Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Picture of Ada Smith

Ada Smith b.1871

Ada Smith was born in Kirkby Malzeard in North Yorkshire in 1871. I posted about her ancestry and life here. This postcard is of Ada Smith (on the right) with, we believe, her eldest son Henry Cecil Wright and perhaps his son whose name we do not know. My great-grandfather, Harold Wright, was the younger son of Ada Smith. Although most of the family remained in Acomb, we think that Henry Cecil moved to Wolverhampton after serving in the Air Force in WW2. We do not know exactly where or when the picture was taken. On the reverse of the postcard is written in handwriting "Bishop's Castle". There is a small market town by the same name in Shropshire, it is possible that Henry Cecil moved here after the war and was visited by Ada.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Garbetts of Stourbridge

Those ancestors of mine who by far were the most mobile are my coal mining ancestors. These families seemed to have moved great distances in order to find work. Some, like my Hughes ancestors, seem to have moved from Wales through the Midlands and into Yorkshire. Others, like my other Hughes ancestors, from Wales into the North-West and then the North-East of England. My family had always thought that my Garbutt ancestors would be Yorkshire folk through and through. Garbutt is a fairly common name in Yorkshire, indeed I have Garbutt ancestors along another line going back into the eighteenth century in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. So we had no reason to believe that this Garbutt branch would be any different. As it turns out, Joseph Garbutt, my 3xgreat-grandfather was actually from Brockmoor in Staffordshire (this information came from the 1891 and 1901 censuses of Whitwood). This entry is about his family - I hope you are able to follow the following, there are three generations of Joseph Garbetts!

Joseph Garbutt III
Joseph Garbutt married Charlotte Ann Schofield in Castleford, West Yorkshire, in 1881. From the marriage certificate I knew the name of Joseph's father - also Joseph - who I found out was a coal miner like Joseph. Given that Joseph married in 1881, I thought it would make sense to see if he was living in West Yorkshire just prior to his marriage - after all, he would have to have met Charlotte somehow. I found him boarding with a George Homer and family in Whitwood. The Homer family and Joseph were all born in Brierly Hill in Staffordshire, near to Stourbridge - a place famous for its glass works and hence coal production. From the later 1891 and 1901 censuses I knew that this birthplace was slightly off as these state that Joseph Garbutt was born in Brockmoor, Staffordshire, another village near to Stourbridge. It is likely that the information given to the enumerator was more accurate in the later censuses.

I also wanted to see if Joseph travelled to Yorkshire alone. It was common for families to move, so it made sense that other relatives may have also made the trip. I therefore searched for Garbutt's (or Garbett's - the spelling with the 'e' is more common in the Midlands) born in Brockmoor who were living in Whitwood, West Yorkshire. I found Jeremiah Garbutt living with his wife Fanny and children.

Joseph Garbett II
Armed with Joseph's place of birth, age, father's name, and the name of a possible brother, I then searched the 1871 and 1861 censuses for the young Joseph Garbett. It turned out to be relatively easy to find him. In 1861 he is living with his father Joseph (a coal miner) and mother Ann and elder brothers and sisters (Joseph being born in 1861) at Hulland Brockmoor. In 1871, the same family are living at Spoon Lane, Brockmoor, and there is Joseph's younger brother Jeremiah. In both of these censuses, Joseph Garbett Snr's widowed mother Susannah is also living with them.

Moving forward in time to 1881, Joseph and Ann Garbett are living on Campbell Street, Brockmoor, and Jeremiah Garbett is still living at home. He is a puddler in the iron works, but he must have moved within the year or two to West Yorkshire to meet up with his elder brother.

Joseph Garbett I
Joseph Garbett married Ann in around 1852 - I have found a GRO index which I think is the reference to their marriage certificate - Joseph Garbet & Ann Knowles, December 1852, Stourbridge, Vol 6c Page 241. To confirm that this is the right marriage, then I could also obtain one of the birth certificates of either Joseph or Jeremiah Garbett which I have found:
Joseph Garbett - Mar 1861, Stourbridge, 6c, 222 Jeremiah Garbett - Mar 1864, Stourbridge, 6c, 234

But what about the earlier life of the father of Joseph Garbett? From the census I knew that Joseph Garbett's mother was called Susannah, and I knew their birthplaces. Using the census information from 1841 and 1851 and the IGI, I have been able to piece together the following. My ancestor, Joseph Garbett who was the grandfather of my grandfather's grandmother Mary Garbutt was baptised in Stourbridge on the 25th October 1829 in Stourbridge. On the same day a twin brother John Garbett was also baptised, but John died 3 years later. Joseph and John were the youngest children of at least 6 children. There were three girls - Mary Ann (the eldest), Jane and Elizabeth Matilda. There was also an elder brother named Charles Henry Garbett. All of the older children were born in Old Swinford, the name for the ancient parish that comprised part of Stourbridge. The parents of these children were another Joseph Garbett! (born c.1783, Stourbridge) and Susannah Hill (born c.1795, Stourbridge), who were married in Kingswinford (just outside Stourbridge) on 31st December 1816.

