Eliza was conceived in Norfolk in the autumn of 1870. In the spring of 1871 her family left Norfolk and walked to Swinton pushing a handcart. They were economic migrants. Wages were a third higher in the West Riding. There was father George, his pregnant wife Fanny, and five children ranging from 3 to 16. When they arrived in Swinton they were met by the eldest son, Robert, who was living in Fitzwilliam Street with cousins who had made the journey some years before. The child Fanny was carrying was born on August 16th and baptised Eliza at Swinton.
When she was sixteen Eliza sent this letter to her parents who were now living in Station Street:
November 2nd. 1887.
Dear Father and Mother,
You will no doubt have been greatly troubled about me going away in the manner in which I have done, but I ask of you both to forgive me. I am on my road to America, in the ship Pennsylvania. I asked my father the other week about going, and he would not hear of it, and I knew that if William went, and he would take me, that I should go with him. Dear mother, if you should never see either of us again, tell us in your first letter that you forgive us both. Dear mother my sister Elizabeth little thought that when she hoped I should not come back, that she would get her wish. Dear mother, as soon as you receive this letter, write to my uncle and brothers, and tell them that we are coming, as they will get your letter before we get there. Also send me a letter; I should like to hear from home once again. Tell William’s mother, my Uncle’s address, so that they can send him a letter. Give my very best love to my sister, also to my father: accept the same yourself, from your ever loving daughter, Eliza Rix. Written in haste, no time to write, more next time. XXXXXXXXXXXX
Eliza had eloped. Her William was William Hanby. He was 26. Their destination was Brockway, Michigan where Eliza’s uncles Robert and James Rix had become successful farmers after deserting from the British army in Canada taking with them the money collected to buy their discharge. Also in the house in Brockway was her brother Robert who had left his family in Kilnhurst. He had married a Norfolk neighbour at Swinton in 1873.
Once married, Eliza got William to send this letter:
November 25, 1887.
Dear Father and Mother,
Just a few lines, hoping to find you quite well as it leaves us at present. In reply to your letter, we both arrived at Michigan quite safe, and hope you will not bother yourself about us. At present we are both quite comfortable, and I am pleased to inform you that we got married on Thursday November 24th. at my uncle’s house and had quite a jolly party there. [Uncle] Robert had not the pleasure of being at the wedding, as he left here on Wednesday morning and went to the woods. We shall not perhaps see him any more at Michigan, as we should not think of staying at a place like this. You must not leave Swinton to come to America as you will be greatly disappointed if you do. We shall no doubt stay in America a short time, but you can do better in England, but you have not quite so much freedom as you have in America. You can do very well in America if you go into business, and you can do it very cheap. My aunt and Uncle wish to be kindly remembered to you, and they are both quite well. It would no doubt be a great treat for you to come over on a visit. You cannot imagine what kind of place it is – quite a change from Swinton. Write us a good long letter and tell us what they say at the pottery and in the village about us coming away as we did. Of course we do not care. We shall return to Swinton when we are tired of America. Will you kindly say in your letter whether your son Robert’s wife [Eliza’s brother] has got the last lot of money he sent on October 23rd. or not as we have not heard from her yet. Robert is quite well. …………………………
You can imagine from this what Uncle Robert thought of the business, and soon enough William was tired of America and by January 1888 they were back in England.
Nottingham Evening Post, Tues Jan 1 1889. (a similar and largely verbatim report appears in 2 Sheffield papers.)
A Swinton Elopement
An American Marriage.
Yesterday at the Rotherham West Riding Police Court a stylishly dressed young woman named Eliza Hanby of Swinton asked the court to make a maintenance order upon her husband, William Hanby who had deserted her, and who, it was alleged, had been looking for a situation in Nottingham. Mr W.E.Clegg appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Hickmott represented the defendant. . They came back to England in the early part of January, and for three weeks lived with the complainant’s mother at Swinton. Defendant then left his wife, ostensibly to find work, promising to return in a week. If he did not come back he would let her know where he was. The defendant did not do as he said, and the complainant was unaware of his whereabouts until a few days ago, when she ascertained that he was in Staffordshire. She at once took out a summons under the Act of Parliament.
The complainant was examined. She said her name was Eliza Hanby, of 44 Station Street Swinton, She would be 18 next July…………………………………………………..
