Monday, December 31, 2007

Wright tracks

My grandmother was Doreen Wright, who was born and raised in Acomb in the Ainsty of York. I had traced her Wright ancestry back three further generations - her father Harold Wright (1900-1972, a painter & decorator), her grandfather Henry Wright (1868-1956, railway wagon builder & market gardener) and great-grandfather James Wright (1836-1908, market gardener, brick manufacturer, pub landlord & private care home for mentally handicapped children proprietor!) - all of whom also lived in Acomb. James Wright was not born in Acomb though, coming to the village in about 1868 just prior to Henry's birth. James had actually been born in the neighboring parish of Bishophill Senior. This parish is one of the four along the Western route into York from Acomb. The other three are Holy Trinity Micklegate, Dringhouses and Bishophill Junior. This map is a useful guide to the unusual jigsaw nature of these parishes. In this previous post, I showed how in the 1841-1861 censuses, James Wright is living with his parents John (a gardener) and Ann Wright along with some siblings. I'm not sure of the exact address in each of these as it doesn't appear to be given. To find out about the Wright family of Dringhouses, I had to search through the church registers of each parish as well as using the IGI.

John and Ann Wright

From the censuses I had found the names of 8 children of John and Ann. Looking through the St. Mary Bishophill Senior baptismal register, I found the records for five of the children. The ones I could not find were George (b.1827), Mary (b.1839) and Henry (b.1844). The five entries I did find were quite good giving both the date of baptism as well as the actual date of birth. All of
them, which occurred between 1830-1841, listed John Wright as a gardener. From the marriage records of the same parish, I found the following marriage entry:

"John Wright, husbandman, of the parish of the parish of Holy Trinity, Micklegate, bachelor, and Ann Calvert, of this parish, spinster. Married in Church, by banns, 12 Oct 1829, witnesses, Robert Bellerby & Richard Douglas."

Additionally, this marriage notice appears in the York Reference Library Newspaper Index, though I have not viewed it. This gives a lot of background information about John and Ann (especially her maiden name which is another common local surname). The other notable fact is that this marriage took place well after the eldest child George (according to the census) was born. Using the IGI, I found a George Calvert the bastard child of Ann Calvert baptised in St.
Mary's Bishophill Senior on 30th July 1826. I still haven't found the baptism entries for Mary or Henry.

Tying up the loose ends

In the next posts, I shall discuss the childhoods and parents of John Wright and Ann Calvert. However, it is worth taking some time to figure out what we still need to know about their adult lives. We have found out that they married in 1829 and had 7 children together until 1844 plus Ann's illegitimate son George changed his surname to Wright and was named as John's son in the census. During this period John was working as a husbandman & gardener, suggesting that he leased the land he worked upon. The 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses confirm that John was a gardener, on 15 acres in 1851. To see if John and Ann were still alive in 1871, I checked that census - I found that they were both living in Dringhouses with John (aged 66) working as a brickmaker and gardener (see image above). These occupations were common to the Wright family, and the Dringhouses & Acomb areas was well known for its brickmaking ponds - [good link to article on 19thC brickmaking in York]. Also living with them is John Wright a grandson (b. 1858) and a servant John Spencer. This grandson appears to be the same one that was living with John and Ann in 1861 ten years earlier. I cannot find either John or Ann Wright in subsequent censuses, suggesting that they died before 1881. A search of the free index of births, marriages and deaths finds that a John Wright b.1804 had a death registered in York in 1880 and an Ann Wright b.1804 had a death registered in York in 1879. Both of these are likely candidates.
I'm still not sure whose child the grandson, John Wright, is - he could be an illegitimate child of one of the daughters, a child of an unknown son, or the child of George Wright (Calvert). I don't think it's a son of John & Ann's son James as I think I know all of his children, and it is unlikely to be the son of their other son Henry as he is too young. A look at my notes for the parish records and a search of the IGI doesn't find a good match, so I am left wondering for a bit longer.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Curley family memories

Here is a link to a website that has a large amount of information pertaining to Ladywood, the part of Birmingham that my Curley family lived during the last century. There is lots of history and photos of various streets, including Ryland Street which was lived on by my great-grandfather Thomas Curley and his family.

Under the "Memories of our Street" tab there are also some entries by my aunts describing some of their memories of their lives growing up in Ladywood.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Naming your daughter after a pub...

I have described earlier a little about the life of John George Wright, who was my great-great-grandfather's eldest brother. John George was born in April 1862 in Dringhouses, only a few weeks after his 18 year old mother (Mary Benson) and his 25 year old father James Wright were married. He was baptised in the neighbouring parish of Acomb on 6th April 1862. John George became a brick and tile manufacturer and lived at first in Acomb (until about 1895) and then he and his wife Annie Elizabeth moved to Bridlington. John George appears to have been close to his mother's family, as in the 1881 census when he was aged 19 he was living with his mother's parents in Acomb.

In my previous post, I noted that John George and Annie Elizabeth had one child living with them in the 1891 census, a Mary Ellen Wright who was only 6 months of age. She certainly survived until she was at least 10 years old as she is also living with her parents in the 1901 census in Bridlington.

