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History Society 2021/22


Maggie/915
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2 hours ago, James said:

ohn Robert and according to the headstone posted by Maggie, he was the organist for over 50 years

Thanks for confirming that, James! Nice to know that my linguistic skills haven't rusted away completely. It's  a real pleasure tracing the family's roots and following Isabella's journey through life. I'm impressed by the sheer toughness the woman had in making it alone after her husband's death. Today I've started plotting her time in Bedlington after her return from Chatton. If you have any more information about the family I'd love to hear it.

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... continuing the history of the Smail family:

According to the 1871 census, Isabella Smail and her two children are now living in Bedlington but I am unable to ascertain when they returned. I can, however, see from the death register for England and Wales that her parents were still alive at the time of her husband’s death in September 1862. I can also see that Isabella’s grieving had barely begun when her father, Robert Fish, also passed away in January 1863 barely 3 months after the death of her husband.

It was perhaps in connection with her father’s death that Isabella returned to Bedlington, possibly to assist her widowed mother, Dorothy Fish (born Dorothy Kirkup). It is also a possibility that, should Isabella and her husband Edwin have been living in a tied cottage in Chatton, she and the children were obliged to find other accomodation upon his death. Sadly, even Isabella’s mother died a few years later, in October 1869, and she is buried alongside her husband in St Cuthbert´s Churchyard Bedlington. Their grave is marked by the simplest of headstones.

 

Robert Fish D 1863 grave stone.JPG

That headstone is interesting in that it is engraved on both sides. The east-facing side, shown above, records the deaths of Isabella’s parents while the west-facing side documents the deaths of ten members of the Kirkup family – Isabella’s mother’s side of the family (no photo available on Findagrave, only text, perhaps a project for one of our photo enthusiasts?).

It seems, that by the time of the 1871 census, only Isabella, now 42 years old, and the two children, aged 10 and 13 years, were left in Bedlington and I find them living in the east end on the north side of Front Street. At first I thought they might be living in the former first home of her parents, three doors down from the entrance to Colliery Row, but comparing maps and census records showed that they were living further down the street towards Bedlington Bank in what appears to be a relatively new building occupying land between Bell’s Place and Hollymount – shown here as undeveloped, a few years earlier in 1866:

 

1866 Bedlington East End 3_inked.jpg

The next most recent map with any detail, dated 1897, shows the same area developed, with left to right: A semi-detached property comprising two dwellings, the Oddfellows Arms public house and behind them the new East End School followed by a further semi-detached property of which the left hand property was occupied by the Smail family. The census of 1871 shows that this was the layout even then. It also shows that the property adjoining Isabella’s was divided into two dwellings with entrances facing Hollymount and thus named ”Hollymount” rather than Front Street.

 

 

1897 scale 25 to 1_ inked.jpg

As mentioned earlier, Isabella’s mother had died just 18 months prior to the census of 1871 and that census makes no mention of Fish’s Yard. The buildings are still there, as evidenced by the census schedule numbers. But the adress is now simply ”Front Street”. Possibly Dorothy Smail, following her husband’s death, has sold the properties and moved back to the north side of the street, maybe together with her daughter living in. More probable, in view of Dorothy’s advancing years, is that Isabella may have inherited her parents, sold the properties and invested in the new development on the north side.

To be continued ...

 

Edited by Canny lass
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On 28/10/2021 at 19:02, Canny lass said:

Eggy, can we have a gallery album for these photos and any others from the churchyard that may be posted? They are a very valuable source of information, well worth preserving in photo form as the real thing is now disappearing fast. If you could work your magic with naming the files so they would be easily accessible to the researcher, it would be wonderful. BTW, I think John Hedley may be my relative.

Huge thanks for posting these, Maggie, and can I urge other photo enthusiasts to leg it down to the churchyard and capture more memorials, pleaeaeaeaease!

The archives at Woodhorn have a list of pre 1852 monumental inscriptions of St Cuthbert's Church by J. Jewitt in 1977. 

It contains all gravestones and plaques bearing an inscription dated 1851 or earlier. No photographs unfortunately. 

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2 hours ago, Bedlingtonian said:

The archives at Woodhorn have a list of pre 1852 monumental inscriptions of St Cuthbert's Church by J. Jewitt in 1977. 

It contains all gravestones and plaques bearing an inscription dated 1851 or earlier. No photographs unfortunately. 

Sounds good, but I think a picture gives so much more information about the deceased. Symbols and ornamentation, for instance, can give clues about  the economic and social status of the deceased. Do you know if the Woodhorn list can be researched online?

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The Smail family continued:

A business is born ...

Isabella’s residence address in 1871 is given as ”Grocers shop” ”Front Street” and Isabella’s occupation is given as ”Grocer & Provision Dealer”. Isabella is now a businesswoman and the family is clearly living over the shop where they even have room enough to accomodate a boarder. Even his occupation is given as ”Grocer” and he may be employed by Isabella. I notice that even the 17 year old son of the next door neighbour is working as a ”grocer’s apprentice” and could also be employed by her, in which case things seem to be going well for Isabella whose social ranking has now progressed from employee to employer.

Ten years later in April 1881 only Isabella and John Robert are recorded at the address. Isabella is now 52 years old and her son John Robert is 23 and still single. He has followed his mother into the grocery and provisions business but no mention is made of his sister Dorothy Ann. I can’t find her either working- or visiting away from home in the census. However, she does reappear at the address in 1891.

