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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

A Spanish Look in Lancashire? 52 Ancestors - Week 26

The character of my great-grandmother, Maria Rawcliffe (1859-1919) had always appealed to me.   Her name was an evocative mixture of down-to-earth Lancashire grit with echoes of a more flamboyant Latin nature. She looked a formidable lady from the one photograph I had initially of her. 

Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe, with her granddaughter Annie Maria Danson.
 It was this photograph that started me on the ancestral trail.

To give additional colour there was a, no doubt,  apocryphal story that “granny’s dark looks” came from Spanish descent, after an Armada ship had been wrecked off the Fylde coast of Lancashire. All this captured my imagination and, as a child,  I began weaving stories about her.

The findings in the actual research were much more prosaic.  Maria was born in Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde in 1859, the seventh  of eight  daughters of Robert Rawcliffe (an agricultural labourer and carter)  and Jane Carr.  By comparison, her sisters had much more ordinary names - Anne, Jane, Margaret, Jennet, Alice, Peggy  and Martha - five surviving infancy. 

I thought the name Maria was quite exotic - until I saw a listing of popular names in the mid 19th century to find Maria was no.15 - so not that unusual.

 At 18 years old, Maria married James Danson at Singleton and went on to have ten sons,  before the birth of her only daughter Jenny in 1897. She died in 1919. 

Maria is at the core of my family history story and her name lived on in her granddaughter Annie Maria Danson, her grandson Harry Rawcliffe Danson and now my own granddaughter Niamh Maria.  

As for the Spanish Armada story, I was delighted to find in the local library a history of Hambleton village  which told of an incident in 1643 at the time of the English Civil War. A Spanish frigate, the Santa Anna ran aground in the River Wyre estuary. The crew were taken off the ship, which was set alight to prevent it falling into the hands of the Roundheads. No efforts were made to get the crew home and  several married local farmer’s daughters. The dark Spanish features showed up in their children.  

So maybe I do have some Spanish blood in me after all?

Copyright © 2019 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Could DNA  answer my last question?  I have never gone down that route yet, and my only living relations on my mother's side are her two elderly cousins in their 80s and my brother.  


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Saturday, 22 June 2019

Fashion for Flat Caps: Sepia Saturday

railing  and  one at least is  wearing a flat cap.

My first photograph on the theme has a poignancy about it.  For here  c.1903 in the group of schoolboys is my great uncle George Danson  - on the left sporting a flat cap.   George was killed in the  First World War at the Battle of the Somme in 1916,  a week after his 22nd birthday.  I wonder how many of the other  boys and their master survived that carnage.This photograph was in  the collection of  my great aunT Jennie,  George's younger sister and she very fortunately  had written the names on the back of images - what a boon for family historians!

I am not  too sure if the two men on the right are wearing berets or flat caps  - but it is one of my  favourite photographs and the only one I have of my great grandfather James Danson - the merry bearded figure  in the stocks in the Square in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.
Below is a photograph of my grandfather William Danson, a labourer,  seated with a group of workers at the ICI factory at Thornton, near Fleetwood, Lancashire.  Was this some special occasion with Grandad given the pride of place, seated  at the front?  It is difficult to assess the date - 1930's?  

Below  is my husband aged about one with his maternal grandparents Matthew Iley White (a boilermaker)  and Alice Armitage of South Shields, County Durham.  c. 1938.

Stepping out oblivious of the camera is Grandfather Donaldson, a signwriter and painter, again in South Shields, County Durham.  His  son and one of his grandsons followed him in his trade

From my cousin's collection are photographs of the Oldham family business of carters and coalmen in Blackpool. Lancashire, overseen by three generations - Joseph Prince Oldham (1855-1921), his son John William Oldham (1880-1939) and his daughter Elsie Smith, nee Oldham (1906-1989)
The business was founded around 1890, steadily became prosperous and in 1905 moved to near North Station, Blackpool in a house with a large yard, hay loft, tack room. and stabling for seven horses. 
Time moved on and the first Oldham road vehicle was bought in 1921 to replace the horses  - but the flat caps remained the fashion!  

