Family Lines

with Paul Simpson

Family Lines items 1 | Family Lines items 2Family Lines 3 | The Nantwich Group of the Family History Society of Cheshire


Trying to find out more about my family

MY father’s grandfather was John Hammersley, shoemaker. He is listed in Kelly’s directory 1914 as "John Hammersley, 12 Oat Market, shopkeeper". My father remembers staying with his uncles Sam and "Inky" at their cobblers shop on Oat Market during the 1920s and it does seem that his mum would have had an uncle Issac. Perhaps this was him.

   I have found many of my ancestors in the Census listings but don’t really know much about them. I wonder whether you would know where I might find some info about any of these individuals or even any old photos of Oat Market which might show my fathers' grandfather's shop. I also wonder whether there are any photos of the old Red Lion on Oat Market / Swine Market as my father lived right next door as a young boy. 

   My father’s uncle, John Hammersley (right), is listed on the cenotaph in Nantwich. He signed up in 1914 and was killed in October 1918.

   My father (Thomas Hughes) is 90 and grew up in Nantwich. He lived on Oat Market, First Wood Street and then Dog Lane.  He is still lives independently in his own home and I’m sure he would enjoy talking to you if you wished to know anything about Nantwich in the '20s and '30s.

Helen Oakes.                             MARCH 2011


Paul Simpson replies:

Hi, Helen, I am sending you a few items. One is a head shot of John Hammersley (right) and details from a local

 book "Crewe and Nantwich at War . . . A Visual Memory, Volume 1" by Mark Potts and Tony Marks (Brookmark Publications), together with details from "Dear Mrs Jones", also by Mark Potts.

   The details are: “Private John Hammersley, 2nd Batallion Durham Light Infantry who was killed in action during the final advance in Picardy on October 27, 1918. Born Nantwich, enlisted Leicester, buried Highland Cemetery, France. Son of the late John and Jane Hammersley of Nantwich. News of his death was relayed to his sisters who were residing at 34 First Wood Street, Nantwich. Enlisted 6th August 1914, Yorks & Lancs Regiment.”

    A picture of the Red Lion pub is also attached. Because of its position in Oat Market and Swine Market, it had three front doors and no back door.

   On the enclosed picture of Snow Hill, the building at the bottom with the pointed roof is the Zan store on the end of Oat Market so that group of buildings is the one you are looking for. The Red Lion is at the opposite end of the street to the Zan store.

  I hope this is of help. 



l This picture of John Hammersley is used with the permission of Mark Potts and Tony Marks. 

   Mark says thatv the "Dear Mrs Jones" books have sold out, but he has a few copies of "Crewe and Nantwich at War . . . A Visual Memory, Volumes 1 and 2". And a book about the Fuirst WEorld War heroes is out in July.


Use the "Mark Pott's next book" link here for contact details.

The Red Lion pub | Snow Hill | Mark Potts' next book

Seeking information on schools

I AM trying to find information on two schools, one in Nantwich and one in Crewe. I have searched on Google for information but seem to go round in circles, so hopefully you can point me in the direction of where I can get something more.
   My great grandfather, James Woodhead, was a school master at Crewe Academy from 1887 to 1894, I have had no luck with this and assume that either the school now has a different name or does not exist.
   In 1889, his son, George Leonard, was born at 98 Ruskin Road, Monks Coppenhall, and in the 1891 Census they were at 302 Walthall Street which runs parallel to Ruskin Road. I see on the map that there is South Cheshire College nearby and wonder if this could be Crewe Academy?

From 1902 to 1904, James Woodhead is a teacher at Nantwich and Acton Grammar School, where his son, George, is also a pupil at the same time. I have copies of school reports for George. It looks as if the headmaster is 



Mr S Moor or Moon. I have found information about the  grammar school and how it changed name and where it was, so that has been helpful to build up a picture.

   I am interested in finding out if there are school records for either school and anything I can purchase or get copies of, especially teacher/pupil photographs if there are any records. Is there a local historian who has written a book about either of these schools?
   Any information will be much appreciated.
Janette Woodhead, Hereford.
          DECEMBER 2010


Paul Simpson replies:

Hi Janette,

   Nantwich and Acton Grammar School it is now Malbank School and Sixth Form College. A history of the school is on its web site and you can follow this link: and this: I hope this is of some help to you.


