Monday 17 June 2024

Thomas Bristow - from Blacktoft via Reedness to Australia

The weather is slowly improving and I have managed to get the grass cut and planted some courgettes outside. I am also trying to catalogue my old photos properly - but keep buying new postcards so it is a never ending task. Although some are on my website I now have many more so do contact me if you are searching for a photo to show your house or illustrate your family history.

 And speaking of family history last Monday I met a lovely couple, Geoff and Wendy in Blacktoft. We sat and chatted in the friendly old schoolroom there which is always open for walkers, cyclists or in our case family historians.

The schoolroom when it was open for pupils

Geoff's ancestors were the Bristow family who originated in the Yokefleet/ Blacktoft area at least as early as 1769 when William Bristow married Joyce Johnson in Blacktoft church. They had several children [ I have not followed them but know some stayed in the local area].

The son from whom Geoff is descended was another William, born in 1773. He married Mary Mennett, daughter of Christopher, at Bridlington in 1796.

They had a large family but here we are following their son Thomas who was born at Blacktoft in 1798. He married Elizabeth Bullass in Whitgift church in 1823.  On his marriage he says he was living in Hook [which then encompassed most of modern day Goole] and was probably working on a farm in the area.

Thomas and Elizabeth settled in Reedness where her family lived. Their first child, William was born in 1823 but died aged 3 days.

 Their daughter Hannah was born in 1825 and Thomas was then a blacksmith. William Bullass was born  in 1827 and George Bullass in 1829.  Thomas was still a blacksmith,  but when baby Harriet was born in 1831 Thomas was described as a farmer. Sadly she died in June aged 14 weeks.

A son, John Thompson Bristow was born in 1832. Elizabeth's mother's maiden name was Thompson.

But then, in 1833 Thomas was accused of stealing corn from a neighbouring farmer.

The case was reported in the Leeds Mercury newspaper of 13th April 1833

The Court was occupied several hours on the trial of Thomas  Bristow, a small farmer at Reedness near Goole, who was charged  with robbing the barn of Mr Thomas Smith, a neighbouring farmer, of about ten loads of wheat. It appeared that in the early part of February, some persons entered the barn in the night-time, and carried off the wheat in question. There was no direct evidence to prove that the prisoner had stolen the wheat, 

The following circumstances were relied on as bringing the charge home against him. A considerable quantity of wheat, exactly resembling that stolen from the prosecutor, had been traced to the possession of the prisoner, which wheat had this peculiarity that it contained a number of small weeds called  cock rose seed. It was also proved that the wheat land occupied by the prisoner was incapable of growing nearly the quantity of wheat which he had disposed of, the inference from which was rendered more conclusive against the prisoner by his declaration, that he had never purchased any wheat, and that all he had sold or consumed had been grown upon his own land. 

Evidence was also given to prove that the weeds in the prosecutor's wheat had never been known to grow upon the land occupied by the prisoner. Samples of the wheat taken from prosecutor's barn, and that found in the possession of the prisoner, and also of some of which he had sent to the mill to grind, were produced and shown to the jury, who expressed themselves satisfied that they were taken from the same corn. The jury without hesitation, found the prisoner Guilty. 

The Court sentenced him to be transported for seven years. The chairman said, it appeared very probable from the evidence, that the prisoner had been in the habit of plundering his neighbours. There was another indictment against the prisoner for a similar offence, on which it was not thought necessary to proceed.

Thomas was transferred to the prison hulk Retribution at Woolwich and then transported to Australia on board the Neva. He arrived in New South Wales on 21st November 1833

Initially he was 'disposed of' to Henry Howey of Minchinbury which was a cattle area but is now a suburb of Sydney.

Meanwhile back in Reedness Elizabeth was left to cope with the loss of her husband. Confusingly she had a daughter Ann who was baptised in 1837 and described as the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth.  It is possible that she was probably born soon after her father was imprisoned but baptised later.

In 1841 Elizabeth was in the newly built Goole workhouse with her two youngest children. John was said to be 5 and Ann 4 -  ages are not exact in the 1841 census.

