The Family of John Asbery (1844 – 1902) of Bramley and Rotherham

Family Chart

John was born 15 December 1844 at Bramley, about 5 miles east of Rotherham. His parents were George Asbery, a labourer, and Ann, formerly Skelton.

In 1851 he was living at home aged 6 and born at Bramley.


In 1861, he was at home with his parents in the High Street, Rotherham (1st Court, 2nd House, after 9 High Street) aged 16 an apprentice fender fitter, born at Braithwell.


In the census of 1871, at Searle Yard, High Street, Rotherham, at home with his father, John was aged 26, a fender fitter, born in Bramley.


John Asbery married Hannah Elizabeth Vollans in the Wesleyan Chapel, Doncaster, on 11 April 1871.  John was aged 26 and a bachelor and fender maker of 1, High Street, Rotherham.  His father was George Asbery, a carter.  Hannah was a spinster aged 20, of Whatley Lane, Doncaster.  Her father was Joseph Vollans, a farmer.  The witnesses were William Turner (Hannah’s uncle or cousin) and Mary Ann Vollans (sister of Hannah).


Reported in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 24 August 1876, at Rotherham Brewster Sessions, John Asbery of Kimberworth Road applied for a licence to sell beer off the premises, which was granted.


In Whites Directory of Sheffield, Rotherham etc, 1879, John Asberry (sic) is a grocer of 20 Kimberworth Road.


In the 1881 census of 20 Kimberworth Road, John was aged 36, a grocer, born at Bramley.  His wife, Hannah, was aged 29, a grocer’s wife, born at Barlby.  Their children were George W aged 9, Margeret (sic) E 7, Florence 5, all scholars, Annie 3 and Mary 10 months and all were born in Masbrough.  Also with them was Mary Jane Pearson an unmarried servant aged 20, born at Normanton.  This property was apparently at the corner with Ferham Road.


On 21 October 1884 a triangular piece of land on the southern side of Kimberworth Road was sold at auction by Nicholson, Greaves and Barber in Sheffield.  It had frontages on Devonshire Road, Kimberworth Road and Ferham Road.  Part of it was a messuage, formerly used as a lodge to Ferham House, occupied by a weekly tenant, Henry Burns, at a yearly rental of £9.2s and the rest occupied by John Asbery, a quarterly tenant, for an annual rent of £14.  He occupied the rest of the land together with a messuage used as a sales shop with the stables and outbuildings.  The whole triangular piece was 5,333 square yards.


In the 1891 census of 38 Kimberworth Road, Masbrough, Rotherham, John was a master grocer aged 46 and born at Bramley.  His wife, Hannah E., was aged 40 and born at Bramley (sic).  Their children were Margaret E. aged 17, Florence 15, Annie 13, Mary J. 10, Joseph V. 9, John S. 4, Elsie (the document has Eliza) E. 2.  All the children were born at Kimberworth.


The shop was near St Paul’s Church and on the other side of Kimberworth Road.  It was also in sight of Kimberworth station, which was reached by crossing Coronation Bridge.  Trams ran from outside the station into Rotherham.  The Asberys took in railway men as lodgers.


In the 1901 census of 36, Kimberworth Road (Grocer’s shop and house), John was a grocer, aged 56, working on his own account, at home, born at Bramley.  His wife, Hannah E., was aged 50, born at Barlby and his children were Margaret E. 27, Annie 22, Mary J. 20, Joseph V. 19, a telegraph messenger (worker), John S. 14 and Elsie E. 12, all born at Rotherham.  With them, as a boarder, was George E. Nelson, aged 27, a railway engine stoker (worker) born at Warton, Lancs; who was later to marry Mary Jane.


Despite extensive searching, the Asberys and most of the even numbers of Kimberworth Road have not been found in the 1911 census index.


Roy Danson, (a greatgrandson) wrote the following account of the Asbery family:

“John was a Warden at St Paul's New Church when he died.  [It was] across Kimberworth Road and very close to his home.  He had a very warm obituary in the  Kimberworth Parish Magazine, which recorded his burial at St Thomas's, Kimberworth, on Monday July 7th at 4.30pm.  He was described as being "ungrudgingly generous" and clearly was a man of faith and principle.  It said that he was the first member at St Paul's to have died, so it was literally a "new church".  It was said that the Asberys attended St Thomas' Church in the evening (a tram ride away) and St Paul's in the morning.  Kath remembered a blind organist at St Paul's, whom Hannah always stopped to talk to.  In John's obituary it said that he lived at 38 Kimberworth Road, and the 1902 Trades' Directory said the same.  The 1896 Directory said 36, and the 1891 Census said 38.  A photograph of the building shows 36/38 as combined property, which offers an explanation.  However, Elsie's birth certificate in 1888 says 22 Kimberworth Road, and the 1884 Directory says 20, as does the 1881 Census and the 1876 Directory.  Did 20/22 become 36/38 in a renumbering, or did the family move to larger premises?  The conundrum is more complex still for White’s directory of 1901 gives John Asbery, grocer at 36-38, with Harry Nowell, photographer at 36, and in Whites Directory of 1905 it gives Mrs Hannah Elizabeth Asbery, grocer at 30, with Harry Nowell, photographer at 32.


