My granddad was Alfred Spencer, born 14 October 1904.  It has taken some time to research the Spencer family tree, mainly because the surname is not uncommon. One branch where my research has been pretty successful is the Boot branch.  Granddad’s parents were Henry Spencer and Bertha Boot.

This is Bertha’s story.

Bertha’s parents were William Boot born on 22 Jan 1850 and Sarah Greenwood, born on 1 Nov 1849.  They were married on 15 August 1869 in St Johns Church in the parish of Manchester.  The marriage certificate shows William is 20 and Sarah is 19.  It is impossible to say if Williams age was written in error, or if he deliberately provided an incorrect age – but by my reckoning he was 19; his occupation was shuttlemaker

The first census they are shown as a married couple is 1871 and they are living at 30 Hampton Street.  William has entered his age as 21 and Sarah is still 19………..this gives you some clue as to the difficulties researchers face with family history – when our ancestors were not wholly truthful in their responses

William and Sarah went on to have 3 children, William b1871, Emily b1874 and Bertha, who was born on 16 December 1877 and baptised on 22 May 1878. When Bertha was born the family were living in 12 Wilkinson Street, which was somewhere around the Oldham Road area.

Bertha’s dad William died in the early part of 1880, at the age of 29.

1881 census shows the family living at 176 Cheltenham Street.  Sarah Ann is a widow with 3 young children.  To bring in money she is working as a charwoman.  Her two daughters Emily, age 7 and Bertha, age 3 are living her – along with a lodger, Elizabeth Bamford.  William is living with his aunt Emily, Sarah’s sister, at 6 Collyhurst Street – or at least he was staying there when the census was taken on the evening of 3 April 1881.

Bertha’s mother remarried in 1882 and went on to have a further 3 children from her second marriage – Arthur b1886, Joseph b 1886 and Sarah Anne b1888.

Bertha married Henry Spencer on December 26th 1896 in the Parish Church in the Parish of St Mark, Newton Heath. Henry was 25, a greengrocer and at the time of his marriage he lived at 5 Peel Terrace. Bertha was 19.

The 1901census was taken on the night of 31 March …..

I have struggled to find Bertha in this census; I have found one possibility, there is a Bertha Spencer, age 19, listed as sister in law to the head of household. it is possible that Bertha is staying with Henry’s sister Elizabeth; the ages don’t quite match but…… is a possibility.

Henry is shown on the returns for the Manchester workhouse, Crumpsall. There was an infirmary attached to the workhouse and, based on the fact that Henry died 6 years later of TB, I have assumed that Henry is in the workhouse infirmary.

Henry and Bertha have 5 children, William Henry who was born on 14 February 1897 and died on 8 July 1897; Sarah Ellen was born on 18 September 1899 and died in July 1901. Mary Ann was born on 21 February 1902 and died on 24 October 1918, Alfred (grandad) was born on 14 October 1904 and died 12 April 1918 and Bertha who was born in February 1907, she died on 3 November 1907.

1907 was not a good year. Henry died on 29 October and is buried with his young daughter Bertha in Philips Park Cemetery in Manchester.

The 1911 census was taken on the night of 2 April

I really struggled to track down Bertha in the 1911 census, after probably years of on/off research I finally tracker her down. Bertha had remarried in 1908, to James Hyde. They had three children – May b1909, Joseph b1910 and James b1914.

Bertha was again widowed in 1917 when James Snr was killed in the first world war.

Another daughter, Jane, was born on 25 January 1921, there is no father recorded on the birth certificate. The family are living at 9 Coleridge Street, Newton Heath.

In 1939 Bertha is living with her youngest son James, at 9 Coleridge Street. James is a rubber works labourer. Annie Westhead is living next door in no 7; my understanding is that Annie and Bertha were great friends, in fact they are buried together in Philips Park Cemetery

Bertha certainly had a full life, giving birth to 9 children, 5 growing to adulthood, 2 husbands and a relationship which provided her with her youngest daughter.

Bertha died on 17th August 1954

Bertha Boot
it is possible this is Bertha and her two daughters – May and Jane.