Richard Atcherley in pre-WW2 Germany – Part 2

< Back to Part 1

Germany does not want to fight England, but the spirit of the new Germany will brook no interference from any Power which attempts to hinder the attainment of what the Germans consider to be their lawful and rightful aims. The advent of air power has placed a weapon in their hands by which they can impose the same pressure on England which the British Navy imposed on them in the last war. In an amazingly short time they have developed an Air Force which is the most powerful in Europe …  – H V Rowley, 1936

With these words, Squadron Leader Herbert Rowley began setting out the conclusions that he and Group Captain Richard Atcherley had reached as a result of their visit to Germany in October 1936. Rowley and Atcherley had wanted to see “something of the German Air Force’s personnel, aeroplanes and methods of expansion”, and that’s exactly what they did.

On Saturday 10 October, ‘our men in Berlin’ were driven out to Damm aerodrome to see one of the squadrons of the Richthofen group. Rowley had a particular interest in this group – during the First World War he had fought on the same front as the old Richthofen Squadron, flying Sopwith triplanes and Camels in 1917. Along with ‘Dick’ Atcherley he was now able to tour the aerodrome and see how the men and their machines operated in 1936. A half-hour show by a flight of three Heinkels and a demonstration of the Focke-Wolf intermediate trainer was put on for their benefit.

Heinkel He 111, 1940

Weaponry was on show too, including a machine gun which could be fired at a rate of 1,000 rounds per minute without jamming. It appeared that experiments with the use of cannon were also being carried out. “Altogether we were very impressed by the personnel of the squadron”, wrote Rowley. He and Atcherley “left at a rather disgracefully late hour” after a long but enjoyable day. Rowley continued:

As we drove away we thought what a very fine gesture it would be if our Fighting Command were to present some piece of silver to the Richthofen Geschwader in honour of its reformation. After all even in the war we had the greatest respect and admiration for each other which almost amounted to friendliness, although we killed each other to the best of our ability. Such a gift to grace the Squadron mess-table would mean a very great deal to the officers of this famous German Squadron …  I commend the idea, (which originated as usual with Dick Atcherley) to the A.O.C. Fighting Command, and should like to subscribe a guinea or so, if the idea is approved.

Seeing German planes and the methods by which they were developed and produced were the objectives of most of the other ‘day trips’ undertaken by Rowley and Atcherley while in Germany. On Friday 9 October, at “the rather grim hour of eight-thirty” they were taken to the DVL (Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt, the German Research Institute for Aviation) at Adlershof. Accompanying them were three American guests, including Mr Nutt, the Chief Engineer and vice-president of the Wright Corporation.

The tour of the DVL first took in a wind tunnel and an engine-testing department. The next stop, after “an excellent luncheon” was the spinning tunnel. “The Germans,” wrote Rowley, “are most interested in spinning and evidently have had a certain amount of trouble with their new aeroplanes.” In this tunnel, the air was conserved to flow round and round. According to Rowley, “Atcherley explained to the Professors that at Farnborough we let the air go as warm air is about the only commodity which our own D.V.L. can produce in quantity with the money allotted to it.”

After viewing the material testing station, the Germans showed their British and American guests the aeroplanes used for flight tests, mostly Heinkel 70s (Blitz),  Klemms and Messerschmidts. An opportunity to examine more German planes was provided on the afternoon of Sunday 11 October during a visit to Tempelhof. There, Rowley and Atcherley “looked all over the civil versions of the Heinkel 111 and Junkers 86, which are, in my opinion, both structurally and aerodynamically as good, if not better than any of our latest civil or military aircraft.” On the following day, Monday October 12th:

One of our professor friends had kindly arranged for us to fly the Focke-Wolf aerobatic aeroplane at Tempelhof, and Col. Hannesse had promised to have us flown out to Rostock to the Heinkel works. But to our great chagrin, having got up at a most frightful hour, we found that the clouds were almost on the ground, and not only the birds but even the Germans were walking. We were greatly tempted to get into our Gull and fly to Rostock ourselves, as I knew Dick could manage it, provided he could see ten yards ahead, but on second thoughts decided it might be rather tactless.

After getting up close and personal with the civil version of the Heinkel 111 on 11 October, Rowley and Atcherley were able to “crawl all over” the military version, the Heinkel 111 bomber, two days later at Rostock (thanks to the application of Richard Atcherley’s charm upon Prince Henry Reuss on the evening of the 12th). Rowley was of the opinion that this bomber was “an exceptionally clean twin-engined low-wing monoplane” which, aerodynamically, looked “as nice as one could wish. … There is not an airframe in England among all our latest bombers which looks better.” He concluded: “The Heinkel 111 struck me as being an extremely fine bombing weapon”.

Junkers Ju 86 bomber

Perhaps the most eye-opening day of Rowley and Atcherley’s visit to Germany was Wednesday 14 October, when a tour of the Junkers aircraft works at Dessau took place. A number of other observers also participated in this tour, one of whom, arriving in his own light plane, observed “85 aeroplanes on the aerodrome of which 45 to 50 were new bombers.” Based on this information, Rowley stated: “it is reasonable to suppose that Germany possesses hundreds of these weapons.” He also noted:

Like everyone who visits the Junkers organisation one comes away with but little information in the shape of concrete facts.   The organisation is so vast that it is quite impossible to grasp it during a short visit. … The erecting plant on the aerodrome was estimated by one of the Americans to be as large as the complete Douglas organisation in America. Another American stated that the whole American aviation industry could be lost inside the Junkers organisation. There must be from 5 to 10 thousand men here alone.

Following a demonstration flight of the new bomber, Richard Atcherley was allowed to fly it (“unofficially of course”). He found that “it was extremely pleasant and easy to fly and had no vices.” Junkers were turning these weapons out at a rate of 45 per month. “The construction is extremely simple,” wrote Rowley, “and it is clear that it has been designed expressly for mass construction. … When I think that the Junkers 86 bomber is a fine weapon, almost equal to the best of our new types and superior to most, and when I realise that we have one only of each of our new types, it makes me realise the present Air power of Germany and wonder what it will be like in two or three years time.”

In concluding his report, Rowley contrasted the British and German approaches to military aircraft production. The Germans, he stated, “are concentrating on producing an efficient bombing force first of all … and what is most important, they have realised one simple and commonsense fact which so far has escaped our Air Staff. This is the principle that mass production is not possible on many different types, and that the Air Staff must select one or two good weapons and get them in quantity.”

Britain meanwhile was “ordering many different types of bombers or potential bombers … all of which demand their share of the country’s productive power. … Give us the Vickers and the Bristol bomber in quantity for our striking force, backed up by the Hurricane and Spitfire for our defences, and we shall have a force superior to any in its equipment, and, because of its simplicity, one which can expand readily in time of war.”

Supermarine Spitfire Mark IIB © IWM (E(MOS) 483)

Rowley stated: “I think I am not wrong when I state that there is a large body of experienced and keen Officers in the Royal Air Force who are in complete agreement with my own and Atcherley’s views, and therefore we earnestly hope that they may be given consideration by the Air Staff…”. The final paragraph of his report, which was signed by both Rowley and Atcherley, read as follows:

Unfortunately in these days, when instead of the collective security we had hoped for, we find collective madness, our only hope for peace is to prepare for war. From the point of view of the Royal Air Force, such preparation means building up a powerful striking force. Let us, therefore build it up in the logical way by selecting our best weapon and producing that weapon in quantity.

Rowley’s report probably went unread by those in the Air Ministry who needed to see and act on it. But Rowley had also sent a summary to Wing Commander Charles Anderson, who in turn supplied it to a certain back-bench MP who had managed to get himself appointed to the Air Defence Research Sub-Committee in 1935. That MP was Winston Churchill. He later got to see an edited version of the full report, and meet Rowley in person. What Churchill learned from Rowley (and other sources) helped him to criticise Government policy in the years just before the Second World War.

One of Churchill’s earliest acts after he became Prime Minister in 1940 was to create the Ministry of Aircraft Production. It was decreed that production should be concentrated on the four key types of aircraft which Rowley and Atcherley had called for – the Vickers Wellington and Bristol Blenheim bombers, plus the Hurricane and Spitfire fighters – along with the Whitley V bomber. Though its methods were unorthodox, the Ministry ensured that Britain had sufficient airpower to fight and win the Battle of Britain.


Picture credits. Heinkel He 111, 1940: Photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-385-0593-05 / Dahm / CC-BY-SA, taken from Wikimedia Commons, adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Junkers Ju 86: Photo Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-2400 / CC-BY-SA, taken from Wikimedia Commons, adapted, used and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Spitfire: Photo © IWM (E(MOS) 483), used under the IWM Non-Commercial Licence.


References.

[1] The National Archives, Kew, item ref AIR 40/2086: Report on a visit to Germany by Sqn. Ldr. H.V. Rowley and Flt. Lt. R.L. Atcherley. Indexed at TNA Discovery catalogue.
[2] Timothy Neil Jenkins (2013), The Evolution of British Airborne Warfare: A Technological Perspective. A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Copy viewed at University of Birmingham website.
[3] Vincent Orange (2006), The German Air Force Is Already “The Most Powerful in Europe”: Two Royal Air Force Officers Report on a Visit to Germany, 6-15 October 1936. In: The Journal of Military History, Volume 70, Number 4, October 2006, pp. 1011-1028. Copy viewed at the Project Muse website.
[4] David T Zabecki (ed.) (2015), World War II in Europe: An Encyclopedia. Page 1406. Previewed at Google Books.
[5] Stories of the Battle of Britain 1940 – Lord Beaverbrook, a Week at the Office. At: The Spitfire Site (website, accessed 10 Jul 2015).

