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Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) :
Date and place of birth: 10th May 1881 Sheffield
Date and Place of Death: 21st October 1968 Sheffield
Childhood : Poverty stricken
Parents: Thomas and Theresa nee Armitage
Parents occupations: Butcher’s knife hafter cutler
Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: Not known
Occupation : Chemist at Gretna, employed as a water works inspector in Sheffield
Place of residence at Gretna: 17-19 The Ridge , Eastriggs
Marital status : Married twice
Children: 3 sons and 1 daughter
Travels : None known
Awards/recognitions: None known
Positions held: Yes
Trivia / any other information:
Bibliography Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):
Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher):
References Blogs about the individual:
Websites about the individual:
Further links, notes, and comments:
Müllers | Bringing Christian Hope and Wholeness to Children and Young People since 1834 (mullers.org)
Benjamin was the third of 6 children born to Thomas Anderson a “butcher’s knife hafter cutler” and Theresa nee Armitage. He was born in Sheffield on 10th May 1881.
Thomas and Theresa married in October 1870 at Eccleshall Bierlow, Sheffield when Theresa was 21.
Six children were born between 1872 and 1891. The first was Thomas James born in 1872, Jane in 1877, Benjamin in 1881, Mary Ann 1885, Robert in 1888 and finally Joseph in 1891. It is uncommon for children to be as spaced out as this but there is no evidence available to say that more children were born but did not survive. This information normally appears on the 1911 census but Thomas died prematurely in 1903 and Theresa in 1907.
One month after the birth of Joseph the 1891 census return was completed. Thomas is now 50, “ butcher’s knife hafter cutler”, Theresa 42, Jane 13, Benjamin 10, Mary A. 6 , Robert 3 and Joseph 1 month. The whole family were born in Sheffield and are now living at Court 29, No 1 Allen Street, Holliscroft, Sheffield. The older four children are “scholars”. Thomas James is missing from this household. He can be found boarding with a family of 7 at 233 Allen Street, listed as an 18 year old cutler.
The 1897 Prison Records for HMP Wakefield include an entry for Benjamin’s father Thomas. Committed on 1th April at Sheffield for non payment of poor rate. Ordered to serve 7 days or pay 19/8 ( almost one pound). He has “ nil” education” , age 56, born in Sheffield, one previous conviction, brown hair and is 4ft 8 and a quarter.
By 1901, when Benjamin had reached the age of 20 he was lodging at 6 Brampton Buildings, Eccleshall Bierlow, Sheffield and employed as an excavator navvy. His father is listed on the 1901 census as a boarder, aged 60, at 191 Granville St, Sheffield, still employed in the same occupation. Perhaps this is a result of his imprisonment 4 years earlier.
Theresa can be found at a different address in Holliscroft in 1901, 57 and head of the household. This possibly indicates that Benjamin’s parents had divorced or separated. Jenny( Jane ) is a bottle washer in a factory, now 24, Joe ( Joseph) 1 is not listed as a scholar, nor is Rowland 14 ( Robert).
Following the death of his father in October 1903, Benjamin married Lucy Loxley in the fourth quarter of 1906. He was 25 and Lucy was 36. Very little is known of lucy other than in 1901 she was living at Norfolk Park, Sheffield, the only daughter of John , a joiner and Elizabeth , one of at least 5 siblings.
Benjamin’s mother died in 1907, aged 57.
Lucy had a son , John Edgar in 1908.
30 year old Benjamin has become a water works inspector for the city council by the time he completed the 1911 census. Lucy is now 40 and they have one son, John Edgar aged 3. Their address is 118 Manor Lane , Sheffield, a dwelling of 5 rooms- a bay fronted terrace.
His sister Jane , 33 in 1911 is married to a file grinder and has had 3 children in 4 years of marriage. They also have a street hawker and her 8 year old child lodging with them in a dwelling of 3 rooms at 26 Blue Boy street, Sheffield. Jane went on to have a total of 9 children.
Four years later, in March 1915 Lucy died. She gave birth to a daughter Leslie the same month. There is no further evidence of Leslie , perhaps she died shortly after birth.
We know that Benjamin was at H M Factory Gretna in 1918-19 , he is listed on the electoral register as a chemist, living at 17-19, The Ridge, Eastriggs. We now know that he was widowed in 1915 and left with a 7 year old son. We can surmise that Lucy’s parents looked after young John Edgar.
We also know from marriage registrations that Benjamin remarried in July 1918, this time – Ethel Barker in Sheffield.
It is unclear when he began work at Gretna or whether Ethel was there with him after their marriage.
Ethel was born in Pontefract , Yorkshire on 30th August 1892 to Alfred , a barman, and Ada . She was baptised at St Giles and St Mary’s in Pontefract on 17th September.
It is not clear what happened to Ethel but in the 1911 census she is listed at Ashley Down Poor House, Bristol “ training for domestic service”. A history of this Poor house founded by a philanthropist can be found at Müllers | Bringing Christian Hope and Wholeness to Children and Young People since 1834 (mullers.org)
A photo gallery shows what life would have been like for Ethel.
Ethel’s date of birth is inconsistent on the census documentation.
Following her training it is feasible that Ethel found a position in a Sheffield household.
On 2nd September 1919, Ethel and Benjamin had a son, Norman followed by a second son, Joseph on 7th September 1921.
The 1939 register gives 1893 as Ethel’s birth year even though the baptismal register listed her baptism in 1892 and the 1911 census lists her as 15. They are residing at 227 Upper Valley Rd, Sheffield , Benjamin now a Water works inspector and on Waterworks ARP service. Norma now 20 is a printer letter press machine ad Joseph at 18 is a van driver wireless sales and service.
They stayed on the same road although had moved to 110 Upper Valley Rd at the time of his death aged 87 on 21st October 1968. Probate cites an estate of £1186.
Ethel survived him by a few weeks dying on 8th December the same year. Probate cited at £1190.
Benjamin’s story was of a huge climb out of poverty.