Sunday, 23 April 2017

Rose Tozer - my great grandmother


Of course we can't know all the facts of our ancestor's lives, but as we put together the puzzle pieces of the information that we find we begin to get a small glimpse into their life.
My great grandmother's life began with sadness and ended in tragedy and in between she had more than her fair share of trials.
Rose Tozer was born on the 9th October 1871 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire , the third child of William Frederick Tozer and Eliza Lowman Challis. Her father had his own prosperous painting and decorating business and was even chosen to decorate the interior of the new Corn Exchange in Wellingborough.
Sadly just seven months after Rose was born her father contracted an ear infection which without antibiotics spread to his brain and caused his death, he had just turned 32. William left a Testament bequeathing all his household goods, furniture books etc and the sum of twenty five pounds to his dear wife and his three children.
Even though Rose's mother Eliza was from Ramsgate in Kent she had a younger brother Joseph Robert Challis who was living in Hull, East Yorkshire. Possibly Joseph heard about someone who needed a housekeeper and recommended his sister, because in 1881 Eliza and her three children were living in Hull where she was working as a housekeeper for Prussian born merchant Solomon Henry, Rose was 10 years old. I don't know in which year Eliza and her three children moved up to Hull, if they were living by Solomon Henry in 1874 then they would have been present when a fire broke out in Solomon's warehouse next to his house on Gibson street which was stocked with Russian yarn, hemp, flax and rope. I also wonder whether Solomon was a friendly man to work for because I found an article in the Hull Daily Mail of January 1866 in which he was charged with brutally assaulting his wife and was in prisoned for 21 days. Solomon died on the 16th December 1881.
Rose's mother Eliza remarried on the 14th December 1889 to grocer and widower George Dunn, Rose would have been 18 and was probably living and working elsewhere. In the 1891 census she is recorded as being a domestic nurse and was visiting with her brother Frederick Tozer and his young family at 5 Sydenham Terrace, Hull. In March 1899 Rose was working as a domestic servant and she was lodging at 27 Strickland Street. It was here that she admitted to stealing a gold ring from one of the other lodgers but thankfully she was given a second chance as it was said that she had borne an excellent character previous to the event.
A year later on the 2nd of June 1900 Rose married a young man from Batley, West Yorkshire, his name was Harry Popplewell. Harry was 23, and 5 years younger than Rose, he had been working down a coal mine since at least the age of 14. I don't know what had brought him to Hull and how he met Rose but I remember my Nana telling me that his parents weren't happy with the marriage and resented Rose.
They married in Hull at St. Silas Parish church and Rose's brother William Henry Tozer was one of the witnesses. After their marriage they moved to Harry's home town of Batley and 6 months later Rose gave birth to their daughter, my grandmother Violet Popplewell on the 12th December 1900, maybe this was the reason that Harry's parents weren't so happy about the marriage.
Two years and two months after the birth of daughter Violet, Rose's husband Harry died of silicosis, a disease of the lungs caused by his many years of working in the coal mines, he was only 25 years of age.
As a young widow and mother Rose seems to have followed the path of her mother and taken up a job as a housekeeper to a recently widowed father of 6 daughters living in Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. Before the year was out on the 30th January 1904 she was married to this widower whose  name was William Whiting.
It was a busy life for Rose, not only had she her own daughter Violet but 6 headstrong step daughters ranging in age from 3 to 13 years to raise and she also had three more children to William Whiting, Ivy Maud in December of 1904, William Lloyd George in 1910 and Hector in 1914.
According to my Nana, Rose also helped to run a small Bed and Breakfast at the house they were living at, number 40 Quay Road, with all the extra work that it entailed. At the beginning of the 20th Century trips to the sea side were becoming ever more popular and Bridlington was becoming a favorite holiday address.
Rose's marriage to William was not very successful, it had obviously began as a marriage of convenience and apparently William was a ladies man and probably had some affairs, and I am sure that Rose must have felt that she was being used as a free child minder and housekeeper. Rose probably had her faults as well as I have heard from one of William's granddaughters that Rose drank and once she was so angry with one of her step daughters that she cut off her hair.
On the 25th of April 1917 William Whiting sent in a petition to divorce his wife Rose, accusing her of committing adultery on several occasions with a certain William Henry Wood. William was awarded custody of his two eldest children to Rose, Ivy aged 12 and William Lloyd George aged 6, Hector aged 2 was allowed to remain with his mother. It must have been heartbreaking for Rose to leave her children but in those days women didn't have any rights, Rose moved back to Hull with my Nana, Violet and young Hector, I have no idea whether she was allowed to have contact with her other children though I do know that my Nana kept in contact with her step sisters in Bridlington and would often visit them. William Whiting remarried shortly after the divorce came through but that marriage wasn't very successful either and didn't last long.
Rose lived the rest of her life in Hull where her mother and brothers were living, daughter Violet married in 1922 and had three children who Rose was able see. In 1927 her mother Eliza died at the age of 85 and just three years later on the 5th of December 1930 Rose decided to end her own life by putting a cushion in her gas oven and turning on the gas. She had been feeling depressed and young Hector who would have been 16 at the time had borrowed her last bit of money. At the time of her death my Nana, Violet who was at home with her three young children remembers seeing a silver rainbow on the Christmas tree, Nana would often cry around Christmas time, thinking of her mother. 
Rose was only 59 when she died maybe if she had lived I would have met her, my Nana gave me a small cut glass perfume bottle with a silver lid that was from her mother, when I open the lid I can still smell her perfume. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Lightening and Windmills

