TUFFT : Wolverhampton

The surname is variously spelled Tufft, Tuft, Tafft, Taft and Toft

My Tufft forebears came originally from the rural area beyond Tettenhall, on the western edge of Wolverhampton.  John Tufft married Hester Kendrick at Tettenhall in 1692 (Hester died in 1729), and among their children was Richard, born in 1708, who married Sarah Tombliston at Tettenhall in 1733.

Richard Tufft died aged 94 and was buried at St Nicholas’s, Codsall, on 4 February 1802.  The register gives his abode as Oaken.  His wife Sarah had been buried from the same church on 31 March 1780. 

The children of Richard and Sarah included Richard (1743) and Thomas (1746).

In 1765 their son Richard jnr married Ann Huff at St Peter’s, Wolverhampton, and among their children was my direct forebear, William (1779) – see below.  

Richard’s brother Thomas, a steel goods maker of Tettenhall Wood, married Margaret Offley at St Peter’s in 1767. One of their sons, James, born in 1777, served as a soldier for over twenty years, being discharged with the rank of Sergeant in the Eightieth Regiment of Foot (the Staffordshire Volunteers) in 1820. He married for a second time when he was 62, in 1840. His bride – who was considerably younger – was Mary Southall of Tettenhall Wood, daughter of Stephen Southall, and their children were Margaret (baptised at Tettenhall 21 Mar 1841), Ann (4 Dec 1842) and Susan (23 Feb 1845) – see end note.

On the 1841 census the family are recorded as James Tufft, 60, steel toymaker, Mary, 20, and three-month-old Margaret.

On the 1851 census they appear as:
James Tufft, aged 73, (Chelsea pensioner) steel worker, born Wolverhampton
Mary, wife, aged 34, laundress, born Tettenhall
Margaret, daughter, aged 10, scholar, born Tettenhall
Ann, daughter, aged 8, scholar, born Tettenhall
Susan, daughter, aged 6, scholar, born Tettenhall.

James Tufft was buried on 4 March 1853, aged 75.

James’s brother Richard, a bricklayer, was born around 1778.  In 1841 he was living at Tettenhall Wood with his wife Ann, 60.  He was buried at Tettenhall on 27 July 1847, aged 69.

Their cousin was my direct forebear William Tufft, a cabinet lock maker, born in 1779. He married Susanna Parker at Tettenhall Regis, Wolverhampton, on 29 December 1803. Their witnesses were Sarah Tufft (probably his cousin) and Benjamin Dalton.• Susannah Parker was baptised at Tettenhall on 28 May 1780, daughter of William Parker, a labourer, and Dinah Bennett, who married there on 16 Sept 1779. On some records she appears as Sukey – a diminutive of her forename. She was buried at St Michael & All Angels parish church, Tettenhall, on 2 November 1814, aged 34, together with her week-old baby son.

William and Susanna’s only known surviving children were Louisa, bp 23 February 1807 (she married Thomas Seager at Tettenhall on 31 December 1826 – see end note) and my great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Tufft, a locksmith, who was baptised at Tettenhall on 8 September 1811.

William remarried on 19 June 1815 at Tettenhall to Sarah Dovey and their daughter Anne was baptised on 8 May 1816 – the parish register records the father as a locksmith of Stockwell End, Tettenhall.  Anne died at the age of nine.  A son, William, was born c1820, followed by another son, James, born 1822, who lived only a few weeks. 

On the 1841 census the family was living at Tettenhall Wood:
William Tuft (60), locksmith, born Staffordshire; his wife Sarah (50), not born Staffordshire; and their son William (22), born Staffordshire.

In the 1834 Directory of Staffordshire, William appears as Wm Toft, cabinet lock maker, living at Tettenhall Wood in Seisdon Hundred. White’s Directory of 1851 describes Tettenhall Wood thus: “several handsome houses and a great number of cottages have been built…. the cottages are mostly occupied by lock makers”.

William Tufft died of bronchitis aged 63 on 16 March 1844 and was buried five days later.  Present at the death was his younger son, William.

On the census for 1851, his widow and son were still living at Tettenhall Wood: Sarah Tufft, widow, aged 62, born Alveley, Shropshire; and William, son, aged 31, police officer, born Tettenhall.  Sarah died in 1853.

William jnr was appointed to the Staffordshire police force on 20 March 1849.

