Research: John William Kirby

My 2x great grandfather John William Kirby was born on 3rd October 1872 in Hull, East Yorkshire. He was the oldest of 5 known children; John William (1873-1953), Thomas Samuel (1874-?), Charles (1877-?), Sarah Ann (1881-?) and Samuel (1884-?). Their parents were William and Emma Elizabeth Kirby (nee Raby).

In 1881, 9-year-old John was recorded as a scholar and was living at his grandmother’s house with his parents and 3 of his siblings, at 3 Mary’s Court in Hull. His 56-year-old grandmother, Ann Raby was working as a Laundress and his 28-year-old father, William, was a Dock Labourer.

In 1891 John was 18 years old and living at 6 Scott’s Place, Scott Street in Hull with his parents, 3 siblings and his grandmother Ann Raby. Scott’s Place can be seen in the image below, to the left of the soap factory. The map was published in 1891, meaning that most of the factories and buildings would have been the same in the 1880s. It was accessed via an alley way directly connected to Scott Street. At this point in his life, John was working as an Oil Mill Labourer.

Scott Street was a very small area, which contained of only a few buildings that would have been very cramped together. I can only imagine the atmosphere in areas like Scott’s Place in the late 1800s. The noises of the the nearby factories, houses and streets, the smells of the soap factory, cattle food factory, starch works on the air, mixed with all the other smells from other factories and buildings. I often wonder if the Kirby family were able to acquire off-cuts from the soap factory!

In the 5 years after the previous census was taken, John William Kirby had met and eventually married Selina Bone in the Sculcoates area of Hull in 1896. The couple went on to have 8 known children; Annie Elizabeth (1897-?), Charles Frederick (1899-1976), Lily (1901-1970), John Edward (1903-1978), William (1904-1982), Joseph (1908-?), George Henry (1911-?) and Selina (1913-1990).

In 1901 John was living with his wife Selina and their 2 children at 2 Jebson Place, Gibson Street in Hull. John was a Moulder in the Oil Mill and was 38 years of age. It appears that John could have worked his way up from working as a Labourer to a Moudler. Selina would have been, at this time, in the early stages of pregnancy. She was pregnant with my great grandmother, Lily.

10 years later, on the 1911 census, John, his wife Selina and their children seem to have moved to the house next door or at the opposite side of the Place, as they were now living at 1 Jebson Place, Gibson Street in Hull. John was still working as a Moulder in the Oil Mill. The 1911 census allows one to view the handwriting of the occupant that filled the census form out for the household. In this case, one can see  John’s handwriting in the image below!


In 1929 John’s wife Selina sadly passed away in Hull. One of John’s granddaughter’s told me that Selina had apparently died as a result of Asthma. The loss of Selina would have been very hard for John, as he had been married to her for 33 years.

In 1939, John was still living at 1 Jebson Place, Gibson Street in Hull. He was living with his youngest daughter Selina and her son William Kirby. John was working as an Oil Mill Watchman at the time. Selina was recorded as “Unpaid Domestic Duties” and William was of school age.

In later life, John still lived with his daughter Selina, but at the address of 73 Gibson Street, the childhood home of one of my grandfather’s cousins (the same granddaughter of John that has been previously mentioned) who remembers him living there. She told me a few stories that included her grandfather. She said that he used to often take her for a walk and show her various things in the area, telling her about things as they walked along. John apparently used to panic a little bit when she walked off, as in his old age, he had become slightly blind! I sent her the photograph below, which was probably taken in the late 1920s, and she was so happy to see him. She excitedly said: “Yes, that’s my Grandad!”.

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John sadly passed away on 15th June 1953 in his home of 73 Gibson Street, in Hull. On his death certificate, it states that John was a retired night watchman at the Oil Mill. The oil mill’s that John worked in throughout his life were mills that dealt with organic oil – oil that came from the crushing and pressing of seeds for example. I am unsure of where John and his wife Selina were buried, or whether they were cremated.

I am always looking out for more information on my relatives, and would love to find out more about John’s life and his family’s life. Please don’t hesitate to contact me about anything relating to him. From the stories that I have heard, John was a friendly man that loved his family. I wish I could have had the opportunity to ask him some questions, as he looks like someone who has lived through a lot in his life!

Thank you very much for reading,

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