Tag Archives: Sarginson

Thomas Sarginson (1835-1869) and his wife Mary Beaty (1840-1892)

Whilst I was researching Thomas and his family, I found a record for Mary and their two sons that showed they were living with her father in the 1871 census in Longtown, Cumberland. Both Mary and her father Robert (born about 1814) described themselves as widowed.  My next step was to find out more about Thomas. I found a death record for him and a number of newspaper articles which described how he had committed suicide in Longtown in 1869. 

Thomas had been baptised on 9 October 1835 in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Appleby, Westmorland. His parents were Thomas Sarginson (born about 1808) and his first wife Mary Richardson (1805-1838). The register records his father’s occupation as a veterinary surgeon. After his mother died Thomas’ father married Ann Rockliff (1808-1871) with whom he had another son William (born 1843). The following descendant chart shows the family relationships:

Descendant Chart for Thomas Sarginson

By 1851 the family had moved to Newcastle upon Tyne in Northumberland when Thomas senior gave his occupation as a chemist. They had moved back to Westmorland by the 1861 census and by that time Thomas junior had met and married Mary Beaty. The household census entry reads as follows:

AddressNameRelation to Head of FamilyConditionAge MAge FRank, Profession or OccupationWhere born
ColbyThomas SarginsonHeadMarried52 Veterinary practitionerNewbiggin Cumberland
 Ann SarginsonWifeMarried 53 Penrith Cumberland
 William SarginsonSonUnmarried 18ScholarAppleby Westmorland
 Thomas SarginsonLodgerMarried25 Student Royal Veterinary College EdinburghAppleby Westmorland
 Mary SarginsonWifeMarried 24 Scotland
1861 Census for Thomas and family

Interestingly, Thomas the younger’s entry listed him as a lodger, not a son, and it was annotated with the words “practising as a veterinary surgeon”. Thomas and Mary went on to have two sons:

  • William Robert Sarginson (1861-1931) – his birth was registered in Longtown but he did not consistently use this information on later census records.
  • Frederick Arthur Sarginson (1864-1877) – his birth was registered in Longtown and his death on 26 September 1877 in Barrow in Furness, Lancashire.  His mother Mary registered his death and their address was given as 29 Napier Street, Barrow.

Thomas committed suicide, at the age of 34, on 11 October 1869 in Longtown, Cumberland. He had obtained prussic acid from a local surgeon, Dr Francis Graham, citing his need for it professionally as a veterinary surgeon (Carlisle Patriot, 15 October 1869, page 4). An inquest was held into his death presided over by the coroner, Mr Carrick, and a jury was appointed (Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Literary Chronicle, 19 October 1869, page 4).

Although he was said to have a good business, initially practicing in Westmorland and then Penrith, he was reported to have taken to drinking and been unkind to his wife Mary. In her evidence to the inquest Mary said that they had been married for nine years and had two children. She had left him four years ago and retuned to Longtown to live with her father. Three months ago, Thomas had persuaded Mary to return to him but a week before his death had left saying that he was going to collect money but he didn’t return. She had been left without money for food and all the furniture in the house, except the children’s bed, had been removed by her husband’s aunt and uncle. The only food they had had been provided by the neighbours. Mary had written to Thomas advising him of their plight but he hadn’t come home so she retuned to her father Robert Beaty’s house in Longtown (Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Literary Chronicle, 19 October 1869, page 4). Robert was the gateman at Longtown railway station. Mary described her husband as:

Deceased looked very wild when he got drink, and was very passionate. He was much reduced in circumstances. She had always done her duty as a wife to him, the quarrels taking place through his drinking.” (Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Literary Chronicle, 19 October 1869, page 4).

When Thomas returned to the home he shared with Mary and his children on 11 October he found that it was deserted; he then made his way to Longtown where he bought the prussic acid, half an ounce in a small phial. Dr Graham described Thomas as being sober and cleanly dressed (Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Literary Chronicle, 19 October 1869, page 4).

After buying the acid Thomas went to his father-in-law’s house to see his wife. He was refused access, took the acid and fell down. What happened next was described as follows:

He was carried at once to the waiting room of the station and medical assistance brought, but it was of no avail, he died about an hour later, apparently without pain.”  (Carlisle Patriot, 15 October 1869, page 4)

The jury found that the “deceased had committed suicide by poison while insane”.

OS Cumberland X 1868 – extract showing Longtown and the railway station

 There is a postscript to this story as regards Dr Francis Graham. He was fined 5s at the Longtown Petty Sessions for “unlawfully selling a quantity of prussic acid without labelling the bottle with the word poison” (Christchurch Times, 30 October 1869, page 7).

After the death of Thomas, Mary continued to live in Longtown with her father and sons until at least the 1871 census:

AddressNameRelation to Head of FamilyConditionAge MAge FRank, Profession or OccupationWhere born
Longtown CottageRobert BattieHeadWidower56 GatekeeperLongtown, Cumberland
 Mary SargensonDaughterWidow 30DomesticLongtown, Cumberland
 William SargensonSon 9 ScholarLongtown, Cumberland
 Frederick SargensonSon 6 ScholarLongtown, Cumberland
1871 Census for Robert, Mary and her sons

The family left Longtown sometime before Robert Beaty’s death on 9 September 1892. His death certificate records that he died at 43 Napier Street, Hindpool, Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire. Robert was described as a general labourer and his daughter Mary was the informant for his death. Mary was also the informant for her son Frederick’s death on 28 September 1877 when they were living at 29 Napier Street.

