The Craxford Family Magazine Red Pages

{$text['mgr_red1']} Cottingham 2.2b

The Crane family of Cottingham. Part 2: The Younger Generations - Those who left and those who stayed

by Alan D Craxford, Carolyn Paisley and David Sansome

with contributions from Janice Binley, Peter Crane and Carol Wade


 The opening part of this article The Crane family of Cottingham: Victim or Villain dwelt on the arrival of the family in the village and the three generations who lived there through the first 75 years of the nineteenth century. It was a tale of hardship, crime and disease set against a background of social, political and legal upheaval and the efforts of the four main players to overcome them.

A map of central Leicester with the locations of Crane residences superimposed.

Crane's Leicester.
NOTE: this is a large map and may require horizontal scrolling to view in its entirety

In the latter third of the century, many of the younger members of the Crane family left Cottingham for the larger conurbation of Leicester, 26 miles away. Cottingham had always looked over the border into the next county for its most influential town. These links hark back to Roman Britain and are recognised even today in its postal address and post code. The reasons for the exodus may have been multifactorial, not only looking for an escape from the privations of peasant life in the countryside but also for the potential advantages and rewards that a large town promised. The three brothers and their more than 50 offspring were involved in over 20 households in various parts of Leicester between 1871 and 1911. They were not alone in this move, for we also know about members of other families of interest (Beadsworth, Claypole, Craxford, Tansley) who made the same journey and each must have been aware of the other as neighbours.

Victorian Leicester

The medieval town of Leicester was enclosed on three sides by walls which ran roughly along the line of Sanvey Gate to the north, Church and Gallowtree Gate to the east and Millstone Lane to the south. The western boundary was the river Soar. The ensuing pattern of lanes and thoroughfares persisted into the Victorian area. The focus of the town moved eastwards in the 1860s with the construction of the Clock Tower. The main routes out of the town diverged from this point like the spokes of a wheel.

During the nineteenth century, there had been a rapid expansion of housing and factories in Leicester which had transformed the medieval market town into an industrial city [A]. Its population in 1831 was 38,904 which grew in the 70 years to 1901 to 211,579 , much of which went to power the demands of the hosiery and boot and shoe trades. To accommodate these workers, cheap and poorly constructed cottages were "in-fill" built into courtyards behind or in the garden spaces of existing buildings. These overcrowded areas where concentrated in the city centre, particularly in and around Belgrave Gate, Sanvey Gate and Wharf Street. The cramped cottages were accessed through narrow passages from the main road, lacked sunlight and poor ventilation and had only shared and grossly inadequate sanitary arrangement. Toileting arrangements usually consisted of a communal soil bucket or ash pit which was emptied once a week by night soil men. Courts often shared space with small rudimentary slaughterhouses which had no proper refuse disposal or storage facilities. It is estimated that there were 104 such premises in Leicester in 1903.

Over half a century of reports by Medical Officers of Health and charitable organisations are on record deploring the delining standards and deteriorating public health conditions in the town. Joseph Dare, a Unitarian social missionary, made yearly reports between 1846 and 1877 on working class conditions in Leicester. His report of 1864 [A1] includes: "I have ascertained that there are at least 1,000 dwellings in this town that have neither back doors nor windows. So that allowing five inmates to each, which will be found under the mark, as the lower the grade of the population the thicker is the crowding together, there are no less than between seven and eight thousand sweltering in these unhealthy abodes. The habits, too, of the inmates of backyards and confined courts are altogether different from those who live in sunlight and fresh air. Seldom seen by respectable people, they are heedless both of personal appearance and domestic cleanliness. From the common use of the same filthy 'midden' and vulgar familiarities between themselves , gossiping in common at each other's houses, they lose all decency and manners and sink into both moral and physical corruption. Hence it will be seen that moral causes have much to do with the sanitary conditions of towns. In addition to scarlatina, typhus fever and measles, it is also well known that smallpox spreads its fearful ravages widely amongst us".

In the days before knowledge of bacteria, the cause of these epidemics was hotly contested. Talking about the outbreaks of summer diarrhoea, which killed one in four of Leicester's infants under the age of one year annually, the Medical Officer of Health between 1867 and 1874, Dr J. Wyatt Crane (no family relation as far as we know) did not believe in the infection theory but blamed it on the demands of factory employment preventing mothers from properly nursing their infants.

A slum clearance programme was started in 1930s. This was interrupted by the second World War and started again in earnest in the early1970s.

The Family of Mary Ann Crane

Mary's pregnancy career (five illegitimate children and one born dead) was highlighted in part 1 of this article and is examined further against the Victorian backdrop of social class, morality and illegitimacy in the companion article: Mary Ann Crane and her 'Misbegotten' Children. A son she named Eli was born in 1842 and died in 1845 during a scarlet fever epidemic. It is believed that her eldest son, Thomas, died in 1854. There was a fifth child born in 1852, three years before her marriage to John Sculthorpe. It is not known for certain who the father was, but it may have been significant that the three remaining children took John's surname from the 1861 census onwards. Apart from a short time on High Street, she lived her whole life in a cottage on Corby Road, Cottingham. She died in 1895.

