Our American cousins, it seems, have a Women's History Month, and the first blogging prompt is "Favorite Female Ancestor" - well here she is - Amelia Mordey, my 3x great grandmother.
The Sad Story of Amelia Mordey (written October 2012)
My 3x great grandmother Amelia was born Amelia Mordey in Sunderland, County Durham, on 18th November 1811. She died aged only 49, still in Sunderland predeceased by three of her sons and deserted by her husband.
I have found the bare bones of her life story using census returns, parish records and trade directories, but do wish there was some way of finding more. I think she is a good candidate for my answer if I was asked, “Which ancestor would you most like to meet?” The recent release of Merchant Seamen’s records on Ancestry has helped me fill out her story a little more.
Amelia’s parents were Thomas Mordey, a coal fitter (that’s the middle man between the coal mine owners and the coal merchants, usually the owner of the keels used for moving the coal) and ship owner and his wife Jane (née Shout) who married on 16th December 1793. They appear to have been quite well off for the time, when he died in 1832 Thomas left a will valued at “under £4000” (about £200,000 in today’s money) in which he mentions such luxury items as “Plate, Linen, Woollen, Books, China, Watches, Trinkets and implements of Household of every description” as well as “ships and vessels and parts and shares of Ships and vessels.” After provision for his wife Thomas directed that his estate be shared equally amongst his remaining children, taking into consideration and deducting any monies previously advanced to them when calculating their shares.
|John Street, Sunderland (from Google Maps)|
Thomas and Jane had eleven children that I am aware of and I have found 35 grandchildren so far. Their two eldest sons died in infancy as did their second daughter, another daughter died aged 16. That left one son and six daughters who survived to marry and have children of their own. Their children all appear to have been baptised in the non-conformist church with all bar the youngest two in the Old Meeting or Corn Market Chapel High Street (according to Family Search) and those youngest two in Robinson’s Lane Presbyterian Chapel. Amelia was their youngest daughter, baptised on 17th Nov 1811; she married just before Thomas’ death but after his will was written so is mentioned in it by her maiden name.
Amelia married Frederick Elstob Hutton on 17th November 1831 at the Holy Trinity Church in Sunderland. She was 20 years old. In keeping with the rest of her family she married within the middle classes, Frederick being in line to take over his father’s Rope Making business. Amelia’s eldest sister, Mary Ann Mordey, had married John Mitchell, a Coal Merchant and had moved to Lymington in Hampshire. Their one surviving brother, William Mordey a surgeon, had married a local heiress, Ann Goodchild, but unfortunately she had died shortly after the birth of their only first and only child in 1830. William became mayor of Sunderland in 1850; he does not appear to have married again. The next sister, Eliza Mordey married Martin Douglas, a local Sunderland Rope Manufacturer and Ship Owner. One of their daughters married into the Vaux family, owners of a well-known Sunderland brewery. Another sister, Margaret Mordey married Cuthbert Blackett, an Independent Minister. This branch of the family emigrated to Australia in 1852. Another sister, Caroline Mordey had married William Satchell, who owned a Drapery business in Sunderland. He was sufficiently well regarded by Thomas Mordey to be made one of the joint executors of Thomas’ will along with his son William Mordey and Jane, his wife. The final sister, Harriet Mordey did not marry until after the death of her father. She married Christopher Binks in 1835; his occupation is given as Analytical Chemist and Mineral Agent on the 1851 census. She does not seem to have been any luckier in her married life than Amelia, her husband disappears between 1851 and 1861 and she and her daughters appear in several censuses supporting themselves as school teachers and governesses.
|Amelia and her children, a snip from my family tree (I use Family Historian)|
In 1841 the family are living in Sunderland at Tatham Street. Frederick is a Rope Manufacturer, his father Robert Hutton having died the previous year. We can see Robert, aged 8, Thomas aged 7, Frederick aged 5, William aged 2 and Charles Reuben is only 9 months old making him born around October 1840 as the census was taken in June in 1841.
|1841 census of Tatham Street, Sunderland - edited to join adjacent pages (from Ancestry)|
Frederick and Amelia’s final child, a daughter whom they named Amelia Mordey Hutton, was born in towards the end of 1842. In 1844 Francis E Hutton [sic] appears in the Vint and Carrs Trade Directory as a Rope Manufacturer of Hendon Cottage Ropery, Hendon Road. He does not appear in the Wards 1850 Directory. Then Amelia and her children appear in the 1851 census without Frederick.
|1851 census for Olive Street, Sunderland (from Ancestry)|
Olive Street is a closely packed street of small houses near the railway station on the 1857 map of Sunderland. It appears to be something of a come down after John Street and Tatham Street. What has happened? Where is Frederick?
|Map of Sunderland in the 1850s showing John Street, Olive Street and Tatham Street (from Durham Images)|
|Frederick's Seaman's Ticket (from Find My Past)|
Robert’s Seaman’s ticket is dated 1846 and shows him having being 4ft 9inches tall, with brown hair and eyes and a dark complexion.
Robert progressed in his chosen career applying for his Mate’s Certificate in 1852 and his Master Mariner’s Certificate in 1854. The documentation with these claims shows that he served for some time on the Clarissa, which was a two masted sailing ship of the type called a Snow. Interestingly the Clarissa was owned by W Potts who was Frederick Hutton’s half-uncle, being half-brother to his father Robert Hutton the Rope Manufacturer by his father’s second wife. Another example of how family ties affected all kinds of business in Sunderland in the early 19th century. Unfortunately, again according to Amelia’s gravestone her son Robert Hutton the Master Mariner died on 11th June 1857 at Port Reco at the age of 24.
I know that news from local ships was passed by to Britain by ships sailing in the opposite direction and that columns of “Marine Intelligence” appeared in local newspapers, but as yet I have not discovered how the news of Frederick and Robert’s deaths might have reached Sunderland and Amelia.
In March 1851 when the census was taken Thomas Mordey Hutton was a 17 year old Timber Merchant’s Clerk, but by September 1851 he had changed his career and followed his brothers to sea.
|Thomas Mordey Hutton's claim for a Mate's Certificate (from Ancestry)|
A search on the “19th Century British Library Newspapers” website which is free to access through some libraries (I applied for a Newcastle Library card online and this gives me access, even though I live in Barnsley) brought up a possible hit for the events surrounding Thomas’s death.
|The Daily News, 2nd Februrary 1858 (from Find My Past)|
The coincidence of the place, Cape Grinez, the origin of the ship, Sunderland, that one of the men lost was the mate (we know Thomas was now a qualified mate) and the date makes it very likely that this is the correct report. In the same papers there are many other incidents reported at sea, the weather must have been particularly bad at that time.
My own 2x great grandfather William Satchell Hutton was Amelia’s fourth son. His application for a Mate’s certificate states that he first went to sea on 6th June 1851, so he left home before Thomas. He survives and marries in 1861. But Amelia was never to see her grandchildren.
Amelia died on 6th December 1860 in Sunderland. She had been ill for 10 years according to her death certificate. She was only 49 years old.
|Amelia Mordey Hutton's death certificate|
I am deliberately being obscure about where Frederick went as he is the subject of another article.
The whereabouts of the missing youngest son, Charles Reuben Hutton, needs further investigation, I do have a candidate for him but as yet some of the facts do not add up.
As I cut and paste this article into my blog I feel that it could have been written differently - I think my writing style has changed over the last four months, hopefully for the better. Well, that's Amelia's story told at long last, I hope you enjoyed it.