Fred Paginton

The Paginton family came from Malmesbury in Wiltshire, where the name is still common. In the 19th century Malmesbury was a small town with  silk mills, and lace making as a cottage industry.

Fred Paginton was my great-grandfather, my maternal grandmother’s father and was still living when I was a very small child. He was born in 1857 in Malmesbury in the parish of Westport St Mary. In the 1861 Census young Fred is living at 23 Burnivale; this is an ancient street of cottages and at this time the census shows that it was lived in by poor families. The head of the household is his grandmother Martha Tanner who is 75; living with her is her daughter Esther, who appears to be unmarried and using both Tanner and Paginton as her name. The mother and daughter are both lace makers, a major trade in Malmesbury at that time. Esther’s eldest son is George 15, a silk weaver. Esther is 37, born in 1824 in Malmesbury. Her marital status is clearly complicated. In February 1846 Esther Tanner had married George Paginton, a labourer; this would fit in with the age of her son George (George William in the birth records) who was baptised in August of  the same year. There is a death record for a George Paginton aged 23 in April 1846, so it is likely she was widowed very soon after they married, although there is in no proof of this. Interestingly, in the family tree drawn up by his son-in-law, Frank Elliott Birks, there is no mention of Fred’s mother’s name and his father is noted as ‘John Paginton,’ a name that also appears on his marriage certificate.

Earlier, in the 1841 census the Tanner family were already living in Burnivale. The head of the household was Thomas Tanner, an agricultural labourer aged 50; with him is his wife, Martha and their five children: Mary (22), Thomas (20), Daniel (18), Ester (16) and Emma (14).  Emma and Daniel are witnesses to Esther’s marriage a few years later – neither bride, groom or witnesses can write their names, all make their mark.

Martha Tanner died in 1874 aged 88. In 1871 census she is living with her son Daniel, his wife Caroline (formerly Whale) and their two children Ann and John in the Burnivale, but Esther and her sons are no longer with them. In 1870 Esther married John Grey. John Grey is listed as Fred’s father in the 1871 Census; however, Fred is still called Fred Paginton and it could be that the reference is to his mother. Both John Grey and Fred are described as agricultural labourers; John is 44 and his wife in 45. There are also two young lodgers living with them, Charles, 16 and Margaret Bullock 17; described as a scholar and servant respectively. In the 1881 census a John and Hester Gray, both 55, are listed. In the death records Hester Grey (throughout the records the spelling of her forename varies)  dies aged 67 in 1893, followed by John Grey aged 78 in 1903.

Fred married in Derby in 1882. He had left Malmesbury and found work in ‘Derby Loco,’ the railway manufacturing company.  He spent the rest of his working life with that employer and lived in Derby until his death. His wife was Mary (Ann) Coaley born in Stoke Goldington, Buckinghamshire in 1862.  Her entire family appears to have moved to Derby during the 1870s – her parents, brother Thomas and sister Harriet, along with members of her more extended family.  Working as labourers and similar manual occupations, they lived in the densely built streets close to the large factories that provided work for many, including the Railway Works.  In 1900 the ‘Loco’ employed 40,000 workers producing 40 new engines a year.In the 1881 Census Fred is a boarder in the Coaley house in Shaftesbury Crescent, Derby and married his landlord’s daughter. In the 1901 Census they are listed as living in the parish of St James the Great in Derby at 17 Shaftesbury Crescent; they have three children, Ernest G Pagenton (sic) 16, Arthur Pagenton (sic) 13 and Florence A Pagenton (sic) 7. The name is wrongly spelled in the census documentation (a clerical error). Fred and Ernest are employed in the railway works as labourers.

Florence, always known as Flossie in the family, was my grandmother.  Before her marriage she worked in the Crown Derby Factory in Derby; there is still a plate in possession of one of her granddaughter’s signed by her in 1907 as her apprentice plate; she would have been around 14  at the time.  Florence married Frank  Elliott Birks b.1889, the son of a Unitarian Minister. Florence and Frank lived in the same part of Derby, initially in Pear Tree Street and later in Leacroft Road. They had a son and daughter. Fred’s other children also married and stayed in the same locality; his son Arthur died in the 1930s of a lung disorder.

Fred died in 1951 soon after the death of his wife. The couple lived in Shaftesbury Crescent in the house where they had raised their family until the end of their lives.

There are some oral memories of Fred and his family from his grand-daughter, Florence’s daughter. She was brought up a few streets away from her grandparents, and they formed part of a family circle. She recalls that her grandparents had a sheep dog possibly called Donald; Arthur, Fred’s son had seen a group of boys trying to drown it in a nearby canal and rescued it. She also notes that they had an outside toilet at the end of their garden and that the couple preferred to keep the gas lighting in the house rather than electricity. After he retired Fred continued to work well into old age; his grand-daughter recalls that he helped a local window cleaner and was used by her Uncle, William Birks, to deliver furniture from his shop in a handcart.  He loved his garden and grew vegetable in it as well as garden plants.  He was proud of his achievements, close to his children and extolled literacy.  He was a member of the Church of England – in 1887 he was baptised at St James the Lesser, close to where he lived.  He remained in good health until the end of his long life.

