The Maternal Grandmother (Cotton) tree

Miriam Blanche (Cotton) Baker

Other Family Tree pages

Overview of the tree

The Maternal Grandmother tree for generations 1 to 5 is shown in figure 1 and extensions to the tree in figures 2. The deepest threads originates in Shropshire and go back to the 9thgeneration.  We consider this thread in more detail in what follows. 

Figure 1 The Maternal Grandmother tree generations 1 to 5 (asterisks show extensions in figure 2)

Figure 2 The Maternal Grandmother tree generations 5 to 9 (extended from asterisks in figure 1)

The Shropshire tree

The major area of interest in the Maternal Grandmother thread is the Cotton family itself, which can be traced back in considerable detail to their roots in Shropshire, and are well documented after their arrival in the Kingswinford / Pensnett area. This family has already been mentioned in KMAP and also in the blog post discussion of the Shut End Primitive Methodist Baptism Register.

My grandmother, Miriam Blanche Cotton, was born in 1894 in Pensnett, and was baptized at the Independent Methodist Church on Commonside. This church was the successor of the Shut End Primitive Methodist church on Tansey Green, and seems to have broken away from the local circuit due (inevitably) to financial issues. The baptism records of the Shut End chapel are available from 1845 to 1887, and through them the line of the Cottons can be traced in some detail. Miriam’s parents (James Henry Cotton and Phoebe Emma Meese) and grandparents (Thomas Cotton and Hannah Simmons) both had eight children. All were born in the Pensnett area, and their moves around various houses can be traced in the census records.   Fathers and sons were primarily coalminers. Thomas’s parents (James Cotton and Hannah Bird) were however both born in the Wombridge area of Shropshire around 1820, although their families moved to Kingswinford before 1837, when they were married at Wordsley Church. Their baptisms are recorded at Wombridge Wesleyan Methodist chapel (figure 3 below). Their parents, and in Hannah’s case, afurther three generations of her ancestors, also came from the Wombridge / Wellington area. They represented part of a migration of Shropshire miners to the South Staffordshire coalfield as the Shropshire coal field was fully exploited. Indeed in Kingswinford in the mid 1800s there was a street known as Shropshire Row. In 1851, 60% of the 20 to 29 year old group originated from outside Pensnett, with the majority of those coming from elsewhere in the Black Country or from Shropshire. It was thus a time of considerable movement of people. 

But not only did people move – they also brought their religion and chapels with them to some extent. The Shut End Methodist chapel seems to have been largely the Chapel of the Shropshire immigrants, and remained so after it moved to the Independent Chapel on Commonside. Names that were familiar in my childhood at that chapel (Dodd, Dando, Bates) can also be seen in the Shut End and Wombridge records. 

A further insight into life in Wombridge can be gleaned from Figure 4 – a survey of the state of Coal Pit Bank cottages, where the Birds were living in the 1820s, which mixes comments on the tenants with comments on the state of the property. The Birds seem on the whole to be described as “industrious”!

Figure 3 Wombridge Chapel baptism records for James Cotton and Hannah Bird

Figure 4 Coal Pit Bank Cottage Audit