Sunday, September 27, 2009

Connecting Beeston with Shipley

Isn't it great that the Internet is linking together, not just people, but events from the past.

John Cooper is amongst my regular correspondents and we often swap snippets of information about his Beeston-related family and Beeston itself. This week he writes to point out a connection between Beeston and a fatal colliery explosion at Shipley in 1857 - and he was able to make that connection when reading a topic on my site.

The connection is based around Mary Cox - John's 3 x Grt-Grandmother - who was born in Beeston in 1814. She married Abraham Starbuck and moved to Cotmanhay, Derbyshire where they raised a family, with Abraham working as a miner in the Shipley collieries nearby. By 1857, their eldest son - also Abraham - was only 12 but was already working in the pit alongside his father. And it was there on 4th March 1857 that father and son, together with Abraham senior's brother John and two others were killed by an explosion while working underground; others died later of the injuries they sustained. Mary was left to try to bring up the family alone - with at least five of her children still under 10 - but, by 1861 it had proved too much. Then, she and her four youngest were in the Shardlow Union Workhouse - although, more happily, she was eventually able to establish herself as a laundress in Bramcote, living there until her death in 1892.

But the tragedy would have been felt personally in Beeston too. Hannah Starbuck, the sister of Abraham and therefore Mary's sister-in-law, had married John Oldham, a Beeston framework knitter. It was one of their sons, Robert Oldham, who became a Beeston local hero following his service in the Crimean War - see my account of his life here.

So - seemingly separate lives each playing their part in events long ago, then felt strongly within the family and local communities, now pieced together by the power of the Internet and the interest of their ancestors. They would probably have been both pleased and surprised !