Gen 1: William Fletcher 1801 & Elizabeth Nock
William Fletcher bc 1801 in Wolverhampton and married Elizabeth Nock, called Eliza bc 1801 in Sedgley on 13 Nov 1820 at St Peter’s Wolverhampton. Bill was a coal miner.
In the 1841 census we find that the family lived in Ettingshall and both parents gave their age as 40. William Fetcher was a miner and probably worked down the Fighting Cocks Colliery. The Fighting Cocks pub gave its name to the colliery. What is really interesting is that their next door neighbours in the census were George Evans and his wife Alice, who was daughter of William and Eliza Evans and are intimately connected with the Fletchers.:
Their children, as far as I know were:
John Fletcher b 1825 Wolverhamton
Alice Fletcher b 1827 Wolverhamton - click on her name to see her history
William Fletcher b 1829 Wolverhamton, coal miner
Joseph Fletcher b 1831 Wolverhamton, coal miner
Edwin Fletcher bc 1834 Sedgley, coal miner
Thomas Fletcher bc 1841 Sedgley. In the 1861 census he was living with his sister Alice and brother in law George Evans in Cleveland Street, Wednesfield – no occupation is listed for him although he is 20.
Edward Fletcher bc 1833 Sedgley,
Mary Anne Fletcher bc1834 Sedgley. - click on her name to see her history
The map of the day shows the Fighting Cocks area hemmed in by collieries. There was a pub called the Fighting Cocks, demolished and the Aldi car park in Parkfield Road now sits there. The Fighting Cocks name lives on as a bus stop on service 1 (Dudley to Tettenhall via Wolverhampton)
Thankfully the Sedgley School Park is still there, but not as a school. This gives us a landmark so we can see where the family lived. The school is now called the Park Hall Hotel and Spa. Perhaps the author of the webpage should have spent more time on literacy as he states here that “The Hotel is built in the style of Indigo Jones.” Indigo Jones??? He means of course Ingo Jones .
The house was built in 1705 and was the home of the family of Dudley and Ward until 1757. became a school in 1761, founded by Bishop Challoner for Catholic schoolboys, before the Earl of Dudley took up residence in 1947. Park Hall finally became a hotel in 1981 when the Grigg and Brettell Brewery bought the building and transformed it into a hotel.
Fighting Cocks Colliery owned by John Southern; Parkfield and Cockshut owned by Parkfied Company; ; Rough Hills by Whitehouse and Poole <link>
The 1861 census adds confusion to the mix. Is this our William? Now aged 6 - but working as a shoemaker? Elizabeth his wife aged 59 and there is a daughter aged 17 living with ten
From the 18th century onwards, Ettingshall became heavily industrialised as a result of the Industrial Revolution. Until April 1979, an area of wasteland on the southside of Millfields Road was the location of the Bilston Steelworks and old Bilston quarries. Ettingshall Road was the location for Cables and Instruments, Dixon's Wallcoverings and Tools and Machines. Spring Road is the location of Tarmac Limited (head office closed 2013) and John Thompson Limited (closed 2004). As the northern parts of the original Ettingshall extended across the border into Bilston, many new houses and factories were built and this area became known as "Ettingshall New Village", the Ettingshall that still exists in the present day. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Ettingshall
The picture shows what the Fletcher family would have seen every day. This is believed to have painted in 1852/3 and to depict the Springvale Ironworks at Bilston to the south of Wolverhampton and appears in the book “Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire. The position from which the picture is painted can be more precisely defined. A sketch from the 1845 map showing a wider area, is shown below and indicates the likely position – at the road junction to the top left, where the name (presumably of a pub) is given as the Fighting Cocks
This is at the junction of the current Parkfield Road with the Dudley / Wolverhampton Road. The 1845 map indicates a cluster of housing at this point. Interestingly the1882 map shows the latter road is the course of a tramway, and this might also be the case for the 1845 map, although tramways and roads are not always distinguished on these maps. If this were the case then the horses in the foreground might be pulling wagons along the tramway.
The 1851 census shows us that the family lived at the Fighting Cocks and right next door to the Toll Bar and Toll Gate house, which would have been at this spot
Genuki has an article about the minerals that can be found in the area. They say that “The hissing of the blast furnace, the clanging of hammers, the dusky appearance of the workmen, and the various operations upon unwieldy masses of red-hot iron, combine to excite an idea of terror in the spectator:
"The ponderous hammer falls,
Loud anvils ring amid the trembling walls.
Strokes follow strokes, the sparkling ingot shines,
Flows the red flag, the lengthening bar refines.
Cold waves immersed, the glowing mass congeal,
And turn to adamant the hissing steel."
