Saturday, August 31, 2013

Family History Spotlight: The Fleetwoods

My great great great great grandfather was Thomas Robinson Fleetwood, the son of James Fleetwood and Selina Stork. He was born in Cheshire near Northwich. T.R. Fleetwood came over to New Brunswick sometime between 1854 and 1856 and settled in Saint John.

I don't know where the "Robinson" part of his name came from, since no one in the family was Robinson, and the name doesn't show up until after he moved to Canada, but coincidentally he did have a brother-in-law named Thomas Robinson who married his sister Ellen. Robinson may have been an adopted middle name out of friendship or respect. Who knows.

Ellen Jane Fleetwood Bissett
Thomas Robinson Fleetwood moved to Staffordshire as a young adult where he married my gggggrandmother, Elizabeth Millward in 1845 at Tipton, Staffordshire. They had four children in England:  Ellen, Sarah Eliza, John, and James, born in Yorkshire and Kent before they finally immigrated to Canada.

The oldest, Ellen Jane, married my ggggrandfather, George Whittaker James Bissett, a handsome sea captain from Saint John.

After moving to Canada, Thomas R and Elizabeth had three more
Mary Lodge. (Photo compliments
of Kathy Sheehan)
daughters, Elizabeth, Emma Louise, and Clara Flavilla. Four years after their youngest daughter was born, Elizabeth died in 1866, leaving Thomas Robinson a widower with six children to take care of. He remarried Mary Lodge in 1868 and they had two more children together, Annie Ledia in 1872 and Edward Jewett in 1873. The family moved from Saint John to Moncton, NB sometime before 1881. Census indicates the family was Methodist and Thomas Robinson was a machinist/engineer.

I worked on the family of James Fleetwood and Selina Stork, Thomas Robinson's parents, and was very surprised to trace family members living in Lethbridge, Alberta in the 1880s. Yes, Lethbridge of all places, where I live. A surprise to me since the Bissetts and Fleetwoods were all in New Brunswick until my great grandfather Aubrey Allison Bissett came over to Alberta working on the trains in the early 1920s.

Original Fleetwood school in Lethbridge
Before it was torn down in 1970
John Henry (Harry) Fleetwood, a nephew to Thomas Robinson Fleetwood and a few times removed cousin to me, came over to Lethbridge in 1885ish (his father James, my great uncle came later as well) to work with coal, and he ended up becoming very involved in civic affairs, especially establishing schools in town. I believe he was superintendent of education or something like that. I need to go over to the Galt Museum and learn more about him, but I do know that he was known as "the father of Lethbridge Schools" (see here) and the old Fleetwood school, established in 1911 (which has since been rebuilt and now currently known as Fleetwood-Bawden), was named after him.

Funny thing is? My own grandfather attended that school, not ever knowing that it was named after his cousin, or that there were ever any Bissett relatives living in the city. So the moral of the story, kids, is to do your genealogy! Your school may have been named after your cousin.

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