52 Ancestors #1 – Mary of Rothwell – life around the pit

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Genealogy Challenge

So this morning I saw and signed up for the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks blog challenge.  Seems a great idea, a bit of challenge, a bit of focus and discipline.  Just as well the challenge can include problems and brick-walls – if it had been detailed stories with photos needed I’d be in deep trouble.

The only thing I’ve ever received 100% for is for precis-ing (OK, I’m sure there’s no such word!) and part of my job is to summarise and minute meetings. So this, coupled with a lack of data available on some of the poorer people in my tree, will make for some quite brief postings.

So here we go with the first: I’ll introduce you to my great-great-great-grandmother who I discovered only yesterday, Mary Bulmer.  Mary grew up in the mining community of Rothwell in West Yorkshire, where she was baptised in 1790.

In the Rothwell gospel according to Wiki:

“Rothwell has a long history of coal mining. It was a site of early mining, using a system known as Bell Pits. Coal mining has been carried out in the area for over 600 years, though coal production stopped on 9 December 1983. There were many local pits including the Fanny, the Rose, and Rothwell Water Haigh. In 1995, Leeds City Council and Leeds Groundwork formed a partnership which, together with local residents and community groups, transformed the former colliery into a 50 hectare country park.”

So there is an extra reason for me to feature Mary and Rothwell this week: it coincides with the release of 1980s Cabinet papers which include Thatcher’s concerns over the miners and her consideration of whether to send British troops up against them.

Mary married Paul, a miner, when she was 20. The first of their 9 children arrived the following year; the ninth arrived 21 years after that.  Mary’s entire life seems to have been spent in Ingram Place, Rothwell. There’s one reference to Rothwell Haigh in the census so perhaps Paul worked for a time in that pit.

After the death of her husband in 1860 she appears to have moved in with her oldest daughter Eliza.  However, it doesn’t look like there were many golden twilight moments in Mary’s final four years: the 1861 census notes her profession as being “kept by son-in-law”. Things must have been really bleak as her grandson Abraham, like his father and older brother, was also working in the mine.  A boy of 10, a miner. The biggest family shock I’ve come across for months, and sobering after the buzz of unlocking two generations that afternoon.

I promise that I do have many happier stories to tell about my ancestors! Yet this shocked me so I thought I would share it; a warning for those with rose-tinted glasses when viewing the magnificence of the Victorian British Empire.  Young Abraham and his contemporaries were that cost.

5 thoughts on “52 Ancestors #1 – Mary of Rothwell – life around the pit

  1. Pingback: 52 Ancestors Challenge: Week 1 Recap | No Story Too Small

  2. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #2 – Lucy – moving me to song in Yorkshire | starryblackness

  3. Pingback: 52 Ancestors #4 Hannah Holt: home, hearth and nimble fingers | starryblackness

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