The surname Dunstan derives from old English meaning a stony
hill and is most prevalent in Cornwall, where it is said that
holders of the name were seated well before the Norman Conquest.
Spelling variations of the name include Dunstan, Dunston, Dunstone,
Dunstane, Donston, Dunstavill and many more.
Dunstan ancestors, however, originated from South Yorkshire
in the area around the towns of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham
and the spelling of their surname tended to alternate between
Dunstan and Dunston. The earliest member of the Dunstan family
that we can trace with certainty is Richard Dunstan who, on
his marriage in 1844, was living in Mount Pleasant, Wath upon
Dearne. His marriage certificate identifies his father as James
Kitchen, a labourer, which suggests the Dunstan line may have
originated via his mother.
Richard Dunstan himself does not appear to be listed in the
1841 census but five Dunstons (spelled with an "o") were listed
as living in Wath upon Dearne and may well be close relatives.
These individuals were in two households - one with Joseph Dunston
(25), Elizabeth (20) and a daughter Mary (1) and another household
with Robert (17) and John 13.
Dunstan/Dunston is not a hugely common surname, but in the
1841 census there was a concentration of them around the South
Yorkshire area (there were none in West Yorkshire) which suggests
most of them may have been related. Most family tree records
for Dunstons in South Yorkshire trace ancestry back to Richard
Dunston b. 1719 in Rossington, which is a small village just
south of Doncaster. Richard Dunston married Grace Watson (1723-75)
and among his children was Robert Dunston (1749-1827) who was
also born in Rossington but later moved to the village of Bentley
with Arksey north of Doncaster. Robert married Mary Heald (1750-1803)
and together they had 14 children including Richard Dunston
(b. 1780) who married Martha Turner. They also had several children
born in Bentley including another Richard Dunston (b.1813).
Bearing in mind the fact the fact that outside of Cornwall the
1841 census records no other Richard or Robert Dunstons (Dunstans)
in the entire country, it seem likely that our Richard Dunstan
is indeed related in some way to the Rossington/Bentley with
In the early 1840s Wath upon Dearne was a small town with around
1500 inhabitants, most of whom were employed in the coal mines,
in the local iron works or in the pottery industry. The town
was considered a major centre for the pottery/china industry
in the 19th century. Rockingham Pottery is the most famous of
the local manufacturers and was located in nearby Swinton. Richard
Dunstan was a collier and would probably have moved to Wath
in search of work at one of the local coal mines. It would have
been here that he met his wife Emma Myers. Emma was born in
Campsall, a small village, north of Doncaster in 1828. However,
by 1841 she was living in Bolton upon Dearne in the house of
a tailor (John Kitchengeman).
The connection with the Myers surname is somewhat uncertain.
In her marriage certificate Emma's father is listed as Joseph
Hoyland, a potter. He is listed in the 1841 census aged 60 living
in Wath upon Dearne with his wife Mary. Also in the same house
is William Myers, aged 20 who is listed as a potter's apprentice
(but not as his son).
Dunstan and Emma Myers were married on July 29, 1844 in All
Saints Church in Wath upon Dearne (photo at top of page). The
vicar who married them, Henry Partington is notable in the he
was the vicar there for a total of 64 years (1833 -1897)! It
appears Richard and Emma moved to Methley, a small mining village
near Pontefract, not long after they were married as their first
son William Philip Dunstan (pictured left) was born there. William's
birth certificate is unusual is that it gives the exact time
of his birth - 5 pm on 20th September 1847.
was an exciting place in the 1840s as the local coal mine was
undergoing significant development. Methley Junction pit, initially
owned by Burnleys and then later by Henry Briggs, was sunk in
1845. At that time the seam was sunk to Haigh Moor level only
but was further developed in 1850. The Dunstans stayed in Methley
until between 1851-53 when they moved back to their home area.
