Friday, January 25, 2013

Some Quaker Roots

Our high school, Wymondham College, was divided into houses, some named after notable figures in history who were associated with Norfolk. One such figure was the Quaker prison reformer Elizabeth Fry (picture above), for whom Fry Hall was named. Fry was born Elizabeth Gurney in Norwich 1780. She and her husband, Joseph Fry, moved to Plashet House, East Ham in what was still rural Essex in the early nineteenth century. Later they moved to Forest Gate. She campaigned tirelessly to improve prison conditions, abolish capital punishment, and alleviate poverty. As well as being a respected public figure, she and her husband also raised 11 children. When she died at Ramsgate, Kent in 1845, the Seamen of the Ramsgate Coast Guard flew their flag at half mast until she was buried at the Friend's burial ground in Barking, Essex. Over a thousand mourners observed a silence as she was interred.

Her homeground in southwest Essex was also the family home of some Blacketers. I have already written of Thomas John Blacketer, who became the mayor of Poplar in 1930. Thomas John's father, Joseph, had died in 1880 before he could figure in a census with his young family. Joseph does, however, appear in censuses with his siblings.

In the 1851 England Census at Harrow Cottages, Stratford:
     Thos Blacketer      Head   Marr  33 Shoemaker         Essex, Stratford
     Martha                  Wife    Marr  30                           Surrey, Guilford
     Joseph                   Son       S      2                            Essex, Stratford
     Thomas                 Son       S       8 mos                    Essex, Stratford

 In the 1861 England Census at 1 Harrow Cottages, Stratford:
     Thomas Blacketter  Head    Mar        43  Carman           Essex, W Ham
     Martha                    Wife     Mar        41                         Guildford, Surrey
     Sarah Ann               Daugr   Unmar    14                         Essex, W Ham
     Joseph                     Son      Unmar    12  Scholar            Essex, W Ham
     Thomas                   Son       Unmar    11 Scholar            Essex, W Ham
     Elizabeth                 Daugr    Unmar     3                          Essex, W Ham
     Elizabeth                 Mother  Widow   75                         Petworth, Sussex

This not only begins to provide evidence of the next generation, but also sent me looking for Sarah Ann in 1851, and I found her staying with  Thomas's parents. It would seem that his father had died between 1851 and 1861, and his mother, Elizabeth, came to stay with his family. Here is the 1851 England Census for 7 Bridge Place, Stratford:
     Joseph Blacketer    Head         Mar       63    Carman           Ratcliffe, Middlesex
     Elizabeth                Wife           Mar       63    Carman Wife  Sussex, Petworth
     John                       Son            U          25    Carman           Essex, Stratford
     Sarah A                  Granddaur U           4                            Essex, Stratford

Back to Thomas and Martha's family. In the 1871 England Census for 76 High Street, Stratford:
     Martha Blacketer   Head    W      50                              Surrey, Gilford
     Joseph                   Son      Unm   22         Carman         Stratford, Essex
     Thomas                  Son     Unm    20         Cow man      Essex, W Ham
     Sarah Ann Kearley Daur     Mar   24                              Essex, W Ham
     Elizabeth                Daur               12                              Essex, W Ham

Thomas had died bewteen 1861 and 1871; Sarah Ann had just married. From BMD Marriage Index, Sarah Ann Blacketer married James Kearly Jun1871 Manchester 8d 480. The marriage certificate shows that James Kearly was a sergeant in the 4th Dragoon Guards. Ten years later, they appear in the census in Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, and James by this time is a Police Constable.

Other vitals are:
     Sarah Ann
          BMD Birth Index        Mar1847 W Ham 12 307
          BMD Marriage           Jun1871 Manchester 8d 480 to James Kearly
          (I have not been able to deduce which BMD Death Index refers to her)
          BMD Birth Index          Sep1848 W Ham 12 282
          BMD Marriage Index   Sep1873 W Ham 4a 8 to Hannah Thurley
          BMD Death Index        Sep1880 Poplar 1c 411 Age:31
          BMD Birth Index          Sep1850 W Ham 12 306
          (An ancestry public member tree has his death in Beachport, Australia, from which I could find:
          Australia Death Index   28 Jul 1928 South Australia 1926-1930 p44 v506
          BMD Birth Index          Sep1858 W Ham 4a 5
          BMD Marriage Index   Sep1881 W Ham 4a 17 to Albert Adolphus R Moor
               They had one child together that I found in a census:
                    Lilian Rose Kathleen Moor
               Albert Adolphus Moor died in 1891.
          BMD Marriage Index   Sep1893 Poplar 1c 812 as Elizabeth Moor to William Albert Hunt
This was at Bromley St Leonard 15 July 1893. In the parish record (which would is the same as the GRO marriage certificate), her father is given as Thomas Blacketer Shoemaker.
          (I have not been able to deduce which BMD Death Index entry refers to her)

As always, from this kind of analysis, I cannot rule out that other children were born and died between censuses. I especially notice the eight years between Thomas's birth Elizabeth's.

For the parents, we have:
     Thomas Blacketer BMD Death    Jun1870 W Ham 4a 10 Age:52
     Martha Blacketer BMD Death   Sep1873 W Ham 4a 2 Age:53
     Thomas Blacketer and Martha Greenfield BMD Marriage Jun1845 W Ham 12 415

Their births, around 1818 and 1820 are before the central registers, so one would need to search parish records to find them. Nothing came from such a search in, but LDS familysearch came up with the following birth registrations (non-conformist records) from the Society of Friends (i.e. Quakers). The Quakers did not baptize infants, but they did keep a record of birth registrations. All these are from the Barking, Essex Meeting, and born to parents Joseph and Elizabeth Blacketer.
     Thomas Blacketer
          Birth 25 December 1817
               (my 3x great grandfather)
     Joseph Blacketer 
          Birth 8 October 1820
             (ancestry public member tree claims that he died 1839;
               his death record is possibly BMD Death Mar1839 W Ham 12 202)
     William Botting Blacketer
          Birth 9 December 1822
             (ancestry public member tree claims that he died 1829)
      John Blacketer Birth 24 December 1825
             (he was at least alive for the 1851 England Census shown above - I haven't looked further)

According to LDS familysearch, the parish records of Christ Church, Spitalfields, Stepney has the marriage of Joseph Blacketer and Elizabeth Botting on 7 April 1817. Browsing the appropriate register in reveals that these pages are missing from their transcript and scans. This is a marriage in an established church. Possibly Joseph and Elizabeth became Quakers soon after they were married. I have no evidence the Blacketers were much involved by the next generation.

