In the past I’ve carried out a fictions interview with a deceased ancestor. This week I’ve written an obituary for my 3 times great Grandfather.
Peter Arnold Wardle
Peter was born in 1845 in the village of Rainow in Cheshire to William Wardle a farmer/butcher and his wife Sarah Ann Swindells. He was their first child born just a few months after they married. He would later have 7 siblings. Peter was baptised on the 15th October 1845 in the parochial chapel of Macclessfield, Cheshire.
In 1851 he was living on the family farm in Rainow, Cheshire. He was living with his maternal Grandmother Mary Swindells, his parents and his 3 siblings Mary Ellen, William and Thomas. By 1861 he was still living on the family farm with his Grandma, parents and 3 siblings. They family had grown and now included 4 more children in John, Eve, Sarah and Catherine. By 1871 Peter had moved on and moved to Sutton, Cheshire to live with his paternal Grandfather William Wardle Sn. He was working as a farm servant for his grandfather.
The 1870’s saw much change in the life of Peter. He met a woman named Sarah Ann Goodwin. She was a domestic servant who had 2 children of her own. The connection between the 2 was strong and on the 29th December 1875 the couple were married at Stockport parish church. Peter was a 30 year old bachelor living in Gee Cross, Cheshire and working as a veterinary surgeon. Sarah Ann was a 29 year old spinster also living in Gee Cross.
The couple set up home as a new family of 4. Peter raised Sarah Ann’s illegitimate children as his own. Ann Goodwin was born in Bosley, Cheshire in 1863 and Harriet Goodwin was born on the 9th September 1864 in the Macclesfield workhouse.
The couple’s first child was born on the 16th September 1877 in Gee Cross where the couple still lived. He was called William Wardle after his Grandfather and Great Grandfather. Their second child was Sarah Ann Wardle and she was born in Gee Cross on the 14th August 1879 and was named after he mother and Grandmother and Great Grandmother.
In 1881 the family of 6 was living in Gee Cross where Peter was working as a veterinary surgeon in the highly agricultural area of Cheshire, but by 1891 things had started to go wrong. Peter was now working as an auctioneer and was involved in the trial of Wych verses Higginbottom. He was instructed by the judge trying the case to produce certain documents which he failed to do. As a result Peter was found guilty of contempt of court and was sent to prison until such time as the documents were produced. Peter spent the next 11 months in Knutsford jail. During this time his wife and children lived in Stockport, Cheshire. It was in May 1891 that Peter produced the required documents and was released from jail.
This period of his life took a toll on Peter’s health and towards the end of 1891 he developed tuberculosis. Over the next 6 months his health declined and by June 1892 he was seriously ill.
Peter Arnold Wardle died on the 30th June 1892 at his home on High Street in Hyde, Cheshire with his wife at his side. He was just 46 years old. He was buried at Holy Trinity church Gee Cross on the 4th July 1892.
Peter was survived by his parents William and Sarah Ann, his 7 siblings, his wife Sarah Ann, his son William, his daughter Sarah Ann, his step daughters Ann Goodwin and Harriet Goodwin, his first grandchild Herbert Goodwin and 14 nieces and nephews.
His death took its toll on the family and his father died just 17 days after Peter.
Throughout genealogy we find out all about our ancestors, when and where they were born, who they married and when they died, even where they lived. We can find out so much. But what about the people who meant a lot to them that were not family members? What can we ever know about them?
Well we can find some things about them. The first is family stories passed down through the generations. If you know any write them down. If the tale has been repeated throughout the generations then it is important to the family. It could be silly things kids and their friends did or even the exploits of young adults. It could even be heart warming stories of friendships forged on the battle field.
I will always remember fondly my Uncle Bill who had been my Grandpa’s friend since the 1940’s when they moved in next door to each other. After their wives died within weeks of each other they spent every Thursday gallivanting around Derbyshire and further. I loved going to visit Uncle Bill. He always had marshmallow tea cakes and lemonade for me. He would try and teach me chess (no chance, I’m useless) and let me play with his rubix cube, until his son taught me to peel the stickers of to finish it. I really missed him after he died.
Photos are another way to show friendships. If you have a group photo and you know who they are then you are looking at your ancestors friends. If they continue in photos as the people age then you know it was a lifelong friendship.