In 1841, the family are living in Kingswinford. In 1851 they are living at Chappel Hill, Brierley Hill. The younger Joseph is described as a miner, whereas his father's occupation is given as a 'worker on the roads'. The father Joseph Garbett died at some point between 1851 and 1861 as Susannah is a widow in the 1861 census. Susannah herself continued to live with her son Joseph until her death aged 82 in 1875 (Mar 1875, Stourbridge, 6c, 166).

Charles Henry Garbett
When researching one's family history, I always like to find out about the history of the cousins of my direct ancestors as much as possible. I decided to examine what happened to Joseph Garbett's elder brother Charles Henry Garbett. Charles Henry and his wife Sarah had seven children and lived the majority of their lives in Old Swindford. Charles Henry originally worked as a tanner and skinner (a manufacturer of animal hides for leather work) in Old Swinford, living in Queen Street in 1851 and Angel Street in 1861. However, times became hard for Charles Henry and by 1871 he was living in the workhouse of Kingswinford. Charles Henry died one year later than his mother in 1876 in Stourbridge - Charles Garbett, Stourbridge, Dec 1876, 6c, 116.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mary Harker is revealed

Recently I received the marriage certificate of my 2xgreat-grandmother (Charlotte b.1864, Knottingley) and also that of my 3xgreat-grandmother (Mary b.1834, Knottingley). Whilst I knew their first names I had been quite confused as to what their maiden names were as their
census entries had been a bit of a muddle. This is a summary of what I knew for each time point - the originals can be viewed on this page:

1871 census: Charlotte Nichols - stepdaughter of William and Sarah (or Mary) Pascoe
1881 census: Charlotte Pascoe - daughter of William & Mary Pascoe
1881 marriage index: Charlotte Ann Schofield
1891 census: Charlotte Garbutt - daughter of William & Mary Pascoe
1891 census: Charlotte Garbutt - wife of Joseph Garbutt

The marriage certificates
Charlotte's marriage:

  • On 2nd October 1881 at the parish Church of Castleford after banns.
  • Joseph Garbutt, 20, bachelor, occupation - collier, abode - Castleford, father - Joseph Garbutt, father's occupation - collier.
  • Charlotte Ann Schofield, 18, spinster, abode - Castleford, father - John Schofield, father's occupation painter.
  • The witnesses were John Bennett and Joseph Robshaw.

Mary's marriage:

  • On 11th February 1866 at the parish church of Pontefract, Yorkshire
  • William Pascoe, 30, bachelor, occupation - potter, abode - Knottingley, father - John Pascoe, father's occupation - potter
  • Mary Schofield, 32, widow, abode - Knottingley, father - William Harker, father's occupation - labourer
  • The witnesses were William Harker and James Goddard.

How has this helped?
It appears that Charlotte Ann Schofield (see here for a picture) was born in Knottingley in 1864 to John Schofield, a painter, and Mary Schofield (nee Harker). From the GRO index I found that John Schofield and Mary Harker were married in the June Quarter of 1859 (Jun Qtr 1859, 9c 111 Pontefract), with Charlotte being born 5 years later. I do not know if John and Mary had any other children during this period. By 11th February 1866 John Schofield had died and Mary Schofield re-married to William Pascoe, a potter. William Pascoe was the son of John Pascoe, both of whom were born in Bovey Tracey in Devon. From the censuses, I can find that William and Mary Pascoe had at least two children - Sarah and Mary Jane Pascoe - the step-sisters to Charlotte Ann Schofield. Charlotte Ann Schofield then later married Joseph Garbutt on 2nd October 1881 in Castleford. The only thing that does not fit with this is the 1871 census (see here) where Charlotte Ann is called Charlotte Nichols, the step-daughter of William Pascoe. However, looking at that census entry, it seems as if the enumerator may have been a little confused as he also gets the names of Mary and her daughter Sarah mixed up.

What are the next steps?
The priority is to obtain the birth certificate of Charlotte Ann Schofield, and the marriage of John Schofield to Mary Harker. These should confirm the pedigree that I have outlined above and my belief that the information in the 1871 census was somewhat inaccurate.

