Beaumont ... One family's history

Beaumont History

In 1890, my great, great grandfather, John Beaumont, remarried in Belleville, Illinois. On his marriage certificate, he named his parents as John Beaumont and Margaret Roberts. Later, his obituary listed Yorkshire as his place of birth. These facts led to the discovery Census data and Thornhill Parish church records, which go back to 1536, leading to the following family history.

The earliest in our family line was Charles Beaumont who was born in Flockton and buried there January 11, 1744/45. For research purposes, he likely would have been married circa 1702 and born circa 1672-1682. His children were:

Thomas Beaumont married Susannah, nee Beamont who was buried January 23, 1761). Their children were:

James Beaumont married Elizabeth Jessop at Thornhill Church by Banns on May 10, 1773 officiated by J. Greenwood and witnessed by Samuel Haigh and Duffield Pollard: Their children were:

William Beaumont married Martha Rhodes at Thornhill Church by Banns November 3, 1800; witnessed William Rhodes and William Bradley. William was christened August 5, 1776 in Thornhill/Flockton. Martha was born there, too, between 1774-5. William and Martha showed up in the 1841 and 1851 Censuses, in Common Side, Flockton and Flockton respectively. In 1851, he was 74 and listed as a laborer. Their children include:

Figure 1 St. James the Great Church in Flockton, Yorkshire, England

John Beaumont and Margaret Roberts were married August 5, 1828 in Thornhill, which is a few miles from Dewsbury in Yorkshire. The marriage was witnessed by Joseph Mountain and Rich Lodge.

In the 1841 Census for England, John and Margaret Beaumont were listed as living on Common Side, Flockton about three miles from Dewsbury. This Census was taken on June 6, 1841 and was the first one to list names of individual people. John was 33 and listed as a coal miner. Margaret was 30 and their six children were:

Margaret Roberts was the daughter of John Roberts and Hannah Mountain of Kirkheaton. John and Hannah Roberts were married in Kirkheaton on September 27, 1802 by John Ireland, witnessed by Robert Morley and Joseph Hainsworth. John Roberts and Hannah Mountain had five children:

The following immigrated to the United States and remained there:

John Beaumont married Naomi Tempest and they had eight children:

William Beaumont and Emily Avery had nine children. According to the 1910 US Census taken on April 26, 1910 says that two children had died. The children were:

Reginald married Elizabeth Herzig on December 24, 1920 at St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church. Reginald and Elizabeth had three children:


Beaumonts in England
Dewsbury, Flockton and Kirkheaton in Yorkshire, England

Yorkshire, England is a large, diverse county covering 6,000 square miles of mountains, coast, farmland, and urban districts. However, the Beaumont name predominated in relatively small area of Yorkshire. An analysis of Yorkshire Church records illustrates how tightly clustered the name was in the Kirklees district of West Riding. Yorkshire is divided into Ridings - North, East, and West. Separate is the city of York and its surrounding area known as Ainsty. The ecclesiastical parish records between about 1550-1812, compiled by the Yorkshire Archaeology Society, list only one Beaumont family in all of the thirty-three parishes in North Riding. One Beaumont was listed in one out of twenty-one parishes in East Riding. And 35 Beaumonts were listed in the fifteen parishes of Ainsty and the city of York. By the same token, the 1851 Census of England counted 1376 Beaumonts in the Kirklees district comprising Batley, Colne Valley, Denby Dale, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Holme Valley, Kirkburton, Meltham, and Mirfield.

It is also a place of great antiquity:

Before the Roman invasion of England in AD43, the area from the Humber to the Firth of Forth was ruled by a confederation of Celtic tribes known as Brigantes. In AD71, the Roman Governor of Britain, Quintus Petillius Cerialis invaded Brigantia and set up a camp called "Eboracum" where modern York is now located. At the height of Roman power, the fortress enclosed 50 acres and housed a garrison of 6,000 soldiers. Roman occupation of York ended about AD400 when the legions withdrew to serve in Gaul.

In the 5th century, the Germanic tribes of the Anglo Saxons invaded the country. Despite the legendary recapture of York from the invaders by King Arthur, York became "Eoforwic," the center of the independent kingdom of Northumbria, ruled by mighty Anglo-Saxon warlords. One such warlord was Edwin, who reintroduced Christianity to Northumbria. He married a Christian princess from the South, who brought the priest, Paulinus, to York. Paulinus baptized Edwin and many of his subjects on Easter Day 627 in a timber church at the site of the present York Minster.

The Viking, Ivar the Boneless, recaptured York again in 866, taking advantage of a civil war ongoing in Northumbria. The Viking warriors settled down to a more peaceful farming existence and "Jorvik" became a major river port, part of the extensive Viking trading routes throughout northern Europe.

The last Viking ruler of York, Eric Bloodaxe, was driven from the city on 954 by King Eadred of Wessex, who united Northumbria with the southern kingdom of England. In the years 1056-66 York changed hands following a local rebellion, Norwegian invasion, and finally the defeat of the Norwegian army at Stamford Bridge (about 8 miles from York). The victor at Stamford Bridge, King Harold II of England, fell three weeks later before the Norman invasion of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings.

In 1069, William came to York to subdue a Northern rebellion. He built two wooden castles on top of earth mounds. The Domesday Book census of 1086 showed that half of York was owned by the King, and the other half by influential Normans. York prospered, and the rebuilding of the Minster was begun.

Over the next 300 years York grew to become the second largest city in the country and was the northern capital of England. The stone walls and gates were built during this time. But York's prosperity was not to last. During the 1400s, the population was declining, and the all-important wool industry was moving elsewhere, and the citizens were soon to take up arms in the Wars of the Roses.

Although the Wars of the Roses (1453 - 1487) did not have a great impact on York, its aftermath did. King Edward IV never forgave York for its Lancastrian sympathies, and ruled the city harshly. There were also severe epidemics, a decline of the wool industry, and a shift in trade away from York to London. Worse yet in 1533, Henry VIII renounced the Church of Rome, made himself the head of the Church of England. In 1536, he began the Dissolution of the Monasteries. York, as a major religious center suffered. Half the houses in York, formerly owned by the churches, were seized by the Crown and sold to royal officials and London merchants.

During the 45 year reign of Elizabeth I, the Council of the North was strengthened and York began to revive. This continued under James I as York increasingly became a social capital for the gentry of the North. The boom continued even while Charles I was King. When Parliament abolished the Northern Council, Charles set up court in the King's Manor, installed the Royal Mint and printing press nearby.

By the time that Charles left York in 1642, the Parliamentary opposition had gathered strength. Civil war erupted and in April 1644 a Parliamentary army of 40,000 began the siege of York. This was lifted in June when Charles' nephew, Prince Rupert, arrived with 145,000 troops. The Parliamentarians were chased to Marston Moor, six miles from York, but suddenly turned and defeated Rupert. The siege of York was renewed, and the city surrendered on 15th July 1644. Many buildings were destroyed, but further damage was avoided by the Parliamentarian general Sir Thomas Fairfax (a local man), who prevented his troops from pillaging York's magnificent churches.

The railway came to York in 1839, brought by an entrepreneur called George Hudson. Ten years later, when Hudson's dubious dealings had disgraced him, York was a major railway center, and by the beginning of the 20th century, the railway employed over 5,500 people. The railway also helped to expand manufacturing industry.


"Hear, undernead dis latil stean,
Laiz Robert, earl of Huntigton;
Nea arcir vir as him sa geud,
An pipl kauld him Robin Hood;
Sick utlauz az hi, an iz men,
Vil Inglande nivr si agen."

Obit 24, Kal. Dekembris, 1247

Figure 2 Common Side Lane in Flockton, Yorkshire, England. Much like a description in Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence ... "'The Bottoms' succeeded to "Hell Row." Hell Row was a block of thatched, bulging cottages that stood by the brookside on Greenhill Lane. There lived the colliers who worked in the little gin-pits two fields away. The brook ran under the alder trees, scarcely soiled by these small mines, whose coal was drawn to the surface by donkeys that plodded wearily in a circle round a gin. And all over the countryside were these same pits, some of which had been worked in the time of Charles II, the few colliers and the donkeys burrowing down like ants into the earth, making queer mounds and little black places among the corn-fields and the meadows. And the cottages of these coal-miners, in blocks and pairs here and there, together with odd farms and homes of the stockingers, straying over the parish, formed the village of Bestwood."

Another significant fact about Flockton, which I will develop later in this family history, is that most of the land around it was owned by the Beaumont family. The Whitley Beaumonts controlled about nine square miles of land around Whitley, including Heaton-Lodge, Ravensknowle, Whitley Manor, Oak-Lands, Greenhead, Grange-Hall, Grove House, Westfield House and Mold-Green House. The manor house was located about three miles North of Flockton in Whitley, and many of the nobles of the Beaumonts were buried at St. John the Baptist, Kirkheaton, about five miles West of Flockton.


Figure 3 The MapQuest Web site ( can zoom in to the street level of each of the towns mentioned in the text.

The 1851 Census of England found John Beaumont at Low Lane in Gomersal. By then, Margaret had died and John had married Ann, age 40. It seems possible that the family’s move from Flockton to Gomersal represented a decline in the family fortunes ultimately leading to their emigration to the United States.

