Further to my recent The Astley Connection? post, my cousin Hamish MacLaren has been in touch to say that the mysterious Mrs Astley was our great great great Aunt Mary Hartley, Pricilla Hartly‘s sister. He’d found the whole email that Debbie Hughes had sent him. Mary Hartley had married James Astley of Bearwood Hall. His family had made their fortune from a mixture of textiles and groceries.
As mentioned before, our great great grandmother Annie Mary Hartley (aka Annie Astley Bell) and her (half?) brother Henry Bell are shown to be living at the house of her aunt Mary (née Hartley) and her husband James Astley in the 1881 census. By the 1891 Census Annie is already married, but three of her Bell (half?) siblings are shown to be living at Beardwood Hall, Blackburn, with Mary and James Astley:
Beardwood Hall, Blackburn.
James Astley head marr. 56 Living on own means Blackburn
Mary Astley wife 57 Blackburn
Ralph Bell nephew 25 Solictor Accrington
Henry Bell nephew 20 Cotton Manufacturer Accrington
Bertha A. Bell niece 19 Accrington
Hilda Birtwistle visitor 3 Gt. Harwood
Amy Birtwistle visitor 5 Gt. Harwood
James A. Birtwistle visitor 2 Gt. Harwood.
This tallies with the story told to Hamish by John Grayling that I mentioned in the previous post, and it’s interesting to see that our Grandfather James A. Birtwistle (aka Nebby) is also visiting at the time of the census with his sisters Amy and Hilda, which shows how close the Birtwistle and Astley families were.
Hamish basically agrees with my theory about Annie Marie Hartley being the natural daughter of Priscilla Hartley and possibly William Henry Bell. He was wondering where John Grayling had got the name Hargeaves from, and if Annie (or even her mother Priscilla) had a first marriage before, but her marriage in 1863 she is described as “full Spinster”, so he suppose that rules that out, perhaps. Obviously, Annie’s birth certificate might shed some light on this, but maybe not.
Hamish also found record of the marriage of William Henry Bell & Priscilla Hartley. Although it shows a different location from Fylde, Lancs. as Debbie Hughes suggested, but he think Poulton-Le-Fylde is the part of Blackpool the church is in.
Marriage: 5 Nov 1863 St John the Evangelist, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
William Henry Bell – full Land surveyor Bachelor of Accrington
Priscilla Hartley – full Spinster of Blackpool
Groom’s Father: William Bell, Tailor & Draper
Bride’s Father: Ralph Hartley, Inn keeper
Witness: James Astley; Mary Astley
Married by: Robert Roe
Register: Marriages 1836 – 1872, Page 94, Entry 188
Source: LDS Film 1526144
Marriages at St John the Evangelist in the Parish of Blackpool
Marriages recorded in the Register for the years 1836 – 1872
So we know have some idea about how the Astley Connection came about. We also know a bit our Hartley family ancestors and even a bit about the Bells and Astleys, but Annie Mary Hartley’s father is still a mystery.