This is the family story of my Great Great Great Grandfather, Thomas Greenwood. He is from a long line of Thomas Greenwoods, his father and grandfather are also called Thomas Greenwood. There are also a few Thomas Greenwoods in the local villages. I will try to prevent confusion by referring to each of them with their year of birth shown. Thomas (1782) is his father and Thomas (1752) his grandfather. Family stories of the two elders will follow in a future blog. This story starts in 1838, when the younger Thomas has settled down in Welburn, North Yorkshire.
Things were going well for young Thomas Greenwood in 1838. After a long apprenticeship with Ambrose Crawford, the Plumber for Castle Howard estate, he could now call himself a Plumber and Glazier. He still helped Ambrose out when working at the Castle, but now he was a skilled craftsman in his own right.
Thomas was born in 1808 in Thornton Le Clay, a very small village with around 150 people. Thornton and Foston was the next parish along from Welburn. He went to the church school in Foston, run by the eminent Vicar, the writer and wit, Rev Sydney Smith.
There weren’t many people then who could read and write, but Thomas finished school well-educated. Sadly, his mother Elisabeth died when he was only 12 leaving his father to bring up the five children. Just a year after his mother died, his father married again, the Rev Sydney Smith joined him to Hannah Robinson from Barton Le Street.
Our Thomas moved to Welburn to start his apprenticeship with Ambrose Crawford. There he met Anne Crowther, the daughter of the Castle’s joiner. They had married ten years earlier in May 1829. In those days Welburn didn’t have its own chapel. So on that spring day they walked down the road to the church at Bulmer. They were joined by their families and her father John Crowther and friend Mary Johnson witnessed the ceremony. Anne was 5 months pregnant on her wedding day.
After that it’s fair to say the family were affected by bad health. John Crowther Greenwood, Thomas and Anne’s eldest son was fine, he was a fit healthy lad born in 1829, named after Anne’s father of course. The Crowthers were a good Welburn family and it was only fair to name him after his grandfather. After that it was a tough couple of years with their daughter Hannah (b 1832) and John Crowthers little brother Alfred, born two years later, both dying as infants.
Thomas’ father, also called Thomas (b 1782), had passed away just after Hannah had died, he wasn’t that old either, just 48, but had been married twice and fathered 9 children, seven of whom survived into adulthood. Thomas senior (b 1782) had moved up the road from Stillington village to Thornton le Clay, looking for work with the farmers or estate. He had found it hard when he had to leave his father’s farm. Thomas senior’s father was also called Thomas (b 1752) and was still around in 1838, living in Stillington, where he was a yeoman farmer.
Since then the young Thomas’ family had grown, James (born 1836) and finally Elizabeth (b 1838) brought the family back to three children. It had been tough for him but he had a good job, in a busy village with three children. But then, towards the end of 1838, old Thomas died in Stillington age 87 leaving the Greenwood farm there to Uncle William. Welburn had always been a pretty unhealthy place, the cottages were tiny, with no sanitation. It must have been difficult to keep diseases at bay and consumption (TB) was rife. Anne tragically died from the rampant consumption in June 1839, aged just 27.
When the national census came in 1841, Thomas (1808) was living in Welburn with his three children; John, James and Elizabeth and old Ann Rawling their servant. He proudly described himself as a Glazier. But his only surviving daughter Elizabeth died just aged 4 in 1842 and then the rampant TB got to our Thomas who passed away a young 35 in July 1843, leaving James and John as orphans.
The two orphans moved in with their grandfather John Crowther and Anne, his third wife. Young James soon moved up to the Castle to become an errand boy, but he also died young, aged 22.
John Crowther Greenwood was the healthy one. He moved to the next village, Barton Le Willows before returning to Welburn and having 6 children there including another Thomas, born 1862. He lived to a good age, dying in Adel cum Eccup near Leeds in 1891 age 61. John was, of course, my Great Great Grandfather and Thomas (1862) my Great Grandfather.
So to recap. Our Thomas (1808) had a busy, short and tragic life. Born in Thornton le Clay, Yorkshire after his father Thomas had to leave the family farm in Stillington. Young Thomas was taught to read and write by the famous Rev Sydney Smith before loosing his mother when he was only 12. He moved to Welburn to become a plumber and glazier and married Anne Crowther when he was 21. They had five children but tragically lost two of them before Ann died of TB. Thomas didn’t live much longer, he also died of consumption in 1843 .