Here is the story of my ancestors, who they were, where they lived and what they did. Although I believe it to be a reasonably accurate account I cannot guarantee that everybody is correctly represented and I expect that there are quite a few people I have omitted. Please feel free to contact me if you have an interest in any of the information presented.

This site is dedicated to the memory of my predecessors and everything they cherished. May the generations that follow enjoy and gain inspiration from the achievements of the past.


As a child I listened in wonder to the many tales of 'Great Grandfather Dixon'. I was told stories of 'An amazing man and salt of the earth type' and 'a real man's man' whatever all that might have meant to my young ears. I was told how on the death of his first wife at the young age of 38 Isaac Dixon had the unenviable task of raising the surviving 6 of their 9 children and he was left with no choice other than to find himself another wife to keep him and be mother to his children. So within 2 years he has re-married and with his second wife, Barbara they produce a further 6 children of which 4 survived.

A sexist story by today's standards but there was also an element of intrigue and even romance with the story of Isaac Dixon, a travelling salesman as I was told, falling in love with and marrying the rich farmers daughter, Sarah Robinson.

There was mention of the Dixons being involved in the making of 'bowtops' or 'vardas' the caravans used by romanies travelling the countryside. If I asked which of the Dixons made these no-one would ever say instead preferring to remind me that my family were 'wheelwrights' (from the 'Wright' family but this was through the marriage of Sarah Dixon to William Wright) as if this was an explanation. Not surprising then that to me the story of the Dixons were shrouded in a slight air of mystery. Now after searching through census forms and records I have a clearer idea of the Dixon and Robinson family lines.

d-16 July 1843
d-29 July 1836
d-9 Feb 1909
b-29 Nov 1851
d-1 April 1894
b-20 Aug 1853
d-2 April 1918
William Wright
circa 1882
b-23 Aug 1855
d-23 May 1939
b-12 Oct 1857
d-28 Jan 1946
Isaac R
b-22 Sep 1859
d-8 Dec 1861
b-4 Feb 1861
d-30 Nov 1861
Levi R
b-25 Jan 1863
d-4 Dec 1866
Ada Sophia
b-27 March 1865
d-19 March 1951
b-13 June 1866
d-5 Nov 1945
Barbara Louisa
b-5 Dec 1845
d-22 Dec 1891
Bertha L
b-31 Jan 1871
d-4 Dec 1871
b-24 July 1872
d-13 Feb 1956
b-28 Sep 1874
d-13 Jan 1957
Florence H
b-24 June 1877
d-26 June 1878
b-3 Dec 1879
d-7 March 1966
b-6 March 1887
d-31 July 1951

I have a copy of a letter from William Honneyman to my late uncle Jack Wright dated 20 Dec 1975:-

Dear Jack

I was very pleased to receive your letter of the 14 Dec, and interested to read all your family news.

I felt sure you would be interested in the family trees I managed to get together, the major details of which I got from my mother (who was of course your grandmother's next sister).

You mention wondering how your Great Grandfather Isaac Dixon (ii) (my grandfather) came to be in Hartlepool, and how he made his fortune. He was born in Kings Cliffe and after leaving school, he set out in business as what was known as a Tally man, going round the country villages with his pack, selling goods to farmers wives and daughters on tick, and in the course of his peregrinations, he called at the Robinson farms in Lincolnshire, where he took a fancy to Sarah Robinson, and married her. The Robinsons very staunch Calvarstie Methodists were prosperous farmers, not rich but comfortably off, some of them very much so. Sarah was the eldest daughter and her elder brother Levi was a Chemist in Alford, and in addition ran a farm, bred horses for sale, and made quite a packet. He had no children, I have a copy of his Will, in which, inter alia, he left all the residue equally divided between all his nephews and nieces, and if you study the Robinson family tree, you will see what a lot he had, Among them your Grandmother (nee Sarah Dixon) and my mother (nee Elizabeth Dixon) received each £400 odd, and of course so did their sisters Eliza, Susannah, Ada and Emily. This was a godsend in the years of depression when Sally and Lizzie's husbands were out of work.