LDS family search also records a Christening for a Joseph Blacketer, born 19 September 1787 in Middlesex, and parents named Thomas and Elizabeth, but no other information as to which parish, or whether this is another non-conformist record. This is consistent with, but not necessarily the same Joseph Blacketer who married Elizabeth Botting.

BMD Death Index has Joseph Blacketer Dec1856 W Ham 4a 3 and Elizabeth Blacketer Dec1863 W Ham 4a 6.

So, at least between 1817 and 1825, this Blacketer family were Quakers, living in Stratford, and connected with the Barking Friends Meeting. There is no documentary evidence that the Blacketers ever met Elizabeth Fry. I suspect that to be a non-conformist in the early nineteenth century was something of a commitment, so the family may well have heard her speak. I wonder if her radical social message, transmitted through the family, contributed some part in Thomas John Blacketer's political formation.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Widow Thurley of Loughton

Working back from Hannah Thurley, mother of Thomas John Blacketer, and my 2x great grandmother, I was greatly assisted by prior research on The program links records that others have already attached to the same person, much as retail sites suggest other items bought by customers who had purchased your item. In fact, I have noticed that the search tool tends to lift those linked records above others which are more obvious fits for the search, but haven't been attached yet. Still, it's always worthwhile to cross-check records to be sure they belong to one's own family, and not some distant relatives'.

Hannah Thurley comes across to me as a remarkable woman. Married at about 21 years old, she bore four children in eight years, and was widowed before her last was born. She went on to raise her children as a single mum. Her son, Thomas John, at least repaid some of that loyalty in his reluctance to be married before she died, but she lived to be 87, dying only in 1939. She had lived through a truly remarkable era.

Her married census returns consistently have Loughton, Essex as Hannah's birth. Working the census returns backwards, we have the 1861 England Census for Baldwin Hill, Loughton:
     Rebecca Thurley    Head   Widow    45                                 Bucks, Swanbourne
     Sophia                   Daur    Un           21                                Essex, Ardleigh ) ?
     Harry                     Son     Un           17    Ag Labourer         Essex, Smead   )
     Ned                       Son     Un           14    Ag Labourer         Essex, Loughton
     Martha                   Daur                   11                                Essex, Loughton
     Hannah                  Daur                     9                                 Essex, Loughton
     George William      Son                      6                                 Essex, Loughton
The "?" was added by a census clerk, unable to identify the places names. Later census returns for Sophia has Hornchurch, Essex - later Hardleigh Green - for a birthplace. For Harry this is later given as Smead, Kent, although I have not found this.

Back ten years for the 1851 England Census
     John Thurley           Head   Mar       40   Ag Lab                    Essex, Epping
     Rebecca                 Wife    Mar       36                                  Bucks, Swanbourne
     Sophia                    Daur                 11   Scholar                    Essex, Hornchurch
     Susanna Elisabeth   Daur                   9   Scholar                    Kent, Eaton Bridge
     Harry                     Son                    7    Scholar                    Kent, Smead
     Ned                       Son                    4                                   Essex, Loughton
     Martha                   Daur                  1                                    Essex, Loughton
It looks as though the couple started out closer to London (Hornchurch), moved to Kent for a few years (although I can find neither location), before settling in Loughton. I haven't found a census return for 1841, but Kent or Hornchurch in Essex would be places to start looking.

Extracting the children from these two censuses. Likely BMD Birth Index entries are:
     Sophia Thurley Dec1839 Romford 12 198
     Susanna Thurley Dec1841 Epping 12 85
     Edward Thurley Sep1846 Epping 12 91
     Martha Thurley Sep1849 Epping 12 94
     Hannah Thurley Mar1852 Epping 4a 39
     George William Jun1855 Epping 4a 41
I cannot find a potential birth record for Harry.

Going foward to the 1871 England Census for Baldwin Hill, Loughton has:
     Rebecca Thurley  Head Widow 56                              Buckinghamshire
     Sophia                 Daur   Un       31                              Hornchurch, Essex
     Harry                   Son    Un       27      Gardener          Smead, Kent
     Ned                     Son    Un       24     Ag Lab              Loughton, Essex
     George W            Son   Un       16     Ag Lab               Loughton, Essex
     Edward H Green Grandson        8                                Chigwell, Essex
     Margaret E Green Granddaur     3                                Hackney, Middlesex

Susannah Elizabeth Thurley married Henry Green Dec1860 Epping 4a 53, and Rebecca's grandchildren in this census are their children. By this time Suzanna Green is already a widow, living by herself in Stratford, Essex. This may be a permanent arrangement, since Edward and Margaret Green are still with their grandmother for the 1881 England Census for Pump Hill, Loughton.
     Rebecca Thurley  Head  Widow  65  Charwoman                      Buckinghamshire NK
     Sophia                 Daur   Unm      41  Laundress                         Essex, Hardleigh Green
     Edward               Son     Unm      34  General Labourer              Essex, Loughton
     Martha                Daur    Unm      31 General Servant Domestic Essex, Loughton
     Edward Green    Grandson Unm  18  General Labourer              Essex, Chigwell
     Margaret Green  Granddaur Unm 13  Scholar                             Middlesex, Hackney

And now we find a couple of connections between the Blacketers and this family of Thurleys. The 1881 England Census for Gladstone Road, Nights Cottages, Chigwell, we have:
     Harry Thurley    Head    Mar    37  Gardener        Sury, Kent
     Elizabeth           Wife     Mar     40  Laundress      Fenny, Essex
     Florence A Blacketer Niece       6                        Bow, Middlesex
Florence is the daughter of Harry's sister, Hannah.

