Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy Holidays

A happy holiday to all. I'm afraid that I won't be able to post any research items on the blog for a couple of weeks. I'm going to have a minor operation which will keep me away from the internet for a short while. However, as I'll be recouperating up in Yorkshire, I'm going to take the opportunity to visit the West Yorkshire Archives to search their Church Records, both non-conformist and Anglican. I'm hoping to find a lot of births, marriages and deaths from 1770 to about 1960 in my various families that lived in the West Riding. I'll report back in a couple of weeks. Best wishes, James.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

SMITH - Ag Lab original...


The very first question I had when I started genealogy was, "who were the parents of Harold Wright?" Harold Wright was my mother's grandfather. He was born and lived in Acomb, a parish in the ancient Ainsty of York. Therefore in about 1999, I went to the Borthwick Institute in York to view their parish registers for St. Stephen's Church, Acomb. Before too long, I had found the following entries:

May 12 1897: Henry Cecil son of Henry & Ada Wright, Acomb, joiner

Jan 17 1900: Harold son of Henry & Ada Wright, Acomb, joiner
Sep 24 1902: Ethel dau of Henry & Ada Wright, Acomb, joiner
Aug 23 1905: Kathleen Maud dau of Henry & Ada Wright, Gale View Acomb, joiner

Mar 9 1895:

Henry Wright, 26, bachelor, joiner, Acomb, father James Wright market gardener

Ada Smith, 23, spinster, Acomb, father deceased no name given.
Witnesses- John George Wright, Lilly Smith & Mabel Ellis

I found out that Ada Smith was my great-great grandmother, and that she probably had a sister or cousin called Lilly. Unfortunately though, I had no real information about anything else about her or her family. As she married past 1891, I had to wait until the release of the 1901 census to find out her birthplace. - I actually have a picture of Ada Smith which I aim to scan in soon - see here.

Having obtained the 1901 census, I could see that Ada Wright (nee Smith) was living on Front Street, Acomb, with her husband Henry Wright (working as a wagon builder for the railways) and her two eldest sons - Henry Cecil Wright and Harold Wright (my great-grandfather). This census also revealed that she was born in 1872 in Kirkby Malzeard in the West Riding of Yorkshire right on the border with the North Riding. See here for more on the history of Kirkby Malzeard.

The parents of Ada Smith
This necessitated a trip to the North Riding record office in Northallerton. There I searched the parish records of Kirkby Malzeard.

Oct 1 1871: Ada dau of Richard & Elizabeth Smith, farmer, North Close KM.
May 8 1870: Emily dau of Richard & Elizabeth Smith, husbandmen, North Close KM.

I was fairly confident that this was the right Ada Smith, as I could not find any other references to an Ada Smith in the Kirkby Malzeard registers. After finding Ada in these registers, I was able to search for her family in the censuses between 1871 and 1891. In 1871, Richard and Elizabeth Smith are living in Kirkby Malzeard with daughter Emily. Richard is an agricultural labourer - I think having a Smith ancestor who is an ag lab should be a genealogy badge of honour.

In 1881, Richard and Elizabeth Smith had moved to Alne, near Easingwold, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. This was where the youngest three children and Richard himself were born. His wife Elizabeth was born in Sutton-on-the-Forest, which is also North of York. Richard is living at Malt Kiln Cottages and is working as a foreman malster, which seems to be a bit of an improvement from an ag lab. I found out a lot more about the Smith family by researching the parish registers for Alne at the North Yorkshire Record Office.

In 1891, Richard and Elizabeth were still living at Alne Station Malt Kiln and Richard was still working as a Foreman in the Malt Kiln. Interestingly, they also have a daughter Lillie Smith - who would likely be the witness at Ada's marriage four years later in Acomb. Significantly, I have completed a full research of all the SMITHs of Alne from the nineteenth century - I will write more about the various branches in a later post - however, the only Lillie Smith who was baptised in Alne (and could be therefore a relative) was an illegitimate daughter of an Eliza Ann Smith from Tollerton, baptised on 16/11/1879. I have found no relationship between this Eliza Ann Smith and any of my Smith family though. A possibility is that Lillie was illegitimate and brought up by Richard and Elizabeth, though it is also a possibility that Richard and Elizabeth did not baptise Lillie (unlikely as all their other children were baptised) or baptised her somewhere else (though a search of the IGI has failed to find a potential match).

