Monday, 19 April 2021

George Kay - Manager of Barnsley Co-op's First Shop

 Completed Tuesday 20 April 2021 at 2.43pm.

This post is not completely random - I already had an inking that George Kay was related to my OH in some way. But it was after reading an article in the most recent issue of Memories of Barnsley (Spring 2021) that I decided to look into him in more detail.  On pp. 16-19 there is a piece on 'The Co-op Celebrates its Centenary 1862 -1962' which features some nice old photos and a reproduction of an article from the 1962 Barnsley Chronicle.

Memories of Barnsley, Spring 2021 pp. 16-17

The above section mentions Edwin Kay, a Barnsley businessman, who rented a shop to the very first iteration of the Barnsley Co-op. George Kay, his nephew, was employed 'as salesman and manager for a wage of 15s (15 shillings = 75p but would be equivalent to about £120 today) a week with a house, gas and coal thrown in. The shop, on Market Street, Barnsley, opened its door for the first time on 13 March 1862. 

My OH's 4x great-grandmother, Esther Leech, was first married to Thomas Duncan in 1818. Sadly 23 years later Thomas passed away leaving Esther with eight children to care for. They had 10 children in all but two appear to have died before their father. Esther remarried in 1846 to William Kay. He was 11 years her junior and had not previously been married as far as I can tell, certainly he claims to be a bachelor when he marries Esther. In the meantime another of Esther's children had died, and two had married, but that still left William taking on five children not his own. In addition he brought his own son, George Kay Walton, to the marriage.

In 1841, the household of Thomas and Esther Duncan on Westgate had included seven children and three boarder or lodgers, including a William Kay, aged 27 years, and a Weaver. This is too much of a coincidence. I know that Thomas Duncan died on 7 June 1841, just one day after the 1841 census was taken (evidenced by his gravestone at St Mary's Barnsley), but it did take a very reasonable five years for Esther to marry her lodger.

Another of Esther and Thomas's children died in 1849 and I have lost track of one (Henry Duncan born 1826, present in the 1841 census but not thereafter), the OH's 3x great-grandfather Peter Duncan married Harriet Newsom in 1850, just before the next census, leaving the following household living on Westgate in Barnsley in 1851.

1851 census for Westgate, Barnsley. Piece 2332 Folio 347F

William Kay    Head    38    Warehouseman        b. Ardsley
Esther Kay       Wife    49                                     b. Barnsley
Elizabeth Duncan    Dau in Law  22                    b. Barnsley
Thomas Duncan    Son in Law    15    Brush Maker    b. Dodworth
George Kay Walton    Natural Son    14    Warehouse Boy    b. Dodworth
James Harstone    Lodger     21    Hand loom weaver    b. Notts
William Hardcastle  Lodger 24    Hand loom weaver    b. Barnsley 

Two of Esther and Thomas's children are still living with her and there is George Kay Walton aged 14, natural son of William Kay, a warehouse boy, born in Dodworth. Note that William and Esther have two lodgers, probably to contribute to the household income. 

Natural son in the relationship column means that George Kay Walton was born out of wedlock (he was illegitimate) but the fact that he is living with William Kay means that he had been acknowledged by his father.  Being 14 years old in 1851 suggests that he was born in 1837 or thereabouts, so probably before civil registration began.  I have found a baptism, 1 January 1837, of a George Walton born 2 August 1836, parents William and Jane Walton of Gawber. I suppose this might be him? In 1841 I found a four year old George Walton living with Joseph Mitchell, a schoolmaster, and his family in Dodworth. Maybe George's mother had died and William Kay had paid for him to be fostered out until he married and was able to provide a home for him? This is all just guesswork of course. It was fairly common for brides to be pregnant when they got married in days gone by - but even so it's odd that William didn't marry George's mother when he was obviously so willing to acknowledge him. 

William Kay, George's father, was born in Ardsley in 1813, and baptised at Darfield 19 December 1813, son of Henry and Hannah Kay. Henry was a labourer and William appears to have been his and Hannah's third child. Edwin Kay, mentioned in the article above as the owner of the building where the first Co-op shop was opened, was William's younger brother, born in 1818 in Ardsley, and baptised at Darfield 5 April 1818.

