Places to Visit in the Lastingham Area

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, Mom, Dad, and I will be staying in Lastingham, England in 2017.  Lastingham is a village on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors.  We will be using it as a base as we explore the surrounding villages and towns.  Certain branches of Grandad P’s family have been born within a ten mile radius of Lastingham for generations.


Raymond Pearson’s ancestors, with those born within a 10 miles of Lastingham highlighted.  It is quite likely that many more of his great great grandparents were born in the area as well, but I haven’t yet ascertained their birthplaces.

Here is a list of some of the places we hope to visit that have significance to our family:

Lastingham: Ruth Fletcher (Grandad P.’s paternal grandmother) was born in Lastingham in 1853.  At the time of Ruth’s birth, her parents, Robert Fletcher and Mary Jane Pickering, had just arrived in the village having previously lived in Hartoft.  Robert and Mary Jane (Grandad P.’s great grandparents) subsequently settled down in Lastingham and appear to have lived there for almost five decades until Mary Jane’s death in 1901.  Even after his wife’s death, Robert continued to live in Lastingham and, at age 81, he was even still gainfully employed in the area, working as a road contractor.


The village of Lastingham

Spaunton (1 mile from Lastingham) – In 1871, Ruth Fletcher (Grandad P’s paternal grandmother) was working as a domestic servant at Low Askew farm in Spaunton. The farm was quite a large one (180 acres) and, altogether, it employed four farm servants and two domestic servants.

Appleton-le-Moors (1.7 miles from Lastingham) – Sidney Pearson and Annie Frank (Grandad P.’s parents) were married at Christ Church in this village on June 17, 1916.  In addition, at the outbreak of World War II, when the 1939 Register was conducted, Sidney and Annie were living in Appleton-le-Moors.  Their address is listed as Orchard House; however, there are several other families also listed as living at Orchard House and Sidney’s occupation is head gardener, so it is possible that, rather than living in Orchard House itself, Sidney and Annie lived in a smaller residence on the Orchard House property.


Orchard House, Appleton-le-Moors

Hutton-le-Hole  (1.8 miles from Lastingham) – William Frank (Grandad P.’s great grandfather) was born in Hutton-le-Hole in 1817.  At the time of the 1841 census, 20-year-old William was still living in Hutton-le-Hole in a house with his parents and four of his brothers.  By the time of the 1851 census though, William was married and had moved away from Hutton-le-Hole.  However, by 1871, William was back in Hutton-le-Hole living with his housekeeper and 14-year-old son, Thomas (Granddad P.’s maternal grandfather).  William appears to have lived in Hutton-le-Hole from that point onwards until his death in 1893.  Exact addresses are very rarely provided in the Hutton-le-Hole censuses; however it can be said with certainty that William was living on Back Lane End in 1881.  And, in 1891, he was living in the vicinity of the school room (either beside it or across from it).

Cropton (2.5 miles from Lastingham) – Sidney Pearson (Grandad P.’s father) was born in Cropton on February 27, 1889.  Sidney lived in Cropton for his entire childhood.  In 1891, for example, Sidney was living with his parents, four siblings, and his cousin in a four room house on Morley Terrace.  Sidney’s parents, William Pearson and Ruth Fletcher (Grandad P.’s paternal grandparents), weren’t originally from Cropton, but, after raising their family there, William and Ruth continued to live in Cropton until their deaths in 1923 (Ruth) and 1944 (William).  Both William and Ruth are buried in the Cropton Cemetery.


The 1939 Register shows William Pearson and his daughter Henrietta living in Cropton.

Esther Monkman (Grandad P.’s maternal grandmother) was also born and raised in Cropton.  In 1871, at the age of three, she was living, with her mother and siblings, at Hen Flats Farm in Cropton.  Nowadays, Hen Flats Farm is a caravan camping site.  By the time the 1881 census occurred, Esther and her parents and siblings had moved into Cropton village itself.