Thomas and Mary’s oldest son, William (1861-1931) was boarding with the Abbott family at 29 Napier Street, in the 1881 census. He was described as a fitter born in Appleby, Westmorland. The head of the household was Victor Abbott, a railway guard.

Mary continued to live in Barrow-in-Furness and in 1891 she was living in James Street with her occupation given as a monthly nurse. Mary died on 12 March 1892 at 18 James Street. Her son William was the informant when her death was registered. By then he was living at 16 Oxford Street, Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham.   William met and married Eliza Dunning (1865-1932) and together they had six children. In the 1911 census he was described as an engine fitter.

I am interested in knowing more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ and sourced from the NLS maps site https://maps.nls.uk/.


Appleby, Westmorland. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/WES/Appleby : accessed March 2021.

Baptisms, marriages and burials. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed March 2021.

Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/LAN/BarrowinFurness : accessed March 2021.

Census records. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed March 2021.

Longtown, Cumberland. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/CUL/Longtown : accessed March 2021.

Newspapers. Collection: British Newspaper Collection. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed March 2021.

OS Maps. https://maps.nls.uk/ : March 2021.

Tom Sarginson 1870-1951

While I was working on the records for the Sarginson Cumberland/Westmorland tree I came across Tom. He gave his occupation as a journalist in the 1911 census. Tom was one of four children born on 4 June 1870 in Penrith, Cumberland to Timothy Sarginson (1821-1895) and Mary Innes (1832-died after 1911). Timothy was a tailor and with Mary they had three other children:

  • William Simpson Sarginson (1860-1921) was also a tailor and married Jeanne Tirefort (died 1931) in France; he died in Belgium.
  • Elizabeth Sarginson (1863-1951), a dressmaker before her marriage to Edward Stephenson (1873-1943). She remained in Penrith until her death.
  • James Sarginson (1873-1945) worked as a joiner, married Elizabeth Ann Hill (1880-1960) and also lived in Penrith until his death.

Tom married Isabel Wood (1869-1926) in Penrith in 1889 and, at the time of the 1911 census, they recorded that they had had no children. Tom was still working as a newspaper editor for the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald in 1939 and living in Penrith. He was known by his pen name “SilverPpen” and edited the paper for 38 years from 1913 until his death in 1951. He wrote his “notes and comments” column, covering the news of the week for over 50 years and was known for his wit and humour.

Tom was considered a cultured journalist and was one of five from the provincial press invited to cover the coronation of King George VI in 1937. His descriptive piece on the ceremony in Westminster Abbey was considered to be one of the finest pieces of writing about this historic occasion. The Penrith Observer headlined his death on 20 April 1951 as “Silverpen passes” and noted that “journalism in the North of England” was poorer for his passing. Certainly, quite a different career path to those of his siblings and it seems that his legacy was the opportunities he gave to others to work in the newspaper industry, as remembered in a piece in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, written 50 years after his death.

Whilst I make every effort to ensure that the information, I include in my blog posts are accurate mistakes can creep in. Do please contact me if you have any further information.

Note: the Penrith map comes from:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Penrith, in Eden and Cumberland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time. URL: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/place/808   Date accessed: 27th September 2019

Lottie’s afternoon tea

My Granny Sarginson (born Barrett in 1908) was called Lottie by her family and friends. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I realised her name was Charlotte. I think it was on the day she looked at my hands and said that they were well kept and that you could tell I hadn’t done any real work. Hers were worn and cracked from years of looking after her ever growing family. My father was one of eight children.

There were a number of things I now realise that I learnt from my Gran. One of the most important of which was that meals should be eaten at the table. Every Sunday afternoon she would put on a tea for members of the family. Sandwiches of different kinds: ham, cheese and egg were the most popular. There would often be other savouries like sausage rolls and pork pies. A cake she had made herself usually took centre stage, together with jelly, tinned fruit and evaporated milk. I remain fond of tinned peaches to this day, especially now as it seems rather tricky to buy fresh peaches that aren’t hard or go rotten before you’ve had time to eat them!

Members of the family who didn’t live in the same village as my grandparents took it in turns to go to their house for afternoon tea. We were often there with my aunt, uncle and cousins from York. We would all sit up at the table to eat our food and drink our tea. If we were really lucky we would be offered fizzy pop: dandelion and burdock and cherryade were particular favourites. They were delivered to my Grandparents door in glass bottles with a refundable deposit

After we had eaten our tea we usually went to see which cousins were around to play with and spent time with them. That allowed Gran time to tidy up and for the grownups to have their own conversation without us children.

From time to time Gran would surprise us with something we hadn’t eaten before. The day we all shared a pineapple was particularly memorable. It took pride of place on the table when we arrived for afternoon tea. Both my father and grandfather were great gardeners; however this fruit wasn’t something they had experienced before. The pineapple was a major topic of conversation all the way through tea until eventually my Gran took it into the kitchen to cut it up. She removed the outer skin and sliced it or us to eat. What she didn’t do was remove the core and to this day I won’t eat that part of a pineapple even though I have been reassured many times that it is edible!

Sadly my Gran died in 1983 and looking back on her life now I can see that there are a number of things I learnt from her: the importance of sitting at the table to enjoy a meal, that there are many different ways to look at work and to be adventurous, particularly with food. She was a practical woman, born to a tenant farmer, her occupation described in the 1939 register as unpaid domestic duties and the mother of a large family with many Grandchildren and now Great Grandchildren; a legacy to be proud of.