THE FAMILY OF FLORENCE WOOD (1881 - 1946)

My great grandmother FLORENCE WOOD was born in 1881 and first appears in the 1881 Census as the one month old daughter of JOSEPH WOOD AND SARAH WOOD. At the time they were living with Sarah's mother HARRIET SPEED at 38 Sarah Street in the St Philip's area of Sheffield. HARRIET SPEED is my great great great grandmother. 

Dwelling: 38 Sarah Street Sheffield  - Census Place: Sheffield, York, England - Source: FHL Film 1342123 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 4649 Folio 78 Page 39.

NAME STATUS AGE SEX BIRTHPLACE RELATION OCCUPATION
Harriet SPEED Widow 52 Female Sheffield, York, England Head Housekeeper (Dom)
John William. SPEED   19 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Metal Smith (White)
Henry SPEED   13 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Errand Boy
Sarah Elizabeth WOOD

Married

21 Female Sheffield, York, England   Daughter Silver Burnisher
Joseph WOOD

Married

20 Male Brentwood, Essex, England Son In Law   Slater
Florence WOOD   1 month Female Sheffield, York, England   Grand Daughter  

JOSEPH and SARAH WOOD (nee SPEED) were my great great grandparents and from the census information, it seems as though they lived with Sarah's mother HARRIET SPEED (my great great great grandmother) . Sarah's father, WILLIAM SPEED (my great great great grandfather), must have died prior to 1881. Another interesting fact is that my great great grandfather JOSEPH WOOD was born in Brentwood Essex. I am surprised as this is the first instance I can find in my maternal line of an ancestor coming from anywhere else other than the North of England. The census was taken on 3rd April 1881 and so Florence would have been 17 at the time of her marriage to Fred Shirt in 1898. The marriage certificate states Florence was 19 years of age. 

This is not an uncommon occurrence but until I receive additional confirmation I think that it is safe to assume that Florence was born in the first three months of 1881. The house where they lived in 1881 and indeed the street was demolished long ago. It was located in the St Philips Road area of Sheffield and was certainly not far from where Florence was living in 1898 at the time of her marriage to Fred.

In the Spring of 2005, I obtained details of the family in the 1891 Census. They were still living in the same district of Sheffield  

Dwelling: 71 (Upper) St Philips Road - Sheffield, York, England - PRO Ref RG12 Piece 3821 Page 77/41-271

NAME STATUS AGE SEX BIRTHPLACE RELATION OCCUPATION
Joseph WOOD Married 30 M Brentwood, Essex, England Head Railway Plater
Sarah E WOOD Married 31 F Sheffield, York, England  Wife
Florrie WOOD 10 F Sheffield, York, England  Daughter Scholar
Harry WOOD 6 M Sheffield, York, England  Son
Joe WOOD _ M Sheffield, York, England  Son
Harry SPEED 23 M Sheffield, York, England  Br in law Pocket Blade maker (?)

Note: The 1891 Census form for the area is not very clear at all.  The other interesting point is that I could not find any trace of HARRIET SPEED my great great great grandmother in the 1891 Census. This means she must have died in the intervening ten years.

There is a reference in the GRO Registers - Sheffield for the December quarter of 1885 in which the death of a  HARRIET SPEED is recorded (Volume 9c Page 223). To confirm this there is also a record of a burial in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery

Speed, Harriet (Widow, age 56).
    Died at Public Dispensary; Buried on December 23, 1885 in Consecrated ground;
    Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.
The fact that the deceased was a widow at the time of her death is leading me to belief that the person buried in the Cemetery is my great great great grandmother HARRIET SPEED.

In February 2009, I received some intriguing information from a distant relative concerning my great great great grandmother HARRIET SPEED. He had obtained a copy of SARAH ELIZABETH's birth certificate. Her birth was dated 21st June 1859 at 131 Porter Street, Sheffield. It states that her mother was HARRIET LAWSON of the same address but there is no mention of the father at all. This was rather unexpected to say the least - I was expecting the name of WILLIAM SPEED. Matters became clearer when I referred to the 1861 Census. HARRIET LAWSON is listed as a 32 year old mother and head of household with an one year old daughter SARAH ELIZABETH LAWSON. Residing with them is a 35 year old lodger WILLIAM SPEED. The inference is obvious. SARAH ELIZABETH was born out of wedlock.

The same relative also supplied me with Sarah Elizabeth SPEED's marriage certificate. The marriage took place on 8th August 1880 in the Parish Church in Sheffield (now Sheffield Cathedral). Sarah is listed as a 21 year old spinster called SARAH ELIZABETH SPEED LAWSON of 38 Sarah Street, Sheffield. Her husband JOSEPH WOOD is listed as a 19 year old Slater of 199 Beet Street Sheffield. But the marriage certificate states that her father is WILLIAM LAWSON deceased, a former Edge Tool Maker. Moreover one of the witnesses to the ceremony is her brother John William who signs himself as JOHN WILLIAM SPEED LAWSON.

Until I received the two certificates, I thought that, based on the census information, WILLIAM and HARRIET were a couple who were married and had children. It is clearly not the case. There is no mention of WILLIAM on Sarah's birth certificate and as yet I have not been able to find details of William and Harriet's marriage. In fact I am beginning to wonder if they were ever married in the first place!.

The 1901 Census shows that my great great grandmother (and Harriet's daughter) SARAH WOOD was a widow - her husband JOSEPH WOOD had died in 1896 . Her eldest daughter Florence had also left home to get married in 1898 to FRED SHIRT but her brother and sister remained. 

