Charles and Jane
Charles Potts was born in Belfast in about 1835, the son of a mechanic named Robert Potts and his wife Mary Quinn. (“Mechanic” at this time referred to a semi-skilled machine operator, rather than someone who built or repaired machinery.)
Charles joined the army as a young man and family tradition tells us that he was a foot soldier based at Cheshire Barracks, and fought at Sebastopol during the Crimean War (1854-55). However, by the time of his marriage (1868) he had left the army, probably having served his time, although he may possibly have been invalided out: his death certificate describes him as an "army pensioner". He is not recorded on any English census before 1871, but soldiers serving abroad were not included at that time.
When Charles died in 1922, a local newspaper recorded that he was one of the last twelve Crimean veterans in Manchester.
The most likely candidate I have found is a Charles Potts recorded on the 1861 Army List serving in the 62nd (Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot. This regiment was stationed in Ireland immediately prior to leaving for the Crimea in 1854 and it participated in both the siege of Sebastopol and the failed assault of the Redan bastion. In the aftermath it was sent to Canada from 1857-1864, returned to England for a year and was then posted to Ireland from 1865-1869. This timeline is compatible with what we know about “our” Charles
Jane Nesbitt was born in Carrickfergus, Antrim in about 1842, the daughter of a seaman named Samuel Nesbitt and his wife Anne McCourtney. She came to England some time during the 1860s, and seems to have come alone - either to look for work or possibly to join her future husband.
Jane was living at 15 Sovereign Street, Pendleton in October 1867, but on the marriage certificate a few months later, both she and Charles give their address as 9 Turner Street, Manchester, which according to contemporary street directories consisted mainly of shops and warehouses, and was probably a “convenience” address, used to establish residence in the parish while the banns were called. At this time, Manchester Cathedral charged a fee for all marriages performed in the diocese in addition to the fee charged by the local parish church, so like many poorer couples, Charles and Jane arranged to have a temporary address in the central Manchester parish served by the Cathedral itself, and were married there on 12 January 1868.
On the marriage certificate, Charles is described as a hackle-maker. (Hackles were steel flax combs used in the textile industry.) Jane was unable to sign her name on the certificate, which like the birth certificates of all their children bears her "mark".
Charles and Jane had nine children, all born in Pendleton:
m. Joseph Jackson, 1889
m. Mary Laffin, 1893
m. Emily Ellis, 1901
m. Robert Charles James, 1907
m. William Beckett, 1905
The family lived in Pendleton for about 15 years, and for at least part of this time, they occupied one of Salford's notorious cellar dwellings at "Under 44, Sovereign Street". In these damp and unsanitary conditions, they lost three young children to typhoid and bronchial pneumonia - diseases which were all too common at that time.
By 1873, Charles had started working in Macintosh’s India rubber works, where he would remain for the rest of his working life, and in the second half of the 1880s the family moved from Pendleton to Hulme in Manchester. The older children had reached working age, and were now able to contribute financially. Unfortunately, the harsh conditions of her early married life may have weakened Jane's health, and she died of peritonitis on 15 June 1890 at the age of 48. Charles was left with five children aged between 7 and 14 still at home, and it must have been very difficult for him to bring them up alone: we know that one of the younger children lived for a time with her older married sister.
In 1901, Charles was living in Hulme with his married son Charles Henry and family, but after the death of Charles Henry's wife in 1905, the older Charles went to live with his youngest daughter Jane and her husband William Beckett. He died at their home in Hulme on 15 November 1922 at the age of 87 and was buried in Southern Cemetery.
Mary Ann Potts
Mary Ann Potts was born in Pendleton on 26 February 1869, and married Joseph Jackson at Holy Trinity, Hulme on 9 June 1889. Joe was a house painter and decorator born in Liverpool in 1864, the son of a bricklayer from London also named Joseph Jackson and his Cumbrian wife Ann Walker.
They had 10 children:
7. Annie Jackson
8. Ada Jackson
9. Joseph Jackson
10. Doris Jackson
m. Edward Harry Lambourne, 1909
m. Harry Moseley, 1913
m. Howard Stanton, 1916
m. Alice Maud Jennings, 1921
m. Sarah Ann Clark, 1922
m. Joseph Walter Palmer, 1920
m. Phyllis May Wilson, 1934
m. William Williamson, 1936
The Jacksons spent most of their married life in Hulme, and from the early 1900s Joe had a shop and business in King Street, Stretford. In addition to raising their own children, the warm-hearted couple regularly opened their home to other family members in times of need, even though they were never particularly well-off.
