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Thomas Wood Horsman
Thomas Wood Horsman from Leeds has been one of my ‘brick walls’ for as long as I can remember, and as I’m in contact with several of his descendents, I thought he would be a good person to feature.
In all the censuses in which he appears, Thomas Wood Horseman [TWH I] is consistent about the fact that he was born in about 1803/4 in Dunsforth, Yorkshire. But where was he baptised? Dunsforth is in the parish of Aldborough, and he was not baptised there, or in any of the surrounding parishes or in Leeds itself . Looking at the churches where his children were married, makes me wonder if he was baptised in a Non Conformist chapel somewhere.
We do know who his Mother was, as “Elizabeth Horseman, Mother, Unmarried, aged 68, born Kirkstall” was with him in 1851. Elizabeth was described as a ‘former Burler’.
Thomas Wood Horseman was described as a Corn Miller from 1834 onwards, and was at one time in charge of Kings Mills, a Corn Mill on Swinegate. So how did the illegitimate son of a manual worker achieve such a position? Is the clue in his name ? The forename name ‘Thomas Wood’ is passed down for several generations. Was his father called Wood, and did he support young Thomas?
TWH I married Mary Ann Mitchell on 27 Oct 1823 at Leeds, St Peter, and they subsequently had 10 children.
Mary Whitfield (c.1830—?), had a son George in c. 1857, before marrying John Oates in 1861, then John Tiplady in 1865.
Thomas Wood [TWH II] (c.1832—1866) married Mary Ann Piddleston in 1856 in London. They had 5 children (including TWH III), before Thomas died of Phthisis [TB] at the age of 33. Mary Ann was probably unable to cope after his death, as in 1871, (with the exception of TWH III) all the children were living with different members of the family. I’ve not found TWH III in 1871 —possibly by then he was in the army as a boy soldier.
Sarah Ann (1834—1894) never married, as in 1871, she was living with her parents, and described as an imbecile; in 1881 she was in West Yorkshire Pauper Lunatic Asylum at Wakefield, and in 1891 in Bramley Asylum. The web site History to Her Story http://www.historytoherstory.org.uk/ is about women in Yorkshire, and if you search for Horsman, you will find images of Sarah’s medical history.
Maria (1836– 1915) married Samuel Poskitt in 1861 and had at least 6 children.
Eliza (1839—1898) married Thomas Lockwood in 1861, and had at least 3 children.
Joseph (1845—1918) married Ann Elizabeth Wake in 1867 and had 10 children. He was a traveller for a Timber company.
TWH I died at Burley, Leeds in 1871 aged 67, and is buried at Headingley, St Michael and All Angels. Sadly when I visited the graveyard several years ago it was exceedingly overgrown and I could not find his grave. His wife Mary Ann died almost a year later and is also buried there. Disappointing Thomas did not leave a will.
What of Thomas’s descendents ? These are only three of the branches. As I am doing a One Name Study, I have only followed the male lines in detail.
William Horsman (1827 -
Thomas Wood Horsman (TWH II) (1832 -
Thomas Wood Horsman (TWH III) moved to Canada. The historic records of the New Brunswick Garrison Artillery give us a clue as to how TWH III ended up in Canada. It tells us that TWH (III) enrolled as a bandsman in the 2nd Bn. Royal West Kent Rifles when he was only 14 years old. He obviously had musical talent as he was sent to Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music in England; where he studied for 2 years. He rejoined his regiment (now known as the 97th) in 1874 at Bermuda, and then served in Halifax, Gibraltar and South Africa. The records tell us that he was then discharged in Dublin, from where he returned to Halifax [Nova Scotia, Canada]. Had he met his wife to be when he was stationed there?
In 1878 TWH III married Agnes Ann Shiers in Halifax; and they subsequently had 13 (that I know of) children. By 1883 Thomas had joined the NB Garrison Artillery Band, and became bandmaster of the 3rd Regt in 1890.
Thomas died in 1915 and was survived by his wife and 10 children. He is buried at Fernhill Cemetery, St.John, N.B.
Joseph Horsman (1845 -
Joseph married Anne Elizabeth Wake in 1867 and had 10 children. Family legend has it that he was allergic to flour dust, so did not go into the family business. Instead he became a Commercial traveller in the Timber trade. He died in Caversham in 1918.