My great, great grandfather, John Beaumont, married Naomi Tempest on March 31, 1861 in the Parish of Birstall in the County of York, District of Dewsbury. John signed his name, but Naomi did not. The vicar of Birstall required the civil registrar, but no reason is given for this requirement. The marriage was witnessed by Samuel Tempest and George Bromberg.

According to the 1861 Census, John and Naomi lived on Bottoms, Birkenshaw with John's brother Henry Beaumont (32 and born in Flockton), his wife Betsy (30 and born in Birstall), their children, Thomas (12), Margaret (7) and Mary (3) all born in Birstall.

It was common, at this point in history and at this socioeconomic level, to find several families sharing a single house. Historical accounts describe how “a whole family might have shared a single bed. Such overcrowding together with primitive sanitary conditions resulted in widespread epidemics and persistent disease problems like measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, cholera and diphtheria in England.” If in fact the family fortunes were on the decline, as is evidenced by the living conditions in Birkenshaw, this could be the reason John left England for better fortunes in the United States.  

Figure 4 The view of Huddersfield from Black Dick’s Tower

Origins of the Name "Beaumont"

The name "Beaumont" is French in origin, meaning “beautiful mountain.” To explain how French names found their way into England one must go back to 1066 A.D. and the Norman Conquest of England, which had a profound effect on the history and culture of England and caused permanent changes in language, architecture, land ownership, and religion.

Normandy is an area in northern France named for the Vikings who successfully invaded and settled there in 911 A.D. The Northmen or Vikings often invaded England and thus early connections existed between the peoples of both countries. The events that led up to the Norman Conquest began with the Danish king, Canute, who married Emma of Normandy. Canute and Emma produced a son, Edward the Confessor, who was reared in Normandy. In 1042, Edward the Confessor succeeded to the throne of England. He produced no children, so named Earl Harold his successor.

In a plot to thwart this succession, William of Normandy captured Earl Harold upon a visit to Normandy, imprisoning him until he promised to become William's vassal. An oath over the bones of the saints was taken to this effect. William then allowed Harold to leave Normandy for England. William assumed Harold would break his oath at which time William planned to proclaim Harold a perjurer and invade England. Events proved William correct. Within two years of Harold's return to England, King Edward the Confessor died. On January 6, 1066, Edward was buried and Harold was crowned. As a matter of protocol, William sent embassies to Harold, who refused to honor his oath giving grounds for William's planned invasion of England.

Figure 5 Statue of William the Conqueror in York Minster

William secured the assent of his barons in the form of money and supplies. He even got the support of the Pope probably as a reaction to problems between the Church and England. On October 14, 1066, William the Conqueror defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings. After a few days of rest, William marched to London where he was crowned King of England on Christmas Day.


The First Beaumonts in Yorkshire
(From Huddersfield and Its Vicinity, D.E. Sykes)

After the Norman Conquest, land was transferred to the new, Norman ruling class. Several Beaumont families entered England at this time, including: Robert de Beaumont who was at the Battle of Hastings. King Henry I made him Earl of Leicaster. Roger de Beaumont, who took his surname from Beaumont le Roger in Eure, and became the Count of Meulan, the Earl of Leicester and the Earl of Warwick. Henry de Beaumont, the younger son of Louis Brienne who was Viscomte de Beaumont in Maine, and grandson of John de Brienne, King of Jerusalem. The male line of this family ended in 1507. In fact, over the years nobility in England fought like cats. Many Normans were killed in civil wars, and many were executed to purge Norman blood out of the Royal line. Thus, Norman nobility tended to perish through conspiracies and framed charges of treason trumped up by nobility of English ancestry.

William de Bellomonte (Latin for Beaumont), who may have been descended from William, brother of Robert and Henry de Beaumont, was the first of the Beaumont line to live in Yorkshire. He held one-eighth part of a Knight’s fee of the honor of John, earl of Lincoln circa 1205, who granted him land at Whitley between Huddersfield and Dewsbury (Close Rolls). The history of this family is The Beaumonts in History; A.D. 850 - 1850, written by Edward T. Beaumont, J.P., Chapter 17, pages 257-325. (This can be downloaded from

In England, the oldest son received his father's title, his father's land and his father's wealth. Younger sons received little more than a name, and were often hard pressed to make it in the world. Many joined the ministry or army to get by. In reviewing The Beaumonts in History there are numerous male sons who fall into this category and ultimately would have branched off, losing any connection to ancient nobility, wealth and land over time.

One of the most interesting branches described in The Beaumonts in History is Thomas of Flockton, page 298. The author speculates that Thomas is son of John Beaumont of Cottingham, Yorks and father of George Beaumont of the Oaks - The Bretton, Bywell Hall, Hexham Abbey and the Oaks, Darton Family. He says, on page 300, that "Thomas Beaumont of Flockton is possibly the second son of John Beaumont of Cottinham. Thomas died in 1664 and had issue, George and others." George inherited the family property, but no mention is made of the other issue. Thomas of Flockton is related to the Whitley Beaumonts through Roger of Crosslandfoss, pages 267 and 305. Roger's father, Henry, also had illegitimate children, page 266.

Flockton is certainly the correct location for my family line. It is about 1.5 miles from Whitley. The earliest ancestor of mine is Charles Beaumont of Flockton who was probably born about 1680, married around 1702, and buried there in 1745. His first son was named John and his third child and third son was named Thomas. If there is a connection, it would only be one or two generations between my Charles Beaumont and Thomas of Flockton. This is, of course, speculation. Given the obscurity of records from this time it may be impossible to these two individuals much less directly to William de Bellomonte.

The Whitley Beaumonts controlled about nine square miles of land around Whitley, including Heaton-Lodge, Ravensknowle, Whitley Manor, Oak-Lands, Greenhead, Grange-Hall, Grove House, Westfield House and Mold-Green House. Whitley Manor Hall was built by Sir Richard Beaumont about the end of Elizabeth's reign, and enlarged in 1704, it stood advantageously on an elevated plain declining to the west. “On the western side of the principal entrance is the family Chapel, fitted up with excellently carved oak, and in the taste formed by Gibbons, if not executed by him. The house abounds with an unusual number of portraits. It has been the seat of the Beaumont's family since the reign of Henry III. --Whitaker.”

The Whitley Beaumonts lived at Whitley Hall from about the 13th century. The hall was rebuilt about 1560 with a great hall flanked by two wings forming a courtyard. This was not begun until 1704. The new front of the house was sturdy and baroque, with a centerpiece of a pediment door case with a window above with scrolled decoration of the frame, all enclosed in giant palisters and a segmented pediment. The inner face of the new range had a stone arcade connecting the rooms around the courtyard. James Paine remodeled the great hall for his brother-in-law Richard Beaumont in rococo style c. 1752-54. He probably designed garden buildings also, including the now ruinous gazebo or summer house. Capability Brown probably landscaped the grounds in the 1760’s and 1780’s.

Figure 6 Whitley Hall. Whitley Beaumont’s fittings were sold at auction in 1917. Charles E. Sutcliffe bought the house in 1924, but did not live there regularly. It gradually fell into disrepair. T. Reginald Sutcliffe inherited it but sold it in 1950 to Bradford & Leeds Properties Syndicate who split up the estate. The hall was bought for 2,500 pounds by James Warne of Warnegate Products, Halifax, with the intention of demolishing it. Demolition began late in 1950. The Park had been requisitioned by the Ministry of Fuel in 1947 for open-cast coal mining.

Figure 7 Black Dick's Tower near Whitley, Yorkshire, England

 Unfortunately, Whitley Hall was torn down and all that is left is a small structure locally known as the Black Dick’s Tower or the Temple. Black Dick (Sir Richard Beaumont,) is rumored to walk the grounds with his head under his arm every year on 5 July. "Black Dick of the North" was the nickname given to Sir Richard by James I. Born in 1574 and knighted in 1609 Black Dick was made a baronet in 1628. He died in 1631.

Figure 8 The seated woman is Elizabeth Beaumont, who married George Bernard. They were entitled to build their own house "Heaton Lodge" on Whitley Beaumont land. The painting is by George Romney of Elizabeth with her Whitley Beaumont brothers. The man standing behind Elizabeth is her husband George Bernard. The painting is kept in a National Portrait Museum in London.

The couple's house was recently on the market, according to a 2003 story in a local newspaper. Stately bliss with Brontë Link, by Jenny Parkin, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, July 1, 2003: Charlotte Brontë apparently used to visit the Mansion House at Bog Green Lane, Upper Heaton. And you can just picture the writer wandering through its rooms. According to present owner, Dewsbury District Hospital surgeon Mr. Philip Lyndon, her diaries mention calling in when she was a schoolmistress at Holly Bank School in Mirfield. Every so often, enthusiasts of the Brontë Society turn up on the family's doorstep, anxious to investigate their heroine's one-time haunt. Now the four-bedroom residence - home to the couple and their sons Daniel and Dominic, aged 15 and 13 - is on the market at a cool £1m.

