Saturday, 1 March 2014

Obituary of Joseph Price

From the Saint Croix Courier Thursday, August 10 1899

"This community numbers one good citizen less than it did on Tuesday morning, for death came suddenly to Joseph Price that day. He had been at work in Calais that day and was returning home on his truck wagon. When near the end of the Ferry Point bridge, he was seen to fall to the ground. He was quickly carried into the custom house and physicians summoned, but ere they arrived life had fled. One wheel of the cart had passed over the body, but it was evident that his death was caused by heart disease. Mr. Price was a native of England, seventy-four years of age, and had followed the trade of a stone cutter here for many years. He had long been a consistent member of the Methodist church, and was faithful in attendance upon all its services. He was universally respected in the community and beloved by many. His funeral will be held from his home, corner of Main and Queen streets, this afternoon at two o'clock.".

Birth: Jan 1825 - Hasbury, Worcestershire UK
Christening: 13 Feb 1825 - Halesowen, Worcester, England

Death: 8 Aug 1899 - St. Stephen, N.B. Canada
Burial: 10 Aug 1899 - Lot #12, Geranium Path, St. Stephen Rural Cemetery, St. Stephen N.B. Canada


Joseph Price was a brother of Stephen Price. Stephen was the great, great grand father of my aunt's husband David Blount.

The Price family originated from Wales but settled in the Hasbury / Halesowen of the West Midlands UK in  the 1800s. There was a strong tradition of stone masonry in the family.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The ritualistic martyr - a cautionary tale

Though there has been many instances of local clergymen adopting practices which usually come under the name of ritualistic, we have had but one "Martyr to the Cause," in the person of the Rev. R.W. Enraght, of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Bordesley. Among the numerous practices of which complaint was made against him were the following:—The use of lighted candles, the wearing of the alb and chasuble, the ceremonial mixing of water and wine, the making of the sign of the cross towards the congregation, the use of wafers instead of bread, standing with his back to the congregation during the prayer for consecration, not continuing to stand the whole time during the prayer, elevation of the cup and paten more than is necessary, causing the Agnus Dei to be sung immediately after the consecration, standing instead of kneeling during the Confession, and kissing the Prayer Book. Remonstrance, monition, and inhibition, not being sufficient to teach him the error of his ways, Mr. Enraght was committed for contempt Nov. 20, 1880, and taken to Warwick gaol on the 27th. He was released soon after Christmas, and another Vicar filleth his place.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Farm Street - a typical Hockley street of the mid 19th century

Farm Street, Hockley, was a working-class street about two miles from the (Birmingham) city centre. In 1851, it housed 225 families, many of them in courts and back alleys. When the heads of households had to state their occupations in the census, nearly one in three said they were involved in metal work, hand-craft work, jewellery, button-making or gun-making. A further 25 per cent were engaged in the building trade, for Birmingham was spreading. The city doubled in population every thirty years throughout the nineteenth century. Aston, the northern suburban district, more than doubled every twenty years while Victoria was queen.

The People's England - Alan Ereira

Some reasons why our West Midland ancestors left the land and headed for the city in the mid 1800s

Peasant farmers bought out by bigger landowners or forced to give up by rent rises
 
Enclosure Acts led to the decline of open strip farming on common and heath land
 
Small village farmers having to become day labourers with a reduction in income
 
Introduction of agricultural machinery such as threshing machines replaced the need for human labour on the land
 
Winter starvation became common across the UK and Ireland
 
Railway and canal construction offered new labouring opportunities, initially in the countryside
 
A demand for new trades such as bricklaying learnt in the navvy environment came from the expanding cities such as Birmingham

Why our West Midlands ancestors gave up on farming

The 1830s saw traditional rural folk from all over the UK and Ireland leaving behind their traditional agricultural trades and going after the increased wages offered by the building and construction industry:

 "The London to Birmingham railway was the greatest earthwork that had been made. When it was completed, one of the engineers, Peter Lecount, calculated that four hundred million cubic feet of earth had been shifted, and that this put the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China wholly in the shade. His comparison made sense, because every cubic foot of soil moved in building the railway was excavated by men holding picks and shovels."

The People's England - Alan Ereira

The interior of Kilsby tunnel, by J.C.Bourne


Railways in the 1830s had to be almost level with inclines kept to a minimum. Kilsby tunnel on the London to Birmingham railway was typical of most tunnels which had to be dug through rock and earth using just picks and shovels.

Often they started with a shaft in the centre of the hill and worked outwards. Death and injury were just part of the job but the money was better than farm labouring and opportunities becoming much more plentiful.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Millington family of Ladywood


The Millington family lived at 1a and 2 Monument Road in Ladywood for some 25 years from the mid-1940s to around 1968. Prior to their move into Monument Road, they lived at 3 back of 20 Garbett Street close to Florence’s family, the Claytons. 
 