In Britain flat caps were generally associated with workers in the north of England.   Think of old photographs and newsreels  of men streaming from the mills, or cheering from the football terraces or enlisting for the First World War. 

I think of them too as worn by coster-mongers in London - think of Eliza Doolittle's father in the film of "My Fair Lady";  or Del Boy in the TV comedy  "Only Fools  and Horses".

At the other end of the social scale,  the Duke of Windsor as Edward Prince of Wales, in the 1920s and 30s  was photographed in a flat cap as part of a golfing outfit.  Nowadays finer versions are still popular rural wear at farming events, countryside fairs, horse race meetings etc. 

And if you have the youth  and looks to get away with it, flat caps are  being worn  as fashion statements by "celebrities" - men and women.  

My own father would not be seen dead in a flat cap - 
He much preferred a trilby as headgear!


Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity
             to share their family history through photographs
Click HERE to find out how other bloggers 
have viewed this week's street scene. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

My Earliest Record - 1736: 52 Ancestors: Week 25

"Earliest" is the theme of this week's prompt in Amy Johnson Crow's 2019 Challenge "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".

The "Earliest" Record in my famiy tree is dated 1736, when  Poulton Parish Register recorded the baptism of my G.G,G,G, GrandfatherJohn Danson at St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde,  Lancashire, on 19th September 1736, son of Peter Danson, husbandman of Poulton. 

Source:  Lancaster Online Parish Clerks

 St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire

John's marriage was traced in the same register  to 20th May 1757 where he was described as "of Thornton in the  parish of Poulton".  His wife was Margaret Fayle - father Henry.

John and Margaret proved to be long living, with Margaret buried at Poulton on 26th December 1815 aged 85 and John dying six years later, also aged 85, buried at Poulton on 30th May 1821. 

John  made his will on 29th December 1813 and this document was traced in Lancashire Record Office and there are little touches which make it fascinating reading.   It conveys something about John's standing in the community, his level of education, confirmed the names of grandchildren, and  gives us a picture on important possessions at the time.

This is the last Will and Testament of me, John Danson of the Holme Nook within Great Carleton, yeoman. …….. 
I give and bequeath to my son Henry my desk and all my books…….to my daughter Jennet, wife of John Bryning, my corner cupboard now standing in the parlour of my house and my meal chest in the room above the same. ……..
To my dear wife Margaret……my household goods, furniture, plate, china and implements as she may think necessary to keep hous with and to be enjoyed by her during her life ……..and all the rest residue of my household goods…..to my son Henry and Jennet equally to be divided……
And as to for and concerning  all my messuages (?), lands, tenements and heriditaments……my personal estate and effect, I give devise and bequeath  to my said Henry his heirs executors.

And from and after the death of my said daughter Jennet or after the death of my said wife, I give and bequeath the said sum of £800 equally unto and amongst all and every one of my grandchildren Richard, Thomas, Jennet, Margaret, Betty and John, sons and daughters of my said daughter Jennet.

And lastly I nominate and appoint my said son Henry and my grandsons, John Danson and Richard Bryning, Trustees and Executors”

A search in the Death Duty Records held at the National Archives confirmed the death on 27th May 1821 of John Danson, late of Holmenook.   The statement also confirms the legatees of Margaret Danson (wife),  Henry Danson (son), Jennet Bryning (daughter), and grandchildren Richard Bryning, Jenny Chadwick, Thomas Bryning, Margaret Bryning, Betty Bryning and John Bryning.

Only two children,  Henry and Jennet are named in John's will.  However Poulton Parish Register,  transcribed on http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/,  confirmed the baptism of an earlier Henry in 1757 - buried in 1762;   Ellen baptised 28th May 1763; and also the burial  of Margaret aged 7 months in 1772.  What happened to Ellen remains a puzzle - more research needed here! 

But with the birth of John in 1736, I hit the proverbial brick wall with my Danson research and have been unable so far to get back any further.  A fellow researcher has given me some possibilities for John's father, Peter   that he found in the public trees on   Ancestry and Find my Past. But I am not convinced, as the Christian  names of Peter's wife in two possible records does not appear at all down the generations of " Danson" , whereas the names of James, Margaret, Henry, Jennet  and Ellen do, with one Peter.  I need to follow these up these trees more closely. 