Fred and Mary in old age


Married at St. James’s Church on February 25th, 1882, Mr, and Mrs, Fred Paginton, of 17, Shaftesbury Crescent, Derby, are to-day astonishingly active.
Mr Paginton is nearly 90 and his wife is four years younger. When I called to see them yesterday they were both busy – Mr Paginton thawing a water pipe and his wife cooking in the little scullery.
Mrs, Paginton does most of her own housework and believes that hard work and good plain food are the basis of life’s happiness. She has worked all her life, and was a French polisher at the Carriage Works of the old Midland Railway before she married. Mr, Paginton started work in a silk mill when he was eight years old and his wage for a half day was 8d. to 9d. Later he came to Derby and worked on the railway for more than 40 years.

Three Anniversaries

They celebrated their Silver, Golden and Diamond weddings in the house in which they now live. Mrs Paginton was married in a dove grey dress and a train with yards of material in it,” but “she thinks present – day dresses are much more sensible”.
I asked Mrs, Paginton if she had a recipe for married happiness, and she said: “I think the numbers of divorces to-day are disgraceful. Every married couple have their differences, but people must just settle down and stick it for a while till things come right. It’s no good shirking responsibility. Difficulties have to be faced and they do go in time.” That is the voice of experience, and it might be listened to with profit by young people who are beginning married life.

Royal Greetings

With great pride the old couple showed me the greetings telegram, now framed, sent by the King five years ago to congratulate them on their diamond wedding.
After 65 years together they can still say with Albert Chevalier-”It don’t seem a day too much.” They have a son and daughter, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

(Transcript from press cutting in possession of family)

Ernest, Fred’s son married his cousin Eunice Paginton, who was the daughter of his elder brother (or more correctly, half–brother) George,who was by this time a successful baker in Malmesbury with at least six children. Ernest worked for the railway for his entire life and lived in a terraced house not far from his parents’ house in Derby.

LOCAL, WEDDING.-on Whit Monday, at St. Mary’s Church Westport, a wedding took place which attracted considerable interest, and the service was largely attended. The contracting parties were Miss Eunice Paginton, fifth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Paginton, of 5, Bristol street, and her cousin, Mr. Ernest George Paginton, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Paginton, of 17, Shaftesbury-Crescent Derby. The bride comes from a highly respected family of native origin. She has all her life been identified with Silver Street Congregational Sunday School and Church, and was a member of the choir. The bridegroom is a Churchman, and Silver Street being at present without a resident minister, it was arranged that the wedding should be solemnised at St. Mary’s. An unusual feature of the marriage is that both parties possess the same initials, and the bride enjoys the rare experience of entering connubial bliss without changing her name. The wedding party was conveyed to the church by motor. The bride, who was accompanied and given away by her father, wore a charming dress of ivory satin trimmed with cream silk and lace, and a hat to match trimmed tulle and with a fine lancer plume. Her only ornament was a string of pearls, and she carried a handsome shower bouquet. Her bridesmaids were Miss Nellie Paginton (sister), and Miss Flo Paginton (sister of the bridegroom), who respectively wore very pretty dresses of pale pink and pale blue, with black hats, and each was adorned with a spray of white blooms. Mr George Hulbert, of Bournemouth, officiated as best man. Among the relatives of the young couple present were Mr. and Mrs. F. Paginton (father and mother of the bridegroom), Mr. and Mrs. A Smith (Malmesbury), Mr. and Mrs. Neathes, Mr. and Mrs. Ward, and Mrs. Dyte all of Bath. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. F. R. Webb. As the wedding party later emerged from the building flowers were strewn, and the usual deluge of confetti followed. A reception was held at 5, Bristol Street, in the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Paginton entrained for Weston for a short honeymoon. Quite a number of friends and well wishers assembled at the terminus to offer their congratulations and bid God speed to the young couple, who have been the recipients of numerous and useful presents.

Transcript from newspaper cutting. Marriage took place on June 1st 1914, in the parish church of St. Mary Westport.  (In possession of family)

This is a letter written by Fred to his grand-daughter in 1951 in the possession of his great-grand-daughter

During World War II Derby was very heavily blitzed and the area where Fred and his wife lived was damaged.  His grand-daughter writes a description of an event that she still recalled vividly when she was almost 90.

My parents, little brother Alan and I lived at 16 Leacroft Road. My grandparents, Mr and Mrs Fred Paginton lived at 17 Shaftesbury Crescent, near to the Co-op. In between the two streets was Harland, Stone and Storer builder’s yard. Life there was pleasant and uneventful and then in 1939 came the war, and everything was to change for many people everywhere.

