This blog is designed to record the findings of our family history, mainly for the benefit of the family, and to document the dead ends, the breakthroughs and the journey.
I’ll post the family stories as I’ve written them to now, and I’ll be grateful to anyone who can add further information or pictures, or point out errors.
Particular thanks to my sister Julia and my cousin Mandy who between them have done much more of the work than I have.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The last great grandmother

Mary Ann Jasper is probably the most shadowy figure of all the great grandmothers.. No one has passed on any memories of her;  I can’t recollect my grandfather ever speaking of his mother, and of course my mother never told us anything about the Billinghams.

And yet – she and her husband upped sticks and went to the North east for some years, which when one considers all the other branches of the family who never moved out of the Black Country, probably took some doing.

Her son Frank, my grandfather was a handsome, charming and rather feckless man, everyone’s frie3nd, but unreliable. Did these traits come from the Billinghams or the Jaspers?

Mary Ann Jasper was born on 9th December 1854 in Quarry Bank. Her parents were William Jasper and Mirah Edwards.

The 1861 census shows the family living at Vine Terrace Quarry Bank, where they remained in 1871. 16 year old Mary Ann is described as a common nail maker. It’s not clear whether common describes her or the type of nails she made.

On Christmas Day In 1876 Mary Ann married Thomas Billingham an iron puddler. Their eldest daughter Sarah was born in Quarry Bank in 1880, but by 1881 the family had moved to Middlesborough, where there was presumably work for iron puddlers in the Teeside shipbuilding industry. Their address was 45 Hatherley Street, Linthorpe, which seems to no longer exist, (and which is only four miles from the town of Billingham).

However by 1891 they were back in Quarry Bank living at 57 Vine Street. Two children were born in Middlesborough, Joseph in 1882 and Maria in 1884. Three more children were born after their return to Quarry Bank; Hannah in 1886, Frank in 1890, and Annie in 1893. At this time they also had lodgers, Reuben Bloomer a coal miner, his wife Violet and their infant daughter Sophia.

1901 saw them on the move again, but this time only as far as 6 Victoria Road Quarry Bank, and a further child Harriet was born in 1896. Sarah was working as a domestic servant and Joseph as a bucket factory saucepan maker.

In the 1911 census the family has moved along the road to 32 Victoria Street, and of the children, only Frank and Harriet were still living at home.

Thomas died on 5th March 1913, at home, aged 61 of bronchitis, but Mary Ann lived on till 17th November 1924 when she died, also of bronchitis, aged 70.

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