Primary school. I then stumbled across, a one place study, which has a page about the complicated school history of the town. Delightfully the page includes a picture of the Crich Carr National school pupils taken around 1913, of course I don’t know which are my ancestors, but it seems likely that Doris’ younger siblings Bluebell, Matthew and Harry are in the picture, possibly Doris herself too. The two older siblings, my great grandmother Adelaide May and Robert Stewardson would have left by then. It is wonderful to have a picture of them, even if I don’t know which children they are!

I carried on searching to see what else I could find out. I searched the site for “Stewardson” and found a transcript of the article in the Derbyshire Times describing the celebrations for George V coronation on 19th June 1911. I’m delighted that Bluebell Stewardson, my great great aunt won the girls fancy dress competition dressed appropriately as a bluebell, her Dad had served on the tent committee, and her Mum, after serving on the Ladies committee won a special prize in the fancy dress for her Mother Hubbard costume.