Following this I will try to find out more about John Schofield as I do not know very much about him currently. His marriage certificate will let me know his father's name which may help me to find him in the census. As John Schofield married Mary Harker in 1859, I should be able to find them in the 1861 census but this has thus far not been possible. John Schofield's death certificate may also be helpful but I have not yet found the GRO certificate. Schofield is a very common name in Yorkshire so it might be hard to isolate the right John Schofield.

I would also like to find out more about Mary Harker (or Schofield & Pascoe as she became). I know that she was born in 1834 in Knottingley to William Harker, a labourer. In the 1841 census, I find a Mary Harker of the right age living in a place called 'Holes' in Knottingley with a father William who is a labourer. As this is the only Mary Harker in Knottingley, I think this is the right entry. I cannot yet find William and Jane in the 1851 census.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wedding Pictures!

A Garbutt Wedding - 1907

This image is a scan from a photocopy of the original photograph - I'm sorry it is poor in quality, I hope that I will be able to scan the original directly one day to improve the detail.

This is a wedding photograph taken at a church in Castleford, West Yorkshire in 1907. Although "Redhill Church" is written on the picture, I think the church is All Saints which is near to Redhill Road. From the scribbled notes written around the edges and on the back of the picture, the groom is Joseph Garbutt and the bride is Elizabeth Ann Day. Joseph Garbutt was the younger brother of my 2xgreat-grandmother Mary Garbutt. The image contains a large number of the Garbutt family and the Hughes family, as Mary Garbutt married David Hughes. I shall be discussing the Hughes family in several forthcoming posts. I have previously described the difficulties I have had in tracing the mother and grandmother of Mary Garbutt. I have recently obtained some marriage certificates that have helped enormously with this and will post about them next. The image below is a schematic of what is known about who is who in the picture. As I describe each individual's genealogy, I shall try and blow up their pictures. For now, however, I shall just point out my 3xgreat-grandmother, the mother of the groom - Charlotte Garbutt - she is the third person from the left on the second row from the back. Also, my 2xgreat-grandmother Mary Garbutt is immediately to Charlotte's left. I shall be descrbing what I have recently learned about her in the next post.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Matthew Carr & Ann Padley

I previously posted about my search for my Carr and Padley ancestors on my mother's mother's mother's mother's side of my family! My great-great-grandmother was Margaret Ann Carr, the eldest daughter of Matthew and Ann Carr. Through looking at the census I had managed to find that Ann's maiden name was Padley (her mother was living with the family in the 1881 census). This enabled me to search the Padley family back a couple more generations. I had also research Matthew Carr's family back another generation as I had only found in earlier censuses one Matthew Carr of the right age and born in the right place. However, in order to confirm these relationships (discussed in this post in further detail) I still needed to find the marriage certificate of Matthew Carr and Ann Padley. This week I received the following:

The marriage of Matthew Carr and Ann Padley

  • On 11th February 1871, at the Register Office in Sunderland
  • Matthew Carr, 20 years, bachelor, coal miner, 41 Queen Street Ryhope Colliery, father - Joseph Carr, coal miner
  • Ann Padley, 18 years, spinster, 58 Queen Street Ryhope Colliery, father - Joseph Padley, coal miner
  • The witnesses were James Carr and Ann Cope?

This is certainly the right certificate and confirms the relationships that I had previously believed. One interesting facet of this marriage is that it was registered in a register office, suggesting that the couple may have married in a non-conformist church such as a Methodist church.

Whilst researching this family I have come across a cousin who is also researching this family. They are descended from Sarah Carr, the eighth child of Matthew Carr and Ann Padley; I am descended from Margaret Ann Carr, the first child of the same couple. In an earlier post I mentioned that in the 1891 census when only a few days old she was called Isabella, but when she came to be christened she was named Sarah. Looking at their website, I have found out a few more details about the Carr and Padley families:

  • Sarah Carr married Alexander George Bouas on 1st Jan 1909 and had 5 children. She died on 21 Nov 1951 in Gosforth.
  • Ann Padley was baptised on 1st Jan 1854 in West Rainton, Durham and died around 1928.
  • The marriage of Ann Padley's parents may have occurred in the September quarter of 1849 in Houghton-le-Spring, with the names Joseph Paddy and Ann Youn - the index was handwritten, the names should read Joseph Padley and Ann Young.
  • The mother of Matthew Carr was Margaret McCartney - I had not previously known her maiden name. The reference for this was the GRO indexVol.25, p.150, Dec 1839.
    Whitehaven district, Cumberland. I shall get the certificate to find out the names of Matthew Carr's parents, Margaret McCartney and Joseph Carr.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Zachariah Hughes - still elusive


I have been looking for information about Zachariah Hughes for a long time.