Louisa (1846 - 1865)

Mary Ann's older daughter was born in October 1846 and was baptised at St Mary Magdalene Church eighteen months later. She lived with her mother, and in her teenage years shared the cottage occupation of lace runner. On May 4th 1865, as Louisa Sculthorpe, she married Benjamin Tansley (his picture appears in A Family Photograph Album: the Binleys, Jacksons and Tansleys), the son of David Tansley and Elizabeth Peach. Their happiness was shortlived, for within four months, Louisa was dead: the result of a massive haemorrhage during childbirth.

The life and death of Louisa Crane

Charles (1850 - after 1930)

Charles Crane, Mary Ann's younger son, was born on July 26th 1850. He lived in the village with his mother into his late teens. He then moved to the village of Knypersley near Biddulph, Staffordshire where he worked as a servant for farmer John Sherratt. As Charles Sculthorpe, he met and married Sarah Ann Oaks from Congleton in Cheshire in 1878, having a son and a daughter in the next three years. In 1884, the family set sail for America. Charles found work as a blast furnaceman in Sharpesville, Pennsylvania. They had a further five children. He was still listed in the area in the U.S. census of 1930.

Elizabeth (1850 - after 1930)

Younger daughter, Elizabeth, was born in the summer of 1852. By the age of 15, she had entered domestic service with farmer, Thomas Godfrey, and his family in Glaston, a hamlet in Rutland about three miles east of Uppingham. She married William Allett in 1876. He was a corn miller, who plied his trade from a wagon around the farms in the county. For the first two decades they lived in Great Easton and had a son and two daughters. After the turn of the century, they moved south and set up a new home in the village of Geddington, Northamptonshire.

The Family of Thomas Crane

Thomas Crane married Mary Ann Bamford at St Nicholas Church, Bringhurst in 1840. Although born in neighbouring Middleton, Mary had grown up in the village of Drayton just over the border in Leicestershire. They settled in Wood Lane. Henry, their firstborn, died in childhood. Thomas worked as an agricultural labourer and for the next two decades brought up their nine remaining children in Cottingham.

Sometime in the late 1860s, they moved to Leicester. The next four census returns (1871 to 1901) found elements of the family at four different addresses in the north east of the town. They settled first in Gladstone Street, where they occupied two houses over the years. They subsequently moved to Rolleston Street, Evington where their near neighbours were the families of David Peach Tansley (the brother of Benjamin who had been briefly married to Mary Ann Crane's daughter, Louisa) and John T. Coles (his grandson and whose wife was the sister of David Peach Tansley), both men originally from Cottingam.

Mary died in 1893. In his middle 80s, Thomas entered the Leicester Union Workhouse where he died in June 1903. He was buried next to his wife at Welford Road Cemetery.

Caroline (1842 - 1887)

Eldest daughter, Caroline, was put to work as a framework knitter before her tenth birthday. At 21, she married Thomas Coles, one of ten children whose mother, Susannah, was a member of the Claypole family. Caroline and Thomas also had ten children, although at least two of their late born died in infancy. The family moved to Leicester in the late 1860s. Theirs was a full house in Waring Street at Easter 1881, when slater, Thomas Crane (believed to be the son of Caroline's uncle, William) was staying with them. Caroline died in 1887, buried at Welford Road with her daughter, Lois, and son, Fred. Thomas Coles married again in 1888 to widow, Maria West.

Their eldest son, John T Coles, born 1867, married Clara Elizabeth Tansley in 1886. Clara was the daughter of Caroline Tansley before she married Jeffrey Binley. A slater by trade, he was known to family and friends as Jack. The couple were to have seven children. They moved the family back to Cottingham sometime before 1908 when they took over the management of the Three Horsehoes Inn. John and Clara can be seen with two of their children at the wedding reception of Martin Philpott and Ellen Binley in East Retford, Nottingham, in 1901. The photograph appears in the third column of the article A Family Photograph Album: the Binleys, Jacksons and Tansleys. Clara was Ellen's half sister.

Amy (1844 - 1872); Betsy Ann (1846 - aft 1877)

Daughter Amy entered domestic service and moved away from the village. In 1861, she was working for the family of John Deacon, a mill wright in Great Easton. Betsy Ann (her registered and baptismal name) worked for a time in the village as a lace runner. In 1866, both girls became pregnant within weeks of each other. Betsy Ann gave birth to a son she named Tom Harry on April 10th 1867; Amy, a girl named Alice, thirteen days later. The sisters went to the register office together to record the births. Neither gave a father's name. Sadly, Amy's baby died with the first few weeks. The following year, Amy married Jacob Chapman in Leicester with whom she had two children. The first, Julia, was born in 1868. Amy died in 1872, probably the result of comlications following the birth of her son, George. Jacob remarried two years later, to Charlotte Ibbins.