Nick sent this photo - Fletcher family in the 1960s. Ada Victoria (centre right) and Lillian (centre left) are flanked by their brothers Edmund (left) & William (right). The two small children at the front row right, are Joanne and Nick
Alice Fletcher bc 1827 in Bilston, Staffordshire and she is the glue that joins us to the Evans family, as she married George Evans on 1 May 1844 in Sedgley. They lived next door to each other and would have known each other from childhood. George was born in Shrewsbury and trained to be an engine driver. He married her 1 May 1844 and then the young family lived at the fighting Cocks in Ettingshall.
In 1861 they lived at Cleveland Street, Holy Trinity, Wolverhampton. They would not recognise the area today. Now it’s hard to imagine that the quiet cul-de-sac at the top of Hospital Street was once part of the main route through Wolverhampton, to and from the west, carrying large amounts of traffic into Shropshire and North Wales via Cleveland Street, Salop Street and Chapel Ash. The road was built in between 1828 and 1830 as part of the town commissioners' road improvement scheme. The new ring road has turned it into a cul-de-sac.
Alice and George had the following kids:
Mary Ann Evans b 1848 Fighting Cocks, Sedgley, baptised 6 April 1848 Holy Trinity Ettingshall. Married George Deakin 8 Nov 1869 Wednesfield. They were one of the families that left Staffordshire and moved to the South Yorkshire coalfields and settled in Darfield. In 1891 they lived at 26 Havelock Terrace, now Havelock Street. The houses in the Terrace have been demolished. Other researchers have her listed as living in Burton on Trent aged 90 in the 1939, register but the birthdate is wrong. Children:
George H Deakin bap 22 Oct 1879 St John the Baptist
Ruth Deakin bap 22 Oct 1879 St John the Baptost
Comfort Maid Deakin bc 1882 Darfield d Oct 1892 Barnsley aged 12
Aaron Deakin bc 1885
Edith Deakin bc 1890
Joseph Evans bc 1851 Sedgley. In the 1871 census, right next door to where George Evans and William and Eliza Fletcher are living, we find him, aged 19, a collier engine driver married to Elizabeth aged 19 with daughter Ellen aged 6 mo b Wolverhampton.
Ruth Evans b 1854 Sedgley/Wolverhampton
Ann Evans b 1856
Comfort Evans b 1861-2 Wolverhampton
John Thomas Edward 'Jack' Evans 1863 - see below
William Evans bc 1865 Sedgley; engine fitter. Married 6 Aug 1893 in Bilston to Emily Morris. He and Emily moved to Mexborough, South Yorkshire, together with brother Jack.Children:
Alice Evans born 4 May 1894 - 26 Jan 1985 married a Mr Thomas
Clara Edith Evans died 24 Dec 1985 married Albert Burke
Emily Evans bc 1868 Bristol, Gloucester
George Evans b 15 May 1871 Blakenhall/Wednesfield. Married Jane Ann Heafy/Heapy 1 Nov 1897 at St Luke, Leek, Staffs. Jane was bap 15 Feb 1874 in Quarnford, St Paul, Staffs, the daughter of George Heapy and Sara LaviniaIn. In 1891 he and Jane are living at House 1 Court 7 in a street beginning with a P. He is a general labourer and Jane is a blackstover, Jane died 12 Feb 2916 at Cheshire House Waterfall, Staffs, widow. She left her estate to Minnie Heapy, spinster ad Arthur Rushton, accountant. Effects at £1208-3-8d.
They took in the illegitimate son of Alice's sister Mary Ann Fletcher for a time - William Fletcher 1867 - 1946 - see below.
For the next 20 years they lived at 25 Wards Meadow Rookery Road. Rookery Road is still there and we can see what was probably a meadow right behind it. The original houses have all been torn down and replaced with big modern ones. The residents are up in arms because the council wants to build a new estate on this vacant land.
George was working as an engine driver - he operated a steam factory engine, used for all processes, usually linked by a system of shafts, pulleys and belts. He was doing well and the family had moved by 1871 to Briggin's Lane Grocer's Shop, Heath Town, Wednesfield and it is interesting that his father-in-law, William Fletcher bc 1804 Wolverhamton, and his wife Elizabeth are living with them.
In the 1881 census we also find that William Fletcher, his grandson aged 14 b 1867 Sedgley was living with them. Moving on 10 years they are in the same place and two of their children are there as well – Eliza who works at home looking after her parents and William aged 20 is a labourer.
