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The Armour Family (1)

Scotland, Londonderry,Barrow and Fleetwood

Most direct Armour ancestors are marked in bold Contact to exchange more information

updated February 2012

An extended family tree showing the complicated inter-relationships between several families can be seen on the Family Tree page. It would be useful to make a printed copy for easy reference while reading these pages.

The Scottish origins of this family are still shrouded in mystery. All that is known is that they came from the banks of the Clyde perhaps in the 18th century. At that time they were blacksmiths. By the end of the 19th century they were boat builders with a reputation which gained them a place in the history of Fleetwood and boat building.

The records of Fleetwood at this period are found under Leyton with Warbreck and BMD records are filed under Thornton or Thornton le Fylde, both places with or without hyphens.

We are indebted to James Armour the boat builder for dates, names and relationships in this family and in related families. His careful recording of these in a desk-diary kept as a day-book has corrected some of the information which appears in books about Fleetwood and the firm of James Armour & Sons.

Family of James Armour (1) & Anne McLaughlin

A Visit to Derry

James Armour(1) was born in 1817 in Ireland, probably in Derry (Londonderry) He lived there for some years, and went first to Barrow in Furness, arriving to settle in Fleetwood permanently in 1847, long after his marriage to Ann on 1 Jun 1838, as recorded in the desk diary of their grandson. [The two men must be James (1) and his son James (2). James (2) had no daughters - so how old are the 'girls'?]
Ann, now known to be Ann McLoughlin (or McLaughlin) was born about 1816-1817 in Northern Ireland, probably in Derry. James Armour(3) refers to her in his desk diary as 'Ann Armour' but this was according to his normal practice for wives whose name he didn't know. By 1847 James and Ann already had four children, John, Mary Ann, Isabella and James. The fifth, David, was born in 1847 in Derry or perhaps in Barrow, as so far no record of his birth has been found. The rest of their 11 children were born in Fleetwood. So who among them could be the subjects of this photo?

armour1817.jpg - 36802 Bytes Speculation about identities needs to take into account factors such as :  
1. the possible date of the photo itself.
Probably a carte de visite, it was taken in Derry and is mounted on board, 'from the Studio of J.Glass, Carlisle Road, Londonderry' as announced on the back alongside a typical illustration, a drawing of a robed female artist at an easel. J.Glass is known to have been taking photographs in 1882, but his actual dates are otherwise not known.
2. The ages of the four subjects, and particularly their death dates, where known. Information available below.
3. Family likenesses evident in other well-identified photos. A larger version of this one is included in a new Armour family album alongside several 'new' ones.

A visit to Derry from Fleetwood was the most likely occasion. It was easy in mid or late-century for people who lived in Lancashire to visit Northern Ireland via a ferry which operated regularly between the two ports.

More suggestions - Oct 2008 - on the above photo: The elderly man could be James (1). There is no other photo of him for comparison, but he died in 1875. The second man looks like James (2) born in 1845. The receding hairline suggests he is at least 30 if not more. He had no daughters.

2010 - Elizabeth (formerly Gill), wife of James (2) was born in 1845. The seated lady here does bear a resemblance to her, especially in the broad shape of her face. Also, if the difference of lighting and some difference of age is taken into account the seated man could be James (2) himself. This now seems the most likely. They had four children and there is a gap of six years between her last two sons, James (3) in 1873 and Joseph in 1879. If the photo was taken about 1877 or so they would both be in their early thirties or if in the early eighties they would be coming up to forty. They could of course have had children with them whose absence from picture would not mean they weren't there. The identity of the lady standing remains unknown as she looks too young to be James (1)'s wife Ann though her age is otherwise indeterminate. James (2)'s sister Isabella was born in Derry in 1841, was married in 1872 and had four children, the last in 1878 by which time she and her husband William Coulthard were living in Bouth, South Cumberland (not in Fleetwood). The only other point of interest is that her hat is quite fashionable for the period, especially tipped forward over her face. This was not the age of taking 'snaps' with one's own camera so they would be wearing their best clothes and there must be a particular reason for it, a family occasion such as a wedding and/or for a gift for relatives still living there etc (The seated lady does seem to have flowers at the neck!)