As Elizabeth Ann Crane, she married David Fletcher Sansome in October 1869. He was the son of framesmith, David Sansom, of Melton Mowbray. The marriage took place in the Crane's ancestral village of Medbourne, where the pair were residing. The service was witnessed by Betsy Ann's sister Alice's husband, Henry Daulby, and younger sister Lois. Within weeks, they had boarded the clipper 'Sea Chief' at Tilbury, bound for Australia. The journey took 86 days to reach Melbourne. Within months of their arrival, Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Maude. Four more children followed, including a son they named William Fletcher Sansome, in Emerald Hill, Melbourne in 1873 (2).

So, what happened to the children who were left behind? The 1871 census shows the presence of a three year old Harry Crane lodged with his grandparents at Gladstone Street, Leicester. Ten years later, the census of 1881 confirms that Amy's daughter, 13 year old Julia, had joined her grandparents in Gladstone Street. Betsy's son, Harry, now working at a shoe factory (and his surname now given as Sansom), was still living at the same address. Both these grandchildren moved onwards with Thomas and Mary to Rolleston Street ten years later.

Alice (1849 - 1934); Charlotte Ann (1854 - aft 1881) and Lois (1854 - 1932)

Fourth daughter, Alice, married Henry Daulby from Wilbarston in 1869 and had ten children between 1871 and 1892. They moved to Leicester where Henry pursued his trade as a slater and she became the manager of a grocery shop. Later in life, they retired to a house in Brunswick Street. Alice died in Leicester in 1932 aged 84 years.

The twins, Charlotte and Lois, moved with their parents to Leicester. Charlotte found employment making cigars at a local factory. It was probably through this work that she met Henry Asher who she married in 1874. They had two children: Walter, a son in 1875 and Ellen, a daughter in early 1881. Prior to the census of 1881, they made the move to Battersea in London. Nothing further is known of this branch of the family.

Lois worked as a hosiery hand in one of the factories in Leicester. She married John Edward Jackson from Lincolnshire in 1878. John worked as a clicker in the shoe trade. Sometime during the 1880s, they moved to Bethnal Green where they had a son, John Henry, and a daughter, Lois. Lois died in Deptford, London, in 1932

Henry William (1852 - aft 1911)

Court B

Court B, Caroline Street, Leicester [A3]

After the family's move to Leicester, sixth child Henry (who had been named after Thomas and Mary's first born son who died in the 1854 scarlet fever outbreak) obtained work as a general labourer. He married Emma Elizabeth Moss from Stamford, Lincolnshire, in 1886, moving into a small house in Woodboy Street, one of the overcrowded courts which packed the Belgrave Gate area of the town. Interestingly, their near neighbours were another, as yet completely unrelated, Crane family. They had a single daughter, Lilian, in 1887. Henry became a framework knitter, working from home for the next 20 years. Emma was initially employed in a shoe factory. They moved to Curzon Street where they had a lodger, 19 year old John Newton, a shoe clicker, who was described in the 1901 census as his brother-in-law. This relationship remains unconfirmed. It is not known for certain when Henry died, but Emma moved back to Cottingham where she died in 1947.

Thomas Frederick (1856 - 1915)

Clara Crane

Clara Crane (early 1900s) © Jim Upton

Youngest son, Thomas Frederick, married Charlotte Sutton, the daughter of a sub postmaster from Sibson, a hamlet near Market Bosworth, in 1876. We are uncertain of her date of birth (she was clearly older than her husband) as there is a wide discrepancy in her age declared in the census returns.

They had five children, born between 1877 and 1885, although middle son, Thomas died in infancy. Oldest son Arthur moved to Nottinghamshire before the turn of the century where he became a miner working at the coal face. He married Lucy Morris in Mansfield. Youngest daughter, Clara, became a stocking maker in a hosiery factory. She married William Poole in Leicester in 1906 and ultimately moved to Birmingham.

Thomas worked in the building trade for many years, first as a bricklayer's labourer, then as a slater and tiler. By 1911, they had moved to Mansfield to be near son, Arthur. Their children were grown and had moved away, and they had adopted 14 year old, Leicester born, Mary Ann Ross. Thomas died in this Nottinghamshire town in 1915. Charlotte returned to Leicester where she died in 1927.

Naomi (1859 - 1927)

Youngest daughter, Naomi, married Richard Kitchinman in 1879. They had three children. Their son, John, was an accomplished swimmer and represented the county at the Midland Counties Team Championship in 1900, coming second in the open freestyle (3). By 1901 they had moved into a house in Brunswick Street, Leicester. Richard and younger daughter (also called Naomi) both died in 1903. Naomi worked on as a dressmaker, living with her son, John. She died in Billesdon in 1927.

