Tag Archives: Sleath

Where oh Where Was Benjamin Sleeth Born? Think it was Staffordshire, England

26 Jun

 

GBPRS-STAFF-ST-NICHOLAS-ABBOTS-BROMLEY-BIRTH-D1209-1-3-1734-1780-00061

Parish Record 1753 at St. Nicholas, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire

That  A Benjamin Sleeth was born is a fact, as his marriage to Mary Quinton is recorded at Abbots Bromley,  February 14,  1753. Likely he was born sometime between and  1713 and 1735 making him between 18 and 40 when he married. On checking the records, there does not appear to be any Sleeth’s or Quinton’s baptised in this Parish around that period, so the likelihood is that Benjamin and Mary did  not grow up here.

st-nicholas-church-abbots-bromley

St-Nicholas Church, Abbots-Bromley… Interior

Benjamin Sleeth with his wife Mary, had a son William, October 22, 1769 and recorded it in the Parish Records of St. Editha at Church Eaton, Staffordshire.  Many of the descendants of William Sleeth/Sleith are buried there. (Note the spelling changes Sleeth to Sleith to Sleath for later generations.) William is the only Sleeth baptised here in this time period.

william sleeth

Baptismal Record for William Sleeth/Sleith (1769) who was the son of Benjamin Sleeth.

 

St Editha's Church

St Editha’s Church at Church Eaton

I was in Church Eaton in 1979 and visited with descendants of William Sleeth/Sleith. Sarah Jane Sleath (1869)Perkins’ father George Sleath (1830) and Nan (1911) and Richard (1913) Sleath’s Grandfather Richard Sleath (1843) were brothers. They were the sons of John Sleith (1805) who was the son of William (1769)

Nan Sleath Bailey and Richard Sleath  at St. Editha Church…1979.

Sarah Jane Perkins, daughter of George and Abigail (Rogers) Sleath later years of Lichfield, Staffordshire

Sarah Jane Sleath Perkins, daughter of George and Abigail (Rogers) Sleath later years of Lichfield, Staffordshire

 

 

 

 

Benjamin sleeth

Benjamin Sleeth buried September 16 , 1798 All Saint’s Bloxwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also have Benjamin Sleeth’s burial in Bloxwich, Staffordshire at All Saint’s Parish Church on September 16, 1798 which was 45 years after his marriage. We could assume that, had he been born in 1713, he would have been 85 years of age and if born in 1735, he would have been 58 years of age. His wife Mary, had been buried 10 years earlier in 1788.

 

Scan0052

“there was no municipal cemetery, and all the dead of Bloxwich were buried in the churchyard of St. Thomas of Canterbury (now All Saints).”

“Throughout the Middle Ages Bloxwich had been a small agricultural village with a population of around 600, but it expanded in the 18th century when coal mines were opened. There were many cottage industries at this time, making awls, nails, needles and saddle blades. By early 19th century Bloxwich was surrounded by canals, encouraging expansion, as goods could be moved more easily.

Bloxwich had a chapel of ease within the parish of Walsall, granted in the 15th century, but did not become a separate parish until the 19th century. An old preaching cross, believed to pre-date the church still stands in the churchyard. All Saints Church dates mostly from 1875-1877 when the original church, St. Thomas of Canterbury, was rebuilt and rededicated. Church Street led to the poorest part of Bloxwich known as Chapel Field Cottages. A workhouse on Elmore Green was open by 1752.”   (British History online)

thumbnail_013

Grounds at Bloxwich Church  

thumbnail_012

Rebuilt Bloxwich Church

 

Susan Martin, who I met at the Exodus: Movement of the People Conference in 2013  sent this email: “Benjamin and Mary would have been buried from what was then a chapel of ease from St Matthews, Walsall . Bloxwich didn’t become a separate parish until 1842. Mary would have been buried by the old chapel of ease but this was rebuilt in 1794 , in time for Benjamin in 1798.The present church was virtually rebuilt in the 1870s. However I guess Benjamin and Mary are in the grounds. All tombstones removed, some against the wall surrounding the cleared line”

004

Bloxwich Church Grounds

007

Cycle path through Goscote Corridor

005

View from back of #72

003 (1)

 

“We had a good afternoon – after several days of non-stop rain and more due for the next three days that I took a walk to Station Road Rushall and can now send you updated photos. No 72 is still there, windows different. I guess the two sheds were the back gardens? I walked along a drive at back and took two photos of the view which there must be from the house. One of the last photos shows the cycle path now going through what is known as the Goscote corridor (goes through the land at the back of 72) and the big stream.  The countryside in the Goscote corridor hasn’t changed over the past 40 years!

