Travelling in Hope

This engraving is from Coal & Iron, published in 1860, so this is the world my Welsh ancestors must have known.

I’M RESEARCHING my family tree and in my search for my great-great grandma, Francis George, I’ve just found my way, following a search on the Find My Past website, to the Welsh mining village of Hope on the county boundary of Denbighshire and Flintshire, close to the English border.

All that I’ve got so far is an 1861 census record but I think that there’s a good chance that this is my Francis George, as it’s a fairly unusual name and she was born in the right year in the right place, Hope.

I’ve tracked her down via:

  1. A marriage certificate (my mum’s parents)
  2. A birth certificate (my mum’s mum)
  3. A census record (Wepre, Connahs Quay, 1881)

In the 1881 census Francis is a widow aged 75, living with her daughter and her family (including my grandma then aged one year old) and sadly, going back twenty years to 1861, she was already a widow, then aged 55. My mum’s grandma (Sarah) isn’t listed in the household. She would then have 12 and could have been living with relatives, or equally likely, she might have gone ‘into service’ working as a maid. Or I might have the wrong family, of course.

Hope Colliery

The census lists three families with the surname George in three adjacent houses. The sons, mainly in their teens and 20s, are working as coal miners or sawyers. One 12 year old boy is a ‘colliery lad’ and a teenage girl is listed as a dressmaker. Robert George, aged 29, head of the house next door to Francis, is a wheelwright.

It isn’t just ‘my’ Francis who is a widow; her next door neighbour but one, Mary George,  aged 50, is also listed as a widow. Was there an accident at the colliery that killed both men?

My guess would be that Mary and Francis are sisters-in-law.

From the ages of her sons, John, aged 24, a sawyer and Robert, 15, a coal miner, Francis might have married about 1836. It wasn’t until 1837 that it became a requirement to register all marriages, births and deaths.

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