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.
My Mam’s baby brother, Edmund Webb, died in Radcliffe in Northumberland on 11 May 1924. Edmund was only 9 months old when he died of broncho pneumonia. I remember my granny taking me to put flowers on two graves at Amble West Cemetery when I was little. One was her aunt, the other I believe to be that of her little boy. On my first photo shoot in the cemetery I had forgotten all about him, so I wasn’t even looking for him. I later sent my brother and nephew to follow my vague directions to find him, but they had no success. On a new trip this Easter I had a flash of inspiration and think I have found him. There is no name, but the “monument” fits very well with my childhood memories of place and size and follows the norm of older baby graves there being near the paths. So I hope this photo is of the right grave, but even if it isn’t, I think little Edmund still deserves a thought. There are no living relatives I can think of who knew him during his short life as his only surviving sister was born 6 years after his death.
My baby uncle Edmund shares his name with two others. My granda’s brother Edmund Webb (1897 to 1916) and my great great grandfather Edmund Webb who is one of my most frustrating brick walls. He was probably born around the 1830s, perhaps originates from Cornwall and then moved to Lancashire where he produced great granda Robert Webb who is also a mysterious chap. 2x great grandfather Edmund may have been a tin miner, a coal miner and a stonemason. If any of you out there have any ideas on how to pin him down I would be thrilled to hear from you. Drop me a comment and I will get back to you.
My Mam & Dad, George William Crackett & Margaret Jane Webb (George & Peggy) were married on 18 April 1942 at Amble Methodist Church. You can see from the attire that it was a wartime wedding, and the festivities were no doubt a little dampened by the loss of my Dad’s brother Syd just a couple of weeks earlier. The officiating minister at the wedding was great uncle Will (the Rev. William Robinson Turner) brother of my granny Crackett. Shortly after the wedding my Dad went off to serve in India for 3 years and my Mam returned to live with her parents in Radcliffe for the duration of the war.
My great grandmother Mary Crackett, née Mary Parkinson, died 81 years ago today (19 March 1931) in Radcliffe, Northumberland. She was born 26 March 1852 and was just a week short of her 79th birthday when she died of senile decay. One of her living grandchildren remembers her as a rather stern woman which would seem to be consistent with photos of her later in life. Mary is the matriarch in the centre of the large family which is pictured in the banner of my blog.
Mary’s daughter-in-law Emily Crackett, née Emily Thompson shares the same death date 18 years later. Emily died in 1949 at age 75.
Next on my list of Places is the pit village of Radcliffe in Northumberland. The rows of colliery housing were razed to the ground in 1971 when the opencast moved in. What was once a tight knit community of about 700 souls is now just a handful of houses. My Webb line lived in Radcliffe for many years and it has also been home to relatives named Crackett, Tweddle, Smith, Gair and Smailes.