Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 3

As I said in my post, The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 1, I am writing a separate post for each of the children of John Nimmo, Baker of 5 Crosshall Street, Liverpool, and his wife Susannah. Today, we will have a look at Robert Nimmo.

Robert Nimmo

Robert Nimmo was baptised with his sister Jessie on 16 June 1822 at St Peter’s by P. Bulmer, Curate.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find anything else conclusive about him.

Were he and Jessie twins? Or were they just close in age? Was Robert a weak infant from the start, and die like so many others?

The infant mortality rate in Liverpool at the time of Robert’s birth was particularly high, like in many rapidly industrialising towns, and whilst exact figures are hard to determine, the modelling suggests that the rate could have been as high as three deaths (before the age of one) out of every ten live births.

Or did he catch an illness we now take immunity against for granted, like measles or chicken pox? Or did he die in 1832, when there was a cholera epidemic in Liverpool.

Did Robert live, but perhaps become a mariner, effectively making him invisible in many of the conventional records we rely on as family historians, like the census.

Ah, so many questions, and without a record of burial I cannot really rule out that he did live, marry and have children of his own. He may have even emigrated as a young man, meaning that by the time of the 1841 Census he had already moved away.

So many possibilities, but I think I will rule him as PFOD (Presumptive Finding of Death) and put him in a list of people I occasionally run searches on again to see if any more records have come to light.

Do you know anything about Robert Nimmo?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 2

As I said in my last post, The Nimmo’s of Liverpool: Part 1, I am writing a separate post for each of the children of John Nimmo, Baker of 5 Crosshall Street, Liverpool, and his wife Susannah. Today, we will have a look at Jessie Nimmo. Before we start, I want to share something from the Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project about St Peter’s Liverpool, the church where many Nimmo’s were baptised and married, including Jessie. The website says that:
St Peter’s was the first parish after the reformation; on 29 June 1704, St. Peter’s was consecrated ... Baptisms were held at the church from 1704-1919, marriages from 1804 - 1919 and burials from 1704 - 1853. The last service took place in September of 1919, and the church was demolished in 1922. A brass maltese cross is now embedded in the location of the former church on Church Street.

St Peter's, Liverpool in 1920
Taken from the Mersey Gateway website at http://www.mersey-gateway.org

Jessie Nimmo

Jessie Nimmo, who was baptised with her brother Robert on 16 June 1822 at St Peter’s by P. Bulmer, Curate, married William Henry Brereton, a watch case maker from Fleet Street, on 10 January 1841.

They were married in St Peter’s by J.G. Headlam MA, Curate, after banns. Cornelius Brereton, brother of the groom, and Martha Holt were their witnesses. While the Brereton brothers were able to sign their own names clearly and confidently, Jessie and Martha were not, both putting crosses for their “mark”.

William Henry Brereton was the son on Stewart Brereton, a painter, and his wife Elizabeth O’Connell. Like his wife Jessie, William was baptised in St Peter’s on 2 July 1822 by J. Pulford, Curate. They were both minors when they married, and would probably have known each other their whole lives.

A few months after their marriage, in the 1841 Census, I found William and Jessie living with his mother Elizabeth and brother Cornelius, a painter like his father, on Fleet Street, their ages rounded down to 15. William's occupation was a watchmakers apprentice and there is no acknowledgement that they are in fact married.

Stewart Brereton had four of his children baptised in St Peter’s. With his wife Elizabeth Reed there was Charlotte, who was born on 26 May 1811, and baptised on 19 August 1811, and Jonathan, who was baptised on 19 June 1814. With his second wife Elizabeth O’Connell, a widow whom he had married on 12 February 1816 in Richmond St Anne, there was Cornelius on 25 June 1817 and William Henry.

Despite William and Jessie’s close association with St Peter’s, I can only find evidence of one of their own children being baptised there, Janet Nimmo, who was baptised on 8 March 1858 by Mr Duncan, Curate.

