John Edwin Hamer (1857-1918)

John Edwin Hamer was born on 16th July 1857 in Piercy, Newchurch-in-Rossendale. He was the fifth out of seven children born to Edmund Hamer and Charlotte Hamer (nee Ashworth), but the eldest son as his two elder brothers died in childhood. Here is an enlarged extract from a 1908 map which shows Piercy. It is worth noting that the farmhouse, Bankses, which is where John Edwin's wife, Jane Pickup, was born, is opposite Piercy, on the hill on the other side of Burnley Road East.

And here is a general view of Piercy from a much later period:

For a few years I was stuck trying to find the Hamers for the 1861 and 1871 censuses and wondered where they got their entrepreneurial skills from and how they became shop owners.

I had a breakthrough in April 2012 when I discovered that there were two Charlotte Hamers that lived around the same time in Newchurch-in-Rossendale! This began to open the puzzle.

So, in 1861, our Hamer family are living in Scout Bottom, which is just off Burnley Road East, Waterfoot. Edmund, aged 44, is the head of the family and he is a cotton rover. Cotton rovers loaded cotton yarn onto bobbins, giving the yarn a twist, (Roving) after the Carding and Combing processes. Edmund's wife, Charlotte is 33 years old. Both Edmund and Charlotte were born in Lumb - if you continue up Burnley Road East you will eventually come to Lumb it is a mile or two away. Their daughter Rachel Ann is 8, Fanny is 6, John Edwin is 4 and George Henry is 1. All were born in the Newchurch area apart from Fanny who was born in Spotland.

There are several lodgers: Henry Robertshaw who is 39 years old, a cotton weaver who is unmarried and was born in Heptonstall, Yorkshire. John Pickup is 45 years old, unmarried and a woollen weaver, he was born in Clough Fold. James Taylor, 27, married, is a sawer and was born in Newchurch. His wife, Mary Ann who is 29, was born in Whitworth whilst their daughter, Betsy Ann is 1 year old and was born in Newchurch.

Here are two photographs of Scout Bottom, the first is of Burnley Road, taken in 1890 and the second is a broader view of the area taken in 1920:

Thanks to Pete Fisher

John Edwin's father, Edmund, dies at the age of 45 in 1863, leaving Charlotte with five children to care for; John Edwin is 6 years old.

In 1865 Charlotte marries William Whitaker but by 1871, he is also dead. What is interesting is that in 1861 Edmund is a cotton rover but two years later he has become a grocer, as this is what is stated as his occupation on the marriage certificate of John Edwin.

What we must remember is that the Lancashire Cotton Famine (1862-1864) badly hit Rossendale as well as other places in Lancashire. Given that the cotton mills were shut, it is likely Edmund looked elsewhere to earn money and this could be why he moved into the grocery business.

By 1871 they are living in a grocer's shop in Newchurch, next door is a wheelright shop and beyond that a butchers. Charlotte Whitaker is a widow and is the grocer whilst her children are mostly working in the cotton trade: Rachel Ann, who is now 18 and, according to this census, was born in Roebuck and Fanny, who is 15 and was born in Bacup are both cotton weavers. John Edwin, 13, was born in Piercy is working in a cotton warehouse whilst George, at 11, is working in a woollen warehouse. The youngest, Robert (9) is a doffer. Doffers worked in the spinning mills, replacing the full yarn bobbins with empties on the looms. Both George and Robert were born at Roebuck. Roebuck is next to Scout. Part of the reason this census record was difficult to find was not only that Charlotte had remarried and changed her name but in transcribing the census, Hamer has been put down as Hornes!

On 21st October 1880, John Edwin marries Jane Pickup. John Edwin is 23 years and Jane Pickup a year older. John Edwin's father is Edmund (deceased) who was a grocer. Jane's father is James Pickup who was a drysalter. Drysalters were dealers in a range of chemical products, including glue, varnish, dye and colourings. They might supply salt or chemicals for preserving food and sometimes also sold pickles, dried meat or related items. John Edwin lived at Baltic, Waterfoot and Jane at Wood Leigh Mount, Waterfoot. Here is an extract from the ordnance survey map of 1911. I have identified places with a red dot. For example, the red dots at the bottom left show Baltic Buildings; the next one shows Wood Lea Bank which I am assuming is the same as Wood Leigh Mount; Bethesda Chapel is the one at the top on the right, with St Nicholas' Church top left; the remaining red dots identify Turnpike and, just off the map, is Bridleway.

John Edwin and Jane were married at Bethesda Chapel, Syss Clough, Newchurch and their witnesses were Samuel Pickup, Jane's brother, and his wife, Susy E. Pickup.

Bethesda Chapel, thanks to Rossendale; Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society

Here are two photographs of Baltic, Waterfoot. I'm not sure when the date of the first one is but the second one was taken in 1973. These are Baltic Buildings, where John Edwin and his wife, Jane, are living in 1881. It looks like John Edwin, as the eldest boy, has inherited the family grocery business. Actually, this isn't necessarily true as having just accessed his obituary, it says he was an assistant to Mr Kenyon, grocer of Rawtenstall, and when about 21 years of age began a business on his own account.

Thanks to Pete Fisher

Their neighbours are the Holt family, who sell musical instruments and teach music, and the Lemmons, who are grocers and drapers.

