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.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Cousins, families and moments in time

Every day we create new moments in time in our family history and yesterday, 6th August 2016 was a very special moment in time in our family history because my sister Kim's daughter Breanna Werner was married for time and all eternity to Kenny Boxberger.

Today the 7th August is also a special date for my own daughter Laura, she was married to her husband Benjamin Kempenaers nine years ago today.

Breanna and Laura, cousins who live an ocean apart but are bonded by blood and the similar genes which they have inherited.
It always fascinates me to see similarities within families, in expressions or smiles or mannerisms and I wonder which ancestor that particular trait came from.
Family is a wonderful tree with different branches that spread outwards even as the roots spread out downwards.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The seventh child

My Dad, George Robert Strickland was the youngest of seven children, he had four elder sisters and two brothers. His eldest sister Annie was 17 when he was born and Alice was 16 so he had enough "mothers" to help look after him. There is a story that when his sister Alice was changing his nappy she accidently stuck the safteypin in his bottom.
My Dad's parents died when he was a teenager so his elder sisters helped a little bit in raising him though I have heard stories that he was quite wild, thankfully he turned out pretty well and is a wonderful father.
Here under is a photo of Alice with her younger brother George, or Bob as he was called, you can almost hear her saying to him, "look at the camera Bob".

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Dangers of working in a Windmill

I work in a windmill and I often have to climb the ladder stairs to fetch something for a customer, so I know how careful you have to be and I often warn visitors to the mill that they have to climb down the steps the same way as they climbed up, that is with your nose to the stairs. Knowing these dangers I was saddened to find this article in the British newspaper archives about my great great grandfather Robert Orwin who had been a Miller all of his life as was his father and his mother's family as well.
The article is from The Hull Daily Mail, September 1903

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Royal Connections

My cousin Ian Hudson remembered his mother Lily Strickland telling him that the Strickland family were connected to royalty, he had dismissed this information as being wishful thinking or a family fable, but we shouldn’t always ignore the stories that are passed down in families as there is often a grain of truth to them.
My third great grandfather John Stickland and his cousin also a John Stickland married another set of cousins, the granddaughters of Arundell Pryor and Jane Millwood. Arundell Pryor was a Mineral Assayer and an Agent for the Cornish Copper Company, he was also a local preacher at the Copperhouse Methodist Chapel for many years.
Arundell Pryor was the eldest son of Richard Pryor and Margaret Arundell, he was born in the village of Sithney and christened on the 6th of January 1729. His mother Margaret was one of the last Arundells of Truthall which is located close by to the village of Sithney. Legend has it that Margaret Arundell eloped with Richard Pryor by climbing out of a window. Richard Pryor was a farmer or Yeomen and his family had resided in the Sithney - Wendron area for many generations. Margaret and Richard were married on the 6th of November 1722 at Sithney church and they had a total of six children.
Margarett Arundell was the youngest daughter of John Arundell and Elizabeth Newman, she was christened in Helston church on the 2nd of November 1704. Margaret was just eleven years old when her father died and shortly afterwards her mother, apparantly the estate of Truthall was sold off by her brother to pay off his father’s debts. Margaret’s grandparents were Sir John Arundell Esquire and Elizabeth Lanyon, her grandfather died two years after her parents and was buried in Sithney church, so she would have been closely aquainted with him. Inside Gwinear church there is a monument on the wall for her grandmother Elizabeth Arundell-Lanyon, the Lanyon family owned an Estate in the parish of Gwinear and both they and the Arundell family contributed money towards restoration and alterations of Gwinear church. The monument inscription reads as follows :-
“Here lyeth the body of Mrs Elizabeth Arundell late wife of John Arundell of Sithney Esq.and daughter of Tomas Lanyon of Gwinear Gent.
Buried the 23rd of September 1683 in the 36th year of her age.
To whose memory her loving and lamenting husband consecrates this ........... with whom she having been a dear consort and willing partner under all the more mild and severer dispensations of God’s providence for fourteen years and upwards exchanged this troublesome state of life for the joyes of a better by whom likewise in that time blessed with two sons and three daughters one daughter she saw buried the rest surviving here.”
The Arundell family was described as the richest and best beloved of all Cornish families during Tudor times.
The Arundells extended their land-holdings and rose to prominence through a series of good marriages to wealthy heiresses during the Middle Ages. Alliances to the Roches, Lanhernes, Carminows, Luscotts, Lambourns, Chideocks and Dinhams resulted in the Arundells acquiring much land, sometimes unexpectedly and many years later, and outliving many of these older West Country families.
At the same time the Arundells were active locally and nationally. Ralph Arundell was sheriff of Cornwall in 1259-60 and John Arundell became Bishop of Exeter in 1502. Sir John Arundell fought for Henry VI at the Battle of Tewkesbury during the Wars of the Roses and his grandson was one of those appointed to put down the Cornish rebellion of 1497-98. Two Arundells served as stewards of the Duchy of Cornwall in the sixteenth century and Arundells led Royalist troops during the Civil War. Branches of the family were established at Trerice and Tolverne by younger sons in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The Arundell’s influence declined after the Reformation, when their staunch adherence to Catholicism made them ineligible for public office, but they remained prominent in Cornwall as long as they retained their lands there.
Sir John Arundell of Truthall was the only son of another Sir John Arundell and Margaret Cooke, his father was a Colonel of Horse for King Charles I and Deputy-Governor of Pendonnis Castle under Richard Lord Arundell of Trerice. If we trace this Arundel line back for another five generations to a Sir John Arundell of Tolverne who was born in 1428 we discover that he was married in 1461 to Matilda Courtney of Boconnoc. Matilda was the great-great granddaughter of Hugh de Courtney Earl of Devon and Margaret de Bohun. This Margaret was the daughter of Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Essex and Elizabeth Plantagenet, and therefore granddaughter of Edward I, King of England and his Queen Eleanor of Castille.
So you see the Arundell’s were descended from Royalty and through Margaret Arundell’s marriage to Richard Pryor so were the descendents of Arundell Pryor. It can be seen that for several generations the name of Arundell was used as a first name by descendents of Richard Pryor and Margaret Arundell, even in my Stickland line I came across the name of Richard Arundell Stickland, proof that they were proud to be associated with this family. Also the family legends about Royal blood were not just passed down in our line but have turned up amongst other Pryor descendents. It is fascinating to realize that family stories can be passed down so many generations and shows you how important it is to listen to the stories of our parents and family.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Skeletons in the cupboard

