Family Stories From The Other Side ~ Book Two

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      My Fathers Family

      Edwards ~ Tomlinson ~ Stokes ~ Fisher


      Reginald Garnet Edwards was born on 2 April 1934 at the Worcester Cross pub in Kidderminster.

      The X on right is the room he was born in:


      Worcester Cross


      I hadn’t done much research on the Edwards family because my fathers cousin, Paul Weaver, had already done it and had an excellent website online.  I decided to start from scratch and do it all myself because it’s so much more interesting to do the research myself than look at lists of names and dates that don’t really mean anything.  Immediately after I decided to do this, I found that Paul’s family tree website was no longer online to refer to anyway!


      I started with the Edwards family in Birmingham and immediately had a problem: there were far too many John Edwards in Birmingham at the time.  I’ll return to the Edwards in a later chapter, and start with my fathers mothers mothers family, the Fishers.





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    • #7276

        Wood Screw Manufacturers

        The Fishers of West Bromwich.


        My great grandmother, Nellie Fisher, was born in 1877 in Wolverhampton.   Her father William 1834-1916 was a whitesmith, and his father William 1792-1873 was a whitesmith and master screw maker.  William’s father was Abel Fisher, wood screw maker, victualler, and according to his 1849 will, a “gentleman”.

        Nellie Fisher 1877-1956 :

        Nellie Fisher


        Abel Fisher was born in 1769 according to his burial document (age 81 in 1849) and on the 1841 census. Abel was a wood screw manufacturer in Wolverhampton.

        As no baptism record can be found for Abel Fisher, I read every Fisher will I could find in a 30 year period hoping to find his fathers will. I found three other Fishers who were wood screw manufacurers in neighbouring West Bromwich, which led me to assume that Abel was born in West Bromwich and related to these other Fishers.

        The wood screw making industry was a relatively new thing when Abel was born.

        “The screw was used in furniture but did not become a common woodworking fastener until efficient machine tools were developed near the end of the 18th century. The earliest record of lathe made wood screws dates to an English patent of 1760. The development of wood screws progressed from a small cottage industry in the late 18th century to a highly mechanized industry by the mid-19th century. This rapid transformation is marked by several technical innovations that help identify the time that a screw was produced. The earliest, handmade wood screws were made from hand-forged blanks. These screws were originally produced in homes and shops in and around the manufacturing centers of 18th century Europe. Individuals, families or small groups participated in the production of screw blanks and the cutting of the threads. These small operations produced screws individually, using a series of files, chisels and cutting tools to form the threads and slot the head. Screws produced by this technique can vary significantly in their shape and the thread pitch. They are most easily identified by the profusion of file marks (in many directions) over the surface. The first record regarding the industrial manufacture of wood screws is an English patent registered to Job and William Wyatt of Staffordshire in 1760.”

        Wood Screw Makers of West Bromwich:

        Edward Fisher, wood screw maker of West Bromwich, died in 1796. He mentions his wife Pheney and two underage sons in his will. Edward (whose baptism has not been found) married Pheney Mallin on 13 April 1793. Pheney was 17 years old, born in 1776. Her parents were Isaac Mallin and Sarah Firme, who were married in West Bromwich in 1768.
        Edward and Pheney’s son Edward was born on 21 October 1793, and their son Isaac in 1795. The executors of Edwards 1796 will are Daniel Fisher the Younger, Isaac Mallin, and Joseph Fisher.

        There is a marriage allegations and bonds document in 1774 for an Edward Fisher, bachelor and wood screw maker of West Bromwich, aged 25 years and upwards, and Mary Mallin of the same age, father Isaac Mallin. Isaac Mallin and Sarah didn’t marry until 1768 and Mary Mallin would have been born circa 1749. Perhaps Isaac Mallin’s father was the father of Mary Mallin. It’s possible that Edward Fisher was born in 1749 and first married Mary Mallin, and then later Pheney, but it’s also possible that the Edward Fisher who married Mary Mallin in 1774 was Edward Fishers uncle, Daniel’s brother.  (I do not know if Daniel had a brother Edward, as I haven’t found a baptism, or marriage, for Daniel Fisher the elder.)