Hen Flats Farm (photo courtesy of A. Matson).

As an interesting aside, Esther Monkman (Grandad P.’s maternal grandmother), Sidney Pearson (Grandad P.’s father) and many other relatives all attended Cropton Undenominational School.  For those of you who watch “Escape to the Country,” keep your eye out for that school.  It was featured as one of the properties for sale in Season 15 of the series!  The school and the rest of the village are plotted out on this map.

Kirkbymoorside (5 miles from Lastingham)At the time of the 1881 census, Thomas Frank (Grandad P.’s maternal grandfather) was working as a farm servant at the 137 acre Cartoft Farm in Kirkbymoorside. Today, the farm seems to be broken into several smaller properties, so it is difficult to ascertain exactly where Thomas worked, but the farm looks to have been situated on Malton Road.

Hartoft (7 miles from Lastingham) – Jane Harland (Grandad P’s great great grandmother) was born there on January 20, 1799. She married Jeremiah Pickering from the parish of Fylingdales on December 9, 1819.  The newlyweds settled down on a farm in Hartoft, and raised at least eight children there. Their eldest daughter, Mary Jane Pickering (Grandad P’s great grandmother), was still living in Hartoft when she married Robert Fletcher in 1851.  Her fiance was also living in Hartoft at the time of their marriage.  A year later, Mary Jane and Robert’s son, William, was born in Hartoft.  However, by the time their next child, Ruth (Grandad P’s grandmother), was born in 1853, Mary Jane and Robert had relocated their family to Lastingham.

Aislaby (7 miles from Lastingham) – Sidney Pearson (Grandad P.’s father) was working as a wagoneer on John Hodgson’s farm in Aislaby in 1911.  His future wife, Annie Frank, spent part of her childhood in Aislaby, so it is possible that he first met her there.

Our family sure does have multiple connections to the Lastingham area, eh?!  Here’s hoping we have plenty of time to explore!




Monkmans Revisited

In my last blog entry (about Pickering), I alluded to the fact that next up would be a list of places to visit in the Lastingham area.  I am still hard at work doing my research for that article . . . but in the meantime, I was recently sent some photos that I wanted to share with you all right away.

If you remember, a couple of entries ago, I wrote about the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Robert and Esther Monkman (my great great great grandparents).  They were the couple who had sixteen children and their daughter, Esther, was my great great grandmother.


Robert Monkman and Esther Hebden (Grandad P’s great-grandparents)

Well, I am a member of Ancestry and a few weeks ago, I was contacted on Ancestry by a distant relative.  Her name is Angela and, like me,  she is a great great great granddaughter of Robert and Esther.  If I have figured things out correctly, I think that makes Angela and me 4th cousins!  Now, it turns out that Angela is lucky enough to have a Monkman uncle who is in possession of Robert and Esther’s Bible that has been passed down through the generations.  And that Bible includes not only the birth dates of Robert, Esther, and all their children, but also photographs!  So, without further delay, here are some of the images from the Bible that Angela was kind enough to send me:

Robert and Esther Monkman (my great great great grandparents):


Close up of Robert Monkman (my great great great grandfather):


Close up of Esther Monkman nee Hebden (my great great great grandmother):


Another photo of Robert and Esther Monkman (my great great great grandparents):


Esther Monkman (my great great grandmother) and her sister Mary Monkman:


Another page of the Bible with photos of two of Robert and Esther’s sons: Robert and James. My 4th cousin, Angela, is descended from James Monkman:


I never thought I would see family photos from so long ago.  How marvelous, eh?!  Thanks very much to Angela for contacting me and sharing such treasures!

Places to Visit in Pickering

In 2017, Mom, Dad, and I will be visiting Pickering, Yorkshire. Pickering is a market town located on the edge of the North York Moors.  It has existed since medieval times; a castle and manor were erected after the Norman invasion in 1066. In the last census (2011), 6,830 people lived there.