Several years ago I was reading an article in the Cornish Family History magazine about crime in the Hayle area by John Higgans when the name of John Stickland caught my eye. It was a report of the forthcoming inquest to be held in regard to the murder of 3 year old Maria Stickland by her father John Stickland of Angarrack. There are some things that we would rather not have in the family and a murderer is certainly one of them, I went straightaway to check my records and to see in which way John was related to me and discovered that he was either a brother of my great- great grandfather or a cousin, I preferred the cousin option, the more distance the better!
I decided to get in touch with Mr. John Higgans who has helped me many times in the past and he confirmed my assumption that it was the cousin, John Stickland born 12th March 1837 the son of William Stickland and Ann Michell. He also very kindly enclosed a copy of the inquest report from the Times of May 1868 which shed a completely different light on the matter. John’s wife had died of consumption and was still lying unburied in her coffin when John overcome with grief slit the throat of his three year old daughter and then tried to take his own life by slitting his own throat, quite a tragedy. John was discovered before death came and restored to life. Mr. Higgans also informed me that a report of the trial could be found in the Cornish Times of August 1868.
I wrote to the Cornish Studies Library in Redruth but unfortunately their microfilm copy for that year was missing, they gave me the address of the British Newspaper Library in London, but once again I was disappointed to hear that the copy I wanted was missing. I wrote once more to the Cornish Studies Library and the Librarian was very helpful in looking in the Royal Cornwall Gazette and the West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser of the same dates and in both she found a complete three column report of the trial!
From the report I was able to find out even more information about the family, especially the interesting fact that John was married to his cousin Wilmot Stickland the sister of my great- great grandfather and that Wilmot’s mother Grace Stickland nee Morsehead was also living with them as well as two children from a previous marriage of Wilmot, Elizabeth Grace Miles and Thomas John Miles.
The undercurrents of the report of the trial are very interesting, John seemed to be very depressed because he didn’t have any money to bury his wife and his friends had all abandoned him, a neighbour who had known the family for many years, Edward Stephens, seemed very surprised that he didn’t have anything to sell, he asked John what had happened to his gold watch and his gold stick and the deeds to his property and he said that it was all gone. He seemed to think that his wife’s family and the Mile’s family had combined to deprive him of that which he should have. Apparantly after the death of Thomas Miles the first husband of Wilmot Stickland £1,000 was left for his son, what happened to all this money in the short space of four years is a great mystery? John also told Edward Stephens that the first husband’s children where to have his wife’s money and that there was nothing for his daughter but £60 in debt. Stephens also inferred to insanity in the family, an uncle of John who was in an asylum and his grandmother who was dement before her death, (how many more skeletons are in the cupboard?) but on cross examination it turned out that both had been of good mind in younger years.
The Doctor informed the court that John had been under treatment for several months for problems with his liver and stomach and that this ailment could cause depression which combined with the decline and death of his wife could have led to a temporary loss of his mind, In fact even though John was a boiler maker by trade his mother-in-law Grace Stickland informed the court that due to sickness he had been out of work for several weeks. This would also have made John depressed and could account for his lack of funds, in those days our ancestors didn’t have unemployment benefits and the National Health Service.
Grace Stickland testified as follows: “I live at Angarrack, in the same house that was occupied by the prisoner, and my daughter lives with me (this was a younger daughter called Elizabeth). The prisoner’s wife was my daughter, and the prisoner himself is a nephew of mine. On Sunday the 1st of May I had some conversation with him about his wife’s funeral. He asked if we should bury her on the Monday, and I replied that I should like to get the children’s mourning, and that I would rather the funeral should take place on the Tuesday. He went upstairs; I never saw him afterwards till the 23rd of May at Camborne, before the Magistrates. I heard no noises during the night. The next morning I went to inquire about some black cloth in the prisoner’s room. The servant sent the child Elizabeth Grace into the room for it, and directly after the child rushed out shrieking, saying there is blood and a knife in Jack’s room. This was the name by which they called him. My daughter was first married to a man named Miles, and on his death she administered to his effects. The prisoner was very fond of his child, the deceased.” Cross-examined Grace replied, “The prisoner was not naturally a strong man, though a big man. He used frequently to bleed at the nose. He was of a very reserved temper, having few words; but I did not notice any strangeness in him before this occurrence. The property left by Miles was then all gone, except some pigs and cows. There was no money, his wife remarking before her death that there was not a shilling in the house.”
