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Martha Dickinson, the nearly forgotten great-aunt

Updated: Jul 17, 2022

Martha Dickinson was a sister of my 3rd great-grandfather, John Dickinson, which makes her my 3rd-great grandaunt. It appears she never had any children to pass down her legacy, so this is in remembrance of her.

Martha was born April 28, 1828, at Crookes, a suburb of Sheffield about a mile and a half from Sheffield's city center, in Yorkshire, England. She was baptized at four weeks old at Stannington Chapel, a Presbyterian church at the time, on May 26, 1828. The baptismal register, shown below, reads:

May 26, 1828 - Martha, daughter of William Dickinson, Tilter, of Owlerton and Ann, his wife, born Apr. 28, 1828.

In 1841, the family was living at Woodstock Bower in Kimberworth, a suburb of Rotherham, Yorkshire, England. This was shared in a previous blog you can find here. Ten years later, in 1851, she was 22 years old, unmarried, and living with her parents in Wadsley Bridge, a suburb of Sheffield.

In 1861, she was living with her mother and brother, Joseph, on Portland Street in Sheffield. She was 32 years old, still unmarried, and worked as a "House Maid". On that census, she reported being born in Ecclesall, whereas in 1841 and 1851, Crookes was given as her birthplace. Ecclesall refers to the ward, historically known as Ecclesall Bierlow "one of the six 'townships' that made up the old Parish of Sheffield. Ecclesall Bierlow encompassed most of the land between the River Sheaf and the Porter Brook from The Moor to Ringinglow. It also included the areas of Broomhall and Crookesmoor to the north of Porter Brook. Though this area contained numerous small villages and hamlets, there was never a village called Ecclesall". [Wikipedia]

On the 1861 census, shown below, there was a young girl named Jane Green listed as living in the Dickinson home. She was two years old and was listed as a "Boarder", reportedly born in Ecclesfield, in 1858 or 1859. This young girl is the key to finding Martha on the 1871 census.

On earlier censuses, it was easy to identify Martha because she lived with her parents and siblings, but her brother, Joe, married Matilda Broadhead on Dec. 28, 1861, and they left England for America around 1863, taking their mother, Ann, with them (or Ann may have followed soon after). So, which of the many Martha Dickinsons was her on the 1871 census?

After a little digging, I found that in 1871, Martha was living in the rear of 17 Greaves Street, in Nether Hallam, a suburb of Sheffield. She was a "House Keeper" and her age was given as 41, which was either a miscalculation or a fib because she would have turned 43 on April 28, 1871. This may seem insignificant, but it made it more difficult to find her in search results, when searching by birth year. The only reason we know this is the right Martha is because the same little girl, Jane, who was two years old when the 1861 census was taken, was still living with her in 1871. The girl was 12 years old and her name was given as "Jane Dickinson" this time. Interestingly, her relationship to Martha is given as "daughter", which may or may not be true. I tend to believe it wasn't true, because if it were so, Ann would have called her "Granddaughter" instead of "Boarder" when the census was taken in 1861. Either way, it does appear that Martha adopted Jane, and therefore, was her mother.

Martha still lived on Greaves Street when the census was taken in 1881. She was still unmarried and worked as a seamstress. Jane would have been about 22 years old, but she wasn't in the home. There were two men boarding in the home and another visiting.

I spent a little time trying to identify Jane's parents, searching baptismal records for Jane Green, but found only the following possible matches before giving up:

  • Mary Jane Franklin Green, daughter of John & Matilda Green, baptized at Sheffield, June 1, 1858.

  • Mary Jane Green, daughter of Emma and possibly George (faded or erased),

  • Jane Green, daughter of Joseph & Jane Green, baptized at Sheffield Aug. 6, 1861.

  • Jane Elizabeth Green, born 1858, at Sheffield. Mother's maiden name: Siddal (England & Wales Births, Vol 9C, p. 381)

  • Jane Tomlinson Green, daughter of John Green, Laborer of Brinsworth, and his wife Mary. Jane was born Nov. 26, 1859, and baptized at Sheffield, Cathedral Church of St Peter & St Paul, Dec. 6, 1863.

I haven't tried locating any marriage records for her, so if anyone cares to research Jane or Martha further, I hope these clues will help. Please share what you find!

The following map shows the approximate locations of the places where Martha was documented:

I haven't searched beyond 1881, but there's a good chance Martha died a spinster, sometime after 1881. Her brother, John, had married Elizabeth Reynolds in 1856 and took his family to America about 1879 or early 1880, and lived near his brother, Joe, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Joe was a "Steel Worker" and John was an "Ironworker", according to the 1880 census. The following year, on December 7, 1881, Joe and his wife, Matilda, lost their 2 year old baby daughter, Matilda, to Diphtheria, and as if that weren't bad enough, Joe died 13 days later, from Consumption, on December 20, 1881. He was 45 and left Matilda with four sons, between the ages of five and fifteen. They were: William Dickinson (1866-1904), Joseph Dickinson (1868-1947), Charles Sykes Dickinson (1870-1899), and Thomas Booth Dickinson (1876-1918). Matilda remarried to John Dixon, at Pittsburgh, on July 6, 1892, and died at the age of 65 from Pneumonia, on August 10, 1904.

Martha's brother, John, died on May 25, 1889. He was 58 years old and left two grown sons and a daughter - Mary Ann (Dickinson) Proctor Lewis (1857-1938), William H. Dickinson (1859-1932), and Harry Dickinson (1863-1935). Both sons were steelworkers, specifically "Hammermen" in Pittsburgh and in Newark, New Jersey. Harry was my 2nd great-grandfather.

Both of Martha's brothers have many descendants living today, but unfortunately, it appears Martha never married or had children, and so, unless Jane was her daughter and Jane had children, there probably aren't many people who are interested in great-aunt Martha, but this old maid is not forgotten in my family tree.

Stay tuned for more Dickinson finds!

See more:

These Dickinson finds wouldn't be possible without the help of FindMyPast! 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!


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