John Kilburn Howe – (1816- 1857)

#52Ancestors – Week 29 – “Newsworthy

I’ve not been keeping up with the #52ancestor challenge but for the week 29 prompt, “newsworthy”, I thought I would share this recent find from the British Newspaper Archive at findmypast

John Kilburn Howe, older brother of my 2nd great grandmother Margaret Howe was in the news following the shocking death of four year old John Harbottle in Bishop Auckland, County Durham during the summer of 1841.

The August 27th edition of the Newcastle Courant reported on the child’s inquest where it was stated that John Kilburn Howe had given him a “cup of rum”

The alcohol was thought to have caused the boy to have convulsions which resulted in his death and “the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter”

John Kilburn Howe and the child’s mother Elizabeth Harbottle, “a woman of loose character” were committed for trial at the County Assizes Court in Durham.

Born in 1816, John Kilburn Howe had grown up in the Bishop Auckland area where a few months prior to the inquest, he had been recorded on the 1841 census, still living with his parents John Howe and Margaret Kilburn and younger siblings, Edward and Mary

Also living with the family was a Margaret Howe believed to be John Kilburn’s wife Margaret Liddle whom he had married in 1836.

The fact that John Kilburn was a twenty five year old married man with a steady job working as a Blacksmith alongside his father makes me wonder what he was doing visiting the house of a single mother in the early hours after a nights drinking!

Was he a dubious character, or was it a case of alcohol impairing his judgement, resulting in a tragic loss of life as sadly still happens today?

Case Dismissed

John Kilburn Howe and Elizabeth Harbottle had to wait, presumably in Durham gaol, six months for their case to be heard as the Assizes Court only sat twice a year in August and February.

There was very little reported in the newspapers about the trial as it seems the case was dismissed quite quickly by the jury and the pair were discharged on 21 February 1842.

I assume there was not enough evidence to prove it was the alcohol that cased the death of poor young John Harbottle and today I imagine John Kilburn and Elizabeth would have been charged with other offences under the child protection laws which were sadly non-existent in Victorian England.

Move to Newcastle

What John Kilburn did immediately after his court appearance is not known, but by 1851, the entire Howe family, including my great grandmother Margaret who had married in Auckland during 1846, had moved to the Elswick area of Newcastle, Northumberland.

John Kilburn’s wife Margaret seems to have stood by her errant husband and the pair were recorded on the 1851 census as living together on the same street (East Elswick Terrace) as my 2nd and 3rd great grandparents.

Six years later on 18 Oct 1857, John Kilburn died suddenly at the home of his father who registered the death.

He was just 41 years old and cause of death was recorded as “apoplexy” indicating a sudden loss of consciousness perhaps caused by a stroke.

Margaret did not have any children with John Kilburn and it is not know what happened to her after her husbands death.


Keturah Blight – (1816 -1895)

Week 25 of the #52ancestors challenge and the theme is “unexpected

Like all genealogists and family historians I have made a fair few unexpected discoveries over the years, but my most recent was finding out my Cornish 3rd great grandmother Keturah Blight had emigrated to the United States in her late sixties.

Keturah Blight (1816 – 1895)

Keturah Blight was the sixth of fifteen children born to my 4th great grandparents, William Blight and Ann Knight in the village of Illogan on the West Coast of Cornwall.

Photo taken by Frederick Arcall from J. E. Palmer, Photographer, High Cross, Truro (Photoshopped to remove marks from original)

From the private collection of LF, Keturah’s 2nd Great granddaughter.

Born less than twelve months after Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, and in the same year as author Charlotte Bronte, Keturah was baptised in the parish church of St Illogan, Cornwall on 2nd March 1816.

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site

Cornwall was the worlds biggest producer of copper and tin at the time of Keturah’s birth and the village of Illogan, where she lived with her siblings and parents, William and Ann sits on the edge of the Camborne and Redruth, mining district which is now part of a group of World Heritage sites celebrating Cornwall’s rich mining history.

The area was also home to many renowned engineers and entrepreneurs including Richard Trevithick and the Tangye brothers who were Keturahs third cousins.

Keturah’s father William was a cordwainer (shoemaker) but her grandfather William and many others in the extended Blight family worked in the mines, surrounding Illogan.

“Mining was frequently a family affair. In the early 1800s, women and children were working in the mines as well. Young women took work as bal maidens, dressing ore at surface. Using special hammers, they would carefully select and crush the ore to a manageable size before further processing”.

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site

Her younger brother William was recorded on the 1841 census as a miner at the age of 14 and she may even have worked in the industry herself as a child or young woman before her marriage.

The decline of Cornish mining

By the time Keturah married my 3rd great grandfather in 1840, Cornish mining was beginning to decline due to increasing competition from other parts of the world.

This led increasing numbers of young Cornish men and women to seek out opportunities in other areas of the British Isles or overseas.

Amongst those to leave the ports of Falmouth and Plymouth for a new life abroad in the 1840’s were five of Keturahs siblings:

  • Ann and her husband James Chegwin left for Canada with their two young sons.
  • Catherine went to Wisconsin in the United States with her husband William Wallis and young family.
  • Mary, William and Joseph all separately headed to Australia.

The Next Generation

Keturah and her husband James Williams who was Sexton of the parish church chose to remain in Illogan after their marriage, settling in the Churchtown area where they raised a family of six including my 2nd Great Grandmother Mary Ann.

They remained living in the Churchtown area for thirty eight years until James died in 1878, but once old enough their children decided to follow in the footsteps of their Aunts and Uncles and leave the village for new lives elsewhere.