The County Force Register describes him as a locksmith, aged 28, of the parish of Tettenhall; 5 ft 9½ tall, blue eyes, dark brown hair, and sallow complexion.  He resigned from the police force on 31 December 1852 and was working again as a locksmith by the time of his marriage in 1864.  This took place at St Luke’s church on 13 May, when he was aged 44 and living at Dudley Road.  His bride, a widow of 55, was Frances Thorpe, neé Moore.  The church register gives his father as William Tuft, locksmith, and bride’s father as Thomas Moore, farmer. 

William jnr died at Wolverhampton just a few years later in 1866, aged 47.

William snr’s son from his first marriage, Thomas, married Martha Evans on 11 July 1836 at St Bartholomew’s church, Penn, Wolverhampton.  Martha had been baptised at Tettenhall on 25 February 1816, daughter of John Evans, a labourer of The Wergs, and his wife Sarah. 

Thomas and Martha’s children were John (1836), *George (1838, married Eliza Perry at St Luke’s 29 Feb 1864), William (bp Bushbury 21 Mar 1841; still unmarried in 1891), Hannah (bp Bushbury 13 May 1844, died aged 3 weeks), Thomas (bp Bushbury 2 Nov 1845, died in infancy), James (1847, married Elizabeth Hope 5 Feb 1872), Henry (1849 – see below), **Edward (1852, married Sarah Ann Turner at St Luke’s 14 Feb 1875) and Mary Ann (1859).

*George was born at Tettenhall Wood on 15 August 1838. His birth certificate gives his father as Thomas Tufft, locksmith, and his mother as Martha Tufft formerly Evans. His marriage certificate (1864) names his father as Thomas Tuft, Dudley Road, a merchant’s clerk. George died aged 36 and was buried at Tettenhall on 21 April 1874.
**Edward is sometimes recorded as Edwin.  St Luke’s marriage register describes his father as Thomas Tuft, Dudley Road, locksmith.

By the time of the 1841 census the family had moved from Tettenhall Wood and was living at Moseley Road, Bushbury: Thomas (25), Martha (25), John (4), George (3) and William (4 months).

On the 1851 census they were at 83 Sedgley Road, Wolverhampton, and are recorded as Thomas (39), Martha (35), John (14), George (12), William (10), James (3) and Henry (2). The census does not show occupation nor place of birth.

On the 1861 census they had moved to live along Dudley Road in the Blakenhall area of Wolverhampton:
Thomas Tufft, head, aged 49, warehouseman; born Tettenhall
Martha, wife, aged 45
George, son, aged 23, miner
William, son, aged 20, miner
James, son, aged 14, tubemaker (born at Compton on 1881 census)
Henry, son, aged 11
Edward, son, aged 10 (at 56 Chapel Street on 1881 census)
Mary Ann, daughter, aged 1 (with brother James on 1881 census).

Martha Tufft died of bronchitis aged 46 on 6 January 1862 and was buried at Tettenhall six days later. The death certificate shows that she was living at Blakenhall, and her husband Thomas, who was present at the death, is described as a factor’s (ie manufacturer’s) packer.

On the 1871 census the family was still living along the Dudley Road in the Blakenhall area:
Thomas Tuft, head, widower, aged 59, packer…. born Tettenhall
William, son, aged 26, coal miner, born Bushbury
Edwin (Edward), son, aged 19, coal miner, born Blakenhall
Mary, daughter, aged 11, born Blakenhall.

Thomas Tufft died aged 61 on 19 November 1872.  The death certificate gives his occupation as factor’s packer, place of death as Dudley Road, and cause as bronchitis. Present at the death was his daughter-in-law Emma, of Dudley Road.

His son, my great-great-grandfather Henry Tufft, was born 12 August 1849 at Wolverhampton Road, Sedgley. On 31 March 1867 at St Mary’s church, Henry married Emma Whitehurst (née Johnson) a widow with two sons. The marriage certificate shows his age as 19, his occupation as collier, and his father as Thomas Toft (sic) locksmith.

In 1871 the family was living at 10 Chapel Street, Blakenhall:
Henry Tuft aged 22, coal miner, born Sedgley
Emma, wife, aged 32, born Buckley Hill, Cheshire (Bucklow Hill)
Job, son, aged 13, coal miner, born Stoke-upon-Trent  (stepson)
Peter, son, aged 10, scholar, born Stoke-upon-Trent  (stepson)
William, son, aged 3, born Wolverhampton
Mary, daughter, aged 1, born Wolverhampton.

