Research: Thomas Beacock

My 3x great grandfather Thomas Beacock was born on 3rd February 1841 in the Melton Ross area of Lincolnshire, England. He was the illegitimate son of Sarah Beacock and Thomas Lovitt. I previously did not know who Thomas’ father was, but I finally discovered who he was through a couple of years of careful research. Instead of taking his father’s surname of Lovitt, Thomas took on the Beacock name, from his mother Sarah, as it was her maiden name.

I could not seem to find a baptism record for Thomas, which is strange. One possibility of why the record is missing could be because of a mistranscribed record. It could also be because he was an illegitimate child, but that seems unlikely, as the Church had to treat ALL children who were brought to be baptised, equally.

In 1841, Thomas was just 3 months old and was living with his grandparents John and Sarah Beacock, his mother Sarah and his auntie Diana in the parish of Barnetby Le Wold, Lincolnshire. John Beacock, Thomas’s grandfather was working as an Agricultural Labourer and would have provided an income for his family, whilst his wife and 2 of his daughters would have done household duties such as cleaning and cooking. They would have probably all looked after and cared for Thomas. Diana, Thomas’ auntie, eventually moved to America.

Thomas’s mother, Sarah married John Gilliatt, a widower, on 4th March 1845 in Winterton and gave birth to Thomas’ first half-sibling, John William Gilliatt a couple of months later. Unfortunately, John William passed away that same year, and in 1849, Sarah’s husband, John Gilliat passed away too.

In 1851 Thomas was 10 years old and was living in Winterton, Lincolnshire with his mother Sarah. He was recorded as a scholar and Sarah was recorded as being Annuitant, which means that she was receiving a fixed sum of money for a certain amount of time, usually for the rest of a her life or until she married again. This could have been because she had just been widowed and John Gilliatt could have written a will stating that on his death, Sarah should receive an amount of money. This could prove that John really cared about Sarah and Thomas.

In 1861, 19-year-old Thomas was living in Winteringham, Lincolnshire, with his mother, step-father Gilbert Burton Handson, 4 of his half-siblings, 2 of his step-cousins and a servant by the name of Leitita Carline. Leitita was actually Thomas’ 2nd cousin. The term “son-in-law” was used in order to describe the relationship between Thomas and his stepfather Gilbert. In those days, the term was used to describe a stepson. Thomas was recorded as being a butcher, which was an occupation shared by his stepfather, meaning that he would have most probably worked for Gilbert, somewhere in Winteringham. I often wonder which house they lived in, where they worked and whether or not the buildings still exist today.

Thomas was the first ancestor of my Beacock direct line, to bring the family over to Hull from Lincolnshire. He would have moved to Hull somewhere between 1861 and 1868, as he was living in Winteringham in 1861, and married in 1868 in Hull. I have found no evidence to prove why Thomas moved to Hull, but it could have been to find work or purely to find a wife and start a family.

On 17th April 1863, Thomas, who would have been 22 years old at the time, featured in the Stamford Mercury newspaper with his stepfather, Gilbert Burton Handson. In the newspaper clipping (which can be seen below) Thomas is referred to as “Thos. Lovett Beacock, the son-in-law of…”. The term “son-in-law” has been used again to describe the relationship between Thomas and Gilbert. “Thos.” is an abbreviation for Thomas. This clipping is the first source that suggests who the biological father of Thomas was – a man with the surname Lovett or Lovitt.

thomas to send

There were a few possible ‘suspects’ to who the biological father of Thomas was. As I previously stated, I narrowed this down to someone with the surname Lovitt. At the time of the 1841 census (when Thomas was 3 months old), there were a few male “Lovitts” in and around the area. One of them, who I believed was the main ‘suspect’, was a man called Thomas Lovitt. He was born in about 1819. He was living and working in the Melton Ross/Barnetby Le Wold area (his birthplace) at the time Thomas Beacock was born. This is the same place where the Beacock family were living at the time. In 1841, this Thomas Lovitt was 20 years old and was living with his parents William (a farmer) and Sarah. In 1851, Thomas Lovitt was a farmer and his mother, Sarah, was the Inn Keeper of the Stag Inn in Melton Ross. Unfortunately, I could not find a photograph or find much information about the Stag Inn.

I decided to order the birth certificate of Thomas Beacock, but could not find it under Thomas Beacock or Thomas Lovitt. The certificate index had actually been mis-transcribed as it stated that he was called “Thomas Lovitt Lovitt” and that their was no mother’s maiden name on the index. After a few months of trying to narrowing down, I decided to actually order this certificate as it had to be the Thomas that I was looking for. As it turned out, I was right to take the risk as my theory of mis-transcription was correct. The certificate stated that his mother’s maiden name was Beacock and he was actually registered as Thomas Lovitt.

On 24th December 1868, Thomas Beacock (who was now 25 years old) married 15-year-old Margaret Gibson at the Register Office in Hull, East Yorkshire. The Register Office was located at 10 Parliment Street – the whole of the first floor, consisting of 3 rooms that were set up for this purpose in 1837. The whole building belonged to the Thorney family, who were attourneys and coroners of Hull. John Joseph Thorney, was the registrar of Thomas and Margaret’s marriage. He was the son of John Thorney, who was Hull’s first registrar, appointed in 1837.

