Tuesday, 12 November 2013

The ritualistic martyr - a cautionary tale

Though there has been many instances of local clergymen adopting practices which usually come under the name of ritualistic, we have had but one "Martyr to the Cause," in the person of the Rev. R.W. Enraght, of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Bordesley. Among the numerous practices of which complaint was made against him were the following:—The use of lighted candles, the wearing of the alb and chasuble, the ceremonial mixing of water and wine, the making of the sign of the cross towards the congregation, the use of wafers instead of bread, standing with his back to the congregation during the prayer for consecration, not continuing to stand the whole time during the prayer, elevation of the cup and paten more than is necessary, causing the Agnus Dei to be sung immediately after the consecration, standing instead of kneeling during the Confession, and kissing the Prayer Book. Remonstrance, monition, and inhibition, not being sufficient to teach him the error of his ways, Mr. Enraght was committed for contempt Nov. 20, 1880, and taken to Warwick gaol on the 27th. He was released soon after Christmas, and another Vicar filleth his place.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Farm Street - a typical Hockley street of the mid 19th century

Farm Street, Hockley, was a working-class street about two miles from the (Birmingham) city centre. In 1851, it housed 225 families, many of them in courts and back alleys. When the heads of households had to state their occupations in the census, nearly one in three said they were involved in metal work, hand-craft work, jewellery, button-making or gun-making. A further 25 per cent were engaged in the building trade, for Birmingham was spreading. The city doubled in population every thirty years throughout the nineteenth century. Aston, the northern suburban district, more than doubled every twenty years while Victoria was queen.

The People's England - Alan Ereira

Some reasons why our West Midland ancestors left the land and headed for the city in the mid 1800s

Peasant farmers bought out by bigger landowners or forced to give up by rent rises
Enclosure Acts led to the decline of open strip farming on common and heath land
Small village farmers having to become day labourers with a reduction in income
Introduction of agricultural machinery such as threshing machines replaced the need for human labour on the land
Winter starvation became common across the UK and Ireland
Railway and canal construction offered new labouring opportunities, initially in the countryside
A demand for new trades such as bricklaying learnt in the navvy environment came from the expanding cities such as Birmingham

Why our West Midlands ancestors gave up on farming

The 1830s saw traditional rural folk from all over the UK and Ireland leaving behind their traditional agricultural trades and going after the increased wages offered by the building and construction industry:

 "The London to Birmingham railway was the greatest earthwork that had been made. When it was completed, one of the engineers, Peter Lecount, calculated that four hundred million cubic feet of earth had been shifted, and that this put the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Great Wall of China wholly in the shade. His comparison made sense, because every cubic foot of soil moved in building the railway was excavated by men holding picks and shovels."

The People's England - Alan Ereira

The interior of Kilsby tunnel, by J.C.Bourne

Railways in the 1830s had to be almost level with inclines kept to a minimum. Kilsby tunnel on the London to Birmingham railway was typical of most tunnels which had to be dug through rock and earth using just picks and shovels.

Often they started with a shaft in the centre of the hill and worked outwards. Death and injury were just part of the job but the money was better than farm labouring and opportunities becoming much more plentiful.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Millington family of Ladywood

The Millington family lived at 1a and 2 Monument Road in Ladywood for some 25 years from the mid-1940s to around 1968. Prior to their move into Monument Road, they lived at 3 back of 20 Garbett Street close to Florence’s family, the Claytons. 
William and Florence were caretakers of the National Provincial Bank at 71 Summerhill,     Edgbaston and their home in Monument Road was adjacent to and over the bank. In around 1968, William and Florence moved to the house next to the All Electric Petrol Garage on     Harborne High Street. Their rear garden backed onto that of their son, Geoffrey Ernest and his wife Joan and their family at 107 Station Road. William died of lung cancer on 4th July 1969 at Westheath Hospital, not long after they moved from Ladywood to Harborne. It is speculated that his lung cancer at the age of 69 was probably caused by working in smoky foundries and he was also a cigarette smoker.
We have already learnt a lot about William’s early life, his strained relationship with his father, the early death of his mother and his service in the army in India between 1919 and 1922. As a boy William attended St John Immanuel C of E church where he pumped the organ. For most of his working life William worked in foundries and factories around Birmingham, including The Mint in Hockley and an old bell foundry on Broad Street. He later moved with this last company to a new site in Grove Lane, Smethwick. William’s last job was at Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds (GKN) in Smethwick making nuts and bolts.       
William Joseph Millington (aka Granddad Mill) was a quiet and private man who is remembered as being affectionate towards his grandchildren, though often irritable towards his lifelong wife Florence in their later years. William was also a lifelong Aston Villa supporter and was said to have written a letter of disgust to Villa chairman Doug Ellis on Villa’s entry into the third division in the 1960s.
William’s oldest daughter Anne (aka Aunty Nance) recalled him as a conservative and a moral man:
“Dad didn’t like coarse language. He wouldn’t tolerate people swearing in his company. I     remember when a relative and another man took dad up to a pub where there was a comedian on, dad didn’t like it because the comedian was using very lewd language. He said “I’m not sharing that bloke’s company again if he drinks in pubs where they allow that sort of thing.” ”
Nance also indicated something of her father’s hard working life: 
“Dad didn’t like shaking hands with people. He had cuts all over his palms from making bells for monasteries”.
William’s wife, Florence Margaret Millington (nee. Clayton) was born at 20 Lennox Street in Newtown on 3rd August 1899 and died on the 13th March 1985 in the same hospital and,   incredibly, on the same ward from which her husband had departed life sixteen years earlier.  