Are there work colleges their friends? Many people probably spent more time with those they worked with than their family. Also if they worked in a dangerous industry such as mining you needed those you worked with to be friends as they had your back while underground and if things went wrong a friend is more likely to help you if you’re in trouble.
The best way for genealogists to uncover who our ancestor’s friends is through marriage certificates and photos. Who were the witnesses on the certificate? It they weren’t family members than they were close friends, usually the best man and bridesmaid.
If I look at my grandparent’s marriage certificate then witnesses are their fathers. But I have a photograph and I know the names of the best man and bridesmaid. I know the bridesmaid was my Grandma’s half sister and the best man was my Grandpa’s friend.
So the marriage certificate can give a name as to who the witnesses were, but who were they. Well in truth we may never know but we can as genealogists research them.
On my great grandparents marriage certificate from 1916 the witnesses were my grandma’s sister and a man named Abbott Bentham. I’ve spent hours trying to find anything about this man but I can find nothing. There are people with this name but not of an age which would have made them a friend of my great Grandad. So who he was I have no idea and no one to ask. All I do know is he must have been important to Grandad Walter.
Walter’s Grandad John witness to his marriage was a man named N M Theakston. Now John and his bride Sarah got married in Ripon in the 1840’s. Anyone who knows the name Theakston will think of beer, that was my first thought. Ripon is only 18 miles from Masham where the Theakston’s brewery is. So was my 3 times great Grandad friends with a member of the brewing family. If so do I get free beer! Mind you one and I’m hungover instantly!
Now this all sounds great that you can find out from a marriage certificate about friendships but are they really friends. On my 3 times great Grandad John sister’s marriage certificate she and her husband’s witnesses are William Holmes and Christopher Gibson. Now this is ok there just their friend’s right? Well on the previous marriage certificate they are also the witnesses. Now I know the marriage certificates are from a brother and sister (not marring each other) but wouldn’t there future spouses want their own witnesses. So is it possible the church used their own witnesses, are they the church wardens? I guess we’ll never know.
So friends of our family need to be remembered just as much as our ancestors as they may have had a closer relationship with them than their siblings.
Its 804 years ago since the Magna Carta was signed in England. This was the great charter that was supposed to limit the power of the monarch and it did, sort of.
So what’s the background? Well it’s fair to say King John (27 May 1199 to 19 October 1216) was not the most popular King. Think the tales of Robin Hood and the Prince John character. The nobles of the country really didn’t like him and during his reign they tried to get rid of him. Some wanted to replace him with his nephew Arthur the son of his late older brother Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. John got passed that by having Arthur imprisoned and possibly murdered when he was 16 years old.
Next the barons tried to replace John with his nephew by marriage Prince Louis of France. He was the husband of Blanche of Castile who was the daughter of King Alfonso VIII of Castile and his consort Eleanor of England (John’s sister). Big problem, Louis was the heir to the French throne (he would later become King Louis VIII of France and really the barons didn’t want England to fall into the hands of the French.
In June 1215 the barons entered London with the support of both Prince Louis and the Scottish King Alexander II. The plan was to force John to recognise their rights and implement the Charters of Liberties. This was signed in 1100 by King Henry I. In basic terms this charter meant the King had to recognise all laws regarding the nobles such as the right of succession of sons, the rights of noble women to marry and that the crown could force nobles to stand trial for crimes they committed. It also protected the church in that the crown could not take property from them.
King John basically thought he was above the laws of the land. He was taking what he wanted and doing what he wanted when he wanted. Something had to be done so the barons drew up the Magna Carter (great charter). On the 15th June 1215 the barons met King John at Runnymede on the banks of the river Thames. It was here that the Magna Carta was signed. In a sense it was a peace treaty between the crown and the nobles. Still neither side trusted the other, and several days after it was signed the King was already going against the act and trying to get out of it.
Now the sticking point was clause 61 which said that an elected council of nobles was to be put in place to keep an eye on the king. The king didn’t like this one bit so a matter of days after he signed the charter he started to go against it. He ran to the Pope (metaphorically) for help. He told the Pope he was forced to sign it and planted the idea that if they could do that to a King what would they do to the church? The Pope agreed and said he would excommunicate the barons. This lead to the barons taking up arms and the Barons War ensued. This went on until October 2016 when King John died and rumbled on until 1225.
The new King Henry III was John’s son. He was 9 when he ascended the throne and so the country was ruled by his guardians. Once he was old enough he promised to uphold the Magna Carta.
The Magna Carta still has prominence today. In the UK of the 63 clauses in the original document some are still in place today. These are:
Clause 1: “FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.”
Clause 13: “The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.”
Clause 39: “No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
Clause 40: “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
All taken from: https://www.salisburycathedral.org.uk/magna-carta-what-magna-carta/key-clauses-magna-carta
In the USA the Magna Carta played a large part in the drawing up of the Constitution.
So It may have happened 804 years ago but it is still relevant today, and if you want to see one of the 4 original documents then you can see them at the British Library (2 copies), Salisbury Cathedral or Lincoln Castle. I’ve seen it and whoever wrote it down had the smallest writing I’ve ever seen.
Yesterday marked the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings on the Normandy coast during WW2 named Operation Overlord. I’m sure you’ve read and seen loads about this so I thought I’d look at it from a different view point. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Normandy several times and visit the D Day beaches and location important to the operation. So I thought I’d talk about that.
The last time I went to Normandy was 10 years ago just after the 65th Anniversary. We stayed somewhere near Bayeux. The first time I went was in the early 1990’s when I wasn’t even a teenager yet.
One of my favourite places is Arromanches – Sur – Basin or Arromanches as it’s usually called. It’s on the coast where the landing beach code named Gold is. It’s where one of the Mulberry harbours was built by the British forces. Some of the harbour still exists in the sea and the beach. I have fond memories of my visit in the early 90’s eating ice cream sitting on the sea wall with my new cuddly wolf (called Bro) I’d just got looking at the remains of the harbour. Despite everything that had happened there it was just a great day. The last time I went the anniversary flags were still up but it still felt like a happy seaside town.
I also liked the village of Sainte – Mere – Eglise. It was really pretty with pots full of flowers surrounding the church. It was here that an American 505th parachute regiment landed. Except it went a bit wrong for John Steele. He kind of got stuck on the church steeple and was dangling from it. He played dead for hours but the Germans eventually captured him, he escaped and got back to his regiment and survived the war. If you go there you can see a dummy hanging from a parachute from the church.
Another pretty village is that of Ranville. There is a large commonwealth cemetery there. The cemetery is tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as are all Commonwealth war cemeteries, with each grave having its own plants. This village lead to much hilarity in our family. Now my French is non existent, I was scared of one of the French teacher at school so I did German. My map reading skills are brilliant (well I think so). I saw a sign which I thought said the cemetery and followed it. It was a bit of a surprise when were arrived at the cement works just outside the town. Cimenterie (cement works), cimetière for cemetery, you can see where I went wrong. Mind you it gets worse as not far from Ranvillie is the town of Ouistreham. This is where the ferry between Caen and Portsmouth comes in. We were looking for a car park and I found one, it was the ferry queue!
I also like the town of Bayeux. We went to see the tapestry, which was alright I suppose, or right I found it disappointing and small (I'm bias though as my ancestor Lady Elizabeth Wardle and her ladies made a replica which is in Reading Museum). I did like the Commonwealth cemetery though. It has a great feature of the memorial wall on one side and the graves on the other with a D road going straight through the middle (D roads are like B roads in the UK). There are also German graves here as well. There is a museum next to the cemetery which has 2 tanks outside. 10 years ago there was a bird using the tank’s gun barrel as a nest. I found that so wonderful. Something that caused death being used to raise life.
Now one thing my visits to Normandy showed me is the differences between the cemeteries. Commonwealth ones are peaceful with plants by each grave. The German ones were mostly being looked after the people of the place they were in. The American sites very regimented with no flowers by the graves but just rows and rows of straight lines. In all of them though it was very evident that the fallen were well looked after and honoured. The American cemeteries had active soldiers on duty there to honour there fallen comrades and assist the public. It was at the site of Ponte du Hoc where the Rangers scaled the 100 foot high cliffs under heavy fire that I also had a moment. There was a tour group in with Rangers assisting them. There was one Ranger, he was really tall and looked fantastic in his uniform and knee length brown boots. Me being me asked him if I could have them to which he smiled at me and said “sorry mam”.
So despite what happened on that coast of France it’s still a lovely place which we can visit thanks to the effort and sacrifice of the soldiers who fought there on D Day 75 years ago.
Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my Family History Ramblings on genealogy and history in general. I hope you find it informative and hopefully funny!