 

Records:

Place Church Baptisms Marriages Burials
Bloxwich All Saints 1733-1932 1843-1928 1733-1954

Benjamin is not a name that was popular with any of the Sleath’s anywhere at that time…I only found one baptised in 1665 in Gilmorton, Leicestershire, and none in Warwickshire or Staffordshire in the 1700’s using Ancestry. The one born in Gilmorton, Leicestersire would have been a good candidate for having a son named Benjamin, but he died in 1713 leaving his wife Mary Crick with 3 small children living in Husband Bosworth and none of them a Benjamin.  Did any of his siblings born before him, name any of their children after him?

While I was searching The Genealogist, I came across an interesting record….

Sleeth london

Sleeth Mary wife of Benj, Gent Servant, 29 Rugeley Staff.

In 1772, at the British Lying in Hospital (for “poor and distressed married women”) in Endell Street, St Giles in the Field in London, I found a record for  male child born to Benjamin and Mary Sleeth. I would have discarded this as a possibility as I know there are many Sleeth’s/Sleith’s/Sleath’s born in the London area, however they listed their Parish of Abode as Rugeley, Staffordshire….6 miles from Abbotts Bromley,   10 miles from Bloxwich and 12 miles from Church Eaton. He was a Gentleman’s Servant….A valet or “gentleman’s gentleman” is a gentleman’s male servant; the closest female equivalent is a lady’s maid. The valet performs personal services such as maintaining his employer’s clothes, running his bath and perhaps (especially in the past) shaving his employer). This Benjamin may have entered service as a younger man and worked his way up to this position.

British Lying -In Hospital….24 Endell Street, Covent Garden  1749 – 1913  Maternity

Surgeon in attendance would be called to judge whether the birth would be an easy natural one and could be left to the Matron to deal with, or would need continuing medical involvement.

From 1752 female pupils were admitted to learn midwifery, usually for a period of six months.

In 1756 the Hospital changed its name to the British Lying-In Hospital for Married Women to avoid confusion with the City of London Lying-In Hospital, which had opened in 1750, and theGeneral Lying-In Hospital, which had been founded in 1752.

stpauls2

The oldest maternity hospital in London, the Lying-In Hospital for Married Women, opened at the end of 1749 with the Duke of Portland as its President.  It had been established by a group of governors of the Middlesex Hospital, who were dissatisfied with the facilities available in that Hospital for women in labour.  They purchased a house in Brownlow Street (now Betterton Street), off Long Acre, and furnished it with 20 beds.

The staff consisted of two physicians and two surgeons who practiced midwifery, a Matron skilled in the same, a chaplain, an apothecary, nurses and “other inferior servants”.

Women were admitted in the last month of their pregnancy – they were only permitted to stay for three weeks –  and needed a letter of recommendation from a subscriber (patients were not charged by the Hospital) and an affidavit of their marriage and their husband’s settlement.

Patients received breakfast at 9 o’clock, lunch at 1 o’clock and supper at 7 o’clock.  In the winter they  went to bed at 8 o’clock and in the summer at 9 o’clock.

IMG_20130911_121742

Brick Building just down the street was the Lying In Hospital

In a strange coincidence, I had walked Edell Street many times before on trips to London and often had coffee at a small cafe….turns out I had a view of the Lying In Hospital but I was unaware of what the building had been in earlier times.

 

Another record for the same birth date, lists a girl Jane as being born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith……so was it a boy or a girl or twins or a different Benjamin and Mary or transcription error.

Sleeth london

27 Sept…. 28 Sept a boy

 

 

 

Had  Benjamin  been hired as a Gentleman’s Servant in Staffordshire and come to London with his Gentleman. Did his gentleman live in London with a country house in Staffordshire or  did his Gentleman live in Staffordshire and have a London house?

I kept looking in that area and discovered a Richard born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith in Wandsworth in 1767. Wandsworth in those days was rural and agricultural. Was this the same Ben and Mary? Did the Gentleman have a home in this area? Was this Benjamin and Mary the parents of Jane?

More Records more confusion….This Record  was discovered among the Clandestine Marriage Records in London for 1667 to 1754….on Ancestry.