I know that my great-great-grandfather John William Hughes' father was called Zacahariah Hughes from JWH's marriage certificate. JWH married on 22 May 1893 in Sunderland, where his father was described as a deceased iron worker. However, as John William did not know his birthplace and Zachariah died young, I've been unable to find a definitive association between John William and Zachariah in very many documents. Nevertheless, I have found one Zachariah Hughes after searching the entire of the North-East of England, whom I believe with a high degree of certainty to be the father of JWH. I have just received the marriage certificate of this Zachariah Hughes.

Zachariah Hughes' Marriage

  • On Christmas Day 25th December 1873 at the parish church of St. Paul's, Darlington
  • Zachariah Hughes, 20 years, bachelor, mill furnaceman, of Lansdowne St, father Joseph Hughes occupation mill furnaceman
  • Catharine Close, 24 years, spinster, of Zetland St, father William Close, occupation publican
  • The witnesses were Gomer Hughes & Elizabeth Jones

What do we learn from this?
1. This marriage is certainly that of the Zachariah Hughes whom I have found previously in the 1861 and 1871 census. Both Gomer and Zachariah Hughes are such unusual names that these must be the same people.

2. This Zachariah Hughes is likely to be the father of John William Hughes. JWH was born in about 1873/4, so this marriage is about the right date. Given this date, the unusual (almost unique) name and that the occupations of JWH's father and this Zachariah match, the balance of probabilities is that this is the right man. However, I still lack that clinching piece of documentary evidence.

3. We learn that Zachariah married Catharine Close and that her father was called William Close.

4. The circumstancial evidence: John William Hughes' children were called Matthew, Catharine and Zachariah. Matthew was the name of John William Hughes' wife's father. It is interesting that Catharine and Zachariah are also the names of who we now believe are his father and mother. Also, John William Hughes' middle name is the same as Catharine Close's father. This is more tantalising evidence that this Zachariah could be the father of John William.

What we still do not know is where Zachariah and Catharine were in 1881, or indeed, whether they lived beyond this. Given that JWH did not know his birthplace it is possible that both of his parents died when he was very young. In which case, who brought him up? and where is he in the 1881 or 1891 censuses? There are still very many unknowns with this family, but we have learned a little bit more about where Zachariah was living in 1873. Darlington would now be a good place to try and find JWH's birth certificate or birth.

Gomer Hughes
It is also very interesting to see Gomer Hughes as a witness to Zachariah's marriage - this would suggest that Zachariah was close to his elder brother, which may be important when trying to find family members who may have raised John William. Unfortunately, I have attempted to trace where Gomer is in the later censuses but have been unable to find him.

Gomer is another unusual first name. In Genesis, Gomer was the eldest son of Japheth one of the three sons of Noah.

According to the genealogies of Genesis, one branch of the descendants of Gomer became the Welsh people. Gomer and Zachariah Hughes were the sons of Josiah/Joseph Hughes who was from Wales - though there are still quite a number of links I need to make to tie-in this family with the pedigree above! Nevertheless, these unusual names could also be helpful in finding out what happened to Zachariah. Given their Old Testament nature, it is possible that the family was very religious and potentially Methodist like a lot of Welsh working class migrants of this period. Methodist records may be somewhere to look for evidence of Gomer, Zachariah and John William.

For the future
This marriage certificate has now enabled me to start searching the family of William Close. It has also confirmed that Zachariah Hughes is the son of Josiah/Joseph Hughes and the brother of Gomer. What I still do not have is the definitive proof that this is the Zachariah Hughes who is the father of John William Hughes - hopefully this will come one day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The original Curley


In three previous posts - here, here, and here - I have discussed my Birmingham Irish ancestry along my Curley and Hennigan lines. To recap, my grandfather was Cornelius Curley, whose father was Thomas Curley, whose father was also called Thomas Curley. This Thomas Curley was married (according to family sources and some documentary evidence) to Jane Hennigan.
It has not been easy to piece together the lives of either Thomas Curley or Jane Hennigan. One piece of evidence which until now had evaded my grasp was the marriage certificate of Thomas and Jane - well today I was delighted to receive through the post the following:

  • 14th February 1888, at St. Catherine's Roman Catholic Church, Birmingham
  • Thomas Curley, 28 years, batchelor, spoon polisher, of 9 Beak Street, father Michael Curley, labourer.
  • Jane Hanigan, 25 years, spinster, of 9 Beak Street, father Michael Hanigan (deceased), labourer.
  • Witnesses - William Curley & Annie Underhill

How does this help?

