Monday, 22 August 2016

John Smith - Generation 3

This is the story of my third Bicester John Smith.  He was born around 1765 in the vicinity of Bicester.  Somewhat surprisingly, there is a shortage of likely John Smith baptisms and I have not yet found his.  I suspect he might be the son of John Smith and Catherine Gulliver, who were having children at the right time and have a suitable gap between other children that he would fit into, but have no proof yet.

I do know that John Smith’s father was a gardener working for a Mr Stratton who lived in the former grounds of the Priory of St Edburg.  Bicester parish church is dedicated to St Edburg.  I know about his father because, in 1816, a John Dunkin published a book, “The History and Antiquities of Bicester, a Market Town in Oxfordshire”. One of John Dunkin’s sources on the ruined priory was a letter from John Smith, explaining about some of the ruins he and his father had dug up while gardening.  I always think it is exciting to find the actual words an ancestor spoke or wrote, so here is a quote about a well:

“My father and Master Hudson repeatedly tried to empty it; but after they had reached a depth of seven feet the water flowed so fast that they were compelled to desist.  Close to the present building, my father also discovered a very neat coffin about two feet long; the bones were so small that he could not ascertain what they were, and there was no inscription visible.”

It sounds like they were not very successful amateur archaeologists.  The well they were trying to dig up was possibly one much visited in medieval times because it was believed to have healing properties.

On the domestic front, John Smith married Anne Bowden 1 Nov 1790 in Bicester and one of the witnesses was Martha Smith, perhaps his sister.  John and Anne had six children between 1792 and 1805, Harriet, Catherine, James, my ancestor John, Thomas and Mary Ann.

At some point, John Smith changed careers, becoming a school teacher.  He was school master at the Bicester blue coat school, a charity school for boys.  There were many blue coat schools around England and they got their name from the distinctive uniform worn by the children.  I have a photo of a former blue coat school in Hatton Gardens, London, showing statues of two children in their blue uniforms.  The Bicester charity school was supported by local gentry.

Blue Coat School, Hatton Gardens, London

John’s wife Anne died in November 1821.  The following year, probably on 2 December 1822 (I don’t have a reliable source for this date) John Smith married Mary Moore in Bicester.  John had at least another six children with Mary, taking his total to twelve: Benjamin, Mathilda, Emma, Eliza, Henry and Kezia.  Kezia was born when John was about 71 and so he might be the oldest father I have found so far in my family tree, although to be honest, this is not something I have taken much note of.  As well as his twelve children, who I think all survived to adulthood, he had over 30 grandchildren, although he did not live to see them all.  He did live to see some great grandchildren, including my ancestor Harry Smith.

Bicester in the 1820’s and 1830’s was an interesting but possibly not safe place to live.  In 1826, according to an extract from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868), there were riots in the main street that destroyed the town hall.  In 1832, the same source says there was a cholera epidemic that infected 70 people.  I have no record of any of the Smith’s suffering from Cholera, though.

By the time of the 1841 census, as well as being a school teacher, John Smith was a parish clerk.  As far as I can work out, a parish clerk was something of a jack of all trades, supporting the clergy with administrative and other tasks, possibly including leading the singing.  Also in 1841, John’s family were living in New Buildings, Market End, Bicester, near his son John.

In 1851, John Smith was an elderly man and the census says he was blind, although he is still listed as a parish clerk.  He, wife Mary and some of their children were still living in New Buildings.

In his will, John Smith seems to have owned two properties, one in New Buildings and one in Crockwell, another area in Bicester.  Curiously, John wrote his will in 1829 before all of his children were born, so they are not all named however there was a clause to cover this eventuality.


John Smith died 17 March 1858, age 93.  Did miraculous water from the well he and his father dug up contribute to his long life?

Saturday, 6 August 2016

John Smith – Generation 2

Having established that my Smith ancestors came from Bicester, Oxfordshire, as described in my previous blog post, my next challenge was to work back a few generations.  Luckily for my research, many of the branches of the Smith tree are less common names and so are easier to trace. However, for this story, I will stick with my one of my John Smith ancestors.

This John Smith was born around 1799, the fourth of six children of John Smith and Ann Bowden, and baptised 29 September 1799, in the parish church in Bicester.  There were actually three John Smith’s baptised in Bicester in 1799.  So, how do I know that I have the right one?  The first time I looked at the Bicester registers, I noted that one of the John Smiths was a twin.  I know, sadly, that the survival rate for twins was not good at a time when infant mortality was high, anyway.  

