Joseph Charles Abram and Lucy Thompson

Lucy Thompson was the first wife of my great grandfather Joseph Charles Abram.  Lucy and Joseph, a Corporal in the Army Service Corps residing in Aldershot, married on 16 April 1906 in Northampton.

Lucy’s life was short – born in Northampton in 1880, Lucy was the daughter of William and Harriett. She died in Farnham, Surrey in 1907. After Lucy’s death, Joseph re-married. His second wife was my great grandmother, Millicent May Bowers.

I have been able to trace Lucy on census returns. On the 1881 census, Lucy can be found aged one, living with her parents and sisters Emily, Annie and Alice.  Living in the same house is Lucy Munns (described as mother in law).* In 1891, Lucy, aged 11,  can again be found living with her parents and sisters at Great Russell Street.  Her father William is now recorded as working as a Gentleman’s Gardener. Finally, in 1901, Lucy, aged 21, is no longer at home with her parents but is working as a servant for a widow, Elizabeth Peach, at 25 Margaret Street, Northampton.

I have been able to find William and Harriet on the 1901 census. William is recorded as a market gardener and Harriet a greengrocer shopkeeper. The are still living at Great Russell Street. In 1911, William, now 72, is still recorded as a market gardener, living at Burns Street with Harriett.

I am interested to learn more about Lucy and her family, as she has been described to me as ‘a dark skinned lady’ and I have discovered that Northamptonshire has a significant black history, with people of Asian, African and Caribbean origin, residing in the county over many centuries.

* I have located a Lucy Munns on the 1851 and 1861 census returns. She is recorded as having been born in Riseley in Bedfordshire and is married to George Munns.  The couple have a daughter called Harriett.

Joseph and Ann

Joseph and Ann Abram (nee Cox) were my great great great grandparents. I have been able to locate the couple on the 1861 census, where Joseph, a shoemaker aged 23 and Ann aged 21 were living at 4 Lower River Terrace, St Sepulchre in Northamptonshire with three children, Emma, Charles (my great great grandfather aged 1) and Harriett.

I believe Joseph was the son of James and Rebecca and I have located him on the 1841 census aged 3 and the 1851 census aged 12. Sadly, it appears that Joseph died aged just 28.  The death certificate shows he had been suffering from Phthisis Pulmonalis (Tuberculosis) for 13 months.

Ann appears to have married William Maloney in 1869 to and her story continues on the 1871 census, where, aged 31, she is living at St George Square in Northampton but now with William Maloney of Ireland, Charles (aged 11 and recorded as Charles Abram Maloney) and three other children, George, Emma and John W Maloney.

In 1881 William and Ann can be found living at 12 Alpha Street, Northampton, with four children, Jeremiah (aged 9)*, Eugene, William and John Maloney.  Finally, in 1891, Ann can be found at 50 Adelaide Street, Northampton.  She is a widow and working as a laundress. Eugene, William and John are still living with her.

* Jeremiah Maloney does not appear on the 1891 census with his mother and siblings but I believe I have located him, aged 19, living as a boarder at Luther Street, Leceister in the home of William and Sarah Abrams (both recorded as being born in Northamptonshire) and their children Herbert and Amy, along with two other boarders,  Ellen Maloney aged 24 and and Eva M aged 1.  (I believe that Jeremiah Maloney married Ellen Frost in 1889).

Four sisters and a brother

My grandmother Deilia Eileen Clarke was the daughter of Albert Edward William Clarke, a Northamptonshire Police Sergeant and Louisa Jane Shortland. Delia (known as Dids), born in 1916, was one of  six children, having four sisters – Dorothy, born 1904, Cecily Mary Clarke (known as Molly) born 1914,  Kitty (known as Kitten), born 1920 and one brother Edward Alexander (Teddy), who was born in 1906 and died, aged four, in 1910.  However my dad believes that Louisa Jane had a number of miscarriages and if these had not occurred, there may have been 11 or 12 children.

