a Rhodes Family

St James the Great, Flockton – View Larger Map 

My Rhodes family originated in Flockton, near Wakefield in West Yorkshire. The first reference is to Joshua Rhodes. I can't be certain when he was born as there were several Joshuas born in the surrounding area at the right sort of time, but the most likely is the one baptised at St Peter's in Huddersfield in 1727.

Whether he is the right one or not, Joshua married Mary Hirst in the neighbouring parish of Wragby in 1760 when he was described as 'Joshua Rhodes of Wakefield'.

Their eldest son Thomas married Mary Crosland in 1783. I don't know much about Thomas except that he was a hawker living at Lane End, Flockton on the 1841 census and died in 1848 aged 88 and is buried at St James the Great.

His son, John Rhodes was baptised on 2 April 1786 at Flockton Chapel. He married Tabitha Ingham and their eight children were all born in Yorkshire. However, at some point this branch of the family moved to Mottram in north-east Cheshire, a distance of 33 miles by today's road system, sometime around the mid-1830s.

It can only be assumed that the reason for this migration was economic. The men of the Rhodes family were miners and there were several coal seams close to the surface in Flockton, the manorial court records showing that coal was being mined there at least since 1515.

In 1778 James Milnes leased two coal seams in the Flockton area from Mary Wortley, Countess of Bute. Plans of some of these coal workings came to light some years ago on the closure of Greaves, Childe and Rowland when their mining records were handed to the National Coal Board. Workings in the Flockton Thick Seam appear to have been exhausted or abandoned in 1803.

The Rhodes family in Mottram

The construction of the New Road (A642) past the site probably led to Sir John Lister Lister-Kaye taking the lease to mine the Flockton Thin Seam in 1827 and eight shafts were open and closed between then and 1837. This seam too was exhausted by 1850. Deeper and deeper shafts were dug and it became Caphouse Colliery which is now home to the National Coal Mining Museum. The men of the Rhodes family were surface miners, the fashion still being practised in Mottram.

(Source: Caphouse Colliery - A Brief Mining History by John Schofield and A New History of Caphouse Colliery by John Goodchild.)

To return to the story, John Rhodes had died and was buried in Flockton on 16 November 1835. His son George was already in Mottram and had married Margaret Goddard there four months earlier. Whether the others followed him to the 'new land' is speculation, but Tabitha and six of her children are recorded there in the 1841 census, while her eldest son Thomas appears in the 1851 census with his wife and children, apparently having been living in Disley.

Tabitha died 13 years later in 1848, she too was buried at St James the Great in Flockton, her family having taken her there three days after her death. In any event, their youngest son, Levi, was baptised in Flockton in 1833, indicating a fairly tight timeframe for the move.

Most of the children stayed in and around Mottram, except for the eldest son, Thomas, who moved into Derbyshire, having married Nancy Collier, daughter of Samuel Collier and their fourth son, Richard, who didn't move to Cheshire but went north to be a collier in Byers Green, County Durham.

Tabitha's second eldest son, George was listed in the 1841 census, married to his first wife, Margaret Goddard who had been born locally. Like his brothers, he was a collier and there was a considerable amount of coal mining in the Mottram area at that time. (See Coal Mining in Mottram)

The Hare and Hounds
The Hare and Hounds Inn about 1900 with St Michael's Church in the background

Margaret was the daughter of Miles Goddard and Peggy SHEPLEY. Miles was landlord of the Hare and Hounds pub from at least 1824 until he died in the late 1840s. The pub stood on the corner of Broadbottom Road and Church Brow in Mottram and is now cottages. It stayed in the Goddard family until the late 1800s, first run by Peggy, then her son. John, his widow Ellen and finally by her son, Miles. Much of this information has been gleaned from various trade directories.

Margaret Goddard died in the summer of 1848, giving birth to her seventh child, Margaret Goddard Rhodes. The child apparently never lived with her father, found in 1851 with her aunt, Fanny Nuttall (nee Goddard), with her grandmother, Peggy, in 1861 and her brother John in 1881.

As an aside, Fanny Goddard was married to John Nuttall, sexton of Mottram church in the 1880s. Their daughter, Emily, and her husband, Charles Ervin Booth feature in a book of old photos of Mottram, where there is also mention of their eldest daughter, Margaret Ann, who was the last landlady of the Black Bull Inn which stood adjacent to the church.

George married his sister-in-law, Charlotte Goddard, within a few months of Margaret's death, a marriage that was technically illegal (as mentioned by the judge at his later insolvency hearing) since at the time a man was not allowed to marry his dead wife's sister which did not change until the Dead Wife's Sister's Marriage Act of 1907. In any event, their first child, Charlotte, was born within a year and George was to have sixteen children between the two sisters..

Woodhead Tunnels
The Woodhead Tunnel

George had a public house in Mottram according to the 1845 tithe map, In 1853 when his daughter Elizabeth was baptised at St Michael's Church, he gave his occupation as innkeeper and his residence as 'Woodhead in the township of Padfield.' This is confirmed in the 1851 Census for Glossop, although it does not name the pub. George obviously had an eye for the main chance, opening the beerhouse to quench the thirst of the navvies building the second Woodhead Tunnel. He also had an interest in a stone quarry in Woodhead which he ran on behalf of the railway company. Work on the tunnel began in 1847 and it finally opened on 2 February 1852.

