Wednesday, 23 June 2010

A Middlemore tale

I would like to thank a correspondent named Julia who has shared with us this research concerning her husband's cousin in Canada whose grandfather was an emigrated home child under the scheme operated by Middlemore Homes in Birmingham. This gentleman's experience has parallels with the experience of one of our own relations in my dad's family tree.

This is Julie's email and we would thank her husband's cousin for consent to publish this short article: 

Hi Pete,

This is the story, or part of it of my husband's cousin, who we tracked down in Canada. Although life was hard there, William didnt appear to suffer any abuse.


"On May 27, my grandfather was placed in the Middlemore Home for children in Birmingham. During his time here, he along with other children were exposed to promotional photos that showed the "beauty of Canada". They were told that they could go to Canada to live with with an adopted family if they so desired.

"Grampie decided that he would go in the hope of finding a better life. From 1865-1935, about 100,000 young children came to Canada from orphanages in England. The only problem with many of these adoptions was that the families only wanted to have the chilren so that they could do the intensive manual labour required for maintaining a farm. Some children were abused while others were treated quite well. They were known as British Home Children.

"On May 14, 1920, my grandfather left England forever aboard the "Minnedosa" and he landed in the port of Quebec, Canada a few days later. He told me that two of the passengers on the ship had died and were buried at sea. He was then put on a train for Taymouth New Brunswick where he met his new adoptive parents for the first time on May 23,1920. Their names were Herb and Winnifred McBean. The McBeans put him and his baggage on a horse drawn wagon and they rode the two mile drive to a large farm. My grandfather was fed lunch upon his arrival and then he was given a tour of the farm. Once the tour was completed, he was told to work. There were no other children around the farm and he was not allowed to associate with other children when he was off the farm. He did go to school for a short while but he says he had more formal education than his teacher.

"On May 14, 1930, he married Nellie Blanche Moran whose father was also a former Middlemore resident. Together they raised seven children: Ernest Wyton (May 11, 1931- Sept 7 2003), Ethel Wyton (b, April 27 1932), Gladys (b.Aug 28 1938), William (Bill) (Feb 10, 1941), Dorothy (Pat) (b.Feb 10 1944), Sheila (b.May 13 1949) Deborah (b. Aug 14, 1955)

"I don't believe the McBeans were abusive to my grand-father but they did work him quite hard. Herb died in 1942 while his wife lived another 23 years. Grampie inherited the farm and although the house is still standing, it is in need of some major repairs. It was built in about 1837"

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The search for Miss O'Hagan - a new location in the 1891 census?

Mary O'Hagan was the spinster aunt of my great grandfather Terence Millington and an older sistser of my g-g-grandmother Alice Millington, nee. O'Hagan.

I first heard her referred to as 'Miss O'Hagan' through the anecdotes of my aunty Kath Robinson, nee. Millington. Kath was born in 1922 so she would never have known or even met Mary O'Hagan who died in 1907. But Kath herself had heard family anecdotes about Miss O'Hagan whom she believed to have been a teacher at St Patrick's school on Dudley Road. Kath also told me that when Miss O'Hagan died she left a Will and my great grandfather Terence (her nephew) was a beneficiary but was said to have squandered his money in the public houses of inner city Birmingham.

I wrote to the headmaster of St Patricks school a few years ago but unfortunately there are no records of teachers from that period in the school archives. On obtaining Mary O'Hagans death certificate and also studying the transcript of her Will, it transpires that her profession was given as being a domestic cook and that she owned a small cottage in William Street in Ladywood, the sale of which constituted the main bulk of what was left to her nephews and nieces in her Will.

If Mary had spent large parts of her life in domestic service as a cook, this would go some way to explain why (1) she remained single, and (2) in spite of coming from a background of poverty (her father Patrick O'Hagan once described his profession as a 'traveller') she had saved enough money to buy a cottage and leave affects to the value of £710.

I have written a full post on this website detailing my research into the life of Mary O'Hagan which can be read at this link:

Part of this research material includes my search for Mary O'Hagan in census records. She can not be found residing at her cottage in William Street in the census records so I therefore concentrated on searching for her working as a domestic cook in larger houses around the West Midlands. This is a section of my previous post, examining this research:

Miss O’Hagan in the 1881 and 1901 Census?