This newspaper article is from the West Kent Guardian and is dated 5th September 1835

William Freeman was my 4th great grandfather, he was born around 1772 and died on the 19th May 1841 in Upnor, Frindsbury, Kent.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017


My husband is a real Dutch Miller and his family have been Millers since 1818, so I was pleased to discover that my maternal line also has several Millers.
In a previous blog of July 2016 I shared a newspaper article about my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin who had been a Miller his whole life but died resulting from a fall on the stairs in the Mill. Robert's father,  Robert Orwin was also a Miller and he married a Miller's daughter, Sarah Freeman daughter of William Freeman of Frindsbury in Kent.
Several years ago I discovered a book in the bookcase of my father in law, 'Watermills and Windmills - a historical survey of their rise, decline and fall as portrayed by those of Kent' by William Coles Finch, first published in 1933. What a lovely surprise to discover that the author had interviewed an eighty one year old Miller friend called John J. Freeman who was the first cousin of my great great Grandfather Robert Orwin, his father Thomas Freeman was the brother of Robert Orwin's mother Sarah Freeman.
During one of the interviews John J. Freeman told the author that his Grandfather had built the House Mill in Frindsbury, Kent and that his Grandmother was the mother of twenty-six children! She lived to 101 years of age and was "a veritable Amazon," a masterful woman of wonderful personality.
I have been able to confirm that Sarah Freeman's mother, also named Sarah did infact live to be 101 she died on the 13th February 1873 and was living at the time with her widowed daughter Esther Duly. That would put her year of birth as being 1772, and according to census returns she was born in London, or more specifically according to one census, Tooley Street, which is Bermondsey, South London.
Up until recently I had only been able to find the baptisms of 11 children born in the Frindsbury area, alot of children but not the 26 mentioned in the book. I had also searched for a marriage between a William Freeman and a Sarah sometime before the birth of the first child that I had found who was born in 1800, but I couldn't find any that fitted, until I realized that the chance was great that William and Sarah did infact have more children who where born before 1800 in another area and that they where married much earlier.
I eventually found a marriage in 1787 between a William Freeman, widower and Sarah Walker, spinster in Bermondsey, London, could this be the right one? I also found the baptism of a Sarah Walker on the 9th September 1772 in Bermondsey, this fits with the date of birth of our "Amazon"! I still need to confirm things but I have been able to find a few more possible Freeman children who where married in Frindsbury but I haven't been able to find their baptism as yet, and whether I will be able to find 26 children is another question.
Another fact gleaned from Finch's book was that the uncle of John
J. Freeman was killed by the revolving sweeps of Kimmin's Mill in Frindsbury, the sweeps reached very close to the ground and were the cause of the fatal accident.
I had always assumed that the uncle was an adult working with the Mill when this accident occured, until very recently I found a newspaper report via the website Britishnewspaperarchive . The accident occured in September 1813, William's young son George who would have been 2 1/2 at the time, had wandered away from home and was hit on the head by the sweeps and died shortly afterwards. How sad to loose your child in such a way and once again shows how dangerous windmills can be.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Dad - George Robert Strickland