By the time of the 1881 census they had moved to 44 Chapel Street:
Henry Tufft, aged 33, coal and hurdle waggoner, born Wolverhampton
Emma, wife, aged 45, born Buckley Hill, Cheshire
Job Whitehurst, stepson, aged 22, coal miner, born Stoke-on-Trent
Peter Whitehurst, stepson, aged 20, coal miner, born  Stoke-on-Trent
William Tufft, son, aged 13, tube screwer (iron), born Wolverhampton
Mary J., daughter, aged 11, scholar, born Wolverhampton
Frederick, son, aged 9, scholar, born Wolverhampton
Martha, daughter, aged 7, scholar, born Wolverhampton
George, son, aged 4, scholar, born Wolverhampton.

Henry Tufft died at Chapel Street on 21 July 1884, aged 36. Cause of death was liver disease, with jaundice and exhaustion as secondary causes. Present at the death was his wife Emma, and his occupation was shown as iron labourer.

Their son William Thomas Tufft was my great-grandfather, born 18 October 1867. His birth certificate shows his birthplace as Dudley Road, Wolverhampton, and his father’s occupation as coal miner. (Chapel Street, where they were living in 1881, is just off Dudley Road.)

William Thomas married Mary Jane Evans on 15 February 1886 at St Matthew’s Church, Wolverhampton (see EVANS family). Both gave their address as Frost Street, where Mary Jane’s grandmother and aunt had been living in 1881. Their witnesses were Annie Caine and Mary Ann Minton.

The 1891 census records William and his family living at a cottage at Cockshuts Colliery, St George’s, Wolverhampton:
William Tuft, head, aged 23, road labourer (Corporation)
Mary J., wife, aged 24
Emma, daughter, aged 4
William, son, aged 2.

A daughter, Mary, was baptised at St Matthew’s church on 17 June 1891. She was always known as Polly.

The same census shows Henry Tufft’s widow Emma and family living at 57 Chapel Street, Blakenhall:
Emma Tuft, head, widow, aged 60, born Buckley Hill
Frederick, son, aged 19; screw (i.e. tube screwer)
George, son, aged 14; screw
Martha, daughter, aged 16; enameller
*Stephen Baugh, son-in-law, aged 27; tin plate worker
*Mary Jane Baugh, daughter, aged 21; enameller
Thomas Worley, boarder, aged 22; finisher
Arthur Worley, boarder, aged 20; screw
(all except Emma born at Wolverhampton.)
*Stephen Baugh and Mary Jane Tufft married at St Luke’s church on 24 December 1890.  On their wedding certificate the bride’s surname is both spelled and signed as Tuft.  Mary Jane’s sister Martha married Arthur Kelsey at the same church on 19 September 1897.  This time the surname was spelled Tufft.  Martha and Stephen Baugh were jointly witnesses when brother Frederick, 22 and working as a milk carrier, married Ellen Martin at St Paul’s church, Wolverhampton, on 25 May 1894.  

On the 1901 census, Emma Tufft was living with her daughter and son-in-law at 56 Baker Street, St Paul’s, Wolverhampton:
Stephen Baugh, head, aged 38, tin plate worker
Mary J., wife, aged 31, bowl enameller
Emma, daughter, aged 10
Martha, daughter, aged 5
Florence M., daughter (no age given)
Emma Tufft, mother-in-law, aged 67 (birthplace marked ‘not known’).

The 1901 census records my great-grandfather William Tufft’s family living at 30 Steelhouse Lane, All Saints, Wolverhampton (his parents-in-law, John and Mary Evans, had a shop at this address on the 1891 census):
William Tuft, aged 36, labourer in ironworks
Mary Tuft, wife, aged 34
Emma, daughter, aged 14
William, son, aged 12
Polly, daughter, aged 10 > all born Wolverhampton
Florrie, daughter, aged 8
May, daughter, aged 7 – my grandmother
Martha, daughter, aged 5
Ernest, son, aged 3
Comfort, daughter, aged 5 months.

One of the children, Martha, born in 1896, had been named for a sister, Martha Beatrice, who died aged thirteen months earlier the same year.  Another infant daughter, Lily, died in 1898 aged 8 months; and three-year-old Ernest died in August 1901, and his name given to a brother born the same year. There were two more surviving children, Harold born 1902, and Minnie born 1906, named for a sibling who had died aged 13 months in April that year.

