Wednesday, 30 May 2012

New Answers, New Questions

My current task, as I attempt to trace the Ashton family, was to try and find Thomas William Ashton (at ten years old) in the 1871 Census of England.
What I'd found so far:

  • 1911 census: Mark's maternal grandfather, John William Ashton, and maternal great grandfather, Thomas William Ashton;
  • 1891 census: Mark's maternal grandfather, John William Ashton, and maternal great grandfather, Thomas William Ashton; and
  • 1881 census: Mark's maternal great grandfather, Thomas William Ashton; no father listed for him - his mother, Jane, is a widow(at 55 years old).

The 1871 census brought a whole slew of people into the frame, after the small family of four I discovered in 1811.
At first wasn't sure this was my family, despite the fact that the name (Thomas Ashton), birth county (Northumberland) and mother's name (Jane), as well as his birth year (1861) all tallied. Part of the reason for this uncertainty is that the birthplace is listed as Benton. However a search on the web revealed a GenUKI article on Long Benton parish which "comprises the townships of Killingworth, Long Benton, Walker and Weetslade" and is bounded "on the south by the Tyne, and on the east by the parishes of Tynemouth and Wallsend." (This information is from a publication from 1855, which explains why I have been searching Google Maps and Google Earth, to no avail, for Benton, Northumberland. As Mark pointed out: Benton is probably long gone, amalgamated with a host of other small hamlets into something new.) This makes sense in terms of Thomas Ashton's birthplace being listed as Benton, Northumberland in the 1871 census and Walker, Northumberland in each census thereafter; it also fits with his mother, Jane, having been born in Wallsend, Northumberland, which is in (I suspect) the same sort of area area (another family member, listed below, was born in South Shields, which is about five kilometres away from Wallsend, and another born in Newcastle Upon Tyne, also about five kilometres away albeit in the opposite direction). So I was now fairly certain the birthplace data was a match for my guy too.
I was also thrown by the discrepancy in Jane Ashton's ages between the 1881 census, when she is widowed (55), and the 1871 census, when she is living with her husband and many children (47); I put this down to Jane wishing to appear youthful and younger, and being a bit flexible with how she reported her age.
I did find Thomas' father: John Ashton, 44, born in Wales, and listed as being a 'Millfurnaceman' (although this is difficult to decipher). Therefore further research is needed to find out how he died, since I now I know that he died sometime between 1871 and 1881.
The rest of the family is a bit of a tangle:

  • daughter Martha (b Byker Hill, Northumberland) 13, 
  • son Thomas (b Benton, Northumberland) 10, 
  • son Robert Gibbons (b So Shields, Durham) 10, 
  • daughter Margaret (b Benton, Northumberland) 7,
  • daughter Elizabeth Dadds (b Wallsend, Northumberland) 18, 
  • grandson John Dadds (b Benton, Northumberland) 2, 
  • grandson Robert Dadds (b Newcastle Upon Tyne) 4 months. 

Robert Gibbons is listed here as being the son of John Ashton, but in the 1881 census he is listed as being the grandson of Jane Ashton (John's widow). His brother John Gibbons, who is 12 at the time of the 1881 census, is not listed here at all. What is the true relationship of Robert Gibbons to John Ashton? Where is John Gibbons at the time of the 1871 census?
There are two much younger children, listed as being John's grandchildren, named John (2) and Robert (4mo) Dadds, children of his daughter Elizabeth Dadds. Where is their father, Elizabeth's husband?


  1. Love it! So many questions :) I hope you can find a few answers in amongst that lot.

    1. Yes, loads of questions indeed Fi... unfortunately after this great headway I hit a brick wall in 1961... I'm going to write up my research notes and put this branch to rest for a while and come back to it after the frustration has worn off... Loads more people to follow, luckily!