Since the start of 2014 I've been writing a blog about our ancestors and the First World War.
At first I told the stories of those grandfathers and great uncles who had served at the Front.
Later I went on to write the stories of people in our family history such as Great Aunt Edith who'd experienced events of particular significance in their lives during the World War One period. When I'd exhausted this line of enquiry I started looking at the lives of each of our other grandparents to explore how their lives had been impacted by the Great War.
Last week I was examining the life of Michael's grandfather Benjamin Magnus (1886 - 1984). Previously I hadn't been able to find any evidence that he'd served in the armed forces but something made me decide to check the Ancestry First World War database again. This time I found some information which caused a complete re-evaluation.
It's been quite a while since I searched the First World War records at Ancestry so maybe they've added more since the last time I looked. Ironically the First World War records were hugely damaged in an air-raid during WW2 and many were lost in the ensuing fire. Even some of the digitised records are just pieces of charred fragments.
I'm reasonably confident that I've got the right person and have managed to add a little bit more to our family story.
You can read about grandfather Benjamin Magnus on my Writing a Family History: First World War Stories if you wish.
This latest find has served as a timely reminder to keep checking sources of information. I started looking for family history records in the late nineties when I stumbled on the 1880 census on what is now known as the Family Search website. In those days it was a very unsophisticated collection which has been greatly enhanced in subsequent years.
I've had a subscription to Ancestry for years but don't visit the site as often as I used to. Here's my early New Year's Resolution: visit the Ancestry site every day and check out the new records that have been added and see if any more pieces of the never-ending family history jigsaw puzzle turn up. Watch this space!
Robert William Starling was born in 1852 and his bride, Sarah Ann Smith, was born in 1854. Although that seems a very long time ago (Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War comes to mind), they were actually my husband's great grandparents.
Robert Starling was born in a small village in Essex, Beaumont-cum-Moze. His parents, Mark and Mary Ann Starling, re-located to the East End of London around 1870 where Mark worked in the London Docks. Robert also worked in the docks and his marriage certificate records his employment as a Labourer.
Sarah Ann Smith was born in Dover, Kent. Her father was Daniel Smith who had re-located to the East End and was employed as a Thames Policeman. The trail is cold as far as her mother is concerned but interestingly, the happy couple went back to Dover for the wedding.
The ceremony took place on 13th October 1878 at the parish church in the Charlton area of Dover. There is an interesting article about the church on this website. The two Victorian churches mentioned were both opened after Robert and Sarah were married so their big day must have been held in the original church building.
After the wedding Robert and Sarah disappear off the radar until 1891 although their first child was born while they were in Dover. The 1891 census records them living in the East End of London at Upper Chapman Street and they have five children. Their second child, Robert, was born in Beaumont, Essex about 1881 although all the younger children were born in East London. Maybe they'd gone back to Essex visiting or working and slipped past the census enumerator's pen in 1881.
In 1891 Robert was working as a Coal Porter and ten years later his employment was classified as a Labourer. The proximity of their accommodation to the London Docks makes it highly likely that was where he worked. They were still living at Upper Chapman Street in 1901 and seven of their children lived with them including their son James born the previous year. Their oldest son, Stephen, had recently married and left home.
Robert died in 1910. Sarah continued to live at Upper Chapman Street but, apparently for the first time in her life, she had to work and she was employed as an Umbrella Finisher. Sarah lived on until 1946 so she just missed Michael by one year.
Yesterday I was finding out about my great-great grandmother Elizabeth Buckley. I was in a bit of a rush as she was in my On This Day Project and I wanted to publish the post exactly on October 5th. However, there is more to write about her workplace, Marshall Mill.
Seven families lived at Marshall Mill in 1851 which was 45 individuals altogether. Of these, seventeen actually worked at the Mill. There were other employees who lived in the immediate vicinity. Of 155 individuals living in neighbouring properties 64 were employed at the Mill.
The residents of the Marshall Mill cottages provide a snapshot of the range of jobs that had to be done.