Poulton-le-Fylde, an ancient market town in the 'Fylde' - an old word meaning 'field' - was in fact also a busy port in the days of sailing ships while they could still get up the River Wyre from Morecambe Bay to moorings at Skippool and the riverside warehouses at Wardleys Creek. Till 1840 Fleetwood did not exist, being no more than sand dunes and a rabbit warren where those wanted by the law could easily hide.

The story of the Armour family is inter-woven with that of the 'new town' of Fleetwood, built by the inspiration of Sir Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood and named after him. The movement of the families involved is obviously influenced by this as well as the close Catholic community which moved after a while from St John's, Poulton to a room above an off-licence (run by relatives) which was used as a chapel for many years, and then St Mary's. The various occupations give a clue to the industries rapidly springing up in the town.

James Armour(1) and Ann (née McLaughlin - new information) had eleven children:

  1. John Armour b.14 Feb 1839 in Derry. (Londonderry) d. 3 Jan 1868 at sea
  2. Isabella Armour b.12 Mar 1841, in Derry, m. William Coulthard, d. on 4 Mar 1894, bur. Fleetwood
  3. Mary Ann Armour b.22 Feb 1843 in Derry, m. Collins, d. 29 Nov 1872, bur. Dalton-in-Furness.
  4. James Armour(2) b.16 Nov 1845 in Derry, m. Elizabeth Gill, d.18 Oct 1910, bur.Fleetwood
  5. David Armour b.1847 in Derry, m. Ellen, d. & bur. in Kirkham (issue)
  6. Robert Armour b.12 Apr 1850 in Fleetwood, unm., d.6 Jun 1895, bur.Fleetwood
  7. Thomas Armour b.1852, m. Elizabeth Hesketh, d.19 Jan 1891, d.& bur. Fleetwood
  8. Margaret Armour b.11 Aug 1853, d.12 Aug 1853
  9. Henry Armour b.10 Sep 1855
  10. Francis Armour b.15 May 1858 m. Ellen Rogerson 1863-1940, d. 28 Mar 1924
  11. Margaret Armour b.10 Jan 1861, d.21 Nov 1878

James and Ann only appear in one more census, that for 1871, having moved to Flag St. Isabella, now 30, has reappeared as a laundress and only James junior and Henry of those surviving are not 'at home. James died on 24 Jan 1872 and Ann on 17 Dec 1879. [Sources: James' day-book and their gravestone]

Family of James Armour (2) & Elizabeth Gill

go to the Armour Family part 2


1. John Armour (1839-1868) became an engineer. He is listed as a boilermaker on the Census of 1861, lodging at 6 East St, Fleetwood with the expatriate Irish family of Thomas Cearns. John was one of the survivors of the SS London on its voyage from Panama to London which foundered in the Bay of Biscay in 1866. He never married and died on 3 Jan 1868, being buried at sea. Return

