Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chasing John's ancestral villages and streets in Yorkshire

Margaret & Claire - Facebook friends
When I mentioned on Facebook that I was going to Barnsley in Yorkshire to take some photos for John and see what records I could find, my friend Claire who lives near Leeds offered to drive me around for the day.

Claire and I met on Genes Reunited about 2008 when I was tracking down an English test cricketer, Alexander Stuart Kennedy, who is connected to both our families.  We are not related, but found each other's information interesting and later became friends on Facebook.  Both of us are sociable beings, you might say.  Claire also likes investigating her family history.

I am staying at the Premier Inn, and it appears to be built on the top of a cliff in Barnsley - a considerable drop from the ground floor on one side.  Nice place, very friendly and feel quite comfortable on my own.  The rooms are very similar to our three or four star motel rooms in Australia.  VERY different from my hotel room in London, which was old and poky.

We started by driving to Dodworth (pronounced "Doddeth") just two miles out of Barnsley - a village which is now a commuter suburb.  However Dodworth Green, where John's gg grandfather was born to Joshua and Mary Moakson in 1790 is still very much a small community and very pretty.

The cottages opposite are from the 1700s.

The church was built in 1844, which is well after the Moakson family lived there.

We had a great yarn to a resident who was working in his garden, and he told us which houses and other buildings were there in the 1700s and which were built later.

The Enclosures Act affected the villages around Dodworth in the late 1700s - earlier than other counties.  The land was owned by the Osborne family, the Dukes of Leeds. Common folk were excluded from using the land, some became tenant farmers, others became agricultural labourers on farms or day labourers.  Of course coal mining became a big industry in the early 19th century, as did the linen weaving factories.  The land is now mainly agricultural.

We then drove on through Silkstone which is a big village where John and I visited in 2008.  It contains the church - All Saints Silkstone with Stainborough where Isaac Moxon of Dodworth Green was baptised.

Hoylandswaine is just another couple of miles further towards Penistone - we had lunch there.

We found a very nice pub with good fish and chips (for me) and icecream - of course.

Hunshelf, where Sarah Middleton, later Moxon (John's gg grandmother) said she was born.  This is a very bleak farming community - not even a village.

Poor Sarah - she didn't marry well, since Isaac Moxon was everything from a "publican" - probably inflated job title - to a gentleman's servant (on Sarah's death certificate) and she ended up a "pauper - laundress" on the 1851 and 1861 census.

She lived in Wortley Street, Barnsley as a widow.  The street is still there, and looks as ugly as it probably always was.

St George's church, Barnsley, demolished 1993
Isaac had died in 1850 and she was left to look after two small boys, Joshua and John. He was buried at St George's church, Barnsley.  It is very close to Wortley Street, but there is now a major road in between.

Joshua became a stone mason and came to Australia in 1867, the same year his mother died.  But he had already made a career for himself in London prior to migrating with his young family.

Claire and I had afternoon tea back at the Premier Inn, and then it was time to say goodbye.

I felt as though I'd known her for a long time, although this was the first time we'd met in person.  It was so nice of her to drive me around - something that would have been impossible on my own - or even in a motor home - John and I had driven through Barnsley on our last trip, and found nowhere to park.

Claire had never been to Barnsley before, so she was unfamiliar with this part of Yorkshire, but she had a trusty satnav which came in very handy.

First of three volumes I purchased today.
After she said goodbye, just before 4pm, I wandered down to the main shopping centre in search of a bookshop with local history books.  When I asked if there was a Waterstone's bookshop in town, even the locals were derisive!  In Barnsley!  Good grief!  I ended up finally at the Barnsley Chronicle, quite the other side of town.  And found the office locked!  And not open Saturdays!

I rapped the door, since it was not supposed to close until 5pm, and some very gracious cleaners opened up, and with the help of phone conversations with the office manager, I managed to pay cash for five books, and even got a 25% discount!  I said they should ask for double their salaries.

So to eat, and then to bed to download and edit the photos, and write this blog.

Tomorrow morning I will check out early and spend time in the library's Local History Archive which opens at 9.30 am.  My train to Banbury is not till sometime after mid-day.

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