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What started me on my family history search was a handwritten family tree which I found in a cupboard in my father’s study.  There were several separate sheets detailing families of the Powells and the Jones’ with extra names such as Bright, Deakin and Bromley.  I loved a puzzle so set to work filling in those gaps.

Over the years, I’ve filled in many of the gaps, while also embarking on searches of other branches of my family.

Today, I was going over what I had on paper in my ringbinder and comparing it to what I had on my online tree and ticking off those I had and making a note to add those that I didn’t have (with searches for confirmation).

The very first note was to do with the Bright family, to check that I had Richard Bright and Thomas Bright, sons of Thomas and Martha.  Martha was a Powell.  Here is the tree as I inherited it.

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You can see that as it stands, it wasn’t very useful.  Some time ago I discovered that the question mark who married a Bright was Martha Powell.  She married Thomas Bright in 1849 at Church Pulverbatch in Shropshire.  From a census return I was able to add the names of five children: Martha, George, Thomas, Richard and Ada.  You can see that the only two names my grandmother had were a Patty and a John, neither of which I had found.

Anyway, I did have those two sons included (Richard was Richard Powell Bright, just to be certain it was the right one).  But I wanted to see if I could get the information I had to tarry with the handwritten tree.  So began a day of piecing together the puzzle.

I’d found three sons and two daughters.  I figured one of the daughters must have married a Lee.  It was either Martha or Ada.  I found Ada Charlotte Bright marrying Arthur Lea in 1893.  I also found the birth of Cecil Bright Lea in 1904.  Tick.

I searched for Richard Powell Bright (a farmer) and discovered that he lived at Guilden Down (not Gilded), Clun, Shropshire, and died in 1902, so that accounted for another child on the handwritten tree.  He married Elizabeth (Hamar? I don’t trust the transcript) and they seemed to have had six children including an Ada M (which could be Margaret, shortened to Peggy).  There were four sons, so I don’t know which of them stuttered.

That left the chemist in London, Patty, and John in Broome.

I searched for George Gough Bright and discovered he was a farmer, so he wasn’t the chemist.  I then turned to Thomas and found him in the 1891 census: a dispensing chemist in Middlesex.  Hallelujah!  Yes!

That left Patty and John.  Patty is usually short for Patrick or Patricia, etc, but that didn’t fit.  Then by some miracle I found a forum which mentioned someone by the name of Martha being called Patty.  Apparently “Pattern” is a name used for Martha in Shropshire!  Well that accounted for Patty – it must have been Martha.

That just left John in Broome.  George was the only one left.  He was a farmer, but mostly near Clun, quite some distance from Broome to the south.  However, in 1891 he was in North Lydbury which is just the west of Broome.  Also, he doesn’t appear to have married.  Could he be John?  Just to make it seem more likely, in one of the censuses he is listed as George Jaes (a transcription error for James or Jas?).   James and John are sometimes interchangeable.  This seemed the likely answer.

So a long afternoon solving (some of) the puzzle of one little branch of my grandmother’s tree.  And I haven’t even tackled the rest of the page of notes to tarry my physical records with the online tree.  Plenty still to do.

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Catherine Jones was born on 27 September 1834 in Church Pulverbatch, Shropshire.  She was the daughter of Richard Jones, farmer, and Anne Phillips.  She was possibly the youngest of 13 or 14 children, although my grandmother’s original handwritten tree says 15 children (without listing them) so I appear to have one more to find.

Church Pulverbatch used to be a market town but is now only a small village.  Occasionally the records say Pulverbatch which I found a little confusing, but apparently they are two villages less than half a mile apart.

Catherine wasn’t baptised until 12 March 1840, along with her sister, Frances, born in 1833.  In 1841, Catherine and four siblings and parents were living at Castle Place in the parish of Church Pulverbatch.  Four servants were also listed, along with Catherine’s maternal uncle.

In 1851, Catherine, and her sister, Sarah, were visiting their older sister, Elizabeth, who was living with her new husband, Thomas Mansell, and Elizabeth’s three daughters from a previous marriage, at Hopton Castle to the south of Shropshire.  Thomas Mansell was also a farmer.

Catherine married Richard Powell, a farmer’s son, on 15 April 1858 in Church Pulverbatch.  I assume they married in St Edith’s church.

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A card from the family archives

They continued to live in Church Pulverbatch until 1864.  During that time Catherine gave birth to four children: Fanny Elizabeth in 1859; Annie Marie in 1860; Henry Jones in 1861; and Richard Phillips in 1863.  In 1861 they were living at Walleybourne farm in Pulverbatch, but in 1864 or thereabouts, moved to Condover.

