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The Dunstan/Dunston Family of South Yorkshire

 

Dunston Family Lineage



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.

All Saints ChurchOur 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 Arksey Dunstons.

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).

William Phillip DunstonRichard 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.

Methley PitMethley 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.

Richard Henry Cecil DunstonRichard 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 until 1941.

All Saints ChurchMary 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.