It displays amazing period character, especially as it stood empty and derelict for 50 years and many of its original features were ripped out. The house was built for British Army general George Bernard and his bride Elizabeth Beaumont in 1770. And it remained in the ownership of the Beaumonts, a prominent local landowning family, until it was sold at auction in 1987…


Figure 10 St. John the Baptist's Church at Kirkheaton. Two mile east of Whitley is Kirkheaton, a parish-town, in Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of Pontefract. The history of this church goes back to the 9th Century on the evidence of Anglo-Saxon cross fragments found there. The Beaumont chapel, which dates back to the 14th Century, is the oldest remaining part of the structure. The Church is a rectory, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, in the deanry of Pontefract, who’s patron was Thomas Richard Beaumont, Esq. In the north aisle of the choir, is a cumbant statue of Sir Richard Beaumont, of Whitley.

Figure 11 Sir Richard Beaumont effigy in Kirkheaton

About three miles Northwest of Whitley is the grave of Robin Hood. The legend of Robin Hood has been questioned and debated for many years and one theory suggests that he was a Yorkshireman, even though many of his exploits reputedly took place Nottinghamshire. Some historians now say that Robin Hood may well have been born in Wakefield, lived in Barnsdale Forest, and died at Kirklees Priory. The ruined priory gatehouse, where he was gruesomely murdered by the wicked prioress, is still in existence.

Figure 12 Author in front of the Beaumont Arms. The Beaumont Arms is located next to the Church at Kirkheaton and was once a stable for the parishioners' carriages. In the 1700s, it was used once a year for the annual dinner and rent payment for the Beaumont estate. The Beaumonts fed their tenants and then received rent payments. Subsequently, the building was converted to a pub.

Genetic Roots
All men carry a Y-chromosome in every cell of their bodies that is inherited exclusively from their fathers. Our fathers in turn inherited the Y-chromosome from their fathers, who inherited it from their fathers and so on. Scientific research has shown that several specific groups of Y-chromosome signatures are distributed in the modern-day population of the British Isles, Europe and Scandinavia in a way that correlates with historic colonizations and invasions of the British Isles.

In the modern-day male population of the British Isles, three ancestral tribal groups account for the origins of 95% of Y-chromosomes: the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons/Danish Vikings, and the Norse Vikings. Oxford Ancestors ( notes that its Y-Chromozone test correlates, with a probability of up to 97%, with these tribal assemblies.

I had Oxford Ancestors analyze my Y-chromosome profile and they determine that there was a high probability that my male ancestors were Celtic of the Clan Oisin, a group prominent in Ireland and northern and western Britain.

My Y-chromosome profile is DYS 19 - 14; DYS 388 - 12; DYS 390 - 24; DYS 391 - 11; DYS 392 - 13; DYS 393 - 14; DYS 389i - 10; DYS 389 ii-i - 16; DYS 425 - 12; DYS 426 - 12.

Oxford Ancestors explains that this "inherited Y-Chromosome is from one of the earliest inhabitants of the British Isles, perhaps even from one of the first settlers who arrived 9,000 years ago."

This Y-chromosome profile is also useful in determining more recent family connections. When two people have an identical Y-chromosome profile, it is very likely that they had a common paternal ancestor within the past 650 years, especially if there is a common geography and surname involved. However, there is not a 100% certainty because gene mutations can occur.

The average rate of mutation for the ten makers that Oxford Ancestors looks at is 0.2% per generation. One difference in the Y-chromosome profile suggests a common paternal ancestor within 25 generations or 625 years. Two differences suggest a common paternal ancestor within 50 generations or 1,300 years. And three differences suggest a common paternal ancestor within 75 generations or 1875 years -- All with a range of probability.

  1. Furthermore, I contacted Tim Beaumont, Lord Beaumont of Whitley, requesting an Oxford Ancestors Y-Chromosome profile of him. He can trace his ancestors back to William de Bellomonte (Latin for Beaumont), first of the Beaumont line to live in Yorkshire. He held one-eighth part of a Knight’s fee of the honor of John, earl of Lincoln circa 1205, who granted him land at Whitley between Huddersfield and Dewsbury (Close Rolls). The history of this family is The Beaumonts in History; A.D. 850 - 1850, written by Edward T. Beaumont, J.P., Chapter 17, pages 257-325. (This can be downloaded from
  2. Lord Beaumont's Y-Chromosome profile is clan Wodan (associated with Norman ancestry) DYS 19 - 15; DYS 388 - 12; DYS 390 - 22; DYS 391 - 10; DYS 392 - 11; DYS 393 - 14; DYS 389i - 09; DYS 389 ii-i - 17; DYS 425 - 14; DYS 426 - 11.

Lord Beaumont's profile fits with all the historical facts associated with the Norman Invasion and the subsequent control of England by Norman lords. However, it proves conclusively that, in spite of my surname, I am not related to these same Norman lords. It seems that, when surnames became required, my Celtic ancestors took the name of their lord without having any genetic connection to the name.

  1.  Lord Beaumont:
    DYS 19 - 15; DYS 388 - 12; DYS 390 - 22; DYS 391 - 10; DYS 392 - 11; DYS 393 - 14; DYS 389i - 09; DYS 389 ii-i - 17; DYS 425 - 14; DYS 426 - 11.
  2. Gary Beaumont:
    DYS 19 - 14; DYS 388 - 12; DYS 390 - 24; DYS 391 - 11; DYS 392 - 13; DYS 393 - 14; DYS 389i - 10; DYS 389 ii-i - 16; DYS 425 - 12; DYS 426 - 12.

In Europe, surnames began to be used in the 12th century, but it took several centuries before the majority of Europeans had one. The primary purpose of the surname was to further distinguish people from one another. In the 13th century about a third of the male population was named William, Richard or John *. To uniquely identify them, people began referring to different Williams as William the son of Andrew (leading to Anderson), William the cook (leading to Cook), William from the river (leading to Rivers), William the brown-haired (leading to Brown), and so on. Eventually these surnames became inherited, being passed from parents to children.

Broadly, most surnames fall into four categories.

   1. Surnames derived from First Names include Johnson, Williamson, and Thompson. Most often they are patronymic, referring to a male ancestor, but occasionally they are matronymic.
   2. Occupational surnames refer to the occupation of the bearer. Examples include Smith, Clark, and Wright.
   3. Locational or Topographic surnames are derived from the place that the bearer lived. Examples include Hill, Woods, and Ford.
   4. Surnames derived from Nicknames include White, Young, and Long.

 Ancient Celts

Again, in the modern-day male population of the British Isles, three ancestral tribal groups account for the origins of 95% of Y-chromosomes: the Celts, the Anglo-Saxons/Danish Vikings, and the Norse Vikings, according to Oxford Ancestors ( The Celts were the earliest of these three groups to enter and subsequently control Britain.

The Celts flourished as a culture at the dawn of the Iron Age (700-500 BC) and spread out from their European homeland. The first stage of Celtic development is known as the Hallstatt after a village in the Salzkammergut in Austria. In 500 BC, Greek writings refer to the "Keltoi," which becomes the Celts. Between 400-100 BC, the Celtic La Tene culture spreads over Europe and ultimately Britain. These Celtic tribes grew prosperous on the proceeds from salt, iron and improved farming techniques, according to Lloyd Laing, Celtic Britain, Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1979.

However, the Celtic invasion of the British Isles is difficult to document genetically.
Two published books -- The Blood of the Isles by Bryan Sykes and The Origins of the British: a Genetic Detective Story by Stephen Oppenheimer -- are based upon recent genetic studies, and show that the vast majority of Britons have ancestors from the Iberian Peninsula, as a result of a series of migrations that took place during the Mesolithic and, to a lesser extent, the Neolithic eras.

Sykes sees little genetic evidence relating to people from the heartland of the Hallstatt and La Tene cultures. On the paternal side he finds that the "Oisin" (R1b) clan is in the majority which has strong affinities to Iberia, with no evidence of a large scale arrival from Central Europe.

Sykes considers the genetic structure of Britain and Ireland Celtic, "if by that we mean descent from people who were here before the Romans and who spoke a Celtic language." But this language was the result of diffusion rather than migration, and the vast majority of the inhabitants of the British Isles, whether they consider themselves to be Anglo Saxon, Celt or Norman are descended from the original Mesolithic hunger-gatherers who migrated north from Iberia approximately 13,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. (

In any case, the first Celts arrived in Britain as early as the seventh century BC. By the first century BC, Celtic tribes controlled much of Britain and the names of the various Celtic tribes were known because of their trade with Rome. Indeed, much of what we know about the "Celts" comes from the history compiled by the Romans who successfully invaded Britain in 54 BC and ultimately conquered the Celts in Britain.

According to Britain Express, one of the largest non-government sources of information about the UK (, the Celts were a group of peoples loosely tied by similar language, religion, and cultural expression. They were not centrally governed and quite as happy to fight each other as any non-Celt. They were warriors, living for the glories of battle and plunder. They were also the people who brought iron working to the British Isles.

The time of the "Celtic conversion" of Britain saw a huge growth in the number of hill forts, often a small ditch and bank combination encircling defensible hilltops. It's unknown if the hill forts were built by the native Britons to defend themselves from the encroaching Celts, or by the Celts as they moved their way into hostile territory.

