Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mary Wright (nee Benson) 1843-1931.

My 3xgreat-grandfather James Wright was married to Mary nee Benson. They were married, according to the announcement in the Yorkshire Gazette, on 24 Mar 1861 in St. Olave's Church, Marygate.

James and Mary went on to have 10 children (4 boys, 6 girls) including my 2xgreat-grandfather Henry Wright. (click image below to enlarge).

Mary Wright (nee Benson) died 23 years after her husband on the 29th April 1931 in Acomb. This information was gleaned from the monumental inscription on the gravestone of St. Stephen's Churchyard, Acomb.

This is observable by going to the church and looking - or at York Reference Library there is a pamphlet detailing all of the records (ref = Y929.5 Baxter)

The inscription reads:

"In loving memory of

AMY / The dear and much beloved child / of JAMES AND MARY WRIGHT / born June 7th 1877 / died December 6th 1883 / it is well with the child ... it is well : KINGS.IV.26 /

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

Also MARY WRIGHT / wife of the above / died 29th April
1931 / aged 88 years / 'at rest' /

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

I pieced together the later life of Mary Wright (nee Benson) primarily from the 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses as well as some trade directories. You can read more about what I found out about this at this earlier page.

In 1861, the newly married couple are living with James Wright's parents in the parish of Holy Trinity, Micklegate, York - the only information given about Ann is that she is '18' meaning she'd have been born around 1843 and that this was in York. By 1871, the couple had moved to "Poplar Villa" a house located on Skew Balk Lane - what is now the Wetherby road - leaving Acomb. For the next 30 years, James and Mary lived between Poplar Villa (sometimes called Poplar Grove) and the Marcia Inn which is located just off Acomb Green. James Wright worked as a market gardener, brick manufacturer, victualler and apparently a foster carer for disabled children during this time.

Further information about their life at Poplar Grove can be gleaned from a document listing the previous owners given to me by the current owner of the property. (Or at least the owner as was when I knocked on the door in 1999!). When I visited, the owner showed me how he had modified the building and demonstrated which walls were original - perhaps I shall be able to find a photo at some point. The owner also mentioned to me that he would occasionally find in the garden clay smoking pipes - these may have been Mary's as women were just as likely as men to smoke pipes in the 19C .

On this paper the following is written:


20th Aug 1883 - James Wright of Acomb, gardener, admitted tenant of half of close of land called the Pasture

20th Dec 1899 - 10 acres of land loaned by Mary Wright from Robt Holtby (land previously held by her husband James Wright) - 30 pounds a year rent (between 1883 & 1899 James Wright declared bankrupt).

25th July 1909 - Mrs Wright buys 5 acres of land for 775 pounds (= southern half of house Pasture close).

19th Aug 1912 - Land valued at 775 pounds

20th Aug 1920 - Another 4 acres (= northern half of house Pasture close) bought for 305 pounds

31st Oct 1925 - Mrs Wright sells land to Mr W Wright of Knaresborough for 1100 pounds.

1st May 1926 - Mr W Wright sells property to Mr E Atkinson for 1900 pounds. Mrs M. Wright then 'of' 18 Albert Terrace, Acomb.

7th May 1927 - Atkinson sells property (in 2 blocks) to Hinchcliffe for 1700 pounds."

I believe Mr E Atkinson is Edward Atkinson, the husband of James and Mary Wright's daughter Mary Ellen Wright (b.1871). The Atkinson family later ran an off-license in Blossom Street, York and their descendants still live in York. I'm not sure who Mr W Wright is, but he is likely to be James and Mary Wright's son William Wright (b 1874). I'm also not sure who Mr. Robert Holtby is - I can't find him in either the 1891 or 1901 census in Acomb.

1911 Census

It is interesting that James Wright suffered financial difficulties during his later life, though he seems to have got this sorted several years before he died in 1908. This may be why Mary Wright herself, and not James, is named as victualler of the Marcia Inn in 1890 -

In the 1911 census Mary Wright is living as a widow at "The Poplars, Acomb" and her given occupation is market gardener. The building is said to have 12 rooms. She is living with 3 servants (Ellen Bland aged 30 domestic servant b.York; James Duff aged 10 gardener b. Kirk Hammerton; Arthur Coggrave aged 19 born Howden) and 3 boarders (George Cairns, aged 76, retired farmer, born Alnwick in Northumberland; Frederick Robert Bateman, aged 36, male nurse, born in Easington, Durham.). I cannot transcribe the third boarder. His name appears to begin with an H. and his last name is Lucas (I think). I cannot decipher his occupation or birth place. Unfortunately, the 'disability' column is blanked for the 1911 census (due to the 100 year disclosure rule). I have a feeling that this individual may be one of the patients that the Wright family occasionally housed at Poplar Grove. This may explain why a male nurse is living at the property.

The transcriber of the 1911 census thinks that this person is a "Harold Lucas", occupation "Private Means", born "Hitchin" - but I am not so sure about the first name or the birthplace. "Private Means" seems to be true and is commonly seen on the census.

I may in the future try and find out more about the other individuals living at the property. Interestingly, of her 10 children she lists 2 as having died. I know her daughter Amy (b.1877) died aged 6, but I do not know which of the other children it is that died (I may also look into this later).

Mary's post WW1 life in Acomb

I don't have much information about Mary Wright from 1911 until her death, other than the document above that states that in 1926 she was 'of' 18 Albert Terrace. I don't know why the 'of' is in inverted commas. This suggests that perhaps this wasn't the permanent residence of Mary. (In the 1911 census a mother and daughter are living at 18 Albert Terrace - Ellen and Mary Galland. They have no known connection to the Wright family).

I do not yet have the death certificate of Mary Wright - this would be useful to get as it would tell me where she was living when she died. (I have not yet found the reference to this). I did however find an entry to the index of the England & Wales Probate Calendar which is an Index of Wills:

"WRIGHT Mary of Parkhurst 65 York-road Acomb Yorkshire, widow, died 29 April 1931, Probate, York, 20 May 1931 to William chief clerk railway estate office and Florence Bulmer (wife of John William Bulmer). effects 2205 pounds, 3 shillings, 6 pence."

The William named here is presumably Mary Wright's son - the same one who bought and sold Poplar Grove five years previously. Florence Bulmer is I presume her 2nd youngest daughter (listed as Flory or Florie on the censuses). I will need to order the will to find out if these two were the only beneficiaries of the will. If so, I wonder why she only gave money to two out of the eight living children. -nb. 65 York Road, Acomb, is now a TSB Lloyds bank. I wonder what the Parkhurst refers to - perhaps a previous name for the house?

What's interesting to me is that my grandmother (Doreen Wright) was born a few years before her great-grandmother Mary Wright died. It's funny to think that my grandmother whom I grew up with may have spent time with her great-grandmother who was born in 1843!

In the next entry I shall detail the early pre-marriage life of Mary Wright (nee Benson).

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