Was Margaret Atcherley’s son transported to Australia?

In 1843 a man by the name of Charles Needham was sentenced, at Sheffield, Yorkshire, to seven years transportation. He was sent ‘Down Under’ on the Equestrian, which departed England on 25 January 1844. Charles arrived at Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) later that year and eventually obtained a ticket of leave at Hobart, meaning that he was free to settle in Australia or return home. A number of online family trees say that this Charles was the son of Thomas Needham and his wife, Margaret Ann, nee Atcherley. But was that really the case?

According to an entry dated 29 November 1797 in the parish register of Kinnerley in Shropshire, Margaret Ann Atcherley was the “Daughter of John Atcherley and Anna Meria his wife Formerley howell”. The register also recorded that Margaret was born on 6 October that year, that her family’s abode was Edgerley (a township in Kinnerley parish), and that her father was a “Freehoulder”.

Some 26 years later on 6 January 1824, at the church of St Oswald in Oswestry (pictured right), Margaret Atcherley – living in that parish – married Thomas Needham, of Whitford (near Holywell, in Flintshire, Wales). Thomas was a native of Whitford and was baptised there on 16 May 1802. The marriage of Thomas and Margaret was by licence rather than by banns, and both bride and groom signed the register. Both had therefore come from families which had the means to pay for the education their children, and Thomas could afford the higher cost of a marriage by licence. Yet he had an occupation which I would not normally associate with his apparent status.

Thomas and Margaret’s first two children, Mary Anne and Jane, were baptised in north-east Wales in 1825 and 1827 (at Wrexham and Holywell respectively). In both case, the baptism registers showed that Thomas was a miner. Looking at old maps for the abodes of the Needham family as recorded in the registers (“Pantywyll” – actually Pant-tywyll in Minera township – and Brynford) reveals that there were lead mines close by.

By 1830 the Needhams had moved again, had possibly changed their religious affiliation, and Thomas was engaged in a new line of work. The evidence for all this can be found in the following entry in the register of St David’s Wesleyan Church in Parliament Street, Manchester, dated 10 October 1830:

Charles — the Son — of Thomas Needham of Jenkinson Street in the Parish of Manchester in the County of Lancaster Gardener — and of Margaret — his wife, who was the daughter of John and Hannah Atcherley was born on the Sixteenth — day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and — thirty — And was solemnly baptized with water, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, on the tenth day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty by me Humphrey Jones.

Jenkinson Street was situated in Chorlton upon Medlock, in the south-eastern part of the city, borough and parish of Manchester. Exactly what it was that drew the Needham family to that city is beyond me. However they were still there in 1836, and Thomas was still working as a gardener, when the last addition to the family – Elizabeth – was baptised on 31 December at Rusholme Road Chapel. She had been born three months earlier on 27 September.

When the census of 1841 was taken, Thomas, Margaret and their four children were back in Holywell parish, Flintshire, this time in the township of Greenfield. No occupation was recorded for Thomas, but the family’s address was Parish Mine Road. Their neighbours included a copper chipper, a copper refiner, labourers and two forgemen. It seems logical to assume that Thomas was there to work in the local copper mine. His return to his usual field of employment did not however mean an end to his family’s travels – at least not yet.

A more settled existence for Thomas and Margaret Needham began sometime between 1841 and 1851, when they moved to Maesydre (or Maes-y-dre) just outside the town of Mold. They were recorded in this town – situated midway between Holywell and Wrexham – on the 1851 census, and it should come as no surprise to find that Thomas was working as a lead miner. I suspect he and Margaret were still there at the time of the 1861 census too. However it appears that some of the pages from the end of Mold district 3 have not survived, and I think the Needham household was among those in Maes-y-dre which were on the missing pages.

Neither Thomas nor Margaret made it to the next census – both died in 1865. Margaret was buried at St Mary’s church in Mold on 25 January, her age given as 71 (she was in fact 67). Thomas joined his wife on 31 August, his age given as 65. The burial register recorded the abode for both as Maesydre.

I have tracked the fortunes of Thomas and Margaret Needham’s children with varying degrees of success. Mary Anne and Jane seem to disappear from the records after the 1841 census, with no death, burial, marriage of later census records which I can link to them with certainty. Elizabeth, the only child of Thomas and Margaret who was still with them when the 1851 census was taken, married in 1865 and had at least four children by 1881 (that year’s census being the last trace I have found of her and her family).

Like his older sisters, Charles Needham fails to turn up on any census taken after 1841, as far as I can tell. He does however show up in Australian records. On 3 April 1854 Charles married the widowed Susanna Ennis (nee Pate) at St Phillip’s Church in Sydney (pictured above). Susanna was born in that city in 1835, and her first marriage, to Joseph Ennis, had taken place at St Phillip’s in 1851. Sydney was most likely also the birthplace of Charles and Susanna’s first child, Charles William Joseph Needham, his birth being registered in New South Wales in 1855.

At some point over the next two years, Charles and Susanna relocated to the state of Victoria – the death of their infant son was registered there in 1857. Later that same year (on 2 August) Susanna gave birth to a baby girl, Elizabeth, at White Hills on the outskirts of Bendigo. I can only describe Elizabeth’s entry in the register of births as a mine of information. It confirms amongst other things that her father, 28-year-old Charles Needham, born in Manchester, England, was – like his father before him – a miner.

While Thomas Needham had extracted lead and copper, in Australia Charles was mining for gold. This precious metal had been discovered at Bendigo Creek in 1851, sparking a gold rush and fuelling the growth of the mining settlement. Gold was also found elsewhere in Victoria during the 1850s, including Pleasant Creek where the town of Stawell was established. Charles and Susanna had moved to this area by 1864, when the birth of their fifth child, Susan Emma Needham, was registered. The births of five more children were registered at Pleasant Creek from 1866 to 1878, during which time the town of Stawell continued to grow.

The Official Post Office Directory of Victoria of 1869 lists Chas Needham, a miner, of Stawell – but also lists Chs Needham, an engine driver, of Quartz Reef. These two listings may both have been for the same man. When the birth of Charles and Susanna’s ninth child – Evelyn Atcherley Needham – was registered in 1875, the register recorded Charles’s occupation as “Engine Driver”. It is possible that Charles had bought his own stationary engine and set up in business. What is certain is that in 1878, “Charles Needham, Wimmera-street, Stawell” was declared insolvent due to “Dulness [sic] in trade and pressure of creditors”. Hopefully this was a temporary setback from which Charles recovered – 1878 was also the year in which his tenth child was born so he had nine children to feed. (Child number 10, incidentally, was named after his mother’s, his father’s and his own birthplace: Sydney Manchester Stawell Needham!)

I know very little about the remainder of Charles’s life in Australia, besides the details of his death. Charles Needham passed away on 3 May 1903 at Moonee Ponds, Victoria. He was 72.  His widow Susanna died in Darlinghurst on 2 June 1907 (death notices for both Charles and Susanna are shown above). The question of how Charles Needham’s life in Australia began needs addressing however. Was he transported as a convict? I think not.

The Charles Needham who was convicted at the Sheffield Quarter Sessions of 7 September 1843 was aged 26, and was therefore born around 1817. He was, I suspect, the Charles Needham born in 1817 and baptised 1821 in Sheffield, son of Charles Needham, a scissorsmith, and his wife Harriet. I would guess he was also the Charles Needham, cutler, shown on the 1841 census living with William Needham (also a cutler, and presumably Charles’ brother) in the Sheffield home of John Judge (yet another cutler). Charles’s age was recorded as 20, but adult ages were usually rounded down to the nearest 5 years on this census. It seems that his work with Sheffield steel led to a case of Sheffield steal, as he was found “Guilty of stealing six dozens of table blades, at Sheffield”. He was almost certainly the 40 year old Charles Needham, a labourer, who died on 5 Apr 1858 in the district of Launceston, Tasmania.

So how and when did Charles Needham, son of Thomas Needham and Margaret Ann Atcherley, arrive in Australia? I don’t yet know when, but I think I know how. I have recently discovered that Charles was ‘ticketed’ as a merchant seaman on 8 August 1846, aged 16. His complexion was fair, his eyes dark brown, and he had a cut to the side of his left eye. As for his height, this was noted as “growing”! Charles first went to sea as an apprentice during 1846. I think it is very likely that it was as a seaman that Charles arrived in Australia. I am certain he was not transported – and I say that, if you will pardon the pun, with some conviction.

Postscript: Another record relating to Charles Needham’s merchant navy apprenticeship has come to light. An entry for Charles in a register of Apprentices’ Indentures, bearing his Register Ticket number (337,687), shows that on 8 August 1846 he was bound to Robert Allen of Londonderry for four years, to serve aboard the Clydesdale. However, it appears that Charles did not complete his apprenticeship. He was one of many young apprentices recorded as having “deserted”, and the note in red above his name shows that he deserted at Quebec! Having ‘jumped ship’ he presumably found alternative employment and worked his passage to Australia. What an adventure!


