Monday, January 9, 2017

My Great-Grandfather, George BUNN, 1857-1919, England

We have a story in our family, written up by several older members of my father's family, including my Grandmother Gillespie (née BUNN), some years ago. It states that George was orphaned when very young and raised by his neighbours, the Franz family. So sad, right?

Wrong. Quite quite wrong. Nothing like a bit of research to clarify the facts, and also to understand how such a misunderstanding happened.

George was the only child born to William BUNN and widow Sarah (née SMITH) France. Ah, see the name of her first husband?  First clue to the Franz family myth.

Sarah was significantly older than William - 11 years. When her first husband, Thomas France, died in a coal mining accident in 1851, along with her father, Thomas SMITH, she had 7 children at home. Their ages ranged from Elizabeth (15) to Esther (less than 1 year). William was also a coal miner, and likely knew Thomas from work, as well as close residence.

William BUNN lived nearby the family, in Darby Hand [Darby End], Parish Dudley, near Netherton. Their church was St Thomas in Dudley, Worcestershire. Below is a copy of their Marriage Register of St Thomas, Dudley/Netherton, with marriage date after Banns, of November 25, 1854:

You can see ages, occupation, residence, and father's names & occupations, as well as the information that Sarah's father is "dead". Neither William nor Sarah wrote their signatures, but made their mark in front of the 'Incumbent' [vicar].

George BUNN, their only living child, was born April 26, 1857, in Windmill End (also in same area in Dudley); this was just over 2 years from marriage. At that time, Sarah would have been 37 years of age, and George made her 8th living child; William, 26 years old. An interesting situation to my mind.  They usually fudged her age on Censuses after they married or switched ages.

From the time of his birth, George would have been raised with the FRANCE children, including an illegitimate nephew only 2 years younger than himself:
   1.  Elizabeth, b. 1839 - had illegitimate son, Thomas France (3rd), in 1859
   2.  Emma, b. Oct 1840
   3.  Thomas, b. 1842   - Thomas (2nd)
   4.  Jeremiah, b. Aug 1844; m. Hannah Sherwin, 8 children [similar names]
   5.  Martha, b. 1847
   6.  Amelia "Emily", b. 1848
   7.  Esther, b. 1851

Most of the mixed BUNN/France family, with our George BUNN and including Sarah's illegitimate grandson, Thomas, can be seen on the 1861 Census for Dudley, below:

Sarah's second daughter, Emma, about 21, is likely working or married, and out of the home. Esther, youngest child, would be 10 - either she is visiting outside the home, or has died. I have not searched details of all the siblings. Yet. 

On the 1871 Census for Dudley, we see William & Sarah, with son George BUNN 13 yrs, plus Elizabeth France's illegitimate son, Thomas France 3rd, 12, listed as Nephew [of William] - actually his step-grandson.  Note that George BUNN would actually be Thomas France's step-Uncle. I have not been able to find Elizabeth France in any other records, but BUNN is a common surname in this region, and Elizabeth is one of the most common forenames. More research needed.

By the 1881 Census, we see William & Sarah alone with no children, and Sarah's eldest son, Thomas 2nd, aged 38, and his family, next door. The other Thomas France 3rd, Elizabeth's son, is shown a little ways away but still in same parish, married with 10 mo. old daughter Alice.

And,  George?  Surprise! Married in 1876, on February 14th, George, aged 18, is married for the first time, to 18 year old Mary Delheridge in Dudley. She is seen to have died in the 4th Quarter (Oct-Dec) of the same year, 1876, likely in childbirth, but that is not known without finding a detailed death registration.  

On the Marriage registration certificate I ordered for George and Sarah WHITEHOUSE, I slid over the statement that George was a Widower before he married our direct ancestor, Sarah Elizabeth WHITEHOUSE in summer of 1879. Since he was 22 at the time, I had somehow held the assumption this was his first marriage. Assumptions. Obviously I ought to have searched for any marriages, and questioned how a 22 year old could be a widower. 

He and Sarah Elizabeth WHITEHOUSE were married August 18, 1879, at St. Thomas Church n Dudley Parish. Their first child, Harriett BUNN was born October 31, 1879 in Netherton, by Dudley. (Harriett was my Grandma GILLESPIE.) 

George & Sarah Elizabeth BUNN moved up to Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, several years after George's step-nephew, Thomas 3rd France had moved his family there. Shipbuilding was strong in Barrow, and many labourers were needed. Both Thomas and George were experienced after working in the foundries in Dudley, so they would have had little difficulty finding jobs. 

