Margaret was William and Ann’s sixth child, born in 1829:
In 1853 she had a son – William – “out of wedlock”. Although she would no doubt have been criticised at the time, it’s very useful for anyone looking at the Armers, as it means the surname can continue via the female line!
Then in 1857 Margaret married Richard Clarkson and they had at least two children together (James and Mary, listed in the 1861 Census).
In the census, William Armer is listed as a step-son, with a Clarkson younger brother and sister. The family lived at Ladies Hill, Pilling. Richard was an Agricultural Labourer, Margaret a Dressmaker:
The Armer tree is so big that I really have to limit my research efforts to Armers, so I have only followed William Armer (although we do catch up with Mary J Clarkson at the end of this post). I can’t find William in the 1871 Census. He would then have been 17 and it can be difficult to find young adults as they are often working for other families. But he did marry Ann Arkwright in 1876:
The parish register entry and marriage certificate each state that William’s father was William Armer, Labourer, when in fact William was illegitimate. I wonder if his uncle (William Armer who married Ellen Hayes) stepped in for the occasion? Look at the first witness signature on the marriage certificate. It looks like someone has started writing R… and then gone straight onto Armer, so it reads Rrmer Armer! Whoever filled in the parish register has written Robert Armer.
By the time of the 1881 Census, the young family are living at Hillam, next to William’s uncle Anthony Armer (1837–1918), the top family below:
They have a son, James, but also an older nephew, Richard Arkwright (born 1875). I wondered if Richard was a child of Ann’s from before the marriage, and searching in the Parish Registers confirmed this:
The family disappear from the censuses until 1911, when three generations are living together at Hillside Farm, Cockerham.
From the 1911 Census above, I was able to work out that James Arkwright Armer married an Isabel ?? in 1898, and that she was 4 years older than him. The marriage was easy to find in the Parish Registers:
By 1911, they had been married 13 years and had 4 children: William, Isabella, Thomas and Richard. Only the two older children were given the middle name Arkwright, or maybe the Census Enumerator got bored of writing Arkwright Armer for all the children, so just put Armer for Thomas and Richard.
I was curious about Thomas and Richard, both aged 6 on April 3rd 1911. Were they twins, or just birthdays 11 months apart? Birth certificates are £9.25, so I just ordered Thomas at first:
No mention he’s a twin, but the registrar has noted the time of birth, which is unusual and possibly suggestive of twins. The certificate states that they lived in Holleth, which is a mile or two to the east of Cockerham:
James and Isabel are buried together at Cockerham. Isabel died in 1935 aged 63, James in 1939, also 63. I have a photo of the headstone, but I don’t like to use things from within the last hundred years as it can be an intrusion into people’s privacy. This is why census data isn’t made public until 100 years after it was taken.
I was able to see the Cockerham School records at the 2018 Reunion, and one of the entries we spotted was for William Armer, James and Isabel’s eldest son. When he left school in 1912 he went to work at home on the farm (listed as Cocker House) and was described “Very fine lad, good scholar”.
What happened to Margaret and Richard Clarkson?
At the time of the 1901 Census, Margaret and Richard lived with their daughter Mary Jane who had married Richard Day, a clog-maker, and lived at 275 Ribbleton Lane, Preston, with 6 children:
I always get excited when I can see a particular address on Google Streetview, and here it is, the tiny end terrace that had 8 people living there in 1901!
Richard and Margaret had passed away by the time the 1911 Census came along. I ordered Margaret’s death certificate; she died 2 April at Ribbleton Lane from ‘Senile decay and exhaustion … M J Day Daughter present at the death.’ It looks like she died before Richard, as she is described as ‘Wife of Richard Clarkson, Retired general labourer’ rather than as his widow.
In 1911, the Days and the younger end of their brood are still living at Ribbleton Lane and Maud is married to Richard Bridge, a policeman. The 1911 Census has lots of information not recorded on previous censuses, such as years in the current marriage and number of children born alive, still living and who have died. We can see that Richard and Mary Jane have had two children who have died, and newly-weds Richard and Maud have had a baby who has died.
Something unusual about Richard and Mary Jane is that they married in 1877, when she was just 17. Could she have been pregnant? The census states the couple had seven living children and two who had died. I’ve only managed to trace six children, so it looks like three were born between 1877 and 1882. But I’ll leave that stone unturned, as this was a diversion from the Armers that I didn’t intend to make!
The family tree below makes all this a little clearer. My great great grandfather’s younger sister had a hard life, but her family looked after her. She moved from Hillam to Pilling, and then to bustling Preston to spend her last decade with her daughter and son-in-law’s family, the Days.