My family

52 Ancestors: Week 51 – Holidays

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. Finally I’m at the penultimate blog in the series.

I have quite a lot of photographs of various family members on holiday. There are some I recognise, some with helpful notes on the back, and some that are probably ancestors with “holiday friends” who even they had forgotten the names of. Some tell me where they were visiting and some don’t.

I have picked these two pictures, as we know exactly when and where they were taken, and I know that they are my Grandma and Grandpa, Bessie and Eric Tomlinson.

I love that Grandma is wearing the same dress in both pictures! It is clearly much warmer in Cornwall than the northern most tip of Scotland too. Openwoodgate is the village just outside Belper, Derbyshire where they lived their entire married life. In fact Grandpa lived in no more than 3 houses, all in Openwoodgate, and two of them the halves of a semi-detached.

Ruth and Tony Willmore at John O’Groats 16 September 2018.[3]

Thirty five years later, the sign has been replaced, but the weather hasn’t improved. The photographer offering customised signs is replaced by dodgy selfies.

As far as I know Grandma never left the British Isles, and only ventured onto an aeroplane once, to go to the Isle of Man. Their luggage was delayed or lost so it wasn’t a good experience for her. For Grandma and Grandpa holidays usually meant coach trips. I remember that as soon as the Trent Coach brochure dropped through the letterbox Grandpa jumped on the bus to the travel agency so he could book the front seats on the coach.

Other posts about this family

  1. Photograph. Bessie and Eric Tomlinson. 26 August 1980. Lands End, Cornwall. Photographer unknown. Collection: Ruth Willmore.
  2. Photograph. Bessie and Eric Tomlinson. 10 August 1981. John O’Groats, Caithness. Photographer unknown. Collection: Ruth Willmore.
  3. Photograph. Ruth and Tony Willmore. 16 September 2018. John O’Groats, Caithness. Photographer Ruth Willmore. Collection: Ruth Willmore
My family

52 Ancestors: Week 46 – Birthdays

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.

On 2nd September 2006 my Grandmother Bessie Tomlinson turned 90 years old. To celebrate the occasion her daughter and four grandchildren visited. We arrived the evening before and had booked a visit to a professional photographer that morning. We dressed up to please Grandma.

At the time I was too broke to afford to buy prints. One hung on Grandma’s wall from then onwards though.

We returned to Grandma’s house for lunch, prepared by our partners. Grandma was a little disappointed that we hadn’t taken her out to lunch, but we explained that we didn’t know how long we would be at the photographers.

As we finished eating the doorbell rang, and Grandma was pleased to have some surprise visitors on her birthday. Now pleased that we hadn’t gone out to lunch she settled in for a chat with her visitors. But the doorbell rang again, and some other friends had arrived, and then again and some more distant relatives arrived.

While she was delighted that so many people had thought to visit her on birthday, as the consummate hostess Grandma started to get worried and started asking one or more of us to slip out to the shops to get something for tea.

More and more friends and family arrived, and Grandma was getting very worried about feeding everyone. She was very confused as we started bringing cold bags out of our cars and setting out a buffet.

Eventually we had to let on that we had invited everyone.

Grandma was delighted by her surprise birthday party.

A friend of Mum’s had made a beautiful cake.

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My family

52 Ancestors: Week 42 – Sports

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 by now be writing week 52, but study, work and life got in the way. I’m rapidly catch up over the 12 days of Christmas.

My immediate family is some of the least sporty that I know. I hated P.E. at school. Standing around being hit by hockey balls and sticks, trudging through mud, never quite managing to catch the netball, always being the last to be picked for the team. Just not happy memories. I have always enjoyed swimming, and while never fast, I could keep going and swim a mile easily. In more recent times I was enjoying badminton pre-pandemic and really should try to get back into it.

I don’t take after my grandfather, Eric Tomlinson, in this respect. He really was a sportsman.

Here he is with a cricket team, he is in the middle row, 3rd from the right, wearing glasses. I think the team would be Oberon Athletic club.

He was an allrounder in cricket. Below are his 1937 Fielding Prize cup, his 1938 Batting average cup and 1940 Bowling average cup from the Oberon Athletic Club. Finally a tankard awarded in 1970 for, we think, umpiring, by Brettles, his workplace.