I was recently told by one of my dad’s cousins (Patricia nee. Millington) that the O’Hagans possibly came from Newry, which is on the border of counties Down and Armagh in northern Ireland (Newry is quite close to the Mountains of Mourne).

There is a record of a Mary O’Hagan born in Newry in the 1901 census. This lady was single and was working as a Domestic Cook at a place called Haunch Hall in Longdon, Staffordshire. Mary O’Hagan is recorded as being 53 years of age. We already know that at the time of her death in 1907, Mary O’Hagan was 65, therefore the age of the lady in Longdon is about 6 years out.

However, bearing in mind that census records and transcriptions are quite often inaccurate, for instance 58 or 59 could easily be read as 53, and as there are no other Mary O’Hagans recorded elsewhere in the 1901 census with a similar profile and this one is in the West Midlands, I would not therefore rule out the fact that this lady could be the one we’re looking for.

Pictures of Haunch Hall, a listed building in Longdon, Staffordshire
Rumoured to be haunted

The lady recorded in the 1901 census was working at Haunch Hall for Stephen and Alice Stokes. Stephen was a 76 year old leather merchant of PCC who had been born in Wednesbury. His wife Alice was 77 years old originally from Tutbury in Staffordshire. Their 42 year old son Thomas A Stokes was a barrister coroner born in Walsall and they also had a 39 year old daughter named Clara Stokes born at Edgehill, Staffordshire.

The rest of the household were servants, Mary O’Hagan being the oldest. Alice Mullinder was a 28 year old housemaid from Penn. Emily Hawkins was a 28 year old ladies maid from Stafford. Maud Gregory a 20 year old house maid from Handsworth. Gertrude Bromhead was a 30 year old house maid, also from Handsworth and Elizabeth Copestake was a 17 year old kitchen maid from Gentleshaw in Staffordshire.

There is also an earlier record of a Mary O’Hagan working as a cook in domestic service, this time in the 1881 census at a dwelling called the Royal Oak Hotel at Bettws Y Coed in Caernarvon, Wales (pictured right). Once again there is slight discrepancy in the recorded age of this particular lady, she was 35 according to the census which is about 4 years out when compared to her age at death. However, again I would not discount this record purely on this basis as I have observed far bigger anomalies within old records, where it has turned out that two conflicting pieces of information turn out to be the same person.

What interests me about this record relating to an address in Wales is that I have on occasion heard my father and his siblings recalling that someone on the Millington / O’Hagan side of the family was either Welsh or had Welsh links. It could even have been that Miss O’Hagan herself had a Welsh accent. At the moment this is 50% conjecture but I believe it is a hunch worth pursuing. Did Mary O’Hagan live and work for a large part of her life in Wales?

In any case, the household at the Royal Oak Hotel at the time of the 1881 census was fairly substantial, including Mary O’Hagan there were 20 people, seven were members of the Pullan family who owned the hotel, four were visitors and eight were servants:

Edward Pullen, aged 51, born at Knaresbro, York was head of the household and was the hotel keeper as well as a farmer of 70 acres. His wife Lousia was 48, born at Harrogate, York. The Pullens had three daughters, Dora (21), Kate (19) and Hetty (18) and two sons, Frank (16) and Percy (5), all born at Harrogate, York.

The visitors at the Royal Oak Hotel were Robert Ackrill, a 64 year old printer and newspaper proprietor born in Worcester, his wife Caroline aged 58, Henry T Grubb, a 44 year old civil engineer from Ireland and W.Graham, 45 year old Captain H Militia, also from Ireland.

The servants at the Royal Oak were Thomas Hughes the ostler (groom) aged 46 from Capel Curig in Caernarvon, James Laurie the gardener aged 35 from Scotland, Mary O’Hagan the cook aged 35 from Ireland, Hanna Roberts a waitress aged 26 from Bettws Y Coed, Annie Owen a 19 year old housemaid from Llangerniw in Denbigh, Jane Jones a 28 year old housemaid from Capel Garmon in Denbigh, Jane Lloyd a 46 year old housemaid from Pennal, Merioneth and Sarah E Jones a 22 year old kitchen maid from Bangor, Caernarvon. With the exception of Jane Lloyd, all of the servants are listed as being unmarried – again this evidence fits our profile of Miss O’Hagan who remained unmarried all of her life.
1891 Census
Further to the information above from my earlier post, I have found a record for a Mary O Hagan working as a domestic cook in the 1891 Census. This Mary is also within the correct age profile and she was born in Newry, County Down. Mary is living and working at Eaton Mascott Hall at Berrington in Shropshire for the Congreve family:
1891 census - household transcription