Something I learned while doing my anthropology degree was that until the 20th century in the western world (and still in some places), one of life’s biggest challenges was to get to the age of five.  Those who made it to five had a reasonable chance of reaching old age, if they avoided the risks of violence (for men) and child birth (for women).  So, I checked the burial records for the few years after the 1799 baptisms.  Unfortunately for the families concerned, two of the three John Smiths died very young and the logical conclusion is that the survivor must have been my ancestor.

Having survived the trials of childhood, John Smith trained as a plumber and glazier; plumber, at that time, being someone worked with lead (plumbum being Latin for lead), rather than the modern trade of working with copper and plastic water pipes.  I haven’t found a record of his apprenticeship yet.  Records from the later part of his life say that he was also a painter.

On 31 March 1823, John Smith married Elizabeth Ellston* in Bicester parish church, by banns.  They had nine children, including my ancestor John Smith.  Their oldest son, James, was born in September 1823.  I will leave the reader to do the maths but will say that it was quite a common occurrence...  Their last child, Ann, was born about twenty years later.

John, Elizabeth and their family can be followed through the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses.  For all that time they lived in Newbuildings, Sheep Street, Market End, in Bicester.  Sheep Street is the main street through the town and is now a pedestrianised shopping area but many of the old buildings are still there.  In the nineteenth century, as well as being a market town, hence Market End, Bicester was famous for hunting, although the Smith family did not belong to the hunting upper class.

John Smith died on 19 October 1870, age 71.  His death was announced in births, deaths and marriages column in the Oxford Times.  His death certificate says that he died of a diseased heart, congestion of the lungs and softening of the brain.  In modern medical terms, this probably translates to congestive heart failure and dementia.

Once again, I am pleased to have been able to discover so much about my ancestor in spite of his common name.

*There are various spellings of Ellston.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > John Henry Smith > Harry Smith > John Smith > John Smith

Thursday, 30 June 2016

John Smith - Generation 1

It is a while since I posted a story about one of my ancestors due to an injury that has meant not too much typing and this story is a shorter one too.

I have written about common names before but no name is so common in British ancestry as John Smith.  My maternal grandmother was a Smith, so finding a John Smith in my family tree was inevitable.  As my research has progressed, I have found several other ancestral Smith families, but I will focus on my grandmother’s family for now.

Adding to the complications of researching the common Smith surname, when I first started my research, the information I had was that the Smiths were from Woolwich, in Kent and south of London, or Banbury, in Oxfordshire and north of London.  Thanks primarily to census records, I discovered that the family had connections to both places.

This particular John Smith was born in Bicester, Oxfordshire, in 1832, and was baptised in the local parish church on 9 December that year.  He was the middle of 9 children of John Smith and Elizabeth Elston*; four boys and five girls.

In 1841, young John Smith was living with his parents, siblings and grandmother, Martha Elston (nee Guntrip), in Bicester Market End.  Ten years later, in 1851, not much had changed other than John having grown up to be a carpenter.

John Smith married Eliza Roberts 17 April 1854 in Oxford.

Although they married in Oxford, John and Eliza lived for the first few years of their marriage in Banbury, Oxfordshire, where their first two children, Emily and Harry (my ancestor) were born.  So here is the Banbury link from my earliest research.  The family were briefly back in Bicester, where daughter Mary Ann was born in 1860, before moving to Woolston, St Mary Extra, in Hampshire, where the family were living at the time of the 1861 census.  Woolston was a ship building and port area of Southampton. 

The Smith family soon moved again and around 1864, daughter Elizabeth was born in Sandhurst, Berkshire.  By the time of the 1871 Census, the family were in West Plumstead, Kent, which is next to Woolwich, Kent, where they were living in 1881, with George Roberts, John’s father-in-law, living in the household.  So I also found the Woolwich connection. 

Daughter Emily married Henry James Brooker in 1875.  Son Harry migrated to Australia in the 1880s.  Daughter Elizabeth married John Carriss around 1890.  Both daughters stayed in the Woolwich area.

1891 found John and Eliza back in Oxfordshire, this time in Headington, just outside of Oxford with 6 year old Frederick Marriott, possibly a relative, living with them.  Eliza’s father had lived in Headington in 1890.  Another ten years later, John, Eliza and Frederick were back in Woolwich.  I think they stayed as John was still there in 1911, as a widower, Eliza having died in 1904, living with his daughter Elizabeth and her family.

I am not sure what took the Smith’s all over southern England but I suspect it was John’s work as a carpenter and joiner.

John Smith died in 1913.  He was 80 years old, a good age at the time but not unusual for his family.

I am pleased that I was able to track the movements of the Smith family and show that such a common name doesn’t make research impossible.


Notes on lineage: Me > Mum > Daphne Madge Smith > John Henry Smith > Harry Smith > John Smith



*Also Ellston, Elstone and other variations.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Victorian Tragedy – part 3 of 3

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

This tragic family story ends, or perhaps starts, with Jonathan Hardy, father of Rebecca Hardy and grandfather of Mary Ann Simmonds.  Strictly speaking, some of this story pre-dates the Victorian Era but it is the Victorian writers Dickens, Hardy and the Brontes who wrote such tragic stories.

Jonathan Hardy was born 8 November 1807 and baptised 24 November 1807, in Upper Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast, the son of William Hardy, a shoemaker, and Mary Chapman. Jonathan was the oldest of at least 5 children and the only son I have found.  His siblings were all baptised in Norwich and I don’t know why his parents were in Upper Sheringham in 1807.

I have not yet found a record of an apprenticeship but Jonathan Hardy was probably apprenticed to a glazier sometime around 1822, when he was fourteen.

In January 1828, Jonathan Hardy was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment larceny, having stotlen a silk scarf from a Mr Joseph Engall of St Augustine’s, Norwich.

In 1830, Jonathan’s daughter Rebecca Hardy was baptised in Norwich and the record indicates that he was a glazier. I have not yet found a record of his marriage to Mary Carr, Rebecca’s mother.  Mary and Rebecca seem to have gone to Whissonset, Norfolk, to stay with Mary’s parents (see my previous post), while Jonathan stayed in Norwich.

On 21 October 1835, Jonathan Hardy was convicted of stealing a glazier’s diamond and sentenced to 7 years transportation.  Glaziers use industrial grade diamonds to cut glass.  After spending sometime on the Leviathan docked in Portsmouth, Jonathan was transferred to the Moffat and sailed to Sydney on 5 May 1836.

Convict indents from the 1830s contain a wealth of information.  Jonathan Hardy, age 29, could read and write.  He was protestant, married with one child and a glazier and painter.  He was 5ft 4.5 inches, so not tall.  His complexion was dark ruddy, hair was dark brown, eyes dark hazel and whiskers carroty.  Perhaps this last trait was passed down the generations, as my father had ginger colouring in his beard.  Jonathan had a cocked nose and scars on the left side of his upper lip, the top of his left little finger and on his left hand.  Maybe his scars were from cuts from working with glass? The indent also mentions his previous conviction.  Interestingly, most of the convicts had past convictions, which doesn’t fit with the myth that people were transported for very petty crimes.

In 1841, Jonathan Hardy married Ellen Walsh in Sydney, NSW.  Jonathan and Ellen had at least two children, Rebecca and Elizabeth.  This is not the only example I have come across of living children’s names being re-used, particularly where one parent is different.  Presumably Rebecca was a family name or had some other special meaning to Jonathan.  Both Australian daughters married in 1859, Rebecca to Donald Starchan and Elizabeth to Michael Murray, and were living on the New South Wales Central Coast in the 1860’s.

I haven’t yet found a death record for Ellen but Jonathan married a third time, to Sarah Gafney, 9 April 1860, at St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral Sydney, NSW.  Sarah was an Irish Catholic.  At the time of his marriage, Jonathan was describes and a Painter living at Millers Point.  Jonathan and Sarah had son Jonathan born in 1861. 

In 1863, Jonathan Hardy was listed in the NSW Sands Directory living in Wentworth St, possibly in Parramatta, and working as a glazier and painter.
On Saturday 8 February 1868, Jonathan, his wife Sarah and son Jonathan were visiting their Gosford relatives.  They went out shell collecting and then took a small punt out on the Brisbane Waters.  The boat capsized and all three on board drowned.  The bodies of Jonathan father and son were found the following morning and Sarah a few days later.  They were taken to the house of son-in-law Michael Murray, who lived on the shoreline.  Michael and Donald (Strachan) identified the bodies.  The inquest found that it was an accident. The incident was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald and other newspapers.  And so ends this three part tragedy.