2. Isabella Armour (1841-1894) - Coulthard family, Armour cousins
James Armour (1) had lived in Barrow in Furness for a while so he perhaps had contacts there which would explain how or why his eldest daughter Isabella came to marry in Dalton-in-Furness (listed under Ulverston) Lancs. She appears on the 1871 census at the Armour home in Flag St, 'Thornton, Fleetwood', then aged 30 and still single, working as a laundress. In the September Q 1872 she married William Coulthard in Ulverston. William was born there in 1847, a tailor, and her junior by about five years. By 1873 when their son John was born they were living in Barrow in Furness, but by 1875 they were in Fleetwood where their daughters Ann (1874) and Margaret (1877) were born. Their youngest daughter, Isabella, was born in 1878 in  'South Cumberland', and then by 1881 the whole family was back in 'Thornton, Fleetwood', this time at 43 Poulton St, which is where presumably William died in the September of that year. By 1891, but probably some years earlier, Isabella moved with all four children to 3 Kent St, Thornton and is listed again as a laundress. Whether she 'took in' washing or worked in a laundry, the moves must mean she was always in rented acommodation and not finding life easy. She died on 4 Mar 1894 a week short of turning 53, in 'Fleetwood'. Of her children only the  following is known at present:
___Her eldest son John Coulthard (1873-1923) was working as a fisherman, a tough and dangerous job.  He eventually became a steamboat captain, married Isabella Bond in 1899 and had two children, : William Wauchope Coulthard (1900) and Susannah (1906). In 1901 they were living at 5 Custom House Lane and by 1911 had moved to 52 Victoria St with just 4 rooms (including the kitchen) and John describing himself as as a 'ship's officer'.
___Margaret born in 1874 in Fleetwood, married Ernest Hull in 1896 and had six children, one of whom had died by 1911, all born in Fleetwood, Caroline 1897, Isabella Mary 1899, Annie  1901, Ernest 1904, William Charles 1906 and Margaret Lavinia (1910). It is doubtful if these Hulls were related to the Isabella Hull who married Thomas Lupton, Ernest's grandfather Edward having come from Middlesex.
___Isabella must be the one who died in the Mar Q 1900 in Fleetwood aged 20. (Fylde 8e 616)

3. Mary Ann Armour, born on 22 Feb 1843 [source: James' Day-book] married a Collins (first name unknown) from Dalton-in-Furness but died on 29 Nov 1872 in Fleetwood. She had as far as is known, only one son, John James Collins who was born in 1868 and died in 1925. John, according to his gravestone, married his cousin and Free BMD shows his wife Annie to be Annie Wilkin. David Armour (see next Armour, no.5) married Ellen Wilkin in the Jun Q 1875 [Free BMD Fylde Vol.8e p.935] but Annie was born in the Jun Q 1872 [Fylde Vol. 8e p.648] Whether the register records her father as David or not is unknown at present. John and Annie married in the Sep Q 1896 [Free BMD Fylde Vol.8e p.1345] and had two known children, Margaret Forshaw Collins born in the Mar Q 1898 [Free BMD Fylde Vol.8e p.731] and Ellen Collins born in the Dec Q 1902 {Free BMD Fylde Vol.8e p.656] Ellen married a Lynch and the family has stayed in contact with their Armour and other cousins.
There was a Margaret Forshaw, an annuitant with some other Collins, including a John R.Collins aged 6 in 1871. The repetition of the Forshaw name may imply a family connection, but so far undiscovered.

5. David started out with an apprenticeship to a baker at the age of about 13 when he was still living with his parents, now at 36 Cottage Court in Fleetwood in 1861. This phase didn't last long and it is not known whether he completed the apprenticeship. By 1871 he was working as a stonemason in Fleetwood. then in the Jun Q 1875 he married Ellen Wilkin, a native of Kirkham and they settled in that town, living at 5 Chapel Walks. He had 6 children, but three died in their first year.
___Annie Wilkin born in 1873 - [see above as she married John James Collins, her first cousin, in Fleetwood in 1796] .
___James was born and died in 1875, the first Margaret was born and died in 1877 and the first Isabella was born and died in 1882
___Margaret (2) was born Oct 1880 and  Isabella (2) in 1883. Then David died in the Sep Q 1883,  and possibly his wife died during the 80s as well as she has not been found after 1881. ___After this, in 1891 both girls haven't yet been found but in 1899 Margaret(2) married Richard Threlfall of Freckleton, overlooker of a cotton mill and by 1911 they had 4 children in a four-roomed house (counting the kitchen) in School Lane, Freckleton. (Details available)
___Isabella reappears in 1901 boarding with a family called Gorton in Kirkham. she was then aged 18, working as a cotton weaver. She married James Brown of Crewe, Cheshire in 1906 in Preston. They had three daughters and had moved to 43 Hawes Hill Carnforth by 1911. (She was easily identified initially by her birthplace, Kirkham but this now corroborated by the records of at least two daughters with their mother's name of Armour) (More details available)

