On the trail of Joseph Mears

I am thrilled to be able to add some updated information on my 2x Great-Grandfather, Joseph Mears. He appears in a previous blog post here. I was thrilled this week to be contacted by a reader who is also descended … Continue reading

What about the Gardners and Mears families?

Enough with the male line – I think I need to take a break from the Richard/William Postans confusion and explore a little of what I’ve found out about my grandmother’s family.

A recap – my grandmother was born Muriel Ethel Myra Gardner in West Bromwich in June 1905. Out of five siblings, she was the only child of her parents to go on and have children of her own. Her father was Hubert Edward Gardner, born 1880 in Kidderminster. Her mother was Ethel Beatrice Mears. Both my maternal great-grandparents came from the most enormous Victorian families, which I will endevour to summarise as succinctly as possible!

Ethel Beatrice appears to be one of 12 children – their splendid names are as follows:

Alice May, Catherine Helen, Edith Jane, Ethel Beatrice (my great-grandmother), Florence Maud, Gertrude Emily, Margaret Isabel, Muriel Lillian, Charles Frederick, Joseph Henry, Agnes Theresa and Arthur Harold. The older children were born in the 1860s and 70s in the Kidderminster area, and the younger ones were born in the environs of Birmingham. I am not at present sure if all of these children survived to adulthood.

It seems as though Ethel Beatrice gave birth to her daughter Muriel while living near her family – they lived in the Aston Manor ward at the time of the 1901 census and in Handsworth in 1911. My grandmother was born in West Bromwich (I have the names of various football teams going through my head at this point!).

Margaret Jane Mears was Ethel Beatrice’s mother, and she is recorded as being born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire in 1849. Her husband was Joseph Mears – born in Ireland in 1839 and living in Northampton by the age of 3. One could speculate that the cause of the migration might be the worsening economic situation in Ireland at this time – although the well-famed Potato Famine didn’t begin until 1845.

Sadly at the moment I don’t know whereabouts in Ireland Joseph’s family came from. In the census records from when Joseph was an adult (and therefore reporting his own origins) he states that his place of birth was Northampton. This is intriguing – is Joseph unaware of his birth in Ireland, or is he trying to disguise his Irish roots to overcome possible prejudice against the Irish in England? He was fortunate that his surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and therefore not overtly Irish-sounding. It’s a fact that his decendents knew of his Irish background since my Great Uncle Teddy described Joseph as Irish.

I have tried to find out as much as possible about Joseph Mears and I’ve come a little way so far. Great Uncle Teddy’s letter referred to Joseph as the owner of a newspaper – so going on this and with the help of Google I discovered that Joseph Mears was proprietor of the Kidderminster Sun and General Printers which was based in Trinity Lane, Kidderminster. The London Gazette records that Joseph was the sole owner of this business as of 18th October 1886.

 Joseph Mears London Gazette Oct 1886

I’ve tried to find archival material related to the newspaper but it remains tantalisingly out of grasp at the moment. I will attempt to progress this further as I should think we’d all find it fascinating to uncover writings by Joseph Mears and a bit more about what his (apparently short-lived) newspaper was like.

More to follow on the enormous Gardner family!

What’s happening at the moment?

Wheels have been turning slowly in the Project recently.  I made rapid progress with several generations of the Postans and Gardner families but have hit a few snags – I hope to make progress on the following soon:

  • Gardner side – Mears ancestors. I applied to the Worcestershire Archive for material on this side but have hit a dead end. I will be progressing this through another avenue. More to follow on this! It’s potentially a very exciting lead related to print media and, in theory, there ought to be a trove of archival material out there somewhere featuring this ancestor prominently!
  • Postans side – a number of the branches appear very fruitful indeed but I will probably need to apply for BMD certificates to take this much further.

The exciting news is that we’re going to Cambs this weekend and I hope to get some photographic evidence of more Postans Places – houses lived at by my grandfather Frederick George Campion Postans and his family. I am really looking forward to this.

I really like this historic map of Cambs – it’s 17th century so a bit further back – but hopefully I can get us back to within sight of that era!

Cambridgeshire, from John Speed’s map of ‘Great Britaine’, 1611/12. Cambridge University Library.