Picture credits. Oswestry St Oswald: Photo by Alan Myers, taken from his Flickr photostream, adapted and used under a Creative Commons licence. St Phillip’s Church, Sydney, New South Wales: Public domain photo from the collections of the State Library of NSW, taken from Wikimedia Commons. Charles and Susanna Needham, death notices: Composite image from copies of the Sydney Morning Herald published before 1954 and therefore out of copyright; taken from Trove (National Library of Australia) (see Trove’s Using digitised newspapers FAQ).


References

[1] Convict Transportation Registers (The National Archives, Kew, Class HO 11, Piece 14, folios 2 (recto) and 9 (recto). Copies viewed at Ancestry – Australian Convict Transportation Registers – Other Fleets & Ships, 1791-1868.
[2]
Settlers and Convicts, New South Wales and Tasmania (The National Archives, Kew, Class HO 10, Piece 38, Folio 446 (recto) and Piece 40, Folio 344 (verso)). Copies viewed at Ancestry – New South Wales and Tasmania, Australia Convict Musters, 1806-1849.
[3] Kinnerley, Shropshire, parish register covering 1797. Entry for baptism of Magt Ann Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1913), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of St Asaph, volume III (Kinnerley, Page 246); copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01544-1, Film 908230.
[4] St Oswald, Oswestry, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1824. Entry for Thomas Needham and Margaret Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I03560-6, Film 1657589, Ref ID item 6 p 199.
[5] St Beuno & St Mary, Whitford, Flintshire, baptism register covering 1802. Entry for Thomas Needham, son of Thomas and Mary Needham, abode Uwch Glan. Information provided by Rootschat user Paul.
[6] Marriage licence. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 5 Jul 2015).
[7] Wrexham, Denbighshire, baptism register covering 1825. Entry dated 20 November for Mary Anne Needham. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Denbigh Baptisms.
[8] Holywell, Flintshire, baptism register covering 1827. Entry dated 9 November for Jane Needham. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Flint Baptisms.
[9] Ordnance Survey (1879), six-inch map series, Denbighshire Sheet XXVIII. (Pant-tywyll appears below the ‘a’ of ‘Minera’ and to the north of the Minera Lead Mines.) Copy viewed at National Library of Scotland website.
[10] Ordnance Survey (1878), six-inch map series, Flintshire Sheet VI. Copy viewed at National Library of Scotland website.
[11] St David’s Wesleyan Church, Parliament Street, Manchester, baptism register covering 1830. Entry for Charles Needham. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C08934-1, Film 0560888 (RG4 1145).
[12] Rusholme Road Chapel, Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester, baptism register covering 1836. Entry for Elizabeth Needham. (The National Archives, Kew, item RG4/813, folio 16 (verso).) Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1970. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C08820-1, Film 0560879 (RG4 813).
[13] 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 1413, book 5, folio 57, page 24. Parish Mine Row, Greenfield, Holywell, Flintshire, Wales. Thomas Needham, 40, [no occupation given] born in county. Margaret Needham, 45, not born in county. Mary Needham, 15, born in county. Jane Needham, 13, born in county. Charles Needham, 10, not born in county. Elizabeth Needham, 4, not born in county.
[14] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 2501, folio 599, page 42. Maesydre, Mold, Flintshire, Wales. Head: Thomas Needham, 50, lead miner, born Whitford. Wife: Margaret A Needham, 54, born Kinnerley, Shropshire. Dau: Elizabeth Needham, 15, born Manchester, Lancashire.
[15] Ordnance Survey (1878), six-inch map series, Flintshire Sheet XIII. (Maes-y-dre shown just north of Mold.) Copy viewed at National Library of Scotland website.
[16] Death of Margaret Needham registered at Holywell, March quarter 1865; volume 11b, page 233.
[17] St Mary, Mold, Flintshire, burial register covering 1865. Entry for Margaret Needham. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Flintshire Burials.
[18] Death of Thomas Needham registered at Holywell, September quarter 1865; volume 11b, page 193.
[19] St Mary, Mold, Flintshire, burial register covering 1865. Entry for Thomas Needham. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Flintshire Burials.
[20] St Mary, Mold, Flintshire, marriage register. Entry dated 15 Oct 1865 for Humphrey Jones, 25, Bachelor, Collier, and Elizabeth Needham, 28, Spinster, father Thomas Needham, Miner.
[21] 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 5646, folio 73, page 46. 66 Maes Dre, Mold, Flintshire. Head: Humphrey Jones, 31, collier, born Mold. Wife: Elizabeth Jones, 32, collier’s wife, born Manchester [Lancashire]. Dau: Margaret Jane Jones, 4, born Mold. Dau: Charlotte Jones, 2, born Mold. Dau: Catherine Jones, 7 months, born Mold.
[22] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 5507, folio 106, pages 39 and 40. 16 Cileen Road, Mold, Flintshire. Head: Humphrey Jones, 44, coal miner, born [Rho___r ?]. Wife: Elizabeth Jones, 43, born City of Manchester [Lancashire]. Dau: Charlotte Jones, 13, born Mold. Dau: Eliza Jones, 9, born Mold.
[23] New South Wales marriage registration number 18/1854 V185418 41B. Charles Needham and Sussana Ennis. District CA. Found via search at New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages website.
[24] Early church codes. At: New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages website (accessed 9 Jul 2015).
[25] New South Wales birth registration number 2276/1855 V18552276 42A. Charles W Needham, parents Charles and Susan. Found via search at New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages website.
[26] Victoria, Australia death registration 2248 of 1857. Charles William Needham, age 1. Parents Charles and Susan. Source: Ancestry – Australia Death Index, 1787-1985.
[27] Victoria, Australia birth registrations 12490 of 1857 (Elizabeth Needham, at Maryborough); 4294 of 1860 (William Henry Needham), 10028 of 1863 (Emily Needham, at Redbank); 24014 of 1864 (Susan Emma Needham, at Pleasant Creek); 23356 of 1866 (Reuben Thomas Needham, at Pleasant Creek); 25484 of 1868 (Charles George Needham, at Pleasant Creek); 18678 of 1871 (Cecilia Eleanor Needham, at Stawell); 11170 of 1874 (Evelyn Atcherley Needham, at Pleasant Creek); 4557 of 1879 (Sydney Manchester Stawell Needham, at Pleasant Creek); parents Charles Needham and Susan/Susannah Pate/Ennis. Source: Ancestry – Australia Birth Index, 1788-1922.
[28] Victoria, Australia birth register entry for Elizabeth Needham, born August 2nd 1857 at White Hills. Copy downloaded from Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages website.
[29] Bendigo. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 5 Jul 2015).
[30] The Early Days of Stawell. At: Stawell Historical Society (website, accessed 5 Jul 2015).
[31] Stawell, Victoria. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 9 Jul 2015).
[32] Victoria, Australia birth register entry for Evelyn Atcherley Needham, born April 10th 1874 at Borough of Stawell. Copy downloaded from Victoria Births, Deaths and Marriages website.
[33] The Official Post Office Directory of Victoria. 1869. Page 572. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[34] The Argus (Melbourne), 4 Apr 1878, page 5. Copy viewed at Trove.
[35] Victoria, Australia death registration 5533 of 1903. Chas Needham, age 72, mother’s name Atcherly, at Esdon. Parents Charles and Susan. Source: Ancestry – Australia Death Index, 1787-1985.
[36] Sydney Morning Herald, 5 May 1903, page 4. Deaths. Copy viewed at Trove.
[37] New South Wales, Australia death registration 3678 of 1907. Susanna Needham, age parents Reuben and Mary. Parents Charles and Susan. Source: Ancestry – Australia Death Index, 1787-1985.
[38] Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Jun 1907, page 6. Deaths. Copy viewed at Trove.
[39] Criminal Registers, England and Wales (The National Archives, Kew, Class HO 27, Piece 71, Folios 508 (verso) and 509 (recto)). Copies viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892.
[40] Sheffield Independent, 9 Sep 1843, page 4. Midsummer Sessions. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[41] St Peter & St Paul, Sheffield, Yorkshire, baptism register covering 1821. Entry for Charles Needham. Transcript by Sheffield & District Family History Society viewed at Findmypast – Sheffield Baptisms.
[42] 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 1335, book 14, folio 41, page 5. Matthew Street, Sheffield, Yorkshire.
[43] Register of Deaths in Launceston & Country Districts, 1858, entry number 400. Copy viewed at Linc Tasmania website.
[44] Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Register of Seamen’s Tickets (The National Archives, Kew, Class BT 113, Piece 169, no. 337,687). Copy viewed at Findmypast – Merchant Navy Seamen.
[45] Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Index of Apprentices (The National Archives, Kew, Class BT 150, Piece 22). Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, Apprentices Indentured in Merchant Navy, 1824-1910.

The Rev James Atcherley, Head Master of Shrewsbury – Part 2

< Back to Part 1

But we have not space to go through the history of the various head-masters, or trace how the school’s fortunes rose with some and fell with others, till at the end of the eighteenth century it reached its lowest under James Atcherley, who in twenty-eight years reduced its numbers to twenty-two—a fact which is not surprising if we believe the traditional tale that the favourite amusement of this head-master and his colleagues was to practise kicking at a flitch of bacon hung in the kitchen for the purpose, to see who could kick the highest. – John Ernest Auden, 1906.

The arms of Charles I above the entrance to Shrewsbury School (now a library)

On 23 January 1797 Dr Thomas James – Head Master of Rugby School from 1778 to 1794 – wrote to one of his former pupils, Samuel Butler. Keen that Butler should obtain a position as a schoolmaster, Dr James had been to Shrewsbury. In his letter, Dr James suggested that Butler’s “fortune might very possibly be made in that city.” The school at Shrewsbury, Dr James explained, had an income of “£1,300 to £1,500 a year, of which the head-master has not above £100 a year”. In addition to his salary, the head master – James Atcherley – had “allowances for assistants, and an excellent house and school built in a superior style.”

All was not well at Shrewsbury School however. According to Dr James, although many people remembered a time when the school had “not less than 60 boarders”, this was no longer the case. Dr James continued:

This school was once the Eton or the Westminster of Wales, and of all Shropshire, etc. Now the present master does nothing, and there are not above three or four boys belonging to this noble foundation … The gentlemen of Shrewsbury, therefore, have an idea of pensioning off the old masters now there and in possession, and of appointing new ones. I further learned also that they have an idea that an Act of Parliament can be procured to appoint new governors to the school …

An Act of Parliament was eventually procured, and became law in 1798. It revoked “the ordinances by which the school had been governed since 1577” and the new board of governors lost no time in pensioning off James Atcherley, along with the second and third masters. All three resigned with effect from 30 June 1798, and James was given an annual pension of £100. Samuel Butler was duly installed as the new head master, and transformed the school’s fortunes.

It appears that unfavourable stories about James Atcherley’s headmastership did not start to circulate publicly until long after he had passed away, leaving him unable to answer the many charges that were made against him. What were those charges, and were they accurate and fair?

That the fortunes of Shrewsbury School had declined is unquestionable, and James was of course in charge at the point when others decided to step in and ‘stop the rot.’ Yet it has been written that:

The School History during the whole of the eighteenth century presents a painful contrast to the palmy days of its early existence. We have seen how little little of real prosperity attended the Head Masterships of Lloyd, Owen and Phillips, and although some improvement took place at times during those of Hotchkiss and Newling, yet the School gradually fell away …

Another commentator has noted that “Between 1734 and 1745 there were never more than 33 pupils, and in one year the number dropped to twelve.” To me it is clear that when James Atcherley took over the headmastership of Shrewsbury School he inherited an institution which was already failing. Yet it is equally clear that he did nothing to reverse the decline. Was this because he did not recognise the seriousness of the situation, or because he could not or would not institute effective changes to the school’s regime? To put the question in another way, was James Atcherley negligent, ineffective, or guilty of wilful mismanagement of the school’s affairs?

The differing numbers given for the number of pupils at Shrewsbury School in James’s last days are illustrative of another of the charges made against him. The actual number of pupils in attendance during his headmastership – and for some years before it – remain unknown because the school register for that period was lost. Other school records also disappeared. The editors of A History of Shrewsbury School lamented:

The compilation of this work has taken much longer than was originally intended, but the difficulties in obtaining information have been great. The School Bailiff and Treasurer, E. Calvert, Esq., LL.D., could find no School Records of any kind prior to 1798 in the School Chest.

Conspiracy theorists might suggest that the ‘loss’ of the school register and other records was a deliberate act by James – and/or the other masters – to cover up their failings. Whatever the circumstances in which these volumes vanished, they went AWOL during James Atcherley’s watch.

The situation with regard to the school library was apparently little better. According to the authors of Annals of Shrewsbury School:

Blakeway tells us that about 1784 a son of Mr. Newling, the late Head Master … was told that the upper boys were allowed the free run of the school library, and were thus enabled not only to tear out the fly-leaves of books to make use of for their exercises, but to pilfer other things that they found there. Mr. Atcherley is also said to have been in the habit of making boys presents of the library books. The room itself appears to have been used by Mr. Atcherley’s servants for dressing the boys’ hair. … Doubtless it was in Mr. Atcherley’s time that Owen’s Arms of the Bailiffs and other books were mutilated and some valuable books were lost.

Note that much of the above is second-hand information and couched in terms such as “is said to have” and “appears to have been”. It is difficult to reconcile these stories with the words of the Rev Alfred Tover Paget who included “the Rev. Mr. Atcherley” in his Notes on benefactors to the library of Shrewsbury school (as the contributor, in 1765, of Spence’s Polymetis). Significantly, he wrote of James:

In regard to his care of the Library, after the labour of correcting these impressions which it is still easy to derive from others, I take the more satisfaction in suppressing them. From the book in which the volumes lent out are registered he seems to have been careful as well as good natured.

Shrewsbury School, by Alfred Rimmer (1889)

But what of the infamous “kicking at a flitch of bacon” (or ‘Bacongate’ as I like to think of this allegation)? The earliest reference to this story that I have discovered lies within the pages of The life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler (written by that headmaster’s grandson, of the same name). Describing what little he knew of James Atcherley, Butler wrote: “I have heard from my aunt, Mrs. Bather, that he and the second master used to amuse themselves by trying which could kick highest at a flitch of bacon that was hung for them in the kitchen to practise at.”

‘Bacongate’ – despite being based on a report which was second-hand at best – was too juicy a tale for later writers to pass up. For some, the actions attributed to James and his second master in this “traditional story” were “quite consistent with the absence on their part of any proper notions of discipline.” Another author, writing in The Spectator in 1952, was a little more forgiving in saying: “Poor man ! he probably only did it once or twice, but posterity sees him immortalised as a high-kicking Will Hay.”

Who knows the truth of the matter? Perhaps one day James and his second master came across a flitch of bacon hanging in the kitchen, and in a moment of high spirits (the like of which we would normally associate with Atcherley twins Richard and David of the RAF) decided to see who could kick it the highest. If so, it was the foundation of a legend which has haunted the memory of James Atcherley into modern times.

Another possibility of course is that spirits of the alcoholic variety might have been involved. Samuel Butler (the aforementioned author of The life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler) wrote that “The late Rev. W. A. Leighton told me that Atcherley … was more or less intemperate in his habits.” The veracity of this allegation is uncertain. Certainly, I have seen no other sources which directly accuse James of drunkenness.

Butler’s assessment of James Atcherley was not wholly negative. He opined that James was “a man of good natural abilities, [who] in 1773 published a pamphlet entitled A Drapier’s Address to the Good People of England, which is not ill-written, and shows the writer to have been an advocate of free trade, when free-traders were still scarce.” It should also be mentioned that James Atcherley was well-remembered by at least one of his former pupils, who presented a book to the Shrewsbury School library “In testimony of respect and gratitude for the education which he received under the worthy and Rev. James Atcherley, Head Master.”

Returning to the questions which I posed earlier, I do not think that James wilfully mismanaged the affairs of Shrewsbury School. There is certainly evidence of negligence, and it is difficult to challenge the assertion that “Atcherley and his colleagues, whether addicted to liquor or not, prolonged from year to year the scene of endowed and established inefficiency.” I find myself wondering why this was the case though.

In the early days of my Atcherley family history research, Barbara Lang sent me a copy of her own file, which she had compiled over a period of 20 years. With regard to James Atcherley, Barbara noted that the Shrewsbury School archivist had said “much of what has been reported about him is hearsay and in some cases incorrect”. The archivist had also made an intriguing suggestion. In Barbara’s words: “he believed [James] to have been incapacitated, possibly by a stroke”.


Picture credits. The arms of Charles I above the entrance to Shrewsbury School: Photo by the author. Shrewsbury School court yard, and Shrewsbury School: both drawings by Alfred Rimmer, from A History of Shrewsbury School (at Internet Archive), published 1889 and therefore out of copyright.


References.

[1] John Ernest Auden (1906), Shropshire and its Schools. In: Memorials of old Shropshire. Pages 223-4. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[2] Samuel Butler (1896), The life and letters of Dr. Samuel Butler. Volume I. Pages 19-21. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[3] George William Fisher, John Spencer Hill (1899), Annals of Shrewsbury School. Page 252 et seq. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[4] W A Leighton et al (eds.) (1889), A History of Shrewsbury School. Pages 5 and 130-1. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[5] W E Heitland (1896), Dr Butler of Shrewsbury School. In: The Eagle. Volume XIX. Pages 417-8. Originally viewed in full at Google Books, but now snippet view only.
[6] Derek Hudson (1952), Floreat Salopia! In: The Spectator, No. 6450, 8 February 1952, page 170.
[7] Alfred Tolver Paget (1851), Notes on benefactors to the library of Shrewsbury school. Copy viewed at Google Books. (Note that due to imperfect scanning of this book’s pages, part of the text relating to James Atcherley is missing from the electronic version. The gap is filled by the next source.)
[8] Alfred Tolver Paget (1875), Notes on benefactors to the library of Shrewsbury school. In: Salopian Shreds and Patches, volume I, page 51. Snippets viewed at Google Books.
[9] Barbara Lang. Atcherley family history file, in email dated 21 Nov 2007.

The Rev James Atcherley, Head Master of Shrewsbury – Part 1

I Roger Atcherly of Frankwell within the Liberties of Shrewsbury Tanner (in health of body and of sound mind) do make this my Will … to my Son James Atcherly for as much it hath cost me as much money in Education in bringing him to the ministry therefore I do give to him five pounds to be paid to him one whole year after my decease … — Will of Roger Atcherley, 17 September 1755

James Atcherley’s education began in earnest some 16 years before his father’s last will and testament was made, at Shrewsbury’s Royal Free Grammar School. Shrewsbury School was “a cherished institution in which Town and County alike took pride”, where “Most of the leading citizens of Shrewsbury and many of the gentry of Shropshire and the adjoining counties of England and Wales had been educated”. Having been baptised at Shrewsbury St Chad on 18 November 1730, James must have been 8 or maybe 9 years old when he entered the Third School in 1739.

Some ten years later, on 15 March 1748-9, 18-year-old James Atcherley was admitted to Cambridge University’s Magdalene College (the college’s chapel is shown right). In 1753 the university granted James his B.A., and the title of ‘Wrangler’ – a student who had gained first-class honours in the third year of the University’s undergraduate degree in mathematics. An indication that James retained an interest in maths and related fields is the fact that he was a subscriber to Edward Wareing’s 1762 publication Miscellanea analytica de aequationibus algebraicis, et curvarum proprietatibus, and to Dr Robert Smith’s 1778 work Compleat System of Opticks, selected and arranged for the use of students at the universities. James obtained his M.A. from Magdalene in 1763.

As James’s education had been paid for by his father to “[bring] him to the ministry”, a church career beckoned once James had secured his B.A. He was ordained as Deacon on 23 June 1753 and was appointed Curate of Smethcott in Shropshire on 24 September that year. His curacy there may have been only temporary however. Certainly, the marriage register shows that weddings in the parish from 1754 to 1774 were carried out exclusively by David Rice, Rector of Smethcott, who also signed the main parish register below the entries made for 1753 and 1754.

In 1755 a second field of employment opened up for James. I wonder what thoughts went through the mind of this former pupil of the Third School at Shrewsbury when, on 25 November that year, he returned as its Master? He was appointed to this post by the Mayor of Shrewsbury, Edward Blakeway Esquire, and the ‘chief schoolmaster’, the Rev Charles Newling.

Shrewsbury School – the upper school room

The clerical career of James Atcherley continued alongside his duties at Shrewsbury School. He became Curate of Montford, conducting his first marriage ceremony there on 12 May 1756, and five of the next eight weddings at that church up to 26 June 1758. James also began officiating from time to time at marriages which took place closer to home and at a much busier church, that of Shrewsbury St Mary. His first marriage there, on 3 August 1756, was followed by seven others, in 1758, 1762, 1767, 1775, 1779 (two in that year) and 1781. He was one of a number of Ministers who occasionally ‘filled in’ for the incumbents during that period.

Within the parish of Shrewsbury St Mary – the boundaries of which extended well beyond the town – lay the chapelry of Astley. Its register includes the following entry, dated 22 October 1761:

The Rev’d Mr. Samuel Betton dyed & James Atcherley succeeded him in this Curacy of Astley, being nominated thereunto by Henry Adams Esq. Mayor of Shrewsbury & The Revd. Mr Charles Newling chief Schoolmaster.

It is unlikely that the Curacy of Astley took up a great deal of James’s time. From the introduction of the new marriage registers in 1754 up to the end of 1812 there were but ten marriages held at the chapel. James Atcherley conducted only one of these, on 23 May 1763. The Perpetual Curacy of Grinshill, to which James was also appointed in 1761, was a little busier. After he officiated at two marriages at Grinshill on 23 February 1762, James conducted 16 of the next 24 weddings to take place at the church, the last one on 28 February 1797.

Why have I have concentrated on James Atcherley’s role of performing marriages at the churches and chapels where he was Curate? Simply because it was those ceremonies which, from 1754, required the officiating minister to sign the records made in connection with them, in the marriage register. Entries in the main parish register for baptisms and burials were not signed. As Curate, James would I am sure have conducted these ceremonies, in addition to church services at which he would have preached to his parishioners, led them in singing hymns, and taken collections.

There was another, less well-known aspect of James Atcherley’s life as a ‘man of the cloth’. James was one of many ‘visiting clergymen’ who attended the Salop Infirmary. The number of weeks in the period from 1756 and 1791 in which he “Visited the Infirmary in rotation” was 104, a total which, as of 1847, had been exceeded by only eight others.

In 1762, James Atcherley was made a burgess of the town of Shrewsbury. There were four ways in which a person could gain admission as a burgess – James would have qualified by virtue of the fact that he was born in the town. As for the four rights and privileges accorded to burgesses, the rights to trade in the town, and of pasturage in the Quarry and at Kingsland, were of little value to our reverend schoolmaster. However, James certainly made use of his right to vote in Borough elections. In addition – as we will shortly see – he also took advantage of the burgess’s privilege of “Free education for his sons at the Royal Free Grammar Schools”.

The marriage of “The Reverd. Mr. James Atcherley of the Parish of Saint Mary and Miss Eleanor Griffiths of this Parish” took place at Shrewsbury St Chad on 15 December 1766. The couple were wed by the Rev Charles Newling – then Head Master of Shrewsbury School. Eleanor’s siblings Richard and Catherine Griffiths signed the marriage register as witnesses.

A marriage notice in the London Public Advertiser stated that Eleanor was “Daughter of the late John Griffiths, Esq; of Bicton near Shrewsbury” (she was baptised at St Chad on 11 February 1736/7). Tracing her ancestors back a few more generations reveals that she had Atcherley forebears too: her great grandparents were Shrewsbury alderman Roger Griffiths and his wife Mary – nee Atcherley – of Marton.

The London Public Advertiser also noted that James Atcherley was “second Master of the Free Grammar School” in Shrewsbury. He had been “admitted into the second school” (appointed Second Master) following the death of the previous holder of that position, the Rev John Brooke, on 29 Nov 1763. Four years after James’s marriage to Eleanor, on Christmas Day 1770, Head Master Rev Charles Newling resigned from his post. James Atcherley was then admitted to Shrewsbury School’s top job by the town’s Mayor, William Smith Esquire.

Shrewsbury School – from The Shropshire Gazetteer, 1824

Everything seemed to be going well for the Rev James Atcherley. By the time of his appointment to the position of Head Master, his wife Eleanor had delivered two children, Roger and Eleanor, who were baptised at Shrewsbury St Mary on 23 February 1768 and 12 May 1769 respectively. Six more children followed. John, Arabella and Dorothy were baptised at St Mary on 1 April 1771, 18 June 1771, and 29 July 1774. (The short interval between the dates for John and Arabella’s ceremonies suggest that John’s was held quite some time after his birth.) Sadly, Dorothy died within a year of her birth, and was buried at St Mary on 17 May 1775.

James and Eleanor’s sixth child, James junior (see An Atcherley at Trafalgar), was probably born in the year in which their daughter Dorothy died. However I have found no evidence to show that James was ever baptised. Nor have I found any trace of baptisms for Mary Atcherley, born around 1781, or Ann Atcherley, born about 1787, the last two children born to the Rev James Atcherley and Eleanor.

Why would a clergyman, of all people, fail to have three of his own children baptised? It is of course possible that these three were sickly children at birth, who were privately baptised (perhaps by James himself) at home. But such private baptisms were usually followed by ceremonies at which the children in question were ‘publicly received’ into the church. There is no evidence that this happened in the case of James, Mary or Ann. I can’t help but wonder whether the death of his daughter Dorothy had affected the Rev James Atcherley rather profoundly.

James’s apparent failure to baptise his last three children is not the only puzzle about this part of his life. History has not painted a particularly flattering picture of James Atcherley’s tenure as Head Master of Shrewsbury School – allegations of intemperance and lack of discipline on James’s part are on record. Furthermore, the register of admissions to the school dating from 1664, which had been handed over to James by his predecessor Charles Newling, was lost while James was in charge. Among the many scholars whose names were recorded in that precious volume was at least one of James Atcherley’s own sons.

> On to Part 2.


Picture credits. Magdalene College Chapel: Photo by David Iliff, taken from Wikimedia Commons, adapted, used and made available re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Shrewsbury School – the upper school room: image from page 93 of A History of Shrewsbury School (at Internet Archive), published 1889 and therefore out of copyright. Shrewsbury School: Image from The Shropshire Gazetteer, published 1824 and therefore out of copyright.


References.

[1] Will of Roger Atcherley of Shrewsbury, tanner. Proved 22 Oct 1756. Typed transcript viewed at Society of Genealogists, London. Electronic transcript supplied by Barbara Lang. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
[2]
W E Heitland (1896), Dr Butler of Shrewsbury School. In: The Eagle, volume XIX, pages 417-8. Originally viewed in full at Google Books, but now snippet view only.
[3] J E Auden (1909), Shrewsbury School Register 1734-1908. Pages 6 and 12. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[4] St Chad, Shrewsbury, parish register covering 1730. Entry for baptism of “James S. of Rog Atcherley”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1916), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, Volume XVI, St. Chad’s, Shrewsbury (volume II, page 960); copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01575-2, Film 908236.
[5] John Venn, J A Venn (1922), Alumni Cantabrigienses. Part I, volume I, page 51. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[6] Edward Kelly Purnell (1904), Magdalene College. Page 166. Copy viewed at Internet Archive and Mocavo.
[7] Wrangler (University of Cambridge). At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 28 Jun 2015).
[8] Edward Waring (1762), Miscellanea analytica de aequationibus algebraicis, et curvarum proprietatibus. Page v (A list of the Subscribers). Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[9] Robert Smith (1778), Compleat System of Opticks, selected and arranged for the use of students at the universities. Page vii (Subscribers). Copy viewed at Google Books.
[10] Atcherley, James (1753 – 1804). At: Clergy of the Church of England database (website, accessed 29 Jun 2015).
[11] Smethcott, Shropshire, marriage register for 1754 to 1811. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Parish Register Browse.
[12] Smethcott, Shropshire, parish register for 1747 to 1812. Page 5. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Parish Register Browse.
[13] Thomas Phillips, Charles Hulbert (1837), The history and antiquities of Shrewsbury. Pages 130-1. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[14] Montford, Shropshire, marriage register for 1755 to 1812. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Parish Register Browse. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1909), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume VII. Montford, page 127. Copy viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website.
[15] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, marriage register covering the years 1756 to 1781. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, pages 648 to 683, copy viewed at Mel Lockie’s website.
[16] John Brickdale Blakeway and W G Dimmock Fletcher (ed.) (1890), History of Shrewsbury Hundred or Liberties. In: Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society. 2nd series, volume II (1890), part I. Page 353. Originally viewed in full at Google Books, but now snippet view only.
[17] Grinshill, Shropshire, marriage register for 1757 to 1811. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Parish Registers Browse.
[18] Henry Bevan (1847), Records of the Salop Infirmary, from the Commencement of the Charity to the Present Time, Being a Period of One Hundred Years. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[19] Herbert Edward Forrest (ed.) (1924), Shrewsbury Burgess Roll. Page 9. Copy viewed and photographed at Shropshire Archives.
[20] Anon (1796), The Poll for the Borough of Shrewsbury 1796. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1538-1893.
[21] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1766. Entry for James Atcherley and Eleanor Griffiths. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages (James indexed as James Archerley). Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1918), Diocese of Lichfield, volume XVII, St Chad’s, Shrewsbury (volume III), copy viewed at Shropshire Archives.
[22] Public Advertiser (London, England), issue 100031, 25 Dec 1766, page 4. Copy viewed at 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers.
[23] St Chad, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1766. Entry for James Atcherley and Eleanor Griffiths. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire
[24] Joseph Morris (1906), The Provosts and Bailiffs of Shrewsbury. In: Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 3rd series, volume VI, page 193. Copy viewed at Internet Archive.
[25] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1768. Entry for baptism of Roger Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 438; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[26] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1769. Entry for baptism of Eleanor Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 442; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[27] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1771. Entry for baptism of John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 448; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[28] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1771. Entry for baptism of Arabella Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 448; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[29] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1774. Entry for baptism of Dorothy Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 458; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[30] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1775. Entry for burial of Dorothy Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 461; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[31] George William Fisher, John Spencer Hill (1899), Annals of Shrewsbury School. Page 252 et seq.

Revising the roots of the family tree

For me, one of the benefits of writing up the Atcherley family history is that it makes me review – and sometimes revise – the work I have already done. In pulling together a story, I look again at the information I have (and often go looking for more), verify the sources of my data, and check to see that the conclusions I have drawn stand up to scrutiny. Often I make some new discoveries that corroborate my conclusions and enhance the story. Sometimes, however, the process highlights evidence which causes me to challenge my assumptions.

I began researching my Atcherley roots back in 2007. Following the standard process, I gradually went back a generation at a time using vital records, census data, parish registers, wills and so on, forming conclusions based on the available evidence. Along the way I also looked at the genealogical work of others, some carried out in recent times and some back to the 1800s. Rather than slavishly copying these researchers’ results, I used their family trees, and the sources within them, as reference material to compare with and support my own work.

Sometimes I have agreed with the relationships shown in those family trees, sometimes I haven’t. After all, a chain of parent-child relationships linked together to show a person’s ancestry does not necessarily represent an unbroken sequence of facts. It is a series of conclusions which have been formed using the evidence to hand. The same evidence can in some cases support different conclusions. And sometimes the evidence available to one genealogist is not available (or simply not found) by another. (See Edge of the tree no longer: Thomas Atcherley, alias Edge for an example of a how single record can change a family tree.)

Ultimately, I traced my mother’s lineage back through Fred, Henry (born out of wedlock), Mary, Samuel, John, John, Samuel, John and finally my 8x great grandfather, another John baptised in 1613, son of Richard Atcherley of Stanwardine in the Fields, Shropshire (see John Atcherley, draper of Shrewsbury). But now I believe that one of the links in that chain is, to say the least, suspect.

My doubts arose this week when I looked at the connections between the Atcherley and Elsmere families back in the 1600s, as a potential story for this website. Roger Atcherley, brother of my 8x great grandfather John, married Elizabeth Elsmere (daughter of Samuel Elsmere and his wife Alice, nee Leigh) in 1645. Then, in 1685, Elizabeth’s niece – another Elizabeth Elsmere (daughter of Samuel Elsmere junior and his wife Katherine, nee Stiles) – married Roger’s nephew (my 7x great grandfather) John Atcherley. Talk about keeping it in the family! But was everything as it appeared?

During my early research into the Atcherley family tree, I found that my 6x great grandfather Samuel Atcherley was baptised on 2 September 1687 at Shrewsbury St Mary in Shropshire and was the second son of John Atcherley of Newton and Elizabeth, nee Elsmere (see Samuel Atcherley’s true and perfect inventory (Part 1)). When I looked for the baptism of Samuel’s father, there was only one candidate to be found: John, the son of John Atcherley (and his wife Judith, nee Kynaston), also at Shrewsbury St Mary, on 11 February 1647/8. However, it turns out that the ‘available evidence’ upon which this conclusion was reached, was somewhat lacking.

The incomplete nature of the genealogical evidence available to us is one of the challenges faced by myself and my fellow Atcherley researchers (past and present). Not all life events were recorded, and of those life events which were committed to paper or parchment, not all of the records have survived. One example of a missing record is that of the baptism of John, son of the aforementioned Roger Atcherley and his wife Elizabeth, nee Elsmere.

Surviving baptismal records show that Roger and Elizabeth had three children.  “Elizabeth the daughter of Roger Acherley of Cotten was baptised the 30th day of May 1647” at Edstaston chapel in the parish of Wem. At the same place, six years later on 19 June 1653, “Roger the Son of Roger Acherley of Cotton” was baptised (the register of Shrewsbury St Mary then records “Rogger the Sonne of Rogger Acherley Buried ye 30th of march” 1657). Finally, in 1655 an entry in Baschurch All Saints’ parish register shows that “Mary the daughter of Roger Atcherley & Elizab. his wife of Stanwardine in the wood was borne the 28 day of June & baptized the 1 day of July”.

Less than seven years after the baptism of his daughter Mary, Roger Atcherley died. He was 46. According to the Baschurch parish register “Roger Atcherley of Stanwardine in the wood was buryed the 27th day of ffebruary” in 1661/2. He made a verbal will “on or aboute the twentith day of ffebruary” as follows:

… Roger Atcherley of Stanwardine in the wood in the County of Salop yeom beinge weake & sicke butt of sound minde & memorie (of which sicknes he dyed) did make and declare his will by word of mouth to the effect followinge, That his Sonne John should have his lands in Edstason & Whitchurch when he came to age And that the rest of his estate Should goe amongst his wief and two daughters accordinge to the Custome of the Countrey and named his wief Elizabeth and his daughter Elizabeth his execes [= executrixes] in the psense of the psons whose names are Subscribed

The mark of Elizabeth Atcherley and the signature of “John Elsmer” followed.

Roger’s son John was most likely born around 1650, between the births of Elizabeth and Roger junior. It is possible that he was born at Coton in the parish of Wem and baptised at Edstaston Chapel, but that the record of his baptism – if one was made – has not survived. The page of the Wem register showing entries for Edstaston around the time in question has baptisms for 1648, followed by an assortment of baptisms for 1653 and 1654 in seemingly random order. This suggests to me that the entries were made long after the baptisms had been carried out, probably from incomplete notes made on scraps of parchment. Any record made of baptisms from 1649 to the early part of 1653 appear to have been lost.

Edstaston St Mary

When I first added John to my Atcherley family tree I noted: “I have not traced any records for John other than his appearance in his father Roger’s will …”. Not only was there no record of his baptism, neither was there one of his burial. Nor was there any indication of an intervening marriage. Unless of course he was the John Atcherley who married Elizabeth Elsmere in 1685, a thought that struck me while reviewing my Atcherleys and Elsmeres over the last few days.

Contrasting the will of Roger Atcherley with that of his twice-married brother John, made in 1672, revealed an interesting fact. John left 5 shillings apiece to “sonnes & daughters by a former wiefe”, who were named as Edward, Richard, Elizabeth and Judith. He made no mention of a son named John, which suggests that he no longer had a son by that name. Furthermore, the Atcherley estate at Stanwardine did not descend to the younger John Atcherley who married Elizabeth Elsmere.

On re-checking the family trees and pedigrees compiled by others I have found that some, including the late Martyn Freeth of Shrewsbury (who was a highly respected genealogist), had arrived at the same conclusions that I originally had. But on looking at the pedigree notes made in the early 1800s by the Rev John Newling (1762 – 1838) (see Atcherleys reunited for more on this source) I now realise that Newling thought otherwise.

