Saturday, 3 February 2018

#52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Week 4: 'Invite to Dinner'

Week 4 Prompt: 'Invite to Dinner'

There are two men I would like to invite to dinner. They were brothers.  John Cottam and James Cottam. They both had their lives cut short in horrible accidents at work, one in England and one in Australia. 

James was my maternal Great Grandfather. They were sons of Joseph Cottam and Elizabeth Johnson and both boys were born in Warrington, Lancashire, England. James in 1829 and John in 1831 with Elizabeth dying shortly after the last childbirth.  Joseph married another Elizabeth (Smith) in 1837 and they had a daughter that year.

In 1852 James as a 23 year old, emigrated to Victoria Australia, and married Eliza Shanks a Northern Ireland girl from Co Down on 23 August 1860.  They had seven children, three girls, then three boys with the last being my Grandfather Joseph Cottam, then one more girl.

I have copies of two letters John wrote to James from England in 1856 and 1858 telling his brother about his job working in the railways.  He was missing his brother and looking forward to James coming back to England. John had married Rebecca Pashley in 1852, the daughter 'of the house' he was boarding in.  In one letter he told James of his two children. Altogether they had four boys and one girl.  John died 10 September 1860 due to a terribly tragic train shunting accident in the early morning at Nottingham Meadows, Nottinghamshire, England. He was only 29. (NB: This would have been only 18 days after James' wedding in Australia.)

I don't know when James heard the bad news, but I believe he would have been devastated as they were very close brothers. 

James was a farmer who also did some road cutting work for the local council around Lancefield.  In 1873 he was struck down by a boulder and soil from a cutting and suffered internal injuries, broken legs and paralysis. He was rushed to hopital in Melbourne where he died a week later. He had just turned 44 years old. His wife Eliza was pregnant and had her last baby (girl) a month later.
My heart goes out to these two brothers who suffered horrific deaths.  James never made it back to England.  

I would love for the two men to come together and share their stories, not just with me but with each other.


James birth - 1829, Lancashire England Church of England Births & Baptisms, 1820 - 1829, Drl/2/541, Bishops Transcripts. No 952, Page 123.

John birth - 1831, Lancashire England Church of England Births & Baptisms, 1813 - 1911, Drl/2/541,Bishops Transcripts. No 1126, Page 141.

Joseph & Elizabeth Johnson Marr. - 1831, Lancashire England Church of England Marr. & Banns, 1754 - 1936, No 1274, Page 426.

Elizabeth (Johnson) death -  Burial Record, Church of St Oswald , Parish of Winwick, England,  Register1831-1833, Page 392, Entry 3128. Source: LDS Film 1885711.

Elizabeth (Smith) marriage  - Lancashire Online Parish Clerks: Register of Marriages 1833-1837, Page 116, Entry 347.  Source: LDS Film 1562962.

Mary Ann birth - Free BMD. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915. 1909, Q1 - L.

James emigration - Date unknown, estimated from correspondence letters.

James marriage - Victoria, Australia, Certificate of Marriage.

Grandfather Joseph birth - Australian BDM Register, No 15588, Copy of Entry.

Two Letters:  John to brother James Cottam - Copies in my personal possession.

John marriage - Family and Wales marriage Reg. Index, 1837-2005. Q1 - 1852 Sheffield, Yorkshire, England; Vol9C, Page 338, Line 33.

John death - British Library Newspapers; Article: Nottinghamshire Guardian on line, Fatal accident on Midland Railway. 11 Oct. 1860.

James death - Digger Pioneer Index, Victoria, 1836 - 1888.  Death Entry No: 4795, Rec. 17.

James - newspaper reports - "Lancefield Examiner" May 01 and May 08, 1873, Victoria, Australia.

Agnes birth - Australian Birth Index 1788-1922. 1873 Darraweit Guim, Victoria, No: 8759.

No comments:

Post a Comment