 The servant Matilda Gilbert also gave her account as follows: “I am in my 18th year. I live at Angarrack, and have been living with the prisoner. I was living there on the third of May. The prisoner’s wife died on the 1st of May. In the house lived the prisoner and wife, Elizabeth Grace and Thomas Miles. Elizabeth Grace was aged 8, and Thomas 5 years. Then there was the dead child aged 3 years. At the end of the house, two rooms were occupied by Mrs. Stickland’s mother. There were communications between the two parts both upstairs and down, but the doors between them were fastened up. There were three rooms downstairs and five upstairs, three of the latter looked out in front of the house, and one of these was occupied by the prisoner and his deceased daughter, the middle one by the witness and the two Miles children, and the other corner room by Mrs. Stickland. I recollect that on Saturday, the 2nd of May, the prisoner gave me some money to buy a pair of shoes for the deceased Maria Bawden Stickland, of whom he appeared to be very fond. She was his only child. On the night of Sunday, 3rd May, he went up to bed about 9 o’clock. I undressed the child and sent it to him with one of the other children, and he took it from her in the stairs. There was noone in the house but those I have mentioned at the time. Before going to bed, I fastened up the outside door and shutters, and on passing I saw that the doors between the two parts of the house were fastened. The next morning on coming down about seven o’clock, I found the doors and premises as I had left them. About 9 0'clock, Mrs. Stickland’s mother came in about some black cloth in  the prisoner’s room, and I sent Elizabeth Grace into the room for it. She came out again, and said the prisoner was dead, and there was a knife lying on the pillow. One or two neighbours afterwards came in, and the doctor was sent for. The prisoner wore a beard most of the time I lived with him, and there was a razor in a case in the cupboard in the kitchen. The prisoner and his wife appeared to live happily together while I was with them. Before the prisoner went to bed on the Sunday night, he walked about the kitchen for some time and appeared to be very much depressed. His wife had been ill for some time before her death, in a decline.”
A neighbour Genifer Bond gave her account of discovering the prisoner and his daughter: “On Monday, the 4th of May, a woman called Mary Ann Rowe came to my house, and in consequence of what she said I went to the prisoner’s house, and on looking into his bedroom I saw him lying on his right side on the bed. His head was hanging rather over the side of the bed. There was an open razor on the pillow. The prisoner put up his hand as a sign that I was to go back and I was frightened, I went out of the room and down stairs, and meeting Margaret Rutter I returned with her to the room again. She said, when we got into the room, I wonder where the child is? And she went and looked in the bed, and said to me, “Oh, Genifer the child is dead and cold.” I said to the prisoner, “Oh, John, what have you done? You have killed your dear child.” The prisoner shook his head, but did not speak. I then left the room and Margaret Rutter took up the razor.”
Margaret Rutter also testified: “On Monday, the 4th of May, in consequence of something I heard, I went to the prisoner’s house about 9 o’clock, and went up stairs with the last witness and into the room where the prisoner was. The prisoner was lying on his bed. I saw blood on the carpet, and on his hands and the sleeves of his shirt. I found the child lying on her back at the other side of him. She was in her night-dress. There was blood about the body and a wound in the throat. The body was quite cold, and I said the child was dead. I picked up an open razor, which I shut and put in my pocket. It was then rather bloody, and I gave it to someone down stairs.”
The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity. This doesn’t mean that John was free to go and do what he pleased, but that he was spared the ignominious fate of being executed by hanging. As I mentioned earlier, on the 1871 census, John is recorded as being an inmate of Broadmoor criminal lunatic asylum in Sandhurst, Berkshire.
The Broadmoor ‘criminal lunatic asylum’, as it was called, was opened in May 1863 with 95 female patients. A block for male patients followed a year later, so when John was committed in 1868 it was only 4 years old. The hospital was built after the passing of the Criminal Lunatics Act of 1860 - also called the Broadmoor Act. It drew attention to the poor conditions in British asylums such as Bethlehem Hospital, which was known as ‘Bedlam’. It also followed the setting up of the McNaughton Rules, a series of questions which determined whether a person was too insane to be charged with a criminal offence. The site covered 290 acres on the edge of the Berkshire moors some 32 miles from London. The asylum was “intended for the reception, safe custody and treatment of persons who had committed crimes while actually insane or who became insane whilst undergoing sentence of punishment”. John was an inmate of Broadmoor for 12 years, on the 6th of July 1880 he died of consumption, he was 43 years old.
Wilmot’s two eldest children from her first marriage went to live with their Grandmother Elizabeth Miles, who had a small farm of 7 acres in Angarrack, after their grandmother’s death Thomas went to live with his aunt Mary Anne Rowe, who is mentioned by one of the witnesses in the court case. An interesting fact which comes to light from the 1881 census is that Elizabeth Grace was born in California in the United States. Apparantly Wilmot Stickland married Thomas Miles in 1858 and shortly after their marriage they travelled to California, this was around the time of the Gold rush. It can’t have been an easy thing for Wilmot, to sail half way round the world with her husband and then the long arduous journey over the land, in the mid 19th century California was still the wild west, and then to be pregnant and have to bare a child. Elizabeth Grace was born on the 17th September 1859, two years later they were back home in Cornwall and the child was christened in Phillack Church at the same time as her baby brother Thomas John. A year later Wilmot’s husband Thomas died and was buried in Phillack Church yard, in October 1862. Two years later on the 22nd of August 1864 Wilmot married her cousin John Stickland, they were both 28 years old and Wilmot was already 4 months pregnant. There is of course the possibility that John wasn’t the father of the child and that he married his cousin to protect her from scandal, though on the birth certificate of the child he is named as the father. The child was named Maria Bowden Stickland and I have often wondered where the name Bowden came from, oh well some skeletons are better off remaining in the cupboard.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

