ROBERT JACK EARDLEY, M.D.
3366 Commodore Drive
Lexington, Kentucky 40502-3602
(606) 269-3686
Fax #: (606) 266-7317

E MAIL: robertjack@eardley.org
Web Site: http://www.eardley.org

  November 1999

 

Dear Eardley Family Member,                                                                                                                                       

Before I come to the main part of my letter to you, let me make an impassioned plea to those of you who so far have not contacted me.  I can well understand that at first many of you thought the project was in some way a scam.  This is quite understandable when we all, including myself, receive junk mail on an almost daily basis.  Those of you who have been hearing from me for almost four years know that I am bearing the cost of the project and I feel it’s been worth it.  This all started when I retired and wanted a worthwhile project which would mean something to my children, grandchildren and every person in the world who shared the name Eardley.

From small beginnings the project has now grown to enormous and monumental proportions.  The enclosed information will enable you to link into the Eardley Family which, as many of you know, began with a few families in Audley, England around the twelfth century.  Now, at last, we can really see how we are all related to each other by a common genetic heritage.  Around 500 of you have responded, but there are those of you out there who have not yet done so.  It really is so easy to help.  Just a postcard will be enough.  You don’t need a family tree.  Please just drop me a line telling me the name of your grandfather/mother - where they were born and about what year.  Of course, if you know more, please tell me.  Many people do not like writing letters.  It reminds them of school.  Well, perhaps a phone call is easier.  Just contact me by phone (US 001-606-269-3686) and I will call you back.  Again, some of you leave it to the family spokesperson - the expert in the family, and don’t do it yourself.  It’s you I want to hear from, however briefly.  This isn’t even a project for clever people - it is for every Eardley in the world wherever you’re from, whatever background.  Remember, my great grandfather Henry was a coal miner and his courage gave his descendants their chance of a new life and we all took it with both hands.  By responding, you will be helping not only me but also the Eardley family.  We can all leave a history of our family to all the Eardleys who will follow us.  Now is the time, before it is too late, as this is a ‘one off’ situation.  So please contact me, even in a small way - a minimal way, so that we can all share in the putting together the family heritage.

The Eardley Family Group get-together will take place on Saturday, July 15th at noon in Audley, Staffordshire, England.  We will assemble in St. James Church which dominates the town.  Please bring your camcorders, cameras, tape recorders, and family tree, if you have one.  Eardleys who are traveling a great distance need to make suitable arrangements, and do be aware that the year 2000 will be extra busy.

There are a number of hotels in the Stoke downtown area which are more than suitable.  The North Staffordshire Hotel has offered the Eardleys an attractive package.  Other hotels to consider are ‘The Moat”, ‘Stakis’ in Hanley, and ‘The George’ in Burslem.  Should you wish to stay in small country accommodations or bed and breakfast style, you can contact the Staffordshire Tourist Board for their brochure.  They will be most helpful.  The city of Stoke-on-Trent has been called the cradle of the Industrial Revolution and is still justly regarded as the world centre for fine china.  Tours of local factories are provided daily and excellent bargains can be obtained from adjacent retail outlets.  The countryside surrounding Stoke is attractive.  If you are having a car, trips to nearby Chester, Shrewsbury, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and Ludlow (a perfectly preserved Medieval town in Europe) are easily reached.

Returning to the letter itself, you will of course understand that it is impossible for me as a one man operation to be able to arrange the event in detail.  I believe the power of this gathering lies in its dynamic potential, the chance meetings with other Eardleys which will produce meaningful connections.  The coincidences you can share and the long lasting friendships which will spring from meeting others who share our blood links!  So I know you’ll produce a memorable day for us all.

We now have our own web site.  It can be accessed on http://www.eardley.org.  Amongst its attractive features are pictures of Audley church, the Eardley family crest, a famous Eardley tombstone, and a copy of all the Eardley letters.  A growing number of you are becoming proficient users of electric mail (e-mail) and faxed messages.  I do have both, but the method of communication which works best for me is a regular phone call or postal mail.  You can write or call me.  I will call you back.  Telephone U.S. 001-606-269-3686.  My direct relative in America, Karen Eardley-Patterson, has agreed to respond to your e-mail messages.  contact her on Kromeo@aol.com.

Since I last wrote you, the Eardley mailing list has grown.  I now have 2400 Eardley addresses worldwide.  If you will be receiving your first Eardley letter, welcome to our worldwide family group.  I look forward to hearing from you and receiving your family tree, or indeed any information you have about you ancestors.  Do please give names and dates of your ancestors.  Without this important information it is difficult to link them into the “big picture”.  Again, purely for first time recipients, please let me know if there is a history of diabetes, red hair, syndactly (skin joining the second and third toes at a higher point than the other toes.)  All of these traits are common in the Eardley family.  In order to make the operation more cost effective, future letters will be sent only to those responding at least once in the past.  I know you will agree that this makes sense.  So, let me know by making contact.