Not sure where the family is 1901 but there is an Alice Evans boarding in the home of Rosamale Barrett, a widow aged 62 b Cosely, working as a coal dealer. Her daughter, Rosamale aged 21 is there as well. Alice Evans is a widow aged 76 b Wolverhampton. Also in the house is Clara (12)and Laura (10) Southaw, grand daughters
Eliza is still going strong in 1911, living in the home of her son William, now a furnace man in a steelworks. Their address is 3 Holcrofts Meadow , Ladymoor, Bilston. Alice is now aged 17 and Edith is 12 both born Sedgley
Last child of William and Elizabeth (Nock), she was baptised 5 June 1842 at St Leonard’s church Bilston. There is a Mary A Fletcher aged 58 living with her brother on own means at 97 Bilston Street, Sedgley. Her brother is Edward Baker a former shopkeeper aged 72 b Sedgley. Mary had an illegitimate child, William Fletcher (1867-1946), who was brought up by his aunt Alice and uncle George (Evans). For more information - see below
This story has been written by Nick Shaw.
William Fletcher married Emma Barratt on Christmas Day 1890 at St Chad`s church, West Coseley. On his marriage certificate he gave his father`s name as Albert Fletcher (deceased) a miner. A considerable amount of time and effort went into trying to find Albert Fletcher and it was only after William`s birth certificate was finally obtained, that it was discovered that Albert was a figment of William`s imagination.
William was illegitimate. He was born 14 September 1867 at a location near to the Fighting Cocks Hotel in Sedgley and his mother is listed as Mary Ann Fletcher, aged about 23. No father is named.
Mary Ann and William should have appeared on the 1871 census, just four years after he was born, but despite all my efforts, I have been unable to find them. It is not unusual for people to dodge the census enumerator and this appears to be the case here. So we do not know if Mary Ann lived at home, or was forced to fend for herself. It would appear from later investigations, that the latter was the case.
The 1881 census is the key record. William is shown as aged 14 living with George Evans, an engine driver and one time publican/bar manager, born in Shrewsbury and his wife Alice from Bilston. William is listed with their five children, as a “grandson”.
By this time, I believe that William`s mother Mary Ann had moved on and had married a man of Italian extraction. When she left William is impossible to be sure, but in 1881 she would have been in her late thirties, so I suspect that it was not long after 1871.
I traced George Evans and his family back to the 1871 census and there was in fact a William Fletcher living with them. But this was William Fletcher aged 67 and his wife Elizabeth of the same age. They are listed as mother and father and are the parents of George`s wife Alice. She was Alice Fletcher, who married George Evans at Sedgley in 1844. Further investigations show that Mary Ann Fletcher (William`s mother) was Alice`s younger sister. The plot thickens….
So who could be William`s father?
Firstly, it must be said that it obviously could have been anyone. Mary Ann could have been in a long term relationship, or she could have had a number of partners, but the circumstances of William`s upbringing mean that we should look more closely at the Evans family.
The spotlight is now shining on George Evans himself. It is not unique for a man to have a relationship with his wife`s sister, but we should look at this from Alice`s viewpoint. Her husband has a relationship with her sister which results in a child, which she then agrees to bring up, whilst her sister wanders off. That is a big call and I can`t help feeling that most women would have shown George the door. But realistically, who would support her and her children (they had a total of 10), if George moved on? So he has to be in the frame.
There is, however, another possibility. Let`s turn the spotlight onto George and Alice`s eldest child – a boy named Joseph. Born around 1850, he would have been some six years Mary Ann`s junior but would have been 17 when William was born. Add to that the fact that if he was the father, then the term “grandson” on the 1881 census is accurate. However, the relationship between a nephew and his aunt (in this case his mother`s sister), would have been regarded as incestuous. It is certainly genetically worrying but, as William does not appear to have been born with two heads, it must be a consideration.
There is one more document that helps with William`s history and that is the 1939 Register. This is a document that was compiled just as the Second World War started and was used to determine who should receive a ration book. Somehow it seems to have circumnavigated the 100 year ruling that is applied to the census and has been released now. It is heavily redacted, which makes it virtually illegible in some parts, but is very useful in this instance.
The register shows William Fletcher living at 55 Oliver Street Mexborough. His wife Emma is a patient in the Montagu Hospital in Mexborough. Presumably being treated for the breast cancer that was sadly to end her life some four years later.
Two further entries are of importance. Firstly, it shows William`s date of birth. This matches that of his birth certificate, proving beyond doubt that we have the correct document. Secondly, living with William in Oliver Street is George Evans son of George and Alice. He is shown as being a widower, three years younger than William. George was one of the children that William grew up with. He married Harriet Holding at Wolverhampton in 1892. She died at Mexborough in 1937.
