30 May 2014

Richard Johnson, Lord Mayor of Bradford 1926-1927





















Today’s photo is one I’ve had for many years and had put into the too hard basket because Richard Johnson is such a common name. This morning I was looking through my photos and for some reason this one caught my eye and on examining the back of it in minute detail noticed some words had been cut through on the edge:-


This was the clue I needed and it all started coming together after I did a bit of searching in Google and the online English newspapers. First I came across the fact that there was a Richard Johnson who was a J.P. and an Alderman on the Bradford City Council from 1896. This is part of the information about the ‘Memorial Institute Building in Esholt’ from the British Listed Buildings website:-


INTERIOR: The main entrance leads into a small porch area with doors to the main hall and the kitchen area to the left. The main room occupies the whole of the main block and has a wooden floor, half height tongue and groove panelling and a suspended ceiling. Above the suspended ceiling is the original roof structure with 4 trusses supporting a boarded roof and lit by the dormer windows. In the wing is a kitchen area, with modern fittings, divided from the main hall by a folding wooden and glazed screen, original. To the right of the kitchen is a cupboard housing the boiler, the original of which is in a display cabinet in the kitchen. At the far end of the hall is a door to the toilet block, rebuilt from a smaller original. On the rear wall is a framed stone inscribed THIS STONE WAS LAID BY/ THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SEWAGE COMMITTEE/ CITY OF BRADFORD./(ALDERMAN RICHARD JOHNSON J P)/ 30th JUNE 1920. Also on the rear wall is a metal plaque reading PARISH OF ESHOLT/ ROLL OF HONOUR/ EUROPEAN WAR/ 1914 1918, with a list of 53 names in 3 columns.

I even found a photo of it but no they weren’t the same steps that Richard Johnson was standing on so I turned to the newspapers and found the following:-

mayoral-electionThe date was a surprise to me as I had thought the date of 1925 written on the photo was his death date and presumably the 13 Sep 1855 his birthdate. But then I found his obituary in 1931 and realised the photo had most probably been taken by the newspaper when he first announced he was going to stand for office before the elections, well that’s what I’m presuming. This is the closest I can get to the steps at the Bradford Town Hall in Google, but to my eye they look hardly any different to those in the photo:-




His obituary finally put me on the path to tracking down the right Richard Johnson in the various census.

It mentioned that he was a shop assistant in Bingley then he moved to Bradford where he was connected with a millinery business. First I searched for a marriage in FreeBMD in either 1876 or 1877 (50 years before his two years in office), there was only one in Bradford but that Richard Johnson had the middle name of Frank and in all the sources for this Richard so far there is no mention of a middle name. So then I tried familysearch.org and found this marriage that looked promising, why I thought it might be the one is that I had found a Richard Johnson in the 1861 census who had been born in Bingley and his father’s name was John. In the 1871 census this Richard was boarding away from home aged 15 and a draper’s assistant, so far so good.

Name: Richard Johnson

Birth Date:1856
Age: 21
Spouse's Name: Sarah Ainsbury
Spouse's Birth Date: 1856
Spouse's Age: 21
Event Date: 04 Apr 1877
Event Place: Dudley, Worcester, England
Father's Name: John Johnson
Spouse's Father's Name: George Ainsbury
Marital Status: Single
Spouse's Marital Status: Single
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M01465-6
System Origin: England-EASy
GS Film number: 1470600
Reference ID: 89 p 45

By 1881 they had settled in Dudley, Worcester and Richard was an Inn Keeper with one daughter Edith Ainsbury Johnson. In 1891 they were back in Yorkshire and settled in Bradford and Richard was now a Draper and they had five children. In 1891 they have six children and Richard is still a Draper, visiting them is Edith Leaf who was a ‘milliner’s saleswoman’ so perhaps it was Edith that Richard later went into business with, maybe she ran the business while he was working for the council. In the 1911 census he was a Milliner with one of his daughters also in the business. So in all the census nothing is ever mentioned about him being an alderman, if it wasn’t for this photograph we might never have known!