To return to the July 15th get-together, news of this is traveling throughout the area.  Stoke-on-Trent City Council is being very supportive along with the “Staffordshire Sentinel” and BBC Radio, Stoke.  Audley actually lies within Newcastle-U-Lyme and it is most appropriate that its council be given an opportunity to participate.

Some of you have suggested that we have some kind of memento of our event introduced to St. James Church,  Again, if this idea makes strong appeal to a number of you, please let me know.  Perhaps there is someone out there who would wish to coordinate this activity.  The Vicar was asked if he had any suggestions.  He indicated restoration of the prestigious east stained glass window which is  in need of repair.

Next, I turn to something new and important for all of us.  The Eardley women have been “lost” to us when they marry.  By searching the marriage records of the Eardley ladies from 1837 - 1900 I will “reclaim” them and make a list of surnames of families into which they married.  It is remarkable to appreciate how widely we have spread our Eardley genes.  Serious scholars like Professor Hey have been able to establish that Eardleys (along with Salts, Plants, and Bloors) are the four families which have appeared on a continuous basis since the 14th century.  Genetically we are one of the most profuse and widely distributed families in the entire area.  Very recently I visited the family history centre in Islington and collected the names of all the Eardley women who married from 1837 - 1900.  I have the code indices and it is my present intention to purchase these certificates.

Next, I turn to what is by far the most important and exciting development in my long stated quest to put the whole Eardley family together!  I have purchased every male marriage certificate from 1837 to 1900.  The main information is groom, bridegroom, groom’s father, marriage location and male occupations, which appear in chronological order in one of the following pages.  Now every Eardley can be a geneaological detective.  No matter where you are reading this letter - from Australia to Canada, you can be certain your ancestors appear somewhere in these lists!  If you can check your grandfather or great-grandfather back to 1900 and I have, in previous letters, explained how to do that - you will find your direct ancestors here.

Now with a little work you can start to work backwards.  Count back about 21-30 years from the year of the marriage you know belongs to you, try to spot the marriage of the groom’s father.  His occupation is a good clue, as is location.  You can also “see” other brothers of your ancestor getting married a few years before or after the marriage you are studying.  Brothers tended to marry in clusters.  Once one had married the others soon followed since they were of broadly similar age.  You do the same for the bridegroom’s father (possibly your great-great grandfather).  Occupations such as potters, miners, butchers, and so on give valuable clues when putting families together.  You will discover possible relatives when you see that your grandfather had brothers who married and you didn’t even know their names!

What I personally found fascinating is that over the centuries, communities which were somewhat “isolated” like those in North Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire would have a high degree of genetic penetration by a relatively few prolific families.  The Eardleys would be one such family.  So, when I travel to Stoke I like to consider that I must be related to almost everyone!  When we checked the Eardley ladies last month we found that they made up approximately the same number of men.  The significant difference was that as many more women remained married in their birth-area than did the men.  If we think of men as “hunter-gathers” and women as “nest-builders” at that time in our national social development, this would make a lot of sense.  As the records began in 1837 the overwhelming majority of Eardleys moved within 30 miles of Audley.  As the century closed almost half of all marriages took place much farther afield.  In the case of Eardley women there was comparatively little variation in percentage terms between 1837 and 1900.  Most women married in their place of birth, unless of course, they were taken to a new town by their parents.

Eardleys migrated during the last century as I have previously mentioned in my letters.  Some Eardleys from Ireland (descendants of people who had moved to Ireland with Lord Audley in the early 16th century) seem to have settled in Michigan, USA. Many are surprised by their English roots.  This is understandable, given the history, but it remains a fact that Eardley is a most English name.  The Utah Eardleys are all descended from four brothers from Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, who became prominent Mormons and left many descendants.  The Ohio and New Jersey Eardleys were mainly potters who left Stoke-on-Trent to work in the growing ceramic factories in East Liverpool, Ohio and Trenton, New Jersey.  A single family from Congleton, near Stoke, settled in Texas and there are now a large number of descendants in the San Antonio area.  Eardleys went to Australia from the 1840’s onward and are well established in various locations.  We believe there are about 60 families there.  Many South Africa Eardleys are more recent - they may only have settled after World War II.  Canada Eardleys seem to have mirrored migration to USA and their most frequently found locations are in the province of Ontario.

Robert Francis Eardley and I have also been working to establish a heritage link between East Liverpool and Stoke-on-Trent.  I can now announce that Stoke and East Liverpool have this relationship officially in place.  There is also a possibility that St. James, Audley and St. Stephens, East Liverpool will twin their respective parishes.  What a wonderful relationship that will be, especially in the millennium year.  All this activity further enhances our extended family and promotes cultural and friendship links, and the Eardley profile worldwide.  We can go even further.  Mr. Richard Gibbins, Managing Director of Tacklers Sports and Leisure International, Robert Francis Eardley, and I, under the aegis of North Staffordshire Chamber of Trade and Commerce, are now promoting trade links between North Staffordshire, England and East Liverpool/Pittsburgh through the offices of my cousin, Tom Hileman (another Eardley descendant) and the British American Trade Council.  All of these relationships cement the ‘big picture’ of making lasting and meaningful connections wherever Eardleys are found.

