On 29 December 1900 an inquest was held at the Anglesey Arms, Watling Street, Brownhills, into the death of Elizabeth Painter, who was injured in a trap accident on 1 December and died on Christmas Day at around 4:00 or 5:00 pm. The deceased was the mother of Alice Carter, wife of George Carter, about whom I blogged last time.
I was sure I had posted this before, perhaps via Brownhhills Bob, but, try as I might, I can’t find it.
This is about the demise of George Carter (1859-1906), who was my grandmother Florence’s uncle and was a coal miner. He died of injuries sustained in an “accident” at Brownhills No.3 pit, known as The Sinking, operated by William Harrison Ltd. I believe this pit was at Slackey Lane (now Hazel Lane), Great Wyrley, where the industrial buildings are today.
This is a bit of hard core local history research, but it might be the sort of project that appeals to other family historians with heritage to do with pubs and beer houses.
For several years I have been building a dataset of public houses, inns and beerhouses, with particular focus on their proprietors, managers and keepers. I have focused on the areas inhabited by those ancestors who lived near to my home, that is mainly Brownhills and Chasetown. I have been in many of them at one time or another, those that were still open in my adult life. Some were run at one time by Andrew’s Kindred – the “Pub Dennises“, some were, doubtless, frequented by others, and some grew up there.
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I found an article in the local press, one among many about parents not sending their children regularly to school, which resonated in two ways. Most recently the debate about parents who take their children out of school for holidays, and maybe the reason from around 1875-80, why some of Andrew’s Kindred migrated to Derbyshire to find work.
Any genealogist or family historian who has researched more than two or three generations will almost certainly have found someone whose father does not appear on the entry of birth or baptism record. In many cases there is not real clue as to the identity of the father and dubious speculation is all that will ever be available.
However, sometimes there is a clue. In the case of my grandmother, “Nan”, this was in the form of unsupported family lore. Much later, though, Nan’s mother and alleged father married, which adds some force to the argument – see Mystery number one: Nan (part 3).
The identity of the unnamed father is sometimes hinted at on official entries of death, and there are two examples in my tree that I have found.
Here is an article that tells something very specific about one of Andrew’s Kindred: precisely where he lived, and how much rent he paid. Reverse sides below.
FREEHOLD HOUSES AND BUILDING LAND at BROWNHILLS
TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by Mr. HENRY FARRINGTON, at the NEW INN, PARK STREET, WALSALL, on Tuesday, the 19th. day of May, 1857, at six o’clock in the evening, subject to conditions; all those ten HOUSES, commonly called “Webb’s Row,” with the ten Brewhouses and other Outbuildings, and Gardens thereunto belonging, situate at Brownhills, in the parish of Hammerwich, near to the Anglesey Arms, and now occupied by Mssrs. Hill, Halford, Luke, Dennis, Hopery, Robinson, Orgill, Bellamore, Wright and Day. The property contains, with the site of the buildings, nearly 5,000 square yards, is in the neighbourhood of Brownhills and Cannock Chase Collieries, where houses are in great demand, and affords room for the erection of twenty additional houses without overcrowding. There is a large soft water cistern, and a well of good water, for the joint use of the tenants. The Houses are new and substantially built, and produce low rentals £80 12s. per annum. The tenants pay all rates, which are, however, very low. For further particulars, apply to the AUCTIONEER, or to Mr. WILKINSON, Solicitor, Walsall.
The occupier Mr Dennis was my second great grandfather’s older brother, William (1805-1877).
Webb’s Row, stood on what is now Castle Street, sometme past The Fault.
The land edged blue was subject of the auction. The three ringed features are Webb’s Row, the well, and the Anglesey Arms Inn. The P.H. on the corner was the Queen’s Head. The additional twenty houses had not been built some 24 years on. Webb’s Row was demolished in about 1967.
From the 1861 census, nearest to the Queen’s Head was not Day, but Dye, so it appears William Dennis lived in the seventh house going north. William was still there in 1858, but by 1861 had moved round the corner to Watling Street.
The rent was £80 12s. per year for the ten houses, that is £8 1s. 2½d. each, at 3s. 1¼d. per week (three shillings, five farthings).
Although these are not contemporary, four are Victorian and the older ones might possibly have found their way into William’s pocket at some time or another.
Finding out how much a coal miner like William was paid is difficult. This is partly because the rate of pay varied with age, time, company and colliery. A study of the living standards of Tyneside coal miners, 1836-1862 (1) demonstrates this.
Solomon found that, although there were fluctuations over time, the wages for hewers in 1836 and 1862 were broadly the same, averaging 351 and 346 pence per fortnight (about 8s. 9d. per week). However, there was a range from about 200 – 500 pence (Graph 2, p50).
Another finding was that wages varied in inverse proportion to the number of hewers available in the workforce (Graph 5, p53). This is a matter of simple economics, but at least someone has taken the time to crunch the numbers.
Graph 10 (p65) plots the national average wage for hewers and this gives a figure of about 530 pence per fortnight, about 22s. per week. If William earned at this level, the rent would be about 14% of his weekly pay. However, other family members were bringing in some money: daughter Mary (27) was a dressmaker and son John (13) was a coal miner. There were three younger children.
As it turned out the rent could not have been too great a burden as, when he died, William owned two cottages on Watling Street – see Auction and Transition.
When I found this news clipping about Thomas Onion, I thought he must be related, but the connection was not as straightforward as I had hoped. Once again this would take me back to country lanes in southern Staffordshire that I had travelled many times.
Historically, the area is famous for supporting the Catholic monarchy, helping King Charles II to flee the country after defeat at the battle of Worcester in 1851, the final substantial act of the English Civil War. As as child I was taken to Boscobel House to learn about King Charles and the Royal Oak, the inspiration for many pubs named the Royal Oak. This local quirk would make things difficult. Continue reading “Getting to know my Onions”→