Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Hanging of the third John Billington!

John Billington, Actor
1830 -1904
You may remember my blog post; ‘the The Hangmen and the Hanged man – what’s in a name’ . Well, this week , quite by chance, at a visit to the Goole Family History Society open day this week, I heard of John Billington, the actor , who had hailed from this tiny East Yorkshire City.  Of course, this type of knowledge is always intriguing to me, with my 3rd Great Grandfather, of the same name and it also being my own middle name.

Coming from Newton Heath, part of  Manchester, a place where the football team, Manchester United had been  formed in 1878, the name John Billington combined with the profession ‘Block Cutter’ has always been difficult to develop for certain. There was even a Reverend John Billington, who was incumbent in the church in which one of my John’s daughter’s was baptised. The Reverend John’s name is actually commemorated in a prominent window at the church. The Victorian Champion Jockey of the same name has always been another curiosity.
Learning of John Billington, the actor, I wanted to find out more.
1871 Census showing the Goole born actor
In Brighton, Sussex
John Billington the actor was born in Goole, East Yorkshire 1830 and died in 1904 His wife was Adeline, also a thespian and was born in Portsmouth about 1831

Following his early life in Goole, John would find his way to Brighton, where he is listed in the Census of 1871 as being resident with his wife and 15 year old son, Joseph Billington Shaw.

A year later a Times Classified advertisement list John Billington appearing in the Upper Crust at London’s Folly Theatre.  Sadly, no longer open, The Folly Theatre was close to London’s Charring Cross and appearing on the same bill that night was the acclaimed actor, John Lawrence Toole, also a regular visitor to Brighton and it would seem a friend of John Billington’s. The Upper Crust was a popular play with a popular cast,  as an 1880 edition of the Times repeats an almost identical advert in the classified section of the paper, which seems to run in subsequent editions throughout the year.

1883 Times review Tooley's
By 1881, John and Adeline are living on Hampstead Road, Marylebone, an area of London then famed for great writers and frequented by aristocracy and the like. By 1883, the Toole- Billington combination seems to be taking off, when the Times reports John to be playing John Perrybingle in Toole’s production of the comedy ‘Boys and Girls’ at ‘Tooles’ .

Toole’s theatre had been so named by JL Toole, when he took over the Folly in Charing Cross in 1879. An 1882 programme show’s John Billington performing in Betsy Baker and managing Robert McCaire in the same Bill. The Toole – Billington partnership continued through the 1880’s with show after show being advertised in the London Times.

1872 Betsy Baker
In 1891 John and Adeline were living with relatives in Portsmouth, according to the Census of that year but by 1892, the 62 year old actor is back at his friends theatre and appearing in Daisy’s Escape.
In 1897, as reported in the Times,  the 7th Annual Dinner in aid of the Actors Benevolent fund was attended by John Billington, where it was announced the fund had raised £1300. The Fund still runs today of course, with its patron now HRH , The Prince Of Wales. The Fund founded by Sir Henry Irving states of it’s history:

1903 Billington Farewell
‘Irving invited Charles Wyndham, J. L. Toole and Squire Bancroft, together with other prominent members of the theatrical profession, to dine with him one evening in the Beefsteak Room, and it was on their collective initiative that a decision was made to found a charity to be known as the Actors’ Benevolent Fund’
Perhaps one of those prominent actors was John Billington?
In 1901 John and Adeline are living in Burghley Road, St Pancras, and now aged 72 he lists his occupation as ‘Actor’. Perhaps an Actor never truly retires?
Though retire he did and it was at the Haymarket theatre on Tuesday 6th October 1903 that John Billington gave his farewell performance in ‘Waterloo’ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’, of Sherlock Holmes fame . The matinee performance featured such great actors of that era as Sir Henry Irving, who as we know,  was another close friend of J L Toole, and founder of the Actor’s Benevolent Fund.

1904 Probate Entry
John Billington died on 5 Sept 1904, in Highgate Road, Middlesex and an extract from his Probate details   his effects, valuing just short of £400 were left to his widow Adeline.
Perhaps a fitting obituary to this public performer, that unlike, his more infamous namesakes, the only hanging of this John Billington is that of his likeness in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

All in a week’s work

Last week was another hectic one in the life of Ancestry Central with some time spent in London at the LMA researching British Citizens born abroad between 1836-1907 which will form part of my article for Family Tree Magazine’s November issue.

