Many years ago, my father received a letter from Alfred Procter of 8 Sheppard Road, Balby, Doncaster, England. He said, "I am what remains of the Procter-McCabe brood of 14. . . and not one president."
Alfred's father was Henry Procter, born at Cantley (4 miles E of Doncaster), Yorkshire, England on 17 April 1842. His parents were John Procter and his wife, Sarah Pinder. He was the oldest of six children. Beginning in 1851, Henry was enumerated on the Doncaster, Yorkshire, England census. Doncaster is a large town with Roman origins. In 1831, there were 10,000 people living there. The railroad reached Doncaster in 1849. By 1853, the Great Northern Railway moved its engine building works to Doncaster, and became the town's main employer. It became an industrial center due to its transportation, particularly waterways; and the presence of a huge underground deep seam coal reserve. An infirmary was built in 1853. The streets were lighted with gas beginning in 1827. The first free public library opened in 1869. This was the world as Henry Procter knew it. In 1851, Henry was eight years old and living with his father. In 1861, he was 18 years old and working as a servant for Henry Stevenson.
On 11 May 1865, Henry married Mary Ann McCabe at Doncaster. Mary Ann was the daughter of Francis McCabe and his wife, Mary Moloy, who lived at 1 Milner's Yard, Doncaster. Francis was born in Longford, Ireland, and Mary was born in Leitrim. Their first two daughters, Mary Ann and Elizabeth, were also born in Ireland; Mary Ann in about 1848, and Elizabeth in 1850. It is an easy guess that it was either at Longford or Leitrim. The third child, John, born in about 1852, was born in Yorkshire, as were Catherine, Ann, Margaret, and Francis. John was born at Bentley (2 miles N of Doncaster), and the rest of the family was born at Doncaster. So sometime between Elizabeth's birth in 1850 and John's birth in 1852, the McCabe family moved from Ireland to Yorkshire, England.
Henry and Mary Ann were living at 6 Priest's Yard on the 1871 census and Henry was working as a coal dealer. Their John, was two years old, and baby Henry was just three months old. By 1881 they had moved to 7 Wright's Court, and Henry listed his occupation as "coal porter." Their family included John, Ada, Alice, and David. Finally, on the 1891 census, they were living at St. George's, Wheatley. The children at home at the time were Ada, Alice, David, Fred, Frank, and Alfred. This was the last census showing Henry as head of household.
Mary Ann was living at 12 St. Mary's Crescent at Wheatley (44 miles NW of Doncaster) in 1901. Alfred, David, Frank, and Fred were living with their mother. She worked as a laundress. To be a widow of 49 years who did wash for a living would be a hard thing. I hope that big family of hers helped her to manage.
While the census records show brief glimpses of this family over time, they do not give the full picture. With only census records, we would have to be content to identify only eight of Henry and Mary Ann's children. Alfred said there were fourteen, and that means six are missing. For a long time I didn't do anything about this problem. Then, one fall I decided to try to find them and started ordering birth certificates.
At Crane Yard, Doncaster, on 16 June 1865, Emily, a girl
At Robinson's Row, Dockin Hill, Doncaster, on 4 July 1867, George, a boy
At Doncaster, John, born 26 December 1868, from our family records
At Priest's Yard, French Gate, Doncaster, on 29 December 1870, Henry, a boy
At French Gate, Doncaster, on 30 October 1873, Jane, a girl
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 25 August 1874, Alice, a girl
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 27 August 1875, Ada, a girl
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 11 October 1879, David, a boy
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 5 January 1881, Fanny, a girl
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 1 September 1882, Percy, a boy
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 5 November 1885, Frank, a boy
At Wright's Court, High Street, Doncaster, on 6 July 1884, Fred, a boy
From Alfred's letter, "I was born in 1887, December 10th."
You can see that Emily was born just a month after they were married. She died in 1866. That left them childless. George arrived in 1866, but he died in 1867. Once again, they were childless. It wasn't until our ancestor, John, was born in 1868 that their home finally became the family place it was to become. After John, Henry arrived in 1870 and died in 1871. They were back to just John, but Mary Ann's arms weren't empty as before. They lost five children to infant death. That seems like a lot, but in earlier times it was more common. Their home began to fill up as they added Jane, Alice, Ada, and David. Fanny was born and died in 1881. A year later, they lost Percy the same way. After Percy, they had Frank, Fred, and Alfred. There is still one child missing from this picture, and I hope we find that little person.
Henry obviously died sometime after the 1891 census and before the 1901 census. A certificate would tell us the date. And Mary Ann died sometime after the 1901 census. According to Alfred's letter, which was written in 1965, all of the brothers and sisters of this family were deceased except for him. It goes without saying that the Procter McCabe posterity is a large one. Our ancestor, John, came to the United States (See John Procter, 26 December posting), but the rest of the family remained in the British Isles. I have not followed any of their trails to know who they married or what they did with their lives.