Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Dad - George Robert Strickland








 My Dad, George Robert Strickland was born on the 19th December 1927, the youngest of seven children. He was named George after his mother’s half brother George Curtois and Robert after his father, though as a child everyone called him broncho because he was always suffering from bronchitis, later he was called Bob.
 Dad had four elder sisters, Annie the eldest would have been 17 when he was born, Alice 16, Grace 14 and Lily 11, so he had lots of mothers to help look after him, one of his sisters remembered accidentally sticking a safety pin in him whilst changing his nappy. Dad also had two brothers, Frederick who was exactly seven years older and Norman who was 5 at the time.
One of Dad's earliest memories was playing for hours with his toy cars under the table where he would have his own little town, a bit like his great grandson Julius.


The Second World War began in the September of 1939 when Dad was 11 years old, then a few weeks after Dad's 12th birthday his Father died and then fifteen months later his Mother died of cancer. Dad remembers the day that she died, his aunt Annie was staying to help with the care of his mother and Dad was asked to go to the hospital to pick up his mother’s ration card. During his journey home he passed a clock and can remember looking at the time, twenty minutes to three, and as he looked at the clock the thought entered his head that his mother had died. When he arrived home his Aunt came to the door and confirmed his fear, she had died around the time that he had looked at the clock. 
Dad was 13 when his mother died, so after the funeral there had been a discussion as to whether he would go to Chesterfield to live with his uncle George or return with his auntie Annie who lived in South Shields, it was decided that he would go with Aunt Annie. Dad finished his schooling in South Shields and then got a job delivering newspapers, but he wasn’t very happy living with his aunt so after a while he decided to travel back to Hull. He arrived back at their house on Southcoates Avenue to find it looking dark and deserted, he stood for awhile outside remembering his mother in the last days of her illness, eventually he knocked on the door of the neighbours and heard that Alice was away and that both Fred and Norman were at sea. The neighbours gave him a key and he let himself in but the house was cold and creepy, he didn’t feel like staying there on his own, so he decided to go round to his sister Lily’s house at 71 Hopkins Street. The streets were by then completely dark because of the blackout and Dad had a large suitcase with him that he had to drag along, but thankfully Lily was home and surprised but pleased to see him.

In the next couple of years Dad had many jobs such as butchers assistant, grocers assistant, builders assistant and a projectionist at the cinema. When he was 16 he got his provisional drivers licence and applied for a job at a laundry. When they asked whether he could drive he replied yes even though he had never driven a car in his life, he was told that he could start on Monday. When he arrived on Monday morning he saw a large van which resembled an ambulance and he was told that an elderly man called Tommy Anderson would be showing him the route. Luckily for Dad Tommy drove first, but around midday he said that Dad could take over. Dad put the shift into first gear and then started jolting down the road like a kangaroo. Eventually he got the hang of it until he had to turn a corner and tried to do this in third gear, he spun round the corner and almost rammed a horse and cart off the road giving both Tommy and the horse a near heart attack. Luckily the roads weren’t very busy in those days and within a short time Dad had learnt to drive and was doing the rounds on his own.

Just before the end of the war the government asked Butlins to take their amusement rides out of storage and to travel around Britain with them to help keep the people away from the coasts and the dangers of sea mines. Dad joined this travelling fair in Hull and travelled for several months around with them working on the dodgem cars and other rides. At the end of the European war he was back in Hull and was able to take part in all the street festivities. He was then offered another job by Butlins, to help get their holiday camp in Filey back in order for the opening of the summer. After a few months he got another job as a Taxi driver in Filey. One evening in August 1945 he went to pick up a young lady at the air force base, when he arrived he was told to go into the mess hall because an important announcement was about to be made. Everyone was listening to the radio, then it was announced that Japan had capitulated and the war was over, it was quiet for a few minutes until it had sunk in and then everyone started clapping and cheering.

Dad worked for a short while longer in Filey and then at the age of 18 he went into the National Service, he spent 6 weeks training in Northern Ireland and then a further 3 months in Cirencester. After his training he was shipped over to Egypt and got very seasick on the way. Dad didn’t enjoy his time in Egypt, it was dirty and hot and you had to watch out for scorpions, but he did learn to speak the language a little, at least he learned to swear in Arabic. Whilst in Egypt he was diagnosed with a mild form of tuberculosis, so he was sent back to Britain to get better.
After spending some time at a sanatorium Dad returned to Hull and decided to go back to school, he enrolled at the Greg School of typing and shorthand. This must have been one of his best decisions because whilst attending this school he met and fell in love with one of the other students, a young girl called Doreen Orwin. Bob and Doreen married on the 25th March 1950 in St. Peter’s Church in Anlaby.