My grandmother married Louis Bowers Abram in 1916 and my father Michael was born in 1944. Oldest sister Dorothy married Henry Grey Faber in 1960.

Born in 1914, Cecily Mary Clarke, known as Molly, was the second oldest sister. She suffered with epilepsy and did not marry.

Kitty Alexandra was born  in 1920 and married Reginald William Jeffery, known as Bill. Together they ran a hairdressers shop in Brackly, Northamptonshire.

The photo below shows the wedding of Kitty to Bill, with her sister Dorothy and mother Louisa Jane stood to her right, together with Louisa’s brother Ernest Shortland.  Sister Molly can be seen standing at the back, second from the left.

Wedding of Betty ClarkeMore photos

Orphan photos

The purpose of the Family Album pages is to try and document my family – to ensure my family stories live on and the people are not forgotten.  Sadly though, I do have photos that I know nothing about and these are displayed here, in the the hope that maybe someone will recognise the people in them be able to tell me something about them.

The people shown are likely from Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire as this is where my ancestors were from.

Orphan photo

More orphan photos

See also:

Shortland shoemakers

In papers given to me by my great aunt Dorothy, she noted that John Shortland (the brother of my great great grandfather William Shortland) had started a shoe firm in Irthinglingborough, Northamptonshire, so I set out to investigate.

I had always known that Northamptonshire was famous for making shoes and boots and that it was likely my ancestors had been involved but I never expected to find them involved to the extent I did.

Information about the firm Dorothy referred to was initially located on The Rushden Heritage website which indicated the firm was actually started by John’s father, also called William.

In 1875 the late Mr. William Shortland left his native Harrowden to seek work in the trade at Irthling-borough where he soon established himself and was one of the first to install a sewing and stitching machine. In 1891 he built the Tower factory where he and his sons, John and James, made shoes for the wholesale market. Eventually, John Shortland started business on his own account and in 1899 founded the Express Works, which during the past 59 years have been extended many times. On his death in 1934 the management passed into the hands of his son, Mr. Hugh Shortland. The development of the well-known “Wearra” fitting system, covering slim, medium and broad fittings in men’s, women’s and youths’, started in 1936.

Information about John Shortland Ltd was located on the National Archives website and about information about William and John Shortland on the Grace’s guide website where I discovered a large selection of adverts for William Shortland, John Shortland and Wearra Shoes.

I subsequently contacted the Irthlingborough History Society and Roy York and Philip Watts told me about Wearra shoes and the Express Works factory where the shoes were made.

The Shortland family I was told were ‘very important in the town employing many local people and Hugh Shortland’s name appears on the foundation stone of the local Methodist church. The hall, coincidentally, is where the history society holds it’s meetings. A reproduction of the giant plaque, on the now demolished Express Shoe factory, is being placed on the buildings of the new development being built at the moment on the large site in the centre of the town next to St. Peter’s church.’

The society also kindly sent me the photos that appear below which show William and John, photo three is believed to be James (John’s brother) and Hugh Shortland.

They also told me about a book titled ‘Clicking to Closing’ which contains information and memories about the work of my ancestors and it was lovely to read about the contribution they had made to the town and also to read they didn’t just run a successful business but appeared to care about the welfare of their staff too, boasting the axiom ‘The best use you can make of surplus profits is to invest them in the welfare of your employees’. In a strange coincidence, the book was printed and bound in the premises formally occupied by John Shortland Ltd – The Express Works in Church Street.

Sadly, the firm, which had become known as David Scott Shoes and was one of Irthlingborough’s largest employers, closed in 1982 with the loss of 320 jobs and today not one shoe manufacturer remains in Irthlingborough – in October 2002 R Griggs Ltd announced that production of Dr Martens in the town would cease, bringing to end, an industry with which the town had been associated for many hundreds of years. I feel incredibly fortunate however to have discovered such a wealth of information about my ancestors and the work they did and to be have been able to gather it here for my family and others to learn about them too.