Usually these forts contained no source of water, so their use as long term settlements is doubtful, though they may have been useful indeed for withstanding a short term siege.

The Celtic Family

The basic unit of Celtic life was the clan, a sort of extended family. The term "family" is a bit misleading, for by all accounts the Celts practiced a peculiar form of child rearing; they didn't rear them, they farmed them out. Children were actually raised by foster parents. The foster father was often the brother of the birth-mother.

Clans were bound together very loosely with other clans into tribes, each of which had their own social structure and customs, and possibly its own local gods.

The Celts lived in huts of arched timber with walls of wicker and roofs of thatch. The huts were generally gathered in loose hamlets. In several places each tribe had its own coinage system.

The Celts most certainly had a long history of mining. Initially salt, iron ore and coal could be gathered from shallow surface workings, but these mineral deposits were soon accessible only by deep mining. The mining operation would have begun where the vein outcropped on the surface, but gradually the tunnel deepened, requiring development of mining technology.

In all probability, mining was probably not a full-time occupation until the Industrial Age. Instead, individuals would work together for several months at a time, returning home to their families in spring in time to take part in the activities of the farming year. Their life cannot have been easy. Camping out among the waste heaps of the workings, felling and dragging timber for the shuttering, hacking rock from the work face and carting it to the furnaces -- the simple life of the farmer must have seemed idyllic in comparison.

One of the interesting innovations that they brought to Britain was the iron plough. Earlier ploughs had been awkward affairs, basically a stick with a pointed end harnessed behind two oxen. They were suitable only for plowing the light upland soils. The heavier iron ploughs constituted an agricultural revolution all by themselves, for they made it possible for the first time to cultivate the rich valley and lowland soils. They came with a price, though. It generally required a team of eight oxen to pull the plough, so to avoid the difficulty of turning that large a team, Celtic fields tended to be long and narrow, a pattern that can still be seen in some parts of the country today.

Celtic lands were owned communally, and wealth seems to have been based largely on the size of cattle herd owned. The lot of women was a good deal better than in most societies of that time. They were technically equal to men, owned property, and could choose their own husbands. They could also be war leaders, as Boadicea later proved.

There was a written Celtic language, but it developed well into Christian times, so for much of Celtic history they relied on oral transmission of culture, primarily through the efforts of bards and poets. These arts were tremendously important to the Celts, and much of what we know of their traditions comes to us today through the old tales and poems that were handed down for generations before eventually being written down.

Another area where oral traditions were important was in the training of Druids -- a sort of super-class of priests, political advisors, teachers, healers, and arbitrators. They had their own universities, where traditional knowledge was passed on by rote. They had the right to speak ahead of the king in council and may have held more authority than the king. They acted as ambassadors in time of war. They composed verse and upheld the law. They were a sort of glue holding together Celtic culture.

From Roman accounts, the Celts held many of their religious ceremonies in woodland groves and near sacred water, such as wells and springs. The Romans speak of human sacrifice as being a part of Celtic religion. One thing we do know, the Celts revered human heads. Celtic warriors would cut off the heads of their enemies in battle and display them as trophies. They mounted heads in doorposts and hung them from their belts. This might seem barbaric to us, but to the Celt the seat of spiritual power was the head, so by taking the head of a vanquished foe they were appropriating that power for themselves. It was a kind of bloody religious observance.

Celtic Warriors

In war, the Celts arrayed themselves as fiercely as possible, sometimes charging into battle fully naked, dyed blue from head to toe, and screaming like banshees to terrify their enemies. They took tremendous pride in their appearance in battle, if we can judge by the elaborately embellished weapons and paraphernalia they used. Golden shields and breastplates shared pride of place with ornamented helmets and trumpets.

The Celts were great users of light chariots in warfare. From this chariot, drawn by two horses, they would throw spears at an enemy before dismounting to have a go with heavy slashing swords. They also had a habit of dragging families and baggage along to their battles, forming a great milling mass of encumbrances, which sometimes cost them a victory, as Queen Boudicca would later discover to her dismay.

The main problem with the Celts was that they couldn't stop fighting among themselves long enough to put up a unified front. Each tribe was out for their own interest, which cost them control of Britain in the long run.

Of particular interest to me is the Brigante tribe of the Celts. Historian, Anne Ross, in Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition, RKP: London 1967, says that the nucleus of the Brigantian Kingdom was West Riding, Yorkshire. This large tribe was a federation of smaller communities. The name means "upland people" or "hill dwellers" which is appropriate since the Pennines formed the heart of their territory.

After the Roman Conquest, the Brigantes were formed into a very large "civitates," or administrative unit, covering most of Yorkshire, Cleveland, Durham and Lancashire. It stretched from the North Sea to the Irish Sea.

According to John Waddington-Feather, Yorkshire Dialect, published by John Waddington-Feather, 2002, Celtic place names were purged from East Riding, Yorkshire during the Anglian conquest of Britain in the 6th century AD, when Celtic control was finally ended. The earliest Anglian invaders probably sailed up the Humber into Yorkshire and fanned out either wiping out native Celts or reducing them to serfs. The Anglians called the Celts "waelc," meaning servant or slave. As a result, few Celtic names survived in East Riding, Yorkshire.

Place Names

According to the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, the study of place names can help us to understand the development of the landscape. Place names are not an accident. Successive generations of settlers looked at a landscape unfamiliar to them and had to give names to the features they saw.
Roman Names. Roman Britain fell apart during the early 5th century so very few Roman place names survive in any recognizable form in the North of England, and some linguists have suggested that the lack of Latin place names indicates that the language was not much spoken outside the urban areas. Cataractonium is still recognizably the modern Catterick. Other names like Lagentium (Castleford) are known only from documentary sources.

Celtic Names. The native Britons spoke a Celtic language, which is the ancestor of modern Welsh. The use of the language is now restricted to modern Wales but in 400 AD variants of the language were spoken in all parts of Britain including West Yorkshire. Ancient Celtic words survive in local place names especially those which reflect large geographical features. For example the river names of West Yorkshire often have a Celtic origin. These include the rivers Calder and Wharfe, and possibly also the Colne and the Went.

Around 400 AD, West Riding was the independent Celtic kingdom of Elmet. The historian Alex Woolf ("Romancing the Celts" in Cultural Identity in the Roman Empire, ed. Ray Laurence, Joanne Berry. Routledge 1998) suggests Celtic kingdom of Elmet enjoyed a distinct tribal identity in pre-Roman times, re-emerged following the collapse of Roman rule, and finally succumbed with Anglo-Saxon invasion.

The inhabitants of Elmet called themselves the Loides, a name which is still reflected in multiple placenames: notably Ledston, Ledsham, Leathley and the modern city of Leeds ("Ledes" in 1086 Domesday Book). ( The Celtic kingdom of Elmet is also reflected in place name such as Barwick-in-Elmet and Sherburn-in-Elmet.

According to the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service, the town Dewsbury, in Celtic, means "Dewi's fortification." "Dewi" is the equivalent of David in Welsh, an early form of which was spoken by the people of Elmet.

The Pennines take their name for the old Welsh word "pen," which means head or summit. It also appears in such names as Pen-y-ghent, Penistone and Pendle Hill. The river names, Ouse and Calder, are Celtic in origin. Eccleshill near Bradford and Eccleshall near Sheffield derive from the Celtic word "ecluys," meaning church.

Anglo-Saxon Names. The Anglo-Saxons themselves spoke a variety of dialects known as Old English, the ancestor of modern English. A number of Old English place name elements also indicate the presence of the British "Walh," meaning a Welsh speaker (or a slave) which gives rise to a number of places called Walton. The second element is "tun" meaning a settlement, so the whole name means settlement of the Welsh-speakers. Other "walh" names in West Yorkshire are Walsden (valley of the Welsh speakers) and Walshaw (copse of the Welsh speakers). Similar indicators to Walh are Brettas (Britons) and Cumba (Welsh). These probably gave rise to the West Yorkshire place names of West Bretton and Cumberworth. The names themselves are Old English formations but refer to settlements which survived with a recognizable "British" character after the English settlement.

Another Old English place name element, which might indicate something about the 5th-century British inhabitants of West Yorkshire, is "eccles." This is derived from the English version of a Celtic British word meaning a church. In West Yorkshire we have seven eccles sites, of which three are mentioned in early documents. These are Eccleshill in Bradford, Exley in Southowram and Exley Head in Keighley. In Lancashire there is a greater survival of "eccles" names, which are spread out fairly evenly across the county. This has led some archaeologists to suggest that the distribution of such place names reflects, not only the religious organization of the area, but also the civil administration with one church in each administrative unit. Neither Eccleshill nor Exley has produced any archaeological evidence of its antiquity but there once used to be a holy well at Eccleshill, which suggests an early religious site.

Apart from the recent excavations at Parlington Hollins near Garforth there has been little archaeological evidence for Anglo-Saxon settlement in West Yorkshire. The terrain there made it more difficult to conquer so it took the Anglians another century to conquer West Riding. Also, this invasion was more peaceful, explaining the greater number of Celtic place names there.

Two elements of Old English are thought to indicate early settlement in the region. The first is "ham" meaning "homestead" which can be found in such place names as Bramham, Ledsham and Meltham. The second is "ing," which could come from a variety of roots but which means either "belonging to the people of" or just simply "belonging to." "Ing" is often preceded by a personal name. Addingham, therefore, would mean farmstead of Adda's people or just Adda's farm. Other places with the ingham element are Manningham and Collingham. The most common Old English place name element found in West Yorkshire is tun, meaning settlement or village. Examples of this can be seen in the place names Adwalton, Ackton, Allerton, Beeston, Carlton, Clayton, Cleckheaton, Clifton, Dalton, Deighton, Drighlington, Flockton, Heaton, Kirkheaton, Ledston, Lepton, Menston, Middleton, Netherton, Normanton (which interestingly means farmstead of the Norwegians), Oulton, Poppleton, Sharleston, Swillington and Upton.

Flockton is an interesting example of what linguists call a Grimston Hybrid. The first element of the name is a Viking personal name Floki, but the second part is an English word. On the basis of this and other linguistic evidence, it has been suggested that the Viking settlers adapted the English language (Old Norse and Old English are thought to have been mutually intelligible) but spoke it with a distinct Scandinavian accent and retained some of their own words. This eventually gave rise to the distinctive Yorkshire dialect of the present.

Viking Names. The most common Viking place name element is "by" meaning a "farmstead" or "village." It occurs in a number of West Yorkshire place names including Kirby, Denby, Quarmby, Sowerby and Wetherby (although of course, a Scandinavian name does not mean that a settlement was founded by a Viking, it may mean that they re-named pre-existing settlements). Other less important settlements are indicated by the place name element "thorpe." Examples in West Yorkshire include Alverthorpe, Gawthorpe, Kirkthorpe and Kettlethorpe, all of which are situated close to Wakefield. Further indication of Viking activity comes from the place name element "thwaite" meaning a clearing. West Yorkshire examples include Linthwaite and Slaiththwaite in the upper Colne Valley.

Looking for place name elements in the Domesday Book can give us some idea of the density of Viking settlement in West Yorkshire. In some areas of North Yorkshire the number of Domesday place names of Viking origin is well over 60% of the total number of place names. In some parts of West Yorkshire the totals are much lower. In the former Viking administrative district (wapentake) of Morley it is around 12%, whilst in Skyrack (another administrative district based around what is now modern Leeds) the percentage of Viking place names is as low as 4%. Work on the sitting of villages with Viking place names shows that they are consistently sited in less desirable locations than English named villages (in terms of drainage, access and quality of land). This strongly suggests that the Viking settlers of the late 10th and early 11th centuries had to establish themselves in an already settled landscape where they did not have first choice of the land cultivated.

Viking rule in West Yorkshire and in other parts of the Danelaw clearly affected the way in which the country was governed. In Yorkshire the division of the county into three Ridings must have happened at this time. "Riding" comes from the Viking word for "third." This is why the old county of Yorkshire had only a North, East and West Riding, but no South Riding. The Ridings themselves were divided down into smaller administrative units called "wapentakes" (literally "weapon-take," the right to bear arms being the indicator of a free man, who was consulted on issues of local government at traditional gatherings and who would signify his assent by brandishing his weaponry.

Brutal History

Between 400 BC and the first century AD, Celtic culture ruled Britain. Between 54 AD and 446 AD, Roman culture dominated. By the seventh century AD, the Anglo-Saxons ruled. And, by the eleventh century AD, the Normans took controlled of Britain. All along, the indigenous people of Britain also mixed and married the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and the Normans.

Yet, the histories of the various conquests of Britain were brutal.

In the first century AD, the Celts were still resisted Roman rule. One infamous rebellion was led by Queen Boudicca. Roman administrators treated her with a marked lack of respect. Personal enmity grew, Boudicca resisted, her daughters were raped, and the Queen made reprisals with 70,000 lives lost. In turn, the Roman legions retaliated with a loss of a further 80,000 Celtic lives.

In 1069, Sweyn of Demark raided Kent and East Anglia and then took his fleet up the Humber to York, where he was welcomed by many dissidents who rose up against the Normans. The Danes were bribed to return to their homeland, and William ordered a systematic campaign of genocide known as the Harrying of the North. The historian Ordeicus Vitalis recorded that some 100,000 northerners perished in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the southern parts of County Durham. He described how those who survived faced famine on their ravaged countryside. (Richard Muir, The Yorkshire Countryside, Keele University Press, 1997)

Added to these massacres was natural pestilence, particularly the Black Death, which exterminated between a third and half of the English population in the 1300s.

These examples beg the question, how did any indigenous people survive?

Some historians hold that Celtic culture and the Celtic language may have been imported to Britain by cultural contact rather than mass invasions. In turn and contrary to long-standing beliefs, some say that the Germanic tribes (Angles, Saxons) did not wipe out the Roman-Celt peoples of England but rather, over the course of six centuries, simply imposed on them a new culture and language.

Still, others maintain that the picture is mixed and that in some places the indigenous population was indeed wiped out while in others it was assimilated. According to this school of thought the populations of Yorkshire, East Anglia, Northumberland and the Orkney and Shetland Islands are those populations with the fewest traces of ancient (Celtic) British continuation, probably because these are eastern areas which were exposed to invasion from the East by Angles, Saxons and Vikings.

Beaumonts in Illinois

John Beaumont immigrated to Belleville, Illinois, which is remarkably similar to the area around Dewsbury. Both exist on the fringe of major industrial areas and are characterized by rolling hills intermixed mixed with forested land and farm fields. Both developed into important industrial areas in the 1800s because of nearby navigable rivers and rich coal veins.

There was some confusion about the year in which John Beaumont arrived in Illinois. The History of St. Clair County 1881 (q977.389 H62h) says that John settled in Illinois in 1860. It also says that Naomi, his wife, settled in Illinois in 1870. The 1860 U.S. Census, however, does not show John Beaumont living in St. Clair County in 1860, and the Census of England clearly places them in Birkenshaw Bottoms in 1861. It is possible that John traveled back and forth. Maybe, he went back to England to find a bride. He was 28 at the time of his marriage, so he had several adult years during which he could freely travel. Many British coal miners traveled back and forth, depending on economic conditions in England and the United States after the Civil War when there was a general shortage of skilled workers.

In any case, the birth dates of John and Naomi’s children suggest that, once married in 1861, John stayed in England until emigrating in 1870. Immigration passenger lists for New York show him entering the United States on May 31, 1870. Immigration lists for New York (M237, reel 329) shows John Beaumont arriving from Liverpool on the Steamer Colorado with an additional 1,000 passengers. Most of the passengers were from England, Ireland or Germany, and the captain was Thomas Freeman.

The S.S. Colorado was built in 1867 by Palmer Bros & Co, Jarrow-on-Tyne for the Guion Line of Liverpool. She was a 2,927 gross ton ship, length 335ft x beam 43ft, clipper stem, one funnel, two masts (rigged for sail), iron construction, single screw and a speed of 10 knots. There was capacity for 72 first class and 800 third class passengers. Launched on 30th Oct.1867, she sailed from Liverpool on 14th Jan.1868 on her maiden voyage to Queenstown and New York. On 7th Feb.1872 she sailed from Liverpool for New York and was in collision with the British steamer "Arabian" in the River Mersey the same day and sank with the loss of six lives. [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, vol.2, p.708]

Furthermore, immigration passenger lists for New York (M237, reel 334) show that Naomi, William, Annie, and an infant (Emily) arrived in New York on September 26, 1870 from Liverpool on the steamship Abyssinia. Mr. H.P. Harris was the captain. The ship carried more than 600 other passengers from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. While there were many families on board, it must have been very intimidating trip for a mother and her three small children. By 1870, the train system was highly developed in the United States making the trip from New York to St. Louis relatively easy.


Figure 13 S.S. Abyssinia. Built by J. & G. Thomson, Glasgow, for the Cunard Line, and launched March, 1870. (3,376 tons, 363.5 x 42.2 feet, straight stem, 1 funnel, 3 masts; iron construction, screw prop, speed 13 knots, accommodations for 120 passengers in 1st class, and 1,068 in steerage. Her maiden voyage, a trip from Liverpool to New York, occurred in May, 1870. In 1880, she was sold to the Guion Line and, in 1891, on route to Liverpool from New York, she was destroyed at sea by fire. All the passengers and crew were rescued by the German liner "Spree" [North Atlantic Seaway by N.R.P. Bonsor, vol.1, p.151]

John arrived in Illinois after the 1870 U.S. Census was taken, but his family does show up in the 1880 Census. By then the whole family is listed as living in Avery Hill, Birkner Station (Township 1 North, Range 8 West), which is now West Belleville.

John Beaumont was born on July 28, 1833 according to his death certificate. This is confirmed by the 1900 US Census, which also states that he entered the United States in 1859, clearly wrong. He died on December 4, 1923 at 419 E. McKinley in Belleville, and was buried at Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois.