Florence is also remembered with much affection by her family, described as a real character of her generation. In her prime she had a wonderful sense of fun and mischief, but is also remembered for being very generous and kind hearted, a lovely singer of old time songs and always able to tell a gripping story on family history. Sadly, Florence never got over the death of William in 1969 and sunk gradually into a world of distant memories and creeping dementia. In her autumn years Florence spent some time being cared for in the elegant setting of Highbury Hall in Moseley and was later cared for by her loving daughter Kathleen Robnson and husband Harry at their home in Bartley Green.
My personal memories of Nanny Mill are from when I was about 10 o 12 years old, by which stage Flossie (Florence) was a dear but fragile old lady, wandering along Harborne High Street or travelling around the city on her O.A.P. bus pass, generally seeming to be quite confused and mithered. I remember her regularly sitting on a wooden chair in Frank’s traditional sweet shop in Serpetine Road, Harborne with an ice cream in in her hand, or else emerging from the Duke of York pub, having spent her pension. Florence kept a dog called Spot and a hen named Peggy. Her house on the High Street was often a lodging house for local characters such as a tiny lady named Minnie and the village drunk whose name was Tommy.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Searching for the Curley family

Curley and Patrick family in Spring Hill, Ladywood 1955

My mother's brother, Brian Lawlor, married a Birmingham woman named Christine Curley from the Quinton area. Brian and Christine had three children, Sarah, Ruth and James, who grew up in Droitwich in Worcestershire.

After Brian died in 1989, Chris brought up the children as a single parent and met a new partner from the Droitwich area, Graham Earp. Graham's family originated in Rubery on the outskirts of Birmingham.  

Chris told me that her father's family, the Curleys, lived in Ladywood in the mid-20th century and also her mother's family, the Moulsdales.

Chris also explained that her Great Grandmother married a Mr Curley but he died, leaving her a relatively young widow, and she later married a Mr Patrick.

Christine's grandmother (her father's mother) then married Mr Patrick's son Christopher (her step-brother). But before she married Christopher Patrick, she already had a child named Thomas (Christine's father). Chris told me that it was not known who Thomas's father was in the family, so he kept his mother's maiden name Curley.

Chris told me:

"Great Grandmother lived at 104 Springhill in Ladywood (first it was a laundrette then when she re-married the shop became a Greengrocers).

I have found evidence that a Thomas Curley and Annie Sutton married in Aston in the 1890s. This Thomas was alive in the 1901 census but Annie Curley was a widow by the time of the 1911 census. In 1915 it seems she married Thomas Patrick and in 1920 her daughter Elizabeth married his son Christopher Patrick.

Older census records seem to indicate that Thomas Curley was born in Walsall and that his father Michael Curley, Christine's g-g-grandfather, came from Ireland. His wife was Ann Cahill, also an Irish surname but she was born in Walsall.

There is evidence on the internet that the name Curley originated in Connaught (Galway & Roscommon) which makes sense if Christine's g-g-grandfather, Michael Curley came to England in the 1840s or 1850s to escape the famine.

The name Curley could be derived from the Irish clan name of McCurley/McKerley. There is also a theory that the surname Curley may be French in origin, having a common root with the word curlew (a wading bird common in Europe).

Monday, 19 August 2013

Bombadier Henry Townley - Uncle Harry's great grandfather

The above newspaper cutting is from the Birmingham Gazette 1924.