I am really looking forward to visiting Pickering because my grandmother (Nanny C.) was born there as was her father (Robert Hewby), her paternal grandparents (Robert Hewby and Ann Holtby), and even one of her great grandmothers (Rose Holliday).  Our family’s connection to Pickering, then, stretches back to at least the 1810s.


Nora Hewby and her ancestors, with those born in Pickering highlighted.

During our visit to Pickering, we hope to tread in the footsteps of our ancestors by taking a look at some of houses, streets, and locales they frequented.  Here is a list of places that have significance to our family:

Haygate Lane – in 1911, 5 month old Nora Hewby (Nanny C.!) lived here with her parents, brother, and sister.  There were only four residences on Haygate Lane at that time, but unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out which one the Hewbys lived in.  All I know for sure is that it isn’t #1, as Thomas Benson and his family clearly state that they live in that one.

10 Hall Garth – in 1901, Robert & Ann Hewby (Nanny’s grandparents) lived here, along with two of their children: 19 year old Robert (Nanny’s father) and 33 year old Rose.  Rose’s children also lived there: Robert & John Parnaby, ages 6 and 4. Ten years later, in 1911, Robert senior still lived here, although he was now a widower.  His daughter, Rose, and her two children (now ages 16 and 14) still lived there too.


View of Hall Garth as it looks today. The black circle indicates 10 Hall Garth where the Hewbys lived.

3 Hall Garth – according to her marriage certificate, Annie Ward (Nanny’s mother) lived here in 1902.  Simultaneously, her fiance (Nanny’s father) lived seven doors away at 10 Hall Garth.

Old Cattle Market – in 1891, 10 year old Robert Hewby (Nanny’s father) lived here with his parents (Nanny’s grandparents) and his older siblings (Rose, John, Hetty, Jane, and Annie).  The address is hard to locate on a map as it appears to refer to a patch of green space rather than a street, but I strongly suspect that, while the census taker has written their address as “Old Cattle Market,” the Hewbys are, in actual fact, living at 10 Hall Garth just like they will be in future censuses.  My rationale for reaching this conclusion: 10 Hall Garth looks out onto the green space that is Old Cattle Market.  Also, many of the Hewby’s neighbours are exactly the same individuals house-by-house as in the 1901 and 1911 censuses, which seems to suggest that it is actually the same street under a different name.


Old Cattle Market. The “Lettered Board” public house on the far right still exists today.  This is the view the Hewbys would have had out of their front window. Who knows, maybe some of the children in the photo are Hewbys!

Eastgate – in 1881, 7-month-old Robert Hewby (Nanny’s father) lived here with his parents and five older siblings.  His father, Robert Hewby (Nanny’s grandfather) lived on the north side of the exact same street when he was a child.  And, going back another generation, John and Mary Hewby (Nanny’s great grandparents) lived on Eastgate from at least 1851-1871.  Eastgate is a very long road (now part of the A170), and no notation was made in the censuses as to exact house numbers; however I can make an educated guess that the Hewbys all lived at the far north east end of the street since the censuses make note of the fact that their house is close to both Thornton Road and the very uniquely named “House That Jack Built.”

Blansby Park Farm – in 1861, Robert Hewby and Ann Holtby (Nanny’s grandparents) both worked on this 320 acre farm.  Robert was a live-in shepherd while Ann was a domestic servant.  It is entirely possible that Robert and Ann began their courtship at Blansby Park Farm, as, only two years later, they married each other.  At the time of the next census (1871), Robert was still working as a shepherd at this farm.


Blansby Park Farm (Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons License.)

Potter Hill – John and Mary Hewby (Nanny’s great grandparents) lived here in 1841.  Potter Hill is a very long street and the census taker didn’t make note of house numbers, but it appears that the Hewbys lived in the vicinity of John Pearson’s grocery shop, which was located near Train Lane.

