Staffordshire & Black Country

The "Black Country" consists of a series of small villages that grew rapidly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to develop into a region that became world-famous for its heavy industry. In order to facilitate this rapid growth large numbers of people were needed to work in the factories and coal mines. Consequently, many people left behind their rural lives to move into the cities in search of their "fortunes". However, at the same time as creating great wealth for many of the factory owners, many people were forced to live in conditions that were no better than those they had left behind, and were often worse.

The poor conditions persisted throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century. An indication of the conditions can be seen in this photograph of my great-aunt Rose Rolfe (Ralph) taken in Hatton Street, Bradley in 1955.

Rose Rolfe (Ralph) in Hatton Street, Bradley in 1955

The houses in Hatton Street have now been demolished and few people live in the area.

Since the main aim of our pages is to share the findings of our family history research in the hope that others will share their findings with us, we have included a full surnames list and a family tree.

As I'm sure that many others have found before me, surnames have a remarkable number of variants and the same person's name can be spelt in a variety of different ways on different documents. In fact, just to emphasis that point, my wife's passport was once returned to her after our son's name was added for her to find that within the same passport she was both Janet DAVIS and Janet DAVIES ! The main variants we've encountered for ROLFE so far have been RALPH, RALFE, ROFFE and ROLPH, though I'm sure there are many others. For PROBERT we've been almost disappointed by discovering just one variant to which we've found a positive link - PROBERTS.