The parish records of All Hallows, Bromley, Middlesex have the marriage of George William Thurley and Mary Ann Miller on 13 September 1875. The witnesses to the ceremony were Joseph and Hannah Blacketer, George's brother-in-law and sister. The newly-weds give their address as 163 Campbell Road, to become a familiar street for the Blacketers. This corresponds to BMD Marriage Index Sep1875 Poplar 1c 1097.

This marriage and the Chigwell 1881 census each provide a link between Hannah, the wife of Joseph Blacketer, and Hannah of this Thurley family we have tracked through census returns.

By 1891 England Census for Pump Hill, Loughton we have only:
     Rebecca Thurley  Head  Wid  75 Charwoman          Swanbourne, Buck
     Sophia                 Daur    S     51                             Essex, Hardley Green
     Ned                     Son     S     44 General Labourer  Essex, Loughton
The last column on the census was intended for deaf or dumb, blind, and mental disabilities. For Sophia she is listed as "deformed". The BMD Death Index records: Sophia Thurley Mar1895 Epping 4a 228 Age:55

In the 1901 England Census at Woodberrie Hill, Loughton:
     Edward Thurley   Head  S    54    Epping Forest Labourer     Loughton, Essex

In the 1911 England Census at the same address, Woodberrie Hill, Loughton:
     Ned Thurley      Head      64 Single    General Labourer Epping Forest CL Corpor
                                                                            [?Council Corporation]
     George William  Brother  55 Married  Guard GER Co
                                                                           [Great Eastern Railway Company].
The G.E.R. ran the trains from London through Loughton, which is one of the reasons for the town's growth in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Also, the BMD Death Index has the following:
      Harry Thurley Dec1926 Epping 4a 410 Age:83
      Ned Thurley Jun1928 Epping 4a 465 Age:81
      George William Thurley Dec1936 Essex SW 4a 198 Age:81
The boys all lived into their 80s. I haven't followed Martha and Susanna Gree, both of whom seem to disappear after 1881.

As to the parents, John and Rebecca Thurley, ancestry public member trees have attached BMD Marriage Index Mar1838 Leighton Buzzard 6 105 for Rebecca Herbert and John Thoroly. Leighton Buzzard is just a few miles from Swanbourne, Rebecca's birthplace, and "Thoroly" might just be a phonetic spelling of a rustic-sounding Thurley. The BMD Death Index has Rebecca Thurley Mar1900 Epping 4a 262 Age:82 John Thurley is present for the census in 1851, but had died by 1861. Seven John Thurleys are recorded as dying between 1851 and 1861, three in Essex, three in London, and one in St Ives.

In two generations, we see two working, single mums raise families after their husbands have died. The experience of Hannah Blacketer reflects that of her mother, Rebecca Thurley, who, in addition, may have raised a couple of grandchildren. We also see some of the family connections that make it all possible.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tom Blacketer, Mayor of Poplar

I  am fortunate enough to have recollections of three great grandmothers. The one I remember best was known to me as Great Nan, Mary Ann Peterken, who was by then the widow of Thomas Blacketer. She lived to nearly one hundred years. She died in a residential home, where, I am told, she would regale the youngsters (in their sixties and seventies I presume!) with tales of the reign of good Queen Victoria. It is largely through her that we had much already written down in the 1970s about the children of Octavius Peterken, and a little about the cousins.

The photograph below is a family portrait (gratefully received from my Mum, Barbara Tilley) of the Blacketer family, with my Nan, Elsie (born 1917), seated next to her mother Mary Ann. Standing is the older daughter Norah (born 1912), and seated on the right is Thomas John Blacketer. Mary Ann and Thomas John (Madge and Tom to their cousins) had been married in 1906. The story goes that he hesitated to propose while his mother was still alive, but Mary Ann forced the issue - it's now or never - so they were married. Which was just as well, because his mother didn't die until 1939 (BMD Sep1939 Poplar 1c 289 Age:87)!

The 1911 England Census has Thomas John and Mary Ann Blacketer living at 18 Myrtle Road Acton, his occupation is listed as Driver Fireman for the North London Railway. Mary Ann is 31 years old, and Thomas John is 30. They have two boarders living with them.

(In 1901, Mary Ann Peterken, age 22, is in domestic service, living with Frederick and Jane Maddox at 3 Osbourne Road, Forest Gate. By family report she had done some work as a nanny, but is listed here as General servant Domestic).

The 1901 England Census has Thomas John Blacketer living with his mother and 2 of his 3 siblings at 168 Campbell Road, Bromley.
     Hannah Blacketer   Head Wid   49  Laundress                        Essex, Loughton
     Ellen E                    Daur   S      24 Waitress                           London, Bromley
     Joseph H                Son     S      22 Tie Warehouseman           London, Bromley
     Thomas J                Son     S      21 Railway Foreman             London, Bromley
"Foreman" is probably an error for Fireman.

The 1891 England Census has all four siblings and their mother at 178 Campbell Road, Bromley.
     Hannah Blacketer   Head Wid   39  Laundress                        Essex, Loughton
     Florence A              Daur   S     16                                          London, Bow
     Ellen E                    Daur   S      14 Domestic Servant              London, Bow
     Joseph H                Son     S      12 Scholar                             London, Bow
     Thomas J                Son     S      10 Scholar                             London, Bow

The 1881 England Census has three of the four with their mother at 174 Campbell Road, Bromley.
     Hannah Blacketer   Wife Widow   29  Laundress                      Loughton, Essex
     Ellen E                    Daughter          4 Scholar                           Bow, Middlesex
     Joseph H                Son                  2 Scholar                           Bow, Middlesex
     Thomas J                Son              1M Scholar                           Bow, Middlesex
     Jane Holling            Boarder         77 Undertaker's Widow       Mile End, Middlesex
Florence Annie is to be found with Hannah's brother Harry and his wife in Chigwell.

