Peeling back my Onions, a follow up to Getting to know my Onions
After visiting Lapley, I took a walk across parched, cracked fields of wheat (the long, hot summer of ’18) to Bishops Wood, perhaps to find some family history. Perhaps just travelling the same paths and lands; perhaps finding something more obvious. Well, there was an Onion in the churchyard to St John the Evangelist. To be precise, Albert Charles Onion, below (literally).
BORN AT BISHOPS WOOD
DEC 28 1899
AT BUSHBURY MILL
DEC 3 1955
Well, I had this man in my tree already, but only because he appeared in a census record attached to someone else; his mother Elizabeth. That was in 1911, but at Bushbury, now a suburb of Wolverhampton (where, much later, Dad’s employer had hired a session on Thursday evenings when employees, and their children could use the swimming pool). Charles’ mother was there, but where was father? There was Elizabeth, wife (but not widow), 62, and son, 22, single, occupation fitter, “Motor Car Manuf”, worker. But where was he making cars in Wolverhampton?
The address in 1911 was East View, Bushbury Hill. This was in the countryside. Now it is a suburb of the city of Wolverhampton.
So who did he work for? Car manufacturing was very much in its infancy in 1911. Maybe I am getting the wrong impression, but the most likely workplace, seems to be Clyno Cars, Pelham Street, Wolverhampton, who would later establish a factory in Bushbury. The company went into receivership in 1929.
In the 1939 Register, Albert Charles Onion was still at Bushbury, perhaps in the same place. His occupation was “Butchery general store and threshing machine proprietor”, resident at “General Stores, Old Fallings Lane (Shop)”. But in 1932 he was already listed by Kelly’s Directory as a grocer, Old Fallings Lane.
How does he fit into the tree, then? The most useful connection is the 1891 census, when he was recorded with his father Charles L Onion, who was the publican at the Royal Oak.
Charles L was son of 3rd great grandfather Thomas Onion. All my mother knew was that “old man Greatrex” married someone named Onion or Onions. At least that was right (her name was Maria).
I also found the memorial to Albert Charles’ parents:
In Loving Memory of
BELOVED WIFE OF C.L. ONION
BORN IN THIS PARISH SEP. 22 1848
DIED AT BUSHBURY … APRIL 11 1919
NEARER MY GOD TO THEE
BELOVED HUSBAND OF THE ABOVE
DIED JAN. 24TH 1928
AGED 69 YEARS
And there were more Onions:
AGED 68 YEARS.
BORN 30. 3. 1893.
DIED 9.9. 1961.
AND OF HIS WIFE
AGED 98 YEARS.
I also had this man in my tree: as Harry born about 1893 at Bishops Wood. But what did he do? And who was Annie?
In 1911, Harry was a carpenter, as was his father (at a sewage works). His entry in the 1939 Register is closed. Harry’s wife was Annie Hall, a native of Bishops Wood. In 1911 she was in service as a kitchen maid at St Cuthberts, Albrighton, near Wolverhampton.
Several of my earlier Upton ancestors were recorded at or near to Black Ladies. This big old farmhouse is on the site of a Benedictine priory, which was dissolved in 1538. In case of any misunderstanding in these times of the politically correct (and extreme), the Benedictine monks and nuns wore black robes, hence Blackfriars and Black Ladies. There was a White Ladies (Augustinian) priory nearby). Eventually, the estate came to the Giffard family, who allowed estate residents to use the chapel dedicated to St Mary, first at Chillington Hall, then at Black Ladies. Some of my ancestors were baptised and married there. The most intriguing question is: where did they live?
For all the entries for Bishops Wood and Black Ladies in the censuses of 1841 and 1851 there simply were not enough houses other than at Black Ladies itself. My walk took me past what is now a large residence, but the outbuildings also look residential. Could this have been where they lived?
I guess I will never know, but I think some of my ancestors or their fellow farm hands must have lived there in Victorian times.