Joseph’s son Ernest emigrated to Australia in 1911, but returned to England in 1914. However in 1922, the family returned to Australia and settled in Melbourne. Judy Ransley was Ernest’s granddaughter, and lived in Queensland until she passed away in February 2018.
Now, to a more debatable topic. Who was TWH’s mother Elizabeth?
Elizabeth died in 1851 aged 68, and is buried at Holbeck St Matthew. Fortunately she was alive for the 1851 census, when she tells us she was unmarried and from Kirkstall. Her age at death puts her year of birth as about 1782/3. When I first began researching this family, it was before any on line records, and in the days of the old IGI. The latter contained an entry saying that Elizabeth was born 24 Oct 1782 at Kirkstall, daughter of William Horsman and Mary Mason. I believe that this then led people to believe that she was the daughter of William Horsman and Mary Mason who had married in 1773 in Little Ouseburn.
In reality Elizabeth was baptised at Leeds, St Peter on 8th December 1782, daughter of William Horsman of Kirkstall, and had been born on 24th October. The parish register entry does not give a mothers name, so I believe that the ‘member submitted’ IGI entry which gives her mother’s name and leads you to the Little Ouseburn marriage is a case of people trying to fit available data together, without looking at original records.
Analysing the parish records more closely, I would suggest that this is the true story:
William Horsman, a Cordwainer (otp) and Grace Brooke, Spinster of Guiseley were married at Leeds, St Peter on 23 March 1773
Luckily the couple were married by Licence , which tells us that William was 31, a Cordwainer from Bramley; and Grace was 23
The following events then occur:
Birth 3 Aug 1775, Sarah d/o William of Kirkstall, Bp. 10th Sept 1775, Leeds St Peter
Burial 12 March 1778 child of William, Kirkstall @ Headingley St Michael
Birth 12 Dec 1779 Mary d/o William of Kirkstall Bp: 24 Jan 1780, Leeds St Peter
Birth 24 Oct 1782 Elisabeth d/o William of Kirkstall Bp. 8 Dec 1782, Leeds St Peter
Note: there is no mention of a mothers name
Birth 26 Dec 1785 Hannah d/o William of Kirkstall Bp. 26 March 1786, Leeds St Peter
Birth 06 July 1788 Martha d/o William of Kirkstall Bp. 24 Aug 1788, Leeds St Peter
Burial 1 July 1798 Grace Horsman of Kirkstall @ Headingley St Michael
Burial 1 July 1813 William Horsman of Kirkstall @ Headingley, St Michael aged 74
Again, there is no burial evidence that William has a wife called Mary
Who were William’s parents ?
When he was married, his year of birth worked out as 1742, but when he died it was 1739; so it must be sometime around then. I’m still working on this mystery. If anyone has any ideas—do let me know.
The final puzzle, with a Hypothesis.
The final puzzle is who was TWH’s father? The fact that three generations of the family were named Thomas Wood Horsman, leads me to believe that his father was called Thomas Wood, and the fact that TWH became a Corn Miller may indicate that his father was a Miller also.
Was there a Thomas Wood, Miller, in the Kirkstall area at the right time. Yes. Could this be him ?
On 10 July 1810, Thomas Wood, otp, Miller, married Hannah Storey at Leeds St Peter.
In 1816 they had a daughter Betina baptised at St Peter, and Thomas Wood gave his details as Corn Miller from Kirkstall. Likewise in 1819, when their son Jacob was baptised, Thomas Wood said he was a Corn Miller from Kirkstall Bridge.
In both the 1841 census Thomas Wood gives his occupation as Corn and Oil Miller, and in 1851 he is a Miller and Seed Crusher; aged 67, born Headingley.
When both his children married, they were described as being from Headingley, with their father being a Corn Miller.
The final fact is that Thomas Wood died in 1854 and was buried at Headingley, St Michael.
I recently visited the Borthwick institute in York and looked at Thomas Wood’s will. Unfortunately he makes no mention of Thomas Wood Horsman. Could it have been his father who had been keeping a watchful eye on young TWH.
Please note that this is Hypothesis only. If anyone reading this has any information which can confirm this theory, Please do get in touch.
Can you help ?
Are you a descendent of Thomas Wood Horsman? If so please do get in touch. Have you got any family photographs which you could share?
There are many on line trees, for this family, which contain incorrect information, which has been copied from other trees, and not researched properly. DO NOT believe everything you find on line -
Equally if you find any of my facts to be incorrect, please let me know.