a Booth Family
Linfit Lane
Linfit Lane, Linthwaite — © Humphrey Bolton
My earliest reference is to Thomas Booth whose son, Richard, was born in 1775 at Thornhill, Yorkshire. Richard married Sarah Sowerby in 1799 at Kirkheaton and their son, John, was born in 1803 at Linfit Lane, Kirkburton. Richard was living at the same address in 1841 aged 65 and apparently widowed, giving his occupation as a wool teaser. Also there were his son William, daughter Sarah and what looks to be his grand daughter, Amelia, who was possibly illegitimate.

John married Lydia Turner in 1928 at Kirkburton. She was the daughter of John Turner and was baptised at the Upper Chapel Shelley Independent, Kirburton in October 1804. John had a somewhat varied working career. In 1831, when his daughter Martha was born, he was a cordwainer. By the time of the 1841 census he was a shoemaker in Jackson Bridge, Holmfirth. By 1851, he was still in Holmfirth, but was a grocer. Between then and 1861, John had crossed Pennines and was a life assurance agent in Ashton-under-Lyne.

Jackson Bridge
Jackson Bridge in 1874
The Booth family was quite dispersed at various times, but particularly at the time of the 1851 census. John was in Jackson Bridge with four of his eight children. Meanwhile, Lydia was living in Huddersfield with confectioners, John and Sarah Priestley, to whom her daughter Ann was apprenticed. Their youngest child, Catherine, was three years old and was being cared for by William and Ann Lawson at Victoria Street, Upperthong. I've been unable to track down their two eldest children in the 1851 census. I suspect that George either died or had left the country as he does not appear on future censuses, but Martha appears a year later when she married Samuel Harrop in Hayfield in 1852.

As mentioned above, the Booth family crossed the Pennines to Ashton-under-Lyne in the 1850s, presumably after the death of Lydia, although I have still to pinpoint when that was. By 1871, John had retired at the age of 69 and he was to die of old age paralysis just before the next census in January 1881. His only surving son, John, married Sarah Schofield I believe at St Barnabas, Openshaw in 1871, while Ellen married William Jackson in 1869.

The younger John Booth was widowed by the time of the 1891 census when he and his children were living in Glossop. He was still there in 1901 boarding with widow Elizabeth Shepley. Presumably it was difficult for a single working man (he was a joiner) to care for his children and by 1901 his two youngest, George and John, had been adopted by their aunt Ellen.

Owens College
Owens College — © Manchester Local Image Collection
In the 1871 census, the elder John has his grandson James living with him. James was the illegitimate son of Ann Booth and an example of the mood of the times that education should be open to all regardless of background or religious belief. In 1881, James was 16 and a student at Owens College. The college was founded in Manchester by the industrialist, John Owens, who held strong views on education and religion. He died at his house in Chorlton-upon-Medlock on 29 July, 1846. In his will he left £96,654 for the establishment of the college for the education of males on non-sectarian lines. Owens College was established and granted a Royal Charter in 1880 to become England's first civic university, The Victoria University of Manchester.

James clearly had intellectual potential despite his humble beginnings and background and he went on to work for the civil service in London, as a 2nd Division Clerk in 1891 and a clerk in 1901. He was living in Hammersmith with his mother, Ann, and Aunt Catherine, who he knew as Kate. James married Caroline Norah Piercy in 1902 and the couple were living in Kingston on Thames in 1911 with their son, John Edwin Piercy Booth. James presumably married after the death of his mother. There was an Ann Booth who died in Fulham in the September quarter of 1902, but she was aged 68 which doesn't fit even closely. However, the Booth women were somewhat random with their ages. The prime example was his aunt Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was born in about 1837 and lived with her parents until the 1871 census. By 1881 she was living in Wolstanton, near Stoke, as housekeeper for Herbert Mellor. Herbert was born in Ashton, the son of George Mellor, magistrate and cotton manufacturer employing 823 hands. At the age of 26, Herbert was a colliery proprietor. At that time, Elizabeth claimed to be 38, although she would have been in her 40s.

I can't trace her in 1891, but by 1901 she was at 45 Phillimore Gardens in Kensington as cook for Hector Mackenzie, a retired colonel of the Bengal Staff Corps. She then claimed to be 55 when she would have been nearer to 65. I can only assume it is her as in each case, she gives Jackson Bridge as her place of birth, but the clincher is the 1911 census when she was living with her sister Catherine at 26 Godolphin Road West, Fulham giving her correct age of 74. She died later that year at the age of 73!

One other aspect of James worth mentioning is that he was born in Hadfield as were many of the Booths even though they lived in Ashton. The assumption is that they went there to give birth to be close to a releative, possibly my great-great-grandmother, Martha Booth.

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