Tuesday, 6 June 2017

CHARTER TO JERICHO LANE

The other day I was driving back home from town and I passed the playing field in the photograph below. Seeing it in this light, on such a bright sunny day, brought back fond memories for me, for this was the place I was brought to by the school to play football. 

Playing field - Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman


My first school was Upper Park Street in Toxteth, which I attended until I was around seven years old. At the time our family was living with my grandparents in their rented house in Hughson Street, Toxteth in Liverpool 8. The school was an old building which dated back to Victorian times and stood in an ordinary inner city street off Park Road. It had a concrete playground where P.E. lessons occasionally took place, but apart from the odd bomb-site (or ‘bommie’ as we called them), there were certainly no wide open spaces available in the area for undertaking team sports such as football. And that is where the playing field, featured in the photo above comes into the story.


Upper Park Street School - (Best Memories of Park Road - Facebook)

As the crow flies the playing fields are actually only around two miles away from the school itself. By car it is not very far at all. Travel south along Park Road, turning right into Aigburth Road to then follow on straight down to the junction with Jericho Lane itself.

Former MPTE buses (photo Merseyside Transport Trust - Facebook)

Every week the excitement would build in our class as we knew that the bus would be coming to take us out there. I recall being in the playground over lunch. As the afternoon bell drew near, as if by magic the vehicle would suddenly appear in the road outside - a huge, green and shining double decker! Once lunch was over, the teachers would make us line up in the playground with our PE kit bags over our shoulders or held within sweaty palms; each one of us jostling for position, eager to get onto the vehicle as quickly as possible and grab the prime seats.

Parking bay - Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman

My mates and I had a simple but brilliant plan, and that was to sit on one of the two long seats nearest to the rear platform. We did this so that we would then be the first group allowed onto the exit platform of the vehicle, each one of us primed and ready to jump off when the bus finally slowed down as it arrived at its stop outside the changing rooms in Jericho Lane. Boys being boys, we had to push the boundaries, so we dared each other to jump off before the bus had actually stopped. More often than not the teacher would stand across the platform, holding us back behind the safety chain until the brakes had been fully applied by the driver. But every now and again we would be able to edge closer while holding onto the handrail, our excitement building as we felt the breeze on our faces as the bus started to slow, getting ready to step off as soon as the teacher pulled the chain back from in front of us.    

Parking bay and field (c) G.Seaman

By the time the bus had finally stopped, as many of us as possible would have jumped off onto the pavement and hopefully lived to tell the tale… if we were lucky. If we were not so lucky, we’d be held back and receive a stern telling off from the teacher!

Changing rooms Jericho Lane (c) G.Seaman

The rest of the days' proceedings would be mostly irrelevant and completely forgettable, as I was generally hopeless at football. Consequently I spent the majority of my time on the field standing between two sticks while a gang of bigger lads fired a heavy leather football at me. This generally wasn’t good and it never ended well. I always seemed to come off worse and get blamed every time the opposition scored a goal. Needless to say I was always glad when we were back on the bus and heading home - tired, hungry and ready for our dinner.

And now? All these years afterwards?

I could never have imagined that I would be standing here in the sunshine, thinking back to those times which I remember as if they were only yesterday. When I was eight years old - feeling cold and shivering like a jelly - trying to play football in a snow-covered field with the rest of my mates from school, and failing miserably.

Maybe, just maybe, this could possibly be the reason why I now don’t like football? 

Friday, 19 May 2017

CHARLES SEAMAN - MY THANKS TO YOU

Philips EL3527 - the old valve tape recorder owned by my Dad...


CHARLES SEAMAN - MY THANKS TO YOU (SOUNDCLOUD AUDIO CLIP)


Recorded on a Philips EL3527 tape recorder, a precious sound byte of my Dad - Charles Seaman - playing his Egmond acoustic guitar. The recording must date back to around 1968/69 when he first bought the guitar from Hessys Music shop in Liverpool.

He plays and sings a simple rendition of 'My Thanks To You', a ballad recorded during the 1950's by artists such as Steve Conway and Connie Francis. So far it is the only song I have found in my archive of his, as he had the annoying habit of using the same tapes over and over again to record both himself and also my brother and I.

