Until my retirement in 2008 I was head of history at Liverpool John Moores University.
My interest in Stafford’s Irish families began in the 1980s when I lived in the town and began researching my family tree. My mother Olive Greenwood was born in Stafford in 1913. She worked as a tracer at the BRC and that’s where she met my father who had moved from Manchester with the firm in the 1920s. Her ancestors were all native Staffordians born and bred.
Here you can see her as a little girl with her father Frank Greenwood, her mother Mabel Moore and her brother Norman. The picture was taken in 1916 when Frank was serving on the Western Front with the Sherwood Foresters regiment. He later worked for the Staffordshire Education Department.
For a time I thought I had an Irish ancestor. Frank’s mother was Clara Clewlow (b. 1863) and initially it looked like she was the daughter of James Charles Clewlow (b. 1832), a Stafford shoemaker, and Mary Corcoran (b. 1838), an Irish woman from Co. Roscommon. It subsequently turned out that Clara was the last child of James’s first wife, Mary Hodge from Bednall, so I have no Irish blood at all! By then, however, my interest in Stafford’s Irish families had been kindled.
Both Frank Greenwood’s father and grandfather worked in the shoe trade. His grandfather, Henry Greenwood is the balding and bearded man in the middle of the back row on the next photo.
It was taken in 1874 when Henry was a Stafford delegate at the first conference of the National Union of Boot and Shoe Rivetters and Finishers. Family legend says he was ‘a bit of a rotter’.
Mabel Moore’s family were also shoemakers. Her father was John Tranter Moore who you can see in the photo with his wife Sarah Hannah Hine.
Sarah was born in Milford and had been a housemaid. John Tranter Moore’s father was Fred Moore (b. 1824), another shoemaker whose main claim to fame was singing in St Mary’s church choir for 77 years!
All my male ancestors in Stafford were Stafford Burgesses ‘by birth’. My grandfather Frank Greenwood was sworn as a Burgess in 1912 and a hundred years later I discovered I had inherited from him the right to be a Freeman through my mother. In December 2013 it was with some pride that I was sworn as a Stafford Burgess 101 years after my grandfather.