The life and times of my great grand-aunt Fanny Dinnis (2)

Thanks to information gained from the England Census in 1851 it is possible to confirm Fanny was aged 5 in this year and two more children had been added to the family. Harry was born in 1848 and Charlotte Harriet in 1850. They had moved to number 18 Ship Street, and Uncle James was staying with them (John Dinnis’s brother) working as a general labourer.

1851 England Census

1851 England Census

Ten years later, the 1861 England Census shows the family had moved around the corner to number 3, Old Steine, and John Dinnis was the Cook and Publican at the Queens Head. Fanny was 15, and another little boy had been born to the family – George, born in 1854, who would go on to become my great grandfather.

Another ten years passes and the next Census (1871) shows that the family had moved up to Islington in London. The older children (Catherine Ann and John Henry) had moved on and had families of their own. Fanny was 25, working as a Milliner. Milliners were workers in the hat trade, and in the publication ‘Discover your family’s Occupations’ it mentions that “Many of the enhancements for hats were locally made. For example, the silk weaving industry grew up in Spitalfields in Middlesex because of the close proximity to the hat trade, which had established itself in Islington.”

The next information comes from the London, England, Marriages and Banns 1754 – 1921 index, when we see that on the 9 December 1876 Fanny Dinnis married John William Forbes at St Andrews Church, Islington.

Marriage of Fanny Dinnis to John William Forbes

Marriage of Fanny Dinnis to John William Forbes

This shows that John Forbes was working as a Compositor, living at 39 Albion Grove, and Fanny was ‘the girl next door’ at 37 Albion Grove. The two witness signatures are John Henry Dinnis and Charlotte Harriet Dinnis.

I have been trying to find what a ‘Compositor’ did for a living but have drawn a blank so far. I think it’s something to do with Printing, which interests me as it’s the closest I have come to finding someone in the past who shares my interests today. If anyone could give me a simple explanation of this occupation, that would be great!


About Jackie Dinnis

Welcome to my blog where I am enjoying meeting my family - past and present - one at a time. Join me as I learn who my ancestors were, where they lived, what their occupations were and what everyday life was like for them.
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6 Responses to The life and times of my great grand-aunt Fanny Dinnis (2)

  1. Hi Jackie! I’m loving reading your blog, as usual – it’s great to see you posting here again 🙂

    About a compositor…my Dad used to work in the print trade many moons ago, and I think it’s another name for a typesetter. So the person that would be setting the letter blocks into the frames, to make the words, and which are then inked and used to print from.

    If you’ve not been before, I would totally recommend going out to Amberley Musuem and Heritage Centre, out near Arundel in Sussex. I went there with my Mum last year and it’s wonderful, but I mention it now because among many other great things there, they also have a working old-style print workshop. It is usually manned with extremely knowledgeable volunteers, who do demonstrations and are more than happy to chat about what they are doing, printing and what the old presses etc. do. When we were there, one of the guys actually made some lead type for us, and demonstrated how it would be set. It was fascinating and I’d bet on them being able to answer questions you have about it all !

    • Oh Jemma, thank you so much for that! I have been to Amberley but many, many years ago, so it’s definitely time for another visit! Do you know if you can get there using public transport as I don’t drive? I would love to see the old presses, it sounds like such a time consuming job – I wonder what my ancestors would have made of computers and the printing process today? I quite like the thought of taking time over each word! Thank you again!

      • My pleasure Jackie! Thrilled to help 🙂

        There’s a railways station in Amberley, and I had a quick check and there’s a train an hour from Brighton to Amberley, changing at Barnham (and hourly back again). It takes about 1 hour to 1hour 15 mins by train. Looks like it might be only £11 return too, off-peak.

        Shame I’m not home in the UK this summer, as I’d have gone with you! Could’ve driven us there, with my Mum too 😀 We’ll have to meet up one day, when we’re feeling brave enough!! xx

      • Jemma, thank you so much for your reply. I’ll have to see if I can manage to get to Amberley, I’d really like to go there! And yes, when you’re next in Brighton let me know and we’ll try and meet up 🙂 That would be lovely xx

  2. Patty Levy says:

    Jackie, this is a website to help you look up old Occupations! . I was a Printer for several years! I started as a teenager using the old hand fed press feeding Christmas Cards. Then I graduated up to the Heidelberg Windmill Letterpress for Christmas Cards then onto the AB Dick offset printing press and I did Wedding Invitations using powder and heating element to raising ink over the powder to give the raised lettering effect! My #3 son Christopher is a screen printer mostly for T-shirts. It must run in the Family!

    • Patty, this is amazing! Obviously printing does run in the family, it’s a real link with the past. Thank you for the link, very interesting. I know nothing about printing, but love the sound of the old hand fed presses.

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