Friday, 25 December 2009

The Family of Mary Emily Clayton

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Rosa - the daughter of Mary Emily Clayton


Mary E Clayton, the older sister of my great grandfather William, was born on the 28th December 1866. On her birth certificate it states that she was born at her family home at Bedford Place, Farm Street. Her mother was Emma (nee. Brookes) and her father Thomas Clayton, iron bedstead fitter (journeyman).


Mary Emma married William George Jeenes (sometimes Geenes) in 1885. William was 22 and a brass cabinet worker, the son of William George Jeenes, an engine fitter. The address for him was Webster Street. Mary Emma was 19 when she married William Jeenes and was living at Phillips Street, Aston. Witnesses to their marriage were William Bates and Mary Jane Jeenes.

Carole Graham told me:

“Nothing more is known for a short time then in 1890 there was a son Walter born to an Emily Clayton of Cecil Street. No father's name. I have yet to prove this was one of Mary Emma's "flings". I find it difficult to believe Mary Emma had no children between 1890 and 1894. I believe there may have been a daughter Rosa”.


In 1894 Mary Emma Jeenes gave birth to another son, named on the birth certificate as George Howard Edwards. No father's name was given on the birth certificate, but the address for Mary Emma was Unett Street. The place of birth was Frankfort Street.


In February 1896 Mary Emma remarried. There is no evidence as to what happened to her marriage to William Jeenes. On her new marriage certificate she called herself Emma Clayton and claimed to be a spinster. She married William Edwards (the same name as on her son George's birth certificate).

Mary Emma’s second marriage to William Edwards (age 29) took place at All Saints Parish on 2nd February 1896. William was a 29 year old polisher from 3 court 3 house Abbey Street, and Emma was a 28 year old spinster from the same address. The father of William Edwards was John Edwards, an engineer. Emma’s father was listed as Thomas Clayton, tin plate worker.

On 3rd October 1896 Emma Edwards (nee. Clayton), an electro plate polisher, gave birth to Arthur Edwards at 14 Court 2 Unett Street in Birmingham. His father was named as William Edwards (b. 1866).

Emma’s second husband, William Edwards senior died on the 15th August 1917 aged 51. He died from (1) Phthisis (Pulmonary Tuberculosis) and (2) Haemoptysis (coughing up blood) at 63 Benson Road in Winson Green, which may have been a hospital for TB patients, being in close proximity to the City Fever Hospital. His home address was given as 1 Back of 172 Farm Street (Newtown) and his ‘rank or profession’ given as Ex 4003 Private 6th Royal Warwick Regiment. His wife Mary Emma was present at William’s death and her address was also 1 Back 172 Farm Street.


Lady on the left is Mary Emma Clayton (Aunty Pem) with her sons and daughter in law



In 1920 Emma’s son George Howard Edwards married Charlotte Madden. George gave his address as 1 Back 172 Farm Street. In 1922 Charlotte and George had a daughter Elsie Agnes. George Howard now reverting to the surname Jeenes, died in 1963. Charlotte Madden was born in Birmingham in 1901 and died in 1996 in the John Taylor Hospice in Grange Road, Birmingham.


George Howard Edwards was the great grandfather of Julie Brindley with whom I have corresponded via email. Like Ralph Edwards and Carole Graham, Julie has provided fascinating information about her own branch of the Clayton family:


“My great grandmother Charlotte Madden married George Howard Edwards, the son of Mary Emma Clayton. Charlotte was born on 22nd January 1901 in Birmingham. Her mother, Sarah Ann Madden, was born on 2nd February 1880 in Oldbury to Edward Madden and Sarah Ann (nee Priest). Charlotte’s mother, Sarah Ann, was a worker at St Chad’s Cathedral, the family are shown on the 1901 census living at Price Street in Birmingham. In the census Charlotte is just two months old and whilst her father is not recorded in the home, her grandfather Edward Madden is registered. He came from County Mayo in Ireland and I believe he came over circa 1850s.”


“Charlotte Madden and George Edwards married at St Stephens church on April 5th 1920. George was a 25 year old polisher from 1/172 Farm Street (father—William Edwards) and Charlotte was a 21 year old plater from 150 Brearley Street (father—William Madden)”


Julie points out that so far Charlotte’s father is not actually known and as yet she has been unable to trace a register of her birth. We should note that in the 1901 census record, Charlotte has the surname Madden and so does her maternal grandfather, pointing to the fact that her mother did not have a married name.

There is also a record in the 1881 census of the Madden family living at St Georges Street in Oldbury. Listed in the home were the parents Edward (born in Mayo in 1847 - a Striker Smith)and Sarah A Madden (born Old Hill, Staffs in 1852), with 5 children: Ann (8), Edward (5), Ellen (4), Isabella (3) and Sarah A who is just 1.  


“According to the marriage certificate of George Howard Edwards & Charlotte Madden, Charlotte's father was William Madden, this name is unproven and I personally think that they may have put down the same forename as George's father as they also lied about her age. As Charlotte was only 19 and she stated 21 (full age).”


“George Howard Edwards bought up his family in Brearley Street in his early marriage years. George Howard was quite a small man but some of his offspring were quite tall.”


“One other point is that George Howard Edwards was cross-eyed. (My mom said that when she was a child and George Howard watched the boxing on the TV, you had to duck because you just never knew which way he was looking or where his fists would end up throwing the punches for the boxers on TV).”


Julie also related a familiar story concerning the cold welcome extended to Mary Emma whenever she came visiting:


“Mary Emma was not a very welcomed person anywhere by the sounds of it. When she used to visit George Howard’s home he used to leave by the back door also, leaving Charlotte (my great gran) to see to her.”


Julie told me a little more about the confusing use of the two surnames, Edwards and Jeenes, by the same family members:


“My great grandfather was named Edwards at both birth and marriage. He then named his first born daughter Elsie Agnes as an Edwards, but subsequent children took the surname Jeenes and he and Charlotte were both registered on their death certificates as Jeenes. I always knew them as Jeenes and so did my mom”.


George Howard Jeenes died at Dudley Road hospital on 25th February 1963 at the age of 68. His address at that time was 14 Nuthall Grove, Birmingham 21 and his profession was given as retired polisher.

Elsie Agnes Edwards was born at back of 170 Brearley Street in 1922. She married James Roland Nixon from Durham at St Augustine's Catholic Church in 1946. Elsie died in Birmingham in 1998.


My father’s cousin Bill Clayton remembers a grandson of Aunty Pem named Freddie Jeenes:


“Freddie worked underground in the sewers. He lived near the Claytons in Ladywood and he married a girl from Ostler Street”.


George (the soldier) and Jack Jeenes (the sailor). Sons of Mary Emily Jeenes (nee.Clayton) who was the sister of great grandad Clayton - also known as Aunty Pem. Therefore these gentlemen were my grandmother’s cousins. The little girl may be their sister Rosa - also a cousin of Florence Millington.



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