The Story of my Four Branches
with some twigs, nuts, deep roots and many little leaves


Isabella in the workhouse

Crumpsall Workhouse

Finding out that my 2nd Great Grandmother Isabella Parsons, had been sent to the workhouse elicited a totally unexpected (at the time) wave of sorrow, and an exclamation (I’m afraid out loud in the Mormon library) of “how could they?”! I never expected it to come as such a shock.

Isabella was born in Newington, Surrey (although it comes up as Middlesex and London due to border changes) 15 Apr 1835 to Amos Parsons and Elizabeth Needs. She had (so far the only ones I can find) 3 siblings; the oldest two are possibly twins. Elizabeth Ann born 1825 in Newington, Surrey, Amos also born 1825 in Newington, Surrey, and John born in 1827 also in Newington, Surrey. Isabella was baptised at St Mary's Newington; this also being the church her parents had married in.

Isabella married her sweetheart Richard Matthew Jackson (the subject of another story which can be found here) in the Parish Church of St Mary, Newington, Surrey on Christmas Day 25 Dec 1858. They both worked as Clay Tobacco Pipe Makers.

The couple had five children, Richard Henry, born 13 Nov 1859, their only daughter Elizabeth born 1866, John William born 1868; These three children were all born and baptised in Newington. Their son Amos, was born in 1870; Amos was born in Manchester, as was their youngest son (my Great Grandfather) Alfred born 23rd July 1873. Given the gap between children it is possible there were more babies either miscarried or died in infancy.

No-one knows why the family (which also included Richard Matthew's parents) moved north to Manchester, but the time period is most definitely before the 1871 census.

By the time of the 1881 census, Richard Matthew had died leaving his widow Isabella (née Parsons) to bring up their five children alone. The older two, Richard Henry and Elizabeth had been old enough to work so they went to stay with their paternal Grandparents, Richard Jackson and Elizabeth Hall. Richard senior is also the subject of another story which can be found here

The three younger children still had to be fed obviously.

Claypipes found in Crumpsall Workhouse

Isabella was sent to Crumpsall workhouse with John William, and the younger two boys Amos and my Great Grandfather Alfred were both sent to Swinton Industrial School. That last titbit explained my Gran’s story of how her father was “well educated”. But it still makes me sad to think of Isabella having to live in the Workhouse.

Although it does seem likely that the stay in the workhouse was brief for Isabella and her sons, it must have left an indelible mark on the family. Unfortunately the workhouse played it's part in another of our stories. Isabella died in June 1892 age just 53 years.

Isabella, her husband and her in-laws were "tobacco pipe makers" by trade. And as a very interesting aside, a vast amount of the clay pipes were actually found on the former site of the workhouse.


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