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.
I have now found a new second cousin-in-law who I am hoping may be able to help me to figure out whether any of my living Spears or Smailes relatives have a treasure trove of documents from my Webb line hidden away in a cupboard. Maybe one step close to finding the clue that will knock down the brick wall behind Robert Webb and Edmund Webb.
I expected to find the odd cosmetic adjustment to age somewhere in my tree, but I find that the most creative and irritating of all my age adjusters is great grandfather Robert Webb who either could not count or told big fibs. The few official documents I have managed to find for him indicate that he is the son of Edmund Webb and that he was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1849, 1850, 1854, 1857 and 1861
For more information on this intriguing conundrum take a look at my Brick Wall page.