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Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Martha Fair Tweddle (Stratford)

Martha Tweddle
My great, great grandmother, Martha Fair was baptised in Stockton's parish church on 10th January 1823, the fourth daughter of William Fair and Ann Jackson. William (a butcher) and Ann had married in the same church on 31 January 1814 and had eight children, seven girls and a boy: Mary, Jane, Ann, Martha, Sarah, Isabella, Priscilla and William Jackson Fair. 

Martha married John Tweddle (a solicitor) on 14 August 1840 at Bishopwearmouth by licence - Martha was still a minor. And an orphaned minor at that - the marriage bond was signed by a Robert Fair.

I found her in the 1840 census in the household of William and Mary Laing (grocer) in New Elvet Durham. John Tweddell, in 1841 was in Durham Gaol and House of Correction - a prisoner. I had wondered whether that was some sort of mistake - he was an attorney after all - but no, other cousins have done much research and found evidence that although he was a solicitor, Tweddell was also a crook. 

Their first two children, Anne and George were born in London, daughter Mary back in Stockton and a son, John was born in 1850 (about whom I currently have no further details. Martha doesn't show up anywhere in the 1851 census but whether that's due to mistranscriptions or evasion, none of us are sure. John Tweddell is living in York Street in Stockton with his daughter, Mary aged 4. The other children are living with their Tweddle grandparents. We have no trace of John after this.

And what of Martha?

My great grandmother, Hannah was born on 27 March 1854 in Drypool, Hull. The father was named as Bryan Stratford (occupation, millwright), the mother, Martha Stratford, formerly Fair.
Margaret was born in Houghton-le-Spring in March 1857, Sarah in Stockton in 1860 and William, also in Stockton in 1862.

For some reason, in 1861, the family was in Leeds, boarding in Brick Street with a family called O'Reilly. Perhaps at this point, Bryan was still working (Bryan will have an entry of his own, later when all will become clear).

In 1871, Bryan is living in lodgings in Housewife Lane, Stockton; Martha and the 4 children (and 2 Welsh puddler lodgers) are in York Street, Thornaby

In 1881, Bryan is in the Stockton Workhouse; Martha, now styling herself 'solicitor's widow' is in Queen Street East, Thornaby with her son, William and a niece, Elizabeth Westerman.

In 1891, Martha is in Hutchinson Street, living on her own means and sharing the house with a Welsh family.

Martha died on 11 October 1899 at 29 Hind Street, Stockton (was this her own address?) and her occupation is listed as Widow of John Tweddell, Solicitor. At 76, her cause of death was 'Old Age. Congestion of lungs'. The informant was Sarah Bailey, daughter, present at the death.

I just want to go back to the children she had by John Tweddle; Anne married William Hogg in 1888 but died in Sedgefield Asylum of 'mania' in 1919; William died in an accident at Shildon Works in 1861.

Mary married Richard Brown Hall in 1868; Richard was the son of George Hall and my great, great aunt, Jane Brown who married in June 1842. Strange when two branches of the family come together!  George (a grocer) died of typhus in October 1843, Jane, of dropsy, in 1853. Mary died in 1882 (aged 36) of phthisis (we know this as TB nowadays), Richard in 1900 of renal disease and cardiac disease.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Mary Jane Agar

I've been able to follow Mary Jane Agar a little further. Mary Jane was also known as Polly. There's a whole blog in the offing about names people are known by...why on earth are women called Mary Jane known as Polly?, how does Margaret become Peggy?, Henry become Harry? etc etc

Anyway, knowing that my Gran, Stella was fond of her Aunt Polly (Mary Jane Agar) leads me to think that she must have met up with her at some point and Gran lived in Hartlepool.

As we know, Polly was 'in service' and at one time was in the household of the son of Titus Salt but I've 'lost' her in between the 1891 census and her death in 1926. I'm not sure why I thought to look for  a death in Hartlepool but might have helped but I do have a death certificate now.