Address: Eaton Mascott Hall, Hamlet, Berrington, Eaton Mascott

Married M
Born 1841 in Wicklow, Ireland
Living On Own Means

Married F
Born 1863 in Otago, New Zealand
Son M
Born 1884 in London

Son M
Born 1887 in Wigtownshire, Buenos Aires

Daughter F
Born 1888 in Buenos Aires

Boarder F
Born 1872 in Clapham, Middlesex

45 born 1846 in Newry, County Down
Domestic Cook

BEVON, Agnes
29 born 1862 in Weston Burton, Cheshire
Parlour Maid

EYLAND, Elizabeth
29 born 1862 in Shrewsbury

OWEN, Elizabeth
18 born in 1873 in Ridgway, Shropshire
Kitchen Maid

22 aged 1869 born in Shrewsbury
Under House Maid

A search for Eaton Mascott Hall on the internet did not find any photographs or old pictures of the hall but did lead to an interesting modern story about the Hall. In February 2005 Eaton Mascott Hall was the venue for one of the first fox hunts under new government legislation and the hunt was organised by a person named Otis Ferry who is joint master of the South Shropshire Hunt and also happens to be the son of rock star Bryan Ferry!

Monday, 14 June 2010

New information about the Lee, Townley and Robinson family

One of the most exciting things about creating this website has been making contact with a number of relations, some close and some slightly more distant, who have come across the site through online searches or through other websites such as Genes Reunited and then got in touch via email to share fascinating information, documents and photos.

Sue Read found the site via Mac Joseph's Old Ladywood website. She is the daughter of Gertrude (aka Trudy) Lee and Norman Dodd. Sue's first message posted to the website following one of the posts a couple of months back re: the Vesper Bell, said:

"I really enjoyed reading this as Mr & Mrs Lee were my great grandparents. Norman and Trudy (Gertie) Dodd were my parents. Mum was actually Emmie and Ted Robinson's niece (Henry Herbert Lee's daughter). She went to live with them when her parents died, her mother when she was only 18 months old and her father when she was 11. Sadly Mum also died in 2007 but I heard many stories about the pub during my childhood".   

Since then Sue and I have exchanged a few emails and the information she has sent recently is helping to build up our knowledge of the Lee / Townley / Robinson family. I am only sorry that our beloved uncle Harry Robinson isn't still here to chip in from his chair behind the couch!

Sue has given me permission to quote extracts of her emails, saying:

"I certainly enjoyed reading the site and maybe others will have snippets of info they could share with us. I found it very touching reading about my Mum and Dad, so I'm sure others would be interested."

"I found your website of great help and along with photos and various certificates have been able to trace back to my great great great grandfather on Mums side. His name was Thomas Sweetman, born around 1796. His daughter, Ann Sweetman married a George Lee and one of their children, Emily Clara, married George Cope. They were the parents of Gertrude Polly Cope, who married Henry Herbert Lee (son to Albert & Emily Lee) and he was Mum's father. Sadly both Mum's parents died when she was very young (her mother when she was only 18 months and her father when she was 11). Mum was then brought up by her aunt and uncle who we called 'Nanny' and 'Grandad' Robinson (Harry's parents)".

"Did you discover the parents of Albert John Lee? If you did, you may be able to solve a mystery for me. Gertrude Polly Cope's mother (Emily Clara Lee) had a brother called Albert John born in 1868. Now that is a huge coincidence that Albert John Lee was also born at that time. If it was the same person who married Emily Townley, then my grandparents, Henry Herbert Lee and Gertrude Polly Cope were cousins. Henry Lee worked as an engineer at New Imperial Motorcycles and was a banjo player, being a member of a Birmingham Banjo group - don't know what it was called but we used to have a photo of him with a group of banjo players."

