JOHNSON (Liverpool and West Midlands)

JOHNSON : Liverpool, Cheshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton

My great-great-great-great grandfather was Michael Frederick Johnson, a sail maker, born c1770 outside the British Isles. Records show that he was known by his second name, Frederick, and his occupation is variously given as mariner (1804), rigger (1806), boatman (1837), sail-maker (1841) and provisions dealer (1850). Family tradition has it that he was Scandinavian by birth and anglicised his name, and this tradition seems proven by the fact that I have 10% Norwegian DNA in my 2020 record.  (On his marriage application, his signature, though not easily legible, looks like Friderich Jensjen.)  It is more than likely that he sailed into Liverpool with the Baltic Fleet.  

On 22 August 1804 by licence at St Peter’s, Liverpool, he married Ann Eccles, born c1784 at Bartington in the parish of Great Budworth, Cheshire.

Their children included George (born 25 Feb 1806, bp at St Peter’s Liverpool 6 April 1806); John (born 23 Nov 1807, bp St Peter’s Liverpool 24 Apr 1808); my direct forebear, Peter, born on 29 January 1810 at Barnton, close to his mother’s village on the Grand Trunk Canal (Trent & Mersey); Charles (bp at Little Leigh, Cheshire, on 11 August 1816); and Mary (bp at Little Leigh on 11 July 1819).

Johnson Eccles marriage licence, Liverpool 1804
Michael Frederick Johnson and Ann Eccles, marriage registration, Liverpool 1804

On the 1841 census Frederick and Ann Johnson were living beside the River Trent at Whielding’s (or Whieldon’s) Row, Fenton Vivian, Stoke-on-Trent:
Frederick Johnson, aged 70, sailmaker, place of birth ‘Foreign’
Ann Johnson, aged 55
Mary Johnson, aged 20, dress maker.
(Whielding’s Row, also recorded as Whieldon’s Row, was in the vicinity of present-day Old Whieldon Road, just below the bridge across the Trent and Mersey Canal.)

The Johnsons’ son Charles, a boatman, married Emily Condliff at Warmingham, Cheshire, on 29 September 1837. Their first son, George, was baptised at Sandbach on 12 September 1841, and their second, Edwin, in 1843.  Charles died of hepatitis at Whieldon’s Row in February 1845, aged 28, and his widow subsequently married another boatman, William Cowhorn.  

Michael Frederick Johnson died at Whieldon’s Row on 22 October 1850, aged 79. The death certificate gives his occupation as a provisions dealer. His daughter Mary Walker, of Wharf Street, Shelton, was present at his death, the cause of which was unknown. He was buried on 26 October in a common grave in area ‘D’ of St Peter’s churchyard, Stoke-on-Trent. 

On the 1851 census, his widow Ann Johnson was recorded living alone at Whieldon Row, Fenton Vivian. Her age was shown as 68 and her place of birth as Budworth, Cheshire. On the 1861 census she was with her son John (below) in Wolverhampton.  She died in September 1863, aged 78, in the Spittals (Stoke upon Trent Union Workhouse) and was buried in the same churchyard as her husband.

Her daughter Mary had married John Walker in 1845, and by 1851 had two small sons. The census records her living at Wharf Street, Shelton:
Mary Walker, 32, wife, born Barnton, Cheshire
William, son, 5, scholar, born Shelton
Edwin, son, 3, scholar, born Shelton
Alexander Walker, relative, 22, ag. labourer, born Burton
Joseph (illegible), relative, 20, boatman, born Middlewich, Cheshire.

The family later moved to Burton-on-Trent, where a third son, Robert Hallam Walker, was born in 1853.

Frederick and Ann Johnson’s son George (born 1806) married Ann Cotton at Stoke-on-Trent on 18 July 1825. On the 1841 census their family was living at Berry Street, Penkhull, Stoke:
George Johnson, aged 35, boatman
Ann, aged 35
Harriett, aged 15, transferor
Frederick, aged 14, boatman’s help
Matilda, aged 12, painter’s help
John, aged 8
Ann, aged 6
Elizabeth, aged 2
George, aged 6mths.

On the 1851 census they were living beside the canal at Newton in Cheshire:
George Johnson, aged 45, agent to Bridgewater trunk (canal), born Liverpool
Ann, wife, aged 46, born Yarmouth, Norfolk
Ann, daughter, aged 15, employed at home, born Stoke-on-Trent
Elizabeth, daughter, aged 12, scholar, born Stoke-on-Trent
Mary, daughter, aged 8, scholar, born Wolverhampton
*Edwin, son, aged 4, scholar, born Wolverhampton
Reuben, son, aged 2, scholar, born Etruria, Staffordshire.

*Edwin was baptised at St Peter’s, Wolverhampton, on 10 October 1846. A sister, Emma, was baptised there 30 August 1845. The register gives the address for both as Horsley Fields, and father’s occupation as boatman.