According to the Alne parish registers, Richard Smith died on 22/9/1892. In 1901, I then found Elizabeth Smith living as a widow in Acomb at 10 Grove Terrace, working as a laundress. On the same street, at 2 Grove Terrace, her son Joseph Smith is living with his wife Hannah and young son Wilfred. Her daughter Ada Smith is living with her young family not far away on Front St, Acomb. I have yet to find out what happened after 1895 to Lillie Smith.

Please go to this post to find out about the ancestry of Richard Smith.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Reading your Lines, Loyns or Lyons


My grandfather Cornelius Curley's maternal grandparents were John and Mary Driscoll. In 1901, they were both living in one of the small tennament buildings of Birmingham - Tennant Dr. 6 Court 9 House - in the Emmanuel parish of Birmingham. Their eldest daughter Mary,
Cornelius' mother, was living with them.

From the 1901 census, I found that Mary Driscoll senior was born in approximately 1865 in Birmingham. This rough birthdate and birthplace was confirmed by the 1891 census where Mary Driscoll was a press worker, living at Cardigan St with her husband and daughter, Mary.

An introduction to the Lines family

To find out Mary Driscoll senior's maiden name, I sent off for the birth certificate of Mary Driscoll, my great-grandmother. The certifcate showed that Mary was born on October 23rd 1883 at "Back 44 1/2 Curzon St.", Birmingham - probably another tennament address. The informant of the birth was Mary's mother, Mary Driscoll - formerly Mary Lines.

I then obtained the certificate for the marriage of John Driscoll and Mary Lines, which took place at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Aston on Christmas Day 1882. Both John Driscoll and Mary Lines were living in Great Lister Street, Duddeston at the time. Mary Lines was 22 years, suggesting that she was born in 1860, and her father was given as Edward Lines - a labourer. Although the registrar originally wrote James Lines, before ammending the certificate. The witnesses to the marriage were Joseph Dignam and Kate Lines. One thing that I find slightly odd about this marriage certificate is that all of the handwriting is in the same hand, yet only Kate Lines has an 'x' next to her name to indicate that she made a mark (signature). I'm not clear why she was asked to do this when it seems as if the other witness and the bride and groom were not.

I have no idea yet who Joseph Dignam may be. At a future date I will try and find out more information about this witness of the marriage between John and Mary. I like the challenge of finding out about the life of people who are initially only a name on a page, but it is also useful to try and find out information about the friends of your ancestors - it may lead to more evidence about the sort of lives that they led.

Edward Lines, Loyns, Lyons...
All of the following information I have pieced together using census records. This is only one piece of evidence, and so I would like to cross-check this with other evidence such as the Roman Catholic church records and vital records.

I was expecting to find the Lines family in 1881 in Gt. Lister St., Duddeston, as this is where Mary Lines was living in 1882. However, I failed to find any Lines there. Searching the index for the 1881 census, I found two Mary Lines who were daughters of Edward Lines, of roughly the right age. One of these lived in a very high class neighbourhood of Birmingham with at least one brother called Percival! Obviously this did not look like the right family. I then found the right family living in a tennament house in John Street, St. Mary's Ward - Edward Lines was a bricklayer's labourer, Mary was of the right age and a press worker, and she had an elder sister Catherine who was unmarried and would make a strong candidate for a witness to Mary's wedding one year later. Like the father of John Driscoll, the parents of Mary Lines also originally came from Ireland.

I initially had some trouble trying to find the Lines family in the 1871 census. This was primarily because I was searching the online indexes for 'Lines', rather than doing what I would have done without the index - searching John St. When I did this, I was able to find the family still living there - though their surname was spelt - 'Lyons'. Edward Lines/Lyons was a labourer, while Mary Lines (my great-great-grandmother) was a 9 year old 'tin worker'.

