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.

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