#52Ancestors #37 Hannah Halliday – entrepreneurial sons, educated daughters

I recently took advantage of a half-price subscription with FindMyPast and have been having a fascinating couple of weeks finding out about my Northumberland and Durham ancestors.

I last used FindMyPast briefly over a year ago, too far back to remember how the old search engine worked.  I’ve heard a lot of negative comments about the new set up, but as I was coming to it effectively fresh I’ve found it has worked well.  Part of this appreciation is that they have the record collections I was after, but it has also come up with suggestions of a few newspaper announcements about the family, intimations and also one about a business partnership finishing.

I’m finding it helpful having two sites to work between (currently FMP and Ancestry).  Previously I’d shared sites with a friend, I paid for Ancestry and she paid for Genes Reunited and it’s really helpful doing that, one can point to clues on another, and each have different specialist record sets.

So this week, thanks to the hard transcribing work of the Durham and Northumberland FHSoc I’ve found a 19th century branch of my family with many strong educated women.  I’ll feature a few of her family members over the next couple of weeks.

Hannah Young, nee Halliday

Hannah Young, nee Halliday

And I’ll start with Mrs Hannah Young, nee Halliday, the aunt of Sarah E Halliday who featured in my previous post. Hannah is my G-G-G-Aunt.

Hannah was the second child and eldest daughter of Thomas and Jane Halliday. Altogether I’ve found 6 brothers and sisters for her.  Thomas was a soap agent and travelled around for his work.

Born on 10 November 1836 in Gateshead, Hannah was baptised a month later in Methodist New Connexion denomination chapel.  She lived in Gateshead until she was at least 16. Although she married aged 21 in early 1857 in Leeds, West Yorkshire, I suspect that may have been her fiancé’s  workplace/home because soon after the wedding they were both found in Gateshead.

Her husband was George Shields Young and I’m so glad he was, as having the middle name Shields (after his mother) has been invaluable identifying his own children and grandchildren.  George was an agent and later recorded as an earthenware manufacturer.

Photo of Tom, Dora, Lizzie, Mary and Marion Young

Tom, Dora, Lizzie, Mary and Marion Young

They settled down and had their first child, Dora, 10 months after the wedding in Gateshead, Low Fell, County Durham. Daughter Marion arrived in summer 1860, with George recorded in the census the next spring as a commercial clerk and dealer.  Four more children followed: Lizzie in Newcastle in 1862, Thomas Halliday back in Gateshead (1864), Mary Sarah (1867) and George Shields (1870).  By April 1871 George Snr was working as an earthenware manufacturer in Leeds, but Edith Hannah was born back in Gateshead in 1873.

In 1877, four years after the birth of George and Hannah’s youngest child Edith, Edith’s oldest sister Dora got married at the age of 18 to George Rollet with Hannah’s first grandchild Norman arriving in Thorne, Yorkshire in 1878 with Ethel following in 1879 and Maud Hannah early in 1881.

Hannah’s father Thomas Halliday died on 22 December in 1877.

Shields Daily Gazette, 21 January 1878, copyright FindMyPast

Shields Daily Gazette, 21 January 1878, copyright FindMyPast

In 1878 George and his business partner formally dissolved their business partnership and the April 1881 census records him as a bookseller.  Only four months after that George died, in Bradford where he and Hannah were living.  His estate was worth £259 8s, the equivalent of £12,531.61 in 2005 money.

Another grand-daughter, Dora Rollett arrived in 1882, but there was more sadness in 1883, when young Dora’s older sister Maud Hannah died in Hunslet, Leeds, aged about 2.

The next time I encounter Hannah it’s 1889 when her son Thomas Halliday Young marries Margaret Jane Thompson.  [Thomas and Margaret have their first child, Margaret, in 1890, Hannah’s fourth known grandchild, followed by another George Shields in 1893 and Helen in 1898, all in Bradford.]

In January 1891, Hannah’s mother Jane Halliday died.  Jane left Hannah a gold watch and half-share of her personal effects in her will, of which Hannah, her brother Thomas and sister Sarah Ann were executers.

Hannah’s second daughter Marion married in 1895 to a mysterious Mr Joslin, of whom I know nothing apart from his surname, which I suspect may have been mis-spelt at some point.  She was widowed and married her second husband John Ogden, a widower, in September 1914 in Keighley, Yorkshire.

Hannah’s third child, Lizzie, is a bit of a mystery. The only child born in Newcastle, she wasn’t with her parents for the 1871 or 1881 census so I feared she’d died young.  However then I found her in Shipley, Yorkshire, in 1891 working as a governess.  And once I’d found that she was staying in 1881 with the Rollett family it helped both solve the mystery of Lizzie’s missing years, and confirm I had correctly identified Dora Young’s husband.  In 1881 the census, staying with Dora in Nottinghamshire, Lizzie was again working as a governess.  But I lose track of her after the 1991 census.

Mary Sarah Young, her fifth known, child was a teacher, and will be the subject of a later blog post.

Hannah’s second son (6th child) George Shields Halliday had been born in Gateshead in 1870 but died young, aged only 17 in 1887.

52 Ancestors logo

Youngest daughter Edith Hannah also got married, to a Mr Rowe, but I have little information about him.  I do know however that she was widowed and married again and I’ll also write about her another week.

By 1901 there had been a dramatic change of location – Hannah was living down in Okehampton, Devon, with daughters Marion [Joslin], Mary Sarah Young and Edith [Rowe].

They were visited in October 1908 by oldest sister Dora [Rollett] but shockingly Dora died during her visit, leaving widower George, son Norman and two daughters Ethel and Dora who continued to live in Essex, where they were living by 1901.

By 1911 Hannah and Mary Sarah Young had moved on again to Pembrokeshire, the first time I’ve found any of my family at all in Wales.

The strange thing is, I have all this information about Hannah Young and her descendants, but I don’t actually know for sure when and where Hannah died. She was 74 by the time of the 1911 census. 74 doesn’t seem very old to me, living in the 21st century, I have family older than that, but it must have been a good old age then.  But now, by broadening my searches and my time frames, I’ve found a Hannah Young who died in Gateshead in 1933, at the grand old age of 96.

I so hope that was my Hannah, my G-G-G-Aunt, it would just seem fitting for a woman whose family had been so independent, one of the most educated with children – daughters more remarkably – travelling round for work and establishing themselves by independent means.  I hope that her mind stayed with her until the end as intelligence and education was such a defining feature of her family.

Hannah certainly had a fascinating life, and I love that I know what she looks like.  I also know, from the contents of her mother’s will, what she would have seen as she went to visit her parents Thomas and Jane Halliday: the suite, the sewing machine, the black marble clock and of course the treasured gold watch Jane passed down to her dear oldest daughter.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 21 September 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/09/21/hannah-halliday/

#52Ancestors #36 Sarah E Halliday, Yorkshire beauty

My great-grandmother, Sarah E Halliday, c1900

My great-grandmother, Sarah E Halliday

My great-grandmother Sarah ‘Sallie’ E Halliday was born in 1863 in Leeds, the youngest child of Thomas Halliday and Mary Ann Howe.

In her day Sallie was considered a great beauty.  Her father, a commissioning agent, seems to have done alright for himself as he was able to provide her with the opportunity to enjoy music, a talent she inherited from her mother and in turn passed down to her own family.

The 1901 census finds her as a tailoress, sewing edges.  The following year she married my great-grandfather Michael Brown at the Church of St John the Evangelist in Leeds.  Michael was a postman and army reservist who later fought in some of the major battles of the first world war and kept his love of the army all his life.

They had a son together 3 years later, William, who inherited his mother’s talent for music but not his father’s fighting skills, as a near-miss with a grenade shows (when one falls in your trench you’re best throwing it out the trench, not high up in the air directly above you!).

52ancestorsSallie and Michael lived on for the rest of the lives in Leeds, Michael working his way up in the Post Office.  Sallie died in 1950.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 5 September 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/sarah-halliday/

#52Ancestors #35 Hugh Forbes and Isabella Simpson – tugboats and Grandpa Simpson        

52ancestorsHugh came from rural beginnings in Alness, Ross-shire, where he was baptised in April 1831. He was the third of six children and grew up speaking both Gaelic and English.

Isabella, the fourth of the eight children of gardener Douglas Simpson and Elizabeth Wilson; she was christened on 30 October 1836 in Greenock.  Like her husband, she also grew up speaking both Gaelic and English.  By the time she was 14 Isabella was working in a cotton mill.

I suspect that Hugh moved away from Alness for work, although perhaps he just didn’t want to work on the land. If that was the case he certainly achieved that goal as he became an engineer and later worked on tug-boats.

They married on New Years Eve 1857 (so they could celebrate then get a day off the next day!?)

I have a lot of Isabellas in my family and had wondered where the name came from.  I was at Who Do You Think You Are Live yesterday and in a leaflet I bought I found out that it’s a variant on Elizabeth.  So there you go, things you learn!  And instantly I see the connection when their first child, a daughter, was named Elizabeth, born in 1858.

Together they went on to have 8 more children, with the birth of William in 1867 curious – the only child not to be born in Greenock – a census entry states he was born in Ireland.  Why? For his father’s work? Friends of the family?  I’m not aware of any Irish connection for Hugh, so maybe Isabella has Irish roots (via Glasgow where her parents lived).  I can’t see him on Scotland’s People and a quick search on Ancestry’s Irish pages (all Family Search records) doesn’t give me enough info to confirm.