1. Michael Hanigan is confirmed as the father of Jane Hanigan. As posted earlier, Michael Hennigan was born in Ireland in 1832 and died in Birmingham in 1885. He was a bricklayer's labourer and the latter part of his life was spent in the workhouse. He is confirmed as deceased on this marriage certificate.

2. One of the witnesses is Annie Underhill (a French polisher), who in 1881 was living as a boarder in the house of Jane's mother Catharine. This is good confirmation that I have the correct Hennigan family. Further confirmation is that Jane Hanigan's address is given as Beak Street where she and her family had been living in the 1881 census.

3. Jane Hanigan is named a spinster. This is important as it shows that she was not previously married and widowed. Therefore the children that she may have had before she married Thomas Curley will have been illigetimate. The added fact from the certificate that both Jane and Thomas lived at the same address - 9 Beak Street - suggests that Thomas and Jane had been living together and having children before they married. I have no idea currently why they delayed in getting married.

4. Thomas Curley's father is given as Michael Curley, which is new information to me! William Curley is another of the witnesses - he may be a brother, uncle or cousin to Thomas.

Michael Curley - the first 'English' Curley
Knowing Thomas' father's name I have been able to find out further information about the Curleys in the census. In the 1871 census I found Michael Curley with his wife Margaret and children Thomas, Mary Ann, Jane and William. They were living in a room in a house at 100 1/2 Bath Row, Birmingham, in the next house to the 'Trees Inn' public house. The licensed victualler in 1871 was William Hicken who was born in Shustoke. The pub is pictured (available online at digital Ladywood) - it survived until the mid 1960s before it was demolished. Wheeleys Lane runs off to the left in this picture. I believe that Michael Curley and family would have lived behind and to the right of the pub.

Michael and Margaret were born in Ireland, but all their children were born in Birmingham. I have yet to find a reference to when they came from Ireland, but it must have been prior to 1859 when Thomas was born. Soon after they arrived, in 1861, they are living in the heavily Irish area - Greens Village. Michael is working as a castor and Margaret is working as a nail cutter. In addition to Thomas, they also have a son called John. They may have had several other children who died in infancy - I would have to look at the Roman Catholic Church records to find this out.

It appears as if Michael Curley died at some point between 1873 and 1881. In the 1881 census, Margaret Curley is living at Myrtles Row in Birmingham and is said to be a widow. Her youngest child is John Curley who was born in 1873, therefore it is likely that Michael Curley died between these dates. According to the GRO index, there are two possible matches for the death certificate which I shall obtain in time.

In 1891, the widowed Margaret is now living at Suffolk St. 6 Court House 2 with her youngest sons William, Michael and John, as well as a grand-daughter Mary Ann Curley and a boarder Mary Caston and her child. I cannot find Margaret Curley in the 1901 census, so she may have re-married or passed away.

I have therefore managed to get back my Curley ancestry to the Curley who came over from Ireland. Michael Curley was born in 1837 in Ireland and came to live in Birmingham. I do not know if he came by himself or with his parents. Nevertheless, he is, in my family, the original Curley - I am therfore a sixth generation English Curley! Unfortunately I do not have any idea whereabouts in Ireland he came from. The Curley name is most common on the West coast of Ireland in Galway and Roscommon, but until I can find some other records I will not know for sure.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hennigan, Henigan, Hanigan, Shenanigans


The word 'shenaningan' sounds like it should be of Irish origin. Some think it comes from the Irish gaelic sionnachuighim meaning 'I play the fox'. In researching my Hennigan- Henigan-Hanigan ancestry I have already come across some funny shenanigans which are certainly of Birmingham Irish origin.

My great-great-grandfather Thomas Curley married Jane Hennigan in 1888, which was about four years after their son my great-grandfather, also called Thomas Curley, was born. I posted previously about how I have found it hard to confirm documentarily my family's view that Jane Hennigan was the mother of my great-grandfather as I haven't been able to find Thomas Curley jnr's birth certificate. Things may change soon as I have ordered Thomas & Jane's marriage certificate and am in the process of hiring a researcher to search the Birmingham Roman Catholic registers. (update here).

Nevertheless, I have started to follow Jane Hennigan's family history, and indeed studying the history of the Hennigan-Henigan-Hanigan name (in its various spellings) in Birmingham. This was prompted by a helpful email from someone who had seen me post about the Hennigan name on the Birmingham Rootsweb list. The correspondent is also descendend from one of the Birmingham Hennigans. The below is the product of her research, of which I am very thankful, and some extra findings by myself. Needless to say, I have to prove a lot of the relationships with some extra documentary evidence, but I am confident the following is accurate. Throughout this article I will spell the Hennigan name how it appears in the individual record.

