Saturday, 11 January 2014

Thomas and Harriet Wilkins' children

On my blog entry “Obit - Thomas Wilkins” on 8 March 2013, I told the story of the death of Thomas Wilkins in an accident in the Bristol Channel on 28 December 1868. I mentioned that his death certainly had a great effect on the lives of his children. One of those children was my great grandfather, James Wilkins. I continue the story here.

When he died, Thomas left behind his wife, Harriet, and six children: Sarah aged 16, James aged 14, Samuel aged 10, Mary Ann aged 7, William aged 4, and John not quite a year old. At the time, the family was living in Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset.

Thomas Wilkins and Harriet Lukins had been married on 18th December 1851 at the registry office in Axbridge, Somerset. At the time, Harriet was 25 and Thomas was aged 19. The witnesses to the wedding were each of their only siblings, his brother William and her sister Emma. Interestingly, William and Emma later married each other!

Harriet’s parents were Michael Lukins and Mary Smith of Cluer, Somerset. Harriet had been  christened at St. Mary’s in Wedmore, Somerset on 4 Jan 1827.

Thomas was christened in Wookey, Somerset on 2 September 1832 and was the son of James Wilkins and Sarah Vincent.  The 1841 Census for the parish of Wookey shows James and Sarah with William aged 11 and Thomas aged 8:

The family 1868-1871:

As mentioned, Thomas’ brother William Wilkins married Emma Lukins, Harriet’s sister.  They were married at St. Matthew’s church in Wookey on 26 February 1857. They had no children and lived in the Rodney Stoke and Draycott area.

On the 1871 Census, some of Thomas and Harriet’s children (Sarah, Mary Ann, William and John) and Emma and Harriet's mother, Mary Lukins, are shown living with Emma Wilkins, a widow, in Draycott. The older boys, James and Samuel, aged 15 and 13 were found both out working on local farms.  Without many resources, the little group was being supported by the Parish.  Obviously, many changes had happened since Thomas' death. What had happened to the rest of the family?

1871 Census - Draycott, Somerset


Thomas Wilkins had died in 1868.  Further tragedy struck the family a few months later on 26 March 1869 when Harriet died as well. She was buried in Burnham, Somerset on 3 April 1869. The children probably went to live with William and Emma at that time.  Then, on 11 April 1870, William Wilkins died of Cholera at the age of 39. A few months later, Harriet and Emma’s father Michael Lukins died and was buried in Draycott on 20 May.  Their mother Mary died in October 1871. In the space of three years the children had dealt with many deaths: their father, their mother, their grandparents, and their uncle. They had now lost all of their family except their aunt Emma.

The siblings later split up.  Three of them (Mary Ann, James, Samuel) immigrated to Canada and three remained in England (Sarah, William, John). Though they wrote to each other occasionally, they never saw each other again. Emma died in Rodney Stoke in 1895.

Thomas and Harriet's children:

Sarah Ann Wilkins - born 19 May 1852 in Draycott, Somerset. Her twin brother died at birth and her birth certificate actually gives no name and is registered only as “female” Wilkins. Sarah married Henry (Harry) Leigh in 1874. They had 8 children and they lived in the Draycott area.

James Wilkins - born 17 August 1854 in Draycott, Somerset. I recently obtained his birth certificate and this date does not match his own claim of 28 August 1856. He immigrated to Canada in 1885, and later married Alice Beck Graham in Mandaumin, Lambton County, Ontario on 7 June 1893. Together they raised 12 children while he farmed and worked for the Grand Trunk Railway. He died at about aged 80 on the family homestead in Mandaumin in 1934.

Samuel Wilkins - christened at St. Matthew’s in Wookey, Somerset on 25 April 1858. On the 1901 Canada census, he gave his birthdate as 26 August 1858 and that he immigrated to Canada about 1889.  He lived in Plympton Township, Lambton County, Ontario and worked as a Labourer. He never married and died in 1916 at aged 58.

Mary Ann Wilkins - born in Wookey, Somerset on 29 January 1861 and christened at St. Matthew’s on 7 April 1861. In 1881, she was the first in the family to immigrate to Canada. She appears on the 1881 Census living with her sister Sarah Ann Leigh and her family in Somerset. She married Edward George Luckins from Draycott, Somerset in Strathroy, Ontario on 12 November 1881.  They later moved to Sarnia, Ontario where they raised 7 children. Mary Ann died there in 1943 at the age of 82.

William Wilkins - born in Burnham, Somerset in 1864. He was christened at St. Andrew’s in Burnham on 2 April 1868 at the same time as his younger brother. He married Edith Georgina Flagg in 1885. William and Edith lived in Taunton, Somerset where they raised their three children and William worked in a shirt factory. William, at the age of 86, died there in 1950.

John Wilkins - born in Burnham, Somerset in 1868 and christened on 2 April 1868. He also lived in Taunton, Somerset and worked in a shirt factory.  He married Sarah Ann Dean in 1891 and they had three children. In 1928, he died in Taunton at aged 60.

Monday, 24 June 2013

All Our Yesterdays

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

                   — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 19-28)

“All Our Yesterdays” was what I had originally wanted to call this blog. It was the name of a particularly good episode on the original Star Trek. (Ok, must admit, I’m a Trekkie from way back.) In the end though, I decided on another name.

But an internet search of the title came up with a result that I found very interesting. It was the transcript of a 2011 presentation by Jeremy Keith on his web site at (See  articles/5176 - All Our Yesterdays).  He raised the concern that “all our yesterdays” may not survive because there is no long term plan in computers or the web. He says that “when it comes to the stuff we put out there on the web, there’s this common perception that it’s written in stone. That once something is on the web, that’s it. It’s going to stay on the web.” But this ain’t necessarily so.

He raises some disturbing issues. What are the chances that your blog provider, or the site where you’ve stored all the photos of your kid, will be in operation in a year? In 5 years? In 10 years? Information on the web is not only impermanent, once there we have no real control over it. Look at the problems caused by the end of Google Reader to Geneabloggers. There are many more examples of websites that have come... and gone ... over the years. Are you going to trust your hopes and dreams, your memories to a third party service? Why would a free service care about your data?

Furthermore, will the format of your files be able to be read in the future? Will there be a program around to read the data? Or maybe the hardware will change. As an example, how many of you can read a 7" floppy disk, a 5.25" floppy disk, or even a 3.5" disk. Are we heading for “a digital Dark Age”.

Sure makes you think.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

John Bell and Susannah Catterall

John Bell and Susannah Catterall, my great-great grandparents, were married at All Saints in Wigan, Lancashire on 8 April 1849.  The details from the parish record of the event were:
                Marriage: 8 Apr 1849 All Saints, Wigan, Lancashire, England
                John Bell - (X), 22 Collier, Bachelor of Hindley
                Susanna Catterall - (X), 21, Spinster of Hindley
                Groom's Father: Nathaniel Bell, Collier
                Bride's Father: Henry Catterall, Spinner
                Witness: Thos. Smithie, (X); Sarah Catterall, (X)
                Married by Banns by: A.Coates Curate
John was the eldest of Nathaniel Bell and Ann Murray’s nine children and had been christened in their local church at All Saints in Hindley, Lancashire on 9 Dec 1827. On 30 Jan 1830, Susannah had also been born in Hindley but had been baptised at the larger church in Wigan that she later was married in. She was the 5th daughter and sixth child of Henry Catterall and Hannah Dean. One of the witnesses at her wedding was her elder sister, Sarah.

John was a coal miner as were his father and grandfather before him. The area around Hindley had many coal mines and by 1900 there were twenty in operation. Susannah’s family worked in the other main industry of the area, cotton manufacturing, and were mostly spinners and weavers.

John and Susannah had six children, the youngest being my great grandfather:
  • Nancy - baptised 29 Jul 1849 at All Saints, Hindley, married Thomas Wood
  • Sarah - baptised 19 Sep 1852 at All Saints, Hindley, married Roger Wood   
  • Hannah - baptised 14 Jan 1855 at All Saints, Hindley, married James Twist
  • Mary Ann - born in 1859, married John Taylor
  • Esther - born February 1867, died at aged 8 in Nov 1875 
  • John - born 8 Dec 1869, married Margaret Alice Bate 

Sometime between the 1871 and 1881 Censuses, the family moved from Hindley to 22 Shuttle Street in Tyldesley where John continued to be a coal miner. By the time of the 1891 Census though, John and Susannah had become a shopkeepers and he is listed as a Grocer at 47 Elliott Street, Tyldesley. John Bell died there on 20 May 1895 at the age of 67. Susannah continued to operate the shop until her death on 13 Nov 1901.
At left: Susannah in the doorway of the shop

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Marriage of Edmund Etherington & Dinah Farley

Edmund Etherington and Dinah Farley, my husband’s great-great grandparents, were married 30 Oct 1808 in Hambledon, Surrey.

Though the entry is for Edmund Herrington, the family went by Etherington so this is either a change in name or a spelling error. It also says that both parties were from “this parish” and though Dinah was born close by, Edmund was from Sussex.

On census records, Dinah is consistently shown as being born in Chiddingfold, Surrey about 1789. There is a Dinah Farley christened in Chiddingfold on 7 June 1789. She was the daughter of Edward and Mary Farley and was a middle child of their ten children. The others were: Mary (1778), John (1780), Edward (1783), James (1785), William (1787), Charlotte (1791),  Jane (1793), Frances (1796), and Hannah (1798).  I have been unable to find her parents marriage or any sign of most of her brothers and sisters. A Jane Farley married William Hawkins in Chiddingfold on 12 June 1815 but then the trail disappears. The youngest, Hannah, died at age 17 and was buried in Chiddingfold on 21 May 1816. 

According to census records, Edmund Etherington was born in Lurgashall, Sussex about 1788. A birth record for him in Lurgashall parish records has not been found by me or other researchers. His death records in 1875 indicate that he was 87 which supports his birth being about 1787 or 1788.  On the 1841 Census, a William and Elizabeth Etherington aged 75 and 70 are shown living nearby to Edmund and Dinah in Lurgashall. Could these be his parents?

There also is a record of an Edmund Herrington christened at Eartham, Sussex on 12 September 1788. That child was the son of John and Mary Herrington. I have not seen this record myself but  others have referred to it on Ancestry. If this is a record of his birth than this would suggest that Herrington on his marriage record was his correct name and that he later changed it.

Edmund and Dinah must have had a busy life as they had at least 16 children. The children were christened at different churches indicating that the family may have moved around in their early years of marriage before settling in Lurgashall. Edmund was a farmer. On the 1841 Census, they are shown living in Lurgashall at Windfallwood Common. They then moved to a property called Sibs Farm in Lurgashall as shown on the 1851,  1861 and 1871 Censuses.

Their first two children were christened in Farnhurst, Sussex: Francis on 19 Feb 1809 and
Charlotte on 14 Jan 1810. They took their next son back to Dinah’s home church and had William (b. 23 Nov 1811) christened on 8 Dec 1811 at St. Peter’s, Chiddingfold, Surrey. A son, Edmund, born about 1813 in Tillington, Sussex is shown living with them on the 1861 Census but I have not found corresponding christening record for him. Mary and James were both christened 1 Oct 1815 in Tillington, Sussex. All the rest of their children were christened in Lurgashall, Sussex: Charles on 19 Oct 1817, Diana on 23 Jul 1820, George on  16 Jun 1822, Henry on 30 Nov 1823, Edward on 23 Oct 1825, John on 21 Jan 1827, Harriet on 12 Apr 1829, Thomas on 17 Apr 1831, Jane on 11 Aug 1833, and Noah on 16 Oct 1836.

Dinah died on 13 August 1867 at the age of 78 and Edmund died on 5 January 1875 at age 87. They are both buried in Lurgashall.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Captain Frederick Todd

Sometimes the most interesting stories in your family tree turn out to be not about your direct ancestors but of their siblings. As is the case with George Todd’s brother, Frederick John Todd. I hadn't had much luck finding out much about him.  I knew he was christened in Stokesley, Yorkshire on 04 Nov 1846 and he was on the census with his family until about aged 15. Then nothing - no listing on a census, no marriage at the usual time at about age 25, no death in his twenties.

I had wondered what happened to him until I made contact with a distant cousin who shared some family information that had been passed down to him.  On a pedigree chart made up in 1889, it said that Frederick was aged 43. I knew then that he had lived - somewhere. In small letters added later it said “Drowned”.  A later chart prepared about 1905 said beside his name “Died 2 Jun 1903” and the same date of death was listed for his wife. Were they in an shipping accident? Then I came up with his Second Mate, First Mate and Master Mariner certificates on Ancestry.  That explains why he wasn’t on the census - he was at sea.  I don't know what ships he manned or where they took him but I did find his last voyage which ended in tragedy.
Master Mariner's certificate 1879

There was marriage in the summer of 1896 in South Shields, Durham of Frederick John Todd to Alice Margaret Bell. It turns out she was the younger sister of the wife of Herbert Todd, Frederick’s brother. When they married, he was aged 50 and she was aged 39.

National Probate Calendar: TODD, Frederick John of 2 Kensington terrace South Shields, died 2 June 1903 in Valparaiso Bay, South America. Probate LONDON 15 June 1904 to Herbert Todd merchant and Errington Bell shipbuilder's cashier Effects £125

The entry from THE SHIELDS DAILY GAZETTE, Thursday, Jun 4, 1903 is below with the headline "The Arequipa Lost. Forty five Rescued. Captain and Wife Drowned" and from the THE SHIELDS DAILY GAZETTE, Wednesday, Jun 10, 1903 - "DEATHS On the 2nd of June, in the SS Arequipa, which foundered in Valparaiso Bay, Captain Frederick John Todd and his wife Alice Margaret." Source:

From Dictionary of Disasters at Sea during the Age of Steam: The SS Arequipa was a British passenger steam ship built by the Barrow Shipbuilding Co. in 1889 and was owned by the Pacific Steam Navigation Co. of Liverpool.

The following summary of the sinking can be found at "The P. S. N. Co´s ship Arequipa was lying moored to buoys off Valparaiso loading cargo on June 2nd, 1903. During the day the weather worsened to such a degree as to stop all work and the hands were turned-to in order that the ship might be prepared to meet the gale. The violence of the seas increased with every hour and at one o´clock on the morning of the 3rd the captain gave orders to raise steam and put to sea, but the ship was now almost helpless, being swept by tremendous waves at frequent intervals. The head moorings parted and the ship was driven on to her stern buoy. The buoy holed her plates and the cable fouled the propeller. It was impossible to keep the water under control and only 15 minutes after striking the buoy the Arequipa sank. It was at first feared that there had been a very heavy loss of life but, contrary to early reports, the owners stated that there were no passengers on board at the time. Nevertheless, the captain and ten of the crew were lost, the third officer and 31 others being saved by the S.S. Laurel Branch while 13 persons were picked up by an unnamed sailing vessel."