Calais, Nottingham, Nottingham lace, Oldknow Oldham, Workday Wednesday

Workday Wednesday – Nottingham Lace in Calais

I’ve recently been searching for my Oldham family in Calais, France.

My 3xgreatgrandparents Thomas Oldham and Harriet (nee Winfield) and their sons William and Thomas are missing from the 1861 UK census, but reappear on the 1871 census with five more children, all born in Calais between 1861 and 1870.

The Archives of Pas-de-Calais had already sent me copies of the birth registrations, which reveal the dates and times of their births, both parent’s ages, the mother’s maiden name and the family’s current address – so very useful.

The Calais Archives have digitised many of their records and they are freely available online, unlike the UK’s records. The French took a census every five years from 1836; the 1866 one falls nicely in the middle of the period I’m looking for.

None of the records are indexed, so they aren’t searchable by name, which means finding the correct district and working through it page by page. It’s very time consuming, but well worth it – I found Thomas and his family living on the rue du Jardin des Plantes:

 

Thomas and his eldest son, William, were working as ‘tullistes’. This is a term specific to the Calais area and means a mechanical technician highly specialised in the manufacture of tulle and lace. Thomas and Henriette (Harriet) had six children, William (12) and Thomas (10) who were born in Nottingham and John (7), Eliza (5), Enoch (2) and Anne (2 months) who were born in Calais.

 

From Google Maps

On the same census, just around the corner, I found Gervase Oldham, Thomas’ brother, and his family. They were living on the rue du Temple.

Gervase, or Jervis, also worked as a tulliste and was living with his wife Mary (nee Taylor) and three children, James (3) and Jervas and Eliza (both aged 2 months). The family were back in Nottingham by the 1871 census, but without their daughter Eliza. By this time Gervase and Mary had had another daughter, Eliza Jane born in Calais in 1869, so it’s more than likely that the first Eliza died at a young age.  More trawling through the French records should reveal if that was the case.

Also living with the family was Emma Taylor, an unmarried woman aged 21 who was working as a lace operator. She is likely to be Mary’s younger sister.

So now I’ve filled in the gap in the 1860s for the Oldham family, I need to go back to the French records to see if I can find the births and death in Gervase and Mary’s family.

I’ll also be looking through the French census records to see if Thomas’ and Gervase’s parents, William and Eliza, were living in France without their children around 1851. They are missing from the English census of that year, but their children are in Long Eaton with their grandparents.

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