Family Lines

with Paul Simpson  

Family Lines items 2 | Family Lines items 3 | Family Lines items 4

Tanneries and my grandfather  The Nantwich Group of the Family History Society of Cheshire


Sadly, Paul feels he can no longer submit items for use on ''A Dabber's Nantwich''. 

How can I see who was born in maternity home in same year as myself?

I WAS born at The Cliffe [maternity home, Wybunbury] in 1952 and spent my early years in Millstone Lane before moving to Crewe.

   I am attempting to track down others born at The Cliffe in 1952. Can you help me, please?

   Many thanks,

Jeff Lukomiak, Bingham, Nottinghamshire.

 AUGUST 2015


Paul replies

This is a bit too up to date for family history.

   However, the information you're looking for should be on the birth registration. Go to and do a search for your own birth record.

   This will give you a book reference such as NA/12B/xxx  The NA stands for Nantwich as this


would have been the registration district, 12B is the book then the three-digit number is your entry.

    From this you can view adjacent entries but it will not tell you where people were born, i.e. The Cliffe. You can then log all of the names in that year.

   The only way to see the additional information is to buy every certificate but that would cost a fortune. But at least you would have a starting point.

It's a matter of finding the correct Edward

I'm having a bit of difficulty in finding out information on my Third Great Granddad Edward Tomkinson, born in Nantwich between 1802 and 1808. He married a Margaret Bowyer in 1826.

   I'm trying to find out who his parents were and if he had any other siblings. I've found at least another three Edwards all born in Nantwich all within a few years of each other and three sets of potential parents. It's just trying to find out the right ones.

  I would appreciate any information you may have.

CRAIG TOMKINSON, Nantwich       APRIL 2014


Paul replies:

Hi Craig,

Interesting little problem you have. I did some checking on the Cheshire Parish Register Project run by Liverpool University (a link is on the left side bar of the web site) and as you can see (right) I can confirm the marriage of Edward and Margaret.

   I could not find any record of his birth so had a trip to Nantwich Library to have a look at the microfilm.

   The birth you are looking for has no register, probably lost at some point or eaten by mice. It is one of a few that are missing going back to the 1600s

   So, not a lot of help for you but you will note that on the record one of the witnesses is James Tomkinson.

   If we assume that this is a brother then we can go back to the Cheshire Parish Registers Project

and look for him. In doing so you will find his parents are Edward and Elizabeth. Now look for Edwards and the match is the one born in 1806 not 1802.

   Next job for you is to check the rest of the records to find his other siblings with the same parents.

   One thing I did not find was a marriage record for the parents.   

   Take care with the DATED field in the record. This is read backwards and has a leading 1 missing, making 8261225 the 25th of December 1826. This is also a good fit as he would have


been 18. Using 1806 as his birth year now gives you the 1841 Census showing Edward, Margaret and seven children living in Welsh Row.  

   This is not a definite, 100% confirmation for you but, considering the missing register, to me it is a

good fit. Also note that both the bride and groom signed the register and did not “make a mark”. I can confirm this from the microfilm as I could read the signatures with no problem.


Later, Craig contacts Paul again . . .

Thanks for the Info.  It's still a bit puzzling to work out if Edward and Elizabeth are the parents of Edward born 1806 because I have found a Baptism record for an Edward born 1808 with the parents of Edward and Elizabeth and they also have a son, James, born 1798.

   If I take this as true it makes a mess of most of the Census dates which date Edward to have been born in 1802. There was a Edward born in Nantwich in 1802 but his parents where Joseph and Mary, plus they didn't have a son called James.

   Maybe the James Tomkinson at the wedding as a witness was his uncle or a cousin . I did find another Joseph Tomkinson who had a son called James but the wife was Hannah not Mary unless he married twice so James could be his brother but with different mums but I'm thinking this is unlikely.


And Paul replies . . .

In my experience the years on Census returns are not 100%. At the very best, it can be one to two off and depended on the enumerator hearing and writing down the correct information.

   It was also dependant on the informer and depended on the question asked. For example, "When were you born?” could give a correct response, but asking “How old are you?" to someone who was illiterate could be just as confusing.   

   I have one that says, on Census, marriage and death certificates, he was born between 1853 and 1858 when the truth was he was born in 1848.

   Without the hard facts that is, in your case, due to missing register information. The best you can hope for is a guess. You could follow both of the ones you find and later in your searches you may find something that points you to the correct one.  