Dwelling: 71 St Philips Road - Sheffield, York, England - PRO Ref RG13 Piece 4367 Page 86

NAME STATUS AGE SEX BIRTHPLACE RELATION OCCUPATION
Sarah Elizabeth WOOD

Widow

41 Female Sheffield, York, England   Head Silver Burnisher
Harry WOOD   16 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Steel Cutlery Grinder
Nellie WOOD   7 Female Sheffield, York, England   Daughter  

 

 

 

Ten years later in 1911 Sarah was living at the other side of the city centre at 92 Harwood Street Sheffield

NAME STATUS AGE SEX BIRTHPLACE RELATION OCCUPATION
Sarah Elizabeth WOOD

Widow

51 Female Sheffield, York, England   Head Burnisher - Electro Plate Manf.
Harry WOOD   25 Male Sheffield, York, England   Son Grinder - Sheep Shear Manf.
Nellie WOOD   17 Female Sheffield, York, England   Daughter Polisher - Electro Plate
Lily SHIRT   10 Female Sheffield, York, England   GrDaughter Going to School
Ada SHIRT   8 Female Sheffield, York, England   GrDaughter Going to School

Name Sarah Elizabeth Wood
Relationship to Head of Household Head
Condition Widow
Gender Female
Age 51 Estimated Year of Birth 1860
Occupation Burnisher
Employed Yes Working at Home No
Industry Electro Plate Trade
Place of Birth Yorks Sheffield
Enumerator Information
Address 92 Harwood St Sheffield Parish Ecclesall Town Sheffield
Type of Building Private House Number of Rooms 3 Inhabited Yes
Reference RG14PN27821 RG78PN1592 RD509 SD6 ED10 SN37 Administrative County Yorkshire (West Riding) Registration District Ecclesall Bierlow Registration Sub District Sharrow Enumeration District 10

The most surprising feature of the census is that my grandmother LILY and her sister ADA were living with their grandmother and not their parents FRED and FLORENCE SHIRT. According to family lore my grandmother did not "get on" with her mother and so this may have been a mutually beneficial solution

The 1911 census also for the first time had a question that brought into sharp focus the effects of infant mortality in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. In the 17 years of marriage, my great great grandmother SARAH ELIZABETH had eight children but only three survived into adulthood. I had a suspicion that this was the case when in November 2007 I located a grave in Sheffield's City Road Cemetery that contained eight members of the family. In the grave were the five children who died in infancy. The number of children in the gave ties in with the information in the census

Wood, Annie (child, age 1 year). Died at Back of 34 Sarah Street; Buried on May 7, 1884 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Wood, Enoch (Child, age 14 months). Died at 71 St Philips Rd; Buried on December 10, 1892 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Wood, George (Child, age 20 months) Died at 11ct Vernon St; Buried on January 26, 1889 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield. - to check on relationship

Wood, Joseph (child, age 11months). Died at 71 St Philips Rd; Buried on April 29, 1891 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Wood, Joseph (Slater, age 35). Died at 71 St Philips Rd; Buried on April 9, 1896 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Wood, Lily (Child, age 8). Died at 71 St Phillips Rd; Buried on December 9, 1897 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

Wood, Sarah Elizabeth (Widow, age 55). Died at 92 Harwood St; Buried on April 27, 1915 in Consecrated ground; Grave Number 12412, Section X of City Road Cemetery, Sheffield.

It was a very sobering discovery - to lose five children, must have been heartbreaking. Four of the five were under two years of age. Whilst St Philips Road was not the greatest area to live in, it was by no means the worst area in Sheffield for housing and social deprivation. And of course I have no way of knowing the miscarriages and stillbirths that may have also occurred. 

NOTES ON

CITY ROAD CEMETERY SHEFFIELD

The gravestones are more likely to be marked with the grave number than in non-municipal burial grounds. If you can find stones in the right sort of range then you may be able to locate a particular unmarked plot. If you have time and opportunity you can aid this process by looking at the grave book in the Sheffield Archives and noting the names of families buried in graves in the same numbered sequence (and hoping that some of them have gravestones you can spot in the cemetery).

Also, the entries in the City Road Burial Register and the grave book usually have a 'coded' indication of the location. these are sometimes difficult to interpret but, for example, you could see something like '6r 6 fr L' - ie 6th row 6 from left. This could be useful, particularly when you are searching a large section. Non-conformists did not require consecrated ground for the burial of their dead. Consecration was usually carried out  by a Bishop, which is an office that denominations outside the Catholic and the Established church have rejected. The municipal cemeteries in Sheffield were designed from the outset with consecrated and unconsecrated (or 'general') sections.

SILVER BURNISHING

The one area that does remain constant in both censuses is the occupation of my great great grandmother SARAH WOOD. Her occupation is given as "Silver Burnisher" which was considered to be a particularly dirty and labour intensive trade. it was in effect the final process in the creation of Sheffield plate. This process gave the piece a highly polished look and aided in the concealment of impurities. A piece was first cleaned and smeared with soft soap before the process began. A mixture of white Calais sand and water were rubbed into the piece to remove any grease and dirt. An agate burnisher was used to rapidly move back and forth over the metal to remove scratches. The pores of the silver were closed by using a steel burnisher, which gave the piece a bright surface. Final burnishing was done with bloodstone, which produced a surface that was difficult to tarnish. A mirror-like finish was then rubbed into the piece using wet rouge and dried with soft, old linen. (Old Sheffield Plate, Shire Publications, Annere Bambery)

NAME                    E        MQ        YEAR        PLACE        NO        PAGE        ENT        MR_SP_AG
Florence  Shirt       X        1                 1946        Sheffield        9c        695              +        64. [1882]

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This page was last updated on 09/05/11 10:44