My grandmother, May Tufft, was born at this address in Steelhouse Lane on 8 January 1894. Her sister Florrie (born here on 20 August 1892) married Samuel Garland on 8 January 1922, and died in 1952; Martha married Walter O. Ford in 1918 (their son Walter jnr married Violet Banks in 1939); Comfort married Harry Eccleston in 1922; and Minnie married Alf McCavigan in 1928.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved a short distance to 1a Gordon Street, Wolverhampton, and was recorded there as William Thomas Tufft, 43, tube worker (foreman), his wife Mary Jane, 44, and children William Thomas, 21, tube worker (screwer), May, 16, Martha, 14, Comfort, 12, Ernest, 10, Minnie, 6, and Harold, 3.  (The ages of the younger children are not accurate.)  This census shows that of the fifteen children born to the Tuffts, five had died.

Comfort Tufft, my grandmother’s younger sister, born 1891
My grandmother’s older sister Florrie Tufft aged about 21

The eldest daughter, Emma, was working as housemaid to the secretary-manager of Aston Villa football club, George Ramsay, who lived at 15 Hampton Road, Handsworth.  Her sisters Mary (Polly) and Florrie were also working away from home as domestic servants, Polly in the household of Tom Somerfield, tobacconist, at 57 Snow Hill; and Florrie with a family at Egerton Road, Charlton-cum-Hardy, south Manchester.

On my grandmother May’s birth certificate (1894) my great-grandfather is described as a general labourer, and on her first marriage certificate (1918) as an inspector. Her second marriage certificate (1923) gives his occupation as a tube fitter. He separated from his wife Mary Jane because of his adultery, and he re-married at least once, perhaps twice, his last marriage taking place at Wolverhampton Register Office on 20 November 1941 to Harriet Slater, nee Spilsbury. The marriage certificate gives the groom’s age as 74, occupation stoker (Air Ministry Training School) and address 68 Bush Street, Springfields.  The bride (who died five years later) was aged 66, living at the same address.

William Thomas Tufft died at the age of 83 on 12 April 1951 at 68 Bush Street. My grandmother, May Finch, was present at the death, which was due to a stroke and cerebral haemorrhage.

My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Tufft, was recorded at 30 Steelhouse Lane on the 1921 census and was separated from her husband by this date as she is shown as sole head. She was living with her children Comfort, 20, Ernest, 19, Minnie, 14 – all employed at a nut and bolt manufactory – and Harold, 12, who was still at school. My mother recalled Mary Jane having a sweetshop on the premises, and in appearance being small and stout, dressed in black; she was also very strict, especially towards her daughters.

That year’s census shows her husband William Tufft lodging at a boarding house, 194 Bilston Road, with four other men. His employer is recorded as John Brotherton Ltd., tube works. The story goes that William used to go fishing at weekends, taking his young son Harold with him. After an accident at work – falling into some kind of large tank – he needed a stay in hospital. When Mary Jane arrived to visit she discovered another female at his bedside – and this turned out to be his ‘fancy woman’ whose cottage he’d been visiting at weekends while supposedly fishing. Young Harold, who had been paid to keep quiet about his father’s little secret, was prevailed upon to admit the truth to his mother and the Tuffts subsequently separated.

Mary Jane died on 7 February 1932 at 30 Steelhouse Lane. The death certificate gives her age as 65 and describes her as ‘wife of William Thomas Tufft, formerly electric cable joiner’s labourer’. Cause of death was acute bronchitis, and present at the death was her son Ernest, who was living with her. Ernest married widow Ethel Fletcher (née Mincher) in 1937, and died in 1949 aged 47.

My grandmother May Tufft was born 8 January 1894 at 30 Steelhouse Lane, Wolverhampton. She married Thomas Nixon Fowler at St Leonard’s Church, Bilston, on 13 October 1918. On the certificate she is described as a domestic servant, living at 4 Fletcher Street, Wolverhampton. (This street no longer exists, but on OS maps of 1902 and 1919 is shown in Bilston, at the junction with Wellington Road, joining Prouds Lane further up.) My mother was their only child. At the time of my grandfather’s death in 1920 the family was living at 6 Vine Street, Bilston.

My grandmother May Tufft with my mother, 1920

The census of June 1921 records my widowed grandmother, aged 27, still at Bilston, living with my two-year-old mother at the home of her married sister-in-law Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shale Poulton, together with Lizzie husband’s William Poulton and their two children Florence and John. My grandmother subsequently married William Edwin Finch on 2 December 1923 at All Saints church, Wolverhampton. The marriage certificate shows her as May Fowler, aged 28, a widow of 130 Steelhouse Lane, father William Thomas Tufft, tube fitter; and the bridegroom as aged 32, a haulier of 103 Gordon Street, father William Finch, farmer.