A Benjamin Slyth of Walsall married Mary Thompson of Santree, Ireland on August 3, 1717 in London.  Officiating Ministers: Vyse, Draper, Evans, Wagstaffe, Floud, Gaynam, etc (1709 Nov – 1721 Apr) (Ancestry) Now whether this was my Ancestor, I can only surmise. Again the reference to Walsall, (Bloxwich was a chapel of Ease from Walsall Staffordshire) would give me pause for my thinking. Was this a young couple…. he Church of England, she a Catholic from Ireland and were they pregnant? Did they run away to London to be married or were they already in London?   Did they remain in London or return at some point to Staffordshire. Did they have a son and name him Benjamin? 

What was a clandestine marriage?

A Fleet Marriage is the best-known example of an irregular or a clandestine marriage taking place in England before the Marriage Act 1753 came into force on March 25, 1754. Specifically, it was one which took place in London’s Fleet Prison or its environs during the 17th and, especially, the early 18th century.

41813_b0146270-00109

Facts are beginning to build.

1717                   Benjamin Slyth and Mary Thompson marry in London…..List Walsall as his abode

Early 1700’s    Benjamin Sleeth is born …SOMEWHERE..

1753                   Benjamin Sleeth and Mary Quinton marry in Abbots Bromley

13 years between these records…..so Mary, mother of William, would have only been 13 when she                                                                      married in  1753.    How likely would this be?

“Under Lord Hardwicke’s marriage act in 1753, the law was changed so that anyone under twenty one had to have the consent of guardians or parents, but there was no lower age limit. It also had to be celebrated in church and an entry had to be made in the parish register and signed by both parties. The law was introduced to in response to agitation on the part of the nobility, who were alarmed at the ease with which young heiresses could be trapped in indissoluble marriages, and have their money stolen!
Source : Belinda Meteyard, ‘Illigitimacy and marriage in the eighteenth century’, Journal of Interdisciplinary history

Ithis a different Mary? An entirely different  couple?   Does this Mary die and Benjamin married a different Mary?

1769                Benjamin and Mary Sleeth (26) have a son William baptised in Church Eaton...Home Parish?

1772                   Benjamin and Mary Sleeth have a male child at the Lying in Hospital in London and list Rugeley                                at their abode…he a Gentleman’s Servant. Mary is 29 so born c. 1743.

Still there are so many questions…are these Benjamin’s the same or different people? What about the Mary’s? Why are there no Sleeth Children born between 1753 and 1769. Does Mary Quinton Die and Benjamin  doesn’t remarry for several years? again to another Mary?

 

DSCF2846

Nan Sleath Bailey and Me at Rushall, Staffordshire in 1979

I’m stuck! For the past 8 years I have been trying to trace my Sleath Family and it hasn’t been easy. They of course couldn’t be consistent in the spelling of their surname, and this is only the first of many issues.  I started out by tracing my Grandmother, Sarah Jane Sleath, born 13 Aug 1869 in The Outwoods, Shropshire.  Things seemed to be going well and I located her father, George Sleath born in Hinstock, Shropshire in 1830.  His father John Sleith, I found in Church Eaton, Staffordshire. John Sleith (note first change of spelling for name) was christened 17 Mar 1805, the son of William Sleith of Church Eaton. I knew this was the right connection as St. Editha’s Church Cemetery is the burial place for a number of  my Sleith’s. Richard Sleath, George’s brother,  was born in 1843 in Sydney, Shropshire and buried at St Editha’s. I took the photos in 1979 on my first trip to England, long before I got into searching my family history. Oh how I wish I would have asked those “oh so important questions” when I was there and my relatives were still alive.

Advertisements

Reburying of a King Found in a Car Park! Richard lll

12 Sep
DSCF3556

King Richard III

The remains of Richard III will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral on March 26, 2015. Now why would I be interested in such an event? The story begins in 2010, when I first visited Leicester. The London Trippers, part of the England/Wales Group at the Alberta Genealogy Society, had spent 2 weeks in London researching their ancestors in  various archives. Following that, everyone went their separate ways and I decided to visit Leicestershire, home to my Perkins/Benford ancestors.    

 

DSCF3838

My home away from home in the Belmont Hotel. Made The Bar my office.

I wanted to visit Claybrooke Magna, a small village 12 miles from Leicester on the Leicestershire/Warwickshire border, where my Dad had been born in 1904. His father and grandfather had been the Village Blacksmiths since 1860. The Benford branch of my family had been the Village Carpenters for an even longer period of time.  I made the Belmont Hotel in Leicester my home base and would often head out along the New Walk, a delightful pedestrian walkway which took me to the city centre, where I  would  take photos. 