6. Robert never married. He was a joiner by trade, living in 1881 with his brother James at 23 Dock St Fleetwood and in 1891 with Mrs Ellen Cowell and her family at 39 Albert St. He died on 6 Jun 1895. (Matthew Hull, brother of William Hull who was father-in-law of Thomas Lupton2, married a Bella Cowell, born in 1842, ,who may have been the niece of Ellen Cowell, shown in the 1861 census aged 19 but Bella is never shown in a census with her parents so connections cannot be made at present)  Return

7. Thomas was a boilermaker like his father and his elder brother John. His wife, Elizabeth Hesketh, born in 1854 in Fleetwood was probably the daughter of William Hesketh, a master mariner, and his wife Sarah (born in Mislow, Ireland) who ran refreshment rooms in Dock St in 1881. (If so Elizabeth must have been a twin, John, son of William and Sarah, being noted as the same age. John was a joiner. Sarah J., 17, Richard 16, and Peter H., 14 all assisted in the 'inn' and there were also Mary, 9, Christina 7 and Charles, 6, all 'scholars'.) Elizabeth is noted as a 'visitor' so it is not known where she was actually living at the time. Thomas and Elizabeth had married in the Jun Q 1873 and had one child then aged 7, listed alongside his father as a 'lodger', not as 'son' because Thomas was not the head of the household. They were in fact living with a Margaret Hesketh, wife of a master mariner like William Hesketh. Margaret, like Sarah, was born in Ireland - perhaps they were sisters who married brothers?
Thomas and Elizabeth only had two children, John mentioned above, born 1874 who died in 1882 and Annie Jane who died shortly after her birth in 1876. Thomas himself died 19 Jan 1891 so none of them appear on any more censuses. It's not know when Elizabeth died. Her last 'appearance' was in 1881 on a visit to her parents and family where she was entered as a Hesketh, an easy mistake by the enumerator.  Return

10. Francis - or Frank as he was known - was a blacksmith's striker. In 1881 he was lodging at 4 Kemp St, Fleetwood with William Harper, boarding-house keeper, an Irishman from County Down. His co-lodgers were a saw mill hand, John James Collin (who must be his nephew, surely) and a French sailor, known simply as Louis (which suggests a language difficulty and/or an unpronounceable surname). Frank married Ellen Rogerson who was born in1864 in Fleetwood, the youngest of the seven children of William Rogerson, a brewer from Liverpool who came originally from Singleton. The Rogersons lived not far away at 10 West St (now Lord St) in 1881
'Uncle Frank' was a familiar figure at family musical evenings, playing his violin. His famous 'catchphrase' was "Give us an A, Biddy!" 'Biddy' was his name for Ellen, known to the rest of the family as 'Auntie Trish',( whose mother, Elizabeth Rossall, was not Irish as previously thought but born in 1823 in the Garstang area and married in 1845, probably in Great Eccleston - Free BMD Jun Q 1845 Garstang Vol.21 p.349). Frank died in 1924 but was still talked about throughout the century by nieces who remembered him . Ellen lived on for another 16 years. They had no children as they had to admit, renaming Joseph born in Fleetwood in 1894 and entered as Armour on the 1901 census, with his correct name, Joseph Rogerson, nephew! (The name, misspelt as 'Ormour' on the transcript, effectively hid this evidence for quite a long time!) They do appear to have adopted him and were of course quite entitled to rename him as Armour. Since 1901 they had been living in three rooms (which included the kitchen). Joseph was a china clay porter at that time. Whether 'Rogerson' came from his mother or his father is not known. Return

Day-book of James Armour
This was a desk diary used by James Armour(3) to record dates of births, marriages and deaths, names of children and relationships of everyone he knew in his and his wife's families. He went back in most cases two or three generations, the earliest recorded being a birth in 1784. His interest also extended to photographs, at least of his own family as he was always anxious that everyone should appear in them. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, they were not labelled. About half of the photos of his very extensive collection have been painstakingly identified by his daughters but there are a large number of excellent photos of unknown people.