William and Florence were caretakers of the National Provincial Bank at 71 Summerhill,     Edgbaston and their home in Monument Road was adjacent to and over the bank. In around 1968, William and Florence moved to the house next to the All Electric Petrol Garage on     Harborne High Street. Their rear garden backed onto that of their son, Geoffrey Ernest and his wife Joan and their family at 107 Station Road. William died of lung cancer on 4th July 1969 at Westheath Hospital, not long after they moved from Ladywood to Harborne. It is speculated that his lung cancer at the age of 69 was probably caused by working in smoky foundries and he was also a cigarette smoker.
 
We have already learnt a lot about William’s early life, his strained relationship with his father, the early death of his mother and his service in the army in India between 1919 and 1922. As a boy William attended St John Immanuel C of E church where he pumped the organ. For most of his working life William worked in foundries and factories around Birmingham, including The Mint in Hockley and an old bell foundry on Broad Street. He later moved with this last company to a new site in Grove Lane, Smethwick. William’s last job was at Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) in Smethwick making nuts and bolts.       
 
William Joseph Millington (aka Granddad Mill) was a quiet and private man who is remembered as being affectionate towards his grandchildren, though often irritable towards his lifelong wife Florence in their later years. William was also a lifelong Aston Villa supporter and was said to have written a letter of disgust to Villa chairman Doug Ellis on Villa’s entry into the third division in the 1960s.
 
William’s oldest daughter Anne (aka Aunty Nance) recalled him as a conservative and a moral man:
 
“Dad didn’t like coarse language. He wouldn’t tolerate people swearing in his company. I     remember when a relative and another man took dad up to a pub where there was a comedian on, dad didn’t like it because the comedian was using very lewd language. He said “I’m not sharing that bloke’s company again if he drinks in pubs where they allow that sort of thing.” ”
 
Nance also indicated something of her father’s hard working life: 
 
“Dad didn’t like shaking hands with people. He had cuts all over his palms from making bells for monasteries”.
 
William’s wife, Florence Margaret Millington (nee. Clayton) was born at 20 Lennox Street in Newtown on 3rd August 1899 and died on the 13th March 1985 in the same hospital and,   incredibly, on the same ward from which her husband had departed life sixteen years earlier.  

Florence is also remembered with much affection by her family, described as a real character of her generation. In her prime she had a wonderful sense of fun and mischief, but is also remembered for being very generous and kind hearted, a lovely singer of old time songs and always able to tell a gripping story on family history. Sadly, Florence never got over the death of William in 1969 and sunk gradually into a world of distant memories and creeping dementia. In her autumn years Florence spent some time being cared for in the elegant setting of Highbury Hall in Moseley and was later cared for by her loving daughter Kathleen Robnson and husband Harry at their home in Bartley Green.
 
My personal memories of Nanny Mill are from when I was about 10 o 12 years old, by which stage Flossie (Florence) was a dear but fragile old lady, wandering along Harborne High Street or travelling around the city on her O.A.P. bus pass, generally seeming to be quite confused and mithered. I remember her regularly sitting on a wooden chair in Frank’s traditional sweet shop in Serpetine Road, Harborne with an ice cream in in her hand, or else emerging from the Duke of York pub, having spent her pension. Florence kept a dog called Spot and a hen named Peggy. Her house on the High Street was often a lodging house for local characters such as a tiny lady named Minnie and the village drunk whose name was Tommy.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Searching for the Curley family

Curley and Patrick family in Spring Hill, Ladywood 1955

My mother's brother, Brian Lawlor, married a Birmingham woman named Christine Curley from the Quinton area. Brian and Christine had three children, Sarah, Ruth and James, who grew up in Droitwich in Worcestershire.

After Brian died in 1989, Chris brought up the children as a single parent and met a new partner from the Droitwich area, Graham Earp. Graham's family originated in Rubery on the outskirts of Birmingham.  

Chris told me that her father's family, the Curleys, lived in Ladywood in the mid-20th century and also her mother's family, the Moulsdales.

Chris also explained that her Great Grandmother married a Mr Curley but he died, leaving her a relatively young widow, and she later married a Mr Patrick.

Christine's grandmother (her father's mother) then married Mr Patrick's son Christopher (her step-brother). But before she married Christopher Patrick, she already had a child named Thomas (Christine's father). Chris told me that it was not known who Thomas's father was in the family, so he kept his mother's maiden name Curley.

Chris told me:

"Great Grandmother lived at 104 Springhill in Ladywood (first it was a laundrette then when she re-married the shop became a Greengrocers).

I have found evidence that a Thomas Curley and Annie Sutton married in Aston in the 1890s. This Thomas was alive in the 1901 census but Annie Curley was a widow by the time of the 1911 census. In 1915 it seems she married Thomas Patrick and in 1920 her daughter Elizabeth married his son Christopher Patrick.

Older census records seem to indicate that Thomas Curley was born in Walsall and that his father Michael Curley, Christine's g-g-grandfather, came from Ireland. His wife was Ann Cahill, also an Irish surname but she was born in Walsall.

There is evidence on the internet that the name Curley originated in Connaught (Galway & Roscommon) which makes sense if Christine's g-g-grandfather, Michael Curley came to England in the 1840s or 1850s to escape the famine.

The name Curley could be derived from the Irish clan name of McCurley/McKerley. There is also a theory that the surname Curley may be French in origin, having a common root with the word curlew (a wading bird common in Europe).