There is little else that we can find out about William`s birth and life, but there are still questions regarding his mother. I have so far failed to find her birth registration and certificate, which are proving irritatingly elusive. We know that Mary Ann and Alice`s parents were William Fletcher, born at Wolverhampton in 1801 and Elizabeth, born at Sedgley in the same year, but Elizabeth who??
There are three candidates and until I find Mary Ann`s birth certificate, we will not know which one it is. I may have to try looking for her slightly older brother Thomas.
Jack and Eliza - got to respect thee two battlers. Tough as nail with hearts of gold
John Thomas Edward Evans (Jack) was born circa 1862 in Ladybride Street, Bilston, Staffordshire (1881 census lists Sedgley and hi is working as a boat builder). He and his brother Bill moved to Mexborough at a time when the canal transportation system was being developed, in order to move the vast amounts of coal to Sheffield and Doncaster. He found employment at Waddington's Boatyard down near the canal. He would be delighted to know that they are still there and I expect that he could walk right in and get on with the work, though he would be amazed with modern tools.
Jack Evans married Eliza Barrett (who was born 21 Canal Street, Corstley 1864) at Corstley Parish Church. Eliza's mother (known as Great Grandma Barrett died aged 96 Rene gave me these dates and recalls a Great Grandma Potter, and Jack's parents died aged 88 and 86 years respectively).
Jack and Eliza lived at 37 Oliver Street, Mexborough. Oliver Street was in the poorer end of Mexboro and was considered the other side of the railway tracks. Not true now though. In 1930, at the age of 60 and when most of the children had left home, they should have been looking forward to a gentle old age in retirement. However, their son's wife - Ada Severn - died of pneumonia.
This was a hard time - the General Strike of 1929 was followed by the Great Depression - money was scarcer than ever before and work was hard to get. Jack and Eliza took in Ada's three children: Rene, Stan and Marian, as well as their own son, Bill. At the time their youngest son, Frank, was still living at home. And then, just two years later, Thomas' wife, Ellen nee Goddrd died and two more children were gathered in.
Jack and Eliza (called "Granny Evans") were typical products of the Victorian age. Strict and very religious, they ruled their house according to biblical ethics. Sunday meant 3 visits to church. No-one was allowed to work on Sunday - that meant not even cutting your nails was allowed.
Maureen recalls that "Jack had a slight Welsh accent and Granny Evans had a big organ in the front room. The house was made into a 3 up/ 3 down and God help you if you moved on a Sunday. On that day you were given two books to read - the Bible and Pilgrims Progress. Granny Evans wore high-button boots, black stockings, big baggy drawers, 3 skirts under another balck one that extended down to the top of her boots and a white blouse. She only ever had one coat until she was quite old. Jack was a hard drinker - consuming 18 rum and peppers before going to work, though he became timid later in life" Editor: Do people from Shrewsbury have Welsh accents?
Jack died Oct 12 1942 aged 80 and Eliza died 2 December 1943 aged 79. They are buried in Mexborough Cemetary.
The South Yorkshire Times issue dated 17 October 1942 (page 10) had an advert from the family. It read:
The wife and family of the late Mr John Thomas Edward Evans desire to express their sincere thanks to Nurse Crawley and Dr Agascar for their very hard care and attention to Mr Evans during his illness. Also to all friends and neighbours of the Mexborough Reform Club for their very kind sympathy and for the many beautiful floral tributes received during their recent sad bereavement.
37 Oliver Street, Mexborough
The South Yorkshire Times issue dated 17 October 1942 (page 10) reported his funeral. It reads:
The death of Mr JTE Evans (80) of 37 Oliver Street occurred on Monday. Mourners were:
Mrs JTE Evans (widow); Mr & Mrs A Prosser; Mr & Mrs W Evans; Mr & Mrs E Evans; Mr & Mrs T Evans Mr & Mrs F Evans; Mrs W Fletcher; Ernest Prosser; Thomas Evans; Robert Evans; Mrs J Heaton; Marian Evans; Maureen, Nancy & Chrissie Evans; Mr & Mrs T Donaghue; Steve, Don, Edith & Alice; Mr W Fletcher; Mrs Norton; Mr & Mrs Barrett; Mrs Chipp;
Bearers were Messrs Marsden, Slater, Oxley, Haigh, Baker & Wright. Funeral arrangements were by Millwood & Sons, 105 Main Street & 24 Market Street, Mexborough. Tel 2138.
Granny and Jack Evans c 1910
Donated by Maureen Evans
Granny Evans donated by Nancy Ellor
Jack Evans in the garden with his grand-daughter Nancy Ellor
Oliver Street 1997
Above - nothing much has changed in 100 years here. Right - amazing how tiny the house is and Jack and Eliza brought up their kids and looked after their kid's kids