WELCOME TO THE LEECH FAMILY
Welcome to the Leech family this is the family I married into, my wonderful husband and I have been married for 37 years. Sometimes we must both reflect on how different our families are. My husband was brought up by a very paternal family, were the men ruled with bombastic tongues and women would do as they were told. On the other hand I was brought up by a very maternal family whose women were all very strong and whose men were loving and supportive. So try and imagine when I married into this family how difficult this became for all concerned. At heart I am a rebel and if I am told to do something you can more or less guarantee I will do the opposite. So what did I do that was so different, firstly, I carried on working after we married no other women had done that. Secondly I went back to work after having my first child oh dear did that cause problems. Thirdly when we had our first home I insisted on having a carpet instead of lino in our very tiny lounge oops! Sorry I mean our front room, no I don't I mean lounge. By now you can guess how things could get a bit sticky at times. However, me and my husband never really let all of this get us down and thankfully we were able to carve our own path in life.
Having said all this the women in the Leech family came across as gentle but not timid in their own way they were extremely strong and had a great sense for survival. They endured the war years with husbands fighting for the survival of their country, the women fought for the survival of their family. Times were harsh, food short and all the women in this family as far back as I can remember could produce meals out of nothing. At times, they had little or no income.
We all interpret life differently and I asked my sister-in-law how she felt about her granddad Francis Leech, she found him very strict and I think she was scared of him. On the other hand my husband adored his granddad who taught him to draw. Francis Leech in his spare time was quite an artist and we have one of his paintings dated 1909 of Dovaston Church on the wall in our dining room.
The one achievement in life that I am immensely proud of are my three boys and their families. I did manage to alter the course of the Leech family history all three of my boys take an equal role in household activities cooking, cleaning, changing nappies at least that is what I would like to think. Of course it could be that times for men have changed and their role with domestic activity has just evolved. Who knows!
WILLIAM LEECH AND MARY STONES
William Leech, born in Liverpool c1849, he married Mary Thompson Stones in Pendleton 6th November 1866 at The Parish Church of Paddington in the County of Lancaster. On their marriage they were both aged 18, William's occupation was then a Striker this was a term associated with blacksmiths. Mary's occupation was then a Factory Operative. William's father was listed on the marriage certificate as a Sawyer and his name was Thomas. Mary was born 17th October 1848 and baptised 17th November 1848 at Lancaster. Mary's mother was Alice Beck (or Beckgore) and her father was Isaac Stones. On her marriage certificate Mary's father was listed as deceased. Both their addresses were given as Temperance Place. William and Mary signed by their mark, their witnesses were George Caldwell and Caroline Caldwell.
William and Mary had four children as far as I can tell. Isaac Leech was born c1872 in Salford, Thomas Leech was born c1877 in Pendleton, Francis Leech was born 30/04/1885 at 11 Croft Road, Pendleton and Eleanor Leech was born c1889 in Pendleton.
The 1881 census shows William then living at 11 Croft Street, Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire with his wife Mary. His occupation then given as Blacksmith out of employ. He and Mary at that time had two sons Issac born c1872 and Thomas born c1877. Also living with them then was John Chapmen born c1860 and Eliza Chapman born c1862 and listed as brother-in-law and sister-in-law.
Tragically Mary died on 22nd March 1891 aged 42, her death certificate shows that she died of Morbus Cardio and General Anasarca. William was present at her death and informed the registrar 23rd March 1891. At the time of Mary's death the family where living at 6 Chapel Street, Pendleton. William's occupation was given as Striker for Blacksmith.
On the 1891 census life had changed dramatically for William he was aged 42 and listed as a Widower. He had moved his family to22 Cellar which was probably part of Ashton Street in the Civil Parish of Pendleton and the Ecclesiastical Parish of St. George. This was part of the Parliamentary Division of West Salford. William's occupation then a Blacksmith. Living with him was his son Issac aged 19 occupation Joiner and Son Thomas aged 15, occupation Moulder. Son Frank (Francis) aged 5 a scholar and Eleanor his daughter aged 2. As there was such a gap between Thomas and Francis's age the question I ask myself was there any other children. It must have been very hard bringing up the younger children. I do know that Francis was quite autocratic when he grew older perhaps now I beginning to understand why. He must have had to fend for himself quite a lot, times were tough and a female influence was probably non existence.
