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52 Ancestors: Week 47 – Thankful

I am taking part in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge for 2021. The challenge is organised by Amy Johnson Crow who provides a weekly writing prompt. I should have completed all 52 prompts by now, but I will do so as soon as possible.

When I saw this prompt I immediately thought of harvest festivals. I clearly remember as a child both school and church celebrations where I made up small hampers of food which were given to those in need. I now realise that in the affluent village in which I grew up, where as the vicar’s kids we were definitely the least well off, I have absolutely no idea where that food ended up.

I remember the flower arranging ladies going to town for harvest festival services, filling the church with displays of fruit and vegetables. It was a farming community and we often celebrated later than other churches, as the farmers would not celebrate until the harvest was all gathered in. You can see some pictures of the church here: https://www.stcatherinebirtles.org.uk/gallery.htm

This is just how I remember it, fruit and vegetables everywhere. Photograph reproduced with kind permission of Reverend Jon Hale, the Rector of the Benefice of Alderley & Birtles.


Images: Photograph. Harvest festival. (c. 2000-2020) St. Catherines, Birtles, Over Alderley, Cheshire. Photographer unknown. https://www.stcatherinebirtles.org.uk/gallery.htm : accessed 12 January 2022.

Harvest festivals have been celebrated for centuries and so it was not surprising to find that the Stewardson family living in Tansley in 1904 would have witnessed a harvest festival.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal Friday 30 September 1904 page 6f https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001084/19040930/149/0006 Image © THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Robert Stewardson and Maria Batterley had married in Tansley Parish Church in 1896 and their eldest daughter was baptised at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel the following year. I think it is a safe assumption that they would have attended at least one of the numerous harvest festivals in the district and witnessed the great abundance of fruit and flowers.

It is lovely to know that they experienced an Indian Summer that September.

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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.