At the end of the clip, as he turns off the tape after finishing the recording, another clip is revealed - a quick snippet of yours truly singing 'My Old Man's A Dustman' by Lonnie Donegan. I have more of this from another tape thankfully...but I wish I had more of Dad.

Looking at photographs and movies is one thing, but hearing his voice is priceless

Thursday, 20 April 2017

FAMILY HISTORY - THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS

Thanks to the power of the Internet, and also the kindness of a stranger, I have received this photograph of the headstone on the grave of my 5x great-grandparents, Timothy Lait and Elizabeth Downing.

I had placed a request on the 'Find A Grave' website to ask if someone who lived locally in the small market town of Diss, in Norfolk, could check out the cemetary of St Mary's Church and see if there was an existing headstone in place. My request was answered, and tonight I received this treasure.

Headstone - St Mary's Church, Diss (N.Battley)

The inscription, now rather faded and worn in places, reads:

In memory of Timothy Lait, 
who died July 24th 1809, 
aged 66 years, 
also Elizabeth his wife, 
who died October 28th 1787, 
aged 46 years, 
also of William their son, 
who died February 19th 1797, 
aged 29 years. 

I have visited the town previously, but I did not have sufficient time available to explore the site on that occasion. Thankfully, a kind soul called Nigel Battley has now answered my request, and posted the above photograph on the website.

St Mary's Church, Diss, Norfolk (Diocese)

Researching your family history can at times be difficult, particularly if there is the small obstacle of distance between yourself and your area of interest. But I think this goes to show that thanks to the kindness of strangers and the power of the Internet, there is always hope that you will eventually find what you're looking for.   

Saturday, 1 April 2017

SCHOOLBOOKS - UPPER PARK STREET SCHOOL, TOXTETH

As part of my ongoing task to ‘sort out the garage’, I went through some papers I’d put away in storage for archiving, and found a few of my old school books buried away within them. I’d pretty much forgotten that I had documents, as they were from the very first school I attended which was Upper Park Street school in Toxteth, Liverpool.

Nestled within the neatly laid out rows of terraced housing around Devenport and Upper Park Streets in what is known locally as Liverpool 8, the original school building had been built in 1878 and then extended in 1885. My time there comes a bit later however, and I attended between 1960 and 1965 - just prior to my family moving out to the leafy suburbs of Childwall, where we have lived ever since.  

School building - (UPSSFB)
There were two sections to the school - infants and juniors - and I went to both of them when I was little. The external view of the building above brings back memories of the external metal stairways, used to access some of the classrooms. Also the gate - being taunted by my mates when my aunt insisted on giving me a kiss when she dropped me off at school. We also piled out of this regularly during the summer, all climbing aboard a fabulous green and cream double-decker bus to take us to the playing fields at Jericho Lane in Otterspool to play football.   

School classroom (UPSSFB)
The photograph above also brings memories of the school right back to me. The days were filled with a mixture of learning and play - the teacher splitting us up into groups to play board games, work on specific learning tasks or do ‘proper’ schoolwork - which is where my schoolbooks come into the story.
Outside cover - (c) G Seaman
The book above is different to the other two I also have, as the original cover of this one is intact. It has been signed on the outside by the teacher and as can be seen by the photograph below, someone has written the date of the book on the interior ‘Nov 62’. There is also a handwritten note within it from me requesting 6d to pay for a Puppet show later in the week!

Internal cover and note (c) G Seaman

School coursework (c) G Seaman

As can be seen in the photograph above, the rest of the book contains a mixture of drawings which I’ve coloured in, and also word exercises which the class completed, copying the teachers as they wrote the words up on the blackboards.




The other two books contain a seemingly random selection of stories and diary entries I have recorded into the pages over a period of time. The above photograph shows my grand-daughter Paige - now 7 years old - reading the words I wrote down 55 years ago, when I was almost the same age as she is now.

After she’d finished, Paige made a number of constructive comments about my writing skills which caused quite a lot of hilarity at the time, but can be summarised into the undermentioned points as follows:

1) “Your writing is SO BIG Grampy! If you made your letters smaller you could fit more onto the page!”

2) “What does …’ Won dey dey wend…’ mean?” (translation = One Day They Went....)

3) “I can’t understand this! It makes no sense!”