 My Dad, George Robert Strickland was born on the 19th December 1927, the youngest of seven children. He was named George after his mother’s half brother George Curtois and Robert after his father, though as a child everyone called him broncho because he was always suffering from bronchitis, later he was called Bob.
 Dad had four elder sisters, Annie the eldest would have been 17 when he was born, Alice 16, Grace 14 and Lily 11, so he had lots of mothers to help look after him, one of his sisters remembered accidentally sticking a safety pin in him whilst changing his nappy. Dad also had two brothers, Frederick who was exactly seven years older and Norman who was 5 at the time.
One of Dad's earliest memories was playing for hours with his toy cars under the table where he would have his own little town, a bit like his great grandson Julius.

The Second World War began in the September of 1939 when Dad was 11 years old, then a few weeks after Dad's 12th birthday his Father died and then fifteen months later his Mother died of cancer. Dad remembers the day that she died, his aunt Annie was staying to help with the care of his mother and Dad was asked to go to the hospital to pick up his mother’s ration card. During his journey home he passed a clock and can remember looking at the time, twenty minutes to three, and as he looked at the clock the thought entered his head that his mother had died. When he arrived home his Aunt came to the door and confirmed his fear, she had died around the time that he had looked at the clock. 
Dad was 13 when his mother died, so after the funeral there had been a discussion as to whether he would go to Chesterfield to live with his uncle George or return with his auntie Annie who lived in South Shields, it was decided that he would go with Aunt Annie. Dad finished his schooling in South Shields and then got a job delivering newspapers, but he wasn’t very happy living with his aunt so after a while he decided to travel back to Hull. He arrived back at their house on Southcoates Avenue to find it looking dark and deserted, he stood for awhile outside remembering his mother in the last days of her illness, eventually he knocked on the door of the neighbours and heard that Alice was away and that both Fred and Norman were at sea. The neighbours gave him a key and he let himself in but the house was cold and creepy, he didn’t feel like staying there on his own, so he decided to go round to his sister Lily’s house at 71 Hopkins Street. The streets were by then completely dark because of the blackout and Dad had a large suitcase with him that he had to drag along, but thankfully Lily was home and surprised but pleased to see him.

In the next couple of years Dad had many jobs such as butchers assistant, grocers assistant, builders assistant and a projectionist at the cinema. When he was 16 he got his provisional drivers licence and applied for a job at a laundry. When they asked whether he could drive he replied yes even though he had never driven a car in his life, he was told that he could start on Monday. When he arrived on Monday morning he saw a large van which resembled an ambulance and he was told that an elderly man called Tommy Anderson would be showing him the route. Luckily for Dad Tommy drove first, but around midday he said that Dad could take over. Dad put the shift into first gear and then started jolting down the road like a kangaroo. Eventually he got the hang of it until he had to turn a corner and tried to do this in third gear, he spun round the corner and almost rammed a horse and cart off the road giving both Tommy and the horse a near heart attack. Luckily the roads weren’t very busy in those days and within a short time Dad had learnt to drive and was doing the rounds on his own.

Just before the end of the war the government asked Butlins to take their amusement rides out of storage and to travel around Britain with them to help keep the people away from the coasts and the dangers of sea mines. Dad joined this travelling fair in Hull and travelled for several months around with them working on the dodgem cars and other rides. At the end of the European war he was back in Hull and was able to take part in all the street festivities. He was then offered another job by Butlins, to help get their holiday camp in Filey back in order for the opening of the summer. After a few months he got another job as a Taxi driver in Filey. One evening in August 1945 he went to pick up a young lady at the air force base, when he arrived he was told to go into the mess hall because an important announcement was about to be made. Everyone was listening to the radio, then it was announced that Japan had capitulated and the war was over, it was quiet for a few minutes until it had sunk in and then everyone started clapping and cheering.

