Generations 4 (maternal branches): Biographies, Obituaries, etc

This is part 3 of my housekeeping, where I am going through each generation of ancestors to see where there are ancestry dead ends, how much information we have about each ancestor, etc. Previous posts include:

Generation 4: Maternal 2x Gt. Grandparents: Birtwistle + Holland | Hartley + ? | Marwood + McKenna | Walker + Smith

This is where I start to get deeper into my Lancashire ancestors.

Maternal > Paternal  > Paternal  > Paternal Branch: Birtwistle + Holland

There’s a reasonable length entry in Birtwistle: A Family of East Lancashire Cotton Manufacturers by W.A. Birtwistle (2001) in chapter 10 on Birtwistle and Fielding for William P.P. Birtwistle, as follows:

William Birtwistle, born 1816, the eldest son of David and Lettice Birtwistle of Great Harwood, spent his early years as an apprentice shoe maker at Whalley. However, when he was about twenty, he started hand loom weaving with the rest of the family, but it soon became apparent that hand loom weaving was a dying trade and that he ought to get involved with the manufacturing side of things. He is reported as being very affable, with an outward going personality. This asset must have helped him to get on well with other local people of influence and possibly of more means than himself.

William must have been a young man of considerable courage and ambition because, at the age of 28, he entered into partnership with Joseph Haydock, William Prestpn and his cousin, Thomas Birtwistle, and together they built St Lawrence Mill, Great Harwood in 1845. However, the partnership was dissolved in 1846, and William then joined up with William and Haworth Fielding to run the mill. William Fielding left the company in 1853 and went on to Clayton-le-Moors where he built Clayton Mills in 1854. William had control of Birtwistle and Fielding after this date, although Haworth Fielding was to remain in the partnership his death in 1861. William married Rachel Holland from Padiham in 1849, and with a young family to support he concentrated on developing his business.

In 1867, William along with Solomon Longworth and the three Thompson brothers, entered into partnership and took over Bank Mill, Great Harwood. The cotton famine of 1862-1865 had taken its toll and the Catterall family were bankrupt by 1867.

In 1867, William Birtwistle and his sons took over Saw Mill in Great Harwood. This was a weaving mill with 420 looms erected in 1856 by Moses Birtwistle, the younger brother of William, and William Brogden. Birtwistle and Brogden had got into financial difficulties and ceased trading in 1873. William Birtwistle and his sons continued to expand their interests and took over Madder Clough Mill at Clayton-le-Moors in 1880. This was a spinning and weaving mill of 20,000 mule spindles and 350 looms, build by Joseph Barnes in 1862, and run by the Madder Clough Spinning Company from 1874 until their failure in 1879. It was a mill set up to produce 50s and 70s weft, making fine quality dhooties and shirtings. It remained under the control of the Birtwistle family until 1914.

William Birtwistle began to take a less active role in the business after 1880, and left it more in the hands of the elder sons. He was now a man of substance and he is reported helping many local charities and the Wesleyan School at Butts, very near to Delph Road Mill. He also had an interest in Great Harwood Colliery, and was chairman for a while of the Great Harwood Gas Company.

In 1886, William Birtwistle and sons pulled out of the partnership with the Thompson brothers at Bank Mill, and in the same year took over the Delph Road Mill. This was a large spinning mill of 42,000 mules spindles which had been built in 1865, and run by the Great Harwood Butts Spinning Company. This mill traded as William Birtwistle and Sons. It later became the headquarters of “Birtwistle and Fielding” for the remaining years of its life.  It closed in 1968 with a loss of 500 employees, which had a serious effect on the economy of Great Harwood.

The family next ventured into Blackburn and in 1886, took over the Wensley Fold New Mills. This was a large weaving shed of 700 looms erected in 1878 on the site of the old Wensley Fold Mill. It employed 350 people and remained under the control of Birtwistle and Fielding group until its final closure in 1965.

William Birtwisle died on June 22nd 1889 at the age of 73. His death came about under rather unusual circumstances. He had been attending a gathering of local people, after the funeral of Richard Birtwistle, joiner of Great Harwood, at the Walmsley Arms Hotel. It was announced that a haystack on the farm above Lower Farm had been set alight by some children, and in rushing to the scene he collapsed and died shortly afterwards. William and Rachel had four sons, and a daughter Henrietta. The three eldest sons, Albert, Arthur and Alfred, entered the business, but Hampden died young. Henrietta married John Frederick Seddon in 1872. He was a mining engineer of some repute. and through his interest the family became involved with the Great Harwood Collier. Frederick Seddon was killed in a pony and trap accident, when accompany Doctor Cram to the scene of a mining accident to Altham Colliery.

The entry goes on to cover more about the expansion of the cotton milling business by William’s sons. The Birtwistle: A Family of East Lancashire Cotton Manufacturers book is about the various branches of the cotton mill owning Birtwistle descendants of James Birtwistle of Stoups Farm, Great Harwood, and Betty Eddleston. They are the grand parents of William Birtwistle, and this entry is from chapter 10 that covers Birtwistle and Fielding and how this branch of the family (thanks to William) were the first of all Birtwistle families to get involved with early steam powered cotton mills of Great Harwood, and how they rose to become one of the most important cotton companies in Great Harwood, Blackburn and Preston.