Reading the books now I know exactly what she meant, but I still love the fact that the two of us are able to discuss them in the first place! 

Memories of my very first school, now long since gone.

All I can say is thanks to my Mum and Dad for keeping them safe.

Sources:




Tuesday, 21 March 2017

OCCUPATIONS IN GENEALOGY - HORSE COOK

One of the more unusual occupations I have come across while researching my family history has to be that of ‘horse cook’ (see below).


Birth certificate details - Joseph SEAMAN (1903)

When I first saw this occupation written on the birth certificate of my grandfather Joseph SEAMAN, I must say that I was a bit surprised, and at first drew the wrong conclusions as to what the job could possibly be. After all, I’m well aware that in certain countries it is perfectly acceptable for horse meat to be cooked and eaten, and I was not really surprised to find it is considered a delicacy in countries like Italy, China and Iceland. However, as far as I knew, even back in 1903 this notion had not as yet extended to these shores - the recent furore in the U.K. about unscrupulous meat processor’s adding horsemeat to burgers, being a prime example of this. With this in mind I took a breath, settled down with a mug of tea, and began to consider what the job could actually consist of.

Joseph Frederick SEAMAN


The description ‘horse cook’ was reportedly the occupation of my great-grandfather Joseph Frederick SEAMAN in Liverpool, England in 1903. He was 25 years old at the time of his son’s birth, and I had discovered evidence that he had been working previously as a carter on several occasions since the year 1900. At the time, the carting profession was one of the most important jobs in Liverpool to have.



Landing Stage, Pier Head, Liverpool

In this modern age where the car rules the roadways, it is perhaps difficult to imagine that this was a period prior to petrol driven transport being commonly available, and at its peak there were around 250,000 horses working in the city, shifting everything from freight to people around the cobbled streets. This might seem a staggering number when considered today, but in 1903 Liverpool was still acknowledged to be the second city of the British Isles next to London, and the amount of passengers and freight which passed through its many docks was huge indeed. Each of these items needed to be moved as quickly as possible either into the city, or away from it onto the ships. With this in mind it is certainly not so difficult to understand just why so much horsepower was needed to help shift these goods from site to site. 


Stables - Cains Brewery, Grafton Street, Liverpool - (c. PolkaDot Pink)

In the early twentieth century therefore, almost every neighbourhood in Liverpool would have had stable buildings situated within it. Such buildings would be used by private companies - breweries, coal merchants, and also individual horse owners - to house their animals between their periods of work. Stable-masters, and the men and women who worked with them, tended to the needs of the horses twenty-four hours a day. 
There is no doubt in my mind that it was in one of these stable blocks that my great-grandfather Joseph worked to help prepare the food for the horses, making sure that the animals received the sustenance they would need to help them through a long day’s work on the roads of this great city.

And so, after completing my research and considering all the evidence I’ve found, I think we can safely assume that Joseph was not cooking horses for a living. Indeed the occupation of ‘horse cook’ does not now seem so unusual at all!


#seamanfamilyhistory #josephfrederickseaman #familyhistory #cainsbrewery   


Text Sources:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/nostalgia/look-back-memories-liverpools-carters-9167182


http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/incoming/gallery/carters-9168102


http://www.scottiepress.org/sr2003/carters.htm

Cains Stable's photo: 


Donna @ PolkaDot Pink.com (http://polkadot-pink.com/2014/07/07/mark-it-liverpool-street-art-festival/)


   

Saturday, 18 March 2017

FAMILY HEIRLOOM - CHILDREN'S STOOL

Handmade Heirloom in the garage...


I was tidying the garage today and came across this family heirloom on a shelf... a small children's stool/step which my aunt told me my Norwegian great-grandfather, Peder Ingebretsen, had made by hand around 1930. 

Peder was a mariner, and later on could be found working for the Blue Funnel line out of Liverpool, sailing as an able seaman on merchant ships taking goods and passengers up the Amazon to Manaus in Brazil. His occupation on his naturalisation papers gave his occupation as a ship's carpenter.

My gran used to use it to step on to reach the higher shelves in the pantry, and the children used it to sit on while they played. 

I know it's just a few battered pieces of wood, but the story behind it is worth much more to me than money could buy. I just hope that my own kids remember this tale, and how much this family treasure meant to me when I'm not here anymore and they're helping to clear out the garage! 