3 December 1924

"One of the few remaining Crimean Veterans is removed by the death at the age of 87 of Bombardier Henry Townley of Blythe Street, Ladywood, where he lived with his son-in-law. He enlisted when a youth in the 80th Foot Regiment, and went through the whole of the Crimean campaign. His active service ended in the Bengal Horse Artillery in 1861. There remains now only two Birmingham Crimean veterans, and one of these lives at Blackpool".

(Article from the Birmingham Gazette)

NB. Townley and his family were living in nearby Springfield Street in 1881.

Henry Townley was my Uncle Harry Robinson's great grandfather. He died at home in his son-in-law's pub in Ladywood, the Vesper Bell which stood on the corner of Blythe Street and Ledsam Street.

Private Henry Townley is listed in the Medal Roll (British Forces) for service in the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859) with the 80th Foot Regiment (Staffordshire Volunteers).

Members of the Horse Artillery who fought in the Indian Mutiny
 An Indian Mutiny Medal from 1857-59
At the age of just 18/19, Henry Townley (second from top on the list below) was awarded a medal for his services in the Indian Mutiny, fighting against rebels at Sultanpore on 5th March 1858, the capture of Calpee and the campaign in Oudh in October 1858 to January 1859. In the far right column there is a note that Henry Townley transferred to the Indian Army on 31st August 1858. This would explain his change of regiment from the 80th Foot Regiment (Staffordshire Volunteers) to the Bengal Horse Artillery.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A chronology of Edward Bourne's family

1891 Census

1 Leaway Place, Henry Street, Balsall Heath

Edward Bourne aged 37 builder’s foreman born in Worcester
Fanny E Bourne aged 32 born in Worcester

Florence M Bourne aged 15 born in Worcester
John E Bourne aged 12 born in Worcester

Walter E Bourne aged 6 born in Liverpool
Edith H Bourne aged 4 born in Liverpool

Ethel S Bourne aged 3 born in Liverpool
Edward V Bourne aged 1 born in Worcester

1901 Census
98 Crocketts Road, Handsworth
Edward Bourne 47 year old builder born in Worcester

Sara A Bourne aged 50 born in Longdon Green, Staffs
Edith H Bourne aged 14 born in Seaforth, Lancs.

Ethel S Bourne aged 13 born in Seaforth, Lancs.
Edward V Bourne aged 11 born in Worcester

Fanny E Bourne aged 9 born in Birmingham

1911 Census

Edward V Bourne a boarder with the Smith family of 1 back of 115 Mansfield Road, Aston Manor. Born in Barbourne, Worcester aged 21


Marriage of Edward Valentine Bourne and Violet Wilson at St Paul's Church, Aston on 18th June 1911

1912      Birth of Violet Florence Bourne on 10th October 1912 in Handsworth 

1914      Birth of Edward Bourne in Aston on 26th November 1914 

1915     Edward Valentine Bourne joins the Royal army Medical Corps - 24th February 1915
1918     Polling register - Birmingham 

Absent voters list – 1 Albert Cottages 
Edward Valentine Bourne
56437, A/Cpl., Stat. Hos., R.A.M.C.

Absent voters list – 6 Albert Cottages
Ernest Edward Bourne
2194176, Pte., M.T. Co., 7 G.H.Q., A.S.C.

1935 Polling register

1 Albert Cottages, Brougham Street, Aston

Edward Valentine Bourne, Violet Bourne and Violet Florence Bourne

1937      Marriage of Edward Bourne and Elsie Copper

1938    Birth of Edward Bourne

1939      Polling register
1 Albert Cottages, Brougham Street, Aston                         
Edward Valentine Bourne and Violet Bourne

2 Albert Cottages, Aston 
Edward Bourne & Elsie Bourne

1946    Marriage of Edward Bourne and Anne Lilian Millington

1949  Birth of David Bourne

1950  Polling register 
337 Quinton Road West  
Edward Bourne, Anne L Bourne, Mary Clayton & Thomas Clayton

1 Albert Cottages, Brougham Street

Edward Valentine Bourne and Violet Bourne

1955 Polling register     
25 Harpers Road, Northfield
Edward Bourne and Anne L Bourne

1961  Death of Edward Valentine Bourne

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The family of my Uncle Ted - Edward Bourne

These two screen shots from Google Earth are views of St Mary's Catholic convent in Hunters Road, a road linking the Newtown area of Birmingham with the Lozells district. The discovery of this convent has helped me to identify the road in which dad's late brother-in-law Ted Bourne grew up. Uncle Ted was married to dad's oldest sister Nance. Ted was not a Catholic but I remember him once recalling that he grew up in a street in this area that was close to a Catholic Convent which gave him a lifelong respect for the dedication of the nuns.

