With such a lot of success achieved by team GB at the London Olympics I thought it would be a interesting research assignment to investigate the family trees of those who have become our most successful olympians. There’s many to choose from which underlines how well our country have done.
Of all the sports events that I saw I was hooked on the cycling and was impressed at how dominant our cyclists were. I had no idea they were that good having not followed the sport. The one cyclist that caught my intention was Victoria Pendleton and I wondered who her ancestors were.
I started on the Pendleton name and the research was going smoothly with no doubts that I was 100% accurate with the new lines I was discovering and had got to Paul William Pendleton, Victoria’s great great grandfather, when I discovered that a historian commissioned by the Find My Past blog had already done it. It was good to know that I had got everything right purely from online research. So I decided to explore another family line that didn’t appear to have been done. I quickly found that there are family trees on Ancestry.co.uk with a lot of links to Victoria’s family. But there was one that I thought was unresearched, and quickly found out possibly why this was so.
Percy William Pendleton, born 1884 in Nottingham was one of Victoria’s great grandfathers and married Mary A Marshall in the Sep quarter of 1913. Now there are loads of possible Mary A Marshalls born around the same time as Victoria’s great grandmother and I could see that this would be a big stumbling block if relying solely on online information. If on a paid commission, I would buy a copy of the marriage certificate to make sure, but I discovered a coincidence that may point me to the right Mary A Marshall.
When researching the Pendleton name at the beginning I discovered that Percy and his family were living at 79 Independant Street in the parish of Radford, Nottinghamshire according to the 1891 census. Looking for the right Mary A Marshall I found one that lived in the same street, at 8 Independant Street, aged 4. So, it seems that my earlier research into the Pendletons wasn’t a waste of time at all. I would still want to get the marriage to be absolutely sure but my gut instinct is that I have the right Mary.
If I am right, then Mary’s parents were James Marshall and Catherine Barrows, married in the Mansfield district in 1880. James was born in Scotland around 1860 and Catherine hailed from Mansfield, also born around 1860. The Nottinghamshire area was festooned with clothing factories because there is an abundance of people with jobs associated with textiles. Catherine’s family is a good example to show this. Her father, Solomon Barrows, christened 31 Aug 1828 at Mansfield, was employed as a cotton framework knitter, his wife Mary a cotton seamstress. Solomon’s parentage is as yet unknown though there is a record on the Family Search site that his mother was Anne Barrows. Was he illegitimate? Quite possibly. I found him on the 1841 census living with a John and Phoebe Barrows at Mansfield in an abode named The Rookery. His occupation was framework knitter, just like his relative John, the head of the household. Speculating here, I wonder if John was his uncle, a brother to the aforementioned Anne Barrows? This is a definate possibility as they are born relatively close to each other. Solomon’s wife, I find, was Mary Powell, christened at Mansfield on 3 Nov. 1830 to a James and Mary Powell. I found a marriage between a James Powell and a Mary Lane on 9 Jul 1827 at Marnham, Nottingham. Could this be them? James and Mary Powell can be found on the Mansfield 1841 census with 3 children, Ann (aged 20), Thomas (13) and Mary (10), Solomon Barrows’ wife. On this census James’s occupation was stockinger, as was his wife. They either made or sold stockings. Or both of course.
Who were Mary’s parents then? I found a christening on the Family Search site which fits the bill.
Mary Lane christened 20 Jan 1799 at Worksop, Nottingham
Parents: Thomas Lane
Bearing in mind that James and Mary have children named Thomas and Ann, I think it is a distinct possibility. Finding the children of couples, especially families living in the 19th century, is a handy little pointer to finding out the names of parents and grandparents. It mustn’t be held as gospel and proof of lineage, but it is useful in the problem solving activity that genealogy becomes.
The Family Search website is an extremely useful site, probably my favourite one after Ancestry.co.uk, and many christenings and marriages beyond the 1841 census can be found here. As the 1841 census is not so accurate there can be a + or – 5 years difference in the ages of individuals found on there. I was trying to find a christening for James Powell and there is one in the parish of Kneesal, Nottinghamshire on 20 Dec 1790, parents were Wm. Powel and Amelia. This is the likely James because on Ancestry.co.uk’s extracted parish records for Nottinghamshire I found the following:
James Powell, parish of Kneesal and Mary Lane of Grassthorpe, 27 Jul. 1827.
Marriages at Marnham with Grassthorpe and Skegby 1601-1837.
A brief extract relating to the parishes of Marnham and Grassthorpe.
From Sutton we pass on to Grassthorpe through a level tract of country, over which the river at times, after a heavy rainfall, makes considerable encroachments. The village is small, and possesses nothing worthy of note; but it seems to have once had a chapel founded in honour of St. James. When the sacred building became ruinous it was converted into a cottage and barn, and granted by ‘good Queen Bess’ to Alexander Rigby and Percival Gunstone, gentlemen. Grassthorpe had several centuries before this period formed part of the possessions of the lordly family of Furnival, and it had also recognised as its landlord no less prominent a personage than Michael de la Pole, Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal and Earl of Suffolk.
The eminent and worthy family of Chaworth owned the manor of Marnham for several centuries, and Sir Thomas Chaworth (24th Henry VI.) obtained a grant of a yearly fair for two days, which continues to be kept. Henry de Lexington, Bishop of Lincoln, held the fourth part of a knight’s fee in Marnham, of Richard de Weston, for a pound of pepper yearly, and Robert de Markham had some property here of a like tenure. The rectory was held by the Preceptory of Eagle, being part of the possessions of the Knights Hospitallers, but was granted, with the lands and meadows connected therewith, by Henry VIII. to Thomas Babington. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth Anthony Babington had the property, but, being attaint for his complicity with Mary Queen of Scots, the estate passed into other hands. The church and parsonage are in the centre of the village, and the sacred edifice has been carefully restored. There are numerous memorials to the Cartwright family, members of which were soldiers, politicians, and travellers of wide celebrity. Some of them were endowed with literary ability, and one Edmund, who was in holy orders, attracted considerable attention for his inventions of curious machinery—notably for the weaving of cotton, for which Parliament made him a substantial grant.
The old hall from which these famous people emanated was pulled down nearly a century ago and a new one erected. It occupied a lonely but a commanding site, and had extensive views of the vale of the Trent, and of the old church where so many of the Cartwrights sleep. On leaving the churchyard we noticed an inscription on a gravestone of the last century, which may be interesting to the collector of epitaphs:
‘Reader, mind that thou gives ear
Upon the just that sleepeth here,
And whilst thou reades this state of me,
Thinke of the glas that runes for thee.’
(Cornelius Browne, A History of Nottinghamshire, 1896)
This ties in with the earlier information I found. But it also shows how inconsistent the ages recorded on the 1841 census can be. But there is always the possibility that what I have found is an earlier James Powell born to the same family but died in infancy. Then the parents have another son, circa 1796, and name him James. Or it could easily be another Powell family in the area naming their son James. It’s so easy to think we are on the right track, but the truth is that to be absolutely accurate we have to pay a visit to the archives to know for sure.
To conclude I discovered another entry in the Family Search site that might be the parents of Mary Lane.
Thomas Lane married Ann Hanson on the 27 Nov. 1796 at Worksop, Nottingham.
Could these be the great-great-great-great-great grandparents of Olympic gold medalist Victoria Pendleton?