John Leachman was the child of Phoebe Leachman: we have no record of his father or the circumstances of his birth. We do know that, when John was three years old, he was living with his Great-aunt Mary and her husband Samuel Blow. Samuel was considerably older than Mary, who was his second wife: we have to give credit to this 77 year old retired farmer who was prepared to put up with a three-year-old in the family!
Phoebe was not able to have John with her as she was working as a domestic servant in Gainsborough, the nearby town. But by the time of the 1881 census, she had married Edward Kent and was able to have 13-year-old John with her. She and Edward do not seem to have any children of their own, but he has clearly accepted John as his son. “John Kent”, aged 13 and born in Stow is described as such in the census return.
Five years later, John married Mary Ann Fenton: both were very young by today’s standards and their early life can’t have been easy. At the time of the 1891 census John was in Sheffield working as a general labourer whilst his wife and child stayed at her parents’ in Lincolnshire. The little girl, Lily, would be one of six children who did not survive into adulthood.
My grandmother, also known as Lily but properly called Lilian, would be born later that same year; thankfully one of the six children who did survive….
The whole family, by now including Edward Barnabas and John William, moved to Derbyshire sometime in the late 1890’s and were settled in The Square by the 1901 census.
John (known as “Jacko” or “Jocko”) worked at the steel mills on the other side of the Square’s boundary wall: a far cry from his rural beginnings in Lincolnshire.
Baptised on 7 December 1867 at Stow in Lindsey, Lincolnshire
Married Mary Ann Fenton in summer 1886
Died in September 1932 in Chesterfield