Thomas (Butcher) ORTON
Thomas (Farmer/Carpenter) ORTON
Thomas (Butcher) ORTON


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Thomas (Butcher) ORTON 52

  • Born: 3 Apr 1851-2 Apr 1852, Wood Street, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicester 53
  • Christened: 2 Nov 1853 ?, Ashby de la Zouch, Leicester, England 54
  • Marriage (1): Clara MINISTER on 2 Aug 1875 in Weston-Longville, Norfolk 50
  • Marriage (2): Julia MINISTER in Dec 1882 in Christchurch, Hampshire 51
  • Died: 29 Sep 1896, Cairns, Queensland at age 45 55

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Thomas as born in Wood Street, Ashby de la Zouch, on Monday, 25th October 1852. His great-great-grand daughter visited the area in 2004.

Interestingly, on Thomas' death certificate, it was calculated that he was born on the 7th October 1852.

This view shows the slight upward rise in Wood Street.

This view shows the slight downward slope the other way in Wood Street.

The ancient market town of Ashby de la Zouch in North West Leicestershire is about as far away from the sea as it is possible to get in Great Britain which is probably why some wags earlier in the century saw fit to write a music-hall song with the title " Ashby de la Zouch by the Sea ".

It is probable that there was a settlement in the area in Roman times. There was certainly a manor of Ashby at the time of the Norman invasion which the Domesday Book valued at the princely sum of ten shillings.

The name Ashby is Saxon and simply means "Homestead where Ash Trees Grow". In 1160 a Norman nobleman, Alain de Parrhoet la Zouch inherited the manor and his name was added making Ashby de la Zouch.

The Hastings Tower Ashby Castle is the setting for an important scene from Walter Scott's novel, "Ivanhoe". In a tournament held there Ivanhoe and Robin Hood both won fame. Occasional mock tournaments are still held in the remains of the Castle.

Sir William Hastings built the castle in the early 15th century. During the Civil War it was a Royalist stronghold. It was beseiged in 1644 by Parliamentary forces and surrendered in 1646. Cromwell's forces slighted (or partially destroyed) the castle. From time to time the Sealed Knot re-enact the battles of the Civil War in the castle grounds.

In the 19th century Ashby became a spa town. The water had to be imported from the nearby village of Moira (where it had been discovered in a coal mine!) Cook's Tours used to run trips to Ashby for people to "take the waters". The Ivanhoe Baths was a magnificent building consisting of Pump Rooms and Ballroom, Billiard Room and Card Room. Many of the Georgian style buildings in the town were built to accomodate visitors to the Baths. There was also a swimming pool which was used as late as 1920. The buildings were demolished in 1962.

Thomas was living with his father, Thomas Senior, his mother Frances, and his younger brother William at the time of the 1861 British Census, 2nd April.

Thomas was a scholar, nine years old. As was his younger brother William, seven years old.

Thomas' parents were sixty-five and forty-eight years old, respectively.

Thomas was a butcher, as noted on his marriage certificate of 2 August, 1875.

This photograph shows the village hall at Orton, Leicester.

The ORTON family is recorded in the 1881 British Census as follows:

The Orton residence is listed as Nottingham Road, in the Census Place of Ashby De La Zouch, Leicester, England.

Thomas ORTON; Head; Farmer of 124 acres, employing 1 Labourer and 1 Lad; Married; 28 years old: Male; born Ashby De La Zouch, Leicester, England

Clare ORTON: Wife; occupation is Farmers Wife; Married; 26 years old; Female; birthplace Thurlton, Norfolk, England

Edith Mary ORTON; Daughter; occupation is Farmers Daughter; Unmarried; 5 years old; Female; birthplace is Burton on Wolds, Leicester, England

Emily Frances ORTON; Daughter; occupation is Farmers Daughter; Unmarried; 4 years old; Female; birthplace is Ashby De La Zouch, Leicester, England

Emma ROBY; Servant; occupation Servant; Unmarried; 13 years old; Female; birthplace is Ashby De La Zouch, Leicester, England.

The photograph here shows Ashby De La Zouch castle, or what's left of it.

On 22 October 1881, Thomas' wife, Clara, was killed in a railway accident at Desford.

It is family history that Clara Orton was killed in "a big railway accident".

At the time of Clara's accident, Thomas is reported in the London Times as being a fishmonger.

Julia Minister is named as one of the witnesses to the marriage of Clara and Thomas, and it is presumed that this is one of Clara's sisters. Julia Minister and Thomas Orton were married late in 1882, in Christchurch, Hampshire.

Christchurch district, as such, was created by the English Authorities on 1st July 1837. Sub-districts are Bournemouth and Christchurch. Included areas are Bournemouth, Christchurch, Christchurch East, Highcliffe, Holdenhurst, Hurn, Pokesdown, Sopley, Southbourne, Winton.

Clara's sister, Julia,was to become "Aunt Ju", who was remembered fondly by the Smallwood Family very much later, after her passing away.

Thomas and Julia brought his two girls from Glasgow to Brisbane on the only means of transport in those days, a boat. The "Kincardineshire" departed Glasgow on 10 August 1883, and arrived in Brisbane on 10 November 1883, a journey of exactly three months.

The passenger list show his little family as Thomas, 30; Julia, 25; Edith M. 7; and Emily F. 6.

Notes from the log of the "Kincardineshire" reveal the following interesting death statistics on this particular journey. Of 202 English passengers, 6 died. Of 215 Scottish passengers, 2 died. And of the 28 Irish passengers, there was 1 birth, bringing their total up.

Thomas Orton is recorded as a butcher in 1897, the year of his daughter Emily Frances' marriage to Murdoch McLean.


Thomas married Clara MINISTER, daughter of Edward MINISTER and Mary Ann HALL, on 2 Aug 1875 in Weston-Longville, Norfolk.50 (Clara MINISTER was born 4th June 1853 in Thurlton, Norfolk, England 37 and died on 22 Oct 1881 in Desford West Junction, near Leicester 61.)


Thomas next married Julia MINISTER, daughter of Edward MINISTER and Mary Ann HALL, in Dec 1882 in Christchurch, Hampshire.51 (Julia MINISTER was born on 29 May 1857 in Weston, Norfolk 37 and died on 23 Jan 1934 in Queensland Country 62.)

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