Research never finishes!   


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Thursday, 13 June 2019

Country Churches with Family Links: Sepia Saturday

"Country Churches" is the prompt from this week's Sepia Saturda - an attractive topic for me and here I link again local and family history. 

Bedrule Church in the Scottish Borders
How much more rural can you get than this view - taken from Bedrule Church, near Hawick in the Scottish Borders?

 Looking across the hidden Bedrule hamlet to Ruberslaw Hill

                                                     Bedrule Church

The hamlet of Bedrule  is a hidden place with a population of 183 in 2011 and situated between Hawick and Jedburgh in the old county of Roxburghshire. 

It has strong links with the Turnbull family (along with Scott, Elliot and Armstrong) prominent (or notorious) names in Borders history.  Legend has it that the name came about, when William of Rule, near Hawick, saved King Robert the Bruce by wrestling to the ground a bull that had charged the king. For this act, he was rewarded with lands and dubbed "Turnebull".

A plaque in the church pays tribute to Bishop William Turnbull of Bedrule who in 1451 received permission from King James II to found the University of Glasgow and become its first chancellor. 

Another  memorial plaque honours naval officer Anthony Fasson (1913-1942) who grew up near Bedrule. He was on board HMS Petard in the Atlantic  when it torpedoed a U boat.  Lieutenant Fasson and two colleagues bordered the vessel and rescued from the captain's cabin top secret German code books and an Enigma machine.  The papers once deciphered provided crucial intelligence to teh Allies, but as the submarine sank, LIut. Fasson was lost.  For his actions he was awarded the posthumous George Cross.  

 A tragedy of war remembered in the peaceful and beautiful setting of Bedrule Church. 

St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  

      St. Chad's Church in springtime with its carpet of crocuses.
    A photograph taken by my Uncle, Harry Rawcliffe Danson 

St. Chad's Church is at the heart of my family historyas my mother's Danson family  were baptised, married and buried there down the generations from John Danson, born 1736, son of Peter. My parents married at St. Chad's in 1938, my father sang in the choir and my brother and I were christened there.

The church  is reputed to be one of three unnamed Fylde churches mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Registers date from 1591, with the oldest part of the present church, the Tower,  dating from before 1638. A major rebuilding took place around 1751. 

A large board at the back of the church is inscribed with the names of churchwardens from the 17th century onwards, including the names of my g.g.g.g. grandfather John Danson (1736-1821) and his son Henry Danson (1767-1839) and their connections through marriage John and Thomas Bryning.    (Impossible to get a decent readable photograph of it).

The War Memorial Plaque  includes the name of George Danson, my great uncle,
killed in 1916 on the Somme. George also sang in the choir here - as revealed in his  obituary in the local press.

Margaret Danson, daughter of my great great grandfather  married into the Brownbill family of local clock-makers,  responsible in 1865 for the new clock in the tower. 
My grandmother Alice English (below() was confirmed at St. Chad's in 1904 
and presented with this prayer book. 

Although I moved away from Poulton when I was 13 years old, St. Chad's Church remains a fond place in my memory. I recall my last visit in early springtime when bell ringers were practising and the carpet of crocuses covered the churchyard - a beautiful part of my heritage. 

All Saints Church, Broseley, Shropshire  

My father, John P. Weston,   was born in Bilston, Wolverhampton in the English Midlands, but from an early age, grew up   in Broseley, across the river from Ironbridge, Shropshire, known for being the birthplace of the English Industrial Revolution.  He  had very fond memories of the place, where he sang in the church from the age of seven.  

In writing a narrative on his Broseley Boyhood,  I was very grateful for the contribution of both Shropshire Archives and Broseley Local History Society whose website featured transcriptions from the local newspaper at the time the Weston family lived in the town.  I found no reference to the family by name, but the frequent reports on church activities present a picture of what Dad could well have been involved in. Singing Stainer's "Crucifixion" was one of his favourites which he could very clearly remember. 
                The inscription in the prayer book presented to my father in 1928


         Sepia Saturday gives bloggers an opportunity
             to share their family history through photograph

             Click HERE  to read church memories from  other Sepia Saturday  bloggers  


Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Dear Diary: 52 Ancestors - Week 24.