There are so many people I wish to thank.  This has been a ‘grass roots’ organization and it’s been exceptionally effective.  So in no particular order, I thank a number of people who have been supportive and without whose friendship and help our genealogical ship could not have sailed so far.  Many of their names have uncanny echoes in my own past life.

Firstly, members of the twinning association, Syd Bailey and Alan Mountford.  A Dr. Bailey was in attendance at my birth and my first ‘prom’ date was a Mountford.  Then Doug Brown and Alan Edwards, both former Lord Mayors, who have equally given their time and effort to enhance the profile of the East Liverpool-Stoke connection.  Ron Fargher and his wonderfully talented staff together with the Youth Band of Stoke and its Drama Group, which contributed so much to the July 4th celebration last year in East Liverpool, Ohio.  I thank CEO Brian Smith and Leader Barry Stockley for their encouragement for the setting in place of the ‘Heritage Link’.  A special thank you to Joanna Thomas, European Policy Office.  Ex-Lord Mayor Cath Banks for her warm hospitality.  BBC Radio’s Sam Plank and his team have been unwavering in their support and have allowed us to spread our mission both for the genealogical story and for the spreading the news about the East Liverpool cultural ties and for trade which flow from cultural links between us.  Another special thank you goes to the celebrated ‘Sentinel’ columnist John Abberley for his genuine interest and commitment to the East Liverpool link.  John is now an adopted son of East Liverpool.  More recently the North Staffordshire Chamber of Trade senior officers and Richard Gibbins of Tacklers Sports and Leisure International with Robert Francis, who are all working hard to bring about trade and tourist activities between Staffordshire and East Liverpool/Pittsburgh.

Of course my main focus remains and will always remain the putting together of the ‘Eardley Big Picture’.  However, if Eardleys can be of a wider service to our communities, then this can only be a positive.  On the American side my friends, Frank and Gretchen Dawson,  have given so much to their own community, often quietly and in the background.  As recently retired president of the largest Alumni Association in the world, 16,000 members worldwide, he has kept the goodship in East Liverpool firmly afloat and steered it softly through sometimes choppy seas.  Mayor Dolores Satow and her council have given unswerving support in our ‘Heritage Link’ project.  Glenn Waight, ex-editor of East Liverpool Review, for his brilliant articles in support of the link.  Tim Brookes, and Joan Witt for their timeless input in the historical links.  Gina Gulutz for her positive articles for the ‘Review’, the Michels, the Vardys, the Vodreys, the Waltons, and the Toots, my niece Janice, St. Stephen’s Church, the Catholic, and Methodist churches for their help in hosting.  Mr. and Mrs. Carter and their unique self-help community in the East End should be noted.  I could write a whole book about their enterprise and everyone in East Liverpool, my home town.

I was recently in Dresden, Germany with Alan Edwards and John Picken and received a most friendly welcome from the mayor and his team.  They are interested in bringing together in the year 2006 (their 800th anniversary) towns and cities worldwide who have an area, a street or any physical landmark which includes the name ‘Dresden’.  Of course Stoke has ‘Dresden’ in the south of the city.  East Liverpool had the Dresden Pottery and a number of immigrants from Dresden.  If you know of other Dresdens in your part of the world, please write or call me and let me know. 

The now Lord Mayor Reginald Booth and Lady Mayoress Shelia Booth, both have an Eardley connection.  We have documented evidence of Booths marrying Eardleys in the area and Shelia Booth has an Uncle Harold and Aunt Christine Eardley.  To cap it all, a Bill Booth was the most famous football player to emerge from East Liverpool and Lord Mayor Booth was a former semi-professional soccer player.  All these strange and uncanny coincidences continue to present themselves.  It certainly makes one think that an unseen hand is guiding these events.  But then, genealogists get so used to strange coincidences that they rarely mention them!  Member of Parliament George Stevenson, who I understand is trying to increase trade links with ‘the world at large’ and East Liverpool in particular, is another echo from the past.  Stevensons were my neighbors in my childhood.  The memories and links with Stoke are too numerous to mention, but they remain a part of my memory to this day.

I will leave you with a second reminder that the Stoke area is becoming a ‘tourist honey pot’ to quote the words of a local journalist.  The entire area (hitherto a closely guarded secret) is now opening up.  Please book early to avoid disappointment.  Spread the word and preach the gospel of togetherness for Saturday, July 15th at noon, St. James Church, Audley, England.  If everyone who says they’re coming, comes, we will fill the church. Does anyone have any comments or suggestions for the service 15th July 2000.  Does one think songs/hymns would be appropriate?

Keep your contacts, family trees and interest alive and well.  We’ll meet you in Audley at noon 15th July 2000 at St. James Church.  If you have a computer and are on the internet, check the Eardley website for further information.  http://www.eardley.org

God bless you all,

 

Robert Jack Eardley

 

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