In my last Aveyard post I wrote about the horrific death in August 1858 of toddler George Aveyard, the son of Daniel and Sophia Aveyard. In it I mentioned his older brother Simeon, who was sent to seek his missing young brother. At the time Gildersome-born Simeon, whose birth was registered in the March Quarter of 1853 , was only four.
In a tragic twist
of fate Simeon’s life was also cut far too short through an accident in 1873,
when only 20 years old. In another cruel parallel, his death also resulted in
an inquest before Thomas Taylor, the very same Coroner who headed George’s
inquest over 15 years earlier.
The Aveyard family
moved to Howden Clough shortly after George’s death. A coal mining family,
Simeon followed that traditional occupation. It is here his history is
At about 5.30am on 3 September 1873 he and his father Daniel set off to work at Messrs. Haigh and Greaves Howden Clough Colliery Company’s Middleton Main Pit. Long since gone, it was in the Pheasant Drive, Geldard Road and Nab Lane area of present day Birstall.
Simeon worked there
for several years, but for the past couple he’d achieved the pinnacle status of
hewer. He worked his own bank around seven yards wide, with a yard-thick seam
of coal. The roof was considered generally good, consisting of 9-12-inch-thick
clod  or black bind .
However, Simeon had
told his father there had been some slips in his place the previous day. As a
consequence, Daniel, a seasoned miner, strongly cautioned his son to keep his
wood up to the coal face to support it.
Admit it. How many
sons ignore their father’s advice? Youth is always right? It’s an age-old
dilemma. In this case the carefree invincibility of youth proved wrong, with
John Woffenden, the
pit Deputy, had known Simeon from his infancy. Doing his round of the pit he
arrived at Simeon’s bank at around 7.20am. He could hear groaning and he found
the young man doubled over with his head between his knees and two pieces of
clod on his back. These had fallen between two wooden props which had lids 
whilst he was apparently cutting down coal close to the face. Several other
props were lying around ready to be put up when required. Despite his father’s
warnings it appears Simeon had failed to ensure the area was adequately shored
After attempting to
make him more comfortable Woffenden fetched two other men. Between them they
freed Simeon, but his spinal injuries were so severe he could not straighten
himself and was unable to move his legs. He also sustained several cuts to his
head. Despite his injuries he was fully conscious.
It was around 8am when Daniel learned of the accident, meeting the men bringing his son to the pit bottom. Simeon was carried home where Robert Rayner, a Gomersal General Practitioner/Surgeon,  attended him. Rayner was familiar with mining injuries and his name crops up in connection with ones received at Howden Clough colliery.
However, Simeon failed to recover, gradually wasting away over the next few days. As his life ebbed away, he admitted to his father that the sole blame for the accident was his. He died between 2-3 o’clock in the afternoon of 15 September.
The inquest, held the following day at Gomersal’s White Horse Hotel, reached the verdict that Simeon had been accidentally crushed .
Simeon’s body was interred in St Peter’s churchyard, Birstall on 17 September 1873 .
 GRO Birth Registration of Simeon Aveyard, accessed via the GRO website, GRO Reference March Quarter 1853, Hunslet, Vol 9B, Page 219.  Indurated clay.  Indurated argillaceous shale or clay, very commonly forming the roof of a coal seam and frequently containing clay ironstone.  A short piece of timber about two feet long placed on top of a prop to support the roof.  1871 & 1881 Censuses accessed via Fimdmypast, Original at TNA, Reference: RG10/4588/27/11 and RG11/4551/31/10  West Yorkshire Coroner’s Notebook, Thomas Taylor’s Notes of Inquest of Simeon Aveyard, 16 September 1873, Accessed via Ancestry.co.uk, Original at West Yorkshire Archive Service, Reference Number: WDP5/1/4/4  Burial of Simeon Aveyard, St Peter’s Birstall Burial Register, accessed via Ancestry.co.uk, Original West Yorkshire Archive Service – Reference Number: WDP5/1/4/4
Observer, 17 September 1873
Reporter, 20 September 1873
GRESLEY, WILLIAM STUKELEY. GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN COAL MINING. London, New York, E & F.N. Spon 1883.
Family history at its most basic boils down to
births, marriages and deaths. Sometimes it is easy to become immune to the true
meaning of the parade of dates marking the start and end of life. There are,
after all, so many in a family tree. Occasionally, though, one event does stop
you still in your tracks. For me the death of George Aveyard is one such event.