"I have very fond memories of Nanny and Grandad Robinson as I spent my days with them from the ages of 3-5 before I started school. Nanny Robinson had long white hair which went right down her back - she used to let me brush it for her every day. They lived in Bolney Road, Quinton and had a beautiful garden with 2 apple trees and lots of roses and hydrangeas. Grandad Robinson had been a soldier in WW1 and had been shell shocked, so sometimes when we went to see them, he would turn us away at the door as he didn't remember us. After he died, Nanny Rob (as we used to call her) practically lived with us as she came to stay on Friday night and went home to pay her rent on Wednesday. She was a very lovely lady and we were all very upset when she died."

"I don't really know anything about the Vesper Bell as I am too young (a bit older than you) but I remember my parents talking about it. Sadly Dad died in Dec 1998 and then Mum died in Oct 2007, so I'm not able to find out more. Unfortunately Mum had suffered several mini strokes, so she lost the power to readily communicate a couple of years before she died. She had already started to put together a family tree but I think she got a little confused as she thought that Henry Townley was a jeweller. I have since discovered that it was her grandfather on her mother's side (George Cope) who was the jeweller."

"I was interested to see on your website that the birth date for Henry Townley varied for different census reports. I assume that the correct date was 1833, as his eldest child, Charles Townley was born in 1854. If the 1840 birth date was correct, he would have only been 14 when Charles was born."

Lee family in the 1871 Census

Further to Sue's email (see above post), this is the transcript of the Lee family in the 1871 Census:

All Saints Road, Birmingham

LEE, George

Aged 44
Born 1827

LEE, Ann

LEE, Emily

LEE, Charles

LEE, Albert

LEE, Edward

This is the only Albert Lee who appears in the 1871 census for Birmingham.

More information on the Lee family from Sue Read

Sue's latest email provides us with more information about the Lee family, including the transcript of a fascinating hadnwritten note which details the family of her ancestors George Lee and Ann Sweetman, the great grandparents of uncle Harry Robinson. Thank you to Sue for letting me publish a few more extracts of her email:  

"Many thanks for the info about Albert Lee. It looks as if my idea that Gertrude Polly Cope and Henry Herbert Lee (my grandparents) were cousins. When I was at my sister's house a few weeks ago we went through a trunk full of photos and old documents. Amongst them we found a very old piece of paper which detailed the family of George Lee and Ann (nee Sweetman). I think it must have been written by Ann Lee. I copied down the details and they, along with other family info are detailed on the attached sheet.

Image versions of Sue's genealogy research, which includes Ann Lee's original notes from years ago.
The same information on these images is posted in text format below.  

Sue continues:

"As you will see, they do tally with those you found on the 1871 census. This means that Uncle Harry's ancestors would also have been George and Ann Lee (nee Sweetman) and I think that her father was Thomas Sweetman (born about 1796) and her mother was Mary (?)."

"I also discovered that Henry Townley's wife was called Elizabeth. We have photos which I believe are Henry Townley. I have done all of my research via FreeBMD and I haven't joined any site to view records yet as I haven't really had the time to devote to my research until now. I do plan to delve further when I have time."

Sue's Lee, Cope, Townley, Robinson & Sweetman family research

Family Information

Married @ Old Aston Church - 1.5.1848
Ann Sweetman B. 10.8.1830 (? 1832)
married George Lee B. 16.3.1826 (Father to Emily Clara who married George Cope)

Children :

Mary Ann Lee B. 21.1.1850 Baptised @ St. Martin’s, Birmingham

George Lee B. 30.11.1851

David William Lee B. 21.7.1854

Emily Clara Lee B. 8.11.1856 Baptised @ All Saints, Birmingham

Charles Frederick Lee B. 25.3.1859 Baptised @ All Saints, Birmingham

William Lee B. 13.4.1861

Sarah Lee B. 29.8.1864

Albert John Lee B. 28.3.1868 Baptised @ All Saints, Birmingham

Edward George Lee B. 10.7.1871

Annie Lee B. 29.1.1875 Baptised @ All Saints, Birmingham

Known marriages of some of these children:

