When I first started investigating Anne Lockley I was pleasantly surprised to find so many records for her but then, since she seemed to have married every two years or so, I began to consider that maybe she was some sort of serial killer . Later, to my relief, I discovered that between 1800 and 1820 no less than 18 Ann Lockleys had been born in the area around Hinstock1 . Once I’d filtered out the “fake Ann Lockley’s” my opinion changed and I decided that she probably just had bad luck with her three husbands. In my opinion she is truly the matriarch of our Stevenson clan. She must have had a strong character to have brought up and continue to support her family throughout the 19th century in the slums of Liverpool. It was Ann that first started including their mother’s maiden name as a christian name when naming her sons. This probably explains who gave Harriet Forrester the idea to name her first son Hugh Grant Forrester and not just simply Hugh Forrester. She was the first of Hugh Grant Forrester’s forebears to move to Liverpool sometime before 1837. Later around 1862 her daughter Mary Ann Martin moved to Liverpool close to where Ann lived. Once Harriet Forrester (her grand daughter) was old enough to work she moved in with Ann and they both worked as machinists (probably dressmakers). The support provided by Ann at that time was undoubtably very important to Harriet since she was born deaf and dumb, a considerable problem in those days. Hugh Grant Forrester was born to Harriet Forrester during this period and Ann would I’m sure be very much aware of the circumstances which lead to Harriet’s pregnancy.

Hinstock St. Oswalds
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Her story begins with the marriage by license of Thomas Lockley and Mary Joy on the 2nd of February 1809 in the Hinstock local church saint Oswald. We can only guess as to the reason why they choose to marry by license, but in those days marriage by license was exceptional and because both sides of the family were succesful it was probably a case of consolidating their social status. The marriage license states that Thomas is publican at that time. However Ann remembers him as being a farmer when she marries William Stirrup in 1845. Ann was born a few years after the mariage in 1812, the place is Hinstock (Shropshire). Incidentally Ann’s grandfather Thomas Joy a Yeoman according to his testament2 bequeathed Ann Lockley £10 payable when she was to reach the age of 21. £10 was a considerable sum in those days, equivalent to 3 months wages for an average worker, and if this was ever paid out to Ann I’m sure it will have been very welcome.

The area received a major impulse when the Shropshire Union canal was opened in 1835. Part of this development involved building a wharf and bridge at Goldstone next to Thomas’s farmhouse . A few years earlier the Beer Act of 1830 was introduced allowing premises called Beer Houses to sell beer. Thomas decided to take advantage of the situation and converted part of his cowshed into a Beer House. Undoubtedly the navvies that dug the canal were regulars (especially on payday). He would be proud to see that nowadays his tavern has developed into a beautiful country pub with excellent food. The Wharf Tavern as it is now known is still located at this strategic canal crossing point and well worth a visit.

Note: when built the Shropshire Union canal separated Goldstone Wharf from Hinstock and the pub became situated on the Cheswardine side.

Ann was an only child and we can only hope that she had an enjoyable childhood, her father seems to have been a successful Farmer/Publican and so I’m sure she lacked nothing. I believe that she received some formal education because her signature is neat. Possibly her uncle William Lockley was responsible for this since he was the local schoolmaster (his gravestone can still be found in the grounds of saint Oswalds). The first record we can find of her is of when she marries William Martin on the 26th of July 1830 at Holy Trinity church of Dawley Magna. Dawley Magna was located about 14 miles from Hinstock. Together they had two children.

  • Mary Ann Martin b. 1831 in Wellington (Shropshire).
  • Thomas Lockley Martin b. 1833 in Hinstock (Shropshire).

The marriage doesn’t seem to have lasted for many years because the next records we find of Ann Lockley are that she has moved to Liverpool with Thomas Wycherley (a stonemason). No records of the death of William Martin can be found until 1842 or 1846. So we can only make the assumption that Ann Lockley left her husband William Martin for Thomas Wycherley and that they then moved to Liverpool to avoid problems. The enumerator of 1841 census registered that Ann’s first son ( Thomas Lockley Martin) was living with the Wycherleys’ in Much Woolton where Thomas Wycherley had found employment in the red sandstone quarries which have contributed so much to the famous buildings in and around Liverpool. It is also worth noting that Much Woolton (nowadays Woolton) was a rural area at that time, I’m sure Ann and Thomas enjoyed the fresh air there. Mary Ann Martin did not move with her mother to Liverpool but was at the time of the 1841 census living in Thomas Lockley’s pub in Hinstock and registered as servant, thereby earning her keep even though she was only 10 years old. Thomas Wycherley and Ann Martin (nee Lockley) eventually got married in 1845 (presumably after they had heard of William’s demise). Sadly Thomas died within a few months of getting married. Together they had 3 children.

  • George Lockley Wycherley b. 1837 in Liverpool
  • James Wycherley b. 1838 in Much Woolton (now Liverpool)
  • Maria Wycherley b. 1841 in Much Woolton (now Liverpool)

When Thomas Wycherley died Ann Wycherley was in a very difficult situation having 3 small children to take care of. It is then not surprising that she quickly found a new husband. In November 1845 she married William Stirrup at St. Johns church Liverpool. They lived in one of the courts of Mill street east. Together they had one son John Stirrup who like James & Maria Wycherley was registered as being born in Much Woolton. William Stirrup did not live very long after that, he died in July 1849.

Despite being, most recently, the widow of William Stirrup the next record of Ann Lockley is that she is registered during the 1851 census under the name Ann Wycherley. Her sons George, James & John are living with her but Maria is nowhere to be found. Possibly Maria was then in service (in those days it was normal for girls to go into service from 10 years old onwards). Going into service could also explain why there is no Maria Wycherley to be found in the Liverpool area for the 1851 census records. Servants were often given a standard name depending on their role. For instance a household may always have named the scullery maid MARY, thus making life a lot easier for their masters but impossible for enumerators.

In the 1861 census we see that Ann has reverted to using the surname Stirrup. Possibly this was for the benefit of her son John Stirrup who was then the only child still living with Ann.

In 1862 we can find a record of the birth of John James Forrester son to Anne’s daughter Mary Ann Martin who had apparently moved to Liverpool with her husband James Forrester and their children Harriet & Thomas Forrester. Sometime in the 1860’s James Forrester died and one can only speculate how the family survived without a father and husband. In my imagination I see the ever resourceful Ann Lockley playing a major role in supporting her daughter and grandchildren.

The next records show that in 1871 Mary Ann Martin marries Michael Davis (could he be family of the Davis family that witnessed Anne Lockley’s marriages in 1845) and that Ann Stirrup is sharing accommodation with Harriet Forrester and 9 other persons. Ann & Harriet are both registered as machinists. She had been previously registered as dressmaker so we can assume they were producing garments. In 1872 Hugh Grant Forrester was born and since little Hugh was named after Hugh Grant (a clothier in Altrincham) it is not unthinkable that Ann & Harriet were employed by Hugh Grant. Was Harriet Forrester a Victorian #MeToo victim?

Ann Stirrup appears to have died 150 years ago in 1879. She survived at least 3 husbands and to her credit all 6 of her children survived to adulthood and beyond. This is a remarkable achievement considering the abysmal housing conditions and lack of hygiene in Victorian Liverpool.

  1. According to the Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer of 1824 Hinstock was a country village of about 600 inhabitants and 120 houses. The church is well worth visiting and many of our ancestors have been buried here, even some of their gravestones still exist. []
  2. The later sense of yeoman as “a commoner who cultivates his own land” is recorded from the 15th through 18th centuries. Yeomen farmers owned land (freehold, leasehold or copyhold). Their wealth and the size of their landholding varied. The Concise Oxford Dictionary states that a yeoman was “a person qualified by possessing free land of 40/- (shillings) annual [feudal] value, and who can serve on juries and vote for a Knight of the Shire. He is sometimes described as a small landowner, a farmer of the middle classes”. Sir Anthony Richard Wagner, Garter Principal King of Arms, wrote that “a Yeoman would not normally have less than 100 acres (40 hectares) and in social status is one step down from the Landed gentry []