Finding Mary

It’s not often I get that emotional about my family history – but I did today. My great grandparents, George Bruce and Mary Ellen (née Bates) had two sons (grand-pa Jack and great-uncle Bob) and three daughters. Sadly, the three daughters all died in childhood – Julia (died aged 1, 1897, Oldham), Nellie (died at 21 months, 1903, Hanley) and Mary (died in 1911 at Crewe from diptheria, aged 6½). I have been trying to find Mary’s grave in Crewe Cemetery for years – today I believe I succeeded.

Mary Bruce (nee Bates) and daughter Mary - Westminster St. playground, Crewe (Collection Adrian Bruce)

Mary Bruce (nee Bates) and daughter Mary – Westminster St. playground, Crewe (Collection Adrian Bruce)

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Echoes of the Old New Year’s Day

As I’m sure many of you realise, the start of the New Year in England was usually taken as 25 March (“Lady Day”), until Great Britain adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, when the official date was moved to 1 January. In fact, many people already regarded 1 January as the start of the New Year, with the result that you can see contemporary usage of “dual dating” such as 1 January 1740/41 (the day after 31 December 1740) in order to clarify which year was which.

There are echoes of the old New Year’s Day. For instance, that’s why the British tax year starts on 6 April – the old New Year’s day of 25 March in the Julian calendar, with the 12 days added to take it to 6 April in the Gregorian calendar.

Also, I’ve just been looking at British Army documentation from 1808 – the Army of that time worked on quarters of the year, each starting on 25 of March, June, September and December. Why start on those dates? Well, I guess that 25 March started that sequence as it was the original New Year’s Day in England – although, unlike the tax authorities, the Army never bothered adding the 12 days in.

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Not the way it’s supposed to be

I was moved by a recent post from the Legal Genealogist, Judy G Russell, about the loss of children in her extended family. I knew that my great-great grandparents, James and Emma Purcell, had suffered a shattering blow and when I realised that today, 164 years ago, had been the birth of the first of those children, I felt their story had to be told. Continue reading

Posted in Billington, Family history, Nantwich, Purcell | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thomas Cadman – that wasn’t supposed to happen!

For some years, my Cadman line was stuck on my 3-greats grandfather, Thomas Cadman (abt 1804 – 1845). He died in a farming accident while still in his 40s – a tragedy for his family, which seems to have been broken up as a result, but also (a very minor effect in comparison) a nuisance for me as Thomas died before the 1851 census could tell me his birthplace. According to the 1841 census, he was born between 1801 and 1806 in Staffordshire. His wife (the former Margaret Sproson) also gets a birthplace of Staffordshire in that census – but as later censuses show her to have been born in Wybunbury, Cheshire, I had little faith in the Staffordshire birthplace for Thomas, either.

Some time ago, an old school-colleague had suggested to me that my Thomas Cadman was to be found in his tree and had been baptised in Audlem, Cheshire, in 1805 as a son of Charles Cadman. As there are very few recorded Thomas Cadman baptisms in North Staffordshire or Cheshire at the appropriate time, this seemed a very plausible suggestion. A short time ago, I sat down to write this up with a view to demonstrating that Charles Cadman was my 4-greats grandfather. But, now, doing it properly, I looked into the adjacent Shropshire parishes, found another Thomas Cadman, looked for the evidence to exclude him and realised with a sinking feeling that I couldn’t find it. There were two Thomas Cadman candidates, both appeared in the 1841 census, and I seriously couldn’t tell which was which. Until Ancestry’s Public Member Trees came to the rescue…

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A Cruel & Unusual Punishment?

Just writing up the military career of Private 292, Joseph Bateman, of 6th Dragoon Guards (born 6 May 1808, Haslington), a cousin of my three-greats grandfather James Newton. He appeared for the first time in the Regimental Defaulters Book on 25 May 1832, when he was “Absent from Watering Order Parade and drunk when found about 10 a.m.” For this he was sentenced to “7 days Punishment drill” and “1 Night bells”.

One night bells?? What sort of strange British Army punishment was this? Being forced to ring the bells every hour, Quasimodo-like? Or how about being tied into a harness of Morris Dancer bells overnight? Strikes me it might be difficult to get to sleep like that…

And then, of course, I saw another entry and realised that it wasn’t “1 Night bells” but “1 Night Cells” – it was just the “C” curling round to apparently make a “b”.

Pity – I rather liked the loss of sleep from Morris Dancers’ bells….

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The unknown children of Samuel Cooper and Hannah Steele of Barthomley

Samuel Cooper of Alsager, Cheshire, married Hannah Steele of Alsager on 19 November 1761 at St. Bertoline’s, Barthomley, Cheshire. The two of them would become not just my 6-greats grandparents, but also the ancestors of just about every Cooper in the village of Haslington during the nineteenth century and some distance into the twentieth. And this was despite the influx of railway workers from the town of Crewe just up the road. As the parish registers for Barthomley were published some time ago by the Audley & District FHS, it is no surprise that many trees include those descendants of Samuel and Hannah Cooper who were born in Barthomley parish (which included Haslington). So far as I could see, all of those trees, mine included, had my 5G-GF, William, as their eldest child.

But when I looked at the length of time between their marriage in 1761, and their first appearance in the baptisms of Barthomley, with William, baptised 16 October 1768, it became clear that there must surely be some unknown children born in those seven years. I can now identify at least two, and possibly three, of their children born in that gap.

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Searching for Thomas Taylor of Penwortham – the one who he is

I wanted to find the parents of my great-great-great grandfather, Thomas Taylor, who married Ellen Whittle on 22 December 1823 at Penwortham, Lancashire. Finally, I have decided who those parents are.

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