Mary Ann Lee married Isaac Brett 12.10.1870 @ St Thomas, Birmingham

Albert John Lee (Great Grandad) B. 1869/8 D. 12.1.1949

Emily (Emmie?) Townley (Great Grandma) B. 1869 or 1870

D. 19.3.1956

Parents of Emily Townley

Henry Townley - father of Emily (Emmie?) Townley B. 1838

D. 1 Dec 1924

Wife – Elizabeth B. Abt 1833

D. Abt 1889

Siblings of Emily Townley

Julie Townley (Walsall) – sister of Emily Townley

Children of Albert Lee and Emily Townley

John Albert Lee (Postmaster) (His father – Albert John Lee & mother – Emily)

Father of Lena & Dennis

Emmie Elizabeth Lee (daughter of above) B. 28.4.1897

1 Blythe Street


1.12.1917 Edwin Herbert Robinson
Corporal Quarter Master, Devon Regiment
275 Icknield Port Road

Edwin's parents

Edward James Robinson (father of above and William (worked @ Henry Wiggins) , Samuel (worked @ Henry Wiggins), Lillian & Harold, Alexander (Squadron Leader @ Lossiemouth))

Rosina Robinson (wife of Edward James?)

Edwin and Emmie Robinsons children

Children : Emily Robinson B. 4.10.1922 Barmaid @ Vesper Bell Pub

(Married Victor Watson. Children: Trevor, Alan & Roland)

Harold Robinson (James) B. 31.3.1920 (Married Kathleen Millington)

Edward Robinson (worked at Bird’s Custard) Children: David & Margaret


Walter Frederick Lee (brother of Emmie Lee)

Albert Frederick Lee ?

Marriage of Henry Herbert Lee and Gertrude Polly Cope

Henry Herbert Lee – brother of Emmie Lee (Grandad) B. 10.5.1894
Engineer – New Imperial Motorcycles D. 7.1.1936 (Aged 41)@
Lived at 1 Blythe St before married 709 Alcester Road at Kings Heath

Married 8.6.1919

Gertrude Polly Cope B. 1888 (1887/1889)
Lived at 123 Ryland Street before married
D. 21.9.1927 (Aged 39)@ 33 Morville Street

Daughter of above couple (Sue's mum)

Gertrude Emily Lee B. 27.5.1927 @ 33 Morville Street
D. 10.10.2007

Gertrude Cope's parents

George Cope (father of Gertrude Polly Cope) Deceased by 1919

Other misc.

Harry (Henry?) Adamson – Brother-in-law to Albert John Lee

Born: 20.3.1859 at Old Meeting Street, West Bromwich

Parents of above

John Adamson (Boatbuilder)

Selina Adamson (nee Stanley)

More misc.

Albert George Lee D. 25 Aug 1965 Aged 73

James Robinson B. 31.3.1920
Toolmaker at Lucas’

Geoff's slides 3

Denis Millington

Joan Millington nee. Lawlor

Geoffrey Millington

New website format

Welcome to my family history website. Over the weekend I upgraded the website slightly to give it this new look. In doing so however, it has thrown a lot of photos out of position, so I am having to backtrack through each post to bring the images into the frames. So please bear with me as it may take a couple of weeks to work through the entire site.

I'm still receiving interesting emails and pictures on a weekly basis, including an email recently from Sue Read who is related to the Robinsons and Lees of the Vesper Bell in Ladywood (uncle Harry's family). Also lots of great photos from Sylvia Weedon who is related to Iris Millington, nee. Butcher, whose family originated from Guildford Street in Lozells.

I'm also waiting excitedly for the next instalment on the search for the Ohio Finns from Jamie Evans. I recall Jamie was off on his holidays a few weeks back and before he went he said that he was putting various feelers out in the USA in the hope of contacting descendants of the Finn family who went to Cleveland in the early 1900s - the family included a lady who became a nun. Knowing Jamie's prolific skill at uncovering genealogical gems, I am sure he will have a few more revelations for us when he gets back in touch.

I wanted to say thanks to those people who visit the website who are not either directly or even distantly related to me and I want to extend the invitation to them to send me information or photos to publish. Visitors may have read the fantastic information sent to me by Trevor Mabbett, for instance, not a relation but someone who grew up on Ledsam Street in Ladywood near the Vesper Bell pub and whose memories are very interesting and relevant to this website.