#familyhistory #genealogy #familyheirloom

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

OCCUPATIONS IN GENEALOGY - WHARFINGER

OCCUPATION - WHARFINGER

At least one of my distant relatives, a Thomas Edwards of Liverpool, was listed on his daughter’s marriage certificate as working as a wharfinger in 1891.

Today the modern term for such an occupation is harbourmaster, but the ancient profession had much the same responsibilities - to be responsible for receiving and checking off the goods received into the harbour as they were unloaded from the ships. 

Wharfinger House - Bradford Upon Avon, England - 2014
At the larger locations, the wharfinger often had offices located there. Run a quick image search in Google and it is surprising how many of them have now been turned into bed & breakfast accommodation… probably paying more now than the original job actually did back in the day!

Wharfinger House, New Bedford, Mass - 1936
At least one of the jobs my grandad Jack Welsh had during his life was as a freight checker on the Liverpool Docks. The rumour was that he’d worked the quays at the Albert Dock in Liverpool itself, although I’ve yet to track down any records which would prove this.

Albert Dock, Liverpool - 2013 - (c)GSeaman
Just one other research task to add to the list.
  

Friday, 27 January 2017

THE 'DEADHOUSE', PRINCES DOCK, LIVERPOOL (1872)

I was checking over a burial record at Walton Cemetary, Liverpool, regarding one of our relatives and noticed this entry on the opposite page.

Princes Dock - place of death

It seems that on 18 December 1872, a person recorded as '---- Callaghan', approx 24 years of age, was buried in Walton Cemetary in a public grave, plot 693B. The burial was recorded as entry 53 in the ledger. On the line underneath, numbered 54, the burial of 'a woman unknown' was also registered.

The fact that the identities of the individuals appeared not to have been fully established is one thing, but the fact that both of them are said to have died in 'Princes Dock' seemed really unusual! 

I wondered what the backstory of this couple was? An accident perhaps, or maybe a suicide pact between lovers? I was intrigued and wanted to look into it a bit further.

Princes Dock, around 1835 (source: Chester Walls)

I ran a quick search to see if I could find any further information online on the deaths, from a newspaper or other source of that time perhaps, and instead found references to there being a 'deadhouse' in Princes Dock. In the crypt of St Nicholas' church near the dock site, there was a 'deadhouse' - a place where the bodies of people who had died from drowning were laid out; until they were claimed either by relatives, or were simply buried by the authorities.

In the end, this is exactly what happened to our couple. Buried by the council, in a public grave in Walton Cemetary. 

So maybe there was no real connection between the couple at all? All they had in common was the river where they died and the public grave where their bodies were eventually laid out to rest....

Out of the Deadhouse... near Princes Dock, Liverpool.  

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

SODOMY & MURDER IN A NORFOLK MARKET TOWN - The Murder of Mary Frost (1741)


I came across this parish record while researching the baptism of one of my great-grandparents (Elizabeth DOWNING b.1742 d.1787). The records were written out manually at that time, and often had lists of burials, baptisms and births handwritten across the two pages of the register. While I was checking out the record of my relative, this entry on the opposite page caught my eye.

Register of Burials - Diss, Norfolk (1741)


The text reads: 'November 19 - Mary FROST, who was poyson'd by Robert CARLTON, tailor of Diss, for which crime for sodomy he was condemned at the assizes at Thetford, viz: 20th of March 1741. He was executed the 5th of April 1742 at Diss, and afterwards hanged in chains on a gibbet upon Diss Common.' Such a grim end indeed for a heinous crime. 

I considered the highlighted word on the graphic for some time, as the handwriting was not too easy to make out, but after consideration came to the conclusion that Carlton had 'poisoned' the unfortunate girl, and also committed sodomy somewhere along the way. The sentence he received, therefore would obviously have been suitably severe.

Digging a little further into this on the Interweb, I discovered a detailed article about this very crime. 'The Tailor of Diss: Sodomy and Murder in a Norfolk Market Town', describes the events which led up to the unfortunate girl's murder and Carlton's eventual execution by hanging. The event was reported to have drawn a considerable crowd to witness the hanging, (considered to be quite a popular public entertainment at the time), and it gives intriguing details of a series of events connected to the execution which had taken place over three days prior to the execution.