When Isaac Dixon (ii) married Sarah Robinson he received a very substantial dowry from her family, and those being days before the Married Women's property act, Isaac naturally took control of her money, and used it to buy a shop to get up on a permanent basis. His Tallyman days were over. He thus set up in business in the High Street at Hartlepool, at that time a thriving seaport - now I'm afraid a slum of West Hartlepool, or nearly so. His first wife only had 17 years of married life, and died in 1867 in childbirth. He married again, and had a second family. He died in 1908 and my Father was Executor of his will. I was 20 years of age at that time. My Grandfather Dixon certainly did not bury his talents, but was industrious and left about £3000. As the bedrock of this was Robinson money, the first family resented, the second family sharing in the bequests. There is often dissention in familys over Wills.

My Grandfather Dixon was friendly with a local chemist, and they took up Photography when details of the process became known.

He had his own darkroom , and had to make his photographic plates. He showed me how he did it. On glass of course. There were not any to buy. Having exposed his plate in his camera, he developed it in his darkroom, and after processing he had a negative. Photo paper had not been invented then. So that to get a Positive, he made another plate, same as before and when this was dry (all done in the dark) married the second plate with the first in a holder, and exposed it to daylight a few seconds only. Thus on developing the second plate in the same way, he got a positive with the image the right way round. I have not any of his negatives, but I have positives (on glass) of his wife (Sarah) taken in 1862 and his grandparents Isaac and Sarah Rate. My problem was to take a negative from these glass positives, so that I could take positive prints on paper. I enclose for you to keep.

1  My taking a copy of photo of Isaac Rate

2  " "  " "  " " Sarah Robinson (1st Mrs Dixon) with a negative of my making of same from

3  which you can get positive copies made for your sister and others if you wish

4  my taking copies of photo of Isaac Dixon (i) and his wife (nee Eliza Rate)

all the best



The letter calls Isaac a 'tallyman'. The definition of a tallyman is 'a person who visits to collect payments on a weekly basis for goods purchased' and my mother called him a 'travelling salesman'. My research has clarified a few points. Records show Isaac Dixon as born in Pontefract, Yorkshire (not Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire). He met Sarah Robinson a farmer's daughter at Huttoft, Lincolnshire, probably whilst selling goods in the area. They were married at nearby Spilsby in 1850 and in March 1851 they are shown in the census listed as living at East Retford, Nottinghamshire. The entry is at the back of the evaluator's book and lists them as 'Travellers' living in 'Tents in the Square' together with Isaac's brother Samuel and wife. There are also others listed as servants. At the back of the evaluator's book were special pages to record persons of no fixed abode ie travellers, pedlars, hawkers. Did Sarah join Isaac and his family in the hawker's lifestyle for a little while following their marriage? I wonder if Isaac Dixon's family could be the connection with 'bowtops' and 'vardas' that my mother's family spoke of.

But what of the 'substantial dowry' from Sarah Robinson's family mentioned in the letter? Sarah's mother had died when Sarah was only 7 years old and her father, Isaac Robinson, had married Mary Rowle his second wife and subsequently Sarah's stepmother, in December 1838. He died in 1843 leaving Sarah with no actual Robinson parentage when she married in 1850. Did second wife Mary continue the family prosperity and ensure a dowry was paid to her stepdaughter?

By 1861 the family have moved to Hartlepool and Isaac is a toy dealer. The children are all listed as being born in Hartlepool, including Eliza who was born in November 1851.

Sarah died in 1867 and Isaac married Barbara Louisa Richmond in 1869. The family continued to live at 85 High Street, Hartlepool and Isaac is listed as an Insurance Agent. Isaac died on 9 February 1909 leaving a substantial amount of £3,681 0s 10d (equivalent to £325,624.95 today). The division of this money between the children of his first marriage to Sarah Robinson and the children from his marriage to Barbara Louise Richmond must have caused the family resentment mentioned in the letter.