Saturday, 6 October 2012

Enter Jack Winney.

  The Winneys and The Asburys

  When Dick returned to Birmingham after the end of his military service, he took up work as a painter. This work may have brought him into contact with John Arthur Winney (known as Jack Winney), a plasterer and through him, he got to know Jack's daughter, Phoebe Josephine, who was usually known as Jose or Josie. Dick moved into Jack's home at 2/112 Pope Street in Hockley, presumably as a lodger. Dick and Josie formed a relationship so that were they thought of as a couple by Josie's relations by early 1920 when one of Josie's cousins, Dolly Staight, sent her a postcard postmarked 29 March 1920 from The Plough Inn in Kidderminster which  was owned by her father, Edgar William Staight, and which read "Dear Jose, Will you try and come over for Easter as we shall be pleased to see you and Dick and Uncle (presumably Jack Winney). Their (sic) will be something doing down at Stourport this tine They are opening the caves as (word indecipherable) With best love Doll."
  We can trace Jack Winney's origins as far back as 1750 when his great great grandfather, Thomas Winney, was born in Gloucester. He and his wife, Mary (born in Gloucester in 1750), had at least one son, Thomas, who was also born in Gloucester in 1784 and he married Anne Fords, born in 1785 in Gloucester. Again, they had at least one son, Samuel Winney, who, when adult, took up the trade of a plasterer (with the Georgian fashion for heavily plastered internal decorations, this was a promising career for a young man). Samuel married Susannah Vessey, born in Gloucester in 1814, and among their children was Henry Winney. Clearly Samuel and Susannah had moved home by then, Samuel probably attracted by the potential vast amount of work in the booming industrial area around Birmingham, for Henry was born in West Bromwich in 1846. Henry followed in his father's footsteps by taking up the plastering trade and married Mary Grice (born in West Bromwich in 1848) on 3 July 1870. They had six children:- Joseph H (born 1873 in West Bromwich), John Arthur (birth registered 3rd quarter of 1874), Edith M. (born 1879 in West Bromwich), Harry F. (1881 in West Bromwich), Selina (1884 in Smethwick) and Elsie (1890 in Smethwick). Henry's father, Samuel died in West Bromwich in the final quarter of 1889.
  Jack Winney took up the trade of plastering like his father and grandfather. As his career progressed Jack liked to emphasise that he was not just a plasterer but was a Master plasterer. Indeed later in his life, he worked on some prestigious buildings including the interior of The Hall of Memory in Broad Street in Birmingham where his work can still be seen. The 1891 census finds him living with his parents in Harborne, now in Birmingham, at the age of 17, but on 14 August 1898 he married Phoebe Elizabeth Asbury at Smethwick Old Church where the marriage was witnessed by Jack's elder brother, Joseph, and Annie Winney.  Phoebe, usually known as Elizabeth, had been born on 18 January 1880 at Back 51, Icknield Square in Ladywood, the daughter of Alfred Asbury (Elizabeth's birth certificate names him as James Alfred which was not his birth name and identifies him as a house painter) and his wife Elizabeth nee Taylor who was born around 1848). Phoebe Elizabeth's parents seem to have separated since Alfred Asbury is to be found as a lodger of two different families in the 1891 and 1901 census records and her mother is probably the Elizabeth Asbury whose death was registered at Kings Norton in the first quarter of 1897. Alfred was the son of Charles Asbury, who had been born in Birmingham in 1820 and his wife Sarah nee Horton who had also been born in Birmingham on 11 February 1818. She was the daughter of John Horton, born 1792 and his wife, Catherine nee Thompkins. Charles Asbury worked as a wood turner for the whole of his life; he is first found in the 1841 census at the age of 21 living with a couple called William and Caroline Skelding in "The Hamlet of Duddeston and Nechells". Skelding was a brush maker and so one imagines that Charles probably worked for him. Charles and Sarah Horton were married on 23 September 1842 and, apart from Alfred, they had nine other children:- Sarah (born 1843), Elizabeth (1845), Abraham (1847 - 1939), Emily (born 1849), Charles (1852 - 1924), Catherine (born 1860), Laura C. (1861), John Horton (1863) and Miriam, born in 1865. By the 1861 census the family had moved to back-to-back housing in Darwin Street in Deritend in Aston where they are also to be found in the 1871 census. In the 1881 census, the family is found to have moved around the corner to another back-to-back house in Chandos Street in Deritend and they were still living there in 1901 but by then the core family consisted just of Charles, then aged 81, and his two unmarried daughters, Sarah and Laura. Incredibly, the house seems to have been shared with 7 other families. Charles died in Aston in 1905 at the grand age of 85 having outlived his wife, Sarah, who had died five years earlier in 1900. Their son, Alfred, our direct ancestor, probably died in 1929.
   The first child of Jack and Elizabeth Winney, Phoebe Josephine - Josie - was born on 1 September 1899. They subsequently had two more children - twins - born on 24 February 1906 who were called John Arthur and Kathleen. I can not find the family in the 1901 census, nor for that matter, in the 1911 census. Jack's father, Henry, lived until the final quarter of 1926 when his death was registered in Birmingham North. At the age of 17, Jack's sister, Edith married Edgar Staight who had been born in Elderfield in Worcestershire in the second quarter of 1875. They had three children:- Gilbert (born 1900 in Smethwick), Lilian, (born 1902 in Smethwick) and Hilda (born 1903, also in Smethwick). I do not know which of the two girls was known as "Dolly" who is mentioned above when she invited Josie and Dick to stay with them at Edgar's public house in Kidderminster in 1920.

