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Jack Priestley’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Tootle Tree



ROBERT WILLIAM TOOTLE was born on 17 February 1880, probably in Padiham. He was the son of the cotton beamer William Tootle and the cotton winder Ann(ie) Redfern.

The 1881 census shows Robert, aged 1, living with his parents at 24 Pendle Street, Habergam Eaves. He went to school in Todmorden.

Ten years later, at the age of 11, the 1891 census shows him already at work as a cotton weaver. The family are living at 3 Warwick Street, in the Stonyholme ward of Burnley. By now he had three younger sisters. His mother is no longer going out to work but has taken in a boarder, another cotton weaver.

In the 1901 census, Robert, now 21, is still living at home with his parents, at 37 Nairne Street. He is a cotton twister. There are five younger sisters and a brother also at home, as well as his grandfather John Redfern, who had retired from his work as a carter.


ANNIE RILEY was born in St John’s Road, Burnley on 12 September 1879, the daughter of William Thomas Riley, a weaver, and Sarah Hargreaves, a winder.

The Riley family have not been found in the 1881 census, when Annie would have been two.

In 1891, Annie is living with her parents at 26 Roebuck Street, Habergham Eaves, Burnley. She is now the third of seven children. At the age of 11, she, like Robert, is a cotton weaver.

Her daughter Edith said Annie had an illegitimate son called Harry, who was brought up as her brother and was killed in the first world war. There was indeed a brother Harry Riley, who died in WW1, but he was only ten years younger than Annie.

In 1901 Annie was a 21-year-old cotton weaver, living at 22a St John’s Road, Lowerhouse, Burnley, with her parents, three younger sisters and two brothers. Her father has left work in the cotton mill and has become a grocer’s assistant. The family had moved away from St John’s Road some time after Annie’s birth, but have now returned there.

Robert Tootle and Annie Riley were married at Bethel Chapel (later Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church) in Burnley on 1 September 1904. Robert’s father was a founding trustee of this church. Robert was still living with his parents at 37 Nairne Streeet (spelt Mairne on the certificate). Annie’s address is again given as 22a St John’s Road, Burnley. Annie was a weaver and Robert a cotton twister. The marriage was witnessed by her sister Ada Riley and J W Wilkinson.

This photograph of the couple was taken by a Blackpool photographer, probably while Robert and Annie were on holiday there.

They had been married for four years before their first child Annie was born, in Howard Street, near the Hargher Clough Mill, on 20 April 1909.

Two years later, in the 1911 census, they had moved to Perth Street, just round the corner from Howard Street.

1911 Census. 19 Perth St, Burnley, Lancashire
Tootle, Robert William   Head           M      31      Cotton Weaver     Burnley, Lancs
Tootle, Annie                       Wife    6      M      31      Cotton Weaver     Burnley, Lancs
Tootle, Annie                       Daughter               1                                      Burnley, Lancs

The 6 after Annie’s name means that she had been married for 6 years. In spite of having a baby, Annie still worked at the cotton mill. Probably a female relation looked after Annie junior.

This first daughter was followed by Edith, born 18 April 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War.

During the war Robert became a sergeant, possibly a colour sergeant, in the East Lancashire regiment, though Janis’s version is that he worked in munitions at Chorley during the World War II. Jack tells how Robert guarded German soldiers. ‘I used to play with the iron crosses that Robert Tootle kept in the top drawer of the sideboard [now in Mark’s house]. He had been given them in exchange for cigarettes but I have never discovered what happened to them. I suspect Aunt Edith threw them out.’

After the war, he returned to his work as a weaver.

At the 1921 census the family were living in 25 Howard Street, Burnley.
Robert William Tootle  Head  41y 4m  Cotton Weaver  Brierfield Mills Ltd weaving
Annie Tootle  Wife  41y 9m  Cotton Weaver  Thomas Cowpe & Sons weaving, Hargher Clough Mill
Annie Tootle  Daughter  12y 2m  Whole Time School
Edith Tootle  Daughter  7y 2m  Whole Time School

When the girls were in their late childhood or teens, the family moved back to Perth Street, this time to number 2. This remained the family home.

Annie junior followed her father as a weaver, before marrying Harry Priestley in 1933.

Edith won a scholarship to the local grammar school, but did not take it up because of the expense of buying the school uniform. She became an office clerk for Burnley Co-op, and remained unmarried for most of her life, looking after her ageing parents in Perth Street.

Robert suffered towards the end with dementia. Although normally a gentle, courteous man, he was once found in the middle of the night, making his wife drill in her nightdress, with a broom over her shoulder, and shouting obscenities at her.

Robert died on 14 February 1956 at 75.

Annie outlived him by exactly ten years and died on 14 February 1966, probably in Burnley. She was 86. Her funeral was at Burnley crematorium.

In November 1986, at the age of 72, Edith married a widower, Harry Judson, in Burnley. The wedding had to be postponed for several months because Harry had suffered a heart attack. He died six months later.

When Edith herself began to suffer from blackouts and dementia, she was moved to Cornwall, settling finally in a home for the elderly mentally infirm in Lostwithiel, not far from her nephew Alan and Janis in Bodmin. She died there on 7 January 2002.






Tootle Tree