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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




JAMES PRIESTLEY was born in Crawshawbooth on 23 August 1819. He was the son of the shoemaker Edmund Priestley and Ann Eastwood. They were Baptists and in keeping with their practice their children were not baptised as infants. Their parents recorded their births at Goodshaw Baptist Chapel in 1848.

Goodshaw Baptism.
James son of Edmund (shoemaker) and Ann (nee Eastwood) Sunnybank, Crawshawbooth born 23-Aug-1819.

James probably grew up in the Crawshawbooth area. Crawshawbooth lies north of Rawtenstall on the road to Burnley.

In the 1841 census his age is given as 20, rounded down from 21. He is living at home at Goodshaw with his parents, two sisters and a brother. At this time he was working as a cotton carder. This involved carding the cotton into rolls prior to spinning. He continued in this occupation at least until his marriage in 1845.

1841 Census. Goodshaw.

Edmund Priestley age 60    shoemaker           born Lancashire
Ann Priestley          age 50                                   born Lancashire
Peggy Priestley          age 25                                   born Lancashire
James Priestley      age 20    carder – cotton   born Lancashire
Henry Priestley          age 15                                   born Lancashire
Ellen Priestley             age 12                                   born Lancashire
Ann Eastwood            age 44    weaver-cotton      born Lancashire


ALICE POLLARD was born at Higher Booths, part of the group of villages including Crawshawbooth, in 1818. She was the daughter of Lawrence Pollard and, probably, Mary Nuttall.


In the 1841 census Alice is living with her father, two brothers and three sisters at Rings Row, Higher Booths. Although she was about 21 (rounded up to 25), no occupation is given for her. Since her mother is not at home, and may have been away having baby Susan, Alice was probably keeping house for the family. In the next generation it became common for both single and married women to be working in the cotton trade. Next door was James Heyworth, a clogger, living with his parents. He witnessed Alice’s marriage to James Priestley in 1845.


1841 Census. Rings Row, Higher Booths

Lawrence Pollard age 50   calico printer    born Lancashire
Henry Pollard       age 25   calico printer    born Lancashire
John Pollard          age 25    calico printer   born Lancashire
Alice Pollard          age 25                              born Lancashire
Betty Pollard         age 15                              born Lancashire
Mary Pollard         age 14    cotton carder   born Lancashire
Martha Pollard      age 12    cotton carder  born Lancashire


James and Alice were married at Goodshaw Baptist Chapel on 18 December 1845. James, 26, was still living in Goodshaw.

The couple were married by the Rev Abraham Nichols, who, a few years later, broke away with a group of worshippers to found a new church using the old Roman Catholic Mission building at the bottom of Pinner Lane in Crawshawbooth. They later built Sunnyside Baptist Chapel on Burnley Road, Reedsholme. It was at Reedsholme that both James and  Alice were buried. James’s father was a deacon at Sunnyside, so James and Alice were probably among the breakaway group too.


James and Alice had at least three children, including twins, baptised at Goodshaw Baptist Church between 1847 and 1850. This was a departure from normal Baptist practice, which is not to baptise infants. Usually a service of infant dedication is carried out instead. Perhaps this unorthodoxy was a reason for the split in the chapel.

Benjamin and Joseph were born on 6 May 1850. The family were now at Rings Row, at the top of Goodshawfold Road, Crawshawbooth. This was Alice’s address at the time of their marriage. The twins were baptised in Crawshawbooth on 16 October 1850.


Baptisms. Goodshaw Baptist Chapel
Alfred Henry  son of James and Alice (nee Pollard) of Mount Pleasant, Goodshaw Chapel born 09-Aug-1847 bapt 24-Oct-1847.

Goodshaw Chapel had given its name to the hamlet which grew up around it.

Benjamin  son of James and Alice of Rings Row near Crawshawbooth born 06-May-1850 bapt 16-Oct-1850.
Joseph  son of James and Alice of Rings Row near Crawshawbooth born 06-May-1850 bapt 16-Oct-1850.

