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Sunday, 24 May 2020

Nearly Forgotten: My Grandfather: 52 Ancestors - Week 13

"Nearly Forgotten" is the theme of Week 13 of  "52 Ancestors" challenge and, sad to say, it is my paternal grandfather Albert Ernest Weston, who  fits this description. 

Albert died when I was a baby.  I  know the basic facts of his birth, marriage and death  and his occupation, but I have little sense of him as an individual or of his personality.  My father would talk abut his own childhood in terms of his school, the church choir he sang in, his love of football  and his closeness to his younger brother, but little about his parents or grandparents. . Sadly I left it too late to question him more closely  

We lived some distance away from my father's family in the English Midlands  and only saw my grandmother, aunt and uncles once or at the most twice  a year.  Unlike my mother's family, there was hardly any Weston memorabilia or photographs to spark my interest in this side of my family, who remained rather shadowy. 

The only photograph I have of my grandfather,
taken  after my parent's wedding in 1938. 

 So what do I know about Grandfather Weston?

Grandfather Arthur Ernest Weston was born  in West Bromwich. Staffordshire 20th July  1876, the son of  John Thomas Weston, an agricultural labourer and Sarah Ann Jones.  In some records he was noted  as Ernest Albert.

In the 1881 census, the family were living at 1 Mere Oak, Tettenhall, Staffordshire.   Albert was four  years old, with his sister Florence Clara Annie aged two, and  baby  Frederick Arthur just three weeks old. Father John Thomas was still working as an agricultural  labourer.

Ten years on  in 1891, the  family had moved to the industrial hub of Bilston, Wolverhampton, with Albert 14, Frederick 10 and another son Charles then aged 7.  Florence was not listed.   Their address appears to be "Back of no. 2 Salop Street, Navigation Inn"  and John Thomas was  described as a General Labourer. 

The  1901 census saw the family at 45 Bank Street,  Bradley St. Martin, Bilston, Wolverhampton, with 24 year old Albert still living at home. Hs occupation was given as an  "engine driver stationary"   - this seemed an illogical description as surely a driver involved motio.  However it meant a person who maintained steam driven machinery.   Albert's father   was  a Backsman in a colliery; Florence 22 (no occupation),  brother Frederick 20 a welder  and Charles worked in a foundry.

In 1903 Albert married Mary Barbara Matthews, the second daughter of ten children born to James Matthews and Matilda Simpson, who were prominent in the Methodist church in Lanesfield, Wolverhampton.

The  1911 census listed the young Weston family living at 33 Lunt Lane, Lunt Gardens, Bilston, Staffordshire.  34 year old Albert  Ernest, was still a stationary engine driver,     son Frederick Harry aged 5, daughter Madeleine (always known as Madge)  1 year old, both born Bilston  and Albert's brother Charles Henry, at 26 a boiler rivetter,
My father was born a year later in 1912 and a younger son Eric Charles three years later. 

The address of Lunt "Gardens" seemed to be a of a misnomer, as Wolverhampton Archives identified it as the site of the Sewerage Works.  A member of Wolverhampton Genealogy and Family Tree Help on Facebook  noted that it ws a low income area, with most of the residents involved in the local heavy industry.    In 1897 John Batholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" described it as a 

"great centre of hardware trade.....iron and brass castings, tin and japanned wares, &c., with extensive iron foundries and smelting works, and potteries. In vicinity are productive coal and ironstone mines, also an abundance of fine sand for casting, and a very hard stone suitable for grindstones."

Below the family of Albert Weston and Mary Matthews - Madge, Fred, John (my father) and Charles -  



In 1919 the family  moved to Broseley, near Ironbridge Shropshire, Albert worked at the Coalbrookdale Power Station.  My  father wrote for me  lots of memories of their life there, and for him, it was clearly a happy time.  One recollection was:
"We had a palace organ  double keyboard.  Mum was very musical   and would play the organ on a Sunday night with Dad on the  violin,  - we sang either Methodist hymns or hymns from Ancient  & Modern Hymnbook...... Dad also played in the Coalbrookdale Band"  - I was disappointed to find nothing more on Albert's musical activities with the band.   

Shropshire Archives and Broseley Historical Society  provided me with valuable information on the area, though non specific to my grandfather.  

My brother, Albert's grandson at Ironbridge

The Weston family seemed to move around the Midlands a lot, presumably with Albert's work, living in Leamington Spa,  Stockton, near Rugby (when  Charles was born in 1915),  Broseley in Shropshire (1919),  back to Wolverhampton (1930) and then Leicester(1932).  I recall Nana Weston claiming she had lived in 17 houses. 

The 1939 Register (compiled in  preparation for wartime  ID cards) listed the Weston family in Leicester -  62 year old Albert was described as a Typewriter Works Storekeeper, with the note “Heavy Work”; his wife was noted as doing “unpaid domestic duties” and only Charles was living at home – a hosiery warehouse man. 

The war saw heavy bombing raids over over the industrial Midlands, and Mary and Albert were particularly devastated when the news came that youngest son Charles  was a prisoner of the Japanese.  

Albert  never recovered from this blow and died in 1945, aged 69.  


Sources of Information

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

to read posts from other bloggers taking part in the
2020  "52 Ancestors" Challenges.   


  1. It seems that you have quite a few facts on your grandfather's life and some really great photos! I do know what you mean about waiting too long to ask questions. I find myself in the same position as I navigate through some of my ancestors lives.

  2. Thank you for taking time to comment. It was satisfying to pull together all the information I had on my grandfather and write this post. Good luck in your quest.

  3. Good digging, Sue. Some of our ancestors are naturally shy. I hope you find some more about the band eventually.

  4. Fantastic way to make sure that your grandfather isn't forgotten. Thank you for sharing. :)


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