The furthest back Sharp to be reliably traced is John Sharp, born circa 1752 in an unknown place and then married an unknown bride. We catch up with him in 1808 where he is a farmer near a small village called Horton in Staffordshire, marrying Martha Cartlidge, the daughter of a nearby farmer, who soon gives birth to their only son, Jacob, my great great great grandfather. John must have been a rich man, as his will gives-away his farm, house in Congleton, Cheshire and £705 in cash. John died in 1816, but his wife lived until 1835 and passed on his fathers legacy. Jacob married Phebe Pyott from Rushton Spencer, Staffordhsire and they had three children together before she died at the age of 33. It seems Jacob used his fathers inheritence to set up a cabinet makers business, which passed on to his 2 sons George (my great great grandfather) and Jacob - an 1880 advert for the company was found. George married a local girl, Nellie Hickson, who was descended from a line of prominent local families such as the Swindells, Thompstones (pronounced 'thump-stones') and Swains.
One of Georges sons, Frank, moved from rural Congleton to industrial Manchester, first as a grocers assistant and then as a storekeeper in an engineering works. Frank married a girl who originated in Bedfordshire - Emma Lansom and they had 10 children - 5 girls and 5 boys. These eventually led to a whole range of aunties, uncles and cousins who were all based around Manchester. Despite all of these Sharps, only 6 remain (as far as I can see), the Congleton Sharps seem to have died out in the early 20th Century. Although Frank died in 1920, Emma (by all means a formidable woman!) lived until 1949 and is pictured here in a local news article surrounded by her surviving children. The house in Manchester where Frank and Emma lived in the late 1800's was still used by the Sharp family up to 1967, when my father, George, moved with his mother, Flo to Haughton Green following the death of his afther, Herbert. The 'slum clearance' of that particular part of Manchester affected all of the Bradford Sharp's (and Meakins) and resulted in the various parts of the families being dispersed throughout the Greater Manchester area..
Harriet Meakin came from Bollington in Cheshire, a village close to Macclesfield. It seems that she had a child out of wedlock who she called Hezekiah. When Hezekiah was a few years old, his mother married a Samuel Bennett, a local cordwainer (shoemaker) and had more children. By the age of 23, Hezekiah was working as a cotton spinner in a mill near the beautiful village of Tissington in Derbyshire. Here he married Emma Allcock - he had reverted to his first surname of Meakin. Emma and Hezekiah had 12 children, including my great grandfather, Walter. Between 1873 and 1875, the family moved to Bradford in Manchester and Hezekiah got work on the railways. A very old photo exists which is possibly of Hezekiah, his stepfather Samuel and one of his sons - probably Arthur. Previous research and family stories had tainted Hezekiah's reputation! The story went that he had a second wife in Birmingham and his job as a railway guard meant he flitted between his wife in Manchester and the one in Birmingham. When this all got too much, he ran-off to Birmingham to be with his wife there - the family in Manchester being told that he had been crushed to death between two railway carriages. Subsequent research has cleared his name - and a second Hezekiah Meakin was found in Stone, Staffordshire - explaining the confusion between the two! He actually died of exhaustion in 1892.
The Meakins stayed around the Bradford area and had a comfortable existence until Walter, a foreman in Johnson's Wire Works, was involved in strikes during the Great Depression. The family then fell on hard times and were very poor, Walter finally dying during a German bombing raid on Manchester in 1940. His son, John, took great care of his appearance and dispite the lack of money, always looked his best. He worked in the Clayton Aniline, a chemical works in Clayton, Manchester and following his marriage to Nellie Galley ( a local mill worker), he had 3 boys and a girl - my mother Brenda. John died suddenly in 1955 and Nellie struggled to bring up her four children by herself.
Last Edited: December 28, 2009
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