James Beaumont

It is so long since I posted, that I am tempted to re-introduce myself.  Here I am, Brenda Babich, still writing about the families that have owned the property at 1037 Clifton Ave. Moose Jaw.  We are getting closer now to the people who actually lived in the house. But this Beaumont connection has fascinated me because of the short time that the title belonged to them, and also because of the lack of building permit records for this brief time (two years) in the history of the city.  The records are missing for the biggest building boom in Moose Jaw’s history.

James Beaumont owned our property at 1037 Clifton for only 11 months.  Title was assigned to him on April 16th, 1912.  James had arrived in Moose Jaw in 1907 as a boy of 16.  He had grown up at 18 St. James St. in Leeds, Yorkshire West UK.  I will introduce you first to his great-grandfather John, his grandfather George and his father John  who did not come to Canada.  Then in another post you will meet the rest of his family.

John Beaumont (b. 1791) married Lydia Gledhill (b. 1794)  on February 21, 1814. Theirs was not the only wedding to take to take place that day in the Parish of Leeds, St. Peter, in the county of York.  Lydia at age 20 marked an X instead of signing her name, and in fact, a  number of the brides and grooms who married that Monday, and the Sunday just before, were  signing their papers with an X. When I think of Lydia marking an X on her marriage document, I am reminded that in 1813, Jane Austen had published Pride and Prejudice.  The gap between the two women in education (mostly at home for Jane Austen) and Lydia Gledhill was a large gap indeed.

Also that weekend,  a number of grooms had listed their employment in the textile businesses that abounded in Yorkshire.  On the 20th and the 21st of February, the curate married more than a dozen couples.  Their livings would be earned in a variety of ways related to cloth: 1 dyer, 1 thread-maker, 1 weaver, 5 cloth-dressers. In addition there were two shoemakers, one post-boy, one laborer and one Butter Dealer.  These weddings in 1814 were taking place just two years after an uprising of workers in the cloth industry.  There have been a number of displays and reminders in the last little while in England, particularly Yorkshire, to remind people of the Luddite uprisings that took place over 200 years ago as people faced the impact of technology on their livelihoods.   The first trial of a Luddite resulted in no conviction, but the story is compelling as we face the same issues today where jobs are being lost to machines that supposedly can do the work better.   The bridegrooms who were “cloth dressers”  would be facing more challenges than some other workers in the cloth trades because the Luddite uprisings centered at first around that particular job.  But John Beaumont (who had married in 1814) must have been one of the lucky or more adaptive ones, because he continued in his career and even saw his first son George begin a career as a cloth dresser.

Eleven months after John Beaumont married Lydia Gledhill, George Beaumont was born, March 26th, 1815.  After that, Lydia continued to give birth about every two years until she had 12 children. When her son James Edward was born and baptized in June of 1827,  John was still a cloth dresser, and they were living on St. James Street.

George was 12 when James was born in 1827.

The last child born to Lydia (Gledhill) Beaumont was Charles born in 1834.  Lydia was 40 and John was 43.  Big brother George was 19 years old.  With the family spread over these many years, there is not a census document that shows them all living in the same place. George married in 1935, just one year after his youngest brother was born. His bride was Harriet Binns, and they both signed their names on their marriage document.

The census documents (1841-51) when George Beaumont (b.1815) was a young man show him in the textile industry, even though the lookout for these occupations was changing during the Industrial Revolution.  The career of “cloth dresser or cropper” which is listed for George Beaumont when he was a young man is explained in this way by the Old Occupations site.

Cloth-dressers (croppers) were workers in the woollen industry who had the task of cutting the cloth after it had been in the fulling mill. The cropper’s skill was to cut the surface of the cloth after it had been raised with shears. These shears weighed 40 lb (18 kg) and were 4 feet (1.2 km) long. Croppers were well paid and resisted attempts by their employers to introduce the shearing frame at the beginning of the 19th century.

Croppers became part of the Luddite movement that destroyed shearing frames in Yorkshire in 1812. Over 4,000 soldiers were brought in to keep order. After arrests and public hangings, including 17 men in York, the resistance came to an end. By the 1820s few croppers could find work in the woollen industry. 

Cropping required lifting heavy tools..Source: Discovering Leeds.

However, years after the Luddite uprising, George Beaumont is still listed as a cloth dresser.  Some time between 1851 and 1861, he made a change of profession.  In 1851, he  at age 36 had a wife, Lydia, also 36, plus  two daughters ,  Lydia M. (9) and Harriet (7) and a baby boy John (1).  Both girls are listed as “scholars”, so will probably be able to sign their names instead of writing an X.

