Sunday, 17 March 2013

On the street where you live

Census records allow us to see our ancestors as family groups rather than simply as collections of individuals. We can track their movement in space and time.

In 1851, Thomas and Susannah DAVIES (our 4xgreat grandparents) were living with seven children in a village of agricultural labourers. They were approximately 30 minutes walk inland from the seaside town of Rhyl in North Wales along what is now known as the A252 motorway. They have lived there for at least 10 years.

The death of Thomas in 1856 after two more children had been born must have caused great disruption for the family. By 1861, Susannah had shifted them away from the farms toward the business centre of Rhyl and found employment Keeping Carts.

They moved in at 86 Vale Road near the intersection with Victoria Road. By this time, two of the older boys had moved out, while two more were employed as drivers in Susannah's business.

In 1871, Susannah was still resident at 86 Vale Road. She is listed as Head of the Household but her occupation is now Housekeeper in the home shared with eldest son John, now 35 but still unmarried, her youngest daughter Elizabeth a domestic servant aged 18 and Thomas a two-year-old listed as "son" in the relationship column.

The other driver, Joseph, has established his own young family at 84 Vale Road. Two daughters, Jane and Sarah, have also married and are living at numbers 64 and 65 Vale Road respectively. Another sister, Martha aged 20, is recorded as being a domestic servant living in at John Macaulay's Establishment for Young Gentleman at 18 Vale Street. The baby of the family, Edward now 16, is unaccounted for in this census.

By 1881, John has moved out of 86 Vale Road but Susannah stayed to be joined by Sarah and her children. Also living there was another granddaughter, Sarah Davies, the daughter of Joseph. He had moved the rest of his growing family (but not far) to 123 Vale Road.

Our 3xgreat grandparents, John and Jane DAVIES, have left 64 Vale Road far behind and were living in Salford. Elizabeth had also left Rhyl and is living with young Thomas, now clearly acknowledged as her son, and his sister Martha Anne. The whereabouts of their Aunt Martha and Uncle Edward are unknown.

After the death of Susannah in 1887, life continued much as before for the Davies. It appears that they gave up number 86 and Sarah and her family moved into 80 Vale Road. In the 1891 Census, Joseph listed his occupation as Cab/Carriage Proprietor (not an employee) still operating from 123 Vale Road.

By this time, our 3xgreat grandfather John has made the greatest move of all and is settled in Rockhampton (central Queensland) with our 2xgreat grandmother Jane and her siblings. His wife (also Jane) had been buried in Salford before they left.

It must have taken enormous strength of mind (or unbearable desperation) to move young children thousands of kilometres across the world away from an extended family that had lived within a literal stone's throw of one another for half a century.

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