The Ambleside Connection

Five children of Joseph Travis CLAY and Jane WHITWELL were born in Rastrick, Yorkshire. Arthur Travis, who would marry “cousin Edith”, told most census enumerators that he had entered the world in Loughrigg, Westmorland. Loughrigg has a special place in my heart. I was raised on the flat Holderness Plain and the small hill near Ambleside was the first “mountain” I climbed.

I have been unable to locate the house where Arthur was born but today, while delving deeper into the BATES family of Skircoat, I happened upon another reason for his mother being in the Ambleside area in September 1845.

Jane was a Westmorland girl, born in Kendal. Perhaps Arthur arrived early while she spent summer days with her ain folk.

Concentrate now. Edith Beaumont Bates’ father Benjamin had the middle name Hopkinson. An older sister of his, Elizabeth, married one Benjamin HOPKINSON. He was born in Demerara, South America, but married in Halifax. In 1841 he was living at “Low Field, Windermere” with Elizabeth and their three chldren. This may be the present day “Lowfield” in Bowness, about six miles from Ambleside. Not long afterwards they moved to Chapel Hill in Ambleside, just over a mile from streets that now have “Loughrigg”  names and two miles from the cluster of cottages under Loughrigg Fell.

The Bates, Clay and Hopkinson families may have been aware of each other’s existence long before marriages were contemplated. Closer ties may surface as I do more work on Joseph Bates and the children he had with Rebecca WALKER. I have found a dozen so far, though the largest grouping on the FamilySearch Shared Tree is four. It is taking forever.

Found Object 61 · Shark

Cousin Edith

Anyone who visits Filey St Oswald Church can see what Edith Beaumont CLAY looked like as she neared the end of her short life.

Benjamin Hopkinson BATES, born in Skircoat, Halifax, sought his fortune in the Raj. A merchant, aged just twenty-one, he married Susannah SMITH in Calcutta Cathedral.

Susannah, daughter of a British Army Officer, had been born in West Bengal but she sailed to the Home Country with Benjamin and died in Halifax, aged 23. In February 1845 Benjamin married Elizabeth LEDGARD.

In partnership with William GOODALL, Benjamin traded in Skircoat as a Cloth Merchant and Manufacturer “under the style or firm of Isaac Goodall & Son” but in 1847 the business failed. Her Majesty’s Bankruptcy Commissioners pursued Benjamin to the end of his days.

There were not too many of them, but enough to decamp to the Wirral, in Cheshire and bring two children into the world. Firstborn Henry Ledgard arrived towards the end of 1849, followed by Edith Beaumont in late September the following year.

Before Edith could form memories of her father, he was gone. His death was registered in Halifax in the final quarter of 1851, and the birth and death of his second son, Arthur Percy, nine months later, on the Wirral.

Maybe Benjamin died of despair.

It isn’t clear how straitened the circumstances of widow Elizabeth were. The decadal snapshots show a woman “living on her own means” but with relatives until 1891 when, at the age of 75, she occupies a property in Castle Fields, Rastrick, looked after by an unmarried servant, Lucy Ann BYCROFT, aged 33.

In 1861, Henry is found at Rishworth Charity School in Halifax. Edith is resident at “Ladys School”, Priest Hill in Wetherby. Her aunt, Jane LEDGARD, is described as a “boarder” there, aged 50 and unmarried. In 1881, Jane and sister Elizabeth live together at “Pospert House” in Hipperholme, Halifax.

Ten years earlier, Edith and her mother are living in Woodhouse, Halifax, with widow Ann MACAULEY, a son by a first marriage and daughter by a second. Elizabeth is described as Ann’s “2nd cousin” and Edith as her “3rd cousin”. The search for common ancestors of Ann ARMSTRONG and Elizabeth LEDGARD is ongoing.

I mentioned many moons ago that a portal opened up for me on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. Disappointingly, it closed a few weeks later, but not before I logged some of the famous names. I’m sure I can match a few of Edith’s. Back in a few minutes.

Yup, it seems I was briefly a cousin to Edith, sharing a run of Plantagenet Kings of England and a few Comtes d’Anjou but with our paths diverging before and after.

There are a few more connections and merges to be made before I put the photo of Arthur and Edith’s headstone on the Shared Tree. Check on Edith’s father here.

 Flower 27 · Yellow Iris Seed Pods

Carr Naze Pond

Fishing for Thomas Mackrill

I have cast my net into the sea of sources in the hope of catching Thomas, husband of Margaret, the second daughter of Barnet MURPHY and Susanna nee CHAMBERS (see A Childhood Memory).

The marriage of Thomas MACKRALL (sic) and Margaret was registered in Tadcaster in 1857. The 1861 Census places them at the same address as Margaret’s widowed mother but separates the two households. Thomas is 32 years-old, working as a flax dresser and his birthplace is given as “Holden” in the Findmypast transcription. In the page image it looks like “Hebden” to me – a small settlement near Pateley Bridge. Margaret is nine years younger than her husband and a winder in the flax mill. The couple have two children already, Mary Ellen and Francesca.

By 1871 they have moved to Selby. Margaret has enough work at home with six children aged between one and thirteen. Thomas is still a flax dresser. The transcription does not give birthplaces but the page image clearly shows Thomas entering the world in “Beverly”. In 1881 this becomes “Bewerley”, half a mile south of Pateley Bridge. The family has returned to Clifford, just outside Tadcaster, and four children have been added to the roster.

Something happens in the 1880s. It isn’t possible to determine how long Thomas lives apart from Margaret but on census night 1891 he is in Clifford with two of his youngest children and with Margaret’s elder sister Ann, 56 years old, a seamstress and unmarried. Thirty miles to the west, at Northowram near Halifax, Margaret, 53, shares  her home with four of the older children.

Thomas dies before the next census. His young sons move to Halifax to live with their mother. Ann lives alone in Clifford and her death is registered soon after the census, in the June Quarter of 1901.

I had yet to find a record of the birth or death of Thomas. Then, this christening in Pateley Bridge appeared.

Thomas MACKRILL: son of James of Wath in the Parish of Kirby Malzard (sic), Miner, & wife Elizabeth, daughter of Humphrey & Hannah HANNAM. Born 21 December 1830; baptized 7 April 1831.

A shock awaited me on the FamilySearch Shared Tree.

I didn’t doubt for a moment that this fragment of pedigree was correct. Two children with middle names honouring maternal grandparents were clinchers. I had come within a whisker of making the kind of mistake on FamilySearch that I have previously spent hours correcting.

Somewhat ironically, I then found the death registration of “not my Thomas”, in Halifax in 1887, aged 56.

I have lost hope of catching Margaret’s husband but will add his children to the Shared Tree when I find the time.

Found Object 50 · Memory Stone

Royal Parade