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James John Dearman  The children

James John Dearman + Agnes Ashmore 

Margaret Louisa Jenkins

James Dearman had two families, one belonging to his youth and one to his more mature years.  The first family seems to have been completely abandoned after the early death of his first wife, Agnes Ashmore, but I shall say no more about that here.  The pictures above are representative of the two families.  There were actually two more infants in the first family but I have chosen not to represent them here.  I think the daguerrotype depicts a rather forlorn pair, which the surviving two must have been, at least for a time.  The second shows the standard large family - in this case eight  children, although not, of course the Dearmans themselves.  I have no pictures of them but would love to have some if anyone out there has any.  Do get in touch if you do.  Send me an email.


I would like to apologise to the Dearman cousins who provided me with so much information about some of the Welsh clan.  However, when I changed to a new operating system somehow or other all of those emails, which I had carefully saved, disappeared.  I have not quite given up hope of ever retrieving them though.  I’m sure it can be done.  It means I don’t have quite as complete a picture as I would like though.

James John 1875-1932
Annie 1877-?

Proudly named for his father, James’ first born son was actually conceived well out of wedlock.  Agnes must have been about four months pregnant when they married - and they were so young - she just 17 or 18, he just 20.  Nevertheless James John, for his first seven years grew up in a pretty standard, if poor, family.  He lived in a slum but his grandparents were nearby and pretty soon he had a sister, Annie.  But catastrophe occurred with the death of his mother when he was just seven years old.  She died in childbirth and the baby with her.  And for some reason, his father, James John Dearman ups and leaves Nottingham where they were living at the time, apparently never to see his son again.  Because of the census dates, I do not know exactly what happened to little James when this occurred - my guess is that his grandparents cared for him but by the time the next census (1891) came around, they too were dead.  But he does not seem to have been abandoned by his mother’s family, for In 1891 James John jr. is living with his now widowed aunt Mary Ann Slaney, who has a general store in Pleasely Hill.  James’ occupation is described as ‘the Navy’, though I cannot find him in the National Archives Royal Navy records.  I am guessing that he was taken in by Mary Ann, either when his father left or after his grandparents died.  At the age of 15 he was baptised in the Pleasely Hill Church, which is an interesting little aside.  Did he get religion, or was his aunt religious and insisted?  By 1901 he is married to Alice Adelaide Dutton, (they married in 1897) also from Pleasely Hill and still living there, with two children  Doris Adelaide and Beatrice Alice.  He is now a coal miner.  The 1911 cnesus shows that he has changed his profession for an insurance agent - much safer.  He now has another daughter Lily, born in 1904, and also another -  Phylllis Ellen born in 1907.  Although the census does not mention any dead babies I think that Phyllis had a twin sister, unless there are other Dearmans in the area.  And finally it seems, a boy is born in 1917 - ten years after the last girl - maybe a last-ditch attempt at the son and heir?.  Or maybe this is another family?  There is a death of a James Dearman, of the right age (57) in Mansfield in 1932, though I do not know for sure whether this is he.  It would have been hard working in the mines - and it may have contributed to his comparatively early death, but hopefully he at least had a happy family life.  I have no idea what happened to his children.

I know less about Annie, who may have been named for her maternal grandmother, maybe not.  She did not go to live with Mary Ann, but was adopted by John George Bramwell and his wife Elizabeth.  In 1891 they were living at the last known address of Annie’s grandparents, Robert and Mary Ashmore, so I do not know whether he was related to them or whether he was just a kindly neighbour.  In 1891 at the age of 15 Annie is working as a factory hand in a hosiery factory, alongside her adopted mother, which sounds pretty grim.  And there my trail more or less runs cold.  I think she married Charles Battersby in the December quarter of 1895, but it could have been Thomas Shirley that she married.  I also think that Charles (or Thomas) must have died, though I can’t find a death - (unless he was the very much older Charles who died at the age of 76), and she remarried to either Albert Edward Parker or Samuel Henry Rose.  Without knowing which man or men she married I do not know whether she had children or when she died.

Both children seem to have had somebody who loved them though when young.  At least they did not end up in the workhouse or an orphanage.  Their lives would have been tough, but probably no tougher than if their parents had been there.

William 1882-1882

William died at birth, taking his mother with him, so a double tragedy for the little Dearman family.  James was only 28 years old, Agnes only 25.   Thus ends the story of James’ first marriage, and first family and perhaps his youth.  He upped and left and in a few years started all over again.

Elizabeth 1880-1881

The first of the two who died, Elizabeth seems to have at least lived for a little while.  She was around one year old when she died.  From here the tragedies just keep coming.  

As a morbid aside, when looking for a suitable illustration for Elizabeth I came across several Victorian photographs of dead children and babies, some in the arms of their mothers.  Apparently the Victorians were into this.  I personally found it just a step too far, and have not included any of them here.

With the second Dearman family, the names become more elaborate and there are always two (with the exception of one of the girls).  Arthur is the direct ancestor, my husband’s father.  I have not yet written up his story, feeling it is still too personal for the current Dearmans, but maybe I should at least write up his early years.  Suffice to say he served in WW1, had two different families, built up a successful building business, then lost it, kept greyhounds - very successfully for a while and played rugby for Bridgend.  I never met him but would have liked to in spite of him being a difficult man I believe.  But then WW1 must have made a whole generation of men difficult.

James John Dearman  Family number two

Arthur John 1887-1964
William Ewart 1890-1937

I have just discovered that Gladstone’s christian names were William Ewart and so I am guessing the this son was named for him.  There seems to be a vaguely political turn to a couple of the names of some of the Dearman children, which is interesting - was James John interested in politics?  Maybe Arthur was a reference to the once and future king?  But I digress flippantly.

William must have had a minimal education at least - education until 14 was compulsory by then, but he then became a plasterer, no doubt working for and/or with his father.  At least at the time of his first marriage he was a plasterer.  I do not know if he continued in this work later in life as I have no records to tell me.  

In 1910 he married at the age of 20 an even younger girl called Mabel Beatrice Say. Alas Mabel died just four years later.  There were no children, but I guess she may have died in childbirth.  1914, of course, was the beginning of World War One and I think it is likely that he went off to war.  I cannot say this for certain as there are too many William Dearmans on the medal roll list - but there is a likely one who joined the Royal Engineers and went off to war in 1915.  I think it likely that Arthur too was in the Royal Engineers, which is another reason I am choosing this particular William Dearman’s record.  He survived the war and shortly after his return - in 1919 - he married again.  His new wife, who outlived him by many, many years was Olive Davies.  I think they had just two children - William Anthony, who was killed in action in WW2 and a daughter who still lives on.

William died in 1937 at the early age of 47.  I do not know what of.

Alfred is a bit of a mystery.  I can definitely track him until 1911 wen he was, like his father, working as a plasterer for a builder.  I think he very likely participated in WW1 but maybe did not actually go to war.  The most likely medal roll card for Alfred is for someone in the Army Gymnastics Staff, Welsh Regiment and there is no date for his deployment into the war on his card.  The Army Gymnastics Staff were responsible for the physical training of the soldiers and so it is entirely possible that he spent the entire war training people and not actually going to war himself.  Lucky Alfred, though, no doubt he didn’t think so.

The only other thing I wonder about Alfred, bearing in mind the Army Gymnastics Staff, is whether he is the AJ Dearman who played rugby for Bridgend and not Arthur.  But we have photos of AJ Dearman in the team, and he apparently does look like Arthur.

And there his story ends for me at the moment.  I cannot find a marriage or children.  A descendant of one of Arthur’s other chidlren, told me that he died in 1972, but I cannot find a record of this.  If you know the answer let me know.  Email me.

The first daughter, and just one name which seems a bit unfair.  It’s a nice name though.

After school she seems to have stayed at home and helped her mother with the growing family.  The youngest child, Netta, was only three when Grace was 18, so her help around the house would probably have been invaluable.  Whether this continued or not though I do not know, for the next I know of Grace is her marriage to John T. Donarty in York - which is a very long way away.  Why was she in York?  I do sometimes wonder about Dearmans in the north.  There is a cluster of them in Yorkshire and the Midlands, and you have to wonder whether there was a distant connection - James John himself went to Mansfield after all as a young man.  Whatever the reason she married in 1921 and presumably stayed married to him until his death in 1946 in Southampton.  At the time of the 1911 census he was a gardener, but whether this was a career he continued I do not know.  And why Southampton?  There also do not seem to be any children from the marriage.  I wonder what she did with her time?  Maybe they travelled.

After her husband’s death Grace seems to have gone home to Bridgend, for two years later she is married to Alfred J.  Bugler, a scrap metal merchant who had his business further up the street from her childhood home in Mackworth Street.  I gather it was a successful business, and indeed still operates today at the same address under the name of J. Bugler and sons.  Grace was 55 when she married Alfred who had been married before as well and did have children.  Very curiously though he seems to have married two different ladies in the same quarter of 1915 in Pontypridd - was he a bigamist, for there are children from both marriages - or were there two Alfred J. Buglers.  (I don’t think so).  At that time he was a collier.  Whatever went on in his early life, in his fifties, presumably a widower, he married Grace and carried out his successful scrap metal business in Bridgend.  

Alfred died in 1961 but Grace lived on until 1980 when she died at the grand old age of 87, still in Bridgend.

Alfred James 1891-1972?
Grace 1893-1980
Sydney Alban 1894-1896

I do not know where the name of Alban comes from.  There is St. Alban of course, but I don’t see this family as being much into saints.  However this child is named for an uncle - Margaret;s little brother.  This little boy didn’t make it to his second birthday though.  Less than two years after his birth he died.  Not so unusual for the times I guess, and, as it happens, he turned out to be the only infant death in the family.  He died in the June quarter of the year, at a time when Margaret was in the early, maybe middle, stages of her next pregnancy.  Maybe the birth of another daughter helped console her.