There is one little niggle I have about all of the above, according to Richard’s obituary the ex-Mayor only had one daughter and one son when he died but in the 1911 census it tells us that Sarah had given birth to 8 children with 6 of them still living, surely 4 more of them hadn’t died before Richard? Possible I suppose.


1911-census    © Crown Copyright Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. 1911 Census.

The obituary also says his son is Mr H. G. Johnson but none of this Richard’s children have those initials although one of his sons was a town clerk (before he became a solicitor) & lived in Reading.

What do you think? Am I right in thinking this Richard is the one in the photograph or is there a mistake in the obituary? Unless I can find some descendants for this family I guess I’ll never know.




Richard Johnson died on 23 Jan 1931 at 17 Salisbury Gardens, Jesmond, Newcastle on Tyne and on the 26 Jan was buried in the Jesmond Cemetery.







References: FreeBMD; ancestry.com.au; familysearch.org; British Listed Buildings; Google; FindMyPast



If anyone knows anything about or is connected to this JOHNSON family please do contact me, I would love to pass the photo onto a family member, even a distant one. Contact by email is preferable but if you are going to leave a comment please don’t forget to include your email address.

Dawn Scotting


28 May 2014

Annie Catlow 1885-1957

Annie Catlow, the eldest child of Thomas Watson & Millicent Catlow, was born on the 23 Aug 1885 in Bacup, Lancashire, her birth was registered in the 3qtr of 1885, in the Haslingden RD, no baptism found.

annie-lizzie-cissie-500w This looks like the earliest photo I have of her, her sister Lizzie looks to be about 10 to 12 so probably taken around 1905 or so, Annie would be about 20. Above is what is written on the back but comparing it with the other photos I think Annie is the one on the left although the other sister looks to be older, it’s hard to say for sure. They are standing outside 38 Temple St, Nelson, Lancashire where they were living in 1901 & 1911 before the family moved to ‘Braeside’ in Nelson. Here is what the house looks like today, it hasn’t changed that much, the top of the fence has gone, the front door & windows have been replaced but the downpipe is still there in the same spot and the brick work on the fence is exactly the same!

















This is Annie on the right, which one in the first photo do you think she is?

Annie married Edward Dean Moore, better known as Teddy, in 1919 and they had two sons, Harry Dean 1920-1994 & Thomas Norman 1924-2003, both births registered in the Burnley RD.

Here we have two photos of Edward Moore, one in his cricket gear and another in army uniform, the visible word on his epaulette looks like ‘Rings’, but is most probably ‘Kings’. Interesting to note that the first one was sent as a Christmas card to Annie’s sister Connie, perhaps a little bit of intrigue there?


Finally we have one of Annie taken from a group photograph of her with her friends, I will post about them later.




Teddy Moore died in 1930 at the young age of 44, his death  was registered in the 4qtr at Burnley RD. Annie died on the 17 Dec 1957, aged 72.

Next time it’s Martha Ann Catlow’s turn, better known as Cissie.

25 May 2014

Thomas Watson Catlow 1865 - 1924

Thomas Watson Catlow, son of William & Mary Catlow, was born in 1865 in Trawden, Lancashire. Trawden is a medium sized village in the Trawden Forest parish of Pendle, at the foot of Boulsworth Hill, in Lancashire, England. Agriculture was the main industry of the village and surrounding area, although it did have several mills, most of which have now been demolished for, or converted to, housing.



So far no baptism has been found but his birth was registered in the 2qtr of 1865, in the 1871 census Thomas Watson was aged 5, living with his parents and siblings Richard 14, Martha Ann 11 and baby James 11 mths at 80 Todmorden Rd, Newchurch in Pendle, Lancashire. They were still there in 1881 then in the 2qtr of 1885 Thomas Watson Catlow married Millicent Dobson. Over the next 30 years they lived variously in Bacup, Newchurch in Pendle and finally settling at 39 Moore St, Nelson in a house named ‘Braeside’. Here they are in the 1911 census living at 38 Temple St, Nelson:-


Thomas Watson followed in his father’s footsteps working in the cotton weaving industry, first as a weaver gradually working his way up to a cotton loom overlooker. During this time he & Millicent had ten daughters, Annie, Cissie, Connie, Lizzie, Millie, Nellie & Winnie who all survived to adulthood. Triplets Rose, Lily & Violet were born in August 1900 but tragically Lily & Violet died before their first birthday in the 2qtr of 1901 and Rose soon after in the 4qtr. There were no sons.

braeside Moore St, Nelson as it was in 2009 thanks to Google. I’ve been up and down it but there doesn’t seem to be a #39, it certainly doesn’t look anything like the house in the above photo with Thomas sitting in the garden but I expect that was the garden at the back of the house.