Census 1851 Leeds

In the 1851 Census, the address is given as 10 Storeys Yard.  Some insight into the conditions of workers’ housing in this period is available from  Discovering Leeds:

And James Smith in 1845 reported:
‘By far the most unhealthy localities of Leeds are close squares of houses, or yards, as they are called, which have been erected for the accommodation of working people. Some of these, though situated in comparatively high ground, are airless from the enclosed structure, and being wholly unprovided with any form of under-drainage or convenience, or arrangements for cleansing, are one mass of damp and filth……The ashes, garbage and filth of all kinds are thrown from the doors and windows of the houses upon the surface of the streets and courts………. The privies are few in proportion to the inhabitants. They are open to view both in front and rear, are invariably in a filthy condition, and often remain without removal of the filth for six months.’ In 1832, during the cholera epidemic, 75 cartloads of soil were removed from one of the privies in the Boot and Shoe Yard.’

The Storey’s Yard  where George Beaumont’s family was living in 1851 has listed families for 25 units.  Some of the families were similar in age and size to the Beaumonts who lived in Number 10. Of the one hundred and one people living around that square Yard, many are employed in Cloth related jobs.  Other jobs included laundress, chimney sweeps (young and old), coal dealer, bread baker, dressmaker, hairdresser, general labourer, coachman, errand boy, plumber, carpet weaver, mechanic, whitesmith, shoebinder, bricklayer, and groom.  The great gap between the poor and rich, both in opportunity and accomodation became clearer with the beginning use of the camera.  Scenes that had not been seen before were brought to public awareness through photographs that served to inspire attempts  at social reform.

In the 1851 Census, some children are listed as Sunday Scholars.  Because many children were working long hours 6 days a week in mills and factories, the only time they could get a chance to lean how to read and write and calculate was at a Sunday school run by church groups.  The 1851 Census tried to distinguish between scholars who went to school all week and Sunday Scholars who only went to school on Sundays.  This census was also trying to keep track of religious affiliations in more detail than other census documents had done.   The years when children were working so hard in factories lasted until the late 1870s when schooling was dealt with in a School Act that made it possible and even compulsory for children to go to school.

In the 1861 Census of England, George Beaumont is listed as a milk dealer.  Of course, everyone in the family is 10 years older. For some reason,  George has now left working in the cloth industry and is selling milk. They are living on St. James Street, a street that apparently has not survived til modern times  and has been filled since the depression with modern buildings in a different formation.

Census document showing 1861

At the top of the 1861 census page  of St. James St. where we find the George Beaumont family, there begins a list of “inmates” whose names are omitted and only first and last initials are listed.  The building where they are living is called the Guardian Asylum. It was started as a housing and rehabilitation/ retraining center for young women whose ages range from 14 to 25.  There are 50 of them housed with a Matron and her assistant, a nurse, a laundress, and a general servant. The idea was to prepare these young woman to have gainful employment as servants in the homes of more wealthy families.  Step 1 took place at a “probationary penitentiary” and Step 2 was spending time at the Guardian Asylum  near where George and Harriet Beaumont were raising their children.  I wonder if George  and John Beaumont delivered milk to the Guardian Asylum.

The Guardian Asylum had been operating for40 years by 1861, and some of the annual reports to their Board of Directors are available.  The Home continued to function under that Board until 1909 when the Salvation Army took over the running of it.  They have told the story of discovered records and the process of preserving them.  In the next census (1871), the young women in the “Asylum” have their full names printed, not just their initials. 

In the 1871 Census of England, George Beaumont at age 56 was a “milk dealer”, and so was his son, John, at age 21. Two daughters, Hannah (33) and Sarah (19) have occupations as “domestic servants”.  A third sister at age 14 is still a “scholar” , and the mother of the family, Harriet, works in the home.  The neighbours listed have a variety of occupations: a tailor, shopkeeper, stone mason, news agent, dressmaker, charwoman, and another milk dealer.  George Beaumont died on May 15, of 1879 before the next census.  His widow Harriet is still living at 18 St. James after his death.

18 St. James St. in 1871

Just about a year after his father, George died, John Beaumont married Mary Battye, whose father was also named George and was also “deceased”.  They were wed at Lindley Parish Church in the County of York.  She was a “spinster”.  Both were “of full age.”

Now finally we begin to see a connection to Moose Jaw and to Clifton Avenue.  Some of the names we see in the Leeds, England Census documents for 1881, 1891 and 1901  as John and Mary Beaumont’s family grows, suddenly are gone in 1911 and, what do you know, we see their names on passenger lists and then in the 1911 Census of Canada.  That big transition will be the story of another post.   From the squares and yards and urban industrial squish of Leeds, Yorkshire to  the West Half of 25-19–27 W2 near Tuxford, Saskatchewan.