Jane Blundell, the Courtney matriarch, was born in Orrell in Lancashire on the 17th of May 1801. On her baptism at All Saints in Wigan on the 7th of June she is described as the daughter of Thomas Blundell of Orrell, a weaver and Molly his wife, the daughter of John and Nancy Burrows. Jane was born twenty years after her oldest sibling, her sister Ann, and on her baptism Thomas is already an Orrell weaver, but her mother is named as Mary, and her parents as John and Ann Burril. When their daughter Isabel was baptised on the 15th April 1786 she is described as the 2nd daughter of Thomas Blundell of Orrell weaver and Mary daughter of John and Nancy Burrass. Allowing for the shift from Mary to Molly, and Ann to Nancy, it is also understandable how Burril became Burrows, when a mis-read long- s is taken into account. Thomas Blundell of Pemberton had married Mary Burrass of Orrell in All Saints, Wigan on the 23rd of September 1780, when she was just 18. In between the births of Ann and Jane are two Isabels, a Robert, and Richard who was the only one to survive into adulthood. He was born on the 21st August 1791 and baptised in Wigan on the 4th September as the “4th son of Thomas Blundell of Orrell weaver and Mary his wife daughter of John & Nancy Burrows”. They obviously had children baptised elsewhere: the second Isabel and Robert were both baptised and buried in Upholland while still residing in Orrell. A possible son, Thomas Blundell, also a weaver, married Ellen Halliwell in Wigan in 1805, and the fact that Thomas and Ellen called one of their daughters Isabel makes this more likely. That Thomas and Mary chose the names Robert and Isabel for their children suggests a link to the Blundell family of North Meols near Southport where a likely Thomas Blundell (Blondel) was baptised on the 14th December 1758 at St Cuthbert, North Meols to parents Robert Blondel and Isabel Ball of Crossens, who had married at St Cuthbert’s on the 20th August 1753. Thomas and Mary appear to have moved to Neston on the Wirral with their children Richard and Jane by 1812. It is probably Mary buried in Neston on the 16th April that year, supposedly aged 62. Thomas, identified as a weaver, seems to have married again, to Catherine Thomas on the 31st May 1813, and they both make it onto the 1841 census where Thomas gives his occupation as Weaver, claims to be 90, and says he was not born in Cheshire. He died in 1842 and was buried in Neston on the 4th of March, aged 92. Catherine - or Kitty, as she appears in 1841 - died in 1846, and was buried on the 15th February, aged 79. I say “appear to have moved to Neston” because that explains how Richard and Jane both turn up in the area to get married: Jane on the 30th July 1821 at St John’s in Chester to Charles Warburton, a mariner, and Richard on the 12th January 1823 to Hannah Hampson in Neston. Jane married John Lloyd Courtney on the 18th June 1827 in Liverpool, presumably after the death of her first husband, which so far doesn’t appear in any obvious records, and in the censuses she gives her birthplace as Holland, and Wigan. Richard Blundell Hannah Hampson was a widow; she had married James Hampson on the 18th of July 1808 in Bebington as Hannah Hackerley. Probably her name was Ackerley as their second son was baptised as John Ackerley Hampson in 1814 in Neston, and she was possibly Hannah, the illegitimate daughter of James Ackerley and Martha Blears, born in 1787 in Little Hulton in Lancashire. This date ties in with the age she gives in the censuses, and the fact that she believes she was born in Holland, near Wigan may reflect the fact that her mother quickly moved away from her actual birthplace. Did Hannah move from Wigan to the Wirral at the same time as the Blundells? 1841 finds Richard and Hannah living in Great Neston next door to her son John, his wife Margaret and their two daughters, Hannah 3, and Ellen 1. Richard is working as a labourer, but John is working in a local mine as a collier, while his brother James is a coal miner. There were two coal mines in the neighbourhood of Neston and it is hard to imagine now how industrial an area it was at the time, and how harsh living conditions were. John died in 1844 and in 1851 Margaret is still in Neston, living with a one year old daughter Ann, while her other, now three, daughters, sadly described as paupers, are with Richard and Hannah. Richard is working as a colliery banksman in 1851; by 1861 he is an ‘Ag. Lab.’, still in Neston with Hannah, and living with them is Hannah’s granddaughter Elizabeth Hampson who was born in about 1842 in Bagillt in Flintshire. Richard and Hannah are consistent with neither their ages or their birthplaces in the censuses: in 1841 they are both not Cheshire natives, and aged 43 and 49 respectively. In 1851 they are aged 51 and 57, with birthplaces in Lancashire, Lomnaura Green for Richard and Welly Loan, Wigan for Hannah; Whelley is on the north east side of Wigan, but could Richard’s be a garbled version of Lamberhead Green, between Orrell and Wigan? By 1861 they’ve both settled on Holland, Lancashire for their birthplace, though their ages have crept up to 67 and 72. Richard died in 1864, apparently aged 72, and in 1871 Hannah, now aged 84 and born in Wigan, is caring for a great grandson, James Hampson Christie, aged 3, the son of Elizabeth Hampson and Charles Christie. Elizabeth died in 1870, and Hannah died in 1875, apparently aged 87; James is with his father in Prescot in Lancashire in 1881. But sometimes an ordinary life is not all it seems; to a local historian writing in the Cheshire Sheaf in 1899 Richard is: RICHARD BLUNDELL, THE COLLIER ARTIST OF NESTON. (Full article) The author of this article was George Gleave who was born in Neston in 1824 to parents James and Anne, and, like Richard, his father was a collier at first, later becoming an innkeeper. George appears in the 1841 census in Neston as an apprentice saddler living a few doors away from Thomas Blundell and Kitty. By 1851 he had moved to Chorlton, and he married in Manchester in 1858, where he lived, working as a saddler, until his death in 1909. So he would certainly have known Richard and perhaps also enjoyed listening to his songs as well as watching him paint. This of course casts an entirely new light on the address given by John and Jane Courtney in the 1841 census as “The Sign of the Horse and Jockey” in Hinderton Lane, Tranmere. Possibly an alehouse, but perhaps her brother Richard had painted them a personal house sign.
Hopkins families: the Blundells from Orrell