When my Grandad (the family genealogist at the time) first met my husband, who came from Hinckley in Leicestershire, he asked him if he knew the Toons.
He did know some Toons, but it turned out they were the ‘wrong ones’ and we weren’t related to them.
The Toons were a well known family in Earl Shilton, close to Hinckley.
J. Toon and Sons Ltd, a large hosiery factory, was started by Job Toon in 1850.
Job had three sons Alfred, James and Carey Job and one daughter, Matilda. Alfred and James followed Job into the firm and took over control when he died in 1889.
Alfred married Alice Harriett Smith, a sister of my great great grandmother Annie, daughters of Walter and Ann Smith of Ballingdon cum Brundon on the Essex Suffolk border, as described in a previous blog post .
It intrigues me how these two met. As nearby Sudbury had, and still has, a silk weaving industry, I wonder if this silk supplied the Toon factory and somehow a connection was made.
But I found Alice on the 1881 census boarding in Leicester along with Selina Parmenter from Great Cornard , both putting their occupation as school mistress. They were lodging with a Mr and Mrs Nichols, and Mr Nichols was a hosier, so maybe that was how they came to know each other.
(My father’s mother was born in Leicester 17 years after this census and became a school mistress, but that’s another story and some potential Leicester research for me!)
Alfred and Alice had four boys and two girls. All four boys, Carey Job (another one!), Ronald, Stanley and Gordon, joined the family firm. All four fought in the Great War, and all four came home. Gordon married and had two daughters, but died in his 30’s as did his wife.
Ronald became a local councillor, having a road named after him, but died in 1939. According to his obituary in the Leicester Mercury, 13th March 1939, he ‘had been a leading figure in the life of the Hinckley district. He was chairman of the Hinckley council and a great friend to the poor.’
My aunt and cousin can remember attending the wedding of Carey’s daughter Jean, so at that time the different branches of the family were still in touch.
Alice, Alfred’s wife, died in 1917. I was surprised to find out that in 1918 Alfred married Alice’s younger sister Jessie. I did some research after a friend I told this to exclaimed that this was illegal, and discovered that it had been until the law was changed in 1907.
You’ll remember that old Job Toon had three sons? Well, back to James, who to my further surprise, married Alice and Jessie’s sister Frances in Sudbury in 1891. There must have been something about those Smith girls!
I wondered where they were all buried. Having had success in Bury St Edmunds, and having been moved by visiting my Conlan relative’s resting places (one being Annie nee Smith) I tried to find this out. Maybe they were in Hinckley’s huge Ashby Road cemetery, where Alan’s parents and grandparents are?
Hinckley council had no record of them. Nor did the Earl Shilton parish council, but they did say that here was a small burial ground behind the United Reformed Church, previously the Methodist chapel.
I knew the Toons were Methodists and that James Toon founded the local church. So I emailed the local Methodist circuit contact, who replied that he had forwarded my enquiry on to a member who is a Toon descendant.
It turns out that this lost cousin of mine, a granddaughter of Gordon, regularly visits these graves, and she sent me photos of the gravestones, confirming that all three Smith sisters are there.
We met on a very chilly morning, exchanging much family information. What an unexpected bonus to actually meet a previously unknown relative and fill in gaps in each other’s family history knowledge . She passed on to me a photocopy of a document produced in 1950 to celebrate ‘A Century of Hosiery Manufacture ‘ from which 3 of these illustrations are taken.