The new information in an ancestry hint about my great grandmother, Elizabeth Webster, has been very interesting to investigate. (See previous post.)
I already knew that Elizabeth was born in Todwick, Nottinghamshire, in 1845.
Her parents were George Webster and his wife Sarah Newbourn.
Elizabeth was the second of their three children. Her older brother was George and her younger sister was Mary.
At the time of Elizabeth's birth, her parents lived at Harthill. Sometimes Harthill is regarded as in Nottinghamshire; at other times it's in South Yorkshire. Either way it's near Rotherham and Sheffield. Today you'd be very nearby if you stopped at the Woodall service area of the M1.
But Elizabeth's mother, Sarah, originated from Todwick so possibly she'd gone to stay with her own parents for the birth of her second child. Todwick is a village just a couple of miles away from Harthill.
Elizabeth's father, George Webster, worked as a labourer. Like the majority of the males in my family tree at this time, he was probably an agricultural labourer. But by 1871 he seems to have become a labourer in an ironworks although still living in Harthill.
This is the point where my great grandmother, Elizabeth Webster, leaves home.
The1871 census records Elizabeth, aged 26 years, working as a housemaid at Norbury Hall located in the Pitsmoor area of Sheffield. Originally a village, Pitsmoor is now a suburb of Sheffield.
Norbury Hall was owned by Mr John Hall, a wholesale grocer, who lived there with his wife, two teenage sons and two younger children.
In addition to Elizabeth, there was a cook, a gardener and two young women employed to look after the children and work in the house. The gardener lived with his family in a cottage in the grounds of Norbury Hall but no other members of the gardener's family were employed at the Hall.
As the housemaid, Elizabeth would have been the cleaner of the house. Her duties were endless and she would have worked long hours. Dusting, sweeping, carpet beating, bed changing, scrubbing, polishing and worst of all the emptying of chamber pots into a slop bucket.
I found old newspapers that reported that Mr J Hall bought Norbury Hall at auction in 1870. He paid around £4400 which is about £275,000 equivalent today. (See the National Archives currency converter in a previous blogpost.)
As a wholesale grocer he must have been well established in the area. The old newspapers report his involvement in a court case related to trespass while out shooting although Mr Hall was exonerated. He was also involved with local politics being a sponsor for a candidate for the local school board.
Other than the auction, the house itself doesn't get any newspaper mentions until the 1920s when it became the headquarters for an army regiment after being used as a hostel for discharged soldiers and sailors.
Norbury Hall is now, as far as I can tell, adapted into the HQ of an army cadet unit and the HQ of a Muslim charity. There are some photos of what remains of Norbury Hall at the end of this thread on a Sheffield local history website. There's also a copy of a drawing of Norbury Hall in about 1880.
This 1850 map shows the hall and its extensive grounds which appear to include a small lake. Plenty of work for the gardener!
Mr and Mrs Hall continued to live at Norbury Hall for several years. The 1881 census records a couple more servants and the old newspapers have regular adverts for staff to work for Mrs Hall at Norbury. The couple both died in the early 1890s.
By 1875 Elizabeth had left Norbury Hall and married my great grandfather, John Henry Buckle.
Before that she'd given birth in 1872 to a son, George Ullyet Webster.
I knew about this child and had always thought his name was unusual. (On some records Ullyet is spelt Ullyett.) And, of course, I'd wondered who his father was.
Now I know where Elizabeth was in 1871 I think I might have found an answer.
George Ullyett (1852 - 1898) is regarded as one of the finest cricketers ever to have originated from the Sheffield area. He was born in Crabtree, Pitsmoor and if you go back to the map above, you'll see that Crabtree is next door to Norbury Hall.
As a boy, George played cricket for the local Crabtree village team and later for the Pitsmoor team. Between 1871 and 1873 George played professional cricket in Bradford. And he played for England in the first ever Test match against Australia in 1876. He had a good career and when his cricketing days were over he became a publican. He was married, had several children and worked in the steel industry when cricket didn't pay enough to cover the bills.
If you're interested there's a full account of George's cricketing prowess on this website.
So, the question is, was Elizabeth a cricketing fan who named her new son after a local cricketing hero? Or did she have a fling with George and then lose touch with him as he rose through the dizzy heights of cricketing fame? Of course, George was younger than Elizabeth but not so much that they couldn't have had a relationship. Elizabeth's pregnancy coincided with George's time playing professional cricket in Bradford so it's easy to imagine that the young woman would have found it difficult to keep in contact. Who knows? I don't know and will never know. What I do know is that my great grandfather was a keen cricketer and played regularly for the Harthill team. There are several reports in old newspapers of his success as both a bowler and batsman.
Presumably, Elizabeth and John Henry knew each other as they both lived in Harthill although she was about six years older than him. John Henry would have been well aware of George Ullyett and might even have played against him at some point when George was starting off in his cricketing career. John Henry would certainly have been aware of Elizabeth's son.
After the marriage, George Ullyet Webster soon acquired the extra surname of Buckle in all official records. Over time he dropped the Ullyet and by the time of his own daughter's wedding in 1915, he's recorded as George Webster Buckle.
So, thanks to an Ancestry hint, I've a partial solution to a mystery that's intrigued me for years.
For over thirty years Cathy Murray worked in British primary education as a class teacher and then as head teacher of four different schools.