More photos

Richard Shortland and Eliza Shortland (nee Butts)

I learned about Richard and Eliza after reading through papers given to me by my great aunt Dorothy. Richard it seemed was born in Northamptonshire around 1824 and Dorothy had noted that he had traveled to Australia with the 51st regiment of the British army around 1841, living there until he died in Sydney in 1887.  Further information about the regiment can be found below.

I wanted to learn about Richard and Eliza as it seemed learning about them, may lead me to learn more about the story I have been told, that my family is descended from Lieutenant John Shortland. I have now amassed quite a bit of information which is published here, however, to date, I have only found contrary reports about Richard’s relationship to Lieutenant John.

Dorothy’s papers seem to indicate that Richard was the brother of my great great great grandfather John Shortland, along with three other brothers, named Thomas, William and Henry.  The papers included a birth certificate from 1858 for Richard’s son Joseph (on this Richard is shown to be a Dray Proprietor) and a note, handwritten by Dorothy, which detailed a memorial, showing that Richard died aged 64 in 1887 leaving a wife and 12 children:

  • William Henry
    (born Armidale, New South Wales 1849, married in Camden 17/9/1872 at St. Johns Church, occupation  – Writing Clerk
  • Mary A. (1850)
  • Richard (1852)
  • John (1854)
  • Eliza (1855)
  • Joseph B (1858)
  • George T (1860)
  • Robert A. (1862)
  • Alice (1864)
  • Arthur (1867)
  • Emily (1869)
  • Martha L. (1873)

I believe that prior to marrying Eliza, Richard was married to Anne. A search of the Find My Past website has found that Richard Shortland married Anne Keenan on 2 September 1844 in Sydney, Australia.

Searching for further information, I found the hand written note matched an entry on the Ancestry UK website and this enabled me to locate both the death index, (which names Richard’s parents as Richard and Mary) and details of the grave in Rookwood Cemetery, New South Wales.

Grant Skinner at the cemetery kindly sent me the photos that appear here – these not only showed the grave that Dorothy wrote about but also that other family members were buried in the same place.

Grant advised ‘The rear of the memorial (photo 0348) is all blank with the three x other faces having multiple inscriptions and the plots appear to be over four or five sites wide. It appears that a wrought iron fence of some description has been removed from the kerb set of the memorial some time ago based on the patches in the sandstone, but the memorial itself is in rather good condition given its age with a bit of the kerb set sunk into a slight depression towards the front of the site, but nothing of any great concern’. Death notices for Richard can be found below.

Grave of Richard and Eliza Shortland

However, on studying the photos, I noted that another Richard is recorded. The younger Richard died 24 April 1933 aged 80 years.

I searched the National Library of Australia website and have I believe found newspaper articles relating to the latter and his wife. The articles about Richard state he was a descendant of Lieutenant Shortland and a grand or great grand nephew of Rear-Admiral Shortland, of the Imperial Navy.  The articles also provide detail of the work he did, stating ‘He was principal of the firm of Shortland and Sons who, in the early days of Sydney, were contract carriers for most of the city firms; he retired from business at the outbreak of war in 1914.’

Richard

Martha

However, I am also in possession of a document, re-produced below,  which states the  relationship to Lieutenant John has been proved to be untrue and that Eliza invented the story.  Could Eliza have made the story up? I am keeping an open mind but for my money, in light of the newspaper articles, I would like to know how the story has been disproved before reaching my conclusion.

The Wheelers of Camden (page one)

The Wheelers of Camden (page two)

More photos

My Shortland ancestors

My Shortland ancestors originate from Northamptonshire. My great grandmother, Louisa Jane Shortland and my great great grandfather William Shortland were born in Weedon and my great great great grandfather, John Shortland was born in Flore.

Information about the name Shortland can be found on the Find My Past website below.

