Monday, 28 April 2014

28th APRIL
I have found that some ancestors seem to have more of a fascination for me than others and I don’t always know why. They do not always have the most interesting stories to tell, nor are they necessarily the ones with full and varied paper trails to follow. They are my flights of fancy; the ones I really want to have a picture of or find an as yet undiscovered diary. They can be as near in time as two generations or as far back as a 5th or 6th. There is no rhyme or reason to this but I accept that it is so, find out what I can with the resources available to me and assume that one day a time machine will be invented and I can go back and meet them. That is my dream

Today is one such ancestor, my paternal Great Grandfather.


George was born on the 28th April 1839 in Ketley, a small village just outside of Wellington in Shropshire. He was one of nine children of William and Elizabeth (nee ARCHER) MANSELL and he went on to have eight children with two wives.

George was from a family strongly tied to the iron and steel industry in Shropshire. It is probable they were all employed by the Ketley Company which had been in operation since 1818 (although a mill had operated on this site since 1757). On the 1851 census return 12 year old George was already working at the mill. As a “forge labourer” he could have done anything from tending the furnace to helping the forge master change the presses.

Ten years later and George is still in Ketley but is not at home with his parents. He is boarding at the home of Edward PRICE, the watchman at the ironworks.

Some time between 1861 and 1871, all the Mansells shift from Shropshire to Stockton-on-Tees. It is not difficult to imagine why this move would have been contemplated by the family. Iron production in Shropshire was past its heyday. In fact, the Ketley Company which employed the Mansell males closed in 1876 and even by 1861 the writing must have been on the wall. The lure of better and more reliable wages would have been very tempting.

As the industry ground down in Shropshire, it took off in the North-East. The area was rich in the resources required for iron production (ie coal nearby) and there was a burgeoning railway industry which demanded an increasing supply of steel. As well the demand for steel from the shipping sector helped lead the second phase of the industrial revolution in NE England.

After he arrived in Stockton, George married Elizabeth OGRAM. I have not found a record so far of this marriage but in 1868 their son William James was born. When their daughter Martha was born 2 years later she unfortunately died shortly after birth, as did Elizabeth. George was left a young widow with an infant son.

Four years later and George married again; to Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN. The new bride did not take on George’s son though, as William James was raised by his Mansell grandparents.

When the 1881 census was taken George and Eliza were living in Thorpe Street in Stockton with their three young children, Ivor, Eliza Ann and Rhoda and George was still working in one of the steel mills in Stockton.

The 1891 is the last census on which George is found. As a 52 year old mill furnace man he has put in 40 years in the steel industry doing hot and heavy work. His children are not likely to follow in his footsteps though, education is more freely available opening up far more opportunities for them.

George died in December 1895 and was buried in the Oxbridge Lane Cemetery in Stockton on 16th December 1895.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


Today marks the birth of my maternal Great-Great-Aunt, Hilda. She was the youngest of 11 children of William & Sarah GALE (you can find their story back on Sunday, 25 August 2013). Hilda was baptized at St Mary’s Islington on 11th September 1878 and married Arthur Ernest HALLETT at this church on 23 December 1902. Hilda died in Hendon in June 1949.


My maternal Great-Great Aunt Helen MACKENZIE was born on this day in 1840. She was baptized in the parish of Urray, Ross & Cromarty Scotland on the 22 May and she was the youngest sibling of my Great-Great Grandfather Ronald MACKENZIE. 

Friday, 25 April 2014


Well today commemorates the marriage of my paternal 4XGreat-Grandparents, John Archer and Catherine SKELTON who married on this day in 1808 in Wellington, Shropshire. I would like to say I have more information but all I have gathered so far are possibilities.

This couple possibly had up to 7 children one of which was my G-G-G-Grandmother Elizabeth ARCHER born in 1815. Other possibles are James (1811-1882), Mary (1811), Emma (1817) John (1819-1899), William (1821-1822) and William (1824). 

Thursday, 24 April 2014


My paternal Great-Great-Great-Uncle was baptized on this day in 1803 in the Church of Scotland in Forteviot, Perthshire. He was the seventh of 9 children born to William and Jean (nee EDWARD) and the place of residence of his parents is shown as Braefoot, a farm just south of Forteviot.   I have no further information on Thomas.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A bit of a catch-up story today


On this day one hundred and ninety-four years ago my great-great-grandparents George and Jane were married at the church of St Eloy in Great Smeaton, Yorkshire. George was the son of Ann Stevenson and a so far unidentified father and was born about 1798; probably in Great Smeaton. Census records tell me that Jane was born in Birtley, County Durham in about 1799.

George and Jane can be found on the 1841 census in Appleton upon Wiske with three of their children; 20 year old Henry (my great-grandfather), 18 year old George and 17 year old Margaret. George is the only tailor in a village full of agricultural labourers and linen weavers. Like many parts of Yorkshire in the 19th century, Appleton upon Wiske was involved heavily in the production of linen, from the growing of flax to the manufacture of the cloth & clothing. At the peak of the industry in 1850, there were up to 200 looms operating in Appleton.

