But did you realise that our ancestors travelled too? It's one of those fallacies about working class people in the past, that they never went anywhere. I can assure you that they most certainly did.
To be honest Bradford, West Yorkshire to Bitchburn, Durham is one of the shorter journeys I've found in my family tree - but it's the fact that James Bateman went back to Bradford after quite a short time away that interests me. His brother, my 4x great grandfather, William Bateman, moved north and stayed in Durham for the rest of his life, but James didn't. So what was the different experience of the two brothers?
William and James were the sons of Benjamin Bateman of Shelf, near Halifax and his wife Elizabeth (aka Betty), maiden name Benn, also of Shelf, who married in Halifax in 1802. William was baptised in Halifax on 7 November 1802 to Benjamin Bateman of Shelf a Coal Miner. Shelf was the place I confused with Sheffield for so many years after misreading William's 1851 census entry.
|James Bateman's baptism at St John's Halifax on 24 November 1811 (from Ancestry)|
William is in Durham by 1827 because in September of that year he marries Ann Hutchinson in Heighington, which is a small village about three miles south of Shildon and seven miles north of Darlington. Although there are nine years between the brothers James follows William into matrimony just four years later when he marries Margaret Binns in October 1831 in Bradford. She dies childless within a few years.
|1837 Marriage Entry for James Bateman and Mary Sutcliffe (nee Clough) in Bradford (from Ancestry)|
Mary brings two children by her first husband to the marriage, William aged 4 and Grace aged 2 who were both baptised in Thornton by Bradford according to Family Search. James and Mary's eldest two children Elizabeth (b.1838) and Samuel (b.1840) both give Thornton as their place of birth on subsequent census returns. Then suddenly in 1841 James and his family appear in Shildon.
|1841 census entry for Chapel Row, Shildon (edited to show headings) for |
James Bateman and family (from Ancestry)
|Chapel Row in Shildon, a curving street with at least two Methodist Chapels nearby (from Old Maps)|
Abel Bateman is baptised in the Methodist Chapel at Thornton, Bradford in 1846, but he's the only one I can find. Trying BMDRegisters I found some hits for Benjamin Bateman which tempted me to spend a £5 to see if they fitted the family, but nothing late enough for James. With one child definitely baptised in a Methodist chapel it suggests the others might have been and it's just that those records are not available online yet.
One of the hits for Benjamin Bateman on BMD Registers suggested he and Betty (well that fits) were the grandparents of Jonas and Sarah Butterfield. So a Bateman daughter, that I don't know about yet, married a Butterfield. That can't be hard to find. Sure enough a Miles Butterfield marries Ann Bateman on 2 March 1835 in Bradford. What has this to do with James Bateman in Shildon. You'll see in a minute.
|1841 census entry for Chapel Row, Shildon for|
Miles Butterfield and family (from Ancestry)
I noticed that both families have a few lodgers as well, a collection of unrelated male labourers living in their households. It does all suggest a crowded boom town, with a lot of work available and money to be made by letting out any spare room you might have.
Why would James Bateman, his wife, four small children and an aged (65 years old) father in law travel from Bradford to Shildon looking for work? Miles too has small children, but if you look closely you can see that Elizabeth his youngest child, just eight months old, was actually born in Durham, there's a Y at the end of her entry whilst her parents and siblings have Ns showing they were born elsewhere. So the family have already been in the North East for a little while.
James and Mary's next child, Benjamin, is born in Bitchburn, and he was the clue which helped me join together the two families of Batemans. Bitchburn or Beechburn is about seven miles north west of Shildon, just to the south of Howden le Wear. The mine at Beechburn didn't open until 1845, but the railway got there earlier according to my notes from various books on the history of railways in the North East of England. Three of my earlier blogs trace a walk the OH and I did in the area a few years ago and there are all kinds of pictures and maps. Try here, here and here.
We know that William Bateman was already in Hargill Hill, very near Bitchburn, by 1840 as his daughter Martha (one of them, he reused the name when this one died young) was born there. Maybe he had contacted James (how? neither of them could write) to tell him there was plenty of work on the railways in the North East, so James had come up, firstly to Shildon and then following the line northwards towards Witton Junction and Howden le Wear.
James' next child, Daniel, is born in Castle Eden in 1844. Castle Eden is about 20 miles due east of Howden le Wear and is in Durham, despite what it says on James' 1851 census return!
|1851 census entry for James Bateman back in Bradford at 19 Thornton Street (from Ancestry)|
|The baptism of Abel Bateman at Thornton Methodist Chapel in 1846 (from Ancestry)|
In the 1851 census James now gives his occupation as Mechanic and all five of the older children are working in the woollen industry, the Sutcliffes as weavers and the Batemans as Spinners. Maybe this is why they've come back to Bradford, there's more work for the rest of the family, including the women.
|1851 census (edited to join two pages) for Miles Butterfield (from Ancestry)|
Despite what seem like a wide time spread for all their children, if they married at the age of 21 years old Benjamin and Elizabeth (Betty) would still only have been around 45 years old when George was born which is not an unreasonable age for her still to be having children.
We can see that the Butterfield's too are now employed in the woollen industry, Miles and his eldest daughter Sarah being Power Loom Weavers, and the next daughter Elizabeth, a Piecer in Worsted Mill. But look at the birth places of Miles' children. Elizabeth and her sister Priscilla were born in Durham, then two children in Thornton and then two more in Durham again - and we might even suggest that Chilton is a mistranscription of Shildon, remember none of the adults at least can write and the two words do sound very similar. So they came back to Thornton, changed their minds, went back to Shildon, changed their minds again and came back to Bradford to live just a few doors away from James Bateman again. Families eh?
So why did James (and Miles) move from Bradford to Durham and back again? Up to the North East to Durham for plenty of good, well paying work and extra income from lodgers when they were young and only had small young families and then back to Bradford for suitable work for the girls of the family and the growing number of younger family members as at the same time the labouring work in the North East became less plentiful or less well paid or became too heavy for the men as they got older.
Why did William stay in the North East? Well he had married a girl from there unlike his brother, so that's one reason, and by the time he started to slow down and was looking for a change from the quarrying and stone work, he'd got himself a pub to run in Hargill Hill and then another in Witton le Wear, so he no need to return to the woollen mills.
Problem solved ... probably.