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John Dickinson at Philadelphia in 1856

John Dickinson was the progenitor of my Dickinson family in America and my most recent immigrant ancestor, who came to America from England around 1880. John and Elizabeth Reynolds were married in 1856, at St. Philips (Shalesmoor) Church in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. The magnificent Gothic style church was built in 1828, but unfortunately, it was demolished around 1951. According to information provided on their marriage license, John lived on George Street, Philadelphia.

At first, I was very confused when I saw Philadelphia on their marriage license. It was 1856 and his family didn't arrive in Pennsylvania until about 1880, so how could that be? Was this the wrong couple? Had they been in America and returned to England?

Well, as it turns out, Philadelphia isn't just a city in Pennsylvania, or a place addressed in the Book of Revelation. It was also a neighborhood of Sheffield, in Yorkshire, England. You learn something new every day! Philadelphia is located in the Walkley Ward of Sheffield today and Walkley, as we know, is where John's father, William, was reportedly born.

George Street no longer exists today, but we can see the location of it on this old map. It was a side-street off Infirmary Road along the River Don. This old map is great for visualizing the scene.

Comparing the above map to modern maps, it appears that George Street was very close to where Portland Street is today, and Portland Street was where John's mother, brother, and sister lived in 1861, according to the census. It is also where John's father, William, reportedly died in 1864.

The neighborhood of Philadelphia is outlined in red, here in this interactive Google map. A steel yard is still seen there today, and we know John and his son, Harry were both, steelworkers, which probably explains why they lived in this area:

I found that nearly all the places the Dickinsons lived in England are now suburbs and neighborhoods of Sheffield, with the exception of Kimberworth, a suburb of Rotherham, where they were counted on the census in 1841. Still, Kimberworth is only six miles from Portland Street in Sheffield and both Rotherham and Sheffield are both in South Yorkshire.

The lesson here is that before beginning to try to find records pertaining to the people who lived there, it's important to be familiar with the places and remember that some names have changed, boundaries have changed, and places have merged and been divided. Don't rule out a candidate just because the record doesn't say "Sheffield", for example. Find an old map and check for surrounding towns and villages, because some of your ancestor's records might be listed under those places.

Sheffield reminds me a lot of New York City. New York City has many boroughs - The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island, and subdivisions but they're all part of New York City. New York City spans multiple counties, too. The Bronx and Queens have their own counties, Brooklyn is in Kings County, Manhattan is in New York County, and Staten Island is in Richmond County. Each borough has divisions and neighborhoods, too, so it all gets very confusing. My point is, Sheffield is probably more confusing, especially to foreigner like me.

The list, shown below, are the many different areas, wards, and neighborhoods of Sheffield. There are several articles that explain the origins, changes and statistics about most of the places. A good list can be found here:

I highlighted all the places I recall seeing my Dickinson family associated with - the places they were born, baptized, married, lived, and died. As you can see, there are many and probably others I haven't recognized yet. I will definitely be referencing this list more frequently as I continue my research on the Dickinson, Reynolds, Loy and other allied branches of my family tree.

More facts about Sheffield:

"Sheffield Castle, the seat of the Norman lords of Hallamshire, was a large and strongly fortified

mansion, on the banks of the Don, upon the site still called Castle Hill." [1]

"The Old Barracks on Pennistone Road, were built in 1794, for the reception of several troops of cavalry, but new barracks for cavalry and infantry have lately been erected on a very extensive scale, about half a mile further from town, on the same side of the Don. These barracks extend over 25-1/2 acres and rank amongst the largest in the kingdom. They have entrances from the Langsett and Penistone roads, and have room for two regiments, one of cavalry and another of infantry. The south front was finished in 1850, and forms a long and handsome stone building, in the Tudor style, with a neat chapel at one end. The other extensive ranges of buildings were finished about two years ago. Captain Minchin is the barrack master; the Rev. J. Livesey, chaplin; Charles Bryhurst, barrack sergeant; and Wm. Guy, canteen. keeper. The Old Barracks were sold in 1855, and the site is now laid out in building ground." [1]