From thinking a couple of years ago that she might have been pretty much on her own, being an illegitimate child, it cheered me very much to see that when she died, she was living in the household of her half sister Hannah (of whom, much more to come) in Hartlepool and her death was reported by her half brother, Robert. 

The death certificate lists her occupation as: Spinster. Daughter of Elizabeth Agar, the widow of Robert Stonehouse, Innkeeper (deceased). The informant was Robert Stonehouse, halfbrother, In Attendance. She wasn't alone.

I didn't know any of this until I bought the death certificate. How much other family history have I missed?

Saturday, 26 December 2015

It's been how long?

Well, nearly two years! So much has happened, I moved back to England -I now live in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and work at Nottingham Trent University in Nottingham and there are even family links here!

Soon, I'm going to catch up with a few of the personalities I've already mentioned where new information has come to light and introduce you to a few others - some whole new branches of the family tree. 

I'm going to look at some themes; shopkeepers, musicians, sportsmen, railwaymen, clergymen,  a couple of mysteries (brickwalls), some international connections and maybe some Armed Forces stories (although that might be a whole new Blog). 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Burdett Lambton Brown

Burdett was baptised in Washington, Co Durham in November of 1820 and first appears in the census of 1841 living in the household of his brother (or so it appears due to the ages given) George, possibly George's wife, Catherine and their son, Anthony - relationships are given in the 1841 census. George is a smith (like their father Ralph) and Burdett is an engineer. Why Burdett? It's a tradition in that part of the north east for some families to 'protect' surnames by using them as given names and I suspect that is the case here.

Burdett married Ann Morgan in 1844; she was the daughter of an engine driver. They had two children, Jane and Hannah but Ann died in 1849. By this time, the family was in Chepstow, Monmouthshire.  Burdett returned to the north-east of England to marry his second wife, my great, great aunt, Elizabeth Mary Brown.
I suspect these two are cousins, because of the coincidences elsewhere in the family of the surnames they used for given names for their children, but I need to do more research on this.

Their fist child was Ralph Lambton Brown, then Lizzie Sarah, Mary Oughton Brown, George P(hilip?) and Thomas Lumsden Brown (not to be confused with my great great grandfather of the same name, Elizabeth's youngest brother).Ralph and Lizzie were both born in Chepstow, Mary in Newport (also Monmouthshire), George in West Bromwich (Staffordshire, modern day West Midlands) and Tom in Wednesbury Staffs, now West Midlands). The family moved a lot with Burdett's profession.

Catching up with the family via censuses, in 1851 they were living in Chepstow and Burdett's profession is given as practical engineer. In 1861 in Wednesbury and Burdett is manager & engineer (but where is Ralph? At school somewhere?).

In December of 1861, John James Russell (as far as I know, no relation!) of the Crown Tube Works, Wednesbury in the county of Stafford, Patent Tube manufacturer and Burdett Lambton Brown of the same place, Engineer in the employ of the said JJR applied for, and were granted,  a patent 'for an invention for improvements in apparatus used in the manufacture of taper tubes'.  You can find more information about the Crown Tube Works at:

In 1871, at the same Church Hill address, Burdett is 'Wrought Iron Tube manufacturer employing 35 men and 16 boys'; Ralph has re-appeared an at the age of 19 is a wrought tube maker and they have a domestic servant. Their daughter, Mary, died later that year.

Lizzie Sarah married Samuel Hodgson in 1875, a clergyman and judging by later censuses and the birthplaces of their children, they travelled round a lot! I need to look him up in a Crockford's! I wonder if this relationship had an effect on Tom? Lizzie and Samuel's second child, William Hope Hodgson became an author and is now recognised as an important pioneer of 'modern imaginative fiction' (see: but you'll need a subscription)

George married Jane Jones in Wednesbury in 1879 and settled in nearby Walsall and became a bank clerk

By 1881 the remaining family had moved on again and were living in Hanover Square, Leeds; Burdett is an agent to a wrought iron tube depot and Ralph is a clerk to a wrought iron tube depot. Tom, who always seems to have been called Tom and not Thomas, was listed as being a theological student.

