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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

Catherine Grey Whitehill

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

For a long time, we weren’t sure who her parents were as they are given at her marriage as John Whitehill lithographic printer journeyman decorator (deceased) and Elizabeth Whitehill M.S. Christie (deceased) but she grew up with the mother and children of Catherine Grey and Alexander Whitehill and was known as Catherine Grey Whitehill. Alex had died in the cholera epidemic in December 1848 when she was less than two years old and her mother had died ten years before the marriage, so maybe they didn’t know or maybe there was an error recording the parents’ details … maybe confusion as her brother John was a printer … then the appearance online of the Old Parish Registers showed up her birth registration.

Catherine grew up in Rottenrow, her father was a weaver and her mother a yarn winder. Catherine is listed as a muslin warehouse girl aged 13 in 1861, was a steam loom weaver in 1871, and when she married James Simpson in 1873, she gave her occupation as a woollen power loom weaver. Her address in 1871, where she was a boarder, was 174 Main Street in Calton. There are several textile factories close by as well as several potteries.

Power loom workers were usually girls and young women. They had the security of fixed hours, and except in times of hardship, such as in the cotton famine, regular income. They were paid a wage and a piece work bonus. Even when working in a combined mill, weavers stuck together and enjoyed a tight-knit community. The women usually minded the four machines and kept the looms oiled and clean. They were assisted by ‘little tenters’, children on a fixed wage who ran errands and did small tasks. They learnt the job of the weaver by watching. Often they would be half timers, carrying a green card which teacher and overlookers would sign to say they had turned up at the mill in the morning and in the afternoon at the school.

 

At fourteen or so they come full-time into the mill, and started by sharing looms with an experienced worker where it was important to learn quickly as they would both be on piece work. The mill had its health and safety issues, there was a reason why the women tied their hair back with scarves. Inhaling cotton dust caused lung problems, and the noise was causing total hearing loss. Weavers would mee-maw as normal conversation was impossible. Weavers used to ‘kiss the shuttle’, that is, suck thread through the eye of the shuttle. This left a foul taste in the mouth due to the oil, which was also carcinogenic.

Tarbet Street

James married Catherine Gray Whitehill at 116 Rottenrow Street after banns – according to the rites of the United Presbyterian Church. This is the same address as that of her older brother John in 1871 and 1881 so maybe the source of the possible confusion over her father’s name. Both bride and groom gave the same address – 24 Bluevale Street. One of the witnesses had the same name as James’s first wife. I found the marriage fairly early in my research and it was the first time I had found a widower among my ancestors. When I found James’s first marriage to Isabella Chalmers, I was very sad as she had died in childbirth aged 21 just four months after their marriage but then it struck me quite forcefully that had Isabella not died, I would not be here!

Two months later, the first of their 9 children was born – my great grandmother Catherine Grey Simpson. They were living in David Street in Bridgeton at the time, very close to Annfield Pottery. James and Catherine moved around every couple of years but more or less stayed in the same area of Glasgow until they appear in Edinburgh and then later in Clerkenwell.

While writing this article, I wanted to check something, so randomly wandered around google and came across Scottish Indexes, and put Catherine’s name into the search box – and found she had twice been in the City Poorhouse Asylum, Glasgow. Admission Records will be sent for to find out more detail when it is possible to get them, but her first admission was on 9 July 1869 while still single, aged 20, and her second was ten years later, six months after the birth of her fourth child. At the time, Catherine, the oldest was 5 years old and they were living close by in Tarbet Street.

Move to Edinburgh

Sometime between the summer of 1883 and the summer of 1887, when her son John was born, the family uprooted themselves and went to Edinburgh.

Annfield Pottery was founded by John Thomson in the East End of Glasgow sometime between 1816 and 1826, and managed by himself and his three sons. John Thompson died in 1873 and the sons continued the pottery until it closed down between 1883 and 1887. 

This would fit in with the dates of them moving to Edinburgh. Hugh, Catherine’s older brother was already living in Edinburgh. When John was born they were living at 51 Arthur Street, Canongate and James was recorded as working as a printer (glassworks). They were not far from the Holyrood Glassworks.

