Tag Archives: Stories

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.

John Sarginson born about 1802 died 1876

John Sarginson was born about 1802, probably in Melbourne, Yorkshire, although I have not been able to clearly verify who his parents were and this is my current research challenge.

John was 20 when he married Hannah Fletcher on 18 May 1823, in Howden, Yorkshire. At the time of his marriage he was described as a cordwainer. In other records he is described as a boot and shoe maker. He continued this trade throughout his life; it is included on his death certificate as well as in Pigot’s directory of 1828-1829 where he is listed as a boot and shoe maker in Bridge gate. The following extract from Pigot’s gives the following description of Howden:

PigotHowden1828

John and Hannah had six children in 12 years: John (born and died in about 1823), Mary (1825-1902), Elizabeth (born about 1828), Ann (1930-1876), Thomas (1933-1911) and John (1835-1911). They did not all survive until adulthood and sadly John’s wife Hannah died on 28 April 1844 when she was 40. John and Hannah had been married for 20 years.

In the 1841 census John was living in Bridge gate, Howden with his wife Hannah and three of his children: Mary, Ann and Thomas. His occupation is described as a shoemaker. By the 1851 census John is a widower, living alone at 3 Pinfold St, Howden working as a cordwainer journeyman. His birth place is recorded as Melbourne, Yorkshire.

The following extract from a short history of Howden (http://www.howdenshirehistory.co.uk/howden/howden-history.html) gives a sense of how Howden changed during  John’s lifetime:

“The nineteenth century began well for Howden, with the Wells family at nearby Booth ferry developing the river crossing and making it a popular route for stagecoaches. Howden had over 20 inns and almost every trade was represented in the town.

But the growth of Goole took business from Howden, and its population fell. The Hull and Selby railway, opened in 1840, passed Howden a mile to the north although the Hull and Barnsley railway later built their line closer to the town.”

By the 1861 census John was living in Wrights Row, Howden, still a widower and shoemaker journeyman. Again his birth place is recorded as Melbourne, Yorkshire. In the 1871 census John has moved back to Pinfold Street, a widower, shoemaker journeyman born Melbourne, Yorkshire.

Both Pinfold Street and Bridge Gate are key roads in Howden today; however Wrights Row seems to have disappeared.

John died of natural causes on 16 September 16 1876, in Howden, Yorkshire, at the age of 74, and was buried there on 19 September 1876.

Who am I?

Researching my family history has become something of a passion. I have followed many lines in my family tree and found out a lot about my ancestors. It was difficult though for me to choose a subject for this piece on who do I think I am, so I decided to see if I could find at least one ancestor who shared at least one of my key values with me; they are:

  1. Autonomy and independence
  2. Curiosity
  3. Honesty and integrity
  4. Challenging myself to create new things – being a pioneer
  5. Learning and intellectual pursuits

In my last piece for the writing group, I wrote about my Grandfather who, I now realise was considered an educated man compared to, both his family who were labourers, and my Grandmother’s father who was a coachman. Here I am going to focus on Esther Beilby who is a first cousin four times removed and became a handcart pioneer in 1856.

Esther was born in 1830 in Wheldrake which is a village very close to my own birthplace of Escrick. She was baptised in Elvington, probably in the Methodist faith. Her father is described in the 1841 census as an agricultural labourer and she lived with her family in a tied cottage outside the main village. She had three brothers, two of whom were agricultural labourers like their father and the other one was a shoemaker.  By 1851 she had married William Heaton from Horton, near Bradford whose occupation is listed as a wool comber. On their marriage certificate her father is described as a farmer and this is confirmed in the 1851 census where he is said to farm 15 acres. Her first child, Christopher, was born in 1852 and she went on to have five more children, all boys.

At some point early in the 1850s William changed his occupation and followed his Baptist faith. In a book on the Mormon pioneers written by LaRae McManama he is said to have served a four year mission in England and Scotland before the family emigrated to the United States. Esther and William and there, by then, two boys, walked from Iowa City, Iowa to Salt Lake City in Utah; a distance of 1300 miles. They were part of the Second Handcart Company whose Captain was Daniel D McArthur; he was a returning missionary from Scotland. The journey took about four months in 1856. Pushing poorly built handcarts loaded with supplies was arduous work and not everyone completed the journey. Sadly, as they arrived in Utah, Esther’s youngest son, William, died.

Once they were in Utah, Esther’s husband William was called to serve in the Muddy Mission where he was first councillor of the Bishopric. Between 1857 and 1866 Esther went on to have four more sons. They settled in Payson, Utah which is where Esther died in 1875 at the age of 44; she is buried in the cemetery there. William went on to marry Susan Terry in 1876 and became the secretary of the United Order in Orderville in 1877. He died later that year and is buried in Orderville cemetery. The Beilby name lives on as some of Esther’s grandchildren have been given it as their middle name.

However, some mysteries still remain; how did Esther meet William and what motivated them to seek a new life in America? In addition, I am looking forward to investigating more of my ancestors to see if they share my remaining three key values of autonomy and independence, curiosity and honesty and integrity.