A start on the Beech Family

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Today I want to make another start on the Beech Family of Wigan. The ancestor to begin with is Florence Doreen Beech. I have found her siblings all born in the 1920s in Central Wigan, which tells us that her parents lived in Wigan at that point.

Her father is James William Beech (1891-1952) and her mother is Louie Florence Kelsall (1898-1982). I will get back to Louie a bit later and talk more about the Kelsall family then. For now let’s focus on the Beech family.

James was born and his parents lived at 6 Baileys Court on Hallgate. According to Wigan World’s street index for the time Baileys Court is what is now 31 or 33 Hallgate.

His parents were James Beech (1867- and Rebecca Sampson (1861-1900). Rebecca died young, in her 30s, in childbirth. Her burial record says 33 years but other records show that she may have been 39 at the time she died. We won’t dwell to much on her for now – she and her family will get a chapter for themselves.

They were married in 1889 at the Register Office in Wigan and with the help of Lancashire BMD, Wigan World’s Cemetary Index and Lancashire online parish clerk project I have pieced together a bit of their life together.

Here is a list of their children:

  1. Thomas (1889-1890)
  2. James William (1891-1951)
  3. Sarah Ellen (1892-1938)
  4. Hannah (1893-1893)
  5. Ethel May (1894-)
  6. Joseph (1896-1900)
  7. Albert (1897-1899)
  8. John (1899-1900)

As you can see the couple had 8 children in the short span of 10 years. Only 3 of which survived into adulthood. Sarah Ellen died 46 years old in a nursing home. I can’t find any Ethel May in the Lancashire burial records, which go up to 1975. Having said that Ethel May would only have been 80 in 1975.

The family were noted in the census of 1891 and James alone in 1901 after Rebecca’s death in 1900. In the first James is a China Dealer and in the second a Peddler. Family memory tells us that he was a tinker so this turned out correct. According to Wikipedia a peddler is a traveling vendor of goods. I can’t find any record of what a china dealer did. Apart from the obvious that they sold china. This is just guess but maybe James sold china and other goods from home until his wife died and after that took to being a traveling salesman. He is still in Wigan in 1911 and dies there in 1920 but is not living in Baileys Court anymore. In fact he is living on 21 Mesnes Street when he died, which is the same address as his brother-in-law George Halliwell died age 56. In the 1911 census his daughter Sarah Ellen (age 19) is also living there together with her aunt and uncle Emma and George Halliwell. There are many people living at 21 Mesnes Street so it was probably not their private home.

If we move on to the next generation of Beech Family we come across James’ parents Joseph Beech and Sarah Gibson. I am very sure about the surname of Gibson because this is the only Joseph Beech marrying a Sarah I can find in the 1850s in Lancashire BMD:

BEECH Joseph GIBSON Sarah Oldham, St. Mary Oldham CE235/13/85

Also I know the names of their children and their approximate time of birth from the census and there is only one Jane Beech born at the right time and she is born in Wigan to a mother with the maiden name Gibson:

BEECH Jane Wigan Wigan & Leigh GIBSON WIG/57/283

The oldest daughter, Hannah, is proving to be a bit elusive. The 1881 census tells us that she is born around 1857 in Ashton Under Lyne and that she is Joseph’s daughter. But I haven’t been able to find her at all. There are many possible explanations for this.

The list of their children looks like this:

  1. 1857: Hannah
  2. 1859: Jane
  3. 1861-1915: Charles
  4. 1864-1936: Emma – Married George Halliwell
  5. 1866-1920: James
  6. 1870-1942: Bertha – married John William Uttley
  7. 1875: Mary Ellen

Of Joseph and Sarah’s life we know that he started out as a potter age 17 in Ashton Under Lyne. They get married in 1854 in St Mary, Oldham. Sarah was born in Biddulph parish, Staffordshire in 1834 and thats all we know about her at the moment.We first meet the family in Wigan in the 1861 census where Joseph is an earthenware dealer and they live in 42 Hallgate. In 1869 Joseph is registered in the Wigan Directory as a china dealer still living in Hallgate in 1871. In 1881 the family have moved to 47 Mesnes Street.

After Joseph the trail goes a bit cold. The census that he appears in tell us that he is from Staffordshire, born in 1834. The problem with this is that none of the BMD records go back before 1837. We have found death records for them both that seem to confirm that they were born in or around 1834.

In the 1861 census we find that their eldest daughter Hannah is born in 1857 in Ashton Under Lyne which is not far from Oldham where they were married in 1854, also east of Manchester. Joseph was found in 1851 in Ashton Under Lyne living with his father Thomas and siblings. Thomas, Joseph and his older sister Susannah are all Potters and are all from Staffordshire, which is why I feel that this might be the correct Joseph. However, there is no mother in the census of 1851. I have found two marriages for Thomas Beech, but I am not sure they are the correct Thomas because of the Staffordshire connection from the census. The last marriage is to Mary and they have children, where the first names match those of the 1851 census. However, the dates of their births do not fit the census. So I must admit that I am left utterly confused with this part of the family.