Edwin Kay married Sarah Dyson at Silkstone in October 1845. Edwin's occupation was weaver and his wife's father was a labourer. In the 1851 census Edwin and Sarah Kay were living on Shambles Street in Barnsley and Edwin, now aged 33, was a grocer and provision dealer. They appear to have had no children, none are living with them in the 1851 or 1861 census returns and I can find no births Kay, mmn Dyson, in the GRO indexes.

1859 marriage of George Kay Walton and Sarah Greaves at the Congregational Church, Barnsley

On 3 November 1859 George Kay Walton married Sarah Greaves at the Congregational Church in Barnsley. I was not been able to find this marriage anywhere online except in the indexes so I sent for the certificate - it was worth the £11 to see that George was still using Walton as his surname at this point, but that he gave William Kay, a warehouseman, as his father. It appears there was no secrecy about the irregularity in George's antecedents. George's occupation at his marriage was also warehouseman. The address George gave at marriage was 9 Churchfields, which is where Esther and William Kay were living when the 1861 census was taken just 18 months later. Sarah Greaves gave her address as 12 Regent Street, Barnsley and her father was George Greaves, a shoemaker.

1852 map of Barnsley showing Churchfield Terrace (from Old Maps)

In 1861, George and Sarah Kay were living at 2 Churchfield Terrace, in Barnsley. This was a short street of 12 houses adjacent to the still extant High Field Terrace on Churchfield, Barnsley. The street is long gone and is now under the tarmac of the car park next to Barnsley police station.

George and Sarah had one child, Emily, aged one year, and George's occupation was linen warehouseman. Sarah, however, was a shopkeeper (confectioner), so she ran a sweet shop! I noticed that George now appears to have stopped using Walton as his surname despite marrying under that name less than two years previously. I could see that Emily was born in Greasborough which is near Rotherham, which struck me as odd for a moment or two, then I noticed that Sarah was born in Thornhill, near Rotherham. I didn't know where that was, so I looked it up. It seems Thornhill was a tiny little place just to the west of Rotherham town centre in 1851. Greasborough, on the other hand, was about two miles further north, heading towards Wentworth from Rotherham. This was just not making sense. 

Emily Kaywalton's baptism at Greasborough in 1860

Eventually I found Emily's baptism, in Greasborough, under the surname Kaywalton.

Baptism 22 January 1860, birth 29 December 1859, Emily [daughter of] George and Sarah Kaywalton [of] Barnsley [father's occupation] Warehouseman.

So Emily was born less than two months after George and Sarah's marriage, born and baptised at Greasborough, where there had been some mistake or misunderstanding about what her surname actually was. Her parents' abode was given as Barnsley, so what were they doing in Greasborough? I thought I should look up Sarah's parents to see if they had moved to the area. Yes indeed, Sarah's parents, George and Hannah Greaves, were living in Greasborough in 1841. George's occupation was cordwainer, which is another name for a shoemaker. I looked for Sarah Greaves' baptism and that was also in Greasborough, October 1834, parents George and Hannah, with George's occupation given as cordwainer. Thornhill had turned out to be a bit of a red herring. 

I am imagining that Sarah met George in Barnsley - maybe she was a servant, 12 Regent Street, Barnsley sounds like a large house, or possibly the old courthouse (there are insufficient detailed old maps of that area at the right time for me to say for certain) - she became pregnant and they married. Then she went back to her parents' home until she had the baby, had little Emily baptised in the local church near her parents' home (hence the confusion over George's correct surname) before rejoining George once he had set up a household in Barnsley. That would have disguised the short gap between the marriage and the birth from the gossips in Barnsley.  None of the above irregularity over George's birth or his hasty marriage was sufficient to prevent Edwin Kay from suggesting or offering the job George with the Co-op in 1862, which, as we have read, came with a house included. Edwin maybe looked upon George as the son he didn't have?

