MEMORY LANE: Parish life to Welsh collieries

Peter Cartwright
Peter Cartwright
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HARTLEPOOL man Peter Cartwright’s nine years of compiling his family tree has led to a treasure trove of information.

In recent weeks, we told of the maternal side of his clan.

Now we look at his paternal side which came from Shropshire, and which struggled to escape a life of poverty.

Chris Cordner reports.

LIKE many folk around them, the Cartwrights faced a typical daily quest.

Peter Cartwright

Peter Cartwright

It was as simple as this. They would look for work in the parishes near their own homes but would never dare to venture too far.

Why? Because if you were out of your own parish for too long, you stopped getting something called poor help.

This was the case for Joseph Cartwright, a man of Shropshire who married Elizabeth Peat in 1767.

We know this thanks to the fantastically detailed research carried out by Hartlepool man Peter Cartwright.

Peter Cartwright

Peter Cartwright

He told Family Roots: “Most people moved from parish to parish for work, not wanting to move too far in fear of work being scarce.”

Joe and Elizabeth had several children. Peter said: “My paternal line came from his son Joseph who was born in 1776 in Prees in Shropshire who married quite young at 16 to Margaret Tovey.

“She was born in 1766 and was ten years older than Joe. He became a blacksmith and had five boys and two girls.”

The large clan included William, Joseph, John, Elizabeth, Mary, Samuel and George.

Peter’s line continued through Joseph who was born in St Martin’s in Ellesmere where he married a Mary Harrison in 1818 and had, as Peter put it, “four boys and one girl who survived the harsh times”.

Of their children, Joe Cartwright became a man of agriculture. He was Peter’s direct descendant.

Peter said: “He moved from parish to parish with his brother John, and while working at his uncle William’s farm in Llansilin in Denbighshire, he met Catherine Roberts who he married at St Martin’s in 1837.”

From England, the family now had Welsh connections - and the Cartwright links to the mines also began.

Peter said: “Joe worked as a waggoner in the local mines at Black Park Colliery.”

But this was good news, as Peter explained. “It was more of a steady job with children being born.”

That’s a bit of an understatement with ten new additions to the family in the next 23 years. They were William, John, Samuel, Mary Ann, Henry, Elizabeth, Jane, Benjamin, Joseph, and Catherine.

Peter added: “By this time, they had lived in Cefn Mawr in Rhosymedre and now resided in Ruabon in Denbighshire which had iron works, chemical works and brick works which had built up after the agricultural mechanisation that put thousands out of work and caused riots which were quashed by troops on the streets.”

Our thanks go to Peter for sharing his story and there will be more on the way soon.

In the meantime, we would love to hear from more people who want to share their family tree stories. Tell us all about your genealogical investigations.

Anyone wanting to tell us about their research should contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or email