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I HAVE been interested in, and studied the economic and social history of this area for over thirty years. I often wondered about my family as my father lost touch with his aunts, uncles and cousins on his father 's side in the 1920s. My grandfather was killed in WWI in 1917 and in the years to follow my grandmother fell out with her husband's family. As a consequence my father had no dealings with them and to me they did not exist at all. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me, and back in 1988 I started to look for my father's family. Most people have a better start than I had. My grandmother had died and my father was too ill to query, so I had no one to ask the vital questions.
Research is often a strange beast. There is no one correct way to conduct your research and it can take you down some unusual routes, often into cul-de-sacs and then maybe into brick walls. Therefore there is not always a correct place to start. In my case the 1901 Census was not available, that was a distant gleam in the future. I did not know where to look in the 1891 Census as I had no idea where the family lived other than in Hulme. I looked at all the possible families in the 1881 Census, but that did not really help as I had no idea of when and where my grandfather was born.
The only things that I thought that I knew for certain were that my grandmother was married in a church in Hulme, her maiden name was GOWAN and that my father was born May 12th 1917. Thus began my long trawl through the parish records of the Hulme churches. I started in 1916 and worked through that year and then backwards year by year. It probably was not the best method to employ, but this was my first attempt. I did not even consider the possibility that my father had been born out of wedlock, but fortunately I eventually found the marriage at St Gabriel's in 1913.
The details in the parish records did not lead me directly to either of their families in the 1891 Census, but by using the Trade Directories and the help of other people, I eventually found my grandfather and his family.
This has just been a preamble to tell you about my quest to find the whereabouts of one of my grandfather's sisters, Nellie LODGE. In 1881 she was with her family at RG11 4021 folios 100/101 and in 1891 she is at RG12 3194 folio 29. After that she seemed to disappear off the radar.
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The Census returns showed that she was born about 1874 in Ashton under Lyne, and in 1891, that her occupation was a balloon blower. Over the top of this was written "India". India, presumably refers to India rubber as a balloon was an early name for an inner tube for a bicycle. I searched the GRO birth index in 1874/5 and I searched the GRO marriage index between 1891 and 1901 and failed to find her. I then searched the GRO death index for many years and again failed to find her. This was over a very long period of time as I was also researching other people's families as well as other members of my own family. Every so often I would take another look at where she might have been.
Her parents Charles LODGE and Elizabeth CAPPER (nee BARNETT) had married in 1874 so there was a chance that Nellie might have been born before they were married. So bearing that in mind I had also looked at CAPPER births.
When I took out an Ancestry subscription I decided to trawl through all the Nellies/Nellys/Ellens and Mary Ellens born in Ashton under Lyne in 1874 + or - 5 years in the 1901 Census. I only came up with one viable candidate, Nellie BROCKLEY at RG13 3706 folio 137 in Fountain St, Hulme. As you can see from the earlier Census returns Nellie had several siblings one of whom was Fred LODGE who was listed in the next house.
This gave me a degree of hope, but still no proof. Now I started to look at BROCKLEY marriages on the IGI, maybe Nellie had been the result of a transcription error. Once again I was frustrated by the lack of hard evidence and decided to put that line of research on the backburner.
I had used Genes Connected (now Genes Reunited) for several years and had been lucky enough to find a few distant cousins and a couple of closer ones. One of the last of these contacts was in the last quarter of 2006. It was a lady who was the granddaughter of one of my grandfather's brothers. We exchanged emails over a period of time and it came to the surface that she had an elderly relative still living. I asked her to find out if this lady new what happened to Nelly LODGE. Eventually earlier in 2007 the answer came back that she had married a man called BROCKLEY and lived on City Rd in Hulme running a greengrocers shop...so this brought me nicely back to Nellie BROCKLEY in Fountain St, Hulme in 1901.
I subsequently searched through the baptismal records of St Gabriel's, Hulme and found several BROCKLEY baptisms of sons and daughters of Charles and Nellie BROCKLEY and I eventually found a 1913 GRO birth reference of Charles BROCKLEY that gave his mother's maiden name as being LODGE. This led me to search for Charles BROCKLEY in the 1901 Census returns. No suitable match was found; again I got the same results when I searched the 1891 and 1881 returns. This was yet another mystery.
In the early Trade Directories of the 1900s Nellie was listed as being head of the household at 8 Fountain St. So there were still unanswered questions. Where was Charles BROCKLEY and where (or if they ever) did they get married? By 1910 Charles BROCKLEY is shown as occupying 310 City Rd, Hulme, which was listed as being as Greengrocer's shop.