I also had some difficulties finding the Lines family in the 1861 census. When I did find them, they were still living in St. John street - and there was another spelling of the surname - 'Loyns'. Edward Lines/Lyons/Loyns was a labourer. I have been unable to find him in the 1851 census of England thus far - I know that he must have been in England by 1856 as the eldest child, Catherine, was born in Birmingham. I've also searched the GRO indexes for a possible marriage certificate of Edward with his various surname spellings. There is a marriage of an Edward Loyns in the Dec 1851 quarter which may be a possibility.

I have also been unable to find any references to Edward and Mary Lines later than 1883 (when their daughter Mary Lines was married to John Driscoll). There are some possibilities in the death registers between 1883 and 1891, though none that I can uniquely identify. I think obtaining some extra vital records and Roman Catholic Church registers will be the way to take this research forward. These records will also help to iron out inconsistencies between the data in different censuses - for instance, Mary Lines senior only appears to age 10 years between 1861 and 1881 - assuming that she is the same Mary Lines in every census!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Journal of William Green Bickley

The son of Mary Jane Green (b1821, Smalley Hill) was William Green Bickley, who was born in May 1842. He became a Mormon while living in England, eventually emigrating to Utah in 1861. 28 years later, he returned to the Black Country on a missionary trip and wrote a journal of his experiences. I have been fortunate enough to have received some extracts from this journal from William Green Bickley's great-grandaughter who lives in Utah. Thanks to my 3rd cousin Gillian for putting me in contact with this fascinating source - Gillian, like myself, is a descendant of Mary Jane Green's younger brother Thomas Green who was born in 1827 in Smalley Hill, Little Wenlock.

The passages concentrate on the missionary work of William, but also contain many interesting social commentaries. The entry for Tuesday 24th November 1889 is of particular interest, as William Green Bickley describes the last few moments of the life of his uncle - and my great-great-grandfather - Thomas Green.

Also, I think diary and journal entries give a wonderful impression of the life and character of individuals. I particularly like one line from this journal entry which I have highlighted in red - it's always important to remember, however, that one person's description of an individual's character may not be the same as another's!

William Green Bickley appears to have had a very eventful and full life in the Mormon Church. I believe that there are some further writings on his life and work, which I hope to be able to read at some point.



"Nov. 3., 1889-- Journeyed to Willenhall in Staffordshire, where my sisters, Betsy and Hannah resided. The meeting between us was affecting as well it may be after a separation of nearly 28 years. I spent that day and the following with them and on Tuesday the 5th I reported to my president at B 40, Roland Road Handsworth, Birmingham. I was excused for 2 or 3 weeks in order that I might visit friends and returned to Willenhall the same day. On the next morning I went to Manchester, and visited with my very dear sisters, Sarah Brown Makinson and Christianna Brown. Oh it was an enjoyable meeting. I myself was moved to tears. I found them both enjoying excellent health. We devoted ourselves to the pleasures of the moment, in talking over old times when we were children and congratulating each other on the happiness of our meeting.

On Friday the 8th we visited our cousin Charles Jones and family and were hospitably received and entertained. During this visit I had the pleasure of going into and inspecting some of the large cotton mills in that vicinity. The manufacture of cotton fabrics being the principal industry of Lancashire. On Saturday we went into Manchester and I must confess, I was astounded and grieved at the sights of degradation and sorrow I witnessed and all caused by that dreadful abomination "Drink". It is certainly a city of wealth and culture but along side of the millionaire, you may see the starving, pinched, haggard faces of the occupants of the slums and oh the agony that is portrayed in the sunken eyes and hollow features of the poor. We visited the royal museum in Peel Park which is really a beautiful collection. We passed a very pleasant day.

On Sunday the 10th we spent the day in visiting with our cousin Fanny, Uncle Thomas Green's eldest daughter at Lees.

Monday the 11th was spent socially by my sister Christianna and myself. In the afternoon I visited some friends of Sarah's and in the evening called upon cousin Charles.

On Wednesday the 13th we made preparations for departure as Christianna was due at a new place of service with Mrs. Smith of 19 Town Hall Square, Bolton.