So please send me:

  • Old local photos
  • Maps, documents, etc.
  • Memories of the West Midlands / Ireland, etc.
  • Potted family histories

...and I'll add them to the site.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Geoff's slides 2

A few more of dad's slides from the 50s, my older brother Denis taken in 1959

Nance and David Bourne at Monument Road

Nanny Mill - Florence Millington nee. Clayton

Dad's slides - Spring Hill, Ladywood

Thank you to my dad Geoffrey Millington who has placed into my keeping his old slides, which I am attempting to covert into digital format. Many are of the Millington family of Monument Road, Ladywood in the 1950s and some of my mom and dad's honeymoon and various trips and holidays from around 1958 to 1960.

The one above is a shot taken from the balcony of 1A Monument Road (above the bank) looking across Spring Hill to the old library on the right and the Vine Public House on the left. Would you believe that the green van is from Birmingham City Corporation! Amazingly, the old library is the only building in this photograph still standing and the road is considerably wider too - in fact it's now the traffic island at the foot of Ladywood Middleway.

Here's another one, this was taken by my dad when he was doing national service in the late 50s.
This is at Donnington, not Castle Donnington, this one is near Wellington in Shropshire 

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The day we went to...?

Thanks once again to Eileen (aka Sylvia) Weedon nee. Barraclough, for yet another fantastic photograph from the Nash family album. This one features Granny Caroline Nash (right of the tear at the top of the photo) presumably off on a trip on a Midland Red charabanc. Caroline Nash was my aunty Iris's grandmother. If a picture paints a thousand words then this one must definately tell an interesting story. I have seen quite a few of these charabanc photos turning up in Carl Chinn's Brummagem magazines, I think such trips out were quite common either for neighbourhood or works outings. Not sure if they made it as far as the seaside or not, perhaps someone can enlighten us, and also I wonder what happened when it rained?

Eileen emailed me:

"I took a copy of this Midland Red photo to the Black country museum and showed it to the man in the transport office, it was nearly ripped out of my hand! He loved it and was putting it up in thir mess room. He told me it was a charabanc not a coach as it had doors at the back for each seat. Granny Nash is on the right of the tear at the top. One of the others below is Mrs Dunne who looked after mum while Granny Wearing went to work".

Just remember, you can double left click on any of the photos on this website to see a close-up version. It's worth looking more closely at the photo above as there are some marvelous characters on the charabanc. I would love to know where they were heading.

Caroline Nash (1855-1951)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A few more photos from the Nash family album

Again a huge thank you to Eileen (aka Sylvia) Weedon for more old photographs from the Nash family album. The Nash family were, as mentioned below, the maternal grandparents of aunty Iris who is widow of my father's older brother Bill Millington. Iris originates from Guildford Street in Lozells. I spoke to Iris on Sunday about this exciting contact with Eileen and hopefully the dialogue will generate even more fascinating information and photos to add to the website.

Elsewhere on this site I have posted some information about the origins of Iris's father, whose surname was Butcher and how it seems that this gentleman's own father died tragically in Manchester. There is also some information about the origins of the Butchers being in Bewdeley. 

Eileen takes the Nash family back to about 1851 with the birth of William Nash who married Caroline. This couple had six known children: Sylvia, Arthur, Annie, May, William and Lilly. Slyvia Nash was Eileen's grandmother, whilst May Nash was Iris's mother. Iris is therefore the cousin of Eileen's mother Sylvia.

Sylvia Nash married John Wearing and they had four children: Sylvia, Frederick, Sidney and John. Sylvia Wearing married John Barraclough and they had two daughters, Sylvia (Eileen) and Pauline.

Without further ado here are a few more of the fantastic photos emailed to me by Eileen. We may need to do some additional detective work between us to identify some of the subjects, especially the children, although we can probably identify some faces already from the previous three photos below, including Eileen's mom, Sylvia Barraclough, her grandmother, Slyvia Wearing and her great grandmother Caroline Nash. But more captions to follow soon (watch this space):

Fred, Sylvia and Sidney Wearing

Sidney & Fred Wearing and Laddie the dog

Sylvia Barraclough (nee. Wearing), her friend, Granny Nash and Donald (oldest son of Edie Naven nee Tipper)

Sylvia Barraclough nee. Wearing (on right) and her sister by her mum's first husband William Tipper.

A friend of Sylvia Barraclough (nee. Wearing)

Sylvia Barraclough on right

Sylvia Wearing (child) with Annie her eldest sister, about 11 years older -same dad as Edie