??????????????????????????????????

My picture taken in 2010 of the Car Park where Richard was discovered behind the wall on the right.

One day, late in the afternoon, as I was heading home, I came upon a property with an iron fence and gate and behind it some Brick Buildings  with chimney pots and a long Brick Wall which made a great picture against the darkening sky. This was one of hundreds of photos I took on the trip, and I never gave it another thought until August 2012  when I learned that the  remains of King Richard III had been discovered in a car park in Leicester. 

Richard III Dig: Bones Found Under Leicestershire Car Park

Richard III: ‘When I saw the skull, the hair on the back of my neck stood up’

As archaeologists leave the Leicester site where they believe they have found royal remains, locals are already convinced………

Richard III car park

Trench 1 was dug on the other side of the wall and that is where Richard’s remains were eventually discovered. (From The Guardian Newspaper Sept 23, 2012)

I  thought, “Could this be  in the same area that I had taken the photo 2 years earlier. The place looks familiar.” I got out my pictures and sure enough it was the very same site.    I joked with friends that the archaelogists should have asked me as I knew where Richard was…. I had taken that picture in 2010 because Richard III had been trying to  get someone’s attention to have him removed from the car park site to somewhere more befitting a grave for a king.

It was the same site !

It was the same site ! The wall behind which he was discovered has been taken down.

DSCF3585

Greyfriars Friary

The actual search began on August 25, 2012, the 527th Anniversary of his burial. In  2010, Dr. Ashbrown-Hill had published compelling evidence building on the work of David Baldwin, that Richard was buried in the choir of the Greyfriars and his remains had not been disturbed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. He also traced Richard’s family tree to the Ibsen family, descendents of Richard’s sister. Their mitochondrial DNA sequence could be helpful in proving the remains were Richard’s if they were ever located. Phillipa Langley had approached the Leicester City Council with a proposal that part of the Car Park where part of Alderman Herrick’s garden and the Greyfriars Friary had stood, be investigated. A team of archaeologists undertook an assessment of the site and developed an excavation strategy. The dig was eventually funded by the City Council, The University of Leicester and the The Richard III Society. By a strange quirk of fate, the bones that were discovered on the first day of the dig in the first trench dug, ultimately turned out to be those of Richard III.

Richard III reigned for only two years and two months…1482 – 1485. He was born during the reign of King Henry VI and his childhood was lived during the War of the Roses. Richard’s first recorded visit to Leicester was on May 10, 1464 at the age of 11. He was also in Leicester on a Post Coronation Progress and stayed at the castle from August 17-20, 1483. On August 7, 1485 Richard learned that Henry Tudor had landed in Wales and intended to claim the throne. Richard sent out letters to his followers ordering them to gather at Nottingham and Leicester. On August 20, 1485 rode into Leicester for the final time. He stayed overnight at the White (Blue) Boar Inn and the following morning rode out over the old Bow Bridge. He was on his way to fight in what would become known as the Battle of Bosworth. During a gallant fight, he was killed in battle and his body was brought back to Leicester over the same bridge he had crossed that morning. He was 32 years old. His body was eventually buried in the Greyfriars Friary, a site that runs parallel to St. Martin’s Cathedral. His remains were to languish in this grave till August 2012. He was 32 years old.

DSCF3563

Greyfriars with St. Martin’s in top left corner

DSCF3561

Richard’s remains were found in Trench 1 beside the wall

DSCF3562

I took my photo from the iron fence on the street looking towards the wall.

King Richard III to remain in Leicester

May 23, 2014

 Follow Dean Monteith’s Blog on the St. Martin’s website.

A statement from The Very Revd David Monteith, Dean of Leicester Cathedral:

“The delays are over.  The law is clear and unequivocally set forth in today’s judgement.  Richard III fought here, fell here, died here, has lain here and was rediscovered here.  He will now be finally led to rest with the prayers of God’s people in a manner fitting to his story and with dignity as befits a child of God and an anointed King of England. This historic place marked the end of one dynasty and the start of the next.

This community, which has changed so much since then, then symbolises the best of modern Britain – respectful of the past, diverse in character and generous in welcome.  Our community are humbled to be entrusted with this next task on behalf of the people of England as the eyes of the world watch on.

