Category Archives: Genealogy

Who do I think I am?

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Well the new series has set me off again, and I thought this time I’d focus on my Dad’s side a bit as I’d been neglecting it trying to hunt down the Crawford Biscuit millions. The Bambers are very much a St Helens family – my dad, his dad and his grandfather we’re all born and brought up in St Helens – and it’s not until you go back to my great-great-grandfather James Bamber that we find a break with that tradition. He was born on 19th Feburary 1849, but not in St Helens – at some point in his early life he made the journey down the East Lancs from Wigan (we’re not talking the Donner Party here!)

The 1851 census finds him living in Parr (St Helens) at 159 Upper Parr St, with his parents William (26) & Jane (25), elder brother John (3) and younger sister Elizabeth (3 months). Also living with them is Elizabeth Gordon (13) who is apparantly Jane’s sister – not sure why she should be living with them at this point but they all give Wigan as their place of birth (even Elizabeth) so they can only just have made the move.

William’s trade is given as a Brick Layer, so we can assume he moved to St Helens for work – possibly at one of the glass works? Not had much luck tracing William or Jane on the 1841 census yet, and since they were both born before Civil Registration we’ll need some idea of where they were living in order to trace them in the Parish Records.

Switching back to James, we know he married Elizabeth Critchley on 28 November 1869 and on the marriage certificate her age is given as 20. Now the only Elizabeth Critchley I could find born in the vicinity in 1849 was born in Liverpool in the September of that year, but died before she reached the age of two – so I think we can rule her out. I decided that Elizabeth probably did what most of the rest of my female ancesters have done and lied about her age on the certificate – the trend seems to be to pretend you’re older than you are.

Anyway widening the search threw up an Elizabeth Critchley in the 1861 census, born and still living in Leigh (just down the East Lancs so a definite possibility) around 1850. Her father was John Critchley which matched up with the wedding certificate – except this John Critchley was a silk weaver and on the certificate he was a glass blower. Something wasn’t quite right, and sure enough on the 1871 census she was still unmarried and living Leigh with her parents – another one crossed off the list.

Critchley seems to be one of these names that the census takers had a lot of trouble with – on one census it will be spelt Chritchley and the next Critchly. So undeterred we widened the search a bit further still and found an Elizabeth Critchley on the 1861 census living in Eccleston (St Helens) and daughter of John Critchley (glass blower). The wedding certificate also gave Eccleston as the place of residence at the time of the marriage so clearly this must be the right Elizabeth, but her age turned out to be just 9 years old. Which would make her only 17 at the time of her wedding rather than 20 – an easy mistake to make I’m sure. It also explained why I couldn’t find her on the 1851 census – she hadn’t been born yet!

So we found her in the end, but what more do we know about Elizabeth apart from the fact she was born in 1852. Well she was living with her parents John (30) and Ann (26) at her grandmother Mary Critchley’s house – 20 Glover St, Eccleston. She had two younger sisters Mary Ann (7) and Margaret (2) and there was another family of seven (the Urch’s?!) lodging with them – I don’t know if it was a big house or just very cramped.

The Critchley’s were all born in and around St Helens, but the mother Ann is from South Shields – at the mouth of the River Tyne near Newcastle. Now how did she end up in St Helens? For everyone question you answer another one just pops up from nowhere!

On the 1851 census Mary is living with her three sons Thomas (22), John (20) and Thomas (18) in Sutton (St Helens) but is still widowed so no sign of hubby. I’d like to bet he was called Thomas though – why else would you have two son’s with the same name?!

A lot’s happened…

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…in the last week, just been too busy to write anything!

Last Thursday the first venue of the tour was announced – Shawn will be playing at the Bloomsbury Theater in London on the day that her new album (These Four Walls) is released in the UK (September 18th). There’s more dates planned for November which will hopefully be a bit nearer.

On Friday three birth certificates arrived in the post – I’d sent for them a few weeks ago but hadn’t actually thought about them until they arrived. We’re just about back to the start of Civil Registration in 1837 on most branches of the family tree but there’s still a few gaps to fill in, and these certificates completed three of them.

Thomas Wood and Ellen Knowles married in 1875 and their son William Wood was my mum’s paternal grandfather, and whilst we had their father’s names from the marriage certificate we had no idea about their mother’s names – two of my great-great-great-grandmother’s. Ellen’s birth certificate show’s her mother to be Ann Ireland, whilst Thomas’ certificate show’s his mother as Sarah Lightfoot – both new family names in the tree and something to seach for on the early censuses (all now online at Ancestry.co.uk).

