Category Archives: story

Lucy Silversides (1840-1887)

Whilst visiting the East Riding archives at Beverley, I carried out a search of the East Riding of Yorkshire County pauper lunatic asylum case books (NH6/64/20) to see if there were any records for any of my ancestors who might have been admitted to it. The asylum was called Broadgate Hospital and located in Walkington near Beverley. The land it was built on was part of Broadgate farm; it was opened on 25 October 1871 and has since been demolished. Walkington was described by Lewis in 1848 as follows:

The following OS Yorkshire CCX.II map, dated 1893, shows the location of the asylum to the north east of the village of Walkington, just off the B1230 road.

The East Riding archives hold a series of case books for Broadgate hospital and my ancestor Lucy Silversides featured in the women’s case book number 5. Lucy was the wife of John Silversides (1822-1888), my second cousin five times removed. She was born Lucy Rhodes in 1840 in Patrington, Yorkshire to parents Thomas Rhodes (1804-1883) and Elizabeth Blenkin (1805-1879). By the time Lucy’s brother Arthur died in 1854, the family were living in Osgodby, a few miles from Riccall where John Silversides lived. Lucy married John in St Mary’s church, Riccall on 11 November 1858; Lucy was 18 and John 36.

In the 1861 census John, Lucy and their daughter Elizabeth (1859-1886) were living in Riccall where John was described as a farmer of 100 acres employing two labourers. John and Lucy had nine children: six boys and three girls. Two of their sons died in infancy, three children in their twenties, two sons have been difficult to trace and just one of their children definitely married: Margaret Ann Silversides (1873-1917). In 1891 their son Arthur Rhodes Silversides (1871-1949) was a footman at The Villa in Escrick; a property where I once owned an apartment. By 1901 he had become a butler; when he died on 11 January 1949 in York, he left effects to the value of £1,784 8s 9d. The following chart shows John, Lucy and their family.

Arthur’s mother Lucy faired rather differently. By the 1881 census John, Lucy and six of their children (Elizabeth, Boswell, Henry, John, Arthur and Margaret) were living in Dam End in Riccall. Their daughter Lucy was living with her aunt and uncle. By now John was aged 59 and described as an agricultural labourer, as were their sons Boswell and Henry. Boswell and Henry were recorded as joining the police in Leeds in 1885. Daughter Elizabeth died in 1886 and sons John and Arthur and daughter Margaret were elsewhere in 1891. Perhaps by the time Lucy was admitted to the Broadgate hospital in 1887 she had been affected by significant changes in her family life.

Lucy was admitted to Broadgate from the Selby Union on 1 March 1887. The case book mentioned that her first mental health attack had lasted for eight months. It is interesting to note that she entered the asylum from the Selby Union. She was described as being aged 50, married and her religion was Church of England. With regards to her mental health, she was of a nervous temperament, dangerous and with her form of insanity described as mania. She was said to be excited and “the patient talks to herself”.

Her physical condition was described as tall, poorly nourished and dirty. The case book then goes onto outline her mental and physical state after her admission. On 4 March “her conversation was silly and voluble”. By 11 March Lucy was “physically in a very bad state and appears to be getting weaker daily…she is nervous and excited and most difficult to manage in short nothing can be done with her…she won’t eat.” It went onto say that “the diet for the most part consists of butter, eggs milk mixture with brandy”. Lucy had diarrhoea.

Lucy died on 13 March 1887 at 8.50pm in the presence of nurse Phebe Allan. Her cause of death was Phthisis. An autopsy was carried out and the record certified by the asylum Medical Superintendent Dr Murdoch Donald McLeod. After her death Lucy was buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Riccall. Her husband John died just over a year later on 16 March 1888. He too was buried in the churchyard. After his death the cottage he was living and his household furniture were sold at auction by Thomas Walker Auctioneers, according to the York Herald dated 14 April 1888. Perhaps by then none of his children were around to take an interest in his furniture.

So far, I’ve been unable to trace what happened to two of John and Lucy’s sons: Henry  Silversides (born 1864) and John William Silversides (born 1868). Do let me know if you have any stories about the family which you are willing to share with me.

Note: 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


Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed May 2023.

Broadgate asylum. : accessed May 2023.