Stape Head House – At the time of the 1851 and 1861 censuses, Richard and Rose Holtby (nee Holliday) (another set of Nanny’s great grandparents) lived here with their eight children, including Ann (Nanny’s paternal grandmother).  Stape is a small hamlet that many of Richard and Rose’s relatives also lived in around that time.  The family still had connections in the area in 1891, as one of Richard and Rose’s sons (William) is living at “Stape Head East House.” Both Holtbys and Hollidays were still abundant in the area in 1911, although I am not sure how exactly they were related to Richard and Rose.

Flamborough Rigg – Richard and Rose Holtby (Nanny’s great grandparents) lived on this farm in Stape in 1841.  There were four other residences listed on the census as forming part of Flamborough Rigg and all four seem to be occupied by Rose’s relatives: Robert Holiday (age 65), George Holliday (age 25), Robert Holliday (age 29), and William Holliday (age 50).  Today, at least part of the Flamborough Rigg property is a Bed & Breakfast.  Even the barn has been converted into accommodations!  The owners also have a blog where you can see what Flamborough Rigg looks like season to season.


Flamborough Rigg

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel – Robert Hewby and Annie Ward (Nanny’s parents) were married in this chapel on Hungate Street, Pickering on June 14, 1902.  Today, the same building serves as the Kirk Theatre.


Wesleyan Methodist Chapel

St Peter and St Paul Church – Robert Hewby and Ann Holtby (Nanny’s paternal grandparents) were married in this church in 1863.  Similarly, Richard Holtby and Rose Holliday (Nanny’s great grandparents) were married there on June 7, 1834.  It is located right beside Old Cattle Market in Pickering.

That’s quite the list of places to visit in the Pickering area, eh?!  My next blog post will focus on mom’s side of the family as I take a look at places to visit in the Lastingham area.  Stay tuned . . .



An Anniversary to Celebrate

In October 1905, my great-great-great grandparents, Robert and Esther Monkman celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in Wykeham (near Scarborough).  They were the maternal grandparents of my great grandmother, Annie Frank (who was Granddad P.’s mother).


Robert Monkman and Esther Hebden (Grandad P’s great-grandparents)

Robert and Esther were married fifty years earlier on October 6, 1855 in Middleton, Yorkshire.  Due to the sheer number of children they had, their Golden Wedding Anniversary made the news in places as far afield as Bath and London:


Bath Chronicle and Local Gazette – October 12, 1905

What a lot of children, eh?  All sixteen were all born in Cropton, Yorkshire and there’s not a twin or triplet among them!  Here are Robert and Esther’s seven daughters and nine sons in birth order:

  • Margaret, born 1856
  • John, born 1857/died 1860
  • Robert, born 1859 / died 1859
  • John, born 1860
  • Robert, born 1862/died 1862
  • Hannah, born 1863
  • George, born 1865/died 1868
  • Anne, born 1866
  • Esther, born 1868 (MY GREAT GREAT GRANDMOTHER)
  • Mary, born 1870
  • Robert, born 1871
  • James, born 1873
  • Jane, born 1875
  • George, born 1878
  • Charlotte, born 1879
  • Frederick, born 1882

One thing immediately strikes me when I look at the names Robert and Esther chose for their multitude of children: they were absolutely determined to have sons named John, George, and Robert.   In 1860, John, their firstborn son, died at age three and, later that same year, when another son was born, they named him John.  Similarly, they lost a three year old son named George in 1868; ten years later, in 1878, they named another son George.  And, they ended up having three sons named Robert – the first two Roberts died in infancy and then, about a decade later, they decided to risk naming another one Robert.  Luckily, the third Robert grew to adulthood, got married, and ended up having at least seven children of his own!

