Friday, April 27, 2018

George Henry Hughes--West Hartlepool, English Liberal Party Member

     Back in the summer of 2003, my two brothers and I flew across the pond separately, landing in England, and eventually reuniting in West Hartlepool.  Jeff began a few days before Ken and I to do some sightseeing in London.  Ken and I followed, landed at Gatwick and rented a car to drive north to the city that held so many secrets to our genealogical past.  All of this was made possible by my Internet UK geni friend, Heather, who had reached out to me a year or two earlier and had done so much "leg work" finding current Hughes relations who were still living in West Hartlepool.  With her research and email, I was able to contact Hughes cousins, who were anxiously awaiting our arrival.  God Bless the Internet.

John George Marsh
2003 Hartlepool, England

Delicious tea cake

     We spent a delightful day with cousin John George Marsh and his wife Mary Pounder Marsh.  Mary, quite an accomplished baker, provided "we Yanks" with a delicious tea--cakes, scones and biscuits (cookies).  BTW, at a later date she sent me her hand written recipes.  John, my paternal first cousin twice removed, had so many family stories to share.  

  The focus of this blog is John's memory of his grandfather, George Henry Hughes, as a member of the Liberal Party and the related research I have found to give proof to the memory.  Eternal thanks to my brother, Ken Hughes, who had the foresight to pack various technological toys in his luggage--one being a tape recorder.

     I traveled to West Hartlepool armed with pages of family questions to ask each Hughes cousin during our meetings.  As Heather has mentioned to me....those who fail to plan, plan to fail.  She must be a devotee of Benjamin Franklin. ;-)

     The family who gathered at John and Mary Marsh's that afternoon were:  myself, Ken and Jeff Hughes, Betty Hughes Jamieson, Alan Hughes and later in the afternoon, John and Mary's daughter and grandson.  

     I begin by mentioning that my paternal 2x great grandfather is somewhat of a mystery to me.  I have followed him through census reports, documents and newspaper articles.  I have no photograph and darn it, even my family in West Hartlepool did not.  Instead, I have a few sentences that John George Marsh revealed that afternoon in his sitting room.  "George Henry Hughes was a big liberal.  He would climb on a truck with a megaphone and be driven through the streets yelling…vote liberal.  He had a big white beard.  John said he never had a shave in his life, would just have the beard cut.  He also said, if you ever met Grandfather Hughes, you wouldn’t soon forget him."  WHEW!  Now there's a description.  

Thorne Street at the top of map and Longhill on the left
Streets sandwiched in between all the factories
Stranton Map, 1898
     The Hughes Family were lower class workers--iron works, steel mills, coal hawkers.  The streets where they lived were located near their employment.  They were not MIFers when they poured their tea....milk in first.  As outlined in Samuel Hughes blog, when the family moved from Wordsley to West Hartlepool, their street, Thorne Street, can best be described as unhealthy.  George and his wife, Ann, took up residence in the Longhill area of West Hartlepool for all their years together.  First on Hill Street and finally on the corner of Florence Street in their green grocer house.  The Longhill area is best described by Edward Powell in his booklet, Reflections beneath the "Wagga Moon".

     Thomas Richardson.....purchased the Blast Furnaces and Rolling Mills.....He housed his artisans in the cluster of Longhill Streets christened "Wagga Wagga" for their outlandish location and aspect--undrained, unlit, unpaved...  

     He began by having three streets terraced housing erected to the west of the Ironworks and called them Florence Street, Hill Street and Portland Street. (Powell 5)  

     The records from 1861-1898 show that George was employed as a puddler at the Ironworks for about twenty years, a cement works laborer for several years and back to the Ironworks.  During his life as a laborer, he lived at 61 Hill Street.  When the family moved to 70 Florence Street about 1899, I believe his days as a laborer in the factories came to an end.  At age forty six he opened a green grocer business in his house. 

Mary Ann Storey Hughes
70 Florence Street, West Hartlepool, England
Green Grocer Shop
     I have shared this photo post card on a number of websites.  When we spent the afternoon with John George Marsh, he identified it as Mary Ann Storey Hughes in front of the Hughes shop, 70 Florence Street.  John lived there with his parents, Eli and Mary Alice Hughes Marsh from his birth in 1919 until after both his grandparents, George Henry Hughes and Mary Ann Storey Hughes' deaths in the early 1930's.  Obviously John knew his grandparents intimately and had numerous stories and memories. 