Joe was a sergeant in the Rifle Brigade during the First World War, and died in about 1940. Mary Ann died in early 1944.
Charles Henry Potts
When Charles Henry Potts was born in Pendleton on 22 May 1874, he was given the same name as his older brother who had died a few weeks previously. This probably seems a morbid idea to us today, but in an age where infant mortality was high, it was a very common practice. At the age of 16, Charles was a cotton cloth finisher, but within a couple of years he had joined his father in the Macintosh rubber factory, where he would make tyres for most of his working life.
Charles married Mary Laffin at Holy Trinity Church, Hulme on 21 December 1893. He gave his age as 20, but was actually only 19, while his bride was just 18 years old. Mary was born in Chester in 1875, the daughter of a tailor named Patrick Laffin (born in Manchester in 1847) and his wife Catherine Stapleton (born in Manchester in about 1853). Both the Laffin and the Stapleton families were recent immigrants from Ireland. At the time of their marriage, the couple were living with Joe and Mary Ann Jackson (Charles' sister) at 15 Athol St, Hulme, and Joe and Mary Ann were the witnesses on the marriage certificate.
Charles and Mary lived in Hulme, Manchester, and had 5 children:
m. Norman Lamb, 1920
m. Alice O'Sullivan, 1922
m. James Potter, 1925
m. Annie Eaton, 1936
In 1905, Mary contracted typhoid fever, and died in Withington Union Workhouse on 21 December 1905. The workhouse hospital was the only option for most working-class families, especially those suffering from infectious diseases, and Mary's death was registered by the workhouse master. However, Charles and the children entered the workhouse a week before Mary, remaining there for several weeks. The children returned to the workhouse several times over the next few years, spending time in Styal Cottage Homes, a "village" founded in 1898 for the care of children under the control of the Chorlton Board of Guardians.
In 1907, Charles' oldest son James was sent to Canada from Styal Cottage Homes as a "Home Child" under a well-intentioned but fundamentally flawed scheme which aimed to provide orphaned, abandoned and pauper children with a better life in the Colonies. James became a servant in Ontario until he was 18, and then worked on the railway before enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force soon after the outbreak of war in 1914. He seems to have kept in contact with his aunt Mary Ann Jackson, whom he regarded as a second mother, assigning her his army pay, and making a will in her favour, while simply asking that his father be informed of his death. Sadly, James was killed in action toward the end of the war, on 8 August 1918.
In 1911, Charles and his two youngest sons were lodging with a family in Pendleton, while his oldest daughter Annie was in service with a family in Eccles and his other daughter Margaret was living with her aunt Margaret Ann Robinson (née Laffin). By World War I, Charles was living in Harold Street, Pendleton and does not appear to have served in the armed forces. He died at home in Harold Street on 13 July 1931, and an inquest concluded that he had committed suicide by coal gas poisoning.
Charles appears to have lost touch with the family to some extent after his wife's death and some (if not all) of his nephews and nieces were unaware of his existence.
Robert Potts was born in Pendleton on 14 October 1896, and on the 1891 UK census, he is listed as a printer's apprentice, but as he later became a house painter like several others of the Potts-Jackson clan, this is possibly a copying error.
He died on 10 July 1898, aged just 21, at “Meadowcroft”, Dane Road, Sale, the home of George Jackson (brother of Joseph Jackson who married Robert’s sister Mary Ann), and his death was registered by George’s wife Harriet Ann. Robert was a journeyman house painter, working in the same trade as George, and quite likely with or for him, as they were living in the same house.
Robert’s death certificate gives the cause of death as uraemia coma. Uraemia is a term used loosely to describe the illness accompanying kidney failure, where urea and other waste products, which are normally excreted into the urine, are retained in the blood. Early symptoms include anorexia and lethargy, followed by decreased mental acuity and eventually coma. There are various possible causes, including diabetes, hypotension and chronic kidney infection, many of which would be treatable today.
James Potts was born in Pendleton on 21 November 1878, and on the 1901 UK census, he and his sister Jane are listed as boarders in the household of Arthur and Fanny Lea at 8 Poole Street, Hulme. James was a house painter and Arthur Lea a paper hanger, so they may have been professional colleagues.
