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.