        There are two difficulties with finding the records for these West Bromwich families. One is that the West Bromwich registers are not available online in their entirety, and are held by the Sandwell Archives, and even so, they are incomplete. Not only that, the Fishers were non conformist. There is no surviving register prior to 1787. The chapel opened in 1788, and any registers that existed before this date, taken in a meeting houses for example, appear not to have survived.

        Daniel Fisher the younger died intestate in 1818. Daniel was a wood screw maker of West Bromwich. He was born in 1751 according to his age stated as 67 on his death in 1818. Daniel’s wife Mary, and his son William Fisher, also a wood screw maker, claimed the estate.

        Daniel Fisher the elder was a farmer of West Bromwich, who died in 1806. He was 81 when he died, which makes a birth date of 1725, although no baptism has been found. No marriage has been found either, but he was probably married not earlier than 1746.

        Daniel’s sons Daniel and Joseph were the main inheritors, and he also mentions his other children and grandchildren namely William Fisher, Thomas Fisher, Hannah wife of William Hadley, two grandchildren Edward and Isaac Fisher sons of Edward Fisher his son deceased. Daniel the elder presumably refers to the wood screw manufacturing when he says “to my son Daniel Fisher the good will and advantage which may arise from his manufacture or trade now carried on by me.” Daniel does not mention a son called Abel unfortunately, but neither does he mention his other grandchildren. Abel may be Daniel’s son, or he may be a nephew.

        The Staffordshire Record Office holds the documents of a Testamentary Case in 1817. The principal people are Isaac Fisher, a legatee; Daniel and Joseph Fisher, executors. Principal place, West Bromwich, and deceased person, Daniel Fisher the elder, farmer.

        William and Sarah Fisher baptised six children in the Mares Green Non Conformist registers in West Bromwich between 1786 and 1798. William Fisher and Sarah Birch were married in West Bromwich in 1777. This William was probably born circa 1753 and was probably the son of Daniel Fisher the elder, farmer.


        Daniel Fisher the younger and his wife Mary had a son William, as mentioned in the intestacy papers, although I have not found a baptism for William.  I did find a baptism for another son, Eutychus Fisher in 1792.

        In White’s Directory of Staffordshire in 1834, there are three Fishers who are wood screw makers in Wolverhampton: Eutychus Fisher, Oxford Street; Stephen Fisher, Bloomsbury; and William Fisher, Oxford Street.

        Abel’s son William Fisher 1792-1873 was living on Oxford Street on the 1841 census, with his wife Mary  and their son William Fisher 1834-1916.


        In The European Magazine, and London Review of 1820  (Volume 77 – Page 564) under List of Patents, W Fisher and H Fisher of West Bromwich, wood screw manufacturers, are listed.  Also in 1820 in the Birmingham Chronicle, the partnership of William and Hannah Fisher, wood screw manufacturers of West Bromwich, was dissolved.


        In the Staffordshire General & Commercial Directory 1818, by W. Parson, three Fisher’s are listed as wood screw makers.  Abel Fisher victualler and wood screw maker, Red Lion, Walsal Road; Stephen Fisher wood screw maker, Buggans Lane; and Daniel Fisher wood screw manufacturer, Brickiln Lane.


        In Aris’s Birmingham Gazette on 4 January 1819 Abel Fisher is listed with 23 other wood screw manufacturers (Stephen Fisher and William Fisher included) stating that “In consequence of the rise in prices of iron and the advanced price given to journeymen screw forgers, we the undersigned manufacturers of wood screws are under the necessity of advancing screws 10 percent, to take place on the 11th january 1819.”

        Abel Fisher wood screws


        In Abel Fisher’s 1849 will, he names his three sons Abel Fisher 1796-1869, Paul Fisher 1811-1900 and John Southall Fisher 1801-1871 as the executors.  He also mentions his other three sons, William Fisher 1792-1873, Benjamin Fisher 1798-1870, and Joseph Fisher 1803-1876, and daughters Sarah Fisher  1794-  wife of William Colbourne, Mary Fisher  1804-  wife of Thomas Pearce, and Susannah (Hannah) Fisher  1813-  wife of Parkes.  His son Silas Fisher 1809-1837 wasn’t mentioned as he died before Abel, nor his sons John Fisher  1799-1800, and Edward Southall Fisher 1806-1843.  Abel’s wife Susannah Southall born in 1771 died in 1824.  They were married in 1791.