George was the two-year-old son of Daniel and Sophia Aveyard. In the context of my Aveyard One-Name Study, Daniel’s parents were George Aveyard (1780-1854) and his second wife Hannah Asquith. The family originated in the West Ardsley area, but somewhere between March 1832 and June 1841, they moved to Gildersome Street, an area south of the centre of modern-day Gildersome.
Daniel was the second youngest of George’s 18
children, baptised on 4 August 1830 at St Mary’s, Woodkirk . Evidence
strongly suggests George and Hannah were my 4x great grandparents.
Daniel, a coal miner, married Sophia Brook at All Saints Dewsbury Parish Church on 23 August 1852 . Sophia was born on 1 June 1832 and baptised one month later at Woodkirk parish church, her parents being William and Amelia Brook .
Daniel and Sophia’s marriage resulted in 12 children . So far, I have identified 10 of them – whilst Aveyard is an uncommon name there was more than one Aveyard/Brook marriage in the relevant period. I suspect I have identified at least one of the remaining children, but more work is required (short of purchasing the relevant birth certificates).
The so far identified children are Simeon  (birth registered in 1853); George  (birth registered in 1855); Sarah Elizabeth  (birth registered in 1861); Brook  (birth registered in 1863); twins Joseph and Mary , whose diminutive name appears to have been Polly  – yes, that is a known short form of Mary, (births registered in 1865); Ada  (birth registered in 1868). She was buried on 25 April 1869 at St Peter’s Birstall under the name of Adah Aveyard and her father was named as Daniel ; Herbert  (birth registered in 1870); Richard Newman  (birth registered in 1871); and Rachel  (birth registered in 1872). She was buried on 21 July 1872 at St Peter’s Birstall with her father named as Dan[ie]l .
The events in this post took place in Gildersome
Street on 13 August 1858, with the inquest taking place before Coroner Thomas
Taylor the following day at the King’s Arms Inn, Gildersome. Whilst many
inquest records do not survive for this period, with newspapers being the main
information source, we are fortunate that the HM Coroner of Wakefield records
at West Yorkshire Archives (Wakefield) includes the notebooks of Thomas Taylor
 for the period 1852-1900. They include the notes for the inquest of George
A little over two years old, George was able to talk and had been used to walking alone for about six months. Sarah Aveyard (née Stables) the wife of one of Daniel’s older brothers, Thomas, gave an account at the inquest, testifying there were “...always plenty of children playing about”  in Gildersome Street where the families lived.
It was clear that even though a toddler, George was
amongst them. Her young nephew had been to her house on morning of his death,
leaving at around 11 o’clock heading down the road. So, his aunt clearly had no
concerns that he was out and about without his mother.
You can envisage the scene: traditionally based around weaving and cloth manufacture but now becoming a mining village, this was a close-knit community with groups of impoverished, grubby children, the streets their playground, freely popping in and out of houses, many of them occupied by relatives. A place where everyone knew everyone. In this period Gildersome Street really was an Aveyard enclave.
At around 11.45 am George arrived home. His mother, Sophia, gave him a piece of bread and content he once more wandered back outside. At around noon she noticed he was missing. This was out of character, as according to Sophia’s evidence at the inquest “I have not lost him before.” . She sent out her eldest child Simeon to seek him. At this point she believed him to be perfectly safe at his grandmother’s home about 80 yards away. This is most likely to be his paternal grandmother, Hannah Aveyard.
It was dinner time and Sophia was starting to feel anxious. Another neighbour, widow Elizabeth Buckley, overheard her asking one of her daughters if she had seen George. This would have been just gone one o’clock. Elizabeth in fact had seen George two or three times that morning.
Now events took on a dark, stuff of nightmares turn. Alice Aveyard, described as “going in [sic] 11 years” , daughter of Thomas and Sarah, and therefore cousin of little George, was the one who made the horrific discovery. I imagine it would haunt her until her dying days, a scene no adult, let alone a child, could never unsee.
According to her inquest evidence:
“…I went yesterday afternoon to George Buttery’s privy adjoining the Wakefield and Bradford Road. The door was wide open. On looking thro’ the hole in the seat I saw a bare knee in the soil and I imm[ediat]ely gave an alarm.” 
In the 1851 census, Thomas and Sarah Aveyard’s household details were adjacent to the entry for the family of George Buttery. In other words they were close neighbours.
So what was a privy? Well, I’ll start by saying a
privy was a far cry from the flushing, sanitary toilets of today. Improvements
had, in fact, commenced with the landmark 1848 Public Health Act which decreed:
“That it shall not be lawful newly to erect any House, or to rebuild any House pulled down to or below the Floor commonly called the Ground Floor, without a sufficient Watercloset or Privy and an Ashpit furnished with proper Doors and Coverings.” .