Naomi was born to John Tempest and Hannah Booth. John Tempest, a coal miner, was 55 years old at the time of the 1851 Census. He was born June 25, 1795 in either North Bierley or Wibsey near Bradford according to the Bishop's Transcripts, Bradford Cathedral.

John married Hannah Booth on July 18, 1822 in Bradford. Hannah was likely born to James Booth and Hannah Downs on May 1, 1801 in Bradford. John Tempest and Hannah Booth lived in Birkenshaw with their children:

In the 1851 Census of Birkeshaw, taken March 30, the Tempest family was living together. In the 1861 Census, taken April 7, John Tempest was living alone. Hannah was living with her daughter Mary (40) a worsted weaver and Mary's husband James Wear (48) a coke burner.

Naomi Tempest died in September 12, 1886, in Illinois, due to complications of child birth, specifically overperal septicaemia and heart disease. She is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois. John and Naomi had eight children:

John Beaumont remarried in 1890 at the age of 57 (Record No. 052) to Elizabeth Rowley, a widow born October 27, 1832 in England, emigrated in 1882, and died May 14, 1916. Her children were Frank Rowley (born June 1863 in England), Isaac, Leslie (born 1888), and Henry born, 1890 or 91 (Could this have been John's son?)

William H. Beaumont's birth date is in question. His death certificate and Belleville Advocate obituary list his birth date as July 15, 1862. But a search of Yorkshire records failed to come up with his birth that year. The 1880 US Census for St. Clair County taken on June 19, 1880 gives the year of his birth as 1864. The 1900 US Census gives his birth date as July 15, 1863 as does his marriage certificate and an article in the Belleville News Democrat about his fiftieth wedding anniversary. Also, the passenger list for his entry into the United States lists his age as 7 on September 26, 1870. This too confirms a birth date in 1863. It would be interesting to check for his birth certificate in England. His obituary says that he settled at Ogle Station when he was six, but really he was seven. In any case, he died on July 10, 1950 of coronary thrombosis and chronic myocarditis and was buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville, Illinois. His death certificate (0030693) said he was in his 87 year.

William was married to Emily Avery on Christmas Day 1890 at the First Methodist Church in Belleville, Illinois. The marriage was witnessed by Bessie Avery and Stephen Marsh and this couple later married. Interestingly, 1890 was also the year William's father, John, remarried.

According to Emily Avery’s death certificate, she was born May 30, 1863, died September 10, 1941 of coronary thrombosis and senility, and was buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery. Her obituary says that she emigrated from Coventry, England in 1878 when she was 15 years old. It says that she traveled with her parents.

Passenger lists for the port of New York (M237; reel No. 414) confirm this information, Emily Avery (15), her mother, Susannah Avery (33), and her grandmother, Harriet Avery (65), arrived in New York on the S.S. Adriatic on August 30, 1878 from Liverpool, with a stop in Le Havre. The captain was J.W. Jennings and he reported a total of 381 passengers on the ship. Cabin passengers totaled 134 and they were mostly merchants, ladies, and gentlemen. Steerage passengers totaled 247 and they were mostly laborers, tailors, farmers, and shoemakers. The country breakdown included 80 Irish, 24 Germans, 22 Danes, 44 Swedes, 66 Brits, and 119 U.S. citizens.  

Figure 14 S.S. Adriatic. The only picture that seems to exist of this ship was created to us as the first ship portrayed on a U.S. stamp, circa. 1869. It was a side-wheel steam ship built for the Collins Line in 1857, but after her first voyage, she was sold to the North Atlantic Steam Ship Company.

William Beaumont and Emily Avery's marriage certificate (Record No. 360) lists Emily’s maiden name as Avery and her father as Francis Sexton. Reginald's birth certificate also lists Emily’s maiden name as Avery.

According to state marriage records, Thomas Charlton and Susanna Avery were married on November 11, 1879 in Belleville, Illinois (License 808). This was slightly more than a year after Susanna's arrival in the United States. Emily was 16 at the time of this marriage and would have lived in this family until her marriage in 1890.

Tom Charlton’s obituary said that he was a blacksmith by trade. It’s unclear when and from where Tom Charlton emigrated. His marriage certificate said that he lived in Birkner Station near Belleville, worked as a miner, and would have been 33 years old on his next birthday. It named his parents as James Charlton and Anna Bramwall. The 1870 U. S. Census for St. Clair County, Illinois listed a Thomas Charlton (26) living with his brother William (30) and William’s wife, Elizabeth (28). They lived at the Gartside Post Office; T1N R9W.

Tom and Susanna’s marriage license also stated that Susanna would be 31 years old at her next birthday and that her parents were Edward Avery and Harriet Jeffs. Witnessing the ceremony were William and Harriet Avery. Thomas and Susanna listed this marriage as their first. Thomas and Susanna had two sons Thomas Jr. and Joseph. Susanna died February 21, 1909 and is buried in Walnut Hill Cemetery in Belleville.

The 1851 Census for England listed an Avery family that fits the above information. However, this Census did not list Thomas Charlton or Francis Sexton.

The Averys lived in Hall Green, Foleshill, Warwickshire, near Coventry. Susannah Jeffs was the head of the household at 68 years old. She was a silk winder. Harriet Avery was her daughter, a hand-loom weaver who was 37 years-old. Edward, Harriet’s husband, was not listed. He could have been at work or dead by this time. Four children were listed: Edward, 17 and a coal miner; Eliza, 15 and a hand-loom weaver; William, 12 and a coal miner; and Susanna, 10 a student. Susanna’s age is different from her age as listed in the immigration passenger list, her marriage license, and her obituary. In fact, none of them correspond, but all the other census information fits perfectly. Mormon Family Search notes that Harriett Jeffs married Edward “EAvery” June 10, 1833 Foleshill, England.

It seems that Emily was an illegitimate child of Susannah, who was 18 at the time of Emily’s birth. Most likely, Harriet, Susanna, and Emily followed William Avery, Harriet’s son and Susanna’s brother, to Belleville, Illinois after he established himself there. He was listed as a coal miner in the 1851 Census of England and surely must have mined coal in the United States, too. He was not an investor in the Summit Coal Mine with William Beaumont, but Thomas Charlton was an investor.

In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded Coventry as an agricultural settlement with a population of 50 male adults. By 1377 it was the third largest city outside of London. This spectacular growth was largely as a result of the woollen industry. Warwickshire wool was in great demand in the low countries over the north sea and many city families of the time grew rich as a result of this trade. The trades guilds were powerful and important and indeed the fabled Richard "Dick" Whittington the thrice lord mayor of London belonged to the Trinity Guild for this very reason.  

Figure 15

Before long, Coventry became so wealthy that it became worth protecting with a wall. Money to pay for the wall was raised by "murage" -- a toll on goods coming into the city. The wall, begun in 1355, was finished in 1538 -- a spectacular wall two-miles long with 10 gates and towers. In this period, Coventry was as large and as powerful as York and was made a county in 1451 - independent of Warwickshire and its Sheriff. It stayed that way until 1842, being called “The County and the City of Coventry.”

During the War of the Roses, Henry VI’s wife ruled England from Coventry, since London was full of enemies. But Godiva (Godgyfu) is perhaps one of the most famous Coventry names. Godiva was wife to Leofric, Earl of Mercia. In an account written around the year1200 by Roger of Wendover, Leofric, angry over Coventry’s disrespect of his rule, levied a crushing tax to teach the recalcitrant city folk a lesson. Lady Godiva, kind and comely, asked her husband to have mercy on the people’s pocket books. The Earl issued a challenge to his hypervirtuous spouse: He would remove the tax if she would ride naked through the town on a horse.

Lady Godiva agreed to the seemingly humiliating bargain. But in exchange for interceding with her husband, she asked that the townspeople repay her kindness by staying indoors with their shutters closed at the appointed hour. Clad only in her long, flowing hair, she rode through the city unseen. A legend added later had a tailor named Tom peeping through the window to catch a glimpse of the beautiful rider. God struck him blind, and the term “Peeping Tom” was born.

The fortunes of Coventry declined in the first half of the 16th century and were not seen to rise significantly again until the latter part of the 17th century when silk ribbon weaving became important. By 1821 there were 5,000 ribbon weavers in Coventry out of a population of 21,000. By 1841 there were 30,000 weavers in Coventry working on 3,500 plain and 2228 Jacquard looms. This influx of weavers caused major housing problems because of the wall that surrounded the city and because the weavers, who were freemen, had no rights over the ring of common land surrounding the city walls.

The area of Hillfields was created as a settlement outside of the city walls in 1828 and became the area where for the most skilled craftsmen in Coventry. Many factories were set up to manufacture ribbon on a more commercial basis but there were dissenting voices amongst the craftsmen. Indeed the first factory built to manufacture ribbon was burnt to the ground by the weavers. In the late 1850's peace was achieved and predominant amongst the peacemakers were the Cash brothers. To this day Cash continues to provide ribbon and labels.

On November 8, 1940, the British bombed Munich just after a speech by Adolf Hitler in the city. Enraged, Hitler ordered Operation Moonlight Sonata, a revenge raid against Coventry. Five hundred bombers were sent out on November 14. A firestorm swept the medieval core of the city, killing 568 people and destroying or badly damaging 60,000 of the 75,000 buildings.