Moving on again ….

Corner of Rottenrow and Taylor Street c.1891

By April 1890, the family had moved on again and were in Clerkenwell, where they had two more sons, Andrew and William. Travelling south with 7 children, the youngest was 3 and the oldest about 15 years old, would be pretty daunting these days, but then? How did they travel? Did they walk? Or were they able to afford to take the train? The route between Edinburgh Waverley and London King’s Cross was well established by then. The journey took about 8 and a half hours by then, travelling at around 50 mph. This was the time when the Flying Scotchman offered travel for 3rd class passengers, as until 1887, there was only 1st and 2nd class available.

Railway rugs were needed by train travellers, usually on their legs or shoulders, to protect them from draughts in the carriages. While first class passengers rode in enclosed carriages, second and third class passengers could have no such assurance. Indeed, most third class carriages were completely open to the elements, save for the carriage roof.

In April 1890, they were living at Dundee Buildings in Clerkenwell where Andrew was born. The Survey of London describes the buildings as ‘rough’ at that time, quoting Booth’s notebooks. The buildings were on the south corner of Berkley Street and St John’s Lane, just south of St John’s gate. (I was in the vicinity in January 2020 and had no idea how close I was to where they lived – unfortunately I was late for where I was going in one direction and then rushing to get a train when I returned later that day, so didn’t even stop to take a picture of St John’s Gate.)

…. and the building of private model dwellings (Dundee Buildings, described as ‘rough’ in the 1890s) on the south corner [of St John’s Lane] with Berkley Street. Contrasting with the small shopkeepers in the lane were the denizens of the increasingly run-down and crowded backland: by the 1890s typically costermongers and unskilled labourers. In the summer of 1898 Charles Booth’s investigators found it rather squalid, noting a ‘fearful stench’ from a Gorgonzola factory as they walked up the lane, and a man in Francis Court toting a bloody bag of sheep’s necks, which he was off to hawk at twopence a pound.

Compton Buildings, Goswell Road, c. 1910 Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell

Model dwellings were “buildings or estates constructed, mostly during the Victorian era, along philanthropic lines to provide decent living accommodation for the working class. They were typically erected by private model dwellings companies and usually with the aim of making a return on investment hence the description of the movement as “five per cent philanthropy.

In July 1893, when their youngest child, William was born, they were living in the newly built Bartholomew Buildings and by 1901, the family had moved to another model dwelling in the area, 343 Compton Buildings, on the corner of Compton Street and Goswell Road. They were still living in the buildings in 1911, at number 306, along with the 3 youngest boys, Elizabeth and Margaret. The others were all married by this time. Booth’s maps at the time show that the area was probably less “rough”.

James died in 1st February 1918 aged 71 from bronchitis and a cerebral embolism at 305 Compton Buildings, his son David, who was living at 190 Compton Buildings, being the informant.  Catherine died on 20th May in Archway House, Archway Road, Upper Holloway of arteriosclerosis. Her usual address was 188 Compton Buildings. Again, David was the informant. Archway House was the hospital which was previously known as The Holborn Union Infirmary.

 

TIMELINE

DATE EVENT ADDRESS  
7 June 1872 Marriage 24 Bluevale Street (both) 116 Rottenrow Street, Central
6 September 1872 Catherine 10 David Street, Bridgeton near Annfield Pottery
24 April 1874 David 10 David Street, Bridgeton  
3 May 1876 Alexander 102 Rottenrow, Blackfriars  
8 May 1878 Elizabeth 5 Tarbet Street, Blackfriars  
4 January 1880 Margaret 5 Tarbet Street, Blackfriars  
26 July 1883 James 76 Rottenrow, Blackfriars  
2 June 1887 John 51 Arthur Street, Canongate, Edinburgh  
1890 Andrew 11 Dundee Buildings, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England  
April 1891 Census 10 Dundee Buildings, Clerkenwell  
1893 William 216 Bartholomews Buildings, Clerkenwell, Middlesex, England  
March 1901 Census 343 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
April 1911 Census 306 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
February 1918 Death of James 305 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  
May 1927 Death of Catherine 188 Compton Buildings, Clerkenwell  

