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.
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.