Aside from that I have been photographing more cemeteries, with the addition now of Monumental Stones  from St Mary’s,Hemingbrough, Yorkshire , Air Street, Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire and Sculcoates  North, also in Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire.  These older cemeteries can be a challenge, as in some case, there is a deal of clearing to be done by removing and climbing through an amount of thorny undergrowth and not always with successful results. Great fun none the less. As yet, I am still not sure how I am going to display all of these but anyone wishing to contact me about them , please do so. In the meantime, a brief selection can be found here.

Additionally I have been researching 3 or 4 trees in the Lincolnshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire areas, exploring newspapers records, parish records and directories on behalf of my clients. Each one of them providing me with something interesting , which I have to say, is always the case. The work is so absorbing.
On a personal note , I have been researching  Court Documents and Newspaper  articles relating to one of my own ancestors.  The tale of which I have since written up and submitted to a few select Family History Magazines for inclusion in their future issues. So fingers crossed.
All in a week’s work........

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Friday, 13 May 2011

A little bit of Lincolnshire

Heckington, Great Hale, Horbling, Billingborough  & Burton Pedwardine,Lincolnshire, England.
Heading south from Sleaford in the direction of Bourne are the historic Lincolnshire places of Heckington, Great Hale, Horbling, Billingborough  & Burton Pedwardine.  The Total distance from start to finish of the journey is 2.5 miles but what the journey lacks miles is surpassed by Historical interest.
Burton Pedwardine is a hamlet located four and a half miles south-east of the market town of Sleaford and south-west of the village of Heckington. Burton Pedwardine is located in the district of North Kesteven, which is in the county of Lincolnshire in England.
Burton Pedwardine online describe it more eloquently ‘Located in the heart of the Lincolnshire Countryside approximately 4½ Miles south-east of the market town of Sleaford and nestling on the edge of the East Anglian Fens, Burton Pedwardine is still a predominantly agricultural village surrounded by open farmland. Many of the residents have come to enjoy the village’s peaceful tranquillity, friendly atmosphere and Lincolnshire’s legendary “big skies”
The focal point of Burton Pedwardine is St Andrews Church in which you can find the tomb of Sir Thomas Horsman, previously Lord of the manor of Burton Pedwardine.
Heckington is one of the largest villages in Lincolnshire, and in North Kesteven. There are 1491 households in Heckington and it is located about midway between Sleaford and Swineshead Bridge south of the A17 road.
The old St. Andrew's church has a variety of original stained glass windows, one of which depicting the construction of the Decorated Gothic building itself. It was built during the 14th century. The church was featured in 2007 on the Divine Designs programme on Channel Five .
The Heckington Show is held annually in the village over the last weekend in July since 1864.  The village has a 900-year-tradition of holding festive weekends.
Heckington is an "open village", not owned by any one great landowner who held his tenants in tight control. Perhaps for this reason at certain times the young people became unruly. There was country-wide  unrest following the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 culminating in the Swing Riots in the 1830s. In October 1816 a gang, mainly of women, attacked the houses of Robert & William Taylor, Thomas Almond and William Platts, causing much damage, for which they were prosecuted. (an extract from’ Dusty Almonds’ by Ruth Tinley)
Heckington is also famous for its windmill: Heckington Windmill is the only 8-sailed tower windmill still standing in the United Kingdom with its sails intact.
Heckington is located about midway between Sleaford and Boston in Lincolnshire. The mill stands very close to Heckington railway station, hence its previous name of the Station Mill in the 19th century.
Great Hale is a small village, directly south of Heckington, in the county of Lincolnshire, England.
Great Hale is an ancient parish in the Kesteven part of Lincolnshire. It was in Aswardhurn wapentake, and was in Sleaford poor law union and rural sanitary districts. From 1894 to 1931 it was in Sleaford Rural District, and from 1931 to 1974 it was in East Kesteven Rural District. Since 1974 it has been in North Kesteven district. It originally contained the township of Little Hale in addition to the township of Great Hale, but Little Hale became a separate civil parish in 1866 In 1935, it gained part of the ancient parish of Bicker in the Holland part of Lincolnshire.
The church of St. John the Baptist is located in the centre of the village. Part of the church (the tower) is late Saxon and pre-dates the Norman conquest of England by approximately 100 years (i.e. 966 AD).
Horbling is a village which is situated a half mile north of Billingborough, Lincolnshire in South Kesteven on the B1777.
It contains a church and a Scout Group. The scout group serves for Billingborough, Horbling and Morton. The church is dedicated to St Andrew. The village pub is the Plough Inn on Spring Lane. It's population in the 2001 census  was 397.
In the 1086 Domesday Book, the village name is rendered as Horbelinge, from the Old English Horu+bill+ingas meaning "muddy settlement of the followers of Bill".
The priory of Holland Bridge was founded by Godwin of Lincoln before 1200 and was dedicated to St. Saviour. The ruins of the priory are at the east end of the parish, near Car Dyke.
The Anglican parish church is dedicated to St. Andrew and some parts of the church building appear to be from the early Norman period.
Billingborough is a village and civil parish  in the old district of Aveland   Lincolnshire, England, about ten miles north of Bourne and ten miles south of Sleaford on the B1177 between Horbling and Pointon just south of the A52.
Billingborough is positioned at the edge of The Fens. According to the 2001 census, it had a population of 1,098
The name of the village comes from the post-Roman Billings tribe of invaders.
The  name, Aveland, is taken from a pre-conquest Wapentake of that name, dating back to 921. It stretched from Bourne to Threekingham.
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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Cemetery & Headstone Images

I have started to place just a few of the several hundred images of Heads stones I have online at Flckr. You can use these images for FREE providing they are for personal use and not commercial.

I am about to lose space, so if you think one of the people might be yours – get there quick:

Please note this is a small collection of what I have from the following cemeteries, so why not contact me and check.
Don’t worry if not , they will be re launched elsewhere very soon.
I have Random images from
Ambleforth, North Yorkshire
Billingborough, Lincolnshire
Burton Pedwardene, Lincolnshire
Chorley main,Lancashire
Chorley St Laurence,Lancashire
Elloughton, East Yorkshire
Goxhill, Lincolnshire
Grimsby Scartho , Lincolnshire
Heckington Cemetery , Lincolnshire
Heckington St Andrews , Lincolnshire
Helmsley, North Yorkshire
Helpringham, Lincolnshire
Horbling, Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire
Hull Eastern, East Yorkshire
Hull Hedon Road, East Yorkshire
Hull Jewish, East Yorkshire
Hull Myton Street East Yorkshire
Hull Spring Bank (Old) East Yorkshire : 
Hull Western, East Yorkshire
Kirkby Moorside, North Yorkshire
Little Hale, Lincolnshire
Newton Heath, Manchester,Lancashire
Olswaldkirk, North Yorkshire
Sheffield General,  West Yorkshire (now South)

Details of names uploaded so far:

Ampleforth; Garbutt, Knowlson,Thompson,

Billingborough; Almond, Bailey, Baily,

Chorley Main, Brewer, Brown , Chorlton, Lister,  Withnell,
Chorley St Laurence; Swift
Elloughton; Jefferson
Goxhill;  Bennett, Hess, Lepird, Mathias, McPherson, Neave, Peterson, Vrabel,  ( this are in the set RAF Goxhill)
Hull Eastern; Bell, Hibbard, Routledge Cross,
Hull Spring Bank (Old):Brown, Clayton, Dearlove, Dolby, Fountain,Gath,  Hellyer,Myers, Pawson, Stephenson,
Hull (Hedon Raod) Archer,Brown, Dawson, Huyton,
Hull Myton Street, Hall
Kirby Moorside, Simpson, Webb,
Newton Heath, Partington, 

Sheffield General: Barnes, Nicholson, Richards, Taylor,


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Blitz Com by dot Com a Blast !

