Lesley's Family History
Great-Uncle Samuel Whitworth -was he really the black sheep?

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last update: 19 December 2002

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Samuel WHITWORTH was my great-uncle.  My aunts and uncles always said that he was the black sheep of the family.  According to them, Uncle Sam was such a villain that his wife left him and took all their children to America.  When he died, it was discovered that he had sold his body for medical research and his sisters were obliged to pay back the money so that he could be given a good Methodist burial.
There the story rested until I began this research.  Great-Uncle Sam appears on the family group photo which my cousin Margaret kindly provided.  There, aged about 7, he looks quite the opposite of a black sheep so I thought I would try to find out some more about him.
I first found Samuel Whitworth and his family on the 1891 census:

50 King Street HURST Ashton-under-Lyne LAN
occupation age place of birth
Samuel WHITWORTH Head Grocer 33 Ashton-under-Lyne LAN
Mary Ann WHITWORTH Wife Dressmaker 33 Tipperary
Joseph Murphy WHITWORTH Son 12
Jane Agnes WHITWORTH Daughter 9
Minnie WHITWORTH Daughter 7
James Russel WHITWORTH Son 5
William Stewart WHITWORTH Son 3
Elizabeth MURPHY Mother-in-law Housekeeper 59 Tipperary
Mary Alice ROWE Servant 22

By all appearances, this is a prosperous late Victorian family with Samuel following in the footsteps of his father William as a grocer in Hurst.  Samuel next gets a mention in his father's will in 1896:
"...I direct that any sums of money owing to me by my sons Samuel and William for advances made by me to them and appearing in any books of mine as owing by them to me shall be accounted for by them before participating in any share under this my will ..."
Nothing untoward here - most fathers would be happy to help out when their sons were starting out in life.
My next piece of intelligence was gleaned from the remarkable Ellis Island website which contains records of immigrants to the States through Ellis Island.   It includes pictures of the ships which the immigrants sailed in and photocopies of the actual passenger manifests.  From this site I found that the story may not be quite what I was told.
The Caronia sailed into New York from Liverpool on 30 August 1905.  Amongst the third class passengers on board were Mary Ann WHITWORTH, described as a dressmaker and a widow.  She was accompanied by her daughter Doris, aged 4 and had $15 dollars in her possession.  Their destination is given as c/o Russell Whitworth (son) at 73 West Pearl Street, Wellsville, New York.  Four more children, Jane, Minnie, William and Samuel (aged 9) arrived on the Teutonic in February 1906, bound for the same destination.  So it seems that Mary Ann was a widow rather than a runaway wife!

At the moment I have only two more small pieces of information:-
My cousin Margaret also sent me a copy of a document written by our aunt Mary during the search for the beneficiaries of another Samuel Whitworth's will.  This shows that several of Mary Ann's children married and had children.  
Minnie WHITWORTH's full name was Mary Gertrude and she married Charles W CRANDALL.   Their descendants included Charles Richard CRANDALL, Robert S CRANDALL, Harold W CRANDALL and Carl W CRANDALL.  During World War Two, a member of the Crandall family came to Hurst from the States.  According to family legend he was a look-alike for my own father William Whitworth, who was in a German prisoner of war camp at the time.  For more details on this branch click here.
William Stewart WHITWORTH married and had a daughter Mary.  Mary's married name was Mary DUNN and she was living in Cathedral City CA in the 1970s.

The story isn't quite complete - I still intend to find out when Great-Uncle Sam died and to check out the story about the medical research.  I would also love to hear from any of his descendants in the States and to share our family histories.  Please e-mail me if you can help..