Ted was born in 1914 and my research shows he grew up on Brougham Street which is the adjacent road to Hunters Road, the location of St Mary's convent. In the 1922 polling register a couple named Edward Valentine and Violet Bourne were registered at 1 Albert Cottages, Brougham Street.

Edward Valentine Bourne married Violet Wilson in Birmingham in 1911, I believe them to be my Uncle Ted's parents. In the 1911 Census, a 21 year old Edward V Bourne is a lodger with the Smith family of Mansfield Road, Aston Manor, his birth place given as Barbourne in Worcestershire. In the 1901 Census (pictured above) he is found with his parents and siblings living at 98 Crocketts Road, Handsworth. He is 11 years old and his place of birth given as Worcester.

Edward Valentine Bourne and his father, also an Edward Bourne were both born in Worcestershire. However, three of Edward V's siblings were born in Seaforth on Merseyside.

Nance, David and Ted at 25 Harpers Road, Northfield in 1956. In the polling register of 1950 Ted and Nance were living at 337 Quinton Road West along with G-Granny, Mary Clayton and Thomas Clayton (a brother of Nanny Mill).

Geoff, Ted and Nance 1956
Joan and Nance 1956
Nance (Anne nee Millington), Ted (Edward Bourne),
their son David and pet dog Bess.


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Descriptions of the Black Country

The Industrial Landscape of the Black Country
Blast furnaces at Cradley
In his 1936 novel, The Far Forest, Francis Brett Young who was born in Halesowen, describes the Black Country of the 19th century:

"A sunless, treeless waste, within a crescent of mournful hills from whose summits a canopy of eternal smoke was suspended above a slagged desert, its dead surface only variegated by conglomerations of brick surrounding the forges and pit-heads and brick-yards and furnaces in which the smoke was brewed; by mounds on which the mineral and metallic waste of these had been tipped, as on gigantic middens; by drowned clay-pits and sullen canals whose surface appropriately reflected an apocalyptic sky."

On the pursuits of local people, Francis Brett Young says:

"Rat Killing Legers" took place every week in the pubs. Each pub had its private rat-pit, into which as many as thirty rats could be thrown at a time. "Rats for pounds" was the rule: a terrier of nine pounds was expected to kill three rats in a minute; and the smallest dog that could kill the most rats was the winner. Sometimes the dogs fought. Sometimes the owners of the dogs fought each other. They die as they live with a terrific and violent suddenness. Their lives are full-bloodied and lawless. The law of the land - Factory Acts included - rarely runs. Half a century ago the inhabitants stoned strangers at sight. Even now they may fling them black looks that are hard as stones.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

More Victorian advertising

Punishments of olden times

Victorian Advertising

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

How Abraham Darby fueled the industrial revolution in the Midlands

Iron Bridge, Shropshire. The parts of this dramatic bridge were cast at the nearby foundry
of the Darbys at Coalbrookdale and erected in 1777.

A most significant change began in the iron industry in 1709 when Abraham Darby succeeded in using coke instead of charcoal as the fuel in his blast furnace at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. This particular furnace has survived, although much modified, and has been carefully preserved after having been lost for several generations under a mound of industrial waste.

The trouble with using coal fuels previously had been that they contaminated the iron in the furnace with undesirable impurities. Darby was fortunate in discovering locally coal with excellent coking properties which, together with the increased blast which he put in his furnaces, overcame this problem and allowed the industry to begin the movement from the backwoods to the coalfields. The movement was a slow one in its initial stages, partly because of the remoteness of Coalbrookdale and the conservatism of other iron founders about following the initiative of Darby and his family, and partly because of the continuing dependence upon water power until the steam engine had developed sufficiently to provide a reliable alternative.

These restrictions were gradually overcome in the eighteenth century, so that in the following century there was a concentration of blast furnaces on the coalfields to make the 'Black Country' landscape of the Midlands and its counterparts in South Yorkshire and elsewhere.

Industrial Archaeology in Britain / R.A. Buchanan / Pelican 1972, page 98      

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Arthur Edwards

Arthur Edwards was born in Birmingham in 1896. His mother Emma (Pem) Clayton was great grandfather Wiliam Clayton's older sister.

In the early 1900s Pem fell on hard times and many of her children including Arthur ended up living on the streets of Birmingham and getting into trouble with the authorities. Arthur was round up and put in a Middlemore children's home from where he was emigrated to Canada as a home child and ended up being treated very harshly by his adoptive parents who used him as child labour on their farm. However, with the outbreak of WW1 in Europe, Arthur returned to England and signed up to fight with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force.

