When we were driving back from our visit to the relatives 'down south' a couple of weeks ago we joined the M1 just after Towcester. I didn't realise until we got home how near we'd been to Pitsford in Northamptonshire which was the birthplace of Jabez James and Harriett E. Ward, my great, great, great grandparents.
Jabez James was born in 1821 and his parents were Thomas James and his wife Elizabeth. 'Jabez' is a biblical, Old Testament name meaning pain, sorrow and anguish. In the first book of Chronicles, Jabez is a well-respected man whose prayer to God for blessing was answered and who was honoured in the list of Kings and lineage. Whether or not Jabez lived up to his name, I don't know.
Harriett Ward was born in 1822 and her parents were Thomas Ward and his wife Sarah.
Pitsford today is a village with a population of about 600 but in 1841 the population seems to have been about half that. The majority of the men were employed as agricultural labourers. There was also a publican, a blacksmith, a shoemaker, a draper, a tailor, a couple of gardeners and a carrier. The pub is still there but the other businesses are long gone.
Jabez was an agricultural labourer and he was married to Harriett in the parish church at Pitsford in 1842. They had nine children of which the three oldest, Sarah, Thomas and Isalbah, were also born in Pitsford.
Sometime between 1848 and 1850 they moved to Tipton in Staffordshire and at the time of the 1851 census, Jabez gave his occupation as horse driver. Ten years later they were living at Dudley Port, Tipton and Jabez was working as a general labourer and his oldest son, Thomas, was employed as a coal miner.
Why Jabez and Harriett moved their family to Tipton is a mystery. It's only about sixty miles distant but seems to have been a very different place.
Unlike agricultural Pitsford, the parish of Tipton was an area of heavy industry based on coal and ironstone. There were a large number of iron furnaces, forges, and rolling and slitting mills, where immense quantities of pig, bar, rod and sheet iron were produced each week. Many of the inhabitants were employed in the manufacture of cast iron articles, steam engines, boilers, chain cables, anchors, fire irons, hinges, screws, nails, etc.
I've got a couple of images on my Tipton Pinterest Board which gives an idea of what it was like there. http://www.pinterest.com/magbrit/tipton-staffordshire/ The contrast with Pitsford http://www.pinterest.com/magbrit/pitsford-northamptonshire/ couldn't be greater.
Jabez and Harriett had six more children after they moved to Tipton: Priscilla, Fanny, Jabez Daniel, Hazakiah, Levi and Polly. However Jabez died in 1871 leaving Harriett a widow and head of the family although, by that time, only Jabez Daniel, Levi and Polly lived at home with her. Jabez Daniel and Levi (merely eleven years old) were employed as iron workers.
Jabez Daniel was married to Ann Westwood in 1876 and they had nine children including Harriett James (1881 - 1947) my great grandma.
Born in 1845, James William Murray was Michael, my husband's, great grandfather.
James William died on April 20th 1918. He was seventy three years old when he died and still resident at 13, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London, where he'd lived with his family for most of his adult life. Before he became ill he was working as an umbrella frame maker.
I thought James William might have died in the influenza pandemic which broke out in January 1918 and is thought to have infected 500 million people across the world. However, when I sent for his death certificate from the Government Record Office I found this wasn't the case. He died in The London Hospital from a strangulated inguinal hernia which caused Peritonitis (an inflammation of the peritoneum, the thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen). Nowadays, although still a serious and potentially fatal condition, Peritonitis can be treated with antibiotics and the mortality rate is about 10%. Back in 1918 there would have been little chance of survival. Interestingly, the famous magician and escape artist Harry Houdini died of Peritonitis in the 1920s after a fan asked to be allowed to punch him in the stomach. At the time Houdini had been suffering from appendicitis which the punch ruptured and Peritonitis set in. Refusing to get medical help he died within two days. Even without the Peritonitis, James William would probably not have survived the strangulated hernia and any post-operative complications. After his death no post-mortem was conducted, presumably because everyone knew that the condition would prove fatal.
James William was survived by his wife Kezia although his umbrella frame making business appears to have ended with him. Of his eleven children, only four were boys and three certainly went in for different occupations: Edward became a manager of a tea warehouse; Maurice was a delivery man for a butcher and later he became a lorry driver; and George went to work for a newspaper.
James William's grandfather was David Murray, born in Aberdeen (Scotland) in 1779. David had followed in his father's footsteps and become a mariner eventually settling in the Docklands area of Deptford in London. He married Ann Shipley and they had nine children moving at some point to the Cripplegate area of the City of London.
This then is our Murray connection to Scotland:
My husband, Michael, born in Stepney, London.
Michael's mum, Rose, born at 17, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London in 1908.
Rose's father, Maurice John Arthur Murray, born at 13, New Street, Houndsditch, City of London in 1880.
Maurice's father, James William Murray, born in Hoxton, London in 1845.
James William's father, John William Murray, born at Cripplegate, City of London in 1815.