There may have been a family ruction in 1863 – their first son was born and registered Hugh Forbes by his grandfather Douglas Simpson, Isabella’s father.  In the margin there is a reference to a corrected entry – it seems Grandpa Simpson had made a mistake and Hugh had been changed to John!  However eight years later they did have a son called Hugh, his name unchanged.

By 1871 Isabella’s widowed mother Elizabeth had moved in with them but passed away the following year.

Hugh and Isabella lived on together until 1909 when Hugh died.  The cause of death is intriguing: concussion cerebri(?) – I’ll have to find out if it’s a medical term or a blow to the head.  He’d retired by then so wouldn’t have been at work.  Isabella herself died 15 years later in 1924, in Greenock.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 30 August 2014
First published:


Who Do You Think You Are Live – Glasgow

This is a week of three cities for me: Stirling yesterday, Dundee tomorrow, and today it was Glasgow, with a great trip through to the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre to see Who Do You Think You Are Live – Scotland.

It took me about 90m to get from home to the venue, so I was so chuffed they’ve come to Glasgow. And so much cheaper than the trip to London I made in February to see Who Do You Think You Are 2014 for its last show in Olympia!

Last time I was in Glasgow it was for the Commonwealth Games, and we needed to make a 20m walking detour from the SECC railway to the SECC itself – I managed it in 5m today via the walkway, luxury!  No crowds this time, but also no sunshine.  But hey, the walkway was covered.

What I liked about the London show was that so many local family history societies were represented.  I could get such a variety of local knowledge and information in one place for so many areas, saving me a lot of travel, searches, emails and phone calls.  It was the same with this one – I came home with info from Argyll, Renfrewshire, various Glasgow parishes, the Borders and even Northumberland (they’d hopped up for a visit).  Hopefully there will be a return to Scotland next year, and if so it would be nice to have more of a presence from Highland organisations.

So I picked up about 3 reams of paper in the shape of Alan Godfrey historical maps, leaflets, flyers, more maps (no such thing as too many maps!) and discs with various collections of local monumental inscriptions, registers, oh and some Ancestry jellybeans!

I sat in on Bruce Bishop’s interesting talk on kirk session and burgh records, which managed in 40 minutes to cover a variety of sources and cheerfully feature both fines for fornication and the town layouts of burghs.  Lots of research ideas to follow up! And I caught various bits of various other talks as I walked in circles, well, squares, round the venue, with the big Ancestry banner being the only thing preventing total disorientation for most the morning.

As I use a lot of public transport and had a distance to travel I wrapped up well.  I was almost wilting by mid-afternoon!  The SECC staff were friendly, and of course everyone on the stands were really helpful.

I do feel almost dazed with the amount of information and sources I now know are out there somewhere.  One of those days that you really appreciate that the more you learn, the more you find there is still out there to discover.

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7 abandoned villages that can teach us about medieval life


I love these photos from a time lost. If pictures can paint a thousand words, these photos just ask me one: Why?

Originally posted on Heritage Calling:

1. Little Oxenden, Northamptonshire

Little Oxenden AP - earthworks of abandoned village

The classic layout of a medieval village. The long groove running left to right formed the main route through the settlement. The large rectangles either side are called crofts and they represent gardens used for growing vegetables. Within these are smaller rectangular earthworks, called tofts, which were walled plots with a house and perhaps a barn standing within. The large rectangle in the centre may have been the manor house or chapel.

 2. East Matfen, Tyne & Wear

east matfen

Surrounding this deserted village are the undulating lines of medieval ploughing, known as ridge and furrow.

 3. Clipston, Northamptonshire

Clipston medeival village remains and ridge and furrow (1)

Although Clipston is still occupied, many abandoned features surround the current village. This image shows crofts, tofts and extensive medieval ploughing.

4. Wharram Percy, North Yorkshire


The most famous and one of the best preserved British deserted medieval villages, Wharram Percy is a nationally important scheduled ancient monument. Visiting…

View original 189 more words

#52Ancestors #34 Donald Dewar, the man from Experiment

Kilmartin gravestone

Kilmartin gravestone (no relation!)

Donald was born circa 1811 in Experiment Farm, Kilmartin parish, in Argyll.  His parents were Donald Dewar and Margaret Dewar. The farm is believed to be named after some experimental farming methods they carried out there. [Allan Begg]

Janet, his future wife, was a farmer’s daughter who grew up in close-by Glassary parish.  Her parents were Peter McCallum and Janet Campbell and she was born circa 1815.

Donald and Janet married on 21 January 1837 in Kilmartin. They had their first child Margaret baptised in December 1837 then  went on to have 10 more, working hard to do the best for them in some pretty unforgiving places.

In 1841 Donald was working as a labourer like his father before him, but by 1851 he was working as a gamekeeper at Strath Mill, Glassary parish in Argyll.

