The Howe family

On the outskirts of Ilkeston Common, and included in the Parish of Holy Trinity, was Springfield Terrace, which you can just glimpse on the map (previous page). It is an area we have previously visited, close to the Gas Works on Rutland Street, where an outbreak of enteric fever had broken out in 1880-81.

Springfield Terrace around 1881

Despite its dubious reputation, this row of houses held an attraction for several families, And one of them was the Howe family.

Springfield Terrace around 1901

The following section is based upon the excellent family history reasearch of Joanne Ouchterlonie (nee Howe).


The Howe family of Springfield Terrace


Charles Howe, born in Northampton in 1835, was the son of William and Harriet (nee Nobles). His father worked in the boot and shoe trade, and naturally son Charles followed in his father’s boot steps.

In the early 1860s we find him in Derby where, in 1865 at the Brook Street Baptist Meeting House (below), he married Eliza Fletcher.

Already there was one illegitimate daughter in the family — Emma Fletcher alias Howe — before several more children were born in Derby. Then, about 1871, the Howe family was drawn to Ilkeston and on the 1881 census, lived at 3 Commercial Terrace off Awsworth Road.

Life appears quite peaceful in Northampton, but as soon as they’re in Ilkeston, it’s nothing but drunken fights, and the occasional riot!

I have no idea what brought Charles to Ilkeston from Northampton, but as ever with my family, I’m suspicious and suspect it was something bad. Prior to moving to Ilkeston, Charles spends some time in prison for fighting (he’s noted as a prize fighter in the newspaper article,  which I find hard to believe given that the Howes are incredibly short people!).

Had Charles left Northampton to escape justice ? In the Northampton Mercury (May 2nd 1863) Charles was recorded as fighting as Duston on June 2nd 1861 (sic) and was remanded on bail for a later trial. That trial took place on July 2nd 1863, at Northamptonshire Midsummer Quarter Sessions, when Charles appeared, charged with committing a breach of the peace by unlawfully fighting a prize fight, and with committing an assault. After that, Charles had left town, possibly (?) going to Derby, vowing never to fight again, and “had made a solemn resolution that he would never be guilty again of the offence with which he was now charged”. However he had been caught and returned to face trial. Despite pleading guilty, the magistrate felt that he had to sentence Charles to a similar term that his ‘companion‘ had previously been given…. as below.

Charles and Eliza’s eldest son was William, born in Derby in 1867. He married Sarah Savage at Babbington Chapel in 1888, and their eldest child was Ernest senior (1888 — 1961). His son was Ernest junior (1918 — 2009) who is Jo’s grandad and it is with him that we begin.

Ernest Howe junior (“Grandad”)

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Howe was born in 1918 at 28 Springfield Terrace.

The photos were my grandad’s, Ernie Howe, who lived at 3 Springfield Terrace which was owned by the family for a few generations.

The first photo is a school photo of my grandad, taken mid 1920s in Ilkeston. I think Grandad has written ‘me’ on the photo and drawn an arrow pointing at himself, just in case he ever forgot! He is front row, first right. The second photo is taken in the alleyway behind Springfield terrace and he’s written ‘Bill Shaw sitting on bike, me looking at him, and Harold Winfield in background’ on the back.

Ernie loved Ilkeston and I would often go with him to visit his mum’s grave. He’d often turn up at Springfield Terrace and the current owners would let him in so he could reminisce. A collier through and through. I fear a lot of the old Derbyshire dialect is dying out with his generation, as are the memories

Ernest ‘Ernie’ Howe (November 5th 1918 — February 15th 2009)

Great grandparents Howe, Ernest senior and Florence (nee Sheldon)

Grandad Ernie was born in 1918 to Florence Sheldon and Ernest Howe. Florence was a servant at 56 Lord Haddon Road in 1911 before she married. (Living there in 1911 was Hugh Lever Moss, pianist, and his family)

Florence Sheldon (middle row, fourth from left).