SOURCES

British History Online – London Survey:

Charles Booth’s London

Wikipedia: Model buildings companies

Wikipedia: List of existing model dwellings

Wikipedia: Race to the North

Mee-mawing was a form of speech with exaggerated movements to allow lip-reading employed by workers in weaving sheds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The noise in a weaving shed rendered hearing impossible so workers communicated by mee-mawing which was a cross between mime and lip-reading. To have a private conversation when there were other weavers present, the speaker would cup their hand over their mouth to obscure vision. This was very necessary as a mee-mawer would be able to communicate over distances of tens of yards. It was said that each mill had its own dialect.

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

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Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

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Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

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Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

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Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

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Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

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Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

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Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

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Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

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The Bradleys of Shropshire

Shropshire From a map by Wenzel Hollar (1607–1677)

Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!!

This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of William Eli Bradley, undertook the research the hard way, through visiting Record Offices, and I, William’s great granddaughter, have done the research independently using online resources and purchasing copies of parish registers on CD as well as other certificates.

The living descendants of William Eli Bradley have recently been traced by a firm of solicitors following the death of the last of his children, Violet, and at least this section of the tree can be called reasonably accurate!!

Our line of Bradleys came from Kinlet in Shropshire. Kinlet is in the middle of the Wyre Forest, about 8 miles NW of Kidderminster. There is still a Bradley Farm in Kinlet (DY12 3BU) today:  Location of Bradley’s Farm. There is a Bradley meadow marked on the 1841 map on Secret Shropshire. 

You can see pictures of Bradley Farm, Kinlet, Shropshire on GeoGraph © Richard Greenwood.

The Bradleys first appear in the parish registers of St John the Baptist, Kinlet when William married Margaret Jones on 15th April 1745.

They had 10 children baptised there between 1745 and 1762. Their first three children were sons all of whom died soon after birth and were buried in Kinlet. They had six daughters, two of whom were married in Kinlet. Only one son, William, baptised on 15th June 1760, survived to adulthood. William senior was buried on the 26th January 1780 and Margaret on the 21st April 1793.

St John the Baptist, Kinlet © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

There was at least one other Bradley family in the village at this time, possibly connected. A John Bradley married Sarah Higgs on 28th July 1748. They had two daughters baptised in Kinlet: Joyce on the 24th March 1750 and Ann on the 24th April 1757. John was buried on the 4th May, 1771.

William junior married? Mary. (I haven’t tracked down their marriage yet). They had 8 children baptised in Kinlet, 7 sons and a daughter, between 1790 and 1814. The only ones which I have found traces of later on are possibly the eldest son, William born 1790, Joseph born in 1804 and Charles, born in 1809. William died in Bewdley and was buried in Kinlet on the 19th September 1826.

The vicar from 1801 to 1816 was the Reverend John Brickdale Blakeway, who also held a living Shrewsbury and another in Somerset at the same time. He lived in Kinlet for six months of the year and Shrewsbury for the remainder of the year. Illustrations of the literary history of the eighteenth century: Volume 6.

From his arrival in 1801, the registers record the residence at baptism. From them we can see that the family moved around in the area: Joseph 1804 from Sturt Common, which is about a mile south of Bradley’s Farm. Samuel 1806 from Hawkyard, which is to the west of Sturt Common and James 1814 from Log Mill, which is north of Kinlet, next to the Borle Brook.

The Shropshire Archives mentions a Lease and Release of a cottage and garden on Hawkyard Common, Kinlet (William Bradley) in a Deed of Exchange from the 12th and 13th December 1803. Document Reference:  1045/199-200.

By 1841, there is a family named Linton living at a house called Bradley (farmer) – presumably the farm. The only Bradley in the Kinlet registration areas is a William Bradley aged 23 (born c1818), a servant, living in the village. He does not appear to be connected with our line.

