31 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 35 - School Days

Week 35 (August 27 – September 2) – School Days: Many kids have returned to school by this time. What do you know about your ancestors’ school days? Do you have any yearbooks? Have you found him or her in a local school census? (Certainly nobody knows about any senior pranks they pulled )

This week is probably one of the hardest weeks of the #52Ancestors challenge so far - I haven't found much information about any of the schools my ancestors went to (though I know most of them didn't go much past the legal leaving age - whatever age that was). I know where my mother and her brothers went to school, but that's about it.

Also, we have no photos at all of any ancestors as children - which would be due to the fact that most of them were extremely poor. When you are trying just to earn enough to buy food, there would never be any spare money for such a fanciful thing as a photograph!

A few years ago my cousin Jeannette was surfing the web and she came across the site GlesgaPals.com - a site where people have posted a lot of old school photos from the various schools around Glasgow.

This photo caught her attention - from the Tureen Street School c1945. The Tureen Street School was just a few minutes walk from where the Martin family lived in Moncur Street Glasgow from at least 1937 until about 1961.

The top row of this photo (boy 2nd from the right) we believe is our uncle Eddie Martin - it's potentially the only school photo of any Martin family member. [Update - The benefits of this blog - after a family discussion on facebook, we've now decided that the boy 2nd from the right in the top row is actually our uncle William Martin who was born in 1935 and would have been 10 when this photo was taken]

On the same site, there's another photo, dated from 1957, also at Tureen Street School. The student list includes the name of a boy who I believe is one of our 1st cousins. He was born in 1946 and lived with my/his grandmother in Moncur Street.

This cousin is still alive and well, so I won't share his name, but 2 school photos from all the Martin ancestors in my tree, is a better result than I expected.

When I am in Scotland later this year, I will be quizzing all the cousins to see if they've got any old photos squirrelled away. You never know what might turn up in those old shoe boxes.

24 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 34 - Non-Population

Week 34 (August 20-26) – Non-Population: While we’re on the subject of special census schedules, have you found an ancestor on a non-population census — agriculture, industry, manufactures, or 1890 Union veterans? Tell us about him or her.

I know you've heard the phrase "I only buy it for the articles" in relation to a particular type of men's magazine - well I don't buy those sorts of magazines, but I did used to use the phrase to justify my rather expensive habit of buying every UK Family History type magazine that found its way to my local newsagent here in Sydney, Australia.

I used them as "self-help" tools for learning how to research my own family's story by reading what others had done - but what I didn't expect to find was much useful information on the CDs that often came attached to the outside of the magazines - I mean, how much use would I get from the 1851 census of Western Surrey, some of the Quarter sessions from Wiltshire or from a tool to create historical greeting cards?

So I didn't hold out much hope when the January 2011 Family Tree magazine came with a CD that included Kelly's 1894 Directory of Durham

In the UK, one of the best non-population census records to find ancestors in business in is known as Kelly's Directory. According to Wikipedia, it was a trade directory in the United Kingdom that listed all businesses and tradespeople in a particular city or town, as well as a general directory of postal addresses of local gentry, landowners, charities, and other facilities. In effect, it was a Victorian version of today's Yellow Pages Many reference libraries still keep their copies of these directories, which are now an important source for historical research.

But I hit 3 "home runs" when I opened the document up:

On the CD I found my great grandfather, Nicholas Stuart Dobson in his Hairdresser shop at 5 Hendon Road, Sunderland 

Kelly's directory of Durham 1894 page 384

You can still see some of those streets on a current map of Sunderland, though of course the whole area has been redeveloped in the 100+ years since the directory was created

Finding Nicholas Dobson was exciting enough, but I also found his mother, Ellen Dobson (she of many names) running the George Hotel AND his uncle John Graham Dobson listed as a beer retailer:

Kelly's directory of Durham 1894 page 428

I already knew my g-g-grandmother was occasionally a publican and that John Graham Dobson was a beer retailer from census records - but it was great to have these things confirmed between the censuses too.

17 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 33 - Defective, Dependent & Delinquent

Week 33 (August 13-19) – Defective, Dependent, & Delinquent: In 1880, there was a special census schedule for “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes” — the blind, deaf, paupers, homeless children, prisoners, insane, and idiotic. Do you have someone in your family tree who would have been classified as such? (To learn more about the special 1880 schedule, see my post, Do you have a Defective Ancestor“)

I don't think I had any ancestors who were in the US when the 1880 census was taken, but according to the list in the post linked to above the Defective, Dependent and Delinquent classes covered people who were:

  • Insane
  • Idiots
  • Deaf-mutes
  • Blind
  • Homeless Children
  • Inhabitants in Prison
  • Paupers and Indigent

So based on this list, this week I am writing about my great-great-grandfather ALEXANDER HUNTER.

