Saturday, 28 June 2014

52 Ancestors #2: Georgie Porgie Pudding & Pie...

Let's get this started with one of my favourites; not because he did anything particular spectacular but for the simple fact that he was the first 'real find'. The first ancestor that I was able to look over records and to some degree, understand his life, understand him, and feel emotionally connected. Dearest George.

George was my great grandfather. George Edward Stephan.

George was born 1866 in Broseley, Shropshire to George Stephan Nickless & Druscilla Vaughan Beard (now that's a name you don't heard very often!). He was one of 6 children (well 6 that I have been able to track down - one of those being a half sister from his Father's later marriage). There was George & Eustace (twins), Druscilla Jr, Beatrice Mary and Arthur. Clara was the half-sister.

George lost his twin brother Eustace in a house fire in 1870, at age 4.
His Mother Druscilla unfortunately died the same year from TB, 7months after giving birth to Arthur;
Then, and I assuming because his Father couldn't cope after the dreadful events they'd been put through, the family split up...

By the 1871 census, Druscilla (Jr) was living with her paternal Stephan grandparents, George with his maternal Beard Grandparents and Beatrice and Arthur with their Uncle & Auntie - the Yates'.

Worth noting that Eliza Yates was also the grandmother of George's wife to be (Hannah Haynes).

After some digging, I discovered Arthur was born in January 1870 - just before the death of George's mother in August 1870. (Druscilla Snr unfortunately died from TB which she contracted after giving birth).

Weirdly, there is an Arthur Stephan living with Beatrice and the Yates' family in 1871, but it states his age as 4; three years older than he would actually have been...

I have been unable to locate a death or subsequent location for Arthur. He is MIA ... what is it with Arthurs?!

In 1871 George was living with his Grandparents, Thomas (59yo) and Mary (57yo) Beard. His Father George was still living with them but then came the exciting 1881 census ... his Father had left but Georgie boy was aboard a barge and not any barge - A Severn Trow with his grandfather Thomas Beard!

"The sailing barges of the River Severn were known as "Trows" and hundreds of them once carried goods up and down the River Severn between Shrewsbury and Bristol, and along the coasts of Devon, Cornwall and South Wales"  - I A Recordings

'William' Severn Trow
The Trow that George worked aboard was called the 'William' and is infamous in the Shropshire area, as it is known to be one of the last working Severn Trows. A picture of it can be found at Blists Hill Museum (Ironbridge) alongside the exhibition of the restored 'Spry' Trow. From the known dates, it is likely that this is a photo of Thomas ('Bearded' at front!) and George to the left -although I can't be 100% sure!

George remained on the ship through the 1891 census and at some point between then and 1901, left the ship for the family pub. This is the family pub that previously, little old Beatrice had been living in alone (1891 census) until she got married.

To give a little background, George's sister Beatrice married William House and emigrated to America in 1900 and Druscilla married Alfred Potter and emigrated to Canada in 1911.

Now who is to say, given their separated childhood, that the siblings were close or even whether they saw each other? One can only speculate. Regardless, a split family was now truly split - by the Atlantic Ocean.

It appears that his Father George (Stephan Nickless) moved to Worcester and remarried to Fanny Mears having a daughter named Clara in 1877 when his 3 children were not even in their teens. 

George's family was now his grandparents.

But in 1900, George got married - to Hannah Marie Haynes and by 1901 they were living in the family Public House known as the General Gordon (also known as the Werps Inn due to it location).

The General Gordon is well known locally as a pub located in the Werps. The Werps was located opposite the former Coalport China Factory (now a Museum) on the River Severn but was sadly demolished during a slum clearance programme. You can see the pub at the back left of the photo - the white dormer building!
The Werps (opposite China Museum) 
The Werps - Tithe Map 1838
I recently discovered this rare photo of the pub - unfortunately it is stated as being taken in 1903 (Powell - Images of England South Telford) with the 'Potts' name over the door. George was shown at the pub in 1901 census, so one can only assume he moved shortly after marrying Hannah or the date is incorrect. At least it gives an idea of the type of property it was and its immediate setting.

General Gordon Pub - Henry Potts & Family

George went on to have, as far as I am aware, 5 children, all with Hannah Marie (nee Haynes).

1901 - Beatrice Georgina
1903 - Eustace Beard
1905 - George Victor  (my Grandad - aka Vic)
1907 - Leslie Vaughan
1911 - Arthur Gordon (my long lost Arthur)

Beatrice died in a house fire at age 4 - much the same was that George had lost his brother all that time ago and at the same age(!). This must of been very painful for George and one can only assume that this contributed to them leaving the Pub ... 

In 1911, I found Eustace living with his maternal family (the Haynes') - albeit that he is noted a "nephew" when I think he is actually the grandson (another story, another time...)

Unfortunately George lost his life in 1922, at the young age of 56 leaving behind 4 teenage sons and a wife. I will speak about them further another time.

George reminds me how important family is. He reminds me of how important it is to make time for them and never to take them for granted because there can come a time that you will be separated; whether this be permanently or simply by an Ocean.

I wish that he had been able to see his young boys grow up and help guide them; avoiding their separation later in life. I wish he had been able to see his grandchildren in very much the same way I wish that I had been able to meet my Grandad Vic (his son).

Time is always against us...


  1. Well Done Penny I was engrossed !!! x

  2. Your grandad, my Dad, was a private man and talked little about his early life.He did however occasionally say that his brother Eustace had wasted the family assets and was clearly upset about this.He had to join the Navy at a very early age as a result!He took Sam and I on long walks and bike rides around the area and described all the local history to us.Everything was in ruins at that time - we used to play in the woods around the incline and the remains of the canals,etc.He was well known in the area and clearly well liked as everyone would stop to talk to him which was very frustrating to young boys keen to get going! Whilst he talked little about his local family he did keep in touch with relatives in Canada and America and visited them on several occasions during his time in the Navy. He would be just as proud of you as I am.Thank you for all your interest and hard work.Lots of love .Dad.xx