Morris Gregory ASHMORE (1852-1937)

A message left by Jackie Morrey on a Facebook genealogy page about her Great Great Grandfather Morris ASHMORE got me intrigued, so I decided to investigate.

“My Gt Gt grandfather Morris Ashmore is very complicated, no trace of marriage to Kate Ellen despite her using his surname on all census returns, he is deceased by the time two of his children marry and in Kate’s 1911 census, but I found a marriage between Morris and Amy Ludlow in 1906 both widowed, occupations for Morris and his father identical to my Morris as is his father’s name but this Morris is 10 years younger! Added to this his father had died before Morris was born and there is evidence that my Morris died in 1937!! Nothing seems to tally.”

ASHMORE is a fairly uncommon name when compared to some I have researched, and Morris ASHMORE even more so. From the information given above, I found the correct family in the 1891 census record. Morris stated to be 34 (b.1857), born in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England and working as a House Painter. His wife was Kate E ASHMORE (born 1860 in Birmingham) and they had three children (Florence, William and Leah). Morris’s younger brother Walter ASHMORE was also living with them (and also a house painter). There is no marriage record for Morris and Kate, so suspect they were not actually wed.

1891 – 12 Branston Place, Balsall Heath, Worcestershire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Morris Ashmore Head Married Male 34 1857 House Painter Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Kate E Ashmore Wife Married Female 31 1860 Charwoman Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Florence Ashmore Daughter Female 6 1885 Scholar Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Son Male 2 1889 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Leah Ashmore Daughter Female 0 1891 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Walter Ashmore Brother Single Male 32 1859 House Painter Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

By the 1901 they had two more children (Harold and Neville). Morris now states to be 42 (two years younger than he should be from age given last census) and Kate was recorded using her middle name of Ellen.

1901 – 22 Vincent Crescent, Balsall Heath, Worcestershire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Morris Ashmore Head Married Male 42 1859 House Painter Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Ellen Ashmore Wife Married Female 40 1861 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Florence Ashmore Daughter Single Female 16 1885 Thimble Maker Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Son Single Male 11 1890 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Leah Ashmore Daughter Single Female 10 1891 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Harold Ashmore Son Single Male 7 1894 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Nevill Ashmore Son Single Male 5 1896 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

Skip forwards another 10 years to the 1911 census and Morris is now gone. Kate Ellen is confusingly recorded as “Mrs Ashmore – Wife – Widow“. The sheet was filled out by her son William, rather than herself. They were living in Sparkbrook, Warwickshire, England. Daughter Leah was boarding in Birmingham at this time, and married later that year. She also stated her father to be dead on her marriage record.

1911 – 34 Main Street, Sparkbrook, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Mrs Ashmore Wife Widow Female 52 1859 Takes In Washing Edgebaston, Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Son Single Male 21 1890 Brass Polishing Basall Heath, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Florance Ashmore Daughter Single Female 26 1885 Wrapping Up Flour Basall Heath, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Harald Ashmore Son Single Male 18 1893 Brass Polishing Basall Heath, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Neville Ashmore Son Single Male 15 1896 Silver Smith Basall Heath, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

I’ve only found the first and last of the children’s births registered under surname ASHMORE. As it doesn’t appear Morris and Amy were actually married, I also checked under her “maiden” name of WILKINS (as stated on Florence and Neville’s birth index). There is a Leah Charlotte WILKINS with mothers maiden name TIMMS, and also an Arthur Harold WILKINS with mothers maiden name TIMMS (both Kings Norton like Florence and Neville – there were no more children registered in this district as Ashmore/Timms). Kings Norton covers Balsall Heath, where all children are stated to have been born. Leah’s 1939 register record confirms her date of birth to be 29th Oct 1890, which fits with the birth index date. Arthur Harold seems to have actually gone by “Alfred Harold”, and the 1939 register states his birth date as 18th Oct 1892 (right quarter but a year out, although I’ve seen this error a lot in the 1939 register).

First Name(s) Last Name Year Registration District Mother’s Maiden Name
Florence Helen ASHMORE 1Q 1885 Kings Norton, Warwickshire WILKINS
William ASHMORE Not Found Not Found Not Found
Leah Charlotte WILKINS 4Q 1890 Kings Norton, Warwickshire TIMMS
Arthur Harold WILKINS 4Q 1893 Kings Norton, Warwickshire TIMMS
Neville Victor ASHMORE 2Q 1996 Kings Norton, Warwickshire WILKINS

Could TIMMS actually be Kate’s own mother’s maiden name, used perhaps to cover the fact she wasn’t married to the father of her children? A search finds a Kate WILKINS registered in 1Q 1857 Birmingham with mothers maiden name “TIMMS “. This Kate’s mother was called Charlotte. In 1871, the Wilkins were living at 46 Ryland Street, Bordesley, and some of the Ashmore’s were also living on Ryland Street (in a terrace somewhere near no.23). I’ve found no possible matches to William’s birth record.

