Brick Walls
An aid to your research

Anyone carrying out family research will eventually draw a blank, a brick wall beyond which they cannot go. One way to overcome your brick wall is to publish some or all of your research so others can search for links to your ancestors. They may have already found a way round or through your personal wall. A few rules:

  • There must be a Black Country link to your family
  • I will also post queries about Black Country locations
  • I need an email address I can contact you on, to forward any emails to
  • If you want me to post your email or postal address I will do so. Your email will not appear on the web, unless you want it to. Please bear in mind it can then be "harvested" and be used to send you spam email (not by us of course).
  • Please email me with the details you wish to appear on the site. This can include pictures and family trees. I do reserve the right to edit your material so it will fit onto the website.

Dear Editor,

I am researching my husband's family who, as far as I have been able to go back, come from Walsall. The earliest ancestor I have is Richard Wood (born c1796) and his wife Ann Bentley. As far as I can ascertain their 4 children were all born in Walsall. They were: Sarah (born 1835), Richard (born 1836), Ann Charlotte (born 1838) and William Bentley (born 1845).

Ann Wood died at the end of 1845.

In the 1841 census they were listed as living in Rushall Street, Walsall and Richard's occupation was draper. I have been unable to find any death for Richard. In the 1851 census the two sons were living with their aunt and uncle William Heathcote and Eliza Bentley in Wolverhampton and the two daughters were living with their uncle Charles Higgs and his sister-in-law Caroline Wood  also in Wolverhampton.

My husband is descended from Richard Junior who became a chemist and druggist. He was living in Macclesfield between 1861 and 1871, between 1881 and 1891 he was living in Upton in Chester and between 1901 and 1911 he was living in Southport Lancashire.

I have identified 3 possible sisters for Richard Senior, Sarah born 1798 (married Charles Higgs), Caroline Frances born 1806, Burton upon Trent and Eliza born 1813 Burton upon Trent.

I would really like to find out more information about Richard Snr and who his parents were and who his siblings actually were. I would also like to know if there was any registering body/guild for chemists where I could find out more about Richard Junior, and it goes without saying I would really love to find some descendants of one of the other branches of the family.

Many thanks for your time. Leonie Wood

Nerriga, New South Wales, Australia

Please email me if you have any information, or believe you may have a link to anyone named above. Also, I would appreciate any further information on clearances in the region.

If Mary or Priscilla read this, please get in touch. There is someone trying to contact you, who may be related to your ancestors

Dear Editor,

My cousin and I are researching our family history, she lives in Detroit USA and I am in Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands. we have managed to find our that our maternal grandmothers' family originated in Tipton and wondered if anyone could help us with any info. I am currently studying with the University of Aberdeen and concentrating on the Highland clearances. As I live in Sutherland those are the clearances which I am concentrating on, they were carried out by the landowners who were Elizabeth Countess of Sutherland in her own right and her husband Viscount, later Earl of Stafford. I know there were huge enclosures of land in England and some of these took place on the Earl of Stafford's land, he practised there and honed it to perfection in the Highlands, where ultimately they cleared 60,000 people from Sutherland. this led to untold numbers of deaths and was and is a very black cloud on the Highlanders memories. I just wondered if there could possibly be a family connection to the clearances albeit an English one. So here goes.

Selina Poole (my paternal grandmother) was born on 28 November 1900 to John Poole and Sara Poole (formerly Ward) she was born in Wishaw in Lanarkshire in Scotland.

John Poole married Sarah Ward on 11 December, 1882 in Tipton Staffordshire, we believe they married in the Primitive Methodist Church.

John Poole was born in 1857 in Tipton, he went on to become a worker in the iron works, we don't know which ones (he subsequently moved with his wife and family to Wishaw in Lanarkshire and worked in Pather Iron Works. His father's name was also John Poole and his mother was Sarah Baker. That's the only info we have on his parents.

Sarah Ward was born in 1861 in Tipton, we don't know her occupation. Her father was William Ward and her mother was Sarah Magness. That's the only information we have on her parents.

We would love to have any information you could give us or any pointers you give in order to take our research further. Were any of their ancestors evicted from the Stafford lands, what did they do for a living, what were the conditions they lived in, other children, in short absolutely any information on these families?

I hope you can help us many many thanks

Mary Semple in Sutherland, Priscilla Shearer in Detroit

Please email me if you have any information, or believe you may have a link to anyone named above. Also, I would appreciate any further information on clearances in the region.

If Mary or Priscilla read this, please get in touch. There is someone trying to contact you, who may be related to your ancestors

Dear Editor,

Do you know if anyone has researched the 'Hingley' family? My Great-great-grandmother was a Sarah Ann Hingley (born about 1837), who married Benamin Marston in 1861. They lived at Princes-End, Tipton. Sarah Ann's father was a Benjamin Hingley.
There is an article on the web which says that there were only 705 Hingley's in the UK in 1881, scattered over Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, so I would imagine all the Black-country Hingley's are related. I have a cassette tape of the Black-country night out show with Ray Hingley, the comedian.
I would be pleased if you could put me in touch with someone who may have drawn up a family tree of Hingley's especially with its famous associations in the area, Noah Hingley and Benjamin Hingley.
Steve Reynolds

Dear Editor,

I hope you can help me. I work at Walsall Deaf Peoples Centre located at 59a Lichfield Street I believe this property used to be owned by a gentleman named Charles Eyland (at the time it would have been 59 Lichfield street, the property was not divided until the start of the C20th.) I know he was mayor of Walsall in 1857 and 1858, but I’m looking for further information. I also understand he was a local businessman, making belt buckles. I hope you can help me further, it would be much appreciated if you could just point me in the right direction at least.