The Birmingham Hennigans
The Irish have a long history in Birmingham. Although the Irish had been coming to Birmingham for centuries, large scale immigration did not occur until the early 1800s, with the largest influx occurring around the time of the Irish potato famine of the 1840s.

Looking at the 1871 census for Birmingham, I can find only a few families with the Hanagan surname. The first is Fergus Hanagan, b.1811, Roscommon, Ireland, with his wife and son. Two houses away is a Martin Hanigan, b.1809, Roscommon, Ireland. It is very probable that Fergus and Martin are brothers. Fergus is listed as a labourer while Martin was a rag gatherer. They are both living on London Prentice Street, a street that is particularly renowned for being 'Irish'. According to one poster on a rootsweb mailing list, it was apparently a very hard place to live; it was so rough that policeman were forced to go around in twos, and several gangs roamed the street. Among these were a gang known as 'cappies' who carried razor blades sewn into the front of their caps. This article by Carl Chinn describes more about the history of the Irish Birmingham. In it, Chinn recalls how:

"...over in Birmingham one author welcomed the disappearance of London Prentice Street in the late 19th Century as the sweeping away of a "nasty, dirty, stinking street" in which children could learn lessons of depravity; and in 1863, a reporter from the Birmingham Gazette damned the people of the street as a mixture of the worst class of Irish and regular thieves. In a unique voice from the Irish poor of this period, J Goffey responded to this slur. He was resident at 13 London Prentice Street and explained there was no more than one house harbouring thieves. J Goffey went on to object to the condemnation of 700 Irish for the evil doings of a few."

Elsewhere in 1871, at Water Street there is a James Hannagan (b. Ireland, 1843) living with his wife and son. Living at Cottage Yard in the St. George district is a William Hinighan (b. Birmingham, 1855) is living in lodgings. Both of these 'Hennigan's are bricklayer's labourers.

The final family found in the 1871 census is a Michael Hanigan (b.1832, Ireland) and his wife Catherine (b.1840, Ireland). Their children are called Mary A (b.1862), Jane (b.1863), John (b.1865), Catherine (b.1867) & Margaret (b.1869). Michael is working as a bricklayer's labourer and the family is living in one room at 4 C 2 H Windmill St. in the St. Thomas part of Birmingham.

Michael & Catherine Hennigan
It is highly likely that Jane Hennigan, the daughter of Micahel & Catherine, is the Jane Hanigan who eventually marries Thomas Curley. (update here). The couple had two more children, Ellen and James. In 1881, times have been hard for Michael and he appears in the Birmingham Workhouse at Western Road. Catherine Hennigon is living at Beak St. with her children John, Jane and Catherine. Catherine is working as a laundress, Jane is a spoon polisher, Catherine jnr is a wire drawer, and John is a filer of brass casts. Their is also a grandchild also called John, who may be an illigetimate child of Jane - see below and this post. In what may be described as a shenanigan, Catherine Hennigan says that she is a widow even though Michael is still alive.

The four youngest children - Margaret, Ellen, James and Michael are all inmates at the newly opened Marston Green Cottage Homes (part of the Birmingham Workhouse system - see link for pictures). These cottage homes had been established the previous year to house pauper children over the age of three years. It was organised as a "village" located away from the workhouse in an airy rural setting.

Michael Hannigan died four years later in 1885, aged 51 according to this GRO reference -
"Michael Hannigan - MAR 1885 Birmingham 6d 121".

Catherine Hennighan was still alive and working as a laundress in 1891, living at Beak St. with her children Ellen and James, who were obviously now out of the workhouse. By this time, of course, Jane had married Thomas Curley - In the census entry Thomas is called William see this post
- the illigetimate son from the 1881 census, John Hennigan, is now known as John Curley. Thomas and Jane are both spoon polishers.

By 1901 Catherine Hennigan was unemployed and still living at Beak St, with her unmarried daughter Mary who was working as a spoon polisher. Two doors away another daughter Ellen, was living with her husband Thomas Moore.

The earlier life of Michael & Catherine Hennigan
Where were Michael and Catherine Hennigan living prior to 1871? And when did they arrive in England? In 1861 we find them married and living in Birmingham in a room on Tindal St. and Michael is working as a paper maker. Catherine is only 21 while Michael is 28 - given how young Catherine is the marriage may have occurred in England, but I have not found the GRO index. Also in 1861 living next door to Michael and Catherine is a John Hennigan who is lodging with Timothy Ward and is six years younger than Michael - It is highly likely that they are related and probably even brothers. I cannot find Michael Hennigan earlier than 1861. It will be tough to know where in Ireland my Hennigans came from, but given that many other Hennigans in 1871 came from Roscommon, Michael Hennigan may have also. As with my other Birmingham-Irish ancestors, I am going to have to search through the Roman Catholic registers.

