Friday, 30 May 2014


This date is one that always makes me think of Mum. As it approached each year she would recite the names of family in England for whom she had to remember to buy birthday cards. It would usually go something like this: “Pat, of course; then there’s Peggy’s Margaret and Percy’s Glynnis and Margaret’s Stuart but I don’t bother sending a card to him”. What Mum didn’t know is that the 28th May is also the anniversary of her G-G-Grandparents marriage.

Richard KENNETT and Louisa FOREMAN

            G-G-G-Grandparents Richard and Louisa were married in Lyminge, Kent on 28th May 1825. I know very little about this couple and am only certain about two children born to them. A son, Richard, was baptised in Lyminge in 1826 and my G-G-Grandfather William who was baptised in 1827.
It is interesting that on their marriage the registers show that both Richard and Louisa were able to sign their own names. The same cannot be said of their son, G-G-Grandfather William who “made his mark” when he married Ann ELLENDER in 1853.

Sunday, 25 May 2014


A sad and brief story today. The 25th May 1865 was the birth day of my maternal Great-Great-Aunt Isabella. She was the 7th child and 6th daughter of William Cunningham Bontine and Janet (nee SMITH) HAMILTON and the older sister of my Great-Grandmother Annie Wilson HAMILTON.

Like six of her siblings, poor Isabella did not survive childhood. She died at just 8 months on 2nd February 1866. Her death certificate provides the heartbreaking information that she had suffered scarlet fever for 16 days, the final 10 days enduring convulsions. 

Monday, 19 May 2014


Happy 184th birthday today to my maternal Great-Great-Grandfather, Ronald MACKENZIE. Born on the 19th May 1830, Ronald was baptized at the parish Church in Urray on the 28th May 1830.

The middle child of 5 children of agricultural labourer Donald MACKENZIE & his wife Mary (nee MCLENNAN), Ronald rose from humble beginnings to become a man of some substance.

My post back on the 28th March covered the married life of Ronald and Janet (nee INNES). In this story I tracked his progress through the census returns from his beginnings as a farm labourer on the Coul of Fairburn Estate to his situation at the age of 50 where he was Manager of the Railway Hotel in Dingwall.

When Ronald passed away in October 1887 he was only 57 years old. It’s quite ironic that as a publican he died of liver and heart failure. The final official document I have for Ronald is his will in which he leaves quite specific bequests to his widow and children.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Back on the 28th April I wrote about the birth of an ancestor who had always interested me. Today is the anniversary of his second marriage to my G-Grandmother Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN.

George and Eliza married on 17th May 1874 at the Stockton Registry Office. It was the second marriage for George whose first wife, Elizabeth OGRAM had died four years previously. The only surviving child of this marriage, William James, was being raised by his grandparents William and Elizabeth MANSELL.

A family story passed down to a second cousin in Stockton, Pam LEWIS, was that Eliza had fallen in love with George who was the foreman at the iron works where her father was employed. She apparently married him against her parents wishes and she and George had run away together to get married. I find this story unlikely. For a start, they would hardly have eloped to the nearest registry office. Secondly, Eliza’s older brother David had married George’s younger sister Martha only two years earlier so the families already knew each other.

The first of George and Eliza’s 7 children was born the year after they married; my grandfather Ivor James in October 1875. It was three years before their next child arrived; a daughter Eliza Ann; and then another daughter, Rhoda Louise, was born in 1879. This fledgeling family was enumerated in 1881 living on Thorpe Street where they would remain all their married life.

Ten years later and their family was almost complete with the arrival of three more children. George was still working at the mill and young Ivor had already entered the workforce. At this time, children from the age of 5 through to 13 received an elementary education and we see on this 1891 census that Eliza Ann had completed her school years but was not yet employed. Rhoda, George, Tom and Lillie (Lily) however, are still listed as scholars.

This was the last time the family was all documented in the same place. George and Eliza’s final child, Annie Maud was born the year after census and George died in 1895. He was buried at the Oxbridge Lane Cemetery in Stockton on 16th December 1895.