In 1861 Edwin Kay was a Linen Manufacturer living in a new house on Regent Street - so new it didn't have a number in the census return. Living with Edwin and Sarah were two nieces, Hannah and Harriet Dyson, the daughters of one of Sarah's brothers I would imagine. Yes, further investigation showed that Hannah was the daughter of Christopher Dyson, Sarah's older brother, who had passed away in 1853. Another example of Edwin taking in young relatives because he had no children of his own? I wonder how Edwin made his money - both his and Sarah's fathers had been labourers, and yet by 1861/62 he is living in a new house on Regent Street and has property on Market Street to let out to the new Barnsley Co-op?

Edwin Kay's Obituary
Barnsley Chronicle
24 April 1880

I found Edwin's obituary in the Barnsley Chronicle on 24 April 1880. It seems he was a 'steady, industrious and persevering young man' and had a shop on Shambles Street, opposite the top of Dog Lane, and was eventually able to buy the property. He sold that business and entered into a partnership with a Mr Carr as a linen manufacturer. In 1862 he became a Councillor and was a supporter of the Beckett Hospital, the Methodist New Connexion, for whom he was a preacher, and the Mechanics' Institute. He laid the foundation stone for the New Connexion Methodist Chapel at Ardsley in 1866. He died on 22 April 1880, just nine days after his wife Sarah, who had fallen in their house, and had been very ill. In modern terms it sounds as if he may have had cancer as various growths had been removed from his eye, ear and cheek. Maybe once his wife had passed he gave up struggling against his disease and followed her into death. He was 62 years old and Sarah was 67. There were no children and the executor of his will was his brother William Kay, George's father. 

Sarah and Edwin Kay were buried in Barnsley Cemetery in the same plot, E 669.  It's on my list for visiting and looking for a gravestone.

William Kay had unfortunately lost his wife Esther (my OH's 4x great-grandmother if you recall) in an accident in 1870 when she fell from his gig near Kexborough after the horse took fright. William, who had been leading the horse to drink at a trough, was knocked down as the horse bolted. Esther, having struck her head, survived only 40 minutes after the accident, despite a doctor rushing to attend. William Kay had an injured ankle, but it was not too serious. (Barnsley Chronicle 23 July 1870) William remarried at the Wesleyan Chapel in Pitt Street in February 1871 to Mary Coldwell, but died himself in 1884, just three years after his brother. 

I noticed that in 1881 William and Mary were living at 21 Hope Street, Barnsley an address that is, in 1901 and 1911, the home of Sarah Kay, George's widow.

Esther and William's Gravestone
Esther and William Kay were buried in Barnsley Cemetery in plot H 493 where they were later joined by William's second wife, who had remarried to a John Beaumont after William's death. There is some interesting detail on the gravestone - Esther was apparently killed 'while trying to help her husband William Kay in his endeavours to do his duty for the Barnsley Corn, Flour and Provision Company Ltd'.  William changed his occupation from Linen Warehouseman to Miller between the 1861 and 1871 census returns but this inscription gives the exact place where he was working.

Meanwhile George Kay and his wife Sarah were living at 16 Wellington Street, quite near to the Co-op shop in Market Street when the 1871 census was taken, and had added a son Arthur (b.1863) and a daughter Sarah Ellen (b.1867) to their family. 

In the 1881 census George and Sarah Kaye (note the extra e) were living 'above the shop' at 44 Market Street with other shop staff living at number 40. A son, William Henry Kay, had been added to the family in 1875.

They had lost some children at birth or very young, and I have listed all those I can find below.

In 1881 Emily was 21 years old and a milliner, maybe making hats for the Co-op. Arthur was 17 years old and a Pawnbroker's Apprentice. Sarah Ellen and William Henry were both at school.

In 1891 George and Sarah were living at 58 Station Road in Barnsley. George's occupation was now Co-operative Society Secretary (Cashier) suggesting he had taken on additional responsibilities over and above running the shop. Still living at home was Sarah Ellen, now aged 24 years and working as a confectionary saleswoman. Also in the household was a little grandaughter, Dorkas M Rogers just 2 years old. Enumerated after Dorkas and a servant I found William H. Kay, son, aged 16, and a Joiners Apprentice. I wonder why he was listed at the end?