If you are interested in the Hennigan name itself, please visit the Heneghan information pages which contain much information about Hennigans everywhere!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The earlier Smiths

Robert & Ann Smith of Alne

So far I have described how I traced back the
ancestry of my great-great-grandmother Ada Smith to her grandfather Christopher Smith (b.1815) of Alne. Christopher Smith's gravestone is the weathered one in the middle of this picture of Alne Churchyard.

In order to find out about Christopher's family I searched the parish registers of Alne from 1781 onwards. Here I found that Christopher Smith was born on the 5th February 1815 to Robert
and Ann Smith of Alne. In all, Robert had 13 children being named as a labourer each time. I am sure that all of these children belong to the same Robert and Ann, rather than there being two couples in Alne named Robert and Ann Smith bearing children at exactly the same time. The interval between each baptism is appropriate for one couple and no child is ever given the same name as another. What is more, from my work on the census in Alne I have only ever seen one couple named Robert and Ann Smith.

As an aside, I think it is rather sweet that the last two boys, who were twins, were named Joseph and Benjamin - the biblical Benjamin being the youngest and twelfth son of Jacob and Rachel and full blood brother to Joseph the 11th child of Jacob and Rachel. Perhaps, the family were quite religous! This Joseph and Benjamin Smith were the 12th and 13th sons of Robert and Ann, though sadly Joseph died in infancy. Pictured above is the 1841 census when Benjamin is 5 years old. By this time the elder four boys, James, Christopher, William and Robert had all left home.

In 1841, the Smith family is living at Hill Top in Alne. By 1851, they are living at Crankley Lane with their youngest son (Benjamin), an unmarried daughter (Ann) and widowed son (Robert). Robert Smith is an agricultural labourer as he was for all his life. He died in 1857, but his wife Ann survived him until 1866. In 1861 she was still living with Benjamin, and a different unmarried daughter Grace, and a grand-daughter Eliza. This census also gives us the interesting information that Ann Smith is living at Crankley House and is a farmer of 14 acres with no labourers.

The parents of Robert & Ann Smith
So who were the parents of Robert and Ann Smith - my greatX5 grandparents? Well, to find this out I need to know where and when they were born. The best evidence for this is from the census - I like to use the earliest possible census for estimating birth years, as the older people get the wilder they become in their own estimates of their birth year! From the 1851 census we can find that Robert Smith was born in West Burton in around 1795 and Ann in Tholthorpe in the same year. This would make them just 18 when they had their first child, James. Tholthorpe is a small village in the parish of Alne, so I searched the Alne marriage registers and found the following entry:

7/9/1812 - Robert Smith, 21, & Ann Humphrey, spinster, 19, Alne, witnesses - William Dunnington & Mary Flawith.

This marriage is a good candidate for Robert and Ann, though the ages are slightly off. However, given that James was born only 5 months later it seems as if this wedding may have been somewhat rushed and hence Robert and Ann may have slightly inflated their own ages. Looking back through the Alne registers I then found the following entry. I wish I had been able to take a photocopy of it when I first went to the record office, hopefully I will in the future:

Sun 2/3/1794, Baptism Sun 9/3/1794, - Ann Humphreys, spurious daughter of Margaret Humphreys, a poor woman of Tholthorpe, (did not pay for baptism - a pauper).

Looking for Robert Smith's baptism, I have not been able to search the West Burton registers which is in the parish of Aysgarth in the North Riding of Yorkshire, a little distance from Alne. However, from the IGI I found the following member's entry which seems to be from the same member who submitted a large amount of information about the Smiths of Alne about 15 years ago. Although the birth date is slightly off, the other data is very specific and so I am inclined to believe the parentage of Robert Smith, though I'd love to know how the submitter found out the information:

b.1798, Robert Smith, son of Thomas Smith & Elizabeth Lambert. Married Ann Humphrey in 1812 in Alne.

There is therefore still much to find out about the Smith family, though I am pleased with how far I've been able to get. I am particularly interested in finding out some more specific details of the lives of my Smith 'ag-lab' ancestors. Although I had to wait 4 years from when I knew about Ada Smith until the release of the 1901 census to really breakthrough and discover her ancestry, it has been worth the wait.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The marriage of Christopher Smith and Hannah Farmery

In this previous post I had mentioned that I had had some trouble with finding the marriage record of my ancestors Christopher Smith and Hannah Farmery. Christopher was from Alne and Hannah was from Huby, both of which are parishes in the North Riding of Yorkshire. I had been unable to find the marriage record in the Alne parish records and had not had time to look at the Huby records. However, a kind person on the Yorksgen genealogy mailing list saw my problem and drew my attention to an IGI entry which I had foolishly overlooked. This appears to be the right marriage record:

Christopher Smith & Hannah Farmery - 19 MAY 1836 - at Saint Michael-Le-Belfrey, York.

