Back in the early 1800s, Birmingham really wasn’t the major population centre that it is today. Indeed, Coventry was seen as the bigger “capital” of the area but that all change during the middle part of the 1800s when the arrival of the railway’s and the organisation of the canal waterways gave Birmingham all of the advantages of transport in from and out to anywhere in the country.
Small businesses sprung up all over the city to take advantage of these links and businesses need workers thus the magnetic draw on surrounding counties started. Outside of the city, and particularly to the south, large swathes of the population were simply “agricultural workers” who earned a meager wage off the land and working on local farms.
That population included “our” Young family who were based in an area approximately 60 miles south of Birmingham bounded by the villages of Bromsberrow, Redmarley D’Abitot and Pendock. For any family history researcher, this location is a nightmare as at any given time it has been Worcestershire or Gloucestershire and is only a couple of miles from Herefordshire. On top of that, parts are included in the Forest Of Dean and other parts in the Malvern Hills district …… so we can claim ancestry in any of those areas that we may prefer !
Our oldest traceable ancestor was William Young who was born near the village of Pendock in or around 1806. This William was a Wesleyan Methodist who spent most of his life on Cooks Lane which is midway between Pendock and Bromsberrow where he was a farm labourer. Later in life he moved closer to Redmarley where he worked on the roads and sadly finishes his life defined as “destitute” at the workhouse in the nearby town of Newent in 1889.
His first born was – you guessed it and as tradition dictated back then – named after himself and another William Young arrived in 1931 and he also worked on the farms throughout his life which was spent in Worcestershire throughout.
Now we get to the key man and the headliner in this feature.
Our 1931 born William Young also had a sizeable family along with his locally born wife Emma, bringing six sons and four daughters into the world and our main man was his second born child who was …… wait for it …… called William and was born in 1859. His birth was registered at Great Malvern but it was almost certain that his actual birth address was in the village of Redmarley.
This William grew up in Redmarley and started working in his teenage years almost certainly on the same farm his father worked on but as he grew up, so Birmingham was growing up too with the first railways arriving shortly after he was born. Word would have been moving around as he worked the land – word that had Birmingham as the land of plenty with jobs and money that made working the land seem a poor choice for an ambitious young man.
How his journey north actually happened will never be known but it is highly likely that the move was made in 1881. Why ? Because on 25th November 1880, “our” William was arrested in the nearby village of Castlemorton for the offence of “attempting to commit an unnatural offence”.
The law behind that offence at the time makes it impossible to be certain of what he was arrested for but it is probably better not to know or to take the totally biased view that I take which is that William was innocent ! Either way, the judge at Worcester Court found him guilty and William was sentenced to 12 months “hard labour” at Worcester’s Salt Lane Prison in early 1881.
Late in January 1882, William left Worcester Prison and, possibly because of the local shame within his home area, he headed north into the “new world” of Birmingham. Our boy, now 23, was clearly a fast mover and met up with 18 year old Birmingham born ammunitions worker Elizabeth Howell and in May 1883, with Elizabeth already carrying their first child, they were married at St Andrews Church in Bordesley.
So that is it ….. that is where the Birmingham Youngs were started and the huge family delivered by William and Elizabeth made sure the Youngs would be around for some time in the city.
You can read more about the family elsewhere on the site.