        The 1849 will of Abel Fisher:

        Abel Fisher 1849 will


          Tomlinson of Wergs and Hancox of Penn


          John Tomlinson of Wergs (Tettenhall, Wolverhamton) 1766-1844, my 4X great grandfather, married Sarah Hancox 1772-1851. They were married on the 27th May 1793 by licence at St Peter in Wolverhampton.
          Between 1794 and 1819 they had twelve children, although four of them died in childhood or infancy. Catherine was born in 1794, Thomas in 1795 who died 6 years later, William (my 3x great grandfather) in 1797, Jemima in 1800, John, Richard and Matilda between 1802 and 1806 who all died in childhood, Emma in 1809, Mary Ann in 1811, Sidney in 1814, and Elijah in 1817 who died two years later.

          On the 1841 census John and Sarah were living in Hockley in Birmingham, with three of their children, and surgeon Charles Reynolds. John’s occupation was “Ind” meaning living by independent means. He was living in Hockley when he died in 1844, and in his will he was John Tomlinson, gentleman”.

          Sarah Hancox was born in 1772 in Penn, Wolverhampton. Her father William Hancox was also born in Penn in 1737. Sarah’s mother Elizabeth Parkes married William’s brother Francis in 1767. Francis died in 1768, and in 1770 Elizabeth married William.

          William’s father was William Hancox, yeoman, born in 1703 in Penn. He died intestate in 1772, his wife Sarah claiming her right to his estate. William Hancox and Sarah Evans, both of Penn, were married on the 9th December 1732 in Dudley, Worcestershire, by “certificate”. Marriages were usually either by banns or by licence. Apparently a marriage by certificate indicates that they were non conformists, or dissenters, and had the non conformist marriage “certified” in a Church of England church.

          1732 marriage of William Hancox and Sarah Evans:

          William Hancos Sarahh Evans marriage


          William and Sarah lost two daughters, Elizabeth, five years old, and Ann, three years old, within eight days of each other in February 1738.


          William the elder’s father was John Hancox born in Penn in 1668. He married Elizabeth Wilkes from Sedgley in 1691 at Himley. John Hancox, “of Straw Hall” according to the Wolverhampton burial register, died in 1730. Straw Hall is in Penn. John’s parents were Walter Hancox and Mary Noake. Walter was born in Tettenhall in 1625, his father Richard Hancox. Mary Noake was born in Penn in 1634. Walter died in Penn in 1689.

          Straw Hall thanks to Bradney Mitchell:
          “Here is a picture I have of Straw Hall, Penn Road.
          The painting is by John Reid circa 1878.
          Sketch commissioned by George Bradney Mitchell to record the town as it was before its redevelopment, in a book called Wolverhampton and its Environs. ©”

          Straw Hall, Wolverhampton


          And a photo of the demolition of Straw Hall with an interesting story:

          Straw Hall demolition


          In 1757 a child was abandoned on the porch of Straw Hall.  Aris’s Birmingham Gazette 1st August 1757:

          Straw Hall baby


          The Hancox family were living in Penn for at least 400 years. My great grandfather Charles Tomlinson built a house on Penn Common in the early 1900s, and other Tomlinson relatives have lived there. But none of the family knew of the Hancox connection to Penn. I don’t think that anyone imagined a Tomlinson ancestor would have been a gentleman, either.


          Sarah Hancox’s brother William Hancox 1776-1848 had a busy year in 1804.
          On 29 Aug 1804 he applied for a licence to marry Ann Grovenor of Claverley.
          In August 1804 he had property up for auction in Penn. “part of Lightwoods, 3 plots, and the Coppice”
          On 14 Sept 1804 their first son John was baptised in Penn. According to a later census John was born in Claverley.  (before the parents got married)

          (Incidentally, John Hancox’s descendant married a Warren, who is a descendant of my 4x great grandfather Samuel Warren, on my mothers side,  from Newhall, Derbyshire!)