Catherine had four more children: Kate born in 1864; John Phillips in 1866; Emilie in 1868; and Francis Edward in 1870.  Unfortunately for the family, Richard (then an innkeeper) died in September 1870, leaving Catherine with eight children under 12 years of age.  Catherine continued to run the Condover Arms Inn, and is listed in the 1871 census, as the innkeeper, with her eight children.

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The worthy hostess, Mrs Powell

What an amazing and tenacious woman she must have been.

By the 1881 census, however, the family had moved to Rhyl in North Wales.  Catherine was a lodginghouse keeper at 3 Aquarium Street, but with only four children listed.

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Google streetview of Aquarium Street from no. 3?

Where were the other four?  Henry, age 19, was a footman at Perry Hall in Birmingham.  He was working for ACG Calthorpe, Sheriff of Staffordshire, and family.

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Perry Hall, 1907 (demolished in 1931)

Richard, age 18, was lodging at Minsterley, Shropshire and was a clerk at a railway station.  Kate, age 16, was visiting her aunt, Frances Wilkes, wife of a farmer, in Uffington, Shropshire.  Emilie, sadly, was at the Wolverhampton Orphan Asylum at the age of 13.

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Hopefully it was just a temporary measure.  Emilie died just two years later, thankfully not at the asylum.  She had died at her brother, John’s, place in Abbey Street in Rhyl.  She had chronic Bright’s disease (a kidney disease) and pthsisis (pulmonary tuberculosis, or consumption).  So sad.

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Card from family archives

In 1889, Catherine’s son, Richard, married Henrietta Goodwin in Rhyl.  In 1891 Catherine was a lodginghouse keeper at 30 Abbey Street in Rhyl, living with her eldest daughter, Fanny, and (now) youngest, Kate.  Fanny married Alfred Miller later that year.

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Folded card from family archives

John married Charlotte Bromley just after the census in April 1891.  Kate married William Asher in Rhyl on 1 September in 1892.  Sadly, her younger brother, Francis, died on 26 December in Rhyl.  He died of tuberculosis.

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Card from family archives

Henry, meanwhile, had been promoted to butler at Perry Hall.

In 1900 John’s wife, Charlotte died.  He married Fanny Bromley in 1908.  She was Charlotte’s second cousin.  The couple sailed to Manitoba, Canada and their son was born there, in 1908.  They were still there in 1911.

In 1901 Catherine was visiting Kate and her family of three girls in Shrewsbury.  In 1911 she was living with her son, Richard, and his wife and daughter, along with a boarder, in Manchester.  Richard was an unemployed bookkeeper and his wife a machinist.

Catherine died on 21 November 1915 at the age of 81 in Shropshire, a good age.  Unfortunately, my younger self didn’t enter the source of this information, but a search on the registers does confirm the date of the last quarter of 1915.  Another certificate to order.

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Catherine Jones 1834-1915

 

Sources: family archives; genuki.org.uk; wikipedia; wikimedia commons; British newspaper archives; Google; birminghamimages.org.uk; childrenshomes.org.uk

Richard Powell was born in 1830 in Lydham, Shropshire.  He was baptised on 27 June that year.  He was the son of Richard Powell, a farmer, and Martha Harris.  He was one of nine children (at least two of whom died in infancy).  His only brother, who was born five years before him, was also named Richard but died that same year (1825).

Lydham is a small village in the south-western part of Shropshire, right near the border with Wales.  It must be a fairly insignificant place as I can’t find much information about it, although it appears to be quite ancient, mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1087 as having a priest, a church, and a mill.  Perhaps not much has changed.

In 1841, Richard was living with his four siblings and parents in Lydham (no specific address).  By 1851 the family had moved to Walleybourne in the parish of Wrentnall near Church Pulverbatch, Shropshire.  Richard’s father was a farmer of 250 acres.

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A search for Walleybourne just results in websites about bronze age artifacts from “the Walleybourne” (is it a valley, a river?) and a description of Walleybourne farmhouse, a listed building (with no photograph).  Did the family live there?

Richard was about 19 years old during the 1851 census, and simply listed as a farmer’s son.  Presumably he helped out.  Seven years later he married Catherine Jones of Church Pulverbatch on 15 April 1858.  He was listed as a farmer of full age.

In 1859 their first child, Fanny, was born, then in 1860 Annie was born.  On census night, 1861, Henry Jones Powell had just been born (one day old).  On the census form his name is written as Richard J.  (Henry’s brother, Richard, wasn’t born until two years later.) I had got Henry’s birth date from a fellow researcher as 9th April.  However, census night in 1861 was on 7th April, so he must’ve been born around 6th April.  Just a little confusing there.

In 1861 Richard was a farmer of 212 acres at Walleybourne, taking over most of his father’s farm.  He was employing two men and three boys.

Richard’s father died in 1862.  Richard junior was born in 1863 in Church Pulverbatch.  Between March of that year and October 1864, the family had moved to Condover.

