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.