Ralph Manners, the eldest son of John Manners and Margaret Simpson, was born in Bishop Auckland on 28 April 1805 and was baptised at Auckland St. Andrew on 27 October 1805. Although the Manners family were heavily involved in the mining industry in Coundon, Ralph chose a different path and would be the forefather of several generations of farmers, grocers, butchers and carpenters.
On 15 July 1825, Ralph married Mary Jolley, the daughter of John Jolley and Sarah Codling, who was born in Lanchester on 14 January 1799. The Jolley family already had ties to the Manners family as Mary’s older brother, Thomas, had married Eleanor Manners on 28 October 1815 and her niece, Sarah, would marry John Manners on 18 July 1840. Ralph and Mary would eventually go on to have nine children, including two sons named Ralph and Christopher, the start of many bearing the same forename.
On the 1841 UK census, Ralph and Margaret are listed as being the same age, 35 years, although she was actually five years older. (The UK 1841 census tended to round ages up or down). Ralph is listed as a publican and eight of their children are living with them, as well as a servant girl, Susan. The ninth and last child, Robert, would be born in 1842. By the time the 1851 UK census comes around, Ralph has become a farmer of thirty acres of land and most of the children are still at home so it is possible to see the diverging jobs. The eldest sons, George, aged 24 years, and Ralph, aged 23 years, are working in the coal mines, however they will be the last of this line to do so and eventually move into the grocery business.
The second son, John, aged 19 years, is a carpenter, a trade that will be handed down to his sons and also taken up by his younger brother, Thomas, who would found a business still trading in the area today. The other children of working age: Mary, Christopher and Ann are all engaged in farm work, while the youngest two sons, Thomas and Robert, are still at school. Ralph and Margaret had also become grandparents as their second son, Ralph, had married Mary Armour in July 1849 and their eldest child, Elizabeth, was born in January 1850. A second granddaughter, Mary, was born in April that same year to their eldest daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Robert Johnson.
On the 1861 UK census, Ralph is still listed as a farmer, however he is also a licensed victualler and the family are living in a public house called the Hare & Hounds with a servant girl, Ann. I haven’t been able to find a pub with that name in the right area so I’m guessing it no longer exists. There are only three children still living at home, Mary, aged 26 years, Thomas, aged 21 years, and Robert, aged 19 years. Thomas, a cabinet maker and joiner, founded a building business in 1860 which would eventually become T Manners & Sons Ltd and is still trading in Bishop Auckland today. The company is currently run by Thomas’ great-grandson, Robert, and his son, Simon, although it has moved from its original premises.
Ralph expanded the size of his farm to 40 acres over the next ten years and is still listed as being resident on Wharton Street on the 1871 UK census although the Hare & Hounds isn’t mentioned. All of their children have married, however none of them are living very far from their parents and numerous grandchildren have been born. Sadly, Ralph died on 10 March 1877 leaving £300 (worth just over £35,000 today) to his widow and youngest son, Robert, who is listed as an innkeeper. Mary appears in the 1881 UK census as a widow and is living with her granddaughter, Sarah Johnson, who is probably keeping house for her. Mary is living next door to her fourth son, Christopher, who is a butcher. Mary died on 11 January 1886.