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Teachers and lunatics

It seems that Joshua Summerhill (1834-1905) and his wife Elizabeth Tonks (1831-1903) had 6 children, 5 of whom survived to adulthood. Three of the four surviving girls became teachers, and three of them seem to have had mental health issues at some point in their lives. Only one of the girls married, at the age of 58, to a fellow teacher who had been widowed 4 years previously. She died at the age of 73 in Coton Hill Hospital, which at the time was an asylum for the mentally ill from the upper and middle classes.


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Neglecting to support a wife

On Monday 3rd February 1862, a collier called Isaac Summerhill appeared at the Petty Sessions court in Kidderminster, charged with allowing his wife and children to become chargeable to the parish of Dudley. His family had been in the workhouse since 5th January. The court didn’t believe his defence of being unable to find work and he was sentenced to 14 days’ hard labour.

Workhouse register indexes at Dudley Archives indicate that his wife was Priscilla (née Pool) and his children were Elizabeth, Amelia, Sarah Jane, Hannah, Comfort Priscilla and Esther.

I have traced back another couple of generations but have yet to find a link between this Isaac and my Summerhill line. I’m fairly sure there must be a connection as Isaac Summerhill is a family name (I have ten of them in the family tree) and Isaac’s father (also Isaac) was born in Bristol in 1779 and had moved to Dudley by 1818 when he got married. My Summerhills moved from just outside Bristol (Saul and Frampton-on-Severn) to Tipton between 1822 and 1825.

TO DO: Visit Dudley Archives and check the workhouse registers for additional details; visit Worcestershire Record Office at the Hive and check the Petty Sessions court records.

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Stephen Summerhill’s occupation

I know from the baptisms/birthplaces of his children that Stephen Summerhill moved from Saul, Gloucestershire to Tipton, Staffordshire sometime between 1822 and 1825. I’m trying to establish where he might have worked as it looks as if he might have been at Springvale Furnaces (later Bilston Steelworks) c. 1833, a tin shearer at Wilden by 1841, a tin shearer at Wolverhampton by 1851 (living in St Matthew’s district), at Farfield, Kidderminster in 1861, still listed as a tin shearer at the age of 69.


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