On looking through my notes taken 10 years ago, I now realise that John George and Annie Elizabeth actually had 3 other elder children who all died in infancy prior to 1891. It appears as if the couple had been living in Dringhouses, near to Acomb between 1885 and 1889. This is quite plausible as Dringhouses had numerous 'brick ponds' that were important for brickmaking.

From Edward-the-Confessor Church, Dringhouses, baptismal register:

Jan 1 1885, Benson Herbert, son of John George & Annie Elizabeth Wright, North Lane Dringhouses, builder.

March 1886, Marcia, daughter of John George & Annie Elizabeth Wright, North Field Terrace, builder.

July 24 1888, Marcia Lucy Harriet, daughter of John George & Annie Elizabeth Wright, North Field Terrace, builder.

And from the York Reference Library newspaper index:

Yorkshire Gazette 18/12/1888
On 15/12/1888, at 1 Northfield Terrace, Dringhs York, death of John George Wright's daughter Marcia Lucy Harriett, aged 1 yr 12 days.

Yorkshire Gazeette 22/12/1888
Death of John George Wright's son Benson Herbert aged 4.

It appears therefore that John George Wright and Annie Elizabeth married probably in 1884. Searching a marriage of all John George Wright's on the ancestry (incomplete) index, I wasn't able to find a match for John George and Annie Elizabeth, so I'm still unsure about the exact details of this marriage. However, they had their first child - Benson Herbert - in January 1885. Benson seems to have been named after John George's mother's family name, and unfortunately he died aged 4 in 1888 in the same week that his sister Marcia Lucy Harriett died. Their sister, also named Marcia, was born and presumably died before Marcia Lucy was born. Both of these girls share a name with the public house (pictured & now called 'The Poacher') that their John George's parents were operating.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

James Wright of Acomb

James Wright and his wife, Mary (nee Benson), were my 3xgreat-grandparents and lived the majority of their lives in Acomb, near York. The church of Acomb, St. Stephen's is pictured to the left. They had 10 children, including their second eldest son Henry - my great-great grandfather - the pedigree is viewable here. In this post I am going to detail how I found out more information about the life of James Wright from the York City Archives, York Reference Library, Borthwick Institute and Acomb churchyard.

James Wright's life in Acomb
Having found my 2xgreat grandfather Henry Wright and his various siblings in the 1871 -1891 censuses, I had been able to identify a tombstone in the St. Stephen's churchyard as that of his father James Wright. Coincidentally, this tombstone is next to another Wright tombstone - that of Eustace Wright and family, though I do not think that they were at all related as Eustace came from the Midlands. These MIs are also kept at York Reference Library thanks to an indexing project by a Miss J. Baxter in 1974. The tombstone (pictured) read in part:

"also JAMES WRIGHT / father of the above / who died 9th December 1908 / aged 72 years / 'thy will be done' "

the Acomb parish and census records and trade directories, I was able to find out that James Wright was living in Acomb village from about 1868 (when he was aged about 30) onwards and that he appeared to have varied occupations:

22/10/1868 - farmer at baptism of son Henry

5/3/1871 - farmer at baptism of dau Mary Ellen

10/4/1871 - farmer of 20 acres employing 2 servants (Isabella Barker and William Dykes), living at Poplar Villa in the census.

1872 - market gardener in Acomb (directory)

10/11/1872 - farmer at baptism of son James

25/10/1874 - farmer at baptism of son William

1876 - market gardener in Acomb (directory)

15/6/1877 - farmer at baptism of dau Amy

27/7/1879 - gardener at baptism of dau Flory

3/4/1881 - brick manufacturer and farmer of 80 acres, employing four servants, living at Poplar Grove in the census. James Wright also has boarding a boy who is described as an imbecile. We know from family history that he took in mentally handicapped children to look after as a business.

1881-1882 - brick & tile manufacturer in Acomb(Stevens directory)

10/9/1882 -
market gardener at baptism of dau Lucretia

1890 - market gardener at Poplar Grove (Bulmer's directory). Though his wife Mary is listed as the victualler of the Marcia Inn.

5/4/1891 - licensed victualler at the Marcia Inn, Acomb

9/3/1895 - market gardener at wedding of son Henry 1895 - market gardener in Acomb (White directory)

31/3/1901 - market gardener living at Poplar Grove. James Wright is now blind.

9/12/1908 - dies in Acomb.

It seems therefore that James Wright was primarily a farmer or market gardener and brickmaker who lived the majority of his life at Poplar Grove. Throughout the last half of the nineteenth century the land he was farming increased in size and he was at one time farming 80 acres. He also though was at times running the Marcia Inn and had a side-business in looking after ill children. I also have a document given to me by the current owners of the house at Poplar Grove that describes that James Wright was declared bankrupt between 1883 and 1899, so some of his endeavors may not have been so successful.