He also played table tennis. This clipping reports that all the best players in the county took part in the Derbyshire Championships in front of a large crow of spectators. Grandpa (known by his adoptive parents/uncle’s surname Hunt in his youth) was beaten 21-13 by F. Hill in the second round.[1]

I believe during his time in the army he played football too.

Other posts about this family

  1. Derby Evening Telegraph. (1938) Table Tennis Early Results in Derbyshire Championships. Derby Evening Telegraph. 08 November. p. 3g. : accessed 19 September 2020.

My family

52 Ancestors: Week 40 – Preservation

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 by now be writing week 52, but study, work and life got in the way. I’m aiming to catch up over the 12 days of Christmas.

As a genealogist the obvious place to go with the “Preservation” prompt would be something about storing records, but a brief chat with my family for inspiration has taken me in a completely different direction. I have written before about my maternal grandmother in the kitchen. The huge chest freezer in the pantry was a vital part of the domestic regime. The freezer, one of those big enough to hide a body, filled about half of the pantry. This was a cold store, next to the kitchen accessed from the hallway, down three or four stone steps. The floor was tiled, and there was a huge stone shelf on which salad items, homemade potted meat, butter (in the summer) and all manner of food stuffs were kept cool. There was a small fridge in the kitchen but the pantry was the place for food storage.

Whenever we stayed, until not long before Grandma had to go to live permanently in a care home there were pies and fruit desserts made from the freezer. I remember that frozen rhubarb and strawberries had to be eaten together, if one ran out we couldn’t have the other!

Grandpa was a keen gardener, and as well as strawberries and rhubarb, other fruits were grown and preserved in the freezer for use over the rest of the year. My sister remembers it being full of bags and boxes of homegrown fruit and vegetables. But Grandma didn’t just use the freezer, although it was a gamechanger for her.

Throughout my childhood the debate about Yorkshire puddings wasn’t about which meats they should be served with, but which course. They were mainly served for pudding, drenched in blackberry or raspberry vinegar. This was a very sweet homemade concoction.

Bessie Tomlinson’s recipe for blackberry vinegar. 1.5 pints blackberries, 1 pint vinegar, 1lb sugar. Put blackberries in a bowl and pour on vinegar, stand for 3 days , stir every day for 3 days, then strain through muslin. Boil with sugar for 15 mins. When cold bottle and cork well.

When we eventually cleared out the house there were plenty of Kilner jars. I don’t remember them being used, but Mum told me “Before the freezer she used to bottle things (hence all the Kilner jars). When I was a child she used to buy a whole tray of peaches to bottle. Most fruit and veg were only available in season, so preserving was much more a thing.” and “She also used to salt kidney beans to preserve them.”

Thinking about it, I may take after Grandma in some ways. I have a jar of homegrown redcurrants in honey on the kitchen worktop to spoon onto breakfast. There are homegrown apples, blackcurrants, mint and parsley in the freezer. I am not sure what Grandma would have made of kombucha which I make in Kilner jars.

If you haven’t come across Too Good to Go, do look up the App. It lets you buy and collect food that shops and restaurants would other throw away at the end of the day- at a great price – so it gets eaten instead of wasted. You don’t know exactly what’s in your order until you pick it up. Our local greengrocer wholesaler is particularly good! This box cost be £4.
In a particularly good Too Good To Go Magic bag this summer I received a honeydew melon and some fresh tarragon. I pureed the melon and froze in an ice-cube tray, and made a syrup with the tarragon. One cube of melon, mixed with white rum, tarragon syrup and either prosecco or seltzer makes a lovely cocktail!

Maybe Grandma would turn a blind eye to the alcohol and be proud that my favourite Christmas tipple this year uses preserved redcurrants in the form of vinbärssaft. I made the syrup made from homegrown redcurrants in the summer. I froze it in an ice-cube tray, one cube is the perfect amount for this cocktail.