The twins were separated at a very early age, because Alice was ‘down with inflamation’. Her sister Betty adopted Benjamin.[1]

In the 1851 census James is 31 and now a weaver. He and Alice are living at 74 Rings Row with two of their sons, Alfred and Joseph. Benjamin is aged 10 months and living at his maternal grandfather’s house at Further Reeds. Ten years later, the census shows him at school and still living with Betty and her sister Mary, both unmarried.


1851 Census
74 Rings Row

James  Priestley head m  31        weaver      born Higher Booths
Alice  Priestley    wife m   32                           born Higher Booths
Alfred Priestley       son  u      3                           born Higher Booths
Joseph Priestley      son  u    10m                       born Higher Booths


Another four boys followed, including a second set of twins. There were no further baptisms at Goodshaw Chapel, confirming the belief that they had moved with the Rev Nichols to the new Baptist Chapel at Sunnyside. Around that time, the Rehobeth Particular Baptist Church also opened in Goodshawfold in 1852, but James and Alice are buried at Sunnyside, so that is likely to have been their place of worship.

John James was born in Crawshawbooth 1 March 1853. At the age of 8, in the 1861 census, he was living with his mother and four brothers at Sunnybank and already working as a mulepiecer (cotton). He married Mary, who was born in Bacup c.1854.

The second set of twins, Edmund and Edwin, were born on 20 October 1855 at Swinshaw, Higher Booths. Swinshaw is on Goodshaw Lane, also known as Chapel Lane. James was then a power loom jobber. His son Edmund’s marriage certificate shows that James became a cotton power loom overlooker before he died.


There were many hand weavers in Crawshawbooth in the early 1800s. They mostly wove wool. However, during the 1850s the cotton factories were expanding rapidly, lowering the price for hand weaving and putting the hand weavers out of business. Records show that many from Crawshawbooth moved to Bacup. At least two of James’s sons were weavers there by 1881. It was a time of industrial unrest.


From the New York Daily Tribune, October 21 1853 – re: the Preston mill strikes.

The work-people, in order to succeed in their demands, must naturally try to keep the one party in till the strike of the others has proved victorious. Where this plan is acted upon, the mill-owners combine to close all their mills, and, thus, to drive their hands to extremities. The Preston manufacturers as you know, were to begin the game. Thirteen mills are already closed, and, at the expiration of another week, every mill is to be shut up, throwing out of work more than 24,000 men. The weavers have addressed a memorial to the masters, soliciting an interview, or offering to refer the matters in dispute to arbitration, but their request was rejected. As the Preston weavers are assisted by penny collections from the operatives of the surrounding districts, from Stalybridge, Oldham, Stockport, Bury, Withnell, Blackburn, Church-Parish, Acton, Irwell-Vale, Enfield, Burnley, Colne, Bacup, &c.; the men having discovered that the only means of resisting the undue influence of capital, was by union among themselves; the Preston factory-lords, on their part, have sent out secret emissaries to undermine the means of succor for the men on strike, and to induce the mill-owners of Burnley, Colne, Bacup, &c., to close their establishments, and to cause a general cessation of labor. In certain places, as at Enfield, the overlookers have been induced to inform their masters, who had taken a part in forwarding the movement, and accordingly a number of penny collectors have been discharged. While the Preston men are exhorted by the work-people of the surrounding districts to remain firm and united, the Preston masters meet with an immense applause from the other manufacturers, being extolled as the true heroes of the age.


Pollard was the youngest child , also born at Swinshaw, Higher Booths, 16 Oct 1859. He died on 16 February 1862, at the age of two.

Around this time, in 1860, a row of terraced houses was built in Lumb originally called Priestley Terrace. It is now numbered 1078-1088 Burley Road East, Lumb. This might suggest that some part of the family had influence here, possibly Jephthah Priestley, the mill manager.


James died in Goodshaw on 6 March 1861 at the age of 41. He was still living in Goodshaw Lane. He was buried at Sunnyside Baptist Chapel, Reedsholme.