Continued in column 2...

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Page added: February 24th 2012
Last update: November 15th 2015

The Family of Henry Crane

The parish records and census returns confirm that Henry Crane and Mary Sculthorpe had at least eleven children: eight boys and two girls. During his trial for murder in 1875 Henry denied that two of them were his, although at least two years before their marriage he was sharing his cottage with Mary and her infant daughter. Henry moved the family from Corby Road to High Street sometime during the 1860s. In 1871, seven of the children were still with them. Fifth son Thomas died in 1877 aged 15 years.

Domestic harmony was soon to collapse. Henry's attitude towards his wife became violent. In desperation she sought a restraining order from the police and he was charged with threatening her life. He was sent to prison for six months. He was never to return to Mary. In the following years, the family fragmented but subsequent documentary evidence shows that they remained in contact with one another. It is believed that youngest daughter Charlotte, who had entered domestic service, died in Leicester in 1897 and youngest son, Walter died in the village in 1901.

Emma (1851 - 1929)

Flora Street

Flora Street, Leicester (4)

Emma Crane was the eldest of Henry Crane and Mary Sculthorpe's daughters, born in Cottingham in 1851. After leaving school as a teenager she went into domestic service with the family of Peter Bramley, who was a chemist in High Street, Uppingham. In the early 1870s she moved on to Leicester. However, she had maintained contact with her mother's family and a romance blossomed with her first cousin, Vincent Sculthorpe. They were married in Leicester in 1876. They set up home in a terrace house in Flora Street off King Richard's Road in the west end of the city. They had four children: two boys and two girls. Older son, George Henry, died in 1892 aged 14 years; younger son, Charles Arthur, died in 1910 aged 29 years.

Vincent worked for a textile firm, first as a yarn dyer and then as a van delivery driver. They lived in the same house for over 30 years. Emma died in Leicester in 1929; Vincent in 1939

(In a very curious genealogical coincidence, James Ernest Craxford, half brother to Henry Crane's victim Thomas Claypole, spent the last two years of his life and died in 1949 in a house around the corner from Flora Street in Fosse Road North. James is the main photograph on the banner at the head of the page.
There is an article (A walk down King Dick's Road - and back again) in page 4 of this section which describes the historic rise and fall of King Richard's Road.- ADC)

Charles (1847 - after 1930)

Henry's eldest son, Charles, who was born in 1847, spent his life as an agricultural labourer in the village. For a time, he lived with his grandmother, Mary Sculthorpe, in a house in Church Street. He married Emily Orgar, a 23 year old spinster from West Ham, London, at the parish church of St Mary Magdalene in 1895 and had one daughter. Emily survived him by 14 years.

Henry (1853 - after 1911)

Third son, Henry, followed the family trend as an agricultural labourer after he left school. At the time of the 1871 census, he had left the family home and had moved to Great Oakley to live with his first cousins, Sarah and Eliza Sculthorpe. Sarah had married farm worker, Henry Richards, a man some 20 years her senior, in 1866.

Within a few years, Henry had moved again, this time to Leicester and taken up employment as a plumber. He married Caroline Hoult at the Leicester Register Office in 1877. Their first home was in Court C, one of the overcrowded densely packed back-to-back houses built in one of the narrow closes off Belgrave Gate. Over the following decades they moved house three times, slowly moving east across the town via Curzon Street and Grafton Street to Upper Charnwood Street beyond the lines of the Midland Railway. They were to have a son, William, and five daughters. We believe that Henry died in 1913. Caroline lived on for another 17 years.

John (1855 - after 1903)

John was Henry Crane's third son and, from the historical records, closely followed his father's example. Although the case was dismissed he had a brush with the courts as a 15 year old in 1871 (5). Several more infringements of the Game Laws and theft, both alone and with his cousins James and Alfred Crane, followed during the next decade for which he received fines or short terms of imprisonment. He married Alice West, a young woman from the village, in the autumn of 1880. Earlier that year she had given birth to a son, Samuel. Alice's aunt, Mary Inkle, was the mother of Mary Atkins whose story is told in The Sorrows of Mary Atkins. John and Alice set up home in Church Street, next door to the Wests in the cottage vacated by his brother Charles.

The marriage was not a happy one. John does not appear to have accepted Samuel as his own and the relationship turned violent. At the Northamptonshire Easter Quarter Sessions held on April 4th 1883, he pleaded guilty to a charge of malicious wounding and causing grievous bodily harm to the boy the previous February (6). He was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. His attitude to Samuel did not improve after his release. In February 1891, he was given three months hard labour and bound over to keep the peace for a further six months for "a very brutal" aggravated assault on his stepson and threatening his life. (7) The census of 1891 found Alice and her five children, including five month old Charles, living in Kettering Union Workhouse.

