Friday, 30 September 2011

Ship records for Henry Townley?

Henry Townley was my Uncle Harry's great grandfather, the father of Emily Townley who married Albert Lee, long-standing landlord of the Vesper Bell Public House on the corner of Blythe and Ledsam Streets in old Ladywood.

Henry was born in Treadworth in Gloucestershire sometime between 1833-1840. He is listed in the 1901 census as a resident at the Vesper Bell, father in law to the publican, a widower aged 61, and working as a timber yard labourer, born Treadworth, Gloucestershire 1840.

He is also listed in the 1911 census, still at the Vesper Bell, this time listed as widower and army pensioner, born in Treadworth, Gloucestershire in 1838.

Uncle Harry had a memory of his great grandfather as being a very tall man whose coffin had to be lifted through a window of the pub because they couldn't get it down stairs at the removal. We also know he served in the navy which is recognised by him being in receipt of a war pension. It seems that Henry Townley was a widower for a few decades as there is a record of him with his family, including Emily (Harry's grandmother) in the 1891 census living at 9 Bertha Buildings, Bradford Road, Birmingham:

Henry Townley, head, widower, timber merchant labourer, aged 51, born Treadworth, Gloucestershire 1840

Mary J Townley, daughter, single, aged 16, domestic servant, born 1865 Birmingham

Harry H Townley, son, single, sawyer aged 23, born Birmingham in 1868

Emily Townley, daughter, single, aged 21, domestic servant, born Birmingham 1870

Ada L Townley, daughter, single, aged 19, pin machine minder, born Birmingham 1872

The same family are recorded in Birmingham in the 1881 and 1871 census records:

1881 census living at 1, back 33 Springfield Street, Ladywood

Henry Townley, aged 41, labourer in timber yard, born in Gloucestershire 1840

Elizabeth Townley, aged 50, born Gloucestershire 1831

Mary Jane Townley, daughter, single, aged 16, warehouse girl (J), born Birmingham 1865

Harry Herbert Townley, son aged 14, warehouse boy (flab), born Birmingham 1867

Emily Townley, daughter, single, aged 11, scholar born Birmingham 1870

In the 1871 census, the same family are living at Edward Street, Court House, Birmingham but with the addition of two older siblings who were both born in Gloucestershire which suggests the move to Birmingham being between 1856 (Julia's birth) and 1864 (Mary's birth):

Henry Townley, head aged 38, born Gloucestershire 1833

Elizabeth Townley, wife, aged 38, born Gloucestershire 1833

Charles Townley, son, aged 17 born in Gloucestershire 1854

Julia Townley, daughter, aged 15 born in Gloucestershire 1856

Mary Townley, daughter aged 7, born in Warwickshire 1864

Herbert Townley, son aged 4, born Warwickshire 1867

Emily Townley, daughter aged 1, born Warwickshire 1870

The above information was previously posted on this website at this link:

I have now come across some merchant naval records for the following person (or 2 people given different birth dates):

I am not convinced that any of these three records appertain to Harry's great grandfather, Henry Townley, though there is never any harm in speculating. All three of the men were born in Gloucestershire, the first in 1828 (a decade before our own HT), the second in 1854 (a long way off HT's estimated birth year though interestingly it is the year in which his son Charles Townley was born) and the third one was born in 1841 so he would have been the right kind of age.

There is no date of voyage on the top record, the middle one was in 1881 and the third one in 1879. We have already seen that HT was registered in the census living in Birmingham, so again it is diffuclt to make an obvious case for him serving in the merchant navy in the late 1870s - early 1880s.

I may be completely wrong in searching for him in Merchant Naval records as he was listed in the census as being an army pensioner. My assumption that he was a sailor is based on the photograph of this gentleman with a group of other veteran sailors elsewhere on this website(see link above).

The search continues.

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