Most of the children followed James into the cotton industry. Shortly after James’s death the 1861 census shows Alice, now aged 42, living at Sunnybank, Crawshawbooth, with five of her sons. She still has no paid occupation. Three of the boys are cotton mulepiecers, including the youngest, 8-year-old John. Piecers were usually children or women. They were employed in the spinning mills to piece together any threads which broke.

1861 Census.
Sunnybank Crawshawbooth (at the bottom of Goodshaw Lane below Goodshaw Chapel)

Alice Priestley   H  42   W                                 born Higher Booths
Alfred H.                 S   13   Mulepiecer  Cotton   born Higher Booths
Joseph                     S   10   ???piecer  Cotton      born Higher Booths
John J                      S   8    ???piecer  Cotton       born Higher Booths
Edmund                S   5    Scholar                        born Higher Booths
Edwin                       S   5    Scholar                        born Swinshaw Higher Booths
Pollard                      S   1                                         born  Swinshaw Higher Booths


Alfred married Margaret Harner Campbell on 16 May 1868. The birth at Goodshaw of their daughter Alice on 29 Jan 1869 was brought on early by an earthquake.[2]


By 1871 Benjamin who had grown up with relatives, had moved to Spring Gardens, Crawshawbooth, and was living with other aunts and an uncle. There is a different Aunt Mary, the widow of his mother’s brother, with her brother and his wife. By now, Benjamin, at 20, was employed as a print labourer, possibly working with his uncles.

His twin Joseph remained with his mother.

The younger twins Edmund and Edwin also became cotton weavers. When Edmund, married in 1877, his address was given as Higher Change on Todmorden Road, Bacup. Alice was still living at this address at the 1881 census, with Edmund’s twin Edwin and his wife Betsy. Both were cotton weavers and there were as yet no children.


Dwelling: Higher Change
Census Place: Newchurch, Lancashire, England

Alice PRIESTLEY      Head               W    62   F     Housekeeper             Crawshawbooth
Edwin PRIESTLEY   Son                  M    25   M    Cotton Weaver (M)  Crawshawbooth
Betsy PRIESTLEY    Daur In Law  M    23   F     Cotton Weaver (M)   Bacup


Using the 1890 large scale OS map of Bacup, this seems to be the third house from the east end of the terrace on Todmorden Road – and next door is a family with a daughter called Alice Lord (the name of one of the witnesses on Edmund’s marriage certificate).


The eldest son ,Alfred, had married Margaret in June 1868. At the 1881 census they were living at 17 Russell Street, Newchurch, with two children. Alfred too was a cotton weaver.

Benjamin was now living at Underhill Terrace and married to Ann, who was born in Rawtenstall c. 1857. The relations he had been living with at the previous census, Aunt Mary, her brother and his wife, had moved to the same street and were living next door. In 1891, Benjamin and Ann were still at 11 Underhill Terrace, with children James, Joseph and Ellen. Benjamin remained a print labourer.

In the 1881 census his twin Joseph was 30 and living with his wife Betsy and a young son James, still at 72 Todmorden Road, Newchurch. Both adults were cotton weavers.


Alice Priestley died on 7 February 1887 in Bacup. Their tombstone at Sunnyside Baptist Chapel, Reedsholme, reads:


In loving memory of
of Goodshaw Lane
who died March 6th 1861
aged 41 years

also of ALICE his wife who died
at Higher Change, Bacup
Feby 7th 1887 aged 68 years

also POLLARD their son
who died Feby 16th 1862
aged 2 years and 4 months
also AMELIA daughter of ALFRED
and Grand-daughter of the above
who died October 26th 1876
aged 4 years and 6 months




The chapel closed in the early 1970s and was demolished in 1973. The surrounding houses were cleared and the graveyard made into a memorial garden, with the headstones placed along the back perimeter wall. It is now surrounded on three sides by Reedsholme Works. It was a small graveyard and there are only 38 monuments.


[1] A.H. Priestley, letter of 20 Nov 1923
[2] Priestley







Priestley Tree