James Wright between 1862 and 1868
James Wright arrived in Acomb in around 1868. This can be seen from the baptism of his son Henry Wright which occurred in Acomb. Before that, he and his wife seem to have lived in the parish of York known as All Saints Pavement (church pictured) from 1864 to about 1868 where two of his daughters were baptised. This parish covers the very centre of York around the streets of Coppergate, Pavement, Piccadilly, High Ousegate and Parliament Street. The period between 1862 and 1864 is also confusing. James' first child, John George Wright was born in 1862. On all his census records his birthplace is Dringhouses, a parish on the outskirts of York near to Acomb. I could not find his baptism in the Acomb registers (though I may not have gone back far enough in my original search). The IGI claims that John George was baptised on 6th April 1862 in Acomb, so it is possible that he was baptised here but born in Dringhouses. I therefore know that James and Mary had three children between 1862 and 1868, but am not entirely sure about their whereabouts or occupations during this period.

The marriage of James Wright and Mary Benson
For a long time I could not find the marriage of James and Mary. I knew from the census that James was born in Dringhouses and Mary was born in York but had lived in the neighbouring parish of Acomb, so I searched these registers but to no avail. Also the parish registers of All Saints Pavement (where their second and third children were baptised) and the parish register of Holy Trinity Micklegate (which is in between A.S.P. and Dringhouses) also failed to show the marriage record. Finally, I got lucky when I searched the newspaper index at York Reference Library and found an entry for 30th March 1861 in the Yorkshire Gazette.

"WRIGHT - BENSON - On the 24th inst., at St. Olave's Church, Marygate, in this city, by the Rev. A. Bartliff, Mr. James Wright, son of Mr. Wright, gardener, Dringhouses, to Mary, eldest daughter of Mr. George Benson, farmer, of Acomb, near this city."

St. Olave's Marygate is pictured here. It is adjoined to the city walls, next to the Museum Gardens. The fact that their son John George was born only one month after the wedding may be a factor in why I found it so hard to find the parish in which the wedding occurred. It seems that they may have married hurriedly in a parish that they did not normally frequent.

I have no details about the occupation of James at this time as I have not got either the parish record entry or marriage certificate yet. Two weeks later the 1861 census was taken, and James and Mary Wright are living with James' parents, John and Ann Wright and their children in a private house in Holy Trinity Micklegate, York. James Wright is described as a gardener, like his father and brother Henry.

The early life of James Wright

In 1851, James Wright is aged 14 and living in Dringhouses with his parents John and Ann. John is a gardener of 16 acres and James is also working as a gardener.

In 1841 the family are living in the Bishophill Junior part of the Dring- houses parish where John Wright is a gardener. Though I have not found the baptismal entry of James Wright, from the IGI I have found that James was baptised on the 3rd June 1836 at St. Mary Bishophill Senior.

Friday, August 10, 2007

What happened to Henry Wright's siblings?

In the previous post I discussed how I found out more about the early life of my great-great-grandfather Henry Wright, including learning about his brothers and sisters. I have found that James and Mary Wright, who spent the majority of their lives in Acomb, had at least 10 children. In this post I shall discuss what I know about each of these.

1. John George Wright, baptised 6th April 1862. John George was the eldest child and was born in Dringhouses, that at different times existed in either the parish of St. Mary Bishophill or Holy Trinity Micklegate on the western border of York. This is the place that his father James Wright had also been born in. In 1871 I found him living with his parents at Poplar Villa in Acomb, but in subsequent censuses he wasn't living with them.
In the 1881 census he is staying with his grandparents, George and Eliza Benson (his mother Mary's parents), in Acomb. He is unmarried and working as a bricklayer's apprentice. (nb. see here for information on three children born 1885-1888).

I next find him in the 1891 census, living at 17 Beaconsfield Terrace, Acomb, working as a brickmaker. He has married an Annie Elizabeth who was born in Tadcaster, and had a daughter Mary Ellen. From the parish registers, I found that Mary Ellen was baptised on 9th Nov 1890 in Acomb, and her father was described as a brick manufacturer. He seems to have been doing fairly well as he had a live-in domestic servant, Eliza Hardcastle who was from Acomb. John George appears twice more in the records of Acomb in the trade directories of 1893 and 1895 where he is described as a brickmaker at the same address as the 1891 census. In March 1895, John George was a witness at the wedding of my great-great-grandfather Henry Wright in Acomb. I have not yet found any record of John George's marriage to Annie Elizabeth, so I am unsure as to her maiden name.

Between 1895 and 1901, however, he has moved address to Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast about 55 miles away. In the 1901 census, they are living on what appears to be a wealthy street with music teachers, wine merchants and government officials, with all the houses having names. Their abode is Lansdown [sic] Villas No2, Archibald House, Freshfield, The Muck? (I can't quite read this word). John George is a bricklayer and they have no more children living with them. This is the last information I have on this family, though I'd love to know what eventually happened to them.

2. Eliza Anne Wright, was baptised on 31st July 1864 at All Saints Pavement, York. She is living wither her parents in Acomb in 1871 and 1881, but I have no information thereafter. She probably married around 1881-1891, but I haven't found her marriage record.

3. Jane Wright, was baptised on 27th May 1866 also at All Saints Pavement. She is living with her parents in Acomb in 1871, but not in 1881 despite only being 15. I cannot find her elsewhere in the census, so I wonder if she died, though I have not find her in any parish records or monumental inscriptions.