George Johnson later became a hay and corn dealer, dying in 1889 at Lewin Lane, Middlewich, where his youngest son, Reuben, was landlord of the White Horse Inn. His wife Ann had died ten years earlier in 1879, aged 74. Both are buried in Middlewich cemetery.

George Johnson’s younger brother was my direct forebear Peter (born 1810) a canal boatman who married Mary Wardle at Stoke-on-Trent on 21 October 1833.

• Mary Wardle was baptised at Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, on 13 September 1812, the daughter of William and Sarah. Her brother Job had been baptised on 17 February 1811. William Wardle and Sarah Smith were married at Norton-le-Moors, just north of Burslem, on 24 September 1809.  The parish register gives bride and groom’s parish as Stoke.

On the 1851 census Peter Johnson’s family was living at 2 Montrose Street, Wolverhampton, adjacent to the canal:
Peter Johnson, head, aged 41, boatman, born Cheshire
Mary, wife, aged 40, born Shelton (Stoke-on-Trent) Staffordshire
Emma, daughter, aged 17, born Bucklow Hill, Cheshire – my great-great-grandmother
Sarah Ann, daughter, aged 15, born Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs
Frederick, son, aged 13, born Sandbach, Cheshire
Eliza, daughter, aged 10, born Sandbach
Maria, daughter, aged 8, born Sandbach
Allen, son, aged 5, born Stoke-on-Trent
Peter, son, aged 2, born Stoke-on-Trent
Mary, daughter, aged 2 mths, born Wolverhampton.

Peter Johnson’s brother John and his family were living close by at 69 Springfields, Wolverhampton (see end note).

The family were still at Montrose Street for the 1861 census:
Peter Johnson, head, aged 50, boatman employing 3 men; born
Barnton, Cheshire
Mary, wife, aged 48, born Handley (sic), Staffs
Eliza, daughter, aged 20, domestic servant; born Sandbach
Allen, son, aged 15, blacksmith’s apprentice; born Stoke
Peter, son, aged 12, scholar; born Stoke
Mary J., daughter, aged 10, scholar; born Wolverhampton
William, son, aged 8; born Wolverhampton.
• For details of children, see end notes.

My great-great-grandmother Emma was baptised at Rostherne, Cheshire, on 24 August 1834.  Her first marriage took place at St Mary’s, Wolverhampton, on 30th May 1852 to a widower, John Whitehurst. Her age was shown as 18, and both were living in Springfields. Her parents Peter and Mary Johnson were witnesses. On 24 October 1852 Emma and her husband were godparents to her youngest sister, Mary Jane, baptised at St Mary’s. On the 1861 census they were living at Boothen Road, Stoke-on-Trent: John Whitehurst aged 36, a railway labourer, born at Wolverhampton; his wife Emma, aged 26, born at Buckley Hill; and their two sons, both born at Stoke, Job aged 2 (born on 26 May 1858 at Whieldon’s Row, home of Emma’s grandmother Ann Johnson) and Peter aged 3 months. Both sons were still living with Emma in 1881.
• Peter Whitehurst married Caroline Jenkins in 1886, and their children included Frank, Ernest and Dora Elizabeth. In 1901 he was employed as an insurance agent, living at Ranelagh Road, Blakenhall, Wolverhampton. His brother Job married Lydia Edgerton in 1882 and their children included Mary, John, Elizabeth and Job. In 1901 they were living at Skegby, Nottinghamshire, where Job was employed as a mine timberer. He died in 1931.

John Whitehurst died of brain disease in 1862 at Montrose Street, Wolverhampton; and his widow Emma’s second marriage took place, again at St Mary’s, Wolverhampton, on 31 March 1867. The marriage certificate incorrectly spells her bridegroom’s name as Henry Toft. His age is given as 19, occupation collier; father Thomas Toft, locksmith. Emma is shown as a widow, full age (she was about 33); father Peter Johnson, boatman. Both were living at Montrose Street. Their witnesses were the bride’s brother and sister, Allen Johnson and Sarah Ann Guest.

My great-grandfather, William Thomas Tufft, their first son, was born in October that year, so Emma was some months pregnant at the time of marriage.

By the time of the 1871 census Emma’s parents, Peter and Mary Johnson, had moved with their youngest son William to Audlem. Both father and son were employed at an inn (possibly The Bridge) as horsekeepers (ostlers) and the birthplace of all three was shown as Acton, Cheshire:
Peter Johnson, aged 61, horsekeeper, born Acton
Mary Johnson, aged 59, born Acton
William Johnson, aged 18, horsekeeper, born Acton
(Acton must refer to Acton Bridge near Bartington on the River Weaver.)

Mary Johnson died aged 69 in the spring of 1881.