          On 30 Sept he married Ann in Penn.
          In December he was a bankrupt pig and sheep dealer.
          In July 1805 he’s in the papers under “certificates”: William Hancox the younger, sheep and pig dealer and chapman of Penn. (A certificate was issued after a bankruptcy if they fulfilled their obligations)
          He was a pig dealer in Penn in 1841, a widower, living with unmarried daughter Elizabeth.


          Sarah’s father William Hancox died in 1816. In his will, he left his “daughter Sarah, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs the sum of £100 secured to me upon the tolls arising from the turnpike road leading from Wombourne to Sedgeley to and for her sole and separate use”.
          The trustees of toll road would decide not to collect tolls themselves but get someone else to do it by selling the collecting of tolls for a fixed price. This was called “farming the tolls”. The Act of Parliament which set up the trust would authorise the trustees to farm out the tolls. This example is different. The Trustees of turnpikes needed to raise money to carry out work on the highway. The usual way they did this was to mortgage the tolls – they borrowed money from someone and paid the borrower interest; as security they gave the borrower the right, if they were not paid, to take over the collection of tolls and keep the proceeds until they had been paid off. In this case William Hancox has lent £100 to the turnpike and is leaving it (the right to interest and/or have the whole sum repaid) to his daughter Sarah Tomlinson. (this information on tolls from the Wolverhampton family history group.)

          William Hancox, Penn Wood, maltster, left a considerable amount of property to his children in 1816. All household effects he left to his wife Elizabeth, and after her decease to his son Richard Hancox: four dwelling houses in John St, Wolverhampton, in the occupation of various Pratts, Wright and William Clarke. He left £200 to his daughter Frances Gordon wife of James Gordon, and £100 to his daughter Ann Pratt widow of John Pratt. To his son William Hancox, all his various properties in Penn wood. To Elizabeth Tay wife of Thomas Tay he left £200, and to Richard Hancox various other properties in Penn Wood, and to his daughter Lucy Tay wife of Josiah Tay more property in Lower Penn. All his shops in St John Wolverhamton to his son Edward Hancox, and more properties in Lower Penn to both Francis Hancox and Edward Hancox. To his daughter Ellen York £200, and property in Montgomery and Bilston to his son John Hancox. Sons Francis and Edward were underage at the time of the will.  And to his daughter Sarah, his interest in the toll mentioned above.

          Sarah Tomlinson, wife of John Tomlinson of the Wergs, in William Hancox will:

          William Hancox will, Sarah Tomlinson


            The Bigamist

            Ernest Tomlinson 1881-1915


            Ernest Tomlinson was my great grandfathers Charles Tomlinson‘s younger brother. Their parents were Charles Tomlinson the elder 1847-1907 and Emma Grattidge 1853-1911.

            In 1896, aged 14, Ernest attempted to drown himself in the pond at Penn after his father took his watch off him for arguing with his brothers. Ernest tells the police “It’s all through my brothers putting on me”.  The policeman told him he was a very silly and wicked boy and to see the curate at Penn and to try and be a better boy in future. He was discharged.

            Bridgnorth Journal and South Shropshire Advertiser. – Saturday 11 July 1896:

            1896 suicide attempt


            In 1903 Ernest married Ethel Maude Howe in Wolverhampton.  Four years later in 1907 Ethel was granted a separation on the grounds of cruelty.

            In Islington in London in 1913, Ernest bigamously married Mabel Elizabeth Smith.  Mabel left Ernest for treating her very badly. She went to Wolverhampton and found out about his first wife still being alive.

            London Evening Standard – Monday 25 May 1914:

            Bigamy 18 months



            In May 1914 Ernest was tried at the Old Bailey and the jury found him guilty of bigamy. In his defense, Ernest said that he had received a letter from his mother saying that she was ill, and a further letter saying that she had died. He said he wrongly assumed that they were referring to his wife, and that he was free to marry.  It was his mother who had died.  He was sentenced to 18 months hard labour at Wormwood Scrubs prison.

            Woolwich Gazette – Tuesday 28 April 1914:

            a wrong assumption


            1914 sentence old bailey


            Ethel Maude Tomlinson was granted a decree nisi in 1915.

            Birmingham Daily Gazette – Wednesday 02 June 1915:

            decree nisi 1915


            Ernest died in September 1915 in hospital in Wolverhampton.

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