This marriage took place one year before the birth of their eldest child, William, and therefore I'm pretty sure that it is the right record. What is intriguing is that they married at St. Michael-le-Belfrey, a church (pictured) which stands adjacent to York Minster.

The question remains, why did they marry here? I have seen in some articles that describe the ancient parish of St. Michael-le-Belfrey that
this parish included some extra (or 'peculiar') areas of the North Riding of Yorkshire - I'm still uncertain whether Huby was amongst those. If so, this church may have been their usual (or at least Hannah's family's) place of worship. Another reason why they may have married there is that they may have frequented York often to sell produce - I know that several other of my ancestors who were agricultural labourers in parishes up to 30 miles North of York sold produce regularly in York. Finally, I have heard that in the early 1800s many people were drawn to worshiping at St. Michael-le-Belfrey as there was a particularly inspiring preacher there by the name of William Richardson. It is unlikely, however, that he brough Christopher and Hannah to this church as the rest of their church 'footprints' are in the Alne registers. I would like to find out more about why Christopher and Hannah got married at this church - perhaps one of the best ways forward will be to find out whether they married by license or banns, and also I must obviously find the original entry.

Nevertheless, it is fascinating to know that one's ancestors got married at such a prominent church in the history of York. Indeed, 166 years before their marriage in the very same church on April 16, 1570 there was the baptism of a certain Guy Fawkes.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Christopher Smith of Alne 1815-1890


I p
reviously described how I traced back my great-great-grandmother Ada Smith's parentage to a Richard (b.1843) and Elizabeth (b.1847) Smith, from Alne in the North Riding of Yorkshire. Above is a recent picture I took of the Alne Church. Below is a street scene from an Alne postcard which is un-dated. See here for a brief history of Alne.

Following this, I was able to go back another two generations of the Smith family in relatively quick time - I was able to spend a day at
the North Yorkshire Record Office where I transcribed all of the Smith records in the parish registers. Adding this data to the original census records that I was also able to transcribe I could build up a picture of all of the Smiths in the parish of Alne. Subsequently, I visited the parish church of Alne and found the gravestones of several of the Smith family. Unfoturnately, the Alne Church is quite exposed to the elements which made reading the tombstones quite difficult, but nevertheless some good information was gleaned. Finally, I was also able to gain some information about the Smith family from online and libary-based trade directories. I had thought that researching Smith family history and genealogy may be quite arduous, but as this family were contained for such a long period in one place my task was quite easy.

Putting the details together
Christopher Smith was baptised in Alne on 5th February 1815 to Robert Smith (a labourer) and Ann. I then have little information on Christopher until he marries a Hannah in about 1836-7. I have calculated this marriage date as their first child William Smith was baptised in Alne on the 26th April 1838. The next children were Jane (1841), Richard (13/1/1843 - my direct ancestor), Robert (1849) and Elizabeth Ann (1856). According to the census, Hannah was born in Huby, near to Alne. I have not yet found the marriage of Christopher in the Alne parish records, but a member's entry in the IGI says that a Christopher Smith b.1814 in Alne married a Hannah Farmery in Yorkshire in 1836. This rather vague entry appears to fit with the evidence that I have as Christopher was baptised in February 1815 in Alne, and the Farmery name is a very unusual surname in Yorkshire - except in Huby. I need to spend another visit to the Borthwick Institute to see if the marriage is in the Huby parish records. I could also find out Hannah's maiden name by purchasing the birth certificate of one of Christopher and Hannah's children. - see this post for an update on this marriage record.

After marriage, Christopher and Hannah lived their entire lives in Alne, living at the following places:

1841 - John Street

1851 - Alne Street

1861 - 'Poorfact?' House

1871 - Town St

1881 - 'Alne Village'.

From 1838 to 1881 in the parish and census records Christopher is described as being an agricultural labourer or just labourer. By 1881 his wife Hannah is 'deaf and lame' at the age of 67. She died two years later, being buried on the 17th September 1883 two days after she died (as mentioned on his picture). Christopher was buried seven years later in Alne on 24th July 1890. He died on the 22nd July as mentioned on his headstone in Alne parish church (also see picture). As you can see I took the image just as it was getting dark which has made the image difficult to read. Even when I was there it was extremely difficult to read as it was heavily weathered. Nevertheless, it is always pleasurable to find the gravestone of one of your ancestors.