Sam Houghton in uniform
Samuel Henry HOUGHTON (1898 – 1977)

A larger, hand-tinted version of the above photo used to hang on the wall in my grandparents home and is now with my Aunt. I’d always been curious to know more about my grandfather’s experiences during the First World War but he would never speak about it. I was later able to obtain a copy of his army service records which showed that during the First World War he served as a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, seeing action in Alexandria (1915-1916) and France (1917-1919). At the end of the war, Sam received the British War Medal and Victory Medal and following discharge from the army he found employment at the Vine Chemical Works in Widnes. He married Elizabeth GIBSON in 1929. Sam died at his home in Widnes in 1977.

In the 1911 census, my grandfather Samuel Henry HOUGHTON was one of seven children of Samuel and Elizabeth HOUGHTON who had been married for 15 years. They had 8 children born alive and 8 were still living:

1911 Census (6 Foster Street, Widnes)

Samuel HOUGHTON, Head, 35, Chemical labourer, b. Widnes
Elizabeth HOUGHTON, Wife, 36, School, b. Liverpool
Charlotte Beatrice HOUGHTON, Dau, 15, At home, b. Widnes
Samuel Henry HOUGHTON, Son, 13, School, b. Widnes (<— my grandfather)
Jessie HOUGHTON, Dau, 11, School, b. Widnes
James HOUGHTON, Son, 9, School, b. Widnes
Ivy HOUGHTON, Dau, 7, School, b. Widnes
Gladys HOUGHTON, Dau, 4, School, b. Widnes
Phyliss HOUGHTON, Dau, 2, School, b. Widnes
* John MADDOCK, Son, 18, single, Chemical labourer

* For the story of John MADDOCK’s connection to the HOUGHTON family, see my page on the CUMMINGS.

In the earlier census, the family was at Midwood Street:

1901 census (103 Midwood Street, Widnes)

Samuel HOUGHTON, Head, 25, General Labourer, b. William St.
Elizabeth HOUGHTON, Wife, 25, b. Liverpool
Beatrice HOUGHTON, Dau, 5, b. Widnes
Jessie HOUGHTON, Dau, 1, b. Widnes
Samuel HOUGHTON, Son, 3, b. Widnes (<— my grandfather)

I have a fragment of Samuel HOUGHTON and Elizabeth CUMMINGS original marriage certificate that shows they were living at Midwood Street at the time of their marriage in Widnes in 1895.

wedding cert_1895
Fragment of original marriage certificate in 1895

I obtained a full copy of the certificate, which shows that Samuel was a labourer, 21 years old and living at 101 Midwood St. Widnes and that Elizabeth was 20 years old, living next door at 103 Midwood St. Samuel’s father was James HOUGHTON and Elizabeth’s was George CUMMINGS. The witnesses were William James MARTEN and Isabella CUMMINGS.

I also have an original copy of my great-grandfather Samuel HOUGHTON’s birth certificate, which shows that he was born at 10 William St, Widnes in 1876. His parents were James HOUGHTON and Elizabeth WALKER. (cf. 1891 census below)

Looking back through the earlier censuses for James and Elizabeth, I found not only them and their family but another HOUGHTON family; that of Wiliiam and his wife Ellen. In each case the two families were living just a few houses away from each other:

1891 Census (10 William Street, Widnes)

James HOUGHTON, Head, widower, 56, Chemical Labourer, b. Lancs, Newton
Samuel HOUGHTON, Son, 15, Alkali Labourer, b. Lancs, Widnes
Charlotte HOUGHTON, Dau, 12, b. Lancs, Widnes

Two houses away at 14 William Street is the family of William Houghton, also born in Newton.

1891 Census (14 William Street, Widnes)

William HOUGHTON, Head, 54, General Labourer, b. Lancs, Newton
Ellen HOUGHTON, Wife, 57, b. Lancs, Aspull
Edward HOUGHTON, Son, 24, General Labourer, b. Lancs, Widnes
Selina HOUGHTON, Dau, 22, b. Scotland

Ten years earlier, the 1881 census shows that the same two families were living just a few houses away from each other in William St, Widnes:

1881 Census (William Street, Widnes)

James HOUGHTON, Head, 46, Gen Labourer, b. Newton le Willows
Elizabeth HOUGHTON, Wife, 44, Runcorn, Cheshire
Thomas HOUGHTON, Son, 18, Gen Labourer, b. St Helens, Lancs
William J(?) HOUGHTON, Son, 8, Scholar, b. Liverpool, Lancs
Samuel HOUGHTON, Son, 4, Scholar, b. Appleton, Widnes, Lancs
Ellen HOUGHTON, Dau, 6, Scholar, b. Liverpool, Lancs
Charlotte HOUGHTON, Dau, 1, b. Appleton, Widnes, Lancs