Four of their children were baptised in St Nicholas’:
  • Eliza, who was born on 9 August 1853 and baptised on 4 September 1853 by A.J. Tomlin, Curate (at the time, they were living on Wood Street)
  • Archibald, who was baptised on 19 October 1856 by J.F. Amos, Curate (at the time, they were living on Roscoe Lane)
  • Edward Nimmo, who was born on 24 March 1859 and baptised on 14 August 1859 by Richard Tirley, Curate (at the time, they were living at 18 Olive Street)
  • Henry Luke, who was born on 7 January 1861 and baptised on 14 July 1861 by A.J. Tomlin, Curate (they were still living on Olive Street)
Census records, corroborated by the FreeBMD Index, suggest that William Henry and Jessie also had Susannah Elizabeth (whose birth was registered in the January Quarter in 1849) and Jessie (whose birth was registered in the October Quarter in 1851).
I have tracked down the family in the 1851 Census, living at 76E Wood Street, when they were a household of three – William, Jessie and daughter Susannah Elizabeth. They also had a lodger, Mary Ann Unsworth, a widow aged 68 living with them. I wonder if she was a relative? The word lodger has been written over what was originally there, and I have not been able to decipher it yet.
William and Jessie had been married for almost ten years before Jessie carried a child (Susannah Elizabeth) to term. I wonder how much heartache there was before their family started growing in earnest.
In 1861, living at 18 Olive Street, their family had grown considerably with William (aged 38), Jessie (also 38), Susannah Elizabeth (now 12), Jessie (aged 9), Eliza (aged 7), Archibald (aged 5), Edward Nimmo (aged 2), and Henry Luke, who was only a couple of months old.
In 1871, the family had moved to 122 Vine Street, and included some extra additions to the family. The household was made up of William (aged 48), Jessie (aged 48), Jessie (aged 19 and a dressmaker), Eliza (aged 17), Archibald (aged 15), Edward N (aged 12), Henry Luke (aged 10), as well as Susannah Elizabeth now Mrs Worthington (aged 22) and her two daughters Agnes J (aged 2) and Susannah B (11 months).
In 1881, William (now aged 58 and formerly a watchmaker) and Jessie (aged 58) are living in a much smaller household, with just themselves and their unmarried son Edward Nimmo, now a bookkeeper and aged 22.
In 1891, William and Jessie are living alone in two rooms at 68 Melville Place. His occupation is listed as retired. Seven years later, in 1898, aged 75, William Henry Brereton died. Jessie lived to see the death of Queen Victoria and the coronation of King Edward VII, dying in the October quarter 1906, when she was 84 years old – a good innings back then, especially considering her economic circumstances.
As usual when I look at the documents, I have more questions about the lives of our ancestors. With Jessie, I especially want to find out if she ever learnt to write. She couldn't sign her own name in the marriage register but her husband appeared to be quite literate, did he at least teach her to sign her name? Did she know how to read? Even though she hadn't learnt to read and write as a child, did she encourage her daughters to learn, as well as her sons? What happened in those ten years before she had Susannah Elizabeth? Ah, so many questions.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Nimmo's of Liverpool: Part 1

I said in my last blog post, What’s in a name? Nimmo, that I would tell you about ‘my’ Nimmo’s. Since there is so many, this is just the beginning…

John Nimmo, Baker of 5 Crosshall Street, Liverpool, and his wife Susannah had at least five children: William, Jessie, Robert, Thomas Carter, and Archibald. To keep each blog post manageable in size, I am going to cover each of John and Susannah Nimmo’s children separately.

William Nimmo

It appears from the Census records that William was born in Scotland in about 1818, and whilst I know his father was John Nimmo, it is possible that Susannah was his step-mother.

Unfortunately, I have not found a baptism record, in England or Scotland, for William.

On 13 August 1839, he married Lilley Craven, who was also born in Scotland, the daughter of George Craven, an Iron Founder, at St Peter's after banns.

William was a Baker, like his father, and at the time of his marriage was living in Wood Street, Liverpool.

William and Lilley Nimmo had most of their children baptised at St Nicholas' in Liverpool.
  • John baptised 9 February 1840 by Thomas MacGill, Curate (at the time, they were living on Richmond Row)
  • William Campbell baptised 18 February 1844 by Augustus Campbell, Rector (at the time, they were living on Nash Grove)
  • Archibald baptised 26 April 1846 by J.B. Phillips, Curate (at the time, they were living on Prince Edwin Street)
  • William baptised 5 November 1848 by J.B. Phillips, Curate (at the time, they were living on Mill Road, Everton)
  • Lilley baptised 24 February 1856 by J.F. Amos, Curate (at the time, they were living in Toxteth Park)
  • William Charles baptised 18 October 1857 by J.F. Amos, Curate (they were still living in Toxteth Park)
William and Lilley Nimmo had another daughter, also called Lilley, baptised in St Bartholomew, Vauxhall, by James Ellison on 7 March 1855 when they were living on Cazneau Street.

I have found them in the 1851 Census, living in the sub-registration district of St Martin in Liverpool. Their household was made up of William, still a Baker, Lilley, and their children John (aged 11), Archibald (aged 5), and William (aged 2).

A decade later, in the 1861 Census, they are living in the sub-registration district of Toxteth Park in Liverpool. The household is now made up of William, Lilley, Archibald, and Lilley (aged 6). William is still a Baker, and so is their son Archibald, now aged 15.

In 1871, their household is much diminished, with just William (still a Baker) and Lilley, now aged 53 and 58 respectively, living together on Northumberland Street, Toxteth Park in Liverpool.

I know there is more to William and Lilley’s story, but my line does not come this way, so I haven’t researched it yet! If you know more, and you want to share it, please leave a link to the information or a comment below.

And tune in next time for a blog about Jessie Nimmo, John and Susannah’s daughter.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What's in a name? Nimmo

In 1860, Mark Antony Lower, in his 'Patronymica Britannica, a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom', said simply that Nimmo was “a Scottish surname derived from lands in co. Stirling.” Two years later, Clifford Stanley Sims, researching from the United States, wrote 'The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames: With a Vocabulary of Christian Names' and agreed with Lower, claiming that Nimmo was “a local surname originating from the lands of Nimmo in Stirlingshire”.

In 1946, George Fraser Black wrote 'The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History'. In the introduction to that tome, he suggested that Nimmo probably resulted from a “laziness of utterance” when 'ch' like 'ck' was dropped off

In 2007, Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald Neal Yates published an interesting book called 'When Scotland Was Jewish: DNA Evidence, Archeology, Analysis of Migrations, and Public and Family Records Show Twelfth Century Semitic Roots'. In that book, the authors suggest that Nimmo means “from NĂ®mes”, a town dating back to the Roman Empire in southern France. Interestingly, family legend has suggested that our Nimmo's were Jewish.

The oft-repeated origins of Nimmo found online suggest that it has a Latin origin, meaning “no name” and that it was often given as a last name to children of unknown parentage. I am yet to find a scholarly basis for this, and would welcome someone pointing me in the direction of a reliable source (if one exists).

So, which Nimmo’s do I know about? I think that will have to wait for another post!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Living Relatives - what do we do when they don't want you to research, let alone publish!?

This blog post is going to be very very short. But I want your opinions, your advice and your experiences.

I want to tell a story, a true story, about a man who lived his life between 1926 and 1983. But living family members don’t even want me researching, let alone telling anyone about what I find.

Has anyone else been confronted with family members scared of what their research might uncover? How have you dealt with it?

Please note, that comments on my blog are moderated, so there will be a delay before they appear. However, I will endeavor to publish posts as immediately as they arrive on my phone.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Convicts called Stanyer

A few weeks ago, my mother passed on a request from a friend of hers who lives in the UK. The question was simply, "What information is available about James Wilson Stanyer, a convict from Staffordshire, England to Australia?"