James married Emily Ellis at St Philip, Hulme on 19 October 1901. Emily was born in Manchester on 2 November 1878, the daughter of painter George Ellis and his wife, Fanny Morris.
At the outbreak of World War I, James joined the Border Regiment, but was severely disfigured by a facial wound, and later became something of a recluse. When his niece Edith went to Jackson Street Elementary School, she met his children, and discovered cousins she had never previously known.
James and Emily had five children, all born in Manchester:
1. James Potts
2. Nellie Potts
3. Agnes Potts
4. Isabella Potts
5. Edna Potts
m. Emily West, 1929
m. John Edward Devitt, 1939
m. Arthur Sharples, 1929
m. Robert Samuel Lyons, 1934
m. William Harker, 1946
James died at home in Stowe St, Chorlton-on-Medlock, on 19 March 1932 of acute pulmonary tuberculosis: the secondary cause of death is given on the death certificate as “gunshot wound of mouth and nose (war wound)”. Emily died in 1937, and like her husband was buried in Southern Cemetery.
Sarah Ellen Potts
Sarah Ellen Potts was born in Pendleton on 11 February 1881, and was only nine years old when her mother died. She lived for some time with her older married sister, Mary Ann Jackson, but by 1901 she had left home, and was "in service" with a grocer's family named Hey in Renshaw Street, Hulme. Although Sarah hated being in service, she apparently became friendly with the daughter of the family, who was only five years younger than herself.
Like her future husband, Sarah was active in the Methodist church and belonged the Wilmott Street Mission. She was also in the Band of Hope, and on one occasion was cheered to the echo for singing "Little Brown Jug" at a Band of Hope concert! She apparently failed to realise that singing about beer in front of more - or less - committed teetotallers was hardly wise, and never understood why she was refused an encore.
Sarah married Robert Charles James on 15 January 1907.
Jane Potts (known as Jinnie) was born in Pendleton on 18 March 1833, and before her marriage, she worked for a shipping company. On the 1901 census, she is recorded with her brother James as a lodger at 8 Poole Street, Hulme.
She married William Beckett at Holy Trinity Church, Hulme on 3 September 1905. William was born in Shawbury, Shropshire in 1878, the son of house painter John Beckett and his wife Adaliza Corfield. In the early 1880's, the family came to live in Manchester, where William and his younger brother Albert worked in the rubber industry.
William and Jinnie had four daughters, all born in Manchester:
1. Florence Beckett
2. Lily Beckett
3. Elsie Beckett
4. Hilda Beckett
m. John O'Hare, 1949
m. Charles Patrick Peter Smith, 1933
m. John Henry Yates, 1932
m. Sydney Platt, 1934
Jinnie's father Charles lived with the family towards the end of his life.
After William’s death, Jinnie married his brother James Henry Beckett (b. Manchester, 1888) in 1948. James was a widower with three adult sons, who served in the Manchester Regiment during World War I. His right ear was perforated while on active service in France, and he was consequently transferred to the Labour Corps in 1916. James died in Fallowfield in 1961, and Jinnie died in Manchester in 1963.
Ethel Jackson, oldest child of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Hulme, Manchester in 1889. When she was about 18 years old, she had a daughter:
Elsie was brought up as if she were the twin of Ethel's youngest brother Joseph, and is listed as such on the 1911 census.
Ethel married Edward Harry Lambourne at St Saviour's Church, Chorlton on Medlock on 16 October 1909. Edward was born in Darlaston, Staffordshire in 1886, and was the son of William Lambourn and his wife Elizabeth Williams. The Lambournes moved to Manchester around 1890, and Edward became an iron erector by trade.
Edward and Ethel had three children:
m. Elsie Etchells, 1937
In January 1915, Edward enlisted in the Manchester Regiment, and was sent with the Mediterranean Expedition Force to Gallipoli. He contracted dysentery there, and was invalided home in January 1916, and discharged as no longer fit for active service. As a result, he was awarded a small military pension, which included 9d (4p) per week for his three children. By October 1916 he had apparently recovered sufficiently to re-enlist, and he remained in the Manchester Regiment until 1 May 1919.