4. Henry Wright - my great-great-grandfather.

5. Mary Ellen Wright. Mary Ellen is the sibling of Henry that I know the most information, as my relatives grew up knowing their cousins in this branch and I have also been subsequently in touch with descendants of Mary Ellen. She was baptised on 5th March 1871 in Acomb, and appears aged 2 months living at Poplar Grove in the 1871 census. In 1881 she is living with them still at Poplar Grove and is at school.

By 1891, her parents had taken over running the Marcia Inn. This meant that at the census of 1891 Mary Ellen was listed as being the head of household back at Poplar Grove, the property the Wright family owned on Askham Lane, and is working as a market gardener. So she is probably running the farm as well as the house. She is living there with her two younger sisters, Flory Wright and Lucretia Wright (who is named Louise on the return), two farm labourers and a house servant. Also living in the house is a domestic nurse, Elizabeth Nelson, who is from York. She is obviously there to help the Wrights look after two patients - Glendaline Davies from Lancashire and Alexander Thomas from Bristol who is described as deaf and dumb. Both of these two are boarders who are 'living on own means', which probably means that they were the offspring of wealthy individuals who needed looking after as they had illnesses. I do not know why the Wright family got into the business of looking after sick children, it may have been for financial or charity based reasons, it would be very interesting to find out.

Very shortly after this census was taken, Mary Ellen Wright married Edward Atkinson on the 12th Nov 1891 at Newton Kyme, near Tadcaster. The father of Edward Atkinson is given as Robert Burrow Atkinson according to the IGI. According to the 1891 census Robert Atkinson was a retired ham and bacon factor (a dealer) who was originally from Whittington, Lanchashire. He and his family were living at 23 Blossom Street, York. Edward Atkinson was also a ham and bacon factor like his elderly father, but was born in York. I am unsure why they married out in Newton Kyme, and not in either Acomb or York.

The last documentary evidence
I have for Mary Ellen is the 1901 census, where she is living with her husband Edward, a provision dealer, at 23 Blossom Street. They are living with their children Betsy Alice (named after Edward's mother), Olive, Lawrence Guy and George B, all of whom were born in York. Indeed, the Atkinson family ran this provisions shop for a long time throughout the twentieth century.

6. James Wright, the namesake of his father, was baptised on the 10th November 1872 at Acomb. In 1891 he is a market gardener living with his parents at the Marcia Inn. In the 1901 census he is still living with his parents at Poplar Grove, but is now listed as a bricklayer and is unmarried. I don't know what happened to James Wright after 1901.

7. William Wright was baptised on 25th October 1874 at Acomb. He is listed as a market gardener in 1891 and is living at the Marcia Inn. In 1901 he is also still living with his parents but is working as a railway clerk. I don't know when William married or what happened to him after 1901.

8. Amy Wright was baptised on 15th June 1877 at Acomb and is living with her parents in the 1881 census. However, she died at a young age, as I found her monumental inscription in the churchyard of St. Stephen's:

"In loving memory of AMY, the dear and much beloved child of James and Mary Wright, born June 7th 1877 died December 6th 1883. Is it well with the child... It is well: Kings.IV.26"

9. Florie Wright was baptised on the 27th July 1879 at Acomb. She was living at Poplar Grove in 1881-1901, and was still unmarried by 1901. I don't know what happened to Florie after 1901.

10. Lucretia Wright was baptised in Acomb on 10th September 1882. She also was living at Poplar Grove in 1891 and 1901. I found from the churchyard in Acomb at the same grave as her sister Amy and her parents the following monumental inscription:

"Also LUCRETIA HUNT daughter of the above passed away 18th May 1940 aged 56 years."

I'm not sure why she would be burried in Acomb and not with her husband, but perhaps she had moved back to Acomb during the war. From the BMD indexes, I found that she married in 1910 to a John A Hunt which was registered in Gt. Ouseburn, which covers the Acomb area.

After discussing all of the children of James and Mary Wright, in the next post I shall discuss their lives.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Henry Wright of Acomb

In the previous post I discussed how the obituary in 1956 of my great-great grandfather Henry Wright had described how he was living on Front Street, Acomb, and had worked as a wagon builder at the local rail-works. I also knew from the baptisms of his four children, his own marriage certificate in Acomb in 1895 and the 1901 census that he had always worked as a joiner or wagon builder. The 1901 census stated that he was living on Front Street, Acomb, and in his obituary it mentioned that his family had farmed a large tract of land off Askham Lane, Acomb. His marriage entry had given his father's name as James Wright, a market gardener. A John George Wright was one of the witnesses and was probably a brother. It should be therefore fairly easy to find more local information on Henry Wright.

The early years of Henry Wright

The first search for Henry Wright was the 1891 census. Here, he was found at the Marcia Inn, on Front Street, Acomb, where his parents James and Mary Wright are the licensed victuallers. James Wright was born in Dringhouses, York, whereas Mary was born in York itself. Henry like his two younger brothers James and William was born in Acomb and is working as a market gardener. James Wright was described as a market gardener.