In the 1911 England Census, Hannah Blacketer is a household of one at 154 Campbell Road and for occupation has Caretaker Sunday School. Of note, she records that she had four children, of whom all four are living. Here are some vitals:
     Florence Annie  
          BMD Birth Sep1874 Poplar 1c 600
          BMD Marriage Dec1897 Poplar 1c 1023 Ernest William Lofts
               Bromley St Leonards 25 December 1897
                    father given as Joseph Blacketer (deceased) Carman
          BMD Death Mar1964 Ilford 5a 408 Age:89 (Florence A Lofts)
     Ellen Elizabeth    
          BMD Birth Sep1876 Poplar 1c 627
          BMD Marriage Mar1903 Poplar 1c 677 Alfred Connell
               Bromley St Leonards 9 March 1903
                    father is Joseph Blacketer Coal Porter
          BMD Death Mar1931 Poplar 1c 516 Age:54 (Ellen E Connell)
     Joseph Harry      
          BMD Birth Mar1879 Poplar 1c 691
               School Admissions and discharge register specifies 7 January 1879
          BMD Marriage Jun1904 Poplar 1c 1025 Esther Elizabeth Corfe
          BMD Death Mar1942 Lewisham 1d 1149 Age:63
                National Probate Calendar specifies 14 February 1942
     Thomas John      
          BMD Birth Jun1881 Poplar 1c 617
               School Admissions and discharge register specifies 2 March 1881
          BMD Marriage Jun1906 Poplar 1c 1001 Mary Ann Peterken
          BMD Death Dec1953 Romford 5a 405 Age:63
               National Probate Calendar specifies 11 December 1953

Their father, Joseph Blacketer, married Hannah Thurley in 1873 (BMD Marriage Sep1873 W Ham 4a 8). BMD Birth has Hannah Thurley Mar1852 Epping 4a 39 and Joseph Blacketer Sep1848 W Ham 4a 12.
Joseph Blacketer died before Thomas John was born (BMD Death Sep1880 Poplar 1c 411 Age:31), so never appears on a census return with his family. We will see him in a later post; for now, back to Thomas John.

The years between the Great War and World War Two were years of economic and political turmoil. The British economy slumped after the Great War, culminating in the Great Slump of 1929. Depressed wages and reductions in welfare spending precipitated the General Strike (1926) and the Invergordon Mutiny (1931). There were seven general elections between 1918 and 1939. The Labour Party gained prominence as the vote was extended to include all men over 21 years and women over 30 in 1918, and then all adults over 21 in 1928. This was the political environment in which the Blacketer family grew.

In 1921 Thomas Blacketer was a councillor in Poplar Borough Council, during the Poplar Rates Rebellion headed by the Labour politician George Lansbury. In order to keep its local rates down, Poplar refused to pay the precept which went to pay for certain metropolitan London services so that it could spend on social welfare and programs to alleviate the chronic poverty in the borough. It was perceived as grossly unfair that while poor boroughs had to pay toward certain services, wealthy boroughs did not pay toward common welfare needs. Poplar Borough Council's refusal to pay the precept defied Parliament and the Courts, and 30 Councillors, including Lansbury, were gaoled for contempt of court. This generated much public sympathy, and the government were forced to back down after six weeks.

The family report is that the Blacketers with their young children (Norah would have been 9 years old, and Elsie 4) absconded to Devon to avoid arrest, and so his name is not on the mural on Hale Street, commemorating the Rebellion. They returned when the crisis was over. On 1st January 1922 Minnie Lansbury (George's daughter-in-law) died of pneumonia, thought to have been contracted while she was imprisoned. Janine Booth in Guilty and Proud of It (2009) writes:

Councillor Blacketer [wrote] that "Our loss is irreplaceable". Minnie, he said, had "died for the cause", arguing that imprisonment had weakened her, leaving her body unable to fight off the illness that killed her.

Thomas Blacketer was also George Lansbury's election agent, roughly equivalent to an American campaign manager, and the family has letters from Lansbury addressed to "My Dear Blacketer". In 1930 Blacketer was himself elected to the office of Mayor of Poplar, and this is a portrait of Mayor Blacketer with his mayoral chain of office (another scan from Barbara Tilley). The family story goes that Lansbury offered Thomas Blacketer a parliamentary seat if he desired to enter national politics. Thomas consulted with Mary Ann who said, "Over my dead body", so he declined the offer. Given the tumult of the time, I can well understand their concern that a political life might have destroyed their family life.

Too bad I never got to meet him. But we still have the stories and we pass them on.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Finding Mary Simpson Whitehead

Emigration to the United States of America interrupted my Open University studies, but not before I had successfully completed the Arts Foundation Course, a superb interdisciplinary engagement with Mid-Victorian Britain. Among the snippets I remember, were the "cults of respectability and family". But ideal and practice were different matters. I have since learned of a pastor in one London parish who discovered so many unmarried couples that he decided to offer marriage ceremonies for free to encourage matrimony. His experience implies that many children were born outside of marriage, a decidedly "unrespectable" state of affairs to the Victorian mind - certainly not something families would talk about.

Here is brief post to shed light on the date of birth and baptism of Mary Simpson Whitehead, and the names of her parents. She is my 3x great grandmother, and her parents would be my 4x great grandparents. There are, it turns out, contradictory birth years for her, 1809 or 1810; and the LDS ancestry files have two possible sets of parents. First, there is George Whitehead and Mary Simpson, married 1814. There is a marriage for a couple with those names (St George Hanover Square, 31 October 1814 - but not St George in the East as the file claims). Second, the LDS ancestry file notes alternative couple as of parents, John Simpson and Elizabeth Whitehead, but no details.