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For some reason Richard had given up the farm at Church Pulverbatch.

I’m not sure what he did in Condover up until 1870.  Unfortunately, no mention is made of Richard in newspapers in Condover between 1864 and 1870. His wife, Catherine, gave birth to four more children: Kate, John, Emily and Francis.

In January of 1870, Elizabeth Wood, landlady of the Condover Arms Inn died, and I think Richard took over at that time.  There were quite a number of auctions held at the Condover Arms but no mention of Richard between January and his sudden and early death on 10th September at the age of 40.  Such a short life.  He died of “dropsy”, an old word for oedema which is fluid retention, which seems an unlikely cause of death, but I guess it affected his heart, or he had heart problems to begin with.  His death certificate said he died at the Condover Arms and was the innkeeper.  I have found no death notice or probate for him.  His young son, Francis, was just one month old.

I turn to Catherine in the next post.

Sources: “Domesday Reloaded” BBC; placenames.org.uk; Google; findmypast; British newspaper archive; family archives

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The wife of John Asher, Elizabeth Darlington, is not able to be traced through newspaper articles, so I have far less information on her life.

Elizabeth Darlington was born in Haslington, Cheshire on 25 October 1843.  She was the daughter of Matthew Darlington and Elizabeth Mallam, one of nine children including five boys.  Her father was a shoemaker.  In the 1851 census she, and five siblings, lived with Matthew and Elizabeth in Haslington but there is no address given.

Haslington is a small village to the east of Crewe.  It was first mentioned, as Hesinglinton, in 1256 (possibly meaning “enclosure among hazel trees”).  In 1851 the population stood at 1153.  Apparently, Haslington was pillaged by royalist troops during the Civil War, around 1643.

In 1861, Elizabeth, at age 18, was a servant at Haslington Hall, in the employ of Joseph Woolf (1799-1865) and his sister, Ann.  Joseph was a farmer of 500 acres employing 12 labourers and three boys (as well as the house staff).

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Haslington Hall

Interestingly, another servant, Esther Plant, went on to marry Elizabeth’s brother, Thomas.

A pouch belonging to Joseph Woolf went on sale recently.

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Fascinating.  I wonder if it was sold and who bought it.

Elizabeth was pregnant when she married John Asher, a postal clerk, on 5 September 1864 at Haslington.  They married in the district’s chapel, which I assume is St Matthew’s in Haslington, or was it St Bertoline in Barthomley, which apparently also served Haslington.  Since the former became the district church for Haslington in 1860, I’ll assume it was that one.  Not a particularly attractive church in my opinion.

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The couple moved to Worcester, where John had been living and working.  Sadly, Elizabeth’s firstborn, a girl named Elizabeth, died shortly after being born (three months after the wedding).  The couple were living in Claines in Worcestershire when Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys on 20 August 1869.  Claines is a small village just to the north of Worcester.  They lived there until 1872 when John was promoted to a position in Northampton and moved to 19 Somerset Street in Northampton.

Elizabeth fell pregnant again in 1883 at the age of 40, some 14 years after the birth of the twins.  Sadly, the boy, named Frank, died shortly after the birth.

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Rhyl Advertiser, 9 June 1883

The family moved to Rhyl, North Wales, when John was made postmaster there.  The family contributed to community activities in Rhyl, including music and acting for the sons.

John got another promotion in 1890, replacing the postmaster in Camarthen, so Elizabeth, of course, joined him.  Her sons stayed on in Rhyl.  John married Amy Vaughan, fellow entertainer and daughter of a bathing machine proprietor, in 1894.  William married Kate Powell in 1892.

John’s health was failing so he retired in 1903 and the couple returned to Rhyl.  By this time, William and his wife had moved to Shrewsbury.

I have no more information on Elizabeth’s life.  She died on 7 January 1927 in Rhyl, age 83.

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Sources: wikipedia; findmypast; cheshirenow.co.uk; Welsh newspapers online; family archives

So, I was checking baptism records of the siblings of Catherine Jones and noticed I didn’t have the marriage of her sister Elizabeth to Thomas Mansell.  Also there were no children listed.  I had searched for the marriage before, I think, and not found any.

I checked the census record for 1851 in which Catherine is visiting her sister.  Three daughters of Elizabeth (Mansell) were listed but with the surname of Smith.  Aha!  Had she married a Mr Smith first?  Smith and Jones are common names so I wasn’t sure when or where the marriage could’ve taken place.  I searched for the birth or baptism of the eldest daughter and found her parents were Elizabeth and Samuel Smith in Hopton Castle, Shropshire.  So I then narrowed the search of the marriage and estimated when it could’ve taken place.  I finally found her marriage to Samuel Steedman Smith, and to confirm it, found a notice in the newspaper. He had obviously died some time before the 1851 census in order for her to remarry.  I found his death for 1849, so that meant she must’ve married Thomas Mansell between 1849 and 1851.  I finally found the registration for 1851!  Thomas also died early – before the 1861 census.