Alexander was born on July 22, 1838 and baptised on August 5, 1838. He was one of the 9 known children of Robert Hunter and Agnes Wright.

He married Rosana Hunter (my favourite ancestor) on August 27, 1858. He was an Apprentice Blacksmith [correction, that should read Rosana McLuckie]

One of the witnesses to this marriage was George Charleston who was married to Rosana's half sister Janet.

Alexander had a number of changes of occupation over the years - Blacksmith's Apprentice, Blacksmith, Coachsmith and finally Coach Builder, but all related to working with metal in some form or another. There is one record where his is listed as a Woollen Weaver - between his apprenticeship and starting as a tradesman Blacksmith, but this is the exception to the rule for his career

The family made the move from Stirling to Glasgow some time between 1873 and 1881. I imagine this was so Alexander could be close to where work could be found.

Alexander and Rosana had 8 children:

  1. Margaret Ure Hunter - born 1858 died 1859
  2. Robert - born 1860 - married to Mary Fraser - he passed away some time between 1881 and 1891 (I haven't been able to find when yet, there are just too many Robert Hunters - another thing on the list for my visit to Scotland)
  3. Duncan - born 1863 - married to Florence Catherine McDonald
  4. John Alexander - born 1865. Have not yet found a marriage or death record for him.
  5. James Hunter - born 1869 died 1870
  6. Agnes Wright - born 1871 married to Duncan McDonald (seemingly not related to Florence Catherine McDonald)
  7. Rosanna - born 1873 married to James Martin (my great grandparents)
  8. Alexander - born 1879 married to Margaret Carroll

But what does all this have to do with the topic of this post? Nothing, apart from being the lead up to the end of Alexander's story.

Rosana died in 1884 and I think Alexander missed her greatly. He did not seem to cope after her passing.

In the 1891 census, all of Alexander's living children except his youngest son had left home and the "Alexanders" were boarding with a family - it seems Alexander was no longer able to rent his own accommodation and was boarding with the Wilson family.

Things got even worse, and some time between 1891 and 1898 he ended up in the City of Glasgow Poorhouse. However, as he was originally from Stirling, he was sent to the Stirling Combination Poorhouse.

I don't know why he did not live with one of his children - most of them are listed (except youngest son Alexander) in the records. Young Alexander did not marry until 1900 (in Glasgow), so he must have lived with one of his siblings.

Alexander remained at the poorhouse in Stirling for over 2 years - and we find him there when the 1901 census is taken (though his age is incorrectly listed as 73). All the residents of the Stirling Combination Poorhouse were homeless in this census

Alexander passed away on June 18, 1901 at the poorhouse - sadly the informant to his death is another resident of the poorhouse and not one of his children. 

I wish I new what happened between Alexander and his children that led to such a sad, sad end to his story

16 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 32 - One of the 32

Week 32 (August 6-12) – 32. For Week 32, let’s focus on one of your 32 3rd-great-grandparents. (If you’ve already written about all of them — first, congrats on identifying all of them! — consider writing about one of their siblings.)

I am currently able to, fairly confidently, name 24 of my great-great-great grandparents. 2 of them I don't know at all. 5 of them I have found listed under more than one name. The final one of the 32 I have named based on oral family history but I currently have no proof that the surname given is correct (sorry to all those who copied this person's name from my tree to theirs - you should have asked me about her or read my notes about the name first)

75% isn't too bad a percentage - more than a pass mark for most exams. So which one of the 24 to focus on this week? There are so many with at least a bit of a story - some lived long lives, some only long enough to have children before passing away. Should I pick a Dobson? A Martin? A Farley? or a Dempsey?

This week I chose John McLuckie - father of my favourite ancestor: Rosana McLuckie.

John was born in 1800 in Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland, the eldest of 4 known children of George McLuckie and Mary Malcolm. He was baptised on June 8th, 1800

John married Margaret Dick in 1919

John McLuckie and Margaret Dick had at least one child - Janet. Janet married George Charleston and they went on to have 12 children

Death Records, prior to Statutory Registration being implemented in 1855, were not always kept by the parishes, so I'm not sure when Margaret Dick passed away, though it must have been prior to John's next marriage - which was to Margaret Ure on September 6, 1835

John McLuckie and Margaret Ure had at least 4 children:
Margaret - who married William Dawson and had at least 10 children
George - who married Marion Nielson and had one daughter, another Rosanna McLuckie
Rosana - who married Alexander Hunter and had 8 children
James - who married Jeannie Nielson (Marion's twin sister) and had at least 8 children

From this we see that John had at least 39 grandchildren!