Broadgate hospital case books. NH/6/64/20, pp 131-132.

Census records. : accessed May 2023.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. : accessed May 2023.

OS Map. : accessed May 2023.

Probate records. : accessed May 2023.

Riccall. : accessed May 2023.

West Yorkshire, England Police Records, 1833-1914. : accessed May 2023.

Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed May 2023.

Saturdays with my Gran

It is not often that I sit down to write a piece without a plan on how I intend to develop it or a set offacts, data or references I intend to use. Today is different though. I want to use this piece of writing to honour my gran Glenda as she is someone who played an important role in supporting me in her own quiet way at a time in my childhood which was confusing and difficult to navigate.

I’m not sure exactly when I started to regularly visit her on a Saturday afternoon but it was probably around the time my great grandmother died, when I was 13. I had passed my eleven plus and moved from a village school to one in York where I was one of a number of scholarship girls. Then when my great grandmother died it triggered the start of a mental health struggle for my mother.

I knew I could visit my gran on a Saturday afternoon and sit in a quiet place to read a book, chat with her or watch her black and white TV. There would only have been two channels at that time and Saturday afternoons were usually reserved for sport. I know that when I went home it would probably be to see my family watching the wrestling. Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks were firm favourites in our house.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the conversations I had with my gran and I certainly didn’t take the opportunity to ask her about her siblings and parents. Something as a keen family historian I know find rather frustrating. At the time I did know that she was one of ten children, many of whom I came into regular contact with.

Gran’s first names were Glenda Florence Edith. All her siblings had multiple names. Her father Francis had been coachman, later motor car driver, to the Lawley family and her mother Violet Kate had been born to a Yorkshire father and a mother of Irish descent whose family had come to York in the mid-19th century to escape the famine in Ireland. 

What I do remember about my gran was that there was always a quiet sadness about her. I knew that she had lost her husband in World War Two and had been left to bring up her two daughters on her own. After he died, she moved back to the village to be near her family and worked locally. When I was a child, she was the caretaker for our local primary school so I probably would had seen her at work.

She was an important presence in my life as I was growing up. I continued to visit her on Saturday’s until she became too ill to see people. She died not long after I took my ‘O’ levels and I will always be grateful for the quiet space she provided me when I was studying.

Her death was reported in the local Parish Magazine where she was described as:

“Mrs E had been a widow for many years. She was a quiet, friendly person, who usually did not enjoy good health, but did not wish to inconvenience anyone. Many will remember her as Caretaker of the Primary School, which she looked after so conscientiously for seventeen years, and there will be several former babies who wore her finely knitted garments, which were sold at the garden fete every year. She passed away peacefully with no pain, nursed by her daughter. We shall miss her familiar figure walking from East View to the Post Office and having a friendly word from her. We offer our sympathy to her daughters, and her sisters living in the village and to other members of her large family.”

James Harvey Bean MD (1855-1910)

James is my second cousin four time removed on the Ellis side of my family. He was born on 23 October 1855 in Roxbury, Suffolk, Massachusetts, USA. James’ parents were James Bean (1822-1899) and Harriet Harvey (1821-1876). James and Harriet had nine children, five of whom were born in Yorkshire, England and the remaining four in USA.

Prior to their emigration to the USA, James was a gardener living at the Garden House, Spofforth, Yorkshire and working on the Stockeld Park Estate. The following map (OS Yorkshire sheet 172 date 1850) shows the extent of Stockeld and its location near the York and North Midland railway line.

James, Harriet and their children Mary, Elizabeth, William and Charlotte left Liverpool on the ship Mariner, and arrived in the port of Boston on 12 May 1854.  The family settled in Roxbury where James continued to work as a gardener and I have previously written about his life in USA .

James Harvey Bean was the first of James and Harriet’s children to be born in USA. He trained as a physician at the Jefferson Medical College at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. James married Nellie Priestley (1863-1953) on 15 January 1883 and by 1900 they were living in Bannock, Pocatello, Idaho.

James and Nellie didn’t have children and James died on 27 February 1910 in Los Angeles, California, apparently of uremia, caused by irreversible damage to the kidneys. He was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Pocatello, Bannock County, Idaho.