I must say at the outset, I love open ended queries like that ... they raise so many questions, possible answers and lines of enquiry, I get excited just thinking about all of the research I'll need to do to answer the question comprehensively.

So, sticking with just what was online, what did I find out?

Well, only two convicts with the name Stanyer came to Australia, both from Staffordshire, James Stanyer Wilson and Thomas Stanyer. 

Whilst it appears that James Stanyer Wilson is the person we are looking for, I also included the information about Thomas Stanyer because the uncommon surname made it easy for me to trace both men.

My first port of call was www.convictrecords.com.au - a comprehensive starting point for convicts sent to the Australian colonies. Using the information I found on that website, I then searched the convict databases on www.Ancestry.com and on Australian government websites (specifically www.records.nsw.gov.au and www.archives.tas.gov.au).

I really should learn how to footnote on blogger - it would make sharing research much easier - but in the meantime, let me assure you all of the information below can be found in records available through the above websites.

James Stanyer Wilson

According to the ‘Convict Records’ website, James Stanyer Wilson was one of 199 convicts transported to New South Wales or Norfolk Island on the Maitland on 26 August 1843, after he was sentenced to 16 years transportation at the Stafford Assizes.

Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other
Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

James Stanyer Wilson was received on the prison hulk York, at Gosport, on 17 May 1843 after being convicted of burglary, and sentenced to 16 years transportation on 11 March 1843. According to the prison hulk register, he was aged 23, single, a potter, and could both read and write. Only three months later, on 11 August 1843 he left the York to board the Maitland, bound at that stage for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

James Stanyer Wilson sailed from Plymouth, going via the Cape and Sydney before disembarking on Norfolk Island almost six months later on 8 February 1844. Just four months after arriving, on 17 June 1844, he died.

And now I have so many questions - Why did he die? Did he have a family at home? Sixteen years is a long sentence, did he have a prior record? He could read and write, which means he probably wasn't a street child, so where did he go to school? Were his parents still alive when he was transported? Did anyone tell them their son had died? Who were his siblings? Did he leave a sweetheart behind? And the list goes on...

Thomas Stanyer

According to the ‘Convict Records’ website, Thomas Stanyer was one of 238 convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) on the Lord Petre on 3 July 1843, after he was sentenced to seven years transportation at the Stafford Quarter Sessions.

Ancestry.com. Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other
Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

Thomas Stanyer was received on the prison hulk Justitia, at Woolwich, on 5 July 1842 after being convicted for seven years in Stafford on 7 March 1842 for stealing jewellery (larceny). According to the prison hulk register, he was aged 33, single and could read but not write. The gaoler described him as having a “sullen disposition” and with “bad connexions”. Almost 12 months later, he left the Justitia on 21 June 1843, bound for Van Diemen’s Land.

Thomas Stanyer boarded the Lord Petre, which departed for Van Diemen’s Land on 3 July 1843 with 238 male convicts. The ship arrived on 10 October 1843 in Hobart, three months after leaving London.

The Tasmanian archives for Thomas Stanyer during his time as a convict are quite extensive, for example, it is not until his arrival in Tasmania that we find out he was not simply “single”, but a widower with three children left behind in England.

Thomas Stanyer was given his Ticket of Leave on 20 April 1847, two years early. Perhaps this came about because of his contribution to the colony as a brick maker, but we may never know.

I wonder what happened to Thomas Stanyer after he received his Ticket of Leave? Did he stay in Tasmania, marry again, and have more children? Did he move on to another colony? Did he return to his home in England? Did he send for his three children? What buildings did he help build in the new colony? Did the colonial government even use his stills as a brick maker?

Thanks to June for sending such a fun enquiry my way - I hope you enjoy this blog post! Anyone out there who knows more about these two gentlemen, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you and find out what else went on in the lives of these two Stanyer convicts.