The Mountford Family Living in and around Smallthorne

As a child I remember being in Smallthorne with my father in the early 1950’s and him saying that half of the population of Smallthorne was named Mountford. We must have been visiting relatives as my father’s mother was a Mountford who lived in Milton, and my grandmother on my mother’s side of the family lived on Nettlebank. For some reason his comment has always stuck with me, and now having the time, and information being readily available, I decided to see if it was true. What he said wasn’t true, but it was probably the most numerous family surname in Smallthorne, as revealed in census returns and other documents. It must also be remembered that daughters who married were included in the census returns with the husband’s surname. The early census returns in most instances did not include addresses.


As a further comparison a 2002 telephone directory only lists 9 Mountfords

The numbers reflect the social changes following the industrial revolution in the mid 1800’s when houses were built to accommodate the labour force needed with the opening of Norton, Hanley Deep, and Sneyd collieries, and the iron works at Ford Green. Many of the new arrivals were farmers and coalminers from the numerous small mines dotted around the neighbouring villages, who often lived in wood and stone structures (hovels) built illegally on common land; this was particularly true of Brown Edge, Norton Green, Norton, Bemmersley, and Ball Green. Most of the families included in the above numbers can trace their forebears to the following:

  • Absalom Mountford (born 1806) coalminer and Elizabeth (nee Addison) living in Brown Edge
  • George (born 1764) farmer at Fernyhough Farm, Brown Edge, and wife Elizabeth (nee Stanyer)
  • Isaac (baptized Endon) living at Ford Green, and described in the 1841 Census as being “the proprietor of houses”,
  • Joseph (born 1753) and wife Ann (nee Brindley) living in Norton

The largest family

Samuel (1836-1905) and wife Ann (nee Shaw) – 11 children

In the 1841 Census Ford Green Farm was located at the junction of Spragg House Lane and Leek Road and farmed by John Mountford (born 1817). Mr. Mountford stated that he had been born in Norton but no record of his birth or parents has been identified. John Mountford married Mary Joynson and they had a family of 4 sons Samuel (1836-1905), John William (b 1840), Ralph (1842-1884), Hugh (1847-1883) and 2 daughters, Ann (b 1835), and Mary (b.1851).  By 1871 ownership of the farm had transferred from John to his eldest son Samuel, who with his wife Ann (nee Shaw) of Old Rode, and their 3 children, were living together along with parents John and Mary. By 1881 the parents had died, and the family of Samuel and Ann had increased to 11 children.

Mary Ellen* (1868-1917)John William* (1869-1932)
Ernest James (1871-1951) Martha J* b 1874
Arthur (1875-1946)Leonard C* (1877-1950)
Samuel* (1878-1937)Ann* b 1880
Kate C b 1882Alice* b 1885
Freda G* b 1886
* Never marries

Most of the children lived at the farm until the mid-1930’s when it was sold

Mary Ellen is buried with her parents in Smallthorne, Ernest James married Annie Wilkinson in 1921, Arthur married Ellen Ball, and in 1911 was a grocer with a shop in Smallthorne, Leonard and his unmarried sisters Martha, Ann, and Freda had moved to Brown Edge by 1939. The farmland is now covered by houses and the farmhouse is still standing.

Other large families

Frank (b1875) & Elizabeth (nee Bourne) – 8 children

Felix (b1879) & Ann (nee Bourne) – 8 Children

George (born 1838) & Elizabeth (nee Turner) 7 Children

William (born 1852) & Mary Taylor – 7 children


Whilst most of the male members moved to work in the mines and iron works a small number became shopkeepers –

Ralph and Hugh, the sons of John Mountford and his wife (of Ford Green Farm) became shopkeepers in Smallthorne and by 1871 Ralph had married Matilda Hulme, Hugh had married Mary Alice Plant, and both lived in adjacent properties at 5 & 7 Market Street Smallthorne. Ralph was a butcher and Hugh was a grocer and sadly both died at a fairly young age. Ralph, his wife, and 2-year-old son John Thomas are buried at Smallthorne. Ralph’s son (also Ralph born 1874) never married and carried on the butchery business, which had moved around the corner to Leek Road, until his death in 1936. Hugh’s son, John Henry (born 1868), lived at number 9 Market Street and was self-employed as a designer/engraver and his son Robert (born 1896) carried on the same profession. Another son of Hugh (also Hugh born 1894) was a barber living at 4 Market Street.

Arthur, the grandson of John Mountford, and his wife, Ann (nee Ball) was a grocer trading from different addresses in Smallthorne.

Joseph Mountford (born 1808) was the youngest son of George and Elizabeth (nee Stanyer) who were farmers at Fernyhough Farm, Brown Edge. Joseph married Martha Proctor and they had 11 children. Between 1841 and 1871 he was the landlord of the Duke Inn at Norton and was also a master tailor. After his death 4 of his sons moved to Smallthorne; George (born 1838) who was also a tailor married Elizabeth Turner and he continued his business on Leek Road.  John (born 1841) married Elizabeth Holdcroft and with 2 of his sons – Felix and Frank – operated a crate making business at Nettlebank. Joseph (born 1848) who married Ann Frost worked at the iron works and the family lived at various addresses in Smallthorne. Felix (born 1854) married Elizabeth Badderley and was initially a grocer at number 4 Market Street before moving to other addresses in Smallthorne.

Street name changes made in the 1950’s

Old NameNew Name
Hill StreetFell Street
King StreetKinver Street
Leek RoadFord Green Road
Market StreetAshman Street
Stanley StreetLivingstone Street
Victoria StreetRegina Street
William StreetWhatmore Street

Properties in Smallthorne occupied by Mountford family members

1861 – 1911

Address House No.
Broads Row2
Broads Row22
Camp Street56
Camp Street?
Chell Heath Road5
Chell Heath Road28
Chetwyn Street30
Chetwyn Street41
Cliffe Street4
East Terrace?
Heath Street28
Hill Street19
King Street65
King Street?
Leek Road24
Leek Road101
Leek Road110
Leek Road120
Leek Road131
Lord Street10
Market Street3
Market Street4
Market Street5
Market Street?
Market Street?
Market Street7
Market Street9
Mars Street25
Mars Street49
Mars Street?
Primitive Street?
Primitive Street2
Smith Street26
South Lord Street?
South Street23
Spragg House Lane?
Stanley Street?
Victoria Street14
Victoria Street16
William Street?
Ford Green Farm(Farm)


AddressHouse No.No. Occupants
Chell Heath Road32
Chetwyn Street42
Cliffe Street42
East Terrace414
Hayes Street42
Leek Road1013
Leek Road1103
Gardeners Arms(Pub)2
Leek Road1204
Lord Street104
Market Street43
Mars Street496
Oakview Avenue?4
Primitive Street26
Spragg House Lane?3
Unwin Street903

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