Here George and family are on the 1881 Census for Barrow F, living at 5 Cook Street: 

In 1891 on the Census for Dudley, George's parents, William & Sarah, are living by themselves. Sarah's children by her first husband were living nearby, however. 

George BUNN and his wife living on 8 Byron Street in Barrow in Furness [Barrow F] in the next Census, 1901, and next door at 10 Byron Street in 1911. Their eldest daughter, Harriett, married in 1899 to William John "Jack" GILLESPIE, whose family (3 generations) had sailed from Northern Ireland to work in Barrow F as well. 

Children all born in Barrow F: 
  1.  Harriett, b. 31 Oct 1879 [my line], d. 1962 BC Canada; m. Jack
          GILLESPIE, 6 ch.
  2.  Emily "Emmy", b. 7 Mar 1882, d.15 Mar 1951 Barrow F; no
          marr, no ch
  3.  George Wm, b. 8 Feb 1884, d. 29 Mar 1936 BC Canada; m. Louisa
           Jones; 6 ch
  4.  Thomas, b. 12 Dec 1886, d. 8 Oct 1917 Belgium WW1; no marr.
           no ch
  5.  Sarah "Cissy", b. 10 Feb 1889, d. 20 Jul 1965 Barrow F; m. Wm.
           Caulfield, 2 ch
  6.  Beatrice, b. 1891, died first year.
  7.  Ethel May, b. 1 Jun 1893, d. 17 Jan 1981 Washington USA; m. Jm.
           Bullas, ch
  8.  Esther Matilda, b. 10 Aug 1895, d. 16 Dec 1946 Barrow F; m. Herbert
           Scobie, ch
  9.  Benjamin "Ben", b. 10 Dec 1898, d. 1 Nov 1982 BC Canada; m. Alice
           Bradshaw, no ch.
On June 2nd, 1911, George BUNN sailed on the Empress of Britain  from Liverpool to Québec, with his son-in-law, Jack GILLESPIE. Jack was following his younger brother Jim, who had emigrated in 1907, settling in Ontario. George's eldest son, George Wm. Bunn, had previously emigrated and landed in Vancouver BC in 1910. England's burst of economic growth was slowing down and work was hard to come by. There was quite a wave of English immigrants to Canada during this period 1900-1920. Jack GILLESPIE did not bring his family over at the same time... that's another story!

However, George became sick in Canada, and he returned to England shortly afterward, in the fall of 1911. Several other Bunn children emigrated from England to Canada, settling on the west coast.

And in December of 1919, George died in Barrow in Furness, aged 62 years.

I have no photographs of George BUNN, but perhaps a cousin somewhere has one to share-? And I also don't know what his hobbies were, whether he like to read, sketch, play cribbage, fish, go for long walks, did he like dogs, telling stories-? Some details do not come down to us, after several generations.

In summary: He was never orphaned and adopted by a FRANZ family. On the contrary, both his BUNN parents were alive and well into the 20th Century, living in Dudley region of Worcestershire, England. His father, William BUNN, may be the same-named person who died in the 3rd Quarter (July-Sep) of 1902; his mother, Sarah, in 1918. 

But it was an interesting story, wasn't it?  And all those FRANCE family members - they're also all step-cousins of George BUNN's descendants. I've added all of them to the Lost Cousins website and hopefully one will contact me at some point in time.

The direct line of George BUNN has these first generation surnames:
 BUNN, BELL, OLIVER, OSBORNE, PLUMRIDGE  (((waving to all my cousins))) 

If you know anything more about any of the above BUNN individuals, I would be so pleased for more details. And if you wish more information on them, I'm also happy to share. Contact me at my address at the bottom of the page calewis at telus dot net or, in the Comments section.

My Blogger account seems not to allow me to "reply" to your comments. Do know that I value your comments immensely.  You make my day! Thanks for stopping by to read my personal genealogy posts.

Cousins of all sorts are very welcome to request copies of certificates etc. that I have in my possession.

I might request a cup of coffee as payment, however!

1 comment:

Anna Matthews said...

Very interesting to see how you unraveled the family story, Celia. I love seeing all the documentation, too. I have some lines in England and I really need to learn more about ordering certificates, etc. but for now I'm researching in Quebec to ready for a family reunion in August.


Family, friends, and others - I hope you enjoy these pages about our ancestors and their lives. Genealogy has become somewhat of an obsession, more than a hobby, and definitely a wonderful mystery to dig into and discover. Enjoy my writing, and contact me at celia.winky at gmail dot com if you have anything to add to the stories. ... Celia Lewis