John was a sawyer by trade as listed in the 1841 and 1851 censuses. Apparently in 1841 there were about 4,500 sawyers in Scotland.

1841 census
1851 census

John passed away on January 24, 1852 of "Decline". He was buried in his own Lair on January 27, 1852. (Lair is a Scottish way of saying grave)

To me it seems a very young age to have passed away, but after a hard life as a sawyer, perhaps this was a "ripe, old age" back then?

15 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 31 - Easy

Week 31 (July 30-August 5) – Easy: We ended July with “Challenging,” so it seems fitting to begin August with “Easy.” Which ancestor has been pretty easy to research? (Come on, there has to be one!)

Easy - such a subjective term. Dictionary.com gives 7 different definitions for the adjective "easy"I'm going to go with the 2nd definition on the list:
2.free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care
I've said for a long time now that it is much easier to do research for the Scottish side of my family when compared to the English side. Really expensive, yes, but easier? Definitely.

But who was the easiest Scottish ancestor to research? I'm going to pick my Great Grandfather Thomas Dempsey as I have probably the most records on him and he is someone I haven't yet written about.

Thomas lived and in a period of time that, thankfully for us, official records are plentiful

Thomas Dempsey was born on Oct. 9, 1863 in Hutchesontown Glasgow Scotland and died on Nov. 17, 1913 in Lochee Dundee Scotland. He married Mary Kennedy on Jul. 27, 1888 in Hutchesontown, Lanark, Scotland.

He was one of eight known children of Thomas Dempsey and Mary Howie

His family was living in Spring Lane Glasgow when he was born - which according to this Post Office annual directory from 1868, was off South Wellington Street - somewhere that was to become very familiar to Thomas:


We next meet Thomas with his family in the 1871 census - their surname in this census is incorrectly spelt "Dempsie", so that took a little creativity to find.

The family is listed here with 3 children - Mary aged 11, Thomas aged 5 - though he was likely 8 and William 18 months.
Sadly, at this stage, Thomas already had 3 siblings who had passed away:
William, born and died 1859
Margaret, born and died in 1866 and
Ann, born 1867 died 1868

Once he was old enough to work, Thomas became a Carter - a line of work followed by many in the Dempsey family. He remained in this occupation his whole life.

As you can see from this list below, he and his family moved a significant amount of times. For poor families, such as the Dempseys, this was common as they were always trying to find the cheapest rent and keep their heads above water, usually living from pay to pay with nothing saved in case of an emergency.

I found Thomas listed in the 1895 and 1905 Valuation Rolls. According to his children's birth records Thomas and his family had moved from 341 Govan Street to 68 Parliamentary Road and then to 27 South Wellington Street between the taking of the 1891 census and his son Thomas' birth in 1893 and were still living at 27 South Wellington Street when daughter Margaret was born in 1895. BUT, the Valuation Roll for 1895 list him back at 341 Govan Street Glasgow.

Here is a full list of events and details I have for him:

  • Fact 1 Born Oct 9 1863 6 Spring Lane Glasgow Scotland
  • Census 1871 107 Stockwell Street Glasgow Scotland - Surname spelt Dempsie
  • Occupation 1881 1 Portland Place Low Waters Hamilton Lanarkshire ScotlandCoal Carter - Servant - living with Agnew Family
  • Occupation Jul 27 1888 4 Shayler Street Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on marriage cert
    Marriage cert says 21, but he was actually nearly 25
  • Occupation Jan 20 1889 27 South Wellington Lane Glasgow Hutchesontown Lanark ScotlandCarter - on son William's birth cert
  • Occupation Dec 26 1890 341 Govan Street Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on daughter Mary's birth cert
  • Occupation 1891 341C Govan St Glasgow ScotlandCarter - Scotland's People
  • Occupation May 20 1892 68 Parliamentary Road Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on daughter Mary's death cert
  • Occupation May 22 1893 27 South Wellington Street Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on Son Thomas' birth cert
  • Property 1895 341 Govan Street Glasgow Scotland
    Occupier - "house" owned by Mrs Jane Barron
    Rent 6 pounds 6 shillings per year
  • Occupation Dec 12 1895 27 South Wellington Lane Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on daughter Margaret's birth cert
  • Occupation Dec 26 1895 27 South Wellington Lane Glasgow Scotland
    Carter - on daughter Margaret's death cert
  • Occupation Apr 13 1897 27 South Wellington Lane Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on daughter Mary Ellen's birth cert
  • Occupation Sep 22 1899 13 South Wellington Street Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on daughter Annie's birth cert
  • Occupation 1901 13 Wellington Lane Hutchesontown Glasgow ScotlandGen Carter
  • Occupation Dec 23 1903 130 Wellington Street Glasgow ScotlandCarter - on son James' birth cert
  • Property 1905 8 South Wellington Street Glasgow Scotland
  • Occupier - Tenement owned by Incorporation of Fleshers per J Neilson & Sons 213 Buchanan Street - Rent 5 pounds 14 per year.
  • Occupation 1911 8 Mause Lane Greenock Renfrew ScotlandCarter
  • Occupation Nov 17 1913 7 Atholl Street Lochee Dundee ScotlandCarter

