- The Scandalous Life of Eliza Ann Game Winstanley (1844-1905)
Ten years ago this summer, I had a long weekend from work and saw an ad for Ancestry.com. I had always been mildly interested in my own family history–an outgrowth of my overall adoration of history. I signed up for the 2 week free trial and have continued since.
In 1999, my mother had had a genealogy project for her graduate class and had traced her mother’s family once they arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1892. My mother’s research depended on an elder’s cousin’s materials and built upon that. Both had done the majority of their research before the explosion of online genealogy in the last decade and a half. By the time I embarked on my own journey, I nearly drowned in all the digital records.
Eliza Ann Game was my maternal great-great-great grandmother. Her daughter (my great-great grandmother) Alice left Leeds in the 1890s with her husband Daniel Trainer. They came first to Worcester, Massachusetts before coming to Philadelphia, where my great-grandfather, Harold Trainer, was born. By 1920, they had moved to Collingswood, New Jersey. Harold married Beatrice Crompton, and in 1939, my grandmother Beatrice Trainer was born.
That was the extent to which my mother was knew the family line. It pretty much ended with Eliza and her husband William, and even that information hadn’t been really sketched out in detail. The UK censuses and FreeBMD Index were not really around so we had a death certificate for Eliza in 1905, a shadowy knowledge that William had died at some point before then and what had happened to William and Elizabeth’s eldest son, John William (his death in 1922).
My mother’s cousin had corresponded with some British relatives connected to the youngest daughter of Eliza Winstanley, Ann Eliza, who married Robert Dain. From there, the cousin constructed her vision of William and Eliza’s children: one son (John William) and four daughters (Elizabeth, Alice, Clara, and Ann Eliza). And that was it. The cousin and my mother spent more time looking at the American children of Daniel and Alice, which was definitely more feasible at the time.
A few months after I began my own look into the family and became more familiar with genealogical records in the UK and how to read them, I realized that so much of what we thought we knew about William and Eliza, Daniel and Alice was completely wrong. More on Daniel and Alice later. This is Eliza’s story.
Note: Some records for this post were scanned previously as .pdf files so they will be linked where appropriate.
Eliza Ann Game
Eliza Ann Game was born Ann Game on 16 November 1844 in Troston, located near Ixworth and Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk, England. Her parents were Joseph Game (1822-1900) and Patience Mulley Game (1823-1901).
By 1851, she is listed with her parents as Eliza Game living in Troston at 13 Mill Place. Her father was listed as agricultural labourer while Eliza and her sister Elizabeth were both scholars. All members of the family were born in Troston.
In 1861, her family remains in Troston with the addition of two new children: George and Ann (who is known in later records as Jane). Eliza, however, has left the family home. She is now in Yorkshire, where she works as a servant.
The census records are a bit difficult to understand, but it appears she is working in Manningham, a small township located within Bradford in Yorkshire. Manningham was apparently part of the parish of St. Peter’s ecclesiastical district. She’s working at 47 Green Hill Place in the home of John Briggs, a timber merchant and bobbin maker.
William Winstanley was born 7 November 1839 in Kirkham, Lancashire to Thomas Winstanley and Alice Leach Winstanley. He was baptized on January 5, 1840 in the same parish.
In 1841, I think I’ve located his particular family in Kirkham (indexed as William Winston, but the record clearly shows -ley above Thomas Winstan’s last name). I’m not 100%positive this is the right family — but all the information seems to mostly match. The older son, John, the occupation of Thomas. The family is located where Thomas and Alice married in 1835. There’s a girl listed — Margaret Winstanley, age 6, born in the county.
I’m still leaning towards thinking this is the right family; I just don’t think Margaret is their daughter. I think she may be a family relation living with them. There’s no Margaret born to Thomas and Alice in that parish between 1835-1840, and the parish records are online. John and William are both listed.
In 1851, Thomas and Alice have moved their family slightly to the north to Claughton in Lacashire. There is more information about the birth places: Thomas was born in Plumpton, Lancashire (actually Woodplumpton) while Alice, John, and William were all born in Newton. Their youngest child, Thomas, was born in their current location, Claughton. Thomas remains an agricultural laborer while John and William work as bobbin turners in the textile mills.