In his family Bible, Henry James Peterken recorded the date of birth for his wife, Mary Simpson, as 14 June 1810. Other documentary evidence for her age comes from census data and her BMD Death Index. We have:
     1841 Census: Age given as 30
     1851 Census: Age given as 40
     1861 Census: Age given as 50
     1871 Census: Age given as 60
     1881 Census: Age given as 72
     1891 Census: Age given as 80
     1895 BMD Death Index Mar1895 Poplar 1c 542 Age:84

Each census is taken toward the end of March or beginning of April, and her death is recorded in the first quarter of 1895. For the 1841 England Census, age was supposed to be given to the nearest 5 years, although, with a birth in June 1810, should would indeed have been 30 years old at census time. Other censuses asked for the age (in years) at census time. The remaining data, except for the 1881 England Census, are consistent with a birth year of 1810. We can only speculate what happened to the 1881 census return. Except for 1911, all other England Census data are from the Census Enumerator Books, which compiled the individual returns. It is possible that the clerk with the job of transcribing the data from the individual return misread 70 for 72. The preponderance of data suggests that Mary Simpson, or at least her husband, believed that to be the year of her birth.

Some ancestry trees have a birth year of 1809 instead of 1810. I was not originally sure where that came from. But collaboration with readers is among the benefits of a blog. Paul Peterken wrote me with the information that Denys Murphy (Peterken genealogist) recorded the baptism of Mary Simpson Whitehead at St George in the East on 21st February 1816. The London parish records are divided into two sets by the year 1812. I had in fact already browsed St George in the East baptismal records for an entry relating to Mary Simpson Whitehead and stopped at the end of 1812. Finding the image of the record from 1816 was straightforward; it turns out to be indexed as Mary Simpson Simpson for reasons that will become apparent.

The transcript reads:
14th      [1816 February]       Mary               John Simpson            Marman
   of         21st                        Simpson                  by                            Street     The
June                                         Dr               Elizabeth Whitehead                            Rector
1809                                         of                   (Illegitimate)

The "M" for Mary is inconsistent with the "M" for Marman, but does match Middlesex at the top of the page. On the off-chance they hadn't moved, I browsed Marman Street for the 1841 England Census, but found no Whiteheads or Simpsons (St George Middlesex, St Mary, District 9). I include a second entry to illustrate how a baptismal record for a legitimate child would generally read.

This baptismal record and the family Bible note are most certainly for the same person, given the name and birthday, even if the year is off by one. Given that, and looking at the baptismal record, presumably her parents never married each other. First, "Simpson" is a given name on the baptism, which would have been unnecessary if her father were in the picture. Second, there is no mention of an occupation for her father, so either he was dead by 1816, or his occupation was unknown to the participants at the baptism. By the time of her wedding she is Mary Simpson Whitehead, indicating that she was raised as a Whitehead. But note that Henry James writes "Peterken" for his own surname, and for each of his children, yet for his wife has Mary Simpson, suggesting he may have thought of "Simpson" as her surname.

To me it is clear that the parents of Mary Simpson Whitehead should be John Simpson and Elizabeth Whitehead. I suspect 1809 as the "true" year of birth for Mary Simpson Whitehead, although we have seen mistakes in parish registers before. In searching for any records produced much later than this, 1810 would make a better search tool, since she appeared to believe that was her birth year, and would have had it recorded thus in documents. For her parents, was this a youthful indiscretion or marital infidelity or something more sinister? We will probably never know. The nearly seven-year delay in baptism may reflect the sense of shame into which this child was received.

Where to go from here? Elizabeth Whitehead and John Simpson are common names, and we have so little else to go on.  Future lines of research include browsing the pre-1810 entries of the parish register for other Simpson or Whitehead children. And there is an intriguing ancestry public tree with John Whitehead and Martha Dickenson for Elizabeth's parents, but no sources are listed. I did, however, find a 1794 marriage at St Paul Shadwell for a couple with these names and several baptisms at St George in the East for children of John (he was a baker by trade) and Martha Whitehead, none of whom is Elizabeth, so I'm doubtful.

I am certainly not the first genealogist to find out that Mary Simpson Whitehead was a "natural child", as some contemporary baptisms record, but, now the stigma attached to illegitimacy is no longer prevalent, I hope it will be useful for future Peterken/Whitehead/Simpson genealogists to know of the parentage of Mary Simpson Whitehead.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Sound of Bow Bells

This year will see me turn fifty. Anticipating this particular decade-birthday seems strange, not least because my grandparents were this age in my lifetime. I'm not sure I really remember them at fifty, since I was only four at the time. More likely I remember the photographs and stories told. When I was a little older, I do remember staying with Nan and Granddad Green in Upminster, and playing football (that's soccer for my American readers) with Granddad Green at a penny (old money) per goal, but he capped it at 6d because I was too successful! Today, I turn to my Nan Green (Elsie Blacketer) and her Peterken connections.

Her parents are Thomas John (Tom) Blacketer and Mary Ann (Madge) Peterken, married in 1906 (BMD Marriage Index Jun1906 Poplar 1c 1001). Their two children are Norah Amelia (BMD Birth Index Dec1912 Brentford 3a 399) and, and of course, Elsie Kathleen (BMD Birth Index Dec1917 Poplar 1c 706). Nan said she was born within the sound of Bow Bells, and the family lived at 38 Campbell Road, just off Bow Road.

The area within the sound of Bow Bells refers to the Church of St Mary-Le-Bow (which apparently was built with distinctive arches - bows), and the traditional qualification to be a true cockney. The district of Bow, where the Blacketers lived, lies some way out to the east (and at one time within earshot of the aforementioned church). According to wikipedia, Bow refers to the arch of a bridge built at that location.

Tom Blacketer was a locomotive engineer, politically active, and in 1930-31 served as Mayor of Poplar. He was the youngest of four, raised by a single-parent widow, his father having died while his mother was still pregnant with him. I will present more detail in another post.

