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Generation 1 James Severn/Cefern 1696 - 1774

The earliest known of our ancestors is James Severn/Cefern born circa 1696 and buried 24 Feb 1774 in Heanor. About 1715 he married Ann Cooper at St. Werburgh's, Derby, Derbyshire,. Ann was born about 1696. She was buried 13 Jan 1772 at Shipley Wood Heanor. We don’t know how many children they had… but we know of:

  • John Severns baptised 12 Feb 1716;

  • James Severns/Seaverns baptised 12 Oct 1718 d 1795 See Generation 2

  • Phillip Severns baptised 3 June 1721 in Heanor.

About this time we believe that the men started leaving the and and going to work in coal mines. The industry was beginning to develop as the industrial revolution started. There is a good article on coal mining in Nottinghamshire here.

Generation 2 James Severns/SeavernsCefern 1718 - 1795

We think he married Catherine Rowopttom on 4 Oct 1754 in St Mary’s church, Nottingham. He married again to Catherine Catorn or Catron (she was born 1725 and was buried 2 Apr 1795 aged 70 years, also in Shipley Wood. James was buried at Shipley Wood in 1795

James and Catherine had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Severns bap 21 Aug 1757 Heanor

  • John Severns bapt 25 Dec 1758 bur 20 May 1759

  • Mary Severns bap 11 May 1760 Heanor

  • Hannah Severns bap 31 Mar 1762 bur 4 Dec 1763

  • Hannah Marrina Severns bap 22 Apr 1764 Heanor

  • James Severns bap 21 Dec 1765 Heanor. See Generation 3

Generation 3 James Severns 1765 - 1846

James Severns married Catherine Clay born circa 1767 in Heanor, the daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth Clay. She died before 1841.  James and Catherine had a large family, many of who have given birth to numerous clans. Their children were:

  • Bessey Severns bap 7 Feb 1786 Heanor

  • Sharlot (Charlotte) Severns bap 26 Feb 1788 Heanor, married 20 Jul 1807 Ilkeston to Thomas Cope (b 1789 Derby). She died 1841-1851

  • Anne Severns bap 17 Mar 1790 and bd 16 Feb 1792 Heanor

  • Samuel Severns bap 8 May 1792 Heanor; married Mary Adams

  • James Severns bap 24 Nov 1794; bur 28 Jan 1796 Heanor.

  • Mary Severns bap 26 Jan 1797 Heanor

  • John Severns bap 2 May 1799 Heanor

  • Thomas Severns bap 25 Sep 1800 d 1886; married Grace Durow 27 Aug 1822. Grace born 16 Jan 1803 Ilkeston; bap 20 Mar 1809 Independent Ilkeston

  • Hannah Severn bap 18 Jan 1803 Heanor

  • Joseph Severn b 13 Jun 1805 marr Jane

  • James Severn 1808 - 1884  See Generation 4

  • George Severn baptised 9 Jan 1809 Heanor. In 1851 he was a miner living in Shipley Common. In 1827 he married Rebecca Hart (she was born 1810 in Ilkeston)

  • Ruth Severns bap 29 Sep 1812; married John Henshaw (he b 1810 Cotmanhay)

Generation 4 James Severn 1808 - 1884

James  Severn  c1806-1808 . We believe he was married firstly to Mira Sisson  who was the daughter of James and Mary Sisson and was born 13 Dec 1808, baptised Apr 13 1812.  She died aged 23 and was buried 7 Jun 1831 in Ilkeston.   James and Myra had twins:

James then married Hannah Beardsley born 4 Aug 1805 dt of William Beardsley & Elizabeth. They were married before 1841. She died in 1872 aged 67. Their children were:

  • Joseph Severn b 1832; married 1854 Elizabeth Walters - they moved to the Doncaster area see this link for more details

  • Sarah Severn bc 1835 died bef 1871; married Samuel Cook

  • William Severn b 1836 d 1891 Doncaster married Lucy Barber. He also moved to the Doncaster area

  • Elizabeth Severn b 1839 married Enoch Beardsley

  • Catherine Severn b 1841 d 1874; married William Rowe

Generation 5 James Severn 1828 - 1898

James Severn the surviving twin was b 20 Oct 1828 Cotmanhay; bap 18 Nov 1828 Shipleywood & Beverley & Slade Ilkeston Primitive Methodist chapel. He married Mary Sanders (also in some records Sanderson). She was bc 1828. In 1861 they were living at Wheaton Terrace, Cotmanhay. Their children were:

  • George Severn 1852-1934 married Martha Jane Hill - see below Gen 6.1

  • Martha/Moira Severn bc 1854; bap 11 Sep 1859 Cotmanhay - then disappears

  • James Severn 1856 -1924 married Martha Burkinshaw

  • William Severn or William Henry Severn. Not sure if this person was christened twice or the first William died. No further information. Possibly b 1860

  • Joseph Severn 1863 – 1942 married Louisa Goddard.