Monday, 12 May 2014


Just a brief biography today to commemorate the birth of my maternal Great-Great Uncle, William. The tenth of eleven children to William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON and Janet Cochrane SMITH, William was the younger brother of Great grandma Annie Wilson HAMILTON.

At some time between 1881 and 1891 William and younger brother Stuart moved from Glasgow to Plumstead to live with Annie and her husband John MACKENZIE. It is quite possible that the move was prompted by the promise of employment as William worked at the Woolwich Arsenal with his brother-in-law for many years.

In 1901 William married Agnes Catherine MYERS and they had four children; John Greig born 1903, Ronald Stuart born 1904, Edith Greig born 1906 and Dorothy May born 1909. 

William died in Plumstead on May 2nd, 1954. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014


My paternal Great-Great Aunt Margaret was baptised on this day in 1824 in Great Smeaton in Yorkshire. Margaret was the youngest child of my G-G Grandparents, tailor George and Jane (nee BLENKINSOP) STEVENSON and the sister of my Great grandfather Henry.

At some stage Margaret married William ROUSON as she was enumerated as his wife on the 1891 Stockton on Tees census at 2 Nolan Place. I have not been able to find any record of her marriage or indeed anything of her between the 1841 census when she was enumerated as a 15 year old (ages were rounded up or down to the nearest 5) and 1891 when she was 67. Also living with Margaret and her husband is Margaret’s 93 year old mother Jane.

I have not found any record of Margaret’s death. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

1st MAY


On the 1st May 1800 my maternal G-G-G-G-Grandmother was born in Kilmalcolm, Scotland. Ann Wilson was the daughter of John WILSON and Mary (nee SIMPSON) and in 1820 she married Alexander HAMILTON by Banns in Kilmalcolm.

Ann had four children with Alexander; the youngest of these was William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON, my G-G-G-Grandfather. Alexander was a weaver by trade and on the 1861 census Ann declared herself to be a “silk tambourer” which essentially meant that she embroidered with silk on a tambour, or circular frame.

Ann died of typhus at the age of 64 on the 9th February 1865.


Another celebration on this date is the birth of my paternal G-G-G-G-Aunt in Wellington Shropshire in 1791. Fanny was one of eight children of John SKELTON and Mary (nee PASCALL) and the younger sister of my G-G-G-Grandmother Catherine. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014


A few days ago I looked at the life of Great-Grandad George MANSELL. Today it is the turn of his father, William. The eldest son of George and Mary (possibly nee LEES or EVANS – I have two contenders here), Great-Great-Grandfather William was baptized on this day in Wellington, Shropshire in 1815.

I should clarify here that before civil registration was introduced in the UK in 1837, records were kept by the Church. The purpose of these registers was to record the date of baptism of a child, not its birth date. Sometimes you will find that the date of birth has also been mentioned, but this was purely arbitrary. This can be confusing when several children in the family were baptized together; unless the parish clerk has been thoughtful enough to also include dates of birth it can be difficult to work out the birth order in the family.

When he was 21 William married Elizabeth ARCHER on 16 October 1836 in Eyton Upon the Weald Moors and they had 9 children together. Census returns for 1841-1891 give a quite clear picture of what was happening during the course of Williams life.

For the first two decades of their married life William and Elizabeth lived in Ketley and raised their 9 children on the income William earned labouring in the coal and iron works nearby. As soon as their sons were old enough, at the age of 12, they too began labouring at the iron works.

At some stage between 1861 and 1868 the Mansell family moved across country to Stockton on Tees as the iron industry there exploded in the second wave of the industrial revolution.

For the next 20 years, William continued labouring to support himself and his family. After the death of their daughter-in-law in 1870 and their son George’s subsequent remarriage in 1874 to G-Grandma Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN, William and Elizabeth raised their grandson William James.

William died at the age of 79 and was buried in the Oxbridge Cemetery in Stockton on 18th December 1894.