Wheeley Interesting

Researching the children of Thomas Henry WHEELEY led me to a few interesting discoveries this morning – particularly to do with his eldest daughters.

His first born daughter, Gertrude Annie Wheeley married a Thomas Fox in 1900 at St Andrews Church, Walsall. His second born daughter, Blanche Emma Wheeley was there and signed as a witness to the marriage along with possibly their younger brother, Thomas (presuming that the father would have signed his name as Thomas Henry as recorded above).

Marriage entry of Gertrude Annie Wheeley & Thomas Fox

The next year, Gertrude Annie married a man called William Henry Marston.  William was Roman Catholic and I was surprised to see the marriage entry recorded in latin (this is the first instance of Catholic records in my research).

Marriage entry of Blanche Emma Wheeley & William Henry Marston

Checking the census, I was pleased to find the sisters together – Blanche was visiting Gertrude at their Inn in Darlaston – the Britannia. Blanche had also brought along their 5 year old sister, Hilda.

1901 census showing Wheeley siblings staying with Gertrude Annie and her husband Thomas

I always love finding entries like these as it shows how the families were still in touch throughout the years but it turns out this was not such a happy story. Blanche was in fact staying with her sister after an altercation with her new husband and his mother.

In an article headed, ‘SOON TIRED OF MATRIMONIAL LIFE’, it outlined how the relationship soured after only 5 weeks (!) of marriage:

The parties were only married in January this year, and went to live defendant’s mother in Lumley Road, Walsall. Unpleasantness seemed to have arisen through the defendant’s mother, and the defendant always appeared to side with his mother. Five weeks after the marriage the defendant ordered his wife to leave the house on two occasions. On March 26th a dispute arose between the complainant and the defendant’s mother, and the defendant then practically turned his wife out of the house. The following day complainant went with her own mother to defendant to see what he was going to do. Defendant declined to have her back again and told her that if she wanted anything from him for her maintenance she would have to go to law to get it.

Sounds like William tried to make out it was because she was running him into debt but it seems like this was untrue as their was only a small amount owing for groceries. William was ordered to pay Blanche 12s 6d a week (approximately £48 in today’s money – worth about a day’s wages at the time).

Walsall Advertiser 20 April 1901 p8 c7

The address given by Blanche was her sister’s residence – the Brittania Inn. Another interesting point was that this incident happened only 5 days before the census evening (31 March 1901).

Hopefully, Blanche had a happy ending…

Genealogical Jurisprudence

Professor John Glaister (1856 – 1932)

Professor John Glaister (1856 – 1932) was a Scottish forensic scientist who often appeared as an expert witness in famous legal cases of the time. He authored A Text-book of Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology which was apparently quite an important reference work in those medical/legal circles of the time.

There has been a long held belief in my family that we are related to him, however I have never been able to find evidence of this.  My grandmother had first mentioned it to me but there is also a reference to the relationship in a letter my grandfather wrote to his son in 1979:

When we were in N.Z. someone told us that Aunt Amy when she was in Scotland looked up the Glaisters & Gerard Glaister is one of our relations. My maternal Grand-father was the only Glaister that wasn’t a Dr – [written above: (he was a blacksmith & my cousin Tom Allan showed me his coach-builders hand book when were in NZ.) ] & we had one of his books on veterinary [surgery] with coloured plates of horses insides when I was a kid. Tom Allen had a photo of my Grand-dad Glaister’s FATHER’s house on a Scottish estate – the house was given to him on his retirement as vet. So it looks something like this:

Incidently my uncle Murray Glaister met Prof. Glaister before the war.

+ one of his two sons (my cousin) was in the N.Z. New Years Honours list for his contribution to the meat industry.

*I believe the uncle he refers to as Murray is actually William David Murray Glaister (a solicitor in Auckland) as he was the only boy of William Murray GLAISTER & Alice Ann WHITE that lived; Aunt Amy is likely Amy Glaister/Pile; Gerard Glaister seems to refer to the British television producer and director ; I’m not sure who cousin Tom Allen refers to or the ‘meat industry contributor’.*

Seemingly lots of family information to help me piece things together but unfortunately, I know immediately that Grandad was mistaken in a few things:

  1. It was actually his maternal great great Grandfather who was a vet (Robert GLAISTER).
  2. His grandfather’s father, William GLAISTER (missing from this sketch) was also a blacksmith and it was actually HIS father who was the vet.
  3. The DR S recorded as a brother to the coach builder (William Murray GLAISTER) does not exist (at least not as this relationship – He had a brother called Stephen Glaister who was also a blacksmith.)
  4. Professor John Glaister’s grandfather was a John Glaister NOT Robert GLAISTER the veterinarian
  5. ‘…only Glaister that wasn’t a Dr…’ – no known doctors in this part of the family apart from a few veterinary surgeons

So my general assumption was that the family were mistaken and there is no link to my family.

