Tag Archives: Dolton

#52Ancestors #20: William Dolton – a mysterious end?

William Henry Thorn Dolton was born c November 1862 Devon, England. His father John Willing Dolton had worked on the land but by William’s generation the family was living in Plympton St Mary [now part of Plymouth].

52 ancestors logoWilliam was the fourth child, second son, of John and his wife Selina Ann Horn [his middle name Thorn was probably the result of the registrar mis-hearing his parents]. His father John had been married previously but after the death of his first wife had struggled to cope with three young children and William’s older half-brothers and sisters had been raised by their grandmother Elizabeth Dolton.  By the age of 20 William was apprenticed to a blacksmith, but that doesn’t seem to have worked out as later he was working as a quarryman (stone), a labourer in the limestone quarries, and later still as a tar worker.

He married Bessie Ann Preece, in August 1883 in Plymouth Registry Office and they had their first child the following summer, named William Samuel for his father and grandfather.

William Jnr was followed by 7 more by 1896: Ernest Francis, Florence Selina (my great-grandmother), Francis (who died in infancy), Bessie Matilda (died in infancy), Mary Kathleen and another Francis, who again died in infancy. I found a reference to a 7th child but haven’t found a birth entry for him/her. Four lost children, how cruel…

It was a very poor time and a time of great change in the country. In December 1913 a suffragette had burnt down an (uninsured) Devonport timber yard as a protest – I’m sure William and his mates would have had strong thoughts on that as the smoke curled high above!

Three Towns in One: Derby Daily Telegraph, 4 May 1914   © National Newspaper Archive

Three Towns in One: Derby Daily Telegraph, 4 May 1914
© National Newspaper Archive

This year is the centenary of the merging by Local Government Order of the three towns of Plymouth, East Stonehouse and Devonport and there are loads of events on.  And where am I? Scotland. When did I get to visit Plymouth? Last year. Bad timing. Plymouth Remembers commemorates this; the Plymouth History Festival is on at the moment and there are so many events relevant to the lives of my ancestors that it’s really frustrating being so far away!

I suspect back then people just got on with their lives – I wonder if there was discontent about losing the prominence of the names of East Stonehouse and of Devonport by taking the name of their neighbour? Local rivalries? Or just cynicism that whatever they were called they’d still have to go to work and to pay their taxes?

Western Morning Times, 16 October 1942

Western Morning Times, 16 October 1942 © National Newspaper Archive

William lived through the First World War, and the 20s and 30s when Lady Astor was MP for Plymouth.  He would have seen many grandchildren and heard of their sporting successes and also seen his daughter Florence [then] Glover busy in the Co-operative movement.

I believe William met his death in 1942, in a fall from a 3rd floor window. This news cutting refers to a coroner’s report so tracking that down will be my next step.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 16 May 2014
First published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/william-dolton/

#52Ancestors #17 John Dolton’s family of amazing names

Brixton Church (photo © Andrew Jago)

Brixton Church, Devon (photo © Andrew Jago)

John Willing Dolton was born on 18 August 1816 in Brixton, a parish east of Plymouth. He was my great-great-great grandfather.  John was the son of Elizabeth Dolton and Joseph Willing, a neighbour of Elizabeth.  Joseph and Elizabeth did not marry; both ended up with other people.  Two days before his birth Elizabeth had been discharged from her apprenticeship in husbandry for being “guilty of several Misdemeanors, Miscarriages, and Ill-behaviour in his Service, as an Apprentice; and in particular in being with child of a Bastard child”. My jaw dropped when I saw that one of the signatures on her original indenture was a Joseph Willing… It’s a different Joseph Willing, but disconcerting to see.

John himself was indentured into service as “a poor Child, aged ten Years, belonging to your said Parish”.  He was apprenticed to a farmer called Matthew Revell in Brixton parish.

In 1838, when he was 21, John married his first wife, Susan/Susanna Gulley, a quarry-man’s daughter in Plymouth.  Together they had 3 children: Ann Cook Gully Dolton (1839), John Dolton (1841) and Sarah Jane Dolton (1844).  Sadly their time together was cut short as Susan died on 1 September 1845, leaving John to look after 3 children under the age of 6.

He must have found this impossible whilst bringing in money for food and rent as in April 1851 the children were staying with his mother Elizabeth (now married to Nathaniel Ramsen). He was living with his brother-in-law Thomas Gully, Thomas’ wife Ann and family.

John’s second wife Selina Ann Horn was born in Dover, Kent, in 1836.  Her father, Joseph Horn, had worked as an agricultural labourer in Plymstock, Devon, in the 1825s, but later became a customs man.  Sadly he died before the 6 June 1841 census. My friend Chris has done a lot of work following up leads – perhaps I should spend my British Newspaper Archive credits on checking for accidents…

52 ancestors logoJohn and Selina married in 1865, by which time they’d had five children together, which I think is sweet as it shows commitment, or maybe it just shows bowing to community pressure!  John is listed at various times as a quarry man and also a labourer, an agricultural labourer and a husbandman, so I guess he would just work at anything which would bring in a wage for his (now two) families.