At this time, Joseph, his wife Mary (I haven’t tracked down their marriage yet) and their daughter Susannah were living in Trimpley, a hamlet about 6 kms east of Kinlet (as the cow flies), on the other side of the River Severn in Kidderminster Foreign. They were still living in Trimpley in 1851 together with their son Joseph aged 9.

According to all the census returns, Mary was born in Hopton Wafers – there are three possibilities in that register for a baptism of a Mary of the correct age in 1804 and many others close to her in age. Susannah was also baptised there on 10 May 1829. There is a large age gap between their two children. Finding their marriage record may lead to the baptisms and/or burials of other children.

In 1851, Susannah was working as a house servant in Kidderminster. The following year, she married Edward Williams, a miller, in Kidderminster and they had 6 children. In 1861, they were living in Wordsley, and in 1871 and 1881, they were in Stoke on Trent. Susannah died in 1881, just before the census that year.

By 1861, Joseph, Mary and Joseph were living in Kidderminster at The Hollies. Joseph was listed as a farming waggoner.

Kidderminster Lock © Copyright Martyn B  and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Joseph junior married Sarah Gamson, daughter of Thomas and Sarah Gamson, in 1863. Joseph and Sarah moved around a lot!! 

Sarah was born and raised in Kidderminster, Joseph also always states his birthplace as Kidderminster, although as yet we have not found any certificated proof of this. They were married by banns at St James in Ogley Hay in Staffordshire on the 28th December 1863, when the witnesses were William Gamson and Phoebe Middleton, Sarah’s brother and sister. Joseph gave his occupation then as a miller, though throughout the later censuses, his occupation was a drayman/carman. Ogley Hay Steam Flour Mill was in operation then. The Mill provided flour to customers in the area and delivered the bags of flour to areas as far as Four Oaks, so rather then actually being a miller, he probably just worked for them as a deliveryman.

Their oldest son, Joseph, was born in Lichfield in 1864, the next son, Thomas, in Rowley Regis in 1866. William Eli Bradley was born in Kidderminster on the 14th January 1869 at 11 New Place, Kidderminster  and Samuel was also born in Kidderminster in 1871 and by 1875, the family were in Dudley (check certificate) where Sarah died on the 27th March of pneumonia and exhaustion aged 37. They may also have had a sister, Emma, who died in the Spring of 1876.

In 1871, Joseph, Sarah and the three oldest sons were living at 69 Bromsgrove Street, in the centre of Kidderminster. Joseph’s parents, Joseph and Mary, were living in the Rackfields Almshouses in Kidderminster at this time. Sarah’s father, Thomas, was living at 14 Mount Pleasant, also in Kidderminster. Mary died on 5th January 1875 of apoplexy and Joseph stayed on at Rackfields where he died on the 9th July 1883 aged 80 of …disease? and dropsy (certified). Joseph junior was the informant, and he gave his address as The Green, Wordsley.

Four months after Sarah’s death, Joseph had married Esther Dingley née Billingham on the 30th July 1876 in Stourbridge, Worcestershire. Esther already had a son, John William, and went on to have five more children. In 1881, the family were living in Wordsley Green, Kingswinford, in Staffordshire. Their daughter Esther had been born in Kidderminster in 1879 and Martha was born in Kinver, Staffordshire in 1881.

The family mostly stayed in this area, although by 1891, Joseph and Sarah’s third son, William Eli Bradley, had left Staffordshire and gone to England and was wokring there as a glass cutter.The rest of the family were living in Stourbridge at 3 Mill Street. Joseph was working as a railway drayman, as was his second son, Samuel, His oldest son, Joseph, was a brewer’s drayman. They had also had two more sons, George and Harry, both born in Wordsley in 1883 and 1885 and another daughter, Alice, born in Stourbridge in 1888. Their oldest daughter, Esther, had died in 1883. I have found no trace of trace yet of Joseph and Sarah’s second son, Thomas, after 1881 ….

In March 1901, Joseph was listed as a railway drayman and they were living In Amblecote at 3 Platts Road. His daughter Martha was working as a housemaid, George was a builder’s carter, Harry was  a groom and Alice, aged 13, was working as a nurse (domestic).

