Giblin – Charles (1809-1874)

Life Events :

  • Born : About 1809 in Ireland
  • Married : 20 January 1828 in Cheadle, Cheshire to Ellen Reynolds
  • Widowed : 1848
  • Second Marriage : 2 October 1849 in Hull, to Sarah Storr (widow, maiden name Gowsal)
  • Died : 8 June 1874 in Hull, Yorkshire. Cause of death – chronic bronchitis

Parents : Francis Giblin (mother as yet undiscovered)

Children :
  • Frank – 1828
  • John -1831 (my 2 x great-grandfather)
  • Bridget – 1836
  • Thomas – 1837
  • Charles – 1840 – 1846
  • Peter – 1843

I don’t know when Charles and his brothers left Ireland for England or whether either or both of their parents were with them at this time. We know that Charles was in Cheshire in 1828, where he married Ellen at the age of 19 but his brothers John and Francis would have been only 12 and 7 years of age, were they with their parents or could it be that Charles alone brought his younger brothers to England? With the famine situation in Ireland, that is a possibility.

In January 1828, Charles married Ellen Reynolds after banns in St. Mary’s Church, Cheadle, Cheshire.

Photo by Alexander P Kapp via Wikimedia. See here for original and credits.

In 1828 or 1829 Charles and Ellen’s eldest son Francis is born. John followed in 1831 with daughter Bridget next in 1836. Five years between children is quite a large gap for those days so although I haven’t found evidence, I think it likely that at least one other child would have been born in between John and Bridget but not survived since they do not appear on any census returns. I’ve been unable to find baptism records for any of Charles and Ellen’s children so far.

On the 1841 census, Charles and Ellen are living in Water Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport where Charles’ occupation is shown as Ag Lab, (or agricultural labourer). This Ordenance Survey map of the area around Heaton Norris in 1845 shows the area the family lived. Although not obvious on this section, there are gardens and farmland bordering the town, where Charles could have been employed. The yellow section is the route the census enumerator took on the 6th June 1841. Starting from the top right and travelling anti-clockwise, the route as given is; Commencing at the corner of Water Street, thence along Little Egerton Street to Great Egerton Street, then to Wellington Road North, then to Water Street and along Water Street to the point first described. That small area housed approximately 1000 people, a large proportion of which were employed in the cotton industry. You can see Water Street, the long one on the left of the rectangle.

Section of Heaton Norris from an 1845 map. Click the map to see the full view and to zoom in or out.

The couple have five children at this point in time with youngest son Peter to come along in 1843. Eldest son Frank at 13 is already working, as a cotton doffer which involved removing the bobbins of spun yarn from the machines and replacing them with empty bobbins. This was work that required speed and dexterity and so was usually done by children.

Looking at a modern day Google map, the area where the Giblins lived is now a retail park. On the Google map, you can still see Great Egerton Street and an un-named road (which is actually Bridgeview Street as identified by the name of the bus stop at the top of it) parallel to it going through the retail park. At some point between 1841 and 1895 Water Street was renamed Bridgeview Street, as found on an 1895 OS map. So the street does still exist, albeit in a very different guise to when it was a tightly packed warren of workers houses. I wonder what those people would think to the facilities of today, we enjoy what to them would have been luxury and extravagance beyond their imaginations.

The Stockport of 1841 is summed up best in this extract from an excellent and freely available book on Google books and Amazon Kindle, the oft quoted The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Frederick Engels:

Stockport is renowned throughout the entire district as one of the duskiest, smokiest holes, and looks, indeed, especially when viewed from the viaduct, excessively repellent. But far more repulsive are the cottages and cellar dwellings of the working-class, which stretch in long rows through all parts of the town from the valley bottom to the crest of the hill. I do not remember to have seen so many cellars used as dwellings in any other town of this district.

Bear in mind that the Giblin’s lived in one such cellar dwelling on Water Street!

Stockport Viaduct

The viaduct Engels refers to in the passage above is the Stockport Viaduct, built in 1839-1840, eleven million bricks were used and it was the largest viaduct in the world at that time and a major feat of engineering. It remains one of the world’s largest brick built structures. It opened officially in June 1840 and carried almost 2000 passengers a day between Manchester and Heaton Norris.

I wonder what the Giblins thought of this huge building project. It must have been big news in the town and it employed around 600 construction workers during it’s construction. I find myself wondering if any of them worked on it.