"Dear Diary" is the prompt from this week's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge. Unfortunately I have no diary or journal in an ancestor's handwriting  - the nearest to one is a little recipe book my mother compiled.  But:
How many of us would love  to find a journal of an ancestor,
                                 writing about her (or his) everyday life?  
Against that background, two online postings in late 2017 caught my eye.  We often write about our ancestors and our own  childhood memories, but what are are we doing to note down  our life today to leave a  record for our descendants? 
  • On my Reading List was an entry from Lisa of My Trails into the Past.  She referred to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing who had started a  meme asking bloggers to record what they have been doing in the past seven days. 
  • Jessica Benjamin on We Are Genealogy Bloggers sparked a discussion, seeking  advice on encouraging bloggers to contribute their journal entries. 
I decided to take up Randy's challenge - and  had such a positive reaction to my initial  post,  that I launched:

Recording  my everyday life in the Scottish Borders for future family historian 

Here was my introduction:  

"A Bit of Background Information
I  live with my husband  in the village of Earlston in the Scottish Borders, a rural area of small towns, rolling hills and flowing rivers.  I am retired, but involved in a number of  community groups and with my daughter and family who live close by.

I will be writing about my rural lifestyle, my day to day life and my activities, plus thoughts on the world around me - TV, News Items etc.,   but not my innermost thoughts on family and friends - they remain my innermost thoughts."

My first cover image - I tended to change this according to the season. 
Here with the local weekly Walk It Group.

I tackled this prompt with great enthusiasm, was pleased with the look of my  page and did my best to spark interest  through catchy titles and sub-headings.     I also wanted to convey through my photographs a picture  of the Scottish Borders (an oft forgotten corner of Scotland)  and used the website Pixabay for other free images, cartoons etc.  Besides my activities locally, I wrote now and again about "On my Bookshelf", "On the Box" (TV)  and "Making the Headlines" (News items).

A  constructive comment interested me - Why not write as if to an imaginary friend or "Dear Diary"?    But I never carried it forward.

A Review a Year On
I spent a ridiculous amount of time drafting each weekly post,  and struggled to come up with effective titles for the posts which might attract readers. For the  number of page views remained dismal - despite a handful of loyal readers. 

I played around with the post titles – sometimes highlighting Journal Jottings, or Life This Week, or sometimes the topics I covered. .  But I think it was difficult to come up with anything  that would be picked up by Google. It was rare to get page views before I posted it on Facebook.  Was it really worthwhile? 

Also an online journal by its very nature is quite restrictive and was not  totally representatives of my life.  I rarely made mention of family  and am wary of posting photographs online of our granddaughter  though I know many people do feature their children.   I had no wish to spark controversy and get involved in arguments, or,   even worse,  troll comments in this increasingly aggressive online world.  So I avoided giving my thoughts on such topics as politics, the church and the Royal Family etc. 

There was also the factor that I had to give priority to my other blogs -  Family History Fun, and Auld Earlston (my local heritage group title).  Three blogs  was becoming tomany to manage.  

Was it not time for a change?   Might I be better  composing a private journal  on Word just for myself?  This would have  the advantage of giving me more freedom of expression and also would let me feature images from the web which would be otherwise  be subject to copyright. 

So I said goodbye to "Journal Jottings", and began "Random Ramblings" on Word. (You can tell I like alliteration!)

That new  title probably says it all, as I do ramble on rather, still composing it on a weekly basis and including more trivia that I would do online. I don't, though,  spend as long editing ad nausam.  But I am still enjoying the task.  As with Journal Jottings, I am printing a hard copy of each post,  with my first lever arch file rapidly filling.

You will find my original Journal Jottings 2017-18 blog HERE 

What are you doing to record your everyday like for future family historians? 

 Do share your thoughts! 


Join  Amy Johnson's Crow's Facebook Group  "Generations Cafe 
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