As well as my ancestor, Elizabeth Buckley, Hannah Sethney (22 years) and Hannah Firth (21 years) were employed as Worsted Rulers. I am guessing that this job was something to do with ensuring the correct weight or thickness of the yarn. Achieving consistency would presumably have been important to ensure the quality of the worsted fabric. Yarn weight is measured by wrapping round a ruler and counting the wraps per inch; was this what Elizabeth and the two Hannahs had to do?
Elizabeth's sister, Fanny Ann, worked as a Worsted Rover along with Emma Longfield aged 18 years. Wikipedia explains that:
A roving is a long and narrow bundle of fiber. Rovings are produced during the process of making spun yarn from wool fleece, raw cotton, or other fibres. Their main use is as fibre prepared for spinning, but they may also be used for specialised kinds of knitting or other textile arts.
After carding, the fibres lie roughly parallel in smooth bundles. These are drawn out, by hand or machine, and slightly twisted to form lengths suitable for spinning. These unspun strands of fibre are the rovings. Roving can also mean a roll of these strands, the strands in general (as a mass noun), or the process of creating them.
The Worsted Machine Makers were Benjamin Longfield (50 years), Thomas Longfield (24 years) and Thomas Sethney (32 years).
Mary Clarkson (aged 21 years) and Alice Ackroyd (22 years) were Worsted Drawers and their overlooker was Richard Ackroyd (aged 42 years and Alice's father). The Worsted Drawer was a Weaver.
Abraham Clayton, aged 47 years, was a Wool Comber and Amelia Firth (22 years) was a Bobbin Winder. Another of Elizabeth's sisters, Rebecca aged 16 years, was employed as a Worsted Spinner along with Mary Ackroyd (14 years).
I mentioned Elizabeth's eight year old sister, Mary Ann, who worked half time as a Worsted Spinner and attended school for the remainder of the day. She wasn't the only child working at Marshall Mill. Amelia Newsom (aged 11 years) and Elizabeth Firth (12 years) also worked half time as Worsted Spinners attending school for the rest of the day. And Ann Newsome, only 12 years old, was employed half time as a Power Loom Weaver. I can't imagine that after working like that the girls would have learned much at school (even if they actually attended).
Elizabeth Buckley was my great-great-grandmother and she was married to George Henry Hall in 1851. They had four children and lived in the Clayton West / Monk Bretton area of Yorkshire.
Elizabeth was born in 1831 and her parents were John and Sarah Buckley. She was their oldest child and she had four sisters and six brothers.
In 1851, shortly before her marriage, Elizabeth lived with her family at Marshall Mill, Clayton West in the woollen manufacturing area of Yorkshire. Seven other families lived at the Mill which was situated in open countryside between Clayton West and the neighbouring village of Skelmanthorpe.
Marshall Mill produced worsted fabric: wool was spun with a technique of using the longer woollen fibres to make a smooth yarn in which the fibres lay parallel. When this yarn was woven it was used to make suits.
Elizabeth was employed as a Worsted Ruler which (I think) meant that her job was to determine the weight of the yarn by counting the wraps of yarn per inch.
Her sister Fanny Ann worked as a Worsted Rover which involved her in working with the short fibres not used to make the worsted yarn.
Younger brother Benjamin (aged 13 years) worked as a Woollen Cloth Washer Stamper and sister Mary Ann, aged just EIGHT years old, worked half time as a Worsted Spinner and attended school for the remainder of the day.
In December 1851 Elizabeth married George Henry Hall who was a corn miller and they left Marshall Mill soon after and lived for the remainder of their lives in Monk Bretton, Yorkshire where they had four children.
Elizabeth died on October 5th 1904 and she and George are buried together in the cemetery at Monk Bretton.
I'm a former primary school head teacher now enjoying family history, e-publishing and gardening. I'm the author of "Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood" and was delighted when the book became an Amazon 2015 bestseller in the Social History category. I'm the founder of Spurwing Ebooks which is at http://www.spurwing-ebooks.com for book details and information about new releases and special offers. Details of my books are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/C.-Murray/e/B009R7CRVC and the other books I've published are at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Murray/e/B007AQZMZK