What of the younger Morris ASHMORE mentioned, with wife Amy LUDLOW? In 1911 they too were living in Sparkbrook, Warwickshire, England. Morris stated to be age 44 (b.1867) born in Edgbaston, Warwickshire, England and working as a House Painter. He was living with wife Amy, her mother, Amy’s daughter from her first marriage and an adopted son. The head was Amy’s mother, not Morris, but “stepdaughter” is referring to Morris’s relationship with Hilda.

1911 – 126 Anderton Road, Sparkbrook, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Mrs Mawby Head Widow Female 74 1837 None South Killworth, Leicestershire, England
Amy Ashmore Daughter Married Female 45 1866 Lamp Lappaner South Killworth, Leicestershire, England
Morris Ashmore Son In Law Married Male 44 1867 House Painter Edgbaston Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Hilda Ludlow Stepdaughter Female 14 1897 Electric Work Small Heath Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Francis Logell Adopted Single Male 18 1893 Electric Work Small Heath Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

When tracing Morris back through records is becomes clear that he shaves a few years off his birth year each time so the fact he says he’s only 44 in 1911, when in reality his birth record (as found further down) confirms he was 59, is not too strange (it’s just usually women who do this!).

More confirmation these two men are the same person can be found in the electoral registers. Morris and Amy lived at 8 Leicester Place, Sparkbrook in 1920-22. Amy died in 1924, and Morris was still living at the same address in 1930, where he gives his full name as Morris Gregory ASHMORE . He died in 1937 aged 85 (his correct age!) and was registered under Gregory M ASHMORE.

Morris and Amy married 25th March 1906 in Sparkbrook, and they both state to be widowed and age 40. Morris gives his profession as “Painter” and his father as “Edward ASHMORE, Brass Founder“. Their residence at the time of marriage was 9 White Road and the witnesses were Job Steel and Florence Smith.

Why state “widowed” if he wasn’t ever married to Kate? My first thought was that he was already married to someone else when he was in a relationship with Kate, so couldn’t marry again legally at that time. On searching the marriage index I found a marriage of Morris ASHMORE to Sophia TAYLER in 1875, but when searching for Morris in 1881 I found him visiting with his brother Walter and described as unmarried (the parish record isn’t online to confirm their fathers unfortunately). I’ve found no mention of a Sophia ASHMORE in census or death records, so if they married and then parted ways, it’s possible she also used an assumed married name and perhaps it was her who died making Morris a widow when he left Kate and married Amy. I think I’ve identified her in 1871, but it doesn’t lead anywhere useful.

1881 – Court 1 House 12, Angelina Street, Bordesley, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Charles Jeffery Head Married Male 37 1844 Plane Tool Maker Bristol, Gloucestershire, England
Catherine Jeffery Wife Married Female 39 1842 Ireland
Jane E Jeffery Daughter Single Female 6 1875 Scholar Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
William Shee Lodger Single Male 38 1843 Brass Founder Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Alfred Patry Lodger Single Male 20 1861 Painter (House) Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Morris Ashmore Visitor Single Male 23 1858 Engine Driver Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Walter Ashmore Visitor Single Male 20 1861 Baker Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

I’ve not found Morris in the 1871 census, so traced Walter back instead and found him living with their mother and older brother William (who was the head of the household). William worked as a painter.

1871 – 4 Ryland Terrace, Ryland Street, Bordesley, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
William F Ashmore Head Unmarried Male 21 1850 Painter Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Mary A Ashmore Mother Widow Female 49 1822 Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Walter Ashmore Brother Male 12 1859 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England

1861 – 49 Summer Street, Edgbaston, Warwickshire, England

Morris was age 9 in 1861 (matching his actual birth of 1852, which doesn’t happen again until his death record) in Birmingham, Warwickshire and living in Edgbaston. His brothers Walter and William are present, along with another brother Thomas and half brother Edward. Their mother Mary was a widow in 1851 also.

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Mary Ann Ashmore Head Widow Female 38 1823 Fundholder Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
Thomas Ashmore Son Male 13 1848 Artist Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Son Male 11 1850 Scholar Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Morris Ashmore Son Male 9 1852 Scholar Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Walter Jones Ashmore Son Male 3 1858 Scholar Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Edward Ashmore Son In Law Married Male 23 1838 Option Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Emma Ashmore Daughter In Law Married Female 22 1839 Dressmaker Gloucestershire, England
Mary Ann Lloyd Visitor Married Female 53 1808 Shropshire, England

Mary Ann MARSHALL married the widower Edward ASHMORE in 1Q 1848 (just before their son Thomas was born), and Edward died in Dec 1849 (just before or just after their second son was born). Mary’s last two children (Morris and Walter) cannot possibly be Edward’s, even though they name him as their father on their marriage certificates. Note how Morris and Walter have a surname for a middle name, perhaps relating to their biological father(s)? When looking over Edward ASHMORE‘s will, one of his executors was called Thomas GREGORY, an optician who lived in Birmingham. He was born c.1795 in London and married the widow Sarah ASHMORE in 1835 (was she previously married to a brother of Edward?). Perhaps there was also an optician called Mr JONES!