    I have received the following from one of the Family History Society members:

    "I can give you some info about the Crewe Academy. It has not existed for quite some time and certainly has nothing to do with South Cheshire College.

   "It was formed shortly before 1874 by William Dishart who was also the Principal. His son, also William, took over some time later.

   "It was a Presbyterian Boys and Girls Preparatory School and was sometimes known as Dishart’s Academy, or Billy Dishart’s Academy and also as Cats Abbey.

   "It started off at 149 Edleston Road but in the early 1900s moved to above the Mechanics Institute in Earle Street.

   "I do not know when it ceased to exist but it was still going in 1939.

   "I have a copy of an advertisement for the school from 1895 and this shows a Mr Woodhead as First Assistant."

Carly's great great grandparents are mine, too!


I WRITE concerning a letter from Mrs Carly McLure-Murray, "The canal boatman who became a grocer".

   She begins with a reference to her great-great-grandparents by the names of George and Elizabeth Jacks (or Jacques). I read on with growing excitement and astonishment (a) because they are MY great-great-grandparents, too and (b) I had only identified these names, possibly on the same census you referred to in your reply, this very evening at our library in Torquay!

   My paternal grandfather, deceased long before I was born, was one Clement Edgar Clarke who lived in Bunbury as a boy with younger brother Cyril (another sibling or two may have followed) and their parents John and Annie Clarke. As you observed, on at least one census, mother-in-law Elizabeth Jacques is residing with them. From this detail I assume that Annie's maiden   

name was Jacques (or Jacks, as Carly gives as the 


earlier version).

   As you say, grocer is given as the head of house's occupation. I only came to be dipping a toe into my paternal grandfather's family because I took out of storage just yesterday a Complete Works of Shakespeare with a dedication at the front and it got me wondering about his early life and surroundings. (I only really knew the place name Bunbury and where it was.)

   It reads that the book was given to my granddad by Lady Tollemache (would she have been at Peckforton Castle in those days?) for services as a pupil teacher at "Tilstone School" - which I believe no longer exists or, maybe, the building is a private residence? - at Christmas 1890.

   His occupation ties in with that given on the census when he was 16: teacher. He went on to be a


railwayman, working for some time at Crewe station, alongside Jerome K. Jerome at one stage, I was told. Later, Clement Edgar worked as a clerk (true to his surname!) at Prestwich (psychiatric) Asylum north of Manchester, and my own father, John Kenneth Clarke, now deceased, grew up around Prestwich and Whitefield. His father, Clement, was an accomplished organist, playing for the asylum chapel and also the Freemasons. He married another Jesse - Jesse or Jessica Rebecca Foulkes, my paternal grandmother.

   I feel sure this will be of interest to Carly (Mrs McLure-Murray), just as I am fascinated to read her letter on the site, especially with the first 'hit' upon rather randomly Googling the name Annie Jacques. Quite some coincidence. These things make life interesting.

Heather Clemans, Torquay, Devon.

  The following question started with a letter to Andrew Lamberton's Ask Andrew feature - after  the writer consulted staff at Nantwich Library.

Nantwich and Stockport footballer Frank in my family record


I came up to Nantwich from Suffolk to investigate family connections.

    From Census material I knew that Charles Chesworth lived at 7 King's Lane around 1871. In 1891 he moved to 8 King's Lane!

    His son, Frank, who played for Nantwich and later Stockport County, lived at 62 Beam Street. Alas, both properties no longer exist.

    I moved on to Acton where several Chesworths seem to have been born, and I found two graves in the churchyard. They were those of George Chesworth, born in Burland and died in 1857, and a John Chesworth, son of George, who died 1855. I think both could be related to me.

   This George seems to have a wife Maria, whereas the George I've been tracing had a wife called Mary.

Confusion or a bureaucratic error?

   The Nantwich Library staff were helpful, and in fact gave me your details.

   I shall press on with my research and check my results from today backwards rather than from the past to today.

John Chesworth (aged 80)                          JULY 2010


The letter was passed to Paul, who was able to help John. His detailed replies have been edited for space reasons but John has received the full text:



I have had a look into some census records for you and come up with the following:

    Frank Chesworth, born 1874, son of Charles, born 1840, and Mary Blakemore, born 1840, married at St Mary's, Acton, between 1856 and 1860. I found a lot of siblings including Mary, born 1866.