Hard Ginger Vinbarssaft

inspired by

  • 1 tbsp Vinbärssaft
  • 50 ml whisky
  • 200 ml ginger ale/beer

Shake whisky & vinbärssaft. Pour over ice and top with ginger

Summer Kiss

inspired by

  • 1oz tarragon syrup
  • 4oz white rum
  • 100ml melon juice/puree

Stir/shake, poor over ice. Top up with seltzer or prosecco

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My family

52 Ancestors: Week 38 – Fun and Games

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 by now be writing week 52, but study, work and life got in the way. I’m aiming to catch up over the 12 days of Christmas.

The “Fun and Games” prompt reminded that I have my grandfather’s bagatelle board behind the sofa. We do occasionally get it out to play, there is a pot of ball bearings to be used with it. The game is to shoot the balls along the channel so that they roll down and fall into one of the traps marked out with nails. Different traps have different scores. Any balls that roll right to the bottom score zero.

My nephew Matthew playing with his great grandfather’s bagatelle game Christmas Eve 2017.

A bit of time on Google this morning tells me that this is a Parlour or Pin Bagatelle game, and it was hugely popular in the 1880s. It is the forerunner of the modern pinball games.[1] This particular version seems to have been manufactured in the 1930s, so it would have been Grandpa’s in his teens.[2]

When I asked Mum about the origins of the board she wasn’t sure, but said that she “much preferred the green baize one that was played with a snooker cue.” I have no memory of that game, and Mum thinks it was thrown away while she was at college as the base was damaged. Apparently it was something like this: which is another form of bagatelle, also known as bar billiards.[3]

E.J. RILEY Antique Vintage Folding Table Bagatelle Board Pub Billiards Snooker sold on eBay

What games have been passed down, or lost, in your family?

Other posts about this family


[1] Masters Traditional Games. The Rules of Parlour/ Pin Bagatelle. : accessed 28 December 2021.

[2] Severn Beach Antiques. 1930s large corinthian wooden bagatelle game with balls. : accessed 28 December 2021.

[3] donkeypong. Bagatelle: the Common Ancestor of Pinball and Pachinko. : accessed 28 December 2021.

My family

52 Ancestors: Week 29 – Fashion

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 am way behind with my writing but I am slowly catching up. Todays blog is short to help catch up, especially as I am back in work and university term has started.

I have decided not to focus on one particular ancestor today. I am really not fashionable, and have never been interested in keeping up with the latest trends. Disposable fashion, fast fashion, buying clothes that will not last has never appealed to me.

I don’t know if my ancestors were fashionable, but one can’t help but feel that wedding photographs are very much “of their time”. What may have felt like a classic design at the time can look very dated years later.

Here are a selection of the fashion hits and misses at some of our family weddings. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

14 August 1929
2 November 1935
25 September 1943
23 July 1955
24 August 1968
7 June 2008

My 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog posts

52 Ancestors: Week 52 – Future

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. It has taken me longer than it should but here is the last post in this series. I didn’t feel qualified to write about the future of […]

52 Ancestors: Week 50 – Lines

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’m nearly there. I was not sure where to take this prompt and decided to type “Lines” […]

52 Ancestors: Week 48 – Strength

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. I initially planned to use this prompt to write […]

My family

52 Ancestors: Week 8 – Power

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. This week the prompt is Power.

I spent a little while mentally sifting through my ancestors wondering who to write about in connection with “power”. I settled on my great grandfather Oscar Tomlinson who I knew had been a small cog in powering homes and industry with his lifelong job as a coal miner. The blog I’m writing has taken a rather different turn that I had expected to write. Here is the story of Oscar Tomlinson.

Oscar Tomlinson’s birth certificate

Oscar was born on 24th November 1893, seven months after the marriage of his parents William Henry Tomlinson and Ellen Milward at St Peters Church in Belper. The little family lived at the Sotshole end of Over Lane, Openwoodgate, Belper. Both Henry and Ellen had grown up in the area, and they were surrounded by their many siblings as they began their family life. Henry was a coal miner, as were both Oscar’s grandfathers, Henry and Ellen’s fathers. Ellen had worked as a cotton spinner prior to her marriage, while assisting to bring up her younger siblings. Her mother died when she was about nine years old and her step mother when she was only nineteen.

Two years later Oscar’s brother Percy was born on 11th October 1895 and their parents took them to St Peters Church for both boys to be baptised on 20th August 1896. Two more brothers, Eddie and Alf, were born in 1897 and 1902 and they were baptised together at St Peters on 2nd September 1902.