Burdett died in Leeds in February 1888 and Elizabeth and Ralph remained there sharing their home until  at least 1911. In 1891, at the census they are joined briefly by a Mary Holwell, the sister of Amelia Holwell who had married Tom who by then had been ordained as an Anglican priest and was living in Monkwearmouth (and I do have his entry from Crockford's)

Ralph died in 1914 in Leeds; the informant of his death was Tom so I don't know if Elizabeth was still living at this point. I suppose that street directories will need to be consulted if I want to take this any further or maybe cemetery records but Elizabeth Brown is quite a common name especially in a city the size of Leeds.

A really interesting sideline that make family history so rewarding!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Finding Timothy

While making arrangements for Mum's funeral, I had to go into Cardiff City Library to access an attachment to an e-mail I'd received (it was PowerPoint which I can't currently open on my PC). Since I'd booked the computer for an hour, I thought I'd use the time to use '' which I don't have a subscription for but you can access in most libraries. Findmypast and Ancestry have different resources so it's often a question of subscribing to one rather than both (at least for those of us on a budget)

Anyway, findmypast have Parish Burial Records and as a reader of this blog may remember, I've had trouble finding my ggg grandfather, Timothy Jones, the first of my blacksmithing Joneses. And there he was in the records for St Llonio, Llandinam (Montgomeryshire):

Timothy Jones, abode Kerry, buried 28 Jan 1824 aged 35

Which of course begs a few questions! Why was he buried in Llandinam when his abode was Kerry? Was he visiting Llandinam - there's a smithy there, was he working there? Did he die in Llandinam? Why didn't they take him home to Kerry?

One mystery solved, another takes its place


I've been quiet for a while as I've come to terms with the loss of my Mum; she passed away on 22 March. At some point, I'll bring myself to complete her dates on Ancestry but in the meantime, it's rather nice to still see her as 'living'.

Hers was the death certificate I least wanted to receive and on my family tree - the basic one that just includes the blood line - I'm the only one left living. And oddly (or not, perhaps someone else can comment on this) since I've just written a new tree out to sit on the wall near my desk, the vast majority of that direct line died in the first half of the year (February, March and April are particularly bad months for Family Russell-Jones). Is that reversed in the southern hemisphere I wonder?

At least now there's a new opportunity to get the family headstone restored and updated; Mam's ashes are being interred with her parents (and there'll still be room for me when I'm gone) so we can make sure they're properly identified and commemorated.

Sad times.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

GRO Certificates

Every so often you need to confirm what you think you know and ordering a certificate from the General Register Office is a good means of doing so. It's not cheap - each certificate costs £9.25 these days but the system is easy and straightforward so it's often worth it. If you get the details right to start with!!

Today, the postman has delivered 3 certificates.
1. Death certificate for Frederick Woolley, my gg grandfather. Frederick died on 20th March 1913 at Bryn Street, Newtown (in the old county of Montgomeryshire).  His occupation is given as house plumber and painter. The cause of death is given as 'Fatty degeneration of heart' & 'cardiac failure'. The informant is son Fred living in Cross Street, Newtown.

2. Death certificate of Eliza Woolley, the widow of Frederick who died 27 June 1922, again in Bryn Street. cause of death here is 'cerebral haemorrhage'.

Perhaps it's a bit morbid to order death certificates but they could prove useful to pick up on any recurring causes of death which we today ought to know about.

3. The third certificate is a marriage certificate; Luigi James Bellisario and Emma Lowe. I ordered this to check whether it was the same branch of Bellisarios as Gabriel in Cardiff and indeed it is. It looks as though Luigi James was born around 1865, but where? The 1881 census has him living in Cardiff but born in Italy and under the name of Bellmaris rather than Bellisario (a mistranscription error) so not always easy to follow.

Anyway, things to work on thanks to today's certificates