Co-operative Wholesale Society (Coop)

Amble CoopHow 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.

DNA: John Davis and Mary

DNA match iconThis 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.

Davis Decisions

Snip Morrell lodgerSince 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.

Possible 7th great grandparents

James Rutherford and Jane NixonI 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.

New Crackett 4th cousin twice removed

LinkedIn snipThe power of social media 🙂  A young man viewed my LinkedIn profile today because we share an uncommon surname: Crackett. I looked at his profile, recognised the name and looked him up in my tree and found that he is my 4C2R. The ancestral couple that we share are my 3rd great grandfather, William Cracket, born about 1791 in the Lowick area and his probable wife Isabella Gowans, shown on some documents as Bell Cracket, born about 1795 at Holburn in Northumberland. Since they are his 5th great grandparents that gives us the “twice removed” from the two generation difference in our relationship to them.

Old Parish Registers

Mary Hutchinson baptismSome 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.

Thornton theories

When I started on this journey I knew little about my Thornton line except that my maternal granny, Margaret Jane Henderson, was given the same Christian names as her mother Margaret Jane Thornton. I have subsequently tracked down another 6 generations of Thorntons back to 7th great grandfather Henry Thornton, born in the late 1600s. They lived in and around Hartburn, Northumberland.My Thornton tree part 1My Thornton tree part 2I have confirmed from the baptism of Robert Thornton, born 1703, that his father was a Henry Thornton. If I am correct in my theory that Henry married Jane Read, then this is going to open up some interesting lines going back from Henry and Jane to Civil War times and beyond. I still have some more digging to do to prove that this theory about Henry and Jane is correct before I add the new finds to my tree and publish them here.