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.