5x great grandparents: Thomas Armer & Ellin Williamson

Thomas and Ellin married at Holy Trinity Church in Bolton le Sands 18th February 1744/5. There is confusion about the year because this is around the time that the Gregorian calendar was introduced to align better with Europe. Prior to that we had the Julian calendar, with years starting on March 25th!

The map shows Bolton le Sands, with the Lancaster Canal (constructed 1790s) highlighted. On 6th May 1800 an Ellin Armer drowned in the canal. I think this would have been Thomas and Ellin’s youngest daughter because Thomas’s wife (also Ellin) died a widow and pauper, and was buried at Holy Trinity 8th January 1786. I cannot find a record of Thomas’s death. Holy Trinity is the northernmost of the two churches in Bolton.

T&E map

Connecting people prior to 1837 is quite speculative as there are no census returns or birth/marriage/death certificates, so it was difficult to add detail to the tree. I searched the churchyard of Holy Trinity for Armer headstones and found none, but this would be entirely consistent with Ellin dying a pauper.

Many descendants of a Matthew Armer born 1709 are buried at St Oswald’s Church, Warton, 3 miles north of Bolton le Sands. When I visited, I hadn’t managed to connect these families to my ancestors, but I did discover an indirect link, of which more below! It’s a lovely church, on a slope looking east towards the stepped profile of Ingleborough, one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks.

St Oswalds Ingleborough

In the churchyard, we found four Armer graves. The oldest one was of a John Armer ’43 years master of Kirkland Grammar School, Garstang’. Some later searching from John’s birthdate (1800; implied on the headstone) revealed that he was a grandson of my 4x great grandfather’s younger brother, also John. If this sounds confusing, the tree at the bottom should help! Mary Braithwaite, his unmarried niece who died aged 59 in 1901, is buried with him.

St Oswald JA 1700

I wondered if Mary was his housekeeper, and I found her in the 1871 Census, actually Assistant teacher, living with her uncle and James Raby in the Butler Arms.

St Oswald JA 1871 census

This is the 1861 entry for John, living at the Schoolhouse in Kirkland, Garstang. No Mary, but James Raby is living next door:

St Oswald 1861 fuller

His profession is listed as ‘School master teacheth Reading, Writing and Arithmetic and Wesleyan local preacher in the Parish of Cockerham’. It’s interesting that his family came from the Warton/Silverdale/Arnside area, yet like other members of the distant family, he moved south to Cockerham to work and preach.

Going back to 1851, James Raby (‘Dealer in butter’) was John Armer’s lodger:

St Oswald 1851

Going back to the top, Thomas’ father may be Anthony Armor of Scroghouse, Sedbergh, who married Agnes Towenson 15th April 1705. Thomas would fit as his youngest son – born 1720. The other children were born between 1706 and 1715. Three of Anthony and Agnes’s grandsons moved to Liverpool, so it would be possible that Thomas also went south with the tide of industrialisation.


T&E tree

The font at St Oswald’s dates back to 1661. Thomas, Molly, Elisabeth and likely some other Armers were baptised there – another very moving moment for me!

font St Wilfred



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