Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Just One Street - Waltham Street off Sheffield Road in 1891

My interest in history began back in 1991 when a family friend asked me about names in my family - she started me on the path of a 30 year journey investigating my own and the OH's family trees (and I was happy to research for anyone else who asked or who looked interesting!) By 2012 I had begun to investigate war memorials as a way of finding out more about the OH's servicemen ancestors and now I am in the first year of a PhD studying Barnsley War Memorials. I've come a long way in those 30 years.

Sometimes a photo or a historical image grabs my attention because it says something about my research of all the different varieties. Today's blog post is about a page of the 1891 census return and in particular some families who I could see at a glance were people whom I knew more about.

1891 census for Barnsley, Piece 3770, Folio 120B - showing Waltham Street

I had begun the day by looking for more information about Esther Fisher who married into the Kellett family who are ancestors of the OH. I don't just go backwards in direct lines in our trees, I like to look at brothers and sisters and the families of wives and husbands who married into our families. It is always useful to examine a page of census information to see what you can find out about the area where your family lived.

Waltham Street is off Sheffield Road and useful sites for photographs of the area before the clearances of the 1930s and 1960s are The Tasker Trust and YOCOCO. You might also try the Barnsley Streets books from Pen & Sword publishers, Waltham Street appears in Volume 1.

The top of Waltham Street (with thanks to the Tasker Trust) Image ref: EGT1442

1906 map of Sheffield Road showing Waltham Street (from Old Maps)

Here is a map of the area in 1906 from the Old Maps website, which is also the date and scale of the Alan Godfrey historical maps you can buy from Experience Barnsley (for our area) and online. The houses on Waltham Street are larger than some nearby, and of later date than those on Taylor Row nearby or in Wilson's Piece on the other side of Sheffield Road. The large building at the top of the street on the left was the Rising Sun pub (details on the CAMRA ?What Pub website).

The census page above shows part of the Elliott family, who are living in a Court off Waltham Street, at the top, then:

56 Waltham Street - the Fisher family - William and Sarah with three children and two boarders Harry and Clara Sherburn. William was a Wood Turner and both he and his wife were incomers to Barnsley from Kendal in Westmoreland (now part of Cumbria). Esther, the daughter I was researching, was born in Barnsley in about 1871 and popping back 10 years to 1881 I could see that she had an older sister, Isabella, born in Barnsley in early 1868. So the family had been in Barnsley for at least 23 years by the time of the census shown above. The houses on Waltham Street were quite small, only four rooms (look in the column just before the names) not counting the kitchen. I do wonder how they fitted in the boarders, but I suppose they brought in some extra money for the family. Technically a boarder shares meals with the family, while a lodger has to provide their own. Sarah Fisher died a few months later and is buried in Barnsley Cemetery, William remarried within a year and appeared to have done well for himself moving to Park Road by 1901 (maybe his new wife had a little money - she was also a widow) and running a lodging house on Doncaster Road in 1911. Esther Fisher, aged 19 in this census return, married Alfred Kellett, who was the OH's 1st cousin 3x removed, in 1892.

54 Waltham Street - John and Mary Ledgar - an elderly couple, both from Ireland. Mr Ledgar was a Coal Carter. I hope that at the age of 70 he only had to drive the cart rather than carry the coal - but our ancestors had to do what they could to make a living. They appeared to have a lodger too - although the census entry is amended showing that John Clarke, age 24, was a separate household within their house although how they separated the four rooms is a puzzle. There was a second lodger at number 54 listed out of order lower down the page, John Corley, aged 20. Goodness knows how they fitted him in as well.

52 Waltham Street - the Law family - this is a family I know quite well as they had several sons who served in the First World War. Head of the household was Fergus Law, aged 50, a Coal Miner, his wife and five children were all fitted into another of the four roomed houses. Sons Fergus and Walter were killed and son Arthur survived service in the Royal Engineers. I wrote a post about Fergus in 2017 after visiting his grave in Rawmarsh Cemetery. Fergus Law, head of the household was born in Barnsley in 1841 and his parents had married at St George's church here, but I have not yet found details of his father during my research. He appears to have gone missing before the 1841 census return so I don't know his age or where he was born. One for the 'to do' list.

