Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Update of the Past NEWS...... 6th January 1883

Catch up on the full story of last weeks NEWS...........

* Witham V Wardman

The two men Henry and Walter were brothers, although they were slightly different in age than recorded in last week’s news.  Walter was born in 1855 and Henry in 1858, they were the eldest two sons of William and Julia Witham (nee Turton). 

The family lived at Brimington; William was publican at the Prince of Wales public house on Common Road.  William was originally from Skegby in Nottinghamshire, he married Julia Turton in 1854 at Chesterfield.  They had a large family of at least the following children and probably more –

*Walter Washington 1855
*Henry Albert 1868
*Charles 1860
*George 1863
*Margaret 1865
*Frank 1866
*William Edgar 1868
*Kate 1871
*Florence 1875

Walter Washington was infamous around the Chesterfield area, so much so that in 1890 he was described as “alias Devil a noted Brimingtonion”.  Walter was quiet a character, he was in trouble on numerous occasions for poaching or being drunk and disorderly.  Not only did he assault Anthony Wardman in 1883 but he was also charged with a very serious offence in 1887 when he assaulted Walter Harris so badly that he was “dangerously injured in hospital” and was unable to attend the remand trial.  Walter Witham was said to be 29 years old at the time and worked as a coal miner.

Walter Harris and his house mate Michael Quinn lived at Froggats Yard, Walter was a labourer.  On the night in question Walter and Michael were walking along Holywell Street when they came upon Walter Witham “falling out” with a man named Macguire.  Walter Harris had told Walter Witham to go home, but this just angered Walter Witham more and he offered to “fight Harris for a sovereign”.  The men moved down Tapton Lane and both began punching each other.  Walter Witham had the upper hand though and knocked Harris down to the floor where he jumped on his face with his clogs.  He then raised him from the floor a little and kicked the back of Harris’s head and then chest.  He finished by saying “let the ------ die”.  Harris was taken home, the doctor called and transferred to the Chesterfield Hospital. 

Walter Witham was remanded in Derby gaol until Walter Harris was fit to attend court and the trial was set for 31st October 1887 at Leicester Assize Courts.  He was found guilty and sentenced to 12 months hard labour.

I have been unable to locate Walter Witham on any of the census after 1881, I don’t know if he married or what became of him after 1896 when he was fined for assaulting James W Shawcroft at Brimington.  Walter had admitted the incident but said that he had taken too much drink and did not mean his actions.  He was told to pay the costs for the court appearance but replied “think I shall pay? I shall pay “note”, I have “note”.  There is a death for Walter Washington Witham in Chesterfield in 1931 aged 72 years old – does anyone know what he was up to for the last 30 years of his life?

As for Henry Albert Witham, his life seems to have also taken a “wild” route.  He was with his brother in May 1877 when they were found guilty of poaching at Ault Hucknall.  They were both fined 10s.  In December 1879 he was charged with being drunk and disorderly with his mates Zimri Ashmore and Frederick Wagstaff in Brimington.  They were to pay the costs and received a caution.

In January 1882 Henry is charged with being drunk and disorderly in Brimington.  This time with 2 married women – Ruth Wardman (alias Ruth Bamford) and Anna Swift.  So this is where the rumours that one of the Witham men had “interferred” with the wife of Anthony Wardman stem from – it was Henry Witham who was the cause of the families dislike for each other.  On the night in question Henry, Ruth and Anna were seen to be very drunk and had been thrown out of the Bugle Horn public house.  They were using terrible language and being very noisy.  Luckily for Ruth Wardman she was found not guilty, but Henry and Anna were both fined 15s including costs.

Henry did settle down and married Bertha Unwin in 1893.  In 1901 he is living with his family at Cotterill Lane, Brimington.  Henry works as a pipe shop labourer and they have 3 children – Kate aged 7 years, Julia aged 4 years and baby Wilfred aged 11 months. 

Henry and Bertha were involved in an altercation in September 1898 at Brimington when Henry was charged with assaulting Margaret Cockerton with bad language.  He was also said to have given her a blow and she was said to have set the poker at him.  Bertha was also involved as she was charging Margaret Cocketon with using indecent language at her- Margaret had called Bertha “Mrs Dyer”.  The court heard how this was due to the Witham’s death of their son Henry Witham.  In the end it was decided that as Henry Witham was a repeat offended and a bad character he was committed to Derby Gaol for 14 days hard labour.
By 1911 Henry is living recorded as widowed, but I have been unable to locate a death for Bertha Witham.  What became of her is unknown, she may have died, been imprisoned or did the couple simply split?  Two children were living with Henry; Wilfred aged 10 years and Dorice Annie aged 9 years.

Henry Albert died a few years later in 1913 at Chesterfield. 

Anthony Wardman was the man who disliked the Witham brothers because one had “interfered with his wife”.  We now know that it looks likely that it was Henry as he was at least caught "up to no good" with Ruth Witham.

Anthony married Ruth Maria Bamford in 1879.  In 1881 Anthony and Ruth are living with Ruth’s father George Bamford at East Street, Hasland.  Anthony is 27 years old and works as a coal miner. 

According to the NEWS article Anthony had been to the USA and it was during this time that a Witham man had been around his wife so I would suspect he was away around 1882.  I have not been able to find him in any passenger list though. 

