September is over and I have just had a quick review of my blog statistics for the past three months. Interest seems to be growing and I expect my September viewings would have been even better if I had continued to post daily for the whole month.
The little lapse in posting for the last week is because I was too busy giving a living introduction to our family history to two cousins from the other side of the world who were visiting Northumberland for the first time. We had a whirlwind tour that included Warkworth, Radcliffe, Amble, Hauxley, Alnwick and Alnmouth. I am contemplating adding a new page to cover that visit after I catch up on the work backlog from taking a short break. Managed to tidy up a few branches on the family tree at the same time thanks to their input.
How many of you remember being sent to the “The Store” to pick up some shopping for your mother in your childhood? The Store was the term we used for the local CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) shop. They had grocery shops, hardware shops and more.
The Coop was founded by consumers who clubbed together to enable bulk purchasing. This was a way to avoid the extortionate pricing in company owned shops, e.g. those run by mine owners where workers only had one option for where to buy their produce. By paying a minimal sum to become a Coop member, people had the opportunity to buy their groceries at an acceptable price and also earn a dividend (which we referred to as the divi). The amount paid for purchases was recorded on a “cheque” after giving your 4-digit cheque number and the dividend was paid out annually. As children we all had our mother’s cheque number firmly implanted in our minds and rolled it out regularly with every loaf of bread, quarter of bacon or bag of flour we were sent to purchase.
The photograph shows Amble Harbour Coop on the left (beside where the women are walking). This Coop was managed by my Dad’s cousin, Ralphy Tweddle, until his retirement in the 1980s. Until reminded today by Ralphy’s son Les, I had forgotten that this was one of the first shops in Northumberland to introduce a self-service system, back in 1964. Just imagine the shock to the average Amble housewife of being able to pick her own goods directly off the shelf rather than stand in a queue and ask for each individual item with her neighbours listening to what she was buying. The Coop management were clearly men of vision, ahead of their time, as they were prepared to invest in training their staff in the new system and take the risk of losing customers with such a challenging innovation as self-service.
Ralphy actually gave me a kick-start on my family history research as he told me the names of the dozen Cracketts in the banner photo on my blog. One of the girls is his mother Dorothy Ann and the couple in the middle were his grandparents, Leonard Cracket and Mary Parkinson.
In October thirty-six they took a trip,
The men who made the ships,
Searching for some kind of salvation.
With heads held high, and dignified,
The towns folk and passers by,
Held them in some kind of admiration.
March on, Marshall Riley’s Army,
Marching for your rights,
You’ve surely earned them.
Any among you who grew up in NE England in the 70’s can probably quote the whole song word perfect, but I wonder how many have reflected on the meaning. I remember heading for the library at the time to figure out what it was all about. (If you are wondering why I chose to link to that particular rendition of Marshall Riley’s army on youtube, it is because I was very probably in the audience at that concert !)
For some time now I have been mulling over a couple of unconnected questions, but had not decided who to ask about either:
Why are there so many Cracketts in the Midlands?
Did any of my family participate in the Jarrow March?
Both were answered for me today, before I even asked the questions, by my cousin Julie Crackett-MacFarlane, who published a comment on facebook with a link to a BBC History article about the dire employment situation on Tyneside in the mid 1930s following the closure of Palmer’s Shipyard. Her grandfather, Edmund Rudd Crackett (1907-1974), who is my 3rd cousin once removed, was born in Jarrow, County Durham. In his early thirties he joined the Jarrow March to London in October 1936 to fight for the right to work and provide for his family. It was Edmund who subsequently made the decision to uproot his family and move to the Midlands in search of employment, where they established a thriving group of Cracketts in the Sandwell area.
A big thanks to Julie for triggering my thoughts on this subject and giving me permission to publish a post about her grandfather and mention her as a contributor.
Since Davis is such a common name I got off to a slow start in pinning down my Davis line, but they were kind enough to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for me. Fortunately, they took in other family members in need of a place to live. I have several census records where an additional member of the household has helped me to verify that I have the correct family:
In 1881 Charles Morrall (transcribed Morrell) is a lodger with my great great grandfather George Davis and his two daughters in Choppington, Northumberland. Charles turned out to be George’s nephew.
In 1861 John Davis (transcribed Davies) is a boarder with Mary Morrall (mother of Charles) at Dudley in Worcestershire. John is brother to Mary Morrall and to my great great grandfather George Davis.
In 1841 my 3rd great grandparents John Davis and Mary are living in Madeley, Shropshire with their 4 children: Sarah Ann, George, Mary and John.
In 1871 John Davis senior is living with his daughter Sarah Edge in Ironbridge, Shropshire.
This all gives an extra degree of assurance that the George Davis, with parents John and Mary, in the 1841 census really belongs to me.
In the latter half of the 1700s my Cracket / Crackett relatives were agricultural labourers in the Lowick, Kyloe, Shoreswood and Norham area of North Northumberland. With the opening of pits around that area many of them moved into the mines. It is interesting to see that as old pits closed and new pits opened they migrated south en masse to the Chevington, Barrington, Bedlington and Choppington collieries. My granda George Crackett (1890-1978) grew up in the hamlet of Choppington Colliery.
This undated photo is of Barrington Colliery. I do not have a full overview of which of my Cracketts may have worked there, but one who most likely did is my granda’s uncle George, born 1833 at Cornhill-on-Tweed. In the 1871 census this George Crackett is living in the hamlet of Barrington Colliery and has the occupation coal miner. (Thanks to Geoff on the facebook group: Sixtownships History Group for allowing me to borrow his photo.)
I believe this couple may be my 7th great grandparents. I am currently looking for additional proof that I have identified the correct people. James Rutherford and Jane Nixon married at Simonburn in Northumberland on 23rd May 1738. Vicar clearly had a problem writing in a straight line. The whole page slopes downhill and gets progressively worse as you get nearer the bottom.
Some of you have asked me why it takes so long to find ancestors a few centuries ago. Just to give you an indication of the challenges in reading records, here is one of the more legible: Baptism of my 4th great grandmother Mary Hutchinson at Felton on 13 Nov 1791. Her parents were Joseph Hutchinson and his wife Mary. Joseph and Mary lived at Felton Moor and I subsequently discovered that her name was Mary Brown.