Following on from the feature on the arrival of our Birmingham Youngs, the next significant step in our ancestry was the huge family delivered by William Young and Elizabeth Howell which started soon after their wedding in Bordesley in 1883.
According to a newspaper interview with one of their kids in later life, the family comprised 16 children although I have only managed to trace 14 so whether that was an exaggeration to embellish the story or maybe there really are missing records, who knows but it was a big family and all were born in Birmingham.
I’ve broken down their story in line with the census records which attempted to capture them in 1891, 1901 and 1911.
Address: 385 Bolton Road, Small Heath
Present: Parents William and Elizabeth. Children Ellen, William, James, Thomas
The family were living at 385 Bolton Road in Small Heath having earlier in the decade resided a short distance away on Keeley Street which was worryingly close to St Andrews football ground ! William was working as a “machinist and gun stoker”, carving gun stocks from wood and fitting them to the metal parts of the guns, possibly at the BSA factory.
Their first child was Elizabeth who was born on 15th January 1884 but she doesn’t appear on this or any subsequent census. She was baptised at the local St Philip’s church in late February but death records and her subsequent absence from all records would suggest she died in her first year.
1885 saw the arrival of Ellen who lived a good 82 years, during which she married Frederick Watson in 1907.
Next one out was my Great Grandfather William who was born in 1888 and who married Harriet Smith at Bordesley in 1907. William worked initially as a “sawyer” who was simply a person who worked with wood machinery to cut lengths of wood, then became a carter and in later life a haulier but it was a short life as he died aged 37 in 1925 at Birmingham General Hospital after a lengthy illness.
1889 saw James arrive on the scene but although he made it to a delayed baptism in March 1891, he appears to have lost his life shortly afterwards.
At the same March 1891 baptism at All Saints Church, Small Heath, William and Elizabeth also took the opportunity to baptise Harry, who was born in early 1890. Little is known about Harry at the moment apart from he married a Violet Newman in 1910.
1891 saw the brief arrival of Thomas who must have died in his first year and was never baptised.
Address: 116 Crocketts Road, Handsworth
Present: Parents William and Elizabeth. Children Ellen, William, Harry, Florence, Frederick, Arthur, Beatrice, Alfred
On the face of it, the family appeared to be missing from this census which was an unlikely event as apart from being against the law to dodge the census, it would be very difficult to hide from the door-to-door enumerator when you have 8 kids in tow !
I eventually found them in Handsworth but registered under Elizabeth’s maiden name of Howell. In addition, William was claiming to be a greengrocer and indeed the address was a greengrocers but …… William was never a greengrocer, he worked with his hands throughout his life and shops were not his thing.
The shop actually belonged to Elizabeth’s brother John who WAS a greengrocer and was showing in trade directories as the shop owner so what was going on ?
It may be that John was allowing his sister and family to live above his shop but why did they adopt the Howell name for the day ? Was William trying to hide his wherabouts by hiding his surname and pretending to be the shop owner ? The fact that John appears to be absent from the census return does suggest he WAS in hiding and helping their “cunning plan” but I guess we’ll never know the real story behind this one !
Anyway, the lively household was still home to Ellen, William and Harry who were joined in 1892 by Florence who, sadly, only lived until 1903.
1894 was the year of Frederick about whom we know absolutely nothing at this stage. He was followed in 1896 by Edward who lived a good life starting as a Wood Sawyer in Aston and a taxi-driver in later life in Shard End. “Uncle Ted” was described by a living descendant as “a lovely man with a lovely sense of humour” !
Next out was the August 1897 arrival of Arthur who went on to enjoy a very eventful life which you can read about HERE.
January 1899 saw baby Bea arrive. Beatrice did very well to live a full life through to her death in 1988 because in 1941 she and her husband, Charles, were in the wrong place at the wrong time when the German’s bombed the Wolseley Works Club in Drews Lane, Ward End where they were working as stewards. Charles was killed outright and Beatrice wasn’t expected to survive her injuries but after many months in hospital, survive she did.
1901 saw another sadly short life for little Alfred who came and departed before the end of the year.
Address: 104 Whitehall Road, Small Heath
Present: Parents William and Elizabeth. Children Edward, Arthur, Beatrice, Alfred, Thomas, George
The family was back to being Youngs and back to living in Small Heath. Edward, Arthur and Beatrice were still at home albeit Edward was out earning a wage as a wood sawyer. Father William was now working at a motor car factory.
Thomas Henry was born to the family in 1904, Elizabeth using the same forename as their earlier Thomas who had died as a baby. Tom lived for a good 80 years during which he married Annie (Nancy) Ellis in 1926. He was known to have worked on farms throughout his life and was popular with his grandkids because he looked after shire horses !
The last recorded birth to William and Elizabeth, who was now 43 years old, was George who was born on 10th April 1907 at 131 Carlton Road, Small Heath. There are no subsequent online records for George beyond the 1911 census four years after his birth but we are going to assume he had a long and healthy life for now !
So that’s the first and by far the largest of the Birmingham Young families made up of 14 kids, of which 5 sadly never made it to adulthood. It’s a shocking figure but child mortality rates in Birmingham at the time were about 20% with most of those dying in their first year.
Father of the family, William died in 1916 at the relatively young age of 57 at 56 Raymond Road while Elizabeth, despite mothering 14 kids, lived to 1944 and the ripe old age of 80.