I have been able to trace my Shortland ancestors through census returns.  The 1881 census shows Louisa Jane, living in Weedon, aged three, with her father William (a widower) and his sister Emily, also Louisa’s brother Ernest and their grandparents.  The 1891 census shows Louisa is still at home with William in Weedon but he is now married to Alis and there is is a daughter Bessie. In 1901, Louisa is still in Weedon but now working as a parlour maid.

By 1911, Louisa has married my great grandfather Albert Edward William Clarke, a police sergeant and they are living together at Factory Row Police Station, Pottersbury.  Their two eldest children, Dorothy and  Edward who died aged four in October 1911,  are also shown, together with a visitor, Cecilia E Glenn, a certified midwife. The 1911 census doesn’t appear to coincide with the births of any of Louisa’s children that I can see but my father believes Louisa had a number of miscarriages, so that could be the reason.

It has also been possible to keep track of Louisa’s father William. In 1861 he is aged seven, living in Weedon with his parents John and Jane and siblings, Henry (recorded as an invalid), Richard, Sarah and Emily. In 1871 he is aged 17 and still living with his parents and sister Emily and but in 1881, William is recorded as a widower, living with his parents and sister, and his children Louisa and Ernest.  He remains a resident of Weedon on both the 1891 and 1901 censuses.

The census returns also show my great great grandfather John Shortland – aged 36 in 1851, he is married to Jane and living with children John, Richard, Sarah and Mary.  In 1861 William and another daughter, named Emily appear and Louisa Jane and her brother Ernest show on the 1881 census too.

Shoemaker or veteran

The photo on this page was given to me by my relative Keith Shortland. The man and woman make a striking couple but neither of us know who they are, the only clue is the name and address of the photographer which appears in the bottom right of the photo – B G Brock, 23 Wellingboro Road, Northampton.

The sheriff of Northampton

Northampton is known for shoe making and I know some of my ancestors were shoe makers in Northamptonshire (one is recorded as being a journeyman shoemaker meaning he traveled around the country to work).

A search of the National Archives has found two entries which reference the photographer.

In February 2018, Paul Boniface who was researching Victorian and Edwardian photographers in Northamptonshire got in touch and advised:

Benjamin George Brock ran a studio at 237 Wellingborough Road, Northampton between 1903 and 1907. In 1901 the census shows him as a lodger at 235 Wellingborough Road – occupation photographer and on 1 March 1903 he married Ida Blanche Allen. The 1911 census shows him living at 25 Beaconsfield Terrace, Northampton – occupation Foreign Correspondent.

The photo is a studio photo and the style of dress is in keeping with early Edwardian attire. Paul thought the emblem on the gentleman’s jacket was a flower (maybe a dahlia) and advised that a journeyman is the stage after an apprenticeship –  there was five to seven years worked as an apprentice and then three years as a journeyman.

If you check the size of the photo it will also give you an indication of the date. 2.5″ x 4″ (CdV) would point to the early years of Benjamin and 4″ x 6.5″ would be the latter say 1905-7.

Shoemaker or veteran, I don’t have the answers right now – whether I can learn more about the people on the photograph remains to be seen but I intend to try.

He rode to war on a penny farthing

Ernest Henry Shortland was the brother of my great grandmother Louisa Jane. Born in Weedon, Northamptonshire in 1876, for most of his life he worked as a wheelwright.

Ernest and wife Laura outside the house Ernest built at Braefield

As a young man, Ernest joined the local section of the First Battalion, the Northamptonshire Volunteers and would travel with his colleagues on Penny Farthing bicycles to Daventry weekly, to take part in combined company drill and exercises. On arriving in Daventry, the cycling soldiers were greeted with shouts of ‘here come the mounted infantry’.

At the outbreak of war, Ernest volunteered for service but because of his age was advised to join the County Police and this is how he came to Braefield. As a war time police officer, he had many experiences, including chasing German prisoners of war who had escaped Pattishall Camp. who were located hiding in a a wood and escorted back to Northampton.

Ernest died in Braefield aged 91 and at that time was the villages oldest man.

More photos