However, in the longer term Edward's health may have been permanently affected by his war-time experience, as he died in Manchester in 1922, only three years after his return to civilian life. Two of the couple's children, Lilian and Percy, died as teenagers in the 1920s, leaving Ethel with just her youngest son Harry.
Ethel then married Thomas Alfred Read in Chorlton on Medlock in 1924, and died in Heywood in 1971.
Edith Jackson, second child of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Manchester on 26 May 1892, and was nicknamed "Dolly" because she was small and doll-like. As a young woman she worked as a chemist and dry setter's assistant before marrying Harry Moseley in Manchester on 21 December 1913. Harry was born in Manchester on 16 July 1891, and was the son of Thomas Cooper Moseley, a milk dealer from Leicestershire, and his wife Hannah Ashton.
Harry and Edith had three children, all born in Manchester:
1. David Moseley
2. Edna Moseley
3. Harry Moseley
m. Rona May Matthews, 1942
m. William Noah Brickles, 1940
m. Dorothy Bryson, 1942
Edith died in Stretford in April 1967, and Harry died later the same year in Stockport.
Minnie Jackson, third child of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Manchester in 1893, and like her sister Edith worked as a chemist and dry setter's assistant before marrying Howard Stanton at Rusholme Road Independent Chapel on 14 June 1916. Howard was born in Manchester in 1890, and was the son of Joseph William Stanton and his wife Sarah Elsie Arrandale. At the time of their marriage, Howard was on leave from the army, where he was a sergeant (later a warrant officer) in the Manchester Regiment.
Howard and Minnie had one son:
Albert Howard Stanton
m. Irene Williamson, 1940
Unfortunately, the marriage did not last, and Minnie moved to London, where she had a relationship with a police officer named Frank Cairns. Although they do not seem to have married, Minnie used his surname, and they had a son who died at the age of 10:
Minnie returned to Manchester at some point before her son's death, and lived for a while with her married sister Edith. She then married Frank Hulme in Manchester in 1955, and died in Blackpool in 1960.
Minnie's first husband Howard Stanton died in Stockport in 1976.
David Jackson, fourth child and oldest son of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Manchester on 27 July 1895. Like several of his relations, he worked in the Mackintosh rubber factory as a young man, before joining the Royal Navy on 18 September 1913. During the First World War he took part in the ill-fated Gallipoli landings of 1915, where the Allies lost over 40,000 men trying to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), and secure a sea route to Russia.
After being discharged from the Navy, David married Alice Maud Jennings (a cousin of his uncle Robert Charles James) in Manchester in 1921. The couple had three sons:
Reginald George Jackson
Robert Steven Jackson
m. Edith Townley, 1947
m. Kathleen Flaherty, 1947
Alice died in Manchester of septicaemia following a miscarriage at the age of 35, and was buried in Southern Cemetery on 3 November 1927. David took the children to live with his parents for a while before marrying Eva Winifred Smith in Oldham in 1929. Eva was born in Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire on 12 December 1900, and was the youngest child of Frederick Smith, a coal miner from Birmingham, and his second wife, Angelina Hare.
David and Eva lived in Daisy Nook, Oldham, and had five children:
Elizabeth Mary Jackson
Peter Charles Jackson
m. Thomas Salt, 1947
m. Betty Kershaw, 1952
David remained on the strength of the Royal Naval Reserve after the First World War, and was therefore called up immediately at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. He served as a Leading Stoker and died on 5 October 1941 of injuries received when he fell down a ladder on board HMS Norfolk while the ship was in harbour at Scapa Flow. He is buried at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Hoy, Orkney.
Coincidentally, David's much younger cousin, Cyril James, served on the same ship as a gun layer between 1943 and 1944, participating in Arctic convoys and the sinking of the Scharnhorst.
James Jackson, son of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Manchester on 22 September 1897, and became a house painter like his father. At the age of 18, he joined the 2/6th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, and was mobilised a year later, before being sent to France in 1917. However, James had barely arrived in the Ypres Salient when he was gassed and hospitalised, only returning to the field six months later. The 2/6th Battalion was disbanded in July 1918, and James was transferred to 2nd Battalion, East Lancs Regiment, serving with them on the Western Front until the Armistice.
Although luckier than many victims of poison gas, James was still suffering the after-effects in 1920, when he was awarded a pension of 8/- per week as compensation for bronchitis: his disability was estimated as 20%.
