Thomas Knapton Squared

I messaged a contributor to the two-in-one representation of Thomas Jennings Knapton on FamilySearch Tree and received a swift response. Graham told me that his Thomas had died in the Warren Vale Disaster. He wasn’t sure how to correct the record, so I offered to do it if he gave me the green light to do so.

After being given the go-ahead, I first sought to complete the coal miner’s family – and found five children to add to the existing four. I then removed “my” Thomas Jennings Knapton from the Rawmarsh family’s page.


I’m sure there are corrections still to be made to the information illustrated above, but the main task of presenting two individuals rather than one hybrid coal miner/draper is done.

If you have the eyes of an eagle and read the account of the 1851 tragedy at Warren Vale, you may notice a discrepancy in the age of John Knapton. In the account he is said to be the son of Thomas and aged 16. His age at death in the GRO Index is 14 – and his birth was registered in the second quarter of 1850. I have a vivid image in mind of a child aged only eight or nine working in a mine, an illustration in a 60s school textbook. So, if John went down with his father at age 11 going on 12 there may not have been a sanction against Thomas. Perhaps there are other explanations for the discrepancies in John’s age in various sources.

As if the thought of over fifty miners losing their lives in the methane explosion isn’t sad enough, the birth registration of Thomas and Sarah’s youngest child indicates that the mother had recently conceived when her husband was killed. Thomas would not have known he would become a father for the ninth time. It is no comfort that he was spared the grief of burying young Sarah shortly after her birth.


Given the carryings-on in the Houses of Commons and Lords this past week, it is hardly surprising that Cream’s ‘Politician’ has become an earworm for me. And then, a couple of days ago, near the end of a Jonathan Kellerman thriller…

The murderer’s daughter, Grace, is having a long-distance phone call with her lawyer and former social worker, Wayne. They are discussing an acquaintance, and Wayne is becoming angry.

‘Not very human,’ said Wayne, with sudden fury in his voice, ‘You’re the one with the Ph.D. Grace. Tell me: Why doesn’t evolution select against human monsters?’

A host of answers flooded Grace’s head. Including: Where else would we get our politicians?

Next stop civil disobedience, martial law, civil war? The wilful destruction of democracy by human monsters isn’t going to be pretty.


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.