Blanche Winifred 1893 -1986

I have just noticed that Blanche had an Enfield cousin called Blanche and born a few years earlier.  I wonder is this just a coincidence or does it suggest that there was contact with James John’s Enfield relatives?  Was it just that Blanche was a popular name of the time?  It’s vaguely romantic isn’t it?  Though Winifred is not - but this was a popular name of the time I think.

So what do I know about Blanche - the one child of this family that my husband’s sister recalls meeting once?  In the 1911 census at the age of 14 she had completed her education and was helping her mother at home with her sister Grace.  This implies to me that James John must have been earning sufficient money for the two girls not to need to be sent out to work.  In 1922 she married William Frederick Chivers in Bridgend.  He was a couple of years older than her but that’s all I know about him.  I can’t find him in any censuses, and the couple does not appear to have had any children.  So a similar story to that of her sister Grace I guess.  My sister-in-law’s memory of the Blanche who visited her one day was of somebody vaguely hippy, but that is all I have.  The various cousins do not mention her either.  She died in 1983 at the grand old age of 86 and was followed by her husband a couple of  years later.  Maybe if you don’t have children you live longer!  The photograph of a bride and groom at top right is dated 1922 - it’s not Blanche of course, but hopefully it is representative.

Sydney Alban 1900-1941

The pace of baby production is slowing.  Given the same names as his deal little brother, he too died young, although not quite as young.  One of the new found Dearman cousins told me Sydney’s story, but alas, I have currently lost the emails in my conversion to the new OSX.  I am still endeavouring to retrieve them, so apologies to my correspondent.  In fact all I remember is that he volunteered for WW! at the very early age - indeed underage - of 14 and was exposed to mustard gas which finally contributed to his early death.  There are two Sydney A. Dearmans listed in the medal rolls but the most likely one is a Private in the South Wales Borderers. 

The only other thing I know is that he married Sarah A. Smith in 1927 in Newport, Monmouthshire.  I am pretty sure, from my previous email correspondence that there were children but I do not know who they were as the only Dearman/Smith births are in various parts of England and I cannot remember where Sydney finally settled.   If he moved nearer to London he may well have been in touch with his much older brother Arthur.  Alas I also cannot remember what career he followed on his discharge from the army.  

The photograph at right is of the real Sydney though - many thanks to the donor.  Such a fresh face.

George Oswald 1902-1980

So many boys - Margaret must have cherished her three  daughters, which might explain why they stayed at home to help with all of that male energy.  And it is interesting that many Dearman families seem to have a preponderence of boys in them - my own included.

Again I have lost information about George.  When I was looking for a marriage, though I came across a marriage to Kitty Rowe in 1934.  The name Kitty struck a bell, and sure enough I have a photograph of Kitty with many of her descendants (at right).  I cannot find the births of children, although tantalisingly there are three overseas army births in the early forties, so maybe George was also a soldier.  Poor Margaret - virtually all of her sons went to war at some time or other, though I think George would really have been too young for WW1.  The painting above right is of a 1930s couple - I cannot think what else to choose to represent George.

And then there was a surprise - Netta Louise, named partially for her mother who would still only have been just over forty when Netta was born.  These days women are often not beginning a family until this age.  Margaret was on her ninth child.  There was a gap of six years between herself and her nearest sibling, George.  When I first found Netta’s birth I assumed that Arthur’s firstborn were twins, for Netta and Daisy (Arthur’s first born) were born in the same quarter of 1907.  But no she is Daisy’s aunt!  She was the baby of the family and also a precious girl amongst all of those boys.  I have no doubt that she was spoilt rotten.  In 1911 some of her oldest siblings have left home but there are still six of them at home - two of them girls to fuss over her.  

Netta married at the young age of 19 in 1926.  Her husband was Maurice Woodman who I think came from Wiltshire.  If I have the right man then his father was a mason, which may mean that he too was in the building trade.  But all of this is pure supposition.  Again - I have lost the emails which told me all about her.  I am so sorry.  If I do have the right man, then it is likely that Netta and Maurice had three children in Swindon, Wiltshire.  Very possibly Netta died in childbirth, for the last of these three children was born in 1931 and Netta, tragically, died at the very young age of 25 in 1933

Netta Louise 1907-1933

And so ends the story of James John Dearman’s thirteen children - for thirteen were born, in total, to his two wives.  Of the thirteen ten survived into adulthood, though it is unlikely that he had any contact with the children of his first marriage after he left Nottinghamshire.  I am so sorry that I have lost some of the details of their lives.  


James John Dearman




The children


James John Dearman

James Dearman 1826-?

Emma Eliza Brown

Margaret Louisa Jenkins

Arthur John Dearman


Mansfield and Nottingham


Plasterers and plastering

James John Dearman



The children


Margaret Louisa Jenkins

Life before marriage

Life after marriage

An incident on Meadow Street

The children


Margaret Louisa Jenkins

John Jenkins

Jane Evans

James John Dearman

Arthur John Dearman

The Vale of Glamorgan


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