Dad worked for a short while longer in Filey and then at the age of 18 he went into the National Service, he spent 6 weeks training in Northern Ireland and then a further 3 months in Cirencester. After his training he was shipped over to Egypt and got very seasick on the way. Dad didn’t enjoy his time in Egypt, it was dirty and hot and you had to watch out for scorpions, but he did learn to speak the language a little, at least he learned to swear in Arabic. Whilst in Egypt he was diagnosed with a mild form of tuberculosis, so he was sent back to Britain to get better.
After spending some time at a sanatorium Dad returned to Hull and decided to go back to school, he enrolled at the Greg School of typing and shorthand. This must have been one of his best decisions because whilst attending this school he met and fell in love with one of the other students, a young girl called Doreen Orwin. Bob and Doreen married on the 25th March 1950 in St. Peter’s Church in Anlaby.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Poldark and my Stickland family

Recently the BBC has televised a new Poldark series based on the books by Winston Graham and set in Cornwall at the end of the 18th Century.
The Poldark books portray what life was like for my Stickland ancestors who also lived in Cornwall and like Ross Poldark invested in tin and copper mines.
 My 5th great grandfather John Stickland was the only child of Robert Stickland and Bridget Pryor, he was christened in Gwinear church on the 4th of September 1734, his father was a Yeoman which means that he was a small land owner below the class of gentry, probably today we would say upper middle class.
In 1749 Robert Stickland made a contract with landowners Frances Gifford of Lanherne and Henry Arundell of Wardor to lease the Tenement of Coswinsawsin, a very small hamlet about 2 miles north east of Gwinear and bordering onto Baripper and Penponds. Lease contracts or Indentures as they were called, were usually very long winded, especially in Cornwall because of all the mineral rights. The contract allows the owners of the land to set up a mine on the land if minerals should be found, and also timber rights to any trees growing on the land.
John probably received a good education and at the young age of 22 he became church warden of Gwinear church, when he was 19 years old his maternal grandfather Christopher Pryor died and left his estate of Trenowith to John and it seems that John also inherited the tenement of Tappard which had been in the possession of the Pryor family and located about 2 miles south west of Gwinear, as he is recorded on a map as being a tenant of this land.
In 1761 when John was 27 his uncle William Stickland died leaving his prosperous merchandising business to his nephew, so John Stickland had become a wealthy merchant with possession of two tenements in Gwinear parish and a Quay by Hayle harbour. Hayle was a busy and thriving port, and having access to a quay and being able to trade with the local mines etc put John Stickland in a very prosperous and esteemed position.
On the 22nd of January 1763 John Stickland married Mary Rogers the youngest daughter of David Rogers, Gentleman, Merchant  and mine adventurer. Adventurers were something like shareholders, they would invest money into a mine and if the workings were good they would receive a share in the profits, but sometimes they would invest or put money into a mine that was failing and would end up being out of pocket.
John was not only busy with his Merchant's business but was also investing in tin and copper mines of which I have several Indentures. In 1772 John decided to broaden his mining ventures and this time in partnership with a John Harvey of St.Columb Major, on the 4th of April 1772 an Indenture was made between William Angove, gentleman of St. Columb Major, John Stickland, merchant of Gwinear and John Harvey, yeoman of St. Columb Major, the mine was one of the Herland mines situated by Gwinear.
 The Indenture states that John Stickland and John Harvey agree to pay William Angove one eighteenth part or share of any tin, copper, lead or other metals or minerals that they should find, and they also agree to appoint Nicholas Harvey, brother of John Harvey and son in law of William Angove as mine captain.
 Old Herland mine is known to have raised over seven thousand pounds worth of ore in 1756 whilst on the 20th February 1760 a sale of 275 tons of ore from Herland and Drannack fetched over two thousand pounds. The working of the Herland group continued until the year 1762, although certain small sales of ore are recorded as late as 1778, it seems that at the time that John Stickland made his contract production was not at it’s best. The reason for this was probably the fact that the market was suddenly swamped by a great flood of cheap copper found in the Parys mine in Anglesey in Wales.
 John and Mary had a total of six children, one of whom died when she was seven years old.
In the beginning of 1773 John Stickland is cited in an advertisement for a Quay in Hayle, the advertisement was placed in the newspaper dated March 8th 1773, the advertisement reads as follows :
“CORNWALL to be set for three, five, or seven years, TREMEARN’S KEYS, IN HAYLE, Together or in parcels, with the cellar, loft, dwelling-house, and two acres of land there to adjoining, the latter having been long a victualling-house, and has now a licence. The keys and cellars are very advantageously situated for business, and have been many years in the coal and corn trade &c.------For which purpose a survey will be held on the said premises on Friday the 26th day of this instant March, at Three in the afternoon. For particulars enquire of Hugh Edwards, at St. Ives, or John Stickland in Gwinear."
Tremearne’s quay was situated next to Stickland’s quay.
Two months after this advertisement was set, John Stickland, aged now 38 and father of five children, and probably at the height of his career, met an untimely and unfortunate death. I have been unable to discover the cause of his death, but the fact that he died intestate or without leaving a will proves that his death occurred unexpectedly and quickly, either as the result of an accident or a very short illness. Mary, the widow of John Stickland seems to have followed her husband John very quickly to the grave, which could indicate a contagious illness. A letter of Admin was made in December 1773 appointing Robert Stickland as executor of his son’s estate and guardian of his grandchildren.
Sometimes I wish that we could have a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors but I guess that I will just have to make do with watching the new Poldark series.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dalham village - in the footsteps of my ancestors