Florence Sheldon, who no-one in living memory knew anything about as she had died when my grandad was three days old (in 1918) and his dad subsequently abandoned him. She was from Ilkeston, and the daughter of Enoch Sheldon and Elizabeth (nee Henshaw), and it has been both difficult and fascinating trying to work out who was the illegitimate child of whom over the years…

Ernie junior was told that his mum died from spanish flu which she caught in hospital, (in 1918) but shortly before his death he obtained her death certificate which showed she died from chronic organ failure as she had been beaten by her husband. I gather the people of Ilkeston quite rightly booed him out of town at her funeral (they probably did more than this).

I have very little other information on Florence Sheldon, save the little my grandad knew and what I can see in the census returns. Most of her family were dead by the time my grandad was born.

Maternal great great grandparents Sheldon

Florence was the daughter of Enoch Sheldon and Elizabeth Henshaw.

Enoch seems a reasonably respectable man judging by newspaper articles ( the only people he fought and who’s property he destroyed were his neighbours…), and Elizabeth’s family have been a nightmare to accurately track down. They extend into the Wheatley Straws, Lees, Sissons, and marry into the Irish Purcells in Ilkeston.

This marriage certificate (above) is a good example of how misleading primary historical evidence can sometimes be. It would appear that Elizabeth was born about 1870/71, the daughter of collier William, living in the Parish of Holy Trinity, at the bottom of Bath Street. However, between 1891 and 1901 Enoch and Elizabeth Sheldon had six children, and on the birth registration records of nearly all of them, the maiden name of the mother is given as ‘Henson‘. This might suggest that we should look for ‘Elizabeth Henshaw or/alias Henson’.

There is one candidate. Elizabeth Ann Henshaw was born on December 2nd, 1870 in Ilkeston, the illegitimate daughter of Sarah Henshaw. Just over two months later — on February 12th, 1871 — Sarah married collier William Henson at Christ Church, Cotmanhay. They were living at North Road which is in the Parish of Holy Trinity. Thereafter, on the 1871/81/91 censuses, daughter Elizabeth appears as ‘Elizabeth Henson’ within the family. Then, as the certificate shows, she married Enoch shortly after the 1891 census was compiled, and died in 1901.

Enoch Sheldon’s grandma was Elizabeth Duro, and I can’t trace the family back further than Elizabeth’s parents, Richard Duro and Mary Beardsley.

Nottingham Journal November 9th 1906

The ‘disgraceful row‘ in Durham Street included Enoch throwing a bucket of water over Lois, wife of David Beardsley, then smacking her in the eye, thereby giving her the ‘worst black eye‘ that Superintendent Daybell had ever seen !!

The Sheldons lived at number 13 while the Beardsleys lived at number 10.

Florence’s younger brother, Charles William, wanted my grandad Ernie to go and live with him (grandad was essentially orphaned aged 5) and his grandparents (William and Sarah Howe) flat out refused.

I found a newspaper article about Charles William; he tried to kill his wife because his supper wasn’t ready on time…clearly William and Sarah were aware of his character and they raised my grandad themselves until their death.

Charles William is shown on the 1939 Register at 16 Marton Road Toll Bar, Bentley with Arksey U.D., Doncaster —  as a colliery stableman (looking after pit ponies ?). He had a keen interest in ‘the horses’, even setting his sights on his nephew, young Ernie, being a jockey, so he could make a few quid out of him the Howes are not blessed with great height.

Sheffield Independent (October 31st, 1928)

Paternal great great grandparents Howe … and their children

William Howe and Sarah Savage married in 1888 at Babbington Chapel and later lived at 28 Springfield Gardens.William was a coal hewer. I still have his pit tools, which were also my grandad’s. They’ve been incredibly useful renovating an old house here. I have attached a photo of William Howe (below). He’s the ridiculously short one.

Born in 1866, Sarah Savage was the second daughter and thus the younger sister of Mary Ellen Savage, born in 1864, Both sisters had illegitimate children, born in Awsworth Road.