In the 1881 census, Henry's father is described as a brick manufacturer and a farmer of 80 acres, and is living at Poplar Grove, which is off Askham Lane. This census also reveals other siblings; Eliza Ann, Jane, and Mary Ellen, who are older than Henry, and Flory and Lucretia who were the youngest of the family. The oldest two children were born in York, with Mary Ellen being the first born in Acomb in 1871, suggesting that James and Mary Wright first came to Acomb as a married couple in that year. They appear to be a wealthy couple at this time as James is a farmer of 80 acres, and they are employing four servants, two in the house and two in the farm. There is also living at the house a Thomas Johnston a child of 10 years who was born in Scarborough and is described as being an imbecile from birth. I have subsequently found out that the Wrights used to take in mentally handicapped children from wealthy families who did not want to raise them themselves.

In the 1871 census, Henry is still living at Poplar Villa as it is described with his parents. James Wright is a farmer of 20 acres at this time and employs 2 servants, one in the house and one on the farm. On this census, there is the oldest child born to James and Mary Wright, John G. Wright who was born in Dringhouses like his father. This is John George Wright, the witness to Henry's wedding 24 years later.

Parish Records
To confirm some of these relationships, a search of the parish records of St. Stephen's, Acomb, found the baptism of Henry Wright, on 22nd October 1868 to James and Mary Wright of Acomb. James Wright is described as a farmer, as he is for the baptisms of his next four children born in Acomb, Mary Ellen, James, William and Amy, who was baptised in 1877. The last two children to be baptised were Flory and Lucretia in 1879 and 1882 where James Wright was described as a gardener or a market gardener. I also found the baptism in 1862 of John George Wright in Dringhouses, where James Wright is again described a gardener. On the IGI I found the baptismal entries of Eliza Anne Wright and Jane between 1864 and 1866 at All Saints Pavement, York, a parish in the centre of York. In the next post I shall discuss what I have found out about the later lives of Henry's brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Henry Wright's Obituary

My great-grandfather Harold Wright was the second of four children born to Henry Wright and Ada Smith. From parish records and the 1901 census I had found out that Henry Wright had worked at the turn of the century as a wagon builder at the railway works in Acomb near York. I did not know very much more about Henry Wright until I found the following obituary in the York Reference Library Newspaper Card Index.

Yorkshire Evening Press 2nd Jan 1957
"Death of Mr. H. J. Wright. Family's Long Link With Acomb District.

The funeral takes place tomorrow at St. Stephen's Church, Acomb, of Mr. Henry James Wright, aged 88, of 121 Front Street, one of the district's oldest residents, who died at the weekend. Last surviving member of a well known Acomb family of market gardeners, who at one-time worked 11 acres of land in the Askham Lane area. Mr Wright was born and lived all his life in the suburb.

Until his retirement at the age of 65, Mr Wright was a wagon builder on the railway. He was also a pioneer member of Acomb Working Men's Club. During his younger days his great hobby was river fishing.

His knowledge of Acomb towards the end of the last century was extensive and he enjoyed local fame as an authority on the striking changes which have taken place in the district.

Mr. Wright's wife died two years ago - just one month before they were due to celebrate their golden wedding - and he leaves two sons and two daughters."

This is an interesting obituary, giving a nice impression of Henry's interests. It is particularly interesting to see that he had a great knowledge of local history. We also now know the date of death of Ada, which would be 1954, and that Henry had a middle name which was James. Furthermore, the statement that the family once owned and gardened 11 acres off Askham Lane is consistent with family stories. The only thing that is a bit strange is that they newspaper is proclaiming his death as the end of the Wright family's association with Acomb. Well, 51 years after this newspaper article was written, my family are still living there! In the next post I shall discuss more about Henry Wright's earlier life.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Early life of Harold Wright

In the previous post I showed the newspaper report of the coroner's inquest of my great-grandfather Harold Wright's death in 1972. I have yet to obtain his marriage certificate to my great-grandmother Catherine Annie, so I don't know that date. Fortunately, my close relatives have been able to supply me with the names of their children, though I only really knew my grandmother and her sister Joan, both of whom have passed away. In this post, I shall describe how I found who were the siblings and parents of Harold Wright.

The Earlier Life of Harold Wright
When I first went to the Borthwick Institute to look at the Acomb parish registers, I did not actually know the birthdate of Harold Wright. Only later did I get the newspaper report of his death, and at the time the 1901 census had not been released. However, I was lucky in that I knew his name and that there was nobody else by that name living in Acomb at the turn of the century. With a little bit of effort this enabled me to find him, his brother and sisters and his parents all in the Acomb parish registers.

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

Based on this I was able to create my first family tree, which then triggered various memories in my parents and other relatives as they were able to tell me more about each child:

Henry Cecil Wright - We believe that Henry Cecil moved away from the York area perhaps to the West Midlands after the second world war. We don't really know much more than this but I would love to find out. We think that this might be a picture of Henry Cecil with his mother and a son.

Ethel Wright - 'Aunty Ethel' as my mother and aunties call her, was a very kindly genial lady who lived as a spinster all her life, living in the family home that stood at the end of Gale View, a long street in Acomb. Ethel died on the 3rd July 1982.

Kathleen Maud Wright - Kathleen Maud married William Dobbie and lived in York. William Dobbie was the son of William Dobbie Snr, a local councillor and railway worker. William Dobbie Snr later became a Labour Lord Mayor of York, an MP for Rotherham, and was later awarded the CBE. Kathleen Maud died on 21st March 1991 and I think is burried in Acomb cemetery with her husband.