In 1846 son Charles died, aged just 6 years old and two years later on 1st October 1848 wife Ellen died of chronic consumption, or tuberculosis to us now. Her age on the death certificate is 39 years old. Charles’ brother John died in January of 1849 and later in the year, Charles ups sticks and moves to Hull and re-marries. This move possibly warrants more investigation when time permits but having lost a son, wife and brother in the space of three years, perhaps Charles just wanted a new start. Eldest son Frank stays behind and is found lodging with the McGuiness family in 1851 in nearby Robinsons Yard, his occupation still that of cotton throstle doffer. The rest of the family and an addition with nephew Michael are found in the 1851 census of Hull. Michael’s father was Charles’ late brother John and it appears that Charles took in Michael aged 13 after the death of his father. He is included in the household in Hull for the 1851 census return aged 15.

On 2nd October 1849, Charles remarried. His second wife is a widow, Sarah Storr, maiden name of Gowsal from Brigg in Lincolnshire. Sarah is 12 years younger than Charles, so aged just 28 when they marry. However there were no children from this marriage. The address for both of them is given on the marriage certificate as 14 Blanket Row, Hull. Sarah’s occupation is given as dressmaker and Charles as labourer and they married at the Catholic Chapel in Jarratt Street, Hull, which has been developed into the present day St Charles Borromeo church, an incredibly beautiful building with a stunning interior, now Grade 1 listed.

If the move to Hull had been considered a move away from the dirt and disease of Stockport, Charles and his young family must have wondered what on earth they had done moving to Hull, where a cholera epidemic had wiped out over 1800 people over the months of July to September 1849. The worst record of fatalities in proportion to population than any other place in England. (Source : Cooper, Henry. ?On the Cholera Mortality in Hull during the Epidemic of 1849.? Journal of the Statistical Society of London, vol. 16, no. 4, 1853, pp. 347?351. Most of the victims were buried in Western Cemetery on Spring Bank West and a memorial to them stands there, very neglected nowadays and you’d struggle to find it unless you know where to look.

One factor which may have encouraged their move was the opening of a brand new cotton mill in Hull. The Kingston Cotton Mill opened in 1845 and with the already established Hull Flax and Cotton Mill and Eagle Cotton Mill, Hull may have seemed to be a good move for cotton workers disillusioned by life in Cheshire.

In 1851 the family were living at 26 2nd Factory Line, this was located between Dansom Lane and Sutton Bank and from the name, I assume it to have been housing specifically for factory workers. Most of the inhabitants seem to be cotton factory workers, Charles being a labourer in the cotton factory and sons John and Thomas, nephew Michael and daughter Bridget being cotton throstle doffers. There were three lodgers in the house, also cotton workers and a look at the households all around seems to confirm the usage of those houses.

There were two nearby cotton mills, marked with a X on the below map. The closest and largest being the Hull Flax and Cotton Mill which went into liquidation in 1857 and the smaller Eagle Cotton Mill a little further away on Cleveland Street. Across the River Hull was the Kingston Cotton Mill on Wincolmlee, which many workers from the Groves area of Hull reached by means of a ferry. The area marked yellow below is where the Giblins lived and the area that the census enumerator recorded. I can’t see from the map where ‘The Factory Lines’ might have been though.

Section of Hull 1852 – click the map for the full view.

There is more research to be done on Hull’s cotton industry for me to put into context my ancestor’s working lives but with current restrictions due to covid-19, it will have to wait! I’d love to know which of the three cotton mills they worked at but I don’t know if that information is available anywhere.

By 1861, Charles and Sarah have moved to Jenning Street, probably a step up from the Factory Lines housing, Charles aged 52 is a dock labourer and Peter is the only son left at home, also working as a dock labourer, the others all having left the nest. John having married Sarah Ann McMorran in 1852 and Bridget married to Daniel Goose in 1856 and they have their own stories. I am unable to locate Thomas at the time of writing.

In 1871, Charles and Sarah have Sarah’s mother, Maria Gowsal living with them in Jenning Street. Charles’ occupation is given as ‘labourer, unable to work’.

Charles died on 8th June 1874 of chronic bronchitis, described on his death certificate as a bricklayers labourer, presumably the last job he had done, having been a labourer all his working life. He was still living at 3 Jenning Street and present at his death and the informant on the certificate was his son John. I have found no trace of Sarah after the1871 census.