Figure 16 William and Emily, nee Avery, Beaumont at their 50 th wedding anniversary in 1940.  

William Beaumont and Emily Avery had nine children. According to the 1910 US Census taken on April 26, 1910 says that two children had died. The children were:


Figure 17 Reginald Beaumont, on right, with Vernon looking over his shoulder

Reginald married Elizabeth Herzig on December 24, 1920 at St. Paul's Evangelical and Reformed Church. Reginald and Elizabeth had three children:


Figure 18 Elizabeth Beaumont, nee Herzig, with Norma on left and Vernon lower left  

By the 1930 U.S. Census much of the family lived in Belleville. In fact, several lived nearby on Old Caseyville Road including: William H., 66; Emily, 66; Bryon Boul, 30; Mabel Boul, nee Beaumont, 29; Reginald, 30; Elizabeth, nee Herzig, 27; Norma, 8; Vernon, 6; and John W., 27; Lou, 23; Donald, 10; Nadine, 7. These names were found in T626-557 -- District 99 ST. CLAIR TWP. (WEST PART) EXCLUDING SWANSEA VILLAGE.

Jessie Beaumont, 26 and his wife Gladys, 28 also lived in District 18 BELLEVILLE CITY WARD 5 (PART) Bounded by (N) Monroe; (E) S. Illinois; (S) City Limits; (W) Ward Line, 7th (T626-555).

Earlier Ancestors

More speculative are the following names gleaned from church records that seemed to fit other individuals connected to our family.




  (See accompanying chart.)

Vernon Beaumont

Tom Brokaw wrote of Vernon Beaumont’s generation in The Greatest Generation. He wrote: They came of age during the Great Depression, when economic despair hovered over the land like a plague. They watched their parents lose their businesses, their farms, their jobs, and their hopes. Then, just as there was a glimmer of economic recovery, war exploded across Europe and Asia. Pearl Harbor made it irrefutably clear that America was not an isolated fortress, so this generation was summoned to the parade ground and told to train for war. They left their farms, factories, and schools to go directly into uniform.

At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting, often hand to hand, in the most primitive conditions possible, across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria. They fought their way up a necklace of South Pacific islands few had ever heard of before and made them a fixed part of American history-islands with names like Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa.

After the War and a short-lived celebration, they immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives. They were mature beyond their years, tempered by what they had been through, disciplined by their military training and sacrifices. They married in record numbers and gave birth to another distinctive generation, the Baby Boomers. They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor, and faith.

They helped convert a wartime economy into the most powerful peacetime economy in history. They helped rebuild the economies and political institutions of their former enemies, and they stood fast against the totalitarianism of their former allies, the Russians. They were rocked by the social and political upheaval of the sixties. Many of them hated the long hair, the free love, and, especially, what they saw as the desecration of the flag. But they didn't give up on the new generation.

They weren't perfect. They made mistakes. They allowed McCarthyism and racism to go unchallenged for too long. When a new war broke out, many of the veterans initially failed to recognize the differences between their war and the one in Vietnam.

These were ordinary people whose lives are laced with the markings of greatness. At every stage of their lives they were part of historic challenges and achievements of a magnitude the world had never before witnessed. Although they were transformed by their experiences and quietly proud of what they had done, they often kept their stories hidden deep inside.

Vernon Beaumont was born January 26, 1924. His father, Reginald, was a coal miner as were his ancestors as far back as they can be traced. Of course, coal mining was always a precarious and insecure way of life, especially in the 1920s. For nearly two centuries, coal had been the basic fuel powering the global industrial revolution, but even before World War I the coal-era was on the wane. Diesel engines had replaced coal-fired boilers. Coal bins were disappearing from basements as Americans abandoned smudgy coal furnaces for clean-burning gas, oil, or electricity. Plagued by competition from these new energy sources, especially the recently tapped oil fields in southern California, Oklahoma, and Texas, coal through the 1920s displayed all the classical symptoms of a sick industry: shrinking demand, excess supply, chaotic disorganization, cutthroat competition, and hellish punishment for workers.

The Great Depression of the 1930s exacerbated this already calamitous cycle. Operators fought more savagely than ever to stay alive by cutting prices and pay checks. At one point some of them even begged the government to buy them out. Coal that had fetched up to $4 a ton in the mid-1920s sold for $1-3 a ton in 1932. Miners who had earned seven dollars a day before the Crash now begged the pit-boss for the chance to squirm into thirty-inch coal seams for as little as a dollar a day.

The Great Depression was an unprecedented calamity, which started on October 1929 when the stock market crash. However, this really only affected a small minority of people. It took another four years before the economy reached its nadir in 1933. By then, the economy was in a total breakdown. In the country, unmarketable crops rotted in fields and unsaleable livestock died on the hoof. In towns and cities, haggard men in shabby overcoats, collars turned up against the chill wind, newspapers plugging the holes in their shoes, lined up glumly for handouts at soup kitchens. Tens of thousands of displaced workers took to the road, while those who stayed put took in their jobless relatives, kited the grocery bills at the corner store, patched their old clothes, darned and re-darned their socks, trying to shore up some fragments of hope.

Roughly half of all workers did not have jobs and those who did have jobs found themselves working for smaller paychecks. The country had never before known unemployment of this magnitude or duration, and it did not have a mechanism to combat the mass destitution either. Different people suffered and coped according to their own circumstances, but most everyone was unhappy during the Great Depression.

“Dad couldn’t find any work. So he’d do odd jobs on a farm during the growing season. That led him to plant a large garden and raise pigs just to have something to eat. He’d raised hogs, butchered them, and made pork sausage. And Mom had a regular route that she’d go around every week to make a little money selling pork sausage.”

“That’s how you lived then. Everybody had a garden and everybody canned. We’d raise lettuce, grapes, radishes, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and beans. And Mom canned everything. We’d have 50 or 60 jars of green beans alone. We’d cook down pork sausage and put it in jars. Rabbit and squirrel, too. Dad did a lot of hunting, so we always had squirrel, rabbit, and a lot of fish.”

“When I was nine (1933) I carried newspapers to earn money. I remember in the worst year of the Depression, the $5 a week I earned was all that we had to buy what we needed for the week like sugar and salt. I kept the paper route until I was 15 or 16. I had about 50 customers on a four-mile route. I rode my bike, but when it was broken, I had to walk it even in the snow. I had one customer that was 3/4 of a mile away, and I’d carry their paper for seven cents a week. It took two hours to do the route.”

Figure 19 Vernon Beaumont at High Mount School. He is in front and to the left of the teacher in the center of the photograph. Norma is fifth from the left, standing.

“When Roosevelt got into office, Dad got a job and we started to pay off the house again and bought a car and everything started going well from that point.

“Dad started out as a coal miner. On January 26, 1925, falling coal broke all of his toes and he was off the job for 125 days. He was 26 years old at that time and he worked as a cager at the St. Louis & O'Fallon Coal Mine No. 2. I was just one year old when the accident occurred, so I don’t remember it but, when I was old enough, he did take me down into a mine to show me how dangerous it was and how hard the work was there. I remember being terrified. Everyone wanted to get out of the coal mines in those days.”

An example of the danger hit home for Elizabeth Herzig, who was actually engaged to marry John Beaumont, a cousin of Reginald and son of Levi Beaumont. John was instantly killed when he was 19 years old. Several tons of slate crushed him at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, August 10, 1918. Cornelius Anna was working in the same room as John but escaped injury. Digging out the body took 15 minutes. Reginald broke the news to Elizabeth, and two years later, they married.

“My Grandpa Beaumont was a miner all his life, too. They had to lie on their bellies and undercut the coal, then blast it. They got paid by the ton and dug it out all by hand. And they rolled it out by hand in carts. My Grandpa Beaumont worked the Summit Mine until it was going to shut down. Then he and two other fellows bought it and continued to mine it. He also started a grocery store that sold mostly to the miners. He’d give the miners credit and they could apply purchases to their wages.”

“Grandma and Grandpa Beaumont never did talk about England, but they were young when they emigrated so maybe they didn’t remember it well. Grandpa Beaumont was a big gardener. He didn’t drink a lot, but I remember one time that he had a little too much and he danced a little jig that made us all laugh.”

“All my Dad’s brothers started out in coal mine. But then Uncle Earl worked for the city and the brewery. Uncle Joe went out to California and started an ice plant and a liquor store. Uncle Bill was always a salesman, but he opened a tavern when he was older. My two aunts, Mabel and Consuela, went to college and both had careers as teachers.

“Both of my Grandma’s were good cooks. Grandma Beaumont was a little better educated than Grandma Herzig, but Grandma Herzig was a better cook. Grandma Beaumont didn’t dance but Grandma Herzig loved to dance and sing German songs. She enjoyed life and had a lot of parties. They were both good family people.”

“Grandpa Herzig liked to party, too. He liked to drink beer and play music. He played the drums, Uncle Rich played the trumpet, and Uncle Gus played the squeeze box. Uncle Rich was the best musician. He worked at Union Electric, but on weekends he’d play the trumpet at Polish weddings. I think he played at every Polish wedding in East St. Louis in those days.”

