Mary Ann Woolley (1874-1937)

Mary Ann was born on 21st May 1874 at 3 Furnace Row, New Dock, Dudley, Worcestershire. Here is an extract from an article published in Black Country Bugle, 7th September 2006, which talks about this area:

Walters Row formed a square of terraced houses with a court at its centre and joined Furnace Row (renamed Fulbrook Road in the modern era) to the west and Himley Street to the south, in an area of Dudley known as New Dock. The development of the Victoria "Fender" Works at the end of Furnace Row in the latter stages of the 19th century would have brought the raw side of heavy industry close to the inhabitants of Walters Row in what had been up till then a relatively quiet corner of the town.

Mary Ann was the third of four children born to Eliza Bird and Alfred Jenks Woolley. Both Eliza and Alfred Jenks had been married before and both had children from their previous marriages. Thus, in 1881, Mary Ann was living with her father, Alfred who was 49, her mother, Eliza 47, her step-brother, Joseph Baker 15, her elder siblings Eliza, 12, Harry 10, and younger brother, Alfred 5; Mary Ann herself (down as simply Mary in the census) is 7. They lived at 33 Himley Road, Dudley, which is now the B4176. This is only a few streets away from Furnace Row.

Alfred Jenks, known as just Alfred, worked as a whitesmith, also known as a tinsmith: they make and repair things made of light coloured metal especially tinware. However, they might work with tin, pewter and other materials. Here is a link to an article about tinsmiths.

Mary Ann was 9 years old when her father died in 1883. In 1891, when she was 17 (on the census it says 15), she had left home and was working as a domestic servant for a Mr and Mrs William Henry Wall and family who lived at 85 St John's Road, Dudley. Her mother, working as a laundress, was living at 21 Holland Street with her youngest son, Alfred, who was 15 and worked at the local iron works.

Two years later and Mary Ann is getting married to Robert Atkinson in the Chapel at Torver, Ulverston. Which raises the question how did she come to move to Ulverston?

In 1891 Mary Ann's half brother, Benjamin Woolley, his wife Ann and their daughter, Lucy A aged four are living at 33 Maple Street, Barrow in Furness; Benjamin is a furnace worker. Mary Jane's other brother, Harry, is living at 34 Adelaide Street, also in Barrow, with his uncle John Woolley, his wife, Sarah, and their children. John Woolley, like Mary Ann's father, Alfred Jenks, is a whitesmith.

There something a bit odd here in that Alfred Jenks doesn't seem to have a brother called John. It seems likely to me that, for some reason, John was written down instead of Thomas Henry because in all the other census' it is Thomas Henry, his wife Sarah and all the relevant children. Bit of a mystery!

Given that Mary Ann was a servant in Dudley in 1891 and they marry at the Chapel in Torver (whilst Robert Atkinson is living in Broughton in Furness) I am guessing that Mary Ann may have been working in Torver, perhaps as a servant? But what is clear is that Mary Ann already had family in the area before she moved here.

Alfred Jenks Woolley (1831-1883)

Alfred Jenks was born in 1831 and baptised on 6th February 1831 at St Thomas' church, Dudley, Worcestershire. He was the thirteenth, and youngest, child of Benjamin Woolley and Elizabeth Cole.

Benjamin, born 1781 and baptised on 8th April 1781, was the son of John and Elizabeth Woolley; we don't know any more about his parents. Nor do we knowwho Elizabeth Cole's parents were.

Benjamin married Elizabeth on 5th October 1806 at Kingswinford, Stafford. Here are their children: Phoebe (1807-?); Maria (1810-?); Ann (1813-?); Benjamin (1815-?); Thomas (1817-1818); Joshua (1819-?); Joseph (1821-?); Caroline (1822-1824); Sabrine (1823-?); Eliza (1826-?); Elizabeth (1827-?); Thomas Henry (1829-1905); and Alfred Jenks (1831-1883).

All of the children were born in Dudley and it seems highly likely that they were all baptised at St Thomas' as this is down on the records for the majority of the children.

The family are living at Snow Hill, Dudley, in the 1841 census. Benjamin is 50 and a pan maker, Elizabeth, his wife, is the same age. Most of the children have left, still at home are Joseph, 20, who is a miner; Sabrine 18; Eliza 15; Henry 12 and Alfred 10. I'm not sure whether Eliza and Elizabeth aren't the same person.

It is worth noting that twenty years later, Snow Hill Railway Station is opened in Dudley.

In 1851 Benjamin, now 64, is still a fire shovel pan maker, Elizabeth is 63 and their son, Alfred, who is 20 is still at home; his occupation is puddler of iron. Visiting them is Ann Hadley and her children George 10, Reuben 8 and Alfred 1 - it seems highly likely that this is Benjamin and Elizabeth's daughter and their grandchildren. Their address is Vicarage Prospect, which is still there.

It is possible that Benjamin dies in 1855 (there are two Benjamin Woolley's who died in Dudley around this period, one in 1855, the other in 1861).

It could be that Elizabeth is still alive in 1861 as there is an Elizabeth Woolley, born in Dudley, of a similar age who is a widow and lives in Mamble, Dudley. However, in searching the records there are several Elizabeth Woolley's who died in Dudley around about this time so it is difficult to tell exactly when she died.