Most people have sixty-four sets of great great geat great great grandparents. I, however, have sixty-three, for Margaret Grange & George Houseman were the ancestors of both my Grandma (Mary Houseman) and my Grandad (George Houseman). Houseman is my birth surname, doubly inherited and it is through this couple that I connect to almost all the Housemans in Yorkshire (where the majority of Housemans in England still reside). It is also where my fascination with family history started. (See Is Grandma related to Grandad?). Although I can trace back further, Margaret & George are, for me, our founding family and, as we will see at the end, the foundation of a multi-generational connection between Housemans and the Yorkshire village of Darley.
So who were Margaret Grange and George Houseman?
Margaret was likely the sixth of seven children born to John Grange of Porch House, Pateley Bridge in c. 1728. It is difficult to be certain of this as I have been unable to find a baptism record, but her birth fits into the pattern of the siblings one of whom was called Joseph and who was likely the Joseph Grange who stood as witness at her wedding. Margaret’s year of birth is derived from the age of death listed on her burial record.
George’s heritage is clearer. Baptised at St Marys, Pateley Bridge, on 3 March 1727, his parents were Margaret Wilks & George Houseman. George had one half sibling, John (b. c. 1719), son of George senior and his first wife, Mary Jackson, and three full siblings Elizabeth (b. c. 1724), Michael (b. c. 1731) and Thomas (b. c. 1732). John seems to disappear from the records and, given he was the oldest son, I suspect this means he died young. Thomas died as an infant and Elizabeth too died, unmarried, in 1745. This left just the two brothers, George & Michael, who remained close, both starting work as linen & flax weavers and both acting as witnesses at each other’s weddings. Michael will continue to feature through this blog.
Margaret & George were married on 14 June 1759 at St Jude’s church, Hartwith with their wedding witnessed by their two brothers as mentioned above. Margaret was living in this parish at the time, George in the nearby parish of Pateley Bridge.
Home was “The Holme” at the east end of Darley. Holme Hall, dating from 1667, still exists today, beautifully restored and grade two listed. I like to imagine this was where they lived although it is entirely possible they were living in a mean little cottage close by which has long since disappeared…..
Seven children arrived in quick succession: Thomas (b. c. 1760), Elizabeth (b. c. 1761), George junior (b. c. 1763), William (b. c. 1765), Benjamin (b. c. 1767), John (b. c. 1769) and Margaret junior (b. c. 1775). Margaret junior was likely a bit of a surprise arriving so long after the rest when Margaret herself would have been in her late forties. By contrast, George’s brother Michael had just one child, a son, Michael, in 1761, nine years after he had married.
They were a healthy family. All seven children survived to adulthood, married and had children of their own. Sadly Elizabeth, George and Margaret were to die before their parents, but the other four children lived much longer with Thomas even reaching the grand old age of ninety-eight.
George continued to describe himself as a weaver on his children’s baptism records but at some point started to rent land in the local area. Both George & brother his Michael were ultimately to describe themselves as yeomen, as farmers. It is possible they inherited money from George senior during this time which enabled them to prosper. Michael died relatively young in 1785 and whilst the majority of his estate went to his sole heir, Michael junior, there were specific bequests for his nephews & nieces, George & Margaret’s children.
George lived much longer, dying in 1815 at the grand old age of 88 and was buried on 15 July at Pateley Bridge. Margaret died less than a year later, also, apparently, aged 88. However, oddly, Margaret was buried on 9 May 1816 at Hampsthwaite and not with her husband. This only thing I can think to explain this is perhaps she had moved to live with one of her children following the death of her husband the previous year.
Fortunately for us, George left a will which helped validate much of what I have written above. Thomas, as eldest son, was appointed executor and tasked with taking care of his mother. Thomas’s daughter, Margaret, was given a specific bequest of £5 which makes me think she had been the one taking care of her grandparents in their old age. The rest of the will is pretty equitable. Following Margaret’s death, the furniture was to be sold “by fare and open sale” and this, together with bills, bonds and all other security (totally just under £200 or nearly four years wages for a skilled tradesman at the time) was to be split equally between all the children, or, if deceased, their children, with one exception. Hannah, wife of the late George junior, was to receive just five shillings. This is amount was designed to prevent her contesting the will. There’s no indication in the will as to why she was left out but it’s possible there were questions as to her “character”. George junior & Hannah Furness were married by licence rather than banns on 14 October 1794 and their first daughter, Mary, was baptised just two weeks later. Hannah was to go on to marry again in 1817 and perhaps she had already been “seen” with her future second husband Thomas Akers.
Michael was to appear in the family’s life one last time, or rather his son, Michael did, for Michael junior died without children of his own. He left a substantial bequest to his cousins and, following the death of his wife, Margaret, in 1831, the cousins were to split nearly £1,000 between them. This was wealth indeed although somehow it seemed to dissipate over the generations between then & now!
Margaret & George’s real legacy was not money, but rather the founding of a multi-generational connection between Housemans and Darley, a connection which continues to the present day. Thomas was the great great grandfather of my Grandma, Mary Houseman (born in Haverah Park, just a few miles from Darley). John was the great great grandfather of my Grandad, George Houseman (born at Fairfield Farm, Darley where his nephew still farms). George junior had only daughters and although Benjamin had two sons, one died young and the other had just one (illegitimate) daughter so no Houseman legacy from either. However, William (who incidentally married Catherine Downs, daughter of Alice Moon & John Downs who are also my 5x great grandparents) had one son, John. His descendants form the third branch of Housemans in Darley to which I used to think I wasn’t related. Every Houseman in Darley, and there are still a number, descends from either Thomas, John or William and hence from Margaret & George, truly a founding family.