Steel town shuttle

This concerns the family Brotherton and their journeys from Walsall to Middlesbrough and back.  The people are not direct ancestors, being ancestors of auntie Jessie, who married my uncle Alan Dennis (father’s brother).  It is also an example of how Ancestry’s hints can lead to something previously undiscovered.

There are two sources of curiosity about this part of the family hedgerow that is Andrew’s Kindred:

  1.  What auntie Jessie told me many years ago; and
  2.  A hint via Ancestry about Charles Henry Brotherton, Jessie’s father, which led to a discovery about a court case.

What Jessie knew was relatively limited.  She said that her father was born in Scotland.  I knew that she was born in Middlesbrough, but moved to Walsall, where she and her family lived in the Reedswood area.  I had met her twin sister Flossie.  Jessie said that the family was originally from Walsall.  Some further information about Jessie’s life and family was given at a memorial service some years ago.

All of these turned out to be supported by official, public records.  It should be borne in mind that all too often family lore diverges from the truth, usually as a result forgetfulness and/or embellishment.


1881 Census:  Green Lane, Walsall, Charles Brotherton (Jessie’s grandfather), son, unmarried, 17, labourer, born Walsall.

1885 (registered Apr-Jun):  Marriage of Charles (above) to Mary Ann Perkins, West Bromwich.

3 Jan 1886:  Birth of first child, Charles Henry (Jessie’s father), Motherwell, Scotland.

1888:  Daughter Florence Maud born Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.

1890:  Daughter Mary Ann, born Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.

1891 Census:  Family at Kendal Street, Linthorpe, a dense area of back-to-back terraced housing in the west of Middlesbrough.  The area is now an industrial estate off Cannon Street.

Linthorpe os 1913 1920
Linthorpe, Middlesbrough. Kendal Street in red ring, Iron Works in yellow – was that where Charles worked?  Ordnance Survey. Surveyed 1913, published 1920. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

7 Feb 1899:  Court case in Walsall (more below).

1901 Census:  Family together at 37 Regent Street, Walsall.  This was in Pleck.  Regent Street crossed Oxford Street (still there), more or less where Caledon Street is today.

1905:  Charles Henry married Jane Elizabeth Smith, Walsall.

1911 Census:   Charles Henry, Jane Elizabeth and son Frederick Charles (born Walsall 1906) at 2 Bentley Lane, Walsall.

1913:  Daughter Elsie M born Middlesbrough.

1923:  Twin daughters Florence and Jessie born Middlesbrough.

1925:  John born Middlesbrough.

1939 Register:  Charles Henry (foundry iron dresser) and family at 3 Maddison Avenue, Walsall.  Jessie was a tailor’s machinist.

It seems obvious that the family moved from Walsall to Motherwell (1885-86) to find work in another steel town, on to Barrow-in-Furness (by 1889), and then Middlesbrough (by 1890), where they remained until 1898.

Why did the family return to Walsall? This news article provides a clue.

Walsall Advertiser 4 Mar 1899 p5 col8

Charles Brotherton, 10, Argyle Street, Middlesbrough, was charged with having deserted his wife and family. — Mary Ann Brotherton, of 120, Tantarra Street, Walsall, wife of defendant, said that they had been married about 14 years. Her husband deserted her on the 12th July last, and had not sent her any money since. — Defendant said that complainant was the cause of his leaving. She had thrown his things across the floor, and told him that she could do without him any time. He now offered to come back to Walsall and live with her, but this complainant refused. — An order of 8s. a week was made.
Note: the paper was published on Saturday, so the court appearance was Monday 27 February 1899.

It is evident that Charles and Mary Ann (nee Perkins), also a native of Walsall, were not getting on, and she brought her children back to Walsall (Tantarra Street, Chuckery – still there), where, presumably, she had some family support. Maybe she was eligible for some kind of poor relief in her home town?

However, by the 1901 Census they were back together at 37 Regent Street, Walsall. (On old Ordnance Survey mapping Regent Street was in Pleck, in southern Walsall, and crossed Oxford Street more or less where Caledon Street is now, but the southern part of the street has been redeveloped.) By 1911, they were again in Middlesbrough, at 29 Carter Street. Both Charles and Mary Ann would die there (Middlesbrough), respectively in 1927 and 1930.

The first child, Charles Henry, remained in Walsall, having married in 1905, but returned to Middlesbrough between 1911 and 1913, and went back to Walsall between 1925 and 1939.  I have not found any news articles or other information to indicate why this happened, but it seems likely to be connected to family ties.

Eight shillings

So what did 8 shillings look like at the time?  Below are images of (mainly Victorian) coins that could have been in Mary Ann’s pocket in 1899, showing both obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) with a central modern £1 to lend scale.


8s 1899 obv
Clockwise from top left: half crown 1882 and 1896 (together 5 shillings), florin 1899 (2 shillings), sixpence (George III), thrupenny bits 1864 and 1896.


8s 1899 rev
Clockwise from top left: half crown 1882 and 1896 (together 5 shillings), florin 1899 (2 shillings), sixpence (George III), thrupenny bits 1864 and 1896.


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