An Edwardian Childhood

Bridlington, about 1910

My Nana, Violet Popplewell was born at the beginning of the twentieth century on the 12th December 1900 in the small industrial town of Batley, West Yorkshire. Her father Harry Popplewell had worked in the coal mines since being a young boy and at the young age of 25 died of silicosis, a disease of the lungs common to miners. Violet was only two years old when her father died so didn't have any memories of him, her mother Rose Tozer remarried when Violet was four to William Whiting, a widower and father of five daughters, so Violet went from being an only child to having 5 stepsisters.
William lived in the small sea side town of Bridlington on the north east coast of Yorkshire, he worked by the railway but he also had a small bed and breakfast, which Rose helped to run.
One of the step sisters was about the same age as Violet, they called her Joey though her real name was Fanny, and she was born on 1 April 1899.Violet had a great friendship with Joey and most of Violet's stories were about the adventures that she and Joey had together.
One story was from when they were still young, it was Easter and Rose, Violet's mum had sewn for all the girls new Easter dresses, white with red ribbons. Their outfits were made complete with Easter bonnets decorated with flowers. After church the girls asked their parents whether they could go down to the sea front, only if they promised to stay on the promenade  and not go onto the beach. For the young girls the temptation was to much and one of them suggested going down the steps to the sand and walking along the sand until the following steps a little bit further, what harm could be in that? The following steps where further than they had thought and as the tide was coming in the girls ended up getting wet, their new Easter dresses were ruined because the red colouring of the ribbons had run onto the white dresses. As you can imagine their parents weren't very pleased.
On one occasion Violet and Joey went out with a rowing boat, it was a beautiful day and the girls sat in their boat enjoying the sunshine and reading their books. They were so engrossed in their books that they didn't realize that their little boat had drifted all the way out to sea, they had to be rescued by the life boat.
When the girls were a bit older they had bicycles and would often go biking in the surrounding countryside. On one occasion they were with a friend who had just received a brand new bike, Joey was a little bit jealous and asked whether they could swap bikes for the day, the friend was a bit reluctant but eventually gave in to Joey's persuasion. What Joey didn't realize was that her friend's bike didn't have hand brakes but had back pedal brakes instead, needless to say it didn't go very well with Joey biking down one of the steep hills in the neighbourhood.
It was a busy life for my great grandmother Rose with a large family, she had three more children to William, and running a bed and breakfast as well but my nana told me that when the guests departed the girls would make sure that they were stood out front because they were often given some money or sweets by the guests.
Even though Rose and William eventually divorced and Rose and Violet and her youngest child Hector moved to Hull, Violet always stayed in contact with her step sisters, especially Joey.

