My granda, Jonathan Doleman Webb, was born 9 July 1899 at Radcliffe in Northumberland. I never heard anyone call him Jonathan. It was always Jont or Jonty. Jonty was an intelligent man, but growing up in a mining family in the early 1900s he had little opportunity for education and spent his working life down the pit. This photo shows him ready for work. Take a look at the kneepads for crawling through the pit and the carbide lamp hanging from his pocket. I scanned it in situ in the album because the caption underneath is written by my granny. I remember this bike. He used to call it “Sputnik”.
He never talked much about his childhood and now, knowing what my genealogy research has taught me, I realise it must have been a tough one. His Dad Robert Webb was a pitman, and from the few family tales that have survived was clearly not an easy man to live with. Jonty was only two and a half when his Mam, Mary Davis, died of surgical shock after suffering a brain tumour for 8 months. I can only assume that big sister Annetta, who was about 9 at the time, had to roll up her sleeves and help out with toddler Jonty and four year old Edmund. Five years later their Dad married a widow Isabella Sharp and by the time of the 1911 census father, stepmother and the two boys were together but Annetta had left home to live with other relatives. At 14 Jonty started his working life down the pit which continued until he retired from Hauxley Colliery. I suppose I can be thankful that his young age and his occupation in the mines spared him from WWI in which he lost his big brother Edmund.
I get many comments that it is strange to have a hobby that has so much focus on the dead, but genealogy has also given me several new living relatives, several of whom I have regular correspondence with. As far as the deceased are concerned I see this as an opportunity to document their lives and their fates, which are many and varied. A chance for some of them to be remembered before everyone who may interested in their stories joins them on the list of those who are gone. Among causes of death that I have found are fire, drowning, roof falls, crushed by a pit tub, run over by a steam traction engine, manslaughter, consumption, unsuccessful surgery on a brain tumour and many more. A lot of the fun in this hobby comes from finding out more about these people than just their names and dates. Fascinating to see what kind of lives they led and reflect on the influence that has had on subsequent generations including mine.
D is for Davis
D is also for Davis. My great grandmother, Mary Davis, was born at Whitwood Mere in Yorkshire on Christmas Eve 1868. Great great grandfather George Davis is from Madeley Wood in Shropshire, but came to Northumberland to work in the mines.
D is for deadline
Tonight I am also going to have to admit that D is for deadline. I have just a couple of minutes to get this published as my postaday before Cindarella’s coach turns back into a pumpkin pulled by little white mice.