Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Nice quote......

"The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one that looks as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more stairways than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read. "
Terry Pratchett

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Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Manchester Percivals

Last summer my daughter and I spent a day in Manchester with my good friend Julie.  While we were there I wanted to have a look at the street where my great-great-grandmother, Sarah Percival, was born.

Sarah was born at 8 Holbrook Street on 24th January 1857, her parents were George and his wife Sarah (nee Hannett or Annett) and she had two younger sisters, Alice and Mary.
She married Frederick Farnsworth, a warehouseman, in February 1878, but was widowed in June of the same year.  Frederick died of meningitis and typhoid which was endemic in the area.
Sarah married my great-great-grandfather, Robert, see here, in May 1880, and moved to Nottingham, where they had five sons.

I knew she'd had a difficult start in life, her father had spent time in the Union Workhouse, but a quick bit of on line research revealed the dreadful conditions she was born into.

What's left of Holbrook Street is now behind the Lass O'Gowrie pub on Charles Street, leading to an NCP car park on one side and the River Medlock on the other.

In 1854, the District Medical Officer, John Hatton, delivered a public lecture on the sanitary condition of Chorlton-Under-Medlock.  He draws attention to the poor housing and over-crowding; mentioning James Kerrigan occupying the cellar of, "8, Holbrook-street. Only one dwelling room, twelve persons sleeping therein; the back place filled with (wood) chips, and the front, in addition to the twelve people domiciled, crowded with clothes hung out to dry."
Hatton adds; "Although this list of overcrowded houses bears sufficient testimony to the distressing extent to which this system is carried, even in this township, it is nothing when compared with some parts of Manchester. The immense moral evils, the utter neglect of the ordinary decencies of life, which is occasioned by the indiscriminate intermixture of the sexes, blunts all feelings of modesty, and quite undermines those of morality. I shall be able presently to prove that these dens of misery are redolent with fevers, cholera, and all manner of diseases. The ventilation of these over-crowded and back to back houses,
would most appropriately be introduced here; but as there is a subcommittee, appointed by the Sanitary Association, to inquire especially into this subject, it is unnecessary for me to occupy your time, but I cannot pass over the matter without remarking, that if this overcrowding of dwellings were done away with, the condition of the poor would be ameliorated, and a great hot-bed of infection entirely removed."
The whole lecture can be read here.


Just to make things worse - the family lived next to Manchester's oldest 'pissotiere', which is exactly what the name suggests!

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Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Nottingham Oldhams

Back in autumn last year, I went in search of family graves in Nottingham’s General Cemetery.

Nottingham General Cemetery

The cemetery is fairly big and contains approximately 29000 graves.  The Nottingham Family History Society have memorial inscriptions for the graves, so I knew there were existing headstones there and I found the plot numbers by looking through the burial indexes in Nottingham Archives, they also had a map showing the original plot numbers from when the cemetery was founded in 1837.  The map is huge, it covers almost the whole of one study table in the archives, but I managed to get a reasonable idea of where to start looking and a very kind Roots Chat member helped me further with a map of areas which corresponds with the NFHS memorial transcripts.

Plot 2010 William Oldham (1814-1899) my 4x great-grandfather
Plot 2010 Thomas Oldknow Oldham (1856-1899) my 2x great uncle

The plot is the space on the left - no headstone for this one

Plot 2424 Thomas Oldknow Oldham (1843-1904) my 3x great grandfather
Plot 2424 Harriett Oldham (nee Winfield) (1828-1904) my 3x great grandmother
Plot 2424 Harold Claude Hammersley (?-1944)

Plot 1980 William Oldknow Oldham (1854-1886) my 2x great grandfather
Plot 1980 Alice Oldham (nee May) (1847-1938) my 2x great grandmother
Plot 1980 Edith Oldknow Oldham (1881-1896) my 2x great aunt

I haven’t yet placed a William Henry Oldham who shares a plot no 2010. I haven’t found him with the family in any of the census, so my next job will be to find out how he fits in.
I also need to find where the ‘Oldknow’ middle name comes from.  There are a couple of possibilites.  Most likely is that it’s a mother’s maiden name, or they could have some connection to the lacemaking Oldknows of Nottingham.  If a family had a vague connection to a more illustrious local family, it wasn’t unknown for them to annex their surname to their own as a form of one-up-man-ship with the neighbours!

So my next step with this family will be to look William Henry up in the Census and follow him back, to see if I can find him with his parents when he was much younger. Hopefully this will tell me where he fits in.

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