The third certificate was for Martha Cross – the mother of my mum’s maternal grandmother (if you follow that!). She was born in 1840 so we really are at the limit of Civil Registration with this one, but it’s confirmed her mother as Ellen Wrench – we already knew her married name, but not her maiden name so we’ll have to delve into the Parish records in Plumley (Cheshire) to find out any more about the Wrench family!

Saturday was certainly the weather for a game of cricket, and we we’re playing against Kelburne at Whitehaugh in a 50 over game. We lost the toss and had to bowl first but restricted them to just 176-7 of their 50 overs – I even got a bowl this time and finished wicketless but with respectable figures of 9-4-17-0. In reply we knocked off the runs for the loss of just one wicket with over 10 overs to spare – didn’t even get my pads on never mind a bat.

Sunday was the Nick Jr Roadshow at Victoria Park in Glasgow, and we had tickets for the afternoon session so the three of us headed up with Audrey and Heather (Alan was on duty so missed out!). There was a stage show with Fifi, Dora, Pablo and Sporticus (to name but four) and separate areas for most of their favourite shows including a Thomas the Tank Engine Bouncy Castle – we just about had to drag Megan and Heather away as they were closing up for the day.

I’ve been down at Alderley Edge this week for a team meeting, so that was the first long run for the new car and it passed the test with flying colours – the climate control was just what the doctored order given the weather, and looks like i’m still getting around 32mpg (much the same as the last one). Park’s have just phoned to say the iPod adaptor has finally arrived too – although they can’t fit it until next Friday (well they could have done it next Wednesday but I need the car then!).

Picked up the new Paul Simon album (Surprise) on the way down as it’s been well reviewed and I must say it’s growing on me. I’m not a big fan of his solo stuff, but this is a bit of change of style – it’s been produced (and in some cases co-written) with Brian Eno so there’s a few more synths than you would normally expect, and it’s all the better for it. Well worth a listen I’d say!

And finally Virgin have upgraded our broadband to 8mbps – nearly three months after they promised too. I found the DSL ZoneUK site a week or two ago – it uses google maps to work out how far you are from your exchange. It’s pretty neat and it suggested we should expect around 5mbps given the distance to the exchange which is up in the village. At the moment we seem to be getting about 4.9mbps from our connection according to the speed test at ADSLGuide – so that seems to be about right…

That’s more like it…

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Well we’re all still coughing and sniffling to one degree or another, but it was generally a better week than the preceding one. Megan’s toenail is a pretty shade of deep blue, but still attached to her toe and she’s back to school nursery today which has cheered her up. Mum can’t seem to shift her cough but a dose of amoxycillin has sorted out Dad (more or less!).

The Reds have suddenly remembered how to put the ball in the net, scoring eight goals in two games, and it looks like Clydesdale Vs could be heading for promotion after beating Giffnock (our nearest rivals) 2-1. There’s just two games to play and we’re sitting on top of the league…

We also finally received Samuel Meredith’s birth certificate, but it’s not really clarified anything for us. His mother is listed as Hannah Meredith (which we didn’t know so that’s something I guess) but there’s no father given – so we have to assume that the John Cook on his wedding certificate is his stepfather. Unfortunately it’s not given us any more to go on – there’s no sign of either Hannah or Samuel on any census before 1881, where Samuel appears with his new wife Lydia, so that’s a dead end.

We don’t know how old Hannah was when she had Samuel so finding her birth certificate will be tricky, and there’s no sign of a Hannah Meredith marrying a John Cook in the marriage index between Samuel’s birth and later marriage to Lydia Robinson. To make matters worse there’s more John Cooks than you can shake a stick at, and as we know he’s a waterman he could have been living just about anywhere when the census was taken – so that’s a dead end too.

Time to focus on a different branch of the tree I think…

The Merediths

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We sent for a marriage certificate a few weeks ago, and its finally turned up – the GRO are obviously still a bit busy in the aftermath of the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are! Anyway it was for my grandad’s grandparents (mother’s side in both instances) – Samuel Meredith and Lydia Robinson. We knew they got married around 1877 but not much more than that, so the certificate confirmed the date of the marriage (6th May 1877) and the location – Church of St Mary in Widnes.

So far not so very interesting, however we were also looking for their father’s names in order to continue the search, and that was where it gets a bit more unusual. Lydia’s father is listed as John Robinson (a waterman) which is not to strange, but Samuel’s father is listed as John Cook (a coachman). So why is Samuel Meredith’s father going by the name of Cook?

The short answer is that I’ve no idea – I can’t find hide nor hair of Samuel on the 1871 Census or any earlier one, and there’s just too many John Cooks to bother with until we’ve more information to narrow it down.

I did track down a Samuel Meredith born in Runcorn around the right time (1857) on the index of births though, so I’ve sent for that certificate as well to see if we can shed any light on what’s going on.