We have already met Octavius and Amelia (nee Babbage) Peterken, married in 1868, in previous blog posts (see Thomas Babbage: Shipwright and Gentleman, Sir!) Madge Peterken is their daughter, To her siblings, we now turn. For this family, we have no family Bible, so, at first, I looked as census returns for Octavius from 1871 onwards.

For the 1871 England Census, Octavius and Amelia are living at 66 Sussex Street, Poplar with their 3-year-old son John. At the same address, William and Louisa are listed as a household, Peterken brothers and Babbage sisters.

By 1881 Octavius and Amelia's family has grown considerably. Their address now is 69 Sussex Street.
     Octavius Peterken  Head Marr   32  Printer       
     Amelia                   Wife  Marr   32  Printer Wife
     John G                   Son   Unm    12  Scholar
     Gustavus                Son   Unm      7  Scholar
     Harold                   Son   Unm      6  Scholar
     William H              Son   Unm      4  Scholar
     Mary A                 Daur  Unm      1  Scholar

By the 1891 England Census, Amelia had died (BMD Death Index Jun1890 Stepney 1c 295 Age:42), and Octavius's sister, Jane, appears to have moved in with the household to help him with the family. Gustavus had left home. Their address is 51 Pigott Street, Limehouse. The Census Enumerator Book has what looks like "Octavious", echoing Henry James's spelling on the flyleaf of the family Bible.
     Octavious Peterken  Head Widr   42   Printer and Compositor
     Jane                         Sister S       50
     John G                     Son    S      22   Merchant's Clerk
     Harold                     Son    S       16   Merchant's Clerk
     William H                 Son             14   Clerk (Civil Service)
     Mary A                    Daur            12   Scholar
     Ernest D                   Son              6    Scholar

By the 1901 England Census, Octavius has remarried (BMD Marriage Index Mar1898 W Ham 4a 229), bringing two stepsons into the household. The family story has it that Octavius hired a Elizabeth Haydon as a housekeeper, and the relationship flourished. Her maiden name is Bacchus. My great grandmother, Mary Ann, remembered her step-brothers fondly. Here they all are at 1 Leslie Road, Leyton, Essex.
     Octavius Peterken    Head      52  Printer Compositor
     Elizabeth                  Wife       45
     Maud                       Daur      18   Nil
     Caleb R Haydon      Step-son 17  Clerk in Docks
     William J Haydon     Step-son 15  Clerk in Docks      

This is the first time we see Maud in Octavius's household for a census. In 1891, we is listed with her grandparents, Henry James and Mary Simpson Peterken, and Aunt Emma. They were relatively hard to find. Originally, I was looking for Henry James. From the Electoral Register, I discovered that in 1891, he lived at 70 Sussex Street. I then browsed the 1891 Census for Poplar until I found the entry for his address. The reason for the search failure then became obvious, for Peterken had been transcribed "Pekrken" (In addition, Maud had become "Mand"). Note that Ernest is no longer among them. He died in 1893 aged 9, so he would have been 7 years-old in 1891.

By 1911, they had all left home. Here they are at 57 Westdown Road, Leyton, Essex.
     Octavius Peterken    Head    Married   62  Printer Compositor
     Elizabeth                  Wife      Married  54
     Anne Mackintosh    Sister     Widow    71
     Henry Doggett         Boarder Single      29  Motorman

Henry James did not have a daughter, Anne, so she cannot be Octavius's sister. Perhaps he intended sister-in-law. I have searched for, but not found, a BMD Marriage Index for Mackintosh and Peterken, Babbage or Bacchus.

This return also shows that Elizabeth (Haydon) had 4 surviving children out of 4. So there are two more than Caleb Rowland and William James. The 1891 census for this family also shows Florence, and I would guess there should be a sibling who had left home by 1901, or, perhaps like Maud, was staying with relatives on census night.

Here is a photograph of Octavius Peterken, sent me by Paul Peterken, to whom many thanks. Mum says we have the same one, also signed, "Yours sincerely, Octavius Peterken", of which I saw a low resolution image on the webcam. I would be interested to make a comparison of the two autographs. It's not in color, but you can see his hair is light - I'm thinking gray.

In addition to those children found in census returns, I also found a record of Ada Louisa baptized at Limehouse St Ann. Ancestry public trees also note Edith Amelia (1870-71) and Martha Jenny (1878-78) There are about four Peterken families in Poplar around this time. Unfortunately each of  these is unsourced, so although likely to belong to Octavius and Amelia, I cannot say for certain that they do. If they do, then the couple had 4 of their 10 children die before adulthood. Birth Certificates would contain the information on parentage, and Death Certificates would have the names of the reporter, likely a parent, along with cause of death.

Here they are (although note the caution about Edith Amelia and Martha Jenny):
John George
     BMD Birth Index Jun1868 Mile End Old Town 1c 538 
          bapt. 28 June 1868 Stepney St Dunstan and All Saints, born 26 April 1868
     BMD Marriage Index Mar1898 W Ham 4a 310 (Mary Eliza Hamilton)
     BMD Death Index Jun1935 Lewisham 1d 1002 Age:67
Edith Amelia
     BMD Birth Index Mar1870 Mile End Old Town 1c 572
     BMD Death Index Mar1871 Poplar 1c 556 Age:1
Ada Louisa
     BMD Birth Index Mar1872 Poplar 1c 715
          bapt. 27 October 1872 Limehouse St Ann, born 29 November 1871
     BMD Death Index Mar1877 Poplar 1c 505 Age:5
     BMD Birth Index Dec1873 Poplar 1c 678
     BMD Marriage Index Jun1902 Poplar 1c (Elizabeth Hamilton - any relation of the above?)
     BMD Marriage Index Jun1953 Luton 4a 338 (Helen Mary Morris)
     BMD Death Index Dec 1959 Luton 4a 122 Age:86
     BMD Birth Index Jun1875 Poplar 1c 687
          bapt. 4 March 1892 Limehouse St Ann, born 9 March 1872
     BMD Marriage Index Jun1898 St Saviour 1d 67 (Evelyn Ladbrook)
     BMD Marriage Index Sep1909 Camberwell 1d 1794 (Lily Annie Cook)
     BMD Death Index Sep1937 Lambeth 1d 239 Age:62
William Henry
     BMD Birth Index Dec1876 Poplar 1c 747
          US records have date of birth 26 November 1876
     BMD Marriage Index Dec1897 Camberwell 1d (Florence Elizabeth Groves)
          US Citizen by 21 February 1933
     Still living at time of 1940 US Census; no death record yet.
Martha Jenny
     BMD Birth Index Jun1878 Poplar 1c 733
     BMD Death Index Dec1878 Poplar 1c 476 Age:0
Mary Ann
     BMD Birth Index Sep1879 Poplar 1c 722
          Death Index gives date of birth 20 July 1879
     BMD Marriage Index Jun1906 Poplar 1c 1001 (Thomas John Blacketer)
     BMD Death Index (Mary Ann Blacketer) Jun1979 Havering 13 0395 Age:99
     BMD Birth Index Dec1881 Poplar 1c 716
     Marriages Hamilton, Ontario 6 October 1906 (Fred'k George Hunt)
     Australia Death Index (Maud Hunt) 1968 Perth, Western Australia Age:87
Ernest Douglas
     BMD Birth Index Dec1883 Poplar 1c 675
     BMD Death Index Mar1893 Poplar 1c 332 Age:9

The absence of a record for an infant baptism after Ada Louisa suggests either I haven't searched well enough (quite likely!), or it was shortly after this (maybe even because of her death) that Octavius left the Church of England. A family story says he became a baptist, although I cannot support that with documentation. In an excellent article by Denys Murphy (another Peterken descendant), about the HJ Peterken printing businesses, I noticed his remark that Henry James converted to methodism. I am now wondering if he actually became a baptist, which could explain the late baptism of his youngest daughter. Baptists do not baptize infants (although Methodists do). At 16, perhaps she returned to the Church of England. The same might be true for Harold among Octavius's children.

In the nineteenth century, Poplar was within the sound of Bow Bells, and Octavius's children are all cockneys by this definition. Some stayed near and some moved as far afield as the United States of America and Australia. I, too, have made a move far afield, only with the internet, I can drop in for tea and a chat each weekend!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Putting Flesh on Dry Bones

Occasionally as a family, we drove from Leigh-on-sea to London on the A13. In Poplar, this took us past All Saints Church, where the children of Henry James Peterken were baptized. I remember having the church pointed out to me as we went by, although I had yet to hear of Henry James. Once I began researching the genealogy of the Peterkens, I soon learned his name, and that he is my 3x great grandfather.

An earlier post (Down Memory Lane), walked through census returns for his family. This time I present some detail of births and baptisms, marriages and deaths. But I want especially to thank two contributors to this work. State and parish documents, as found on the various genealogical databases are invaluable for documenting our ancestors but often rather dry and impersonal. The following sources help me imagine Henry James Peterken in life.

So, the first contribution, through Greg Hunt in Australia, is a sitting photographic portrait with the label "H J Peterken [c1850]". Henry James would have been 39 years old, and the sitter here would seem to be at least that, so maybe the date is a little early. Another cousin, Paul Peterken, informs me that the photo is among the collection of Tower Hamlets local history library, originally from Poplar library in a bundle on the Peterken printing business. Although we have to take it on trust that the label correctly identifies the sitter, the photograph puts some flesh on the dry bones of the documentary record.

And second, here is a treasure, courtesy of Paul Peterken, who sent me this image of the flyleaf in Henry James's family Bible, which has been preserved and passed down through the generations. I knew of its existence, of course, and much of the information recorded here can be found elsewhere. But here the record comes from the pen of the man himself. And with the portrait in mind, I can imagine him recording the entries for each of his children.

The transcript reads:
     Henry James Peterken, Born March 17th 1811                )    Married
                           and                                                            > January 23rd
     Mary Simpson Whitehead, Born June 10th 1810              )    1833.

     A Still-born Son, November 4th 1833.
     Elizabeth Peterken, Born November 17th 1835; and
          Christened at Poplar Church December 13th 1835.
     Mary Peterken, Born October September 11th 1837; and ) Died April
          Christened at Poplar Church October 8th 1837.           ) 28 1838
     Henry Peterken, Born December 8th 1838; and

          Christened at Poplar Church March 17th 1839
     Jane Peterken Born Jany 1st 1841
          Christened at Poplar Church
     James Peterken Born Oct 13th 1842
          Christened at Poplar Church Jany 1st 1843
     William Peterken Born May 20 1844
     Christened at Poplar Church March 17 1845
     Octavious Peterken Born July 29th 1848 and
          Christened at Poplar Church December 24th 1848
     Emma Peterken Born January 4th 1852 And
          Christened at Poplar Church April 28th 1868

From the handwriting and ink, I believe the entries were made at several sittings, but not immediately after each birth or baptism. Here is my analysis; see what you think. Henry James may have acquired the Bible in 1839 on or after Henry Peterken's baptism, at which point he wrote up all the preceding events. This all appears to have been written in one sitting. Jane's birth (1841) seems to have been added on its own, suggesting that Henry James intended to keep a running account of the events as they occurred. But then it lapsed and he didn't add anything until after the baptism of William in 1845. Then Octavius's birth and baptism were not recorded until after the birth of Emma in 1852. Her baptism could not have been added until after April 1868.

So taking each entry in turn:
The parish register for Limehouse, St Anne's records the baptism on 4 August 1813 of Henry James, S[on] of Thomas & Jane Peterkin [of] Limehouse Baker, and the note that he was born 17 March 1811. I have not found a birth or baptism record for Mary Simpson Whitehead. But their marriage by banns is recorded in the parish register of St George in the East on 23 January 1833.

Of the children, there is first the still-born son on 4 November 1833. I originally had this from the LDS Ancestral file submitted by A G Peterken, and here is the written record from which he obatined it! For Henry James and Mary, this infant counts as number one, since Octavius cannot be the eighth child without him.

