Category Archives: Barrett

Mary Isabel Palframan and Jack Dickinson

I’ve been going through my pile of unread books to sort them out and came across one written by John Dickinson about his parents Jack and Mary Dickinson. A school friend mentioned the book to me some time ago and I thought it was about time I read it. The book provides a real insight into the life of Mary, a domestic servant in the early part of the 20th century, before she met her future husband, Jack. It also provides an account of their lives and the impact of two World Wars on them. This blog post is just going to focus on my connection to Mary and her husband Jack and makes use of the 1921 census. The book provides key insights into the life of a couple who are related to me and it’s well worth getting hold of a copy.

Mary Isabel Palframan (1905-2001), my first cousin three times removed, was the eldest daughter of Michael Palframan (1850-1907), my second great grand uncle and Maud Allon Dixon (1879-1958). Michael was farmer in South Duffield, Yorkshire in the 1901 census and he married Maud, a school teacher, in 1904. Michael died not long after his second daughter was born. After his death Maud moved with her two daughters to Harwood Dale in the North Riding of Yorkshire where she worked as a teacher at the Harwood Dale elementary school. Maud married Ward Nesfield (1862-1932), a widower and farmer, 27 August 1912 in Scarborough. The following chart shows the key family relationships:

Family history chart for Michael and Maud

By the 1921 census Ward, Maud, Ward’s son Edward and Maud’s daughter Martha were living at Chapel Farm, Harwood Dale. The Dale is in the parish of Hackness and is eight miles north west of Scarborough; it is highlighted on the following map:

OS Yorkshire LX.II date 1928

Maud’s eldest daughter Mary was working as a domestic servant in the household of W H Wordsworth Esquire of The Glen, Scalby, Yorkshire. In contrast, her future husband Jack Dickinson, was in Leeds with his mother Isabella (1886-1970), her partner/husband Edward Dickinson (1871-1935) and three siblings. The family of six were living in four rooms, with Edward working as a labourer for a building company. They had moved to Scarborough by 1935 as that is where Edward’s death was registered.

Mary met Jack in Scarborough and they married on 14 February 1940 in St Lawrence’s Church, Scalby, just before Jack returned to his military unit and WWII.

St Lawrence’s Church, Scalby

Jack died in Scarborough in 1998 and Mary died at the age of 96 in 2001.

It has been interesting to find out more about this family. I spent time working in Scarborough when I was a student and did not know anything about them. Now I have just two more books on my unread pile to browse and decide what to do with!

Lastly – I would like to know more about the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.


The map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site

The image of St Lawrence’s Church was sourced from Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 –


1921 Census. : accessed July 2022.

Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed July 2022.

Bolton, Humphrey. (2006) St Lawrence’s Church, Scalby. : accessed July 2022.

Census records. : accessed July 2022.

Dickinson, John. (2011) Fine Wife you turned Out to be! Scarborough: Farthings Publishing.

England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. : accessed July 2022.

Hackness. : accessed July 2022.

OS Maps. : accessed July 2022.

Scalby. : accessed July 2022.

A couple of challenges for family historians

I have recently been lucky to exchange emails with someone who was interested in my Palframan relatives and helpfully provided me with some information which has led me to revise my story on Michael Palframan and opened up a new area of possible research – those Palframan’s who went to South Africa in 1850’s and 1860s.

Collecting enough evidence to be sure that someone is an ancestor can be challenging. The further you go back in time the more likely it is that surnames will not be consistently spelled correctly and I’m sure that many people have come across census records where someone’s age looks suspect. I try and stick to finding at least three pieces of evidence for someone and definitely the more the better.

The second challenge is tracking down information for people, particularly if they have emigrated to another country. The lady I’ve been emailing kindly told me that five of William Palframan (1794-1840) and Ruth Sisson’s (1798-1871) children went to South Africa. The first one to go was William (1824-1905) in 1851, followed by John (1930-1895) and Thomas (1832-1926) in 1858, Michael (1832-1920) in 1861 and Catherine (1840-1912) in 1862 with her husband John Brunyate. Only Michael returned to Yorkshire and died there. Helpfully she also provided details of the Family Search records which I hadn’t found before. I do use this site, but not as often as I should by the looks of it.

While I don’t know the reasons why they all left Yorkshire, I was interested to see that Ruth, after William’s death, continued to run the family farm in West Haddlesey. In the 18141 census she is described as a farmer and by 1851 as a farmer of 135 acres employing two labourers.  Perhaps there wasn’t enough work for all of her sons?

Interestingly three more members of the Palframan family went to South Africa. William, possibly the son of Joseph Palframan (1833-1911), arrived in 1861 on the same ship as Michael (1832-1920). Then, in 1865, Thomas (b. abt. 1846) and William (1841-1924), both sons of Michael (1797-1877) and his second wife Martha Seymour (1813-1889), and William’s wife Mary Ann (1846-1906) arrived in 1865. William and Mary Ann did not stay in South Africa. They were back in the UK by the 1871 census and then went to Canada in the mid 1880s where they both died.

At some point I would like to find out more about these ancestors as they are all related to me. The five siblings are my first cousins four times removed. I enjoy reading about history and realise I know very little about South Africa in the mid nineteenth century. Do let me know if there is a good book I can read. There is always space on my shelves for another

Some thoughts on brick walls

During the last few weeks I’ve been working on one of my long standing brick walls.  Having researched my Sarginson relatives back to the mid-1800s I have been working on taking  his line further back.  I am now fairly confident that I have worked out who my five times great grandfather was. One of the challenges has been multiple possible spellings of the surname and that I found another couple with similar names. I intend to write Elias’s story in the next few weeks.

My next brick wall is in one of my grandmother’s ancestors: the Barrett’s. It turns out that this can be spelled multiple ways too, including Barot and Baret. I feel another visit to an archive coming on!