FRANCIS LEECH AND MARY JANE PHILLIPS
Francis Leech and Mary Jane Phillips married on 20th May 1907 at Dovaston near Kinnerley in Shropshire. Mary Jane's father was Richard Phillips and her mother was Mary (nee Benbow). The Benbow's were a very big family from the Llanfihangel, Castle Caereinion area of Montgomeryshire.
In 1911 the family where living at The Hollies, Knockin Heath, Kinnerley, Nr. Oswestry. Francis was 25 and Mary Jane 32 they had been married for 4 years. They where living with their two sons Jonathon aged 3 and Bill aged 2 and Mary Janes parents Richard and Mary Phillips. There was also a boarder John Evans.
The family moved to Pendleton, Salford sometime between 1911 and 1915 because their son Reginald was born in Salford. I also know that on 26th July 1921 the family was living at Boundary Street, Pendleton because this was mentioned in the reporting of Jonathon's death in the Salford Reporter on 30th July 1921. Sometime between 1921 and 1940 the family moved to Ellesmere, Shropshire
The photograph below shows the family taken on the 12th May 1940 the boys would have been called up for WW11 and shows from left to right Reg, Jennie, Arthur, Gertie, Bill, Mary Jane and Francis, in the front is Albert already in uniform. Arthur was not called up because he had epilepsy and sadly he died in 1944 after suffering an epileptic fit in the garden at Berwin, Elson, Ellesmere. Thankfully, Albert, Bill and Reg all returned home safely after the war.
Francis died peacefully on 15th January 1964 aged 78 at 11.30 p.m. His burial at Crewe took place at 1.30 p.m. and I do not have the date. Mary Jane lived the last few years of her life with her son Bill and daughter-in-law Gertie she lived to the age of 93. She died on the 1st November 1972 at 8.00 a.m. and burial took place on the 3rd November. The following notice was put in one of the local papers.
"LEECH - The family of the late Mrs. Mary Jane Leech wish to thank all relatives, friends and neighbours for the beautiful floral tributes and many tributes and many expressions of sympathy received in their recent bereavement. Special thanks to family doctor, nurse and staff of Arclid Hospital, also the Rev. A. W. Wright, for his ministrations. Donations to Blind Welfare - 19 Cross Road, Haslington".
The photograph below shows Mary Jane (nee Phillips) and Francis Leech in their later years enjoying a sunny afternoon in Cae Glas Park Oswestry. For more photographs check out my photo album use the link in the left hand column and click the Leech folder.
THE CHILDREN OF FRANCIS AND MARY
Jonathon Francis Leech born about 1908 at 3 Carlines TEC, Atcham, Shrewsbury he died in an accident at the age of 13 when he was playing with his brothers in sand. Reg my father-in-law remembers the day his brother died, he said they had been flying their kites he was aged six at the time. They were playing in the sand and it started to rain as the rain intensified the sand started to slide before they knew it Jonathon disappeared. Arthur was trapped by his arm and thankfully he was rescued. Reg said that they were very lucky that day that they were not all killed Jonathon's death was recorded in the Qtr of Jul/Aug/Sep 1921 at Salford. Source: GRO Vol.8d Page 27.
The Salford Reporter however, tells a different vewsion of events from the one Reg my father-in-law told. The paper printed an article 30th July, 1921, page 3, column 1 which reads:
BURIED BY SAND
DISTRESSING HOLIDAY FATALITY
"A holiday fatality is reported from Pendleton, district, a 13 year-old schoolboy, John Francis Leech, of Boundary Street, Pendleton, being suffocated by a fall of earth while playing on Thursday afternoon on the disused sand-pit adjoining Bolton Road Playing Fields.
The boy was playing along with his brother Arthur Leech. They were digging a hole in the face of the sand-pit when the upper portion of the cavity they had made fell, burying the elder boy.
His youngest brother ran away screaming, and his screams attracted an engine cleaner, Leonard Foy, aged 18, of Lister Street, Pendleton, who was passing along Duchy Road, at the foot of the sand-pit.
He found only the boy's feet protruding from the sand, but with the assistance of an engine-driver, Thomas Nolan, of Brewton Street, Pendleton managed to extricate the boy, who was, however dead on arrival at the Salford Royal Hospital."
