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Joseph Asher was born around 1790 in Barrow upon Trent in Derbyshire, and baptised on 7 March of that year in Swarkestone, Derbyshire.  You can see below that Barrow upon Trent (or Barrow on Trent) is just to the north of Coalville and Ibstock where the family settled in later years.


A quiet village, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has been around for a long time. The church of St Wilfred dates from the 13th century.  I can’t find much more about it. I assume it was an agricultural area.

Joseph was the son of Joseph Asher and Elizabeth Potter. He had two brothers and three sisters that I know of – William, Sarah, John, Ann, and Martha, who all lived to adulthood.

Joseph married Sarah Heap (daughter of Edward and Elizabeth of Smisby, Derbyshire) on 24 October 1811 in Netherseal, Derbyshire, to the south-west.

Their first son, Joseph (there are generations of Josephs), was baptised in Smisby on 12 December 1813. I found a daughter, Elizabeth, baptised to Joseph and Sarah in Smisby on 18 October 1812. Another daughter, Mary, was born in around 1815 in Smisby, baptised on either the 17 or 19 September. Then Hannah was baptised on 4 October 1819 in Measham, Derbyshire.  Thomas was then born in 1823 in Ibstock and the last apparent child of the marriage, John William, was baptised on 15 May 1826 in Measham.

Sadly, Sarah must have died sometime after John’s birth in 1826 and before 1832, when Joseph married widow, Mary Kirby (née Thomas), in December of that year. I have not been able to find a death record for Sarah. Mary had four children from her marriage to Richard Kirby (although one died as a baby).  Together Joseph and Mary had two more children – daughters Eliza in 1832 and Jane (the name of Mary’s deceased infant) in 1834. The youngest child of Mary’s first marriage, Caroline, was listed with the young family in the 1841 census. Joseph was listed as an agricultural labourer, but by 1847 he was a farm bailiff at Ibstock colliery.


Derby Mercury, 29 September 1847

In 1851, Joseph, Mary and Jane were living next door to Joseph’s son, Thomas and his family. Joseph was still a farm bailiff, while his son was a waggoner at the Ibstock colliery.

Joseph worked until his untimely death at the colliery in 1859.


Leicester Chronicle, 6 August 1859


Leicester Mercury, 6 August 1859


Sources: wikipedia; familysearch; findmypast; Google;; British newspaper archive


Samaria Johnson was born about 1827, but baptised on 23 September 1832 in Ibstock, Leicestershire. She was the second daughter of William Johnson and Lydia Hall.  Samaria was one of nine children. I always thought that Samaria was an interesting name and it seemed strange combined with the common name of Johnson. Researching into her family, equally interesting names emerged such as Selina, Reuben and German, likely Jewish in origin. Her other siblings had the more common names of William, Samuel, Mary Ann, Ellen, and Eliza. Is there a Jewish connection? Samaria’s parents were both born in Leicestershire.

In 1841 the family of seven were living at Deacon’s Lane in Ibstock. Samaria’s older sister, Mary Ann, had died the same year she was born. Her father was a sawyer.

Samaria was pregnant when she married Thomas Asher on 5 February 1845 in Ibstock. She gave birth to John on 15 June 1845. A daughter, Louisa, was born between October and December in 1848. The next son, Thomas, was born on 28 February 1851. The family were listed in the 1851 census in Ibstock. Thomas senior worked at the colliery.


A son, William, was born between July and September, 1853, in Ibstock, then another, Samuel, between October and December, 1855, in Coalville. The last child, as far as I know, was Selina, born between July and September in 1858, in Coalville. As mentioned before, Louisa was not included in the 1861 census and I have been unable to find her, although she grew to adulthood and married.


Samaria did live to see one of her children marry, and became a grandmother. John married in 1864 and had twins in 1869 (having lost a baby girl).  She missed seeing Louisa married later in the year 1870.

Samaria (or “Mary”) died on 31 March 1870 at Church Coppenhall, Cheshire. Her age at death was given as 47 (which would mean a birth year of 1823), but according to census returns her birth year was 1827, which meant she was just 43 years old. She died of valvular disease of the heart and apoplexy.  She missed out on seeing the rest of her children get married, and on meeting her many grandchildren:

Louisa married William Turner in Cheshire and had five children.

William married Emma Guildford in 1875 in Staffordshire. They had nine children.

Selina married Thomas Snelson in 1877 in Cheshire.

Samuel married Lavinia Hall at the beginning of 1878 in Cheshire. They had four children.

Thomas married Elizabeth Gower in June of 1878 in Kent. They had a whopping 11 children, one of whom, sadly, died in Gallipoli in 1916.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; family archives;; Ibstock Historical Society


Thomas Asher was born in about 1823 and christened on 12 October 1823 in Ibstock, Leicestershire. His parents were Joseph Asher and Sarah Heap. He had two brothers and two sisters, and two half-sisters from his father’s second marriage to Mary Thomas.

In the census of 1841 Thomas was 18 and at the colliery at Ibstock. The first coal shaft was sunk in Ibstock by William Thirby in 1825. In the beginning of the 1830s the colliery also began making bricks. In April 1846, the colliery was auctioned off. I thought the advertisement in the Aris’s Birmingham Gazette in March 1846 was quite interesting.

TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by B. PAYNE, subject to such conditions of sale as will be then produced, on Thursday the 2d day of April, 1846, at the Queen’s Hotel, adjoining the Railway Station, Birmingham, at two o’clock – all that valuable COLLIERY, in full working, called THE IBSTOCK COLLIERY, including an excellent Pumping Engine, with cylinder of 64 inches diameter, three Boilers, and 156 yards of Pump Trees. Clack-doors, Rods, and Iron-work complete [….]
And also 98 Acres of excellent Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land, in fine condition with a Farm House in the centre, Barns, Stables, Sheds, and all the customary Buildings, in complete repair, situate at Ibstock aforesaid, contiguous to and now occupied in conjunction with the above Colliery.
The Colliery has been partially opened about twenty years, but has only been in full work for about ten years. The Estate contains several Seams or Beds of excellent Coal, the principal of which, so far as has yet been ascertained, are as follow: – the Five-feet or Top Seam, extending under 53 Acres, of which about 32 Acres have been worked out, and the Eight-feet or Bottom Seam, under 116 Acres of which about 23 Acres have been exhausted.
There is an abundance of Fire Clay, which may be turned to great advantage, and a good supply of Brick Clay, with a Brick-yard, Kiln, large Shed, &c. for its manufacture, now in full work.
A Branch Railway, of about a mile and a half in length, belongs to the Colliery Estate, and connects the same with the Leicester and Swannington Railway, at a distance of about eleven miles from Leicester, thus affording, in addition to the Home Trade, a ready market, with a priority in distance over other Collieries, for disposing of the excellent Coal at a moderate but remunerating price.
There are various Cottages and other Buildings and conveniences on the Estate, not only for the occupation of the Farm, but also for Colliery purposes, including new Offices and Store-room, capital Blacksmiths’ and Carpenters’ Shops.
>The Estate is tithe-free, with the exception of about 40 Acres, which pay a modus of £1.7s.6d a year.
The neighbourhood of Ibstock is thickly populated and wealthy, and the extensions of the Midland Railways now in contemplation will afford a new and very large market for the Coal towards Rugby and Northampton and other places, in addition to the present trade in the neighbourhood, and to the town of Leicester.
The Coal is particularly adapted for the working of steam engines, as it possesses great powers of generating steam.

Apparently the company went through several changes of ownership until 1875 when it was purchased by the Thomson family of mine owners.

But back to Thomas. He married Samaria Johnson on 5 February 1845 in Ibstock.  Samaria, it seemed, was already pregnant and gave birth in June to her first son, John. In 1848 they had a girl, Louisa, and then in 1851, a boy, Thomas.  All were listed in the 1851 census in Ibstock, and Thomas was a waggoner at the colliery (he pushed the underground tubs), age 28.

The couple had two more sons, William and Samuel, in 1853 and 1856, and then another daughter, Selina, in 1858.

At some stage the family moved to Hugglescote, just south of Coalville, not far to the northeast of Ibstock, and still part of the parish of Ibstock.


They were living there at the time of the 1861 census and Thomas was listed as a collier. All the children are listed except for Louisa, who I have been unable to find. (According to another researcher, she married in 1870, but I’ve been unable to find confirmation.)

Sometime between 1861 and 1870, the family moved to Cheshire to Monks or Church Coppenhall. “Monks Coppenhall was a township in Coppenhall ancient parish, Nantwich hundred (SJ 7056), which became a civil parish in 1866, and in 1877 became the Borough of Crewe.” (from Genuki)


Thomas’ wife, Samaria, died in March 1870 at Church Coppenhall. Between April and June that same year, Thomas married Catherine Garner! He didn’t waste any time. I don’t have the details about the marriage, so don’t know if Catherine was also widowed. According to the 1871 census she was born in Willaston, Cheshire in about 1820.  So, in the census for 1871, Thomas was a stationary engine driver (not a train engine driver). Living with him and Catherine were Thomas’ two younger children, Samuel and Selina, both teenagers. Samuel was a forger (eg blacksmith) at iron works (and something illegible in brackets, possibly a shortened form of apprentice).

Something happened to Catherine within the next seven years. I’ve been unable to find a death record, but Thomas married Jane Harris in 1878. In the 1881 census he was living with her at 61 Flag Lane in Monks Coppenhall, Crewe. Thomas was a labourer at the iron works at age 60. Jane was ten years younger.

Thomas and his wife moved again, to Northampton. In 1891 he and Jane lived at 31 St Peter’s Street in south Northampton. Thomas, at age 71, was working as a railway porter.

Thomas continued living there and working as a railway porter until his death in 1900. He died on 19th February of “senile decay”.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; family archives;; British newspaper archives;  Google maps; wikipedia;; genuki

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.


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.


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.


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.


Northampton Mercury, 28 April 1883

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


… 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,


… (the article is a long one)

and a new lamp.


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


Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 10 July 1886


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


With date typo…

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


John’s sons were part of the entertainment.


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



A “toothsome repast” was taken to farewell John.


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.


South Wales Daily News, 30 November 1894


South Wales Daily News, 24 March 1900

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


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


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.


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


John took part in Empire Day in 1909.


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.


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

He died on 24 March 1932 in Rhyl.


He was 87 – a good age.


Sources: family archives;;; findmypast; British newspaper archive; Welsh newspapers online; probatesearch