Goole workhouse is the red building on the left

By 1851 she is a labourer back in Reedness with her son John aged 18. Ann is elsewhere in the village and in service. 

She describes herself as a widow. This is accurate as in the probate index at York is the following entry for 1848 New South Wales - Thomas Bristow of Raintree Hill New South Wales [I cannot locate this place] but formerly of Reedness, parish of Whitgift. The figure given in the probate index is £20.

In 1850  son William Bullass Bristow married Ann Bateman [early sources give the name as  Batman] a local girl at Whitgift church. Their two eldest children [Hannah and Mary Ann] were born in Reedness but the family then emigrated to Ontario where their son George was born in 1854. They had five further children and lived in Osprey township. He died in 1894 and is buried in Rob Roy cemetery there. Ann died in 1903.

The interior of Whitgift church where many members of the family were married

Her brother Thornton Bateman also emigrated to the same area. He married Alice Kneeshaw who had recently emigrated with her parents from Crambe in North Yorks. They too are buried in the Rob Roy cemetery.

William's  younger brother, George Bullass Bristow [b 1829] was a little more adventurous!! Before eventually settling in Canada he joined the gold rush in California and then travelled to Australia. Here he met and married Susannah Pethick in Adelaide in 1859. She was born in Cornwall.

The couple then travelled to Ontario where their daughter Emeline was born in 1860. Thereafter they lived near the rest of the family and farmed. George became renowned as a cattle breeder.  Susannah died in 1900 and George in 1914. Both are buried in Rob Roy cemetery.

And what of those children of Thomas and Elizabeth left at home?

In 1851 eldest daughter Hannah was a servant at the Bowman's Inn in Howden. She married Charles Gray,  a coachman in 1861 in Newcastle. They moved with their children then back to Hull where Charles worked in a brewery, then later to Hedon where he was described as a  brewer. He died in 1890 and she moved to Gilberdyke where she lived with her brother John [Thompson] and his wife.

John Thompson Bristow was in the workhouse with his mother and sister Ann in 1841. From his 1904 obituary we learn that he went to live with an uncle when he was nine  and learned the trade of a shoemaker. 

This uncle was most probably David Bristow [born 1810 at Scalby near Gilberdyke]. His father, another David, was the son of William and Joyce Bristow. John married David's daughter Mary Ann in 1858.

They moved to Wressle where John commenced business as  a "cowkeeper and huckster". He obviously prospered and returned to Gilberdyke and "purchased a house, shop, and a quantity of land. He became popular and filled all public offices in the parish. He was a member of the late school Board from its formation, a Guardian for a considerable time, and for upwards of twenty years rarely missed attending the meetings at Howden". 

Clementhorpe Road, Gilberdyke

The youngest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth was Ann.  By April 1861 Ann was running a lodging house in Albert Street in Goole.  Her mother was living with her. She gives her age as 27, giving her a birth date of 1834. She was already a widow having married Samuel Lucas from Swinefleet in 1857. Both he and his father Solomon were master mariners. They married at Whitgift in 1857 and had two sons, George Samuel born 1858 and James born1860.  But by 1861 Samuel had died [ drowned?] and  later that year Ann married again to James Davies. He too was a sailor.

I think Ann died before 1871 as in that year  her son James was in a sailor's children's home in Hull and later was a  merchant seaman. George was living with his uncle John in Wressle. He married Mary Ann Shipley from Scalby near Gilberdyke and worked in various Yorkshire towns as a  house carpenter but by 1911 was living locally in the Gilberdyke area.

Elizabeth herself remained in Reedness, at one point keeping a small shop. Sadly she died in 1890 aged 85, in the Goole workhouse where she had spent time so many years earlier. She was described as the widow of Thomas Bristow, farmer.

I have found this Bristow history interesting - the family spread all over the world and always kept their family Christian names. I  do however caution anyone researching the Bristows to beware of some of the trees on Ancestry as some are not quite accurate!