Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Search for Edward Sparkes

A Guest Blog Post from Geoff Sparkes

My name is Geoff Sparkes and I live in Mildura, Australia. I have been researching my British roots for many years; however, I have not been able to locate a baptism for my Great Great Great Grandfather, Edward Sparkes.

From records that I have located I have learnt that he was born in 1823 in England and died following an explosion on a boat he was travelling on in 1872 on the Darling River in Australia. Edward travelled to Australia about 1852 with his wife Mary and young daughter, Elizabeth. If anyone can solve the mystery of Edward Sparkes I would very much like to hear from you.

I have located Edward on the 1841 and 1851 census in England.

The 1841 census records him residing with the Hewson Family in Summer Lane, Birmingham. Also at the same address is Phoebe, Ann and James Sparkes. It is possible that they were siblings.

                                Phoebe SPARKES (1816- )
                                Ann SPARKES (1821- )
                                Edward SPARKES (1823-1872)
                                James SPARKES (1827- )

First Generation

2. Phoebe SPARKES, was born in 1816. She appeared in the census in 1841 in Birmingham residing with the Hewson family.

I have researched Phoebe and Ann Sparkes in the hope that a connection to Edward can be established. Despite searching census records and purchasing various marriage and death certificates for people with the name, I have been unsuccessful in finding either of them.

 3. Ann SPARKES, was born in 1821. She appeared in the census in 1841 in Birmingham residing with the Hewson family.

 4. Edward SPARKES, was born in 1823. He appeared in the census in 1841 in Birmingham residing with the Hewson family. Occupation - Button Maker.

Edward may have been an engine driver on the Great Northern Railway. His daughter Elizabeth (Born 1851) was born in Mansfield whilst Edward worked for the Great Northern Railway. Edward SPARKES may have also travelled to the United States of America in 1845 possibly to learn about the railway industry.

Edward married Mary Ann KNIGHTON on 19 March 1850 in Nottingham. His marriage certificate states that his father was Edward Sparkes (Deceased) a gunsmith. I have not been able to find an Edward Sparkes, gunsmith, which would fit the bill. When James married in 1849 he recorded his father as unknown.






Edward appeared in the census in 1851 in Alfreton, Derbyshire. Occupation - Engine Stoker. He died on 9 November 1872 following a boat accident on the Darling River, Australia.

Newspaper report from 11 December 1872

The Steamer Providence

 The post from Wentworth has brought an account of a fatal explosion of the boiler of a steamer by which the lives of the captain, engineer, fireman and cook were sacrificed. On Saturday, the 9th of November, the steamer Providence (Captain J. Davis) left Menindie, laden with wool, and towing a barge with a similar freight, bound for Adelaide. On board the steamer were the captain; E, Sparkes, engineer J. Koach, fireman Thomas Gunn, the Chinese cook, Charles Seymour and a man named Trevonoak on the barge were two other men and a boy.

When about nine miles below Menindie, Captain Davis was heard to sing out “stop her”, something then being supposed to be amiss with the paddles. That order was obeyed and then he called out, “one stroke ahead”, and immediately after “stop her”. Scarcely, however, had this order been given when the boiler burst, and fragments of the steamer where hurled in all direction. Captain Davis, Sparkes, Roach and Gunn were killed by the explosion; Seymour was thrown a considerable distance, but, falling in the river, he escaped with a broken leg while Trevonoak, who was in the cabin at the time, escaped uninjured, and those in the barge were also unhurt. The bodies of Sparkes and Gunn were recovered, much mutilated but up to Monday the 11th when Mr J. Mair, J.P., held the inquest on that of Sparkes, those of the captain and Roach has not been found. The force of the explosion was very great, and fragments of the Providence were found at a considerable distance from the river. The magisterial inquiry terminated obscurely, but we understand that there was a strong impression that the boiler was very heated, and nearly empty, and that the melancholy accident arose through cold water being suddenly introduced therein.







Mary Ann KNIGHTON was the daughter of Arthur Solomon KNIGHTON. She and Edward SPARKES had the following children:
                         

                                Elizabeth SPARKES (1851-1926)
                                Edward James SPARKES (1853- )
                                Rosanna SPAKRES (1857-1908)
                                Emily Jane SPARKES (1859- )
                                Samuel John SPARKES (1868-1868) 

5. James SPARKES was born in 1827. He appeared in the census in 1841 in Birmingham residing with the Hewson family.

James married Mary Ann HEWSON in 1849. The witnesses at their marriage were M Sparkes and Sarah Sparkes. I believe that M could be (although not confirmed) Matthew Sparkes born 1833 in Water Orton. The identity of Sarah is still uncertain. James’s father is recorded as unknown.

 A Matthew Sparkes married Ann Beddowes in 1853 at St. Martin’s, Birmingham where one of the witnesses was Charles Perkins. 

Matthew is recorded on the 1841 census living with the Perkins family. This fact would appear to link the two families. A baptism is recorded at Water Orton for Matthew son of Charles and Sarah Sparkes nee Perkins.

The 1861 census records him as a merchant’s clerk, born in Aston.

Mary Ann HEWSON was born in 1830. She and James SPARKES has the following children:
                               
                                William SPARKES (1851-1851)
                                James Sparkes (1854- )

Second Generation
 
6. Elizabeth SPARKES, daughter of Edward SPARKES and Mary Ann KNIGHTON, was born in 1851 in Mansfield, England.

7. Edward James SPARKES, son of Edward SPARKES and Mary Ann KNIGHTON, was born in 1853 in Goolwa, Australia.

8. Rosanna SPARKES, daughter of Edward SPARKES and Mary Ann KNIGHTON, was born in 1857 in Goolwa, Australia.

 9. Emily Janes SPARKES, daughter of Edward SPARKES and Mary Ann KNIGHTON, was born in 1859 in Goolwa, Australia.

10. Samuel John SPARKES, son of Edward SPARKES and Mary Ann KNIGHTON, was born in 1868 in Goolwa, Australia.

 11. William SPARKES, son of James SPARKES and Mary Ann HEWSON, was born in 1851. He died in 1851.

 12. James SPARKES, son of James SPARKES and Mary Ann HEWSON, was born in 1854 in Birmingham.

 If any of the names mean anything to you, please let me know

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