Afternoon arrivals enjoy the sun

Saturday 7th May 2011 saw the start of a two day exhibition organised by the East Yorkshire Family History Society to commemorate Kingston Upon Hull's worst night of the 1941 blitz. The exhibition was held at Carnegie Heritage Centre and with the help of volunteer groups such as the Heroes of Hull Web Site. The exhibition itself was an overwhelming success with the several hundred opening day visitors being treated to a flypast  by a  Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire, which many watched from a sun drenched West Park.
Redcar Street - one of
many excellent graphic
comparisons on display
Once inside visitors could see WW2 arms, Civil Defence and WW2 paraphernalia, presentations, maps , pictures and much more. A local lady who had survey the blitz commented on what a wonderful achievement it was by a small group of enthusiast, to bring such a wonderful collection of information  to the public. Children  and young people also had the opportunity to learn about the history of their city and about what life had been like for their wartime ancestors.
An excellent day was had by all.
Plans for memorial
The following extract from BBC online, outlines the City’s hopes for a memorial that will finally give the city and the people lost in the Blitz, the recognition they deserve:
In total, 82 air raids left their mark on the city and its people, but at the time, Hull received little recognition for the damage it sustained.   
When air raids were reported in the media, it was often only referred to as a town on the North East coast.
German bombs left a lasting scar on the landscape, and there are hopes that a crumbling building could provide a fitting memorial to the civilians who lost their lives.
A small selection of the
 Blitz time memorabilia on display
The National Picture Theatre in Beverley Road was destroyed in an air raid, but the World War Memorial Trust now wants to turn it into an education centre with plaques for the 1,200 people who lost their lives in the raids.
Trust secretary Alan Canvess said: "We would hope that it would be a commemoration to those who died and a fitting tribute to those who served on the Home Front in Hull and nationwide."
Support the campaign !
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Friday, 6 May 2011

Headstones from Manchester and Sheffield.

Headstones from Manchester and Sheffield.
Just a few images of the images I have taken of the General Cemetery in Sheffield, Yorkshire and also the church yard at All Saints in Newton Heath,Manchester, Lancashire.
With about 700 images, and  over 1000 names still to upload, I am now looking at an alternative location as my Flckr account is about to reach its full extent. Ii is my hope that a new web page will provide an easy search function. See images here

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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Rev J Billington St Mary’s Hidden Gem , Manchester 1837 - 1844

I visited yesterday The Church of  St. Mary, Mulberry Street (The Hidden Gem), in Manchester to see where my ancestor Jane Billington was baptised in 1827. 

Unable to gain access to the interior, I settled for some exterior photographs -  one of the images taken reveals the Rev J Billington 1837 – 1844.
Of course, I am curious as to who he was and if there was a connection at all to my family, although he was in house some ten years after Jane’s baptism and of course, i am aware that the surname in Lancashire is more common than it is elsewhere.
I thought I might find him on the 1841 Census but a name search does not come up and I am not familiar enough to know which sub district to search ( presume he lived close to ST Mary’s)
The church web site mentions him only in passing and I cannot find anymore about him anywhere. Normally there would be something in alumni records or an obituary somewhere.
Can anyone offer any help ?


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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

11 New Headstones : 23 new names from 4 Counties

In my quest to upload as many images of headstones as I can shake a stick at uploaded are another 11 headstones featuring 23 names from 4 counties.
Featuring the names Huyton, Dawson, Brown, Archer, Almond, Pickworth, Swift, Baily, Bailey, Garbutt, Knowlson and Thompson. From Ampleforth, Chorley and Kingston Upon Hull, featuring three counties; East Yorkshire, North Yorkshire , Lincolnshireand Lancashire.
Headstone tag of the day ‘We shall meet beyond the River’

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Monday, 2 May 2011

Headstone Hunters

Having travelled  to quite  a few cemeteries  in search of headstone images and monumental inscriptions, I now realise that I have a massive amount of images – some good, some not so good.
Searching cemeteries, I normally take other images of headstones randomly. It might be the images I have taken have a similar name to those that I am researching or that I like the look of the headstone.
My plan is now to add those stoles on a regular basis to this flckr page.
Take a look daily , has anything been added that you are looking for ?

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