He and Selina had 10 children together will a range of amazing names:

  • Archealeus Joseph Avery Horn Dolton 1857;
  • Sarah Ann Horn Dolton 1859;
  • Florence Selena Dolton 1860;
  • My ancestor William Henry Thorn Dolton [we think the vicar misheard the name Horn] 1862;
  • Catherine Amelia Dolton 1865;
  • Susan Jane Dolton 1867;
  • Mary Elizabeth Dolton 1869;
  • Matilda Harriet Dolton 1871;
  • Alice Maud Dolton 1873; and
  • Ernest Albert Dolton 1876.
Image of Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale

It’s interesting that the names are so grand as both John and Selina were illiterate and I wonder where they got inspiration for some of those names. Florence was born after the [sadly, first] Crimean War and obviously likely to be inspired by Florence Nightingale but the rest…  Archealeous – wow! I wonder if names were so important to John as his was so significant to him – proof of his birth father always had to be given. Selina’s parents too chose some flamboyant names for their children; Selina has a brother called Hercules, which I think is brilliant.

They lived at various times around what is now Plymouth in East Stonehouse, Higher Hooe, Plympton St Mary, Lower Hooe and Ugborough, perhaps so John could be where the work was.

John died in 1895 in Plymouth. Selina outlived him and died in on Boxing Day in 1918 at the age of 81 from senile decay.

Thanks to Chris for sharing John and Elizabeth’s fascinating apprentice documents with me. Thanks also to Andrew for the lovely photo of Brixton Church.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 24 April 2014
Content first published: https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/john-dolton/

#52Ancestors #16 Elizabeth Dolton: caring heart, busy home

Elizabeth, the daughter of John Dalton and his wife Mary (nee Kenton) was born at the end of the 18th century in the reign of King George III.  Elizabeth, my great-great-great-great grandmother, was baptised on 3 May 1798 in Brixton parish [east of Plymouth, Devon, England], where she grew up with a younger brother Samuel and possibly an older brother John.  One of Elizabeth’s neighbours was called Joseph Willing and when she had a son out of wedlock in 1816 she named him John Willing Dolton after his father who didn’t stick around. Joseph Willing – oh the irony…

Extract from Barts South Devon map 1902

Extract from Barts South Devon map 1902

Another of my Devon ancestors, Ann Keast, was also a single mum; she ended up dying at her family home aged only 30.  Elizabeth’s life was longer and happier.

Three years after John’s birth she married Nathaniel Ramsden, a quarry man born in Plymstock, on Christmas Day 1818, in East Stonehouse [now part of Plymouth].

They had nine children together: Elizabeth 1819, Ann Olive 1821, Nathaniel 1823, Emanuel 1825, William 1828 and Mary Ann 1830 in Staddiscombe, before having Maria 1833, William 1835 and Louisa in 1838 in Plymstock.

In 1851 Elizabeth, after a family bereavement, had 3 grandchildren staying with her (incorrectly recorded as nieces and nephew). Nathaniel – possibly because the house was full – was meanwhile staying with their daughter Mary Ann who by then was living with her husband William Carter and their 1-year-old son William.  Mary also had with her a 1-month-old girl called Mary Leete(?) who was recorded as ‘nursechild’; she was possibly a wet nurse.

52 ancestors logoTen years later Nathaniel and Elizabeth’s household had again gathered in a wider family, with daughter Maria (29) grandchildren Elizabeth (3) and William (1) plus foster children Letitia M Pollard (10) and Florence M Pollard (6).  By that time Nathaniel had been promoted to be foreman at a slate quarry – they were living in Penlee Quarry, Stoke [Devon].

Nathaniel died c August 1863, possibly worn out by a life as a quarryman and the chaos of a bustling extended family home!?

Eight years later in April 1871 Elizabeth was living in Charles [Plymouth] in Devonshire Street, with her daughter Louisa, son-in-law William Scaun and their children. Her foster-daughter Florence, by then called Florence Ramsden, had left home and was working as a 16-year-old apprentice dressmaker; she married John King c November 1877.

Gravestone of Elizabeth Ramsden nee Dolton

Gravestone of Elizabeth Ramsden nee Dolton

By April 1881 Elizabeth and her nephew Samuel Dolton, 53, both marked as having no occupation, were living next to the post office in Oaklands, Plymstock.

Elizabeth had lived on nearly 20 years after her husband’s death, dying in Plympton St Mary, Devon, in September 1881.  She was buried with her daughter and son-in-law Mary Ann William Carter, living for and with her family in this world, and keeping with them for the next.

© Text copyright Lynne Black 16 April 2014
Many thanks to C Lang for the use of the gravestone photo.
Content first published:   https://starryblackness.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/elizabeth-dolton/