4b. Two funerals or rather deaths in 1858

A death – Thomas Burnett (William and Elizabeth’s elder brother)

Although there is no baptismal record, there is strong evidence that William’s mother, Hannah may have had another illegitimate child called Thomas, who was born around 1829-30, before she moved to Busby near Stokesley where William and Elizabeth were born. This would make him one or two years older than Elizabeth and 11-12 years older than William. Bill Burnett has painstakingly pieced together some evidence of his short life – if no specific reference is given to information in this account it can be found on www.yorksburnett.org. Where I have provided extra information, this is referenced.

In the 1841 Census, William and Elizabeth’s grandmother Elizabeth Baylief was living in Farndale East-side with her husband Joseph, married daughter Lucy and her husband John Robson and their six-month old daughter Elizabeth and their then unmarried daughter Esther Baylief (see the genealogical chart in post ‘4. Two weddings and two funerals…an introduction’) and with them was 10-year old Thomas Burnet, another illegitimate child of Elizabeth’s daughter Hannah – and thus an older brother to William and Elizabeth.

Ten years later at the time of the 1851 Census, Esther Baylieff is still unmarried and living with her is a ‘nephew’ Thomas Bonnet aged 22, a farm labourer born in Helmsley. Bill Burnett writes, ‘the nephew Thomas Bonnet…was without doubt the illegitimate son (Thomas Burnett) of Esther’s half-sister Hannah Burnett, his given age suggests birth c1829 and his stated birthplace, Helmsley, is where Esther’s sister Mary Baylief, the mother of the three Bartrom children was living when she married John Bartrom in 1831. It does not require a great stretch of the imagination to suggest that Thomas’s mother was living with her half-sister, Mary Baylief in Helmsley when she gave birth to him before moving on to Stokesley. When Mary married John Bartrom on the 29th November 1831, Hannah already had another illegitimate child, daughter Elizabeth (William’s sister), who was three-months old. Perhaps John and Mary took in young Thomas Burnett and he continued to live with them until he moved with three of his eight Bartrom half-cousins, William, Ann and Elizabeth, to live with his aunt Esther Baylief in Farndale-Eastside.  As a farmer of 100 acres employing three labourers Esther was far better placed to support them than her brother-in-law, a farm labourer’.

The 1851 Census (30th March 1851)   did not name Esther’s dwelling but from the 1861 Census we know that it was called ‘Middleheads’ and that is was close by Ash House at the head of Farndale.  In 1851 Ash House was the home of Robert Featherstone (a farmer employing 3 labourers) and his wife Christiana, both in their sixties. Living with them were three unmarried sons and two unmarried daughters all in their thirties. Seven months after the 1851 Census Esther had married William Featherstone – one of the unmarried sons from Ash House.  Esther was 35 and William 38 and by the 1861 Census they had three children, Robert (9), Elizabeth (6) and Joseph (3) [1]. After Esther married, Thomas Burnett moved from Farndale and Bill Burnett surmised that he may have gone to work for his (half) Uncle, John Baylief – Esther’s brother. John Baylief was the only son of Joseph Baylief and Elizabeth, (nee Burnett), and had married Rachel Hugill the daughter of a stonemason, at Kirby Moorside on the 29th December 1838[2]. They had a son baptised Joseph Baylief.  His mother died in 1842 at the young age of 27 years.

At some time after his wife’s death John Baylief moved with his son to Little Ayton, farming 187 acres and employing 4 men – one of whom may well have been Thomas Burnett[3] evidenced by the fact that when John Baylief died on the 30th August 1858 from peritonitis following fourteen days of Typhoid fever – in attendance was his nephew, Thomas Burnett.  Only eighteen days later Thomas was to die from Typhoid fever and meningitis[4] –  Allan Heselton, a wheelwright and joiner from the nearby hamlet of Easby was in attendance. John Baylief’s son Joseph survived the outbreak of Typhoid fever and lived for another 56 years dying in Skelton at the age of 74 from ‘senile decay’ having changed his surname to Bailey and taken his mother’s maiden name to be recorded on his death certificate as ‘Joseph Hugill Bailey’[5].

We now know, with all but certainty, that William and Elizabeth had an elder brother Thomas. Elizabeth was 28 and newly married and William was 18 and had recently moved to Middlesbrough when their brother died but whether they had kept in touch we shall never know. There is no evidence as to whether Thomas had any direct contact with his siblings

A death – Hannah Burnett (William and Elizabeth’s mother) – 1858

William moved from Stokesley to Middlesbrough about a year after his sister was married and it is possible that William’s mother moved about the same time – certainly there is no record of a Hannah Burnett in Stokesley in the 1861 Census. What we do know is that there was a death certificate for a Hannah Burnett issued in the registration district of Stockton in 1858. This Hannah Burnett is almost certainly William’s mother who, at the time of her death from bronchitis on the 11th October 1858, was sixty-one years old and living in Station Street, Middlesbrough. The Ordnance Survey made in 1853 and published in 1857[6] shows very little development south of the Middlesbrough branch of the Stockton and Darlington railway.  Station Street, which at that time was a cul-de-sac, is an exception, with some terraced houses and the Station Hotel which had stood at the corner of Station Street since 1842.  At the time of his mother’s death, William was almost certainly lodging with his employer Joseph Richardson in Commercial Street (see top arrow) a short walk down North Street, South Street and into Sussex Street across Bridge Street West and under the railway line and right into Station Road (see bottom arrow).

Hannah was buried in the original Linthorpe Road Cemetery (also known as Ayresome Cemetery) opened on the 4th September 1854 in what was then the parish of Linthorpe – becoming part of Middlesbrough in the year of her burial.  Ayresome Cemetery was Middlesbrough’s first purpose-built graveyard and one of its biggest. More than a century of history, including the yard’s two neo-classical-style chapels and all its paths, was simply swept aside when Ayresome Cemetery was decommissioned in 1962. Many of the headstones were propped up against the walls for a few years as officials talked about preserving them. Then starting in 1978, they were taken away and smashed up. The site was cleared of the last remaining headstones in the early 1980s. The site is now a park, Ayresome Gardens and dozens of cholera victims lie just feet below a basketball court, and a car park beside a neighbouring building covers the graves of 14 children. Among over 11,000 bodies buried under the park is Sir Hugh Gilzean Reid, politician and founder of the Evening Gazette newspaper who was a contemporary and competitor of William in his days as a newspaper proprietor in Middlesbrough.[7]

Further confirmation that this was William’s mother comes from Bill Burnett who wrote:

‘I believe that the informant present at the death, Mary Rennison, was the former Mary Rowntree, born in Stokesley, who married Thomas Rennison on 14 May 1831 at Stainton in Cleveland (4 miles from Stokesley). At the time of the 1851 census Mary Rennison was recorded with her husband Thomas and three children living in West End, Stokesley – just eight dwellings from Hannah Burnett and her son William. Mary and Hannah were also living fairly close to each other at the time of the 1841 census – Hannah in Front Street, Mary in Silver Street. They almost certainly knew each other’[8].

Thomas Rennison described himself as a farmer and later as an agricultural worker.  Like many at a time of hardship in the countryside he saw opportunity in the burgeoning ‘Ironopolis’ and moved with his family to Middlesbrough sometime in the late 1850’s where he was employed as a cart man until his death from Bronchitis in 1859, his two sons Robert and Thomas junior working as saddler and blacksmith respectively.  In an age before motorised transport skills learnt in the countryside were still in demand in a rapidly industrialising Britain. Mary Rennison’s youngest daughter Jane was only a few months younger than William, and like William at the age of ten was a ‘scholar at home’. There is a certain irony in the fact that living next door to the Rennison family was the Rev. Thomas Todd, the first headmaster of Preston Grammar School who in 1833 was also recruiting for fee-paying students -albeit young gentlemen only[9]:

“The Rev Thomas Todd, Master of Stokesley Grammar School receives into his house a limited number of Young Gentlemen as Boarders and Pupils. They are instructed in the several branches of Classical, Mathematical and Commercial Learning; and strict attention is paid to the formation of their Principles and Morals. They are Parlour Boarders and treated as a part of the family”.

There seems little doubt that the Hannah Burnett who died in Station Street, Middlesbrough was William and Elizabeth’s mother but to what extent they were in touch with each other remains unknown.

[1] FEATHERSTONE (nee BAYLIEFF) Esther, 1861 Census: RG 9/3639 folio 95 page 1

[2] GRO Helmsley December 24/355 Marriage -John BAYLIEFF (but called BAILEY) and Rachel HUGILL 29 Dec 1838 Kirkby Moorside

[3] GRO Index of Deaths; BAYLIEFF, John, Sept 1858, Stokesley, 9d 290 Aged 49.

[4] GRO Index of Deaths; BURNETT, Thomas, Sept 1858, Stokesley, 9d 291 Aged 28

[5] GRO Index of Deaths; BAILEY, Joseph Hugill , Dec 1914, Guisboro’, 9d 605 Aged 74

[6] Ordnance Survey Maps – Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952 Yorkshire Sheet 6, Surveyed: 1853, Published: 1857

[7] http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/2012/02/08/ayresome-cemetery/

[8] Bill Burnett – personal communication

[9] The Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 21st December 1833 http://stokesleyheritage.wikidot.com/preston-grammar-school-the-headmasters-and-their-work

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