All seven children of George and Sarah Kay in birth order:

*Emily Kay Walton b. 29 December 1859 in Greasborough, baptised 22 January 1860 at Greasborough
William Kay Walton b. Q1 1862 in Barnsley, buried in Barnsley Cemetery 26 January 1862 aged 3 weeks from Churchfield Terrace
*Arthur Kay             b. 1863 in Barnsley (I can't find a birth registration or baptism for Arthur)
Unnamed male Kay  b. Q4 1864 in Barnsley, buried in Barnsley Cemetery 2 Nov 1964 aged 30 hours from Wellington Street
*Sarah Ellen Kay     b. Q3 1867 in Barnsley - baptised at the Ebenezer Methodist Church 25 Dec 1871 aged 4 years and 9 months
George William Kay b. November 1873 in Barnsley, buried in Barnsley Cemetery aged 1 day, 10 Nov 1873 from Market Street.
*William Henry Kay b. March 1875 (I can't find a birth registration) - baptised Ebenezer Methodist 7 April 1875 aged 3 weeks

* = survived to adulthood

Sheffield Evening Telegraph
4 October 1895
Death of George Kay
George Kay died at Perseverence Villa, 58 Station Road on 4 October 1895 aged 59 years. There was a very swift obituary published in the Sheffield Evening Telegraph the same day which noted that he had been ailing for two or three years, although when he tried to resign his post as secretary of the Barnsley British Co-operative Society the shareholders refused to accept it. The obituary went on, 'He was a member of the Methodist New Connextion and held the office of circuit and chapel steward, and indeed every post open to a layman'.  

George Kay was buried in Barnsley Cemetery on 7 October 1895 and there was a huge response across the town. The directors of the Co-op decided to close all their places of business and the employees 'turned out as a vast body of mourners to show their unanimous tokens of respect'. The article in the Barnsley Chronicle fills an entire column of the then broadsheet newspaper, overflowing into the next column. There are lists of names of the main mourners, including fifteen coaches bearing family and friends.  For example in the first coach was Mrs Kay (widow), Mr. Arthur (son), Mr. W. and Miss Nellie (son and daughter), Misses Cissie Rogers and Emily Kay (granddaughters), in the second coach were Mrs Arthur Kay, Mrs Wm. Kay (daughters in law), Mrs Sykes and Miss Stephenson (nieces) and on and on and on ... The heads of the various departments at the Co-op are named, for example, Mr. Gandy (grocery), Mr. Langford (butchering), Mr. Reeves (boot and shoe), Mr. Taylor and Mr. Peak (drapery) and many more.

1889 map of junction of Station Road and Perseverance Street
(Old Maps)

I have worked out that Perseverance Villa was the square house in the centre of the map above. The end house on Station Road (just to the right of the label for Summer Lane Station) was number 56, and until the spare land between it and the square house was redeveloped it meant that the large square house was number 58 Station Road. It was later taken into the buildings of the Corn Mill, which is in the bottom left on the map above.

Part of a 1929 picture of the Perseverance Estate
(from Barnsley Council's YOCOCO site)

This is a very small piece of a large aerial photograph of the Corn Mill and Perseverance Estate, but I can make out the square house in the centre. Station Road is running off on the top left, the bend in the road is where the houses used to end.

George Kay's interment procession wound its way from Persverance Villa via Station Road, Summer Lane, Town End, Peel Street, Peel Square, Queen Street, Cheapside and Sheffield Road to the Ebenezer New Connexion Chapel on the junction of Sheffield Road and Doncaster Road. Both sides of the streets along the route were lined with spectators and there were crowds at the chapel and the cemetery. At the chapel the coffin was taken inside by the central entrance and placed on trestles in front of the pulpit. The Rev. A. Smith addressed the congregation and the Barnsley Chronicle appears to have captured his entire speech. Various hymns were sung and after the benedition the coffin was taken to the cemetery. There is even a description of the coffin, which was of solid oak, unpolished, with deep gilt mountings. There was a coffin plate bearing the inscription "George Kay. Died October 4th 1895. Aged 59 years." The coffin was covered in floral wreaths, many of them from workers at the different departments of the Co-op, such as the mill department, the tailoring department, the bakery department and so on. 