In 1911, Joseph and Esther were living at 23 Audnam , Wordsley Road, Stourbridge. He was working as a general labourer. (Fine Brick). George was still living at home and working as a Railway shunter for the GWR. Esther died of gangrene of foot and senile decay on 4th January 1917 in Stourbridge and Joseph died in Worcester Workhouse Infirmary of cerebral degeneration. His usual address was given as 23 Brettell Lane, Stourbridge and the informant was R. Roberts, Master of the Workhouse.

Brettell Lane as it was when they were living there.


Kinlet in Shropshire

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradleys of Shropshire

  Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!! This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of...

read more

Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

  The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley. Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell. Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock. She was the...

read more

William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William's occupation is glasscutter, Catherine's isn't stated, which was not unusual at that time....

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Kidderminster weavers

  Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

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Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

The glass cutter at his wheel 1890

The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley.

Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell.

Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock.

She was the daughter of William Eli Bradley, glass decorator, originally from the Kidderminster area, and Catherine Gray Simpson, born in Glasgow.

The maternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley.

Cotton weavers and potters from Greenock to Walthamstow via Glasgow, Edinburgh and Clerkenwell.

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradleys of Shropshire

  Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!! This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of...

read more

Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

  The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley. Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell. Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock. She was the...

read more

William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William's occupation is glasscutter, Catherine's isn't stated, which was not unusual at that time....

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Kidderminster weavers

  Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

read more

William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William’s occupation is glasscutter, Catherine’s isn’t stated, which was not unusual at that time. William’s father, Joseph, is described as a carman and James Simpson as a London Porter. The witnesses were James Simpson and Hannah Irons.

William seems to have broken away from the family trade of draymen, left Staffordshire and by 1891, was boarding in 5 Upper Vernon Street, St James, Clerkenwell, London, working as a glass cutter. (Next door at Number 6 is a William Lea, also a glass cutter, born in Stourbridge).

It is very speculative of course, but maybe he originally went to work for one of the glassworks in the Wordsley Green area:
 
“Wordsley, on the Stourbridge road, about a mile SSW of Kingswinford, and one and a half miles W of Brierley Hill, is a large modern village, and has in its vicinity several glass, coal, and iron works. Wordsley Glass Works, first established by Messrs Bradley, Ensall, and Holt, are the oldest in the county, and there are some old established glassworks at Audnam, now belonging to M & W Grazebrook.”  [From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]
 

Farmiloe’s lead and glass factory was a little further south of Upper Vernon Street, in St John’s Street –  is it possible that this was where William worked and met his future bride, Catherine Simpson? Both Catherine and her father, James, worked as glass warehouse assistants and were living in Clerkenwell in 1891.

Hanway Place, looking towards Hanway Street. The site of the business is on the left.

William and Catherine had ten children. Their four eldest children were born in Clerkenwell and by February 10th, 1900, the family were living in Walthamstow where Alice was born, followed by five more children.

In 1901, they were living at 1 Thorpe Terrace. In 1911, they were living at 57 Hale End Road. Their second son, Albert James, died when only a year old and Samuel died in 1911, a couple of months before the  census when he was only 9 years old. Their youngest chid, Frank, was born after the 1911 census in the following September.

William set himself up in Hanway Place as a glass decorator. Round the corner in Hanway Street, he started a social club for his workers which still exists today and is known as Bradley’s Spanish Bar.

His picture is still there on the wall opposite the door as you go in, and next to the bar, there is a family photograph of him, Catherine and their children, taken on the day of their Diamond Wedding celebrations in 1952.

After successfully fighting the developers over the years, the bar launched an appeal in April 2020  during the coronavirus pandemic, and the enforced closure of bars, to enable them to keep going. Proprietors of historic pub on Hanway Street launch crowdfunder to re-open after lockdown.

 

We have a copy of a large group photograph of the guests at their Anniversary celebration in 1952, but we do not know who most of the people are. Were Catherine’s Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William’s siblings were guests.