When I found this information back in 1999 I obviously wanted to immediately know more about Harold Wright's parents, Henry Wright and Ada Smith. It took me 3 more years to be able to progress with this research as far as Ada Smith was concerned as I required the 1901 census to find Ada's birthplace:

In 1901 living on Front Street, Acomb, is Henry and Ada Wright with their two eldest children Henry Cecil and Harold Wright. Henry is a wagon builder at the local railway works, the biggest employer in the Acomb area. Henry had been born in the Acomb area. In the next post I shall discuss the what I know about life of Henry Wright, my great-great-grandfather.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Inquest of Harold Wright's Death


My maternal grandmother's father was Harold Wright, who died in 1972 before I was born. I therefore never met my great-grandfather, but he is partly to blame for this obsession that I now have in family history. I used to hear a lot of stories about him from relatives, mainly to do with how he was a bit of a 'black sheep' or 'a character' as we're fonder of saying in Yorkshire. When speaking to those who knew him, one thing that is often repeated is how he used to nervously jiggle coins in his pocket which led to him being nicknamed 'jiggles'. Also, he used to give directions to people only by naming public houses on route. Not surprisingly, his push bike was regularly to be found outside one of these in his native Acomb. A further fact that is relevant to me is that he always drunk his tea black, never taking milk, something that I appear to have inherited from him. These and other stories such as how he was from a long line of Wrights who had lived in the village led me to be curious about Harold Wright and family history. In the next few posts I shall discuss more about the Wright family.

The Inquest of Harold Wright's death
York Reference Library has a wonderful card index with lists of names of individuals that appear in local papers for over 200 years. I have used this source on numerous occasions to find records of births, deaths and marriages that would have otherwise meant a lengthy search through the countless York parish records. Also surprisingly I came across a notice of an inquest to be held about Harold Wright's death. This is what was reported in two separate entries.

Yorkshire Evening Press, 11th February 1972.
"Inquest opened on Acomb man. Mr. Anthony Morris, the York coroner, yesterday opened an inquest on Mr. Harold Wright, aged 73, of Stuart Road, Acomb, who died earlier in York County Hospital. The inquest was adjourned until February 21 after evidence of identification had been given by the dead man's son Mr C. W. Wright of South Cottages, Shipton Road."

Yorkshire Evening Press, 22nd February 1972.
"Swallowed Tooth Led To Death. The cause of death of a retired York painter and decorator could be traced back to the time over a year ago when he accidentally swallowed a tooth, the York Coroner, Mr. Anthony Morris said yesterday. Recording a verdict of accidental death on Mr. Harold Wright, aged 72 of Stuart Road, Acomb, York, Mr. Morris said the death was caused by bronchial pneumonia following a fracture of the neck of the right femur. But, he added, an underlying cause of death was an oesophageal stricture of an inflammatory nature caused by a molar tooth in the oesophagus. The accidental swallowing of the tooth had led to inflammation, making it impossible for Mr. Wright to swallow, until he became weaker and more feeble, Mr. Morris said. This weakness had led to the fall which fractured his femur, and was again responsible for his failure to recover after contracting bronchial pneumonia.

Pain In Throat. Mr. Wright's son, Mr. Harold William Wright of 1 South Cottages, Shipton Road York, said his father had led an active life up until about a year ago, when he complained of a pain in his throat and went into York City Hospital for investigations. He came home for Christmas 1971, but became progressively weaker and took to his bed. The fall occurred on February 4 and he was taken to York County Hospital for an operation on the fractured femur. But he died in hospital on February 10 after contracting bronchial pneumonia. Dr. Donald MacKinnon, consultant pathologist at York County Hospital said that death was caused by bronchial pneumonia following a fractured femur. The tooth was found during a post-mortem examination."

It was obviously quite a painful end for my great-grandfather, who had lived a very lively life. Although long-winded, this inquest report is full of useful genealogical information. In the next few posts I shall talk a bit more about the earlier Wright family.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Curley family pictures

Over the last couple of months I was able to scan a new photograph of my grandfather, Cornelius Curley (b. Birmingham, 1905) that was lent to my father by one of his sisters. This picture is similar to how I remember my grandfather as he appears to be about 65 (he always looked a little bit younger than his years).

I was also lucky enough to scan two family pictures that had been submitted from a David Curley to a local history book of Ladywood called Ladywood Lives by Norman Bartlam. David Curley is the son of John (Jack) Curley, who ran two pubs in Ladywood, including the Red Lion on Warstone Lane. Indeed, the picture on the left was taken inside the pub - and this is the first time that I have ever seen my grandfather or indeed any of his siblings in their younger years. Also, I had never seen a picture of my great-grandparents, and so this is a real treat for me.

In the picture, taken in the late 1940s, we find - Top Row: Billy, Con (grandad), John, Doris, Tommy, Jimmy, Terry and Leo. In the front row is my great-grandfather Thomas Curley and his wife Mary (nee Driscoll).