William HOUGHTON, Head, 44, Gen Labourer, b. Newton le Willows, Lancs
Ellen HOUGHTON, Wife, 47, b. Aspul, Wigan, Lancs
James HOUGHTON, Son, 23, Gen Labourer, b. Widnes, Lancs
Edward HOUGHTON, Son, 18, Gen Labourer, b. Widnes, Lancs
Selina HOUGHTON, Dau, 12, Scholar, b. Scotland

Again, in the 1871 census, the two families in are living in adjacent houses in Liverpool; James at 4 Eaton St and William next door at number 6:

1871 Census (Eaton Street, Vauxhall, Liverpool)

James HOUGHTON, Head, 38, Labourer, b. Lancs, Newton le willows
Elizabeth HOUGHTON, Wife, 36, b. Cheshire, Runcorn
Elizabeth HOUGHTON, Dau, 13, b. Lancs, Newton le Willows
Mary A. HOUGHTON, Dau, 10, b. Lancs, Widnes
Thomas HOUGHTON, Son, 8, b. Lancs, St Helens
Sarah A. HOUGHTON, Dau, 1, b. Liverpool

William HOUGHTON, Head, 34, Labourer, b. Lancs, Newton
Ellen HOUGHTON, Wife, 37, b. Lancs, Aspul, Wigan
James HOUGHTON, Son, 13, b. Lancs, Widnes
Edward HOUGHTON, Son, 8, b. Lancs, Widnes
Mary A. HOUGHTON, Dau, 4, b. Scotland
Selina HOUGHTON, Dau, 2, b. Scotland
Ellen A. HOUGHTON, Dau, 3 months, b. Liverpool

I haven’t been able to find James or his family in the 1861 census, but William and Ellen are in Widnes:

1861 Census (School Street, Widnes)

William HOUGHTON, Head, 23, Lab copper works, b. Lancs, Newton
Ellen HOUGHTON, Wife, 27, b. Lancs, Aspull
James HOUGHTON, Son, 3, b. Lancs, Widnes
John H. HOUGHTON, Son, 2 months, b. Lancs, Widnes

The fact that in 1871 (Liverpool), 1881 (Widnes) and 1891 (Widnes), James and William’s families have lived very close to each other, and both were born in Newton, strongly suggests to me that they are related and probably brothers.

I noted that two of William and Ellen’s daughters were born in Scotland and found their birth details at the ScotlandsPeople website. These records gave Ellen’s maiden name as LOWE and additionally recorded the date and place of William and Ellen’s marriage (1857, Widnes). I ordered their marriage certificate, in which William’s father was given as James HOUGHTON, labourer. I then looked for their daughter Mary A(lice) HOUGHTON, born in Scotland, in the 1881 census and found her as the niece of Thomas BUNN, wife Jane (born in Newton, c. 1840):

1881 Census (Mill Field public house, Mill Brow, Appleton, Widnes)

Thomas BUNN, Head, 41, Licensed Victualler, b. Broadgrove(?), Worcester(?)
Jane BUNN, Wife, 41, b. Newton, Lancs
Thomas BUNN, Son, 6, b. Appleton, Widnes
Mary Alice HOUGHTON, Niece, 15, Servant, b. Glasgow

This suggested that Jane could be Ellen’s sister-in-law (i.e. William’s sister) so I looked for the marriage of Thomas BUNN to Jane HOUGHTON and found it in the IGI (1870, All Saints, Runcorn). I ordered a copy of the certificate and Jane’s father was James HOUGHTON, labourer.

Summarising so far, my great-grandfather Samuel HOUGHTON was born c. 1876 in Widnes and his father was James HOUGHTON. James, who was b. c. 1835 in Newton, may have had a younger brother, William b. c. 1837 in Newton and William had a younger sister Jane b. c. 1841, also in Newton.

We know that Samuel’s father James HOUGHTON married Elizabeth WALKER in 1856 at Frodsham Parish Church, near Runcorn and James stated that his father was Thomas HOUGHTON (deceased); Elizabeth gives her father’s name as James WALKER (deceased).