Finally, it is curious that just over a hundred years later, some descendants of Jonathan Hardy migrated to Australia and settled on the NSW Central Coast.


Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > Mary Ann Simmonds (AKA Hardy) > Rebecca Hardy > Jonathan Hardy


Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Victorian Tragedy – part 2 of 3

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.

Researching my ancestor Rebecca Hardy has been like doing a jigsaw puzzle where, first, I had to find the pieces.  I hope I have found the right pieces and put them together correctly.

Following on from the story of Mary Ann Simmonds* in part 1, Rebecca Hardy probably married William Simmonds in 1852, although this is one puzzle piece I haven’t found yet.  William and Rebecca had three daughters born in the Wisbech area of Cambridgeshire, Caroline, Lydia and Susannah.  In the 1861, Census Rebecca, recorded as born in Norwich age 33, and her daughters were living in the Wisbech workhouse in Cambridgeshire.  People ended up in a workhouse when they had no money and no other options.  As stated in Mary Ann’s story, life in work houses was regimented and tough by did provide food, shelter and sometimes work.  William was not living with his family in 1861 and I have yet to find where he was.

By sometime around 1862, the family were all together in Woolwich, Kent, where son Thomas was born, before they moved to Plaistow, Essex.  Rebecca hardy died 18 January 1865, in Plaistow, age 35 years old.  Her causes of death were listed as Jaundice, Partus Prematurus (sic) and Exhaustion, which sounds like complications around a premature birth. I have no record that the child survived.

One other thing to note, as per part 1, the mother’s name on Caroline and Lydia’s birth certificates was given as Rebecca Harding.

So what was Rebecca’s life before she met William Simmonds?  In the 1851 census, Rebecca, recorded as born Norwich aged 22, is listed as being a lodger and concubine living with Ann Taylor, John Briton and William Smith.  Concubine probably indicated living with a man she wasn’t married to, perfectly acceptable in the present, rather than prostitution.  Rebecca had neighbours who were listed as prostitutes in the census.  Based on the order in which her household’s names were listed, I assume she was co-habiting with William Smith, which, as explained in Mary AnnSimmonds’ story, means he is probably also my ancestor.

Anyone good at maths might have noticed that the various ages for Rebecca found in different record so far mentioned don’t all add up.  This is quite common in family history research due to a combination of ignorance (if the person didn’t know), lies and administrative errors. Norfolk Parish Registers have recently been digitised, so I searched for baptisms of Rebecca Hardy and Harding for a period between 1825 and 1835 in the vicinity of Norwich.  Luckily for me, there were very candidates and I was able to narrow it down to one possibility.  Rebecca Hardy was born 12 February 1830 and baptised 27 February 1830, in Norwich St James with Pockthorpe, the daughter of Jonathan Hardy, a glazier and Mary “late” Carr**.

The one complication was that I found a burial for a Rebecca Hardy on 30 Oct 1831, at St Miles Coslany, Norwich, infant.  However, looking at this register infant seems to indicate under one and children aged 1 or older had their age listed.

I had not been able to find my Rebecca Hardy in the 1841 census.  As I couldn’t find a marriage for her parents, I decided to look for a Rebecca Carr instead.  I found Rebecca Carr aged 9, in Whissonset, Norfolk, living with Jonathan and Mary Carr** and some other children.  Jonathan Carr was a Farmer and my guess is that the three minors in the household were all grandchildren.

Having found Rebecca, I then needed to locate Mary Carr.  As for Jonathan Hardy, his story will be told in part 3, except to say that an 1836 record indicates he was married with one child and he was no longer in a position to take care of his family.  Mary Carr, age 22, was buried 24 December 1834 in Whissonset.  I also found burials for Jonathan Carr on 20 November 1845, and Mary Carr on 7 November 1846, both in Whissonset.  This would have left Rebecca an under-aged orphan, so I thought it was likely that she would have ended up in a workhouse.

By some piece of luck, I found an index of Gressenhall Workhouse inmates on a Norfolk Museum website.  Rebecca Hardy of Whissonset was on the list as being “out” or discharged in January 1849.  It also made two references to the Guardians minute books, which happen to be available to browse on Ancestry.com.  On 28 February 1848, Rebecca was brought before the board charged with refractory behaviour, which meant insubordination or violence.
  