Also in the book was this picture of the three eldest Curley boys - John (b.1907) Con (b.1905), and Michael. This was also submitted by David Curley who states that it was taken pre 1920 when the Curleys were living at Bishopsgate Street in Birmingham. He also says that they later moved to Ledsam Street. It is amazing to be able to find that such photographs exist and I must thank David for submitting them to this book.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

New Posts Soon!

I shall be posting more new entries onto my blog soon. After getting through a terrific amount of material in the first few months, I've had to take a step back as I've been busy with other things. Nevertheless, I feel as if I'm still only about half way through all my old unpublished research material - and I've actually got even more new research to put out there - including some work on North American and European genealogy. Thanks to everyone who is visiting in the meantime, I'm still receiving a large amount of traffic. One of the great things about genealogy blogsites is that the material will always be available to anyone who is interested. Hopefully, I shall start posting some more stuff in a couple of weeks. One I recommence, they will probably come thick and fast! Best wishes, James.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Finding my Welsh/English border ancestors

I had found that my grandfather Hughes' great-grandfather was Morris Hughes who had ventured the 200 miles to Castleford, Yorkshire in around 1881 from Bilston, Staffordshire where he had been born in 1856. Thirty years earlier, his father David Hughes had also been born in Bilston. In 1849 David Hughes married Jane Lewis. From his marriage certificate I discovered that David Hughes' father was called Maurice Hughes, a labourer. Here I document my search for Maurice Hughes.

Can I find Maurice Hughes?
The first piece of documentary evidence I have that mentions Maurice Hughes is the marriage certificate of his son, David Hughes. This is from 1849, and he is described as a labourer. It is not mentioned that he is deceased, so it is reasonable to believe that he was still alive at this time. This would mean that I should be able to locate him in the 1841 census and perhaps even the 1851. I have had instances, however, where an ancestor was named as a father on a certificate and the registrar failed to add that he was deceased. I also believe that Maurice would be living in Bilston, Staffordshire as this is where his son David Hughes was born in 1826 and where he was still living in 1849. I therefore searched the 1841 and 1851 censuses for the name Maurice Hughes or Morris Hughes. Morris Hughes appears to be a family name used in at least 3 generations, so I am presuming that Maurice could also be called Morris.

The 1851 census was most interesting as I found a Morris Hughes living next door to David Hughes in Black Horse Yard. He is living with his wife Betty and sons Morris and William. Given the unusualness of the name Morris Hughes, this appears to be the right Morris Hughes. Morris is 80 years old in this census and is described as 'not able to work'. It is stated that he was born in Montgomeryshire in Cherbury - but Cherbury is actually just inside England rather than Wales. His wife Betty was born in Montogmeryshire also, though her birthplace is extremely difficult to read - I think it says Ber* which I would presume could be Berriew a parish near to the English border in Montgomeryshire. Interestingly, this is the same area where David Hughes' future wife Jane Lewis also originated. Both sons were born in Bilston, placing this Morris in Bilston in the timeframe that I already knew.

Moving back 10 years, I can also find this Morris Hughes in the 1841 census. Living on High Street, Mill horn? Yard, Bilston, Morris and his wife Elizabeth are living with sons Morris and William and daughters Ann and Margaret. David Hughes is also living with the family providing confirmation that this is the right family. Morris Hughes is described as a labourer.

To find out some more information about Morris Hughes and his family I performed as search for baptisms and marriages in the IGI. I found some extra biographical information from member submissions in the online IGI database. Importantly, I found three elder children - Thomas, another Maurice, and Mary. I am certain that these are the right family as the parents' names were given as Maurice & Betty Hughes, which is quite a unique combination.

As I cannot find Morris Hughes in the 1861 census (he would be 90), I tried to find a death certificate between 1851 and 1861 in Bilston. The closest match was for a Morris Hughes who died on 4th August 1853 of a 'decline of nature'. The death was registered by Thomas Hughes (which could be Morris' eldest son) who was in attendance. Thomas Hughes is recorded as being from Lady Moor Sedgley, but this is certainly the right certificate as the address for Morris Hughes is given as High Street, Bilston.

I have yet to find out about the earlier life of Morris Hughes.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Morris Hughes

My grandfather's great-grandfather was Morris Hughes who married and brought up his 9 children in Castleford, West Yorkshire. He is pictured here in about 1907 at a family wedding. I had found Morris in the 1891 and 1901 censuses where he was described as being a coal hewer or coalminer. I also knew that Morris married Mary Gray in Normanton in October 1881. His marriage certificate told me that his father was called David Hughes. However, Morris had not been born in Yorkshire but in Bilston in Staffordshire. I therefore set out to find out more about his earlier life.

A step-father - Charles Woolley
My first task was to find Morris Hughes in the 1881 census. I found him living in Whitwood, a suburb of Castleford where he was working as a coal miner. He is living with Charles Woolley his step-father, and his mother Jane. Charles is described as 'nearly blind' and is not working. Charles was one of the witnesses at Morris' wedding a few months later. Charles Woolley, like his step-son, was also born in Bilston, Staffordshire.

