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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



 JOHN TOOTLE. The evidence from the 1851 census is the John was born c 1813 in the small Lancashire town of Haslingden in the Forest of Rossendale. There is a baptism there that fits. [1]

Baptism. St James, Haslingden
1813 born May 14, bapt Jul 11  John, son of William Toothill and Jane. Abode: Mangle Holes. Occupation: Cotton Weaver.

His mother is probably Jinny Ashworth. If this identification is correct, his parents married in Bury, 8 miles further south. They had five children there, before moving to Haslingden. There they had another three children baptised. John was the second of these. He was thus the second youngest in a large family.

Mangle Holes occurs in other Haslingden register entries, but we have not found its location. There was also a Mangle Holes Farm in nearby Oswaldtwistle. Stone quarrying was one of the principal male occupations in Haslingden. Some of these quarries had tunnel entrances. Mangle Holes could refer to the area around some of these.


John followed his father to become a handloom weaver.

He married twice. Both his wives were called Mary. Before his first marriage he had moved to Colne, 13 miles from Haslingden. The wife he married there was also from a weaver’s family.

Marriage solemnized at the Parochial Chapel in the Chapelry of Colne in the County of Lancaster. [2]
February 20 1838
John Tootle, full age, Bachelor, Weaver, Colne

Mary Watson, full age, Spinster, – , Colne
Fathers: William Tootle, weaver, Stephen Watson, weaver
John Tootle X his mark~
Mary Watson X her mark
in the Presence of us, James Hill X his mark, James Ellis.

They had a son born in Colne. [3]

Birth in the Sub-district of Colne in the County of Lancaster
Eighth of July 1839, Windy Bank, Colne
John, Boy
John Tootal, Weaver
Mary Tootal, formerly Watson
The mark of John X Tootal, Windy Bank, Colne
Eighteenth of July 1839

Nearly two years later, the 1841 census shows John Tootell, Cotton Weaver, his wife Mary and their one-year-old son John living in Lister Street, Colne.

The family moved on to Padiham, 8 miles SW.

Padiham. “By the end of the 18th century there were one or two small spinning mills in the town along with cotton handloom weavers’ cottages. By c.1800, handloom weaving of cotton seems to have been the chief form of employment in the town. In the 1820s the township officers estimated that there were 1241 looms between a population of 3060 or 691 families. By 1841 Census records show that over 50% of the population who gave their employment details were working in the textile industry, though not necessarily in Padiham itself. However, the limited extent of cotton mill development was viewed as one of the main reasons for the distress of the town’s people. In the early 19th century Whittaker described Padiham as ‘the poorest village in Lancashire having for years been dependent for its support almost entirely on handloom weaving, and of the coarsest and worst paid fabrics’. According to Bennett the wages of handloom weavers around 1830 were ‘barely sufficient to maintain life’. The late development of cotton mills in Padiham was due in part to its lack of rail and canal links and its position between two landed estates whose landowners were not in a position to sell land until after the mid 19th century. However, the growth of the population between 1831 and 1861 from 3529 to 6914 can be attributed to the increased amount of manufacturing industry in the town.” [4]


Soon after this move, the first Mary died of TB.

Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1843 Oct 15. Mary Tootle, wife of John Tootle. Died Oct 10, aged 30. Abode: Padiham. Cause of death: Consumption.


MARY HUDSON. The census returns tell us that Mary was born in Padiham c1810. This matches with the following:

Baptism. St Leonard, Padiham.
1810 Mary born Mar 18, bapt Apr 1. Daughter of John and Sally Hudson. Miner, Padiham

Her mother was Sally Hayes.

Mary was the eldest of five sisters. Two brothers died soon after birth.


Mary Hudson was a widow when she married John. She is described on her son William’s birth certificate as:
Mary Tootle, late Mansley, Formerly Hudson,’ This tells us that her maiden name was Hudson, and her late’s husband’s Mansley. [5]

We have not found her first marriage. There is a wedding between Mary Hudson and Thomas Mansley on 30 May 1828, at the Cathedral, Manchester. But this family is still intact in the 1851 census.

