‘A Law Unto Themselves’
Since the beginning of our family history journey, I have been aware of having Darlow ancestry. My great grandmother Alice nee Darlow (Gillott) was still alive when I was born, and died when I was aged four. Although I have no memories of her, she was well remembered by my father as his Grandmother, and by my Grandmother, as her mother.
We began searching the Darlow roots and discovered Alice, was born 26th November 1888 to George Darlow and Ellen Sneyde.
During Alice’s childhood until marriage, the family were living at 5 Court 6, Infirmary Road, Hillsborough, Sheffield. This would have been typical back to back housing of the industrial working class. In 1901, the family of five, which was reducing in size as the children grew and left home, were living in four rooms.
George Darlow gives his occupation as Labourer in Gas works, and place of birth, Long Buckby, Northamptonshire.
The Darlow families tended to be large, and often used the same less usual Christian names for their children. So it is easy to muddle them up.
Searches on the GRO for children born to -Father’s name: Darlow, and Mother’s name: Sneyde (Snayde/ Slayde/ Sudyde)
(George, 1869 – not found), Thomas 1871, (Eliza 1873), William 1874, Ellen (Nelly) 1876, Florence Annie 1877-8, Charles Eli 1879-9, Eli 1880, Arthur 1882-82, Polly 1883, Helena 1885, Lena 1886, Alice 1888, Rosetta 1890-1, Wilfred 1892 -1895.
The following census entry may appear to be completely wrong, but subsequent research will reveal we have the right family, and perhaps the reason for the wrong names.
Some of George Darlow’s brothers and nephews were involved in pawn broking and extortion. They were frequently up before the judge in Sheffield, and other places. We presume that this change of name, was to distance himself in the records, especially as it was his cousin, also George Darlow who was a particular trouble maker. Although it may have been that he was also involved in some capacity, and wished to hide his identity.
The amusing side to this story, is that he had taken his wife’s (Irish surname, of Sneyde). His wife’s parents had previously disguised their Irish roots by taking the surname ‘Rowley’ in 1881 census.
It is unknown why he took the Christian name of Charles, perhaps just the first name that popped into his head.
This census entry would never have been found, if we hadn’t been doing general searches for surname ‘Sneyde’ in ‘Sheffield ‘.
George Darlow (aka Charles Sneyde), gives his occupation as Brickmaker, which helps tie him in to further information. Both his and Ellen,’s places of birth as Sheffield, which is incorrect. They are living at 5, court 6 Infirmary Road.
Ten years later they are living in the same house George gives his place of birth as Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, and Ellens as Manchester Lancashire. With George a general labourer in the gas works.
Alice married George Gillott, 24th November 1908. Details of her life following marriage appear on the Gillott ancestor page above. The marriage certificate gave her father as George Darlow a labourer in Gas works.
Alice died 16th July 1969 in Sheffield Royal Infirmary Hospital, and was buried in Burngreave cemetery, along with many other members of this part of the family.
According to Auntie Rita, George Darlow, ‘was not a nice man’ and heavy drinker. This description must have come from her mother Alice, as George died around 1908, twenty years before Rita, (or any of Alice’s children, were born).
Before Alice was born, the previous census of 1881 show George and Ellen living at 20 Clun Street with children, Thomas 10, Eliza 8, William 6, Ellen 5, and Eli 9 months. George aged 34, was a brickmaker born at Long Buckby, Northamptonshire.
In 1871, Ellen (Sneyde) Darlow aged 24, was with her parents and 3 younger, but adult siblings in Portland Street, Court 15. Quite a squeeze for all of them in a small ‘back to back’ terrace. This was after her marriage to George, and she had her oldest two children with her, George aged 2 and Thomas 3 months. She was also working as a File Cutter.
It is unknown why her parents and siblings have given their name as Rowley (perhaps to cover their Irish heritage). On ‘Ancestry‘, Ellen’s surname has been miss transcribed as Warlow. This entry has only been found by using obscure ‘searches’.
in 1861, we find George living with his parents Thomas 46, and Mary Ann 44 in Woollen Lane Sheffield. He was aged 14.
This is a very useful census entry. As Thomas gives his job as Brickmaker. Both he and Mary Ann were born in Long Buckby Northamptonshire. With them are children, William 24, born Long Buckby , Eliza 18, born Lower Heyford, George 14, born Long Buckby, Thomas Lewis 12, born Bimingham, Mary Elizabeth 4, born Birmingham, and Rosetta 6 months Sheffield.
This reveals that this Darlow family started in Northamptonshire, moved to Birmingham c1847 and 49, then to Sheffield sometime between 1857 and 1861. They then remained in Sheffield for at least three generations.
The 1851 census, show Thomas (a Brickmaker) aged 36 (born 1815), and Mary Ann Darlow aged 34, (born 1817), living at Lichfield Road, Birmingham, with five children. Ann 12, Eliza 8, George 4, Thomas 2, and Harriet 1 month. Thomas and Mary Ann born in Long Buckby.
In 1841, Mary Ann Darlow (nee Lee), was living with her mother, and three oldest children William 4, Ann 2, and Thomas 4 months. (more of Mary Ann later). Thomas was not with her, although they had married on 31st December 1835 in Long Buckby.
Thomas Darlow was born on 9th September 1815, and baptised 25th December to Joshua and Mary Darlow in Long Buckby Northamptonshire.
It was round about this point in our researches, early (2000’s), that we got as far as we could with the resources available at the time. But then we made contact with a researcher, a distant relative, who also knew an British relative and researcher. They had spent years investigating the lives of this Darlow family, which proved in cases, to be living at the edge of, or beyond the laws of the land.
Much of the information from now on comes from these researchers, although delving further into the ‘Lee’ family, is my own work.
Another aside, about five years ago, I began watching the British TV series ‘Peaky Blinders’, a story based losely on real people and events. They were a Birmingham family (with mafia like tactics), who used violence and extortion to become extremely rich and powerful in the underworld.
I ordered a copy of the book detailing the ‘real’ ‘Peaky Blinders’, and couldn’t help but see likenesses in the Darlow family. It seems likely there may be some kind of gypsy connection (certainly in the surname Lee). The Darlows lived in Birmingham for some time, even having a connection to Garrison Road. (It was the Garrison Pub, where the Peaky Blinders were based). Later the Darlow family moved into Sheffield, setting up pawn broking and money lending businesses, (with questionable tactics).
One branch later moved out to America.
The story continues, using other researchers information which has been shared with us.