William Henry Tomlinson on the 1901 Census. Ellen’s brother and half sister, Oscar’s uncle and aunt Arthur and Rosa Milward, are boarding with the young family. RG13 piece 3228 folio 122 page 26 schedule 156

In 1906 Oscar’s first sister, Lavinia, was born, followed by a brother Herbert in 1908, another sister Mabel in 1909 and a brother Albert in about February 1911.

William Henry Tomlinson and family on the 1911 Census. RG14PN20967 RG78PN1250 RD436 SD3 ED5 SN256

By 1911 Oscar and Percy had entered the world of work. 17 year old Oscar was working as a pony driver, underground at a coal mine. Local historians tell me that this was very likely Denby colliery as many coal miners lived on Over Lane and walked along the “gang road” to Denby colliery each day.
Pony driver was one of the first jobs a boy entering the coal mine would have, moving onto heavier work after a couple of years.

(c) A P Knighton

Two more sisters Lillian and Gladys were born in 1913 and 1915 respectively. Work in the coal mines probably prevented Oscar from being called up for service in world war one although Oscar’s brother Percy served with the Sherwood Foresters.

In 1916 Oscar married Martha Ellen Orme, who had grown up close by, and in 1917 their son Eric, my grandfather, was born.

Oscar Tomlinson and Martha Ellen Orme marriage certificate

Meanwhile Percy was fighting in Ypres. On 31st July he was involved in an attack with his Lewis gun which resulted in him being awarded a certificate for gallant conduct and devotion to duty. He was injured again on August 15th 1917 and spent several months in hospital before being transferred to the Motor Transport Section.

On 16th December 1918 Percy was discharged from the army, suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. The following spring their youngest sister Gladys died from pneumonia aged just 3 years old.

Percy returned to his pre-war work at the pottery and over the summer of 1919 Percy married Ellen Aldyth Wilkinson, known as Nellie. Within a few weeks their now youngest sister Lilian contracted meningitis and died aged 6 on 30th August 1919.

That November Oscar contracted scarlet fever. He was admitted to the isolation hospital, but within two weeks took himself home.

Image from ebay – Belper Isolation hospital

However, this was illegal and he was fined £3 1s in February 1920 for “exposing himself”. According to the Ripley and Heanor News he was very sorry for having caused trouble.

The day before Oscar’s court case his eldest sister Lavinia contracted meningitis on 1st February 1920 and died eleven days later. Oscar and Percy had now lost three sisters in just nine months, as well as each suffering illnesses themselves.

Belper News, 20 Feb 1920, p. 5

In April Percy’s daughter Annie Spencer Tomlinson was born. Less than a year later on 16th January 1921 the tuberculosis finally caught up with him and he died. Oscar has now lost 3 sisters and a brother within the space of nineteen months, as well as suffering from scarlet fever, and going to court. All the while he has been working as a coal miner.

However, the blows kept coming. In November 1921 Oscar’s wife, Martha contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. She battled for 8 months before passing away on 3rd July 1922. Oscar’s fifth bereavement in just over two years.

Oscar had a 4 year old son who was crying for his mother. I now understand much more clearly why he handed over Eric, my grandfather, to his sister-in-law to bring up. That much loss, coming immediately after the first world war must have been too much too handle.

The story takes another twist on 23rd October 923 when Oscar married Percy’s widow Nellie. Oscar’s brother Alfred and his wife Hilda May Tomlinson were the witnesses. They went on to have a son Dennis who was born in 1925.

At the outbreak of World war two Oscar and Nellie were living at 106 Over Lane, with a child, probably Dennis. Oscar is still working at the coal mine, by now as a ripper. Rippers are the men who remove the rock above the coal seam and set rings (arches) to raise the height of the gate or road as the coal face advances. It was dangerous work.
(c) Ian Cresswell, 106 Over Lane

Pithead washrooms weren’t installed in Denby until 1964, by which time Oscar was 71 and had probably retired. So, all his working life Oscar would have returned home from working underground at the coal face, covered in coal dust and sweat from the heat. Learn more about Denby pit here:

I also found this video in which it is entirely possible that Oscar appears. I don’t have any photographs of him though.

