The Descendents of John Winwood of Suffolk, England

King George II ruled England as monarch of Great Britain in the mid 1700's in the house of Hanover.  The industrial revolution had begun and England was becoming the world's richest country.  The revolution started in the cotton textile industry and soon spread to mining, transportation and other fields.  Machines replaced hand labor and the factory system developed.  Water wheels and windmills, common in the early 1700's, were gradually replaced by steam engines.  Steam engines needed coal, and coal mining expanded to meet the demand.  Coal was also needed to smelt iron ore.  Factory towns sprang up around the coal fields.  While the majority of families in the countryside continued in agriculture as the mainstay of livelihood, many of the young and adventurous moved into the mainstream of the economic revolution.   

The first recorded use of the Winwood name was in 1512 when Lewis Wynwood married Anne Wingfield in Letheringham, Suffolk, England.  Lewis was at one time secretary to Charles Brandson, Duke of Suffolk.  Lewis' son, Richard, was the father of  Sir Ralph Winwood, secretary to King James I, diplomatist and Secretary of State. 

In the 1700's and 1800's, the name Winwood was spelled with many variations.  Most of the common people, of which we predominately derive, were unschooled and illiterate.  On birth, marriage and death certificates, signatures were commonly given as a simple X mark.  As a result, the recorders would write names as they heard them spoken, phonetically. This resulted in records, even within the same family, of 5 or more variations of the spelling of the last name.  Examples are: Winwood, Windwood, Winward, Wynward, Windward, Winword, Wynwood, Wynwoodde, Winnwood, etc.  It is interesting to note that, in our direct line ancestry, the name starts out as Winwood (with John c1750) then goes through a series of variations as demonstrated above, only to return to Winwood with Horatio!

John Winwood was an agricultural laborer in the village of East Barton, Suffolk.  East Barton is a tiny hamlet less than 5 miles east of the city of Bury Saint Edmunds.  It was in the old stone church in East Barton that John took his son, Robert, to be christened.  The year was 1779.  In May of 1798, this Robert Winwood married Anne Rolfe, a maid from the village of Whepstead – 7 miles south of Bury.  The marriage took place in another small hamlet close to Bury by the name of Thurston.  The first child of Robert and Anne was born less than a year later - a boy whom they named John – after the lad's grandfather.  John Winwood was born in Lackford, Suffolk in January 1799.  Lackford lying less than 10 miles north and east of Bury.  He would eventually have eleven brothers and sisters.  John would be a farm laborer like his father and grandfather before him.  He would marry an 18-year-old young woman named Sarah Firman of the town of Flempton – only a short distance from Lackford.  John and Sarah Winwood brought at least eleven children into the world.  The third child, and the first son, was named George.  George was born in 1826 in West Stow, Suffolk. 

It is impossible to reconstruct events of family history based on what little is known from the public record.  What we do know is that this George, along with a brother (Joseph) and at least one uncle (George Winwood, b. 1803 - a brother of his father) and possibly another family by the name of Scott, traveled from Suffolk to the northern county of Durham, and specifically to the ancient village of Monk Hesleden (or Hasleden).  George's father (John) and mother (Sarah) also went north to Durham – whether with George or later, we do not know.  This was a traveling distance, in those days, of approximately 600 miles.  Such travel was not common in that day nor was it easy.  The burdens of such a move can only be wondered at.  The motivations must have been compelling indeed.  The lure of the trek, however, is known - or is at least supposed.  It was coal.  The coalmines of the Monk Hesleden area promised at least a minor level of subsistence or prosperity – if at a risk.  The coal pits claimed many lives and limbs. 

George Winwood was married three times.  The first marriage of record was to Margaret Wilson on 28 August 1852 at Sedgefield, Durham.  Margaret died at Monk Hesleden in 1854 of an unknown cause.  There are no children of record from this marriage.    George then married Eliza Scott in March of 1855 at Monk Hesleden. Eliza died of small pox on December 29, 1858 - also at Monk Hesleden.  George and Eliza had two children.  Emma was 2 and John was 8 months old at the time of their mother's death.  It was less than a year after Eliza Winwood's death that George married Eliza's sister, Susannah Scott.  The marriage was recorded in Monkwearmouth, Durham on 28 November 1859.  Susannah Scott had a son, Charles William Scott, at the time of her marriage to George.  Charles, born in 1856 at Herringswell, Suffolk, was in all probability illegitimate as no father is listed on his birth certificate and he kept the surname of his mother.  We don't know when Susannah arrived at Monk Hesleden – only that she did so after George and her sister, Eliza, married.  George and Susannah would have seven children who survived to young adulthood.  George was an agricultural laborer and is so listed in early census records.  However, in a later census, all the Winwood men and boys are listed as coal miners or “Pitmen.” 

