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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)



JAMES HARGREAVES was born around 1803-6, in when Britain was at war with France following the French Revolution. His birthplace is given in successive censuses as Colne and Habergham Eaves, both in Lancashire. Since several of his children were born in Colne, but none in Habergham Eaves, it is more likely that the enumerator entered Colne for him by mistake and that Habergham Eaves is correct.

Habergham Eaves was a chapelry in the parish of Whalley. There were nearby churches in Burnley and Padiham. His might have been any of the following baptisms:

13 Feb 1803 (born 12 Jan)  Higham, Padiham. Son of Joseph and Martha.
21 Jul 1803  Burnley. Son of John and Peggy.
15 May 1804 (born 11 Apr)  Padiham Wesleyan Methodist. Son of James and Susan.
24 Dec 1804 (born 22 Nov)  Wesleyan Methodist, Padiham.  Son of James and Ann.

He became a weaver in Colne, seven miles northeast of Habergham Eaves.


SARAH BUCK was born in Alston, Cumberland, the highest market town in England. Her parents had moved there from Colne, around the turn of the century, and her father, George Buck, practised his profession there as a “surgeon”, though this meant a local doctor, rather than a hospital specialist.

She was the middle one of five children.

Baptism, St Augustine’s, Alston,
1811 Sarah Buck  Born Aug 23rd 1810 baptised April 28th 5th daug of George Buck surgeon Alston native of Colne Lancashire by his wife Sarah dau of John Forster.

Evidently the family, or Sarah alone, moved back to Colne, since she was resident there at the time of her marriage.


Marriages solemnized in the Chapelry of Colne in the County of Lancaster in the Year 1829.
James Hargreaves, Weaver, Bachelor of this Chapelry and Sarah Buck of this Chapelry were married in this Chapel by Banns this twenty second Day of February in the Year One Thousand eight hundred and twenty nine By me Jos.p. Haslepane? Asst. Curate
This Marriage was solemnized between us
James Hargreaves
Sarah Buck X her mark
In the presence of (James?Thomas?Henry?) Buck, James Ellis

It seems surprising that Sarah, a doctor’s daughter, couldn’t sign her own name. She appears to have remained illiterate all her life. She also took a drop in social status by marrying a weaver.

They had several children baptised at St Bartholomew’s, the principal and oldest church in Colne, between 1832 and 1847. Colne did not become an independent parish until 1865. Mary Ann was baptised in Colne on 3 Sep 1830 and Martha on 25 Mar 1832. Since Mary Ann does not appear in the 1841 census, she probably died in infancy.

In the 1841 census, they were living in Petty Houses, Colne, with their first three children and two men who are probably lodgers.

1841 Census.  Petty Houses, Colne, Lancashire.
James Hargreaves     38   Cotton weaver       Y
Sarah Hargreaves     30                                    Y
Martha Hargreaves       9                                      Y
Ann Hargreaves             6                                      Y
Henry Hargreaves         1                                      Y
Abraham Ormerod      40    Cotton weaver       Y
John Greenwood         20     Cotton weaver       Y

Sarah is mistakenly entered with a Y, indicating that she was born in Lancashire. Later censuses correct this to Cumberland.

Two more children, Bridget and William, were born in Colne. The family then moved to Langfield near Todmorden, just over the Yorkshire border, some time before May 1850. There was a large cotton calico mill on the river at Langfield, that employed a significant part of the population of Todmorden and Hebden Bridge, bringing in weavers from all over the country, even as far afield as Cornwall.

There they had a further two children. Their daughter Sarah was born at Gutroyd, Langfield, in Todmorden district, on 28 May 1850. Langfield was then a chapelry of Halifax in West Yorkshire. Sarah registered the birth, but not until the 6th July. She again made her mark with an X. James’s occupation is given as ‘weaver’.

The 1851 Census for Todmorden shows James, still a weaver, living with Sarah, six children and one grandchild at Gutteroyd, Langfield. The three older children have become weavers too.

1851 CENSUS, TODMORDEN.  Address: Gutteroyd, Langfield
James Hargreaves      Head           M       47               Weaver      Colne Lancashire.
Sarah                               Wife             M      40                                  Cumberland
Martha                              Daughter     U       19               Weaver     Colne
Ann                                    Daughter     U       16               Weaver     Colne
Henry                                Son               U       11               Weaver     Colne
Bridget                              Daughter     U        8                                   Colne
William                             Son               U        4                                    Colne
Sarah                              Daughter     U        9 Months                    Langfield
James                               Grandson    U        1                                   Langfield

Since the grandson James has the same surname, we can assume that he is the son of one of the unmarried older girls, Martha or Ann.

There is no evidence that Bridget is at school, but this enumerator did not record children as “scholars”.

By 1861 the family had moved back to Lancashire. They are at Habergham Eaves, in Burnley, and James now gives this as his birthplace.

1861 Census.  15 Shaw Street, Habergham Eaves, Burnley.
James Hargreaves  Head    Mar         55   Cotton Twister          Lancs, Habergham  Eaves
Sarah Hargreaves   Wife    Mar         50                                        Cumberland, Alston Moor
Henry Hargreaves       Son      Unmarr  21   Self acting Minder     Lancs, Colne
Bridget Hargreaves    Daur    Unmarr  18   Power loom Weaver  Lancs, Colne
Sarah Hargreaves   Daur   Unmarr  10  Scholar                        Yorks, Langfield
Martha Speak              Daur    Widow    29   Power Loom
Cotton weaver          Lancs, Colne
Ellen Speak                  Granddaur         5     Scholar                         Lancs, Habergham Eaves

Their eldest daughter Martha has married since the 1851 census, but has been widowed young and come back to live with her parents. She has a 5-year-old daughter Elle. There is no trace in this census of James Hargreaves junior, who appears in the 1851 census. He may have died.

His grandfather died in 1869. The Burnley Gazette of 6 Feb reports the death on 20 Jan, aged 62, of James Hargreaves, Shaw Street.

In the 1871 census there is a widow Sarah Hargreaves working as housekeeper to the farmer John Milner at Planks, Myerscough, Garstang, which is north of Preston. Her birthplace is given as Alston, Lancs. This may be a mistake of the enumerator, who knew of Alston, a suburb of Preston, but not the town in Cumberland. This is 25 miles from Colne, but is the nearest possibility.

Since the place of her death is unknown, it is difficult to find the registration. There are possible registrations in the Burnley district in the 1860s, and one in Todmorden, but none that match her birth date exactly.




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