Included in one of the Rev Newling’s pedigrees were “John Atcherley of Newton on the Heath” and his wife “Eliz. Elsmere” who were married on 14 May 1685. In pencil, Newling scribbled next to John Atcherley’s details “Revd. J. A. said that he was born at M____” and also indicated that John was the son of “Atcherley of M____”.

“Revd. J. A.” was James Atcherley (1730 – 1804), a grandson of John and Elizabeth. I had thought that the rather unclear place name beginning with ‘M’ was a fanciful claim by James to Marton (the home of another branch of the Atcherley family). But I now realise that the place referred to began with an ‘N’ not an ‘M’ – it was Newton (on the Heath), in the parish of Shrewsbury St Mary. Finally, written by Newling in ink above the details for John and Elizabeth was “Eliza Atcherley of Newton”, buried 6 May 1692 – this, I believe, was Roger Atcherley’s widow Elizabeth.

Taking all of this into account it is now my belief that it was Roger Atcherley (born at Stanwardine in the Fields but later of Coton, Stanwardine in the Wood and Newton on the Heath) and his wife Elizabeth Elsmere who were my 8x great grandparents. My 7x great grandparents, John Atcherley and Elizabeth Elsmere, were ‘kissing cousins’ – first cousins to be precise. Which means that I am not descended from John Atcherley of Stanwardine and Shrewsbury, nor from his wife Judith Kynaston with her royal connections.

Having revised the roots of my family tree I now have some work to do. My online and offline Atcherley trees need amending, and a number of stories on this website must be updated!


Picture credits. Tree roots: Photo by the author. Links between the Atcherley and Elsmere families: Diagram by the author. Edstaston St Mary: Photo © copyright Michael Patterson, taken from Geograph, adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Links between the Atcherley and Elsmere families: Diagram by the author.


References.

[1] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 22 Sep 1615 for baptism of “Roger the sonne of Richarde Atcherley”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
[2] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 4 Apr 1645 for marriage of “Roger Atcherley & Elizabeth Elsmoore”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 104; copies viewed at Internet ArchiveMocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[3] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 19 Feb 1617/8 for “Elizabeth daughter off Sam Elsmere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[4] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 2 Feb 1615/6 for marriage “Samuell Ellsmere and Ales Leighe”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages.
[5] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 25 Jan 1656/7 for baptism of “Elizabeth the daughter of Samuell Ellsmere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[6] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 22 Apr 1647 for marriage of Samuell Elsmore and Katherin Stiles. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 104; copy viewed at Mocavo.
[7] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 8 Dec 1621 for baptism of Samuell Ellsmere. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 61; copy viewed at Mocavo.
[8] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register. Entry dated 14 May 1685 for marriage of “John Atcherley & Elizabeth Elismere”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 179; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[9] Shrewsbury St Mary, Shropshire, parish register covering 1687. Entry for baptism of Samuel Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 186 viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1. Film 908234.
[10] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1647/8. Entry for baptism of John Atcherley. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 107; copies viewed at Internet Archive,Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1. Film 908234.
[11] Wem, Shropshire, parish register (entries for Edstaston) covering 1647. Entry for baptism of Elizabeth Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume IX, Wem (volume I, page 170); copies viewed at Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00897-1, Film 908233.
[12] Wem, Shropshire, parish register (entries for Edstaston) covering 1653. Entry for baptism of Roger Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1908), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume IX, Wem (volume I, page 171); copies viewed at Mocavo and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00897-1, Film 908233.
[13] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1657. Entry for burial of Rogger Acherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 120; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.
[14] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1655. Entry for baptism of Mary Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-1, Film 510651.
[15] Baschurch, Shropshire, parish register covering 1661/2. Entry for burial of Roger Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Burials. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives.
[16] Will of Roger Atcherley of Baschurch, yeoman. Proved 30 Apr 1662. Copy from Lichfield Record Office, reference B/C/11. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
[17] Wem, Shropshire, parish register for 1583 – 1647. Page 316 (Edstaston). Copy viewed at Findmypast – Parish Register Browse (page 318 of 321).
[18] Will of John Atcherley of Baschurch, gentleman. Proved 15 Oct 1672. Typed transcript viewed at Society of Genealogists, London. Electronic transcript supplied by Barbara Lang. Indexed at Staffordshire Name Indexes.
[19] Martyn Freeth (2010), The Family of Atcherley of Stanwardine and Marton. Unpublished Word document.
[20] Staffordshire Record Office item S. MS.269/1/14, undated, Pedigrees of families in Shropshire (etc) from the collection of the Revd. John Newling: Atcherley, co. Salop. Indexed at Gateway to the Past.
[21] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1692. Entry for burial of “Elizabeth Atcherley of Newton”. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 202; copies viewed at Internet Archive, Mocavo and at Mel Lockie’s website.

Doctor Atcherley’s Casebook – Part 1

There were two members of the Atcherley family named John who became doctors. The best known of the two was the Dr John Atcherley who was born in Lancashire and went to live in Hawaii. The other was born in Shropshire and went to live in …. Lancashire! I can’t give this Dr Atcherley his own TV show like the fictional Dr Finlay. But through this website I can at least bring his story to a limited online audience, and share details of some of the medical cases he was involved with.

John Atcherley was the third of three children (all boys) born to the Rev Roger Atcherley and his wife Mary (nee Rennell), who lived in Bridgnorth, Shropshire. According to their Family New Testament and Prayer Book, John was born at half past four in the afternoon on 18 June 1804, and was baptised on 1 July that year. I have found no record of this ceremony in any parish register however, so it may have been a private baptism at home. Another baptism took place five and a half years later on 12 Jan 1810, in nearby Tasley (church pictured above), and was performed by the Rev Joseph Morris.

There was a John Atcherley who entered Shrewsbury School in 1821 and left in 1823. Was he this John? It is tempting to think that he was, as one of the school’s former headmasters was John’s grandfather, the Rev James Atcherley. However there were several other boys around at the time who shared John’s name. The identity of this Salopian scholar remains unconfirmed.

On 3 January 1833 John married Mary Morris at the church of St Leonard in Bridgnorth. Mary was the daughter of Rev Joseph Morris, who had baptised John back in 1810. Although newspapers at the time referred to him as “the late Rev. Joseph Morris,” the Rector of Tasley was still very much alive. He did in fact pass away four years later in 1837.

The marriage register of Bridgnorth St Leonard shows that at the time of his wedding to Mary, John was residing in Liverpool. John returned to that city with his new wife, and it was there that the couple had two children. Eleanor Vickers Atcherley, evidently named for her grandaunt Eleanor Vickers (nee Atcherley), was baptised at the church of St Peter on 30 December 1833. Eleanor never married, and it appears that she shared her parents’ home until the death of her father. John Atcherley junior was also baptised at St Peter’s, on 9 August 1839, but he died at the age of 7 months and was buried at St Michael’s on 4 February 1839.

John Atcherley was, to begin with, an apothecary, or a chemist and druggist. Some of the earlier medical directories in which he appeared credited him with the qualification “L.S.A. Dub.” (as in the above entry in the British Medical Directory of 1853) or “L.S.A. Dublin” – Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries, Dublin.

As Bird and Atcherley of “Gt. George’s pl” in Liverpool, John Atcherley and Richard Bird were listed as “Chymists & druggists” in Pigot & Co’s Directory of 1834. The two men did not restrict themselves to selling and administering medicinal drugs in the normal way however. During December 1833 and January 1834, they had the following advertisement printed in the Liverpool Mercury:

BATHS.
BIRD and ATCHERLEY,
CHEMISTS, GREAT GEORGE-PLACE,

BEING long aware of the necessity of BATHS in the southern part of the town, have just erected in a complete manner, and on improved principles, VAPOUR and MEDICATED BATHS, HOT and COLD PLUNGE BATHS, with SHOWER BATHS, regulated to any temperature. Should they be honoured by public patronage, every attention which personal superintendence can bestow, together with the suggestion of the Medical Profession, may be strictly relied on; as the application of any remedial agent, in the form of vapour, can be safely and effectually introduced.

AN APPRENTICE WANTED.

In December 1836, the partnership between Richard Bird and John Atcherley was dissolved by mutual consent. When the 1841 census was taken four and a half years later John, although still residing at Great George Place in Liverpool, was no longer a chemist and druggist. He was by this time a surgeon, having become a Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons at Glasgow in 1840.

On the strength of his qualification from Glasgow, John was admitted an ad eundem (or honorary) Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1855 (the arms of the College are shown right). It seems likely that by this time John and his family were no longer residents of 3 Great George Place, as the lease of that property was advertised as being for sale on 1 December 1851.

The Atcherleys may initially have moved to 75 Great George Place, an address which the Royal College of Surgeons gave for John in their Medical Registers of 1859 and 1863. John was also listed at this address in the 1860 Gore’s Directory covering Liverpool. However at the time of the census of 1861 the Atcherley family was at 22 St James Road, Mount Pleasant in Liverpool. They were still there in 1870 when John’s wife Mary Atcherley died (on 3 April), but by the following year John and his daughter Eleanor had relocated to 32 Windsor Street in Toxteth Park. They remained there for next two decades.