Richard William, known as Bill Leech, born 1909 at 3 Carlines TEC, Atcham near Shrewsbury, he married Annice Gertrude (Gertie) Eccleshall. Gertie was born 11th September 1909 at Nantwich. Bill and Gertie married on 26th June 1977 and they celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary on the 26th June 1977. Gertie died on the 23rd May 1981 aged 72, her funeral service took place at Haslington Congregational church. The service was conducted by the Rev. A. Wright and followed by a committal at Crewe Crematorium. At the time of her death Gertie lived at 27 Crabmill Drive Elworth Sandbach. Bill died 13th November 1991 at Sandbach, Crewe aged 82. The photograph below was taken in June 1940 and is of Gertie and Bill.
Thomas Arthur Leech known to the family as Arthur. He was an epileptic and he died 11th November 1944 at the age of 30 this would put his year of birth as 1914. Arthur's death was due to him having a fit in the garden at Berwin, Elson which is at Ellesmere. He did not do national service because he wasn't considered fit enough as he had been an epileptic all his life. Arthur is buried at Plot G, 273 Ellesmere Cemetery and was buried 20th November 1944. Although his brother Jonathon was not buried with him there is and inscription on Arthur's grave dedicated to Jonathon.
Thank you to John Frost Caretaker of Ellesmere Cemetery for finding this information for me.
PHOTOGRAPH OF ARTHUR LEECH
Reginald Leech born 3rd September 1915 at Salford. In 1939 he was living with his family at Elson Villa, Ellesmere. This is the address given on his Licence for Heavy Goods Vehicle. Reg served in the Royal Airforce during World War Two. He was awarded the Italy Star, Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-45. He married Jennie in 1940 and was called up three months after their marriage. In January 1941 their daughter Marion was born. The photograph below was taken in the the 1950's probably in the garden of 28 Cambrian drive, Oswestry and is of Mary Jane, Jennie's mum, Reg and Jennie.
After the war and in 1946 the family were living at 5 Trimpley, Ellesmere. Marion was christened at Ellesmere Church. By June 1947 the family had moved to 49 York Street, Oswestry and this is were their son my husband was born. The family lived at York Street for several years before moving to Lloyd Street about 1965.
Reg worked as a Charge Hand at Installation Equipments, Oswestry for twenty seven years before being made redundant at the age of 59. His redundancy was a bitter blow to him. Reg managed to get a job for eighteen months with his son in law at Shropshire Coach Works as a Painter. He was made redundant for a second time and at that time a man of his age could not find a job and therefore he never worked again.
He and Jennie took the decision to retire to Towyn Nr. Abergele where they lived for another 27 years. They were both active members of two clubs in Towyn until it became too difficult to go. Reg had suffered with eye problems for several years first being diagnosed with Glaucoma and then Macular Degeneration. He became blind in one eye about 1993 and then lost the site of his other eye about 2003. This was a cruel blow and one he found very hard to accept. As Jennie's health deteriorated they found it very difficult to cope with one another. My husband and I used to travel back and to to Towyn as much as we could. I liaised with Social Services as much as I could and put in as much help as we could get. However, Social Services wanted them put in a home seven years ago and thankfully by taking on the responsibility for their care we managed to keep them in their own home. Finally in May 2005 they came to live in Warwickshire near us and we managed to keep them living independently with our support and the help of an extensive care package for another two and half years. Their son and I and their grandsons looked after them with no help from their daughter or son in law. In Febraury 2007 Reg and Jennie celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary.
When Jennie went into hospital in August after a series of mini strokes and her dementia took hold I think the realization that she was not going to come home again to take care of him, Reg started to fret. In early October he had a massive stroke. With two of them in hospital life for their son and I became even more difficult. On the 12th November after being in hospital for nearly fourteen weeks Jennie went into EMI care. That evening his son told Reg that his Mum was now being looked after and getting the care she needed. At one o'clock on the Wednesday morning we got the dreaded phone call from the hospital asking us to go in. Reg had finally slipped into his last sleep, free of pain and at peace.
The photograph above was one of the last photographs taken of Jennie and Reg. It was taken on the 10th August 2007, in celebration of Jennie's 90th birthday. On Saturday the 4th August, Jennie suffered another mini stroke and although she did not need hospital, treatment all week she was very poorly and we honestly did not think she would make her party. On the Friday morning 10th August, the carer got her up and bathed her at 12 o'clock the hairdresser came in and did her hair.
