Birkett Family History & Genealogy

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Margaret Paxton Starting with the Birkett family in Salford, Lancashire, England, I have found a few Birketts in the trade directories prior to 1850. In Pigot & Co.'s Directory 1828-9 Pt 1; Cheshire-Northumberland) there is a Mary Birkett, a dressmaker, of 56 Water St. and Bridge St., Manchester. In Pigot & Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford 1841, I found 3 Birketts who were joiners living in Salford: John at 2 Salford St, Richard at Hibbert St, and Robert at 40 Regent St. Only Robert Birkett remained in Salford by the time Slater's Directory of 1847 was published. The 1851 census for Salford, unfortunately, is unavailable because the original pages were severely water-damaged and are unreadable. I have not yet looked at the 1841 census records. Among the papers my mother gave me is a typewritten transcript of an indenture between John Birkett and John Torkington dated 11 April 1834. John Birkett,"the elder, of Manchester, joiner" was the father of John Birkett the younger and apprenticed him to John Torkington of Salford, joiner and carpenter (John Torkington is listed in Pigot & Co.'s Directory 1828-9 as a joiner with a shop at Cross Lane). The younger Birkett had already served as an apprentice informally from 6 April 1831. The indenture formalized the relationship and extended his term of service to 6 April 1838. John Birkett the elder agreed to feed, clothe and house his son; John Torkington was to train him.

John Birkett the younger was born about 1815 (extrapolating from the age he gave in the 1850 US census) probably in Manchester, Lancashire, England. On 1 January 1838 he married Mary Moores (born 20 June 1817--extrapolated from age at death on death certificate--the daughter of James Moores, machine printer) in the Collegiate Church, Manchester Cathedral by the Reverend Henry Fielding. They both were living on Cross Lane, Salford at the time of the wedding. (Source: Certified copy of an Entry of Marriage, General Register Office, England, certificate no. MXB 257503). Three children were born to this couple:

1) Henry Moores born 30 June 1839 on Salford Street, Greengate, Salford. More below

2) James William born 3 August 1841 at Greengate, Salford. He was a plumber and steamfitter with a large business in Brooklyn, New York. He entered Brooklyn politics as a Republican and soon rose to prominence. He served in the New York State Assembly for several terms. His career was not without controversary. He was accused of giving and taking bribes and of doing slipshod work on government projects. James Birkett married twice, first to Hannah Jane (last name unknown) by whom he had three children: John, William and Clara. Jane Birkett died 20 June 1878. On 22 September 1883, he married Amelia I. Field in Brooklyn. James Birkett died of cirrhosis and dropsy on 30 June 1898. He was buried in Cypress Hills cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. (Sources: death certificate of James William Birkett, US censuses of 1860 to 1880, The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper)

3) Anna Maria born 21 July 1843 on Williamson Street, Greengate, Salford. She married William Smith and had a child, William L. Smith (born 1864). In the 1878 City Directory of Brooklyn, Anna was listed as the widow of Lewis and running a fancy goods store at 108 Norman Ave. In the 1880 census, Anna Smith lived at 108 Norman Ave. with her son, William L. and a niece, Anna Bibbey. In the newspaper story about the wedding of Anna Birkett to Rev. James Clarke in Brooklyn on 10 June 1891, Mr. and Mrs. William Smith of Hoboken, William L Smith of Hoboken and Miss Anna Bibbey were mentioned. There is an Anna Smith listed in the 1900 US census in Jersey City, New Jersey with a husband, William; a son, George (born 1884); and Anna Bibbey, niece. This is very likely the sister of Henry Moores and James William Birkett, but I am at a loss to say what was going on with her husband. (Sources: birth certificate of Anna Maria Birkett, US censuses 1860-1900, Lain's Directory of Brooklyn 1879/80, The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper).

John Birkett the younger immigrated with his family to the United States before 1850. He signed "first papers" stating his intention to apply for citizenship on 27 May 1850. He was formally naturalized on 25 April 1855 by the Court of Common Pleas, New York County. His address was 77 Ave. C, New York City; the witness was Joseph Hampson. In the 1850 census, (dated 16 August 1850) John Birkett was a 35-year-old 'paternmaker' living in the 17th Ward of New York City. He appears in Trow's New York City Directory 1853 as a machinist at 77 Av C, New York City; he next appears in Lain's Brooklyn City Directory of 1859 as a machinist living at Union ave at Freeman. According to family lore, John Birkett died in September 1858 (the actual date varies) in Regla, Cuba of a fever while "looking for gold". (Sources: Court of Common Pleas,New York County
Bundle 142 Record No. 88,US census 1850, Trow's New York City Directory 1853,Lain's Brooklyn City Directory of 1859, The Autobiography of Grace Birkett Snell).

From 1859 on Mary Moores Birkett appears to be the head of the family. In Hearn's Brooklyn City Directory 1859-1860, she is running a fancy goods shop at Union Ave. near Greene Ave.. The 1860 US census was taken on 25 June 1860 and found Mary Birkett, age 42, occupation -- fancy stores, born in England living with her children Henry, a clerk; James, a coopersmith appr; and Anna (New York, Kings County, Brooklyn, Ward 17, page 16/888, line 14, call number M653-774). In the 1870 US Census, Mary Birkett was living with her daughter, Ann Smith in Brooklyn; Mary's son, James, was living two doors down (New York, Kings County, Brooklyn, Ward 17, page 184, line 28, call number M593-958). In the 1880 US census, she was living with her son, James, and his children at 335 Warren St., Brooklyn (New York, Kings County, Brooklyn, 10th Ward, 1st Election District, Enumeration district 76, page 6D, call no. T9-845). Mary Moores Birkett died at the home of her son, Henry Moores Birkett (637 Macon St., Brooklyn, New York)on 12 February 1894 of vulvocarditis of the heart (certificate of death No. 3288, Department of Health of the City of Brooklyn). She was buried in Cypress Hills cemetery, Brooklyn.
Feb 14, 2006 · Reply