In the 1851 census of Runcorn, I found the following family that I believe is that of my great-great-grandfather James:

1851 Census (Princess Street, Runcorn)

Thomas WOODCOCK, Head, 36, Labourer at chemical works, b. Ashton
Alice WOODCOCK, Wife, 44, b. Warrington
Alice WOODCOCK, Dau, 5, b. Newton
James HOUGHTON, 16, step-son, Stone breaker at sopery, b. Newton (c. 1835)
William HOUGHTON, 14, step-son, Stone breaker at sopery, b. Newton (c. 1837)
Henry HOUGHTON, 12, step-son, Stone breaker at sopery, b. Newton (c. 1839)
Jane HOUGHTON, 10, step-dau, scholar, b. Newton
(c. 1841)

I ordered copies of the birth certificates for Henry and Jane and for both, their parents were James HOUGHTON and Alice HARDMAN. If this is the correct family then the presumption is we have an Alice HOUGHTON who was widowed and subsequently married Thomas WOODCOCK, sometime after 1841 (birth of Jane) and before 1846 (birth of Alice). I searched for and found Thomas and Alice’s marriage in 1845; Alice HOUGHTON was indeed a widow (her father’s name was given as James ORRED, weaver). I also obtained a copy of young Alice WOODCOCK’s birth certificate; her mother is Alice WOODCOCK, formerly HARDMAN which ties in with the above.

Searching through the parish registers, I found the following:

Winwick Parish Registers (St Oswald) – Marriages

James HOUGHTON married Alice HARDMAN, 8 January 1826

Newton-in-Makerfield Registers (St Peter) – Baptisms

30 Sep 1827, Thomas, son of James & Alice HOUGHTON of Newton
11 Oct 1829, John, son of James & Alice HOUGHTON of Newton
5 Aug 1832, Mary, daughter of James & Alice HOUGHTON of Newton
24 Aug 1834, James, son of James & Alice HOUGHTON of Newton
31 Jul 1836, William, son of James & Alice HOUGHTON of Newton

The two entries below were found on a visit to Newton-le-Willows public library to view their microfilm records:

8 Jul 1838 (born 7 Jun 1838), Henry, son of James & Alice HOUGHTON
9 Jul 1840, Jane, daughter of James & Alice HOUGHTON

Below is a copy of a baptism entry that we believe could be for our James:


And finally, Lynn recently provided me with a copy of a death certificate which we believe might be that of our James HOUGHTON; James died on the 21 January 1902 at 7(?) Albert Square, Widnes. He was 68 years of age and was a chemical labourer.  The informant was his son, S. HOUGHTON of 16 Bower Street, Widnes.

3 Replies to “Houghton”

  1. Hi, I came across your website when I typed in John Houghton of Bowdon in Google! I bought a desk at a local auction in Mold and found a letter to John Houghton which had accompanied a cheque from Associated British Maltsters of Newark-on-Trent dated 1930.

  2. I am trying to trace a ( Kenneth) Houghton who lived in Bromsgrove – his father was a police officer in the Midlands area – possibly Birmingham or even Staffordshire. Not sure if name of Kenneth is correct – he went to London School of Economics and during WW2 – about 1944 a-was part of the Intelligence section of the RAF and possibly worked at the Air Ministry in London. I believe he was seconded to that section due to having a knowledge of other languages. Wonder if anyone knows of this person or where I can find more information .

    1. Hi Linda, I think we’ll need more information in order to make any progress with this; do you have any idea when or where he might have been born or the names of his parents? Do you know if he had any brothers or sisters? I don’t suppose you know if he’s still alive?

      I did find a possible candidate on Ancestry: Robert Houghton is one of several people who have a Kenneth Charles Houghton in their trees. This Kenneth was born in King’s Norton, Warwickshire on 16th Dec 1920 and died in 1970. In Robert’s tree, Kenneth’s father is Charles Henry Houghton and his mother Ellen Cutler. I can find them all in the 1939 Register at 155 Cob Lane, in the Northfield/King’s Norton district of Birmingham; Kenneth’s occupation is listed as “Aircraft Apprentice at Govt. F…(last word obscured)” but his father Charles is “Assistant Managing Clerk”, which doesn’t sound like a description of someone in the police. Robert has several photos in his gallery showing Kenneth in RAF uniform. According to Robert, Kenneth married Hilda May Suckley in 1950 and he had a younger sister, Margaret.

      I also checked the 1939 Register for Houghtons who were in the police but I could only find one in the Midlands and that was James Fred Houghton of 64 Foxton Rd, Birmingham. He was a retired police constable, born in 1888.

      All the best, John

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *