By George!

Howdles Lane is named for George Howdle, who was proprietor of houses in in 1861.  But who was George?  Where did he come from?  And how did he end up in an obscure lane off Watling Street, Brownhills?  George is also related to my Dennis kindred.

In George the Eponymous I wrote:

A George Howdle is recorded in the 1851-1881 censuses for the area. He was born about 1799 at Hemingbrough, Yorkshire. His occupation at these times was recorded as agricultural labourer (1851), proprietor of houses (1861), letter carrier (1871) and no occupation (1881).

In the 1841 census George was recorded at Blakemore Lane, Darlaston.  Today, what was once known as Blakemore’s Lane is underneath St Lawrence Way and the supermarket car park.  There is some pertinent history here.  George was an agricultural labourer, as were several other residents, even though the town was taking on the industrial shape it is known for.

darlaston os 1885 1886
Darlaston in the late nineteenth century. Blakemore’s Lane ringed. Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1885, published 1886. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

George was born on 30 August 1798 and baptised two days later at Hemingbrough in the East Riding of Yorkshire, the “son of George Howdle by his wife Mary Woodhall”, Woodhall being their abode, a short distance to the north east of Hemingbrough.  George was a labourer.  I was able to find the marriage of George Howdle to Mary Sherwood, November 1797 at Hemingbrough and a baptism for Mary Sherwood in 1773.  This would be too compelling to challenge.  All via Findmypast (FMP).

St Mary Hemingbrough geograph peter church
St Mary, Hemingbrough. Via Geograph. Copyright Peter Church. Creative Commons. (Cropped top and bottom for a better fit.)

It also coincides neatly with the 1851 census, which records George (father) and Mary at Brickkiln House, Barlow (apparently known as Barley), where George farmed 67 acres.  Next record was John Fletcher, famer of 55 acres.  Nearby was James Banks, of White House.

These relationships are useful in locating George’s home.  On a modern map, along Camblesforth Road (A1041) are, about 2 km south east of Selby, in sequence, white House Farm, Brickyard Farm and Botany Bay.  In the 1841 census George Howdle is recorded at Brickkiln House, with next John Fletcher at New Botany Bay.  And here it was …

brickyard farm os 1904 1905 1908
Brickyard Farm, Barlow, Yorkshire. Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1904-1905, published 1908. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

Even today this is predominantly an agricultural landscape, though the dominant feature is Drax Power Station.  The area is very flat, being the floodplain to the River Ouse, as it meanders between levees towards Goole and then the Humber estuary.

drax power station across farmland geograph N Clifford
Drax Power Station across farmland. Via Geograph. Copyright N Clifford. Creative Commons.

So what drew George into a move to the Black Country?

First, when?  George was married to Hannah Lazenby on 5 Jan 1824 at Drax, Yorkshire.  Their first child was George, born about 1825 at Darlaston, then in Staffordshire.  George’s death is registered in the second quarter of 1911 aged 86.  So George and Hannah, perhaps with a baby on the way, decided to move some time in 1824 or 1825.

In The Year Without a Summer I referred to a painting of 1885 by Hubert van Herkomer depicting the plight of an unemployed farm hand and his young family as they searched desperately for work.  This could, perhaps, have happened at any time in the nineteenth century as improved technique and technology displaced farm labourers.  Evidently, George did not find work in the new industrial enterprises springing up in Darlaston.  I guess competition for work was stiff, with folk from southern Staffordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire flocking into burgeoning industrial towns.

By 1851 George and family had moved to the Norton Canes part of Brownhills, but George was still an agricultural labourer.  So how come he was a “proprietor of houses” in 1861?  A clue is to be found in the burial records for Brayton, back in Yorkshire.  On 31 May 1857 was buried, at the age of 85, one George Howdle, of Barlow Common, which fits with Brickyard Farm.  This was George’s father.  It looks as though “our” George inherited the means to develop the land he leased from the Marquis of Anglesey.

This fits perfectly with my history of Howdles Cottages, as set out in Howdles Cottages: How Old?  Circa 1857-58.



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