Birth certificate 

Primrose Hill, Batley, West Yorkshire

Violet (2nd from left)and husband Herbert (behind)with Joey

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

May Day

This lovely old photo of young girls around the Maypole was taken of my Nana,Violet Popplewell when she was about 8 years old. Violet is the little girl in the front, second from the left, with a cross on her dress. Violet was born on the 12th December 1900 so this photo was probably taken in the May of 1909. It is in front of her school which was on Oxford Street, Bridlington and is still being used as a Primary school to this day. (See photo below)

The Maypole had ribbons of all different colours and I can remember my Nana telling me that her ribbon was red. I found a film on YouTube showing how the children would dance around the Maypole.

I have many stories of Violet's childhood years in Bridlington which I will share in future blogs.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Mothers and daughters in time of war - Charlotte Strickland nee Blakey and Violet Orwin nee Popplewell

Last week I wrote about my paternal grandfather and his experiences during the First World War and also about my uncle Cyril during the Second World War. Now I want to write about the women on the home front and how they coped during these difficult times, especially both my grandmothers, Charlotte and Violet.

I can't imagine the immense wory that my Nana,Violet Orwin must have had when her 17 year old son joined the R.A.F. knowing the danger that he was in during every mission, I worried when my children where late home from an evening out. Then when the dreaded telegram arrived with the notification that he had been shot down, I am sure that her sadness and grief was unbearable and that even though it must have been a great relief to hear that he was still alive, to know that he had been taken as a prisoner by the enemy. Violet's husband, my Grandfather, Herbert Cyril Orwin was also called up to serve King and Country. Even though he was already in his forties my Grandfather was sent to serve in India. I am not sure exactly when he was called up to serve, I think that it was near the end of the war, but Nana was left to cope on her own.
This is Herbert Orwin in India

My Mum Doreen Bertha Orwin was 13 when World War 2 broke out, this was a very worrying time and caused Doreen to breakout with psoriasis. With Hull being a big port it was very badly bombed during the war, Doreen’s family had an air-raid shelter in the back garden with bunks and bedding and food, but it was not very nice having to sleep there every night and hearing the sirens and the bombs falling. Doreen usually received the hand me down  clothes from her elder sister Joan, but once during the war she had received a brand new strawberry pink coat, she was so proud of it that she had it hanging in the living room to show to some friends, when her father came to warn them of an air-raid, land mines hanging on parachutes were blowing in their direction. They rushed to the shelter, it was very frightening as they could see the land mines coming down, thankfully the wind blew them further down the street and one of them landed in Rokeby Park in a lot of mud, but it caused such a big crater you could have fitted three houses into it, and the explosion caused all the windows to blow in and the plaster to fall from the ceilings. Luckily everyone was in the shelter so no one was injured but Doreen’s new coat was covered with plaster and soot so she was most upset. The buzz bombs were also very frightening, they made a horrible shrill noise as they were passing overhead, but it was when they went still that you were most afraid as it meant that they were coming down. Once Doreen recalled sheltering under the table and her mother got angry with her because she thought she was playing with a torch, “stop playing with that torch” she said, but it wasn’t the torch but the flames coming out of the back of the buzz bombs. One of the reasons that the area in which Doreen lived was regularly attacked was because close by was a park in which there where two anti-aircraft guns, these guns were called Big Berthas and for this reason Doreen hated her middle name and would never tell anyone what the B was for. 
Violet with daughter Joan and friend and Cyril in the background