The business was busy and profitable.  All the children were well educated, at the Ferham Board School for example.  In later years Doris, one of Florence's daughters, remembers going to school when visiting Kimberworth, travelling in a taxi with a maid, who returned at 3 o'clock to take her back.  She was allowed to take a chocolate bar from the shop before leaving.  Kath, Connie, Hilda and Doris (Florence's four eldest girls} were kitted out with new clothes when on holiday or recuperating after illness.  Hilda remembered white fur-like fabric coats and kid gloves, and Doris remembered button boots.  There is also a memory of Hannah visiting Buxton when the children had whooping cough and buying pink pinnies for all the girls for when they got better.  The shop was a grocery store with a bakehouse attached and made diabetic bread and Yorkshire Teacakes, amongst other things.  Earl Fitzwilliam used to call at the shop and he provided free breakfasts for poor children in the YMCA Hall next door, for which the Asberys catered.  John (and Hannah) also catered for weddings and funerals at the same hall.  Kath, Florence’s eldest daughter, remembers sitting with her grandmother making lace, being too young to help in the shop.  She said that Margaret (Cissie) and Annie worked in the bakehouse and Mary worked in the shop.  Florence must have helped with the bookwork at some stage because there is a memory of her returning to help with the accounts after her marriage [1899].” 


John Asbery died 3 July 1902 at 38 Kimberworth Road, Rotherham, aged 57 (Rotherham Advertiser 19 July 1902) - on Sunday last (June 29th), he was seized with a sudden attack of pneumonia, and passed away on the morning of only the fourth day after his seizure (July 1902 parish magazine of St Thomas Kimberworth). 


There was some problem after John’s death, when Hannah lost a court case fought to claim some property/investments (in Holmes Colliery?).  Doris had a memory of some land being involved, and thought a cousin won the case because of a mis-spelling of the name on the deeds.  She said Florence often reminded the family about spelling their name correctly.


In the 1905 White's Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham, in the street index and in the Trades section, at 30 Kimberworth Road, Masbro' was Mrs Hannah Elizabeth Asbery, grocer.


The family has not been found in the 1911 census.


In the 1911 White's Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham, in the street directory, at 30 Kimberworth Road, was Mrs Hannah Elizabeth Asbery, grocer.


In 1911(?) there was a coal miners/railway strike.  Doris recalled the story of how Hannah’s taxi was attacked on the way to the bank in Rotherham with some money, and had its wheels damaged.


In about 1912, Margaret took over the running of the business but was not very successful and the shop was eventually sold.


Hannah died on 16 May 1913, at 30 Kimberworth Road, aged 61, of a cerebral haemorrhage.  Joseph Vollans Asbery registered the death and was living at 30 Kimberworth Road.

John and Hannah's children were:

1.      George William, birth registered March quarter 1872 at Rotherham..

2.      Margaret Ellen, birth registered March quarter 1874 at Rotherham.

3.      Florence, born 19 February 1876, at Kimberworth Road, Masbrough, Rotherham.

4.      Annie, birth registered December quarter 1877 at Rotherham.

5.      Mary Jane, birth registered June quarter 1880 at Rotherham.

6.      Joseph Vollans, birth registered March quarter 1882 at Rotherham.

7.      John Skelton, birth registered June quarter 1886 at Rotherham.

8.      Elsie Elizabeth, born 28 June 1888, at 22 Kimberworth Road, Masbrough, Rotherham.

9.      Ernest (1892 – 1894), birth registered in the March quarter 1893 and buried 24 July 1894 at St Thomas Kimberworth aged 19 months (so born about November 1892), of 36 Kimberworth Road.

10.  Frank Harold (1895 – 1896), born 15 April 1895 of 36 Kimberworth Road, Masbrough, Rotherham (grocer).  His death was registered in the March quarter 1896 in the Rotherham district.  He was aged 0.  He was buried at St Thomas Kimberworth 19 January 1896 and was of 36 Kimberworth Road, aged 9 months.

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Posted October 2016