When Ancestry launched the WWI pensions information in 2008 I decided to experiment with the system. I idly entered Charles BROCKLEY and was stunned and shocked to find that there were five "hits" for his name. I looked at them all carefully and discovered that four of them referred to his address as being 8 Fountain St, Hulme. The information they contained, which can be seen on Ancestry, gave details of him serving in The Royal Garrison Regiment. The fifth entry, which was chronologically the first, showed that he had joined the Liverpool Regiment in 1885 at Ashton under Lyne and had served with them until 1902. At first I thought the most significant information was that he had enlisted (and signed) as Charles YOXSHALL and that the name BROCKLEY had been written underneath.
I looked again at this information some days later to discover that each hit did not contain just one entry but several. In fact one of them contained 17 entries, some duplicates of the others, but the information they all contained was to answer many unanswered questions, and also pose a few new ones.
Amongst the data that I had not seen previously was a comprehensive listing of his service records. When and where he served, disciplinary records and family details including that he was single and had no children when this was clearly not true...but one of the records showed that he had married Ellen CAPPER not LODGE, at St Stephen's in Hulme on July 3rd 1893.
As the date could possibly have been 1888 I thought that I would check the details at www.lancashirebmd.org.uk
To my surprise I could not find a BROCKLEY/CAPPER marriage so I went to the microfilm unit at Manchester Central Library and had a look at the parish records on film. I quickly found the date when the marriage took place, but the details were not quite what I was expecting.
1893 Marriage Solemnized at the Parish Church in the Parish of St Stephen, Hulme in the County of Manchester. July3rd.
Charles HENRY BROCKLEHURST, 25, Bachelor, (Occupation) Rubber Trade. 18 Pryme St. (Father) Isaac BROCKLEHURST, Labourer & Ellen CAPPER, 20, Spinster, (Occupation) Rubber Trade. 16 Pryme St. (Father) Charles CAPPER, Waiter. Married...after Banns...Both signed. Witnesses A J MYERS & Harriet YOXSHALL.
So he had become a BROCKLEHURST employed in the Rubber Trade when he was enlisted as a full time Soldier. As far as I know his father was unknown but Isaac YOXSHALL, who did live at 18 Pryme St was his stepfather. Nelly LODGE had become Ellen CAPPER and she was 20 years of age. Other records suggest she would have been 18 or 19. She was indeed employed in the Rubber Trade. Her father had become Charles CAPPER and not Charles LODGE.
I checked the GRO Birth Index and found that an Ellen CAPPER was registered at Ashton under Lyne in the second quarter of 1873. Having now received the birth certificate more questions are raised.
It stated that she was born at Mossley Road in Ashton under Lyne in April 1873. No details of her father were given and her mother is listed as Elizabeth CAPPER with no maiden name given. So was Nelly Charles LODGE's daughter? What was Elizabeth doing in Ashton under Lyne? Was Charles with her?
Maybe the answers to these questions can partially be answered by finding out what was at Mossley Road. I have long suspected that Charles had worked in a Public House in Ashton. Well, I'll just have to find out.
Sadly the trade directories for Ashton under Lyne at this time were not very comprehensive and do not contain alphabetical lists of houses in streets with their heads of households. The 1871 Census does not give help either, still more questions to answer.
The quest continues...
...AND then there was my father's grandmother. Her name, or at the least the one she was born with in 1864 was Catherine Freeman, her father being Thomas a shoemaker. She seems to have had somewhat of an identity problem, calling herself various names over the years. According to her marriage certificate dated 12th February 1888, at 23 years old she married 35 year old William GOWAN, a Boot Closer by trade. Sadly William died on 18th February 1893 aged 37 years. Catherine was the informant and was living at an address other than the one which had been William's last abode. There had been two children from this union, my grandmother Mary Ellen and her sister Rosemarie.
On 3rd July 1894 Catherine registered the birth of her first son, Thomas EATON, born on 22nd May 1894. Her details were given as Catherine EATON late GOWAN formerly FREEMAN. The father was listed as Henry EATON, a shoemaker. I have never been able to find a marriage between Catherine and Henry. I am not sure how long this "union" lasted. I did not have the fortune to meet Thomas EATON as he died in 1956, when I was less than two years old, however some of my older siblings did meet uncle Tommy.
Catherine eventually married a man called Richard McQUINN. I searched high and low for a a marriage between Catherine FREEMAN/GOWAN/EATON and Richard McQUINN and began to wonder if it ever really happened. On the 1901 Census they were together as man and wife, along with my grandmother and her sister (by now going under the surname of McQUINN) plus the first of Catherine and Richard's children. Eventually I resorted to reverse logic, something which was new to me in terms of family history at that time. I searched for a marriage for Richard McQUINN to any Catherine in the period 1894 to 1901 in the Manchester area. It did not take me too long...the happy event took place at the Register Office in Manchester on 15th May 1899 between Richard McQUINN and Catherine McGOWAN.
So Catherine stated life as a FREEMAN, then GOWAN, then EATON, then McGOWAN and finally as Catherine McQUINN...oh and by the way Richard McQUINN was a shoemaker by trade
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Last update: 17th June 2014