Everyone now knows about the ‘King in the Car Park’, championed by the Looking for Richard project and achieved with the partnership of the City of Leicester and the expertise of the University of Leicester.”

Richard’s remains will be buried in St Martin’s Cathedral March 24, 2015.   At present there is a Memorial Stone to Richard. This will be removed and a new tombstone created.

DSCF3541

St. Martin’s Cathedral showing Choir and Altar.

DSCF3532

Memorial to Richard in front of Altar.

DSCF3515

Plans for the new memorial.

David Monteith’s Blog continued…

“We now will continue to work together to complete the task in Spring 2015. The past weeks of waiting have been trying for all our staff and volunteers and this entire process has been costly financially and emotionally.  But I want to say to everyone, whatever viewpoint you take that everyone is welcome here.  Bosworth was a bitter battle with different branches of the same family at war.  Five hundred years on we can learn a little and my prayer is that we might travel now together to finally lay King Richard to rest. The final paragraph of the ruling summed up: ‘Since Richard III’s exhumation on 5 September 2012, passions have been roused and much ink has been spilt.  Issues relating to his life and death and place of re-interment have been exhaustively examined and debated.”

The Very Reverend David Monteith, the Dean of Leicester Cathedral, has explained the considerable efforts and expenditure invested by the Cathedral in order to create a lasting burial place “as befits an anointed King”.  “We agree that it is time for Richard III to be given a dignified reburial, and finally laid to rest.”

Recent announcements indicate that The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster (Roman Catholic) and The Archbishop of Canterbury (Church of England) will both be taking part in services in Leicester Cathedral to mark the reinterment of King Richard III. Remember there was no Church of England in the time of Richard III. It hadn’t yet come into being, so Richard would have been a devout Catholic.

Both Dioceses are working together with other stakeholders to organise various acts of worship during the week in which Richard III’s mortal remains will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral. 

  • On Sunday March 22 the remains of Richard III will be received into Leicester Cathedral. 
  • On Monday March 23, Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Mass for the repose of the soul (a ‘Requiem Mass’) of Richard III in Holy Cross Church. 
  • On Thursday March 26, the mortal remains of Richard III will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, with an invited congregation and in the presence of the Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.
  • On Friday March 27, invited people from across the city of Leicester and the county of Leicestershire will gather in the Cathedral to mark the end of King Richard’s journey and the sealed tomb will be revealed to the public.
  • In addition, the Cathedral will be open for people to visit, to pay their respects and to pray from 23-25th March, and from Saturday 28th March the area around Richard III’s tomb will be open to the public.

 It is not only Richard who has a connection to Leicester. In 1913, it was from here that John Thomas and Sarah Perkins, my grandparents and Tertius Perkins, my father, left for Liverpool and ultimately their new home in Canada. They had been living in the city for several years since leaving Claybrooke Village.    See the 1911 Census Form completed by my Grandfather.

Perkins 1911 England census

The 1911 Census Form completed by my Grandfather.

Leicester Train Station

Leicester Train Station

 My roots go deep in the English soil. I have discovered Perkins, Benford, Mason and Sleath names in the Parish Records of Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire going back to the late 1500’s.  My immediate family was from Claybrooke Magna, LEI and Withybrook, War, while my Benford family, was at one point in time in Leicester.…perhaps some of them were actually there when Richard was buried.

I have a Burial Record from Ancestry…Scanned Parish Records from Withybrook Church showing that Thomas Mason would have been born around 1600, 115 years after Richard’s Burial. Thomas’ Great Great Grandfather could then  have been alive during Richard’s Reign. Gives one something to think about!

Thomas Mason
Death Age: 90
Birth Date: abt 1601
Burial Date: 13 Jan 1691
Burial Place: Withybrook, Warwickshire, England
Father: Mason
Mother: Mason

John Mason
Death Age: 85
Birth Date: abt 1656
Burial Date: 15 Dec 1741
Burial Place: Withybrook, Warwickshire, England
Father: Mason
Mother: Mason

My plan is to be in Leicester in March 2015 for the Reinternment of the Remains of Richard III. I may not have a seat in the cathedral, but I will certainly be outside! Perhaps some spirits from the past will be there with me!