John and Alice's last son, George William, was born in 1893. Another daughter, Frances Emily, followed in the autumn of 1895. Subsequent reports described her as a sickly baby with weak eyesight. Shortly after Christmas 1897, Frances died. An inquest was held (8) which reported that the cause of death was pleurisy. Although death was from natural causes, her parents were heavily censured for the dirty and insanitary conditions which had been found at their house.

The Burton Latimer Cottage Homes (about 1905)

The Cottage Homes, Burton Latimer (9)

Alice returned to the workhouse where she remained into the new century employed as a washerwoman. By 1901, John had returned alone to live with his widowed mother, Mary (Sculthorpe), in Cottingham. The four youngest children were taken into the care of the Burton Latimer Cottage Homes on November 9th 1897 (8). Charles and his sister, Alice Jane (born 1889), initially appeared to have thrived in this environment, both winning Church Day and Sunday School prizes three years running (10). John (born 1888) left the Cottage Homes in 1900 when he was sent to the Royal Navy Training Ship "Exmouth". After a probationary period he became an able seaman on "HMS Impregnable". In 1902 Alice was sent to the Girls' Training Home in London. During that time she required treatment for a spinal condition, returning to Kettering Workhouse Infirmary. She ultimately became a patient at the County Mental Asylum at Berrywood, Northampton.

John Crane was back in court in April 1903 charged with deserting his family and leaving them chargeable to the Kettering Union since 1891, ("the cost to the ratepayers being £285"). He was sent to prison for one month. (11) Alice died 1907 and youngest son, Charles, moved in with Alice's sister, Mary, back in Church Lane, Cottingham. There is no trace of John in the records after 1903.

Mary Elizabeth (1856 - 1952); George (1858 - 1927); Lewis (1866 - 1947)

Mary married Thomas Timson in 1886 and spent their whole lives in the village. He worked on the land, first as a general; labourer and then looking after horses. They had three children. Mary died in the Summer 1952 at 95 years of age.

Crane Coles wedding

George Crane's son, Charles, married Frederica Freeman, 1913

Two years her junior, George spent most of his life in Cottingham as a farm worker and cowman. He married Emma Elizabeth Coles in 1884. Emma's father, Charles, was older brother of Thomas Coles who had married George's aunt, Caroline Crane. They raised a family of two boys (Charles Lewis, born 1887 and Frederick, 1890) and two girls (Edith May, 1896 and Winifred, 1899). George died in 1927; Emma in 1947. They were both interred in St Mary Magdalene churchyard.

Seventh son, Lewis, also followed his brother onto the land. He married Ellen Jarman in 1894 and had one son, Kenneth. Ellen was the daughter of William Jarman and her mother, Mary Ann Coles, was the older sister of Thomas and Charles Coles. By the turn of the century they had moved into a house on Rockingham Road. Lewis died in 1947; Ellen ten years later. They, too, were buried at St Mary Magdalene.

William (1864 - after 1911)

William Crane, Henry's sixth son, remained with his mother in Cottingham after Henry had been committed to Broadmoor. Sometime during the 1880s he moved to Liverpool where he was employed as a dock labourer. He found lodgings with Margaret Robinson and her family in Lily Grove. Also at home was Margaret's recently widowed daughter Elizabeth. William soon formed an attachment with Elizabeth and they were married in Liverpool in 1892. They had three children: a daughter, Mary Margaret (born 1894); and two sons: George (born 1895) and Ernest (born 1896). William's world was plunged into sadness when Elizabeth died in 1900. For a time he worked for the corporation as a street lamp lighter. In search of solace, William moved back to Cottingham with his two sons and went back to work on the land.

The Crane Brothers: George (left) and Ernest (right).

Privates George and Ernest Crane (12)

With the outbreak of war, both sons enlisted in the Army. At the time, George was working as a footman in Leicester. George became a private with the Leicestershire Regiment on October 28th 1915 and was sent to France in March 1916. His records show that he sustained a minor injury at the Lewis gun training ranges in April 1916. After a short period of hospital treatment for a knee complaint, he was tansferred to the Kings Own (Liverpool) Regiment. He was part of the major offensive, the battle of the Somme. He was reported missing in the last week of July and his death was presumed on July 31st 1916. His body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, France.

The Arras Memorial (Faubourg-d'Amiens), Arras, France.

The Arras Memorial. George is commemorated on Bay 5 (13)

Ernest found work with grazier, Charles Berry of Middleton. He enlisted for war service during the latter part of August 1916. After four or five months of basic training, he was transferred to active service with the second battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment in France. The battalion took part in an attack near the village of Bouchavesnes, Somme, to capture the Moislans Ridge. Ernest was killed in action on March 4th 1917. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme, France.

The Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.

The Thiepval Memorial. Ernest is commemorated on the Pier and Face 11A and 11D (14)

William received next of kin memorial plaques and scrolls in 1919. Both sons are commemorated on the north face of the Cottingham War Memorial.

The Cottingham War Memorial
Claypole dedication on the north face of the memorial

The Cottingham War Memorial and Crane dedication

After her mother's death, William's daughter decided not to return to Cottingham but moved to Leicester where she lived with her aunt, Emma Sculthorpe (see above) and family for more than a decade. Mary worked as a trimmer and buttonholer at a tailoring factory. By the end of the war she had moved into her own house near the Western Park in the town. She married Lawrence Hayns in 1922.

Continued in column 3...

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The Family of Amos Crane

Amos Crane married Sophia Bradshaw at the parish church of St James the Great in Gretton on September 20th 1841. There are discrepancies in the records regarding her age (she declared herself to be 51 years of age in the 1881 census) but she was clearly very young, probably 16, at the time of their union. She had been baptised in 1825. Over the course of their lives together they had thirteen known children: seven sons and six daughters.

As recounted in part 1 of this article, Amos was "officially" an agricultural labourer but he also supplemented the family's budget by poaching and spent periods of time incarcerated for his troubles. He was never rich and died a pauper in 1873. After his death, Sophia continued to live in Blind Lane supported by her three youngest sons. Her recently married son, John, lived next door with his new wife. Sophia visited her daughters, Rebecca, who was married by this time, and Ellen, who lived in Free Lane, Leicester. While there she became ill and died in September 1886. The cause of death was recorded as enteritis but she may well have fallen victim to the almost annual outbreaks of summer diarrhoea caused by the insanitary conditions.

William Richard (1842 - after 1851); Elizabeth (1843 - 1846);

Despite her young age, Sophia gave Amos five children before the census of 1851. Perhaps it was the pressure and responsibility of bringing up this young family, exacerbated by Amos' intermittent absences (he had already spent one period in prison) that led them to send their two sons, William and Henry, to live with her parents. Sophia's mother, Rebecca Bradshaw, had married the Cottingham farrier, Richard Butler, in 1841. They lived a few hundred yards away on Hill Road (Rockingham Road).

Eldest daughter, Elizabeth, died of scarlet fever, aged 3 years, in 1846. Little is known of William after 1851 and it is believed he died in 1865.

Henry Alfred (1845 - 1861)

Tragedy struck the family again in 1861. Henry had obtained an apprenticeship with a shoemaker in Kettering the previous year. In October 1861, he went to the local pub to play skittles with his friends. It appears that he had too much to drink, collapsed on the way home and was found dead by the side of the road the next morning.

Charles (1848 - 1924)

Third son, Charles, was born in 1848 and was baptised along with his brothers Henry and James and sister Rebecca in a single ceremony at St Mary Magdalene Church on Sunday, August 1st 1852. He earned a few pennies for the family budget as a bird scarer in the fields by the time he was ten years old. As an adult he became an agricultural labourer. He lived with his parents, first in George Street and then Blind Land until he married in 1882.

His bride was tailoress, Alice Rebecca Beadsworth, the 27 year old daughter of near neighbours William Beesworth and Priscilla Readyhough (who originally came from Gretton). Alice already had two children: a daughter, Rebecca, who was born in 1874 and Ernest, born 1880. Charles moved the family back to Corby Road. Over the next fifteen years they were to have seven sons and one daughter. Alice died in 1905. Charles continued to live with his three youngest sons: Walter, Arthur and Leonard, until the outbreak of the first World War. He died in 1924.

Of genealogical interest, Charles youngest son, Leonard, married Eva May Beadsworth, his second cousin, in 1920. She was the eldest daughter of Arthur Beadsworth and Louisa Craxford and the granddaughter of John Craxford and Sarah Ann Claypole. Several of their images appear in The Siblings and Offspring of Sarah Ann Claypole.

James (1848 - 1926)

Fourth son, James, joined his older brother scaring the crows from the farm land as soon as he was old enough. He too had minor brushes with authority in his teens. He found employment as an agricultural labour. He was visiting his uncle Thomas in Leicester at the time of the 1881 census. There have been some difficulties in tracking him through the records because of vagaries in the spelling of his surname. James appeared to grow younger with the passage of time (he was apparently 33 in the 1891 census, 39 in 1901 and 47 in 1911)

Whilst in Leicester, he met Emma Busby, a woman several years older than he was, who had already given birth to seven children. She had been widowed in 1880. They were married in Billesdon in the Spring of 1882. They settled in Long Lane, Billesdon and over the next five years, Emma presented James with three more children. They had several skirmishes with the local Education Authorities particularly regarding the truancy of one of Emma's younger boys, John. In January 1887, they were summoned to appear at the East Norton Petty Sessions. Asked by the prosecutor if they had taken the lad to school by the scruff of the neck, Emma confirmed that they had; and also that the headmaster had "beaten him till he has been all colours" (15). After the turn of the century, James spent some years working as a gardener. He died in the village in 1926.