My third great grandmother Maria Bishop was born in April 1816 in a beautiful little Suffolk village called Dalham which is situated along the ancient Saxon Icknield Way path. Last Saturday we had the chance to visit this lovely  peaceful village and to walk where my ancestors had walked.
Maria's father Frederick was a Journeyman Miller for the villages of Dalham, Gazeley and Barrow during the first half of the 19th century. He died on the 19th February 1870 at the grand old age of 95.

The remains of one Mill is still standing in the village but originally there were three windmills in this village.
We had to ask for the whereabouts of the church as this is situated at quite a distance above the village next to the stately home Dalham Hall, in fact we had to walk a small section of the Icknield path to reach the church. The church dates to the 14th century, but it stands on the site of a much earlier Saxon building mentioned in the Domesday Book. Inside, the church has some beautiful carved wooden pews, each with a different flower and animal carved at the end. 
We searched among the grave stones but unfortunately didn't find any belonging to family that were still standing, though many were covered in lichen and were unreadable.
These two graves bare the name of Fitch which was the maiden name of Frederick Bishop's wife, Ann Fitch.

After walking back to the village we stopped off at the village pub to have a light lunch, like the church this would have been and still is a local meeting place, maybe even more frequently attended by Frederick than the church.
Visiting the areas where our ancestors came from helps us to visualize how they lived and helps us to feel closer to them. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

A very special person

Ninety years ago on the 22nd of August 1926 a very special person was born, my Mum, Doreen Bertha Orwin.
Doreen was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, the third child of Herbert Cyril Orwin and Violet Popplewell. She grew up in a happy home with her brother Cyril and sister Joan and loving parents.

Doreen’s Dad had a little car with what they called a dickey at the back where the children could sit strapped in, usually on a Saturday or a Sunday they would go for a drive to Hornsea or Withernsea, little seaside resorts. On their way home they would always stop at a wayside pub called ‘The Jack of Hearts’ and the children would sit outside by the tables and get a glass of lemonade and a packet of crisps. Doreen always loved this treat and sometimes if her Dad pretended to drive past the pub without stopping all three children would start yelling from the back of the car. Next to the pub was a farm and the lady who lived there got to know them quite well and would often bring over a glass of goat’s milk for them to drink.
 One of Doreen’s stories from her growing up years is from when she was about 7 or 8 years old. The children living in her street, Spring Gardens in Anlaby near Hull, asked her if she would go to the shops for them on her bicycle, they said that they badly needed some elbow grease.
Doreen recalls: “I agreed to go and get some, about 30 minutes later after having been in just about all the shops, I arrived back in the street to see my friends doubled up with laughter, it was then that I realized what elbow grease was, (elbow grease means hard work). Feeling very embarrassed, I fell off my bicycle and ended up with a very bad knee which took a few weeks to heal up, and I must say ended up with my friends feeling very sorry, but it was a laugh when I think how foolish I was.”
When I was about fourteen I met an elderly man at church who had lived in the same street as my Grandparents and who knew my Mum when she was young, he told me that she was always smiling and happy.

Doreen gave birth to five children and was and still is a loving and caring Mother. My brother John told me that when I was about two years old I ran across the road and that my Mum ran in front of a car to save me. I am so thankful to have been blessed to have had this wonderful woman as my mother. Happy 90th birthday Mum.