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Descendants of Original Neston Female Friendly Society Members Sought

Published: 27th April 2014 11:12

Could you be a descendant of one of the members listed on the Rules and Orders of Neston Female Friendly Society?

As part of the research being carried out around the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Society, we thought it might be interesting to see if anyone has managed to trace their family tree back to any of the original members.

Local resident and keen member of Burton and Neston History Society, Clive Edwards, has done so already.  He and fellow family member and local resident Barry Davis can claim Sarah Pyke, who is on the original list in her married name of Pennington, as their Great Great Great Grandmother.

He tells us what he has managed to find out about her and her family here.  At the foot of the article you will find a list of the original members.

As you might well imagine, it is difficult, if not impossible to find photographs of any of the original members. However, Clive has pictures of Sarah's daughter, also named Sarah, one of which we include below right and, at the bottom, a family group photo. Both are believed to be from around 1877.

The Story of Sarah Pyke, as researched by Clive Edwards

Sarah Pyke and her sister Eleanor ‘Ellen' Pyke were probably founder members of the Neston Female Friendly Society in 1814. Their parents were John and Mary Pyke, John was a baker. Eleanor was baptised in 1781 and Sarah (as Sally) in 1789, in Neston parish church.

Sarah married John Pennington, a local joiner, in Neston on 24 August 1815 and was on the January 1817 list of members in her married name, Sarah Pennington. She was the first Benefit Stewardess of the Neston Female Friendly Society.

John had his joiner's yard in Pennington's Weint and they probably lived there.

Sarah and John had a son Joseph, baptised in 1821 and a daughter Sarah in 1823. Sadly the mother, Sarah, age 34, was buried on the same day her daughter was baptised and it must have been due to a difficult birth.

Sarah Houldin, nee Pennington, daughter of Sarah PenningtonSarah Houldin, nee Pennington, daughter of founder member of
Neston Female Friendly Society, Sarah Pennington, nee Pyke.

The daughter was privately educated according to a family story, perhaps in a Neston school. She fell in love with Henry Houldin, a plumber working with her father, and against his wishes, she eloped with Henry to live with his brother's family in Tranmere.

They are on the 1841 census there, both still single, and they married in Liverpool in 1842. She was only 18 or 19, but stated she ‘was of full age' as she had not obtained permission. She also stated that her father had died and this has not been proved and may have been untrue, as well.

In Tranmere they had 10 children that survived birth. The Penningtons ‘cut off' Sarah, after the elopement and her name was not to be mentioned. She had "made her bed and must lie on it". A family tale is that a lady visited her in Tranmere, each time she had a baby, and used to leave a sovereign under her pillow and give baby clothes.

Another family story tells how Sarah came into a room in their house, when Henry was about to gamble the house away on a turn of the cards and she said "Gentlemen, this is my home and my children's home" and shamed the other men out of it. His granddaughter, my grandmother, said she hated the sight of Grandfather Houldin, because he would come for tea on a Sunday, eat all the best things on the table and the girls could not speak a word while he was in the house.

Henry was a successful plumber and they later moved to Barrow in Furness for Henry to put WCs in the shipyard workers' houses. Sarah went to live in her last year with, or near a daughter near Bradford and died there in 1890, and Henry died earlier that year in Barrow in Furness.

Clive Edwards

Founder Members of Neston Female Friendly Society

The original Rules and Orders documents still exists and is held at Neston Parish Church.  It is naturally very delicate with age and in some places virtually illegible.  Fortunately D.R.Morris of the Burton and Neston History Society transcribed the document in February 2009.  Here are the names listed on the document as being members at the time that the Rules and Orders were drawn up in 1818, some four years after the Society came into being:

Eliza Bayley
Frances Mary Ward
Arabella Monk
Sarah Pennington
Mary Browne
Jane Browne
Anne Elizabeth Ward
Dorothy Butler
Maria Butler
Margaret Sophia Wilson
Elizabeth Robinson
Alice Hancock
Anne Schroeder
Hannah Rogers
Arabella Maudsley
Esther Monk
Mary E Bond
Mary Johnson
Carolin Johnson
Elizabeth Gardnar
Jane Hilton
Jane Cottrell
Ann Williams
(Rebaca?) Parr
(Mary, or Nancy?) Cottrell
Margaret Cavans
Ann Hutchinson
Mary Williams
Phoebe Cliffe

It would be particularly exciting if descendants come forward in time for the Neston Ladies Day 200 Heritage Project Exhibition that will be held in the Library from May 27th.  However, all information is welcome at any time.  If you have images or research that you would like to share, please send an email.  Alternatively, contact Susannah Hill at Neston Library on 0151 337 4670.

Houldin family group, photographed c1877
Henry and Sarah Houldin (nee Pennington) surrounded by daughters Betsy Ellen, Sarah Ann, Mary Ann and below, Louisa.
Neston Ladies Day 2014 Heritage Project
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At 20:31 on 28th April 2014, Poacher commented:
It's called "Ladies Club" not "ladies day" , even checked with the old lady and she confirmed that it's only townies or outsiders that ever call it ladies day, she should know she's been watching it for 70 odd years...
Katie Robson
At 22:33 on 28th April 2014, Katie Robson responded:
Poacher, I am sorry, but there are at least as many people calling it one thing as another. The split is pretty even between those born here and those not and the references to the Society and the day itself that have been uncovered during extensive research for this project are also split on the subject.

The question has caused more headaches than you can possibly imagine.

I just hope that people will support those of us doing our best to concentrate on what is really important here, I.e.celebrating this wonderful anniversary.

You need to log in before you can do that! It's only a quick registration process to join the AMA network and completely free.

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