Many thanks
Ruth Craddock

(I have suggested Walsall Archives and the Leather Museum, anyone with specific info please get in touch)

Dear Editor,

I am travelling to the Wolverhampton in 2007 from Hervey Bay Queensland Australia and knew the family that lived at Capponfield house in 1970....... would like to find the daughter Margaret Cresswell ....Can you help
Thank you
Elaine Guasco

Dear Editor,

In 1871 the Census records my ancestors keeping a Public House at 24, Ladymoor Road, Coseley. Does any reader have any information regarding these premises, including the 'name' of the establishment?

Raymond Smout

Dear Editor,

Although I live well north of the Black Country, I went to school in the fifties in Wednesbury. But it is Walsall I have queery about. As a youngster I went to a very small Cinema, it was in a shopping Arcade in Walsall? I have tried to find history of it on the web, but cannott even come up with "A History Of Walsall's Cinemas" There is no such site or sites. I recall the Imperial, and the ABC/Gaumont but this cinema was not far from the Sister Dora Statue, and you went up a small ally to it? Any ideas as to where I might try to find its history.

Sincerely. Gerry Taylor.

I think the cinema he wishes to know about was 'The Palace' in the Old Square Arcade, we used to call the cinema 'the flea pit' but it attracted the courting couples.
As a cinema it finished about 1959 and became the the print works for the Walsall Observer newspaper. The Walsall Observer is no longer there and that paticulat area is now a shop.
John Barnes

Dear Editor,

I am writing to enquire if you have any information, on the Colley Gate mines. I live on Tanhouse estate, and I live next to a field which contains evidence there used to be old coal mines. I've heard many stories about them over the years. Like "it used to be connected to Homer Hill and it exploded, which caused it's forced shut down."
There are still old carts and tracks, and the remains of a tunnel, under the common sight of burnt out cars. When I was younger the sight of these used to trigger my imagination, and for a long time I've wondered what really happened up there.
I would greatly appreciate any facts/evidence you can get your hands on. As I am extremely proud of where I live, and its past, I would love the opportunity to learn some history of what's on my doorstep.


Dear Editor,

I am currently in the process of tracing my family tree, and this has led me to discover that the area where I used to live as a child was previously known as" Workhouse Lane". This I know was where a Workhouse used to stand nearby to where Tipton fire station is today. The tales of tragic loss of life was a regular storytelling subject whilst growing up, although this appears to be somewhat of a morbid fascination; I would welcome any items you may have on the subject, so that I may continue my search.

Christopher Wayne Marsden

Dear Editor,

Does anyone have any connections to the Davis family who lived around the Tansley Hill area of Dudley. I'm looking for information concerning Joseph Davis mining engineer and Elijah Davis Mining engineer, Mining Agent and Colliery Proprietor. Elijah eventually ended up in Rock, Worcestershire when he died in 1891 as a Colliery Proprietor. Does anyone know of a searchable database of Colliery owners or any other mining occupations in the area which I could look at. I would love to know where the mines were that these 2 men owned or looked after.
Jayne Casey

Dear Editor,

I have recently begun researching my family tree and have found that a number of my ancestors come from WOODSIDE. As, to my knowledge I have no living relatives to gain any new information from I am keen to hear from anyone who may remember them.

My Great Grandmother ESTHER LEES (NEE WILLIAMS) was born in Woodside and after moving to Nottingham to marry returned to Bradford Street to help run the family's general store with her sister HILDA WILLIAMS in the 1950's. My mother tells me that this shop was next door to MAUD BILL'S Sweet shop who was also a family member. Next was an Ice Cream parlour owned by SUE LAWLEY'S (The newsreader) father. There was also another shop close by which was run by relatives of BILLY DAINTY who were also related to my Great Grandmother.

On checking the Census recored I have found members of the William's family in Woodside dating back to 1796. The name BENJAMIN WILLIAMS appears in at least 3 different generations all of whom were miners.

It seems that they were quite a well known local family and there were quite a number of them!!
I would be very pleased to hear from anyone who has any information and in particular photos of the Woodside area including the shops in Bradford Street or indeed Cross Street which is where the family resided in 1881.

Sarah Dyer (Quarry Bank)

Dear Editor,

I have a relation called Charles Louis Napoleon Wilson who contributed much to Bilston in the Black Country, he was a Civil Engineer.

Charles Louis Napoleon Wilson, born in Blackburn on the 28th August 1865, served his pupilage in the office of the Borough Engineer of Bacup. After remaining in the office for five years as an assistant, he was appointed Town Surveyor in 1891, during the 10 years he held that post he carried out several works for the improvement of the town, including the erection of technical schools, baths and other buildings. In the autumn of 1901 he tendered his resignation to the Bilston Council and proceeded to South Africa, where he died on the 15th November at Chinde from enteric fever contracted on the voyage.

He was the author of a book entitled "Seven Years in a Black Country Town". He was elected a member of the Institution on 6 December, 1892. Are you able to add any more information to this, or parhaps have a copy of his book?

Colin Pink
8 Barron Place
Hampshire, RG24 9JS

Dear Editor,

My aunt and I are currently researching the life of my Great Grandfather George Stokes (1882-1962), who was involved in Wednesbury and at a county level after the Second World War. I am hoping someone will be able to answer the following questions, which are puzzling us. Alternatively if someone could suggest where I might find the relevant answers.