Thomas Dempsey and Mary Kennedy had a total of 8 children:
William, Mary, Thomas, Margaret, Mary Ellen, Annie (my grandmother), James and a child I am yet to find (known about due to the 1911 census - 8 children born alive but only 5 still living. I have only found 2 of the 3 who had passed away and will be searching for the other child when I am in Scotland later this year)

Thomas passed away in 1913 at the age of 50 from asthma and cardiac failure

9 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 30 - Challenging

Week 30 (July 23-29) – Challenging: It’s a good time to take a look at another challenging-to-research ancestor.

I wrote a while ago about my great-great-grandmother Ellen Steward and her multiple names which made her a challenge, but she wasn't the only Steward family member who has provided me with difficulty. Today, let me introduce you to her younger sister Margaret.

Born about 1843 in Sunderland, Margaret is the youngest known child of Edward Steward and Margaret Clark Garrett.

We meet Margaret for the 1st time in the 1851 census, as there does not seem to be any record of her baptism - even though her 2 eldest siblings, Isabella and Edward were baptised. (Edward died within a few months of birth).

The family is living at 27 Numbers Garth in Sunderland. Numbers Garth is a location my family seems to be well connected with as numerous family members lived there over many, many years as recorded in census records from 1851 all the way to 1881.

Numbers Garth was one of many small streets or Courts packed into a small area off the lower part of the High Street West. The houses would have been highly overcrowded and the buildings nothing more than slums. In the 1881 Census there were 23 inhabited houses with 311 people. One house had 30 occupants. Those places were mostly swept away in slum clearance schemes in the early 20th century. Numbers Garth was parallel to and between Sunderland Street and Russell Street north of High Street West. Sunderland Street and Russell Street are still there on the modern map which you can access on Multimap or Streetmap, the A1018 runs now through the area.

Here's another snippet about Numbers Garth from 1848 just before family started living there. As you will read, it was not a nice place to live:
Appointed by the Sanitary Association to inspect the Sanitary condition of the Town the deputation learn that the Lanes and Alleys are in the most disgraceful state from the want of drains and the bad conditions of the pavement. That many of those Lanes and Alleys are never cleaned by the Scavengers and others, the sweepings are not removed, and that the footpaths (except in the High Street) are not properly swept.
That contrary to the By Laws Nos. 2 and 8 persons are in the habit emptying Blood, refuse from Butcher’s Killing shops, Night Soil and other offensive matters into opened, uncovered places in several of the alleys and lanes particularly in the East and Sunderland Ward of Sunderland Parish.  Part of Bridge Ward, called Numbers Garth, Bishopwearmouth. 

We meet Margaret again in the 1861 census at age 17 - still living in Numbers Garth with her parents - this time at 11 1/2 Numbers Garth. Also there with the family are 2 of Margaret's nephews (son's of Margaret's oldest sister Isabella)

Right next door at 10 Numbers Garth is Margaret's sister Ellen who is living as the "housekeeper" of Thomas Dobson (you can read about Ellen's life with Thomas here)

Margaret marries John Metcalf in 1865.

In the 1871 census John and Margaret and 3 of their children (Mary, Margaret and John) are living with Thomas and Ellen Dobson along with their daughter, Thomas' father and 2 of Thomas' siblings. A cosy family of 11 all squeezed in to 12 Numbers Garth

It took me forever to find the family in 1881 - I couldn't find them anywhere in Durham at all, and I lost track of them.

But in the 1901 census I found a Caroline Metcalf, aged 16 listed as a servant living with Ellen Dobson.

I "figured" it couldn't be a coincidence that Ellen had a Metcalf girl working for her when she had a sister married to a Metcalf, so I knew I could start following Caroline and see if I could back track to find Margaret and her family in the 2 previous censuses.

I also noticed that Caroline had been born in Cumberland.

Backwards then to 1891 to find the 1st census Caroline should be listed in.

What I got was a big Whoa!