My other Grandmother Charlotte was left alone with four young daughters under the age of 7 to look after while her husband was fighting for King and Country during the First World War. Hull being a an important Port made it a target for bombing, not just in the Second World War but also during the
First World War  it regularly came under attack from zeppelin raids, there were at least 12 occasions when bombs fell on the city and air-raid warnings were more frequent because of zeppelins travelling over the city to other areas. My aunt Alice can remember several of these air-raids, often they would climb under the kitchen table until everything was clear though on one occasion she can remember her mother wrapping them in blankets and taking them out to a field where they had to lay in the snow with the blankets over them until the zeppelins had passed by, this could have been the 5th of March 1916 when two zeppelins attacked Hull during the night. Aunt Alice told me the following, “I remember the 1st World War, I was at school, I was born in 1911, and I started school during the war. I remember being at school when the buzzers (sirens) would go and mother would come and get us... We often went across the road to a neighbour - Mrs Thompson they called her, during the Great War the women wore ankle length black skirts and big white aprons, sometimes flat pancake hats on their heads, their hair in a bun. My father stopped my mother going over because Mrs Thompson used to get so excited when the bombs came over because next door to her there lived a German family and she used to get big lumps of coal and throw them over next door were the Germans lived and call them all sorts of things. When the bombs were dropping we used to go under the kitchen table and when she wasn’t looking we would pinch the sugar bowl and the tin of Bourneville cocoa and mix them together.” 

I certainly feel a lot of love and respect for these strong and courageous women who were able to carry on in difficult times and where good Mothers to their children.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Uncle Cyril Orwin - Prisoner of War

                                                Roll call Stalag luft VII

After being captured and interogated Cyril was held as a prisoner of war in Stalag luft VII here follows some information about this camp.

"Stalag Luft 7 was a World War II German Army prisoner-of-war camp that was opened in 1944 in Luckenwaalde, near Bankau. (today BÄ…ków) 6 kilometers from Kreuzburg ( today Kluczbork) north of Opole in Silesia Germany (today Poland). Originally in 1 July 1944, the camp held 230 prisoners, all RAF flying crews until they were joined by members of the Glider Pilot Regiment captured at the Battle of Arnhem, (Holland) September 1944 from other camps further east, and by 1 January 1945, the camp held 1578: a mix of British, Americans, Russian, Polish and Canadian troops. On January 19, 1945, 1,500 prisoners marched out of camp in bitter cold. They crossed a bridge over the river Oder on 21 January, reached Goldberg on 5 February and loaded onto train. On 8 February they reached Stalag III-A which already held 20,000 prisoners, mainly soldiers from Britain, the U.S. and Russia."

Many years ago I read Cyril's log book which he kept during this time, I remember him writing about the forced march in the winter and how many men had sold their boots to get food. Unfortunately Cyril's log book is no longer in the family but is with his second wife but I have an excerpt here from one of his fellow prisoners, who also made the drawing of Cyril in my previous post.
"Excerpt from the Diary of fellow POW Edward Milligan -
Mon 9th April 1945
 Very dull morning, air activity in night.  Held meeting of sketch group, five present.  Do work on structures.  Get hair cut in new barbers’ shop.  Lovely weather later in day, not so cold as yesterday.  Had queer dream last night, in one, dreamt that we were relieved by USA tanks, in the other by Russian.  Rumour that new Russian offensive on Berlin was started, hope that it is true.  Planned a trip for after the war with Bill Orwin a Tempest pilot, to go to Ripon and Fountains Abbey whilst we are on leave.  Post up notice for gramophone concerts on Monday and Friday evenings at 7:30.  Must visit a few of the old pubs in Hull, architecture and the beer sound interesting.  Gave gramophone concert, crowded house!  Many turned away, played my Egmont overture, quite pleased with the success of the whole show.  Rumours circulating that the officers are moving to Munich on Wednesday and that we are leaving on Friday, hope that it is not true, don’t fancy another long journey under such conditions."
I copied the following poem out of his log book, I don't know who wrote it, whether he wrote it him self, or a fellow prisoner, or whether it is a known poem.

 To the undying memory of the fighter pilots who fell in the Battle of Britain - September 1940

 Where fly you now, you rich young blood
where drones your phantom plane
fly you in some ethereal sky
dice you with death again?

With throttle wide streak you accross
some ghost, unchartered land
or fly you in the old patrols
are all your journeys planned.