On his Attestation papers signed in October 1915 Arthur gives his next of kin as his mother Emily Ewards of Well Street, Hockley. The outbreak of WW1 was therefore a double sided coin for Arthur as it gave him reason to come to England and be re-united with his parents and siblings.

The witness to Arthur's Attestation papers was William Jeenes who was Emily's second husband, so Arthur's step father.

After his service in WW1 Arthur returned to Canada where he married a lady who was also a British home child, Daisy Bates, and raised his own children. Arthur died in Nova Scottia in 1976.

A photo probably taken in 1915 when Arthur Edwards returned to Birmingham for the first time since being emigrated to Canada as a home child. Arthur is in uniform standing behind his mother Emily Edwards, nee. Clayton. Next to them is another of Pem's sons and his wife and child.

Whilst Arthur was serving in the army and using Birmingham as his home address, his father William Edwards died of tuberculosis in August 1917 at a building in Benson Road, Winson Green which was acting as a TB hospital.

Peter McDonnell - the search moves to America

The passenger list of the Campania at departure from Liverpool on 27th July 1907 with 18 year old Peter McDonnell, the young Dublin man who arrived at Ellis Island in New York eight days later (see below).

It is interesting how a family anecdote creates a line of enquiries and theories. Why did he set fire to the family home? Why was he sent away? If Peter was the son sent to America then who was Christopher? Its all about finding that crucial piece of information that convinces you that this is the right person and the right scenario and because the record database in the States is more detailed, I will keep pursuing the line of enquiry in that direction until I either find clarity or the trail just fades.

Is there a Dublin newspaper report of the house fire? Or perhaps an American death record or social security record for Peter naming his parents and exact place of origin?

This record shows the same individual named Peter McDonnell who arrived at Ellis Island on 4th August 1907 aged 18. He travelled from Liverpool on the Campania giving his last place of residence as Dublin. The Ellis Island record provides potentially useful information for this individual. 18 year old Peter McDonnell is arriving on the Campania on a ticket funded by his father and has $50 in his pocket and is on his way to stay with his uncle, also named Peter McDonnell at 2015 3rd Avenue, New York.

Under disability, Peter has a condition which initially I thought looks as if it is spelt 'phobia'.

Could this be our man? Was his condition connected to the arson attack on the family home? 

Most ships left Liverpool and stopped at Queenstown in Ireland on the way so this individual may have embarked there.

I posted this information on Facebook and my mom's cousin Gaye replied:

"Pete I think this might be your guy. I think the word you think is "phobia" is in fact "strabismus" which means crossed eye. Look at the word again. The first letter could be a lower case "s" with a long tail into it and the second letter looks like it has a faded cross at the top like the cross of a lower case "t". I gave a photo to Colette Gallagher of a man who looked like he had a crossed eye. He had sent it to her grandmother Kitty. The Peter you are looking for would have been her uncle. It had "To my Kitty Kat" on it. Ask Colette about it. Maybe it was signed Peter."

My reply to Gaye:

"Fantastic update thanks Gaye! Yes I have strong feeling about this person. I have searched the New York Census 1910 by the way and there are hundreds of Peter McDonnells and close spellings including MacDonald etc. (one has to take account of people misspelling surnames). So at the moment there's a bit of a dead end even with the address provided here which, if it's our man, would indicate old John had a brother also named Peter McDonnell. There are also some records of Peter McDonnells returning on ships from America too, so that's another possibility - that he went and then came back."

It is intriguing. Even the story of the fire. Its a very dramatic thing to do. Imagine the emotional reactions that would have followed! Was it all insured, etc. ?

When I looked again, Gaye was right about the spelling of Peter's condition and I also noticed under the address of 3rd Avenue, there is an address Westmoreland PA, crossed through. I wonder if that's a further clue to a location of the Uncle? I actually viewed the 3d Avenue address on Google map images and it's now a motor car garage. Which is unlikely to have been there in 1907.

Something I should add in the Peter McDonnell story, when trying to account for the sons Peter and Christopher, the 1911 Census includes the question 'how many children have been born and how many survived?' To which the mother Catherine replied she'd had 16 children and only 5 had survived. We know of Anne (g-granny Whelan), her brother John (possibly became blind himself), the sister Catherine Barrett (Aunty Lally), then the 12 year old brother Peter named in the 1901 census, which leaves space for Christopher to be child 5, he is named as a son in old John's Will but doesn't appear with the family in either the 1901 or 1911 census. So really we are searching for Peter and Christopher.