After his death Nellie applied to the Idaho court for probate as the sole beneficiary and executor under his will which he had signed on 13 February 1895.  It seems that during his lifetime James had acquired a number of lots of land in Pocatello and created the South East Securities Corporation which Nellie took over after his death. Issues relating to the ownership of property in Weber County and Salt Lake, Utah were resolved by the Utah court in 1911, and the court decreed that this property also become the property of Nellie.

Nellie did not remarry and was considered a pioneer in Pocatello. On 16 June 1938 she was deemed in contempt of court for failing to sign over bonds to pay a labour debt and was jailed. She remained in jail even though friends had agreed to pay the debt (The Post Register 4 August 1938).  Nellie died aged 90, on 2 January 1953, at her home 208 West Clark, Pocatello. She was buried in the family plot in Mountain View cemetery and left an estate worth $6853.

Note: 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


Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed December 2022.

California Death Index, 1905-1939. : accessed December 2022.

Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929. : accessed December 2022.

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Idaho, US Death Records, 1890-1969. : accessed December 2022.

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Stockeld Park. : accessed December 2022.

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US Obituary Index, 1800s to Current. : accessed December 2022.

Utah, US Wills and Probate Records, 1800-1985. : accessed December 2022.

Stranger things have happened

As a keen family historian, I spend a lot of time researching off-shoots and branches of mine and my husband’s family trees. From time to time my eye is caught by a record which opens a whole new area for me to research.

Such a thing happened when I was following the record trail for Jane Bean (1817-1887) my first cousin five times removed. Jane was baptised on 23 January 1817 in Acklam in the East Riding of Yorkshire. She was the daughter of William, a nurseryman and his wife Ann. In the 1823 Baines directory the family were living in nearby Leavening.

Jane married George Grey, a tailor, in York, in 1840 and they had four children. By 1851 three of them were living with Jane’s parents in Leavening and no census records for either George or Jane could be found.

I wondered what had happened to George and Jane and was surprised to find her next in the 1861 census in Dorset, some considerable distance from Yorkshire. There she was described as the wife of James Cameron (1813-1882). The couple were recorded as living in Clifton Road, Grove, Isle of Portland, Dorset where James was an assistant warder in the prison service at the nearby Grove prison. Other warders from the prison were also living in Clifton Rd. Two of Jane’s daughters, Mary Ann (and her husband John) and Georgiana (1845-1914), were living with James and Jane. Mary Ann (1841-1931) had married John Carrick Rennie (1831-1914), a prison warder, on 17 May 1860. The witnesses to their marriage were her sister Georgiana and William Parkin. The certificate gives Mary Ann’s fathers name as George Grey, a tailor, but does not indicate if he was alive or dead. John and Mary had moved to Brixton by 1871, where John was a prison officer in Wormwood Scrubs. (The following OS map dated 1903 is Dorset LVIII.SE.)

How Jane and James met is not clear, nor is when her first husband George Grey died. What is interesting about James is that he was in receipt of an army pension. His military records suggest that he was born on 13 October 1813 in New South Wales, Australia. James had enlisted in the British Army in the East Indies on 20th October 1826 at the age of 13. He served in the 13th Light Dragoons and participated in the Crimean War (1854-1856). As a private he was a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade which took place during the battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854. It is said to be one of the most “infamous blunders” in military history, according to the National Army Museum. (The following painting of the Charge of the Light Brigade dated 2 Jan 1855 is by Henry Brabazon Utmston.)

James was wounded in the battle and eventually ended up in Scutari hospital where he spent from 31 October 1854 to 27 March 1855 recovering, before being sent home. He was promoted to corporal on 1 September 1855 and then sent to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham where he was declared unfit for service due to his chronic rheumatism 15 December 1855. James was discharged from the army on 17 October 1856 with no trade and his declared destination as London. James’ pension records provide potential clues as to where he went next. When he first received his army pension, he was in the London North district; by July 1857 he had moved to the Salisbury district, according to his Royal Hospital Chelsea records.

By the 1871 census James and Jane had moved to Lancashire and by 1881 were living in Salford with Jane’s daughter Georgiana and her family. James died on 11 December 1882 and buried in the Weaste cemetery in Salford. His death notice in the Manchester Evening News edition of 15 December 1882 was headlined “Death of a Balaclava Hero”. Perhaps almost 30 years later views on the Charge of the Light Brigade had begun to change to acknowledge those who had survived that most infamous military blunder?