Gramps Update

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I’ve recently updated the gramps software we use to trace our family tree to the latest version (v2.0.9), and have been experimenting with the new reporting options.

The website generation has been improved, so that you now get a tree of ancestors displayed for each person – you can see for yourself by clicking on the our family tree link on the right. It’s definitely better but it’s still a bit hard to see the bigger picture.

For the bigger picture though there’s a new relationship graph, which renders all the people and their relationship to each other as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) image. This is actually quite impressive, but you will need support for SVG files to be able to view it – the latest release of the Firefox brower has native support but its a bit limited (no zoom facility).

You’re better off downloading the Adobe SVG Viewer plugin as that well let you zoom in to the image so you can actually read the details – it will work with both Internet Exporer and Firefox (provided you disable the native SVG support in Firefox).

For the more adventurous there’s the excellent Inkscape – an open source SVG editor which will run on Linux, Windows and Mac OS X – giving you the capability to edit the SVG if you’re that way inclined.

Once you’re SVG enabled you can click on the our family tree – svg link to the right to see the full tree and all the connections – there are currently over 300 people in the tree and all connected one way or another!

The first time we were able to generate the graph it highlighted a number of errors and omissions in the data we’d collected – we actually had two completely unconnected graphs thanks to a missing relationship, and several people that didn’t appear to be related to anyone.

We’ve fixed all those now and the graph is really quite fascinating – so much so that we’ve sent for some certificates to increase the coverage…

A New Tree and a Grant of Probate

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The latest version of the Gramps software we use to track our family tree has a new engine for generating a website based on the data you’ve entererd. I’m yet to be convinced it’s an improvement over the previous version, but you can judge for yourself here – or by clicking on the link on the right.

I’ve not done much since the last update on the Crawfords, except reorganising our folder full of certificates and census searches to make it easier to find things – and more importantly to find out areas that are missing and therefore worthy of further investigation.

In other news, we’ve finally recieved the Grant of Probate for dealing with my Dad’s estate – which is a relief, but it does mean I’ve a whole lot of people to write to again…

James Crawford

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The 1851 Census is now online at Ancestry.co.uk so I’ve been doing a little more digging into the Crawford Line.

We discovered that William Sherratt had married Eliza Crawford in 1859, and that on the 1871 Census Eliza’s father – James Crawford – was living with them at 16 Perry Street in Runcorn.

Searching the 1861 Census show James Crawford was then living with his wife Margaret, a few houses along at 105 Perry Street – along with three sons Jonathan (22), Henry (20) and Edwin (11). On this census James’ profession is listed as a labourer at the Soap Works, which was quite common in Runcorn at the time. William and Eliza Sherratt are listed living at 116 Perry Street – I don’t know if that means they moved to number 16 sometime between 1861 and 1871 or the street just got renumbered!

Going back to the 1851 Census James and Margaret Crawford are listed living at 107 Halton Lane in Runcorn with six children – William (21), Mary (20), Eliza (15), Jonathan (12), Henry (10) and Edward (1) (presumably Edwin on the 1861 Census). Also living with them is a Henry Crawford (29) who is listed as James’ brother – however both are just shown as labourers so still no clues to the biscuit connection.

However both the brothers and the eldest son William are shown as being born in Duddon, which is on the road between Chester and Tarporley, so the next step would seem to be to investigate the Crawfords of that area to see what we can find.

Eliza Crawford

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We’ve discovered that George Sherratt (my maternal grandmother’s father) was born in Perrey Street, Runcon in 1873 – his parents being William Sherratt and Eliza Sherratt nee Crawford. My mum’s middle name was Crawford and the story was that there was some link to the Crawford family of biscuit fame (see Custard Creams and Bourbons) but it was never clear to anyone quite what the link was.

Eliza is the first Crawford to turn up in the family tree investigation, so has obviously become the center of attention. I’ve now sent for William and Eliza’s marriage certificate so we can continue back up the tree, unfortunately their ages both put their date of birth around 1837 – the start of civil registration – so there’s a chance we’ll have to resort to parish records for birth certificates.

A trawl through the 1871 census has thrown up the Sherratt family living at No. 16 Perrey Street – George obviously wasn’t around at this point but he doesn’t seem to be short of elder siblings. The cenus shows Louisa (10), James (8), Thomas (5), William (3) and Emma (6 months – strangely listed as a son!) all living with them along with a boarder going by the name James Crawford. We don’t know too much about James as yet, other than he’s aged 63 and a widower – there must be a fair chance it’s Eliza’s father, but until we get the wedding certificate we won’t know for sure.

The search for the biscuit millions looks like it my prove fruitless however, as his occupation is simply given as labourer – not wealthy biscuit baron… :D