Robert Jones


1827 Birth

Robert was born in Dyserth, Flintshire, North Wales.

Penisa & Bodnant Forge (the building with the round window)

Although the village looks idyllic, most of its inhabitants would have lived in very poor conditions.

A historical site gives an impression of the poverty that the working class Welsh had to put up with. Robert would have been expected to work from the age of 8. Many children worked down the mines for a few pennies a day. Diet was mainly homegrown vegetables (mainly potatoes) - meat would be a Sunday treat.

The nearest big town is Rhyl, a popular seaside town with people who lived in the Midlands in the twentieth century. It was a seaside destination that could be a 'day out at the seaside' because of its proximity to the cities.

It is walking distance from Dyserth - about 4 miles, so I would imagine that Robert knew it well.

1841 Census

Robert was trained as a shoemaker and is the only living child of John and Mary Jones. Looking at a site that gives the Christenings in Dyserth 'John and Mary' are the parents in several baptisms but I can't find 'our Robert'. It is possible that they had other children who died before the census was taken.

In Dyserth there are several christenings for a John and Mary Jones. In 1813 a Robert was christened - that would make them both very young, but still child bearing age. In 1815 Elizabeth was christened. In 1817 James was christened. In 1822 'Duley' - a girl, so perhaps Julie? was christened. With such common names it is impossible to be sure whether these are siblings who died or left home before the 1841 census was taken. If they are siblings Robert the elder must have died, otherwise they would not have named 'our Robert' after him. To be sure I would need to search for them - something I do not have time to do at the moment.

Robert is living with John and Mary (presumably his parents) in Bryn-y-Felin. This road is still there today.

He was most fortunate to have such an opportunity as to work in a relativly clean job! But it is also possible that he was living with relatives and that John and Mary are not his parents. The Census in 1841 did not ask such questions.... and on the marriage entry his father's name is given as Robert.

A sixty year old woman, Suzanna Roberts was living with them together with a nine year old. I suspect she may well be his maternal grandmother - but it is also possible that she was the person who had trained him in making shoes and that the 9 year old was also learning from her.

1841 Census

In the 1841 Census there is another Robert Jones is recorded as being aged 20 and living in Samson Square in the parish of Dyserth. He is working as a lead miner.

There are two heads of family - women who might well be sisters in law - each with a brood of children. As Robert is listed under Pheobe (aged 46) I assume she is his mother.

Two Roberts living so near to each other will cause confusion when searching for what happens to them in the records.

1847 Marriage At the age of 20 Robert married Sarah Roberts three years his senior. The surprise is that on the marriage record his father is named as Robert Jones. This may well be a mistake on the part of whoever wrote up the details.... but Sarah's father's name is not correct either, so I wonder whether they married without permission...
1855 9th September Baptism of daughter, Mary Jane at St Martin's Church in Tipton.
1856 23rd November Baptism of his son, John William Henry at St Martin's Church in Tipton.
1861 Census

Robert is now aged 33 and married to Sarah (age 36). They have two children.:

a daughter, Mary Jane - aged 6 and

a son, John Willliam Henry Jones - aged 4.

They are living at 88, Holloway Bank, West Bromwich in the district of St. James's. He is working as a striker in one of the ironworks.

1871 Census

Robert is now aged 43 but gives his age as 45 on the form. He is living at 104 Hollyhead Road Wednesbury in the parish of St James with his wife Sarah who gives her age as 46. Their two children are Mary Jane aged 15 and John William Henry aged 14.

Robert is now listed as a 'smith' and his daughter has trained as a milliner. His son is working with him at the iron works as a 'turner' (working on a lathe).

1881 Census

Robert and Sarah have now moved to Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire and are living at 43 Cook Street. He gives his age as 55 and Sarah also as 55.

He has 'come down in the world' from his responsible role as a smith as he is now just a 'steel works labourer', but they have a house of their own - they do not have lodgings.

Why they moved such a long way away from family we could only guess, but they are together and he stays in his new locale until the day he dies.

1883 Son marries

William Henry marries Mary Harrold.

I could not find a marriage record for John William Henry but this fits best as one of the witnesses is a Mary Jane Roberts (his aunt?).... his sister named for her? I shall search to find out more on this when I can.

1884 Granddaughter was born Mary Jane was born
1886 Grandson born Edward Jones is born
1891 Census

They have moved to 40 Manchester Street. This is not far away from where they previously lived. Robert gives his place of birth as Rhyll - probably because that is the nearest large town.

He gives them both as being aged 65. He is now working as a 'port night watchman'.

1885 Death of wife Sarah died aged 70
1901 Census Robert is still working as a port night watchman. He is now a widower and living alone in Manchester Street.
1911 Census

By 1911 Robert was lodging in a house rather than running his own household alone. He was still working at the port as a night watchman despite being 85 (although I only make him 84!).

56 Greengate St is the house painted red in the photo. It is less than a 10 minute walk away from his house in Manchester Street. But it is much nearer to the port area, so more convenient for work.

1912 Death Robert died in the winter of 1911/2. He was aged 85.
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