Anthony and Ruth went to live in Canada.  They had one son Taylor around 1891.  If anyone can fill in the gaps I would be most interested.
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* Omri Twigg -
With such an unusual Christian name I had to find out more about this man.  Omri was in last week's NEWS announcing his marriage to Ellen Ellis Fryer on 2nd January 1883 at the Wesleyan Chapel in Bakewell.
Omri was born in 1840, the son of Joseph and Phoebe Twigg.  Joseph was a lead miner and the family lived at Youlgreave in Derbyshire.  Omri had 2 older brothers named Joseph and William and 2 elder sisters named Phoebe and Maria.  After Omri was born came Isaac, Benjamin and Georgiana.
Omri was late to get wed; in fact he would have been 41 years old.  Ellen was 22 years his junior.  The couple lived with Omri’s family in 1891 at Bradford, Youlgreave.  They had 4 children – Phoebe aged 6 years, William aged 5 years, Benjamin aged 3 years and Maria aged 1 year old.  Also living with then are Omri’s younger brothers Isaac and Benjamin, both were unmarried general labourers and Maria Ellis sister in law who was widowed.
On Tuesday 8th March 1898 tragedy struck the family when Omri’s younger brother Isaac committed suicide.  Isaac had lived with his brother and family for about 2 ½ years at Elton.  He was unmarried and around 48 years old.
The house was full with Isaac, his sister, brother Omri and his family and Maria Ellis all living there.  Around 6am on Tuesday morning the chimney sweep named John hope had arrived at Omri’s home and was led into the kitchen where they were shocked to find a pool of blood on the floor.  On further investigation it was found that the blood had seeped through the floor boards from the bedroom above, the bedroom which Isaac and Omri’s son William shared.
They proceeded to the bedroom to find the door handle secured close with a cord.  Unable to gain access they had to knock loudly in order to wake William.  Isaac was found still alive, but he had cut his throat with an old pocket knife which was found in the bed with him.  It was thought that Isaac may survive and arrangements were made for him o be under police supervision.  However, he became seriously ill and died during that night.
An inquest was held on the Thursday morning at the Duke of York Inn, Elton, the verdict was that Isaac had committed suicide whilst of unsound mind.
By 1901 Omri and Ellen have moved to Moor Lane, Elton a nearby village.  He is 60 years old and works as a cattleman on a farm.  They have 3 children living with them – William aged 15 years, Isaac aged 9 years and Emma aged 5 years old. 
Only a year later in November 1902 Ellen applied to the Bench for a separation order as she could no longer live with Omri anymore.  The heading of the newspaper article read “A LAZY HUSBAND” “Elton man tells his wife to “scrat” for herself and five children”.  The couple had been married 19 years earlier and had lived for around 8 years at Youlgreave, 4 years at Bonsall Moor and the remainder at Elton. 
Three weeks earlier Ellen had moved to live with relatives in Winster.  She had 8 children altogether but only 5 lived with her.  She stated that Omri had provided for her until the past 2 years, when he had stated that “he was not going to work anymore for anybody”.  Omri had maintained that he was ill and had visited Dr Fletcher for him to certify him sick and allow him to claim support.  Dr Fletcher had refused, stating that Omri was “an idle vagabond”. 
In the past five weeks that Ellen had lived with Omri he had given her 13s to feed and clothe the family, even though he was earning 7s per week.    The Bench were very supportive of Ellen and could clearly see the failings of Omri.  She was given an order for a judicial separation and custody of the five youngest children, one being only 5 months old.  Omri was ordered to pay 5s a week to Ellen.
These goings on would explain why on the 1911 census Omri is living all alone, he is retired aged 70 years old and interestingly has recorded himself as “widower”.  Ellen is alive and living far away from her husband at Holy Bank, Chesterfield Road, Staveley, Chesterfield.  Her eldest son William is the head of the household.  Ellen and Omri’s children are living with them; Benjamin 23 years, Maria 21 years, Isaac 19 years, Eliza 18 years, Emma 13 years and James aged 8 years old.  Ellen has also described herself as “widow”.  There is a death for an Ellen Twigg which fits with her age in 1937, so let’s hope she had a nice happy life after Omri.
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  1. Hello, I was very interested in seeing your story about Omri Twigg. He and Ellen are my husband's great-grandparents. Their son Benjamin came to Australia in 1912, married and had children. Having been a miner in Youlgreave, he started work in the mines south of Sydney near Bulli, then he and his wife moved to Sydney where they lived their remaining years. He died in 1978. I would be very interested to hear from any of Omri's other children's descendants. Perhaps they could respond to this blog.

    1. Hello, thank you for reading and commenting on my blog post.

      I am glad you found it and it is lovely when someone fills in the gaps on the lives of the family.

      Did you know the goings on that I have written about?

      It does seem a sad tale, poor Ellen. But its great that Benjamin made a life for himself in Australia. Was the death correct for Ellen Twigg in 1937? I ask as I do this blog without purchasing any birth, marriage or death certificates and so I had not confirmed that it was her death.

      I hope that you get some connections from other members of the family and if I have anyone contact me direct I will let you know.

      Thanks again for reading my ramblings!

      Best wishes,


  2. Hi Louise,
    I knew mostof what you had written but I found the 'lazy husband' article very amusing. Poor Ellen. I think Ellen might have died in 1912 because there is an Ellen E Twigg born about 1864 who died 1912. I will be ordering the DC to find out. Thank you for your reply.

  3. Hi Narelle,
    Great, would you let us know on the blog when she died, please? if the Death Cert is her's.
    I would love to know.
    Thanks for the update.
    Best wishes,

  4. Update on the story of Henry & Bertha Witham. I have been contacted via email with an update on Bertha Witham -
    I told in the blog post how in 1911 Henry was on the 1911 census as being a widower - but that I had been unable to find a death for Bertha.
    The reason being she had left Henry and taken the eldest two children with her; Julie and Kate. Bertha had left Brimington and moved to Goldthorpe Nr Doncaster with Joseph Charles Hall. They married in 1913 after the death of Henry made Bertha free to marry.