She was punished with solitary confinement and to be kept on a bread and water diet for two days the following week.  Then on 22 January 1849, Rebecca Hardy was allowed a sum of 2 pounds on going into service of Mr Stammers of Gressenhall for 12 months.  Presumably after completing her 12 months service, Rebecca made her way to King’s Lynn where she was living in 1851.

While I have found and put together some of the puzzle pieces, there is still more to find.


*I have stuck with one spelling variation for names in this story so as to not confuse the reader, however in the original records I have come across other variants of several names.

**Both Mary Carr’s are listed in some records as Mary Ann, presumably namesakes of Mary Ann Simmonds.



Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > Mary Ann Simmonds (AKA Hardy) > Rebecca Hardy


Monday, 28 March 2016

Victorian Tragedy – part 1 of 3

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” is the opening line of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and I think this holds true for family history.  It is more often the sad and bad stories that left records and, I think, make the most interesting reading.  Happy families who lived contentedly in one location for generations didn’t always leave much trace of their lives.  This is not a story of a happy family.

I discovered my ancestor Mary Ann Simmonds* early on in my research but I have only very recently uncovered the full story of her family, which I have decided to cover in three blog entries.  She is of particular interest to me as she was the last ancestor of her generation where I couldn’t find both parents.

Years before the days of digitised records, when the 1881 Census index was published on microfiche, I found a Mary Ann Elliston living with her husband and children in West Ham.  It said she was 24, so born around 1856, and from Lynn, Norfolk.  I rightly assumed that Lynn was King’s Lynn.  Also in the house was her father William Simmonds, born in Lincoln; extended family members in census records are always an exciting find.  However, it took me a while to discover the red herrings.

I was not able to find a likely birth for Mary Ann around 1856 in the registry office indexes.  I did discover that Simmonds is a challenging name to research because of the many spelling variations – y instead of I, an optional d and varied number of m’s.  Also, indexers sometimes transcribe capital S’s as L.

Mary Ann Simmonds married George Elliston 1 February 1874 in West Ham, Essex.  The marriage certificate said she was of full age, which did not fit with the 1881 census index, and listed her father as William Simmonds, which did.

I resolved the issue of Mary Ann’s age after careful checking of the original 1881 census record and by getting a copy of her death certificate.  Mary Ann died 7 Feb 1885 from small pox, aged only about 35, leaving 3 young children, Alice (my great grandmother), George and Walter.  Small pox vaccination was made compulsory in the UK in 1853 for new born children, so Mary Ann had missed out on this by just a couple of years.

Confirming Mary Ann’s age didn’t help me with locating a birth record.
My next step was to search other censuses for Mary Ann and her family.  I haven’t found her in the 1871 census.  I assume she was working as a servant and that the age and place of birth place given were incorrect.  I have come across a few possibilities.  I did find William Simmonds*, a widower from Upwell, Norfolk, living with children Caroline, Lydia, Susanna and Thomas, all younger than Mary Ann.

I was easily able to locate birth certificates for Caroline and Lydia, thanks to their less common names.  The certificates both give their mother’s name as Rebecca Harding.  I have not yet found a marriage certificate for William Simmonds and Rebecca Harding (or any other variation of their names).

It took some imaginative searches, making good use of wildcards and filters, to find Rebecca and her daughters in the 1861 census.  They are listed by their initials only, living in the Wisbech workhouse in Cambridgeshire and the surname indexed as Semmons, although I think it looks like Simmons in the original record.  Mary Ann’s place of birth was given as King’s Lynn.  Wisbech poor law union covered the Norfolk parishes of Upwell and Outwell, the other Simmonds children were born.  A workhouse was where people went when they had no money and no other options.  Life in work houses was regimented and tough by did provide food, shelter and sometimes work.  I have not yet found William Simmonds in the 1861 census.  It is possible that William had moved away to find work, leaving his family in the workhouse until he could support them.  This seems likely given that son/brother Thomas was born around 1862 in Woolwich, Kent.

