Doubting Thomas

KNAPTONthosjenningsThis is the duplicate record for Thomas Jennings KNAPTON that caught my attention yesterday. Born in 1815, “my” Thomas was 41 years old when he married Sarah SMITH in Homerton, Middlesex. The couple’s first child, Annie Elizabeth, can be seen in the screenshot (left) You will notice that the children with the other Sarah were born between 1840 and 1849. It is theoretically possible that this was Thomas’ first family.

I already knew, however, that my Thomas Jennings, masquerading as “NAPTON”, was working as a draper’s assistant in High Ousegate, York in 1841, a single man living in the home of his employer, Robert BAINBRIDGE.

The GRO Index was available first thing this morning. Checking the births of the quartet of children revealed that their mother’s surname at birth was also SMITH. At the 1841 census, a Thomas Knapton and his wife Sarah were enumerated in Rawmarsh, Rotherham, with two children age 3 and 1. John, the youngest child in the screenshot, had an older brother, William. This Thomas worked as a coal miner. The next ten years saw the arrival of Mary, Elizabeth, Ann and George. Mary, of course, was missing from the 1851 household in Green Lane, Rawmarsh, but William, 13, was working down the pit and John, 10, would soon follow him below ground. With three wage-earners towards the end of 1851, the family may have been managing just fine.

Five days before Christmas, Thomas and John were killed in a methane explosion at the Warren Vale pit. They were among 32 miners whose funerals took place on the 23rd December. Nine more were buried the following day. In all, 52 men and boys lost their lives in the disaster. There is an account of the event online here.

Mr Burgin went down the pit again and gave an account of the operations that went on to […] inspect the mine and recover the bodies.

“We then got some tarpaulin sheets and nailed them in place of the trapdoors and stoppings, which were all blown down. We continued on the level where we found six bodies. We then went to the No.3, or far most bank, and found Thomas Knapton, Henry Gothard, Joshua Bugg, Charles Sylvester and Benjamin Lane.

They were all dead…

In 1861, Elizabeth, now 17, and her brother George, 12, were living with their uncle John Knapton, a coal owner and farmer. I couldn’t find their mother’s death as a Knapton. I think she remarried before 1861 but I haven’t attempted to trace her.

A sad case of mistaken identity on the Shared Tree.

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