The Beckett Family
A late 19-century farming family in Normanton
By Neil Fortey
An enquiry by Avis Hand seeking information about the Beckett family who farmed at 5, Normanton Lane, prompted some investigation into census records using Ancestry.co.uk. The results may strike a chord with someone that can tell us some more about these people. Which are the that they lived in? Is it one of the houses in our Normanton gallery?
1861 Census – no one called Beckett is recorded as living in Bottesford parish in this census.
1871 Census – Sarah A Beckett aged 12, born at Collingham, Notts, was a servant in the farmhouse of John Whitehead in Normanton. Houses in Normanton did not have formal addresses at this time, so we cannot be sure if this was 5, Normanton Lane. No other Becketts were found living in Bottesford parish in 1871.
1881 Census – the Beckett family lived at No.5 Normanton Lane. They are listed as:
Samuel Beckett, 62, farmer of 74 acres, head of household, born in Collingham, Notts
Elizabeth Beckett, 54, wife of Samuel, born Claypole, Lincs
Elizabeth Beckett, 30, daughter, born Apperby Bridge, Yorkshire
Thomas Beckett, 22, son, born in Collingham
Fanny Beckett, 18, daughter, born in Collingham
Dorothy Beckett, 16, daughter, born Collingham
Albert Beckett, 6, grandson, born in Manningham, Yorkshire
Samuel Beckett, 4 grandson, born in Manningham, Yorkshire
The family had evidently moved into Normanton from another parish, but it is not clear where they moved from. I searched the 1871 census on Ancestry.co.uk but was unable to find a Samuel Beckett born around 1819. Nevertheless, it appears that Samuel and Elizabeth had lived in Apperby Bridge, Yorkshire and Collingham, Notts, before moving to Normanton. There were two grandchildren born in Manningham, Yorks, but it appears that their parents are not listed, perhaps they had died or become separated from their children by some other event.
No other Becketts are recorded in Bottesford in the 1881 census.
1891 Census – the Beckett family live at No.20 Normanton Road. They are listed as:
Samuel Beckett, 72, head of household, farmer
Elizabeth Beckett, 64, wife
Sarah Beckett, 28, daughter, dressmaker
Dorothy Beckett, 25, daughter, dressmaker
Albert Beckett, 16, grandson, scholar
Samuel Beckett, 14, grandson, scholar
The family had moved to No.20 Normanton Rd and were still farming. Thomas and Fanny had left, but daughter Sarah had come home (Is this the same Sarah as listed in the 1861 census?) Albert is listed as a scholar even though he had passed 14, the age at which many children left school to start work.
1901 Census – two people with the Beckett surname are recorded living at No.20 Normanton Road:
Elizabeth Beckett, 72, farmer and head of household
Dorothy Beckett, 35, daughter of Elizabeth
Also at this address were:
William Catton, 27, farm foreman and son-in-law of Elizabeth Beckett, born in Woolsthorpe by Belvoir.
Fanny M. Catton, 37, daughter of Elizabeth Beckett and wife of William Catton
Cyril B. Catton, 2, son of William and Fanny Catton
Frances M. Catton, less than 1 year old, daughter of William and Fanny Catton
William H Challand, 13, farm boy, from Bottesford
Samuel Beckett has died, but Elizabeth continues to work the farm with the help of her daughter and son-in-law, together with a living-in farm boy, and presumably that of local workers when necessary.
This is as far we can go using the old censuses, because the later ones starting at 1911 are not yet accessible to the public. Births, marriages and deaths information assembled by Guy Etchell from the Bottesford parish registers contain no reference to the Becketts, but this is not surprising since the Etchell database goes up to 1881 only.