Friday, 18 July 2014

Sibling Saturday: Eight Rawcliffe Sisters

The birth of eight sisters (with three dying in infancy), the intriguing name of Septima meaning 7th daughter,  the early death of their mother, a step-mother with three illegitimate children and the birth of three  half-siblings - all findings I discovered in the search for the background of my great grandmother. Maria Rawcliffe (left).  

Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe (1859-1919)  of Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde Lancashire,  has been at the heart of my family history story and featured regularly on my blog. 

But what of her family?

My first knowledge of my great grandmother's sisters  came from the 1871 Hambleton census, which listed Robert Rawcliffe aged 49, born at Marton,  a widower at Town Row, with his three daughters Anne aged 23,  Jane aged 20 and Maria aged 12, all born at Hambleton.  Thsi tied in with my mother's  vague recollections of a great aunt Anne who married  a farmer and great aunt Jane who married a man from nearby Fleetwood

Turning backwards to earlier records, the family were listed in the 1851 census for Hambleton - Robert, a carter aged 28, his wife Jane, aged 30,  and two daughters (named I found out later  after their  grandmothers),  Anne aged 3, and Jane aged 7 months.

Onto the 1861 census where Robert was described as a farmer and carter aged 39, wife Jane is 41, daughter Jane is 10 and “Mariagh” 2 - the enumerator’s idea of spelling !  Their eldest daughter Anne is not listed, but may well be the Anne Rawcliffe, aged 13, a house servant, resident with John Rawcliffe, taylor and grocer, his wife Barbara, 5 year old son Thomas and apprentice Richard Parkinson.  So far no family connection has been traced between these two Rawcliffe families.

However of most interest in the 1861 census was the first knowledge of two other daughters Alice aged 6 and Jennet aged 4. But where were they 10 years on in 1871?  In service elsewhere perhaps?  

I tuned to the IGI (International Genealogy Index) (this was in the days of microfiche) and discovered two more daughters born to Robert and Jane Rawcliffe - Margaret, born 1852  and Martha Septima - a second name that intrigued me - born 1863.   But I could not find trace of Martha in the 1871 census. So what had happened to her?   

The family group record on  gave confirmation of the seven children of Robert and Jane Rawcliffe.  However the individual record search produced details on an eighth  daughter Peggy. born 1861More confusion, as this meant Martha Sepitma was not in fact the seventh daughter, but the eighth. 

I next turned to the Lancashire Parish Records Online to find that three of the sisters had not survived infancy, with Margaret dying at 3 weeks old, Peggy just 16 day old  and Martha aged 4 months, just after her baptism - all buried at the  Church of the Blessed Virgin mary in Hambleton.   Unfortunately there is no gravestone nor listing in monumental inscriptions. 

So  Maria’s mother Jane, gave birth to 8 children in a sixteen year period   Jane was aged 44 at the birth of her youngest daughter Martha and died two years later, buried on 4th May 1865, leaving her five  young daughters motherless at the ages of 6, 8, 11, 14 and 17. - the youngerst my great grandmother Maria.  
Alice Rawcliffe.

So what happened to the five surviving sisters - Anne, Jane, Alice, Jennet and Maria?  I will follow their stories in future posts.  

Through the Internet,  I made contact with Jane Rawliffe's great grandson and Alice Rawliciffe's 's great granddaughter  and discovered we held the same family photographs.  The surprise finding was to discover that Alice Rawcliffe died in Jamesburg, New Jersey  - the first time I was aware of any American connections.   

Again It was a story of births outside marriage, infant deaths, large families and remarriage - all features of  life at the time. 

So watch this space for more tales of the Rawcliffe sisters.   

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Sepia Saturday - Jennie's Friendship Photos

Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories through photographs.

I must admit that my inspiration was failing when  faced with a "Free for All" choice of theme.  I clearly need the photo prompt to get my brain buzzing.  All I could think of were themes I had already featured.  

Eventually I decided this was the opportunity to show for the first time the friendship photographs from my Great Aunt Jennie's collection.

