The Courtneys The Courtneys were an old Tranmere family of Mersey boatmen and traditionally crossed over to Liverpool for their baptisms and marriages. The earliest I have traced so far are Samuel (born in Tranmere in c1800) and John (also born in Tranmere c1806). I have no proof so far that they were related, except that the name Courtney is fairly unusual on Merseyside at this time, and that they were both watermen (though Samuel moved from Tranmere to Birkenhead - to avoid direct family competition?), and both named their first born children Mary and James (which in an ideal world would also be the names of John and Samuel’s parents - if they were brothers of course!). John Courtney married the widowed Jane Warburton (née Blundell) on the 18th June 1827 in Liverpool and in the 1841 census their extended family - including her two sons from her first marriage, John and Charles Warburton - are living in Hinderton Lane at the Sign of the Horse & Jockey, Bebington, Tranmere. John Courtney and his two Warburton stepsons are all Watermen. In Bagshaw's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Cheshire for 1850 John Courtney is described as a [Mersey] flat owner, while the 1851 census calls him a Boatman and has no more specific address than Tranmere. In Gore's Directory of Liverpool & its Environs for 1853 he is a Coal dealer living in Holt Hill, Tranmere, and the 1861 and 1871 censuses have him and his wife and those children still at home living in Olive Mount, Tranmere and he is a Waterman. John Courtney died on 18th March 1879 with a personal estate of under £100 and in an uninformative will leaves everything to his “dear wife Jane”. Jane died on the 8th of July 1882 at 6 Meadow Lane and in her will written on the 31st May 1879 she gives details of her grave in the Bebington Cemetery and lists all her children: four sons, Richard, Thomas, James and Henry; and four daughters “namely Mary Jane wife of Edward Burgess of the Alexandria Hotel, Kirkdale, Ellen wife of Henry Hudson Neligan of Everton Road Liverpool, Fanny wife of James Taylor of the Freehold, Lower Tranmere, and Annie wife of Alfred Foy of 36 Market Street, London in the County of Middlesex.” Richard is the only one of her children who is unmarried and still living at home, and to him she leaves “the two Rowing Boats now lying at Backleys dock, Tranmere”. Her total estate is “£238. No Leaseholds”. James Courtney was born c1832 in Tranmere and married Sarah Windsor on the 7th May 1854. In 1861 they are living in Albert Place, Bebington, and James is a Porter. Living in Queen Street, Tranmere in 1871 James is a Master Carter: it seems he preferred to work on dry land. By 1881 the family are established in Meadow Lane, Tranmere and James is a Furniture remover (Carter); in 1891 he’s a Marine store dealer, in 1901 a retired furniture remover and in 1911, at the age of 79, a retired metal broker; he died later that year. James was the father of Sarah Ann Courtney who married John Charles Hopkins. And then the Clampitts ... Another link in the chain came when I investigated the elderly Elizabeth who attended Hopkins family gatherings in the sixties, and who was better known as Lizzie Clampitt. She married Jimmy (Hugo James) Cress the brother of the William Cress who married aunt Winnie Hopkins. But that wasn't the only family connection. It turned out that she was also a cousin of his grandfather, the daughter of Eliza Courtney (sister to Sarah) and James Heaton Clampitt. Lizzie Clampitt of course would have known the Hopkins/Courtney family secrets, and she was probably the source of the rumours of the Vestey/Dewhurst link. She was also aware that the family (the Courtneys it now appears) were a long established Tranmere family. She remained known by her maiden name as she didn't marry until she was in her sixties just after the Second World War, when she retired from her job at Lever Brothers, where she had been a much feared forewoman. She died in 1979 at the age of 90. Courtney or Cretney? When you do a parish baptism/marriage/burial search on FindMyPast for Courtney in Cheshire with a tick in the include variants box, right at the end of the surnames is Cretney. Now I’m sure there’s some algorithm they use to check the consonants, but it’s not a name I would have thought of as a Courtney variant. I had come across it before however on FamilySearch where I’d just assumed it was a mis-transcription. Now on FindMyPast you can see the original Cheshire registers, and yes it is Cretney, and also yes, the Birkenhead and Bebington ones match Courtneys I’ve got from censuses and other sources, and are accompanied in the same families by ones that are definitely Courtney. So suddenly I have siblings for John Lloyd Courtney (b. 1806) and Samuel Courtney (b. 1802?) - James (bap. 1800), Thomas (bap. 1804), Ellen (bap. 1812) and Mary (bap. 1813) - with parents James and Mary Courtney (Cretney) of Tranmere. So the next step was to do some further checks on the name James Cretney and knowing the family tended to marry across the Mersey I tried the Lancashire online parish clerk and immediately found the marriage of James Cretney, a mariner of Liverpool aged 25 and over and Mary Loyd, spinster of Liverpool aged 21 and over, in 1800 - so in one fell swoop that also explains the name of greatx3 grandfather John Lloyd Courtney, and confirms my speculation that the parents of John Lloyd Courtney and Samuel Courtney who both named their first born infants James and Mary, were James and Mary. Isn’t it good when it all comes together! As Cretney is a Manx surname - next stop the Isle of Man! Is anyone missing a James Cretney born around 1775?
Hopkins families: the Courtneys of Tranmere