Margaret Steward was no longer a Metcalf, she was now a Hopper and there are 7 children who seemed to be originally listed as Hopper with a change to Metcalf in this census.

The mystery, to me, was were they Metcalfs or Hoppers? What happened to John, Margaret's first husband? Where were Mary, Margaret and John the eldest children?

I was convinced that the children listed here were really Hoppers known as Metcalfs and tried my darnedest to try and find this out.

I thought I had found Thomas and Margaret in the 1881 census - but I couldn't make the children work in any way shape or form. But I left them on my tree as Hoppers anyway.

Then through serendipity, I met someone who was doing some research on Caroline Metcalf on behalf of one of Caroline's grandsons. She introduced me, online, to the grandson and we exchanged quite a bit of communication.

When I travelled to England in 2010, I was able to meet him and some of his family for a few hours one afternoon. He showed me the information he had on the Metcalfs, but I was unable to get a copy of it. But he did help me understand that my assumptions about the 7 children on the 1891 census being Thomas Hopper's was wrong - John Metcalf only passed away in 1889 and Margaret had married Thomas in 1890. 

Once back in Australia, I kept looking. Armed with the information about where the Metcalfs were in the 1881 census, I finally found them living in Brampton Cumberland:

Margaret, John, Edward, Elizabeth, David, Isabella and Joseph (Edward and David being new names).

I then was able to put together the full list of John and Margaret's children as recorded in the Census records from 1871 - 1891

Mary, Margaret, John, Edward, Elizabeth, David, Isabella, Joseph, William, Dorothy (Dora), Caroline and Nicholas - 12 children in all.

Finally I could move on to the 1901 census

There is my family - Thomas and Margaret with Dora and Nicholas. But the census brings a new mystery. Henry Lawndes age 12 is living with the family listed as Grandson. But who does he belong to? Is he Margaret or Thomas's grandson? If Margaret's, which daughter does he belong to?

I haven't been able to find a Henry Lawndes or Lowndes that makes sense in the 1891 census, so the family is going to continue to bring me challenges for many years to come.

Lastly we find Thomas, Margaret and daughter Caroline in the 1911 census. It lists Thomas and Margaret as having been married for 20 years and having no children from that marriage.

2 August 2015

#52Ancestors - Week 29 - Musical

Week 29 (July 16-22) – Musical: There seems to be a musician in every family. Who is the one in yours? Don’t have a musician? Which ancestor has a lyrical name or reminds you of a song?

Back in March I wrote about Agnes McManus (Mullen) who was apparently a Yodeller, but this week I want to focus on her husband Andrew McManus who was well known in the Sunderland England region as a tenor/singer/comedic entertainer

Andrew was born about 1873 in Sunderland England, the son of Andrew McManus and his wife Mary (last name not known). Andrew's parents were Irish and his eldest sister Bridget was also born in Ireland before the family moved to England about 1866.

Andrew was one of at least 5 McManus siblings - Bridget, John, Mary, Andrew and Catherine. He is my Great-Grandmother's brother-in-law.

The Sunderland Echo newspaper has many articles where Andrew is mentioned singing at concerts and fund-raisers. The earliest I have found to date is from May 31st, 1892.

On the same bill that night was Paganini Redivivus (Paganini Revived) - a violinist who hid his identity but was well known in the UK, who played violin in the manner of the famous Italian violinist Paganini

Here are some other articles I've found, also in the Sunderland Echo:
June 20, 1893

November 10, 1902 - with his Irish ancestry, he often sang in support of Irish causes or sang Irish songs (even comedic Irish songs):

July 10, 1903

March 3, 1904

January 29, 1910

He married Agnes Mullen, my Great-Grandmother's sister in about 1897. The 1901 census lists them them managing a "bar" in South Shields England and the 1911 census lists Andrew as a Music Hall Artist. He and Agnes were living with Agnes' parents. 

As I mentioned in my blog about Agnes in March, the life of a Music Hall Artist likely involved a large amount of travel away from home and a lot of socialising. In January 1915, Agnes sued Andrew for spousal support:

One interesting snippet I found was a Lost and Found advertisement where Andrew seems to have lost his Penang Lawyer (cane). (Sunderland Echo April 17, 1902)

In the ad, Andrew can be contacted at the British Crown Hotel, High Street East Sunderland. Our family has another connection to this hotel - in the 1881 census Thomas Dobson, my Great-Great-Grandfather (and father-in-law to Mary Mullen, Agnes Mullen's sister) was the Licenced Victualler of that hotel.
Andrew's life ended while living in the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Sunderland England on December 5, 1951 and he was buried at Mere Knolls Cemetery in Sunderland.