James married Sarah Ann ("Annie") Clark in Manchester in 1920. The couple had just one son:
Derrick James Jackson
James died in Manchester in 1972.
Annie Jackson, daughter of Joseph Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Potts, was born in Stretford in 1902, and married Joseph Walter Palmer in Manchester in 1920. The couple had one daughter:
Sadly, Renee (as she was known) died at the age of 4.
Joseph died in Manchester in 1963 and Annie in 1969.
Annie Potts, oldest daughter of Charles Henry Potts and Mary Laffin, was born in Hulme on 1 October 1894, and after her mother's death in 1905, spent at least part of the next three years in Styal Cottage Homes, the children's section of Chorlton Union Workhouse. By 1911, Annie was "in service" with a family in Eccles, and on 29 May 1915 she married John Herrman, a fireman, in St Thomas' Church, Pendleton. John ("Jack") Herrman was born in Morecambe in 1892, and was the son of Thomas Richard Herrman and his wife Elizabeth Graham. During the First World War he served in 2/5th Batallion, King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment), becoming a sergeant, and died of wounds received while fighting on the Arras front on 30 August 1918.
There were no children from Annie's first marriage, and on 28 August 1920, she married Norman Lamb in North Bierley, Yorkshire. Norman was born in Lancaster on 27 May 1895, and was the son of Thomas Baxter Lamb and his wife Mary Alice Altham. Annie and Norman had six children:
Betty Irene Lamb
Thomas Baxter Lamb
John Alan Lamb
Annie and Norman also helped raise her young cousin Joel Robinson (1914-1963), the son of Margaret Ann Laffin and her husband James Robinson. Margaret died in Salford in 1925, and James is also believed to have died young.
Annie died in Morecambe on 7 September 1952 and Norman on 24 August 1955.
Four of their children emigrated to Canada, settling in the province of Manitoba.
m. Henry Johnson, 1945
m. John William Wyatt Clark, 1945
m. Marian Smith, 1948
m. Joyce Patricia Unfried
m. Derrick Scott, 1953
Robert Potts, son of Charles Henry Potts and Mary Laffin, was not born in Manchester like his siblings, but in Warrington on 2 March 1898. However, the family soon returned to Manchester, where Robert spent three months in the workhouse (probably the infirmary) in 1902. After the death of his mother in 1905, Robert spent at least part of the next five years in Styal Cottage Homes, and was discharged from the workhouse for the last time in June 1910.
In 1922 Robert married Alice O'Sullivan in Prestwich. Alice was born in Limerick on 6 April 1896, and was the daughter of Michael O'Sullivan, a carpenter, and his wife Kate. Robert and Alice had five children:
James McConning Potts
Charles Terrence Potts
Kathleen Mary Potts
m. Alice McBurnie, 1947
m. William McBurnie, 1948
m. Thomas Kay, 1955
Robert died in Salford in 1974 and Alice in 1983.
Margaret Potts, daughter of Charles Henry Potts and Mary Laffin, was born in Manchester on 10 August 1900, and when her mother died in 1905, she was the only one of the family not to enter the workhouse, and was probably taken in by relations. She definitely spent time in Styal Cottage Homes between 1907 and 1910, and is recorded on the 1911 census living with her maternal aunt Margaret Ann Laffin and her husband James Robinson.
In 1925 Margaret married James Potter in St John the Evangelist's Church, Lancaster. James was born in Lancaster on 5 March 1903, and was the son of Charles Brittell Potter and his wife Mary Knowles. Margaret and Annie had four children:
Mary Dorothy Potter
Charles Brittel Potter
m. Reginald Bruce Crowe, 1944
m. Audrey Cornthwaite, 1949
m. James Thomas Kernick, 1955
Margaret and James divorced some time prior to 1953, when Margaret married William Baines Cornthwaite, a widower, and father of her son Charles' wife. In 1957 they travelled to Canada, where Margaret's oldest child was living, and apparently remained there.
James Potts, oldest son of James Potts and Emily Ellis, was born in Hulme on 18 November 1903, and baptised in St Philip's Church, Hulme exactly a month later. He married Emily West in 1929, and had five children:
m. George Alan Whitehead, 1949
James died in Manchester in 1969, and Emily died in Ellesmere Port in 1987.