My grandfathers' marriage certificate has his occupation as a "chipper" and in a local newspaper as a "pneumatic chipper", what was a "chipper", what industry would he have been connected with and what Trade Union? Where might he have been employed? Thank you for any help you may be able to provide.

Sally Newey
25 Westmorland Street

Dear Editor,

I'm hoping you may be able to provide me with some information about (my bit of) the Hodgkiss Family. My grandfather, Fred Hodgkiss was married to Evelyn (nee Lowe) and lived latterly around Rushall Manor, though also, at one point, had a sweet shop on Eastbourne Street (?). Fred was, during WW11 a pattern maker, a reserved occupation, so served with the local Home Guard. I have recollections of him telling me about patrolling around Bently Hall, which I think he said was deserted (and even haunted!) at the time.

My family moved from the area some time ago, so I'm not entirely au fait with place names locally, so hope that I'm getting it right?! Fred was very proud to be a Black Countryman and even took the Walsall Observer in his later years down here in Cornwall. I would be very grateful to hear from anyone that knew or remembers them so I can add to our family history.

Kind Regards
Greg Hodgkiss

Dear Editor,

My name is John Gale and I live in Newport, South Wales. I have discovered that my Meese, Mees ancestors came to Newport in 1860 from Kingswinford and Brierley Hill areas. I am keen to contact any Meese members. I have traced them to Australia and New Zealand ,but have no contacts in the Black Country.

If John reads this, please get in touch. There is someone trying to contact you, who may be related to your ancestors

(As always, please email me if you wish to contact John)

Dear Editor,

Hi, it's Julie from Australia,

My great great grandfather JOSEPH GARDNER was born in TIPTON - DUDLEY PORT 1856. His parents were JOHN GARDNER AND ANN DENDLEY. There are no BMD's recorded in the parish records of the Family so I figure that they may be Catholic and so difficult to find their marriage circa 1840, and their childrens baptisms online in a virtual realm!

In the Census JOHN GARDNER is born in Ireland 1814, apart from one that says Shropshire. From the influx of Irish immigrants into the Black Country I would say he was Irish and maybe his wife, ANN DENDLEY born WEST BROMWICH 1821, is Catholic and from Irish descent too.

They and their adult children were born in Tipton and lived and worked as Labourers through the nineteenth century including at the Ironworks.

The TIPTON KIDS were Phoebe, 1841, William 1843, Margaret 1846, Mary Ann 1850, John 1854, Joseph, 1856, Jane 1864, and Charlotte, 1865.

My great great grandfather JOSEPH GARDNER married ELIZA DUCE at St. Matthews, Wolverhampton in 1878 so maybe because of the prejudices of the time it was easier to go Church of England?

I am visiting the ancestral lands next year so would appreciate where I might get information if the Gardners were Catholic in Tipton-Dudley Port.

from Julie McNeill

If Julie McNeill or anyone who knows her reads this, could you email me. The email address I have for Julie bounces and I have someone who wants to communicate about Southall ancestors. Mike Pearson

Dear Editor,

I am looking for information on the Davis family residing in Walsall during the late 18th and early 19th century and in particular information about my ggg grandmother Christiana Davis' family. I believe she was born around 1802 to Joseph Davis and Ann unknown and had sisters Elizabeth born around 1796, Sarah c 1808 and brothers John ?, c 1789, James c 1799 and Thomas c 1806. Christiana Davis married John Dutton, chimney sweep, in Handsworth 1820 and information handed down through the generations indicates that she was disinherited for marrying beneath her station. Any information about this family would be greatly appreciated

Lynne Dodds

As always any helpful answers or information to me and I will pass them on to Lynne. Editor

Dear Editor,

Thomas Stevens, Chainmaker, born abt 1816, Dudley

I am so happy to stumble upon your website at last, having hit a brick wall in my search for information about my husband's ancestor Thomas Stevens, whose genealogy information is here:

Thomas Stevens and his family were all chainmakers in the Rowley Regis area, including the daughters. Son Joseph married Elizabeth Brown and emigrated with her to America in 1865 or 1866, eventually settling in Philadelphia. I think brother John emigrated also; according to family lore, Joseph and a brother traveled to California in search of gold, but Joseph returned home without success, walking all the way to Philadelphia from New York City with a high fever.

Joseph continued the chainmaking trade in America, as did his son Joseph Jr., and Joseph Jr.'s son Howard.

I would like to find proof that the Thomas Stevens identified here is indeed the father of our Joseph Stevens. I'm also uncertain whether the Jane listed as his spouse on one census is the same person as the Ann listed on another, or whether Thomas took two wives. I'd also like to learn more about Elizabeth Brown, Joseph Sr.'s wife, who was disowned by her family for marrying beneath her status, according to family lore.

I've often daydreamed about how exciting it would be to find a British descendant of Thomas Stevens who has some family stories to share about the family! Alas, it is hard to trace through the England Census what happened to our Joseph's siblings.

People can reach me at hollys (Remove the space in Stevens -- that's to discourage spam!)


Holly Stevens
5918 Pepper Rd.
Oak Ridge North Carolina

Dear Editor,

I have tried for many years to find information on LILIAN THORRINGTON born in Wednesbury 1883 to William and Sophie (William was a shoe maker by trade). The family lived in Lower High Street in 1891/1901 where they had a boot/shoe business and then lived in Wharfedale Street from 1911 onwards.