There were also provisions for the newly created
Local Boards of Health to issue notices where any houses had insufficient
“..whether built before or after the Time when the act is applied to the District in which it is situate…” 
But this is a bit of gloss which belies the true
unsanitary, conditions. In the period a privy was essentially nothing more
than a small wooden, sometimes brick, building which could be shared by several
families. The implication, however, in the inquest notes is that the
Gildersome Street houses by 1858 did not have massive communal privies shared
by scores of people. Alice’s evidence is that this one belonged to one
household, that of George Buttery. Sarah Aveyard in her evidence stated:
“The privy does not belong to Daniel Aveyard’s house.” 
Number of families aside, the very basic interior design was a wooden board with a hole cut into it. In fact, there could be more than one hole, and these not necessarily divided into separate cubicles.
Excreta (liquid and faeces) would drop through this hole and the waste would drain and collect into cesspits. These were generally porous for the liquid matter to drain away, though this did not always happen. And when it did operate correctly, the question is where did it seep to and what contamination did it cause? The (hopefully but not always) dry waste would build up and eventually be shovelled out by night soil men. And yes, it was a job carried out under the cover of darkness. The waste would then be sold on for manure.
So, the soil referred to in Alice’s evidence was
actually a euphemism for human excreta.
Even if not serving a large number of houses, the stench surrounding these privies would be unimaginable at any time of year, never mind August and the height of summer. And it was in this hell hole that a child was trapped.
Alice went to tell her mother she had seen a child’s leg in the privy. It was about quarter past one in the afternoon. Sarah returned with her daughter to the appalling scene, saw the knee and screamed. This attracted the attention of some local women, including Elizabeth Buckley.
The women removed George’s body, which was lodged head first in the soil (think about the true meaning of the word soil in this context). Elizabeth testified that when they extracted him, he was dead, his eyes were partly open, there was no froth about his nose and, she observed when she washed his body, that he had no signs of injury. She also stated the the privy seat was not broken and in good order.
In other words this appeared to rule out any foul play, which view the inquest jury duly took. Its verdict was that George had “accidentally suffocated.” It is a verdict which does not even begin to capture the hideous circumstances surrounding this young child’s death.
Back in 1858, with its alarmingly high childhood mortality rates, a child’s death was not the unexpected event it is today in 21st century England. But a child’s death in such a ghastly accident was utterly shocking. Perhaps this was the reason Daniel, Sophia and their family had left Gildersome Street by the time of the 1861 census, and had moved to Boggart Lane in the Howden Clough area of Batley, near Still House Farm, which stands today . They wanted to escape the scene of such personal family trauma?
Such was the hideous nature of George’s death, the inquest was widely reported in local newspapers, as typified by the 21 August 1858 edition of the Pontefract Advertiser  which recorded:
SHOCKING DEATH OF A LITTLE BOY – An inquest was held on Saturday, at the King’s Arms Inn, Gildersome before T. Taylor, Esq., on the body of George Aveyard, aged two years, son of Daniel Aveyard, coal miner. On Friday last, about noon, deceased went out of his father’s house, and no more was seen of him until one and two in the afternoon, when he was discovered in the soil of an adjoining privy. When extricated he was found to be quite dead….”
It is a death which over 160 years later, and amidst so many other deaths recorded in the course of my family history research, I cannot forget and one that does not cease to sicken.
As for location, the buildings of Gildersome Street have long been erased from maps. Ironically the present-day area is one which I frequently visit. It lies among the network of busy roads and the industrial estate areas, all within minutes walking distance from where West Yorkshire Archives (Leeds) now stands.