HOWEVER:

While trawling the NZ Papers Past website for the Glaister name, I came across this article from 1932:

 

Auckland Star – 19 December 1932

 

…His death reveals a link with Auckland and New Zealand. When his daughter, now Mrs. Woodruff, was passing through Auckland to Melbourne to be married in 1919, she accidentally came into contact with the name Glaister, and made the acquaintance of Mr. W. P. M. Glaister,barrister, of this city. Subsequently Professor Glaister, who was compiling a history of the Glaister clan, communicated with Mr. Glaister, and as a result was able to furnish a genealogical history of the New Zealand branch of the Glaister clan from about 1800. Besides his specialist work in criminology Professor Glaister had wide interests, medical and scientific.

So according to this, ‘Uncle Murray’ had contact with Professor Glaister’s daughter and eventually communicated with him.  It doesn’t say ‘met’ but this was certainly ‘before the war’ so there WAS some truth to that statement.  The comment, ‘as a result was able to furnish a genealogical history of the New Zealand branch of the Glaister clan from about 1800’ isn’t exactly clear but does seem to imply that there WAS some link between both families. So for now, my search goes on…

Next Steps:

  • Determine exactly who cousin Tom Allen was & the ‘meat industry contributor’
  • Contact relatives who may still hold the books, papers and photographs referred to in the letter
  • Prepare tree of descendants of Robert GLAISTER to compare to Grandad’s sketch
  • Find link to Professor John Glaister’s family

George the Absconder

A young bachelor George EBBANS (far right) with two of his brothers (c1910)

The family story goes that George Ebbans (b. 1893) left his wife and children around 1927 and started a new family with another woman.

In my mother-in-law’s words:

George Ebbans married Sarah Ann Crossley. They had 2 children, Irene and George. For some reason, my mother-in-law says George spread it around and Sarah Ann (known as Sarann) was no angel.  George left their home and could not be traced for quite a few years. It later emerged that he had gone to live in Wolverhampton and lived with another woman (can’t find any record of a divorce or remarry). They raised a family, don’t know how many but one was christened George just to complicate matters. (It was also known that Sarann and her mother didn’t want George around so his reputation could well be made up).

Sarah Ebbans (nee CROSSLEY) in centre

This information seemed to come from family members who had first hand knowledge of the people, so I have no reason to doubt it.  However, I have also been unable to find any evidence of this desertion…

Until now.

Found in the Birmingham Daily Gazette, 25 November 1930, p3:

£174 ARREARS.

“I should have liked to give you another chance, but it is impossible; this has been going on for five years,” said the Mayor of Walsall yesterday in sentencing George Ebbans, aged 34, labourer, 35 Farringdon-street, to three months’ imprisonment for owing £174 maintenance arrears and costs due to his wife and two children.

Ebbans pleaded, “I have not been picking up a lot of money, and I have had to pay for my lodgings.”

The trail still ends there really.  Still no evidence of a second family in Wolverhampton – marriage or children – and I am yet to even find a death record for George himself.

But we now know that he did indeed desert his family and had done by at least 1925 – the same year his second child was born. It probably was hard for George to find enough money to support himself but I’m sure it was even harder for Sarah looking after two children and working as a hospital laundry maid (source: 1939 register).

National Registration Identity Card of George EBBANS (b.1922) showing his address listed as Farringdon Street

I’m a little confused by his address being listed as 35 Farringdon Street as his son lists it as an address on his National Registration Identity Card (c1945 – 1951) which leads me to believe it was actually the family address.  George mentions lodgings – presumably at a different address away from the family and therefore NOT Farringdon Street? Sarah (and I presume her 2 children – names currently redacted) are living on nearby Blue Lane in the 1939 register so this is unclear.