“I remember that Aunt Haddie had a good job in St. Louis and she would come home on the weekends, so the family would gather at Grandma’s house to visit. Grandma would bake coffee cake and bread and a big meal. Everyone would drink a lot of beer and play music. It was a lot of fun.”

“Grandpa Herzig was a coal miner until he retired. Then he and Uncle Gus opened a woodworking shop. They built little tables and chairs and made enough money to get by on. They cut everything out by hand with a coping saw.”

“All the Herzigs spoke German at home. And Grandma Herzig kept in contact with her relatives in Germany. Before the War a German cousin visited us. And Grandma and Grandpa Herzig visited Germany in 1922. But World War II ended most of the communications. I remember my cousin Gus, who was in the Army during World War II, visited Gladbeck after the War. He knocked on the door of his cousin and said, I’m your cousin from America. The German cousin then promptly slammed the door in his face.

“Grandpa Herzig raised German Sheppards. And he trained them to bring him a can of beer when he wanted it. And he’d hide things and they could always find it. He was very proud of his dogs.”

Vernon says, when he was a kid, his Dad would throw a gunny sack over a horse on a neighbors farm and play cowboys and Indians, ant that his Dad played a lot of baseball in Belleville. He played third base and hit a lot of home runs. He would say that he tried to hit the ball as far as he could so he wouldn’t have to run too hard around the bases.

The April 20, 2002 Belleville News Democrat wrote that Belleville was one of the biggest amateur baseball hotbeds in the country in the 1930s. In 1934, the semi-pro team, the Belleville Stags, played an exhibition game with the St. Louis Cardinals at Stag Field. Dizzy Dean, Joe Medwick, Leo Durocher, and the rest of the Gashouse Gang were there. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series that year, and my father remembers that he and his father attended the game.

“I remember my Mom would always get up early, make a fire in the stove and cook us breakfast every morning. She had to wash all the clothes by hand, carrying the water in and out of the house because we didn’t have indoor plumbing. Also, we had an outhouse in the backyard until after World War II. When I came back, we dug a trench for a sewer and I put indoor plumbing in their house."

At Liz Beaumont's funeral, Norma told a story about when Vernon was a little boy, he got a bee in his pants and Liz pulled his pants off so fast he didn’t know what happened.

“When we were kids, we used to play pool at a place on Illinois Street. We got really good, so we’d go up there on Saturday night and play for a dollar a game. Sometimes we went there without a penny in our pockets, but we knew we could win and we always did. We’d win a couple of dollars and then go to a dance. We’d do that almost every Saturday night.”

“My friends were Edward Thoman, George Swansaddle, Ed Swansaddle, Earl Bolman, Roy and Bob Kopf, and the Swatalas. We all lived in the same area and we all played together. We’d walk downtown, about 3 miles, and buy a pint of Neopolitan ice cream for 15 cents, and eat on the way back home.”

“In the summer, we’d go swimming in a farm pond several times a day. I remember that the water was really clear and we’d climb a tree and dive into the water. Once I went down and got tangled in the branches and couldn’t get up. I almost drowned.”

“Another time we were sledding on the hill near High Mount School with a train track at the bottom of the hill. A whole group of us were all sliding down when a train came through. I stopped, but one of the colored boys went right under the train, between the wheels, onto the other side. We had four families of colored people in school. But we had no problems with them. They were really nice and never bothered anybody.”

“Our school had two-rooms. It was divided into first through fourth grade and fifth through eighth grade. It was my job to stoke the coal furnace and take the ashes out in the morning. There was a lot of discipline and we had recess in the morning and afternoon.”

“The first car my Dad had was a ‘28 Chevy coupe. I can remember that the starter went out on it, but my Mom, being a hard working and strong woman, cranked it to get it started. She could swing that crank around and it would start right up. This was during the Depression and we didn’t really have enough money to fix it, so it just sat there. Later, I asked Dad if Ed Thoman and I could smash it with a sledge hammer. He let us and finally took it to the junk yard," said Vernon.

“When my Dad got a job after the Depression, we bought a used ‘31 Model "A" Ford. I fixed up the brakes and the front end on it. The first car I owned was after the War. It was a ‘40 Buick. You couldn’t buy a new car after the war and this one looked very clean, but I think I replaced everything on it. I rebuilt the engine, the transmission, rear end. I finally sold it to a colored guy in East St. Louis. It taught me a lesson, though, I never bought a lemon after that.”

“After the Depression, Dad worked at the water company for about five years. Then he worked on the highways, but the best job he had was at the Stag Brewery. It was a year-round job, and he got a pension and social security. My Dad had to work hard for a living. When he retired, they didn’t have a lot of money, but enough to live on.”

“World War II started in December 1941 after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I joined the Coast Guard right afterwards before I turned 18 in 1942. Dad didn’t want me to join up, but I didn’t want to end up in the Army, marching around in the mud and all.

Figure 20 From left, Les, Lil, Elizabeth, Vernon and Betty Beaumont. Les and Vernon were cousins and joined the Coast Guard at the same time. They were home on leave after basic training when the photograph was taken. Les was discharged April 10, 1946 and Vernon was discharged May 3, 1946.

“After Boot Camp in Grafton, Illinois, I went aboard a Coast Guard cutter on the Mississippi River. We’d escort LSTs, which were built in Louisville, Kentucky, down the Mississippi River. We also patrolled the waterfront around a large steel mill near Louisville. Then I was assigned to the USS Alberio, which was an attack cargo ship. We hauled tanks, landing craft, and troops. Our home base was San Francisco and we went to Eniwetok, Hebrides, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Okinawa.”

“I made a lot of friends, but it was lonely out on the ocean. Our first trip was 90 days. We took equipment to the Hebrides. We were out 90 days and didn’t see any land until we got there. You worked seven days a week, standing watch and sometimes you wouldn’t get any sleep. We had a submarine alert one time, we sent out an SOS and two destroyer escorts came and dropped depth charges. But most of the time it was really boring.”

Figure 21 Photograph published in the Belleville News Democrat on Saturday August 25, 1945 page 2. The caption reads: Seaman First Class Vernon R. Beaumont at his battle station on an antiaircraft gun aboard a Coast Guard manned vessel in the Pacific, helped carry the war home to the Japs.

“To break up the monotony, they initiated us when we crossed the Equator. They’d squirt a fire hose at you, make you drink castor oil, cut your hair, and spank you. One this side you were a polliwog and when you crossed you were a shellback.”

“We carried Marines from Hawaii to Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands. The Marines never got to go home. They were in one invasion. They gave them 30 days leave and then we picked them up and took them to another invasion. I remember I had to stand guard in front of the cabin door with a 45 strapped to my side. And I was under orders to keep order and not let anyone leave the area.”

“We sailed all over the Pacific Ocean mostly without any kind of escort and we never had a serious threat. We were in a convoy heading to the invasion of Okinawa when they declared the end of the War. I remember, at that time, the Japanese sank the USS Indianapolis. Our captain was a Filipino and he was extra careful. He ordered us to keep the portholes closed and the lights off just like we were still at war. Really, he was more compassionate than our American captain. He wasn’t strictly military, and he’d do anything for us. When we land in a place that wasn’t a war zone, he’d always give us liberty. He was a captain on a passenger ship before the war.”

“In Japan, we were part of the occupation forces, but all we did was patrol Yokosuka at the entrance of Tokyo Bay. You know, I never saw the Japanese people causing any problems while we were there. We went all over Japan. In Yokohama, there were hardly anything left standing. They said it was a living hell there.”

“A week after the war was over, the quartermaster and I went out to a beer garden in Yokosuka. The quartermaster drank way too much and when we were headed back to the ship, he took over a street car. He made the driver sit down, and he drove that thing all over town ringing the bell. That got me extra duty because we didn’t back until 7 hours after we were supposed to.”

“Then I came back to the states on a hospital ship. We were headed to Korea to pick up more people and ran into a typhoon. We didn’t eat for three days because it was too rough to cook. The waves were 30, 40 or 50 feet high, but I really got a kick out of it.

“I was discharged at the end of 1945 or the beginning of 1946. I was on the ocean for two and a half years, and for all that time, I got one, ten-day vacation and I flew home on a plane from San Francisco. But it turned out very good. I got to see a lot of the country, and went overseas.”

“After the war I went back to Swift & Co. and I kept getting better and better jobs. I was a pipe fitter, and then a millwright. Then I went back to school for my high school diploma and some junior college courses. I applied for a supervisor job and surprisingly got it. I supervised all the trades, and finally, after a guy retired, I supervised the welding and tin shop.

“I built our first house, 1613 N. 17 th Street, for $1,900. It took two years to build, and after spending a whole summer painting it, we decided to sell it and build a brick house. We sold the first house for $12,000 and built our second house, 1 Westwood Drive, for about the same amount. Many years later we sold it for $43,000.”

Vernon Beaumont and Helen Plogmann

Gail and Gary Beaumont


Dennis (left front), Gail, and Gary (right) Beaumont