 Baptism of Daniel Aveyard, St Mary’s Woodkirk Baptism Register. Accessed viaWest Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910 [database on-line]. Originals at West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: WDP108/1/2/1
 Baptism of Sophia Brook, St Mary’s Woodkirk Baptism Register. Accessed viaWest Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910 [database on-line]. Originals at West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; New Reference Number: WDP108/1/2/2
 Marriage of Daniel Aveyard and Sophia Brook, All Saints Dewsbury Parish Church. Marriage Register Accessed via Ancestry.com. West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935 [database on-line]. Originals at West Yorkshire Archive Service; Leeds, Yorkshire, England; Yorkshire Parish Records; Reference Number: WDP9/28
 1911 Census, Aveyard family entry. Although Sophia is now a widow her Particulars as to Marriage details have been completed. Accessed via Findmypast. Originals at The National Archives, Kew. Reference RG14PN27255
 Birth Registration of Simeon Aveyard, March Quarter 1853, Hunslet Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 219, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of George Aveyard, December Quarter 1855, Hunslet Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 184, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of Sarah Elizabeth Aveyard, June Quarter 1861, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 475, Mother’s Maiden Name Brooke. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of Brook Aveyard, December Quarter 1863, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 502, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of Mary and Joseph Aveyard, March Quarter 1865, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 550, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 1891 Census, Aveyard family entry. Accessed via Findmypast. Originals at The National Archives, Kew. Reference RG12/3722/12/17
 Birth Registration of Ada Aveyard, June Quarter 1868, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 575, Mother’s Maiden Name Brooke. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Burial of infant named Adah Aveyard, 29 April 1869 at St Peter’s, Birstall. Accessed via Ancestry.com. West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985 [database on-line]. Originals at West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; New Reference Number: WDP5/1/4/3
 Birth Registration of Herbert Aveyard, March Quarter 1870, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 578, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of Richard Newman Aveyard, March Quarter 1871, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 604, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Birth Registration of Rachel Aveyard, March Quarter 1872, Dewsbury Registration District, Volume 9B, Page 603, Mother’s Maiden Name Brook. Accessed via the General Register Office Website Birth Indexes.
 Burial of infant named Rachel Aveyard, 21 July 1872 at St Peter’s, Birstall. Accessed via Ancestry.com. West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Deaths and Burials, 1813-1985 [database on-line]. Originals at West Yorkshire Archive Service; Wakefield, Yorkshire, England; New Reference Number: WDP5/1/4/4
 Taylor was the coroner for the Honour of Pontefract from 1852-1900, deputy county coroner 1855, 1861-1864, and county coroner 1864-1900.
 Coroner’s notes at the inquest into the death of George Aveyard, 14 August 1858 Originals at West Yorkshire Archives, Thomas Taylor, West Yorkshire Coroner’s Notebooks June to November 1858, Reference C493/K/2/1/9
It might not be everyone’s idea of a pleasant way to while away the hours, but I’ve had tremendous fun analysing the various Aveyard families in the 1851 census of England and Wales. I will eventually get onto constructing family trees as I link more building blocks of information. But for now I concentrated on focusing on the Aveyards as a group looking at their ages, birth and address locations, occupations and even Christian names.
I’ve loved playing with various chart formats to depict the information. Perhaps I really do need to get out more! However I hope those with Aveyard ancestry connections will enjoy seeing the bigger picture and working out where their particular branch fits. And at the outset I should caution this is a work in progress – I do envisage revisions to the data as I grow more familiar with the Aveyards!
I undertook 1851 census surname searches using both Ancestry and Findmypast, genealogical dataset provides, to try to minimise any omissions through transcription errors. This is a big risk if relying on one genealogical data provider. These searches included both the Aveyard surname and an infrequently used alternative spelling of Haveyard. For ease I will use Aveyard generally, unless I’m specifically referring to an individual who uses the Haveyard spelling.
checked the image, again to minimise any transcription errors. If the image
proved problematical with Findmypast I checked the Ancestry image and vice
through each entry personally in this way also gave me a far better ‘feel‘
for the Aveyard families. Yes, it’s time consuming. But I think it’s worth it.
there were 211 occurrences of the Aveyard surname, split between 105 males and
105 females. One entry, for a Gorton (Lancashire) Aveyard, was so badly
damaged it was impossible to determine age, relationship or gender. Therefore
any analysis of these specific factors (unless indicated) is based on an
overall Aveyard total of 210.
youngest Aveyard, Ellen (of Gildersome), was newborn. The eldest one, Benjamin
(born in Gorton and living in Mancester), was 75. There were only six
Aveyards in their 70’s, so less than three per cent. The average age, based on
the 210 entries with legible ages, was 24.72.
The marital status of the Aveyards is depicted in Chart 1, below.
Aveyards were heads of the household. The precise split of relationship to the
head of household of the 211 Aveyards is given in Chart 2, below.
looked at Christian names. William (17 occurrences), George (16) and Thomas/Tom
(11) were the top three male names. For females bearing the Aveyard name,
including those by virtue of marriage, Mary (16) and Sarah (13) were those in
double digits. The full breakdown of male names is in Chart 3, and females in
looked at birth and address counties and, within these counties, the precise
address and birth location. For part of this piece of analysis I excluded
married and widowed females, on the basis these were highly unlikely to be born
as an Aveyard. The results were startling. There is an overwhelming northern
England geographical concentration of Aveyards, with Yorkshire being the main
shows the birth county of all Aveyard surname bearers – it shows 83.41 per cent
of all Aveyards in the 1851 census were Yorkshire-born; 10.90 per cent were
born in Lancashire; and 3.31 were Cheshire-born. Five others were born in
either Durham, Lincolnshire or Middlesex.