So, it was something of a surprise that I had a link, through my first cousin five times removed to a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Note: 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


Battle of Balaclava. : accessed December 2022.

Baines 1823 directory. : accessed December 2022.

British Army Service Records. Collection: Royal Hospital Chelsea: Admission Books, Registers and Papers 1702-1876. : accessed December 2022.

Census records. : accessed December 2022.

England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915. : accessed December 2022.

Grove Prison Museum. : accessed December 2022.

Ireland, Royal Hospital Kilmainham Pensioner Discharge Documents, 1724-1924. : accessed December 2022.

Lives of the Light Brigade. : accessed December 2022.

Manchester Evening News. : accessed December 2022.

OS Maps. : December 2022.

UK and Ireland Find A Grave Index, 1300s to Current. : accessed December 2022.

UK and Ireland Obituary Index, 1800s to Current. : accessed December 2022.

UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records, 1760-1920. : accessed December 2022.

Urmston, Henry Brabazon. (1855) The Charge of the Light Brigade. : accessed December 2022.

Yorkshire baptisms. : accessed December 2022.

Yorkshire marriages. : accessed December 2022.

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.

Herbert and Sabra Silversides – the road to Thame

When we moved to Thame in 2012, I had only just started researching my family. On the Sarginson side I knew that many of my ancestors came from Yorkshire, and more specifically the East Riding. I didn’t expect to find anyone in Oxfordshire, and certainly not in Thame. I have previously written about the origin of the name Silversides, and as I started to research more of my cousins, I came across Herbert Silversides (1882-1955), my second cousin three times removed, who died in Thame.

Herbert was born on 23 March 1882 in Wakefield, Yorkshire to parents Guy Crispin Silversides (1853-1933) and Ellen Butler (1854-1932). Although in the 1891 census his father Guy was a tailor, by 1901 he was the Lodge Keeper at the West Riding County Lunatic Asylum for Paupers at Wakefield. He continued to work there until at least the 1911 census. The asylum was located on the north side of Wakefield as shown in the following OS map extract from 1894.

OS Yorkshire CCLVIII.NE date 1894

The asylum was opened in 1818 and became the Stanley Royd hospital in 1948. It closed in 1995 and has since been converted into residential accommodation. It is now known as Parklands Manor.

So how did Herbert and his wife Sabra Emma Blacker (1881-1972) come to live and die in Thame? Sabra had also been born in Wakefield and they were married on 21 April 1906 in the Primitive Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Blackpool. An extensive report in the Fleetwood Express (25 April 1906) gave an insight into the occasion:

The bridal party consisted of lady and gentleman friends … with the guests, numbering over seventy persons, travelled by special saloon from Wakefield to Blackpool.”

Sabra’s dress was described in some detail and two gifts from the bridegroom specifically mentioned, an exquisite shower bouquet and gold opal brooch. There were six bridesmaids and Herbert’s brother William was his best man. The couple honeymooned in Scarborough and there was a long list of wedding presents which included many doyleys and other items of silver and linen.  

By the 1911 census Herbert and Sabra were living at 53 Jacobs Well Lane in Wakefield with their son Ronald aged one. Herbert was a clerk in the architect’s department of West Riding County Council. It looks like they were regular visitors to Blackpool though. The Fleetwood Chronicle dated 15 March 1912 has an account of Sabra’s brother William Blacker marriage to Molly Brown in the Primitive Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Blackpool. Molly was the daughter of a Blackpool councillor and William’s father Alfred the manager of the Royal Pavilion and a lay preacher at the church. Both families were well known attendees of the church. Sabra was a bridesmaid and Herbert a groomsman.

Herbert and Sabra’s son Ronald died in 1914 in Blackpool. Herbert and Sabra were also in Blackpool in 1916 when the Blackpool Gazette and Herald (11 February 1916) reported that Mrs Blacker and Mrs Herbert Silversides had arranged a concert after a young people’s tea which had been held at the Chapel Street Primitive Methodist School, Blackpool.