By 1851 they’d had 7 children, and in the 1851 census they had five of them living with them: Peter, Duncan, Janet, Jane and Christina.  No sign of Margaret and third child Jane so I fear I’m still to discover their deaths recorded in the parish records.  Baby Christina was only a year old. Elizabeth arrived c1853, but by May 1855 when Joan arrived they had moved on.

By c1854, the family were working in a different area of Kilmichael Glassary entirely: Island Mackaskin –  in Gaelic Eilean MhicAsgain – in Loch Craignish.  I’ve looked at the island, found in the Inner Hebrides (west coast of Scotland) on Google Earth and it must have been a really isolated place in which to live and work.  In the present day it is no longer inhabited.

Baby Donald followed in November 1857 also on the island, although two days after his birth his proud dad registered his birth on the mainland.  I suspect Barbra was also born on the island; she was certainly living on it in April 1861.  By that April only Christina, Elizabeth, Joan, Donald and Barbara were still on the island with their parents.

It must have been some place to grow up!  I’ve read suggestions that some families sent their children to board on the mainland for them to go to school, while other hardy souls would row across daily. But Donald and Janet’s children were too young for school, so she’d have had them round her feet in the house or trailing after their father as he looked after the boss’ game.  Sheep?  Cows?  Deer, perhaps?

By 1871 they were back on the mainland.  They lived in a village called Dunamuck; by 1881 they were living in the gamekeeper’s cottage there – a house which had six rooms with windows which seems a huge number for that time!

52 ancestors logoDonald died in April 1889 of old age.  He was 78 and had been living at Craigloan, North Knapdale.

Two years later Janet died of heart disease, from which she had been suffering from around-about the time of Donald’s death.  She was then living at Timister Cottage, Sandbank, in Cowal.  She was 76 years old.

I would like to find out about who owned the land, his employer.  And I sort of want to visit Island Macaskin but sort of don’t – definitely one only for a fine day – as I’m a townie and would find it grim to think of all those years the family had to live out there, especially for Janet, in labour out there in November.

The photo of the gravestone is one of many stunning markers displayed in the churchyard at Kilmartin Church.  An amazing part of Scotland: Dalriada, land of the ancients.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 23 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/donald-dewar/

#52Ancestors #33 Margaret Muir McVicar, from farm to fish

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

1881 Census extract, Archibald and Peggy McVicar

Margaret ‘Peggy’ Muir was born in 1813 in the Glassary parish of Argyll, to farmer John Muir and his wife Mary McVane/Bain.  Peggy was the fifth out of six known children, although John and Mary’s oldest child was also called Margret so I suspect died young.

Mary has been hard to confirm as her surname seems to meandered from McVane to Bain over the years.  The family spoke Gaelic as their first language. Perhaps her Gaelic accent confused the census enumerators – and years later her family when they identified her on official documents – or possibly it was a deliberate attempt to move from one pronunciation to another.  But I am confident that Mary McVane and Mary Bain are one and the same person.

Peggy’s next 20 years are rather empty in my records but I do know that she had married a fisherman called Archibald McVicar by 1838 and they were living together in Kames, on the shores of Lochgair. If she was known as Peggy I suspect he wouldn’t have been known all the time as ‘Archibald’ but possibly Archie, but it seems a bit cheeky to just assume that!

Together they also had six children: Niven ‘Sandy’, John, Jean, Peter, Mary and Archibald. There were many Muirs and McVicars in the immediate neighbourhood – with everyone related and/or knowing each other’s business it must have been hard for their kids to get away with any anonymous mischief.

The 1851 census entry confused me for a while – Peggy was living at home as usual and marked as married.  So where was Archibald?  I think I may have finally tracked him down (via Genes Reunited) miles away – he was at Torosay, Mull, Scotland: Cod or Ling Fisher, Fishing Station Smack Kelly Lochgan.  Not at all sure what that entry means – is a smack a type of boat or a place? Was the Kelly Lochgan a deep or shallow water craft? And how do I find out more about the boat and its owners?  I’ve tried searching but haven’t yet been able to find answers to that one so advice welcomed.

52ancestorsAt the time of the 1861 census they were both at home in Point House [the Castle] Lochgair; and again for the 1871 census.

In 1874 their daughter Mary, a domestic servant, married gardener John McKellar in the parish and moved away to Peebles.  Mary had a little boy called John in c1878, but then was widowed and they had moved back with her parents again by 1881. They were all living in the Castle at Point of Lochgair at that time; only two rooms had windows.

Peggy died of old age, aged 70, on 25 May 1884 in Lochgair. It was her brother Peter who registered her death which occurred after 2 days of weakness so perhaps Archibald was away at sea again.  Or perhaps he was grief stricken after losing his wife of almost 50 years so Peter offered.  Archibald died 5 years later, on 19 June 1889 of a stroke.  He was 78.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 17 August 2014
First published: http://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/margaret-muir/