UPDATE: March 18, 2015

Only 4 days and I will be flying over to London and then on to Leicester for the Reburial Activities. It is a solemn occasion indeed, as is any burial, or in this case a reburial of remains. That does not mean that there can’t be any celebrations…..life is for the living and they are the ones left to remember and celebrate the life of the one who has died. This can be done with words, pictures and music and in this instance FIREWORKS from the Cathedral roof. Let us all remember this King who ruled for such a short time and died too young. Let us try for greater understanding of him and his accomplishments…..a man of the late Middle Ages.

The Search for Benjamin Sleeth and Mary Quinton in Staffordshire, England

12 Apr

I’m stuck! For the past 8 years I have been trying to trace my Sleath Family and it hasn’t been easy. They of course couldn’t be consistent in the spelling of their surname, and this is only the first of many issues.  I started out by tracing my Grandmother, Sarah Jane Sleath, born 13 Aug 1869 in The Outwoods, Shropshire.  Things seemed to be going well and I located her father, George Sleath born in Hinstock, Shropshire in 1830.  His father John Sleith, I found in Church Eaton, Staffordshire. John Sleith (note first change of spelling for name) was christened 17 Mar 1805, the son of William Sleith of Church Eaton. I knew this was the right connection as St. Editha’s Church Cemetery is the burial place for a number of  my Sleith’s. Richard Sleath, George’s brother,  was born in 1843 in Sydney, Shropshire and buried at St Editha’s. I took the photos in 1979 on my first trip to England, long before I got into searching my family history. Oh how I wish I would have asked those “oh so important questions” when I was there and my relatives were still alive.

Ann and Richard Sleath

Ann and Richard Sleath

William is christened as William Sleeth (2nd change of name) 22 Mar 1769 at Church Eaton, Staffordshire,  the son of Benjamin and Mary Sleeth. I thought how well I was doing until I started to trace Benjamin Sleeth. This is where the problems arose.  I have been able to find in the Parish Records for Abbotts Bromley a marriage for Benjamin Sleeth and Mary Quinton on 14 Feb 1753. There are no other Sleeth or Quinton names  in those parish records so likely the couple was from elsewhere. William(1769) is the only birth I have been able to locate for parents Benjamin and Mary  Sleeth under various spellings. Benjamin Sleeth is buried in Bloxwich, Staffordshire in 1798 (NBI) and Mary Quinton Sleeth is buried there as well in 1788(NBI). I have not found a baptismal record for either person.Where was this couple in the years following their 1753 marriage to 1769 when William is christened at Church Eaton? Did they have other living Children? Did earlier children die? Is William really their Child? Did they not baptize their children? Are the records simply not yet on the internet or are they lost in transcription errors?

Benjamin Sleeth

Mary Sleeth wife of Ben, Gentlemen’s Servant, a son 1772 parish of abode Rugeley, Staffordshire

I wasn’t quite correct when I said that I found no more births for Ben and Mary Sleeth. In 1772, at the British Lying in Hospital (for “poor and distressed married women”) in Endell Street, St Giles in the Field in London, I found a record for  male child born to Benjamin and Mary Sleeth. I would have discarded this as a possibility as I know there are many Sleeth’s/Sleith’s/Sleath’s born in the London area, however they listed their Parish of Abode as Rugeley, Staffordshire (6 miles from Abbotts Bromley) and he was a Gentleman’s Servant.

Another record for the same birth date, lists a girl Jane as being born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith.  Maybe Benjamin had been hired in Staffordshire and came to London with his Gentleman. Did his gentleman live in London with a country house in Staffordshire or did his Gentleman live in Staffordshire with another house in London? I kept looking in that area and discovered a Richard born to Benjamin and Mary Sleith in Wandsworth, Surrey in 1767. Wandsworth in those days was rural and agricultural. Was this the same Ben and Mary? Did the Gentleman have a home in this area?

Was talking to someone recently and she suggested that perhaps as Ben and Mary had not been able to have children in the first 16 years of marriage, they adopted a child whose mother died in childbirth or who had given away an illegitimate child and called him William. Adoptions weren’t formalized in those days. Or perhaps, one of their Sleeth family had an illegitimate child and they took him in as their own. Another possibility is the family was NonConformists and the births were not recorded or they haven’t yet shown up in the NonConformist Records.

