Family history 2 – Charles Hopkins 1810 to 1840

Before I continue with my brief biography of William Hopkins, my 2x great grandfather, this is a short note about Charles, his father. I mentioned briefly that Charles died suddenly aged 30 (in his burial record it says aged 28) and that the coroner recorded it as a ‘Visitation of God’ which is the wording they used when they didn’t actually know what caused such sudden demise. But when I wrote the post I didn’t know any other details of his death, apart from the fact that he had died in Newcastle under Lyme, a few miles from his home in Shelton, Stoke on Trent.

Until the British Newspaper Archive digitized the relevant issue of the local newspaper for 1840.

SUDDEN DEATH AT NEWCASTLE – on Thursday morning, as Charles Hopkins, an out-door pauper of the Spittals Workhouse, was assisting to draw a hand-cart, containing bread, from that place to Stoke, when passing along the Back Marsh, on their way through Newcastle to the latter place, he said – “Let’s rest a bit, for the cart goes heavy; the wheels want greasing;” which words he had scarcely uttered when he immediately fell down senseless. A medical gentleman was promptly on the spot, when it was found that life was quite extinct. The deceased, up to the time of his using the above words, had not complained of indisposition. He was about thirty-five years of age, and resided at Tinker’s Clough, in the township of Shelton, and was by trade a slip-maker. He has left a wife and four children to lament his untimely death. An inquest was held on the body on the same day, before F. Stanier, Esq., coroner, and a verdict returned “died by the visitation of God.”  (Staffordshire Advertiser, Saturday October 10th, 1840.)

So that answered a few of my questions, and posed a few more. The Spittals Workhouse was the workhouse for Stoke on Trent but was very close to the border with Newcastle under Lyme (when I was a teenager I used to walk past there – now a hospital – on my way to the shops in Newcastle from our home in Penkhull). So that explains why he died in Newcastle.  An outdoor pauper apparently was one who received support but didn’t live in the workhouse.  I knew he was a slipmaker in the pottery industry and that it was a pretty unhealthy job but I suppose he must have been out of work at the time since he needed relief from the workhouse.  Apparently around 1840 was a period of high unemployment in the Potteries and lots of people travelled to America then in the hope of building a better life for themselves, and it was around then that the Chartist movement was so strong.

So William’s poor mother Mary was left to bring up 3 (or four, if the newspaper was correct and there was another child we haven’t found yet) on her own.

Gelatine plate printing

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but I treated myself to one of those permanent gelatine plates at Christmas.   I have done gelatine plate printing before, but my sessions were few and far between because of the need to plan it carefully: to buy the gelatine, wait for it to set and then make sure I did lots of printing before it went mouldy.  Now I have finally bought one, I love it!  I have it out all the time so I can take a few prints whenever I feel the need to get messy, make backgrounds on the train tickets etc and I love the fact that there are so many tutorials and blog posts about it online.

You’ve probably seen evidence of its use cropping up on various photos of train ticket art, but here are a few of the prints I’ve made from it.  They’re not very polished yet but I’m still playing!    Since buying the plate, it has been interesting to see how it has affected my work and especially the train ticket art because I have been making that regularly.  I have noticed that I am most inspired by light and shade and the results of light such as reflections and shadows.  Also  that most of my best art is almost accidental: I make the background on the plate and then observe what emerges once the print has dried and draw it out by highlighting it or adding outlines or details.  Monoprinting, especially printing small things as part of a larger print surface is quite unpredictable and this lends itself well to this style.  I pick a colour scheme or colours which I feel most drawn to at the time I’m playing with it (it feels like playing when I don’t plan anything!) and then just go with the flow.  And using acrylics means that I have to work quickly, there’s no time to stop and ponder or the paint is dry before I know it!  It’s unpredictability that excites me about art, the excitement of not knowing what will emerge or what that paper will look like when I peel it off the plate.

red printed paper with circles

I used a cardboard tube to make shapes in this one

I scanned this into Photoshop and changed the colour (quite drastically!) and uploaded the design to my Redbubble shop – you can see on products here.

another gelli print, orange this time

Can’t remember exactly what I did for this orange one!

gelli print with stamped bunting and beach hut shapes

Bunting and beach huts

blue gelli plate print

I used a home made comb (cut from a credit card) to make these markings

yellow and red gelli plate print

another monoprint

The yellow and red print above came about in an unusual way.  I hit on the idea of rolling gesso on to the plate and then printing it on to the train tickets instead of painting it on.  It works well, allows more of the original ticket to show through and is a lot quicker.  But what I also discovered is that some of the words printed on the ticket were being transferred to the plate – this print is actually on paper and it has picked up the shape of the train tickets and some of what is printed on them!  I think it makes a very interesting print.

black and red printed train ticket

One of the train tickets which have been gesso printed – the red is acrylic paint and the black is Indian ink.

blue and orange printed train ticket with distressed effect

Another train ticket – I do like this colour combination!

Train ticket art progress

Here are a few of my most recent #trainticketart pieces.

train ticket art with Red flower with starry centre

Red flower with starry centre

 

In this photo there are several tickets which I placed on my gelli plate to keep them from moving.  I then used a hand made bunting stamp on them.  I will add details to each one to finish it off.

home made bunting stamp across several train tickets

Lots of tickets all lined up having background stamps added.

 

Background gelli print with red flower stamp on top.

Background gelli print with red flower stamp on top.

 

Yellow bird painted on to altered train ticket

Yellow bird

 

inspiration for this is a medieval tile with picture of deer

I drew this from rough sketch of a medieval tile in the British Museum (it’s supposed to be a deer!)

 

purple and red watercolors painted in shape of leaves

Colourful watercolour doodling!

 

watercolour painting of wisteria branch on train ticket

This is a painting of a branch of wisteria

 

black and white lace design

Another lacey design using texture from gelli print as background

 

red, green and black printed on train ticket

The same red flower stamp as above (these things can be very versatile!) , plus part of a thermofax screen map partly covered by green paint

 

In addition to my trainticketart, I have been busy uploading some of my patterns and designs to Redbubble , which is a print on demand service where you can buy custom designs printed on to all sorts of media such as canvas, photographic prints as well as cushions, leggings, ipod cases and even duvet covers!  I am planning to add more over the coming weeks so if one of my designs catches your eye, why not treat yourself?  If you have seen one of my patterns online that isn’t in my shop yet, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to put it there.  This could even include the trainticketart if I scan it in at a high enough resolution.

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.

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