Although John Atcherley transitioned from apothecary to surgeon, he retained a strong interest in the chemical sciences and indeed in science generally. In 1838 he was listed as a member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and in 1867 he joined the Anthropological Society of London. (It appears that he was also a Mason, belonging to Lodge No. 368, Lodge of Sincerity, at Liverpool.) On 24 February 1852, the Liverpool Mercury reported as follows on a lecture given by John, which was attended by his wife and daughter:

Lecture on Chemistry.—In St. Barnabas’s school, Greenland-street, on Wednesday evening last, John Atcherley, Esq., surgeon, of Great George-place, gave the second of a course of lectures illustrative of the chemistry of atmospheric air and water. These lectures were originally designed for the instruction of the senior pupils attending the school; but upon this occasion the urgent and reiterated requests of many members of the congregation and supporters of the school to be present were such as to induce Mr. Atcherley, in his usual spirit of philanthropy, to admit all.

It is impossible to speak too highly of the manner in which the lecturer treated the subject, both as regards the intelligibility of the language used, the definitions given of technicalities, and the numerous and truly-interesting experiments adopted as illustrations, which, combined, cannot fail to make a lasting impression on the minds of his audience, which was numerous and highly respectable.

From the earliest years of his career as a surgeon there was coverage of the medical cases in which Dr John Atcherley was involved, in the press and in medical journals. The earliest examples which I have found so far date back to 1841. A newspaper article from that year, reporting on Coroner’s Inquests held in November, highlighted the dangers of the demon drink:

The second inquest was on view of the body of James Wells, aged 50, a provision dealer, who resided in Upper Frederick-street. He had been complaining of illness for about a month past, and was found dead in his bed on Saturday morning last. Mr. Atcherley, surgeon, examined the body, and found violent inflammation of the stomach, combined with ulceration. The small intestines were also inflamed. The vessels of the brain were very much congested, and the heart much enlarged. It was his opinion that excessive drinking must have hastened the death of the deceased. Verdict accordingly.

The drink-related death of James Wells was far from an isolated incident. John Skillicorn, a master painter of Park Lane whose inquest was held in May 1852, was “another case arising from drunkenness.” He had gone to “Mr. Bird’s baths” – probably the same baths that Richard Bird had run with John Atcherley in the 1830s – “in a state of intoxication as he had often done before.” He was found “in a state of insensibility” and although John Atcherley was called in, Skillicorn died from apoplexy.

I am aware of another three of John Atcherley’s cases where alcohol sent men to the afterlife. In 1856 John Corliss, who was “addicted to drinking”, had “a three days’ ‘spree.’” Despite the care he received from Dr Atcherley after this, his condition worsened and he died at around 1:00 am on Friday 13 June. Then, in December 1862, ship’s carpenter David Marshall, aged 40, returned home from a voyage to the Baltic. He was “in a state of drunkenness” for a whole week until Saturday 4 January, and was found dead in his bed on Sunday 5th. John Atcherley “considered that death had resulted from intemperate habits, and the jury returned a verdict of ‘Died from excessive drinking.’”

Liverpool Dock Board office from Canning Graving Dock

The final example of this sort of case from Doctor Atcherley’s ‘casebook’ involved a 37-year-old sailor named Patrick O’Connor. On Wednesday 22 September 1886, after arriving in Liverpool from London, he “went to a house of ill-fame in Gore-street, in a very drunken state.” He remained there the following day, and after vomiting “very much” he drank “various glasses of whisky.” On Thursday evening he called for a doctor, but died before medical assistance could be given. From what he saw, and from what he was told of the case, Dr John Atcherley “had not the slightest doubt that the man had died from excessive drinking.”


Picture credits. Tasley church: Photo © copyright Row17, taken from Geograph; adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Entry in The British Medical Directory, 1853 (composite image from pages 171-2), out of copyright. Arms of the Royal College of Surgeons: image from Calendar of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, published 1880 and therefore out of copyright. Dock Board offices from the Canning Graving Dock, Liverpool: From a painting by J Hamilton Hay in Liverpool (at the Internet Archive website), published 1907 and out of copyright.


References.

[1] Information from Family New Testament and Prayer Book received from Sarah Williams via Barbara Lang.
[2] Tasley, Shropshire, parish register covering 1810. Entry for baptism of John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1898), Shropshire Parish Registers. Diocese of Hereford, Volume I, Tasley. Page 35. Copies viewed at the Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P01687-1, Film 95251.
[3] J E Auden (1906), Shrewsbury School Register, 1734-1908. Page 45. Copy viewed at the Internet Archive.
[4] St Leonard, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1833. Entry for John Atcherley and Mary Morris. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Marriages. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch M08582-1, Film 502913, 510655.
[5] Berrow’s Worcester Journal, issue 6783, 10 Jan 1833, page 3. “Married.”
[6] Jackson’s Oxford Journal, 12 Jan 1833. “Married.”
[7] Sylvanus Urban (1837), The Gentleman’s Magazine, volume VII (New Series), July to December 1837, page 322. “Clergy Deceased.” Copy viewed at Google Books.
[8] Clergy of the Church of England Database (website, accessed 26 Jun 2015).
[9] St Leonard, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, parish register covering 1803. Entry dated 14 Mar 1803 for baptism of “Mary Daughter of the Revd Mr. Joseph Morris & Mary his Wife”. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Transcript viewed at Shropshire Archives. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C08582-1, Film 502913, 510655.
[10] St Peter, Liverpool, Lancashire, baptism register covering 1833. Entry for Eleanor Vickers Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Lancashire, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911. Abstract at Lancashire OPC website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I02046-5, Film 93880, Ref ID v 21 p 268.
[11] 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 565, book 1, folio 26, page 1.
[12] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 2181, folio 443, page 15.
[13] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 2687, folio 88, page 7.
[14] 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 3794, folio 34, page 8.
[15] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 3635, folio 118, page 7.
[16] Birth of John Atcherley registered at Liverpool, September quarter 1838; volume 20, page 408.
[17] St Peter, Liverpool, Lancashire, baptism register covering 1838. Entry for John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Lancashire, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1911. Abstract at Lancashire OPC website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I02053-5, Film 93882, Reference yr 1838-1838 p 163.
[18] Death of John Atcherley registered at Liverpool, March quarter 1839; volume 20, page 406 or 416.
[19] St Michael, Liverpool, Lancashire, burial register covering 1839. Entry for John Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Lancashire, England, Deaths and Burials, 1813-1986. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch B00096-3, Film 1068955.
[20] Mr Churchill (publisher) (1851), An Annual Retrospect of New Works and New Editions, page 292. Snippet viewed at Google Books.
[21] The British Medical Directory, 1853. Page 171. Copy viewed at the Internet Archive.
[22] Pigot’s Directory (1834), page 341 (Liverpool &c.)
[23] Liverpool Mercury, issue 1179, 6 Dec 1833, page 1. Also published 13 Dec 1833, 27 Dec 1833, 10 Jan 1834. Copies viewed at Findmypast – British Newspapers 1710-1953.
[24] London Gazette, issue 19454, 3 January 1837, page 18.
[25] Morning Chronicle, 12 Jan 1856, page 3. “Royal College of Surgeons.”
[26] General Medical Council (1859), Medical Register. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK Medical Registers, 1859-1959.
[27] General Medical Council (1863), Medical Register. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK Medical Registers, 1859-1959.
[28] Royal College of Surgeons (1865), Calendar of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Page 113. Copy viewed at Mocavo. Also later editions.
[29] Liverpool Mercury, 28 Nov 1851. “Valuable Freehold Property.”
[30] Gore’s Directory of Liverpool, 1860. Page 19. See: Directories Part 2.
[31] Slater’s Lancashire Directory, 1869. Page 435. See: Directories Part 2.
[32] Death of Mary Atcherley registered at Liverpool, June quarter 1870; volume 8b, page 95; age given as 65.
[33] Liverpool Mercury, issue 6925, 5 Apr 1870. “Deaths.”
[34] Toxteth Park Cemetery Inscriptions (website, accessed 26 June 2015). [No longer online. Was at: http://www.medialinkuk.co.uk/cemetery/?page_id=5332&paged=966]
[35] See: Lancashire MIs.
[36] Index to Toxteth Park Cemetery 1870 the consecrated part. At: Toxteth Park Cemetery website (accessed 26 Jun 2015).
[37] Kelly’s Directory of Liverpool 1881. Page 653. See: Directories Part 2.
[38] B.A.A.S (1838), List of Members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Page 18. Copy viewed at Hathi Trust website.
[39] Anthropological Society of London (1867), The Anthropological Review, volume V, page ccviii. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[40] Masonic Mirror, no. 11, 12 Jan 1859, page 75. Copy viewed at the Masonic Library website.
[41] Liverpool Mercury, 24 Feb 1852, page 5. “Lecture on Chemistry.”
Liverpool Mercury, 1 Oct 1841, page 8. Copy viewed at Findmypast – British Newspapers 1710-1953 (search term Atcher ley).
[42] Liverpool Mercury, 21 May 1852, page 8.
[43] Liverpool Mercury, 14 Jun 1856, page 5. “Sudden Deaths.”
[44] Liverpool Mercury, issue 4652, 7 Jan 1863, page 6. “Coroner’s Inquests.”
[45] Source: Liverpool Mercury, 27 Sep 1886, page 8. “Coroner’s Inquests.”