They had one child, May Florence (1924-2005) and continued to live in Gordon Street, off Steelhouse Lane, before moving out to Merry Hill, and then to 6 Maple Road, Bradmore. My grandmother died here of cancer on 16 July 1955, aged 61.  William Finch died on 28 February 1968.

My mother, Gwendoline Fowler, born at 4 Fletcher Street, Bilston, on 21 March 1919, died at Blaenmarlais, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, on 21 December 1999.

My mother’s aunt, Emma Tufft, was employed for a time as housemaid to George Ramsay, the renowned captain and then secretary-manager of Aston Villa football club, 1884-1926. In 1912 she entered the employment of a family sailing to New York on the Titanic, and sent home a postcard of the ship from Southampton, saying she was about to embark. After the sinking the Tuffts went down to Southampton to try and discover what had happened to her, but her name was not on the passenger list. They never heard of or from her again. My mother believed that she had met a young man and decided to alter her plans; though that wouldn’t explain why she never afterwards contacted the family.

My mother’s half-sister May Finch 1941

Louisa Tufft, born 1807, sister of my forebear William, married Thomas Seager at Tettenhall on 31 December 1826. Their children included Mary (bp Tettenhall 5 July 1829), William (6 Mar 1831), Emma (16 Oct 1835), Sarah (16 Apr 1837), Christopher (1840), Susan (11 Dec 1842 – died 1843), Harriet (23 Mar 1845), and Mary Ann (2 July 1848 – died soon afterwards).

On the 1841 census Louisa was recorded at Tettenhall, aged 30, with Emma 5, Sarah 4, and Christopher, one. She died in 1848, following the birth of her last child. Her husband Thomas Seager, a key stamper, was recorded at Tettenhall on the 1851 census with his daughters Sarah 14, and Harriet, six. In 1861 he and Harriet were visiting his married daughter Emma in Wolverhampton (see below). Thomas Seager died in 1877 aged 69.

Emma had married Isaiah Fisher in 1856, and in 1861 they were at the Queen’s Arms pub in Sidney Street, Wolverhampton. Emma died in 1899, aged 63. Christopher married Emma Parton in 1863, and in 1881 was living in Bilston, a master japanner employing six men, two boys, eight girls and seven women. He died at Christchurch, Hants, in 1908 aged 68, leaving an estate of £20,000.  Sarah remained unmarried, and in 1881 was working as a domestic servant at Wake Green, Moseley, Birmingham.

Their sister Harriet went to live with her married sister Emma Fisher at the Fishers’ family home, 48 Ablow Street (which backed on to their pub, the Queen’s Arms in Sidney Street).  Here she was murdered on 26 August 1865 by 18-year-old Charles Christopher Robinson, her admirer, who cut her throat before attempting to kill himself.  He was hanged at Stafford Gaol in January 1866.  As an interesting footnote, Charles Robinson was a cousin of Catherine Eddowes, one of the victims of Jack the Ripper.

Margaret, baptised at Tettenhall 24 March 1841, married Henry Westwood in 1859. Their children were Amy 1861, Joseph 1863 (died 1928), Henrietta 1865, Margaret Isobel 1867 (died a few months old), Evelyn Alice 1871, Harold 1874 – all born at Yardley, Worcs; Frederick 1877, Kate 1880, Harry 1883, Hilda 1886, and May 1887 – all born at Bickenhill, Warks.

Ann, baptised at Tettenhall 4 December 1842, married Thomas Clemens Williams (born Ledbury, Hereford, 1826) in 1870. Their children included Thomas James 1873, born at Wolverhampton, and Clementina 1875 and George 1878, born at Shifnal, Shrops.

Susan, baptised at Tettenhall 23 February 1845, was still unmarried in 1881, working as a domestic servant in the household of a Baptist minister at Watford, Herts.

Their father James Tufft died in 1853.  In 1793 he had enlisted in the 80th Regiment of Foot (the Staffordshire Volunteers) but served with that regiment less than a year before joining the 28th Light Dragoons.  The Dragoons were disbanded in 1802 while serving in Ireland, and James Tufft re-enlisted with the 80th of Foot, where he remained until his discharge in November 1820, having been promoted to the rank of Sergeant.  His discharge paper describes him as five feet ten inches in height, brown hair, grey eyes and of fresh complexion, and his former occupation that of white smith (tin smith).  In 1871 James Tufft’s widow Mary was working as a domestic servant in Hall Street, Wolverhampton. She died towards the end of 1876, aged 61.