    In 1891, Mary has a daughter called Grace E, aged one, and is living with her parents but the surname is Townsend for both of them. Grace E Townsend married James D Clarke at St Mary's, Nantwich, in 1914.

   Charles, born 1840, has a father George, born 1786, and a mother, Elizabeth (possibly Fisher), born 1798, along with two brothers, Henry, born 1821, and Samuel, born 1839. There's a bit of a gap in the age of the children so it could be a second marriage. That, I think, was Maria Johnson, born 1780 and died 1837, so she would be the mother of Henry.

   I think George's parents may be George and Martha, but that is from another researcher's records so it is only


a guess.

   As for Frank, it looks like he married Selina Coventry between 1896 and 1899 at St Mary's, Acton.

   From 1838 onwards, birth, marriage and death certificates can be searched on About 1880 backwards, baptisms, marriage and burials from some Cheshire parish churches can be found at

l Paul also looked in the monumental inscriptions book for Acton and was able to give John some further information.


John replied:

Dear Paul

Many thanks for all your research efforts. You are right, George does appear to have remarried. In fact, I discovered the Maria Johnson side on a gravestone at St. Mary's, Acton. Then, through Cheshire Tithe maps, George's cottage in Burland was mentioned, and it appears to be still there today, called Raven's Cottage.

   So many people have helped, and it was great to have come up to Cheshire for a few days and get a feeling of one's past.

I've come to a standstill with my family tree


I'M trying to get going on my family tree but have come to a standstill at a certain stage. My mother, nee Ellen Woodcock, was born on June 12, 1907, at Stapeley.  Her father, John Henry Woodcock, and her mother, Agnes Woodcock, nee Hodgkinson, lived in London Road. He worked at Newcastle Crossings on the railway.

   I do not know which Census to find them in, nor what birth certificate to find, as I do not know their ages. I know my mother had two or three brothers and sisters older than her.

   I hope you don't mind me asking for help as I'm trying to get started and I saw your name on the "A Dabber's Nantwich" website.

Thank you,

Ernie Edgley   MAY 2010


Paul replies:

OK, I have had a look around at what is available for you.

   As far as birth, marriage and death certificates are concerned, you can look on This will only give you limited information because of the   


100-year protection rule but you can apply for a copy of any certificates you think may be correct. If you print offthe forms and fill in what you can, it can limit the incorrect ones by saying such as “father must be Fred Bloggs”.I found the following: Ellen Woodcock, born 1907, Crewe registration district. Parents of  Ellen: John Henry Woodcock, born Nantwich 1879. Married Agnes Hodgkinson (on the marriage certificate she is listed as Hodgkison) 1896-99 at Wybunbury, St. Chad’s. Agnes Hodgkinson, born 1874/5. Henry died 1939; Agnes died 1949, aged 75.

   There are four possible other children, if the above is correct, born in Tarporley between 1877 and 1895. Also in the records is a woman born in 1827 in Tiverton. In 1891, she is recorded as a widow, aged 65, living with her brother in Tiverton. She is listed as a pauper. It would be very easy for a woman to fall into the pauper trap when she had lost her husband.

    If I were you, I would consider getting copies of Ellen’s and her parents' birth and marriage certificates as some of this is a bit of guess work on my part.


    Certificates of marriage show parents so that is a big help. Once you have this it would be a good idea to go to the family history unit on a Monday, Tuesday, or some Saturdays, at Crewe Library so that you can look at the microfilms if they have them for the older records and you can get other help there. The Family History Unit is run by the Crewe group of the Family History Society of Cheshire and not Cheshire Libraries.

   Details can be found at Look under FHSC Groups > Crewe group.

   A good on-line source where the parish has been done is the Cheshire Parish Records at This has the same details as you would find on a certificate and covers the late 1800s back to the 1500s in some cases.

   I hope this is of help to you.


lFOOTNOTE: Some of the family details Paul found have been omitted from his reply here, but Ernie has received the full reply - Dabber.















One of the blocks of the former Barony Hospital


Was my relative born in Alvaston Hall?

