St. Marys’s Conistone in Craven

Tombstone Tuesday – Joseph Spink & others

This gravestone is in St. Mary’s church, Conistone, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales in England.

Buried here is a father, a mother and two of their sons.

Joseph Spink is my 2x great grand uncle.  He was born on 11th March 1838 in Conistone to parents John Spink and Sophia Shuttleworth Kitching (my 3x great grandparents).

At the age of 13 on the 1851 census for Conistone with Kilnsey Joseph is living at home with his parents and three of his siblings – James, Sophia and John.  Their father John is working as a shoemaker as is James (aged 14).

In 1861 we find Joseph still at home with his parents in the village of Burnsall, not far from Conistone.  His siblings John and Sophia are also there together with a niece, Ann Elizabeth Spink (8).  Joseph has followed in his father’s footsteps and is working as a shoemaker and also as a rural messenger.

Sometime in the December quarter of 1861 Joseph married Isabella Hannah Metcalfe.  The marriage is recorded in the Skipton registration district.

I haven’t researched Isabella’s line so I don’t have any earlier information about her apart from her date of birth, 27th December 1839, which I got from the gravestone.  Oh, I also know from census records that she appears to have been born in the village of Arncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales.

The 1871 census has Joseph and Isabella living in Burnsall with three children – Annie Sophia, Mary Jane and John Metcalfe.  Joseph continues to work as a shoemaker.

The family has moved to Conistone by the time of the 1881 census.  As well as working as a shoemaker Joseph is described as a Post Master.  There are four children at home – John Metcalfe, Margaret E, Joseph Ellis and Thomas Frederick.

Moving on ten more years and Joseph appears to have given up making shoes.  His occupation on the 1891 census is Rural Postman.  The family are still in Conistone and there are five children at home – Annie Sophia, Mary Jane, Joseph Ellis, Thomas Frederick and Robert Aubrey.

At the turn of the century Joseph is 63 years old and still working as a rural postman.  The address on the 1901 census is the Post Office, Conistone and Isabella is described as Postmistress.  Their daughter Mary Jane (35) is the only one of the children at home.

The last available census is 1911 and Joseph is now described as a retired postman.  Joseph and Isabella will have been looking forward to their golden wedding anniversary in 1912.  They are living at “Sunnyside”, Consitone.  Also with them is their daughter Mary Jane (46), their son Thomas Frederick (31) working as a butcher, and their daughter Annie Sophia with her husband of three years John Webster Smith who is described as a grocer and beer retailer.

Isabella died on 21st November 1916 at the age of 76 and Joseph survived for almost three more years until his death on 3rd September 1919.

Joseph Ellis Spink was living at home at least until the 1891 census when he was 15 years old and working as a drapers assistant.  Sometime over the next ten years he moved to Barwick in Elmet near Tadcaster, about 45 miles from Conistone.  On the 1901 census he is living with his brother, John Metcalfe Spink and his family.  John’s occupation is a self employed butcher and Joseph Ellis is working as a butchers assistant.

Within two years Joseph Ellis passed away.  I haven’t got his death certificate but I know from the gravestone that he died on 2nd January 1903.

Robert Aubrey Spink first appears on the 1891 census living with his parents.  By 1901 he had also moved to Barwick in Elmet to live with his brother.  His occupation is described as sorting clerk.

In the 1911 census Robert is listed as a visitor at an address on Harehills Lane in Leeds.  He is working as a telegraphist.

The gravestone shows his date of death as 18th April 1923 and that he was accidentally killed.  I visited Leeds Central Library last week and found newspaper articles about Robert’s accident and these will feature in future blog posts.

I also found both Joseph Spink and Robert Aubrey Spink in the British Postal Service Appointment Books recently released on Ancestry.  Joseph is listed as a “runner” in 1856 having been appointed at Kilnsey, near Conistone.  He next appears in December 1880.  Robert Aubrey Spink started as a “learner” in May 1900 working in Leeds.