A Methodist minister said about the people of Ilkeston:

The condition of the people as to roughness and rudeness is like that of the natives of Mow Cop in 1800 before the first Revival.”The Mow Cap comment was: “There was not in England a neighbourhood that was more ungodly and profane. A stranger could hardly go over Harris Head without insult and sometimes not without injury.”

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Cotmanhay Primitive Methodist Chapel

The chapel building is situated on the east side of Cotmanhay road, opposite its junction with Wesley Street. It was built in 1853, and had a Sunday-school building in Wesley Street. It is now closed and the building has been converted into residential use.

Our Severn ancestors would have had a hand in raising the finds and helping to build it. For many years they had worshiped at the old chapel - long since destroyed.


The Old Ilkeston website says that In the early 1820’s regular services were held in the houses of Job Fretwell at Cotmanhay and Hannah Wheatley at Shipley. Probably because these premises were proving too small, services moved to a barn belonging to the Ancient Druids Inn, a forerunner of the Methodist Chapel, at the corner of Bridge Street and Cotmanhay Road where there  is now a roundabout

Good story about Methodists in Ilkeston here

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Generation 6.1 George Severn 1851-1941 & Martha Jane Hill 1854-1901

George Severn, son of James and Mary Severn was born around 1851 and baptised at Cotmanhay. He is the patriarch of one of the Severn families in the Mexborough area. Until recently members of this family suspected that they may have been related to Joseph & Louisa's family but were not certain. The reason for this is that George and Joseph were not on speaking terms. There had been a feud. Will we ever know why? Probably not.

Right: Sportsmans Arms pub 2020

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George drops out of sight until he married Martha Jane Hill who was born in Darfield, Yorkshire 22 October 1854. She was the daughter of the publican who kept the "Sportsman's Inn" on Adwick Road. For more details on the Hill family - see  here. Martha died 8 December 1901 aged 47 years.

George and Martha had 11 children. While researching my side of the family I was often told that there was a ‘Sirann’ who they thought was related. This turned out to be Sarah Ann Severn, George and Martha’s eldest daughter. Family tradition on Joseph's side of the family made mention of a Sarah Ann (or Sirann in Yorkshire) and I believe this was George's daughter. It is a puzzlement to me why there has been so little interaction between the two arms of the family. They all lived in the same town and were brought up scarcely a quarter of a mile apart! Even at the inquest and funeral of bother James - there is no mention of George! Neither do I have any photos of the family like I have of James and Joseph. One explanation could be that George married Martha Hill, and Martha's brother had a daughter who married James, George's brother ! Get that? :)

In 1881 George and Martha lived at 80 Church Street, but by 1891 they had moved to 84 Church Street. Jim Evans, (Sarah Ann's son), told me that George was a coal miner and worked first at Cadeby Colliery and then at Denaby Main. George lived to be 90 years old and died in 1941. His wife, Martha, died when she was 47. Life must have been hard for such a large family without a mother.

George and Martha’s children are:

  • Sarah Ann Severn b 5 March 1873 -1 June 1948 married James ‘Jim’ Evans.

  • James Severn b 15 November 1875. Disappeared

  • Mary Severn b 12 June 1877 in Darfield. Disappeared

  • William Henry Severn b 1 August 1879 in Darfield, Yorks. Died 1851.  He was an underground coalminer. He married Eva SMITH. She was born in Stainforth. Family tradition says she was the daughter of a boat-builder and sister of "Iron HAGUE" a well-known Mexborough boxer. That has yet to be proven.  The 1911 census tells us that they were married 1901. Ralph and Eva had only three children - quite unusual for those days, unless Eva died young. I know of

    • Charles Severn who married and had kids but we have no information and

    • Doris Severn who may have had a child named Joseph. In the 1911 census the family was living at 40 Church St, Mexborough. Also living them were Arthur and Lily Day. Lily Day was Eva’s sister.   In the 1901 census he was living with his brother-in-law John Dean at the Ship Inn in Church Street, Mexborough

    • Ralph Severn born 1903 Thorne. Ralph was a miner and married Lily STEVENS (born 1907). They lived in Church Street.  Ralph and Lily had the following children:

      • Elsie Severn married Albert Darlington who worked for British Rail. Their children were:

        • Pamela Darlington born 1949 and believed to be living in London

        • Neil Darlington born 1952 and also believed to be in London - a lecturer.''