The other thing that is striking about Robert and Esther’s large family is the age difference between the oldest and youngest: oldest daughter, Margaret, was twenty-four years old when her youngest brother Frederick was born.  She got married, in fact, the same year that Frederick was born.  And Robert and Esther already had at least one grandchild (Eliza, born 1879) by the time their youngest child, Frederick, was born in 1882.  Two-year-old grandchild, Eliza, in fact, was living with her grandparents in Cropton in 1881, and she was the exact same age as her Aunt Charlotte – I bet they were excellent playmates!


Eliza and her Aunt Charlotte, 1881 census

“A Bad Wife”

This time around, I’d like to turn my attention to Mark Wetherell, my great-great-great-great grandfather.  He was the father of Martha Wetherell, who married George Stead (owner of the famous goose-who-laid-nine-eggs).  If you find that confusing – another way to look at it was that he  was Herbert George Carter’s great grandfather:


Mark Wetherell’s Relationship to Herbert George Carter

I don’t know much about Mark’s early life.  I haven’t yet discovered where he was born or who his parents were – but, thanks to a newspaper article, I do know that he turned out to be a rather grumpy and eccentric old man:

It’s too bad I can’t go back in time and talk to Mark’s wife, Martha (my great-great-great-great grandmother).  I would love for her to have a chance to refute the “bad wife” statement.  I have a feeling she wouldn’t be all that complimentary about her husband!

By the way, I can’t say with 100% certainly, but I have a strong suspicious that the daughter Mark was trying to leave penniless is my great-great-great grandmother, Martha.  As far as I can tell, Mark and Martha only had two children (no wonder, eh?!): Mary Ann (born 1814) and Martha (born 1817).  I haven’t been able to trace Mary Ann beyond her baptism, but, in the 1841 census, Martha is living in Danby Wiske with her husband,  George Stead.  Around 1845 though, she and George move to Little Langton.  Little Langton is the small village (approximately sixteen houses) where Mark Wetherell is living at the time.  Martha and George Stead arrive in the village around the time that Mark’s wife dies, so it seems quite plausible that Martha moved to the village to look after her father.  And, in fact, Martha and George appear to be living in the very same section of the village as her father.

The perplexing thing is why Mark’s daughter, Martha, would decide to name her oldest son “Thomas Wetherell Stead” (born 1840ish).  Why give her son her father’s last name (as a middle name) when her father “took no notice” of her?  Was she simply honoring her heritage?  Or was she trying to get back in her father’s good books?  If it’s the latter, it doesn’t seem to have worked judging by the fact that, even on his death bed, he was determined not to leave his £150 to her (that’s £13,900 in today’s currency)!

9 Eggs!

This time around, let’s take a look at George Stead, my great-great-great grandfather.  He was the maternal grandfather of Herbert George Carter (Grandad C.’s dad).


Family Tree of George Stead

George Stead was born in 1804 in Birstwith, Yorkshire.  His parents were John and Ann Stead (nee Parler).  He was baptised on June 24th, 1804.


Baptism of George Stead

George married Martha Wetherill (my great great great grandmother) in Danby Wiske on April 28, 1835.  He had at least eight children (seven girls & one boy) with Martha, including a daughter called Martha (my great great grandmother).  In the 1820s and 1830s, George was the tenant-farmer of Brockholme, a 67 acre farm (in the Danby Wiske area) that was put up for auction in 1831:


Brockholme Farm for Sale – Yorkshire Gazette, Aug 27, 1831

After the farm was sold, George and his family stayed on as tenants.  A government report from 1837 even records how much George was paying in rent at that time:


Report of 1837

The family was still at Brockholme when the 1841 census was taken.  Later that decade, George moved his family to Little Langton before eventually moving back to the Danby Wiske area.  George lived a long life, reaching age 86.

When I’m researching my ancestors, I’m always hopeful I can find out more about them than just their birth, marriage, and death dates.  I strive to find unique snippets of info about each of them – snippets that transform them into living breathing individuals.  In the case of George Stead, my search was fruitful.  I delved into newspapers of the time and, low and behold, I found a small article about him and a rather special goose he had.