Haven’t found a birth for either Benjamin or Mary. There is a  Sleeth who is having children in the early 1700’s right for the time of Benjamin being born  but they do not christen a Ben at the Great Presbyterian Meeting House in Leicester where their other children are christened. He is a Baker. Also a Benjamin and Mary Sleath have children in Husband’s Bosworth, LEI up to 1711 for recorded births, but no Ben. Husband’s Bosworth is only 45 miles from Rugeley. There are Sleeth’s having  children in Walsall, Stafffordshire but no Benjamin’s. SO I’M STUCK AT THIS POINT…… where do I g0 next?  Well perhaps it’s time to take a look at the manors in the area and who owned them. Maybe I can locate Benjamin’s Gentleman!

My Grandmother’s Wedding Shoes

19 Sep

A Victorian Woman

My Grandmother’s Wedding Shoes!

Sarah Jane Sleath was the only girl in a family of six boys including twins. She was born at Outwoods, Staffordshire in 1869. She lived with us when I was growing up in Edmonton. All I really remember was a tiny, old woman in a bed, and I was taken in to visit her once a day. By the time I was four, she had been moved to a long term care hospital. My Dad and I visited her at the hospital, but on one visit, after my dad let a nurse carry me off to a ward, thinking I was a new admission, I was never allowed to go again. Who knows what my dad was thinking that day? My mother was very angry with him.  I vividly remember a long room with beds along both sides filled with children. Then my dad and another nurse came rushing up to retrieve me!

Sarah Jane died in 1954 and I recall seeing her coffin in the boxcar on the train while we waited at the CPR station. We were going to Red Deer for her funeral and burial in the cemetery next to her husband John Thomas Perkins. Not sure why they were buried there. Her brother, Jack Sleath and his wife Clara Annie Shotton, were buried there as well, but they had lived there.

Over the years, I heard comments from different people. They all recalled that Sarah Jane had quite the temper and wondered how my grandfather dealt with it. She was a little bit of a thing, standing about 4 feet 10 inches, at least that’s what she looked like in pictures. Some say I look like her. Perhaps my temper is justly inherited.

Who was this woman I barely knew? While searching some of the trunks kept in our cellar, I came across a beautifully decorated box. In it were white shoes and a wedding veil. I had seen pictures of my grandparents wedding and knew they must belong to Sarah Jane. She married John Thomas Perkins May 5, 1901 at St. Peter’s Church, Claybrooke Magna, Leicestershire, England. Prior to that she had worked as a Parlor Maid at Claybrooke Hall.  Her employer was Miss Simpson. I often wondered what life was like for domestic help in Victorian times.

The 1901 Census shows the following:

Louise Simpson 78       Born Foston, York

Charlotte Hillyar 71     Born Stoke Bramel, Devon        Companion

Bessie Tyers 47              Born Shenstone, Staffordshire   Nurse Attendant

Sarah Jane Sleath 30   Born Outwoods, Staffordshire   Parlor Maid

Sarah Heywood 24       Born Chilcote Lei                              House Maid

Ethel Crisp 17                 Born Claybrooke, Lei                     Kitchen Maid

Janet Taylor 32              Born Blackfordy, Lei                       Nurse

Hetty Williams 32          Born Greenwich, London              Cook

What would she have done as a parlourmaid? Quoting from “Women’s Lives” a book on social history from 1800 – 1930 by Jennifer Newby , “parlour and housemaids’ duties were often interchangeable. The main division was that parlourmaids answered the door, served tea and did the lighter cleaning. Housemaids undertook the heavier work, rising at dawn to light the kitchen fire, heating water, beating rugs and other heavy cleaning.”   Both types of  Maids would also make beds, clean rooms, do sewing and mending and keep the fires going  throughout the day. Days off were few and far between, but Sarah Jane managed to meet JohnThomas Perkins the village Blacksmith. Perhaps it was at church, as servants often accompanied their employers to services and in this instance, St. Peter’s Church was just across the road from The Hall.

In Sarah’s wedding photo, Bessie Tyers is pictured with the family, so I assume that Sarah and Bessie had developed a relationship while working long hours at The Hall. There is  one unidentified woman who could also be from The Hall, perhaps Janet Taylor, the nurse.

My grandmother’s life would  change when she married. In just a few short years, she, her husband John Thomas and son Tertius, would leave England to make a better life for themselves in Canada. The city she moved to was just getting its start in 1913 and was rough and rugged. Her house in the Ritchie District had a barn for her cows and chickens and a big garden to grow vegetables. She had brought all her furniture including a piano and a grandfather clock, fine china, pictures and a mangle. Container shipping isn’t a new thing!

Sarah Jane had seen dramatic changes in her lifetime. Wish I had been able to hear her story firsthand.

%d bloggers like this: