Meet one of my favorite ancestors, James Williams Newman. James was born and baptized in New York City, in 1833. This is verified by the Williams Family Bible of Gloucestershire, England that my cousin, Maureen Wong of Leighton Buzzard, England tracked down to our “cousin Bill” of Birmingham, England. Note the “this is me” above the entry.
This is so cool because it was written by James and proves that he could write (sometimes we actually wonder how literate the ancient ones were). Thanks Maureen for capturing this for us.
James’s parents were William Williams Newman and Elinor Surman, who I have not found a marriage on either side of the ocean. Both parents were born in England, immigrated to New York City some time before James was baptized in St John’s Protestant Church on the top of 5th Street, New York City, New York (this is according to the bible, which memory and time might have played havoc with).
According to the baptism records of St. Mark’s Church New York City LDS 974.7 B2N V. 71-72 James Williams Newman was born 10 Mar 1833 and Christened on 11 Aug 1833; parents listed Wm W Newman and Eleanor.
Are these two Churches one and the same? It appears that the records ended up in the parish of St. Mark’s. I have not found any of William Newman’s brothers in America at that time, Eleanor’s brother Frederick had immigrated to New York City before his marriage to Maria Miller in New York in 1835, so it is possible that William, Eleanor and Frederick immigrated together before the birth of James.
James and his parents then cross back to England and in the 1841 Census for England, James is listed as living with his grandparents: Richard Newman (Blacksmith) and Elizabeth on Broad Street in the parish of Littledean, Gloucestershire.
His parents and two sisters are listed as living in Blaize Bailey in Dean Hill in rural Little Dean an Extra Parochial . So was James living with and taking care of his elderly grandparents or just visiting that day?
In 1851 we find him as a an apprentice to John Clay a Master Confectioner in Birmingham, England, living at 18 Jamica Row, Parish of St Martin’s. The shop is at 19 Jamica Row. This 1851 census gives his location of birth as America. On the 5 Oct 1856 James marries an Ellen Aulton, Ellen dies on 10 Jul 1858 from Apoplexy living at back 17 Jamaica Row, St. Martin’s Parish Birmingham, England. No children from this marriage.
His second wife, Emma Ashby, was born in Kennington, Surry. It is unknown how she came to be living in Birmingham, but she was there and married James on the 10 day of September 1860. In the 1861 Census the family is living at 19 Suffolk St. in St. Thomas Parish of Birmingham and James is listed as a Confectioner being born in New York America. Children quickly followed with Jane in September of 1861, Ellen in 1863. William was born in 1865 while the family was living at the back 75 Charles Henry St., Aston, Birmingham, Emma followed in 1868 and the family had moved to 35 Birchall St., Aston by this time.
In 1870 Fred was born and in the 1871 Census shows James as a Pastry Cook being born in New York America, the family was located Benacre St., St Martin Parish of Birmingham.
By this time it appears that maybe the family had some success, they were living at 31 Fleet St., in St Paul’s ward of Birmingham,Elizabeth “Bessie” in 1876, James in 1879 and Henry or “Harry” on 14 Feb 1881. Unfortunately for the family James gets ill and dies on 22 May 1882 of Gangrene of the lungs 1 week, this was certified. His burial was at Witton Cemetery, burial 27 May 1882.
I find it really very sad that James died so young, only 48 years old. His widow then had children from ages 1 year 3 month “Harry” to Jane who was almost 21 at the time. Hardship to Emma who had no means to keep her family afloat. Two of the eight children (Jane and Ellen) were married but life was tough. By the middle 1880’s the concept of “Home Children” was being flaunted. This gave a “good life” to children of industrial towns or destitute families a “better life” for the children than what their families could give them. The kids would be sent to Canada or Australia for better times.
I’ll take you through the three youngest children’s tales in future episodes. Keep tuned to hear about Elizabeth “Bessie”, James and Harry’s tales. Their story continues in New Brunswick, Canada. Be sure to keep your hankies close by, it really was a very sad tale.