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The Abram family fits into Pamela Dixon's family tree.

Once upon a time there was a family with the surname ABRAM living in the far north of England in Lancashire. The Abram family were from Lancashire and can trace their family back to the mid sixteenth century. Various Abrams are mentioned in the records including Robert Abram (1661-1715) of North Meols a fisherman who lost everything in a flood in the early 1700s.


Our Abram story starts with James Abram bap 9 Apr 1780 North Meols, Lancs; died 24 Jan 1871 North Meols.  Over the course of his life he tried his hand at many things. He was ahead of his time as he was more like a Gen Z. In 1814 he was a weaver living in Raw Lane; by 1841 he was a fisherman; in 1851 he was a farmer of 3 acres in Snuttering Lane, North Meols (Now St Lukes Road, Southport). Married to Ellin Rhymer/Rimmer on 10 Aug  1802 at North Meols; The 1841 census lists his wife as Elizabeth bc 1780 North Meols. Children:

  • Peter Abram b 21 Jun, bap 24 Jul 1814, Wesleyan church North Meols

  • Robert Abram b 1805 North Meols - see below

  • Joseph Abram b 1821 North Meols

  • James Abram bc 1821 North Meols

  • William Abram bc 1833 North Meols

Robert Abram  who was born on 2nd June 1805 and baptised on 16th June at St Cuthbert's, North Meols.  What is known of his life is largely recorded in his son William Alexander Abram's book 'Blackburn Characters of a Past Generation.'


On the 11th March 1807, seven people formed themselves into an Independent Christian Church, at the instigation of an itinerant Preacher, George Greatbatch, and other Ministers who had been present at the opening of the little thatched cottage-style Chapel in North Meols. 

Greatbatch became their first Pastor and served until 1824.

 In 1972, the Congregationalists joined with the English Presbyterians to form the United Reformed Church. 

Their first church - Independent Chapel

In 1832 Robert Abram joined the pastorship of Revd. George Greatbatch and established the first Independent Chapel in the North Meols district. 

Robert lived at Silk Hall which was built in 1764 by Ralph (and Susannah) Richardson "for a residence and for the purpose of his business as a chapman in silks. It was later divided into two dwellings. It is in sandstone with a roof partly in stone-slates and partly felted.

Silk Hall.png

Silk Hall

At the same time as he was establishing the chapel, Robert married Mary Faulkner at St Cuthbert's, the marriage being witnessed by George Greatbatch and Sarah Finly.  We do not know how the couple met.  Mary was the daughter of Stephen Faulkner a 'Manchester manufacturer' and described in the 'Blackburn Characters' as being of 'exceptional' education.  In the St Cuthbert's register, Mary was said to be 'of this parish' and neither of her parents were present at the wedding.  (The hunt for the story of her father took many, many hours of research and is worthy of its own chapter.)

In 1833 Robert took up the role of outstation preacher and scripture reader for the Independent Church in Formby, and he and Mary moved to Lydiate.  Their first three children, Helen Abram, William Alexander Abram, and Mary Jane Abram, were born in Lydiate.  They were baptised at the Independent Chapel and Robert is described as being an 'itinerant preacher.'

In 1837 Robert was ordained as Minister of the Salem Independent Chapel at Martin Top and the family made a rather hazardous journey over the steep moorland shoulder of Pendle Hill.

The 1841 census confirms the family home as the small manse adjoining the chapel at Martin Top.  Here three more children were born: George Greatbatch Abram, Robert Stephen Abram and Sarah Anne Abram.


After 6 years at Martin Top, Robert took up the appointment in 1843 as Minister of the Providence Independent Chapel at Marsden.  Another 6 years were spent here, and then Robert moved once more to be Independent Minister at Tockholes, 3 miles south of Blackburn. 


Tockholes at this time was a major centre of the rural silk and cotton industry and had a strong tradition of Nonconformity, so this was quite a prestigious appointment.

By 1851 Robert and his family were in residence at Silk Hall which had been acquired as Tockholes Manse. But sometime arund 1837 he and the family moved to Gisburne in Yorkshire as George, Robert and Sarah were born there.

On 30th July, Robert died at Tockholes and was buried in the small graveyard of the Bethesda Chapel.  Robert was much respected and a complete account of his ministry appears in 'History of the Old Independent Chapel, Tockholes,' written by Revd. B. Nightingale.  We know from the 'Blackburn Characters' that Robert was 'physically, short of stature, dark hair, almost black, dark brown eyes, a lustre in them, complexion of contrast red and white, very clear.' 

Robert's wife Mary had to vacate Silk Hall on the death of her husband so she and the family moved into Blackburn and in 1861 was living at 30 Redlam Brow.  Four children were still living at home.  Robert Stephen Abram was a draper's assistant.  Mary died on 13th February, 1869, 'a woman of dauntless courage, unbending will, intellectual many ways a remarkable woman, loved by her Sunday school scholars; short, with keen eyes, a spare frame.'