The shoe business was relocated to Trouse Lane, Wednesbury. Lilian was a musician/pianist and teacher of music. She had one brother Arthur Ernest. On the webpage:

Miss Thorrington was a speaker at the Suffragette Society in Wednesbury in 1913. Miss Thorrington did not marry and her days ended in Wharfedale Street. Although I would be interested in any information on Lilian I am really, really interested in her suffragette role. I did e-mail the Social History Society, but never received a reply and Wednesbury Library do not have any information. I am sure that someone, somewhere must know something!

Many thanks - Shelagh Ashford

Dear Editor,


I live at 16 Terry Street and am lucky enough to own this beautiful house and have the original deeds. The land the house stands on was sold to James Thompson, a miner from Cawney Hill, by Edward Truelove Terry on 21st June 1858. In our nearby church, St John's is the crypt of the Terry family that holds Edward (d. 1857, 70yrs) and Hannah (d.1863, 74 yrs), Terry, their son Edward Truelove (d.1887, 76yrs), his wife Eveline (d.185?, 45 yrs), their son George Foxlowe (d.185?, ?), and daughter Helen Louisa (d.1858, 4 yrs), plus three other Terry children (unspecified parents) Ellen (d.1852, 2mths), Julia (d.1857,4 yrs) and Eveline (d.1857, 4 mths).

The 1850s were obviously a pitiful time for Edward Truelove Terry with the deaths of his father, wife and children. 1958 in particular was an awful year and was the year he sold the land. I understand he lived at The Firs on St John's Road and that either himself or his father were Mayor of Dudley several times.

Myself and my sons would live to know more about this family; especially what wiped out his family. Can you help us at all.

Yours hopefully, Sallyann, Jonathan, Laurents and Theo Marker-Wright

Dear Editor,

I don't know whether or not you know about Marion Richardson, the famous art teacher and also 'Marion Richardson handwriting' taught in schools for many years. We unearthed her grave at St John's, Kates Hill from the bramble a few months ago and now we are collaborating with a three experts, Dr Rosemary Sassoon, Professor John Swift and Philip Adams, to bring Marion's contribution as an educational pioneer back to public notice. Dr Sassoon is taking the lead on writing a biography of Marion, the publication of which will hopefully be tied in with a new exhibition in Dudley of her work.

We have plenty of material on her educational work but we are desperate to find out more about Marion as a person, and also about her friend Mary Dorothy Plant, with whom she is buried. We know that Miss Plant was also an art teacher at Dudley Girls High, and she lived at 27 Highfield Road, Kates Hill (the house Marion was living in when she died), but beyond that we haven't found anything else out at all.

We would like friends, contacts to family members, memorabilia (for our eventual exhibition), anecdotes, anything at all.

Link to brief details about Marion

She's also featured in the Oxford National Biography but I haven't been able to access that yet.

Deb Brownlee

Dear Editor,

I am looking for desendants of the Turner family from Darlaston. I am the grandaughter of George Turner (born 1902) Foundry Street, Darlaston. George had three brothers Bill, Tom and Harry and a sister Sue, I am in touch with Bill's desendants I would just like to find Tom, Harry's and Sue's desendants. I have the Turner family history dating back to 1666 from St Lawerence parish records, I would like to share this information with them.

I am also looking for help with my grandmother's (wife of George Turner) family. Her name was Kate Chrimes (born 1902) Wednesbury she was born a Lalley, her mother was Sarah Lalley, nee O'Brien, father Peter O'Brien.

If you have time please have a look at my website it's

Photo's Bill Turner and Alice Poultney's wedding 1928 taken in Foundry Street, Sue Turner's wedding to Horice Costin 1929, also taken at Foundry Street. Bill, Harry and George on the beach.

Many Thanks

Debby Montenegro (Devon)

Dear Editor,

I`m trying to find information about my grandparents Benjamin and Harriet Matthews and their daughter Hannah.

They lived at 104 Ocker Hill Road Wendesbury in 1915, Benjamin was a school attendance officer before that he was a blacksmith. I think he was a member of the Wesleyan methodist church Ocker Hill, also Helen Ashmore was a church member, any information would be greatly appreciated.

My grandparents had a son John born 1886 he was a carpenter, a daughter Esther born 1890 she was a school teacher, married Ernest Mann 1915 and a daughter Hannah born 1892.

I would appreciate any information about the family

P. Lucas

(entered 15/03/09)

Dear Editor,

I am hoping that you can help us to trace John Wood Woolley's father and mother. My sister and I have been trying to find them for a few years now without success. We have John's marriage certificate where it gives John's fathers name as John Woolley Screwmaker. No mention of Wood which all descendants have carried in their name. John Wood Woolley Junior married Mary Ann Donovan or Danofin as on certificate. Her father was Joseph Danofin Boatman. On the 1871 census it says that John was born in Shropshire around 1828. He was a works manager and lived in various addresses one being ST JOHN'S VILLA, WYLDE GREEN SUTTON COLDFIELD.

There is a connection with the Wood family of Ettingshall Villa, Ettingshall, but we have failed to find the link. Other that in his will he named Albert E Wood of Ettingshall as being his nephew. Family stories have been that the Wood Woolley 's were from the Wolverhampton-Bilston area. Thomas Wood was a boatbuilder. Albert E Wood a son was a nephew of John Wood Woolley. who was born about 1828. Ellen Jones Wood a sister of Albert, married a John Wood Woolley son of John Senior.