Thomas died at the Swinton Grove Nursing Home, Upper Brook St, Manchester on 20 Sep 1924, aged 59, and probate of his will went to his widow Millicent. Millicent died on the 22 Mar 1931, aged 67, at their Braeside home and the probate of her will went to her son-in-law James Wilkinson, overlooker.

catlow1-probate catlow2-probate

Addendum 2-6-14: My thanks to Julie, a descendant of Thomas & Millicent, who tells me that due to subsidence, ‘Braeside’ was demolished and re-built half a mile away, she doesn’t know when but probably more than 50 years ago, it was originally more or less at the end of Moore St about where the blue arch is in the above photo. The address is now 50-52 Whitwick Rd, Nelson, and this is what it looked like in July 2011. Julie also sent me a copy of Thomas Watson Catlow’s obituary:-



Both Thomas Watson & Millicent were buried in the Nelson Cemetery, plot 4 grave 189, the same grave that daughter Cissie  Hartley was buried in.


Tomorrow we continue with Thomas & Millicent’s eldest daughter Annie Catlow.

The CATLOW Family

It all started with Mary Hartley, the daughter of Bernard & Martha Hartley of Trawden & Colne in Lancashire.


Mary was born at Trawden in 1833 and baptised at Colne on the 7 April that year. About 20 years later she met William Catlow and on the 12 Nov 1859 she married him in the St Mary the Virgin Church in Trawden, neither had been married before.

William was the son of John & Nanny Catlow of Trawden, baptised on 1 Jul 1832 at St Bartholomew’s Church in Colne. In 1841 William was living with his father & siblings at Whitelee Head so it seems his mother had died by then, by 1851 his father had also passed away & William & his brother James were both living with another brother Thomas.

William & Mary had four children and what follows is the story of their second son, Thomas Watson Catlow, and his ten daughters, over 30 photographs of whom I recently found on eBay, all with lots of fascinating information written on the back of them.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting the photos and information on each daughter in separate articles, starting tomorrow with Thomas Watson & his wife Millicent Dobson.

I hope you will enjoy reading the story as much as I have in researching them.


05 May 2014

Thomas Lee 1839 - 1902

Today’s photo came with two letters written in 1902 by Ellen Major in Wigan, Lancashire and sent to her brother Thomas Lee in Penrose, Auckland, New Zealand. Tantalisingly I still don’t know who the people in the photograph are, so let’s start at the beginning.

These two letters plus the photograph were purchased from a stamp dealer in Wellington (NZ) recently, not by me, I was very generously sent them by fellow genealogy enthusiast Deborah Shuker.


Transcription as written:

No 8 Kendal St
Wigan Sep 1st 1902
Dear Brother I have been to Manchester on august monday as it is a great holiday in wigan I went to our moses widow first as the tram stops close by they looked very comfortable her two sons are in grogers shops they told me our John was dead twelve months ago I was not sorry to hear we know the last of him I then went to emmo salisbury John as not worked for twelve months he told emna he had worked long enough for her I told emma I should want him to keep on working her daughter is a dressmaker she gets a deal of money we had a ramble through the park and cemetery emma is going in 71 John is 68 he is fine strong man You might have a letter from them I sent you two newspapers about your premier visiting st helens and Wigan they made a great deal of him I hope you are quite well as it leaves me at present the rogues are on there Journey to H
so no more at present
from your sister
ellen Major lee


Transcription as written:

Sep 11th
Dear Brother I received your letter on the 7th of September I hope this will find you all wright I was bad myself I tried a little wiskey in my tea it did me more good than all the medince  in Wigan and a lot cheaper hoping you will do the same you musent let me see you all out I had my Son Thomas hear from Yorkshire but hesas gone back there hours is a deal lees he looks sush a little old man
So no more at present from your Loving Sister
Mrs Ellen Wagor Lee
I sent you a letter a week before I received yours
Mrs Ellen Wagor No 8
Kendal St off frog Lane
this is Mrs Lee right adress Come from Manchester

The first letter arrived in Auckland on the 13 Oct 1902 and the second one on the 14 Oct 1902, yet written 10 days apart. Included with the second letter is the address mentioned of Mrs Lee in Manchester.


Perhaps the photograph was sent with the address from Manchester as the writing on the above address seems to be in a much neater hand as does the writing on the back of the photograph than the writing in the two letters (were they each written by a different hand?). I can see various differences in some of the letters, the N in New on both the envelope and the address for instance.

If the photo did come from Manchester it would have been from Moses’ widow and therefore would she have written ‘sister’? Possibly. But I get ahead of myself.

I was to later find out that Thomas Lee had died just five days before the two letters arrived in Auckland, so he would never have read them, what a shame, the ‘wiskey’ might have done him the world of good! Perhaps in his letter to Ellen he had mentioned he wasn’t well and that’s why she said ‘you musent let me see you all out’. Here is the photo that came with the letters, it’s a small snapshot and has been hand cut along one edge as if to fit inside a small envelope, the envelopes measure 12cm x 9.5cm, so it may very well have been sent with one of the letters although I would have thought September to be a little bit early for a Christmas card, but I guess in those days they had to post early because of how long it would take to arrive by sea on the other side of the world.


A nice little family but who are they? The word ‘Jim’ written on the back might be a clue, so we’re looking for a man named James in the family, let’s see what we can find.


The address the letters were sent from was – 8 Kendal St, Wigan – and that’s where I found a widowed Ellen Major living in the 1901 census, along with her son George, a nephew & a niece James & Jane Jones - Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 3556; Folio: 138; Page: 22:-



Ellen & George were born in Manchester & James & Jane in Wigan, Lancashire. So we’re onto the right family but the woman in the photo is a lot younger than Ellen who was 65 in 1901. I’ve had the photo dated and the consensus is it was taken soon after the turn of the century and maybe upto about 1920 so if it was sent with one of the letters then it would have been taken about 1901 or 1902. If it was sent later than that then it wouldn’t have been with the letters because Thomas Lee never received them. The woman looks to be in her 30s or maybe 40s with the young girl about 10 perhaps 12.

As far as I can make out Ellen had only two daughters, the eldest child was Eliza born 1854 and the youngest was Mary Ellen born 1872, in between them were six sons:- Thomas 1856, Alfred 1858, Moses 1860, John 1863, George 1866 and Edward 1869. Ellen had previously married Stephen Major in 1852:-


Ellen Lee was the daughter of John Lee and Ellen Dinaley, born on the 8 Jun 1831 & baptised 2 Feb 1834 at Manchester Cathedral, her father was a shopkeeper:-


I’m not 100% sure that her mother was Ellen Dinaley as there were a few John Lee marriages to an Ellen someone, however, this marriage said that he was a shopkeeper of Manchester Town so it seems likely the right marriage:-