Rebecca (1852 - 1916)

As a nine year old, second daughter Rebecca started her working life earning money for the household making simple lace items. She then went into domestic service and by the end of the 1860s had moved to Uppingham, Rutland to live with the Bilsdon family. Henry Bilsdon's wife was Jane Sculthorpe, the niece of Mary Ann Crane's husband John.

Clock Tower

Clock Tower

Rebecca married labourer Samuel Wade in 1871 and moved to Leicester with her family during the 1880s. They lived in Lower Free Lane, another warren of enclosed courts situated behind Humberstone Gate and Gallowtree Gate, not far from the landmark Clock Tower. Samuel became a goods porter. They had three children. By 1901 Samuel was working for a brewery and the family were housed in Gartree Terrace, a lane behind the Leicester Union Workhouse. Their later life saw them both in decline. By 1911, Samuel had entered the workhouse and Rebecca had been committed to the Leicester Borough Asylum. Samuel died in the Spring of 1916; Rebecca a few months later

John Thomas (1853 - 1908)

Dover Street

Dover Street, Leicester [A2]

Fifth son, John, worked with his father on the land late into his twenties. He married Maria Bishop, a girl from Holborn, London, at St Mary Magdalene Church in September 1880. By the census of 1891, they had moved to Leicester, where they had set up home in Dover Square, a small courtyard block behind Granby Street. At the turn of the century, they had relocated some two hundred yards away to one of the Courts in Upper Charles Street on the north side of Granby Street. John found work as an ostler, looking after the dray horse for one of the local taverns. Maria worked as a tailoress. They had no children. John died in the winter of 1908. We believe Maria died the same year.

Ellen Matilda (1856 - aft 1890)

Their third daughter appears in the 1861 census as Matilda but was known by her other name Ellen later. She entered domestic service and by 1871 was working for Henry Rayson, the landlord of the WoolPack Inn, Middleton. She had a son in June 1879 which she named George Amos. Sadly the boy died the following summer.

Within the next decade, she too, had move to Leicester and was at work in domestic service with the Johnson family in Upper Hastings Street near to New Walk and de Montfort Square. She married Harry Martin in 1890. They lived for a time near to her cousin Henry in Curzon Street before moving to Biddulph Avenue in Highfields. By 1911 they had six children. Ellen died in Leicester in 1919.

Harriet Ann (1857 - 1924)

In the early years, Harriet Ann helped around the house when she was not at school. It is certain that she kept in close contact with her older sister and presumably visited often. In the Spring of 1880, she married Thomas Wade, Samuel's younger cousin, in Uppingham. They were to have six children. By 1891, Thomas and Harriet had moved to Leicester where he worked as a porter and van driver for a grocer.

Thomas and Harriet's first born son, George Amos Wade (named presumably after her sister's dead infant), was born in 1881. He started work as a shoemaker but in October 1896 he enlisted (no 6788) with the Royal Fusiliers. He saw service in Gibraltar, Burma and India before transferring to the Army Reserve in January 1907 and was finally discharged from the Army in October 1910. He became a general labourer for a rubber manufacturer in Leicester in 1911. Nothing more has been found in the records after that date.

All three of their younger sons signed up for the Army at the begininng of the first World War. William Thomas (born 1883) started work in the shoe trade. He enlisted in 1915 and was mobilised to France in January 1917. He sustained injuries to his left arm and both legs which required several months of hospitalisation. He was then transferred with the a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry to reinforce the line around the River Aisne. During an overwhelming German offensive in May 1918, William went missing (amongst 15,000 casualties) and was presumed dead on May 29th. Harry (born 1892) joined William as a shoe pressman. In 1915, he married Jessie, the 25 year old daughter of Henry and Kate Newcombe. Harry followed William into the Army, joining the Leicestershire Regiment in France. He was transferred to the Manchester Regiment in 1917 joining the fight in the Ypres Salient. He was killed in action on July 31st 1917. Youngest son, Edward (born 1894) served with the 11th Leicestershire Regiment in France where he sustained injuries in action. He was subsequently invalided out of the service.

Harriet's husband, Thomas, died in Leicester in 1916. Correspondence which she completed at the end of the war so that she could receive William's medals and next of kin plaque confirmed that Edward was the only son who had survived the war. Harriet died in 1924.