Derby had a lot of air raid warnings but the bombers seemed to mostly pass over, due it was said to the smoky mistiness which enveloped it. In 1940 the night came when all was to change. Bombs fell in our vicinity.

It was fairly late in the evening when my mother was putting my little brother to bed. I heard the drone of planes overhead. I did the sensible thing (1) – I went up to my parent’s bedroom, which faced out over the builder’s yard, and stood by the window looking out. I did not stand there long and I did not remember hearing anything, but the bedroom was lit up by a vivid green light, and I saw all the tiles of the houses in Shaftesbury Crescent which were in my sight sliding downwards. The blast must have been deflected upwards as there was no apparent damage to our house. I scurried downstairs where my parents were at the top of the cellar steps my mother holding my little brother. I said ‘The tiles have come off the roofs along by my grandma’s’. My mother said ‘I’ll have to go to them’, while my father said ‘you can’t go until the all clear’. My mother said desperately ‘stay with Alan, Audrey will come – get your coat on’.

We set off. Leacroft Road was alright. We turned into Malcolm Street and a few yards down there was activity – the way was blocked off by a big rope and various air raid wardens, police and vehicles. They told us that the road was closed. My mother said ‘my parents live in Shaftesbury Crescent and we are going to see them and nobody is going to stop us. Get under the rope Audrey’ .

They took no more notice of us and we hurried on. We passed the Co-op and the few adjoining houses looked alright. Then No. 17 – standing as normal with the front door ajar. ‘Oh look’ said my mother, ‘they have opened the door for us, Let’s go in’. I pushed the door to make way and it promptly fell flat on the floor. We walked over it and picked our way through the rabble of bits of ceiling into the living room.

I have never forgotten the scene. The room was intact, but the floor was deep in plaster from the damaged ceiling. Grandma and Grandpa, in their early eighties, were in their chairs and their old friend Mrs Katie Branson was sitting on the sofa. Grandpa was still reaching out for his glass of bitter. Grandma was in her straight wooden chair (she had rheumatism and could not get up from an easy chair) – she was still bending down to reach a bottle of Guinness and pour it into its glass. Mrs Branson was sitting on the sofa holding her glass and bottle. None of them moved or spoke. A young soldier was also in the room. He was sweeping the floor and trying to put things straight. 1 hopefully smiled at him and he responded by saying ‘1 was at Dunkirk’. We said no more, we were all shaken up really.  (As told by Audrey his grand-daughter)

I have a kind of memory loss about it, none of it seemed real. We stayed awhile not speaking, but the house was standing. I cannot remember how we coped for the rest of the night. We eventually went home, as my father and I had to be at work next morning. Mrs Branson went home, but her house was alright. My grandparent’s landlady arranged for repairs their house.

The war went on as usual but ultimately air raids became less common as the tide turned in our favour.

The houses were eventually repaired, although some of them had to be pulled down. Mr and Mrs Bill whose shop opposite my grandparents had to be pulled down were very upset by their loss. They moved to a new address but did not live for very long ­they really never recovered from their loss.

I believe that Shaftesbury Crescent is now gone, and all its memories will be forgotten. My grandparents had moved into 17 Shaftesbury Crescent when they got married in 1882. In 1914 when my mother was 21 her father planted an oak tree in his back garden, which by 1941 had grown into a large tree. 1 went to piano lessons from Mr Leslie Eccles who lived, I think, in No, 23, whose father had been reported missing in the 1 st World War, but whose body was never found like many other tens of thousands.

There is a photographic record of the bombing of Derby

There is a useful book covering Malmesbury through old photographs

This is a useful article on the history of the Derby Railway works and includes some photographs

Related family names Coaley, Haycock, Angel (various spellings), Whale and Tanner.


3 Responses to Fred Paginton

  1. Bridget Sayer says:

    Good evening,
    Firstly my sincere condolences on the loss of your father.
    I am related directly to Fred Paginton, through my mothers family. My mother is Irene Andrews (nee Paginton). her mother was Eunice Paginton and her father Ernest George Paginton.I look forward to reading more that you may discover about the family. regards Bridget Sayer (nee Andrews)

  2. Frederick paginton says:

    My name is also Frederick Paginton with middles names Derek Thomas
    My great grandfather also came from Malmesbury and moved to wales

    • jenjen999 says:


      Fred?Frederick seems to have been used by a number of Pagintons – I guess they were often cousins since families seem to like shared names. My great grandfather was simply “Fred” although much later he seems to have lengthend it to Frederick. I have always had the feeling that the stigma of illegitamacy was a bit of a shadow over him. He told his father-in-law that his father was ‘John Paginton’ but that appears to have been an explaination of his parentage rather than a truth. It is possible that his father was John Grey, the second (much later) husband of his mother – although my now extremely elderly mother says this was not the case and he left Malmesbury because of his mother’s marriage. I stil have numerous Paginton cousins in Derby – my father is Fred’s last suriving grand child. Do you know anything about your great grandfather? Jennifer Crossland

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