The Farringtons and Gallaghers emigrated from Leigh to the United States in the 1910's and 20's. What sort of life were they leaving? To help answer that question we can turn to the 1921 Census of England and Wales.
The Farrington Family
|The Farringtons in the 1921 Census
In 1921, John and Bridget Farrington were living at 41 Milton Street (map). John was a 65-year-old dataller, which was essentially a day laborer at a coal mine. He was working in the Sovereign Pits (map), operated by the Wigan Coal & Iron Company, a couple of miles away from the house. I wonder how he got to work?
|The Farrington's house at 41 Milton St.
Taken by Terence and Marie during a 1985 visit.
John's wife Bridget was not working outside the house. Their son Edward was a 28-year-old iron moulder at the McGregor Brothers foundry on Bridgewater St (historical map). Edward's younger brother James was also still living at home, and working for the city in the Parks Commission, possibly in the nearby Lilford Park (map).
John and Bridget had eight living children in 1921. The eldest three -- William, Mary and John -- were already living in the United States. Three others -- Margaret, Michael and Daniel -- were married and living elsewhere in Leigh with their families. Only Edward and James remained at home. Edward would leave for the United States two years later, but James would later marry and settle in Leigh.
John and Bridget also provided much more detailed birthplaces in this census. Previously they had both listed Tuam, a small town in Ireland, as their birthplace. But that's probably the local parish, or in other words where their births would have been recorded. In this census, John lists his birthplace as Ballyglunin, which is basically a disused railway station that was once a setting for The Quiet Man.
Bridget listed her birthplace as Ballinclava. There have been places in Ireland with that name, but I can't find any references in County Galway.
The Baxter Family
|John and Florrie Baxter Loughlin, with sister Margaret Baxter
|Agnes Baxter in the 1921 Census
Also at 46 Trafalgar, but recorded separately
Agnes was 19 years old and working at Butts Mills Ltd. as a comber tenter, or someone who tends the machine that combs out short fibers in the production of yarn. The factory still stands.
|Agnes Baxter with her fellow mill workers.
Helpfully circled by her future daughter, Marie.
There were five living Baxter children in 1921. Aside from the three girls mentioned above, there was a son named James who would have been about 18. I haven't found him in the census, but he attended Marie's wedding, so he was definitely still alive. There was also another daughter, a 12-year-old named Lucy, who was in the Children's Receiving Home not far from where her father Jesse was now living with his new family. I don't know why she was in that institution, but she died at age 19 in 1926.
The Gallagher Family
In 1921, Edward and Elizabeth Gallagher were living at 3 Miller Street (historical map), just across the canal from Agnes' mill. Edward was working at the Albion Iron Works for Harrison, McGregor & Company, who manufactured farm equipment.
|Edward and Elizabeth Thomason Gallagher
and their boys in the 1921 Census
Perhaps more accurately, Edward wasn't working at Harrison, McGregor & Co., since at the time of the census he was out of work. But had he been at work he would have been in the smiths' department, working on drop hammer forgings.
|An advertisement for Albion implements
Edward Gallagher's employer Harrison McGregor & Co., was apparently unrelated to Edward Farrington's employer McGregor Brothers.
Elizabeth Gallagher was also out of work, in her case from the Alder Mills, just across the road -- you can see it in the historical map above. Most of the mill is gone now, but the office still stands (street view). As we've seen here it was common for women to have jobs in this period, but as a married mother Elizabeth was unusual in having outside employment. Perhaps her children being relatively older gave her more time, or quite possibly the family just needed the extra income.
Edward "Ted" Gallagher was still living at home, and like his mother had most recently worked in the Alder Mill as a piecer. A piecer collected discarded fabric from the machine workings; historically it was dangerous finger-mangling work done by children, but perhaps by this time it was a more normal job suitable for 20-year-old Ted. He would leave for the United States two years later.
George Gallagher was a 17-year-old apprentice fitter at William Boydell & Sons, electrical engineers. I don't know what a fitter does, but 18 years later George was still at it -- his occupation in the 1939 Register was "maintenance fitter, electrical and general".
The youngest son Justin, 12 years old in 1921, was still in school full time, so George was the only person in the household with an actual job.
The Page Family
|William and Jane Alice Page in the 1921 Census
|Alice Page around 1921