John Corbett’s extensive salt works at Stoke Prior between Droitwich and Bromsgrove. Salt production was a huge local business in North Worcestershire in the 19th century. Our ancestor Patrick O’Hagan may have started his salt hawking trade in Bromsgrove and spotted distribution opportunities in Birmingham
In 2006 I came across exciting new evidence about the O’Hagan family. The first record is from the 1851 Census for Bromsgrove and lists a family named O’Hagan living at 106 Worcester Street in Bromsgrove.
The family / household is listed as follows:
James Hagan, head of the household, a 44 year old agricultural labourer born in Ireland
Ann Hagan, wife of James, 38 years old and also from Ireland
John Hagan, son, 19 year old labourer born in Ireland
Catherine Hagan, daughter, 17 year old born in Ireland
Mary Hagan, 11 year old daughter born in Ireland
Alice Hagan, 5 year old daughter born in Bromsgrove
Andrew Dyer, a 30 year old smith, a visitor born in Scotland
Ten years later, in the 1861 Census, it seems likely that the same family is recorded again, this time living at 11 court number 2 Wharf Street in Birmingham. We should remind ourselves that Wharf Street is where John and Alice lived in the early 1880s and where Terence was born.
The family is smaller at this stage and included:
Patrick Hagan, head, a 55 year old salt hawker born in Ireland
Ann Hagan, wife, 55 year old, also born in Ireland
Alice Hagan, daughter, 16 year old screw maker born Birmingham
Accepting that there are various discrepancies in these records, such as the use of the surname Hagan, as opposed to O’Hagan, the use of the first name James and then Patrick and some minor changes in specified ages, I still believe strongly that both of these records appertain to the family of my g-g-grandmother Alice O’Hagan.
Firstly, the name Hagan is as rare as O’Hagan and it was very common for Irish people entering Britain in those days to drop the ’O’ prefix, thus Anglicising their surnames. We already know that Alice was born in Bromsgrove and the year of birth matches up, as does the year and place of birth of her older sister Mary.
The occupation of the father in both records is consistent with his later description of ’traveller’. In 1851 he is described as an agricultural labourer whilst ten years later he is described as a salt hawker. The change of his first name is interesting, perhaps in the earlier record he may have been reluctant to use Patrick for similar reasons to dropping the O from O’Hagan.
Settling around the Wharf Street area is also consistent with the location of the Millington family in subsequent decades. We know that Millingtons remained in Lee Bank for 4 to 5 more generations and we should also remind ourselves that Alice herself is to be found married to John Millington and living at 1 house 15 court Wharf Street in the 1871 census.
I am therefore convinced that these two new records appertain to the family of Alice O’Hagan.