Herbert and Sabra were next found in the 1921 census as visitors at a property called Rossendale, Coronation Street, Cleveleys, near Thornton in Lancashire. The head of the household was Andrew Milligan and Sabra’s parents were boarders there. Her father Alfred was described as the cinema manager at the Savoy cinema, Cleveleys. Herbert was chief clerk at Wakefield County Council.

Herbert and Sabra seem to have then moved to the “Holiday Camp”, Rossall Road, Thornton, Lancashire where they were found in the 1923 Electoral Register. However, by 1939 Herbert and Sabra were living at Caradoc, Daws Hill, Wycombe, Buckinghamshire with Herbert described as a wholesale and retail wool dealer. How his change of occupation had come about isn’t clear.

Ancestry’s collection of British Phone Books was an invaluable resource which helped to track down Herbert and Sabra’s movements towards Thame. The 1944 Phone Book records them living in Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire and in 1954 there were two entries. Herbert and Sabra were living at 70 Chilton Road, Long Crendon and had a business called Silver Wools in High Street, Princes Risborough. They had moved inro 18 Croft Road in Thame by 1955; the following is a recent photo of the house:

18 Croft Road, Thame – image by Joan Reid

Herbert died on 23 September 1955 at 18 Croft Road. Sabra was not mentioned in his probate calendar entry and he left effects worth £2594 9s 4d. It seems that Sabra did not stay in the house for long after his death. She had moved into 1 Victoria Mead, Thame by the time the 1959 Phone Book was published. A local resident confirmed that the property was one of a number which had been built in 1958. The following is a recent photo of the house which has had an extension at some point; it would just have been two windows wide when Sabra moved into it.

I Victoria Mead, Thame – image by Joan Reid

Sabra died on 11 January 1972 at 1 Victoria Mead. She left effects to the value of £7550. So far, I’ve not been able to find burial records for either Herbert or Sabra. I also wondered if they continued to worship in a Primitive Methodist chapel. The one in Thame, on the junction between East Street and Park Street, is now a private house, but was once part of the Thame and Watlington Methodist circuit.

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

Note: 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


1921 Census. : accessed June 2022.

1939 Register. : accessed June 2022.

Berkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1965. : accessed June 2022.

Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed June 2022.

British newspaper collection. : accessed June 2022.

British Phone Books, 1800-1984. : accessed June 2022.

Census records. : accessed June 2022.

County Asylums. : accessed June 2022.

Croft Road, Thame image by Joan Reid.

England and Wales, Electoral Registers 1910-1932. : accessed June 2022.

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

OS Maps. : accessed June 2022.

Redmonds, George. (2015) A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames. Donington: Shaum Tyas.

Victoria Mead, Thame image by Joan Reid.

West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910. : accessed June 2022.

Tillotson family – another interesting surname

I was first motivated to write about this branch of my family when I came across Hannah Maria Thompson (1864-1932), my 3rd cousin three times removed, whose parents were Joseph Thompson (1835-1907) and Sarah Tillotson (1837-1920). In the 1911 census Hannah was living with her widowed mother Sarah, brother Charles (1865-1926) and niece (Gertrude) Irene Thompson (1898-1970) at Moor, Garforth near Leeds. Hannah was described as a baker and confectioner (maker) and employer; her brother Charles a baker worker. The census also included three servants: two assistant confectioners and a servant. Her brother Henry Malcom Thompson (1868-1938) was also a baker in 1911. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of them in the 1908 Kelly’s directory for the West Riding of Yorkshire. However, a judicious purchase of the 1921 census from FindmyPast revealed that, at the time the census was taken, Hannah was still a confectioner on her own account and that she was living with her brother Charles and Aunt Maria in Main Street Garforth. The following 1908 OS map shows the locations of Garforth Moor and Main Street, Garforth.

OS Yorkshire Sheet CCXIX.NW dated 1908

Hannah’s family – Hannah had been born into a family who worked in the pits in Garforth. Mining coal was one of the main industries in the area, as noted in Lewis’ 1848 topographical directory of England.

