I was chasing a family tree, and even though the family had quite an unusual surname, it seems that they had very common first names… so many Johns who married Mary’s and Annes who married Williams. They lived in quite a small area but each family had many children, and each of the children married and had many children themselves, with the same repeat of names, Mary, Anne, William, John a few Janes a sprinkling of Roberts.

I was interested to see quite a single Nancy – not a very common name these days, and I’m not sure when it was most popular. I can’t think of any people I was are school or college with called Nancy, although a friend of my parents was a Nancy. There were famous Nancy’s, mostly American now I think about it. However, in this family tree there was a Nancy born in 1839 who was Christened with that name; I thought it was a sort of nick-name for someone called Anne so I was surprised to see it as a given name for that time.

Nancy came from a Lancashire family, a large family of at least twelve children. In the 1841 census there were no occupations given, but ten years later, Nancy’s father, John was a block printer – a skilled craft maybe? Of the seven children living at home, one of Nancy’s brothers was a crofter, so no doubt bringing in food for the family, a fifteen year-old sister was a cotton weaver, and two other teenage children were at school.

Ten years later the family had grown – there were now nine children, plus a mother-in-law, plus a brother-in-law living in the house. John was a calico printer, Nancy and a brother and two sisters were all cotton weavers, a brother was a labourer at the calico works, a twelve-year-old girl was a winder in the cotton mill, and the ten-year old (yes, ten, 10) was a labourer in the cotton mill. The family must have fallen on had times.

The other censuses don’t have any more information on what work the family did – but in 1901, forty years later,  Nancy’s seventeen year old niece and nephew aged seventeen and fifteen were cotton weavers, and their fourteen year-old brother was working underground in a coalmine. Nancy herself married, a Mr Dust, and had at least four children, some of whom started their working lives in the textile industry.

My  featured image is of Manchester, not far from where Nancy and her family lived.

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