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Friday, 4 February 2011

Danson Discoveries

So far in this blog,  I have tended to focus on individual stories illustrated by my large collection of photographs. I thought it was time I wrote something about my  family history research to redress the balance, beginning here with my mother's family and concentrating on the direct ancestral line of the Dansons going back over 200 years.

My mother Kathleen Danson (1908-1999) ( right) second daughter of William Danson and Alice English, was born at Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, a small historic town, almost dwarfed by its neighbour the popular seaside town of Blackpool.  Danson is a distinctive local name.  I loved history from an early age and it was a treat to be allowed to look at the photographs and memorabilia kept in a shoebox in my grandfather's house.  I still have the sketch family tree I drew up at the age of 12.

My grandfather William Danson (1885-1963) (left)  was the fifth, out of ten,  sons of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe.  I have early memories of visiting the great uncles and my only great aunt Jennie. Having their photographs brought them alive to me and they have formed the basis of many earlier postings on this blog.

My starting point for information on my great grandfather James Danson  (1852-1906) was the family bible which recorded his marriage  and the birth of his first four sons - entries petered out after that.  James died before my mother and aunt were born so they were unable to help me with earlier family history. The only photograph I have of James (below)  shows him larking around in the stocks in Poulton Market Square.

Eventually I started on the ancestral trail to look for the Danson family in the later census returns held at Blackpool Library and discovered a new fact  - that James was born around 1852, not in Poulton, but  in Carleton, a small village but separate parish.  

Trap Farm c.1998
Getting James' birth certificate was the next step to discover that his parents were Henry Danson (1806-1881), a yeoman farmer and Elizabeth Calvert of Trap Farm, Carleton. The family were easily found in the census returns and to my surprise James was one of a large family - the third son and eighth child of Henry & Elizabeth. In 1851 there were 13 people including 2 servants living in the farm (right)    The 1871 census showed that Henry had had  a change of occupation from farmer to toll keeper at Shard Bridge over the River Wyre near Fleetwood.

Research in the online Lancashire Parochial Records  for St. Chad's Church, Poulton revealed my great great grandparents to be Henry Danson (1767-1839) and Elizabeth Brown and my great great great grandparents to be John Danson (1736-1821) and Margaret Fayle of Normoss Farm.  A book "Traditional Houses of the Fylde" by Richard C. Watson, traced in Poulton Library gave a description and plan of this Danson home.  John was son of Peter, a husbandman - and  there the Danson trail came to an end with the provebial brick wall reached.

However there were more discoveries to come.  Lancashire Record Office held wills of both John Danson and his son Henry, which brought to light knowledge of other family members.  Henry Danson's Marriage Bond of 1786  was also found.  There is something poignant at seeing the actual handwriting of my early ancestors.  Through  the National Archives website,  I  also traced Death Duty Records for both John and Henry Danson.   

At the centre of the Danson story is  St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde (below)  where Dansons were baptised, married and christened down the generations over two centuries from John Danson in 1736 to myself in 1944.  

So my Danson discoveries encompassed five generations, back to John Danson, with ample sidelines revealed  to pursue the research in other directions.   The dates are just the beginning, with the fun coming in stories connected with the family. The Danson Ancestral Trail has not yet come to a halt!
St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde in Spring - photograph taken by my uncle Harry Danson.

Copyright © 2011 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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