Alice Barton was born on 20 October 1863 in Wigan to Edward Barton, an iron moulder, and his wife, Ann Barton. She was born at 43 Princess Street in the centre of Wigan, the home of her grandparents Henry and Ellen Mawdsley, who registered the birth. Alice was the first of seven surviving children born to Edward and Ann over the next fourteen years.

During Alice’s childhood, the family moved frequently, suggesting that they were renters. A directory of Wigan addresses from 1869 shows Edward’s address as 15 Douglas Street in the Chapel Lane area of Wigan, between the town centre and Poolstock. In the 1871 census, the Barton family was living at 25 Douglas Street. The family was also at this address when daughter Annie was born in 1872. From about 1873 to the late 1870s, the family lived at the Corporation Inn in Poolstock where Edward was innkeeper (according to Margaret and Richard’s birth certificates). Alice’s uncle, Evan Mawdsley, had previously been the innkeeper at the Corporation Inn per the 1871 census.

Alice likely did not attend school as a child, since in later life she signed documents with her mark. Being the eldest of seven children, we can speculate that her childhood was taken up helping her mother care for her younger siblings as well as working in some capacity at the Corporation Inn.

By the time of the 1881 census, Alice was age 17; she and her younger sister Ellen were employed as “factory operatives,” possibly at one of Wigan’s textile mills. The census shows Edward working as an iron moulder and living with the family at 20/22 Harrogate Street in the centre of town.

On 27 June 1885 at age 22, Alice married Henry Harrison, a bachelor at age 25. Henry lived on Pool Street and was employed as an engine minder. The wedding took place at St. Thomas’ church in Wigan. Coincidentally, Alice and Henry were married in the same church and by the same minister who had married Alice’s parents twenty-four years earlier. Henry’s brother Edward and Alice’s sister Ellen stood for them as witnesses. Alice’s marriage certificate shows her living on Princess Street, Wigan at the time, although this may have been the address of her grandparents.

On 18 May 1886, Alice gave birth to her first and only child, Henry Harold Harrison. The birth took place at 20 Walmer Street in Poolstock, Wigan, a block or two from the Honeysuckle Inn. Alice registered the birth on 11 June and signed with her mark. Although Harold lived his life believing his name was Henry Harold Harrison, his mother actually registered him at birth as Harold Harrison, suggesting some misunderstanding between Alice and her husband.

Although Alice and Henry were married for a decade after Harold’s birth, they did not have any more children. This was very unusual for Wigan families of the day, and suggests that Alice had a medical condition that made her unable to conceive again.

Some time between 1886 and 1891, Henry Harrison became the proprietor of the Honeysuckle Inn on Pool Street in Wigan, at the corner of Corporation Street. Alice’s sisters, Ellen and Annie, were enumerated at the Honeysuckle in the 1891 census and may have lived and/or worked there. It is likely that Alice also worked at the pub, although the 1891 census does not indicate any occupation.

Alice died at the Honeysuckle Inn on 24 August 1897 at age 33. The cause of death is listed on her death certificate as cirrhosis of the liver, of which the most common causes are alcoholism and hepatitis.

Research Notes

Our link from Alice Barton to the Edward Barton family is established first by the record on her marriage certificate that Alice was born in about 1863 and her father is Edward Barton, Iron Moulder. It is confirmed by the 1891 census taken at the Honeysuckle Inn indicating that Alice had two sisters, Ellen and Annie, respectively two and eight years her younger. Taken together these give us an exact match to the Edward Barton family census records for 1871 and 1881.

There is no census record to confirm that the Barton family lived at the Corporation Inn in the mid-1870s. However the birth certificates of both Richard and Margaret, both born at the Corporation Inn, both born to Edward and Ann, and both of the right age, is fairly compelling evidence.

Unfortunately at this time, we know nothing of Alice Barton other than from census records and civil registration certificates. Her son Henry Harold did not speak to his family about his mother, perhaps because he was only 11 years old when she died.

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