Some more inventive searching led me to a Rebecca Hardy living in King’s Lynn in 1851.  I have not identified William Simmonds.  I will cover the details of Rebecca’s story in part 2, however the key points from the 1851 census for this story are:
  • It was taken on 30 March.
  • The household lists Ann Taylor as head with John Briton, William Smith and Rebecca Hardy as lodgers, listed in that order.
  • Ann and Rebecca are listed as Concubines.  As far as I can work out, that may have just meant they were living with men they were not married to.  They had neighbours who were listed as prostitutes…

I now knew that Mary Ann must have been born sometime between 30 March 1851 and mid-1852, as her sister Caroline was born in July 1853.  Wondering if Mary Ann might have been illegitimate, I searched for a Hardy or Harding birth certificate.  Mary Ann Hardy was born 7 December 1851 in the Union House, St Margaret’s King Lynn (a workhouse).  As well as finding a birth certificate, I also found a record of the birth in the Norfolk poor law records on Ancestry.com.  Single women often ended up at workhouse hospitals for their lying in (i.e. labour). Readers who are good at maths and biology might have worked out  that Mary Ann was born roughly 9 months after the 1851 census was taken.  This led me to the conclusion that William Smith is the most likely candidate to be her biological father.  Given that Mary Ann was known by her step father’s surname and he lived with her family later in life rather than with any of his younger children, I wonder if Mary Ann had any idea of the circumstances surrounding her birth.

In spite of her difficult early years, my hope is that Mary Ann found happiness during her marriage.



*I have stuck with one spelling variation for names in this story so as to not confuse the reader, however in the original records I have come across other variants of several names.  I have also referred to my ancestor as Mary Ann Simmonds, rather than Hardy, as that is the name she was mostly known by.


Notes on Lineage: Me > Dad > John Edward Blake > Alice Mary Elliston > Mary Ann Simmonds (AKA Hardy)

Monday, 14 March 2016

Common Names

My ancestor Robert Pearson spent much of his life living on his farm in the parish of Kirkland near Penrith, Cumberland, at the base of Cross Fell, the highest peak in the north Pennies.  The area is renowned for thick fogs and the Helm Wind, which makes a shrieking noise and is the only named wind in England.  Thanks to Google street view, I did a virtual tour of Kirkland and I suspect the area has changed little in hundreds of years.  The church appears to be in a field in the middle of no-where and there are a few old farm houses in nearby.  It looks like something out of Wuthering Heights.  But was Robert Pearson’s life lonely and remote?  I think not.  He had 13 children.

Robert Pearson was born about 1766, possibly the son of William Pearson and Sarah Monkhouse who was baptised 24 August 1766 at St Michael’s Appleby in Westmoreland.  I need to do more research to confirm this.  There are several other possible Robert Pearson’s baptised in the area around that time.

My first certain record of Robert is his marriage to Anne Blenkinsop*on 9 August 1793, in the parish of Kirkland near Penrith in what was then Cumberland.  Their first child, John was born early in 1796 and their last child, my ancestor Jane, was born in 1821.  They had five sons and eight daughters.  At least one of the daughters died young, I am not sure about what happened to many of the others; Pearson is a common name and so challenging to research.  Most of the children had common given names too, including an Eliza and an Elizabeth, both living with their parents in 1841.  One daughter had a less common name, Tamar, which might be a helpful clue for further research.  A John Pearson married Tamar Braithwait in 1724, in Kirkland. Also of interested ins their daughter Frances, as this name was passed down the family, as can be seen from the lineage outlined below.

As mentioned, Robert was a farmer.  On his death certificate he was described as a Yeoman, which suggests he owned land rather than leased it.  I don’t know what he farmed but his third son, Joseph Pearson, seems to have inherited the farm.  The 1851 and 1861 censuses say that Joseph was a farmer of 57 acres.

By 1841, Robert Pearson and Ann seem to have retired to Newbiggin, near Dacre, on the other side of Penrith to Kirkland, although the census still lists him as a farmer.  Just to complicate matters, Newbiggin is also the name of a Westmorland parish next to Kirkland.  There are several Newbiggin’s in the area, so it is necessary to be extra careful to make sure I am researching in the right location.

Robert Pearson died 11 December 1845 of natural decay.  His age was given as 80, so my guess is that natural decay is another term for old age.

Robert left a will, but I have not yet obtained a copy of it.  Maybe it will fill in some gaps.  Researching this family is certainly a challenge given the common names.


*or Blenkinship.  There are a lot of variant spellings for this surname.



Notes on lineage: Me > Dad > Helen Frances Ruth Akeroyd > Percy Tomlinson Akeroyd > Frances Elizabeth Tomlinson > Jane Pearson > Robert Pearson