John's father, David Murray, born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1779.
We've been on holiday to Scotland three times over the years. Once to the Isle of Skye and once to The Borders. The first time, however, was a five day tour. We drove up to Stirling and then on to Inverness, all the way around Loch Ness and then down to Oban before returning home via the English Lakes. I was learning to drive at the time and after the hump back bridges, narrow single track roads and wandering sheep I found driving in London's East End a doddle. On one of our trips Michael bought a tie in Murray Tartan which is a lovely design with really strong colours. He doesn't wear it very often and I'm not sure that David Murray would have worn tartan either.
The wearing of tartan by the Highland clans was banned by the British government in 1746 after the Jacobite rebellions. Although this was repealed in 1782, tartan evolved as the Scottish national dress rather than that of the Highland clans. As a sea-going mariner I can't imagine David Murray would have been bothered.
In 1822 King George IV visited Edinburgh for a Celtic Fest. organised by Sir Walter Scott. Tartan became the must-have design of the day. Twenty years after her uncle's visit to Scotland, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert made their first trip to the Scottish Highlands. The Queen and prince bought Balmoral Castle in 1848 and Prince Albert personally took care of the interior design, where he made great use of different tartans for carpets, curtains and upholstery. The Queen designed the Victoria tartan, and Prince Albert the Balmoral, still used as a royal tartan today. Ironically, as the craze for tartan ballooned the Highland population suffered massively from the Clearances, when thousands of Gaelic-speaking Scots from the Highlands and Isles were evicted by landlords to make way for sheep.
Michael's mum, Rose, always said she could remember her grandfather, James William Murray, very well. She told a tale that he would dance over crossed swords in the Highland manner at family gatherings. Apparently, it now emerges, the crossed swords were actually crossed umbrellas.
We've been away for several days visiting relatives in different parts of the country. We returned Up North via the M1 and while passing the Woodall Services area between Junctions 30 and 31 I was reminded what an important place this is in our family history.
Woodall is a small hamlet in South Yorkshire which is part of the parish of Harthill, about a mile away. It was once just a few cottages and farms but has some contemporary residential housing too. It's now only 400 metres from the M1!
My grandfather, Sidney Henry Buckle, was born at Firvale, Harthill in 1882.
His father, John Henry Buckle, was also born at Harthill in 1852.
John Henry's father, Christopher Buckle, was born in 1821 at Sinderby over seventy miles away in an entirely different area of Yorkshire. His mother, Harriet Unwin, was born in Harthill in 1820.
Christopher and Harriet were married at the parish church, Harthill, in 1850. He was a widower employed as an agricultural labourer. Harriet was a "spinster" and employed as a domestic servant.
Harriet's father was William Unwin, born in Woodall near Harthill in 1792. Her mother, Sarah, was born in 1796 also in Woodall.
William's father and his wife Fanny Pearce were also born in Harthill: William in 1765 and Fanny in 1767. So, our family has connections in Woodhall and Harthill going back almost 250 years.
Harriet's father, William Unwin, was a Cordwainer: first a Journeyman and then a Master. A Cordwainer was a shoemaker who worked with good quality leather. After an apprenticeship of seven years, the cordwainer was employed as a journeyman which didn't mean that he necessarily travelled around for work but that he was expected to work for more than one Master if required. The Master worked for himself or employed others to assist him.
This lovely image is from the U.S.A. in 1914 but I doubt it was much different in the U.K fifty years earlier! (File from Wikimedia Commons.)
By 1871 William was, however, classified in the census as a shoemaker. He died in Harthill in 1876 a few years after his wife's death. The Kelly's Directory of 1881 lists a George, John and William Unwin as shoemakers which suggests that the occupation was passed on to all William's sons.
I guess that Christopher Buckle moved to Harthill for his work. Maybe he went to York (only about thirty miles from Sinderby) to the Martinmas Hiring Fair. Both male and female agricultural workers would gather at the fairs in order to bargain with prospective employers and, hopefully, secure a position for the coming year. They often wore some sort of badge or tool to denote their speciality. Shepherds held a crook or a tuft of wool, cowmen brought wisps of straw, dairymaids carried a milking stool or pail and housemaids held brooms or mops. The yearly hiring included board and lodging for single employees for the whole year with wages being paid at the end of the year's service Employers would look over the prospective employees and, if they were thought fit, hire them for the coming year, handing over a shilling to seal the arrangement. Alternatively, maybe Christopher somehow knew people in the area and went to live with them before he landed his job in Harthill.
How Christopher came to be in Harthill is a matter of conjecture but the facts are that after his marriage to Harriet he had four sons. The oldest, (my great grandfather John Henry Buckle) went to work in the new coal mining industry after the pit opened at nearby Kiveton Park in 1865. Subsequently John H. moved his family to Royston, near Barnsley when he got a promoted position at the colliery nearby and eventually all his extended family went there too.
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