Friday 1 March 2013

Favourite Female Ancestor - Amelia Mordey

I wrote this last year and thought about sending it to Northumberland and Durham FHS for publication in their journal, but then I saw the cost of their membership for a year, and changed my mind.  I did send it to the Who Do You Think You Are? magazine, but haven't heard anything and they've just done an article on Masters & Mates certificates so I don't think they'd run another similar article after that - so it might as well be "released into the wild".

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)
The above is John Street, Sunderland where Jane was living at her death in 1847.  Thomas had died at Thomas Street, just around the corner.  The houses in these streets were built around 1830 so were very new when Thomas died.  “The houses are of three or five bays, uniformly built of brick in a Neo-Greek style. Each has a doorcase with Doric columns supporting an entablature, which is ornamented with a frieze of anthemion and palmette motifs. Steps lead up to the door, lined with cast iron railings.”

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)
Amelia and Frederick have six children between 1832 and 1843.  Other than Robert, the eldest son they are given middle names which reflect the connections made by their families.  Elstob was the maiden name of Frederick’s mother; her father had been a custom’s officer and later owner of the Panns Brewery.  Mordey was Amelia’s maiden name of course, and Satchell would have been for her sister Caroline’s husband, William Satchell the draper.  Reuben, in Charles Reuben, the youngest boy was probably a nod towards Frederick’s older brother, John Reuben Hutton, a solicitor. 

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)
The family have a female servant, Barbara Stafford.  The houses on Tatham Street do not appear quite as elegant as those on John Street in the one photograph I can find, and were built slightly later. In 1841 most of the Hutton’s neighbours had at least one servant; in 1851 when occupations are recorded more clearly the occupants of Tatham Street are Customs Men, Ship-owners, a Gentleman Landowner, and retired Master Grocers.  This is a very middle class street. 

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)
They are now living in Olive Street and Amelia gives her occupation as Lodging House Keeper.  She gives her status as Head of Household and says she is married, but there is no indication where Frederick might be.  Two of her sons, Robert and Frederick are also not at home.  There is a lodger living with the family, a James McMaster, a Teacher of English.
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)
The reason that Amelia’s sons Robert and Frederick junior are not at home is that they have gone to sea.  In fact they left home at 13 years old as Ship’s Boys. 
Frederick's Seaman's Ticket (from Find My Past)
Frederick’s Seaman’s ticket from 1848 shows that he was 4ft 4inches tall, with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.  According to Amelia’s gravestone in Sunderland Cemetery Frederick junior died “At Sea” on the 9th May 1850, aged 18.  But if he was only 13 years old in 1848 (which does agree with the other records) he was actually only 15 years old when he died.

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)
In 1855 he produced the above application for his Mate’s Certificate which he was granted on 5th January 1856.  Amelia’s gravestone notes that he was “drowned near Grisnez, 30th January 1858, aged 23 years.”

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)
This is from the Daily News, a London paper on 2nd February 1858; the same wreck is reported in the Leeds Mercury and the Newcastle Courant. 

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
The informant of her death was her sister, Eliza Douglas.  By this time Amelia’s husband had been long gone, her eldest three boys had died at sea and fourth son was at sea and another missing.  Her last remaining child at home was her daughter Amelia, aged around 17 years old at this time.  Interestingly in the 1861 census Amelia the younger is working as a House Keeper, a servant for James McMaster, the teacher who was lodging with the family in 1851.   My ancestor William is listed as a Visitor to the household, he is by now a Mariner’s Mate.  Was it kindness on James McMaster’s part to offer Amelia the younger a home or in the absence of Frederick and over the preceding ten years of lodging together had some other relationship built up between him and the Hutton family?

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.


specfreak said...

Some nice info in here. I've been doing my family tree for about 6 months. A lot of Mordeys, Swinhoes and Barkers. I'm trying to see how this info fits into mine. There are many of the above names, it's figuring out how they are all related. I have a William Mordey who married Jane Swinhoe, though Williams' brother is listed as Richard and a sister called Margaret. I may have taken a wrong turn but the other Mordeys are close in Sunderland, and near the Hendon area. There is a Mordey Close where I believe the Mordays had an estate or something ?
The problem with my Tree is that I have Richard Morday and Deborah Rogers as Williams parents, so maybe I need to find another William and Jane somewhere. I've seen the surname Goodchild while researching, so it looks like I have my work cut out.

Reynardo said...

Hello there from 3 years later. I think you might be interested in this: son of the Margaret who married Cuthbert Blackett and emigrated here to Australia.

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Thank you for the link to Cuthbert Blackett's biography. I will certainly link this information into my family tree.

Sue said...

I have a William Mark Mordey in my tree- he was born in Sunderland around 1817- 1819. By the 1841 census he was in Newport Monmouthshire where he married and had four children. He died around 1901 and one of his sons- Mark Mordey was my gt grandfather. The Mordeys were very upwardly mobile in Newport and lived a comfortable upper middle class life.
I have struggled to establish more on the Sunderland side- obviously Mordey was a common name in the area. Were they all related???

BarnsleyHistorian said...

Hi Sue,

I have found Mordey's whom I can't connect to my family tree. It is not an unusual name in Sunderland in the 18th and 19th centuries. I guess if we went back far enough we might find they do all link up. I haven't really tried to get back before Amelia's father and grandfather.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Anonymous said...

Hi sue

We have Charles Rueben hutton in our tee. It would appear he went to Dundee as a sailor and then ended up in Liverpool , he had his own children and one is another Charles hutton and then son Anthony who is my husbands grandad. Can you contact me we have been researching the family for years and wanting to see if your Charles Rueben is the same as ours? Contact me Have you done a DNA test we are just doing our family now which will include my husband 🌝

BarnsleyHistorian said...

To the poster who mentioned the Lilley family, Amelia Mordey's parents were Thomas Mordey and Jane Shout. I believe there were several Mordey families in Sunderland. I'm afraid that if we are related it must be further back in time. xx

Maureen said...

Margaret Lilly was married to Thomas Mordey in Sunderland in 1762 Thomas and Margaret had a son Thomas born 1766 who married Jane shout who had Amelia Margaret Lilly and Thomas are actually her grandparents and her great great grandfather was William Lilly innkeeper at Durham and once again thank you so much for your brilliant work it has helped me know end in my family research xx

Maureen said...

We are related but through marriage along time ago lol

BarnsleyHistorian said...

I see, a generation further back. I hadn't got Thomas born in 1766's mother's maiden name so thank you too! L x