Jennie Danson (1897-1986)  was the only daughter and last child of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, born on 24th December 1897, after eight surviving brothers - George then aged 3, Frank 5, Albert 7, Tom 9, William 12 (my grandfather), Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20 - a large family in a small terraced house. Her father died when she was eight years old. Jennie managed the home for her bachelor brothers, following her mother's death in 1919,  and married in 1928. 

In Jennie's photograph collection, besides family pictures,   were about 50 photographs of friends and I presume friend's children.  Very fortunately in most instances, she had written names on the reverse of the photographs. Many were taken at W. J. Gregson  & Co., W.P. Beck Proprietor, Photographers, 92 Talbot Road, Blackpool or the While-U-Wait Studio, Wellington Terrace,The Promenade, Blackpool.

Was it the custom to exchange such photographs?  Perhaps faced with  a household  of all those brothers, Jennie  was especially grateful for the company of her female friends.

Annie Jolly was a popular subject amongst Jennie's photographs.   

In the 1901 census, she could well be the 2 year old Charlotte Annie Jolly, living at Queen's  Square, Poulton, daughter of Edward and Jane  Jolly.  Edward was a joiner like Jennie's father.  Also in the household was Jane's sister Sarah Haydon Lounds, a domestic servant, who married Jennie's  older brother, John Danson.  By  the 1911 census Annie Jolly  was aged 12,  living at Longfield Avenue, Poulton with her uncle Richard Jolly, and his wife Isabella. Jennie's brother William ((my grandfather) lived on the same road with his wife and young family. 

Nellie Jolly
Any Dodd
Landgirl Becky Bennet



What on earth was the occasion for this very glum looking group? 
Billy Hopkins with Lizzie and baby.
Billy Long

Many of the photographs in Jennie's collection featured young men in uniform, looking apprehensive and  about to go to war.  One cannot help but wonder if they survived.  Given the scale of causalities,  and the fact I had only basic details, it has not been possible to identify them on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.  

 This is a puzzle!  Identified as "Mr Ashcroft, Postman at Poulton - daughter Melita".  According to her daughters, Jennie worked in Poulton Post OfficeButthe reverse of the photograph indicates  it was taken by  by Photographie Kramer in Gronungen,  a city in the northern Netherlands.

To end this short selection, two charming photographs: 

Granny Jolly & Grandchild
Young Jacky  Threlfall

Click HERE to see how other Sepians have taken up this week's open theme challenge 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Military Memories 30: Lest We Forget

Over the past month  I have featured the members of my immediate family who served in two world wars.  I finish this Military Memories Challenge by highlighting the way we remember  those who served and those who died.  LEST WE FORGET. 

I persuaded my father  to write down his memories and Dad's own words form the basis of this family history narrative (left) ,  supplemented by letters written to my mother  in 1944 and photographs from the family collection.  It was a very enjoyable and at times moving project to read Dad's own words and compile this tribute.

I was also proud to contribute Dad's story  to the BBC "People's War"  - a major project where the public were invited to post wartime memories  online.  An archive of 47,000 stories and 15,000 images was the result.   

From national memorials to small village crosses we remember those who were killed in war, including my two great uncles John and George Danson. 
The Cenotaph in London began as a temporary structure erected for a peace parade following the end of the First World War  but following an outpouring of national sentiment it was replaced in 1920 by a permanent structure and designated the United Kingdom's primary national war memorial.   Designed by Edwin Lutyens and built of Portland Stone,  the memorial was unveiled by King  George V  on 11 November 1920, the second anniversary of the end of the war. The unveiling ceremony for the Cenotaph was part of a larger procession bringing the Unknown Solider to be laid to rest in his tomb in Westminster Abbey.

The term "Cenotaph" relates to a monument  to honour those who died,  whose bodies are buried elsewhere or have no known grave. 

 Minto War Memorial, near Hawick in the Scottish Borders

Taynuilt in Argyll, Scotland

Clitheroe,  Lancashire, England 

Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge in the Scottish Highlands.
 It overlooks the training areas of the Commando Training Depot
established in 1942 at Achnacarry Castle.

  Isle of Iona, looking across to Mull

War Memorial at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire 
with the names of my two great uncles John and George Danson

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved