Thursday, 23 March 2017

Finding the Taylor's

Sarah Jane Webster nee Taylor (1886-1945)
Last time I posted about my family research I mentioned that I'd discovered the maiden name of my paternal Great Grandmother thanks to finding and connecting with my lovely cousins on Facebook. Five of us met up at the grave of Jesse & Sarah Jane Webster last weekend and went for a meal afterwards sharing stories, looking at a few photos and feeling like we've known each other all our lives.

This weekend me and my hubby are off to help one of my newly found cousins celebrate her 70th birthday and more of the Webster clan are going to be there, I'm so looking forward to meeting them and the rest of the extended family. As you may guess I've been delving into Find My Past and other sites as well as pouring through the documents and photos I have and I've had a very productive week.

4 weeks ago I didn't even know my Great Grandmother's maiden name, now I know that, where she was born, her parents names and where she lived before she met my Great Grandad. So far I've got as far back as 1881 with the Taylor family, I'm not ruling out getting further back with them, but I want to look more at the Webster family which is my actual family line. This post though is here more to show my cousins what I've found and for any other Taylor's out there who may be related to us via Sarah Jane who had a lot of brothers and sisters.

1881 Census

Without a maiden name for Scottish Sarah my Great, Great Grandmother, I can’t get further back on her side, and as I don’t know when Cockney Ned came to Manchester and without his Father or Mother’s name I can't get any further information, so I’ll update this if and when I’ve discovered more. The Taylor journey begins though with Edward and Sarah Snr in 1881, they have no children as yet, so we can suppose they are newly married and they reside at 13 Chapel Street, Droylsden. More about Droylsden can be found here if you're so inclined. Coincidentally I lived in Droylsden in the 1980's not far from where the Taylor's lived and I never knew about it, but I'm very familiar with the area.

I started trawling through the census records but I couldn’t find Edward and Sarah in 1881 in the transcript information, however there was a record that stuck out but the transcription said both of them were born in Cheshire, England. Cheshire is nowhere near Scotland but I decided to check the image anyway and the actual census image says Scotland for her and Bow, Middlesex for him! Bow is in the East End of London, apparently "Bow" is an abbreviation of the medieval name Stratford-atte-Bow, which refers to a 12th century bridge. So take note would be family researchers, don't discard any piece of information until you've checked it properly!

1881 Census Details

In 1881, Edward’s occupation is that of an Iron Driller and he says he was born in 1855 (he told porkies) and Sarah Snr is down as a Cotton Weaver born in 1858. Droylsden at the time had 5 cotton mills including Christy’s Towels, so she would have been working in 1 of them. To cause confusion, Ned changes his year of birth to 1859 as does Sarah in the 1891 and 1901 census. Then Ned puts down 1857 as the year of his birth in the 1911 census. I need to find a true date of birth for him which I will do soon, I wonder if our ancestors knew the confusion they would cause in the future by their little embellishments of the truth?

1891 Census

Moving on to the 1891 census, Ned’s place of birth is now given as Stratford, Essex which is not far from Bow, why these people aren’t consistent I don’t know lol! The family lived at 8 Brown Street, Openshaw, Manchester, Edward is an Iron Slotter and we learn that Sarah Snr hails not just Scotland, but from Glasgow in Scotland. Brown Street no longer exists, well it does but Manchester Council in their wisdom decided to rename the street to Brunner Street just to cause confusion, but doing some digging last night, I found an old map online showing where Brown Street was, not far from Ogden Lane where my Grandad Webster had his pub!

Oddly Sarah Jane isn’t on this census despite being 5 years old at the time, some would hazard I have the wrong family but as I’m back tracking the family via the census from 1901 I know it’s the right family, so there has to be another explanation for her being missing. Something a few of my cousins have said about Sarah Jane suffering badly from epilepsy has me wondering if she was getting some treatment somewhere for the condition when the census was being taken?

Prestwich Hospital treated epileptics as well as other problems, although whether they took children is something I've yet to determine. Alternatively she could have just been staying with other family like an Aunt who had married someone of a different name than Taylor? Without sibling names for Ned and Sarah Snr I can't investigate this route yet and I haven't found Sarah Jane in the census records as yet, but I will, its just another mystery to solve.

1901 Census

Moving on to 1901 and Ned and the family live at 37 Peary Street, North Manchester, Prestwich, Lancashire, but Peary Street was viewed as being in Clayton by the locals! Prestwich is a far way from Clayton as far as today's maps and perceptions are, but not apparently back then. Something else this family research lark has taught me, NEVER and I repeat NEVER assume that the area you know as X is indeed X, and certainly don't count out a person because you think they are from X and they are listed as being in Z; because X and Z could have been Y when your ancestor was alive!

In this census, Edward is listed as being a labourer at the iron works (yet to discover which one, but could have been Richard Johnson & Nephew aka Bradford Ironworks), and the family consisted of the following members: -

Sarah Jane and Edward Jnr are listed this time, but both George (who would have been 19) and Thomas (who would have been 10) are not. George could have gone on to have a family of his own by 19, which accounts for why he would no longer have been at home, but he could equally also be serving his country in the Boer War (1899-1902) or succumbed to one of the prevalent diseases of the time such as consumption, smallpox or cholera. I need to investigate him further, when I have more time, and as there is no mention of Thomas, again we can assume he died young and investigate accordingly.

I know some of my cousins believe that Sarah Jane was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield making her a Scouser but she wasn’t, I know this is her family because of all the things that match what we know about them.

1) The head of household is called Edward Taylor and is from Bow/Stratford, Essex - for those that don’t know Stratford is part of London and not Stratford-Upon-Avon as I once thought, see what I mean about not accepting the notions of one place for another? So Ned will have had a cockney accent, justifying the nickname my cousin Joyce remembers of ‘Cockney Ned’.

2) His wife – Sarah – is from Scotland as Joyce remembers.

3) In 1935 Arthur Taylor (Sarah Jane’s brother), was a witness at my Nanna & Grandad Webster’s wedding, and I think Joyce remembers references to sister of Sarah Jane’s called Thersea as well.

It should be noted that Nelly as we’ll see in the 1911 census was actually called Ellen and not Nelly, her pet name gets corrected in the 1911 census. [See 1911 census to help clarify the above (I hope!)]

1901 Census Details

Civil Parish – North Manchester
Ecclesiastical Parish – Clayton, St Cross Parish
County Borough – Manchester (Part of)
Ward of Municipal Borough – Bradford
Parliamentary Division – Prestwich of South East Lancashire

Cockney Ned and his brood lived on Peary Street, which was in Clayton, Manchester, the houses are no longer there sadly. I've added an historical map capture from the 19th century which shows where all the towns etc were.

In the old boundaries and maps these areas came under the registration district of Chorlton which was created in 1837 and abolished in 1925 to become Manchester South. During those years Chorlton district gained part of the parish of Openshaw, from the Ashton-under-Lyne registration district. Until 24th March 1889 Openshaw had formed a detached part of the parish of Droylsden, including Little Droylsden, Clayton was also part of that parish and was under the Parish of Ashton.

Which will explain why in some documents Sarah lists Ashton as her place of birth, because back in 1886 it would have been. Boundaries changed and the world got bigger for our ancestors. I need to go look at the Parish records for Clayton and I may get a baptism certificate for Sarah Jane or other info like her mother’s maiden name etc. One of the cousins thinks her mother could have been called McKay which connects with the Scottish element but needs to be investigated.

1911 Census

In 1911 the Taylor family lived at 24 Boond Street, Greengate Salford, Salford, Lancashire, again none of the houses on that street survive, the area is all car parks and industrial units now. Note the street was actually called Boond Street, it isn't a typo!

The 1911 census is how some of my cousins got confused thinking that Sarah Jane came from Ashton-in-Makerfield, given that Jesse, his Father and Grandfather etc came from the Wirral. It’s a logical assumption to make that Sarah Jane also hails from the Wirral, but she was a Mancunian born and bred, insomuch as she could be a Manc having a Cockney Father and Scottish mother. The confusion doesn't arise from the Taylor 1911 census above, but from Jesse Webster's 1911 census where Sarah Jane puts her place of birth as Ashton, Lancs.

It’s Sarah Jane and Jesse - who signs himself as John, just to frustrate the hell out of future generations - themselves who fuel this confusion. In 1911 Jesse & Sarah Jane are living at 36 Bury Street, Salford. Jesse (John) is down as being an Excavating Labourer and they have 3 children listed, these are Fred (my Grandad), Henry and Lydia one of his brothers and sisters.

On the 1911 census form there was a column for “Total Children Born Alive” they list 4, in the column for “Children Still Living” they have put 3 and “Children Who Have Died” 1.
So Jesse and Sarah Jane have lost 1 child by the 1911 census. I suspect it was male child called Maurice born in 1907, I need to investigate further, but we know it wasn’t any of the siblings we know about and it wasn’t John (who died of polio before he reached 10 years of age) because he wasn’t born until 1925.

Things Still to Discover.

1) When did Cockney Ned come to Manchester from London, how did he meet Sarah Snr and if she was born in Scotland, how did she end up in Manchester?

2) What was Sarah Snr’s Maiden name.

3) Somebody somewhere said they had seen a document (or heard a story) where Jesse was lodging with some woman. I need to know where and when, I suspect Jesse came to Manchester to look for work. In Manchester, in the time frame we’re looking at they were just working on and then finishing the Manchester ship canal. Then around 1911 when Jesse is an excavating labourer they were digging and constructing the canals, building arches and lots of other things around Phillip’s Park. In that area there was also a coalmine, iron works and lots of industrial building taking place so lots of work would have been available.

4) Possible ways Jesse & Sarah Jane could have met? Ned and Jesse worked at the same place, alternatively they could have gone to the same pub or same church and that’s how Jesse met Sarah Jane.

What is clear given that Sarah Jane was from Manchester, and Ned was never in the Wirral, the story that's been passed down about Jesse and Sarah fleeing from Parkgate to Manchester to escape Ned cannot be correct. It’s more likely that Ned didn’t like the idea of Jesse marrying Sarah Jane so the couple fled to Park gate where Jesse’s family were, I still can’t find a marriage for Jesse and Sarah Jane and I’ve gone goggle eyed trying! Jesse and Sarah Jane came back to Manchester around 1908/09 because Lydia was born in Salford in 1909 and the family stayed in Manchester after that.

It could also be that there no fleeing and Jesse come to work on the Manchester Ship Canal or similar, found a wife, went back to Neston for work or to be with family then come back to Manchester where the work was or Sarah Jane’s family were? Something to investigate with access to more local history records.

One thing this family history is showing me is there is more to all this family history lark than just names on pieces of paper, I'm becoming fascinated by social history and the lives of people then, its certainly making me see where I've come from and the towns and areas in a different light. Never before had I considered my ancestors shaped Manchester, but they did! No idea why that notion never hit me until now, but I have a new found respect for all they did and for what they coped with.


  1. Hi Debs this is a very interesting read. You have obviously been very busy. There are members of our family that do the research. It is great when you find relatives you haven't seen for so long if ever. Thank you for sharing. Take care. Hugs Jackie

  2. Wow this must have taken some hours and so interesting.


Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x