Morris Hughes' father David Hughes must have died before 1871, as during this year Morris is already living with Charles Woolley (b.1833) and his mother Jane (b.1827) at Court 10 House 3, Coseley Street, Bilston. Both Charles and Morris are described as coal miners. Also living with the family is another step-child of Charles, Morris' sister Harriett Hughes and an adopted child called Maria Morris who is only 1 year old. I have no further information about Maria Morris so I do not know what happened to her or why she was adopted.

I was able to find the marriage certificate of Charles Woolley and Jane Hughes. They married on July 25th 1866 at Trinity Church, Ettinghsall. Both Charles and Jane were widowed; Charles worked as a miner and Jane as a laundress. Charles' father was also named Charles Woolley, and Jane's father was David Lewis. The witnesses were John and Mary Ann Allen.

Morris Hughes' father - David Hughes
I was able to further deduced that Morris Hughes' father David Hughes would have died between 1861 and 1866, as I was able to find Morris Hughes living with his father in a private house on Wolverhampton Street, Bilston in the 1861 census. Morris is there with his elder sister Elizabeth, younger sister Harriett and younger brother John, all of whom were born in Bilston. David Hughes who was born in Bilston in around 1826 was working as a labourer in the iron works.

I was able to confirm this information and these relationships from the birth certificate of Morris Hughes. This stated that he was born on the 6th February 1856 at High Street, Bilston to David Hughes and Jane Hughes (nee Lewis). David's occupation is listed as a blast iron founder labourer.

David and Jane were also married and living in Bilston in 1851 at Black House yard. Also living with them is their two year old son David Hughes. As David does not appear in 1861, it is very possible that he died in infancy.

Finally, I was able to find the marriage certificate of David Hughes and Jane Lewis. The marriage took place at St. Mary's Church, Bilston, on Feb 12th 1849. David Hughes, 23, was described as a furnaceman, whereas Jane Lewis, 22, was of no occupation. Both were from Bilston and were previously unmarried. The witnesses were David Lewis and Elizabeth Lewis. This David Lewis may be the father of Jane Lewis, who is described on the certificate as a labourer, confirming what was stated on the certificate of Jane's second marriage. We also get to find out that David Hughes' father was Maurice Hughes (sic) - the inspiration for Morris Hughes' name is revealed.

Read this post to find out updated information about Morris Hughes's youngest daughter, Eveline Hughes, and extra pictures of Morris and his wife.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Hughes Clan


My maternal grandfather David Hughes (from now on I'll call David Hughes III) was born in Castleford in between the two world wars. Here he is pictured with my grandmother Doreen and my younger brother Daniel about 30 years ago!

My grandad David is the elder brother of Eric and Jack. Talking to my grandad I was able to find out initially a lot of information about the family. Their parents were Elsie Wilkes and David Hughes II. David Hughes II was born in Castleford on the 2nd June 1905. He died on the 13th February 1960. David II had a younger sister Mary born in 1907 and a younger brother Joe Hughes born on 31st May 1909 and who died on 14th December 1991. Joe Hughes married Amy Walsh and lived in Castleford. You can see an obituary for Amy Hughes here.

Also from my grandad I found out that his father's parents were called David Hughes I and Mary Garbutt, both of whom were born in Whitwood, near Castleford. My grandad also knew that David Hughes I was the eldest son and had a younger brother named Charles Hughes who had been in the army - see here for information about Charles.

David Hughes I of Castleford

Knowing the information that my grandad had given me, I found David (b.1882, Whitwood) and his brother Charles (b.1888, Castleford) in the 1901 census. Click here for a picture of David. They were living at 32 Nicholson
Street, with their parents Morris Hughes (b.1856, Bilston, Staffordshire) and Mary Hughes (b.1862, Cawood, Yorkshire). Both David and Morris are coal hewers, whereas Charles is noted as a trapper underground. Making up the family in the house are four sisters (Mary Ellen, Harriet, Elizabeth & Laura) and a younger brother named Morris after his father. Also living with the family is Thomas Gray who is described as a boarder (born 1879 Castleford) and who is working as a labourer above ground at the coal pit. Although Thomas is described as a lodger, I subsequently found out that he is the brother of Mary Hughes.

In 1891 the family are also living in Castleford at 24 Love Lane. From this census we also find two other children - Jane and another Morris, who must have died in infancy as Morris and Mary had another Morris by the time of the 1901 census. The 1891 census also listed Sarah Gray as living with the family as a domestic servant - she is also listed as the sister-in-law to Morris, confirming that Morris' wife Mary Hughes' maiden name was Gray.

The marriage of Morris Hughes
Having found out the names of Morris Hughes & Mary Gray I was able to obtain their marriage certificate:
  • On October 8th 1881, at the parish church of Normanton
  • Morris Hughes, aged 24, bachelor, miner, of Bensons' Lane, father Daivd Hughes a labourer
  • Mary Gray, aged 19, spinster, of Bensons' Lane, father Thomas Gray a labourer
  • Witnesses - Charles Woolley & Annie Clayton

My grandfather's great-grandparents were therefore married in 1881 in Normanton, West Yorkshire. Mary Gray was born in Cawood in between York and Leeds in Yorkshire, whereas Morris Hughes had come to Yorkshire earlier in his life having been born in Bilston, Staffordshire. In the next entry I shall discuss the earlier life of Morris Hughes.