Thursday, 20 October 2016

Poldark and my Stickland family

Recently the BBC has televised a new Poldark series based on the books by Winston Graham and set in Cornwall at the end of the 18th Century.
The Poldark books portray what life was like for my Stickland ancestors who also lived in Cornwall and like Ross Poldark invested in tin and copper mines.
 My 5th great grandfather John Stickland was the only child of Robert Stickland and Bridget Pryor, he was christened in Gwinear church on the 4th of September 1734, his father was a Yeoman which means that he was a small land owner below the class of gentry, probably today we would say upper middle class.
In 1749 Robert Stickland made a contract with landowners Frances Gifford of Lanherne and Henry Arundell of Wardor to lease the Tenement of Coswinsawsin, a very small hamlet about 2 miles north east of Gwinear and bordering onto Baripper and Penponds. Lease contracts or Indentures as they were called, were usually very long winded, especially in Cornwall because of all the mineral rights. The contract allows the owners of the land to set up a mine on the land if minerals should be found, and also timber rights to any trees growing on the land.
John probably received a good education and at the young age of 22 he became church warden of Gwinear church, when he was 19 years old his maternal grandfather Christopher Pryor died and left his estate of Trenowith to John and it seems that John also inherited the tenement of Tappard which had been in the possession of the Pryor family and located about 2 miles south west of Gwinear, as he is recorded on a map as being a tenant of this land.
In 1761 when John was 27 his uncle William Stickland died leaving his prosperous merchandising business to his nephew, so John Stickland had become a wealthy merchant with possession of two tenements in Gwinear parish and a Quay by Hayle harbour. Hayle was a busy and thriving port, and having access to a quay and being able to trade with the local mines etc put John Stickland in a very prosperous and esteemed position.
On the 22nd of January 1763 John Stickland married Mary Rogers the youngest daughter of David Rogers, Gentleman, Merchant  and mine adventurer. Adventurers were something like shareholders, they would invest money into a mine and if the workings were good they would receive a share in the profits, but sometimes they would invest or put money into a mine that was failing and would end up being out of pocket.
John was not only busy with his Merchant's business but was also investing in tin and copper mines of which I have several Indentures. In 1772 John decided to broaden his mining ventures and this time in partnership with a John Harvey of St.Columb Major, on the 4th of April 1772 an Indenture was made between William Angove, gentleman of St. Columb Major, John Stickland, merchant of Gwinear and John Harvey, yeoman of St. Columb Major, the mine was one of the Herland mines situated by Gwinear.
 The Indenture states that John Stickland and John Harvey agree to pay William Angove one eighteenth part or share of any tin, copper, lead or other metals or minerals that they should find, and they also agree to appoint Nicholas Harvey, brother of John Harvey and son in law of William Angove as mine captain.
 Old Herland mine is known to have raised over seven thousand pounds worth of ore in 1756 whilst on the 20th February 1760 a sale of 275 tons of ore from Herland and Drannack fetched over two thousand pounds. The working of the Herland group continued until the year 1762, although certain small sales of ore are recorded as late as 1778, it seems that at the time that John Stickland made his contract production was not at it’s best. The reason for this was probably the fact that the market was suddenly swamped by a great flood of cheap copper found in the Parys mine in Anglesey in Wales.
 John and Mary had a total of six children, one of whom died when she was seven years old.
In the beginning of 1773 John Stickland is cited in an advertisement for a Quay in Hayle, the advertisement was placed in the newspaper dated March 8th 1773, the advertisement reads as follows :
“CORNWALL to be set for three, five, or seven years, TREMEARN’S KEYS, IN HAYLE, Together or in parcels, with the cellar, loft, dwelling-house, and two acres of land there to adjoining, the latter having been long a victualling-house, and has now a licence. The keys and cellars are very advantageously situated for business, and have been many years in the coal and corn trade &c.------For which purpose a survey will be held on the said premises on Friday the 26th day of this instant March, at Three in the afternoon. For particulars enquire of Hugh Edwards, at St. Ives, or John Stickland in Gwinear."
Tremearne’s quay was situated next to Stickland’s quay.
Two months after this advertisement was set, John Stickland, aged now 38 and father of five children, and probably at the height of his career, met an untimely and unfortunate death. I have been unable to discover the cause of his death, but the fact that he died intestate or without leaving a will proves that his death occurred unexpectedly and quickly, either as the result of an accident or a very short illness. Mary, the widow of John Stickland seems to have followed her husband John very quickly to the grave, which could indicate a contagious illness. A letter of Admin was made in December 1773 appointing Robert Stickland as executor of his son’s estate and guardian of his grandchildren.
Sometimes I wish that we could have a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors but I guess that I will just have to make do with watching the new Poldark series.




Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Dalham village - in the footsteps of my ancestors



My third great grandmother Maria Bishop was born in April 1816 in a beautiful little Suffolk village called Dalham which is situated along the ancient Saxon Icknield Way path. Last Saturday we had the chance to visit this lovely  peaceful village and to walk where my ancestors had walked.
Maria's father Frederick was a Journeyman Miller for the villages of Dalham, Gazeley and Barrow during the first half of the 19th century. He died on the 19th February 1870 at the grand old age of 95.


