Contacts, names and photos

My own family tree
Canal signpost

I thought it might help if I listed the boatman names which appear in my own family tree.  Firstly a list from my Mum's side of the family.  Included in the list are families from Knowle, Bedworth and Coventry, from Birmingham and from Wolverhampton.  If there is anyone out there who knows more about the Compton family, I would love to hear from them.  There seem to have been a lot of Compton boat families, all from the same area around Bedworth, and logic dictates, as they say.

Boatman names from my Mum's family tree
Baddeley/Badley Brooks/Brookes Cawley Clegg
Compton/Crompton Dorman Fradley Garratt
Hampson Harrison Hinman/Inman Howell
Humphries Lunt Manders Musson
Northwood Pilsbury Reynolds Salt
Seymour/Seymore Smith Statham Swift
Turton Underhill Webley/Webberley Willington
Wood Wright    


Tewkesbury Abbey

My Mum's family were what I would call "professional boatmen", but my Dad's family also turned up on the boats now and again.  One Great Uncle was a Boat Driver on the Bridgewater Canal at one of the censuses, and another Great Uncle is shown as a Boatman on his army papers.  My Great grandfather was born in Tewkesbury and baptised at Tewkesbury Abbey.  Over the course of ten years, all of his immediate family moved away from Tewkesbury, presumably to find work, but other members of the family remained in the area around Sandhurst and Maisemore, where they worked on the water as fishermen.

A shorter list here.

  • Morefield/Moorefield/Moorfield
  • Amos
  • Saul
  • Preece (Tewkesbury)
  • Lloyd (Runcorn)
  • Comley (Oldbury)


Albert Barratt
John Barratt and his son Willie

Another boatman researcher, Albert's family tree includes all of the following boat families:-

  • Thomas
  • Barratt/Barrett
  • Bannister
  • Philips
  • Jesson
  • Swift
  • Jukes
  • Till
  • Steadman
  • Cox


Great grandad Barratt

The photo above shows Albert's great grandfather John Barratt, and grandfather Willie Barratt after the family left the canals.  On the side of the cart is written "Barratt  For Hire  Newbold Moor  Licensed to carry 5".

This picture is Albert's great grandad.

In the section, "Boatmen in the News", there is an article detailing the death of John Willie Barratt, who was drowned at Deepfields in 1892Albert has sent me a photo of John Willie Barratt, which is attached to the article.

Albert can be contacted at


Stephanie Richards
Joseph Hewer

Stephanie has the following boat families in her tree :

  • BOSLEY  James Bosley of Lechlade, Gloucs (c1804-1864) Thames and Severn Canal
  • GARNER/GARDINER living Chalford, Gloucs.  Thames and Severn Canal
  • HEWER of Chalford and Latton.  Francis (1829-1914), Joseph (1857-?) and James (1880-1959)

This photograph is of Joseph Hewer, dated around 1919.


Stephanie is in the process of putting together a website about her canal ancestors, which can be found at

Joseph Hewer ran his own canal carrier business, and in 1904 he took his boat, the Staunch, through the newly reopened Thames and Severn canal  For more details, see website page: www.latton

Her e mail address is


Clare Jackson

Clare, who says she has spent over 20 years "messing around in boats" on the Murray River and its tributaries in Australia, was delighted to find some boat ancestors in her family tree, Samuel Ward (c 1735- 1771) and his son, also Samuel Ward (c1750 - 1817) who worked in the Bristol/Bath area.

I have attached a document which Clare sent me about her family tree.

The photo shows Clare driving the PB Coonawarra on the Murray River in 2002.  Her e mail address is

Samuel Ward, Bargeman (124kb)


Andy Beechey
Samuel and Hannah Beechey

For anyone who has the Beechey Canal Family on their family tree, Andy has a wealth of information dating from the 1800s to the 1960s.  A photograph of two of the Beechey family, Dorothy and Violet, who narrowly escaped from their barge when a bomb fell at the Fazeley Wharf, is featured on the "Canal Boatmen Family History" page of this site.

This picture is of Samuel and Hannah Beechey (nee Ward) on their boat.

Susan Dorsett on Umea and Rea.

Another wonderfully evocative photograph, this time of Susan Beechey nee Dorsett on board boats Umea and Rea, which likely dates from the 1960s.

Drop me a line if you can connect with Andy's family, and I will pass the details on.


Graeme Waterhouse

Graeme's family worked on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal from its early days until the 1870s.  The family lived at Moreton Banks (now Riddlesden) on the bank of the canal, close to the Woodpecker Inn.


Graeme has found his boatmen ancestors to be one of the most interesting discoveries in his family tree, and would be pleased to hear from anyone who could connect with them.

Please get in touch if you can contact with Graeme's family, and I will pass the details on.


Anthony Shaw
Rock Cottages

Anthony has a lot of data about the Morris boat family, dating back to Robert Morris b c 1804 in Coalport, and also has connections with a number of other boat families, including the Longmores and Coleys.  Interestingly, some of the Morris family lived in the Dunsley Rock Cottages - houses which were built into the cliff face.  The Stourbridge Canal ran at the bottom of the hill, and a number of other boat families lived in these cottages as well as the Morrises - the Rainbows, Patricks and Hartlands also feature in details of the properties.

If you can link to Anthony's family, please get in touch.


How newspaper articles can help

I thought I would give an example of how a newspaper article helped me to possibly extend my own family tree.  I would add, though, that any documents regarding my family history are always "work in progress", and any theories are there to be disproved!

My Gx3 Grandfather was Richard Seymour, who married twice.  One of his sons by his second wife, Mary Walker, was George Seymour b 1848.  On 10/5/1871 George Seymour married Ellen Musson in Wolverhampton, Ellen being shown as the daughter of Thomas Musson, a boatman.

In 1875, Frederick Musson, also a boatman, was involved in a particularly nasty case of child murder, and I was interested to find out whether Frederick and Ellen Musson were likely to be brother and sister.

The first document is a record of the crime from the Birmingham Post, the second is the conclusions I've attempted to draw from it.

The Wolverhampton child murder (80kb)

Sometimes with boatmen ancestors, you have to feed on scraps!

Conclusions drawn (62kb)