On the 1881 census Peter was recorded as a widower, aged 70, born Barton (sic), Cheshire, still working as an ostler at Audlem, and with him was his married daughter, Sarah Ann Mountford, aged 45, born Stoke-on-Trent. He was still alive in 1885.

Children of Peter and Mary Johnson:
•  Emma
, my great-great-grandmother (see above)
Sarah Ann was christened on 5 Sept 1836 at Sedgley Wesleyan chapel, Stoke-on-Trent. On 9 Feb 1855 at St Mary’s Wolverhampton: Sarah Ann Johnson, aged 19, of Springfields, daughter of Peter Johnson, boatman, married William Guest, aged 25, waterman, of Springfields. Subsequently widowed, Sarah Ann married her second husband, William Mountford, at St Thomas’s church, Kidsgrove, Staffs, on 26 May 1876. William Mountford was recorded on the 1881 census as aged 54, born Hall Green, Cheshire, captain of The Mersey (barge) on Macclesfield Canal.  On the 1891 census the Mountfords were residing beside the River Churnet at Leek.  
Maria was born at Sandbach on 29 December 1842. Her birth certificate gives her father as Peter Johnson, boatman, and her mother as Mary Johnson formerly Wardle. On 28 May 1862 at St Mary’s Wolverhampton: Maria Johnson, aged 19, daughter of Peter Johnson, boatman, married Frederick John Cartwright, baker, of Montrose Street. Her sister Eliza Johnson was a witness. On the 1881 census Maria and Frederick Cartwright and their five children were living at Newton, Lancashire.
• On 19 Nov 1851, baptised at St Mary’s: Henry Allen “about 7 years old”, son of Mary and Peter Johnson, boatman, of Montrose Street. On 22 December 1867 at St Mary’s: Henry Allen Johnson, blacksmith, Montrose Street, son of Peter Johnson, licensed victualler, married Emma Lichfield of Montrose Street. Their children were Mary c1868, Annie Rebecca bp 31 Oct 1869 (died aged 3), Emma Elizabeth bp 27 Aug 1871 (died aged 18 months), Fanny Eliza bp 11 Jan 1874, William Henry 1875, Edith May 1878, Emily Lucy (Feb 1880, died aged 1 week), Elsie Slade 1883, and Thomas Lichfield 1886. Addresses for the family include Falkland Street, Inkerman Street and Alma Street, all central Wolverhampton.  In 1911 Henry Allen was working as a blacksmith on the G.W. Railway, and living with Emma at 110 Alma Street.  The census records that of their ten children, five had died.
• On 14 Nov 1851, baptised at St Mary’s: Peter, son of Mary and Peter Johnson, boatman, of Montrose Street. He became a detective police officer, based at Salford, Lancs. In 1871 he married Annie Bohanna at Northwich, Cheshire, and their children included Alice 1873, Sarah Ann 1875, Samuel Bohanna 1877, and Marion Louise 1882.  By 1911 Peter Johnson had retired from the police force and was living in a suburb of Salford with his wife Annie.  Of their six children only three still survived.
• On 24 October 1852, baptised at St Mary’s: Mary Jane, daughter of Mary and Peter Johnson, boatman, of Springfields. Godparents were John and Emma Whitehurst, and Mary Johnson.
• On 6 April 1853, baptised at St Mary’s: William, son of Peter and Mary Johnson, Springfields. Godparents were John and Julia Johnson. On the 1881 census William Johnson was shown as a bargee, aged 28, born at Wolverhampton, and his address as ‘boats met with at Broken Cross, Rudheath’ (near Barnton on the Trent & Mersey canal at Northwich). On 3 April 1885, St Mary’s: William Johnson, aged 32, boatman of the Barlaston, son of Peter Johnson, boatman, retired, married Jane Wall, aged 31, widowed boatwoman of the Barlaston, daughter of Edward Wordsby, boatman.
Michael Frederick Johnson, born at Ettiley Heath, Sandbach, Cheshire, and baptised at Sandbach 3 June 1838. On 3 April 1866, St Mary’s: Michael Frederick Johnson, goods guard, of 24 Montrose Street, son of Peter Johnson, boatman, married to Emma Bentley, of Montrose Street. Their firstborn, Arthur, was buried 14 Mar 1867, aged three weeks. Among their children baptised at St Mary’s were: William 6 May 1868, father railway guard of Culwell Street; Mary Eleanor, born 24 Sept 1869, baptised 6 Oct 1869, father railway labourer of Montrose Street; and Frederick, born 30 Nov 1871, baptised 19 Dec 1871, father guard of Montrose Street. Another son, Henry Allen, was born in 1880.  In 1911 Michael Frederick and his wife Emma were living at Openshaw, Manchester, with their unmarried daughter Mary Eleanor.  The census records that of their six children, only this daughter still survived.