50 Waltham Street - the Jaques family - this family is distantly related to the OH as a cousin, Ernest Jaques, also married into the Kellett family.  I have researched the Jaques family back to the beginning of the 19th century in Barnsley. At least five members of the extended family served in the First World War, and there may have been more as the Jaques ran to large families and there were a number of sons the right age to have served that I haven't researched yet. Bearing in mind that consciption was introduced in early 1916 by the end of the war most men aged 18 to 50 had been called up. Tom Jaques, son of the Tom Jaques aged 21 in the census return above, was killed in 1917 at Bullecourt. Another fatality in the family was George Frederick Jaques, a cousin of the above family, who was accidently killed whilst guarding a military camp in South Shields, Durham. He was buried in Barnsley Cemetery and has a Commonwealth War Graves Commission gravestone. An older man, he had served in the Boer War. Mary Ann Jaques, head of the household at 50 Waltham Street had been widowed in 1887 when her husband Peter, a Quarryman, died age 50 at 7 Copper Street. I can find nothing about his death in the Barnsley Chronicle so I can only assume it was due to natural causes. He was also buried in Barnsley Cemetery.

A few days ago I discovered a Jaques was killed in the Swaithe Main Colliery disaster in 1875, Henry Jaques aged 27, a cousin of the deceased Peter Jaques.

48 Waltham Street - the Carroll family - is the last household on this page. One member is on the next page. I have not researched this family. 

But having looked up this page, 1891 Barnsley, Piece 3770, Folio 121F, I scanned quickly down and found a very familar name!

40 Waltham Street -the Priestley family - these were the OH's direct ancestors. Robert and Fanny Priestley, from Nottinghamshire, are his 2x great grandparents with Fanny also a Kellett before her marriage. In 1891 there were five children at home, although they had thirteen in all eventually. Robert was a coal miner at this point in time and in this census one of his teenage sons was already a hurrier down the pit. The OH's great grandmother was just six years old - my mother-in-law remembers her as her 'little grandma' who didn't pass away until 1970. I find it amazing that someone I might have known (if I'd lived in Barnsley in those days) might have been able to give me a first hand account of life on Waltham Street in the 19th century. I never knew my own great grand parents as my father and mother were by far the youngest children in their respective families.

The youngest Priestley son, Walter Clarke Priestley, who was born in 1896, a few years after the census return above, was lost in First World War in April 1918 as the Germans made their last advances. His older brothers Robert and William, who were listed with their parents in the 1891 census, both served and survived the war. The husbands of two of the Priestley daughters also served and survived. Walter, William and their brothers-in-law were all in the Barnsley Pals, either the 13th or 14th Battalions of the York and Lancaster Regiment. 

I wrote a series of posts about the Priestley family back in 2014. These two concern the First World War. The Priestley Home Front pt1 and The Priestley Home Front pt.2.

The Kellett family, who linked several of these households in Waltham Street together, came to Barnsley from Retford in Nottinghamshire between 1868 and 1874. I can see from the births of the children in the various branches that Robert and Fanny came here first and must have sent word back to their siblings and cousins as other branches arrive over the next few years. Fanny's father George Kellett and her youngest sister also moved to Barnsley before 1874. The family had been mainly agricultural labourers, although George Kellett had a stint as a toll-bar keeper and as a publican. 

Examine just part of one street and you can see inward migration, changes in occupation over time, family experience of mining disasters, the First World War and even (at a stretch) make a connection to the present day. I recommend you expand your family history into the streets around the area where your ancestors lived, you will find out so much more about the way people lived over a hundred years ago.

This is the top of Waltham Street on Google Maps today from a similar angle to the photo above. A lot of the terraced houses have been replaced by bungalows, the pub is a Chinese restaurant and you can't even access it from Sheffield Road because of some traffic calming bollards. Very different.

Waltham Street (Google Maps)


Thanks for reading and good hunting.

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