Tag Archives | family history

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.

2

Birth of a City

… and other stuff.  Birth of a City is the title of my latest artwork.  I first started printing this cloth over a year ago and it has grown and developed until, finally, I am satisfied with it!  As you may know, one of my other interests is genealogy – tracing my family history down the generations – and many of my ancestors lived and worked in the city where I grew up, Stoke on Trent.    A lot of them were engaged in the trade that it is best known for – pottery.

I had already printed the background in various shades and values of blue (with two different thermofax screens), overprinted it in orange/gold using soy wax as a resist and then discharged some of it.  I then decided to take a (VERY) rough sketch of the streets around where my Nan grew up in Longton, altering the two main ones to vaguely echo the shape of the old bottle kilns that pervaded the city and gave it its unique character.  I used masking tape as a resist and overprinted the ‘buildings’ using the larger scale thermofax screen in black ink to make it look like the old street maps from the 19th century.

'birth of a city', my latest quilt

When I looked at it, I then saw that the two main ‘streets’ didn’t look so much like a bottle kiln as a pregnant woman, so I decided to call it ‘Birth of a City’, thinking of the haphhazard, unplanned way the city grew up as hordes of people flocked into it from the countryside to work in the potbanks, leading to overcrowding, poverty and rampant disease.  People lived crammed into houses too small for them; houses sprang up next to factories.

Here is a detail of the hanging:

detail of 'birth of a city'

I wanted to emphasize the rough and ready, homespun nature of the theme, so I decided just to hand quilt it with horizontal running stitches to an old blanket, patched and worn and ragged in places. I left the raw edges of the fabric and just had the original blanket stitches as binding.

detail of 'birth of a city'

Due to the Easter holidays and the fact that my two teenage sons are in the throes of revising for GCSEs and A levels, I am late completing the latest challenge for the International Quilt Challenge, which is Time.   Rather ironic really, due to lack of time…  But I thought I’d put down my thoughts for it so far.

The way I wanted to approach this theme was something around the idea of ‘the past is another country’.  I tried to brainstorm this and wrote down what came into my head….

… time past … we think it will be familiar going back, but actually we have changed and moved on, so what we were, who we were, the old familiar landmarks, look strange to us… strange and foreign…

We have forgotten …

We have a kind of nostalgia but we can never go back, we can only revisit old haunts, some of which will have remained the same, some will have changed forever;

we look at them differently, through different eyes; we are probably taller: things there look smaller, older; strangely familiar yet also foreign to the self that is our present.

And if we could go back to our grandparents’ childhood, into an old photograph, we would experience total culture shock

– the sights

– the sounds

– the smells

– the familiar-yet-unfamiliar ; kin yet unknown people

Anyway, that is as far as I got, and it was taking too long and I got stuck with how to move from there to fabric.  I thought I’d put my thoughts down here in case I use them for another project; but then I got another idea for the theme.

Last night I decided to update my Dreaming Spirals Facebook Page – I had not changed it since the new timeline was adopted and it needed a new photograph as the header.  I decided to make a collage in Picasa of my five Reeds wallhangings.  This is the result:

Facebook Page new banner

Today I was thinking about the theme of the challenge again and I decided to change tack completely.  I thought of the various seasons the reeds go through in the course of a year (recorded in this blog in 2010) when I visited them each month for a year to see how they change, and I thought of those timelapse videos where a camera is set to take photos at regular intervals of, say, a plant growing, and then they are put together into a video as if the plant was moving.  All my reeds pieces record a different season of the year so I thought I would try and blend them together using scraps from these pieces as a starting point to show the movement of time.  (If you would like to see the reeds photos again, here is a collage of them that I made at the end of that year).

So that is my plan at the moment!  Watch this space…. Meanwhile, do go and explore my Facebook Page – it looks quite different now.

Birmingham visit due

I think it’s time I had a day out to Brummy.  There are lots of things I want to do there.

First is Lost in Lace, an exhibition at Birmingham Museum which promises good things.  There is a fabulous set of photos on Flickr here.

And there is the Staffordshire Hoard, the huge Anglo-Saxon gold hoard found by a Staffordshire metal detector enthusiast in a field near Burntwood.   Part of it is on show in the Birmingham Museum too.

Then I want to go to Birmingham City Archives, who hold an indenture made between my 4x great grandfather Ephraim Docksey and various other people about an inn called The Cock in Norton on the Moors, Staffordshire and the will of my 5x great grandfather Joshua Dale.  No idea what they are doing in Birmingham Archives but I assume it is because the estate papers of the land they leased ended up there.  Very conveniently, it looks as if the archives and the museum are just across the road from each other.

Then I might have a walk along the canals where I took this photo a few years ago:

Canal in Birmingham

and made it into a gocco screen to print on  cards and Moleskine journals:

canal gocco print

If I do all that, I might just need several days – time to get the diary out!

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