Lewis’s Topographical Directory of England 1848 – entry for Garforth

Hannah was the eldest daughter of Joseph and Sarah’s six children. The 1871 census records the family as living in Moor Garforth with Joseph described as a weighman at the colliery, possibly working at the nearby Sisters Pit owned by the Gascoigne family. He continued to work as a weighman until he retired. Just two of his sons, Charles and Frederick (1870-1936), spent part of their working career in a colliery. By the 1901 census no family members were working in the pits. By then Charles and Henry were bakers, alongside their sister Hannah, Frederick was a railway porter, Emily (1872-1926) a servant and Edward (b 1875) a bricklayer. The following chart shows Joseph, Sarah, their children and grandchildren.

Descendant chart for Joseph Thompson and Sarah Tillotson

Working in the collieries could result in accidents and deaths. The Durham Mining Museum has an entry for Garforth Colliery which has a thought to be incomplete list of 57 deaths dating from the mid-19th century until the early 20th century. It contains the details of three Thompson’s who were killed there: G Thompson, a shunter, in 1896, and T Thompson and H Thompson who fell off roofs in 1897. Unfortunately, there is only limited information about the deaths in local newspapers like the Skyrack Courier. It is possible these men could be related to Joseph Thompson but clear links have so far not been found.

Tillotson surname – Hannah’s mother Sarah, is my 2nd cousin four times removed, and I decided to see what I could find out about the origin of the Tillotson surname. Redmonds book of Yorkshire surnames is an excellent source of information and has entries for Tillotson (with variants Tillitson and Tillottson and the variant Tilson. The following is a quote from Redmonds about Tillotson and its variants:

“’Son of Tillot’, a diminutive of Matilda via the pet form Till. This is a surname with a single origin and the progenitor can be identified in the poll tax of 1379. Her name was Tillot de Northwod and she was listed in Cowling along with her two sons, John and William Tillotson. The surname ramified in Kildwick parish and surrounding parts of Airedale and it remains numerous there… The most illustrious bearer of the name was John Tillotson of Sowerby near Halifax, born in 1630 and created Archbishop of Canterbury in 1691.”

Redmonds, George. (2015) A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames. Donnington: Shaum Tyas. p. 743

In my own family research, I have probably traced my ancestors back to James Tillotson, my 6th great grandfather, who died in 1778 in Barwick on Elmet, just a few miles from Garforth. Encouraged by the information about the surname in Redmonds, I carried out further research and found two possible baptisms for James:

  • James Towleson baptised 30 July 1698 in Hartshead cum Clifton, a chapelry in the parish of Dewsbury, to father Abraham.
  • James Tillson baptised 1 September 1705 in Pontefract to father Henry.

James’ burial record suggests that he was 80 at the time of his death in 1778 which would suggest that the 1698 baptism was the more likely one for him. However, it is probable that the Towleson baptism is not his. Towleson is a variant of Tolson/Toulson which Redmonds attributes to the place name “Toulston, a locality in the parish of Newton Kyme near Tadcaster”. In contrast, Tillson is also said to derive from ‘Son of Till’ a pet form of Matilda. It occurred in a number of places in Yorkshire and was also found alongside Tillotson and Tillison. Redmonds asserts that it “must often have been a contraction of that name”.

In the case of my 6th great grandfather James, it seems possible that he was baptised as a Tillson and buried as a Tillotson. If the 1705 baptism is correct for him, then his father Henry was born in 1676 in Dewsbury and married Elizabeth Walker on 2 December 1703 in Pontefract. They had their first child James there and then returned to Dewsbury. The following is a possible family chart for James showing how he is descended from Samuel. All my potential great grandfathers are circled on the chart in purple. John (1734-1798) is my 5th great grandfather, then James my 6th great grandfather, Henry my 7th great grandfather and at the top of the chart Samuel my 8th great grandfather. Sarah, my 2nd cousin four times removed is circled in lilac.

Pedigree Chart for Sarah Tillotson

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

Note: 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


1921 Census. : accessed June 2022.

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Kelly and Co. (1908) Kelly’s Directory of West Riding of Yorkshire. London: Kelly and Co. Vol 1. p.278.

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Old photos of Garforth and information about the pits

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Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed June 2022.

James Bean 1822-1899

James is my first cousin five times removed and I decided to write about him because his father was a nurseryman/ market gardener like mine. James and his family also emigrated to the USA in the mid-19th century.