"The Sheffield and Rotherham Railway was opened in 1838; the Midland Railway, in 1840; and the Sheffield and Manchester Railway, in 1845." [1]

"In 1855, the Archbishop of York constituted the Parish of Sheffield a separate deanery. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, with the sanction of the Queen and Privy Council, determined, in 1846, that the large and populous parish of Sheffield should be ecclesiastically divided into 25 Parochial Districts, each to have a church and an incumbent." [2]

(Districts: Attercliffe and Darnall, Brightside, Wicker, Pitsmoor, St. John's, Dyer's Hill, Heeley, St. Paul's, Porter street, Carver street (later St. Matthew's), Eldon, Gillcar, St. George's, Hollis croft, Netherthorpe, Moorfields, St. James, St. Philip's, Crookes, Fulwood, Ecclesall, St. Mary, St. Peter's, and Broomhall).

Sl. Philip's District has its church in the north-western part of Sheffield township, but includes Portmahon, Upperthorpe, Daniel hill, Bloomsbury place, Barber nook, Philadelphia, Bacon Island, the Infirmary, the Barracks, Owlerton road, and part of Malin Bridge, all in Nether Hallam township. Its southern boundary extends from the river Don along Dan street, Matthew street, part of Meadow street, Netherthorpe, Watery lane, and up Dam lane, as high as the foot road leading across Crookes moor valley to Steel bank. [3]

"ST. PHILIP's CHURCH is a neat Gothic structure, near the junction of the Penistone and Infirmary roads, and was built by Parliament at the cost of nearly £12,000. The first stone was laid Sept. 25th. 1822. It is 95 feet long, and 79 broad." [4]

"SHEFFIELD UNION comprises the four townships of Sheffield, Attereliffe, Brightside Bierlow, and Handsworth, which comprise an area of about 10,500 acres"..."SHEFFIELD UNION WORKHOUSE is a large and lofty building in Kelham street, erected in 1811 as a cotton. mill, on the site of mills that were burnt down in 1792 and 1810. After being rebuilt this large mill remained unoccupied till 1829, when it was purchased for its present use by the overseers of Sheffield township, for £7500." [5]

"ECCLESALL BIERLOW UNION comprises the seven townships of Ecclesall, Nether and Upper Hallam, Norton, Totley, Dore, and Beauchief; the latter four of which are in Derbyshire. It had 31,628 inhabitants in 1841, and 37,914 in 1851. Since the latter year, it has greatly increased in buildings and population. A large and handsome WORKHOUSE, of freestone, with an elegant front in the Elizabethan style, was completed about 14 years ago by the Union, at the cost of about £9000,in lieu of the old one on Sharrow moor. It is pleasantly situated near Cherrytree hill, and has room for about 500 paupers, but has seldom more than 250 to 300." [6]

The GENERAL INFIRMARY ranks as the most useful public charity in Sheffield. It is a spacious and handsome stone building, on the north-west side of the town, erected by subscription, in 1793-'4. In 1840-1, it was enlarged by the erection of extensive Fever Wards, which cost about £5000. The average number of in-patients in 1851, was 115; and the total number received during the year was 961 in, and 4037 out patients.

[1] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. VIII.

[2] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. IX.

[3] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. 2.

[4] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. 4.

[5] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. 17.

[6] Yorkshire, Sheffield & Rotherham, White's Directory*, 1856, p. 18.

*I found this great old directory on FindMyPast, an amazing resource I couldn't accomplish much without. Try a search for one of your brick walls, especially if they're in England! We may receive a small commission for purchases made and we thank you for your support, but the recommendation is made because FindMyPast is a great resource! Give it a try!

Stay tuned for more! In the meantime, learn more about the Dickinsons here.

Click here for my list of thousands of free resources for tracing your genealogy!

#dickinson #johndickinson #sheffield #yorkshire #england #philadelphia


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