I would like to find John Woolley born about 1800, who was the father of John Wood Woolley 1828. a bit of a puzzle

Regards Nenna Williams

(entered 11/09/09)

Dear Editor,

My father, John Wilson Harris, was born in the Fox and Goose public house in Greets Green, when it was owned by Thomas Harris. This was in 1891 and the pub had been owned by a Harris for over 50 years. He subsequently arrived in Croydon, Surrey, where he met my mother, married and had 5 children. I believe he was previously married, though I am not sure.

My relatives in Croydon used to say my father talked with a "strange accent", my aunt thought he was from Liverpool, but his birth certificate shows his place of birth as Greets Green. I have been to Greets Green, visited the Fox and Goose, and also visited the local church, St Peter's, where there is a memorial stone with Thomas Harris' name on it, also his wife Amelia, my grandmother. I checked the 1901 census and found Thomas and Amelia and children, but my father wasn't present, raising a doubt in my mind. However, at the church it clearly states on the headstone that Amelia (nee Wilson), daughter of Gideon Wilson, and it was here that I had confirmation of my father's middle christian name, Wilson, and my brother is also Jeff Wilson.

Other family members in Greets Green were Maggie and Albert, Thomas and Marie Beatrice Harris, and I have made several enquiries, with very little response. I would be pleased to be able to add to the history of the Harris family and hope your can help.

Please contact the Editor if you have any information that might help Mrs Turner and I will pass it on.

(Details in correspondence folder)

Dear Editor,

I am researching the composer Joseph Nicholds (c.1785-1860), of Coseley; I am collecting material for a book on Nicholds (with a selection of his music) as my final university project. The following is what I have found out through various newspaper articles, an article in the Blackcountryman by Len Taylor, and JS Roper's History of Coseley:

Nicholds played the ophicleide (an obsolete brass instrument) and the bugle, in the church band of Providence Baptist Chapel, Coseley (founded 1809). He was also associated with Upper Ettingshall Chapel, which has a plaque in his memory. He worked as a limeburner/limestone breaker in Wren's Nest, and also at Ben Whitehouse's steelworks in Deepfields. Later (c.1830?) he was the leader of the band which accompanied Wombwell's Menagerie (a travelling zoo) for 21 years, before returning to Coseley and becoming landlord at the Hop & Barleycorn Inn. He died in poverty in the Dudley & Sedgley Workhouse on 18th Feb 1860. A memorial was put up in Vicar Street cemetery in 1871, but this was destroyed when the site was cleared in the 1980s.
In 1978 there was a Nicholds weekend at Upper Ettingshall chapel, where some of his music was played and sung; and in 2000 at the chapel's anniversary some of his music was also sung.

I have found copies of some of his pieces in the manuscripts of the 'Larks of Dean', a group of musicians active c1770-1850 in Rossendale, Lancashire; he may have visited the area touring with Wombwell's Menagerie.

I am looking for: more of Nicholds's music; as his music has been performed recently, some of it must exist in Coseley...
any old pictures or photos of the old Providence Chapel; the Hop & Barleycorn; the memorial in Vicar Street cemetery
information about instruments played in the local chapels - I have read that Nicholds's ophicleide still survives somewhere...
information on his family - he apparently had three sons, but I don't know anything more

any help or pointers in the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks

Fynn Titford-Mock

(entered 18/12/09)

Dear Editor,

I am looking for the ancestors of John LAXTON, born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire UK in either 1841 or 1844 (depending on the source of information). He was married to Mary Ann Leighton in 1862 in West Bromwich at All Saints church.

Children of John and Mary were:
William Henry Laxton born 1863
Eva Fanny Laxton born 1865
Frederick John Laxton born 1867 died 1931 (my great-grandfather)
Thomas Edgar Laxton born 1873
Margaret Laxton born 1876

John Laxton was listed as a coal dealer on his 1862 GRO marraige certificate and subsequently as a coal agent and mine agent.
He is recorded as having recieved a certification as a colliery manager on 26 Feb 1873 while employed at the Piercy colliery in West Bromwich He emigrated to the United States in 1880 where he worked in the Cambria county area of Pennsylvania as mine engineer or supervisor. He is recorded at Havacre Colliery in Deepfields, Bilston in 1896 as a colliery surpervisor.

His first wife, Mary, died around 1898 and he remarried Hannah (surname unknown) in 1899.
He appears in the 1900 US census at the home of his son Frederick Laxton in Cambria County, PA.

In 1908, he is listed as a colliery manager at the Havacre Colliery, Bilston and in the 1911 UK census as a colliery manager living in Deepfields, Bilston.

He traveled back and forth between the US and UK at least 4 times between 1894 and 1904, so I am unsure of where his primary residence was during that time.
I believe he died in Dudley in 1923.

If anyone has any information please contact me

Regards, Gary

(added 26/07/10)

Response received from Bernie Mallinder from Pittsburgh:

The 1900 census of Portage township, Cambria county, says that Frederick [John] Laxton, age 32, was born in December of 1868 in England [Birmingham] and that his parents had both been born in England. Frederick's wife, Josephine Laxton, age 34, was born in August of 1865 in Pennsylvania, and her father was born in Pennsylvania, her mother in Ireland. Frederick had immigrated to the US in 1887, had been in the US 13 years, was naturalized, and was a coal miner, who had been unemployed for 4 of the past 12 months. He owned his home free and clear. Josephine was the mother of 5 children, all of whom were living. Children in 1900 were: Mary, 7; Leah, 6; John, 4; Dora, 3; and Mary,

Much more info...if interested

Frederick senior buried St Johns Chapel Wolverhampton
I have copy of letter written by a Will that mentions ,Dorthy in Worchester, Will in Illinois and Dave in whiskey business
and states Dad was buried with Mother in a vault in St Johns Chapel, Wolverhampton
letter written 1924. I also have photo of frederick 1890 and 1927

(added 12 Sep 2010)

(Any information on the above please contact the editor at the usual address at the bottom of this page)

Dear Editor,

Hugh Lewis a Tipton pawnbroker was one such person.being a strange man, a mixture of shrewdness and generosity: a man who in later life hoarded money like a miser, hated to part with it, and yet could give with grand generosity when he chose. As a pawnbroker he would drive a hard bargain with a hungry woman who wished to pledge a tawdry article of little worth, then next day supply that same woman and her family with food.