James was the eldest son of William Bean (1773-1864) and Ann Wetherill’s (1790-1875) five children. They had married on 31 October 1816 in Acklam parish church and settled in nearby Leavening; both places are in what was the North Riding of Yorkshire. The following outline descendant chart shows their immediate family:

Outline descendant chart for William Bean and Ann Wetherill

William and Ann continued to live in Leavening; in the 1841 census William was recorded as a nurseryman. Lewis’ topographical directory of 1848 described Leavening as follows:

Leavening from Lewis’ 1848 topographical directory of England

Two of William and Ann’s children moved away from Yorkshire. Their eldest daughter Jane (1817-1887) had moved to York by 1840, when she married her first husband George Gray (born 1815). By 1871 she was living in Chorlton cum Hardy, Lancashire with her second husband, James Cameron (1813-1882), who was described as a “survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade”, and a private in the 13th Light Dragoons, on his Find A Grave record.

James was their second child to leave Leavening. He married Harriet Harvey (1821-1876) in St Botolph’s Church, Bishopgate, London on 11 April 1847, when James was described as being from Featherstone in Yorkshire. Their first child Mary was born in Featherstone in 1848. By 1851 James was a gardener at Stockeld Hall, near Spofforth, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

James, Harriet and children Mary, Elizabeth, William and Charlotte, left Liverpool on the ship Mariner and arrived in Boston on 12 May 1854. James’ naturalization certificate recorded his arrival date as 13 May 1854; perhaps the date they actually left the ship. On the passenger list James described himself as a gardener. Initially the family were found in the 1855 Massachusetts State Census in Roxbury, near Boston, where James was a gardener. The family had moved to Medford, Massachusetts by 1859. Medford was described in a local history as follows:

Usher, page 13

James and Harriet had nine children before she died on 29 March 1876. The following chart shows their family, as well as James’ second wife Anna Kinsley Allan (1828-1905), who he married on 20 November 1878.

Dandelion chart for James Bean

The book of the history of Medford also provided information on what James did when he settled there. The following extract describes how he set up in business as a florist which, he then passed onto his second son, George Henry Bean (1854-1922):

Usher, page 437

After he passed the business onto his son George, James became a coal dealer. It was recorded as his occupation on his death record, when he died on 19 June 1899. It seems that his daughter Charlotte (born 1852) continued in the business for some time after his death.

I am interested in knowing more about James and his descendants. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.


Acklam and Leavening. : accessed February 2022.

Births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials. : accessed February 2022.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. : accessed February 2022.

Massachusetts, U S, Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists Records, 1820-1963. : accessed February 2022.

Massachusetts, U S, State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950. : accessed February 2022.

Massachusetts, U S, State Census Records, 1855. : accessed February 2022.

Massachusetts, U S, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988. : accessed February 2022.

Spofforth. : accessed February 2022.

UK and Ireland, Find A Grave Index, 1300s to Current. : accessed February 2022.

US State Federal Census Records. : accessed February 2022.

Usher, James. (1886) History of the Town of Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts. Boston: Rand, Avery and Co. : accessed February 2022.

Annie Morley (born 1871) – was she the actress Madge Morley?

I’ve previously written about Annie, my 2nd cousin three times removed, in two posts on my blog: two actors and an accidental drowning and George Curryer’s will. George married Annie on 10 June 1890 in Folkestone, Kent. He gave his occupation as an actor and his condition on their marriage certificate was recorded as a widower; however, Annie was George’s second wife.

After their marriage, George and Annie, and their two-month-old daughter Madge (1891-1940), were next found in the 1891 census living in Scarborough with Annie’s mother Maria and her second husband James Davison (b. 1852). George’s occupation was recorded as an actor. Maria and George went on to have a son Henry (1893-1920). However, after 1891, George and Annie, do not appear together in any further census records. The admission records of Acomb National School do though provide some further clues as to their whereabouts:

 Madge Morley CurryerHenry Edwards Curryer
Date admitted to Acomb school26/04/189719/03/1900
Birth date27/01/189111/09/93
ParentGeorge 4 Whitehall Cottages, AcombAnnie 4 Whitehall Cottages, Acomb
Previous schoolAll Saints, ScarboroughPrivate school
Date left10/01/190512/04/1900
Date admitted 07/01/1901
Date left 22/02/1901
Date admitted 27/08/1901
Date left 04/10/1901