In 1889 a divorce was impossible for the likes of Eliza. She was awarded 5/- weekly maintenance from William in spite of hints in some of the newspaper coverage of alleged adultery. She can be found in 1891 living with her mother and father as a married but single woman. In 1893 the situation was abruptly changed.
The Blackburn standard and weekly express – Sunday 1 April 1893.
In 1902 Eliza married John Charlesworth, miner, and lodger in her father’s house but the story does not have a happy ending. There were no children and Eliza died 14 November 1905 at 44 Station Street with her husband present at the death. Cause of death was TB, emaciation and exhaustion.
Eliza was my wife’s great great aunt and I would dearly have liked to meet her. If your family name is Rix and you live in the Swinton area you are almost certainly related to Eliza through her father’s cousins William and John who also made the journey from Norfolk about 1850. Before they arrived there seem to have been no Rix in the West Riding. If you would like to know more about the family please get in touch.
The White Family of Bridge Street
A Dash to Death
Sad Accident at Swinton- A Heedless Boy
“One cannot emphasise too much the dangerous practice of boys clinging to the rear of lorries and suddenly darting off into the path of approaching traffic. I think everything to teach children not to do this is being done in the schools but boys will be boys whether there is danger or not.” This was the statement of Mr W H Carlile at an inquiry at the Mexborough Hospital on Monday into the death of Frederick White ((8), son of David White, platelayer, 5 Bridge Street, Swinton, who was knocked down by a bus in Bridge Street, Swinton, last Monday.David White (Father) said he last saw his child alive at 6.45am on Monday, when witness went to work.
Wm Else, a motor driver of Trafalgar Street, Sheffield, said he was driving a van at the rear of a Yorkshire Traction company’s bus about 4.20pm in Bridge Street, Swinton, in the direction of Mexborough. He saw a lorry approaching in the opposite direction. The lorry and the bus were side by side when a boy ran from behind the lorry and into the side of the bus. He struck the bus just behind the offside front wheel. He was knocked down. The bus was crawling at the time because witness thought he had been stopped just before. The offside front wheel went over the boy. Witness did not hear any horn. The bus travelled about a foot after the boy had hit it. The Coroner: “It is rather a marvellous thing that the back wheel went over the lad? Well, that was after he had gone over the boy. The bus would travel half its length from the time boy ran into it.”
Witness added that in his opinion, the driver of the bus could not have avoided the land and no person was to blame. There were many children at the time coming from school. Albert Richmond, Copley Road, Doncaster, driver of the bus, said he was driving from Kilnhurst to Doncaster. “When I got to the bridge, I noticed a lorry standing in front of a shop on the right hand side of the road. I proceeded very slowly in third gear and as soon as the front of my bus got level with the rear of the lorry, I saw a boy run from the back of the lorry. His head struck the front offside of my bus. I could not say where he struck. I felt the front offside wheel go over him and I pulled up immediately. My speed would not be five miles an hour. I got out of the driving cab as soon as I had stopped and saw the boy lying between the front and rear wheels. He was unconscious and the conductress and a woman picked him up. He was taken into a shop nearby and was attended by Dr L Ram.
Witness added that he saw several other boys at the rear of the lorry. He could not say whether White ran from behind the lorry or from the causeway. Witness sounded his horn as he went over the canal bridge. He always passed that spot slowly because of the difficulty in seeing traffic. He had been driving buses for six years and had not had any previous accidents. PC Baldwin said he was called to the scene of the accident and saw the child being attended by Dr Ram. The bus was still in the position when pulled up after the accident. It was less than two feet from the near side of the road and 35 yards from the canal bridge. The road at this point was 22ft wide. He examined the road and saw skid marks at the rear of the bus which showed that it had been pulled up almost immediately. “The street was flooded with children at that time as it is every day. It is a bad place,” added the constable in reply to a question by a juryman. Dr Kathleen L Bland, assistant house surgeon at the Mexborough Hospital said White was admitted to the institution about 4pm on Wednesday last. He was suffering from meningitis, following cerebral haemorrhage. He was unconscious and the left side of his body and face were paralysed. He died on Thursday at 11.15pm and the cause of death was meningitis.
A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned, the driver exonerated.