When my father died six years ago, I brought away a small, folding guinea balance which I knew to have belonged to my mother’s maternal grandparents. Four years on, I said to our older son Godfrey, a Methodist local preacher, “I could see possibilities of using this for a children address during a service. If you want to make use of it, you may have it; otherwise we’ll pass it on to the local folk museum”. That is how we started to get hooked! For Godfrey noticed that with the name, John Stafford, was the date 1826, and also that it not only dealt with the guinea and ½ guinea coins, but also with 1/3 guinea. Curiosity was aroused. What did John do for a living to need a guinea balance in those days? And what was a 1/3 guinea coin? He soon had the answer about the coin from a friend who dealt in such things. It was a gold coin, only minted for a very brief period. Godfrey now has one to use with the balance. The question of John’s occupation has not yet been answered, though we do know where he lived, and have the names of his wife and children. His youngest son Thomas was my great grandfather and was a bleacher and dyer in a Lancashire cotton mill, though he had been born just across the border in Derbyshire and at 18 months of age was an orphan.
Our interest extended and we have visited cemeteries in Cheshire, Yorkshire, Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, as well as the Public Record Office and County Record Offices etc. Countless letters have been written and our rota of 5 postmen who stop and have a cuppa with us each morning are as interested as we are in knowing whether they are bringing something which advances our knowledge of our forebears.
The surnames which have merged have been fascinating in themselves – some ordinary, some unusual. The wealth of material there is to be discovered about ones ancestors continually amazes me, but two things have been beyond my dreams:
We have had such friendly encouragement and welcomes from folk now living in former ‘ancestral’ homes. We have been able to see over some of them – two of them in particular, being historic farmhouses which were of great architectural interest. One of these was 16th century, West Court Manor in Shepherdswell in Kent, and the other a 17th century one, Lyth Farm in the village of Steep near Petersfield in Hampshire. We also were able to wander around the outside and photograph with the very new owner’s permission, a magnificent residence now known as Smith Hall, which was the result of a conversion of the former blacksmith’s domain added to the barn. This was at Cookridge near Leeds. It was almost as good as meeting our ancestors themselves.
The other special thing which happened was discovering ‘new’ kinsfolk, in one case all descendants of one brother of my husband’s maternal grandmother. They had either lost touch with one another or had never met in spite of all living in the Southampton area. I had written to the six named in the telephone directory and that seems to have aroused a sense of family among them. It was a delight for us to meet them, and an unexpected outcome to my original peep into the telephone directory. Other kinsfolk of my husband have been encountered as a result of my urging him to write to a cousin with whom he had lost touch, but who had grown up herself very close to a cousin with whom he had lost touch, but who had grown up herself very close to their mutual grandparent’s home in London.
Now one dares to dream of seemingly impossible discoveries and encounters. Perhaps I may meet the ghost of the young girl who reputedly haunts in friendly fashion, Lyth Farmhouse in Steep. She might be able to answer some of our questions!
What follows is the story we have pieces together after our first two years.
Being the story of the Nicholson family who, after a life linked with local government, decided to start researching the roots to the family tree.
Charles Noel Sidney Nicholson was the second child and only son of John Leonard Nicholson and Louise Mattie (nee Lipscomb), and was born at 27 Park Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, on Christmas day 1920. His father was Rating Officer at the Town Hall, and both his parents were very staunch members of Ebenezer Methodist Church in the town. His mother had been a Deaconess of the United Methodist Church for six years prior to her marriage, two of these years having been spent at Barnsley. She was not surprisingly much in demand as a speaker and leader at meetings, and often had to take her young son along with her, and his only sister Rosemary, being nearly six years older, was soon to go away to boarding schools in Devon and Malton for health reasons, so he grew up much as an only child would. His father was 35 and his mother 39 when he was born.
In the town lived paternal grandmother, uncles and their families, as well as an unmarried aunt who lived with her mother in the family house at 5 Lancaster Street. It was a surprise when we discovered that John Leonard Nicholson had been born at 35 Lancaster Street, a house now lived in by one of his nephews and family.
The forenames C.N.S. had particular significance: ‘Charles’ after his maternal grandfather, ‘Noel’ because of the date of birth, and ‘Sidney’ after a paternal uncle who had been killed during World War I whilst serving with the King’s Royall Rifle Corps and whose fiancé Hilda Taylor (a school teacher) was to be godmother, and a wonderful example as a person to everyone with whom she came into contact, but especially to her godson and his wife and sons, right up to her death in 1982.
Sid, as he was to be known within the family (though Charles to many people, and inevitably Nick to close friends) attended Racecommon Road Infants and Agnes Road School, from where he won a Locke Scholarship to the Archbishop Holgate’s grammar school. His grandfather John William Nicholson had been one of the first group of scholars to win this scholarship, and three uncles had also done so. Following his articles of clerkship having been negotiated in November 1937 with A.E. Gilfillan, the Town Clerk of Barnsley. For a short period, due to shortages of staff occasioned by World War II, C.N.S.N. went to work at Chelsea Town Hall, where the town clerk was Ernest Nicholson (no relation), before he too was called up for service in the Royal Corps of Signals. Early military service training was at Huddersfield, Tadcaster and East Dereham (in Norfolk), prior to becoming part of a small Signals vehicular unit in North Africa. Here Malaria caught up with him, and he was left behind in hospital when the unit had to move on, and he thus became separated from them, but was re-united with them about 1977, when they re-grouped themselves for an annual gathering at Carlisle – a convenient meeting place for men who mostly were from Lancashire, Yorkshire or Scotland. After being in hospital, ‘Nick’ (by this time!) was doing some education work while waiting at a re-enforcement depot to join his unit. In the event, someone else had been sent, and he decided to remain with education. He moved on to Italy, and in January 1946 an A.T.S. girl came on a course to the Army School of Education Corps herself. Brenda Jacob not only transferred to the A.E.C. but stayed at Peugia on the staff as Librarian, also occasionally taking part in the demonstrations put on by the staff for the students who attended fortnightly or monthly courses. These demonstrations were sometimes to show how NOT to present a lesson, and the staff, at least, enjoyed them. I still remember vividly, the lecture given by ‘Johnny I’ on the subject of ‘the Polish frontier: standing completely in front of a very SMALL map of Europe, and indicating the frontier with his finger, and peering even at close range, at the map to see exactly how it went. Memorable too were the performances of ‘Androcles and the Lion’, with one of the officers being the lion, but lying on the floor and smoking his pipe.
As well as the Army School of Education, there was also one of the Army’s new Formation Colleges, where officers and men attended pre-release courses to prepare them for resuming interrupted university education or career training back home. The College had the various wings: science, arts, etc. Most were in Perugia, but the Arts Wing had the great good fortune to be in the lovely city of Florence, which was also our local leave centre. Any need of dental attention required one to visit nearby Assisi, or, when that hospital closed, the ‘eternal’ city, Rome. I think we all became rather casual about these opportunities, having joined the Army and ‘seeing the world’. One of Nick’s duties as an instructor at the A.S.E. was to take parties of students on a guided tour of the hill-town of Assisi, in the steps of St Francis. Two of the students at that time remain in mind – one, whom was a friend of Nick and Brenda, Nora Ormezowska, a Polish girl and concert pianist who had joined the A.T.S. in Naples where she had a married sister. We were able to obtain special permission for her to practise on a grand piano owned by the University, and usually locked up. I wonder what became of her? The other ‘name’, a fellow student on one of the courses attended by Brenda, was an officer who was of the well-known London auctioneer family Christie.
On the staff of the Formation College were two other ‘names’: C. K. Tavere, the father of the England cricketer and himself later a Master of the Supreme Court, and N. C. Scragg whom we later met in civilian occupation as Town Clerk of Folkestone. Both were lecturers in law.
Brenda returned to the UK in late summer 1946, to serve her last few weeks, till the end of October, as education sjt in London, whilst Nick returned to UK for discharge in September. They married at St Paul’s Methodist Church, Didsbury, Manchester on 7th November 1946, immediately before Nick went off to Gibson and Weldon’s Law School in London, in preparation for taking his finals the following June. Accommodation in London was difficult to obtain, but eventually it became possible to arrange for Nick to have the use of a room over a cafe in Russell Square. The owners of the cafe had engaged Nick’s uncle, Albert Lipscomb, a retired accountant, to go in once a week to check the finances, and he used the room as an office on that day, Nick using is as a bedsitter for the rest of the week. Uncle Albert was very deaf and had only restricted tunnel vision, so Nick used to accompany him back to King’s Cross Station where he caught his train home to Letchworth.
After taking his Finals, Brenda and Nick had a short holiday in Cumbria, and then went to live with Nick’s parents at ‘Stonegateway’, Barnsley. Nick was at the Town Hall again, but applying for posts in Local Government as a junior solicitor. He took up his first appointment as a qualified solicitor with Tynemouth County Borough in September 1947. Brenda moved there with him, to live at Easby House Guest House, North Shields, where the Town Hall was. The couple who ran the Guest house became surrogate parents and were affectionately known to us as Aunty Mary and Uncle Eustace. We were to meet up with them again later, when we moved to Bristol, and they to a small-holding in Devon. Whilst other husbands staying at the guest-house, looked at the local property advertisements in the evening paper, and did nothing further (!), we quickly found our first home and moved in for our 1st wedding anniversary in the November. This was a property at 69 Langley Road, North Shields, built as is typical in that part of the country, to look like a large semi-detached house, but which was in fact, 2 self-contained flats, each with a large living room, 2 bedrooms, kitchen, bathroom and toilet. We had to buy the whole property to obtain possession of the upper flat, but of course the income from the tenants of the lower flat – a former Army Officer who had met and married in Athens, Aliki, and now worked as a Civil Servant in Newcastle – helped considerably towards the mortgage repayments.
Arnold Godfrey Nicholson was born at Preston hospital, North Shields, on Saturday morning 1st May 1948. He was baptised at Memorial Methodist Church in the town on 11th July 1948 by the Rev Cyril H Powell. This was the church to which we had transferred our membership and where we made friends.