Birth records for Mary’s four sons:

First Name(s) Last Name Year Registration District
Mother’s Maiden Name
Thomas Isaac ASHMORE 2Q 1848 Kings Norton, Warwickshire MARSHALL
William Frederick ASHMORE 4Q 1849 Kings Norton, Warwickshire MARSHALL
Morris Gregory ASHMORE 2Q 1852 Kings Norton, Warwickshire MARSHALL
Walter Jones ASHMORE 2Q 1858 Kings Norton, Warwickshire (not listed on GRO website)

In 1851, Mary gives her age as 36 and birthplace as Liverpool, which is quite different from the 1861 and 1871 censuses. Either way, this is the correct family for Morris and they were living on the same street they were on for William’s baptism in 1841 (William from Edward’s first marriage).

1851 – Summer Street, Edgbaston, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Mary Ann Ashmore Head Widow Female 36 1815 Living On Interest Of Money Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Edward Ashmore Son Male 14 1837 Scholar Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
Thomas Ashmore Son Male 3 1848 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Son Male 1 1850
William Colvert Lodger Unmarried Male 22 1829 Tailor Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Frederick Nalson Lodger Unmarried Male 21 1830 Wood Turner Bristol, Gloucestershire, England

Edward ASHMORE was previously married to Maria ALLEN (27th Dec 1835). They had two sons before she died (at some point between 1841-48). Their second son died aged 2, leaving just Edward Jrn (as seen in the census records above). This is the household in 1841:

1841 – Edgbaston, Warwickshire, England

First Name(s) Last Name Sex Age Birth Year Occupation Birth Place
Edward Ashmore Male 25 1816 Spectacle Maker (not born in Warwickshire)
Maria Ashmore Female 25 1816 Warwickshire, England
Edward Ashmore Male 4 1837 Warwickshire, England
William Ashmore Male 1m 1841 Warwickshire, England
William Burks Male 15 1826 Apprentice (not born in Warwickshire)
Sarah Allen Female 65 1776 Warwickshire, England

The marriage record for Morris to Amy states his father, Edward Ashmore, was a Brass Founder not Spectacle Maker. The information provided on census, baptism and marriage certificates confirms they are the same person:

  • 1837 – Baptism of son Edward – Father “Edward Ashmore” Occupation “Brass Founder
  • 1841 – Census – “Edward Ashmore” – “Spectacle Maker
  • 1841 – Baptism of son William Thomas – Father “Edward Ashmore” Occupation “Spectacle Maker
  • 1847 – Men qualified to serve on juries – “Edward Ashmore” – “Spectacle Maker
  • 1860 – Marriage of son Edward – Father “Edward Ashmore” Occupation “Spectacle Maker
  • 1870 – Adult baptism of son Thomas Isaac – Father “Edward Ashmore” Occupation “Whip Mount Chaser” (occupation is Thomas’s, not his father, as this was an adult baptism)
  • 1875 – Marriage of son William Frederick – Father “Thomas Ashmore (dead)” Occupation “Brass Founder” (name of Thomas presumably a mistake as definitely the correct person)
  • 1906 – Marriage of son Morris – Father “Edward Ashmore” Occupation “Brass Founder

CONCLUSION

All evidence confirms that Morris ASHMORE with wife Kate Ellen WILKINS is the same man as Morris ASHMORE with wife Amy LUDLOW (nee MAWBY).

There is only one matching Morris ASHMORE in any census record covering all birth years he gives (and wider). There is also only one matching birth record, a Morris Gregory ASHMORE registered 2Q 1852 in King’s Norton, Worcestershire (which covers both Edgbaston and parts of Birmingham, even though they are in the next county up). This again matches the death record in 1937 of Gregory M ASHMORE. Morris gives his full name as Morris Gregory ASHMORE in the 1930 electoral register, and was at the same address 10 years previous with wife Amy.

Things which these records cannot answer are why Morris and Kate did not marry (unless was he still married to Sophia Taylor – in which case, where did she go?). Why Morris left Kate to then marry Amy in 1906, claiming to be a widower. Why Kate claimed to also be a widow in the 1911 census and their daughter Leah claimed her father was dead when she married at the end of the year, even thought Morris was living only a few streets away.