Denby Colliery,Derbyshire. 1842 to 1968. michael szepeta
Denby (Drury – Lowe) Colliery Closed 1968, After 126 Years (Drury – Lowe) colliery (North Derbyshire) sunk 1839 – 1842 by Robert Holden was closed in February 1968 after 126 years. Located at Smithy Houses to the north west of Denby village.

Oscar died on 13th March 1972, still living at 106 Over Lane. Nellie survived him and lived another 9 years.

So, having set out to discover more about Oscar Tomlinson, the coal miner, I found a story of a tragic two years of loss. I learned why my Mum and Grandma never really knew Oscar Tomlinson, despite living in the same village.

My family

52 Ancestors: Week 5 – In The Kitchen

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. This week the prompt is In The Kitchen.

As soon as I saw this week’s prompt I knew I had to write about Grandma, my maternal grandmother. She was a great cook and baker. Had she been around now I’m sure we would have encouraged her to try out for The Great British Bake Off. She would be very proud that her great granddaughter aspires to appear on Junior Bake Off as soon as she is old enough.

Grandma, known to most of the world as Bessie Tomlinson, was born Blanche Elizabeth Wadsworth in Wickersley, Yorkshire in September 1916, the youngest of seven siblings. In 1943 she married my Grandpa, Eric Tomlinson, and moved to his home in Belper, Derbyshire. She lived with her in-laws for a while but in 1950 the family moved into the other half of the semi-detached house owned by the family. She remained in the same house for the rest of her life.

I’m amazed to find I can’t find a picture of Grandma’s kitchen, but it was very much a working environment, not a place for taking photographs.

There was a large, old kitchen table. A cloth would be over the table for meals and during the afternoon. The top had been replaced with formica at some stage before I remember. There was a drawer in the table which contained cooking utensils, it was really hard to slide it back into place. There was a sink and a square of worktop adjacent to it. An ancient boiler and gas cooker occupied what had been the space for a range. Next to that was a tall built in cupboard which contained cake tins and crisps in the bottom, and above that crockery, ingredients, medication and more cooking equipment in what felt to me a complete jumble though Grandma always knew exactly where to find everything. Even into her 90s some things in daily use where kept on the higher shelves which required someone as short as Grandma to climb on a stool to reach. The kitchen was also home to an under the counter size fridge, with a microwave on top.

The house also had a pantry, a sort of half cellar with steps leading down to a chest freezer and a stone slab covered in foodstuffs. There was usually a covered bowl of homemade “potted meat”, and tomatoes in a beautiful (though chipped and cracked) bowl in the shape of lettuce leaves. At the bottom of the stairs was a half bottle of whisky. It belonged to Grandpa but they were both tee-total. A shelf at head cracking height always contained ice-cream cones.

As a child I also remember a sack of flour was kept in the wardrobe in the back bedroom. Grandma made her own bread, and teacakes which were served sliced once vertically and once horizontally and slathered with butter. I remember once saying that I didn’t want butter, but she was horrified. I couldn’t be fed dry bread, we could afford butter. She was very much of the wartime generation.

Everyone who met Grandma enjoyed her baking but she really wouldn’t have understood a gluten free diet. Low fat was beyond her too. We were given bread with the drippings from cooked bacon, and encouraged to mop up any remaining fat on our breakfast plates. As a university friend said, she was the only person we knew who added fat to the pan before cooking bacon.

There was a huge range of cakes, some of those I remember were lemon curd tarts, rice krispie cakes made with melted Mars bars and an extra layer of chocolate on the top, fairy cakes, coconut macaroons and many more. Looking back I’m sad that she didn’t bake with her grand children, we were encouraged to eat all the results, but the baking was done before we arrived.

When we were clearing out her house in 2013 I found a notebook and collection of recipes in the hall cupboard. My delight soon turned to disappointment when I realised that her favourite recipes were entirely in her head and not written down. They’re gone for good. I do however have her mixing bowl and some serving spoons. They are all in regular use and remind me of her every time I get them out.