JUST wondering if you can help? I've been "doing the family tree" and would love to know the exact birth place of a relative.

    The birth certificate shows: Reg Dist. Crewe; sub-dist, Nantwich. In the "Where Born" column it says Alvaston 200 (1951).

    We do know the parents were travelling to RAF Cranage at the time. Do you think this Alvaston 200 could be Alvaston Hall as I can't find any other Alvaston in the area?
Many thanks,

Elaine Underhill            MAY 2010




Paul replies:

WELL, this is an easy one for me. A birth in 1951 with that address would have been in the maternity unit of the Barony Hospital.

   "200 Alvaston" was at one time the Nantwich Poor Law Union Workhouse, and the address

referred to the complex as a whole. The workhouse itself was built around 1780 with additions following later.



  In 1879-80, to the west, a school and home for children was built with a school and day rooms on the ground floor and dormitories on the top floor (above). 1890-91 saw the addition of an infirmary to the east of the workhouse (now Frederick House) and in 1903 a women’s hospital was built, along with a Matron and Nurses' Home.

   So in 1951, your relative would have been born in the former children’s home and school or - if it was a difficult birth - in the Matron and Nurses' Home.

   More information and pictures can be found at

The canal boatman who became a grocer


I HAVE, for the past few months, enjoyed looking at the wonderful "A Dabber's Nantwich" website and wonder if you could help me with some research I am doing for my family tree?

   My great, great grandparents, George and Elizabeth Jacks (spelling changed to Jacques sometime between 1851 and 1861) lived in Nantwich for a number of years.

   George was originally a canal boatman. He and Elizabeth married on June 13th, 1843, at the Church of St John, Chester. He was listed as being a Flatman, and their residence at the time of their marriage was Canal Side, Chester. 

   The first indication I have of them living in Nantwich is in the 1851 Census when their residence appears to be Copthorne(?), Audlem. Occupation, boatman. In 1861, their children Annie, Thomas, Jessie, Reuben and George are listed.

   In 1871, they are living in Barbridge, Nantwich. George is a canal boatman with Reuben working on the canal telegraph. Annie is a shopkeeper in the grocer's.

   In the 1881 Census, George himself is listed as being a grocer. I am presuming that being a small village that it is the same shop his daughter worked in. He also appears in Kelly's directory under the same profession.




 However, neither the census nor the directory lists his address. On his death certificate he was listed as a master grocer but, again, there is no address! He died in 1890 so I'm assuming he must have run the same shop for a number of years. I would love to know where in Barbridge it was and if the dwelling still exists.

   The only clue I have is that on the census the dwelling above the grocers is called Stoke Cottage. I have tried searching Google and Cheshire tithe maps but, as there seem to be a number of small dwellings around the Stoke Cottage area, I can't be sure which, if any, would be the grocer's.

   I have  managed to obtain a copy of George's will dated July 1868. He leaves his wife and five children and a number of cottages. Again, no addresses are shown but I presume they are in the Nantwich area.

   Would a man working on the canal, as he was in 1868, be able to afford such a large property portfolio?

   I am sorry for the rather lengthy email but wanted to give as much information as I could. I would be thrilled if you could help me fill in the blanks on this family.

Mrs Carly McLure-Murray, Wirral       FEBRUARY 2010



Paul replies:

IF you pass up and down the census for 1881, you will see Stoke Manor, Mill House and Stoke Bank.

Going on this I would say it would have been in what is now the old Chester Road, Barbridge.

   The 1891 Census has Elizabeth living with her daughter, Annie Clarke, and her husband, John, who is listed as a grocer. This address is at the Wardle end of Barbridge.

   Go on to Google maps and look up Barbridge and then, on the Nantwich Road, find the junction with Green Lane on the left-hand side. Now look to the canal side of the road and you will see a row of buildings (Google puts the marker for The Jolly Tar pub over it). I think this is where the dwelling was.

   In total, the village had three shops so the above was one, and the next one was on the other side of the road. If you move down to the junction with Wardle Avenue, pass it, and the first one of the row of cottages was a shop known as Ma’s in the 1940s.

   The third was further down, on what is now the old Chester road, where the bump in the canal is, with a red-topped boat on the far side.  Come back to the road and it was around there.