The remains of one Mill is still standing in the village but originally there were three windmills in this village.
We had to ask for the whereabouts of the church as this is situated at quite a distance above the village next to the stately home Dalham Hall, in fact we had to walk a small section of the Icknield path to reach the church. The church dates to the 14th century, but it stands on the site of a much earlier Saxon building mentioned in the Domesday Book. Inside, the church has some beautiful carved wooden pews, each with a different flower and animal carved at the end. 
We searched among the grave stones but unfortunately didn't find any belonging to family that were still standing, though many were covered in lichen and were unreadable.
These two graves bare the name of Fitch which was the maiden name of Frederick Bishop's wife, Ann Fitch.

After walking back to the village we stopped off at the village pub to have a light lunch, like the church this would have been and still is a local meeting place, maybe even more frequently attended by Frederick than the church.
Visiting the areas where our ancestors came from helps us to visualize how they lived and helps us to feel closer to them. 








Sunday, 21 August 2016

A very special person

Ninety years ago on the 22nd of August 1926 a very special person was born, my Mum, Doreen Bertha Orwin.
Doreen was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, the third child of Herbert Cyril Orwin and Violet Popplewell. She grew up in a happy home with her brother Cyril and sister Joan and loving parents.

Doreen’s Dad had a little car with what they called a dickey at the back where the children could sit strapped in, usually on a Saturday or a Sunday they would go for a drive to Hornsea or Withernsea, little seaside resorts. On their way home they would always stop at a wayside pub called ‘The Jack of Hearts’ and the children would sit outside by the tables and get a glass of lemonade and a packet of crisps. Doreen always loved this treat and sometimes if her Dad pretended to drive past the pub without stopping all three children would start yelling from the back of the car. Next to the pub was a farm and the lady who lived there got to know them quite well and would often bring over a glass of goat’s milk for them to drink.
 One of Doreen’s stories from her growing up years is from when she was about 7 or 8 years old. The children living in her street, Spring Gardens in Anlaby near Hull, asked her if she would go to the shops for them on her bicycle, they said that they badly needed some elbow grease.
Doreen recalls: “I agreed to go and get some, about 30 minutes later after having been in just about all the shops, I arrived back in the street to see my friends doubled up with laughter, it was then that I realized what elbow grease was, (elbow grease means hard work). Feeling very embarrassed, I fell off my bicycle and ended up with a very bad knee which took a few weeks to heal up, and I must say ended up with my friends feeling very sorry, but it was a laugh when I think how foolish I was.”
When I was about fourteen I met an elderly man at church who had lived in the same street as my Grandparents and who knew my Mum when she was young, he told me that she was always smiling and happy.



 
Doreen gave birth to five children and was and still is a loving and caring Mother. My brother John told me that when I was about two years old I ran across the road and that my Mum ran in front of a car to save me. I am so thankful to have been blessed to have had this wonderful woman as my mother. Happy 90th birthday Mum.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Cousins, families and moments in time

Every day we create new moments in time in our family history and yesterday, 6th August 2016 was a very special moment in time in our family history because my sister Kim's daughter Breanna Werner was married for time and all eternity to Kenny Boxberger.


Today the 7th August is also a special date for my own daughter Laura, she was married to her husband Benjamin Kempenaers nine years ago today.



Breanna and Laura, cousins who live an ocean apart but are bonded by blood and the similar genes which they have inherited.
It always fascinates me to see similarities within families, in expressions or smiles or mannerisms and I wonder which ancestor that particular trait came from.
Family is a wonderful tree with different branches that spread outwards even as the roots spread out downwards.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The seventh child

My Dad, George Robert Strickland was the youngest of seven children, he had four elder sisters and two brothers. His eldest sister Annie was 17 when he was born and Alice was 16 so he had enough "mothers" to help look after him. There is a story that when his sister Alice was changing his nappy she accidently stuck the safteypin in his bottom.
My Dad's parents died when he was a teenager so his elder sisters helped a little bit in raising him though I have heard stories that he was quite wild, thankfully he turned out pretty well and is a wonderful father.
Here under is a photo of Alice with her younger brother George, or Bob as he was called, you can almost hear her saying to him, "look at the camera Bob".

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Dangers of working in a Windmill


I work in a windmill and I often have to climb the ladder stairs to fetch something for a customer, so I know how careful you have to be and I often warn visitors to the mill that they have to climb down the steps the same way as they climbed up, that is with your nose to the stairs. Knowing these dangers I was saddened to find this article in the British newspaper archives about my great great grandfather Robert Orwin who had been a Miller all of his life as was his father and his mother's family as well.
The article is from The Hull Daily Mail, September 1903