        • Faye Darlington

    • Ralph Derrick Severn married Edith Wain (born 10 November 1930 in Conanby).  Edith started work in a butcher's shop at the age of 14. She met Derrick on the banks of the canal at the Ferry Boat Inn. They were married on 9 June 1951 and three months later, Derrick was in the Army on National Service from 1951-53. He was in the Medical Corps. On his discharge he finished his bricklaying apprenticeship. Later Derrick and Edith ran a shop at 43 Adwick Road. Their children:

      • Joy Severn born 23 June 1952. Joy left school and worked in a sewing factory. She met Robert Carman on a blind date and they were married on 11 September 1971. Joy and Robert have two children: Nicola Carman b 1 August 1974 and Louise Carman b 17 March 1976

      • Karen Severn born 29 December 1958, also worked in a sewing factory after leaving school, before joining the staff of GEC's electrical manufacturing plant. When her sister took over the running of a general grocers shop up Adwick Road, Joy and Karen opened a wool shop and ran it for 14 years (with 11 other competitors in the area!! There's only one wool shop now!). Karen married David Cummings on 18 March 1978. David works for Case International as a driver. They have three children:   Lisa, Stephen & Anneka Cummings

Sadly the remainder of George’s clan take up little space because we know little about them:

  • Ann Elizabeth Severn 7 January 1882 married Dean or Johnson. Stubbs family tree says that she married Thomas Gough in 1902. She died 1939 aged 58. Not known if there were children.

  • John (called Jack) Severn 1 January 1884 in Mexorough, Yorkhire.

  • Henry (called Harry) Severn 1 January 1886 in Mexorough, Yorkhire.. Married Ada Tagg (1886-1944). Known children: Hilda Severn b 1910 and Elsie Severn b 1912.

  • Joseph Severn June 1887 in Mexorough, Yorkhire. had a daughter Doris Severn then - disappeared from history

  • George Severn 29 July 1890 in Mexorough, Yorkhire. Disappeared from history

  • Ernest Severn 29 July 1892 and lived at 84 Church Street Mexborough.  He became a coal miner. At the outbreak of the First World War, like so many other patriotic young men, he joined the Army and served thoughout the duratioErnest married Edith Thompson of Hull and they had issue, see below. Edith's father was a bargee.  Ernest died in 1961.

Ernest and Edith had 8 children, all born at Conanby. Their pictures are on the next page.

  • Eva Severn born 22 August 1918 and married John Alderson with 2 children. Brian Alderson & John Alderson. She is buried in Conisbrough

  • Ernest Severn born 31 January 1920, married Evelyn Jackson and had 2 children:  Pauline and Keith Severn 

  • Edith Severn born 25 May 1922 married Alan Codling and had 2 children. Barbara & Geoffrey Codling

  • George Severn born 22 August 1924 married Joan Riley and had 2 children:  Jean and Ann Severn

  • John Severn born May 1927 married first to Lily Danford (divorced) and second to Kath ?. There were two children:  Jacqueline  & Alan Severn

  • Lawrence Severn born October 1929. Developed diabetes and moved away to Hull and lost contact with the family.

  • Henry Severn born November 1932, married Constance Beasley (divorced), She has since died. They had two children - Paul & Karen Severn

  • Joseph Severn born 26 February 1935 at Conanby and attended Northcliffe School, Conisbrough. When he left school he became a factory hand and then married Mavis Senior. Mavis is the dt of Alfred & Edna May Senior of Conisbrough and was born 17 March 1937. They were married on 27 April 1957 at Denaby Main Church (now demolished). Between 1953 and 1955 Joseph did his National Service and was an RHA Lance Bombadier in Germany. His hobbies were wine making, walking, DIY, car maintenance and gardening. Sadly Joseph died before I could visit  him on my trip to England.