 
 
We also have a set of pictures which we think might date from c1948 and again don’t recognise many of the people: Bradley Gallery
If anyone knows who they may be, we will be very pleased to hear from you!
 
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradleys of Shropshire

  Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!! This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of...

read more

Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

  The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley. Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell. Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock. She was the...

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William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William's occupation is glasscutter, Catherine's isn't stated, which was not unusual at that time....

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The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Kidderminster weavers

  Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

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The Whitehills of Rottenrow

  Catherine Gray Whitehill's parents as named on her marriage certificate were John Whitehill and Elizabeth Christie.  In the census returns after her marriage, her year of birth is consistently given as 1847, unfortunately just before official registration began...

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The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952.

Were Catherine’s Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William’s siblings were guests.


1. Irene Lewcock née Harrison
2. Lesley Lewcock
3. Nicholas Bradley
4. Alma Bradley née Neave
5. Violet Bradley
6.
7.
8.
9. Alan Bradley
10. Alice Lewcock née Bradley
11. Winifred Bradley née Gibbs
12. Dawn Lewcock née de Fraine
13. Caroline Lewcock
14. Catherine Bradley née Simpson
15. William Eli Bradley
16. Robert Bradley
17.
18.
19. Margaret Bradley née Gardner
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30. Betty Lewcock née Rich

31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47. Derek Coles
48. Alan Lewcock
49. John Lewcock
50.
51. Frank Bradley
52.
53.
54. Donald Bradley
55.
56.
57.

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

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Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

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Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

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Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

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Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

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Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Procrastination … again

I am procrastinating,  yet again, and experimenting with Scrivener.  I think recent vet's bills (a Cocker Spaniel with Pseudomonas, spaniel owners will understand) will mean I won't be paying for it until just before the trial runs out, but I can already see it will...

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RootsTech is coming back but postponed until 2021

  We all hoped and yesterday it was confirmed, that RootsTech is coming back to the ExCel next November. It's not clashing with Comic Con this year so hopefully food will be more accessible during the day. I felt that I had missed a great deal last time so I have...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

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Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

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Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Kidderminster weavers

Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and Sarah were married on the 11th July 1824 in the same church.

Thomas, Sarah and family lived in Churchfields in Kidderminster, which was in an area of weaver’s cottages built for the nearby carpet companies. Thomas was a handloom carpet weaver. In 1851, the family were all listed as working in the trade apart from Joseph and Ann (Ann’s listing as a nurse could just have meant looking after her little brother). Their oldest child, Phoebe, had died before 1835 when they gave their second daughter her name, and their youngest, Eliza, Joseph’s twin, was born and buried in 1846. They had eleven children, five of whom did not reach their fourth birthday.

Thomas Gamson and his family lived in Churchfields and later at 14 Mount Pleasant. This area was where most of the weavers lived. The houses were laid out in “courts”, that is with courtyards behind a group of houses containing the shared wash house, privy toilet and water pumped from the well. The houses were fairly small, with shared bedrooms. Often the houses and looms on upper floors were owned by the carpet masters.

The area they lived in was not very salubrious. In 1848, Thomas Simcox Lea and his nephew, George Price Simcox, who had workshops in the area, were ordered to make improvements to open ditches and privies on their properties in Mount Pleasant and Churchfields and in 1867, Churchfields was described as having “open cesspools overflowing with filth, wells into which the sewage has drained and rendered unfit for use and short of water”.  Two years later, a report on the sanitary state of the area mentioned that there were pigsties “scattered in all directions at the rear of houses and in crowded streets and alleyways” and “privies with open ashpits which became when wet, the most abominable cesspools”. It was the 1866 cholera outbreak which spurred the council into action and by 1874 there was a water supply and sewerage system in place.

By 1841, Thomas was already 35 and listed as a weaver. It is possible that he had been an apprentice and married when this was completed, as he was about 21 then, but without finding him in the records, we shall probably never know. Until the 1820s weavers took apprentices from the surrounding area or apprenticed their own sons. As the carpet industry expanded rapidly, this system became looser and less formal. Manufacturers would offer weavers a second loom and a youth would be sub-contracted even without being a full apprentice.