It surprised me to see that the article ended with a note that the funeral service would be held in the Ebenezer Chapel the following Sunday (or Sunday evening week as it said in the article which I calculate would be 20 October) and would again be conducted by the Rev. A. Smith.  So a burial (interment) was not the same as the funeral in 1895 and there was more ceremony to come. 

The memorial service was reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 26 October 1895. It was a slightly shorter article and gave a very brief precis of George's life. 'In the sermon Mr. Smith gave an outline of Mr. Kay's career from his early days in Dodworth, where he attended the Town School, down to the close of his life. The rise and progress of the Co-operative Society was briefly touched upon but it was the upon the leading traits of Mr. Kay's character that the preacher chiefly dealt.' And that was it!

Given in how much detail the speeches had been reported in the previous article I found this editing frustrating. There were a couple of odd notes 'A stranger might think my picture of Mr. Kay a little highly coloured' ... 'I have spoken but simple truth' ... 'You may remind me that he was a man and therefore imperfect' ... I would love to have a transcript of the entire speech!

George Kay was buried in plot H 491 in Barnsley Cemetery, the same plot in which George William Kay, the 1 day old baby, was buried in 1873.  That's another gravestone for me to search for when I can finally get out of the house. Sarah Kay survived George for another 17 years before joining him in the same plot in November 1912 from 21 Hope Street, as previously mentioned. The house then passed to the Thompson family of her daughter Sarah Ellen.

What Became of George's Children?

Arthur Kay, eldest son of George Kay, married Elizabeth Taylor on 14 June 1886 at the Ebenezer Methodist Chapel in Barnsley.
They moved to Hoyland Common where he set up shop as a Pawnbroker. They had two children.

 - Emilie Margaret Kay b. Q4 1887 in Barnsley, baptised at the Ebenezer Methodist Church 29 December 1887. She died in Q1 1896 aged 8 years.  

Penistone, Stocksbridge & Hoyland Express
25 February 1928, p. 2
 - George Taylor Kay b. 1894 in Hoyland Common, baptised at the Ebenezer Methodist Church 23 August 1894. In 1911, aged 16, he was 'assisting in the business' of being a Pawnbroker. He married Mabel Portman on 20 February 1928 at Thorpe Hesley church. In 1939 he was a Haulage Contractor living in Beaumont Street, Hoyland. They do not appear to have had any children. George Taylor Kay died in 1957.

Arthur's niece Jennie Ivy Kay, aged 12, was living in his household at Hoyland Common in 1911.

Arthur Kay died on 25 January 1930. His obituary in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph (26 February 1930 p. 4) said that he had been a jeweller and outfitter in Hoyland Common for over 40 years, and a prominent member of the United Methodist Church. He left a widow, son and adopted daughter (could this have been Jennie Kay?) Note that in the article about his son's marriage in 1928 the name of Arthur and Elizabeth's home was 'Perseverance House' a similar name to that of his father, George's, home in Barnsley.


Barnsley Chronicle 26 June 1886, p. 5

Emily Kay, eldest daughter of George Kay, married John Rogers on 25 Jun 1886 in Barnsley at the Ebenezer Chapel on Sheffield Road. John was a Congregational Minister from Leek in Staffordshire. They appear to have travelled around the country after their marriage, presumably as part of his job as a minister, and had two children.

 - David Rogers b. Q2 1887 in Barnsley. David died in Leek, Staffordshire in July 1887 aged 3 months, and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery, plot Q 517.
 - Dorcas Mary Rogers b. 6 October 1888, in Barnsley, but baptised in Manchester in December 1888. She was living with her grandparents George and Sarah Kay in 1891, but was back with her father in Staffordshire in 1901 and 1911. She became a Registered Nurse in 1916. She did not marry.

Emily Rogers (nee Kay) died in March 1890 at 58 Station Road, Barnsley, the home of her parents. She was buried in Barnsley Cemetery, plot Q 518, right next to her little son. John Rogers remarried to Janette Chambers in Wakefield RD in Q3 1891. They went on to have at least three children together, one of whom, Persis Rogers b. Q3 1892 in Dudley RD and died Q4 1892 in Chester RD, appears to be buried in the same grave, Q 517, as little David Rogers. I cannot see any other reason why a child who died in Hawarden, Flintshire, would be buried in that grave in Barnsley.

