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Thursday, 6 February 2014

52 Ancestors: 6 - G. G. Grandfather Henry Danson - Tollkeeper

52ancestorsAmy at No Story Too Small has come up with a new challenge for 2014 - to write a post  each week on a specific ancestor.

Henry Danson, (1806-1881),  my great great grandfather - a farmer, yeoman, carter and toll keeper, father of 9, grandfather to 28 and (known) great grandfather to 31. 

The birth certificate of my great grandfather James Danson. born 1852  provided the names of his parents -  Henry Danson, yeoman farmer.   and Elizabeth Calvert of Trap Farm, Carleton, near Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a "yeoman" as "A man holding a small landed estate, a freeholder under the rank of gentleman....a coutnryman of rspectable standing, especially one who cutuivates his own land."

Parochial Records took me further back and the birth at Carleton of Henry Danson  on 25th July 1806 - baptised a day later in St. Chad's Church, Poulton -7th child  of Henry Danson (the elder)  and Elizabeth Brown. He was born twenty years after his parent's marriage  when his mother must have been 40 years old.   This was the time of  of the Napoleonic Wars,   and nine  months after Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar

Sole entry on a page (right) in the family bible   reads “January 4 1827 Henry Danson Son of Henry Danson Born 25 of July 1806”.  This entry was dated just after the death of Henry' s 15 year old brother James, so is there a significance in this?  One of the many puzzles that family history throws up at us! 

Henry Danson (the younger) married on 6th April 1831  at St. Chad's Church, Poulton Elizabeth Calvert of St. Michael's Over Wyre, daughter of Nathaniel and Grace Calvert. 

Initially I was only aware of two sons to Henry (the younger)  and Elizabeth - my great grandfather James and his younger brother Peter who I was told had died as a child and was buried in Poulton Churchyard.

It took research in the census records to establish that the family was far more extensive, with nine children born in 20-21 years - five girls, Elizabeth, Grace, Mary, Margaret, Ellen, followed by sons John, Henry, then another daughter Jane and finally my great grandfather James.   If you are wondering about Peter this is a puzzle - to be revealed in another blog posting!

With a population in Carleton of just 378, the family was easily traced in the 1841 census to Trap Farm and a household of 10 including Henry & Elizabeth and family, Henry's brother Peter and two servants. 

It was noticeable that the children were named after family members, with the two eldest daughters taking their grandmothers' names. All the children were baptised at St. Chad's Church, apart from second daughter Grace who was born in the picturesque village of Wrea Green.   How did that come about, as I have been unable to trace a baptism?  

Dilapidated Trap Farm in c.1998
It has since been restored. 
The family were still at Trap Farm (left) 10 years later in 1851, with Henry described as a farmer of 31 acres in a household that had grown  to 13,   including two servants.  How on earth did they fit into what seems a small farmhouse?  Grace had left home, but eldest daughter Elizabeth was there with her husband,Thomas Bailey  and Peter was described as unmarried brother and annuitant.

With these details found so easily,  it was frustrating to "lose" the family from Trap Farm in 1861 (this was before census returns online).  What had happened to a seemingly prosperous farmer?  Had there been a downturn in agriculture?

Henry, Elizabeth and family were eventually traced to the parish of Layton with Warbreck, near Blackpool, where Henry was a carter.   There seemed to be a trend of married daughters returning to live at their family home with their husbands - this time living with her parents was third daughter  Mary, a laundress and her carrier husband William Henry Gaulter.

A notice in "The Fleetwood Chronicle" 24th August 1860 stated that "Tuesday 28th August a sale would tqke place at Leys Farm, in occupation of Henry Danson of 5 acres of wheat, 2 acres of oats and 6 acres of bean and hay".  

Change of occupation to toll keeper
The 1871 census revealed a complete change of occupation.  as Henry was found to be toll keeper at Shard Bridge Toll Bar, Singleton.  The Shard Bridge opened in 1864 across the River Wyre, near Fleetwood to replace the ferry.  

  • Preston Chronicle - Saturday 31st August 1867 - On Saturday 1st the directors
    of the Shard Bridge Company appointed Mr Henry Danson of Poulton-le-Fylde toll collector, vacant by the demise of Mr Thomas Moore.

    The Shard  Bridge Act of 1862 stipulated a  list of toll charges including:   
    • For EVERY HORSE, OR other BEAST, drawing any coach, stagecoach, omnibus, van, caravan, berlin, landau, chariot, barouche, phaeton, chaise, marine galash,  curricle, chairm, gig, whiskey, hearse, litter, chaise or like  carriages - THREE PENCE
    • For every ox, cow, bull or neat cattle - ONE PENNY EACH, 1/6 PER SCORE.
    •  For every calf, sheep, pig or lamb - ONE FARTHING EACH OR FOUR PENCE PER SCORE.
    • For every foot passenger, not being the driver, of or engaged in driving or leading any cart of carriage passing over the bridge - ONE PENNY
    One can picture Henry having to count each animal crossing the bridge. - and what about that first lengthy listing of vehicles?    What was a "marine galash" or "a whiskey"  and how would you identify "neat" cattle?  Family history research can take you in strange directions!  More work called for here. 

    Deaths in the Family 
    The 1871 census showed an extended family of nine at the Toll House, Singleton - Henry and Elizabeth with their two unmarried sons Henry and James,  and   rejoining the family this time was youngest daughter Jane with her daughter Ellen and husband Thomas Cardwell, a groom;  also Jane's sister Ellen with her illegitimate daughter May.   

    By 1881 the Danson household was much depleted.  Mother Elizabeth had died in 1879, with widowed daughter Margaret  returning to act  as housekeeper,  to her father Henry,  her brother Henry  and niece May.

    Henry Danson senior died a few months later on 27th October 1881 aged 75 years, with Poulton Monumental Inscriptions recording his burial on 1st November in St. Chad's Churchyard. Sadly the family gravestone was one of many removed in later years.

    St. Chad's Church, Poulton-le-Fylde
    A photograph taken by my uncle Harry Danson

    Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

    1 comment:

    1. Great post! I love the historical context that you give to your ancestors' story. All of the occupations are quite interesting as I don't believe we have similar titles on this side. Good luck on the #52Ancestors challenge!


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