On the 17th, Sunday, I attended the Sunday School of the church of St. Giles and on the following day I visited my Uncle Thomas at Brownhills, where I passed a very enjoyable two days visit.

On Tuesday the 24th November returned to the mission office and found a note awaiting me desiring that I would go to Brownhills as my Uncle Thomas Green was in a serious condition of ill health. I started at once, walking to Walsall and took the train to Brownhills. I found my uncle very ill indeed and at once endeavored to comfort him and other members of the family.

My uncle said he felt quite content with his prospects of the future state, but he could not hardly have felt so, for he would frequently call upon God for mercy in anything but a contented voice. My mind was sensibly impressed with the absurdity of a death bed repentance. I cannot at all understand how a person can live all his days in a dissolute manner his body continually filled with intoxicants and then at the last moment, when death stares him in the face, expect to have the mercy of God extended to him even so much as to take him to the realms of eternal Glory. I stayed at Uncles until Thursday afternoon. Sat up with him both nights and doing what I could for him. Just before I left Uncle Thomas' home, my aunt Sarah arrived and I must say I was a little disappointed at the cool manner in which she received me after so long an absence. I do not think she interchanged a half dozen words with me but it is of no consequence. I bid Uncle goodbye and went to Willenhall for a day or two, talking wherever I could on the Gospel.

On Monday Dec 9, I returned to the office and found a letter announcing my Uncle's death on the morning of the 6th, inst., and desiring my presence at the funeral on the following day. I went again to Brownhills on Tuesday and saw him laid in his last home on earth and returned to Birmingham in the evening.

Jan 2, Passed the morning studying and writing. In the afternoon, walked to Willenhall to see my relatives. Found all well except my niece, Polly Carter. She was suffering from hysteria produced by fright. A drunken man had threatened to cut her throat and she is naturally quite nervous. I visited both my sisters and stayed at Hannah's.

Saturday March 8. Willenhall. Devoted this morning to a thorough good bath and writing home. In the afternoon I called at the place where my niece is living (Miss Polly Carter).

Sunday March 9. Attended the Parish Church of St. Giles and in the afternoon my niece Polly Carter came to visit me. We took a walk out by Wednesfield and returned by way of Portbello. In the evening my niece Polly Watterson accompanied her back to Darlaston.

May30. Manchester, I took advantage of cheap trip to come and visit my dear sisters, Chrissie met me at the station and we went to Falsworth and passed a social afternoon together. Walked out to the new cemetery and then called upon cousin Charles Jones.

Some interesting entries from September as he visited around the mission. 1890. I imagine they spent a lot of their time just walking from one assignment to the next.

Sept 18. Birmingham. Attended outdoor meeting and the testimony meeting in the chapel.

Sept 19. Walsall. Bro Cummings and I left this morning for a trip through a portion of our district.

Sept 20. Gentleshaw. Upon arising from bed this morning Bro. Cummings felt himself too ill to travel, and it was necessary to visit the people so I continued my journey alone, calling on Uncle Green's folks as I passed through Brownhills.

Sept 21. Gentleshaw. Met with the saints at Wimblebury this afternoon and preached in the evening. Returned to Gentleshaw.

Sept 22. Lichfield. Arrived here early this morning. Visited some of the interesting places.

Sept 23. Birmingham. Walked from Lichfield home. 17 miles. Very tired and glad to get a rest.

Feb 23, 1891. Manchester. Today, I took my bath for the first time in this city. Excellent accommodations are provided by the corporation for this purpose. A really good bath with warm water, soap and flesh brushes and two towels and toilet fixtures can be had for 4 pence, which is 8 cents in U.S. Money and a good second class bath for 2 pence and the large swimming bath only 1 penny. So there is no excuse for any one not getting clean for any length of time. It is out of the question.

In the evening I went to an entertainment in the Central hall which is a place held and controlled by the religious organization known as the Methodists. Whatever the character of their religious services may be, I certainly think they deserve credit for providing an entertainment of the excellent character I witnessed on Saturday evening at the low price of one penny. Exceptionally good artists are secured both vocal, instrumental and elocutory and I must say the various numbers of this program were rendered in a very creditable manner and drew frequent manifestations of approval."