All Tipton knew him during his life-time but none could have thought that after his death he would become a celebrity. When he died in August 1908 he achieved fame in the Black Country as one of its greatest benefactors. His estate was valued at over £80,000 and he left it all to the Guest Hospital Dudley.

Hugh Lewis was born at the pawnshop in Canal Street Tipton. established by his father in 1819. In 1857. on the death of his mother he took over the business. He inherited most of the money resulting from the bereavement, but his fortune was made from stocks and shares and land deals. He bought East India shares in 1857-8 when these had reached rock bottom due to the Indian Mutiny. In 1964-65 when these recovered he saw himself on the way to becoming a rich man.

Hugh was also an excellent horseman and was a member of the Albrighton Hunt.When he died there was a huge bequest to the hospital and the Primitive Refuge Chapel in Waterloo Street. The press at the time confidently predicted that a statue would be erected to him in the hospital grounds. On the contrary his name has become largely forgotten.

In 1889 Hugh Lewis retired from pawnbroking turning it over to his nephew. He left his native Tipton to live at Woodfield House, Hill, Sutton Coldfield. rather a modest house for one so wealthy. A short distance from his house he began the erection of an 80ft high red brick tower, but it remained unfinished, this building was known locally as Lewis's Folly! When Hugh Lewis died he was buried at Little Aston and not in the family vaults which he himself had, had built in Sedgley churchyard.

(Taken from an article by the late John Brimble)

There is no indication from the above article that High Lewis had ever been married or had children, but that he did leave the pawnshop (but not his wealth) to a nephew:

Here's the conundrum:

My great-grandfather, a captain of mines, from Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland married a woman from Summertown, Oxfordshire. The marriage took place in St. Silas, Lozalls, Warwick. She was in her mid-thirties and was a spinster. He was a widower in his mid-40s.

On the various censuses there are two boys whom she always refers to as "nephews;" however, in her deathbed she admitted that they were indeed her sons. At one point, her BROTHER is recorded on a census as her husband. Additionally, when she did in fact marry my great-grandfather, she bore him six children, the majority of whom were born in Towyn, Wales, where they eventually wound up. They had a nice house and a servant, and room for boarders.

Now here's where matters become rather more "interesting."

The story goes that the father of her two "nephews," who were indeed her sons, was HUGH LEWIS. At some point she took off, and we'll never know why. He tried to find the boys by putting an ad in the London Times ... We don't know how to track that down either.

We do not know whether she worked for him as a domestic servant, or was one of the four saleswomen he employed. We haven't been able to uncover any of those details.


Did Hugh Lewis have a "legitimate" wife and "legitimate" children? (It would seem not if he left the pawn shop to a nephew.)

If not, were there any rumours that he had two children born outside of marriage to "some woman"?

Are there local (county) records where we can find the births registered for his two "illegitimate" sons?

Was there ever any "scandal" attached to his name, other than that he was a "skinflint"?

Are there any photos in the local records of Hugh Lewis, philanthropist, and particularly with a woman with two boys?

Also, apart from leaving the pawn shop to a nephew, did he leave him any money, and what about any other relatives?


There are some living descendants in England of the woman who bore the two children to Hugh Lewis, one of whom is descended from one of the "Lewis" sons.

We can't imagine anyone making up a story that they were his sons; however, neither have they any documentation that Hugh Lewis was their father...or why the mother passed them off as he nephews. As the saying goes: where there's smoke there's fire, and there surely has to be some basis for this story!

Such a strange tale...but we have to bear in mind that this was the mid-to-late 1800s when women had no rights at all, and so maybe she had to go underground for some reason, particularly if this Hugh Lewis had the resources to track her down and maybe take the/his sons from her.


A great soap opera and I wish I had the talent to turn it into a "potboiler!"

Any little crumbs further on the life of Hugh Lewis would be greatly appreciated for me to add to my genealogy family tree. It's so much more interesting than the barebones of births, deaths marriages statistics.

Yours aye,

Maisie Egger (Central Coast area of California, formerly from Glasgow, Scotland)

P.S. somebody said that you can translate the £80,000 Hugh Lewis gave to the hospital to something equivalent to millions/£ nowadays, making it about £80 MILLION (pounds sterling)...haven't been able to find anything on Google to help in figuring this out!

(As usual, any information please send to me and I will forward it on - Editor - inserted 26/07/10)

Dear Editor,

I wonder if you could post my request for further help, story as follows:

I have been researching my family tree for a few years off and on and have always wanted to get more information about my family name of LATHAM. Story so far is that I, Shawn Latham am the son of Roy Latham (Burnley 1937-1989) who was the son of Ernest Thomas Latham (1900-1968) who was the son of Jonas John Latham who was born in the Wellington Workhouse, Shropshire on 20 Dec 1866, the son of Margaret Latham, but there was no father listed.