  • William Blight headed to Canada, settling in Wentworth, Ontario where his Aunt Ann Chegwin was living.
  • Philip, Elizabeth, and John Blight together with his wife Grace and child all found their way to Michigan in United States.
  • My Great grandmother Mary Ann stayed in the British Isles, but moved to Surrey.
  • James, I am a little unsure about but he may have moved to Durham.

Keturah Goes Missing

Keturah was still living in Illogan with her two youngest children three years after the death of her husband James but after that she goes missing.

She did not appear on the 1891 census and I could not find a death record for her anywhere.

I attempted to find her on numerous occasions over the years without success and wondered if I would ever find out what happened to her.

Then one day while randomy searching the British Newspaper archive I made that unexpected discovery.

Williams – at Ishpheming, Marquette County, Michigan, USA, Sept 11, Keturah, relict of James Williams (parish Sexton) of Illogan Churchtown, aged 79

Royal Cornwall Gazette published October 10 1895, accessed at Findmypast.

My 2nd Great Grandmother had emigrated to the United States very late in life with her youngest children sometime after the 1881 census had been taken.

I wonder if she had always yearned to travel and see the world like her siblings and children or did she feel she had no other choice because she could not afford to remain alone in Cornwall.

Whatever the reason she was certainly a brave lady to up-sticks and make the arduous journey across the pond at such a late stage in her life.

Sources and Citations

Other Resources

Cornish Mining World Heritage Site

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

I have come across this challenge started by Amy Johnson Crow on a number of family history blogs and thought I would give it a try.

The idea is to write about 52 ancestors in a year using a weekly prompt provided by Amy.

I am starting at week 25, but first I thought I would go back to week 23 when the topic was ‘Wedding’ and share this wonderful group photo.

The Wedding of Margaret Sophia Cashford and Charles Roddis

The photo was sent to me by a Granddaughter of the happy couple Margaret Sophia Cashford and Charles Roddis who married in Canterbury, Kent during the summer of 1911.

I am not related to either family but the gentleman seated on the bottom far left of the photo is believed to be Henry Thomas Legge, step-father of Margaret Sophia and a younger brother of my 2nd great grandfather Alfred Legge.

Henry Thomas Legge (1853 – 1939)

Margaret Sophia was just eleven years old when her twice widowed mother Maria married Henry Thomas in 1899, so he must have been an influential figure in her life and possibly the only father she would remember and he certainly looks proud to be at his step daughters wedding.

Henry Thomas, the fourth child of my 3rd great grandparent’s Benjamin Legge and Ann Taylor was born in Canterbury in 1853. He was also a widow with three grown up children when he married Maria, having lost his first wife Sarah three years previously.

Following the family trade

Like his father, grandfather, my ancestor Alfred, his uncles and many cousins, Henry Thomas was a Whitesmith by trade, forging and finishing items in white metal. He started out working for his father as an apprentice (1871 Census) before specialising as a Locksmith (1891 Census).

The Oddfellows Club and Rising Sun Inn

In later life Henry Thomas became a Publican. He was recorded on the 1901 census as living with Maria, and two of her children, Margaret and Rose at the Oddfellows Club, in Canterbury, and then ten years later he was recorded on the 1911 census as the Licensee of the Rising Sun Inn.

As Margaret Sophia’s wedding was just a few months after the 1911 census, the photo may have been taken in the garden of the Rising Sun.

Move to Derbyshire

Henry Thomas was still the licensee of the Rising Sun in 1913, but he and Maria moved at some point to Derbyshire where they died in 1932 (Maria) and 1939 (Henry Thomas).


‘Margaret S Cashford & Charles Roddis (1911) Marriage England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q3 Canterbury 2a 2103 (1911). Indexed at

‘Henry Thomas Legge’ (1857) Baptised Henry Thomas son of Benjamin & Anne Legge, Smith, Blackfriars, 31 May 1857, Born 21 May 1853. St Alphege Parish Church Canterbury Baptisms. Accessed at Canterbury Archives (2004) and available at

‘Henry Ths Legge’ (1861) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG9/520, folio 137, p. 7 (1861). Available at:

Henry Legge’ (1871) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG10/1969, folio 7, p. 7 (1871). Available at:

Henry Legge’ (1881) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG11/959, folio 81, p. 25 (1881). Available at:

‘Henry T Legge’ (1891) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG12/706, folio 9, p. 12 (1891). Available at:

‘Henry T Legge’ (1901) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG13/794, folio 60, p. 13 (1901). Available at:

‘Henry T Legge’ (1911) Census return for Canterbury, Kent. Public Record Office: PRO RG13/794, folio 60, p. 13 (1911). Available at:

‘Legge Henry Thomas’ (1913) Kelly’s Directory for Canterbury, Kent. Available at:

‘Henry Thomas Legge & Sarah Elizabeth White’ (1874) Marriage England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q2 Bridge 2a 1079. Indexed at

‘Sarah Elizabeth Legge’ (1896) Death England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q2 Canterbury 2a 446. Indexed at

‘Henry Thomas Legge & Maria Lefford’ (1899) Marriage England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q4 Canterbury 2a 1893 (1899). Indexed at

‘Henry T Legge’ (1939) Death England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q1 Derby 7b 777 (1939). Indexed at

‘Maria Morris & Richard Cashford’ (1868) Marriage England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q4 Canterbury 2a 1055 (1868). Indexed at

‘Maria Cashford & Thomas Lefford’ (1893) Marriage England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q4 W Ashford 2a 1548 (1893). Indexed at

Maria Legge’ (1932) Death England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes GRO: Q1 Derby 7b 790 (1939). Indexed at