   In my case, I have two William Simpsons, both born in Nantwich in the same year to two different families. It took some time to work out the correct one but in the end, about three more generations back, the two families were the same and it made it easy to work out the correct one.

   Good luck with your hunting.

When it comes to this tree, Paul keeps it in the family . . .


Left to right are: Alice Green, Dolly, and Doris and Laurence Woodbridge.

   The pictures come from a surprising source.



My dad was John Norman Woodbridge, his mother was Doris Green, and his father was a coalman - I think - John Woodbridge. I know the Green family were a very large Nantwich family. Do you please have any info on them?

Many thanks,

FIONA TAYLOR, Nantwich            SEPTEMBER 2013


Paul replies:

Your grandfather was Laurence Woodbridge, born in 1904 and died in 1975. And, yes, he was a coalman.

   His father was John Norman, born in Oswestry in 1867, and his father was John, born in 1840 (Bicester in Oxfordshire).  

   The latter John also had two daughters, Sarah S., born  in 1869 in Rhos, Shropshire, and Edith H., born


in 1872 in Llandinam, Montgomeryshire. John's wife was Harriet, born in 1842 in Oswestry. John Norman married Mary L. Digan between 1886 and 1890 and had six children, all born in Crewe: Laurence, 1904; John N, 1890; Edith, 1892; Lucy, 1895; Maggie, 1896; and Arnold, 1899

   Laurence married your grandmother, Doris Green, in 1928 and, as you know, had four children: your Dad between 1927 and 1929; your Uncle Bernard between 1930 and 1932; Peter between 1933 and 1935 (died in 1937); and Patricia in 1938.

    The Greens' story is a longer one by far. Doris, born in 1906, was one of 21 children of Walter Green and Alice Dudley. Direct back from Walter, born in 1879, you get: William Henry, b 1847; Joseph, b 1819; Joseph, b 1796; and Thomas, b 1779. The wife of Thomas was Mary Boote, born 1779, the daughter of


Thomas Boote and Margaret, born December 26, 1741.

    Down the Dudley tree, I can get you back to William Ashley, born 1748.


Then Paul has a surprise for Fiona . . .


So now you're asking yourself where I got all this information from.

   It happens to be that I am your second cousin. My grandmother, Winnie Green, was Doris's sister.

   The pictures above are from my family album. They are: Alice Green, your great grandmother; Doris (known as Dolly) in a picture of the type all daughters had; and Doris and Laurence.

   I don't know who is in the pram, but it could be Norman and Bernard.

Search for fourth great grandfather led back to the 1500s






A Board of Health map of 1851, on display in Nantwich Museum, features Pepper Street running from top to bottom. The Blue Bell Inn (also in the smaller picture below) is by the letters "REE" in Street.  Note the trees and greenery in the town centre.


Hi Paul
Back in September 2012, you were kind enough to respond to my request for information about my

fourth great grandfather, Thomas Edwards. You inspired me to pursue more research through the Cheshire Parish Records website and as a result I was able to follow the Edwards line back as far as the late 1500s in Wybunbury Parish.  Thanks again for your help.
Steve Totheroh, California, USA       

The search began with this letter:

MY fourth great grandfather Thomas Edwards’ will (dated April 2, 1827) indicates that he owned a pub named the Blue Bell Inn located on Pepper Street in Nantwich. Could you please tell me if this building still exists? Pigot’s Directory for 1822-23 also lists this inn as being owned by Thomas Edwards.

   Thomas Edwards' date of death was November 13, 1828. The date and place of his birth are unknown.   His will lists a daughter, Ann, and a son, Thomas, as well as a niece, Sarah Cooke (age under 21). His wife, Sarah, is not listed.

   Thomas Edwards, son of Thomas, was christened

 on October 28, 1804, at Nantwich. Ann - my third


great grandmother - was born on August 13, 1808, and  christened on August 16, 1808, at Nantwich. Her parents were Thomas and Sarah Edwards. Ann married John Ruffley on December 7, 1829, at Nantwich. After residing in Northwich and then Manchester, they emigrated with their children to San Francisco in 1859 after first living a few years in Australia.

   I would be grateful for any suggestions for sources which might give me more information about Thomas Edwards senior and his pub as well as about his family. Thank you very much.


Paul Simpson's reply to this was:

I'M sorry to say the inn is no longer standing as the entire side of the street was demolished in the 1960s but you can see it on the map from 1851 (above) in the middle on the left-hand side (inset, right).