Margaret seems to have been adamant that she was born in Dudley Port but the various census details I have show her being born anywhere from 1836 to 1847 although always in Dudley Port. She married George Harris on 12 Mar 1879 in Madeley, Salop, Shrops and later moved to Burnley . On the marriage certificate she lists her father as Stephen Latham.

I have searched the family search website and it shows a christening on 26 JUL 1840 Saint Thomas, Dudley, Worcester, England, with a birth date of 29 Jun 1840 but I cant find a record of this on free bmd. Her father here was shown as Stephen and mother Mary. I have bought a couple of dead end birth certificates in the vain hope that these would suffice but alas not; these are 1838 Newport, Salop and 1847 Tipton, the first shows father as Thomas and the second as James, but both were Mary as mother.

Any info at all or any one else searching LATHAM, please contact me on office (@) Note email address in this format to avoid spam!

Much appreciated

Shawn Latham

Dear Editor,

I am descended from two ironmasters, both having the surname Bradley. The one from which I inherit my own surname was Richard Bradley, an ironmaster in Tipton, Staffordshire.

The other was John Bradley, who founded the firm of John Bradley & Co in Stourbridge in 1800. I am descended from him via his daughter Mary, who married Thomas Rudd, a jeweller and watch-maker from Dudley. Their daughter Emmeline married my great-grandfather, Frederick Bradley, the son of the ironmaster Richard Bradley.

But the above comes partly from information given to me verbally by my late parents as a child and young adult (I am 68 now). I have no actual documentary proof that Mary the daughter of John Bradley was the same person as Mrs Mary Rudd, the mother of Emmeline, although all of the documentary evidence that I have is consistent with that.

I have been unable to locate the place or date of the marriage of Mary and Thomas. It would have been in about 1833.

I would be grateful to hear from anyone with information relevant to the above.

Philip J Bradley
7 Swan Close
ST16 1AU

Dear Editor,

I would like some info on my great uncle he was born in 1862 in Brockmoor near Dudley in Worcestershire. His name is Benjamin Matthews, his father is John Matthews. His dad was married twice, his first wife was Eliza Burgess, his second Lucy Russon. I think Benjamin's mum was Eliza. I would like to know if he got married and had kids, he was living in Tipton at the time of the 1891 and 1901 census. That's all Ihave of him. Iguess im intrigued by him because he is the brother of my great grandfather Thomas. I dont know much about his siblings Jane, Annie and Lucey either.

Yours Sincerely

Kitty (Bev Brown email)

Dear Editor,

I have been told that there were five Mayors of Dudley named Bourne, and a street named after one of them. Having managed to find the list of Mayors, I then followed on and have delved into your website for the first time. I notice that Carl Higgs has written a very thorough history of his forebears. Amongst them is Abiathar Hancox, a cooper, who married 1743 an Esther Bourne, daughter of Richard Bourn(e).

As my forebears are from Dudley, I am writing to try to find links to the Mayoral Bourne's.

I was born 1937, West Smethwick, and from seven months old, brought up in Wolverhampton. My father Arthur was born 1908, at Wolverhampton, as were my GF Roland 1879 and 1xGF William 1852.

Along with all previous known Bourne forebears, my 2xGF William was born about 1819 Dudley, died 1882 Wv. He married 21 Mar 1842, Christ Church, West Bromwich, Eliza Deel(e)y b ?1819 Oldbury, Shropshire. It appears that they moved to Wv between their marriage and the birth there of Anne in 1846, and there were at least three more girls and a second boy, all born Wv

My 3xGF James b ?1794 Queen's Cross, married 30 Mar 1819 St. Thomas, Mary Ann Cartwright ?1794 Oaken, Staffs. I think that they had a son Josh Christened (Chr) 6 Oct 1816 St. Thomas (possibly hers but not his?) - a known total of four sons, three dau's.

My 4xGF ?James Chr 7 Jan 1762 St. Thomas, married 21 Dec 1786 St. Thomas, Elizabeth Green. Their first of two known sons, Joseph Green Bourne b 31 Dec1787, married 18 Sep 1823 St. Thomas, Eleanor Bennitt b ?1802. He is likely to be the 1832 Mayor. They had a son also Joseph Green Bourne b 26 Sep 1826. He was a witness on a marriage cert which I have.

My 5xGF ?Joseph Chr?9 Apr 1746 St. Thomas, married 23 Oct 1770 St. Thomas, Mary Finch Chr ?12 Apr 1748 St. Thomas. Interestingly, Carl Higgs has John Hancox (1752-1815), the son of Abiathar and Esther Bourne, as marrying a widowed Elizabeth Finch.

My 6xGF ?Joseph b ?1715 married an Elizabeth ?. I think that they also had a dau Jane Chr 27 Jun 1734 Dudley.

I would dearly like to know if anyone has any further information, especially relating to Esther Bourne and her father Richard, along with proof of my 3x though 6xGFs names and details.

Best regards,

David Bourne.

Dear Editor

I'm researching a small amount of copyhold and freehold property owned by my ancestors, Mitchell (alias Muchall), in the parish of Kingswinford.

First are two cottages and a piece of land at Barnet(t) Lane in a field formerly called Cumber Field or Comball Field etc. The land and the neighbouring field then owned by Diana Briscoe became part of the building plot for 'The Cedars', which was later demolished in the 20th century and Cedar Avenue named in its honour. The owners or occupiers of The Cedars include Joseph Henry Chavasse (1873-1885), Thomas William Robinson (1885-1912) and then the Richardson family, including Arthur Haden Richardson (1935) and Henry Gething Richardson.