CWGC commemoration
CWGC commemoration

The commemorations: LEFT: Harry Wade; RIGHT: William Wade

Betsy Ann (1860 - aft 1881)

The course of another daughter, Betsy Ann, is still shrouded in mystery. In 1883, she had moved to Leicester where she met and married Arthur Tyers. She returned with him to his home town of Uppingham, Rutland. She had a son, Alfred born in 1883, and a daughter, Agnes, in 1885. Betsy Ann died in 1886, possibly as a result of complications of pregnancy. The 1891 census confirms Arthur and the two children living with his widowed mother in Meeting Lane in the town. Arthur married again, to Annie Jones, a washerwoman. Alfred remained with his grandmother in Uppingham

Alfred Amos (1863 - aft 1917); Harry (1865 - 1939); Louisa (1868 - aft 1911)

Nothing much is known about Alfred. He spent his life as a labourer and could be found at a lodging house in Billesdon, Leicestershire at the time of the 1901 census. He did not marry and died in Leicester in 1917.

In an echo of the dead sibling he was named after, youngest son, Harry, served an apprenticeship and became a shoe maker. In the early 1880s he moved to Great Easton where he met Matilda, the daughter of brickmaker, Richard Elliott. They moved to Leicester where they married in 1884. They had two daughters and a son. Matilda died in 1897. Later the same year, he married Caroline Lucy Maudlin who had been working for a wine merchant in the High Street. They set up home, first in Evington Street and then across the road to Derwent Street close to where his sister Harriet Ann lived. His son Alfred, served in the Royal Navy

Youngest daughter, Louisa, spent some of her teenage years with her married sister, Harriet, in Uppingham. Louisa found work as a stay maker in a corsetiere. She married Oscar Cox (no relation to the Cox family in our PURPLE pages) in Leicester, who worked at a shoe factory. They lived for a time in Onslow Street not far far other members of the Crane family in the St Peters district. They had four boys and a girl. Before the turn of the century, Oscar moved his family to Havelock Street, Kettering, although eldest boy William remained in Leicester with his aunt Harriett's family.

Access the companion article Mary Ann Crane and her 'Misbegotten' Children; a detailed account of Victorian attitudes to morality ,and illegitimacy with special reference to Mary Ann's situation.

Further Reading

The book The Slums of Leicester (2009) by Ned Newitt

The book cover

[A]: For an authoritative guide to the housing stock and the overcrowding which ensued in Victorian Leicester we recommend "The Slums Of Leicester" by Ned Newitt (2009), The Breedon Books Publishing Company Limited, Derby. ISBN: 978-1-85983-724-5. The book comprises a photographic record of many of the streets and courtyards in the centre of the city prior to the slum clearances of the 1930s and early 1970s. It is illustrated with contemporary accounts of residents who lived there. We have been able to visualise the living conditions of many of the members of the Crane family by reference to this book.

We would also like to thank Ned for his permission to reproduce the illustrations from his book which appear on this page.
[A1]: Quotation from Report of the Leicester Domestic Mission: Joseph Dare 1864; pg 36
[A2]: "Calais Street from Dover Street" (Leicester City Council) from page 140;
[A3]: "Rear of Court B, Caroline Street" (Author's collection) from page 77.


We would like to thank John Peck and John Meads of the Burton Latimer Heritage Society for their help in uncovering the history of the Crane Children at the Cottage Homes. Thanks are also due to Mike Cassell for his help in rationalising Crane residences in the districts, streets and courts of Victorian and Edwardian Leicester. Mike is an active contributor to the Leicester forum of RootChat.Com the Index of Genealogy, Family History and Local History.


1. Family tree graphic: Freeware Graphics: Vintage Kin Design Studio Australia
2. Personal Communication (2102): David Sansome, Sydney, Australia
3. Midland Counties Team Swimming Championship: Leicester Chronicle Saturday 11 August 1900: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
4. Flora Street 2 - 14 in My Leicestershire History Photograph © Dennis Calow, and licenced for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
5. Report from the East Norton Petty Sessions: Leicester Chronicle Saturday 15 January 1887: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
6. Report from the Kettering Petty Sessions: Northampton Mercury Saturday 18 February 1871: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
7. Report from the Northamptonshire Quarter Sessions: Northampton Mercury Saturday 7 April 1883: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
8. Inquest at Cottingham: Northampton Mercury Friday January 1st 1897: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
9. Report from the Divisional Petty Sessions: Northampton Mercury Friday February 13 1891: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.
10. "The Children who came to the Cottage Homes on November 9th 1897": The Burton Latimer Cottage Homes
11. Sunday School and Day School Prizewinners 1898-1900: Church magazine records. "Burton Latimer - A Sense of Place" Burton Latimer Heritage Society's
12. George and Ernest Crane: Photograph and report of their deaths: Kettering Leader November 5th 1917
13. The Arras Memorial, Arras, France: © Commonwealth War Graves Commission
14. The Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France: © Commonwealth War Graves Commission
15. Report from the Kettering Divisional Petty Sessions: Northampton Mercury Friday 3 April 1903: The British Newspaper Archive; © The British Library Board.

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