We may never know what really happened to George – the Ebbans name has been written in error and transcribed in so many different ways that it’s possible he’s hiding in the records under some alternative spelling I’ve yet to come across. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

Next Steps:

  • Find prison records/more details
  • Find George’s death record

 

The Shamrock

Oliver claimed by his affectionate friends – George Cruikshank

Since at least 1842, William LAMB of Derby, had been recorded as a bricklayer.  However in the 1871 census, he was recorded living at 59 & 60 Goodwin St “The Shamrock” and his profession was given as Bricklayer & Publican. It was common for innkeepers to have secondary jobs but it was the first mention of this family being involved with running a pub.  Goodwin Street was located within the ‘slums of Derby’ which were later cleared in the 1930s. My initial search for this pub proved fruitless but over the years, I’ve managed to glean a little more information about this ‘phantom’ pub.

The 1871 census entry for ‘The Shamrock’ and the Lamb family

In 1872, an inquest was held ‘upon the body of Rebecca Lamb, aged 51 years, wife of William Henry Lamb, landlord of “The Shamrock” beerhouse, Goodwin-street, who died on the previous day [17th April]” and the findings published in The Derby Mercury.

Rebecca Lamb’s Inquest in The Derby Mercury (24 April 1872, p5 col4)

In 1873, William Lamb of The Shamrock was among a number of ‘persons who had been called before the Bench to prove that their premises, if used for other than public-houses, would be rented at not less than 15 [pounds] a year” and received a renewal of their license.

The Derby Mercury, 27 August 1873, p2 col1

These two newspaper clippings together tell me that The Shamrock was actually a licensed beerhouse.  According to HistoryHouse.co.uk, beerhouses were “Premises which could sell only beer”.

The opening hours could be from 4am to 10pm. For a small fee of 2 guineas payable to the local excise officer, anyone could brew and sell beer. The excise licence would state whether the beer could be consumed on the premises (beerhouse) or as off-sales only (beershop).  [HistoryHouse.co.uk]

An 1874 directory also lists The Shamrock as a beerhouse:

Wright’s South Derbyshire Directory of 1874, p68

Whereas in 1878, another directory lists it as the ‘Shamrock Inn’:

Wilkins & Ellis New Borough of Derby, 1878

 

The Shamrock is also recorded twice in The Illustrated History of Derby’s Pubs by Maxwell Craven which I located when visiting Derby Central Library.  The first instance notes that it was almost certainly…

‘…named to encourage the colony of Irish families who in the early and mid-19th century lived (in some squalor, unfortunately) in this area, mainly in ‘Rookeries’ – grandish old houses split up by unscrupulous landlords. First recorded by name in 1874, but to be identified with the anonymous beerhouse listed at this address in 1857 and 1862.  The name quite probably migrated with a landlord from King Street.  Closed in 1908 after pressure from Mrs Boden and the Derby  Temperance Association.’ pp. 135-6

[NB: “First recorded by name in 1874” – does this refer to the 1874 directory entry or more official records?]

The second instance suggests it was a separate establishment located at 34 King Street from at least 1850 to 1852:

“Possibly later renamed the Mechanics’ Arms; it seems not unlikely that the landlord took the name with him to Goodwin Street, first recorded by name only a few years later.” p. 136

Although the Lambs are recorded at the same address in the 1861 census, there is no mention of the Shamrock or any publican profession.  The King Street incarnation of the Mechanics’ Arms appears in newspapers in 1862 under landlady Emily Bates [was she the Shamrock’s original landlord?]It’s still possible that The Shamrock was operating but not recorded at the time of the 1861 census and that William Lamb was the landlord who took the name from King to Goodwin Street.  As yet, there is no evidence that the Lamb family ever lived on King Street so we may never know.

Goodwin Street during demolition in the 1930s

 

 

Blind Leading the Blind

At the top of my ancestry ‘To Do’ list for many years now has been ‘Find out who Blind Wreford is’.

Today I’ve finally found out…

I’m not even sure where I first heard of Blind Wreford but I’ve kept an eye out for any mention of him.  Finally I found mention of him in obituary for another old wrestler, John Bolt.

 

He was full of anecdotes of “Blind Wreford,” a wealthy farmer of Cheriton, whodied in 1835 at a very advanced age, and who, notwithstanding his blindness, was a renowned wrestler, often followed the hounds without sustaining severe falls, and was an excellent judge of the weight and general qualities of cattle.”

 

According to this, he had been totally blind since he was 8. “He was a strongly limbed, well grown and powerful man, about 5 feet 10 in. in height, and was usually led into the ring by a boy, as a guide, and indulged with the privilege of taking hold of his antagonist by the collar…”

I’m really surprised that it’s been so hard to find mention of this guy as he really does seem quite extraordinary.