Josie Winney c.1906

  Jack Winney seems to have had a peculiar attitude towards his twin children. He said that he believed that one man could not be the father of two children born at the same time, implying that he had suspicions about Elizabeth's fidelity. He may have separated from Elizabeth and this may be an explanation for the family's absence from the 1911 census but, in all events, in 1912 Jack Winney sailed fro North America, leaving his wife and three children behind in Birmingham. He sailed aboard the S.S. Haverford from Liverpool to Philadelphia on 23 May 1912, He appears to have been unaccompanied and appears on the manifest of passengers described as being aged 37, a plasterer and giving the contact address of his nearest relative as that of Mr. Winney of Smethwick, Birmingham - notably not naming his wife, Elizabeth. Jack later claimed that during his voyage to The USA, his ship passed the doomed ship, the S.S. Titanic on its maiden voyage. Unfortunately, the Titanic actually sank on 15 April 1912, more than a month before his own ship set sail from Liverpool, so he certainly did not pass the ship itself although he may have passed the wreck of the ship. After a few months in The United States, Jack crossed the USA-Canada border at Niagara Falls on 18 October 1912. He was accompanied by a woman calling herself Ida Winney, aged 33,  and travelling as Jack's wife. They gave their destination as being Toronto.
  The pair returned to Britain the following year aboard the Donaldson Steam Ship Line vessel, The Letitia, which arrived in Glasgow from Montreal on 24 August 1913. On this occasion, Jack's companion was listed as "Ada Winney", still aged 33 and describing herself as a "housewife". The couple travelled in the 3rd class passengers' section. The story goes that after the couple arrived back in Britain, "Ada" stole all Jack's valuables and disappeared. Some may think that Jack had received his just desserts for the way he had treated his real wife and family. He returned to Birmingham but probably not back to Elizabeth and his children although he clearly kept in touch with them as we have seen, above, his eldest daughter, Josie, was living with him in 1920.

Phoebe Elizabeth Winney nee Asbury
  Elizabeth, at some stage, apparently abandoned by Jack Winney, formed a relationship with another unnamed man and had two children by him. The older of the two, Albert Winney, as he was registered, was born in the second quarter of 1919 and the younger, Frederick E. Winney, was born in the first quarter of 1923, both in Birmingham. Sadly, Elizabeth died at the premature age of 45 on 30 December 1925 and was buried at Warstone Lane Cemetery in Hockley, "In Private Grave", as the burial card produced by the undertaker, W.J. Gane of Summerhill and Cape Hill, announced. Elizabeth's tragedy does not end here however. The graveyard authorities disinterred her body, much to her daughter, Josie's distress, because the family could not afford to pay for a gravestone at the required time, and her body was placed in a communal grave. Worse still, the two illegitimate boys, Albert and Frederick, were placed in orphanages and although Josie wished to take on their care, despite resistance from her siblings, Kathy and John Arthur (known as Sonny, presumably to distinguish him from Jack, who of course was also named John Arthur), the authorities sent the two boys abroad and Josie was never able to discover the place to which they had been sent. Throughout her life, she always wished to discover the whereabouts of the boys but was never able to - sadly access to information was not as good then as it is now. I, too, have not yet been able to locate the place(s) to which they were sent.
  As regards Josie's siblings, they, extraordinarily, married a brother and a sister. In the final quarter of 1926, Kathy married Augustine Taroni, born in 1902 in Birmingham and employed as a coal merchant, while Sonny married Violet D. Taroni, born in 1911, in the third quarter of 1931. Kathy and Augustine had seven sons, the final two being twins, thus continuing the Asbury/Winney women's propensity to deliver twins as Kathy's elder sister and mother had also done. Their boys were:- Augustine (born 1927), Sidney (1930), Edward (1932), Albert (1935), John (1937) and Peter and Paul (1941). Sonny and Violet had a son, John Arthur Winney (III) (born in Birmingham in 1932) and known as "Young Sonny".

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