Elizabeth's birth and baptism dates are confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints. She married John Isaac Horn, Tailor on 9 November 1862 at Islington St Mary, corresponding to BMD Marriage Index Dec1862 Islington 1b 381. On the parish register, the rank/occupation of her father, Henry James Peterken, is recorded as High Bailiff. On all other documents, he is Printer or Printer and Compositor.

Mary's birth and baptism dates are confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints. Her BMD Birth Index is Sep1837 Poplar 2 159 All Saints. Poplar All Saints have her burial record for 6 May 1838. Henry James - above - notes her death on 28th April, while the BMD Death Index is Jun1838 Poplar 2 294.

Henry's baptism date is confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints (no birth date given). His BMD Birth Index is Mar 1839 Poplar 2 296. He married Sophia Lowdell at Poplar All Saints 17 Aug 1861 (BMD Marriage Index Sep1861 Poplar 1c 1049). In the England Censuses he is listed with occupation Compositor and Printer (1861), Printer (1871, 1891, 1901), even "Printer Master Employing Two Men & Four Boys" (1881); and he lists himself as Master Printer in 1911. He died 12 Feb 1913 according to National Probate Calendar, corresponding to BMD Death Index Mar1913 W Ham 4a 358 Age:75.

Jane's baptismal record is obscure. In the All Saints parish register for 11 July 1841, one Mary, daughter of Henry James and Mary Simpson Peterken has the same birth date as Henry James records for Jane in his Bible, but he notably doesn't include a date for her baptism. The BMD Birth Index has Jane Peterken Mar1841 Poplar 2 322. There are various possibilities here. I'm wondering if she was baptized Mary Jane (after her deceased sister, perhaps) but known as Jane. However, the baptism entry only has Mary. When Henry James (or the minister) went back to inspect the register he could not find the Jane entry, so the date is not given in the family Bible. It's also quite possible the minister made an error. I attach the All Saints, Poplar baptism entry, noting that the line after it has begun H and then stops...I suspect the minister was writing these up some time after the event and quite forgot who he'd baptized!

When Jane died unmarried 17 February 1932, the National Probate Calendar records that she lived at 38 Campbell Road, Bow. Probate was awarded to TJ Blacketer (who also lived at that address, my great grandfather and son-in-law of Octavius Peterken) and Edward Pilkington (son-in-law of Henry Peterken). The BMD Death Index is 1932Mar poplar 1c 433 Age:91

James's birth and baptism dates are confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints. BMD Birth Index is Dec1842 Poplar 2 317. His marriage to Mary Gilpin 10 January 1869 in recorded in the parish register for St John of Jerusalem, Hackney, and the BMD Marriage Index is Mar1869 Hackney 1b 476. His occupation on census returns is Compositor and Printer (1861), Printer (1871), Printer's Overseer (1881, 1891, 1901). By 1911 he had retired, as he gave his occupation as "Letter-press Printer's Overseer (formerly)". His BMD Death Index record is James Peterken Jun1917 Romford 4a 512 Age:74

William's birth and baptism dates are almost confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints; for the baptism, the parish register has 16th March 1845, which being Palm Sunday is probably the correct date. But perhaps Henry James is correct here, and the minister had less reason to remember correctly. I have not yet found his BMD Birth index entry. As detailed in the last blog post, he married Louisa Babbage at St Dunstan and All Saints Stepney 22 May 1870 (BMD Marriage Index Jun1870 Stepney 1c 1007). On census records he is listed as Printer or Compositor and Printer except for 1871. In this year, a census enumerator has interpreted William's household return as "Representative of the Press" to which another, presumably senior, hand has added "(Reporter)". This would seem to be an example of the kinds of errors that have crept into occupational data. His BMD Death Index entry is William Peterken Mar1900 Mile End Old Town 1c 384 Age:54

Octavius's birth and baptism dates are confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints (BMD Birth Index Sep1848 Poplar 2 333). The spelling "Octavious" is quite peculiar, and I have not seen it elsewhere. As detailed in the last blog post, he married Amelia Babbage at Bethnal Green St Phillip3 Nov 1867 (BMD Marriage Index Dec1867 Bethnal Green 1c 793). I will present more research on this family in a later post; Octavius is my 2x great grandfather. Amelia died young (BMD Death Index Jun1890 Stepney 1c 295 Age:42), after which Octavius remarried to a widow, Elizabeth Haydon, nee Bacchus (BMD Marriage Index Mar1898 WHam 4a 229). His census returns list his occupation as Compositor and/or Printer. His BMD Death Index entry is Octavius Peterken Sep1924 Poplar 1c 290 Age:75.

Emma's birth and baptism dates are confirmed by the parish register at Poplar All Saints. (BMD Birth Index Mar1852 Poplar 1c 613). For the other Peterken children, times between birth and baptism are from 3 to 10 months, except for Emma's 16 years! Possibly it was forgotten that she hadn't been baptized until confirmation; or perhaps, Henry James became distant from the church after 1848 - too busy, maybe theological or political reasons, or just a change in pastor! By 1868, it may have been Emma who initiated the process. She remained unmarried, her occupation in census returns listed as Dressmaker (1871-1891). For the 1901 England Census, an "Emma Peterkin" of the right age and birthplace is the Matron of a convalescence home in Reigate, Surrey. I have not yet found her 1911 Census return, although there presumably should be one. When she died 21 Jun 1927, administration was originally granted to her sister Jane, but when she died in 1932, administration was awarded to her niece, Mary Ann Blacketer (wife of TJ Blacketer above, and my great grandmother). Her BMD Death Index entry is Emma Peterken Jun1927 W Ham 4a 205 Age: 77.

So there they are, Henry James and Mary Simpson Peterken, and their nine children. Much information here, but the most pleasing to me are the personal touches - the photograph of Henry James, and the image of his handiwork. Many thanks again to the contributors. I would be happy to hear from others who have family images or recollections to share.