I personally have a rule I observe that whenever I search records such as these, I always try to look beyond the data connected to my own relatives, to see what else I can find. Sometimes it will lead me to discovering other relations of mine, or previously unknown details of one of our own ancestors might open up another avenue of research, or break down a brick wall. But at other times, an unexpected and entirely fascinating story such as this is revealed.

My motto for this would have to be: 'Just look sideways - sometimes it might pay off!'

#justlooksideways




The full article, published in March 1990 by David Stoker 
(Aberystwyth) can be found at the link below.

Other historic sources listed in the article itself. 
   





       




Thursday, 12 January 2017

BRIDGET SMITH (nee SEARY) - DEATH CERTIFICATE / BURIAL RECORD - 1928

I updated my records yesterday with respect to my wife's great-grandmother, Bridget SEARY, and processed the two documents which I'm including here for the use of other researchers. 

Bridget's married name was SMITH, after marrying her husband Michael SMITH in 1890 in St Albans Church in Liverpool.

Bridget was born in Celbridge, a small town in County Kildare, Ireland, in 1873. Her husband was a Scouser, born in Liverpool in 1870, and after considering the birthdates and birthplaces associated with her siblings, it would appear that the SEARY family had emigrated and settled permanently in Liverpool between 1875 and 1876. 

Following their marriage, Micheal and Bridget had at least nine children between 1891 to 1909.



As can be seen by the information on the certificate above, Bridget died on 5 March 1928 in Walton Hospital, Rice Lane, Liverpool. She was said to be 53 years old on the death certificate and had died of a cerebral haemorrhage - otherwise known as a stroke.


Bridget was buried in Ford Cemetery, Liverpool - one of the main Catholic cemeteries in the district - on the 9 March 1928 in grave number 654. Above is a copy of the burial register for that period. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

WEDDING WEDNESDAY - UNKNOWN LIVERPOOL WEDDING

The photograph below was discovered in a selection of photo's which were in the possession of my aunt, Ellen Elizabeth WELSH (aka. Betty), when she passed away.
They obviously depict a wedding group, but only a few of the people on it have been identified. The actual location of the wedding is also a mystery, but it is assumed that the church was located somewhere in Liverpool.

The gentleman second from the left is my grandfather, William John WELSH. The lady on the back row next to him is his wife, my grandmother, Elizabeth ENGLEBRETSEN. She is the lady wearing the glasses and the flower on her hat. On the front row, the young girl on the left is their niece, Marion Erlis.

The rest of the people have not as yet been identified.


I have shared this photo with family members and we still have not been able to identify the others in the group. It is a bit of a mystery... and there is no way of telling if the photograph shows some of our relations, or perhaps friends or neighbours.

Only time will tell... although possibly with the help of some kind soul on the Internet who may recognise them!

Monday, 9 January 2017

MAPPING MONDAY - USING GOOGLE MY MAPS FOR GENEALOGY

One of the more useful features of Google is the ability to use its Mapping facility to keep track of your genealogical data. For the 'Mapping Monday' article, I thought I’d cover a few of the features available which I use.


Above is the shared version of my Seaman Family Burial Site data. This is the default view which I have chosen to share with the general public, but the view - like the levels of security which you can build into the page - can be tailored exactly as you wish. For example, the base image can reflect Earth data as it is here, or configured to show a more simple map graphic. A selection of different colours can be chosen for this as you prefer.
As you can see, each of the cemetaries listed has been given its own layer on the image. These can be turned on and off using the checkboxes to the left of the menu. Selecting either the name of the relative on the left hand menu or on the icon itself on the map, displays an image and other details of the grave site which have been recorded (see below).
 



Editing the maps is great fun and can be achieved using the ‘Edit’ option, (which is only accessible to the map owner and any defined collaborators), to access the Google ‘My Maps’ view (below).




The styles and format of each of the layers is configurable separately… allowing features such as the icons, icon colour, text, grouping of labels, level naming conventions etc. to be changed as required. All changes made are saved to Drive, so unwanted changes can be undone if required. Additional items such as new icons, line drawing on the map, and also distance measurement are also available. New layers can also be easily added as required.




As can be seen above, there is also a direction facility which allows you to include this information on a separate layer on the map if required. This information will feed through to the shared map view (so you could include directions to the grave location from the nearest railway station for example), but this data is not configurable to view only users.




Finally, as can be seen in the example above, if images are captured using a smartphone or digital camera with built in GPS, then the exact location of the graves are recorded against the images. When these are placed into the software, the grave locations can be recorded almost exactly, allowing subsequent researchers to the site the best chance of finding the graves for themselves. 




One final example of how these maps can be most useful is to track the migration of families around the country at various times. The example above shows graphically how my LAIT family relations originated in Norfolk with my 5x great-grandfather, Timothy Lait, and finally ended up in Liverpool with my grandmother Margaret Eleanor Graham LAIT, who I am named after. They made a total journey of 409 kms, which took in excess of 159 years, and crossed six generations (eight if you include myself and my father).

So next time you get a little disheartened trying to break down those brick walls in your core data, open up Google, grab yourself an account, and start mapping those ancestors! 
I guarantee that you’ll enjoy it!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

JAMES & MARY DUNN - MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE - 1895

Another of the documents I discovered in my TTDL folder was this, the marriage certificate for my wife's great-grandparents, James and Mary DUNN.

They were married on 3rd November 1895 in the so-called 'seaman's' church in Liverpool - St Nicholas... the original parish church of Liverpool. The church is located at the bottom of Chapel Street, close to the Pier Head and Princes Dock, and for many years would perhaps have been the first ecclesiastical building to be seen by the crewmen as they disembarked from the ships.

The couple themselves lived in separate addresses in Vernon Street in the city centre, and although they had the same surname it does not appear that they were related - although a distant connection may still be discovered at some point. Jame's father, also called James, was born in 1853 in Liverpool. Mary's father Edward Dunn however, was born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1852.

Marriage Certificate - James and Mary DUNN - Liverpool, 1895

THOMAS LAIT - DEATH CERTIFICATE - 6/11/1859

SATURDAY DATA SHAREDAY - Thomas LAIT (b.1781 Diss, Suffolk; d.1859 Palgrave, Suffolk)

Today I found this copy of my g-grandfather's (x4) death certificate in my TTDL folder. I'd entered the data up from it, but just hadn't put it away after I'd finished with it! That's one sure way of losing an important document such as this... note to self to smack on wrist!

Of course I took this as some kind of an omen and decided to post it up here as well! Hopefully there will be less chance of it getting mislaid from this point on!

Thomas died when he was 80 years old of certified old age. He had been a coach builder by trade, as were at least four of his sons who had followed him into the profession. The death was informed by his son Charles, who had been 49 years old at the time of his father's death.

A notice was also found to have been printed in one of the local newspapers about his death.

Thomas LAIT - Death Certificate

Death Notice

Thursday, 5 January 2017

FAMILY HEIRLOOM - GRANDAD'S SHIRT SUSPENDERS - William John WELSH

5/1/2017 - GRANDAD'S SHIRT SUSPENDERS

For Treasure Chest Thursday I give you a photo of my grandad - William John WELSH, pictured in the backyard of his home in Hughson Street, Toxteth in the mid 1950's.

Near his elbows on each arm, you can just see the folds caused by the elastic suspenders he was wearing, to keep his shirt cuffs clear of his hands which hopefully will keep them a little cleaner.



The shirt suspenders themselves are pictured on the right, and consist of a circle of elastic ribbon covered by thin flexible steel wire. These were left to me by my aunt Betty, Ellen Elizabeth WELSH, prior to her death.

I still keep them in the box with my other jewelry, and wear them sometimes when the occasion arises.

#familyheirlooms #treasurechestthursday #williamjohnwelsh #toxteth #shirtsuspenders 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

HILLMAN MINX AND COBBLES IN TOXTETH (1964)

For the 'Wordless Wednesday' blog prompt today I submit this beauty from the early 1960's. Hughson Street, Toxteth... the row of neat two-up two-down houses where we lived... Mum, little bro and I on the step in dubious socks and short trousers... and a Hillman Minx from around 1964.


And of course, the cobbles. 

It was just murder trying to ride your bike on those!

Hughson Street, Toxteth,  Liverpool 8