Raise you your hand in last salute,
to gallant foes who fall.
or in Valhall meet you them
old battles to recall?

Your blood was hot, your brain was ice
the cost you knew full well,
as earthwards, downwards screaming went
your burning, turning hell.

Yes you were old, tho'young in years,
from life it's treasure stole
you gripped the cup, with hand aloft
one draught, you gauffed the whole.

While we who live, still trudge the earth.
proud son, you knew your end
you "lived" your life, you silver wings
that broke, yet would not bend.

In words of one, who, grim and stern,
heads ENGLAND come what may.
Thro' sweat, thro' tears, thro' blood, aye death
unto a brighter day.

Fly on oh youth in clear blue skies,
in you, our hopes renew
for never did so many owe,
so much, unto so few.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Uncle Cyril Orwin and the Second World War

Today is the 5th of May, bevrijdings dag in the Netherlands, the day that the 2nd World War ended here in Europe. Above is a drawing of my uncle Cyril, my Mum's elder brother, drawn by a fellow prisoner of war in Stalag VII.
Cyril William Orwin was born on the 13th February 1923 in Kingston upon Hull, the eldest child of Herbert Cyril Orwin and Violet Orwin nee Popplewell. In 1939 after finishing his education he won an apprenticeship to the Royal Airforce, he was sixteen years old.
Cyril did some of his training in Canada and I have a wonderful photo of him flying a Harvard and taken by a fellow pilot.
Uncle Cyril was shot down on the 10th September 1944. He was flying back from a reconisence mission, and was flying over the Hoek of Holland when he saw a military train, he flew low over the train to see whether he could take a shot of it but on the last carriage there was a large machine gun which gunned him down. He was thankfully close to the coast and was able to crash into the sea, and he was also able to loosen his seat belts. He was pulled out of his wreak by German soldiers and taken captive and interrogated, probably in the Fort at the Hoek of Holland.
This is the official R.A.F. report of his crash and capture - " 10 September 1944

Between 13.55 and 15.45 hours 24 Tempests were sent out for an armed recognizance  flight over the Netherlands. Ships, trains and other ground targets were attacked. One Tempest had to make an emergency landing in the Sea SW of The Hague. The flyer was able to save himself.

The Tempest that was lost was from Number 3 squadron and it was F/S. C. Orwin who came into the water south west of The Hague, he was able to save himself and was taken prisoner."

When my Grandparents where notified that he had been shot down it was not certain that he had survived the crash, thankfully a Dutch resistance worker was able to inform the British that he had survived and had been taken as a prisoner. 

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Robert Strickland and the First World War

I never knew my paternal grandfather Robert Strickland, he died when my Dad was 12 years old at the young age of 52. He died in the early morning of the 15th January 1940 at the beginning of the Second World War. His eldest son Fred had come downstairs early in the morning but couldn't open the parlour door because something was blocking it, he pushed hard against the door and then realised that it was his father who had collapsed on the other side. He eventually managed to get in and got his father onto a chair and held a mirror to his mouth to see if he was still breathing and my Dad was sent to fetch a doctor. Unfortunately there was nothing he could do, on Robert's death certificate the cause of death given was myocardial degeneration and chronic bronchitis.
Robert's death at such a relatively young age was probably due to injuries which he sustained during the First World War which had left him unable to hold a full time job.
Robert was born on the 4th March 1888 and he married his school sweetheart, Charlotte Blakey in 1909. By the outbreak of war in the summer of 1914 they had two young daughters, four year old Annie and two and a half year old Alice and two more daughters were born in the early years of the war, Grace in 1915 and Lily in 1916.
 I am not sure when Robert enlisted but after enlisting he became a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery. I don’t know where Robert did his training, but he was trained as a Gunner and eventually was ready to see active service. This was to be in Flanders by the Ypres Salient, in the four great and terrible battles which raged around the ruined town of Ypres between 1914 and 1918 more than 250,000 servicemen of the then British Empire lost their lives, when Robert arrived in Ypres it would have been like a Hell on earth. As a gunner Robert would have been spared the miseries of trench life but the horrors of war all around him was something which Robert was never able to talk about.
The main road out of Ypres in the direction of the salient and
trenches was the Menin Road, the first significant junction on this road after leaving Ypres was known as Hellfire Corner, every night wagons carrying supplies to the forward positions in the Salient had to cross this point, and it was generally accepted that this was the most dangerous spot on the face of the earth in the second half of 1917. Because the road junction and railway crossings were marked on all the maps, the German artillery officers could calculate their ranges most accurately, and drop shells on it to within a metre or two, direct observation was not necessary. To cross Hellfire corner by day, when the German observers on the Passchendael Ridge could see the junction, was tantamount to suicide. By night, the crossing of Hellfire Corner became a nerve-tightening game of hide-and-seek in the dark. Frank Holmes, a driver with the Royal Horse Artillery recounted the following account:
“From Ypres, a long traffic-jam of wagons headed out towards the Line waited its turn at the junction. Beyond the junction, in trenches at either side of the road, sat traffic-controllers. They had red and green lamps, their lenses shielded against observation from the German side, and their job was to let each wagon across, one at a time. When the wagon reached the junction and was next to cross, the driver of the lead pair watched the lights. When the shielded red lights were covered and the green ones exposed, the whole team spurred on their horses and raced headlong into the darkness, aiming for the dark, invisible space between the green lights as fast as they could go, at full gallop. Once over the crossing, the drivers pulled the horses up to a trot, then to a walk and continued on their way, unless they were hit by a random shell. All night long there were random shells, and there were teams of men stationed nearby to drag away the debris, human, animal and material, and mend the road ready for the next passage...”
It was at this deadly junction, Hellfire Corner, that Robert Strickland was wounded and almost killed.
Back at home Charlotte received notification that her husband was missing and presumed killed, this must have come as a terrible shock for Charlotte but it was news which wives and mothers throughout the country were hearing daily. Charlotte went into mourning and had started to apply for a widow’s pension when she received what they call a field card informing her that her husband was still alive and was a patient at New  Castle Infirmary. He had been wounded by shrapnel and had a gaping wound across his back close to his spine, he was lucky to be still alive, for Robert at least the war was over.
On November 11th 1918 Armistice was declared, during those four dreadful years of war a whole generation of young men were lost, every family was affected in one way or another and those that were lucky to survive had to learn to live with the nightmares of the horrors which they had lived through

