By Rowland and Sue Hill
The Lincolnshire town of Gainsborough, however, thrived into the late 19th century, firstly served by steam-packet services along the river Trent and later with the coming of the railways in the 1840’s. Two major railway lines ran through Gainsborough operated by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and The Great Northern Railway.
As well as wealth, the railways provided opportunities for local people to develop new skills which could then be used in other parts of the country. Our family history has been shaped by the 19th century economic migration from East to West.
Early records at Springthorpe
Our Springthorpe ancestors
On the Hill side we know of Mary Hill (b~ 1766; died 1841/1851) who was the mother of our great-great-great grandfather Robert Hill (b. 1804 in Saxby). Robert married Ann Lacey (b.1806 in Springthorpe).
Ann’s ancestry is also important to our story as it is from the Springthorpe Lacey’s that a number of our old family names have originated. Ann’s parents (our great-great-great-great grandparents) were John (1762-1850 plot: 157) and Elizabeth Lacey (1772-1823 plot: 160) who have graves in the Church of St George and St Lawrence alongside other members of the Lacey family dating back to Rowland Lacey born in 1682. (John 1762-1850, son of; Thomas 1739-1826, son of; John 1690-1775, son of; Thomas 1690-1775, and of Rowland Thomas son of Rowland Lacey b. 1682- all plot: 157)
Our great-great-great grandparents, Robert and Ann Hill,
were ‘landowners with 95 acres’ and living at an unidentified address in
Springthorpe in 1841 and 1851. They had five children; our great-great
grandfather John Lacey (b. 1832 in Springthorpe), Jane (b. 1835), Susannah
(b. 1837). George (b. 1839) and Elizabeth (b. 1849). Robert died
aged 51 in 1855. By 1861, Ann was living with the three youngest children
(now agreed between 24 and 12) along with three servants in the High St
at Springthorpe. In 1871, Ann Hill, then aged 65 was living with daughter
Susanna, now married to William Sharp at School House- this is believed
to have been next door to the current No. 1 Church Lane. See below.
By 1873 the Hill family were no longer landowners. Ann eventually died in 1898 aged 92. Both Robert and Ann are buried at the Church of St George and St Lawrence in Springthorpe.
Our great-great grandfather, John Lacey Hill had married Louisa Wilson (b. 1837 in Binbrook) in 1854 and by 1861 was living at Old School Lane along with their three children Rowland (b. 1855), our great-grandfather, John Lacey (b. 1856 in Heapham) and Mark (b. 1860).
In the December 1861, John Lacey Hill (great-great grandfather) died at the age of 30 after falling off a cart. A further daughter, Louisa, was born in 1862. This left Louisa a widow with four young children at age 24. In 1869 she remarried to a William Ranby (b. 1835) and they had a son called Cornelius Ranby (b. 1870). They were living at Corringham Scraggs in 1871 but two years later (1873) Louisa was widowed for the second time when William died (March, 1873). Between 1874-1876 she married for a third time, to a Richard Parker (b. 1851 in Retford) a railway clerk, and had a further two children; Mary (b. 1877) and Annie (b.1878). At this time, employment with the railways, particularly in administrative jobs was well paid and regarded as a means of improving social standing.
In the late 1870s or very early 1880s the family moved
away from Springthorpe with Richard’s railway employment. This ended nearly
600 years of Hill family Springthorpe lineage.
In the hundred years between 1790 and 1890 the population grew from under 50,000 to 560,000 people. However, living conditions in Manchester itself were poor with high levels of slum housing. As a result new suburbs were developed to the south of the city eventually joining the nearby town of Stockport. Initially these suburbs were only for the wealthy and consisted of avenues of large villas. As the 20th century progressed, however, these suburbs were filled with better quality housing for the city’s growing workforce.
Their main operations in Manchester were at Manchester Central Station (today known as the GMEX exhibition centre- see below) and later Manchester Store Street (now Piccadilly). Their locomotive Works was situated on the south east flank of Manchester in Gorton (near Levenshulme). The Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’ also ran a Cheshire line running from Manchester through Stockport. In later years they combined to form first the London and North Western Railway and later London Midland and Scottish.
The Springthorpe Hills in Manchester
As you head south east out of central Manchester from the Chorlton upon Medlock area on the A6 Stockport Road you pass through the Longsight, Levenshulme and Heaton Chapel areas before you come to Stockport town centre. This geography gives some explanation to the movement of the family around Manchester.
John Lacey Hill, our great-grandfather, was our last Springthorpe born ancestor and in 1881 he married Clementina Bower (b. 1861) a provisions dealer also of Chorlton upon Medlock. We’re not entirely sure what a provisions dealer was, but Clementina appears to have been a prosperous lady. She died in 1889 aged 28 leaving John Lacey Hill as a ‘gentleman of independent means’. Aged 30 he married for a second time to a Susannah Elliot (b. 1860) in 1889 at St. Stephen’s Church in Chorlton Upon Medlock (the Church, like the area, is now demolished). John Lacey’s brother Rowland was best man and a witness. Rowland died the following year (1890).
We believe that some of the extended Hill family had also migrated from Springthorpe to Manchester as in 1893 John Lacey’s cousin, Robert Lacey Hill (a son of George Hill b. 1839) was registered as living in the Heaton Chapel area when he died. He is buried at Church of St George and St Lawrence in Springthorpe.
John Lacey and Clementina had three children; John Lacey (b. 1890 and known as Lacey), Susannah Louisa (b. 1892 who died in 1894) and our grandfather Rowland Lacey (b. 1894). By 1894 John Lacey Hill was the proprietor of the George & Dragon Hotel on the main A6 from Manchester just outside the town centre of Stockport in an area known as Heaton Norris or later Heaton Chapel. The George & Dragon Hotel was originally a farm house built in 1824 and became a coaching inn. We have an old photograph of the whole family in a pony and trap outside the Hotel circa 1896. It is still in business today.
It was at this point that family’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. In 1897, John Lacey’s wife Susannah died aged 37. John Lacey married for a third time, this time to a younger former servant for the family. Alice Watson (b. 1879 in Stockport). Even though he was only in his early forties, John Lacey, was listed as ‘retired’ at his wedding suggesting that he was fighting a serious illness.
It is also interesting to note how families lose touch. Our great-great-great grand mother Ann Hill was still alive back in Springthorpe up until 1898, yet we know that neither the young Lacey nor Rowland Lacey were aware of their Springthorpe ancestry.
The Hill Family in the 20th century
Both Lacey and Rowland Lacey left home at an early age. Rowland Lacey joined the army and saw service in the First World War. We’re not sure of the circumstances but apparently he returned home as a sick man, bouts of which re-occurred throughout his life. He then worked variously as a pastor and a cinema projectionist in the Heaton Chapel area (any dates?) before following his in his father’s footsteps and joining the railway (London and North Western Railway then London Midland Scottish and later British Rail). He married Lavina Collinson (b. 1894 in Manchester) in 1920 and lived in the Levenshulme area of the city (near the Gorton Locomotive Works) where they had two children; John (who died in infancy) and our father Rowland Collinson Hill (b. 1927 in Manchester). In the 1930s the family moved to a newly built council estate in Abergele Road in the Ladybarn area of Manchester, 2 miles west of Levenshulme, At this time, Ladybarn was a semi-rural area with new housing standing side by side with farm land.
By the 1930s Lacey had moved to the Marton area of Blackpool. Rowland Lacey and his family visited several times staying for holidays in a caravan owned by his brother. Lacey married but had no children and we believe that he adopted a daughter before emmigrating to Australia after the Second World War.
In the Second World War both Rowlands joined the Home Guard until Rowland Collinson was able to join-up, seeing out the last year of the war in the Navy and later joining the Army on peacekeeping duties in what became Israel.
Our grandmother Lavinia died of breast cancer around 1949?
at Withington Hospital in Manchester. Rowland Lacey Hill re-married to
Marrie (?) (b. ~1925) in the 1950s (?) although she too died in Withington
Hospital in Manchester in 1965 or 66. Our grandfather, Rowland Lacey
Hill died of a stroke also at Withington Hospital in Manchester aged 79
Rowland Collinson set up home in Fallowfield, 2 miles west of Ladybarn and married our mother Doris an embroider (b. 1933 in Salford) in 1962 at Pendlebury Church in Salford.. They had two children (us); Rowland Leslie (b. 1964 in Manchester) and Susan Lavinia (b. 1966 in Manchester). Mum and dad lived most of their lives at Sherwood Avenue in Fallowfield before retiring to Pensarn on the North Wales coast in 1991. Mum died of a brain tumour at the age of 60 on 9th February 1993 at Walton Hospital in Liverpool and dad aged 77 on 7th October 2004 at the Glan Clwyd Hospital in North Wales. Both mum and dad were buried at Agecroft Cemetery in Pendlebury, Salford in the grounds of what was once Agecroft Hall- a 15th century manor house dismantled and sold to a new owner in America in 1925.
We both moved away from Manchester with our work in the early 1980s living in various parts of the country whilst working for retailer Marks & Spencer until we both settled in the South East, Rowland in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire and Sue in Chatham Kent. Rowland still works for Marks & Spencer based London and is also the long-time chair of the retail industry’s environment committee and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. After leaving Marks & Spencer Sue worked for other retailers before becoming a bank manager. Rowland married to Pauline Plumb (b. 1971 in Ipswich) in 1993 and Sue live with partner Stewart Lindridge.