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Monday, 29 July 2019

Jennie's Eight Brothers: 52 Ancestors : Week 31

My great Aunt Jennie (above)  was the youngest and last child of my great grandparents James Danson and Maria Rawclife, born into a household of eleven   - her parents and  eight brothers  - George aged 3, Frank 5. Albert 7,  Tom 9, William (my grandfather) 12, Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20.  Two other children had died in infancy.

The Danson home on Bull Street, Poulton, 
demolished c.1960 to make room for a small shopping mall.


What happened to Jennie's eight brothers?

Eldest son Harry (1877-1907)  perhaps named after his paternal grandfather Henry, was born  7th Septembert 1877. In  the 1901 census, he was described as a rural postman.  He died at the age of 30 on  9th December 1907,  a year after his father.  Unusually 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 (1879-1917was 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 recollections told 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 by buying his death certificate (PDF version)  that I learnt the stark truth that tJohn,  whilst in army training,   had committed suicide, leaving Annie orphaned at the age of 12.      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 have memories as a child  of visiting her with my mother and aunt.

Third son, Robert/Bob (1881-1968)  was born 3rd June 1881 was named after his maternal grandfather and like his eldest brother bcame a postman.  

His daughter Irene recalled "He went a long way ont his bicycle from Poulton over Shard Bridge, where his grandfther had been  toll collector to deliverthe 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." Like many  of his brothers, Robert  married late in life in 1932, aged 51 and had one daughter. I have early childhood memories of visiting the family and am still in touch with his daughter - my mother's cousin. Robert  died in 1968, aged 87.  

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

 William/Billy, (1885-1962) 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 at Passchendaele   and the postcards  he sent home form  the basis of many of my blog postings.  He died aged 77.

Baby Danson was sillborn, buried 29th June 1887.


Thomas (right)  the seventh son was born in 1888.  I know little else on Tom apart from the fact he became a clerk at Poulton Station.  A photograph in a book on old Poulton  identifed him in 1911 as a member of the local  football team.  A possible record of his death was found of a Tom Danson in the Fylde  in 1954, aged 66.

Albert ( 1890-1983) was the eighth son born c. 1890 and named after his older sibling who had died in 1884.  He worked on the ferry between Fleetwood and the Isle of Man. Family recollections noted he married and had a son Hugh, but little was known beyond that.


Frank (1892-1971) was  the nineth son.   During the First World War, he was in hospital in Malta as a result of a war wound and later  became a painter. At the age of 46, he married Grace Bee , a nurse.  Their were no children of the marriage.  I have vague childhood recollections of visiting him with my mother. The death of a Frank Danson in the Fylde ws recorded in 1971 when he must have been around 79,
George (1894-1916) was the tenth and youngest son.   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 s a stretcher bearer in the field, and was killed 16th September 1916 at  the Battle of the Somme, a week after his 22nd birthday.  [See Death on the Somme]


So Jennie,  as she was growing up, suffered the death of her father in 1904 when she was only eight years old; in 1906 her young sister--in-law (wife of brother John) died of TB;  a year later  her eldest brotherry died;  and during the First World War the death of her brothers John,  and George, the brother nearest to her in age). 

 Jennie Danson (1897-1986)

In many ways a  sad family story, illustrating the vicissitudes of life at the turn of the century and into the period of the First World War - but one  experienced  by so many families  in those times.


to read posts from other bloggers taking part in the
 2019  "52 Ancestors" challenges. 


  1. How wonderful to write such memories of those who have passed. I love that you have pictures of most of them. That is where I lack in some of my research is pictures.

  2. Great profiling of the brothers. So wonderful to have the photos.

  3. Thank you both for your kind comments. Yes, it was the shoebox of old photographs at my grandfather’s house that was the spark to,put me on the ancestral trail. It makes such a huge difference when we are lucky enough to have such photographs.


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