When we cleared out my mother’s house back in 1999 we found an object in her cupboard which we were unsure about. Since neither of us lives in England, this was packed away in a box in my brother’s house and didn’t see the light of day for a while. When we dug it out again our curiosity was piqued and we decided to investigate what it was. It turned out be a “widow’s penny” given to the next of kin of those who lost their lives in World War One. This discovery set us off on the next quest. Who was this David Henderson and why did we have this wonderful memento? He was clearly a relative of my maternal grandmother, born Margaret Jane Henderson, but his name had never been mentioned before.
Further investigation showed him to be my granny’s cousin, David Taggart Henderson, son of her uncle John Henderson, born (1860-1898). Cousin David was only about 5 years older than my granny Meggy, so I assume there were quite close when they were growing up. John Henderson and his wife Mary lost another child in infancy, then Mary went on to marry John Baston and have a second family.
David T. Henderson can be found on the Amble War Memorial. He was an Able Seaman in the RNVR Hood Divsion and you can read more about him at this record on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There is also a slightly damaged headstone cross memorial to him, his parents and his baby brother in Amble East Cemetery. I will add that to the blog another time.
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.
Amusing myself at Oslo Gardermoen airport, waiting for a flight to Edinburgh. Heading “home” to Nothumberland for a long weekend to meet two Canadian cousins for the first time. Their visit will be a little shorter than originally planned as they are having to catch a later train up from London on Friday. The objective is to give them a little taste of their roots, but it will be a whirlwind tour. They are the daughter and granddaughter of my first cousin James Murray Ash (1943-2011), known to the family as Murray. Murray was born in Radcliffe, Northumberland to my aunt Mary Webb (1921-2011) and her Canadian husband Jimmy. Mary and Jimmy (James Murray Ash sr) met when he was stationed in England with the Canadian Airforce during WW2. They moved back to Toronto shortly after establishing a family, so I never had the pleasure of meeting my cousin Murray. Making up for that now by joining some of his family to show them where he was born and where my Aunty Mary worked at Alnwick Castle.
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.
This is my first DNA success story from my brother’s kit on AncestryDNA. I am very pleased about this one as it gives extra assurance that my paper trail is valid for the very common surname Davis. It clearly shows the benefits of testing siblings, as this match did not appear for my own kit.
It also demonstrates how families spread around the world can find their common roots through the versatility of DNA analysis. I was born in Northumberland, England and now live in Norway. The two kits that matched belong to people in Italy and Australia. The probable common ancestors lived in Shropshire, England.
If you would like to know more about our DNA and paper trail links to John Davis and his wife Mary take a look at the article: “MRCA: John Davis and/or Mary ??” on my page DNA plus paper.
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.