William Hopkins, my great great grandfather

This is an occasional post about my family history, originally posted in my genealogy blog.

Here is a photo of William Hopkins, one of my maternal great great grandfathers.

William Hopkins

William Hopkins 1832-1891

 

He was born on 5 September 1832 in Shelton, Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire and baptised on 06 Jan 1833 in Bethesda Chapel, Albion Street, Shelton (now part of Hanley).  Bethesda Chapel, according to www.thepotteries.org “became the central place of worship of the Methodist New Connexion. The chapel was rebuilt in 1820 to seat 3,000 people and became known as “The Cathedral of the Potteries,” a name it has kept to this day.”   William’s brothers, however, seem to have been baptised in the local parish churches (Hanley and Stoke) so obviously his parents, Charles and Mary (nee Astbury), were not regular worshippers there.

William must have had a sad childhood.  His father, Charles, died suddenly in 1840 aged only about 30.  So suddenly that the Coroner described it as a Visitation of God.  He was a potter’s ovenman, which meant that he loaded the pottery kilns with the pottery for firing (in large containers called saggars) and emptied them again afterwards.  William had three brothers that we know about, including one who died before he was born; his brother George appears in the 1841 census but died in 1845 aged 10.  His remaining brother, Ephraim, was with him in the 1851 census – more about him in a subsequent post.

In the 1841 census, William is aged 9 living in Back Street, Shelton with his mother and brothers George and Ephraim, his father’s brothers Isaac Hopkins recorded as aged 20, an ironstone miner and Thomas Hopkins aged 20, a pottery slipmaker, plus two lodgers, Henry Halfpenny and Samuel Holland both recorded as aged 20.  In 1843 his mother married the lodger Henry Halfpenny and they had a daughter, Mary Ann, but Mary herself died in 1847.

In 1851 we find William, aged 19, now a potter’s ovenman himself, and his brother Ephraim, aged 13, who is a potter’s mouldrunner.  According to the potteries website, this consisted of running in all weathers from one building to another and placing the newly made ware in rows near a stove for hardening.   They are lodging with their aunt, (their mother’s sister Jane Tinsley), her husband William and their 4 children, Thomas, William, Joseph and Harriet, in Tinker’s Clough, an area of Shelton near Etruria, where the Wedgwood factory was located at that time.

On 28 December 1857, William married Hannah Barlow in St Mark’s, Shelton.  Their witnesses were Josiah Barlow, Hannah’s sister, and Jane Matthews, William’s paternal aunt.  Hannah also came from a family of potters, though she grew up in Fenton, one of the other six towns of the Potteries.  She herself was listed as a potter’s stilt maker in the 1861 census (stilt makers die pressed tall supports for ware after dipping).  In 1858, on the birth of their first son Charles, they were still living in Hanley but by the time their daughter Martha Ellen was born in 1860, they had moved to Fenton.  In the 1861 census they were living at 5 High Street, Fenton (north side).  William was listed as aged 27 and a potter’s biscuit oven placer (biscuit is pottery on its first firing, before glazing).

If you want to know more about the process of firing and the potteries in general, this page is very informative.

However, William and Hannah did not remain in the pottery industry.  In the next decade, their lives changed drastically….

To be continued.

My recent #trainticketart

The Diverse Manners exhibition is going well – there’s still nearly a week to see it if you haven’t already visited it!   Here is a photo of all the altered train tickets hanging there:

train ticket art hanging in rows on wall in Riverfront Art Centre

I arranged them in rows of dark and light or according to colour or subject matter.

 

Interestingly, when viewed from a distance they look almost like rows of patchwork squares stitched together!    The first time I took a photo I didn’t realise how dark it was and that the camera was still focussing and hadn’t yet taken the picture – it came out all blurry but still quite effective.

blurry photo of train ticket art in exhibition

This is surprisingly effective.

 

We had a ‘Meet the Artists’ afternoon a week ago and lots of people wanted to chat with me about the altered tickets and seemed fascinated by the way I had reused them (and by the sheer amount I had collected, I think!).  It was lovely getting feedback because it often feels quite isolated working at home on them day after day.

I am carrying on with the project on Instagram and have joined in a challenge called the 100 day project which involves posting one a day on Instagram for 100 days.  You can join in if you like, it can be anything – the whole thing is being coordinated via this website and if you search on Instagram for #the100dayproject you can see what everyone else is doing.

Here are my latest few tickets:

altered train ticket printed using a stamp on a gelli plate.

Printed using a stamp on a gelli plate.

train ticket art with abstract feather design

Abstract feather design

Another gelli plate print with added white gel pen markings to make lacy effect

Another gelli plate print with added white gel pen markings to make lacy effect

bright red and black abstract design on train ticket art

As you can see, I’ve been playing a lot with my gelli plate and this one is red acrylic paint followed by a layer of India ink.

Art Plus Family History

Before the new year, I participated in a couple of online courses about blogging, and one thing that I seemed to take away from both of them was the fact that it’s okay to incorporate lots of things about your life into your blog, and that you don’t have to stick to one topic.  Then today, just as I was feeling guilty about not posting here for a couple of weeks,  I read Abby Glassenberg’s post on her blog entitled ‘How to keep blogging when you don’t really feel like it’.  One of the things she said was

“Or maybe you were only going to blog about polymer clay, but you’re also passionate about science fiction and find yourself wishing you could write about that as well? Just do it.”

Basically she said, go ahead, write about whatever you want to….

You may know that as well as art, I am keen on family history and have a genealogy blog as well as this one.  Recently I’ve been struggling to keep up both of them, so I’ve decided to incorporate the family history into this blog – after all, it’s about my life and background as well as my art.  It’s all story and narrative and I hope you find it interesting.  My aim is to build up a picture of some of my ancestors from what I know about them in the records so I’ll start by reworking some of my earlier genealogy blog posts  so that it makes sense in the context of this blog.

Meanwhile, in art news … I’ve been busy stitching together rows of train tickets and it’s looking pretty good!  We are hanging the exhibition on Wednesday – lots of shinning up ladders and getting tangled up in fishing wire I expect… The exhibition itself starts on 8 April when the Riverfront arts centre is opening after the Easter weekend and we are holding a Meet the Artists event from 2pm to 4pm on the following Saturday 11 April – if you are in the area, you are welcome to come along.  If you leave a comment that you’re hoping to come, I’ll look out for you.

Here are some of the rows of train tickets all stitched together, a sneak preview!

Here are some of the rows of train tickets all stitched together, a sneak preview!

Here is the poster about the exhibition; more information is on the Diverse Manners Facebook page.  Hope to see some of you there!

poster showing Beneath the Surface Exhibition, the Riverfront Arts Centre, Newport starting on 8 April.

Beneath the Surface Exhibition, the Riverfront Arts Centre, Newport starting on 8 April.

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