A most unexpected occupation!

The maternal side of my family tree has always comprised people of modest means; indeed, as the 20th century dawned, the family were in dire straights and several were in and out of the workhouse when times were particularly hard.

As I traced the tree back through the 19th century, my great, great grandfather was a striker/chain maker and later a bricklayer’s labourer. During the course of his lifetime, his surname was corrupted from Yeadon to Haden. Through documents of his sister’s marriage, and census returns showing him living with his sister and brother in law, this corruption of the surname can be verified.

His father, Edward had been a spade maker,  born in Old Swinford, as his father and all of his children had been.

The next generation back was where the surprise came in. Edward’s father, William, my 5th great grandfather, lived and worked in Old Swinford with his wife Sarah. His first documented appearance there was at the baptism of who appears to be his first child, Elizabeth, in 1743. At that time William was a newly qualified clockmaker – on 7 June 1738 he was bound as an apprentice to William Pridham, watchmaker, of St Botolph’s Aldgate, London for 4 years. This is unusual, as an apprenticeship would normally be from age 14 for 7 years. Maybe William was older or had already done 3 years training somewhere else?  It is possible that William worked in his own business, but would, perhaps have started off as a journeyman clockmaker for the Stokes family who had a local business.

He was certainly running his own business from at least April 1755 when he advertised in the Birmingham Gazette  through to 1767, which was the year before he died. Clocks magazine featured articles about him in 2011 and 2012, describing him as a little known clockmaker, and his clocks as high quality clocks. It’s great to have a printed picture of some of his work, and to be able to see examples on the internet – one of these days i might even manage to acquire one of his clocks!

Many of William and Sarah’s children died in infancy, though at least one son emigrated to South Caroline, where he worked as a watch and clock maker, and had quite a colourful lifestyle.  Another son, my 4th great grandfather William, stayed in old Swinford. Quite what happened to cause such a fall in circumstances for the family, I don’t know, but somehow they went from Master Clockmaker to workhouse in four generations.

Behind William’s story, there is, of course. a brick wall –  where was he from?  Most Yeadons at that time were from the Leeds area, where there is a village called Yeadon. There is a birth which fits his age pretty well, but so far nothing concrete to say that this was ‘my’ William.

To be continued……………

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