   I will do some more digging as I know a book is in the local library on the inns and inn keepers of Nantwich that should have some information and I may be able to get you a picture of the inn.

     I think you have got the baptism of Thomas in 1841 from the Cheshire parish records as the information is a very good fit.




ANDREW Lamberton (local historian) says that Dr A.J MacGregor, in his booklet "Inns and Innkeepers of Nantwich", has a Thomas Edwards listed as licensee of the Blue Bell from 1808 to 1841.

    Given that Edward Thomas senior died in 1827 his son, also Thomas, must have succeeded him. The 1841 census lists Ann Butler as the publican there.



THIS was Pepper Street in 1964 (looking towards The Square) when buildings were demolished to enable street widening. The building on the right is believed to have been the Bell Inn and the wall-fronted gap between the two buildings on the left the site of the Wheatsheaf.

Photograph used with the permission of The Nantwich Chronicle. Probably taken by Clifford V. Kendal, the former Nantwich photographer, and published in "Memory Lane: Nantwich" compiled by the late Gordon Davies




FOOTNOTE: The book "Lost Houses in Nantwich" by Andrew Lamberton and Robin Gray refers to The Blue Bell: "No 9 Pillory Street (was) a double-fronted property. This (public house) was . . . much older than its opposite neighbour (the Wheatsheaf). The Bluebell started as an alehouse, the licence of which ran continuously from 1769 to 1861.  

   "In 1913, No 9 Pepper Street had become James Wilson's blacksmith shop. In 1939, Albert Joinson lived there and in 1953 it had become Snape's, the haulage contractor. This became Snape's taxi service in 1955 (which) then operated until 1964 when the premises were demolished."

Ask Andrew 


Tracking down a member of the Prince family


A SEARCH for an ancestor, via e-mails to Paul Simpson, is outlined in this item. It proves that obtaining as much information as possible makes for a successful search.






Left: Part of one page of the 1881 English Census showing the entries for the Prince family of Millstone Lane, starting with 59-year-old John Prince the head of the family.




HI, Paul,

I hope you can cast my net a little further than I have done so far. I’m trying to trace records before 1875 for my great, great, great grandfather. His name was John Prince. He was a cordwainer by trade and lived in Welsh Row, Nantwich. The Census record of 1875 is the earliest I am able to find.

Andy Prince, Nantwich             FEBRUARY 2013


Paul Simpson replies:

Can you give me a bit more to work on than a name, please? Do you know when he was born and where? You say Census of 1875 but that isn't possible. It would have to be 1881 or in 10 years jumps from there.


Over to Andy:

I now have the details. Attached are two certificates. One a marriage certificate and the other a certificate containing an extract of the birth details of Frank Prince.

   Robert Prince and Rosie senior were my grandparents. I intimated John Prince was born in 1875 - clearly that was wrong. It was Frank who was born in 1875. Therefore it is John Prince who I’m trying to find records for.


Armed with that information, Paul was able to say:

John Prince was born c1823 in Nantwich and married Ann Dutton on September 4, 1849, at St Mary's Church, Nantwich. He was 26 at the time of the marriage and educated as he signed his name and his occupation of, as you said, cordwainer.

    Ann was 18 at the time of the marriage and not educated as she only made a mark, not a signature. Her occupation is listed as boot binder.

   The witnesses at the marriage were William Hall and Sarah Wright. The bridegroom's father is listed as William and the bride's father as John. Both have the occupation of cordwainer.

    Residence for all is listed as the Vauxhall Road area of Nantwich which is off Barony Road near to the River













This is the full page.







Census page images are the copyright of The National Archives. Search service:

   It is interesting that the ceremony was conducted by the Rev A.F.Chater, a well-known and respected Rector who opened All Saints' burial ground on the corner of Barony Road and Middlewich Road following the cholera epidemic. He is also interred there.

   All of the above information is available on the Cheshire Parish Registers Project found at:

   I found a long list of children for John and Ann as follows: Eliza b (born) 1851, Mary Jane b1852, Elizabeth b1855, John b1856, Ann b1859, Isabella b1860, Albert b1863, Louisa b1866, Emily b1868, Walter b1869,


Edward b1870, Alice b1871, Ada b1872, Frank b 18 November, 1875, and Harry b1881. A total of 15.

   All are shown on the Census as being born in Nantwich but has no record of any of the births and that is a bit unusual.

   But you now have plenty of branches to look into and another step back for you.


Back to Andy:

Wow, that is amazing. Thank you so much for your help. I’m now on a mission!!