As an aside, the Hampden Birtwistle who died young mentioned above was apparently killed when thrown from his trap. He was also allegedly the the local lothario and my mother penned the following poem about her great uncle:

My felicitously-named
great-uncle Hampton
sowed his wild-oats wide
throughout Lancashire
and adjoining parts
of Yorkshire, thus causing
a statistically-significant blip
in the local population
but sadly, he died young
though presumably happy
when his carriage overturned
on returning from a tryst
and, not before time,
as my father said, often
and sourly, he finally got
his hampton caught.

All I know about William’s wife Rachel Holland is that she shares the same birthday as me, 18th October. And that she was born in 1819 in Padiham, Lancashire. Her father was a grocer called Thomas, who is listed as the bride’s father in the marriage certificate from the wedding to William on 23 September 1847 at St Bartholomew, Great Harwood. His father is recorded as David Birtwistle, Farmer. The witnesses were Rachel’s father Thomas and Moses Birtwistle who I am guessing is the same one mentioned in the entry above.

I haven’t seen any photographs or portraits, but I am guessing census records would show were they lived. And I am guessing we have some cousins who share these ancestors.

Maternal > Paternal  > Maternal Branch > Maternal Branch: Hartley + ?

We know from her marriage certificate that Priscilla Hartley (1834-1917) was a ‘full Spinster of Blackpool’ who married William Henry Bell, a “full Land surveyor Bachelor of Accrington” on 5th Novmember 1863 at St John the Evangelist, (Poulton-Le-Fylde?), Blackpool, Lancashire, England. Her father is listed as Ralph Hartley (Inn keeper), and his as William Bell (Tailor & Draper). The witnesses were James and Mary Astley.

What we don’t don’t is whether William Henry Bell is the father of Priscilla Hartley’s daughter Annie (our great grandmother) who was born before William and Priscilla married. No father is named on Annie’s birth certificate, nor on her marriage certificate to our great grandfather Albert Birtwistle.

This creates our first genealogical dead end.

What we also know is that Priscilla and William went on to have 7 children after their marriage. And from email correspondence we understand that Annie and 3 of her (half) siblings (James Cunliffe Bell, Henry Astley Bell and Mabel Priscilla Bell) were brought up by their aunt Mary (Hartley) who’d married the wealthy cotton manufacturer James Astley of Beardwood Hall, Blackburn. This benevolence is apparently why I, my brothers, many cousins, Birtwistle uncles and our Birtwistle granfather (James Astley Birtwistle) all have Astley as one of our middle names.

Annie’s younger brother Henry Astley Bell went on to run the Preston Mills of Birtwistle & Fielding… then run by his brother-in-law, i.e. Annie’s husband Albert Birtwiste. There is an entry for him in the Birtwistle: A Family of East Lancashire Cotton Manufacturers book. It explains that he trained as a young man at Birtwistle & Fielding in Great Harwood before moving over to Preston. After settling in Preston, he built ‘Sullom End’ near Gastang just after WW1, and it remained his home for the rest of his life. He also proved to be a very capable administrator both in business and public life – becoming a highly respected personality in Preston and was on the Council and Guild Mayor in 1922. He died in 1937 after he had just retired as leader of the council. His views on finance and administartion were held in high regard.

There are no photographs or portraits of Priscilla or William Henry Bell that I have seen, but census records may show where they lived.

Maternal > Maternal > Paternal Branch > Paternal branch: Marwood + McKenna

The maternal side of my mother’s family are Catholic.

What I know about Edward Marwood (1826-1883) and his wife Mary E McKenna (1848-1869) has been pieced together from census and other records as I explained here. A lot seems to tally but not everything so what follows could be seen as work in progress.

In short, what we now think is that our ancestor was the Edward Marwood who married Mary McKenna on the 31st May 1848 in the Roman Catholic church of St Patrick in Manchester.

According to the marriage certificate Edward was a 23 year old bachelor. He worked as a cork cutter and lived at Stanley Street in Bury. His father was Andrew Edward Marwoood, a weaver. Mary was a spinster aged 20. She lived at Stonehewer Street in Manchester. Her father was an umbrella manufacturer named Patrick McKenna.

The 1851 census shows an Edward Marward (Cork Cutter) and Mary living at 80 Darwen Street, Blackburn, Lancashire. It shows that two of their daughter were born in Bury (Mary Jane Marwood) and (Susan Marwood). There maybe birth records that link these 2 daughters to the Stanley Street address. Anyway, our great grandfather Frederick T. Marwood is also shown as son of Edward and Mary living at this address.

We’ve identified Edward and Mary as having six children.

After the death of Mary, Edward married Mary  (Livesey we think) and they had 2 children: Louisa (possibly Maude) and Thomas H.

There are other theories, so this is just a starting place.

Maternal > Maternal > Maternal Branch > Paternal branch: Walker + Smith

Through I found the Walker’s of Avenham Tower ancestors that my mother’s family had talked about:

Avenham Tower
Avenham Tower, Preston

James Walker (1828-1877) married Mary Hannah Smith (1830-1905) we think in 1851. They had 7 children we’ve identified including our great grandmother Mary Agnes (Polly) Walker. The census information shows James as a builder employing several men and boys as well as having servants.

There’s more information about my findings here and also a collections of photos kindly sent by Kathryn Neville here.

I was also kindly sent this photograph by Steve Robinson. We think it includes Polly’s sister Mary Georgina Walker, her mother Mary Hannah Smith and her mother who was also called Mary.


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