Telling their stories

I am very lucky that I am able to piece together a small story of my English 4th Great Grandparents, Joseph Whitehead and his wife Jane Buckley. They were not notable for being royal or gentry, they were simple folks who worked, raised a family and probably dreamed their children would have it a bit easier than they did. As such they would leave little behind to record their lives, birth, marriage, divorce, census records probably could be found, but more than that might be too much to ask. However a surprise heirloom that would lead to more.

It all began with finding this needlework many years ago, wrapped in tissue and folded over lying in a box with some pieces of lace. I was given the box when my mother passed, it came to her from her Grandmother, Ellen Ada Schofield Frew (1893-1989), affectionately called Gramma Frew who had raised mom.

I took this piece to my place of work and asked the textile curators if they could tell me anything about it. They told me that it was made with a wool thread and most likely made by a young girl and dated it to 1850-1860’s.  I wonder if the house on the left was where they lived and was that the Church they attended on the right. Who made this and how did they connect to Gramma Frew?

Whitehead, Joseph & Jane Memorial Needlepoint

At the time I knew that my 3rd G-Grandparents, Eli Schofield (1840-1911) and his wife was Ellen Whitehead (1841-1926) were from Oldham, Lancashire and were involved with the textile industry there. Most of the Schofield families were. There were two different Schofield families, Eli & Ellen’s son James would marry Ada Schofield whom Gramma Frew said her family “came from the south”. I did not know either of their parents. I had been searching but the surname Schofield is much like a “Smith” or “Brown” in the US, quite popular.  Around the Oldham and Lancashire area they stayed with the same first names, a lot! James, Tom, John were their favorites. However, in this case, Eli is not as typical so it helped.

So, the question was were these Ellen Whitehead Schofield’s parents and how do I prove it? My first thought was that Ellen was born in 1841 and could have been the “young girl” who made this. And now that I had this treasure with names and dates, I could begin connecting the dots.

In the 1980’s my cousin Margi had asked Gramma Frew some questions about her family and thankfully for us, she recorded her. Several years ago Margi gave me that recording. I pulled it out and listened for quite some time before I heard her talk about these grandparents. Gramma said that her Grandfather was a “journeyman” working with brass fittings. He had a disease in his lungs and died and was buried the day before his daughter, Ellen, was born.

Since I had Ellen’s birth year and knew where she was from, I was able to go on-line to the Lancashire BMD web site ( and search for her. I found her birth registration listing her parents as Joseph Whitehead and Jane Buckley. Her father is listed as deceased; his occupation was a “Roller Turner”.

Whitehead, Ellen birth certificate 001

The next step was to search for a marriage banns or record. Using the same website I was able to find the Marriage Banns, read on May 20th, 27th and June 3rd 1827 and the Marriage recorded as happening on the 9th day of July 1827.

Whitehead, Joseph & Buckley, Jane marriage record 1827


Whitehead, Joseph, Buckley, Jane Marriage Banns,

I was also able to find Joseph’s death/burial recorded as April 1st 1841 aged 35 years. It is noted that he was buried “in a full grave”, which I am not certain what that means. So the story that Ellen was born after her father’s funeral is correct, she having been born on April 3rd.

Whitehead, Joseph Death Record


Her mother Jane died 24 July 1856 and her burial record is given as 27 July 1856 in St. Mary’s Parish, Oldham. I cannot find information on Jane’s parentage as yet, though I do find three contenders. With the needlepoint giving that her age at death was 56 we can guess she was born 1799-1800.

I have found the following records of birth for Jane Buckley, in the order I believe to be the most likely would be;

  1. 27 April 1800 to Henry (Harry) Buckley and his wife Mary (St.Mary’s, Oldham)
  2. 30 Sept 1799 to Abraham Buckley and his wife Ann (Rochdale, Lancashire)
  3. 12 Nov 1800 to John Buckley and his wife Ellen (Nantwich, Cheshire)


Joseph and Jane both worked, she is listed in the census record of 1851 as a “housekeeper” and he was a worker in the textile factories. Jane was left a widow, pregnant and had 7 other children under 13 yrs, and only the one son.

Of the eight children, Albert, Hannah, Betty, Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth, Ann and Ellen, only  Ellen and Ann both came to the States. Ann having married Giles Hudson and Ellen who married Eli Schofield and left him to go to the States with her only son, James and his wife and newborn daughter, Ellen Ada Schofield. Eli remained at home in England and Gramma Frew said that Ellen would get letters from him requesting money and she refused to send it to him because he would just “drink it away”.

Here is a photo of Ellen Whitehead Schofield, with her son’s family.

Schofield Family 1914, Orion IL

James Schofield, son Tom, son-in-law George Frew, son Lee. Sitting, daughter Doris Schofield, mother Ellen Whitehead Schofield, daughter Ellen Ada Schofield Frew

SCHOFIELD, James Family in IL

James Schofield on the bike with wife Ada Schofield (1861-1901) and children Ellen, Tom and Doris and Mother Ellen Whitehead Schofield. Abt 1898

Ellen Whitehead Schofield cir1914

Ellen Whitehead Schofield

Using the clues I have, the search continues. I have a strong clue that Joseph’s father may have been Samuel Whitehead and mother Nancy  that I am looking into. And with continued research in the church records I am hoping to find Jane’s parentage. Now if these families would just stop using the same first names……


About honoredgenerations

Curious by nature, passionate about family and history, I find a special calling to honor our previous generations by finding and telling their stories. Each generation leaves an impression on who we are and these lives, these unique individuals deserve to be remembered "generation unto generation".
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