The family remains in the same location in 1861. Son John has left the home, while Thomas and William remain. They have a new sisters, Catherine and Alice. William is still a bobbin turner while Thomas is now working in the cotton factory. Catherine is listed as being born in 1842, but she was not listed in 1851.
At some point between 1861 and 1863, William has left Lancashire for Yorkshire.
William and Eliza’s Family
While there is no way to know for sure how William and Eliza came to meet in the two years between his residence in Lancashire and their marriage Yorkshire, I’ve wondered if they met through Eliza’s employer. The census in 1861 listed Eliza as working for a bobbin maker, and that remained William’s occupation for the remainder of his short life.
Whatever the case, Eliza Game married William Winstanley on 25 May 1863 in St. Peter’s, the parish church of Bradford in the West Riding of Yorkshire, both listing Bradford as their place of residence.
Within five years, three children were born to the couple. John William was born in the fourth quarter of 1863 (Oct, Nov or Dec) , Elizabeth in the first quarter of 1866 (Jan/Feb/Mar), and my ancestor Alice on 6 Apr 1868. At the time of Alice’s birth, the family is living in Holbeck, to the west of Bradford.
In 1871, the only census in which Eliza and William are together at 6 Sykes Place in Holbeck. William still works as a woodturner and all their children are listed as scholars.
Sadly, on Christmas Day 1874, William died at 18 Sykes Place in Holbeck from phthisis, more commonly known today as pulmonary tuberculosis. According to the certificate, he had suffered from this disease for almost a year and a half. His wife was present at his death.
This is where the story gets interesting, so to speak. William died in 1874. There’s no doubt that this is the right William — every piece of information matches from name of widow, residence, and occupation.
A year and a half later, Eliza gives birth to the first of two additional daughters: Clara was born 31 May 1876 (birth registered 11 July). The family is now living in Islington, part of Beeston, Yorkshire. There is no father listed. The second daughter gives a bit more information. Ann Eliza Lambert was born at the same location on 8 Mar 1879 (but the birth was not registered until April 22). This isn’t necessarily unusual — Alice’s birth was not registered until May 4, a month later.
In 1881, the census lists Eliza and her children living at 25 Balloon Street in Holbeck, Yorkshire, except John William, who had married in July. John Lambert is listed as a boarder, his age as 24 and his birth in Low Moore, Yorkshire, which was apparently a village in Bradford. This leads me to believe that either John Lambert’s last name was used for Ann because he was the male living in the home or perhaps he really was Ann’s father.
Clara, sadly, passed away at the age of 7 on 14 December 1883, from complications of pneumonia.
There has been no information passed down about these youngest daughters and this period of Eliza’s life, though it is unlikely Ann Eliza did not know of her parentage. Her elder siblings were certainly old enough to know and Eliza remained in the same area that she had lived with her husband, so the community like knew as well.
Eliza Winstanley did not live with any of her eldest children as she grew older. In 1891, she is living with a fellow elder woman, Ann Rushworth, while Ann Eliza resides with her brother. In 1901, she is again living with Ann Eliza, who is 22 and working as a restaurant waitress. Ann Eliza eventually married Robert Foster Dain after Eliza’s death.
Were the births of her daughters a scandal? Was Eliza taken advantage of in her widowhood? She was living alone in Yorkshire. Neither William’s family nor her own were from the area. She had little occupational experience, having worked as a domestic servant briefly before her marriage and apparently as a charwoman after her husband died. Was Eliza trying to make ends meet in the only way available to her?
Did it cause a rift between herself and William’s children? Alice emigrated to the United States in 1892 with her husband and his family. She did not return to visit until the early 1920s, but John and Elizabeth remained in the area.
Eliza Ann Game Winstanley died on 27 January 1905 in Bramley, Yorkshire, and unless I find a descendant on the British side who knows more, it looks as though speculation is all I’ll ever have about this fascinating woman.