Recently I’ve been doing a bit of research about Greg’s 3rd great grandfather James Cross (c 1791 – 1853). I have been greatly helped by contributions from several of Greg’s cousins who are also interested in their Cross ancestors. Here’s what I’ve turned up.
On 28 December 1819 James Cross married Ann Bailey (1791 – 1860). At the time he was employed as a brewer. He lived at Penketh, about ten miles east of Liverpool.
Between 1820 and 1822 James and Ann had seven children, two girls and
- John Cross 1820–1867
- Thomas Bailey Cross 1822–1889
- Ellen (Helen) Cross 1824–1840
- Ann Jane Cross 1826–1827
- James Cross 1828–1882
- William Grapel Cross 1832– 1876
- Frederick Beswick Cross 1833–1910
James and Ann’s third child, the eldest daughter, was called Ellen. She was born 9 February 1824 and baptised in the Chapelry of Hale on 22 August 1824. The baptism register records James’s occupation as road surveyor and their abode as St Helens. Ellen Cross was Greg’s 3rd great aunt.
On the 1841 census James Cross, occupation farmer, was living with his wife Ann and three of his five sons: Thomas, James and Francis. There is no mention of daughters.
The eldest son, John, was a surgeon’s apprentice on the 1841 census living with Thomas Gaskill surgeon in Prescott.
James and Ann’s son William Grapel Cross was possibly at school. He was then about ten years old but ten years later he was with the family on the 1851 census. There is a William Cross at a grammar school in Whalley in 1841. The age and Lancashire location seem to fit, and the fact that he later got a job as an Admiralty clerk indicates he was well educated.
Ellen and her sister Ann Jane who was born in 1826 were not with the family.
Ann Jane Cross was born 28 June 1826 and baptised 16 July 1826 at St Helens, Lancashire. There is a burial on 14 May 1827 at St Mary, Hale, Lancashire, England of an Anne Jane Cross with Age: 1 Abode: St Helens. She seems likely to have been Anne the daughter of James and Ann.
There is a marriage of Ellen Cross daughter of James Cross, husbandman of Eccleston, in 1842. Ellen was a minor and this is consistent with the 1824 birth-date as she would then have been 18. A husbandman’s status was inferior to that of a yeoman. The latter owned land; the former did not.
Ellen could not sign her name, nor could her husband and the witnesses. From what I know of the family of James and Ann Cross it seems unlikely that Ellen could not sign her own name. I am also not able to identify the witness Elizabeth Cross.
I found an 1840 burial at St Thomas Eccleston for a Helen Cross. Her age is given as 16. This is consistent with Ellen’s 1824 year of birth. Her abode is recorded as Eccleston. There are no other clues to suggest that this Helen Cross was indeed Ellen the daughter of James and Ann Cross.
To confirm my hunch that Ellen daughter of James and Ann was Helen who was buried at Ecclestone in 1840, I ordered the death certificate of Helen Cross from the UK General Register Office.
Helen Cross, aged 16 years 2 months, daughter of James Cross, clerk,
died of consumption on 10 April 1840 at Eccleston. This Helen’s age
matches that of Ellen born February 1824.
Different documents give different occupations for James Cross, but I
believe that for each of the instances that it is the same person.
Consumption, now more commonly known as tuberculosis, is an infectious bacterial disease, usually affecting the lungs. A common symptom is a persistent cough, which in later stages brings up blood. The patient, with no appetite, loses weight. Other symptoms include a high temperature, night sweats, and extreme tiredness. Tuberculosis was usually a slow killer; patients could waste away for years.
An 1840 study attributed one fifth of deaths in England to consumption. It has been claimed “Tuberculosis was so prevalent in Europe and the United States during the period comprising the end of the 18th century through the first half of the 19th century that almost every family on the two continents was affected in some way by the disease.”
In 1838 the death rate in England and Wales from tuberculosis was around 4,000 deaths per 1 million people; it fell to around 3,000 per million in 1850. The improvements in the death rate have been attributed to improvements in food supplies and nutrition as the improvements are before knowledge of the cause of the disease or any treatment was available.
The World Health Organisation reports that today tuberculosis is still one of the top 10 causes of death and the leading cause from a single infectious agent. Worldwide 1.5 million people died from TB in 2018; over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries. The WHO estimated 58 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2018 and the WHO hopes to eliminate TB by 2030.
- Babcox, Emilie D. PhD Commentary, Academic Medicine: May 2005 – Volume 80 – Issue 5 – p 457 retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/academicmedicine/fulltext/2005/05000/commentary.11.aspx
- Victorian novels with tubercular death scenes include Charles Dickens: Nicholas Nickleby (Smike) published 1838 – 9
- Bodington, George (1840). An Essay on the Treatment and Cure of Pulmonary Consumption: On Principles Natural, Rational, and Successful; with Suggestions for an Improved Plan of Treatment of the Disease Among the Lower Classes of Society. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans.
- Quenton Wessels (14 January 2019). The Medical Pioneers of Nineteenth Century Lancaster. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 15 from chapter 2 Health, Disease and Society by Simran Dass, Quenton Wessels and Adam M Taylor
- Scrimshaw, Nevin S. Integrating nutrition into programmes of primary health care, Food and Nutrition Bulletin Volume 10, Number 4, 1988 (United Nations University Press, 1988, 74 p.) retrieved from http://preview.tinyurl.com/lyodwzf
- World Health Organisation Tuberculosis fact sheet 24 March 2020 retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tuberculosis