Eulogy to Jennie Leech service at The Heart of England Crematorium 8th February 2008
Jennie Kathleen Griffiths born 11th August 1917 at Brickyard Cottage Cletterwood. Jennie felt that she had a harsh upbringing she had 3 brothers Mel, Jack and Bill, and 3 sisters Gladys, Florrie and Joan, her mother would not have a lot of time for her and her father was a military man. Jennie adored her brothers especially Bill as they grew up together. She frequently had to share shoes to go to school with her brothers. At the time, it was considered more important to send her brothers to school than to send Jennie. So she could only go when her brothers had new shoes and she had her brothers cast offs.
As a thirteen year old, she would stay with her sister Gladys in Formby. Reg lodged with Gladys before he and Jennie married. She always looked up to her sister Gladys and held her in high esteem. Many times, she would say her sister had bought a house and "if Gladys can do it, so can I". In later years, she became close to Gladys' son David and his wife Ann and this meant a lot to her.
Jennie and Reg met at the Fair in Ellesmere and for her it was love at first sight. She married Reg on the 3rd February 1940 and at the time of her marriage; she was a shop assistant and gave up work on her marriage to Reg. Reg was called up three months after their marriage and Jennie became pregnant with
The early years of her marriage were tough. Jennie was a gentle person, not timid and in her own way extremely strong and she had a great sense for survival. Jennie endured the war years with her husband away fighting for the survival of his country, she fought for the survival of herself and Marion.
Times were harsh, food short and Jennie could produce meals out of nothing. Bread and meat were cut paper-thin nothing was ever wasted and if it could be stretched to go in a pie this is what she would do. The exception would be when David came home from school always hungry and then it was doorstep jam butties. Mondays were always wash-days and everything had to be washed, dried and ironed in one day. At times, she had little or no income. However she would never buy anything on credit and would always say “Beware, beware of the penny man for he is the devil in disguise.” For those that don't know who the 'Penny Man' was he was the man that would offer to lend you money for the essential items in life but when he came to collect you would pay back ten times more that you had borrowed.
Now we fast-forward to 1971, in April,
In 1972, her grandson Sean was born, followed by Dean in 1975 and in 1976 Neil was born. In the early days, she called them her three little watering cans. She would sit them on her kitchen floor with all her saucepans and her silver and wooden spoons so that they could play the drums. She knitted their cardigans and pullovers and always had an endless supply of home-baked biscuits, cakes and fruit loaves. When she came to stay with us at Christmas, she always brought loads of food goodies including a large box of crisps for her boys. These goodies were devoured as if their own mum never gave them any!! Her baking wasn’t just for her beloved grandsons when Matthew and Marion came to stay she always did a double bake!!
Jennie was an active member of Toc H in Oswestry and was always knitting or baking for their events. When Jennie and Reg took, the decision to retire to Towyn Nr. Abergele she also became an active member of the Tuesday and Wednesday club. Again knitting, baking and making cups of tea for the Sale of Work. They lived for 27 years in Towyn and this was the happiest period of their lives. This gave her grandsons holidays by the sea and their
In May 2005 Jennie and Reg were finding it to difficult to look after themselves and after much heart wrenching decided to move to Nuneaton to be near Gaynor, David and her Grandsons. For the next couple of years Jennie and Reg were happy she loved her new bungalow, she loved being near her family and she loved going across to Leonard Perkins to play bingo, cards and skittles. She loved the parties but most of all she loved being with people.
Through her grandsons, she now has three lovely granddaughters and nine beautiful great grandchildren. She would often say, “I can’t believe I have nine great grandchildren, I am a lucky woman.” This is what Jennie was about her family, her friends a loving, caring people person.
Finally, Jennie use to pray that when age caught up with her and Reg that he would go first and that she would follow quickly. Sadly, Reg passed away in November 2007 and eleven weeks to the day (Wednesday) 30th January 2008 and within one hour of one another, Jennie got her wish.
For everyone here today remember that Jennie’s life is to be celebrated we have not lost her because she gave us all so much she will be forever in our hearts.
The photograph below shows Jennie and Reg singing and clapping to the music and Jennie's 90th birthday party.
Albert Leech born 14th October 1918 in Salford, Manchester and died 16th March 1997 at Crewe aged 79. Source: GRO register number D10A, entry number 212 . Details to follow of family. (Married to Emily)
There were also twin girls that both died at birth
The photograph below is probably one of the last photographs taken of the surviving Leech brothers taken 3rd February 1990 the occasion of Reg and Jennie Leech's Golden Wedding Anniversary. From left to right Reginald Leech, Albert leech and Bill Leech.