Shanty Town
Shanty Town

Conditions for the 'navvies' were somewhat better than they had been during the building of the first tunnel a few years earlier when working on the project was officially declared more perilous than serving at the Battle of Waterloo! The bleak surroundings of the moors were not pleasant and the houses that the men lived in were little more than stone-piled hovels. A school was opened shortly after the start of work on the second tunnel and a clergyman was given free travel to the site to provide spiritual guidance. Even so, there were deaths, including 28 men working on the Woodhead Reservoir who died in an outbreak of Cholera.

George was back in Mottram by the mid-1850s and in 1858, he was declared insolvent when it was stated that he had recently been a coal proprietor. He gave his occupation as a miner and innkeeper in the 1861 census. The mine referred to was Mottram Colliery which was past Mottram Church at an area known as The Hague. It was owned by the related Braddock family. It was a fairly small concern, employing about 20 men. It closed in 1874 and there is no trace of it today. By the 1871 census, George was landlord of the Star Inn which is variously described as being on Stalybridge Road and at Alma Place. He was also listed in the 1878 trade directory. In the 1881 census, at the age of 67, he described himself as a farmer, having been made bankrupt in 1880.

Alma Place
Matthew Rhodes married another of the Goddard sisters. He and Jane were living in Woodhead, Tintwistle in 1851. In 1871 they were living at 5 Moss Cottage, Mottram and he was working as a miner. However, by the 1881 census, he was at Lower Mudd, Mottram and was a farmer of twenty acres, employing Herbert Yallott of Australia as a 'farm servant indoor'. Interestingly, in the 1871 census, John Goddard was at Market Place and also living there was Ellen Yallott aged 14, described as his niece and her birthplace was Australia. Clearly a connection, and one I am still working on. Although they are not my direct relations, their story is an interesting one.

Miles Goddard Rhodes was George and Margaret Goddard's eldest surviving son, born in 1837. He married his cousin Mary Braddock. Her mother, Betty Goddard was Margaret's sister, while her father was Joseph Braddock, a coal proprietor employing 23 men and boys in the 1871 census and living next door to Mary. It seems that the Braddock family were also 'recent' arrivals, come to exploit the mining industry. Mary's brother, George Braddock, also entered the pub trade and was landlord of the King William IV Hotel in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1881, and later the Church Inn on Scotland Street in 1891.

In an 1878 trade directory, Miles was described as a 'confectioner and provision dealer' at Church Brow. In the 1896 Kelly's Directory, he had two entries - one in Mottram as proprietor of the White Hart which exists today, and as a carter in Broadbottom which was also his private residence. By 1891, Miles had established his cab and carriage business, later continued by his son, Joseph. This is referred to in Longdendale in Retrospect by Joyce Powell which describes how Miles would take local people for a day out at Belle Vue for 6d which for many was their annual holiday.

George's Rhodes' second son, also called George, was born in 1843. He continued the family tradition by working as a coal miner. He married Emily Ramsbottom of Glossop, the daughter of William Ramsbottom who was originally from Accrington, Lancashire, and they had five children. Emily died in 1879 aged just 33 and George married Charlotte Bennett three years later, for some reason at Old Chapel, Dukinfield, and had three further children.

Jeremiah RHODES
His eldest son, Jeremiah, was born in 1865. He worked as a general labourer in his early life, but later gave his occupation as 'fireman'. This was in a factory and in his obituary, there was mention of colleagues from the Etherow Bleach Company. He married Susannah Ratcliffe when he was 18 and they went on to have 13 children, although two apparently died quite young. Suzannah proved something of a puzzle - read on 'Ratcliffe Puzzle'.

James Rhodes
My grandfather, James was Jeremiah's eldest son, born in 1895. Jeremiah and the family moved to Hadfield in 1922 and James worked at the same factory as his father from the age of 12 until he got a job working on the railway.

It was this job which took the family away from Mottram. After marrying Jane HARROP, he moved first to nearby Hyde and later to Dukinfield. Of their five children, My father, Jeremiah continues to live in the town, as did his brother George until his death in 2002. Their sister, Doris emigrated to America in the mid-1950s and lived in California with husband Bert Lockett until her death in 2001. Their other brother, Ronnie, died in 1999 but had lived in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire after the war.

Please note that there were other Rhodes families living in Mottram in the 1800s. There were quite a few from the Saddleworth branch, plus one or two from Staffordshire. As yet, I can demonstrate no link.

Meanwhile, other descendants of Joshua Rhodes continue to live in Flockton and other parts of Yorkshire and I am grateful for the help they have given me in piecing together this history.

A number of people have contributed greatly to the information in the Rhodes section. My cousin Christine LOCKETT started the research while a student at Oxford University. This was continued by her mother, Doris Rhodes and my mum, Jean Binnie. Also my late uncle Ronnie Rhodes.

And my late third cousin once removed, John Rhodes, who added so much detail to my research before he died in 2013. Ironically, when we first discovered each other we lived but a mile apart, as the crow flies, but knew nothing of each other and but for the intervention of an Aussie, this might have remained the case. Our common ancestor is the George Rhodes who first crossed the hills to Mottram. Thanks, Merle.

Next, a closer relative, distant in other ways, especially by geography – Roy Edmundson has contributed greatly to my Uncle Ronnie's Booth family. Now living in New Zealand, his Dukinfield memories are crisper than mine!

Last, and by no means least, Tina Charlesworth who was my first internet colleague and has been a key contributor to this site. My grateful thanks. 

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