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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, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Priestley Tree



LUKE COLLINGE was born in Newchurch, the son of James Collinge and, probably, Sally Shepherd. He was baptised at St John the Evangelist in Bacup on 13 April 1803. He appears to be the second child in a family of seven.

His father was a farmer. While other siblings went into the cotton mills, Luke followed his father to work on the land.

He married at the late age of 35. He stated that he was a bachelor, so this was definitely his first marriage.


GRACE SPEAK was the daughter of Abraham Speak and Mary Pickles. She was born at Stansfield near Todmorden, on 17 June 1819. Her father was a hand-loom weaver.

Her family were non-conformists. She underwent baptism on 14 July 1828 at Myrtle Grove Independent Church, Todmorden, when she was nine. Her sister Sally, who was 10 months old, was baptised on the same day. Nine is rather young for believer’s baptism, and 10 months later than normal for infant baptism. The family had probably previously been attending a Baptist chapel, which did not practise infant baptism, and then moved to this Independent church, which did.

Grace had three younger sisters. There is an 8- year gap between Grace and Sally, so there may have been other siblings who died young.

At the time of her marriage she was a weaver, but probably working in a mill, rather than hand-weaving. She would have been around 19 and is recorded on the certificate as a minor.


Luke Collinge and Grace Speak married at St Nicholas church in Newchurch on 20 August 1838.

At his marriage, at the rather late age of 35, Luke gave his occupation, and that of his father James, as farmer. His address is the same as that of his 19-year-old bride. They were living at Old Meadow, which may have been his father’s farm. Old Meadows Road runs more or less parallel with Burnley Road. It is on the eastern side of Bacup, between Bacup and Weir. Old Meadow was probably west of Christ Church, where Old Meadow Colliery is marked on the 1890 OS map. It was probably farmland before that. 19-year-old Grace was, like her father Abraham, a weaver.

The witnesses were Abraham Stott and John Stott, both churchwardens.


Their first child was John, born in Newchurch 1839-40.

1841 Census. Parack Lumb in the Township of Newchurch.

Collinge Luke    age 35 years  Labourer  born Lancashire.
Collinge Grace  age 20 years                    born Lancashire.
Collinge John         age 1 year                         born Lancashire.

Parrock Lumb is approx 1 mile from the centre of Bacup on the Todmorden Road between Higher Change and Sharnyford (less than a mile from Old Meadow)

Three more children were born;

Mary Ann, Third quarter 1841
Abraham, Second or third quarter 1846
Sarah, Fourth quarter 1848


1851 Census. 213 Laneside Bacup
Luke Collenge
       head  m age 48  occupation ?  born Newchurch
Grace Collenge     wife  m  age 32                          born Stansfield Yorkshire (Todmorden)
John Collenge            son   u   age 10  scholar            born Newchurch
Mary Ann Collenge  dau   u   age 9                             born Newchurch
Abraham Collenge    son   u   age 4                             born Newchurch
Sarah Collenge          dau   u   age 2                             born Newchurch

Lane Side is marked on the first edition OS map of Bacup, behind Christ Church and just across the fields from Higher Change, where the Priestleys later lived. Grace was no longer in employment. Luke’s occupation is difficult to read. It appears to say ‘Dule Feeder’. A ‘feeder’ can mean a herdsman. The meaning of the first word remains unclear. Whatever the true meaning, Luke was no longer a farmer, in the sense of working his own land.

Sarah appears to have died, or gone to live with other relatives, between 1851 and 1861. She does not appear in the next census. Her death registration has not been found.

Another three children were born:

James, Third quarter 1851
Ruth, Second quarter 1854
Luke, First quarter of 1856
William, Third quarter 1858


By 1861 the family were back at 157 Old Meadow, Bacup.

1861 Census.  157 Old Meadows, Bacup
Luke Collinge
     head  m  58  ag lab                                     born Newchurch
Grace Collinge   wife   m  42                                                  born Stansfield, Yorkshire
John Collinge          son     u   21  cotton power loom weaver  born Newchurch
Abraham Collinge  son     u   14  cotton factory worker          born Newchurch
James Collinge       son     u     9   cotton factory worker         born Newchurch
Ruth Collinge    dau     u     7                                                   born Newchurch
Luke Collinge         son     u     5                                                   born Newchurch
William Collinge     son     u     2                                                   born Newchurch

58-year-old Luke was now an agricultural labourer. Mary Ann had died or left home.


