The Birley Story

Our great great great great grandmother was Mary Birley. She married Joseph Baxendale and is a Descendants of John Birley of Skippool. So I’ve been in touch with Dave Birley about our common ancestors, and I’ve put a little tree together below

John Birley
(1685 – 1733)
John Birley
(1710 – 1767)
and Elizabeth Shepherd
(1720 – 1780)
Richard Birley
(1743 – 1743)
and Alice Hornby
(1746 – 1812)
Mary Birley
(1789 – 1862)
and Joseph Baxendale
(1785 – 1872)

I’ve noticed a Richard Birley on The Peerage, guess I better see if he’s our ancestor. In the meantime, I thought this info on the Birley family I found might be of interest.

Lancashire Lantern: Lancashire Pioneers – The Birley Story:
For a period of two hundred years, the Birley family played an important part in the commercial, civic and social life of the town of Kirkham. The first to live in the town was John Birley who arrived at Poulton from Ireland in the late seventeenth century.

From relatively humble beginnings, successive generations built up a thriving sailcloth manufacturing business, the profits from which enabled them to live in considerable style in imposing residences not only in Kirkham itself, such as Hillside, but also in other parts of the Fylde, such as Bartle Hall.

In the early nineteenth century, they expanded their interests into the cotton industry which was then mushrooming in Preston, associating themselves with the Horrockses and Swainsons and further consolidating their position as leaders of the community. One of them, Edmund, became Guild Mayor of Preston in 1882.

Their cotton interests spread to Manchester and other members of the family, leaving industry behind, went into the Church and acadæmia. Their descendants travelled literally to the corners of the earth and still reside in the United States and Australia.

In Kirkham, in company with their fellow sailcloth makers, the Hornbys, Langtons and Shepherds, they took a prominent part in all aspects of the town’s life for the whole of the nineteenth century. The Birleys, however, were undoubtedly “first among equals”.

They were major employers of labour in their mills; they maintained large residences and employed large numbers of servants; they acted as members of the Board of Health and of the Board of Guardians for the town’s workhouse. They were founder-members of the Fylde Water Board and played a part in the railway development in the area.

They were also pillars of the Parish Church and the extent of their importance is shown by their imposing family tomb in St. Michael’s churchyard, Kirkham, where a total of fifty-six of them were buried between 1767 and 1940.


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