Sir Thomas Beecham 1879-1961


Thomas Beecham in 1909

I’ve written before about my connection to the Beecham family who came from the village of Curbridge near Witney in Oxfordshire. Born into  a family of agricultural labourers, Thomas Beecham left home and moved to St Helen’s in Lancashire, where he set up his firm selling Beecham’s pills. He became very successful and his son Joseph Beecham built on this success and became a baronet in 1914.   Continue reading “Sir Thomas Beecham 1879-1961”


Great Aunt Pat, aka Nellie Bolton

FWB, Jack & Pat (Nellie) Bolton

L-R Jack, Fred and Nellie (Pat) Bolton, possibly on the occasion of Fred and Nellie’s baptism

Nellie Bolton was born on 4 April 1895 in Urmston, Lancashire, the only daughter and the middle child of Frederick and Alice Bolton. She was baptised at St Clements church, Urmston on same day as her baby brother Frederick (my grandfather) in February 1898. 

Nellie (Pat) Bolton 27 Jan 1917

Pat Bolton, 27 January 1917

When I started looking into my family history I was confused about Nellie for quite a while and my Auntie Frieda (who was the only person left on this side of the family at the time) didn’t know who Nellie was. However she did remember her Aunty Pat so after a while I realised that Nellie and Pat were the same person. I’m not sure when Nellie decided to change her name, or why she chose the name Pat, but the photo on the left was taken in 1917 when she was 22 years old and is signed ‘Love, Pat’ on the back, so the name change must have taken place before then. 

One of the reasons I wanted to write about Pat was because Auntie Frieda clearly hadn’t liked her. ‘Oh, Aunty Pat, she was awful’ said Frieda, but (frustratingly) would not go into detail about the nature of Pat’s awfulness. I suspect that Pat ‘put on airs and graces’ and I also suspect that she got this from her mother, Alice. Alice had not been pleased when her youngest son (my grandfather) married Helena Harrison as she felt that the Harrisons were socially inferior, so my guess is that Pat picked up this snobbery from her mother. 

I’m not sure why Pat would have considered herself above Helena (who confusingly was known as Nellie to the family!) because we have a photo of them taken at their place of work so they were clearly colleagues before Helena married Pat’s brother. On the back of this photo Auntie Frieda has helpfully written ‘Office girls’ so it looks as though Pat and Helena both worked in the office of the same firm, and one of Helena’s sisters, Winnie, also appears in the photo. It is quite possible that this firm was the British Cotton and Wool Dyers Association, where my grandfather worked all his life, although I have no real evidence that this is where Pat and Helena worked.

Office girls, Helena, Winnie, Pat (Nellie)

Office girls – Pat is standing back left. Helena (Grandma) is next but one to her. Winnie (Helena’s youngest sister) is front row, second from right. Date unknown – sometime between 1911 and 1921.

Pat never married and continued to live with her parents once her brothers had both left home. After her father died in 1929, it was just Pat and her mother left at home and it was during this time that her mother, Alice, made a serious mistake with the family money, entrusting it to a dishonest solicitor. The money had been inherited from Alice’s Uncle John who did very well out of umbrella manufacturing and property speculation. Alice never really recovered from the loss of money and the ensuing court case and by the time of the 1939 register she was described as ‘incapacitated’. She and Pat were living together (still in Urmston) and it sounds like Pat was her mother’s main carer. 

Nellie (Pat) Bolton undated

Pat, probably outside the house she shared with her mother in Urmston

Following her mother’s death in 1940 Pat continued to live in Urmston, but she died herself just three years later in November 1943 at the age of 48. Her death certificate says the main cause of death was a cerebral embolism, with auricular fibrillation and rheumatic myocarditis also mentioned, so Pat clearly had heart problems. She was in the cottage hospital in Urmston when she died so had clearly been ill beforehand. Her death was reported by her older brother Jack who lived nearby and the probate record shows that her assets were divided between her two brothers. 

Whatever kind of person she was, 48 was far too young to die and I can’t help feeling that Pat had a rather sad life. Although the family was financially stable, she doesn’t seem to have had much independence, living with her parents until they both died. As the only daughter she was no doubt expected to care for them both and she also had to support her mother through the difficult times mentioned above, which can’t have been easy for either of them.      

Charles Mott 1871-1931

This week’s 52ancestors prompt is ‘brother’ so this is a short piece about Charles Mott who was the brother of my great-grandfather Ernest Mott. Charles was the oldest son of Henry Mott, ploughing champion and his wife Martha (nee Jones). Charles was born in 1871 in Shippon, near Abingdon in Berkshire and was baptised at the village church of St Mary Magdalene.  Continue reading “Charles Mott 1871-1931”

The witches of North Moreton

Odds_nipperkinsFor a tiny village, North Moreton has experienced its fair share of historical events. Last week I wrote about the devastating effect of the Black Death in 1603, and this week’s witchcraft story took place not long after that.  Like the Black Death story, this one features the Gregory family.  I can trace my links to this North Moreton family back to my 8th great-grandfather Andrew Gregory who married Anne Field in 1661 in North Moreton. At this stage I can’t prove a direct link to the Gregory characters mentioned below, but I’m sure there is a connection and I hope to track it down one day. Continue reading “The witches of North Moreton”

Black death comes to a Berkshire village in 1603


Citizens of Tournai bury plague victims by Pierart dou Tielt

A few weeks ago I was looking at the transcribed parish registers for the village of North Moreton in Berkshire, where some of my ancestors lived and worked.  I have managed to trace some branches of the family back to 1637 (Nicholas & Joan Field) with the family names of Field and Gregory being two of the earliest recorded in the parish registers. I noticed that in the burials section of the parish registers, 1603-4 had seen a large number of burials and on closer inspection it became clear that North Moreton had experienced a terrible outbreak of bubonic plague, or the Black Death as it was also known.    Continue reading “Black death comes to a Berkshire village in 1603”

Ellen Welby, artist and independent woman


An example of Ellen’s work

Ellen Ann Welby was born in 1851 in Canterbury and was the granddaughter of William and Hannah Welby via their son William. William married Ann Saunders in 1849 and Ellen was the second oldest child in a family consisting of six girls and two boys. Ellen’s father seems to have been a hard working and ambitious man; his own father worked as a baker all his life, but William first worked as a schoolmaster and later became a High Bailiff at the County Court. I assume that Ellen’s early years would have been fairly comfortable and that she would have received a reasonably good education.  

Continue reading “Ellen Welby, artist and independent woman”