Friday, 24 April 2015

Thomas William Bottomley 1865 - 1950   

Thomas William Bottomley is my Mum's great grandfather.  He is one of those ancestors who seems to have lived a fairly ordinary life. No drama, he just seems to have focussed on working hard all his life and providing for his family.  But that doesn't mean he isn't worth remembering - far from it.  To me, genealogy isn't about highlighting your famous or infamous ancestors, it's about remembering them all.  And this rather grand photo I have of him, courtesy of a distant relative who was happy to share it with me, is definitely worth showing off.

Thomas was born on February 3 1865 in Owl Lane, Ossett, Dewsbury, to Matthew and Ann (nee Bates).  He was the youngest but one of six children, born when his father was 47 and his mother was 34.

He is shown on the 1871 census, when he was just six years old.  He was still living in Owl Lane, Ossett with his father and mother.  His father was 53 at the time, and working as an overlocker in a worsted mill. His mother was 40 and was born in Wakefield.  He shared his home with siblings Eliza Ellen, 18, who was working as a twister of yarns; George, 16, who was a packer; Sarah Ann, 14, also a twister; Emily, 8, who along with Thomas were at school; and Ada Elizabeth, 3.  

Ten years later, both of Thomas's parents have died, but the family has stuck together.  The eldest son, George, is head of the house and working as a worsted packer.  His eldest sister Eliza is already widowed, and living back with her siblings, working as a worsted doubler.  Sisters Sarah Ann and Emily are both rag sorters, and Ada is still at school.

Thomas appears to have done fairly well for himself, as he is a worsted overlooker (supervisor) already.   Notice how they are all involved in the town's main industry - mungo and shoddy.  This is essentially the business of recycling rags and cloth. The rags would be sorted according to colour and quality; cleaned, and wool would be extracted.  That wool would then be used to make new fabric for clothing.  At one point Ossett and it's neighbouring towns were an international centre for wool recycling, receiving rags and cloth from across Europe. 

In 1887, Thomas married Annie Dews, and four years later the census shows him working as a wool extractor.  He is the father of George William (Mum's grandfather), aged 3, and Clifford, aged 1.  They were living in Tattersfield Street, Ossett.

By 1901 Thomas and Annie had six children - George, Clifford, Fred, Harry, John and Edward.  Their last child, Wilfred - who I remember as Uncle Wilf - was born in 1902.

In the 1911 census, aged 46, Thomas was still in the mungo and shoddy business, as a rag shaker.  George, 23, was still living at home and was a tram car conductor, Harry, 17, was a coal miner, while John, 12, Edward, 10 and Wilfred, 8 were all at school.  Clifford was already married and working as a coal miner, and Fred was a butcher with the local Co-op and a member of the Territorial Forces.

Thomas's wife Annie died in 1924 aged 55.  Thomas lived a lot longer, dying at the ripe old age of 85 in May 1950.

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