Catherine Brickley

I have luckily been able to find Catherine Brickley in every census from 1871 to 1911.

The 1911 census is fun because it’s not filled in by an official but by someone in the household, usually a grown-up son or daughter. My great-uncle Harry made a complete pig’s ear of it! But because he did that, we happen to know that Catherine (known as Kate) had six children, one of whom died. We have no family recollections of the child who died, but there are records of a David Crickmore born 1883 and died 1886. The dates would fit between Lisa and John, and of course David was the name of Kate’s father.

Kate was the matriarch of the Crickmores: her children were the grandparents of my generation so between us we have photographs and memories of them. They were Ellen (Nellie) born 1878, Harry born 1880, Eliza (Lisa) born 1882, [possibly David born 1883, died 1886], John born 1887 and Thomas Jarvis born 1889.

1889 must have been an “annus horribilis” for Kate. Her widowed father died in January, and for some reason she was named as next of kin in the administration of his estate, despite having three older brothers. In the summer she lost her husband Harry as well. I wonder if they knew she was pregnant before he died: in December she gave birth to my Grandad, Thomas Jarvis.

Kate must have been pretty much dependent on her own resources both emotionally and financially. She had no mother. Her in-laws the Crickmores, now in their late sixties, were in Norfolk. She had obviously lost touch with her brothers. Financially, she wasn’t working outside the home. As a young woman she had been a reeler, in charge of the machines winding the wool onto bobbins, but had given up her job as her growing family demanded her time.

In 1889, as well as her newborn, she had four children between the ages of two and eleven to look after. Perhaps Nellie, the eldest, was already going out to work. Nellie was certainly working as a spinner in the mill when she was 13: in 1891 her wage was the family’s only income. (You can see the reeling and spinning machines working at Bradford Industrial Museum.)

Kate’s father had left £89 12s. This would be about £44,780.00 using the Measuring Worth website’s calculator. This would be more than two years’ wages for a modern call centre worker (the nearest job I can think of to a mill-worker in the 19th century) so maybe the family were able to live on it for a while.

Kate lived for forty years, more than half her life, as a widow. At this point we don’t know how she lived once her children were married. Did she make her home with one of them or live alone? Did she go back to work in the mill or, like many women in her situation, take a domestic job such as charwoman or housekeeper?

Mother of Thomas Jarvis and daughter of David and Ellen Brickley

Born Catherine Brickley in late 1852 in Bradford, Yorkshire

Married Harry Crickmore in early 1877

Died December 1929

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