Monday, 25 April 2016

Early beginings with research

Years ago when I first started researching my Strickland family I assumed that we were a northern family, in fact my uncle Fred would proudly say “Yorkshire born and Yorkshire bred” and the Strickland name did seem to originate from Westmoreland with the Stricklands of Sizergh castle, I was certain that eventually I would be able to trace our ancestors back to this family.
After finding the birth certificate of my great-grandfather John Robert Strickland who was born in 1861 in Mexborough near Doncaster in Yorkshire, I decided to search the 1861 census returns for Mexborough in the hope of finding his family. At the time this entailed taking a trip down to Doncaster and searching through endless rolls of microfilms, but eventually I was rewarded with finding the entry for John Robert’s family. On the film it was clearly legible that his mother Anne was born in Norwell, Nottinghamshire and his two elder sisters Grace and Sarah where born in Lincoln and Newark. The problem was with the entry for his father Robert Strickland, obviously the person who recorded the census details had never heard of the place where Robert was born and was unsure of the spelling and had no idea which county it belonged to as here he had put a question mark. I remember at the time asking someone what they thought the place name was, he thought that it could be Hayle
which is in Cornwall. I dismissed that straight away as being impossible, Cornwall was much too far away from Yorkshire and I was sure that we were a northern family.
I tried all the possibilities, maybe it was a misspelling of Hull as that is were the family eventually ended up, or maybe it was Hawes in North Yorkshire. I even looked through the parish registers of a little place called Hale near Barrow-in-Furness and found a family of Stricklands living there, but they weren’t the right ones.
Eventually the 1881 census was indexed and I was able to search alphabetically for Robert Strickland whom I knew was living in Newark Nottinghamshire at this time, and surprise, surprise where was he born? Hayle in Cornwall! We weren’t a northern family after all, in fact you couldn’t get more southern than Hayle which is close by Lands End, and to make matters worse I discovered that we weren’t even Stricklands but that Robert was originally a Stickland without an R, talk about an Identity crisis!

Sunday, 24 April 2016

An Introduction

     After spending more than thirty years researching my family history I decided that it was time to create a blog about my research of my family history and the 'Moments in time' that I have discovered during that research.
     I hope that by sharing these stories with my family that they will also feel connected to their ancestors and appreciate the people who made us who we are.
     Several years ago I wrote a book about my paternal line called "Moments in Time - the Strickland or Stickland family of Cornwall". I hope to share some stories from this book, but I also want to share stories from my maternal line, the Orwin family and the Popplewells, Tozers and Challis family to name a few.
     I hope you will enjoy following me in this journey into our past and that your love of our forefathers will increase.