John & Ellen Lee had the following children:-

Eliza bap 16 May 1830, father a shopkeeper of Chorlton Row, at home in 1841, nothing more known;
Ellen bn 8 Jun 1831 bap 2 Feb 1834, father a shopkeeper of Manchester, married 11 Jan 1852 to Stephen Major, died 9 Jan 1910 at 8 Kendal St, Wigan, her will probate went to William Major book-keeper, however Ellen doesn't seem to have had a son named William so he may be a b-i-l;
William bap 27 Jul 1831, father a shopkeeper of Chorlton Row, not at home in 1841, nothing more known, strange that Ellen wasn't baptised on the same day as she had been born the month before;
John bap 2 Feb 1834, father a shopkeeper of Manchester, possible black sheep of the family as Ellen wasn't sorry to hear he'd died, baptised the same day as each other;
Elizabeth bap 9 Jul 1837, father a shopkeeper of Manchester, not at home in 1841, nothing more known;
Moses bap 9 Jul 1837, father a shopkeeper of Manchester, married Mary Ann Medley in 1865, had three sons William (possibly died before 1901), Thomas & Edward (noted on Manchester address page), admitted to County Asylum 10 Aug 1885, died there in Jun 1891, was buried 4 Jun at Prestwich;
Thomas bap 13 Mar 1839, father a provision dealer of Manchester; emigrated to NZ, married there 12 Jul 1873 to Frances Tweedale, died 8 Oct 1902, buried next day at St Peter's Churchyard, Onehunga, Auckland, no known children.



In Loving Memory



the beloved wife of


who died July 29th 1899

aged 67 years


of the above named


who died 8th Oct 1902


So far we don’t have a James! But wait, Ellen & Stephen Major’s eldest daughter, Eliza, married a James Jones (a widower), could that be them?


Married 1876, their first two children were – Elizabeth born 1877 and James born 1880 – they would have been too old to be the children in the photo if it was taken around 1901.

Eliza & James did have more children – Hugh 1882, Jane 1884, Moses 1886-88, Mary Ellen 1890 & Leah 1895 - but they don’t seem to have had another son younger than any of the daughters.

So onto the other children of Ellen & Stephen Major, after Eliza they had six sons, none of them named James, and then one more daughter, Mary Ellen. She married Thomas Jolley in 1894 and they had six children, none of them named James. In 1910 Mary Ellen Jolley along with four of mary-ellen-jollyher children emigrated to Fayette, Pennsylvania, USA where she died in 1942. On the passenger list of the ‘Campania’ her next of kin is listed as her brother John Major in Wigan. One of Mary Ellen’s other brothers, Moses, had also emigrated to Fayette about 1887. (There’s one small error in Mary Ellen’s obituary, she was born Mary Ellen Major not Lee.)

Now back to Eliza & James Jones’ children – daughter Elizabeth married William Dawber in 1897 and in the 1911 census they are living at 8 Kendal St, Wigan, the same address the two letters were sent from. Also living in the house were six Dawber children as well as three of Elizabeth’s Jones siblings – James, Jane & Mary Ellen/Nellie, none of them married. Elizabeth’s other two siblings had both married, Hugh to Amy Catherine Scholes and Leah to James Scanlan in America. Leah had emigrated to the US, she’s found travelling with her Uncle Moses Major on the ‘Campania’ in 1910 and her next of kin is listed as ‘Lizzie Dobie (Dawber) of 8 Kendal St, Wigan’.

As far as I can see no-one seems to fit the people in the photograph although I’m sure I’ve missed a clue somewhere along the way! The only possibility I can see is that if the photo was taken about 1890 they could then be James Jones, wife Eliza and daughter Elizabeth who would have been about 14, but if the boy is son James he doesn’t look to be aged 10 so maybe he’s the younger son Hugh who would have been 8. But then why would you be sending a photo that was ten years old that included only two of the six children you had by 1902? I’m afraid it’s beaten me!

One anomaly re the 1901 census - Ellen Major is listed as living with her son George 35, nephew James Jones 21 & niece Jane Jones 18 – but James & Jane Jones were Ellen’s grandchildren. I suspect that son George had filled out the census form & had absent mindedly filled in the relationship to himself instead of the head of the house, Ellen.

One last note: on the baptisms of William & Edward Lee, two of the sons of Ellen’s brother Moses & his wife Mary Ann, was the address of 3 Purslow St, Ashton New Rd, Moses was listed as a carver & gilder.

References: FreeBMD; ancestry.com.au; familysearch.org; NZBDM Online


If anyone knows anything about or is connected to the LEE or MAJOR families (or any of them) please do contact me, I would love to pass the letters & photo onto a family member, even a distant one. Contact by email is preferable but if you are going to leave a comment please don’t forget to include your email address.

Dawn Scotting