The Shorthouse Children (1)

I always had the impression that the family of Frederick and Annie were strictly religious, strong Methodists, and actively participated in the Temperance Movement. There is some truth in this as far as Annie and Frederick are concerned. Their children, mostly followed this trend. The children were educated and all loved music.

Frederick and Annie had twelve children, three died at a young age (twins Edith and Mary at 1 and 3 years respectively), Sarah their first born at 16 years, and John some years later at 6 weeks. They also lost Joseph and Fred in France during World War 1. Frederick and two of his brothers’  served prison time arising from drunkenness. Annie, a strong willed person, after leaving Wales must have kept Frederick on “the straight and narrow.”

Of the children that lived, Tom however, had a colourful life, a barman, foundry job, working in the music halls, abandoning his second wife and Hilda, and a history not making maintenance payments, served prison time. Ellen duped into a bigamous marriage after her husband died and later had three illegitimate children. Minnie married George Craggs and moved to Hartlepool. Jane and husband Charlie emigrated to Australia and prospered. Similarly, Arthur emigrated to Australia, did not do well financially, but married a good wife and successfully raised a family. Annie, the youngest, never married, stayed at home and died in Trimdon.

Sarah Ann Shorthouse.
Sarah Ann was born at Mountain Ash, Pontyprydd, Wales. She died at the age of 16 in Middlesbrough. Her death certificate has the following information:

Sarah Ann Shorthouse, Daughter Of Frederick, 4th April 1891, Age 16, At 54 Lumley Street, Middlesbrough, Mother Annie In Attendance Same Address, Rheumatic Fever And Heart Disease.

We are not sure why Sarah Ann was in Middlesbrough, the family were living in Easington Lane, Hetton le Hole at that time. We speculate that she was working at this location and was too sick to return home. Her mother Anne (with baby Minnie) were with her when she died. The 1891 census was taken the day after she died showing Anne and Minnie in Middlesbrough.

While living in Easington Lane, Sarah at the age of ten, had a traumatic experience of being raped by a seventeen year old pitman. The following newspaper articles recorded this event.


Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail Thursday July 30th 1885.
HORRIBLE CHARGE. – At Houghton-le-Spring Police-court yesterday, a youth names James Williams was committed for trial on a charge of committing a criminal assault upon Sarah Ann Shorthouse, a girl aged 10, daughter of a miner at Easington Lane, on July 25th.

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail Thursday November 5th  1885.
INDECENT ASSAULT AT HETTON.– Yesterday, at Durham Assizes, John Williams (17), a pitman, was found guilty of indecently assaulting Sarah Ann Shorthouse, a girl of the age of 10 years, at Hetton-le-Hole, on July 25th, and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Twins Edith and Mary Shorthouse.
Edith and Mary were born in Wigan in the spring of 1878, Edith died in the summer of 1879 in Wigan and Mary at the end of 1881 in Burnley. We have no information about these children.


Observation by John Robinson. 

The similarities between the families of Elizabeth and Annie are remarkable. They lived in Burnley and Trimdon respectively, separated by about 100 miles. Each family had twelve children, each had twin girls who died at an early age. They each lost another girl in childhood. Elizabeth had 6 girls and 6 boys, Annie had 7 girls and 5 boys. Three boys from each family went to war, Annie lost two in France, and Elizabeth one. However Elizabeth also lost one boy in an industrial accident at that time.


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