The weaver would collect his materials from the manufacturer and then was responsible for completing and returning the finished carpet. It was up to him how many hours he worked, but he would not be paid until he returned the finished product. He had to maintain the looms, employ the draw-boys, unless they were members of his own family, and provide coal for heating and candles for lighting. This would be shared if he worked in a loom-shop. He might also have to pay a bobbin-winder if there was no family member to do this and have to employ a drawer for each “half-weaver”. He would still have to pay for all this, even if he had no work.Weavers would often employ their own children from the ages of six or seven. They would begin with the simpler tasks of the drawer, for a few hours daily. At eight or nine years, they would start as drawers. A draw-boy might begin doing a small amount of weaving at the age of 12 or 13, particularly if he was working with his father and it was hoped to bring him onto the trade. At the age of 15 or 16, he might become a “half-weaver” on a sub-contracted loom. The weaver would provide candles, coal, oil, shuttles and other necessary items, which he would pay for from his half of the earnings. The “half-weaver” would be left with a clear half of what he earned at the loom. By the time he was 21, or earlier, he would be sufficiently skilled to be given his own loom by the manufacturer. Before he could start at his own loom, the weaver would have to pay “foot-ale”. Originally, “footing” was the payment to treat his shop mates to a celebration. This later became a compulsory payment when a man bought himself into the trade.

By the time Sarah was born in 1837, there were 24 factories and 2,000 home-based looms throughout the city.

Powerloom

The chances are that Thomas employed/apprenticed his two oldest sons and they all worked either at home or in one factory loft with Sarah acting as a draw-girl; by 1851 it was becoming common for girls to act as drawers. Although girls were employed as drawers, they were never able to become weavers and as they grew older would need to find other employment, perhaps in the factory as dyers, spinners or winders in the factory. Phoebe aged 16 was listed as a bobbin winder in 1851 so might have worked for her father. Sarah senior has no occupation.  Since she was born in Mile End, which was a centre of silk weaving, she and/or her family may have come to Kidderminster to find work as during the early 19th century it was becoming difficult for silk weavers in the Spitalfields area to find full employment.

Sometimes the looms were in the weavers’ cottages; sometimes they were gathered together in manufacturers’ lofts. If they worked in the lofts, they would be expected to work from roughly five or six in the morning until nine or ten at night with about two hours for meals depending on the hours the premises were open. The actual hours they worked depended on the regularity of work he received or how he divided his work and leisure time.

https://weaverscottages.info/3d-model-open.htm

When the piece was finished, it had to be sheared. All the loose ends had to be clipped, and the pile would have to be sheared for Wilton carpets. “This was a laborious task, involving the use of a large and very heavy set of shears, which had to be carefully balanced. The weavers claimed that this was the hardest and most exhausting part of their work, especially as it had to be done at the end of  pieces, prior to the “fall”, when the weaver was already very likely to be very tired.”

The finished carpet had to be taken to the warehouse on “falling” day – this was generally a Thursday and/or Saturday in Kidderminster, before 11 a.m. and if it was late, he would not be paid.  The carpet would be inspected and if all was well, the weaver would be paid and receive the pattern and yarn for the next job. A good weaver and draw-boy could weave a piece 30 yards long in a week, but the average would be nearer 25 yards. They would be paid about 1s a yard. Draw-boys would be paid between 4 and 6 shillings a week, so unless the draw boy was a relation, the weaver would have 18s left in his pocket. Carpet weavers were better paid than cloth weavers who would be paid about 12 shillings a week.

When the piece had been “felled” the weavers would take time off with “games and drinking the usual pastime”, especially if it was a Saturday. Sunday was a day of rest and also Monday was often a day when they did not work at all in Kidderminster. Then they would work all hours of the day and night to complete the work before the next “fall” day.

Thomas and his young family will have been affected by the strike in 1828 when 2,000 weavers walked out for five months.The masters had decided to reduce wages by 17 to 25 percent (depending on the account) to offset growing competition. In the end the weavers lost and returned to work. Not only did they lose wages, but the remaining masters instituted a back breaking 12 to 12 shift to make up for lost production.

