Friday, November 10, 2017

Close-knit families... Frosts and Bonnetts

Family connections... Frost and Bonnett
That feeling of deja-vu as you start researching a branch of the family, previously untouched? The names, and even more, the pattern of names, feel familiar. It's like you've been there before, from a different angle: opened another window into the same room. Another chapter in the same story. And sometimes, it really is deja-vu: it's a small world.

Bonnetts and Frosts. Sarah Frost, born in Leicester in 1830, the daughter of John Frost and Elizabeth nee Kilby, married Emmanuel Bonnett, born in Barrow upon Soar in 1827, the son of John North Bonnett and Elizabeth nee Lindsey.  Sarah and Emmanuel were my great-great-grandparents, and I've long been following both of their direct family lines.

My great-grandfather, son of Emmanuel and Sarah, was Henry Bonnett. Henry's older brother, John Bonnett, was born in Grantham, Lincolnshire in 1832, when Emmanual was working there and before the family moved close to Birmingham. Both Henry and John worked in the shoe and boot trade, not as blacksmiths like their father and grandfather. John eventually married Mary Ann nee Overton, and their eldest son, William Henry Bonnett, was born in Leicester in 1874.

By the time William Henry was 17, he was working as a shoe finisher, like his father, and the family lived at 74 Martin Street, near Catherine Street. The street still exists: the houses do not. William Henry was the eldest child, and there were at least ten younger siblings, some of whom survived infancy, some who did not.

William Henry Bonnett married Sarah Ann Willson, in Leicester, in 1896, when he was 22 and Sarah was 20. For a long time, that's how I left the family tree, with only Sarah Ann's name and birth year: it wasn't until much later that I started researching Sarah Ann's own heritage.

And guess what? Sarah Ann Willson's mother was Rachel nee Frost. Rachel Ann Frost, born on Woodboys Street in Leicester, 26 September 1844. Her father, James Frost, born in Blaby, Leicestershire in 1815... younger brother of John Frost, father of the Sarah Frost who married Emmanuel Bonnett.

Sarah and Emmanuel's grandson William Henry married Sarah's cousin's daughter, Sarah Ann. It took me a while to figure that out.

I wonder if they met each other through the family, maybe at a wedding or a funeral or some other get-together, or if it was simply because they all ended up living in the same Leicester streets, families mostly working in the shoe and boot trade, with a few blacksmiths and foundry workers in the mix? Another family story to ponder...

William Henry Bonnett and Sarah Ann nee Willson first lived in Leicester, then moved to Cosby, in the Blaby area of Leicestershire, where the family lived on Main Street. They had two daughters: Evelyn, who died young, aged 16; Edith Mary Ann, and one son, William Henry Bonnett, same as his dad.

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