It seems that by April 1897 George, Annie and their two children were at least using 4 Whitehall Cottages, Acomb as their address for the purpose of Madge’s and then Henry’s education. However, when Henry entered the school in March 1900, his parent was recorded as his mother Annie. An entry in the “Professional Cards” section of The Stage (7 March 1895) also provided useful information:

“MR. GEORGE EDWARDS, Lead or Character. MADGE MORLEY, Juvenile Lead, Light Comedy. Liberty. 48, Tenison-st., Lambeth, S.E.”

It looks like George’s stage name was George Edwards and Annie’s was Madge Morley. However, they had probably gone their separate ways by 8 July 1897 when Annie’s Professional Card in The Stage read as follows:

“MISS MADGE MORLEY, Disengaged Autumn. Comedy or Drama. “The pathos instilled into the part of Marie, a blind girl, by Madge Morley makes her at once a favourite and enlists the sympathy of the audience.” Northern Guardian, June 22nd 1897. Address, 4 Whitehall Cottages, Acomb, York.”

Returning to their son Henry’s education records, he finally left Acomb School at the age of eight on 4 October 1901. In the 1901 census Henry was with his father George, living with George’s brother William, at 62 Vicarage Rd, Tottenham. Annie (as Madge Morley) was at 1 Tidy St, Brighton, where she was described as a married actress. Their daughter Madge was at 4 Whitehall Cottages, Acomb with Frederic and Sarah Brown and described as their niece. She was their great niece, as Annie’s mother was Maria, Sarah’s sister. The following map shows the location of the cottages in Acomb.

OS Yorkshire CLXXIV.9 date 1892

By 1911 George had moved to 142 Gladstone Buildings, Willow St, Finsbury where he subsequently died on 17 December 1925. His son Henry joined the Royal Marines on 13 May 1911 and daughter Madge was working as a governess in a children’s home in Walthamstow, Essex in the 1911 census. Annie was recorded as “Madge Morley”, born 1876 in Aldershot, single, an actress, and visitor at Flat 3, 112A Brixton Hill, London in 1911. The head of the household was John Sanders.

Annie continued to live in London when she wasn’t touring in music halls and theatres. She appeared at the York Empire in May 1912 (Musical Hall and Theatre Review, 2 May 1912), a venue specialising in variety performances. The Western Evening Herald of 10 June 1918 contained an advert for “Miss Madge Morley and company – a farcical absurdity entitled AFTER THE RACES” at the Palace Plymouth, now a disused theatre.

Former Palace Theatre, Union St, Plymouth by miagarrett – unchanged

In the 1920 London Electoral Registers Annie’s address was 128 Brixton Hill. This was the address recorded for her, as her son Henry’s next of kin, when he died by accidental drowning on 9 March 1920 in South Africa. A further search of The Stage for later entries for Annie, with the stage name Madge Morley, found an entry in the death’s column of the 12 September 1929 issue:

“John Sanders – died 28 August 1929, age 48, after a short illness. Deeply mourned by his wife, Madge Morley.”

Another look at Annie’s 1920 Electoral Register entry showed that John Sanders was also living at 128 Brixton Hill. In addition, there were further entries in The Stage (for example, 27 January 1921 and 20 October 1921) posted by Madge Morley seeking work. In all cases her address was 128 Brixton Hill. Eventually I found a marriage between Annie Curryer and John Sanders on 24 December 1925. She had waited just a week after George’s death before marrying John. The couple were married by license in the Lambeth Registry Office. John was a bachelor and commercial traveller (textiles) living at 128 Brixton Hill. Annie was described as a widow with no rank or profession and her address was 12 Fairmount Rd, Brixton Hill.

After her second husband John’s death on 28 August 1929, Annie continued to advertise for work in The Stage Professional Cards column. Her entry on 24 April 1930 suggested that she was disengaged and seeking special parts, with her address given as 128 Brixton Hill. By this time, she would have been about 60 and was possibly coming to the end of her career on the stage. So far, I’ve been unable to find out what happened to Annie after her second husband died. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share with me.

Note: 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


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