In the late 1800's coal dominated the life of northeastern England.  In Durham, 30% of the adult labor force was employed in mining it.  At the turn of the century, the northern coal fields employed over 200,000 men and boys in nearly 400 mines.  Coal miners (also pitmen or colliers) were provided housing by the companies they worked for.  They were also given free coal for use in heating and cooking - except during strikes.  On the pay scale, colliers were relatively well paid compared to farm laborers, carpenters or other semi-skilled labor.   Since they were paid by the volume of coal then produced, they could do well when the seams were good.  When the seams were poor, financial hardship added to the discomfort of the work.  The pitmen worked 10-hour shifts, six days a week.  Young boys started working in the pits as early as age 12 when compulsory school attendance was ended.  Young women, upon reaching the age of 12 either helped their mothers with younger children or worked as servants outside their homes.  It was common for all male children over 12 years of age to be employed together.  

Durham coal miners

Work in the pits was dirty, cramped and dangerous.  Many died in the shafts from gas and cave-ins. Those who survived the dangers of the pit were often afflicted with respiratory problems associated with coal dust.  It was a hard life.  Women married young and bore large numbers of children at home.  They had little scope for paid work outside the home.  Washing, cleaning, baking and feeding the family was a full time and exhausting task.  These were the general conditions of the day in the coal pits and towns of Durham.  There is no reason to believe that our Winwood family had a substantially different kind of life experience. 

Little is known about the disposition or distribution of George and Susannah's children.  We know that their youngest son, Joseph, immigrated to and settled in western (Alberta) Canada.  Their son, George, has posterity living today in Durham, England – indicating that he stayed in the general area of his birth.  The fourth child and second son, Horatio, was married to Ann Moody in the beautiful parish church of Burnopfield, Durham, on the 27th of September 1884, by the Revd. T. Stirrup, First Vicar of Burnopfield. 

The first child born to Horatio and Ann was William Moody Winwood on 22 November 1885 at Hobson Colliery, Tanfield, Durham - a small coal mining town adjacent to Burnopsfield.  When Horatio and Ann immigrated to the United States, and specifically to Pennsylvania, they had nine children.  William, the oldest, was 17 years old.  Horatio, the youngest, was only 5 months.  They sailed from Liverpool on the S.S. Germanic on May 28, 1902 – arriving in New York harbor shortly thereafter.  On the ship's manifest, Horatio's occupation is given as Miner, as is Williams.  Emma, the oldest daughter, then 15, is listed as “servant.”  Anne, about 6 years old at the time her family immigrated to Pennsylvania, was not listed on the ship's manifest.  She was supposed to have come over to the U.S. about six months prior to her family's arrival - with her grandmother, Barbara Short Moody, her mother's mother.  Upon arrival in New York, the family had a total of 28 dollars.  Their destination is given as Braddock, Pennsylvania.  The record indicates that the families passage was paid for by a John Frasier in Rankin, Pennsylvania.  It could be that the able members of the family were indentured servants to Mr. Frasier for a period of time.  This service could have been contracted for in England, in return for the paid passage. A common practice of the day.  In any event, Horatio and Ann had a son, Joseph, born in 1904 in Brownsville, Pa; and a daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1909 at Monesson, Pa.  Their son, John, born in Towlaw, Durham in 1891, was drowned while playing on logs with his brothers in the Monongahela River in 1902, shortly after the family arrived from England.  John was nine years old at the time of his death and is buried, along with most of the other members of the family, in the Monongahela cemetery, North Braddock, Pa.  William Moody Winwood married Lily Wilkins, an immigrant from Pendleton, Sulford, Lancaster, England, on July 3, probably in 1908-09.  The record shows that William and Lily had least 10 children – one died as an unnamed infant. 

by Richard I. Winwood, GGGS of Horatio and Ann Winwood 1998

Copyright 2006,