William Henry Kay married Sarah Jane Stephenson on 28 March 1895 at St George's Church, Barnsley. They only had one child.
  - Jennie Ivy Kay b. 8 Oct 1898 in Barnsley, baptised at the Ebenezer Methodist Church 1 January 1899. Jenny Ivy Kay was living with Sarah Ellen and George Edward Thompson in 1901 and with Arthur and Elizabeth Kay in 1911. Jenny Kay married Arthur Peasegood in Q3 1928 in Barnsley. Arthur had served in the First World War.  In 1939 Arthur and Jenny were the gardener and cook in the household of a businessman in Exeter, Devon. They too only had one child, who died young.
     - Joan Peasegood was born in Barnsley in Q3 1929. She died in Q2 1931 in Barnsley.
Sarah Jane Kay(e) (nee Stephenson) died in October 1898 aged 28 at 13 Middlesex Street, Barnsley, and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery, plot H 583. The closeness between the dates of her death and Jenny's birth suggest she may have died from the effects of childbirth.
I have been unable to discover, with any certainty, what happened next to William Henry Kay. It is a more common name than you might realise. He appears to have left Barnsley, possibly in grief after the death of his wife, leaving his little girl to be cared for by his family. There is no-one else buried in Sarah Jane Kay's grave plot to give me any clues.

Barnsley Independent 17 August 1918, p. 3
Sarah Ellen Kay married George Edward Thompson in Q4 1896. In 1901 they were living on King Street, Barnsley. George Thompson was a Professor of Music. As well as their own son George aged 3, and their daughter Doris, aged 1, they also had had Jenny Ivy Kay, aged 2, their niece, living with them. Quite a house full of little children!

In 1911 Sarah and George were living at 21 Hope Street in Barnsley. Sarah Kay, George's widow was the head of the household. George was now a Commercial Clerk working on 'his own account'. They had three children of their own now, Kathleen having come along. Jenny Ivy Kay had gone to live with her uncle Arthur and his wife in Hoyland.

 - George Oswald Kay Thompson b. Q3 1897 in Barnsley. In October 1915 he was a shop assistant in the tailoring department of the Co-op when he enlisted in the York and Lancaster Regiment, 14th Battalion, 2nd Barnsley Pals. His service number was 14/1553. He did not serve overseas straight away as he was under 19 years of age. He arrived in France in April 1916 and was wounded in October 1917. He returned to France in April 1918 and was killed in action on 20 July 1918. He was buried in the Courmas British Cemetery in Champagne-Ardenne, France. 

 - Doris Isabella Thompson b. Q3 1899 in Barnsley, baptised at the Ebenezer Methodist Church on 7 September 1899 from Queens Road, Barnsley. She married Ernest Wright in Q4 1923 in Barnsley.
        - Oswald Wright was born 11 December 1924 in Barnsley.
        - Joyce Wright was born 25 September 1927 in Barnsley.
    Doris Wright died in July 1929 aged 29 years, and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery, plot 4 331.            Ernest remarried in 1932 to Ida Firth.

 - Kathleen Thompson b. Q4 1901 in Barnsley. She died in July 1923 at 21 Hope Street aged 21 years, and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery in plot 4. 333.
George Edward Thompson died in August 1923 at 21 Hope Street and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery in plot 4 333.
Sarah Ellen Thompson (nee Kay) died in July 1938 at 21 Hope Street and was buried in Barnsley Cemetery in plot 4 333. 

What does this all mean?

At the end of all research that it seems that any descendants of George Kay still living would have to come via Doris Isabella Thompson's children Oswald and Joyce Wright. All the other family lines appear to end with premature death or childless marriages. Unless William Henry Kay started a family somewhere else in the country after he left Barnsley?
It was nice to find a couple of First World War men connected to George Kay though - it just goes to show that most people in Barnsley had some relatives who served in the war, it is just a case of finding them.  Now I just have to add all this information into my OH's family tree before I forget how I worked it all out! 

Thank you for reading.

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