Tree of a younger sister: Mary Postlethwaite nee Armer

Mary Armer was the eldest daughter of my 3x great-grandparents William and Nanny Armer (née Ann Huntington). Mary’s story is interesting because it solves a puzzle on her parents’ headstone (above) in the churchyard of St Michael’s, Cockerham. The inscription reads:

William Armer
who died 12th Dec 1858 aged 72 years
and Nanny his wife
who died May 11th 1879 aged 87 years
also of Mary daughter of
Thomas and Elizabeth Lamb
of Barrow who died Oct 26th 1884
aged 17 years

Why was Mary Lamb, a 17 year old, buried with the Armers? I ordered her death certificate, which states in Column 7 that Mary was the grand-daughter of Mary Postlethwaite, herself the second child of William and Nanny. So Mary Lamb was a great granddaughter of William and Nanny/Ann. The death certificate implies Mary had some sort of disabling condition, as the cause of death is “Probably general debility and dropsy”:


Mary Armer married William Postlethwaite in 1844:


Ireleth is across Morecambe Bay, on the Furness peninsula, so interesting to wonder how the two met! Perhaps William Postlethwaite was doing joinery work at Hillam?

The tree makes it a bit clearer as the line is maternal, so two changes of surname to contend with:


Mary Armer tree

Thomas and Elizabeth Lamb lived on Cavendish Street, Barrow in Furness, through the 1871, ’81 and 91 Censuses. Thomas was listed as a “Fruiterer”, then later as a “Greengrocer”. Cavendish Street is still a shopping street today, and 8–14 Cavendish Street is now occupied by Baby Bitz – kind of appropriate for a family with nine children!

In 1871 William and Mary Postlethwaite were living next door, with their two youngest children, plus Mary’s mother Nancy Armer (Ann Huntington).

Lambs in 3 Censuses

Thomas and Elizabeth Lamb’s family in three censuses, including Elizabeth’s birth family, the Postlethwaites, in 1871. Elizabeth’s mother was Mary Armer, a younger sister of my great-great grandfather, John Armer

William Postlethwaite died in 1879 from “Chronic disease of liver and stomach”. His son-in-law Thomas Lamb was present at the death, which implies (at least to modern eyes) that William’s wife Mary died before him.

William Postlethwaite 1897 death

I later learnt that this was not, in fact, the case, as Mary was living at Cockerham in the 1881 Census, age 64 and listed as a “Joiner’s widow”.

Mary Postlethwaite 1881

I was surprised and thrilled to find Mary ten years later, in the 1891 Census, but this time living back at Barrow, at 7 Hollow Lane.

Mary Postlethwaite 1891 Census

The age of 76 is 2 years out, but Garstang as the birth place suggests she’s our Mary. She is living with her granddaughter Mary Mckenzie who is 16. For the lady on the census to be our Mary (Mary Postlethwaite née Armer), one of her younger daughters would have had to marry a Mckenzie. Sure enough, her youngest daughter, Agnes, born 1855, married Andrew Mckenzie in the third quarter of 1874 in Stockton-on-Tees, and Mary Mckenzie was born in the last quarter of 1875, in Gateshead. The censuses can be so helpful! I ordered the certificate to see where the marriage took place; it looks like St James’ Stockton on Sea.

Postlethwaite Agnes 1874 marriage

Mary Postlethwaite died in Barrow in 1894, at 14 Cavendish Street, the home of her daughter Mary and son-in-law Thomas Lamb.

Mary Postlethwaite 1894

Returning to Mary and William’s oldest daughter’s family, Thomas Lamb was widowed in 1894, when Elizabeth (née Postlethwaite) died age just 48 from an abdominal tumour. In the 1901 Census, Thomas is working as a joiner, living in Paxton Street, Barrow in Furness, with six of his children. Their occupations are: Hairdresser, Milliner (hat maker), Apprentice Cabinet Maker and Apprentice Gun Fitter.

In the 1911 Census the family are living at Strawberry Terrace with Alice and James Hill Blundell. Thomas is finally retired and his youngest sons Ernest and John are listed as Gun Fitter and Gun Draughtsman, working in ship-building with their brother-in-law James who was a Marine Engine Fitter. The Sheffield steel firm Vickers took over the Barrow Shipbuilding Company in 1897 and became the major supplier of battleships, submarines and airships to the Navy.

Thomas Lamb Barrow 1911

Thomas Lamb, age 69, living at 7 Strawberry Terrace, Barrow in Furness, with his daughter Alice and her husband James Hill Blundell

Strawberry Terrace is no longer standing, but this map from 1919 shows Cavendish Street, near the top, and Paxton Street, just north of the GPO. The Market Hall now occupies the site of Paxton Street.


Thomas Lamb passed away aged 82 in November 1921, at the home of his daughter-in-law R Lamb, 29 Norfolk Street, Barrow. The death certificate lists Thomas’ occupation as “Retired joiner at the Iron and Steelworks”.

One of Thomas’ 5 sons must have married a young lady whose name began with R, but after a quick search with no results, I must let that one lie – at least until the 1921 Census is released in 2022!

Mary and William Postlethwaite’s youngest son Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite

Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite started working life as a joiner, like his father William. But by the time of the 1901 Census, he’d become a farmer.

Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite 1901

Mary and William’s youngest son Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite, at Dale View, Aldingham

Here he is in the 1911 Census living with his wife Hannah (née Wilson) with 2 sons, a stepson, a nephew and niece. The address (not shown) is Flosh Farm, Scales, Ulverston. I believe this is in the western part of the hamlet, on the road out to Little Urswick.

Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite 1911

Thomas Dixon Postlethwaite, in 1911 living at Flosh Farm, Scales


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