Prior to this however, on 10 APR 1888, Isabella dies,aged 59 years and it is her headstone on the photo which Maggie posted above. It’s quite an elegant stone, with a lot of detail in the design which is in strong contrast to that of her parents, reflecting perhaps the progress made from her humble beginnings as a nursery maid to successful Bedlington businesswoman.

In 1891, following Isabella’s death, John Robert 33 yo is still living at the same adress. He is still running the grocer’s shop and is now head of the household. His sister, Dorothy Ann 30 yo, has returned but appears not to have any occupation. However, they now have a resident domestic servant, 17 year old, Bedlington born, Lily Whitfield a further sign of the family’s increasing social status.

In 1901 Dorothy Ann, 40 years old and as yet unmarried, and John Robert, now 43 and still in the grocery business continue to reside above the shop. Only John Robert is working and they no longer have a servant. However, there is a new family member because John Robert has finally married. I can see from his marriage record that he married at the age of 41 to Jane Isabella Grey, 14 years his younger, in the first half of 1899 in the village of Rothbury, Northumberland. They do not appear to have any children at this time.

First in 1911 can we see Dorothy Ann working. She is still living with her brother and she appears to have joined him working in the business and the family once again has a servant – 20 year old Mary Ann Elizabeth Dixon of Sleekburn. That, however, is not the only change in circumstances. John Robert and Jane Isabella now have a family of four children ranging in age from 1 to 8:

Isabella Smail born abt. 1903. Died 26 SEP 1994 aged 92. Isabella died as Smail and seemingly never married.

Edwin Smail born abt. 1904. Died 20 JAN 1982 aged 78 years. I can find no record of any marriage. He is buried in Bedlington together with his sister Isabella. It is their headstone we see above, posted by James.

Catherine Dorothy Smail born abt- 1910. Died 1990. She also died as Smail and appears not to have married.

The above three children all appear to have joined their father in the grocery business. James tells us that all three were working in the shop in the 1950s.

The fourth child, George Grey Smail born 17SEP 1905 died 2 MAR 1969, was a well educated man and was admitted 1930 as graduate B.Sc. to the List of Electrical Engineers in Hebburn on Tyne. In 1939 he was living and working in Guildford as ”Assistant engineer (Technical) and the following year married Adeline Beethem in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. He appears to have later moved to Scotland, where he died, and is remembered on his grandmother’s headstone in Bedlington.

With no available census records after 1911 it is impossible to say if the unmarried children of John Robert and Jane Isabell Smail continued to live together above the business started by their grandmother. The house was certainly big enough. The 1911 census describes it as having 7 rooms all, or at least most, of them would have been above the shop. Could it be possible that the Smail family now owned both parts of the building?

I wonder if Isabella Smail was the first businesswomanof any rank in Bedlington? She was certainly a tough woman. I'm impressed.

 

Edited by Canny lass
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@Canny lass & @Maggie/915 - I haven't created an album yet as I have been out of action all week and I am off to bed now for a rest. Hopefully back at the PC this afternoon and i will get one done.

Maggie - on the trail of the June/July 2021 issue of the Northumbrian as our son gets the mag every month but then passes it on to his mate, ex Cramlington lad, who now lives in Durham and he thinks he should still have it. I will scan it if it is returned when the two lads meet up in a fortnights time🙂 

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21 hours ago, Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) said:

@Canny lass & @Maggie/915 - I haven't created an album yet as I have been out of action all week and I am off to bed now for a rest. Hopefully back at the PC this afternoon and i will get one done.

I see the album is now created so I'm assuming that you are 'back in action' already. I hope that whatever was ailing you is under control. Take it easy and listen to your body, because your body always knows best. When it says "rest" it means just that.

When you feel like it, do you think that the stones in this topic could be copied to the new album together with the names on them? It would be a fantastic research material.

Edited by Canny lass
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3 hours ago, Canny lass said:

I see the album is now created so I'm assuming that you are 'back in action' already. I hope that whatever was ailing you is under control. Take it easy and listen to your body, because your body always knows best. When it says "rest" it means just that.

When you feel like it, do you think that the stones in this topic could be copied to the new album together with the names on them? It would be a fantastic research material.

On the mend, but still resting when the body tells me to at various points during each day🙂

@Maggie/915 - I see you have entered all the headstone photos, in one entry, into the album. I think it would be best if we arrange for @Andy Millne to delete all but the first photo and then enter each headstone photo into it's own entry in the album. If we leave it as it is then if anyone wants to comment on a particular headstone the comment, and any subsequent, will get confusing 🤷‍♂️.

Do you agree and we can ask Andy to sort out = separate entry for each headstone👌

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That’s great .Eggy. 
It seems the stone masons for Bedlington came from the Oliver family

Maybe morbid but I find gravestones very interesting ..

This  is an interesting one from the General Cemetery in Sheffield A4EF3298-F154-44F1-BF92-34F0D76BA831.thumb.jpeg.db53293d6d75854188808c9353195785.jpeg

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4 hours ago, Alan Edgar (Eggy1948) said:

I think it would be best if we arrange for @Andy Millne to delete all but the first photo and then enter each headstone photo into it's own entry in the album

I've moved all the images from the comment into separate gallery entries.

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A Facebook group is being proposed for Bedlington History Society .

i hope lots of people on the Forum would be interested to join .

It seems the only way to advertise the group and what is going on each year .

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1 hour ago, Maggie/915 said:

A Facebook group is being proposed for Bedlington History Society .

i hope lots of people on the Forum would be interested to join .

It seems the only way to advertise the group and what is going on each year .

I'll join👍

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