Durham County Advertiser – November 6, 1835

It’s a very short little snippet about his life, but I can definitely picture a very chuffed George counting the eggs!


(As an aside, for anyone living or visiting the Northallerton area, there is apparently a six mile walk in Danby Wiske that takes you right through Brockholme Farm.  Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to come across a goose with nine eggs!)

Immigrating and Emigrating

Recently my grandmother (thanks Nanny P.!) sent me some documents relating to her grandmother, Lucy Grayson.  Nanny P. asked if I would write about Lucy and her parents and siblings on my blog, so here goes!

Lucy Grayson (my great-great grandmother) was born in 1874 in Middlesbrough.  Her parents were John Myers Grayson and Emma Stephenson.  John Myers and Emma were married on February 15, 1862 and subsequently started a family.  By 1876, they had four children: George, Susanna, John, and Lucy.  1876 was a momentous year for the Grayson family.  What was so momentous about that year, you might wonder?  Well, on August 31st, the entire family boarded the S.S. Fitzroy and immigrated to Australia!  Here they are listed in a document from the Archives of Perth State Library:


S.S. Fitzroy – Grayson Family

If you look closely at that document, you will notice an addition to the family in 1876.  Ernest Fitzroy Grayson was born on November 14th while the S.S. Fitzroy was sailing in the Indian Ocean!  When the Graysons left England in August, I wonder if they were resigned to the fact that Ernest would be born on the ship or whether they were hoping to make it to Australia before he arrived?  In either case, as it happened, Ernest made an appearance a good three weeks before the ship docked in Fremantle on December 8th.  Luckily though, although the voyage lasted 99 days, it appears from the description below that it was quite a good journey:


Article about the Immigrants Arriving on the Fitzroy – 1876

I don’t know much about the Grayson family’s life in Australia, due to the fact that I don’t have computer access to any Australian archives.  I do know, however, that they added another son to their family in 1879; Joseph Henwick was born in Canning, Australia (near Fremantle and Perth in Western Australia) on August 5th, 1879.  Here’s a photo of Joseph in 1918.  At first glance, you might think he went to prison and that this is his mug shot, but, you’ll be happy to hear that the photo is actually part of his official Merchant Navy Seaman record!


Joseph Grayson (my great-great-great uncle)

The Grayson family expanded again in 1883 when youngest daughter, Emma, was born.  Was Emma born in Canning like her older brother?  NO!  Emma was born in Middlesbrough, England!!!  Sometime between 1880 and 1883, the family must have decided that Australia wasn’t the country for them and they emigrated from Australia back to England.  I wish they’d left a diary so I could know what precipitated their decision to head back home . . . but the following article about the immigrants of the S.S. Fitzroy may offer a glimmer of a clue: it seems some of the immigrants on board were disillusioned by their new surroundings within a week of arrival:


Related to the Immigrants of Fitzroy

I have no way of knowing, of course, whether the Graysons were one of the families to express initial concerns over their new surroundings – but it does seem like a distinct possibility given the fact that they sailed back to England a few years later!

Perhaps there was one Grayson who had slightly more charitable feelings towards Australia: John Myers and Emma’s oldest daughter, Susanna, got married in Australia in 1882 and had a son, George James Burns, with her husband in 1882.  She did not sail back to England with her parents, brothers, and sisters, but instead lived the life of a true immigrant and settled in her adopted country.  I wonder if she ever saw her parents or siblings again?  The journey from Australia to England or England to Australia would have been quite a lengthy one to undertake for the purposes of just a visit.  Hopefully I’ll be able to find out more about Great Great Great Aunt Susanna and her family in the years to come when more family history resources appear online; she is, after all, my earliest (as far as I know!) Australian relative.  On the other hand, her parents and siblings (including my great-great grandmother, Lucy) are most certainly not Australians – but rather Brits who went on a grand adventure!