    I have digressed a bit to give a little insight as to the employment and area where George Henry Hughes and his family lived.  It all combines to point in the direction as to why he became a member of the British Liberal Party.  

     From 1906-1914 one primary focus of the British Liberal Party as outlined by Lord Kenneth O Morgan's lecture was social reform, "....But it became clear that what contemporaries called the 'New Liberalism', the Liberalism of social reform, was increasingly dominating the Liberal mind.  The evidence of poverty, of urban deprivation, of hard conditions of children and old people and working women gripped the Liberal mind at this period..." (Morgan, Kenneth O., "The New Liberal Party From Dawn to Downfall 1906-1924")

Women's March 2018
Washington, DC

Women's March 2018
Washington, DC

     Perhaps not odd at all, George Henry Hughes descendants here in the United States, in 2018, are in line with these same principles, marching and rallying against the decisions of the current political administration to roll back so many social reforms that were in place before Trump was elected in 2016.  Genetics ;-)

     John George Marsh was born as the Labor Party was losing its hold in England politics.  He grew up in a house listening to his Grandfather Hughes fighting to get the Liberal Party back into power.  He watched him standing on the back of trucks and out on the streets of West Hartlepool, often with a megaphone, rallying support for the liberal cause.   

     At long last I pulled the trigger on a subscription to the British Newspaper Archive and have been rewarded with a treasure trove of articles involving my paternal 2x great grandfather's lifetime passion for the Liberal Party.  The earliest article I have found is from 1888, although one article, George Henry Hughes is quoted saying he has been a member of the party since 1870.  My paternal 2x great grandmother, Mary Ann Storey Hughes is never mentioned in any of the articles, even those with the attendees at various Liberal Party gatherings where husbands and wife's are listed.

     As with any research, it has taken time to ferret out the articles.  My great great grandfather is not always listed as George Henry simple would that be.  I have had to search for G.H. Hughes, Geo Hughes, G. Hughes, George H. Hughes, the addresses of his homes at 61 Hill Street and 70 Florence Street, the area Longhill and Seaton Carew.   

     October 22, 1888.  Earliest article to date, George Henry Hughes involved in a local municipal election proposing Jacob Lohden, ship owner and Liberal, for the office of councillor in West Hartlepool. 


     July 2, 1892.  George Henry Hughes as the proposer from Longhill, West Hartlepool endorsing Christopher Furness, Steamship owner, ship builder and Liberal candidate, for the Parliamentary election for the borough.

     1895, July 11.  I have found numerous notices of Liberal Party meetings held at the George Henry Hughes home, 61 Hill Street from 1891-1898.


      1903, February 14.  At this monthly meeting of the Liberals of the North-West Ward numerous members were elected to various offices.  From Seaton Carew, George Henry Hughes was elected vice chairman as a representative to the Northern Liberal Federation and as a representative to the General Council of the Northern Liberal Federation.

     1912, February 23.  I transcribed this article since George Henry Hughes is quoted.  

     I have yet to locate any articles regarding George's participation in the Liberal Party past 1914; however, I am still searching.  To date I have downloaded thirty one newspaper pages from the Northern Daily Mail dated 1888-1914.and yesterday

     I mentioned to my husband yesterday, that I have so many family blogs that are sitting their starring me in the face, but I don't always see them.  This one has taken fifteen years to finally come to light.  On the plus side, the resources I needed to give a well rounded piece were not available, even ten years ago, on the net.  Another plus is that researching this blog has become a springboard for several others.  Onward......

I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. All comments are welcome; however, if they are inappropriate, they will not be published.    PLEASE post your e-mail in the comment section if you would like to network about a particular surname or topic. I will capture it for my use only and not include it when I publish your comment.
© 2018, copyright Linda Hughes Hiser


  1. What fantastic research! While still blurry, the image of this dynamic ancestor is starting to come into view -- because of YOU!

  2. Well written Linda ..... John Richard Marsh ( Zaandam , The Netherlands )