I have attached a newspaper article about Sarah’s dad, William Savage. (right) William was from Sutton Bonnington before moving to Ilkeston around 1863.

Within two years of being in Ilkeston, William was sent to prison for 18 months. The article notes for “an unnatural offence”. The criminal records record the offence as B……..Y.  I assume this is beastiality since the records have no issue writing ‘bastardy’. (admittedly, I roared with laughter at this point in my research. Everything happening in Ilkeston at this point in history is either cripplingly sad and awful, or just beyond belief. With the latter, you have to laugh, and I’ve had to do that so many times because I’ve been speechless). It’s admittedly a low point in the family history, but grandad would’ve had a field day making jokes about it.

Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, June 23rd 1865

At this same Assizes Session, three other Derbyshire men were found guilty of the same offence and received the same sentence. Before any trials had begun the presiding magistrate, Mr. Justice Mellor, detected “a very offensive stench pervading the court” (literally not metaphorically !!) and refused to conduct any business until it had been eliminated. Eventually the subsequent trials had to be taken into the Grand Jury room to avoid the smell.

son Arthur Savage alias Howe

Born on November 24th 1884 in Awsworth Road, Arthur Savage alias Howe was the illegitimate son of Sarah Savage. In 1912 he married Bertha Wiles of Mill House, 44 Mill Street where she was living with her rather large family.

I remember that grandad had Arthur’s pocket watch that grandad claimed had stopped at his time of death.

Arthur died on September 25th, 1915 while serving with 2nd Bn., Kings Royal Rifle Corps, and is commemorated  on the Loos Memorial in France.

“The Loos Memorial forms the sides and back of Dud Corner Cemetery. Loos-en-Gohelle is a village 5 kilometres north-west of Lens, and Dud Corner Cemetery is located about 1 kilometre west of the village, to the north-east of the D943, the main Lens to Bethune road”. (CWGC site)

Arthur Savage did indeed marry Bertha Wiles and as far as I know, they had no children. Arthur’s effects were sent back to his parents when he died. He also goes by Savage rather than Howe, and on his marriage certificate, he’s left the father’s name section blank! This is new to me! It would appear William Howe wasn’t his father after all! 

The army records of his death show that Bertha was still at her Mill Street address. She remarried to George Hutchby in 1925, and at the oubreak of the 1939-45 War, she was a widow for the second time, and still living in Mill Street. George had died on October 30th 1935 — at Mill Street — and Bertha died on July 25th, 1958 — at Mill Street ?

son William Howe

William Howe junior, born in 1889, was the second legitimate son of William senior and Sarah.

I’ve found a photo of William Howe, Arthur Howe/Savage’s brother.

On the back, grandad has written ….

Private William Howe, my uncle, a real uncle, one of “the old contemptibles”, said Kaizer Bill. Note the black button on his tunic – only allowed to wear one if lost a brother in battle – he lost his brother Arthur – died of wounds after going “over the top” with fixed bayonets’. 

On his discharge documents, William is shown to have enlisted on March 25th 1915, and to have been transferred to the reserve on February 17th, 1919; the address of 3 Brussell (sic) Terrace, Bath Street, Ilkeston is written alongside. They also show that he was married on February 4th, 1911, and list the births of his two children — William on March 6th, 1911, and Gladys on November 8th, 1913.
William married  Mary Elizabeth Whitehead of Ilkeston, daughter of Joseph and Hannah (nee Stevens) whose family lived at the address on the discharge documents.

Below are some of his Medical and Coduct service records.

I have attached the photo of William. He grew up at 10 Belfield Street, Ilkeston.

Dad told me another fabulous story about William. Apparently during the depression, you could dig for coal in your own garden. William’s garden backed onto the colliery, so he dug a shaft from his garden straight into the mine, stole the coal, and sold it to the good people of Ilkeston for a shilling a bag! He was a labourer, often unemployed and would scrap with his brother for beer money, and pinch coal from the NCB to sell.


We now walk on to Ebenezer Chapel