This can be seen from later census returns, which show that
William and his younger brother Samuel (b. 1851) were born in
Methley whilst their sisters Mary (1853) and Frances (1857)
were born in Kilnhurst, another village near Wath upon Dearne.
It would appear that Richard Dunstan died sometime between
1857 and 1860, although at present we are unable to find details
of his death in the records. Suffice to say Emma Dunstan remarried
in the second quarter of 1860. She and her new husband, Joseph
Townsley had two children - Violetta (born 1861) and Anne (1864).
Joseph Townsley, however, died in 1864.
Sometime during the second half of the 1860s William Philip
Dunston (who was by now spelling his surname with an "o") moved
to Halifax. Why, we're not quite sure. However, the story that
has been passed down to us was that William was a miner who
had an accident and couldn't work. Certainly, he had a variety
of jobs during his life. On his marriage in 1870 he was a waiter,
in 1871 a painter and later a lamp cleaner in the colliery.
William Dunston married Mary Davey in 1870 in Halifax. How
he met her is a mystery, particularly how Mary, a servant girl
from Norfolk managed to find herself in West Yorkshire. By 1871,
however, William and Mary had moved back to South Yorkshire
(220 Church Street, Nether Hoyland) and were living together
with their first child Richard, in the house of Emma Townsley.
William and Mary had six children in total.
Henry Cecil Dunston (pictured left) was the eldest b. 1870 -
then Beatrice Frances Lucy (my great-grandmother) 1872, Emma
Clara (1875), Ruth Anne Elizabeth (1876), Violetta Maud Mary
(1879) and Edith Myers (1881). The family continued to move
around the South Yorkshire area. In the early 1870s they lived
in Elsecar, then Sheffield and by 1881 they were in Wombwell.
William, however, had continuing health problems and on May
29, 1888, he died, aged 40 from chronic bronchitis and pneumonia.
Shortly before William's death the Dunston family moved to Manchester
and William took work at the pit in Ashton (when the Ashton
Moss pit's second shaft was sunk in 1882, it was, at 2,850 feet,
the deepest in the world).
At the time of the 1891 census the family, with the exception
of Richard, were living at 170 Hanover Street in Audenshaw.
Mary Dunston was described as a charwoman, whilst Beatrice was
a cotton cardroom operator. Richard was living in lodgings in
Marple and had taken employment as a grinder in the cotton mill.
By 1901 the family was living at 4 Hay Street in Audenshaw and
Richard was back with them In the end Richard HC Dunston (known
to my father as Great Uncle Dick), had quite a long life, surviving
Dunston (nee Davey) had an even longer life. She died in 1939
in Audenshaw at the age of 96. She is pictured here with here
daughter, Beatrice and granddaughter Annie.
My great grandmother, Beatrice Frances Lucy Dunston was the
earliest born ancestor of which I have a personal memory. She
was 93 when she died in 1965 and I remember being taken to see
her in a nursing home when I was about 4. The most interesting
thing about Beatrice was the complicated nature of her love
life. There were two men in her life, Joseph Fleury, who she
eventually married and James Hurley.
Beatrice's first child was Annie Louisa, who was born out of
wedlock in the third quarter of 1893. Joseph Fleury was her
father. Annie married George Rawson and lived until the late
1960s. I remember visiting her on numerous occasions when I
was young. After Annie's birth, however, Joseph Fleury was stationed
in India and then later in South Africa and during this period
Beatrice had a liaison with James Hurley.
May Hurley Dunston was the result and she was born in around
1898. May was not brought up in the same household as Annie
and indeed in the 1901 census she is recorded as living with
James Hurley and his parents. It's worth noting that Joseph
Fleury tried to commit suicide in 1897 and so the possibility
has to be considering whether Beatrice's relationship with Hurley
had something to do with this. By the turn of the century, however,
Joseph was back in the UK and eventually married Beatrice in
1902. My grandmother, Gladys Fleury was their second daughter,
born January 15, 1903.