Denby mixing bowl and serving spoons I inherited from Grandma.
Some of Grandma’s recipe collection

Going back through the collection of recipes this afternoon I noticed a few that I thought must have been shared by family members, Kathleen’s date and walnut load, Irene’s choc balls and Joan’s rich cake. I called Mum and we think that that Kathleen would be my Great Aunt, Grandma’s elder sister, who would very likely have passed on a recipe. Joan might refer to her friend and 2nd cousin or to her niece.

We puzzled for a while over “Irene’s choc balls”, Grandma had a sister and a niece-in-law Irene but Mum remembers that neither were bakers. Then I read out the recipe and Mum remembered the event. My Dad had taken a recipe from a book and in his usual style substituted almost every single ingredient for something else. Somehow Grandma’s sister, my great auntie ‘Renee, tasted the result and loved them. Dad had to try to recall the recipe for Grandma to write down. I’m not sure if they were ever made the same, or indeed at all, ever again!

Sometime in the mid to late 1970s, while Grandpa was working as a school caretaker Grandma took an evening class in “continental cookery”. The only thing any of us remember from the classes is what Grandma always referred to as “Kipper Pidsa”. Should you wish to recreate this continental delicacy I found the recipe. Grandma was of the opinion that the teacher didn’t know what she was doing, and certainly didn’t know how to make bread. The teacher told them to roll the “pidsa” dough flat… Mum remembers the topping perched on the top of a bun. Fortunately I don’t remember being offered any.

A few days ago I asked my Facebook friends what they remembered about Grandma’s baking. Here are some of their comments.

Taking a break from baking.

My family

52 Ancestors: Week 4 – Favourite Photo

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. This week the prompt is Favourite Photo.

How is it the 4th week of 2021 already? Time seems to be flying by. The Society of Genealogists Stage 2 Skills evening course begins this week, I’m really excited to learn more.

I do not have a specific favourite photo, much depends on my mood, and what I’ve been looking at recently. However, scrolling through I found this wonderful picture of my great-grandparents Charles and Clara Hunt with their children and children-in-law.

I have no idea who took the picture, but I think it was taken for Charles and Clara’s Golden wedding celebrations in 1952. They are wearing the same clothes as in the picture in the paper.

The family are standing outside the home they had built 34 Sandbed Lane, Openwoodgate. Charles’ mother and sister lived next door, in the other half of the semi-detached house, for many years and it was then let out until my grandfather moved in.

Charles Hunt was a “thrower” for Denby pottery, working there for 54 years until his retirement aged 67. Although I knew from Mum that he had worked at Denby this was confirmed by another newspaper extract about the Golden Wedding.

His wife Clara was born in West Bromwich but moved to the Belper area with her family before she was a year old. They married in 1902 but apparently could not have children. They adopted Alice and Eric.

Eric was my grandfather, I think it is him peering over his father’s shoulder. I’ve written about him before. His mother, Martha, Clara’s younger sister died in 1922 when he was five. He lived just down the road from his aunt and uncle and regularly visited. I understand that his father asked Charles and Clara to bring him up on the condition that they did so as their own son.

Clara and Martha’s sister Annie had married Sam Wass and moved away to Wickersley, near Rotherham. Annie’s daughter Marjorie went to stay with her auntie Clara one summer, and took her best friend Bessie with her. Bessie eventually married Eric in 1943, and that is her, holding her mother-in-law’s arm and smiling at the right hand side. Grandma didn’t often smile in photos and that is one of the main reasons I chose this as one of my favourites. It also makes me smile to see her arm-in-arm with her mother-in-law, a relationship that can be awkward.

Next to Charles Hunt in the picture is his adopted daughter Alice. I’m not sure exactly when she was adopted, it was too early for official legal adoption paperwork. She was born in 1907, and in 1911 was living with her two older sisters, three uncles, mum and grandfather. By this time her father was working in New Zealand, I’ve yet to find out why. Her mother died in the early part of 1912 and it seems that Alice was then separated from her sisters and brought up by the Hunt family. I am hoping that the 1921 census released next January will shed some more light on her birth family. Alice married in 1935 and that is her husband Albert peeping between Clara and Grandma. Alice and Albert lived further along Sandbed Lane for the remainder of their lives.

Here are a few more pictures of the family.

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.