George Wilson crops up in the Hopkins family tree when he unofficially adopts his niece Mary Jane Hopkins from South Shields and brings her up in York. For a man who rose from being a chemist to manager of the York Glass Works, to being a proprietor of the same, to Alderman, to being the youngest Lord Mayor of York, Justice of the Peace and landed property owner, George Wilson is remarkably vague about his origins. In the censuses he only twice becomes more specific than just Kent: in 1891 he says Lee - which is near Lewisham - and in 1851 he says Aldwade, a place I can’t trace at all. He is more consistent with his age, which generally indicates a birth year of 1820. George married twice and I got a copy of his first marriage certificate from the GRO which gives his father as “George Wilson, Gentleman”. For his second marriage the marriage register entry was viewable online and here his father is said to be “John Wilson (dec’d), Captain RN”. To be Mary Jane’s uncle he needed to be her mother’s brother and I knew her father had been John Wilson, a Mariner. Recently the York marriage registers have gone online and it appears from the original that George’s father was stated then to be “John Wilson, Gentleman” - so the copy I got from the GRO had been incorrectly copied at some stage. Having had a recent email correspondence about the fact that GRO copies don’t show genuine signatures it now appears that they can also be factually wrong! The Wilson/Hopkins story is complicated and a work in progress. Elizabeth Davidson/Davies is from the Hopkins side of the family and she married Thomas Courtney in Liverpool in 1858. She married with the surname Davidson and said her father was Edward Davidson, and I was having trouble tracking down this family. I finally went back to look again at their son John Courtney who I noticed, like his mother, in some of the censuses gave his birthplace as Port Wyne (or Wine), or Oswestry in Shropshire. I was able to find John’s baptism in Llanyblodwel parish on the 5th January 1862 where their abode is given as Birkenhead and Thomas’s occupation is Sailor. It’s possible as a boatman he travelled the Shropshire Union Canal which passed nearby, and a glance at the map of this area on the National Library of Scotland site https://maps.nls.uk/view/101593861 shows the neighbouring Porth-y-Waen. Having noticed that the Courtney children’s births were registered with Elizabeth’s maiden name as Davies and now with her place of birth discovered I could track down her family. Her father was Edward Davies and the family lived in Llynclys, in the parish of Llanyblodwel, where he worked as a mole catcher. There was apparently a further complication to Elizabeth’s story, for a record sourced from FamilySearch correctly showed her baptism on the 13th January 1833 but also her burial in Llanyblodwel on the 26th February at the age of eight months. That would have meant she was born in June or July 1832 and not baptised until she was over six months old, unusual in an age of high childhood mortality. Two different records have been amalgamated: the Elizabeth who was buried in Llanyblodwel was the daughter of John and Ann Davies née Probert of the township of Blodwell, born June 16th 1832 and baptised July 8th 1832 in Pant Chapel, Oswestry. Both her baptism and burial records clearly state the family to be from the township of Blodwell, not Llynclys. 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. As more information has turned up I’ve given them their own page. 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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