6 (below) excludes married and widowed females (and the unknown gender entry).
This leaves 169 male or unmarried female Aveyards. Removing this cohort further
narrows down the counties to only four. The Yorkshire concentration increases,
with 86.39 per cent born in this county. Of the others 10.05 per cent are Lancashire-born,
2.36 Cheshire and 1.18 per cent Middlesex
looking at the address counties of the Aveyards we are down to the triumvirate
of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire as depicted in Charts 7 and 8.
couple of charts relating to birth and address locations of Aveyards once more
excludes married and widowed females and the one Aveyard of unknown gender, so
again is based on 169 people.
focusing on birthplace shows 15.38 per cent are born in Gildersome and 18.34
per cent in West Ardsley, both in Yorkshire. West Ardsley also covers Lee Fair
and Woodchurch, so including the two who give these birthplace locations
increases the West Ardsley percentage to 19.52. One gives a birthplace of
Ardsley. As this could equally be East Ardsley I have not included it in the
West Ardsley calculations.
Many of the other Yorkshire birthplaces are within close proximity to West Ardsley. The closest 22 are depicted in the map below, with West Ardsley at (1).
crow flies looking at points north, south, east and west to West Ardsley:
Kirkstall is 11.42 miles; Crofton is 11.59 miles; Liversedge is 8.81; and to
Rothwell is 7.72 miles.
Lancashire Gorton is the most popular birthplace, with 11 Aveyards (6.5 per
cent) giving this as their birth location. It is the fourth most popular behind
Yorkshire’s West Ardsley, Gildersome and Wakefield.
depicts addresses. 49 (28.99 per cent) have a Gildersome address. In comparison
only five live in West Ardsley, showing a migration away from what was their
largest birth location.
corresponding map showing the closet locations to top address spot Gildersome
(1) are depicted on the map below.
piece of analysis depicted in the bar charts at Charts 11 to 13 looks at
occupations of males and females aged eight and upwards, and all children up to
and including 16 years of age.
stand-out occupation of the male Aveyards is coal miner with 21 giving this as
an occupation. A further 11 had coal-related occupations, including one engine
tenter working in a colliery. In other words 38.55 per cent of all male
Aveyards age eight and upwards were employed in the coal industry. All of these
boys and men lived in Yorkshire, 19 of them in Gildersome. There were only 24
males age eight and upwards in a Gildersome. Over in Lancashire the nine
Aveyards in this age bracket had no real common occupational grouping: two
errand boys, a hatter, a retired hatter plus a leather cutter, french polisher,
herald knitter, mechanic and annuitant. In Cheshire there was a hat maker and
mechanic. All three of those with a hat making link were Gorton-born.
at females in the age eight and above category 42, equivalent to 51.85 per
cent, had no occupation listed. Of the others many had domestic and service
work and over 18.5 per cent had a cloth manufacturing role.
chart (Chart 13) looks at eight to 16-year-olds. Of the 86 in this age group:
35 had no details given:
21 were at school;
a further three were described as splitting their time between mill and school. These were the only eight and nine-year-olds described as having a job;
in addition to these three split-timers, a further eight were in the cloth industry; and
seven (including two ten-year-olds0 worked in the coal mining industry.
do my direct-line Aveyards fit in? In 1851 my 4x Great Grandparents George and
Hannah Aveyard were alive as were my 3x Great Grandparents Peter and Caroline
Aveyard (married in 1846). Caroline was born in Gildersome, the others in West
Ardsley. George (71) was a labourer and Peter (25) a coal miner. I do know from
other records George had been a coal miner When younger. Neither wife had a
listed occupation. George and Hannah (63) lived in Gildersome and Peter and
Caroline in Adwalton. Note as married women neither Hannah (63) or Caroline
(24) appear in the birthplace or settlement place tables. Based on this I’d say
they were typical of the Aveyards as a whole.
I did wonder about publishing this post as I may subsequently identify some Aveyards overlooked in my first sweep of the 1851 census. For instance I have a feeling at least one Yorkshire branch of the family may have used the name Halfyard in the census. This may add around 20+ more names. I reckon there are five in Lancashire and around seven in Cheshire. All this needs verifying. Also the ages given may subsequently prove incorrect when I eventually start cross-matching with civil registration and parish register information. In the end I decided to go for it. I can always update this research if I do discover other Aveyards. And as for the age details, I will for the purposes of census analysis stick with what they gave. So, as I said earlier, view this as a work in progress and watch this space for further updates.