Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Thomas and Harriet Wilkins' children

On my blog entry “Obit - Thomas Wilkins” on 8 March 2013, I told the story of the death of Thomas Wilkins in an accident in the Bristol Channel on 28 December 1868. I mentioned that his death certainly had a great effect on the lives of his children. One of those children was my great grandfather, James Wilkins. I continue the story here.

When he died, Thomas left behind his wife, Harriet, and six children: Sarah aged 16, James aged 14, Samuel aged 10, Mary Ann aged 7, William aged 4, and John not quite a year old. At the time, the family was living in Burnham-On-Sea, Somerset.

Thomas Wilkins and Harriet Lukins had been married on 18th December 1851 at the registry office in Axbridge, Somerset. At the time, Harriet was 25 and Thomas was aged 19. The witnesses to the wedding were each of their only siblings, his brother William and her sister Emma. Interestingly, William and Emma later married each other!

Harriet’s parents were Michael Lukins and Mary Smith of Cluer, Somerset. Harriet had been  christened at St. Mary’s in Wedmore, Somerset on 4 Jan 1827.

Thomas was christened in Wookey, Somerset on 2 September 1832 and was the son of James Wilkins and Sarah Vincent.  The 1841 Census for the parish of Wookey shows James and Sarah with William aged 11 and Thomas aged 8:

The family 1868-1871:

As mentioned, Thomas’ brother William Wilkins married Emma Lukins, Harriet’s sister.  They were married at St. Matthew’s church in Wookey on 26 February 1857. They had no children and lived in the Rodney Stoke and Draycott area.

On the 1871 Census, some of Thomas and Harriet’s children (Sarah, Mary Ann, William and John) and Emma and Harriet's mother, Mary Lukins, are shown living with Emma Wilkins, a widow, in Draycott. The older boys, James and Samuel, aged 15 and 13 were found both out working on local farms.  Without many resources, the little group was being supported by the Parish.  Obviously, many changes had happened since Thomas' death. What had happened to the rest of the family?

1871 Census - Draycott, Somerset


Thomas Wilkins had died in 1868.  Further tragedy struck the family a few months later on 26 March 1869 when Harriet died as well. She was buried in Burnham, Somerset on 3 April 1869. The children probably went to live with William and Emma at that time.  Then, on 11 April 1870, William Wilkins died of Cholera at the age of 39. A few months later, Harriet and Emma’s father Michael Lukins died and was buried in Draycott on 20 May.  Their mother Mary died in October 1871. In the space of three years the children had dealt with many deaths: their father, their mother, their grandparents, and their uncle. They had now lost all of their family except their aunt Emma.

The siblings later split up.  Three of them (Mary Ann, James, Samuel) emigrated to Canada and three remained in England (Sarah, William, John). Though they wrote to each other occasionally, they never saw each other again. Aunt Emma died in Rodney Stoke in 1895.

Thomas and Harriet's children:

Sarah Ann Wilkins - born 19 May 1852 in Draycott, Somerset. Her twin brother died at birth and her birth certificate actually gives no name and is registered only as “female” Wilkins. Sarah married Henry (Harry) Leigh in 1874. They had 8 children and they lived in the Draycott area.

James Wilkins - born 17 August 1854 in Draycott, Somerset. I recently obtained his birth certificate and this date does not match his own claim of 28 August 1856. He immigrated to Canada in 1885, and later married Alice Beck Graham in Mandaumin, Lambton County, Ontario on 7 June 1893. Together they raised 12 children while he farmed and worked for the Grand Trunk Railway. He died at about aged 80 on the family homestead in Mandaumin in 1934.

Samuel Wilkins - christened at St. Matthew’s in Wookey, Somerset on 25 April 1858. On the 1901 Canada census, he gave his birthdate as 26 August 1858 and that he immigrated to Canada about 1889.  He lived in Plympton Township, Lambton County, Ontario and worked as a Labourer. He never married and died in 1916 at aged 58.

Mary Ann Wilkins - born in Wookey, Somerset on 29 January 1861 and christened at St. Matthew’s on 7 April 1861. In 1881, she was the first in the family to emigrate to Canada. She appears on the 1881 Census living with her sister Sarah Ann Leigh and her family in Somerset. She married Edward George Luckins from Draycott, Somerset in Strathroy, Ontario on 12 November 1881.  They later moved to Sarnia, Ontario where they raised 7 children. Mary Ann died there in 1943 at the age of 82.

William Wilkins - born in Burnham, Somerset in 1864. He was christened at St. Andrew’s in Burnham on 2 April 1868 at the same time as his younger brother. He married Edith Georgina Flagg in 1885. William and Edith lived in Taunton, Somerset where they raised their three children and William worked in a shirt factory. William, at the age of 86, died there in 1950.

John Wilkins - born in Burnham, Somerset in 1868 and christened on 2 April 1868. He also lived in Taunton, Somerset and worked in a shirt factory.  He married Sarah Ann Dean in 1891 and they had three children. In 1928, he died in Taunton at aged 60.

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