Another successful search resulted in a photo and illustration.  I hadn’t noticed before, or hadn’t specifically tried it, but Welsh newspapers online had an illustration search.  I didn’t expect any results but was surprised to find a line drawing of John Asher and, even better, a photograph of his son, John Darlington Asher.  Fantastic.  It’s an amazing feeling to finally see what a distant ancestor looked like.

Returning to the Asher family…

John Asher was born on 15th June 1845 at Ibstock in Leicestershire, son of Thomas Asher and Samaria Johnson.  The birth certificate doesn’t give an address.  Thomas, a labourer, signed the certificate with an X.

Ibstock is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ibbestoche (possibly meaning Ibba’s stockade).  It is in northwest Leicestershire, north-west of Leicester, close to the middle of England.  In 1846 the small, agricultural, village had a population of 1138.

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John was the eldest of five siblings, including two sisters.

In 1851 the family of five were living in Ibstock (no address) next door to John’s grandfather, Joseph Asher.  John’s father was a waggoner at a colliery.

By 1861 the family had moved to nearby Coalville, Hugglescote.  Coalville, as you can guess, was a former coal-mining town developed in the 1820s.  Thomas and John were working as colliers (John was 16).

John must have decided that wasn’t for him and moved to Crewe where he got a job as assistant to the postmaster in 1862.  He became a “stamper” at the Crewe station post office in 1863, then in June 1864 was given a job as a third-class clerk at Worcester.

John met Elizabeth Darlington, who was a couple of years older than him and living in Haslington, Cheshire.  John married Elizabeth on 5th September 1864 at Haslington at the age of 19.  It appears Elizabeth was heavily pregnant as she gave birth to a girl in December, but the child died.

John was promoted to second-class clerk in 1868 at the Worcester post office. He was mentioned in a newspaper article in Worcester in May 1869.

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Three months later, Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys, William and John.

In 1871, the family were living at 2 Bank Street, Claines, Worcestershire, John listed as a class 2 post office clerk.  In 1872 he became chief clerk at Northampton post office.

John Asher founded the United Kingdom Postal and Telegraph Service Benevolent Society in 1875.  It paid out benefits on the death of a post office employee.

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Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 14 February 1885

In the 1881 census, the family were still in Northampton, living at 19 Somerset Street, John still chief clerk.

Then in April 1883, John was promoted to postmaster in Rhyl, a seaside town in North Wales, filling the vacancy caused by the death of the previous postmaster, Mr Thomas.

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Northampton Mercury, 28 April 1883

There was some discussion about the suitability of a postmaster that could not speak Welsh.

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… Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 23 June 1883

As for Rhyl itself, I recommend the Rhyl History Club blog for wonderful information and pictures about the town (eg Rhyl streets).

Elizabeth, meanwhile, gave birth to another son in between April and June in 1883, but sadly he died in June.

Rhyl got a new post office,

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… (the article is a long one)

and a new lamp.

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The post office continued to do well under John’s supervision.

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Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 10 July 1886

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Gifts of alcohol to the postmen, however, were not welcome.

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With date typo…

Post office employees had an annual meeting and dinner on Boxing Day, presided over by John.

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John’s sons were part of the entertainment.

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In 1890, the postmaster of Camarthen Crown Post Office, Mr James, resigned to move to Stockport, leaving an opening for John.

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A “toothsome repast” was taken to farewell John.

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John’s son’s fiancées were mentioned (Miss K Powell and Miss A Vaughan).

And so, the 1891 census reflects John’s new position, living at “Long Acre Villa” in Camarthen, John listed as head postmaster, where he continued the good work.

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South Wales Daily News, 30 November 1894

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South Wales Daily News, 24 March 1900

John retired in 1903, at the age of 58, due to ill health.

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And a lucky find in the Weekly Mail in 1903 reveals an illustration of the man.

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Weekly Mail, 4 April 1903

After retiring, it appears that John and Elizabeth returned to Rhyl (where their son, John, was still living).  John was involved in an inquest as a witness.

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John and Elizabeth lived in Palace Avenue in a house they named Ibstock, after John’s birthplace.

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John took part in Empire Day in 1909.

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In 1911 John and Elizabeth were living at the Palace Avenue address with a 38-year-old widow acting as servant.

In September, 1914, John and Elizabeth celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

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There is no further newspaper trail for John, even for a death announcement.

He died on 24 March 1932 in Rhyl.

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He was 87 – a good age.

 

Sources: family archives; ibstocklives.wixsite.com/home; oldmapsonline.org; findmypast; British newspaper archive; Welsh newspapers online; probatesearch

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