On 6 Aug 1864, their eldest son John married Martha Ashworth in Bacup.

Luke died at 66 in the fourth quarter of 1869.


By the 1871 census, the household was considerably depleted. Grace had moved to another house in Old Meadow. She had found work as a housekeeper, and was taking in a young lodger to help make ends meet. All the children had gone into the cotton mills, though young William was temporarily out of work.
1871 Census.  88 Old Meadow Bacup
Grace Collinge
        head  widow  age 52  housekeeper     born Todmorden, Yorkshire
James Collinge            son         u       age 19  weaver               born Bacup, Lancs
Ruth Collinge          dau        u       age 17  weaver                born Bacup Lancs
Luke Collinge               son        u       age 15  weaver                born Bacup. Lancs
William Collinge           son        u       age 12  unemp weaver  born Bacup. Lancs
William Jas Stansfield lodg      u       age 15  weaver                born Bacup Lancs

Here is how Bacup was described in a ‘Directory and Topography of North East Lancashire, with Bury and District’ published by P. Mannex and Company in 1876.

‘BACUP is a manufacturing town, and the most important in the Forest of Rossendale, or Rossendale Valley, as it is generally designated. It is connected with the general railway system by a branch of the East Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway from Ramsbottom, opened in 1852. The town is situate on the banks of the Irwell, 7 miles S.E. from Burnley, the same distance N. by W. from Rochdale, 6 miles E. by S. from Haslingden, and 21 by rail from Manchester. The establishments for spinning and weaving cotton are numerous and extensive; and here are also iron and brass foundries, saw mills, brick works, &c.; and in the vicinity of the town are plenty of stone and flag quarries, and other building material. In 1851 the population of the town was returned at 10,318; and in 1861, 10,935. In 1871 the population of the township, which also includes Newchurch, Deadwen Clough, and Woolfenden, amounted to 26,823. A large portion of the population find constant employment at the numerous large establishments in the place, and the laudable interest evinced by the employers to encourage the moral and intellectual improvement of the operative classes is highly commendable. In 1839 a Mechanics’ Institution was established, and in 1846 a convenient building for the purpose was erected in Irwell Street, at a cost of £1,300. It contains a lecture hall capable of holding 750 persons; and there is a library of 3,000 volumes. The principle of co-operation has been largely developed in this district; and there is in connection with it a department devoted to education, free to the members, with a library of some 5,000 volumes, and reading-rooms attached to the various branches. …

The Parish Church of St. John, consecrated in 1789, is now in a most dilapidated condition, the building being almost roofless. But there are two other churches belonging the Establishment. …The Dissenters are very numerous in this town, and have several places of worship. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, at Mount Pleasant, is seated for 1,200 persons, and their chapel in Newchurch Road is a good building. The Baptists have several chapels in the town and neighbourhood. They are situate at Doals, Irwell Terrace, Lane Head Lane, Market Street, Farholme, South Street, and Tong Bridge. The Congregational chapel is in South Street; and the United Methodists have chapels at Britannia and Waterside; and the Primitive Methodists have chapels in Brickfield and Todmorden Road.

Bacup is well lighted with gas by the Rossendale Union Gas Company. The water is supplied by the Rossendale Waterworks Company. The water comes from Spotland. There are two reservoirs. Number of families supplied, 600. There are two Newspapers published in that town — the Bacup Times and the Bacup and Rossendale News. There are also Liberal and Conservative Clubs and a Literary Club. Fairs are held on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Good Friday, the Friday and Saturday in Whitsunweek, and October 25th.’ [1]


Grace died in the last quarter of 1875, at the age of 56.

In 1877 their daughter Ruth married Edmund Priestley, also a cotton weaver. The marriage took place in the Bethel Chapel, Waterfoot.  Bethel was a Baptist chapel. This may have been the place of worship the Collinge family had been attending. Or Ruth may have made a personal choice to go there. Her father’s occupation is given as ‘deceased, Farmer’.

In the 1881 census, John had become a shopkeeper (poultry dealer.)


[1] www.purdy.co.uk/rossendale







Priestley Tree