Saturday, 26 December 2009

Where did Henry William Clayton originate from?

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Henry William Clayton
Born on 20th March 1869

Henry William Clayton was born on 20th March 1869 in Devonshire Street, near All Saints Hospital in Winson Green (which used to be known as the City Lunatic Asylum). His mother was Emma Clayton (nee. Brookes), the daughter of a Hockley jeweler and his father was Thomas Clayton, an iron bedstead maker.

Thomas and Emma had been married for five years before Henry William was born. They married on 16th May 1864 at St George's Church in Newtown. When they married, Thomas declared his age to be 23 whilst Emma Brookes was 20, meaning that they were born in 1841 and 1844 respectively. According to the 1881 census however, their recorded ages would have put their births in 1837 and 1838. I have no explanation as to why they said they were younger on their marriage certificate (or the converse).

Other information on the marriage certificate of Thomas and Emma tells us that Thomas's father was also named Thomas Clayton and that he was a screw manufacturer. Thomas lived at Cregoe Street in Lee Bank whilst Emma came from back 102 Brearley Street West. Emma's father was Samuel Brookes, a jeweler. Whilst Thomas signed the marriage certificate with a flourishing signature, Emma was unable to write and instead she put her humble cross.

The marriage of Thomas and Emma in 1864 took place three years after the birth of a first born son, Thomas, and one year after the birth of a daughter, Mary E (who was known as Aunt Pem in later years). This calculation is based upon the ages of the 2 oldest children given in the 1881 Census although new evidence suggests that Mary E may have been born in 1866.


Another point of interest is the five year gap between Thomas and Emma's marriage, and the birth of the 3rd child, Henry William. Following the birth of Henry William in 1869, Thomas and Emma had four more children, all boys. Samuel was born in 1871, then Frederick born at Back of 17 Witton Street (off Garrisons Lane, Bordesley) on 28th October 1873, Alfred, born on 18th April 1877 at Brook Tavern Court, Lennox Street and finally a boy named Francis (aka Frank) born in Aston in 1881.

According to the 1881 Census, the Clayton family lived at 74 Fordrough Road in Aston. Thomas was listed as a 44 year old blacksmith and his place of birth given as Wolverhampton. Emma's age was given as 43 and her place of birth Birmingham. All 6 of their children were registered in the census, the oldest being Thomas aged 20, a twine maker, born in Birmingham. Mary E was registered as an 18 year old corset maker, born in Birmingham. The four younger boys were 'scholars', their ages listed as 14, 12, 8 and 6. There is an inaccuracy in the ages of William and Samuel who should actually have been 12 and 10, not 14 and 12.


Section from a 1903 street map of Winson Green, showing the grounds of the City Lunatic Asylum (more recently All Saints Hospital) with Devonshire Street branching off Lodge Road. William Clayton was born in Devonshire Street on 20th March 1869.

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