Lairds - connections or coincidences? We’ve acquired the Lairds from a recent marriage, and as no-one else seems to have researched them I’ve had a preliminary search. I’ve traced the Lairds back definitely to one Joseph Laird who was born in about 1796 and who committed suicide in 1830 in Newington in Surrey. After his marriage to Alice Burr he lived in Wood Street, which runs north from Cheapside to London Wall actually in the City itself. During the later 1820s he appears to be paying taxes in Newington while having his children baptised from the Wood Street address at St Alphage, London Wall. By 1829 the family has moved entirely to Newington, and his son Harry was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, with the family address now Peacock Street. Joseph’s origins however seem to be a mystery. There was a Joseph Laird baptised in Redbourn, Hertfordshire on the 31st August 1806, (the register entry gives his birth date as 26th April 1796, which would tie in with the Joseph who died in 1830 at the age of 33). This Joseph’s parents were Michael Laird and Charlotte, and this is such an unusual combination of names that it’s possible to trace them back to their marriage at St Michael, Wood Street in the City of London on the 7th February 1791. In the same church they had two children baptised: Charlotte in 1802 and William in 1805, while four others (Gracey, Eleanor x2, and Matthew), in addition to Joseph, were baptised at Redbourn. Old industries in Redbourn included making straw plait and hat making, and Michael Laird, a straw hat-manufacturer of Redbourn was bankrupt in 1807. So is Wood Street a connection or a coincidence? Charlotte Rowbottom was Michael Laird’s second wife; his first wife Hannah Roser had died in 1790. They had married in St. Botolph without Aldersgate in 1781 and the register states her home parish to be Windlesham in Surrey, and that was where she was buried. They don’t appear to have had any children. There is a sizeable family of Lairds in Windlesham and Bagshot at the end of the 18th and at the start of the 19th century; so is Michael connected to this family or is this another coincidence? His possible baptism wasn’t a million miles away at Old Windsor on the 31st May 1759 to parents Thomas Laird and Eleanor, and he appears to have been apprenticed to James Searle, a barber in Chobham in Surrey in 1774. And then I came across the will of William Laird, Baker, of Bagshot, who died in 1795. He names his children thus: William, Thomas, Michael, James and Joseph, of whom the last two were to take on his bakery business. James and Joseph were baptised in Windlesham, in 1768 and 1770, respectively, to parents William and Eleanor. Eleanor died in 1771, and William married Grace Puddefoot on the 22nd December that same year. Grace is mentioned in his will.  Assuming - as is usual in wills - that the children are mentioned in descending order of age, William, Thomas and Michael were born before 1768, and have either moved away or established their own businesses, or both.  William and Thomas with their families can be traced to Berkshire, where they established bakeries in neighbouring towns. So that leaves Michael unaccounted for ... it could of course be possible that the five children mentioned in William’s will aren’t siblings, but cousins, adopted nephews - he carefully doesn’t say “sons”. So I’m pretty sure that the Redbourn and Bagshot families are linked in some way: there are so many coincidences in names, places and occupations ... a work in progress. Bold Street, Rock Ferry Mention Bold Street and almost everyone thinks of the one in Liverpool, but there used to be a Bold Street on the Birkenhead side of the Mersey, and it was home to the Hopkins in the early 1900s and to great grandmother Sarah Ann Courtney in her final transfiguration as the wife of William Henry Biggs. When widower William Henry Biggs married the widowed Sarah Ann Hopkins on the 30th March 1896 in Liverpool, they both gave their address as Pitt Street.  By 17th November 1897 when William Henry registered his father’s death they were living at 25 Bold Street, Birkenhead, a convenient address for a shipyard worker. On the 31st March 1901, the date of the census, they are at the same address and just two doors away from Sarah Ann’s son, John Charles Hopkins, and his wife Ann Coyne at number 29. When John had married Ann on the 7th August 1899 he gave his address as 25 Bold Street, Tranmere, so he married from his mother’s home and started his own married life close by. William Henry and Sarah Ann are still living at number 25 in 1911; John and Ann have crossed the Mersey and are living in Garston. William Henry and Sarah Ann both died at 25 Bold Street: Sarah Ann on the 7th May 1924, and William Henry on the 22nd Jan 1937. Using the old-maps.co.uk web site it is possible to see where Bold Street was in the 1930s; it ran north from Ebenezer Street between New Chester Road and Russell Road. The junction with Ebenezer Street, like Bold Street itself, no longer exists of course, but it is marked approximately by a large marble plaque which can be seen on Google StreetView (click on the image): The wording is: “The Prime Minister the Right Honourable James Callaghan M.P. laid this stone on the 3rd September 1976 to mark the commencement of factory building on the Rock Ferry Industrial Estate Birkenhead.” It doesn’t often happen - apart from births, marriages and deaths - that you know exactly where a family member was on a particular day but the following photo comes from my father-in-law’s album. There was obviously some initial confusion over the month, and the typed ‘7’ for July has been changed in pencil to an ‘8’ for August. During the 1930s he spent his holidays motorcycling with a friend around Ireland and Scotland, taking in the Western Isles just before the war. Looking at the subject of this photo, I suppose we should be grateful he wasn’t detained as a spy! Click image to enlarge. Most of the photos he took are sepia landscapes, which haven’t aged very well; but he did take a series of shots of shipping on the Mersey which do probably have an historical interest. I’ve put them on a separate page, along with a few from his travels.
Hopkins family: miscellanea
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