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Sunday, 30 September 2018

Ten Danson Children: 52 Ancestors - Week 40

"Ten" is the simple prompt for this week's "52 Ancestors", so I am featuring the ten children born to my great grandparents.

My great grandparents,  pictured here, were  James Danson (1852-1906) and Maria Rawcliffe (1852-1919).  They  had between 1877 and 1897 nine sons and,  as the youngest child,  an only daughter Jennie - an irony given that Maria was one of eight sisters.  

Their  story below has been compiled using standard records, vintage photographs and family recollections. 

Eldest son Harry,   perhaps named after his paternal grandfather Henry, was born  7th September 1877. In  the 1901 census, he was described as a rural postman.  At the very early age of 30, he died  on 9th December 1907,  a year after his father. He  was not listed,  in the local newspaper, amongst the sons attending his father's funeral.  Was he ill by this stage? 

Second son John (left)  was born 8th April 1879, perhaps named after his uncle John Danson, James eldest brother. His was a sad life - his wife Sarah Haydon Lounds died at the young age of 21, leaving behind  infant daughter Annie Maria, who made her home with her grandmother. Family recalled how John later become engaged to Dorothy Chisholm  but before they were married John a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery died 17th May 1917, buried in Moorland Cemetery, Poulton.  Something of a mystery surrounded his death, with a story that "Granny had to fight to get his name on the Poulton War Memorial in the Square" and he was not listed  on the memorial in St. Chad's Church.    It was only through his niece that I learnt that John,   had committed suicide, leaving daughter Annie orphaned at the age of 12.  I was able to verify this by obtaining John’s PDF death certificate which carried the stark statement “Cut his throat whilst temporarily insane”, whilst in army training at the age of 38, without having served abroad. 

John's fiancee Dorothy never married and the Danson family continued to maintain a close link with her.  Like many women of her generation she remained alone, living in a bedsitter and I had memories as a child  of visiting her with my mother and aunt.

Third son, Robert (Bob), born 3rd June 1881 was named after his maternal grandfather, Robert Rawcliffe, and like his eldest brother bcame a postman.  His daughter Irene recalled "He went a long way on his bicycle from Poulton over Shard Bridge, where his grandfther had been  toll collector to deliver the post of Over Wyre.  Later his round was North Promenade and the Cliffs at Blackpool - very windy, but the hotel people looked after him with cups of tea.  He lived to be 89 years old so it must have kept him fit, though he was told at the outbreak of the First World War when his brothers were joining up that he had a bad heart."

Fourth son Albert, born 21st July 1883 did not survive infancy.

 William (Billy), my grandfather, the fifth son,  was born 4th April 1885.  He married Alice English and they had six children, including my mother Kathleen.  His  war time experiences   where he won the Military Medal and the postcards  he sent home form the basis of many of my blog posts.  

Tom, the sixth son,  was born in 1888.  I know little else om apart from the fact in the 1911 census he was a railway clerk. I found in a book of old photographs on Poulton, a picture of the local football tem, with Tom identified s a member.                        

Albert (left) was the seventh son born c. 1890 and named after his older silbing who had died in 1884.  He worked on the ferry between Fleetwood and the Isle of Man.


Frank (right), the eighth son was born c.1892.  During the Fist World War, he was wounded and in hospital in Malta.  After the war he became a painter and decorator.  

George (left) was the ninth child and youngest son, born c. 1894.  He was the favourite uncle of my mother and aunt, perhaps because he was nearest to them in age and took on the role of the big brother.  He worked on W.H. Smith bookstalls at different railway stations, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a stretcher bearer, despite being a slight figure who wore glasses. he  was killed 16th September 1916 at  the Battle of the Somme, a week after his 22nd birthday.

Tenth child and only daughter was Jennie, born 24th December 1897, with her eight surviving brothers, George aged 3, Frank 5, Albert 7, Tom 9, William 12, Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20.   Goodness knows how the family managed to fit into a small terraced house!  Their father James died when Jennie  was only eight years old. At her wedding she was given away by her then oldest surviving brother Robert. 

By all accounts of her two daughters, Joan and Pam,  Jennie was a feisty  girl, well able to stand up to all her brothers.  Read more about her in the posting "

Not forgetting baby Danson who was stillborn,  and whose burial record of 29th June 1887  was found in the records of Moorland Road Cemetery, Poulton.


Father James died in 1906. Mother Maria died in 1919, having experienced the loss of four of her nine sons - in 1887 baby Albert only survived a few months, eldest son Harry died  in 1906,  and John and George in the First World War. 


Copyright © 2018 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks



  1. Such a graphic description on John's death certificate - but what a great piece of family of found family history. I enjoyed your whole post! ~ Sharon

    1. Thank you for your kind comment on my blog post. John’s death was so sad. We tend to think mostly of the young men, who,suffered in the war, but John was 38 and the thought of what lay ahead for him, must have been too much to take.

  2. Thanks for your post! Interesting family. I agree with you. John's death was very quite sad.

  3. Losing four of her children must have been so difficult for Maria. I imagine that she would have appreciated your honoring each of her ten children so that none will be forgotten.

  4. Wonderful post! Many of the boys do look alike... great that you have pictures of most everyone.Poor John, I wonder what happened during training that made him want to kill himself! So sad!!

  5. I wondered if it might have been an inability to face the horrors of trench warfare.

  6. So glad to read about this big family. You've got a great collection of photos and stories to make them seem so real, and down to earth...they were people of actions and passions.

  7. Such a lot of loss. Jennie had a beautiful braid. That seems so inconsequential considering the stories of her brothers, but her photo was so lovely.

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