Blain / Gill

Isabella Barnfather sounds like a character from a Charles Dickens novel, but she was real. Her birth name (at Shap in approximately 1835) is yet to be confirmed, but in the 1861 census she is recorded as living with John Barnfather (a builders labourer from Brampton) and their two children John (aged 2) and James (1 month) in Inmans Court just off Blackfriars Street in the St Cuthberts area of old Carlisle.

Ten years later in 1871 she is listed as having married Richard Blain (stonemason from Carlisle) after her first husband John Barnfather presumably died. Her son John, now aged 12, was listed; but sadly James was not.
Of course her name was now Isabella Blain, and she and Richard now had two children together, Amos aged 6 and Peter James, only 9 months old.

By 1881 they were listed once more in Inmans Court; this time with two more children Thomas aged 8 and Richard only 8 months old. While Peter at age 10 was still at school, his older brother Amos is listed as a “hawker” (someone who sells goods on the street or market).
Their father Richard is listed as a “shopkeeper” but it’s not clear where he was employed, or by whom.

In 1891 the family was listed as living at 6, Blackfriars Street. Richard senior is still a shopkeeper, Peter (20) is described as a general dealer and Thomas (18) is a butcher. Peter is recorded as being married although his wife is not listed at this residence. His wife Sarah Gill can be found living with her parents and older brother and sisters at 1, Hodgsons Court, Charlotte Street, Caldewgate. The reason for this can be presumed to be the imminent birth of their first son, George Blain, who was born at this address just after the census date of 5th April, on the 16th April 1891.

Meanwhile in 1891, John Barnfather jnr had left this household but is listed close by back in Inmans court and is a cab driver, married to Harriet (originally from Portsmouth, Hampshire) and they have a daughter Isabella aged 6, born in Gosport, Hampshire. Guessing and filling in the gaps, John had perhaps travelled, probably by sea, to one of the busiest ports in the country; there met and married Harriet prior to Isabella’s birth and for some reason decided to move to Carlisle. They then had two further children Arthur Amos and Mary Ann.

In Whitehaven in 1891 we find Amos Blain working as a postman, living with his wife Margaret and two children Isabella (born in Carlisle 4 years previously) and Amos, born while in Whitehaven. They had a son William Robert before moving back to Carlisle. Here they have 3 more children before the census records them back in St Cuthbert's Lane in 1901, where Amos is working as a cab driver, very close to his elder step brother John.