At the time of marriage, Thomas was working as a Rullyman but he went on to be a Butcher and then an Agricultural Labourer. It appears that the couple were already living at the same residence as one another, at the time of their marriage. 6 Wood’s Court was the home of Margaret’s parents Martin and Jane. The fact that Martin and Jane allowed Lodgers to live with them, suggests that Thomas had been a lodger in their home when he moved to Hull from Lincolnshire, sometime between 1861 and 1868. Thomas would have most probably crossed the River Humber via ferry. There were a few ferries running at this time, so it difficult to state exactly which one he would have used. It could have been either the first PS Magna Carta, the PS Old Sheffield, PS Sheffield, PS Manchester, PS Royal Albion, PS Liverpool, or PS Doncaster.

Beacock x Gibson
Marriage Certificate of Thomas Beacock and Margaret Gibson

As you can see on the marriage certificate, above, Thomas’ father is recorded as Gilbert Beacock. There was no such person as Gilbert Beacock which suggests that Thomas gave his stepfather’s first name (Gilbert Burton Handson) as his father’s name. I believe that Thomas did not have any contact with his biological father, Thomas Lovitt since his mother gave birth to him, as he was born out of wedlock. I also believe that Thomas saw Gilbert (his stepfather) as his father, the man who brought him up and provided for his mother, so he gave “Gilbert” as his father’s name. The transcriber most probably would have assumed that Gilbert was also a Beacock.

In 1871, 26-year-old Thomas was recorded as a butcher. He was living at 4 Primrose Court in Hull, East Yorkshire, with his wife Margaret and 2 of their children: Thomas and Sarah Frances Beacock. It seems that Thomas lowered his age to 26 from 30, and Margaret increased her age from (17 or 18) to 20 in order to appear to be closer in terms of age. This could be due to Margaret being so young and already having 2 young children. The eldest of the children, Sarah was born in 1869, meaning that Margaret was either 16 or 17 when she gave birth to her.

On 14th May 1875 there was a newspaper article in the Hull Packet about Thomas Beacock. Thomas had failed to have his child vaccinated and so was fined 2 shillings and 6 pence. The child could potentially be my 2x great-grandfather, Frederick Beacock because he was born in 1875.

Thomas Beacock Vaccination Prosecutions - Hull Packet 14 May 1875.PNG
Thomas Beacock in The Hull Packet 1875

In 1881, Thomas was about 39 years old and was living at 198 Bean Street in Hull with his wife Margaret and 5 of their children: Thomas, Henry, Frederick, Julia Ann and Caroline. Also living at the Bean Street home was Thomas’ mother-in-law, 2 brothers-in-law, a wife of a brother-in-law, and 4 visitors. Thomas was working as an agricultural labourer at the time of the census.

The image below shows a map of where 198 Bean Street once stood. The arrow points to location of the house. Similarly to the other houses where Jane and her family once lived, this house has also been demolished and is now part of a car park on Rawling Way. The development of Rawling Way, which connects Anlaby Road (near Hull Royal Infirmary) to the round about at the start of Hessle Road, meant that the majority of Bean Street was demolished.

198 Bean Street
198 Bean Street

In 1891, 50-year-old Thomas was recorded as a general labourer. He was living at 3 King’s Court in Hull, East Yorkshire, with his wife, 7 children and his brother-in-law.

Later that year, on 8th November 1891, Thomas’ wife, Margaret passed away as a result of cancer. She was about 38 years old. It appears that after the death of Margaret, Thomas moved into 5 Featherstone’s Entry, High Street, Hull with his son Henry Handson Beacock, and his family. I learnt this from Thomas’ burial record – they shared the same address (Henry, also being the informant of his father’s death).

Thomas passed away on 23rd July 1896 in Hull, East Yorkshire at the age of 55 and a half years old. According to the burial records at Northern Cemetery, Thomas died as a result of Diabetes. He was buried on 26th July 1896 (3 days after his death), in Hedon Road Cemetery, Hull. I have visited the cemetery but I need assistance from the council, in order to locate the grave. I will then know if there is a gravestone or not.

Thomas lived during the reign of Queen Victoria. Thomas was also just 12 years old at the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1853 and was 15 when it ended in 1856. The war was fought between Russia and an alliance of the British, French and Turkish. Schools were also made compulsory for children under 10 in 1880, which meant that the younger of Thomas’ children were made to go to school.

Sadly there are no known family stories that include Thomas and there are also no family members alive who could potentially know anything about him. Despite this, we as a family should be very thankful for his life and the keeping of the Beacock name, because, without him, I would not be a Beacock.

I have always felt a very strong connection with my 3x great grandfather, Thomas Beacock. I am not sure what the reason is exactly, but I feel close to him, almost as if I once knew him and I was drawn towards him as soon as I discovered him in about 2011.

I would love to learn more about Thomas, so if anyone knows anything of him or has a photograph of him, I would be over the moon. As well as Thomas’ descendants, I am in the pursuit of relatives from his mothers side, his biological fathers side (Lovitt), his stepfathers sides (Handson and Gilliatt) and his wife’s family (Gibson, Gray). We can never determine where information and photographs end up in families, which is why it is so important to share! I am also interested in the history of the Lincolnshire villages, in which Thomas lived.

Thank you for reading,

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jon Casbon says:

    Tony, nice job on the blog! re lack of a baptism record, in my experience baptismal records can’t always be found. Some people just never bothered. Also, it’s possible he was baptized in a non-conformist church. Those records, if in existence, can be harder to track down. As far as identifying the father, you could see if there are any bastardy bonds, These required the father to provide some child support. Happy hunting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tony Beacock says:

      Thank you so much for your reply! Yes it certainly has been hard to find these things. I am going to eventually go to the Lincolnshire Archives and have a look there! They apparently hold some of the records that aren’t online for the area and years I need. They also have bastardy bonds too I think! Thanks again, and good luck with your research too!


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