Children of Robert and Mary Abram:

  • Helen Abram  1833-1892 married Thomas Carus

  • William Alexander Abram born 18 Jan bap 6 Feb 1835 Southport Independent chapel (congregational). He apprenticed to be a printer and in 1861 he was working as a librarian at Blackburn Free Library. In 1861 – 25; By 1881 he lived at 42 Adelaide Terrace, Blackburn and he was an author and newspaper editor. Ten years later he was living at 52 Adelaide Terrace Blackburn and married to Elizabeth (Birtwhistle?) - she was born in Blackburn).  William died at 83 Alexandra Road, Blackburn in June 1894 and the probate record has Esq after his name. Effects went to wife Elizabeth and he was worth £2510-0-2d which in 2020 money was worth £296,000. Not bad. He was buried 7 May 1894. William was Blackburn’s first librarian and in 1875 he became editor of the Blackburn Times. He became a councillor, a member of the  library committee and then its chairman; he was a great enabler of that town’s working class literacy culture.  Abram wrote A history of Blackburn; Blackburn characters of a past generation. You can find one of his stories at the Minor Victorian writers website entitled William Billington, operative, sceptic, and poet.  In 1877 he published Parish of Blackburn, County of Lancaster: A History of Blackburn, Town and Parish”, and he rates a mention in Wikipedia.  (source:  A Fleet Street in Every Town: The Provincial Press in England, 1855-1900; page 322

They had two children:

  • Edmund William Abram bc 1869 Blackburn (he worked for his dad at the newspaper

  • Gilbert S Abram bc 1875 Blackburn. William died at 83 Alexandra Road, Blackburn in June 1894 and the probate record has Esq after his name. Effects went to wife Elizabeth and he was worth £2510-0-2d which in 2020 money was worth £296,000. Not bad. He was buried 7 May 1894.

  • Mary Jane Abram b 25 Jul 1836 bap 18 Aug 1836 Independent or Congregational, Southport Lydiate.She married John Brierly 1841-77 and they moved to St Albans, Lancashire.

  • George Greatbatch Abram b 1839 Gisburne, York. Living at home in 1861 and working as a clerk in a cotton mill.  married Mary and had 4 children

  • Sarah Ann Abram 1843 Gisburne, York, died 1924. Living at home in 1861 and working as a cotton warper.She married James C Hope and had two children

  • Robert Stephen Abram (1841-1891) was the 5th of six children and was born in Gisburn, Yorkshire where his father was a minister  for the independent church movement. Robert lived a tumultous life.   After the death of his father, tye famiy mived to Yorkshire and in 1881 lived at 30 Redlam Brow with mum,together with William, George ad Mary. At thus time he was a draoers assistant.  He moved to London where he married Maria Mary Ann Young (bap 16 Feb 1851 at St Mary, Rotherithe, Southwark -1885) daughter of William Young and Elizabeth Otten on 8 Jun 1872 at St James church, Clapham.  He was 30 and she was 21. William was a carver and gilder at this church. Her father was also a gilder and carver


This is the church where Robert worked as a guilder. A gilder was employed to carve wood and/or plaster, for furniture, picture frames, architectural elements etc. and then gilding the carving (i.e. covering it with gold leaf). He would be devastated to know that on 6 Jun 1940,  the church was completely destroyed by the Nazis in World War Two. Another one has been built in its place - very modern and caters to a multicultural congregation.

St James Clapham.png

Robert Stephen and Maria Young had children:

  • Annie Maud Mary Abram bap 21 Sep 1873 St Mark's, Lewisham. Died 17 Jul 1951 New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada. Not sure when she moved emigrated to Canada. has references to her life in Canada, but I've not paid into that subscription.

  • Helen Constance Abram b 14 Aug 1871 d 1961 Harrow. Married William Edwin Till (1873-1916)

  • William Faulkner Abram 1876 - 1948 married Sarah Edmonds

  • Florence Elizabeth Abram 1877 - 1954 married James Powell

  • Lilian Alice Abram (1879–1962)

  • Robert Gladstone Abram (1880–)

  • George Theodore Abram (1881–1965)

  • Leopold OctaviuAbram (1884–1961)

By 1881 Robert's occupation has changed and he was a  commercial traveler in the field of trade protection, which from later evidence appears to have been in connection with trade insurance. The 1881 census shows that Robert and Maria were  living at 3 Clifton Villas, Henslowe Road, East Dulwich.    Maria died in 1885 of 'convulsions.'  On the death certificate Robert's occupation is recorded as 'Manager of Trade Protection Society.'  Thus Robert was left a widower with eight young children. 


Around 1886/7 he moved back to the Lewisham district because on 19th February 1891, ill and unable to work, he applied to the Lewisham Union for relief.    The application record book states him as living at 1 Rutland Terrace, Schuckburgh Road, and as having resided within the area of the Union without previous relief for four years.   It is recorded that he had been unable to work for several weeks owing to sickness, and that he was without means of financial assistance from any other source.  The basis for his relief was then summarised as 'sickness and need for medical attention.'  He was seen by the Union's Medical Officer because the application record is endorsed 'M.O. recommends meat.'  There is no mention of medicine.  The relief actually provided is then entered:  small quantities of meat, milk and groceries, and the dates on which they were delivered and their value of a few shillings.   The application book records a second application for relief on 10th March 1891 and this time the M.O. recommends he is taken into the 'House,'  i.e. The Union Workhouse.  The Admission and Discharge Register for the Lewisham Union (held at London Metropolitan Archives) shows 'Robert Abram, clerk, age 50' was admitted to the workhouse along with Leopold, age 7, both being described as destitute.  Robert Gladstone, age 10,  was admitted the following day.  Robert Abram died in the Lewisham Union workhouse just over a fortnight later on 26th March 1891, and according to his death certificate, he died of 'epilepsy, last fit one hour' and of 'bronchitis, 4 months.'  His occupation is given as Commercial Clerk so he was no longer the manager for the Trade Protection Society

The two brothers he left behind went on to have illustrious and successful careers, so it is a pity that they were unable to assist their young brother.

Lewisham workhouse 1895.png
Lewisham workhouse 1895 inf ward.png
Lewisham workhouse now.png
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