Northallerton Views

On Facebook, I was lucky enough to come across a great page called Northallerton Views.  It’s basically a place where people can go to post old and new photos of Northallerton.  For any of you with ties to Northallerton, I encourage you to take a peek at that site every once in a while.  It’s fascinating to see photos of ancestors and familiar places pop up on there.  For this post, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Northallerton Views finds with you.

First up, let’s start with one taken just down the street from 11 Springwell Terrace.  Looks like quite the flood!


Willow Beck Flood, Springwell Lane (Posted by Caroline Baker)

And here’s one of a train accident at Castle Hills Junction.  According to the Yorkshire Gazette, on October 4th, 1894, the Edinburgh to Kings Cross express train collided with a Darlington to York mineral train in thick fog.  Six people were seriously injured.  The train was carrying some very high profile passengers: two cabinet ministers: Lord Tweedmouth and Mr. Arnold Morley.  They were unharmed.  However, when news of the accident reached London, there were a few moments of anxiety as it was initially thought the prime minister, Lord Rosebery, was on the train.  Luckily though, it was later discovered that he’d caught an earlier train from Edinburgh.  I wonder what my ancestors thought of their town being in the middle of a national news story?  My great great grandfather, William Carter, was working for the railway around that time, so the accident certainly must have resonated with him.


Train Accident at Castle Hills Junction, 1894

Now let’s take a look at a photo of Castle Hills Farm.  The woman in the photo is Clara Carter.  She was the wife of Matthew Henry Carter who was my great great uncle.  The little girl is Clara’s daugher, Grace, who, many decades later, used to give me comics whenever we were in England.  Grace was Grandad C.’s first cousin.  Grace’s father, Matthew Henry, and my great grandfather, Herbert George, were brothers.


Castle Hills Farm: Clara Carter and Grace Carter (Posted by Caroline Baker)

Here’s another shot of Clara Carter and Castle Hills Farm.  This one was taken in the 1940s.  Judging by the multitude of icicles, it must have been a very cold winter!


Castle Hills Farm: Clara Carter

And then, here is my absolute favorite Northallerton Views find.  It’s a photo of my great-great grandparents, William & Martha Carter.  They were the parents of Herbert George Carter.  This photo was also taken at Castle Hills Farm.  I never imagined I’d find a photo of them on Facebook!  Lovely to be able to put faces to their names.


Castle Hills Farm: William & Martha Carter (Posted by Caroline Baker)

Not an Orphan After All . . .

For this post, I thought I’d share the story of my great grandfather, George Carter.  My interest in genealogy was kindled when I heard that my grandmother (Nanny P.) was looking for information about her father, George Carter.  He hadn’t told her much about his childhood, only saying that he was an orphan who grew up in an orphanage.  Nanny P. wanted to know more about his background and so I set out to see what I could find.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that he was not an orphan at all.  I’m not sure what’s sadder though, growing up in an orphanage after your parents die?  Or growing up in an orphanage when your parents are still alive?

George Carter (Nanny P.’s father) was born in 1899 to Thomas Carter and Elizabeth Mason.  Thomas and Elizabeth were originally from Staffordshire, but by the time George was born, they were living in Stockton-On-Tees.  The 1901 census shows Thomas and Elizabeth living in a two-room house at 8 Charlton Street with George, George’s older siblings (Thomas, Ellen, and Elizabeth) and George’s younger brother (Samuel).   Older half-sister, Naomi Downes, who shows up on a previous census, is not living with the family in 1901.  I haven’t yet figured out where she is.


The Carter Family – 1901 Census

By  1911, George’s family has fallen on tough times.  George and his brother Samuel are living in a cottage home (an orphanage) on Hartington Road with fifteen other boys, under the care of a Miss Pamela Smelt.


George (and his brother Samuel) – 1911 Census

(As an interesting aside, one of the boys living in the orphanage with George and Samuel is William Stewart.  He’s listed directly below Samuel and he was killed in World War I; his life is memorialized on the very poignant 1,245 Sunflowers website.)

Where is the rest of George’s family while he and Samuel are living in the orphanage?  Well, their mother is in the workhouse and their father is a lodger in the home of a Mr. James MacDonald.


Elizabeth Carter (George’s mother) – 1911 Census


Thomas Carter (George’s father) – 1911 Census

I didn’t find any trace of George’s older sisters (Naomi, Ellen, and Elizabeth) in the 1911 census; while searching for them, however, I discovered a five-year-old “Margaret Carter” listed as an “inmate” at another orphanage in Stockton-on-Tees.  Another sibling perhaps?  I emailed Stockton Archives and, sure enough, she is George’s little sister.


Margaret Carter (George’s sister), 1911 Census

I also located older brother, Thomas, who by 1911 had joined the Durham Light Infantry and was stationed at Colchester, Essex.


Private Thomas Carter (George’s brother) – 1911 census

George’s family, then, was definitely scattered far and wide by 1911.  Unfortunately,  worse was yet to come:  his older brother, Thomas, was killed while serving with the 2nd Durham Light Infantry at Colchester on August 13, 1913. What a great deal of hardship and adversity the family had to deal with.

George’s tragic family story leaves me with lots of questions about him and his family.  What precipitated them all being split asunder?  Did George know his parents were still alive or did he truly think he was an orphan?  Did George know that he had a younger sister or was he already in the orphanage when Margaret was born?  And did George ever reunite with all his surviving siblings?

Welcome to Ancestral Hearthbeats!

I’ve been pondering the idea of creating a family history blog for a few years now, and I’ve decided it is finally going to happen in 2016.   I can’t promise I’ll post regularly as I don’t seem to have much time to devote to genealogy, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading my posts when I do post them!

Setting up this blog has proved more challenging than I thought it would be.  The hardest task by far was giving it a name.  Genealogy is such a popular pastime and, as a result, everyone is blogging about it.  What does this mean for me?  It means all the typical genealogy-related blog names are already taken and I had the difficult task of trying to find a very unique name.  I have spent a couple of days trying to find a name that a) isn’t already in use and b) encompasses all my ancestors.  “Roots and Ramblings”? Taken!  “From Moor and Mountain”?  Perfect for my ancestors who lived in the mountains of Canada or beside the moors in Lastingham – but not very inclusive for those who lived in Middlesbrough or Wolverhampton!

I finally decided to brainstorm to determine what (if anything!) all my ancestors had in common.  All from England?  Nope.  All farmers?  Nope.  All paupers?  All Non-Conformists?  All from villages?  Nope.  Nope.  Nope.  Just when I was beginning to despair, it hit me:  hearths!  My ancestors all came from very different backgrounds, but I bet they all gathered around the family hearth on a cold winter’s day.

In historic and modern usage, a hearth /ˈhɑrθ/ is a brick– or stone-lined fireplace, with or without an oven, used for heating and originally also used for cooking food. For centuries, the hearth was such an integral part of a home, usually its central and most important feature .                                                          ~Wikipedia

The hearth has been present in homes for centuries.  I have vivid memories of both my grandfathers lighting fires in their respective hearths.  I can still feel the chilly morning air around me as they worked diligently to get their fires started.  I can still smell the coal.  I can still hear the crackle of the kindling.  I remember Grandad Carter shaving with a razor and shaving brush in front of his hearth.  And I remember Grandad Pearson feeding Pip Lion bars in front of his.  The hearth really does feature prominently in my memories, and picturing my distant ancestors around their hearths makes them feel more like living, breathing people to me.   And, thus, the name of this blog was born!


Medieval Fireplace

Until next time, I hope you all stay warm around your hearths (or have the luxury of turning on your central heating!) . . .

(PS – Do any of you have memories that feature the hearths of your grandparents or other relatives?)