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Reader's in-depth research into the farming Turner family of West Bromwich

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: February 17, 2005

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A certain corner of West Bromwich has kept many a Bugle reader in thrall in recent editions. The Turners, who ran a farm and sold milk in the area, certainly made an impression on the memories of all those who encountered them. Douglas Haynes of Clayhanger in Walsall is the latest to respond, and has written the following:

"On page 17 of issue 647, you featured an article about the Turner family of West Bromwich. My family tree research shows that William Thomas Turner was my great grand uncle; he was the brother of my great grandmother Ellen Turner who married my great grandfather Edward Mole.

"My mother told me of Ginny Turner delivering the milk in West Bromwich. But it was only when I started my research that I discovered the farming connection, and I would like to add to the information submitted by Mrs Freda Hornby.

"The farm was previously owned/occupied by William Thomas’s father Thomas Turner. The censuses of 1851 to 1881 show Thomas as having been born in either Farlow in Herefordshire or later as Cleobry, Shropshire (I have used the spelling from the original census).

"Thomas married Jemmima Tolley, who was born in Worcestershire, at All Saints Church West Bromwich in 1849. In 1851 Thomas and Jemmima were shown as living in Hall Street - no occupation was given in this census.

"Between 1861 and 1881 they were living in Harwood Street. The 1871 census gives the full address as Wood Lane Farm, Cutlers End. Harwood Street. Thomas was shown as a farmer of between, variously 40 and 60 acres. Thomas and Jemmima had at least five children: Eliza in 1849, Ellen in 1853, William Thomas in 1856, Agnes in 1858 and Louisa in 1860.

"I have not been able to trace a will of Thomas Turner who died about 1890, to see how the farm was divided after his death. However the census of 1891 shows Jemmima as a widow living on her own means, with her daughter Louisa and son in law Samuel Burgess in Moor Street West Bromwich.

"William Thomas is shown as living in Brook Street West Bromwich and is a Farm Bailiff. In the 1901 census, William Thomas was living at No 4 Wood Lane and was a Haulier working from home. I cannot find any trace of him ever being a farmer after his father died. It is possible of course that the farm was a tenancy.

"William Thomas and Sarah did have 11 children they were: William Thomas, born 1876, John Henry, born 1877, Benjamin, born in 1880; Sussanah, born in 1882; Samuel, born in 1884; Thomas, born in 1886; James, born in 1888; Sarah Jane (Known as Ginny) born in 1889; Alfred, born in 1890;Leonard, born 1893 and Lucy Maria, born in 1895.

"I have traced a copy of William Thomas’s will, which shows him leaving the dairy business to Sarah Jane (Ginny). This is a summary:

'Will of Thomas William Turner, Dairyman, 4 Wood Lane, West Bromwich. 19th August 1925. Probate granted 20th May 1927. Solicitor Mr Walter Douglas Clarke.

"Daughter Sarah Jane (spinster) to receive the goodwill of his business. Sarah Jane to maintain Thomas’s wife Sarah, if she survives him, for the rest of her life.

"Thomas hopes that Sarah Jane will see her way to employing his son Samuel in the business, as he had done.

"To his wife (if still living after his death) he bequests for her lifetime only, all his household furniture and effects. After the death of his wife all such properties to go to Sarah Jane. His Queen Ann cupboard to Benjamin with a request that he does his best to keep it within the family.

"He directs his trustee, as soon as convenient after his (Thomas’s) death, to give in writing to his son James, the option to purchase his nine freehold houses and land adjoining. Situated, fronting Wood Lane and Gadds Lane, at a price of nine hundred pounds. James to be given three months from the date of Thomas’s death to give notice to purchase the properties.

"All other items belonging to Thomas to be given to the trustee to convert into money and after payment of debts and funeral expenses the money to be invested at the trustees discretion. The proceeds of the investments to be paid to his wife Sarah (if still living) until her death.

"After the death of Thomas’s wife Sarah or upon his death if he survives her. All money to be divided equally between his children: Thomas William, John Henry, Benjamin, Sussanah (wife of Alfred Rook), Samuel, Thomas, James, Sarah Jane (spinster),Alfred, Leonard, Lucy Maria (wife of Fred Evans).

"If any of his children were to die before him, their share to be divided between their children, if any."

Thomas added a codicil to his will, dated 19th September 1925:

"Bequest to Sarah Jane who was to be given the goodwill of the business. This was to include all milk churns milk cans and all other utensils owned by him and used in connection with said business. Sarah Jane to receive all such items without any payment to the business."

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