    Mavis attended Mexborough Grammar School and her hobbies include tapestry work, walking, gardening, knitting and     reading. She is involved in charity work for her church - St Peter's Conisbrough and has previously been a church warden and a Congregational pastor. She was heavily involved with a fund raising committee for local council protest to a proposed open-cast mine designed to be used as a landfill site. My thanks to Mavis for her hospitality - and a lovely lunch.

Severn lads at wedding.tiff

The Severn Boys at John's wedding 1955

All Saints Denaby Main church.

Left to right:

Joe; Lawrence; George; John; Henry & Ernest

The church in the background has since been demolished

Photo donated by Mavis Severn

I am surprised at the lack of knowledge of the whereabouts of many of these family members. The descendants of Joseph and James are a fairly tight-knit family, and even if some of us don't always see eye-to-eye with other family members there are many who still KNOW about the history of the family. Not so with the descendants of George Severn. I am indebted to the descendants of Sarah Ann, William Henry and Joseph for all the information contained in the links. Of the rest I have no idea.

Gen 6.2 James Severn & Martha Burkinshaw Hill

Sarah Ann SEVERN, the eldest of 12 was born 5 March 1873.  I am indebted to Jim EVANS, her son (1919-1994) - se hos story elsewhere on this site, for a wonderful story and some of the facts here. And a huge thanks to his widow Lilian for the photos.


Sirann (Sarah Ann) was born in Darfield the youngest of 16 children, though 8 died young. She married James EVANS of Rawmarsh. Jim continues the story:

"James EVANS, my father was born in 1868 in Dawlish, Shropshire and he always said Dr Webb (Capt. Webb's father) brought him into the world. He was the son of John Thomas and Hannah Maria Evans who came to Rawmarsh in the 1880s from Dawlish with his four children: James, Jack, Reuben and Charlotte. Both grandparents died within a day of each other at a house in Victoria Road, Parkgate. John was aged 84." Jum Evans Story.

In the 1911 census we learn that Jim and Sarah had been married 21 years and had had 11 children, two of whom had died.

7_Jim Evans & dog 2.jpg
7_Jim Evans on horse.jpg
7_Jim Evans 1.jpg

Top left: Jim loved his dog

Top right: Jim on a horse

Bottom left: the house in Pottery Street, Rawmarsh

Bottom right: Jim with an un-named grandchild

All these photos were donated by Lilian Evans

7_Jim Evans & unknown child.jpg

James (Jim) was born 11 March 1870 at Langley Square, Dawley in the Registration District of Madely in Staffordshire. He married Sarah Ann SEVERN and they started married life in a very small house in Church Street, Rawmarsh and had a very large family of 16 but 7 died of scarlet fever which was deadly in those days. They moved to a larger house in Pottery Street an area well known for fighting and blackclocks, each family having a team of their own!"  

Jim told me that "‘in 1926 during the strike, my old man used to take me coal picking on Stubbin Tip. I was only eight at the time - we used to go up Haugh Lane and down a track to Bank Cottages which was pretty steep and pulling a barrow of coal up was no joke. He used to tie me to the barrow for two reasons - one to help him pull, the other so I couldn’t run off.  This barrow was a home made effort about 6 feet long and three feet wide with wheels off old wringing machines or mangles as they were called. The axle was made by “Old Footit” the blacksmith at the top of Pottery Street. Funny name for anyone, but a popular one. If anything went wrong down Pottery Street where I was born, you could hear them shout his name or something like it.’

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8_SarahAnn & Jim Evans2.jpg

Left: Sirann c 1940

Right: Jim and Sirann c 1940

Photos were donated by Lilian Evans

Jim died in 1951 aged 83. Sarah Ann died 1 June 1948 aged 75

Jim and Sirann had the following children. Their stories can be found lower down

  1. John Thomas EVANS 1893 – 1963. Md BARKER.

  2. George EVANS 1896 -1917

  3. Ernest ‘Cufty’ EVANS 1898 – 1967. Md LEATHER

  4. Mary EVANS 1902 - 1902 - 1946 . Md GILLESPIE

  5. Sarah Jane EVANS 1905 – Md TURTON & SIMPSON

  6. Beatrice May EVANS 1908  - 1946 . Md GILLESPIE

  7. Betsy Mabel 1911

  8. Kathleen ‘Cathy’ EVANS 1913 – 1967. Md KILLEEN

  9. James EVANS  1918-1996. Md MAKIN see Jim Evans own story here

  10. Rose EVANS 1923. Md HUNT


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