North Shields could suffer from bitterly cold winds and the sea at Tynemouth always felt cold even on a summer’s day, but we always enjoyed the beauty of the famous ‘long sands’ which stretched to Cullercoats, where in those days you could still see the wives of fisher-folk dressed with their colourful bonnets, tending small tables standing on the pavement outside their small cottage houses, and on which were displayed crabs offered for sale. Godfrey took some of his first tentative steps on the sands at King Edward’s Bay, the smaller bay below the Castle at Tynmouth.
To gain promotion in Local Government it was necessary to be willing to move on and so, in May 1949, we moved from the North East to Bristol, S West, where Nick had been one of three solicitors newly-appointed. He was to specialise in conveyancing, whilst Bill Hutchinson, son of the Chief Constable of Brighton, was to be concerned entirely with the prosecution work undertaken by the Local Authority on behalf of the Police, and the third man was Keith Robinson, who concentrated on court work other than criminal cases.
Having a 1-year old son, and having sold the North Shields property to a young couple from the Church who were getting married soon, we needed to find a new home. The Local Authority had available some pre-fabricated Unity Houses, a special provision linked to the BOAC air field at Filton, where there were many Canadian personnel. We were given the tenancy of one of these houses in Ellbridge Close, which compromised 10 such houses, 4 occupied by Local Government Officers, and 6 by BOAC staff. Our immediate neighbours were Bill and Barbara Hutchinson. For many months we had the workmen’s hut in our ‘back garden’, which meant that at weekends when the men were not there, we found we had rats scavenging around for the scraps they were used to finding during the week. Not a happy spot for an adventurous 1 year old, who was keen to explore anything and everything anywhere. One of Godfrey’s joys there, was to go up to the garden and hand over the fence to a young Canadian girl playing in their garden, which was at right angles to ours, my kitchen spoons, ladles and such like. He obviously had the idea or instinct quite early that cooking items were for the females!
It was probably at this period that he also discovered his long-lasting interest in steam trains, for our afternoon outings were often along Sea Mills Lane to the river bank path, where there were railway lines either side of the river. What more could a small boy ask! We stayed at that address until Derek Christopher was about 6 weeks old. He had been born at home about 5 am on Thursday 7th December 1950. It was to be the first of a few house removals at that time of the year. We had decided to have a house built and pay off the mortgage instead of continuing to pay back part of Nick’s salary in rent. Maternal grandparents had visited over Christmas, and when we moved, in January, paternal grandparents came and we arranged for the new baby to be christened whilst they were visiting. He was christened at Bristol Central Hall, by Rev J Russell Pope, who had previously been the minister at the Albert Hall, part of the Manchester and Salford Mission, where he had received Brenda into membership. He and his wife Doreen have been wonderful and inspiring friends to us ever since, and hosts, briefly, to Nick when he first started his job in Bristol.
The house we had built was at Cote Park, Westbury-on-Trym, and was built on a vacant site between established properties. The site had served as a dumping ground for all sorts of household items for a long period, and digging the garden was often as revealing as digs on architectural sites must be. We were to live there till Autumn 1954, when the time had come to seek further advancement. Godfrey started school in Bristol, but not for a couple of years or so after he had ‘disappeared’ whilst Brenda was putting Derek into the pram, prior to taking them both out. I can still remember dashing around the area with the pram – like some Mum who has won a prize entitling her to a timed ‘dash’ round a supermarket filling her trolley. When found, not very far away, he was leaning nonchalantly against a lamppost, and greeted his anxious mother with the information: ‘Men play football there!’ A year or two after this episode, he took his young brother standing on the back of Godfrey’s trike, for a trip to another favourite place – a local park where there was a narrow gauge model railway, with stock capable of providing rides for small children. Fortunately a neighbour had seen them setting off across the path we often used. One Saturday afternoon after this, the boys had been taken to the park and train by maternal grandparents, whilst Nick was playing cricket on the afore-mentioned sports ground (where men also played football!), and Brenda was scoring. Nick played regularly for the Cross Elms Cricket Club, and when they played at home, our two, along with other players’ children, had plenty of space to play, a favourite spot being a fallen tree. This day however, they were going with Granny and Granddad, who were to take them out for tea as well. Unfortunately the waitress left a jug of boiling water slip off her tray and it caught Geoffrey on his tummy – being summer he was wearing a khaki cotton shorts – scalding him very severely. A week or two later we changed our holiday plans, and went off to Amroth on the Pembrokeshire coast. At that time our car was an ancient Daimler, which we had bought in the belief that (a) it would have been well-built in the first place and (b) it would probably have been well-maintained. But it let us down very inconveniently and expensively on this journey. The capacious boot had been filled not only with cases, but also with lots of loose items such as buckets and spades, cricket bats, balls and so on. If I remember rightly, the trouble was a broken half shaft. Bad enough – but for it to happen on a Saturday afternoon in a village in which everything had stopped for the annual fete, and where even the AA man spoke in Welsh, did not bode well for a good holiday. With our many bits and pieces, and vowing that we had ‘learned our lesson’ and would NEVER EVER have any loose items of luggage in a car (how soon one forgets such lessons!), we were very thankful that we were just in time to catch a rare bus which would take us close to Amroth, leaving the car to be attended to after the weekend. This required another serious breakdown. Our thinking about a ‘reliable’ car was clearly misplaced. Having been told by the doctor that sea-water would be beneficial for the deep burns on Godfrey’s tummy, we spent as much time as possible on the beach – removing bandages and using vast quantities of Vaseline. Despite Godfrey’s early introduction tom the lovely beaches of Northumberland, both boys seemed to prefer the countryside, and streams for paddling and ‘damming’. Even so, whilst at Bristol – and Godfrey was only 6 1/2 and Derek not quite 4 when we moved back to the North East, we started going for 5 mile walks of a Saturday, the boys armed with the little I-Spy booklets which encouraged children to watch out for a great variety of things: birds, animals, farm implements, flowers, cars and the like.
Church life at Bristol became diversified. Our links with the Central Hall continued, Nick helping at Langton Street Church, a cause in an area which had suffered badly in the bombing of the city, but which Jack Pope was anxious to keep alive ready from the planned re-development of the area. Students training for the Methodist Ministry at Didsbury College, Bristol, were also helping at Langton Street, and we befriended many of them in our home.
Once Godfrey was old enough to start attending Sunday School, we felt it necessary to attend a Church nearer home, rather than continuing to travel into the City Centre. So it was that we started attending Westbury Park Methodist Church, which stood close to the Downs – a pleasant enough place for one parent to be with the pram. At that time the minister there was Rev Ronald Ashman, and at the nearby Anglican Church, with whom there were occasional ‘exchanges of pulpit’, was a man, whose name now escapes each of us, but he became very well known later on when he was the incumbent at St Martins in the Fields Church in London. Nick and I never truly felt at home at Westbury Park. The only time there seemed any warmth, was when an American choir was paying a visit, and hospitality was offered by members of the church, ourselves included. For a time, just before we left Bristol, we were both able to teach in the Sunday School, once Derek was old enough to attend.
Occasionally Brenda and Nick were able to get out of an evening and attend performances at Bristol Old Vic Theatre. Memorable were the early offerings of Julian Slade and Dorothy Reynolds, including the delightful ‘Salad Days’. Sometimes it would be to a concert at the newly re-built Colston Hall.
Brenda became involved in two interests of her own: One was the International Club, which met at the Folk Museum on College Green in the City Centre. The other was local, at Sea Mills, where she became Captain of the Girls Training Corps. During the last year in Bristol, Godfrey went into a small, private hospital – St Mary’s, at the top of Park Street near the Canbot Tower, to have an operation for removal of tonsils and adenoids. At this period, Godfrey was constantly in a poor state of health, and we were attending the hospital in Bristol several times a week; at the time we were trying to sell the house in Cote Park because of the impeding move back to the North East. The specialist told us ‘that providing he can withstand the first winter, he would probably be much improved back nearer his native air’.
It wasn’t only Godfrey’s health which caused concern. During his first 2 years, Derek had suffered a few convulsions, at first treated casually as being due, not at all unusually, to high temperature during periods when he was teething. Then there were one or two when this did not seem to be a factor, and the doctor referred us to the Burden Neurological Institute, just outside Bristol. It was our great good fortune that Derek was seen by the head of the Institute, Professor F L Golla, who in 1929 had been head of a team investigating the possibilities of clinical electro-encephalography at the Central Pathological Laboratory at the Maudsley Hospiotal in London. He was an elderly gentleman when Derek was referred to him, but highly respected and kindly and understanding. The ‘Burden’ was a small unit, concentrating on comparative research (under the leadership of another eminent specialist, Dr W Grey Walters; he often appeared on TV programs at that time). The unit took readings of ‘normal’ children’s brains, to learn what it was that was significant about the different pattern of electrical impulses in other. Professor Golla was extremely reluctant to attach a diagnostic label – epilepsy – but did explain that a blood vessel had burst in the brain either during, or immediately prior to birth. It was always quite an expedition to go there – buses, a long walk along a country lane, often with Godfrey as well, and then two hours or more at the hospital, taken up with a 20 – 30 minute E.E.G., this had to be interpreted, and finally there would be a consultation with Prof. Golla – and later with his successor Dr Crow. This occurred after a year or two of attending Newcastle Victoria Hospital, and finding it far less satisfactory. As the opportunity to return to the ‘Burden’ had been left open, we welcomed it.
So.....on 1st November 1954, Nick took up his appointment as Deputy Town Clerk of Darlington County Borough, after applying for many posts to get promotion. Once the house in Cote Park and been sold, Brenda and the boys moved north to live temporarily at ‘Stonegateway’, Banrsley, with the Nicholson grandparents. This meant that Godfrey changed schools yet again: he’d attended at two different buildings in the short time he had been a school-boy at Bristol, remembering time away through illness. Nick found ‘digs’ with a relative of one of the staff in the Town Clerk’s Office, at the north end of the town, at Harrowgate Hill. Brenda was able to travel up from Barnsley more easily that would have been possible from Bristol, so this meant that we did not take too long to find somewhere to establish a home for us all and settle down. Nick came to Barnsley at Christmas, and Brenda returned with him after the holiday to prepare the new home at 175 Woodland Road for the arrival of furniture and boys! By the time we reached 440 North Road, Nick was clearly seriously ill, and we had to call out the doctor as a matter of urgency. Whilst he fought pneumonia, Brenda did her best to cope in a strange town with all the matters involved in moving house. The helpfulness shown by the GP and by the proprietor of the removal firm was typical of the warmth and friendship which has always been our experience of life in this area.
My parents were also moving house and wanting the services of their son-in-law as solicitor. Several telegrams were going back and forth between Darlington and Manchester, and although Brenda actually passed 2 other post offices, she was doing the necessary despatches at Albert Road Post Office. Here she first met Edward and Olive Bell who were to become such very important friends when we met up with them at Church shortly afterwards. The man who was at that time minister of North Road Methodist Church was Rev Alfred Wigley, who was known to Nick’s parents from the time when he had served in the Sheffield Circuit. They had written to the Wigleys, who in turn had extended an invitation to the Manse. Nick had sampled Services at some of the other 18 Methodist Churches which had made up the North and South Circuits at that time. At Greenbank church, the minister was Rev John Cullum and he had visited Nick at the offices to welcome us as a family. We always felt rather badly about this, suspecting that he really did think we would transfer our membership to this large church, more in the centre of the town, and in fact we had to pass it on our way to North Road.. Two Sunday School scholars and two Sunday School teachers were, I suppose, rather valuable new members. However, the welcome and warmth of the folk at North Road – Alex and Jenny Fogwell were especially diligent in speaking to any strangers, and they eased our travelling considerably until we decided to buy a new car (no more Daimlers) – could not be denied, and we were soon part of the North Road family, and still feel that same sense of ‘belonging’ even though our membership has been in Swaledale for several years now. Mrs Wigley, aided by a young member, nobly helped by scrubbing the staircase and long hallway of the Victorian-type end terrace house which we had bought. A few days after we moved in, Granddad Nicholson and Aunt Rosemary brought Godfrey and Derek to their new home.....complete with Measles caught at the Sunday School party at Barnsley!
New colleagues, new responsibilities, new friends to make and another new school for Godfrey. This was to be at Arthur Pease School until the new Abbey Road Infants’ and Junior Schools were opened about 1958. Derek was ‘lost’ and barely let Godfrey out of his sight once he came home, and was always asking whether it was time to go and meet him, so we decided to let him attend a private school in Stanhope Road run by Miss Hilda Furniss. He thoroughly enjoyed this experience, always wanting to do the same things as his older brother, and though only just turned 4, he, like all the children there, was expected to learn rather than play. Possibly we were wrong to take him away when he reached the age for compulsory education, but we did think both boys should be attending the state school. Larger class numbers, and the inevitable variation in ability which is always a factor with beginners, meant less attention to actual learning, and he certainly lost quite a lot of what had been gained at Miss Furniss’s. At the same time, and perhaps because of similar factors, Godfrey was bored by not being stretched and certainly held back in his reading. He was already, typically a Nicholson, addicted to print, and an avid reader.
We were all involved at Church and Sunday School. The boys became cubs, Brenda resumed her connection with the Girls Training Corps, though as Chairman, rather than as an Officer, and she also attended the meetings of the International Club which met at 195 Woodlands Road, at the home of Mrs Castling. Here she met some of the German nationals who were in prominent positions in the industrial life of the town and nearby ‘new town’ of Newton Aycliffe. One of these was Ingrid Goblet, a young woman employed as an interpreter at Patons and Baldwins, the knitting wool manufacturers, and at that time, the largest such factory in Europe. That friendship continues to this day, though Ingrid moved away, going to work at the German embassies in Tokyo and Ankara before returning to Germany to work at their Parliament at Bonn and eventually marrying a Hungarian.
Nick’s job sometimes involved Brenda, preparing her for the time when, in 1959, he was appointed Town Clerk. It had been a difficult decision: we took a big chance for if he had NOT succeeded, it would have been that much more difficult to seek promotion elsewhere. The appointment was far from being a formality and it was a period of great strain for each of us. Only occasionally did he ever contemplate a move thereafter. With no grandparents or other relatives living close-by, we always needed to call upon friends to look after Godfrey and Derek when duty called, and possibly they resented this quite often. In the early days, Nick joined a cricket team known as ‘The Moths’ because they did not have their own home ground. Derek was to play for the same team many years later. All matches were played away, and most Saturdays throughout the season dinner had to be ready promptly (no 5 day week then! In fact, Nick used to joke that he was campaigning for an 8 day one), tea packed, games equipment ready so that all 4 of us could pile into the car, report at Houndgate, and off to whichever venue was on the fixture list for that day. White flannels for Daddy, a change of clothing for 2 young boys who were guaranteed to get themselves dirty, bats and balls to keep them occupied for at least part of the long period we were bound to be away, but it was the only way to ensure some time when the family did something together. With matches sometimes as far away as Kirby Stephen, the boys were usually much later to bed than normal. Sunday was never a day of rest. Breakfast, dinner to be made ready because of pressure of time between morning church and returning to Sunday School, car to be cleaned because there was never time on a Saturday. Brenda took her turn in charge of the children, who were members of the ‘Order of the Morning Star’ - a name lost in time, but it was really a time of activity for the children after they went out from the morning service before the adults had to give their attention to the sermon. One of the other helpers was the young Pam Martin – another friend since those days. In the afternoon we went into separate departments: Derek into the Beginners, Godfrey to the Primary, Nick to teach the Juniors, and Brenda to help Edward and Olive Bell in the Young People’s Dept. Later Edward became Sunday School Secretary and Nick joined Brenda in the YPD. One of us would attend evening service, and more often than not the young folk would come to Woodland Road for informal discussion and supper. Some evenings we would join with the young people from Eastbourne Methodist Church, who were meeting round the corner on Pierremont Crescent, at the home of George and Dorothy Pringle. Busy times, but important relationships were established. Looking back, Godfrey and Derek probably thought we did not have much time to devote to them, but at least they were being exposed to things and people whom we thought to be of importance.
As the same young people began to teach or involve themselves in leadership with such things as the Boys Brigade and the Youth Club, Brenda started having a group of them at home which became affectionately known as the TTC – Teachers Training Class, but it was much more than that name implies. We met regularly at our home in Elton Road, to which we had moved in July 1960 – a more modern house. Council meetings were evening occasions, as of course were Parliamentary and bye—elections, but we were fortunate that Council Committees normally met during the day-time. Civic life made its demands in many ways: some were more pleasurable than others. There were the annual occasions – of great importance to each Mayor and Mayoress, but often for Nick, an unnecessary interruption caused to the work he was supposed to be doing. These would include such events as Mayor-Making, followed by Mayor’s Sunday when Mayor, council members, officers and wives attended morning worship at the church, whose minister had been chosen by the Mayor to serve as his chaplain for the mayoral year, and in our earlier years here, there would be quite a large parade of uniformed organisations and march past, but this gradually diminished in numbers until it was finally abandoned. There would then be the Mayoress ‘at Home’, again in the earlier years; this was a two-day event, with invited guests on the first afternoon, and the townspeople came on the second. Nick acted as a sort of ‘head waiter’ and Brenda looked after the guests invited to the special table; the Mayor and Mayoress, together with their deputies were of course receiving their guests, standing in front of the customary glorious bank of flowers and plants provided by the Parks Department, behind which, tucked away in the corner and out of sight, two or three musicians would be playing suitable items. There were other ‘at homes’ to be attended, and during the winter there would be the Mayoral Balls, as well as the Armistice Service held at the Cenotaph in the grounds of the Memorial Hospital. There would also be the Darlington Show in South Park, when the official civic party would at least get a chance of seeing, albeit rather swiftly, some of the displays in the tents before they were open to the public. Official openings of schools and factories, and other such occasions all encroached upon time.
But there were privileged times too: seats in the front row of the Circle for concerts and some performance at the Civic theatre, or sometimes at the Baths Hall; accompanying the Mayor and Mayoress to Durham Castle when King Olav of Norway was visiting, and to the Cathedral when a new Bishop was enthroned; two visits to a Buckingham Place Garden Party; a civic visit to Mulheim a d Ruhr, Darlington’s twin town in Germany. Nick also went to Ameins, the French twinned town. The German civic leaders visited Darlington on several occasions and we got to know them well: the visit of HM Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh to mark the Centenary of granting of the charter to the borough, and also when Princess Anne came to open the new town hall in May 1970, one of her early solo engagements. Nick accompanied the Mayor, Cr Alan Brown, to visit the 20th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, at Celle, near Hannover in Germany, the Regiment having an official association with the town. Nick also had an invitation to the Royal Maundy Service when it was held at Durham Cathedral, rather than as more usually in London. These and many other occasions were the memorable ones, but being a political servant/guide/legal adviser among rival parties in the Council Chamber was a stressful occupation, and when the opportunity was given to take early retirement when Local Government was being re-organised in 1974, we decided it would be wise for Nick to do so, and financially practicable. In the event, Nick had a massive coronary thrombosis in September 1973, and his time with the County Borough ended somewhat abruptly!
During his time in office in Darlington, Nick saw many changes. Some of these were of great importance for the town and area. THE biggest upheaval was undoubtedly when the 3 Railway Workshops in the town closed during the 1960s. The townspeople just never believed that the biggest source of employment would ever be removed. Obviously a great many people – workers and their dependants – were to be affected by sudden unemployment. Nick worked extremely hard on-and-with the Council to anticipate this by securing other industrial development for the town, and especially of a kind which could make use of a locally—available specialised workforce. Among the more important firms to move in on the Yarm Road Industrial Estate were Chrysler, Cummins Engine co... Torringtons and Taylor Woodrow. The first 3 were able to absorb some of redundant railway employees, including those from Stephenson and Hawthorns and from Darlington Forge. Near the Yarm Road Estate, on MacMullen Road, was another factory employing large numbers of people, not only from Darlington, but brought in by special buses for shift-work from surrounding places: this was Patons and Baldwins, once reputedly the largest knitting wools factory in Europe. The labour was mostly female, but when, in the early 1980s, it too closed down most of its operations here, the loss again was great.
Like many other towns at this period, the shopping area of the town was to change and there were prolonged and costly discussions on the re-development of the town centre.
Other important changes were occasioned by the building, in stages, of the ring-road, whilst certainly over the past 30 years, the main trunk roads have improved beyond all recognition, as more and more heavy traffic is on the move. Teesside airport became a civil one, enabling businessmen quicker access to London and the Continent. In 1979, the old indoor market, which had stood beneath the council chamber of the old Town Hall since 1863, was re-furbished and re-opened after the stall holders had had to carry on their trade on the open market square one entire winter. One remembers the many colourful characters who were stall holders in our early days in the town.
And what of Godfrey and Derek? Godfrey at the age of 12, possibly attracted as a result of his reading, as well as being familiar with the fact that many of his maternal relatives were either with the Police Service or with the Prison Service, decided that he would like to be a forensic scientist. This seemed ideally suited to one of his temperament, and apparently the Civil Service Board who were to interview him before accepting him for a degree course, thought so too. We had been able to arrange for him to visit the Lab at Newcastle as well as the one at Scotland Yard. His Physics Master at the Grammar school, R S Thompson (affectionately known as Rusty) had taken a special interest in Godfrey’s aims. Godfrey’s ‘O’ level exams coincided with the visit of H M Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother to mark the Quatro-Centenary of the granting of a charter to the Grammar School by 1st Queen Elizabeth. Godfrey and Derek were both presented to H M on the recommendation of her Equerry, and she spoke to Godfrey about his delayed Algebra exam. Subject to getting required grades in his ‘A’ Levels, he gained a scholarship to take a science degree at the Royal Military College of Science at Shrivenham, near Swindon, in Wiltshire. The majority of students were army officers, taking such a degree course, but each year a small number of civilians students were accepted, who would later take up posts in the Civil Service. This was, of course, exactly what Godfrey wanted to do. Chemistry let him down in his ‘A’ levels, but so determined was he to get to Shrivenham, that he attended the College of Tech in Darlington for a year, and re-sat the exam, enabling him to go to Shrivenham, though without benefit of the scholarship. At the end of his first year he won the Lauder Prize, which was similar to the scholarship. During long vacations he had jobs at the Forensic Lab at Newcastle, and at the Road Research Lab at Crowthorne.
After obtaining his degree he had the chance to stay on at R.M.C.S. to do research, and so he spent a further 3 years trying to develop a technique to prove that residual powder deposited on human skin after the firing of a firearm, could be attributed to a particular weapon. Similar associate research was being undertaken at Harwell, and after the three years it was decided that the research should just continue there. Godfrey was told he could submit his research for a Master’s degree, but this he did not bother to do. We felt this was a great pity, but it was his decision. I imagine he did not greatly enjoy the prospect of leaving Shrivenham. This was summer 1973, when he was told there would be no further grant of money for further research at Shrivenham, and he naturally expected to be offered a post within the Civil Service, but the wheels did grind excessively slowly, and he became anxious and started to look at troscopy. And another was teaching. When an opportunity occurred to apply for a post as a Maths master at Kingham Hill School near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds it seemed very suitable and he was the successful applicant. K.H.S. is an independent boarding school with a strong Anglican foundation. Numbers are not larger than 200 – 300, and the criteria is a genuine need for a boarding school education, rather than merely a financial consideration. Many of the pupils are children whose parents may be in the Services, abroad, or perhaps children of ministers of religion serving in a down-town area, and some boys came from broken homes. There is an insistence on Christian commitment by the staff: clearly this appealed to Godfrey, and he has remained committed to the school. The Civil Service opportunity did come after he had accepted K.H.S. and he would go back on his word to them.
When Godfrey first went to Shrivenham in 1967, he was training to be a Methodist local preacher, but also for many years he had been closely associated with the Crusader movement: a bible class aimed at senior boys. He was given an introduction to the leader at Shrivenham, one of the staff. David Hutchinson and his wife, Wendy, ‘adopted Godfrey as their ‘eldest’: they had 4 sons of their own. This was one of life’s important encounters for Godfrey. As was his friendship with a fellow student, Lt Tony Lake to whose eldest son James, Godfrey was to become Godfather.
Nowadays (1987), though still a bachelor, his life is full, with school, football referring, preaching, duties as Circuit Steward, leadership of the Crusaders class at school, and annual participation in the Crusaders Sportsman camp. And for the past two years he has made time to take an active part in researching the family history.
Derek’s story is quite different. At one time he fancied he would like to be a games master, being addicted to most ball games, but certainly far less keen on gymnastics. His passion for balls led to one very nasty accident when he cut nerves, tendons and artery in his right arm, when he slipped on a neighbour’s polished step, having been to retrieve a ball. This would be in the spring of 1965. Another of life’s important encounters was connected. Brenda was at this time a member of the local Marriage Guidance Committee, and they had recently been discussing an application from an Indian lady, a qualified psychiatric social worker and the wife of a doctor at the local hospital. Remembering this during one of the Teacher Training Class meetings (page 6), when the Primary department of the Sunday School were having a series of lessons about other countries, Margaret Winter (the leader of the dept) and I had gone to visit Purnimar Durbar to invite her to come and speak to the children.
She was, of course, a Hindu. She did come, dressed in one of her beautiful Indian silk saris. So began another important friendship, which led us to discover that it was on her husband, Shashi’s first day on duty at the hospital that Derek had been brought in and seen by him, and he remembered it vividly when we became close friends of theirs soon afterwards. Their first child was born whilst they were in Darlington: now he is training as a doctor. Eventually they returned to India and later emigrated to Australia, but we are still bound together by those seemingly chance occurrences which led to friendship.
But back to the Derek story. He took his A-Levels and the same master who had cared about Godfrey’s future education, was also instrumental in getting Derek a place at Bede College at the University of Durham to train as a teacher of History and R.I.. He did well enough at the end of the first year there to be 1 of 4 students given the chance to also study for a B Ed degree. This meant doing 2 years B Ed work in year 1, at the same time as doing his 2nd year normal teacher training course. Being a very gregarious type of person, Derek soon had many friends, including Phillip Evans whose parents were members of North Road Church. Derek and Phillip already knew one another, but became closer friends when they were at college together. Derek quickly involved himself in this new life – playing soccer for the college, performing in the Gilbert and Sullivan shows, being treasurer of the college shop, and playing bridge. He also had a girl friend, Jennifer, who was a member of the group of young folk associated with St George’s Presbytarian church in Darlington at that time. Derek had become part of that group too, accompanying school friends, much as Godfrey had attended Corporation Baptist Church after going to Crusader Bible Class which met on their premises. The 2 boys probably felt a need to be their own selves, rather than for ever regarded as the sons of Brenda and Nick. We understood this. Anyway, Derek was not able to sustain all these interests and cope with the extra study required for the degree course and failed one of the papers, the course therefore being abandoned. I think he realised in later years that this was an opportunity wasted. He enjoyed his teaching practise, and when he completed his training he immediately obtained a post at Staindrop Comprehensive School where he has remained; absolutely suited to the job. Jennifer also went, later, to St Hilda’s College at Durham to train as a Geography teacher and they married before she completed her training. Sadly the marriage did not survive when pressures came and they agreed to separate and were eventually divorced. It was a miserable period for all concerned, till he met Pauline and married her a year later – a happy outcome. Derek did start an Open University course, and was doing quite well, but decided not to continue; he had a lot on his mind in those days, but it was a pity.
Ball games were still part of his life. After school and college, he played soccer for Darlington Grammar School Old Boys, for Wolsingham Steelworks and for Shildon United, but after several injuries and when cartilage problems threatened, he decided the time had come to stop playing soccer and continue only with cricket and an occasional round of golf in holiday times. There was still the interest in school Gilbert and Sullivan productions – sometimes producing as well as taking the lead. He also took the part of Dr Barnado in a school production of ‘Carrots’, the story of Barnado’s work among the homeless children he had discovered in London.
Nick recovered from his heart attack and on the advice of the consultant to do some work of a similar nature , he joined a large Darlington firm of solicitors Latimer, Hicks, Marsham and Little, working mornings only, mostly as a sort of back-room ‘boy’, with the special value of his years of experience with such matters as local authority planning.
In 1968 we had moved house again, this time to a village 6 miles to the west named Piercebridge, once an important Roman settlement. Our home had been converted from some single storey cottage and the blacksmith’s forge. It had, of course, been named ‘Smithy Cottage’. Years later, after starting researching family history, we were to discover earlier Nicholsons had been blacksmiths at a village near Leeds. (see Chapter III). That former smithy had been converted, together with the house and an adjoining barn, into a splendid mansion. Smithy Cottage was a lovely home, but it did not have the gardens, back and front, which had originally belonged to the earlier properties, and it became a worry mainly because of health.
2002 Derek and Godfrey and their families
In 1967 Brenda had become involved with the foundation of a branch of the Samaritans in Darlington, becoming the Director in 1968, and Regional Representative of the National Executive later. The total pressure took its toll and probably aggravated her anxiety about the responsibility of the upkeep of Smithy Cottage. Having stayed at a friend’s cottage at Muker in Swaledale, we decided to look for someone of our own, having – like so many other Darlington folk, who though technically live in Teesdale, always mean Swaledale when they speak of ‘the Dale’ – loved it and visited it often since Bob and Pauline Crockcroft had introduced us to the area in 1955. We soon found Sunnybrae East at Healaugh, a small community 1 mile west of Reeth, the main village of Swaledale. We took possession in July 1977, moving a few months later to a modern house in Richmond, till we made up our minds on the feasibility of living full-time in the dale. 3 years later we decided to do so, and sold both properties and bought Hallgarth in Healaugh – moving in on Christmas Eve 1980. For a time Nick continued to travel daily to his work in Darlington (25 miles away), but after 2 hernia operations, the second followed immediately by radium treatment on an eye-lid, he decided to retire completely. So far neither of us has had any regrets about this decision or the move to the dale. The sense of community and the time to really be aware of the changing seasons is a constant wonder and would have greatly been enjoyed by Grandad Jacob, who died before he was able to come and live with us as he had decided had become necessary.
Before closing this chapter, I should perhaps mention our Shetland sheep-dog, Floss, who joined the family as a puppy aged about 11 weeks, when we were living at Piercebridge. She always thoroughly appreciated the dale. During our family history searches, we have learned that Nick’s maternal grandparents also had a dog called Floss.
Being some of the stories of the Nicholson and Carrolls at Barnsley, second half of the nineteenth century.
The first mention we know of ‘our’ Nicholson being in Barnsley was when in 1860 we find a reference to James Nicholson, a railway porter, address Barnsley Arcade. The following year, at the census, he and his family are shown as living at 5 Court 1 ,Market Hill, Barnsley, that is, in the centre of town, not far from the Parish Church. James was the son of Thomas, who like his father John before him, was the blacksmith at Cookridge near Leeds (see page 10 of Chapter I, and Chapter III). James Nicholson had been baptized at Cookridge on 3rd May 1829, and when he was 9 years of age his father died of consumption, leaving a widow Eliza and five children. Within 3 years of his father’s death, his mother moved with her young family, to Town Street Horsforth, James being the oldest son. There he met Sarah Cockcroft and on 29th November 1853 they were married at the parish church of Guiseley – James was described as a tradesman – Sarah was the eldest daughter john Cockcroft, a silk spinner, and Hannah (nee Dawson); they were originally from Todmorden.
Two years before his marriage, James, aged 22, was described as a ginger-beer maker, his mother by this time having established herself as a confectioner. James and Sarah’s first child, Thomas, was born in 1854, John William on 26th April 1855, with a third son Charles A being born in the following year. Maybe it was because of his increasing responsibilities that James sought a more permanent job, and thus came to Barnsley as a railway porter. By 1861, James and Sarah had four sons aged 1 to 7, and also living with them was Sarah’s 16 year old sister Hannay. During the next ten years another son and three daughters were born, and it was probably a good thing for the family budget that James had been promoted to Railway Goods Inspector, working at the Jumble Lane Station in Barnsley, and the family having moved to No 2 Harbro’ Terrace, no great distance, but probably a slightly more salubrious area and nearest to his work.
We do not know what happened to son Thomas, but in 1871 John William (who had won a scholarship to the Grammar School – See Chapter I) is in employment as a bookkeeper and timber merchant’s clerk – a job of some responsibility for a 16 year old and one in which he was to remain. Charles A, aged 14, was a chemist’s errand boy. A year later, on 27th June 1872, their father James died, leaving Sarah with five children under the age of twelve, the youngest Polly being only a babe of 18 months. The family were later to disperse, only John William remaining in Barnsley; Edwin joined the Army, and family legend tells of his serving with Roberts ‘from Kabul to Kandahar’. Annie married someone called Fenoughty and moved away to the Skipton area. Their son Jerry played in at least one ruby match against a Barnsley side which included his cousin Ernest Carroll Nicholson – probably about 1920. Polly married Edward Hollis, a policeman, and at one time they were living in Oldham.
John William, born 26 April 1855, the timber merchant’s clerk, was to marry on 24 December 1877, at the Methodist New Connexion Chapel (‘Ebenezer’), Elizabeth Carroll, three years his junior. She was the fifth child and fourth daughter of Patrick Carroll and Elizabeth (nee Stansfield). Patrick was truly a man of many parts – each time we find a reference to him he seems to be employed differently; sometimes he’s a linen hand loom weaver, other times he’s a labourer. He was the son of Peter and Martha Carroll, Irish immigrant linen weavers. Patrick was born in Barnsley in 1824, which suggests that his parents were probably driven by the harsh conditions in Ireland to move to the thriving linen mills in Barnsley. According to Goodchild’s ‘Golden Threads’: The Barnsley Linen Industry in the 18th & 19th centuries’, Barnsley was one of the principal centres of linen weaving in this period. As late as 1922 there were said to be 2000 power looms in the area. In 1790 there were seven manufacturers with a total of 500 looms; by 1937 there were thirty-three manufacturers with some 4000 looms. The first skilled workmen had been brought across from the Pennines, but it was in the second decade of the 19th century, from the period of distress in the Irish Linen Trade, that considerable numbers of Irish immigrants settled in Barnsley. Little is known of the hand-weavers themselves, but the distinctive stone cottages in which they lived became part of the character of the town. But their standard of live can only have been poor, living as they did in the poor weavers’ houses in Rodney Row and the Courts off Thomas Street. In 1871 Census, Elizabeth, aged 13, is described as a flax-maker – whatever that meant. So she is about 19 when she marries John William Nicholson – quite young enough to bear their 10 children. The family lived in Lancaster Street, moved to Doncaster Road, and later, back to another house in Lancaster Street. Their fourth son, John Leonard N, was born at 35 Lancaster Street, a house lived in some 70 or so years later, by Sheldon Nicholson, son of Frank, and his family.
It seems fairly clear that John William Nicholson encouraged his sons to be diligent in their studies. As mentioned in Chapter I, page 1, he himself had won a scholarship to the local grammar school and so did 3 of his sons: Arthur, Sidney and Frank. John William died on 8th March 1906 so would have lived long enough to see his oldest son, Arthur, established as a school teacher. He taught at Kettering. He is remembered as being very handsome, and very extrovert – full of fun and a very popular uncle. He was a fine athlete, 440 yards being his speciality, and he founded the Kettering Harriers. In true Nicholson tradition, he also played Rugby and Cricket. It was ever a family mystery that he married Laura Gertrude Foster who was said to have only 2 speeds, dead slow and stop. They did not have any family.
The 2nd son Edwin Stansfield Nicholson, was an insurance agent. He was so like his brother John Leonard, that they could be mistaken for one another, as they were on one occasion in London, by A V Alexander, for whom Edwin acted as election agent, when he was MP for one of the Sheffield Districts (later first Lord of the Admiralty and then Lord Alexander of Hillsborough). Edwin and his wife Florence, lived in Sheffield, where he became an alderman of the city council. They had 2 sons and 2 daughters, so John William may have known one or two of these.
Perhaps it was as well that he did not survive to know that his son Sidney was killed in the 1st world war. In June 1916 he had written a letter to his brother John Leonard, in which he says ‘I am pleased to say that both Ernie and I are in the pink. We have just come out of the trenches after a 7 day spell, my first experience by the way. I was rather pleasantly surprised at the conditions. Things were not nearly so bad as I had expected. When you come to think of it, it is a wonderful organisation that can deliver letters from England right up to the firing line in 3 days. Your letter was actually handed to me as I was sitting on the fire step in a front line trench within 150 yards of the German front line’.
Sidney and his youngest brother Ernest Carroll, had served together in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, having originally joined up when Lord Feversham raised a unite of the East Yorkshire Yeomanry at Helmsley in North Yorkshire. Four months after that letter was received from Sidney, Elizabeth was to receive a letter from Ernest; trying to offer comfort to her after Sidney had been killed. He was a section commander and was leading his men when he was shot through the head and killed instantaneously (on the Saturday before the date of the letter which is 12th Oct 1916). Ernest had been kept back at Transport Line with the reserve men, so was not with his brother.
Elizabeth would have liked, I am sure, to share her pride in her youngest son, with his father. Ernest Carroll Nicholson was awarded the MC and the citation, printed in the London gazette on 15th October 1918, reads as follows:
‘A 2nd Lt Ernest Carroll Nicholson, attached East Yorkshire Regiment. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty while leading his platoon in an advance. He successfully rushed enemy posts, capturing prisoners and two machine guns, eventually gaining the final objective and consolidating. He maintained touch with the unit on his left, crossing and re-crossing ground swept by intensive machine-gun fire, and reported clearly all developments to his company commander. His fearlessness and resource were beyond praise.’
The qualities shown under the stress of trench warfare in France, were those same qualities which would lead to his quick promotion to a manager with the Yorkshire (Penny) Bank. As a result of promotion, he and his wife, Glady Irene (nee Knee) – more affectionately known as Rene, with their son Philip and daughter Margaret, moved away from Barnsley to live at Beverley, in the old East Riding, in about 1930, and there their son Michael was born (More of them in Chapter III).
Ernest and his family were so happy in Berverley, that further promotion was always refused, and in 1987, as attractive nonagenarians, they are still there, respected members of the community and of their church, Toll Gavel Methodist Church, and certainly staunch users of the Public Library Service. They have greatly appreciated the music available. 1991 Godfrey thought to enquire of Uncle Ernest about S’s occupation as a result of the existence of the very fine Minster.
Philip and Margaret were children in Barnsley, living at No 1, Mount Street, quite close to Uncle John Leonard and his family, who lived at 27, Park Street. The cousins were used to playing together and also with another cousin of Philip and Margaret - Arthur Knee. Of course, they all met together at Ebenezer, the Chapel attended by the Nicholson and the Knee (Rene’s) families. Particulars of Philip and Margaret, and their youngest brother Michael, will be told in Chapter III.
The eldest daughter of John and Elizabeth, Emily (1883-1967) worked as a shop assistant, for Haigh Bros, Eldon Street, newsagents, after leaving elementary school and before marrying Walter Percival Morris, the son of another Barnsley newsagent. He joined the staff of ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper, becoming a highly successful on the technical side: when the Queen Mary was launched in Glasgow in the mid 1930s, he had special editions of the paper on sale in Edinburgh, with photographs, half an hour after the launch. He pioneered both photography by wire and tele-typesetting. Sadly, whilst living ‘north of the border’, he became addicted to Scotch whisky, and Emily had a hard life and their children a rather unkind father. Emily’s youngest brother Ernest, believes (1987) that they went to Manchester and to Bredbury, Cheshire, before moving to Scotland. Nick believes (1987) that their son Bernard grew up in Edinburgh, but joined the staff of ‘The Scotsman’ at the Manchester office. He also has recollection that he played rugby for Bowden, Cheshire. Whether there is some conflict of dates, or whether son did follow in father’s footsteps, it is difficult to be certain. What is more certain, once the Morris family moved to Edinburgh, meeting were far less frequent. Eventually there came a time when her sister Laura, was to go and live with Emily, after Percy died. Emily died and was cremated in Edinburgh in 1967. More particulars of their children will appear in chapter III.
William James Nicholson, ‘Bill’ – and after his marriage ‘Your Willie’, originally to distinguish him from, his wife’s brother, but the name was, in true Nicholson fashion, taken up by other members of the family. He married Emily Wharam. He became a joiner, running his own business until he suffered severe injuries to a leg when he was blown off a ladder during the war (about 1942). He was a very keen Union man. After leaving the Union’s hospital/convalescent home at Manor Park in London, being no longer physically fit enough to carry on in his business, he was employed in the Civil Defence Control Room in Barnsley, till it was wound up, and then he became head porter at the St Helen’s Hospital in the town.
He too was a member of the Ebenezer choir, singing bass. Towards the end of their lives, Bill and Emily moved to St Anne’s to be near their daughter Mary, and their son Arthur Pat, who was in fact the first grandchild for John William and Elizabeth. The children (2 sons and 1 daughter) grew up in a house in Rockingham Street, Barnsley, and Arthur Pat went to work in the Public Assistance Office in Barnsley. More in Chaper III.
John Leonard Nicholson – Len/Leonard to the family, and ‘J. L.’ to many others - was born 19th December 1885, died 19 December 1967. He had extremely poor eye-sight, but it did not prevent a life-long addiction to print, and though he did not have a grammar-school speaking voice, he became a well-known and well-respected person in Barnsley, where he lived for the whole of his life. He too was a rugby player, first for Darnall, a Sheffield team, before a he became a founder member of the Barnsley club. He was, of course, also a cricketer and played for many years in local leagues. Like his brothers, he was a member of the Ebenezer choir, singing tenor, and during his life he held many offices in Church and Circuit, serving for 25 years as Circuit Steward.
His first job was a clerk to the Assistant Overseer (of the poor). Here he developed an expertise in valuation of property for rating purposes, and in accountancy which led, in 1929, to his appointment as Rating Surveyor and Borough Collector. When J L started work, various departments of the Council, including the Overseer’s, were housed in the old Manor house, a lovely old building according to brother Ernest, and most folk were sad when it was replaced by the new Town Hall building. He retired in December 1950, which nicely coincided with the coming into effect of the local Government Act 1948, which passed the assessment of property for rating purposes from the local authority to a Government Officer, the District Valuer.
In January 1914, he married Louise Mattie Lipscomb, whom he had met during the 2 years she had served as a Deaconess of the United Methodist Church on the Barnsley Circuit a year or two previously. We do no know why they married at the Baptist Church in Wimbledon, where her parents lived, except that she seems to have had some links with the Minister, and maybe a fellowship group, prior to her Deaconess training. She was the second daughter of William Charles Lipscomb and Isabella, nee O’Farrell (see Chapter V). Her father had been a ship’s steward, but by the time of her marriage he was employed at the local railway depot. Louie, as she was sometimes called (thought sister Margaret as a Deaconess), had worked as a cashier in an ABC cafe in the centre of London, but in 1907 she trained, in London, as a deaconess.
J L and his wife had two children: Rosemary, born 5 January 1915, and Charles Nowel Sidney, born on Christmas Day 1920 (see Chapter 1). As a young child, Rosemary contracted Rheumatic Fever which adversely affected her heart – part of the reason for her being sent away to a boarding school in Devon for a short time, though also on health grounds, she transferred to a private school at Malton in the North Riding. She also contracted typhoid fever, but despite this she elected to train as a nurse at Leeds Infirmary followed by a midwifery course at Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London. She held various posts in different places, until at the end of 1946, she returned to live with her parents and took up a post at the local girls’ high school as ‘matron’, with a little teaching in subjects such as Hygiene and those related to a pre-nursing course. In 1961 she had an open-heart operation which improved the quality of life for her and she lived until 13 February 1976. After her mother died in 1962, she began to consider moving from the large detached house ‘Stonegateway’, to which the family had moved from 27 Park Street at the outbreak of WWII. Eventually she and her father moved into a bungalow at 85, Huddersfield Road, almost opposite the high school. With tremendous support and practical help from a daily housekeeper, who was almost part of the family, Barbara Findlow, she continued to live there after the death of her father who died on his 82nd birthday, when in hospital following a fall, in which he had broken a hip. Barbara had helped at Stonegateway, after becoming a widow, so had been linked for a long period when she arrived one morning, and found Rosemary dead in bed, in true Nicholson fashion she had obviously been reading the morning paper.
After Rosemary’s death, the only descendants of John William and Elizabeth still living in Barnsley are Sheldon Nicholson (see page 2) and Betty, and 2 of their 3 sons; one other son, Martin being married, and he and his wife Kathy and their children also live in town. Hilda Taylor, who was the fiancée of Sidney (page2), also lived in the town, and was always treated as though she was a part of the family.
Elizabeth, known as Cissie, born 1888 and died 1918. According to her youngest brother Ernest, writing in 1987, she was a small person. Her nephew believes she may have been red-haired. She just had an elementary school education, did not marry, and during WW1 was employed as a wages clerk at Taylor’s linen factory in Barnsley. Perhaps she was also rather frail, for she died of influenza in 1918 and is buried in the family grave at Barnsley Cemetery. Ernest says she was dark, also left handed. Sidney – as already stated on page 2.
Frank Cockcroft Nicholson, 1891-1972, named from his grandmother’s maiden name. He attended the grammar school and served in the Army during WWI, but did not join his brothers Sidney and Ernest. He was a clerk in the Bobbin Mills in the town till they closed in the 1950s, when he went to work for the National Coal Board until his retirement. He married Alice Evelyn Wood and they had the one child Frank Sheldon born in the mid 1920s. Alice was a very soft-hearted soul and living with them they had a deaf brother, Stan, and later her orphaned niece Doris Wood. They lived at 5 Lancaster Street which had been the home of Frank’s mother and sister Laura, then in a council house at 149 Racecommon Road, before finally moving to 55 St George’s Road, where they were to be joined by Laura after she had worn out her welcome at Edinburgh, at her sister Emily’s. She stayed on with Alice, even after her brother Frank had died.
Laura, 1893-1977, worked as a seamstress for the Barnsley Co-Op. She never married and lived with her mother until the old lady died. She wanted to be ‘the favourite aunt’ and so was usually available as a baby-sitter (though the expression was not in use in those days). Unfortunately she had the habit of attaching herself with bonds of friendship on a basis of ‘exclusive best friend’ until a furious row would leave her bereft of company. Thus, after the death of her brother-in-law Percy, in Edinburgh, she visited sister Emily, convinced herself that Emily needed her, and lived with her in Edinburgh until Emily had had enough, whereupon she moved in with brother Frank and his wife Alice back in Barnsley. Here she remained until she was transferred to Mount Vernon Hospital in the town, and died there, senile.
The story of other Nicholson in other places – Adel to United States via Scandinavia.
As mentioned at the beginning of Chapter II, we traced the family back from Barnsley to Horsforth, and then to Cockridge (both near Leeds) and the Parish of Adel-cum-Eccup.
We can be certain of Thomas Nicholson, 5th son and 6th child out of 12 born to John and Hannah Nicholson, John being the village blacksmith. There seem to have been many blacksmiths thereabouts at that period, second half of the 18th century – not the heavily industrialised and built-up an area as it is today. Confusingly for us, there were also several John Nicholsons in the locality, which makes it very difficult to trace an earlier line. There were several Nicholsons employed as blacksmiths and one of them is likely to have been the ancestor.
Thomas was baptised on 29th July 1901 and on 20th December 1824 he married Eliza Cordingley. We have been unable to find her in parish records up to 1987. Thomas was also a blacksmith, as were at least two of his brothers, James at Adel, and John who was to succeed Thomas after his death on 18th December 1838 from consumption.
The Census of 1811 showed that 33 of the 38 households were involved in farming. In the 18th century it had been usual for people to tackle various jobs, and both the smith and the carpenter would farm their own land, as did the majority. From a record in the West Riding Registry of Deeds at Wakefield, we know that John Nicholson, once was the occupier of ‘all that messuage or tenement with the appurtenances and one barn to the same belonging and of all that 4 several closes of arable meadow or pasture ground and of 40 acres of wood and woody ground’.
From Don Coles’s booklets on the History of Cookridge, we learned that the smiths were also the pinders, after the turnpike trustees ordered the construction of a Pound. The Pound, or Pinfold, where strays were kept, was at the end of Pinfold Lane, almost opposite the smithy. The pinder would levy a small fine before beasts were returned to their owners. The road passing through Cookridge Lane became increasingly important and the Turnpike Trust had been established in 1753. The Cookridge blacksmith, and joiner, were employed by the trust and were paid each year for work done in the township.
It is known that John Wesley rode that way and it would be nice to know whether he ever needed to avail himself of the services of the Cookridge blacksmith.
When Thomes died in 1838, his younger brother John became the smith. He was married but had just one daughter Hannah, who married a local farmer, William Fell, so when John gave up, the smithy closed down and people had to use the one at Adel.
Again from Don Coles’ booklet ‘ Just an Ordinary Life’ – memories of Adel and Cookridge 1889-1936, told by Harry Mawson to the author’, there is the tale told by his father of ‘the gent (ie Patrick O’Callaghan, a retired military medical officer) living at Cookridge Hall, who brought pugilists up from London to fight the blacksmith, John Nicholson, - bare knuckles in those days. The smith used to knock ‘hell’ out of ‘em!
Living with their widowed mother Eliza at Town Street, Horsforth, in 1851, she having established herself as a confectioner, were – in addition to James (see Chapter II) her sons William, aged 18, described as a cloth maker, and John, aged 15, ‘working in the dye-house as a crabbie’. We were intrigued to know exactly what a crabbie did. He was probably employed at the Sire Vale Dye Works, a large building at Newlay, and about a mile from his home. The OOED describes the process of crabbing thus: an important operation. Before stuffs can be dyed, all dirt, grease and the dressing used by the weavers must be thoroughly removed. The pieces are generally first passed through hot water. They are next treated with hot lyes of soap, bi-carb of soda, liquid ammonia. (W Crooks, 1874). In 1892, Prof Hummel, in a letter, wrote that crabbing is the operation of passing a thin woollen or union fabric in a state of tension, and with open width, through boiling water, and at once wrapping it on a roller, where it is subjected to considerable pressure. The primary object of crabbing is to prevent wrinkling of the cloth, due to contraction. A secondary object is to give the cloth a particular finish, so that the operation is now frequently used for all-wool and all- cotton cloth.
At the next census, in 1861, it appears that all the children have left home – we know that ‘our’ James had married Sarah Cockcroft in 1853 – but Eliza, now aged 60, still describes herself as a confectioner, and with her at an unspecified address, but probably no longer at Town Street (maybe she had moved to somewhere smaller now she had not to provide accommodation for her children?), but seemingly a house situated between the King’s Arms Inn and the Alma Inn, - I doubt she was baking for ‘Bar Snacks’ in those days! – was her 87 year old father William, who was also said to have been born at Bramley, as was Eliza. He was a widower. He died in 1861 (88). E had been a druggist/chemist in Horsforth, certainly since 1822. Eliza still in business at Chapel Green till 1872.
From Yorkshire to Lanacashire, as well as to some other places.
Arthur Pat(rick) – see Chapter II, page 3. He was brought up in Rockingham Street, Barnsley where the family lived in 1 of 3 terraced, though isolated, houses. The other two were occupied by Wharams, his mother’s relatives, and at one time A P, though his surname was also Wharam. He started work in the Public Assistance Office, until the National Assistance Act 1948 came into effect, when he was transferred to Edinburgh, and subsequently to Blackpool, living at St Anne’s. He was a Rugby player, playing for Barnsley and became a referee in his early 30s, progressing to officiate in matches between leading clubs in the north of England. And – true to tradition – he also sang in Ebenezer choir (bass). During the war he served in the Royal Navy, spending some time out in Australia. His wife was Hannah Briggs – a soprano in the church choir. Their children were all born whilst the family still lived in Barnsley.
1 Daphne who married Derek, they had 2 adopted children – a boy and a girl (both married in 1987), and then a natural child, Christine, who in 1987 is studying languages at Stirling University, having already spent a year in Brussels.
2 John Keith – went to Leeds University. Another Rugby player. Son Andrew 22, Diane 19 at Brighton College (see also daughter of Michael page 4). Andrew works in London.
3 Joan – married with 3 children, 1987: Girl 19, Patrick 15, Steven 8 – still living in Edinburgh.
John William (Jack) was apprenticed to his father as a joiner and became a highly skilled man. During the war he was employed by the Ministry of Works. Subsequently he became an instructor. In 1987, he and his wife Winnie, are living in Scarborough, near their daughter Jean, who married Stanley Hawcroft. Her eldest daughter lives in Sheffield in 1987, but is moving south with her husband who has been transferred to London. Jean’s other daughter now also has a daughter, but until the birth of this child, she worked for Radio York on the weather and travel news. A son Nicholas is at Nottingham University. Diana had aother son who died in infancy. He was Patrick Carroll Nicholson. A third son David lives in the home counties area with family. All this information was gleaned from a letter to Ernest and Rene Nicholson early in 1987 from Mary, the sister of A P and Jack, and written only a week or two before she died. She left Barnsley after the war, and moved to St Anne’s, where she ran a boarding house, and later married Bob Dennison. She was a widow when she died, and living with her as a companion was Muriel, one of the Wharams.
Others who crossed the Border into Scotland, though not Nicholsons by name, were those mentioned in Chapter 2, page 3, children of Emily and Percy Morris.
There were 3 sons and 1 daughter, but this family seemed beset by tragedy. John Leonard Percival, named after a favourite brother of his mother, was more usually known as Lenny. Nick remembers him as an extremely nice person, over six feet tall, and big too, but gentle in speech and manner. He protected his brother, and his sudden death in 1937 must have been quite a shock. He had not married. Barbara was reading English at Edinburgh University when she too died, unmarried, in the early 1930s. Her mother kept Barbara’s room as a sort of ‘shrine’, so obviously her grief must have been intense – and then to lose a son so soon afterwards.
Frank George (or was it Geoffrey?), like each of his brothers, also worked on ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper, eventually becoming night editor in London. He also reported on the activities of the London Scottish Rugby Club, and in 1978 published a history of the club for its centenary, presenting a copy of the book to his uncle Ernest. Frank was a diabetic, but lived a full life; he died early in 1986. He was married twice. A son, Dominic, works in the Cabinet Office. Frank and his second wife, Ruth, lived for many years near Sandy in Bedfordshire.
George Edmund Bernard was another 6-footer, working on ‘The Scotsman’ in the Manchester office, and also playing Rugby for one of the Cheshire sides, possibly Bowden. He too died young, being killed in a motor vehicle accident abroad (Middle East or India?) in 1943 whilst serving in H M Forces. Emily seems to have had a life filled with sadness.
Sadly we seem unable to find out anything about this branch of the family other than what was mentioned in Chapter II on page 2. Nick seems to recall that a son Cedric was wounded and lost a leg during WWII.
From Beverley to Cambridge, Manchester, London, America, Scandinavia, Canada and even back to Cambridge.
The family of Ernest and Rene Nicholson (Chapter II, pp 2-3), once they left Yorkshire, ‘B&B’, Barnsley and Beverley, really did not get far afield. Their 2 sons each went to Cambridge, and their daughter now lives thereabouts (1987). Manchester has cropped up once or twice.
Let’s begin with John Philip, who was born 12th June 1922. He was unable to enjoy many of the normal pursuits of small boys, suffering as he did from Asthma, but his learning ability was far from suffering. After attending the local grammar school, he went to St Catherine’s College at Cambridge to read Physics. His studies were curtailed owing to the War, but he was awarded his degree, and then was drafted to special work, after 2 years of which he was appointed physicist at the Westminster Hospital in London, where he has remained. Ever keen to study and become better qualified – he has a B.Sc. and Ph.D. from London University, he later also qualified as a doctor of medicine. His appointment nowadays is as Consultant Medical Physicist, as well as being the Chief Physicist to the whole hospital group, till he is due to retire in June 1987. He and his wife Dolores live at Harpenden in Hertfordshire. They have 2 sons: Stephen, who is Controller of Transport for the county of Cornwall. He also has a BSc, like Geoffrey, and another thing they have in common has been their link to the Crusaders, as well as both being Methodist Local Preachers. Stephen is very involved also with a Christian youth choir, known as ‘The Praisemakers’. Martin qualified in, and now lectures on, Food Science at an Agricultural College near Bridgewater, in Somerset. Both sons are married and each has 2 children.
Philip is a very competent organist, having been permitted to play at Beverley Minster, as well as playing the organ in the hospital chapel quite regularly, as he did when a special service for Hospital Sunday was broadcast from the Westminster Hospital in the early 1980s.
His sister Margaret Carroll was born 19th October 1925. Her
schooling was entirely at Beverley. From 1943-46 she was a student at Goldsmith’s
College (London) though in fact she was evacuated to Nottingham for the whole
period. She obtained her Teacher’s Certificate in 1945, but also took
a B.A. General Degree the following year, in English, History and French. She
held posts in York, Whitchurch (Hants), and in Beverley, before marrying 6 days
before her 26th birthday, Thomas George Brierley, a qualified civil engineer,
also employed in local government. She returned to teaching in 1962 and continued
until 1985. She and Tom and their 2 children, being employed by local authorities,
like her cousin C.N.S. (Chapter 1) and had to move around the country, and they
have lived at Cottenham outside Cambridge; she and Tom are both now retired,
and their children married. Tom was Deputy County Surveyor of the county when
he retired in the 1980s. Their son John is another with a BSc – in Maths
– from Manchester University – where his maternal Uncle has held
appointments (see later). He originally was also working in local government,
but now has a managerial position with the British Gas Pensions Fund. His wife
Gillian developed Multiple Sclerosis shortly after they were married in October
1978, but in March 1986, she successfully gave birth to a son, Thomas.
Daughter Catherine, also a scientist: She qualified in zoology at Manchester University (definitely no nepotism). In 1985 she took a further qualification and became a State Registered Chiropodist, and is employed by the Camberwell Health Authority. She is married to Peter Eaton, who comes from the Isle of Anglesey.
Michael Beverley was born on New Year’s Eve 1933. After leaving the grammar school, he too went to Cambridge, to Trinity College, where he stayed for 5 years, reading Economics and obtaining a PhD in 1963, gaining 1sts in both parts Economic Tripos (1954 and 1956) and being awarded a prize, the Wrenbury.
Michael describes himself as a writer and lecturer in political science, with a special interest in conflict analysis. One book on this subject, which he published in 1971, has been translated into German and Spanish. He has held various appointments overseas – in Massachusetts 1960-1, Pittsburgh 1961-4, before becoming Director of the Richardson Institute for Conflict and Peace Research in London from 1970 to 1978, and in Lancaster 1978-82. One wonders what the pugilistic John Nicholson (page 1) would have thought of his descendant’s interests!
Michael has held visiting professorships at the University of Texas, at Carleton University in Ottawa and at Yale. In addition he had visiting Fellowships in Holland and again at Manchester, where he had been Assistant Lecturer 1958-1960, 1984-1985. About 1964 he had an appointment in Stockholm. A much travelled Nicholson.
Michael is married to Christine (nee Love), herself a lecturer in English in London. They have 3 children, all born abroad: Jane born in Pittsburgh in 1961; Paul, also in Pittsburgh in 1963, and Caroline born in Sweden in 1964. In 1987 Jane is teaching at the Berlitz School in Paris, whilst her sister is in her final year at Brighton Polytechnic where she is reading English and Russian – not Swedish. Their brother Paul is unfortunately unemployed. The family home base is in Highgate, London. Michael, like his brother, is an able organist, and has also played at the Minster in Beverley. 1987: Member of panel in final to select a Nobel prize-winner.
Auntie Rene says she loves Philip the best because he was the first child, Margaret the best because she’s their only daughter and Michael the best because he is the youngest.
Ernest and Rene Nicholson could be justifiably proud of their descendants when all were assembled for the gatherings to celebrate their Diamond Wedding and the two 90th birthdays.
Those who are still in Barnsley:
Frank Sheldon, son of Frank Cockcroft and Alice (Chapter II, page 4). His only time away from Barnsley was during WWII, when he served in the Royal Navy. He is married to Betty, and they live at 35, Lancaster Street in the town (see Chapter II, page 2). Sheldon has been employed as a salesman, but retired early on the grounds of ill-health. This has provided more time for ‘playing’ with his railway lay-out, occupying too much of a bedroom and landing of their small terraced house. It is fully operational model of Fort William station and is worked to an accurate timetable, Sheldon’s only interest being in the actual arrivals and departures of the trains. Betty also seems to cling to childhood things with her array of valuable china dolls, seated in solemn splendour in their sitting room, wearing their frequently laundered, elaborate, period dresses. I wonder what their 3 sons thought of their parents’ hobbies? Martin works for the post office. He has a very nice wife, Kathy, who was a marvellous support during a period of great hardship for them after Martin was knocked down by a drunken driver on his way to work one New Year’s Eve, and when Kathy was expecting their 4th child.
Sheldon and Betty have 2 other sons: Gregory and Nigel. Though Sheldon was brought up a Methodist, attending Ebenezer Church, he and his family have become Catholics. We do not know whether the Irish great great-grandparents the Carrolls were Catholics: if so, maybe it is a throw-back. I doubt we’ll ever know about the Carrolls, and it is all futile speculation anyway: would just make a nice story!
Chapter 4 to follow at a later date.
The call of the sea: The O'Farrell and Lipscomb seafarers and their families - with a cautionary note of warning about anything one reads!
It may have been as a result of poor living conditions or unemployment in Sligo, on the north-west coast of Ireland, or merely an adventuring nature which led Henry O'Farrell to a seafaring life. We are not at all sure of his origins, but the Sligo is probably correct, born out by crew lists as well as his statement when he married. We are less sure of his statement at marriage (1838) that his father was George, captain in the Sligo militia. Two of us have separately checked the Pay Rolls of the Sligo militia held at Kew, and admittedly Brenda's were for the period 1811-1822, there were O'Farrells, but not a George, and no officers. Nor could Geoffrey find any. Professional researchers in Dublin have also been unable to find any references to Henry's birth or to that of George. However, in the autumn of 1986, when we enquired for the plot number of Henry's grave in the cemetery at Southampton, we were intrigued to learn that there was a Mary Wilson, aged 83 in that grave. We obtained a copy of her death certificate which told us little other than she was the widow of a seaman on a steam vessel, he named George. The gravestone told us more: Mary Wildon, and her son Henry O'Farrell etc. We are trying to establish facts, but it does not look as though it is going to be simple.
We DO have some copies of Crew Liasts held at Kew. The vessel was called the Atalanta and sailed between Southampton and the Channel Islands, Henry being aboard as Steward. These are dated 1841-1843, but we also have a note from the Register of Seamen 1835-1844 (Catalogue No BT112-51, Kew); there is an entry No 364, O'Farrell, Henry, June 1838, the port code no referring to Southampton. There were no O'Farrells for the same period in BT 119,28.
It seems likely that his future wife was employed at one of the premises in Orchard Lane, an area near the docks, for that was her address at the time of marriage. She was Elizabeth, known as Betsy Penford, the daughter of George, a labourer, and his wife Frances (nee Philiips) who were then living at Marchwood on the south west outskirts of Southampton. Though there is a very fine Parish church at Marchwood, Henry and Betsy married in the parish of St Michael, Southampton on 17th June 1838. This, and the baptism of all their children in Anglican churches, suggests that even if Henry came from a Roman Catholic family, it was of no great importance to him. Betsy's experience as a servant was perhaps what led them, after 9 years of marriage, 2 homes, and the impending birth of their 5th child, to move to 47 Oxford Street as owners(?) of a Temperance hotel. We have 5 forks bearing the name. Henry seemed to continue as a ship's steward, but for how long we do not know. Their 7th child (3rd son) Alfred, also became a ship's steward, as was their son-in-law, William Charles Lipscomb. Their eldest child Henry, became a mercantile clerk. Alfred marred Selina Blore, and she was probably a Catholic, for all their descendants have all grown up in the faith. Some are still living in Southampton in 1987, and we have traced them and made happy contact. They understood that Alfred had been born in Ireland, but that is definitely incorrect. Another family legend told of Henry being sent with his tutor from Ireland to contest the ownership of Broadlands. Whilst thinking it extremely doubtful, C.N.S. did look quite carefully at the histories of Broadlands held at Southampton library, for anything of such importance would surely have been mentioned. Not a thing, and it just makes a good story. Maybe Henry kissed the Blarney Stone before he left the Emerald Isle!
Henry died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1871 (at a temperance hotel!) when their youngest daughter Matilda would be nearly 15, and her older brothers working. Our particular interest lies in Isabella, the penultimate child, and 2 years older that Matilda. Possibly all the daughters had to help in the hotel work. The only 'employment' we know linked to Isabella is knitting - for romance was supposed to have blossomed between a seaman, another steward, who was staying at the hotel, when he offered to hold her wool for her when she was winding it. He was William Charles Lipscomb.
The sea lost some of its appeal as Alfred's family, though continuing to live in Southampton, were in trade, though one of his grand-daughters, Kathleen, daughter of Sydney Francis Philip O'Farrel, works with her husband Chris. Frogley in a business which handles the very scientific task of handling and loading cargo at the port of Southampton. Others have been involved in the commercial life of the city, and one whom we met, Terry, is a teacher, as is his wife, in a Roman Catholic Secondary school there.
With William Charles Lipscomb we have another 'mystery' and as yet unsubstantiated information. We believe that he may have been the only child of William Thomas Lipscomb and Hannah (nee Hickmott) who married on 29th August 1855 at St Leonard church, Shoreditch (a very fashionable church for weddings at one time, and connected with many well-known theatrical folk). They were both said to be 21. He was described as a 'globe maker' and she a dress maker. Neither addresses seemed to be parental ones. William Charles was born 31th December 1854, and when Hannah notified the birth, she alleged that William Thomas was now a sergeant in the East India Company. We have been unable to find his name among those recruited at that time in London, and it seems unlikely that he would join up elsewhere. Maybe he did not enjoy the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. A grand-daughter of William Charles, who grew up 'round the corner' from her grand-parents' home in Wimbledon, remembers that there was a half-brother of her grandfather named Thomas Wheeler who lived with them at one time, after a failed marriage to an eccentirc French lady called Louise. (Did the pocket watch now in the possession of C.N.S. Nicholson, handed on by his uncle Albert's widow, and of French origin, come from her?) However, this was a clue to a likely re-marriage of Hannah, and this we found, in 1860, when she described herself as a widow and maried James Thomas Wheeler, a bacheler, gardener, of full age. They married, after Banns, in the parish church of Kennington. When she married Thomas Lipscomb, her father had also been a gardener, but by 1860 he is described as a licensed victualler. We have searched unsuccessfully for the death of William Thomas Lipscomb prior to 1860, and know that he was not among those to receive a Christian burial in India. We have no absolute proof that even if he did join the East India Company he went to India, but the recuitment lists indicated that this was the case, that they sometimes did sail as A/Sergeants and we were told by a member of staff that they normally went for an initial period of 12 years. William Thomas may have been a son of Charles (James?) and Ann Marie, and if so he had other brothers. All were baptized at St Leonard's, Shoreditch.
William Charles Lipscomb married Isabella O'Farrell at Southampton in 1879, and it was there that at least 2 of their 4 children were born, whilst he was still working as a steward. Later he was to be employed by the Southern Railway Company at their depot in Wimbledon, but just when this occurred we do not know, nor where his voyages took him. The 2 daughters definitely born in Southampton were Isabel (Feb 1880) and Louise Mattie (Sept 1881) - had she perhaps been named after the French lady and her mother's younger sister? There was another sister Ethel, and one brother Albert. Louise Mattie was to marry John Leonard Nicholson (see Chapter II).
There has been a joyous meeting up in 1986 with a daughter of Isabel (1880) and her family, 2 of whom have 'migrated' to West Yorkshire and 1 to Lancashire, having grown up in Harpenden, Herts, where their father was a chemist.
Albert, and his wife 'Dolly', did not have any children, so the Lipscomb line has died out apparently. Albert served with the R.H.A. in WWI, and like his sister Louise, was extremely deaf, though his deafness was caused during the war. He was an unqualified, but very experienced accountant, employed by the Country Gentlemen's Association, and was the co-author with someone from Reading University, of a standard book on Farm Accounts (see Chapter I).
To be continued