Friday, May 20, 2011



In the previous post, I wrote about how I found out that my 3xgreat grandmother Mary Wright was born Mary Benson and that she was the eldest daughter of George and Eliza Benson. George & Eliza had (as far as I can tell) 9 children, with three dying in infancy. I do not know why each of the three died, though it would be possible to get their death certificates to find out. This entry will follow what I have found out about the two younger sisters of Mary that went on to live to adulthood. Most of this material has come from the census and parish records as well as monumental inscriptions and newspapers. The next post will deal with the three brothers of Mary Benson that went on to have children.

(click to enlarge)

Elizabeth Benson

Elizabeth was baptized on the 6th January 1845 at St. Michael’s Spurriergate, York. She was younger than her elder sister Mary Benson by three years. She was living at home with her parents in Acomb in 1851 and 1861. By 1871 she is living in nearby Holgate (which is a sub-parish squeezed between Acomb and York itself). In 1871 Elizabeth is working as a parlour maid in the house belonging to two elderly sisters - Sarah & Elizabeth Backhouse - who both appear to have been born in Darlington and are said to be ‘living off dividends’. They also live with their widowed nephew a Joseph Cranfield who is a tea merchant.

In 1879 she had a daughter Florence Anne Benson (named after her youngest sister who had died in Feb 1878 aged 12). This daughter was born out of wedlock as Elizabeth does not appear to have ever married (at least not by 1911). I believe Florence Anne was born in Filey (according to 1901 and 1911 censuses, though the 1891 census gives Acomb as Florence’s birthplace). If she was indeed born in Filey, this would suggest that Elizabeth went there to secretly give birth. Interestingly, I cannot find either Elizabeth or her daughter in the 1881 census – finding her may shed some light on to who the father was?

Elizabeth is living with her daughter in the house of her parents (1891) and her widowed mother Eliza (1901) in Acomb. By 1911, she is living in Long Marston (which is about five miles from Acomb) with her now married daughter. Florence Anne married James Hields (b. 1880 Acomb) who was a farmer. Their marriage certificate (Jul-Sep 1903) would also glean possible information as to the father of Florence Anne. Interestingly, on the marriage index she is listed as Florence Anne C Benson, but I have no knowledge as to what the ‘C’ stands for. It is possible that it could be the surname of her father as illegitimate children often were given their father’s name as a middle name. In 1911, James and Florence Hields had already had four children, all of who were still living (Harold James b1907/d1980, Wilfred George b1908-9/d1968, Lilian Alice b1909-10, Frederick Thomas b1910/d1978).

I'm not sure when Elizabeth Benson died as there are far too many matches for that name in the death registers, even when taking birth date and location into account. However, I have found Florence’s death in Jan-Mar 1963 in Hull. She is registered as Florence A. C. Hields. Florence's husband James Hields is registered as having died in Holderness in 1938.

Martha Emma Benson

Martha Emma was born on the 27th September 1851 along with her twin brother William Benson (more about him in the next post). Both were baptized at St. Stephen’s Church, Acomb on 2 November 1851. Martha lived with her parents in Acomb until 1881 when she married Alfred Ballans (b.1854, son of George Ballans) on 21 Nov 1881 at Acomb. Alfred was born to George and Mary Ballans in North Stainley near Ripon, the 3rd of 6 children. The Ballans family moved to Ulleskelf from North Stainley around 1857 and came to Acomb by 1871. The family lived at Parks Farm in 1871 and in 1881 at Hambleton Farm, Carr Grange.

The wedding of Martha Emma and Alfred Ballans was announced in the Yorkshire Gazette of 26 Nov 1881:

"BALLANS-BENSON - On the 21st instant, at St. Stephen's Church, Acomb, by the Rev R P T Tennant, vicar, Alfred, eldest son of Mr Ballans, Carr Grange, to Martha Emma (Pattie), youngest daughter of Mr George Benson, all of Acomb"

Martha and Alfred Ballans had two children both of whom survived. Cecil Benson Ballans was born in 1884 (bp. 17 Sep, Acomb) and Linda Mary Ballans was born in 1895, also in Acomb.

In 1891 Alfred and Martha are living at West Field Villas, Acomb, next door to Martha’s parents James and Mary Wright who are living at the Marcia Inn. Alfred is listed as being a cattle dealer and having been born in Tanfield (this is less than a mile from North Stainley). In this census, his surname is mis-spelled as ‘Ballance’.

In 1901 Alfred Ballans is living at Green Lane, Acomb and is a ‘manager on a farm’. Perhaps this was the farm of his recently deceased father-in-law George Benson?

In 1911 Alfred and Martha Ballans are living at ‘Glenholm’, Acomb. This is probably the name of the house, though I’m not sure where in Acomb it is. Alfred is now a labourer in a warehouse, which I believe is named as ““Rly Co Warehouse” which is likely short for “railway company”.

According to the death register index, Martha died in Aug-Sep 1918 and Alfred died in Jan-Mar 1916.

Their son Cecil was training to be a cabinet maker in 1901 but by 1911 was a worker at the N.E. Carriage works in Acomb. By this time, Cecil was married to Annie J Ballans and had one child – George B. Ballans. The family are living at Grange Lane, Acomb. Cecil signed the census return as “Cecil Benson Ballans”.

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