Friday, February 8, 2013

James Banks 1851-1891 Manchester, England

I am a great fan of the PBS show Downton Abbey.  The acting is great, the setting is beautiful, who wouldn't want to live in that house!  I start to think that I would love to live that life, but then Lady Sibyl up and dies in children birth.  Her death was a stark reminder of the realities of living in the early 1900's without modern medicine, not to mention all the other technological advances that make our lives easier. 
If things were not so great for the very rich then I can only imagine how terrible it was for the working poor. Many of my Manchester ancestors were Irish immigrants looking for a better living in the industrial North of England.  Did they find it?  I'm not sure what their answer would be.  
My Grandmother left England in 1923.  She never said much about the relatives she left behind including her own parents. I am trying to piece together what I can about them and  I can tell that their lives were filled with hard work, and not much else.  
James Banks was born in County Mayo, Ireland around the year 1841. All I know of his parents is that his father's name was Thomas.  I don't know when or why James left Ireland, but it coincides with the Great Famine, so that may be the why.  In the 1851 census he was about ten years old, he lived as a lodger at 66 Old Mount St. in the home of Bridget Cavil, an Irish woman.  James worked as a "rope hawker".  There are no other Banks family members there, so I can only assume that James was either an orphan or abandoned.  Maybe his family had died in Ireland and he came with Bridget, but all I can do is make conjectures, I doubt we will ever know.

By the 1861 census James has changed jobs and addresses.  He was still a lodger, this time at the home of a "beer seller". He was working as a cotton spinner, working in one of the large cotton mills nearby.  

On August 6th 1865 James married Mary Lynch, daughter of John and Bridget Lynch.  Mary was also a hawker and may have met James when he was hawking, in fact James lived quite close to the Lynch home in 1841. Mary was also Irish, having arrived with her family sometime prior to the 1851 census.  James and Mary were married at St. Chad's catholic church on Cheetham St. in Manchester. This was the last catholic wedding, their children married in either a registrars office or the Church of England. 
Over the next ten years James and Mary had at least five children.  I think there might have been one daughter that died young.  In the 1871 census James and Mary live on Brighton St. with her mother.  The Lynches had lived on Brighton since the 1851 census. They had two children, John Thomas age 4 and Michael Joseph aged 11 months. James continued to work as a cotton spinner and Mary as a hawker.  
The 1881 census reveals the terrible changes that have occurred in the family over the past few years.  Mary died in 1879 leaving five children aged 13 to 3.  Her own mother, Bridget, had died in 1873 so there was no female to look after the children.  James and his oldest son John Thomas lived together in what was called the Chadwick Buildings. The rest of the children are living a pauper house also known as a work house called Crumpsall. 

Think Charles Dickens!  The people who lived in the work house were call inmates.  God only knows what life was like for these children. John Thomas the oldest of the children was at 14 years of age working in the cotton mills.
In 1886 James married for the second time, the new wife is Emily Dodson.  They had four daughters in rapid succession, the last one Teresa Caroline did not survive her first year. The 1891 census is the last one in which I can find James, that doesn't mean he isn't there but it is possible that he died.  

James' children with Mary Lynch were:

John Thomas Banks b. 1866 in Boston by 1894, last found in a Boston directory in 1904
Michael Joseph Banks b. 1870 in Boston by 1895, marries Mary L. Scott, but they divorce as she is an alcoholic.  He had three children.  He died sometime after 1940.
Margaret Ann Banks b. 1873. Married William Bowker. Two of their children emigrate to Boston.  She died in 1914.
Catherine Banks b. 1875, I think she married William Frost but cannot locate her.
James Patrick Banks b. 1876, in Boston by 1896, never married.  Died after the 1940 census.  

James' children with Emily were:
Alice b. 1886
Bridget b. 1887
Mary Ellen b. 1889
Theresa Carolina b. 1891 d. 1892
I cannot find anything on the daughters of Emily.

I'm not sure that James found a better life in Manchester but I know that his children, at least those by his first wife Mary Lynch seemed to have done better for themselves. 

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