Who do I think I am?

Well the new series has set me off again, and I thought this time I’d focus on my Dad’s side a bit as I’d been neglecting it trying to hunt down the Crawford Biscuit millions. The Bambers are very much a St Helens family – my dad, his dad and his grandfather we’re all born and brought up in St Helens – and it’s not until you go back to my great-great-grandfather James Bamber that we find a break with that tradition. He was born on 19th Feburary 1849, but not in St Helens – at some point in his early life he made the journey down the East Lancs from Wigan (we’re not talking the Donner Party here!)

The 1851 census finds him living in Parr (St Helens) at 159 Upper Parr St, with his parents William (26) & Jane (25), elder brother John (3) and younger sister Elizabeth (3 months). Also living with them is Elizabeth Gordon (13) who is apparantly Jane’s sister – not sure why she should be living with them at this point but they all give Wigan as their place of birth (even Elizabeth) so they can only just have made the move.

William’s trade is given as a Brick Layer, so we can assume he moved to St Helens for work – possibly at one of the glass works? Not had much luck tracing William or Jane on the 1841 census yet, and since they were both born before Civil Registration we’ll need some idea of where they were living in order to trace them in the Parish Records.

Switching back to James, we know he married Elizabeth Critchley on 28 November 1869 and on the marriage certificate her age is given as 20. Now the only Elizabeth Critchley I could find born in the vicinity in 1849 was born in Liverpool in the September of that year, but died before she reached the age of two – so I think we can rule her out. I decided that Elizabeth probably did what most of the rest of my female ancesters have done and lied about her age on the certificate – the trend seems to be to pretend you’re older than you are.

Anyway widening the search threw up an Elizabeth Critchley in the 1861 census, born and still living in Leigh (just down the East Lancs so a definite possibility) around 1850. Her father was John Critchley which matched up with the wedding certificate – except this John Critchley was a silk weaver and on the certificate he was a glass blower. Something wasn’t quite right, and sure enough on the 1871 census she was still unmarried and living Leigh with her parents – another one crossed off the list.

Critchley seems to be one of these names that the census takers had a lot of trouble with – on one census it will be spelt Chritchley and the next Critchly. So undeterred we widened the search a bit further still and found an Elizabeth Critchley on the 1861 census living in Eccleston (St Helens) and daughter of John Critchley (glass blower). The wedding certificate also gave Eccleston as the place of residence at the time of the marriage so clearly this must be the right Elizabeth, but her age turned out to be just 9 years old. Which would make her only 17 at the time of her wedding rather than 20 – an easy mistake to make I’m sure. It also explained why I couldn’t find her on the 1851 census – she hadn’t been born yet!

So we found her in the end, but what more do we know about Elizabeth apart from the fact she was born in 1852. Well she was living with her parents John (30) and Ann (26) at her grandmother Mary Critchley’s house – 20 Glover St, Eccleston. She had two younger sisters Mary Ann (7) and Margaret (2) and there was another family of seven (the Urch’s?!) lodging with them – I don’t know if it was a big house or just very cramped.

The Critchley’s were all born in and around St Helens, but the mother Ann is from South Shields – at the mouth of the River Tyne near Newcastle. Now how did she end up in St Helens? For everyone question you answer another one just pops up from nowhere!

On the 1851 census Mary is living with her three sons Thomas (22), John (20) and Thomas (18) in Sutton (St Helens) but is still widowed so no sign of hubby. I’d like to bet he was called Thomas though – why else would you have two son’s with the same name?!

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One thought on “Who do I think I am?

  1. Hi there,
    I too am hunting the Crawford’s millions. Apparently our family (Geddes) is related to them. Any names of the Crawford family members would be useful. Here’s hoping

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