The tenants I've been able to gauge for the Barnett Lane cottages thus far include:

(The premises being numbered 1955 and 2447-2448 on William Fowler's Maps of 1824 and 1840 respectively.)

(1816) Richard Gould
(1824-1827) Anthony Phasy, Phazey or Pheasant
(1824-1837) Thomas Price
(1840) William Darby
(1869, 1873, ) John Price
(1869, 1873) Richard Falkner or Faulkner

1911 Census


T. W. Robinson

They also owned one or two cottages and a plot or parcel of land at Ashwood (Hay), numbered 2013 and 2511 on William Fowler's Maps & Plans of 1824 and 1840 respectively.


(1824-1869) John Southall
(1869) William Walker
(1873) Devey,
(1873) William Lambert

I think the tenants of the two cottages have been transcribed, usually, in the censuses under the address of Ashwood

1841 Census


Richard Moorhouse
Joseph Veal
John Southall

1851 Census

'Ashwood Common'

John Southall
Richard Moorhouse
Samuel Low

1861 Census


William Walker
John Sothall
John Walker

1871 Census

'Ashwood' [sic?]

Edward Giles
John Sater

'Lawnswood' [sic?]

Elen Southall [Widow of John Southall]

'Woodfield' [sic?]

William Walker

1881 Census

'Ashwood Lodge Cottages'

Joseph Welsbury
William Jones

'Ashwood Cottage'

John Baugh

1891 Census


Wm Charles
Robert Bridgwater

1901 Census

'Ashwood Cottages'

William H Seeson [?]
Edward Reynolds
Alfred Reynolds

1911 Census

'Ashwood Kingswinford' or 'Greensforge'

Henry Guest, Head, 45 [?], Married, Engine Worker, Born Tipton, Staffordshire
Thomas Williams, Head, 33, Married, Stoker (Waterworks), Born Wordsley, Staffordshire
ALbert Edward Palfreyman, Head, 45, Married, Stationary Engine Worker (South Staffordshire Water Works Co.), Born West Bromwich, Staffordshire
W H [Wm Hy] Baker, Head, 53, Married, ... Engineer (S. S. Water Works), Born Moxley
Hey Jos Mawby, Head, 45, Married Stationary Engineman (Water Works), Born Leckhampstead, Buckinghamshire

'Ashwood Kingswinford' or 'Ashwood Cottage'

William James Baugh, Head, 48, Married, Clerk (Coal Wharf), Born Netherton, Dudley, Worcestershire

'Ashwood Kingswinford' or 'Ashwood'

Edward Reynolds, Head, 65, Widower, Waggoner on Farm, Born Bridgnorth, Shropshire

'Ashwood Kingswinford' or 'Ashwood Cottages'

Matthew Pitt, Head, 36, Married, Sheperd Labourer, Born England or Tuck Hill, [Kingswinford], Staffordshire
Harriet Pitt, Wife, 37, Married, Born Prestwood, Kingswinford, Staffordshire or Inett, Broseley, Shropshire
Mathew James Henery [Pitt], Son, 16, Farm Labourer, Born Tuck Hill, [Kingswinford], Staffordshire

Thirdly, a plot or parcel of Land containing 37 perches (or thereabouts) allotted and awarded to John Muchall under the Pensnett Inclosure Award. John Muchall surrendered the same in 1808 to Joshua Hickman, of Sedgley, Timber Dealer at a Court Baron held for the Manor of Kingswinford. Hickman subsequently surrendered, in 1810, the same unto William Emuss, of Bromsgrove, Charles Sanders, of Bromsgrove and George Heywood of Brockmoor, Ironmasters and partners. Joshua Hickman had built six cottages or dwellinghouses, two nailshops and 'one necessary house' then in the occupations of Edward Phibbs, Samuel Westwood, Benjamin Guest and others by the time of his surrender to Emuss, Sanders and Heywood. 'Emus, Saunders & Haywood' owned Brockmoor Ironworks numbered 895 on the 1822 plan according to 'William Fowler's Kingswinford' by Eric Richardson (Page 8).

The property at the time of the surrenders was described thus; 'bounded on the North by the Allotment made to Jeptha Gaunt and purchased by Abraham Lees, on the East by the lower or side reservoir of the Stourbridge Canal, on the South by the fourteenth Allotment made in the said Award to Lord Dudley and on the West by the Brockmoor Bank and Corbyns Hall road '. This probably relates to numbers 1551-1553 in the same plan (Page 10).

The Muchall family also held freehold property, a house, located in 'Bibbs Bank' near Wordsley (Toll) Gate, again in Kingswinford. I think the premises left the ownership of the family sometime between 1837 and 1841, probably by a public auction in 1840. Thomas Wood is recorded there as the occupier at number 639h in William Fowler's Map & Plan of the Parish of Kingswinford in 1824. The will of John Muchall in 1816, again records the occupier as Thomas Wood. The Land Tax Assessments record Benjamin Leech, a son-in-law of John Muchall, as an owner in the parish of a house tenanted or occupied by a Richard Wood.

I know no more of the Bibbs Bank name except from the extract of a will by Edward Muchall, dated 1837, but the Kingswinford Parish Register records a Henry Bibb being buried on 01 July 1801, aged 81. A Henry Bibb is also recorded in a Suit Roll for the Manor of Kingswinford in the 1770s.

If anyone could let me know any more about the name Bibbs Bank (or possibly Phibbs Bank?), or the properties above, I would be very grateful.

Andrew Price