Peter Johnson’s brother, John Johnson (born 1807), married Julia Riles at St Peter’s church, Stoke-upon-Trent, on 16 May 1831. Their witness was the bridegroom’s brother George Johnson.

On the 1851 census, John and his family were living close to his brother Peter at 39 Springfields, Wolverhampton:
John Johnson, head, aged 40, boatman, born Barton, Cheshire
Julia, wife, aged 38, born Leeds
Ellen, daughter, aged 19, born Stoke-upon-Trent
Frederick, son, aged 18, boatman, born Stoke-upon-Trent
Ann, daughter, aged 16, born Stoke-upon-Trent
Herbert, son, aged 12, scholar, born Stoke-upon-Trent
John, son, aged 11, scholar, born Stoke-upon-Trent
Joseph, son, aged 3, b, Wolverhampton
Edwin, son, aged 2, born Wolverhampton
Julia, daughter, aged 8mths, born Wolverhampton.

On the 1861 census the family was at Bridge Street, Wolverhampton:
John Johnson, head, aged 54, railway luggage porter, born Liverpool, Lancs (cf 1851 census)
Julia, wife, aged 57, born Yorkshire
Ann, daughter, aged 26, born Stoke-upon-Trent
Joseph, son, aged 16, enameller, born Wolverhampton
Edwin, son, aged 13, errand boy, born Wolverhampton
Matilda, daughter, aged 8, born Wolverhampton
Ann Johnson, mother, widow, aged 77, born Bartington (she died aged 78 in 1863).

Before the 1871 census was taken John and Julia Johnson had moved to Oxfordshire; and on the 1881 census they were living at Oddington, Oxford, where John was working as railway gatekeeper (pointsman). His age is given as 73, birthplace Liverpool, and his wife Julia’s as 71, birthplace Leeds.

Children of John and Julia Johnson:

Ellen baptised 1 Jan 1832 at St Peter-ad-Vincula, Stoke.  Father’s occupation boatman, abode Wharf.  On 1 Feb 1853, at St Mary’s Wolverhampton: Ellen Johnson, Montrose Street, daughter of John Johnson, boatman, married to William Foster, widower, cabinet lockmaker, Montrose Street.  The Foster children included Ellen (bp 26 June 1859) and Julia (7 Nov 1868).
Frederick baptised with his sister Ann on 8 March 1835 at St Peter ad Vincula, Stoke-on-Trent. On 10 May 1856 at St Mary’s Wolverhampton: Frederick Johnson, box iron maker of Springfields, son of John Johnson, luggage porter, to Catherine Parker, aged 20, of Springfields. Their children included George (bp 26 Jan 1857), William Fletcher (2 Mar 1862, died aged 14 months), Charles Henry (2 Aug 1863), Catherine and Susannah Fletcher (both 21 Mar 1867), Edwin and John (both 10 Mar 1872), Julia Isles (2 Jun 1873), and Matilda (13 Jun 1875). Addresses are variously given as Springfields, Pool Street, Wharf Street, and Commercial Road.
Ann baptised with her brother Frederick on 8 March 1835 at St Peter ad Vincula, Stoke-on-Trent.  Father’s occupation and abode given as boatman, Cross Street.
Herbert born 1837 at Stoke-on-Trent. In 1871 he was a warehouseman living in Wolverhampton with his wife Mary, 36, and their children Henry, 11, Mary Ann, 8, and Emily Julia, 4. Later children included John (c1874) and Joseph Herbert (c1875).
Thomas Vernon baptised St Peter’s Wolverhampton 2 November 1841. Register gives address as Canal Street, father’s occupation as boatman.
Joseph baptised at St Peter’s Wolverhampton 24 April 1844. Register gives address as Canal Street, father’s occupation as boatman.
George baptised 16 July 1846 at St Mary’s Wolverhampton. Register gives address as Canal Street, father’s occupation as boatman.
Edwin, baptised St Peter’s 14 August 1848, married Emma Jane Haswell in London in 1867.  Their children included Sarah 1870, Charles 1871, Grace (Annie) 1873, George 1877, William 1879, Frederick 1882, and Arthur 1888. Apart from William who was born at Holyhead, the children were born at Birkenhead and Liverpool.  Edwin Johnson worked for a time on Valentia Island, off the Irish west coast, and so was absent from the family home on several censuses.
Julia born 2 August 1850, baptised at St Peter’s 1 September 1850. Register gives father’s occupation as boatman, abode Canal Street. She died of scarlet fever aged three and was buried 25 Jan 1854.
Matilda born 21 March 1853 and baptised at St Mary’s 17 Sept 1861. The register shows the address as Springfields, father’s occupation as railway guard. Godparents were Mary, Maria and Peter Johnson.

Johnson family wedding about 1910, Alma Street, Wolverhampton. Henry Allen Johnson born c1844, son of Peter and Mary Johnson, is standing third from right