Sarah’s mother died on 11th April 1852 of dropsy, aged 45. Thomas was the informant and their address was given as Queen Street.

He then married a widow who had had seven children, Thirza Pomroy née Wood, in 1859.

By 1861, only Thomas, Thirza and Joseph were in the household. They were living at 57 Churchfields. Thomas is still listed as a hand carpet weaver. Sarah was working In Ladywood, Birmingham as a servant. Ann had married Samuel Frost; Phoebe had married Charles Middleton and had a daughter, Sarah. John William was married to Mary Ann [unknown], had had the first three of their four children and was working as a driller, living in Blockhouse. The oldest son, William, was a power loom carpet weaver, had also married a Mary Ann and was living in Lark Hill, Kidderminster.

Sarah married Joseph Bradley in Ogley Hay on 28 Dec 1863 and her sister, Phoebe, and brother, William, were witnesses.

From 1871 until his death from hemiplegia (total paralysis of the arm, leg, and trunk on the same side of the body) and coma in 1886, Thomas and Thirza were living in Mount Pleasant, Kidderminster. The informant was his step daughter-in-law, Thirza Burcher. Thirza senior died in her early 90s in 1900.


BACK A GENERATION – continuing research!!

As Sarah (Nott)’s place of birth is given in 1851 as Mile End and is a fairly common surname as well as being prone to transcription, it is unlikely that we will ever know more about her. Thomas was born in Upper Penn, Staffordshire. Although his age varied by a year or two throughout the censuses, there is a possible baptism for him on 3rd June 1804. Two possible siblings were also baptised there: Phebe on 15th July 1807 and Henry on 31st October 1809. The parents were Thomas Gamston and Corinna/Corunnah/Koranah Smith (depending on the source), who may be the couple, both widowed, who married at St Peter’s  in Wolverhampton on 31st August 1803. (A Coranah Gamson married a William Taylor in Old Swinford, Worcestershire on 10th July 1814. He was stated as being widowed, though she wasn’t.) Upper Penn is about two miles south west of Wolverhampton, about 14 miles north of Kidderminster.

Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more

The Bradleys of Shropshire

  Bradley is far from an unusual surname and tracing them has been difficult, especially when births and marriages cannot be found!! This research follows the line back through certificates, census returns and parish registers. Neville Lewcock, grandson of...

read more

Alice Mary Bradley 1900-1993

  The paternal ancestry of Alice Mary Lewcock née Bradley. Carpet weavers, draymen and glassworkers from Shropshire to Walthamstow via Kidderminster and Camberwell. Alice Mary Bradley married Francis James Lewcock, son of James and Amy Lewcock. She was the...

read more

William Eli Bradley

William Eli Bradley and Catherine Simpson married on 5th June 1892 at St. Peter’s Church in Clerkenwell. They both gave their address 305 Bartholomew Buildings. William's occupation is glasscutter, Catherine's isn't stated, which was not unusual at that time....

read more

The Bradley Diamond Wedding 1952

  We do not know who most of the people are in this picture of the guests at their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebration in 1952. Were Catherine's Simpson siblings or her Whitehill cousins there? Perhaps William's siblings were guests. 1. Irene Lewcock née...

read more

Kidderminster weavers

  Sarah Gamson, future wife of Joseph Bradley and grandmother of William Eli, was the daughter of Thomas Gamson and Sarah Nott. She was born in Kidderminster on the 3rd December 1837 and baptised on the 26th of December at St Mary’s, in Kidderminster. Thomas and...

read more

Bradley Gallery

  These photographs all seem to have been taken at the same time. We can recognise Kate and William Bradley, Frank and Alma Bradley and Alice and Frank Lewcock. Who are the other people? Where were the pictures taken? What was the occasion? We think it might have...

read more

Catherine Gray Simpson

Catherine Gray Simpson, future wife of William Eli Bradley, was born on the 6th September 1872 at 10 David Street in Bridgeton, Glasgow, the oldest child of James Rae Simpson and Catherine Gray Whitehill.

read more