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This blog will be a record of stuff I find interesting, discover or write. Interested in family & local history, cemeteries, reading & libraries, old stuff, research & writing, photography, wine and fine dining plus lots more! Immersed in local history, fascinated by technology and social media and would like more time to spend doing the things I love!

Sunday, 7 January 2018


The post celebrates four years of this blog, Pieces of Me and the twenty-first story of my family history.

Flintshire was home to my maternal forebears the Leach and Ellis families who lived in Wales from at least the 18th century. Hawarden (pronounced Harden) lies in the north of Wales in Flintshire. After years of conflict, Edward I proclaimed in 1284 the Statute of Wales at Rhuddlan and the County of Flint was established. Wales was incorporated into England following the passing of the Act of Union by Henry VIII in 1536.

In the 18th century Flint contained about 160000 acres with about 28 parishes and just over 3000 houses. The area produced corn, wheat, barley, oats, butter, cheese and honey. Flint was also known for its lead, millstones and pit-coal.  Coal has been used by man for centuries as an energy source. Underground mining of coal was developed in Britain and by the late 1700s and early 1800s was a large scaled industry fueling the Industrial Revolution.

Historic Hawarden is only a village, little more than a main street with shops and houses situated along the way. The other townships close to Hawarden include Ewloe and Pentrobin known for their potteries and production of earthenware.

Main street in Hawarden, Flint. Photo M. Nichols, 2007.

John Leach was born in Pentrobin on 2 March 1819. He was the second son of William and Anne Leach. William was born in Hawarden in about 1789 and was a collier and married Anne Ellis who was born about 1792 also from Hawarden. The couple had at least three children, Joseph born 21 March 1816 and John, both baptised in Hawarden. The youngest child was a daughter Mary who was born circa 1826.

Baptism of John Leach in 1819. Courtesy Cheshire Public Records.

John followed his father William into the coal pits and became a collier during the early 1800s more than likely employed around Hawarden in Wales. There was a huge demand for coal and productivity increased due to the Industrial Revolution and many Welsh miners migrated eastwards to the coal producing counties of Northumberland and Durham.

The eldest son Joseph was a shoemaker and in 1838 married Hannah Bennett making their home in Pentrobin. They were married 11 years before they were blessed children. They included John 1838, William 1841, Ellis 1843 and Sarah Ann 1849. By 1851 they were living at Knowll Hill Lane in Pentrobin, with parents William & Hannah living next door.

Of Joseph and Hannah’s children, John their firstborn who had attended school was also recorded as being blind. Ellis became a gardener and married and had a large family of four sons and daughters moving to Great Boughton in Cheshire. The youngest child, Sarah married Edward Nixon a Mining Colliery Engineer and they had at least one daughter and for a time they lived with Joseph and Hannah in Ewloe Town in Hawarden.

Joseph continued with his profession of shoemaking and both he and Hannah were still alive in 1881, both aged 65 years living in Buckley. It is not known when Joseph and John’s parents died but they were still alive at the time of the 1851 Census living at “Drury” in Pentrobin, William aged 62 and Anne aged 59. Descendants still lived in Hawarden today and a street called Leach Close commemorates the family.

Marriage certificate of John Leach and Ann Moore. Courtesy Nichols Family Archives.

Our ancestor, John Leach, joined the migration and by the late 1840s was living in Hougton Le Hole in Durham and was employed as a Pitman. In 1849 and aged 30, he married Ann Moore. At the time he was living at Brick Garth, Hougton Le Hole. The couple had two children in Durham, William Thomas born 21 February 1854 and Mary Ann born 17 December 1855 in Brick Garth, Hetton le hole.

Several years later, the couple migrated to Australia sometime between 1855 and 1858 with their children Mary Ann and William, settling in Tasmania for several years where Ann gave birth to two daughters, Rebecca born 18 April 1858 and Sarah born 4 May 1860 at Port Sorrell, west of Devonport.

By the end of 1861 the Leach family had moved north, this time settling in the Newcastle area in NSW, renowned for its coal deposits. Ann, in particular, would have felt at home here with the names of localities such as Pit Town, Newcastle, Wallsend names of towns in her native Durham. Soon after settling at Wallsend, son William Thomas died 8 April 1861, Wallsend, aged seven from "scald and irritative fever from the effects of scald on the constitution."  Three more sons were born in Wallsend, John William born 27 July 1862, Ellis named after his father’s maternal family, born 19 November 1864 and Thomas born 19 November 1867.

Tragedy struck the family when three of the Leach children died in the early 1860s and you can read more about the deaths of William Thomas Leach who died in 1861, seven months later, Sarah succumbed to illness. Mary Ann died in a tragic accident in 1864 and you can read about this in a post titled Childhood deaths in Wallsend.

John Leach died before reaching his fiftieth birthday. His death was recorded on 23 October 1868 at Wallsend, and the cause was pyaemia, a miner's lung disease. A further tragedy struck the family when 19 year old, Thomas Leach was involved in a colliery accident in 1886 at the Wallsend Colliery. More about this tragedy in an earlier post.

Following the death of her husband, Ann Leach another miner, Thomas Sinclair, in 1871 at the Registry Office, Newcastle. Thomas Sinclair was about seven years younger than Ann. The couple extended their family with four more children, including triplets Samuel George, Thomas and William Arthur born 27 March 1871. William died a few weeks after he was born and there is no birth certificate registered for him however he was aged three weeks at his death on the 17 April 1871. Samuel is listed on his birth as "elder born of twins" and Thomas as "younger born of  twins" registered on 4 May 1871 after William Arthur's death

John William Leach 1862-1920. Courtesy Nichols family archives
When she was aged 48 years old, Anne gave birth to her last child, on 31 January 1874, whom she named Arthur.

The “old” cemetery in Wallsend which was used by the Leach family closed in 1896 and it was apparently converted to parkland in the 1950s. Information from the headstones were recorded before removal. The first burial at the “new” Wallsend Cemetery was in 1896 and this cemetery is still use today. It is situated on Sandgate Road. See Newcastle City Council for more information.

John William continued to live with his mother Ann and stepfather, Thomas Sinclair at Pit Town, Wallsend. Anne Sinclair formerly Leach nee Moor(e) aged 80 years died on the 19 November 1907 at Pit Town in Wallsend. She died as a result of a cerebral haemorrhage and was buried the following day in the Methodist Section of the “new” Wallsend Cemetery.

The story of John William Leach 1862-1920 will continue in a future post, the Leach family from Wallsend.

1 comment:

  1. Belated congratulations on your blogiversary Michelle. You are buidling up an impressive collection of stories. Will you be producing a print version?