Mary Jane Wilson was the twin sister of my great-great grandmother, Ann Elizabeth (Lizzie) Wilson Green. Daughters of Newark Wilson and Hannah (nee Wood), they were born at Cowl House, west Bransdale, 21 March 1856. An older brother, George, had been born in 1846.
Mary Jane died at the age of 43 on the 7th of January at Westerdale House farm, Huttons Ambo, NRY, England and was buried in St. Margaret’s Parish Church, Huttons Ambo. Daughter Mary (nicknamed Polly) had died shortly before, in the same year, and father and husband, William Atkinson, mourned sadly: – “I’ve lost me wife and me daughter – and I dunna know what I’m gonna do.”
When my father and I visited Yorkshire’s North Riding in the late 1980’s, we visited the Blue Ball pub in Malton. We had been directed there by cousin, Phyllis West, an Atkinson descendant who had informed us of relative Billy Wood’s proprietorship there, even though he was a tea-totaler. We went to check it out. On the wall, above our hearty pub meal, as I looked up and remarked suddenly and excitedly to my Dad, was a huge portrait that we instantly recognized. It was of Mary Jane Atkinson and must have about 3 feet X 2 feet in size. I recognized it because we had the smaller 2 X 4 in. portrait above that before her death had been left to my Dad by his mother in Canada.
I offered to purchase the pub portrait but the pub owner would not sell. ‘Where did you get it?’ I asked. He said it had been found along with many other pictures in the upstairs a and attic of the pub’s old and adjoining carriage house. Wandering through the several low, small rooms of the pub and looking at scores of ancient photos on the walls we could not help but wonder how many them were portraying our very own ancestors from decades – even a century or so, gone by. In a subsequent visit to Yorkshire, I returned to see Mary Jane at the Malton pub only to learn the establishment was under new management and that the prior owner had absconded without paying rent or bills, and removing and taking with him all of the old photos. I was not happy.
William Atkinson was from the remote Bhonfield Ghyl (various spellings) farm between Bransdale and Helmsley, near Carlton – the land stretching out and west towards Bilsdale where Atkinsons have lived for centuries. William and Mary Jane later moved from the Ghyl to farm at Westerdale House in Huttons Ambo, adjacent to Welburn Lane Farm where the Greens were to later join them, the latter farming there also before emigrating to Canada in 1906.
The children of William Atkinson and Mary Jane Wilson were:
Henry Atkinson 1877–1942
William Atkinson 1879–1957
Mary (Polly) Hannah Atkinson 1881–1900
Ann Elizabeth Atkinson 1884–1971
Alice Jane Atkinson 1887–1958