By the 1851 census George and family have moved 3.5 kms to the village of Hornby where George is now a “tailor employing one man”. All three Stevenson children have left home but George’s widowed mother Ann has joined the household. Also in the house on census night was Jane’s married sister Susan Addison and George and Jane’s grandson, George.

Ten years later and the census once again finds the Stevensons in Hornby Village. George now employs 2 men and grandson George is an apprentice tailor. George’s mother Ann had died some time between the censuses and another grandson, 11 year old Frank, has joined the household.

When George died in 1865 he was buried in the churchyard at St Eloy in Great Smeaton on 8th June 1865. He left a modest will.

Jane lived on for at least another 25 years as she is on the 1871 census living alone in Hornby and working as a laundress. By 1881 she is 82 years old and described herself as a tailors widow and is visiting the home of George Pamley in Hornby. Surprisingly she is still alive in 1891 where she has moved to Stockton on Tees and is living with her daughter Margaret and her husband William Rouson. So far I have not found an entry for the death of Jane.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Today marks the anniversary of the birth of my paternal Great-great-great-Aunt Elizabeth SKELTON. One of 8 children she was born on this day in 1788 in Wellington, Shropshire to John SKELTON and Mary PASCALL. Her older sister Catherine was my G-G-G-Mother.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Today celebrates the birth of my maternal Great-great-Uncle Alex. Born in 1826 Alexander was the elder brother of my Great-great-grandfather William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON.

In 1846 Alexander married Isabella SUMMERS and they made their home in Kilmalcolm not far from both sets of parents. Through census records from 1851 to 1881 it can be seen that Alexander was a stone mason and became a father to 5 children; Alexander, James, Barbara, Mary Ann and another Alexander.

Monday, 7 April 2014



Paternal Auntie Charlotte was born on the 7th April 1906. One of six girls and 4 boys she was the fourth child of Ivor James and Margaret (nee SMALL) MANSELL.

Charlotte married Robert FRYERS in 1935. They moved to London soon after and settled in Chelsea where their three children, Eldon, Eric and Lenore were born. After only 16 years of marriage Uncle Bob died.

At the grand age of 70, Auntie Charlotte decided to migrate to Australia to be close to her son Eric and his family who had emigrated in 1966. Charlotte lived in Gilgandra NSW and died in 2004.


My maternal great-great-Uncle William was born in Urray, Ross & Cromarty Scotland on this day in 1824. He was the eldest child of Donald MACKENZIE, an agricultural labourer and Mary nee MCLENNAN.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


On Monday 6th April 1874, my paternal Great Grandparents Peter SMALL and Margaret STEVENSON were married at the Parish Church in Richmond Yorkshire. Peter was the youngest of 11 children of David and Margaret SMALL and was born in Dunbarney in Perthshire, Scotland. Margaret was the third child of Henry and Ann STEVENSON of Hornby, North Yorkshire.

By the 1881 census Peter and Margaret were living in Thorpe Street in Stockton-on-Tees and Peter was working as a boilersmith to support his growing family. So far the couple had 5 year old Sophia, 3 year old John Henry, 2 year old Elizabeth and Euphemia who was just 9 months old.

Ten years later and the family had moved to Oxford Street in Stockton and Peter was now employed as a marine boiler plater. Sophia had taken up a dressmakers apprenticeship and as well as Elizabeth and Euphemia, the family also had my future grandmother Margaret, Jane, Alexander, Isabella, Charlotte and Emma. Poor John Henry – at 16 he is to be found on the 1891 census at the North East Reformatory for Boys near Newcastle. I think I need to investigate him further!

Between the 1891 and 1901 census, the SMALL family celebrated several weddings. Eldest child Sophia married Charles CRAGGS in 1893, Euphemia married Alfred DOWSE in 1898, and in 1900 Elizabeth married Charles GIBBONS and grandma Margaret married Ivor MANSELL. John Henry spent this decade both at the Reformatory and then the Army from 1897; seeing service in east India in 1897/99.

The 1901 census shows that the family were still at 10 Oxford Street. Peter was still working as a boilersmith/plater and there were 6 young children at home.

By the time the next census was taken in 1911 Jane was no longer at home as she had married William ARMSTRONG in 1904. Only 17 year old Peter and 14 year old Alice were still at home. Alexander was working in Sheffield, Charlotte was living with her Uncle Alexander and Aunt Sophie SMALL in Leeds and Emma was a domestic servant at the home of her married sister Margaret – my grandmother. In an email from a second cousin, David Small in Stockton, I get the information that Alice may have been “retarded” and stayed with her parents for life. Sadly, although the 1911 census has an Infirmity column this information is not publically available so I cannot verify if indeed Alice was not able to be independent.

After 44 years of marriage, Peter SMALL passed away at the age of 68 in 1918. Margaret lived for another 28 years as a widow. She passed away in 1946 at the age of 89.