Incidentally, there are three Pickups living two doors away, one of whom, a James Pickup, is a shoe dealer; he is 26, unmarried and is living with his two sisters who are both unmarried, Jane who is 38 and Susannah who is 34. But I haven't been able to work out if they were related - there were lots of Pickups!

Next door to them is a Sarah Ashworth who is a dress-maker, a widow and aged 60. I have not been able to find out if she was related to John Edwin's grandmother (Charlotte Ashworth), but like the Pickups, there were loads of Ashworths who lived in this area.

In 1891 our Hamer family are living at 7 Baltic Buildings, which is where they may well have been before.

John Edwin and Jane had 9 children:

Ernest Hamer (1882-1967)

John Hamer (1883-1941)

Cuthbert Hamer (1885-1956)

Harold Hamer (1886-1888)

Violet Hamer (1888-1888)

Arundel Hamer (1889-1889)

Gladys Hamer (1891-1968)

George Hamer (1895-1895)

Jane Hamer (1897-1965)

In February 1900 John Edwin's mother, Charlotte, dies and leaves John Edwin 153 16s 9d. It is possible that this is why, in 1901, the family have moved next-door-but-one to 11 Burnley Road. John Edwin is 44 and is a grocer shopkeeper who keeps his own accounts. Jane, his wife, is now 46. They have lost four of their children in infancy: Harold, Violet, Arundel and George. Those remaining are: Ernest, 19, who is a grocer's assistant; John, 17, a draper's assistant; Cuthbert, 15, an apprentice confectioner; and the two girls, Gladys 10, and Jane 4.

Here is a photograph of the Hamer family taken in about 1907, on the backrow is Cuthbert, John, and Ernest; on the front row is Jane Hamer (nee Pickup), then Jane Hamer (my grandma), Edwin Hamer and then Gladys.

And here is an extract from the commercial directory on the reverse of the ordnance survey map for Waterfoot, 1908:

In 1911 the family lived at 9-11 Burnley Road, Waterfoot. John Edwin is 53, and is now a grocer and draper; he has been married to Jane, who is now 56, for 30 years. Ernest is 29 and a grocer's assistant; young Jane is 14, and Gladys is 20 and a dressmaker.

It is clear that the family owned, and/or ran, other businesses as well because of the following notice in the London Gazeteer of March 8th 1910:

"NOTICE is hereby given that the business of a Ladies' and Gentlemen's Outfitter, carried on for many years past by Mr. John Edwin Hamer, at number 56 Bank Street, Rawtenstall, in the county of Lancaster, under the style or firm of "J.E. HAMER AND SON" will henceforth be carried on by his son, Mr. John Hamer, on his sole responsibility, Mr John Edwin Hamer having assigned in his favour all interest in the business as from the 1st day of March 1910.- Dated this 1st day of March, 1910. J.E. HAMER JOHN HAMER"

John Edwin dies at 9 Baltic Buildings on 3rd October 1918, aged 61. He is buried in Rawtendstall cemetery in a double grave (Unc 136-137) but there is no headstone. Alongside him are his wife, Jane and children Harold, Violet, Arundell, George. There is also an Edith Hamer died 1908, who is likely to be the child of John Hamer and his wife, Edith (nee Taylor - Lancashire births, 1908).

Probate was granted to Jane Hamer, widow, Ernest Hamer grocer and Gladys Hamer, spinster; his effects were 1280 11s 1d.

His wife, Jane, died five years later on 21st August 1923, aged 68.

Ernest Hamer (1882-1967) married Melita Opie in 1912.

John Hamer (1883-1941) married Edith Taylor in 1906.

Cuthbert Hamer (1885-1956) married Jane Harris Streeton in 1909.

Gladys Hamer (1891-1968) married Joseph Scholes on 10th November 1942 at Redearth Road Methodist Church. She was 51 years old when she married. I used to go to Redearth Road Sunday School, Church, youth club and was in the pantomimes - interesting how things come full circle, remember I never knew the Hamers.

Jane Hamer (1897-1965) is, of course, is my grandmother.

"The Rossendale Free Press" Saturday, October 12, 1918:

DEATH OF MR J.E. HAMER

WELL KNOWN WATERFOOT GROCER

We regret to announce the death of John Edwin Hamer, the well known grocer and provision dealer, of Waterfoot, which took place early on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Hamer had been in failing health for some months, and during the past week or two his condition has been critical. He was 61 years of age and leaves a widow, three sons and two daughters. Two of the sons are in the army.

Mr. Hamer was one of Waterfoot's oldest tradesmen, having been in business in the shop at Baltic for 40 years. As a young man he was an assistant to Mr Kenyon, grocer of Rawtenstall, and when about 21 years of age began business on his own account. He had been president of the Waterfoot Tradesmen's Association and for a time was treasurer of the Rossendale Tradesmen's Federation.

He was for a long number of years, actively associated with Bethesda U.M. Church. He had held the office of secretary of the Trust, was a Leader of the church, and for some time secretary of the Bacup church. On one or two occasions he represented the circuit at the annual conferences.

The late Mr. Hamer was a man of a courteous and kindly disposition and had many friends. The interment is to take place today in the Rawtenstall cemetery.