The 1841 census also shows Thomas and Mary Mansley living together in Back of Alport, Manchester. 16 names are grouped at this address. Alport Town was a small square. All the occupants are couples or single adults. The youngest is 15.

Thomas’s age is given as 40 and Mary’s as 30. Ages were rounded down to the nearest 5. Thomas is a painter. No children are shown with them.

There is a burial for Thomas Mansley of Manchester in the Collegiate Church there on 24 Apr 1843. His age is given as 35, which does not match the census. His address is the Workhouse. If we accept some imprecision about his age, this might explain the large group of adults in Back of Alport. Against that is the fact that couples were routinely separated when they entered the workhouse.

This Thomas and Mary do not appear in the 1851 census.

The distance of 21 miles between Manchester and Padiham should make us treat this result with caution. It is not clear why Mary would have left Padiham to travel so far.


Wherever she spent her early married life, the widow Mary was living in Padiham when she married John Tootle. She had taken up work as a weaver.

This was a second marriage for both John and Mary.

Marriage. St Leonard, Padiham.
1845 Jan 11.  Married by Banns.
John Tootle (X), full age, Weaver, Widower, Padiham.
Mary Mausley (X), full age, Weaver, Widow, Padiham.
Groom’s father: William Tootle, Weaver. Bride’s Father: John Hudson, Collier.
Witnesses: William Hacking, Mary Nuttall (X).

In September of that year a daughter Jane was born.

Baptism. St Leonard, Padiham.
1845 born Sep 2, bapt Sep 5  Jane  daughter of John Tootle and Mary. Weaver. Abode: Padiham.

Three more children followed.
1847 Dec 8. John  son of John Tootle and Mary. Padiham. Weaver.
1848 born Aug 1, bapt Aug 27  Ashworth  son of John Tootle and Mary. Padiham. Labourer.
At Ashworth’s birth John’s occupation is given, not as a weaver, but a labourer.

In the 1851 census, this family is living in St Giles Street.

1851 Census – 31 March. 153 St Giles Street, Padiham
John Tootal         Head    M    38       H Loom Weaver Cotton        Haslingden
Mary Tootal         Wife     M    41       ditto                                          Padiham
John Tootal              Son             11        Scholar                                     Colne
Ashworth Tootal     Son               2                                                          Padiham

John junior is the son of John’s first marriage.

Jane and the younger John do not appear in this or any other household We have not found their deaths.

Later that year John and Mary had another son.

1851 born Aug 3, bapt Aug 27  Robert  son of John Tootal and Mary. Padiham. Weaver.

The following year, the child of John’s first marriage died.

Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1852 died Jun 20, bur Jun 23  John son of John Tootal and Mary. Age 13. Padiham. Cause of Death: Inflammation.


The family moved to Hall Hill, Padiham. They completed their family there in 1855. [6]

Twenty Third July 1855, Hall Hill, Padiham
William, boy
John Tootle, Cotton Server Loom Weaver
Mary Tootle, late Mansley?, Formerly Hudson
X the mark of John Tootle Father, Hall Hill, Padiham
registered 27 August 1855

But John’s occupation as a handloom weaver was a dying trade. The next census shows an intriguing change of occupation.

This time John gives his birthplace as Padiham, not Haslingden, but no suitable baptism has been found there, so Haslingden is probably correct.

1861 Census. 10 Hall Hill, Padiham
John TOOTLE           Head    M   47  Medical Botanist                 Padiham, Lancs
Mary TOOTLE           Wife     M   50  House Keeper                     Ditto
Ashworth TOOTLE      Son      –     12   Cotton Factory Worker    Ditto
Robert TOOTLE           Son      –       9   Cotton Factory Worker    Ditto
William TOOTLE     Son      –       5   Scholar                                Ditto

In 1881, the Burnley Gazette ran a series of articles about the history of Wesleyan Methodism in Padiham. On 2 July 1881, this describes how the  Methodist Sunday School was founded in 1792. A day school was added, but the numbers grew too large for the chapel, and additional premises had to be found. Eventually “an upper room in a house in Hall Hill was taken, occupied by a barber named Robert Mercer …, the same house was in after years occupied by John Tootle, medical botanist.[7]

This suggests that John Tootle was a person of some note.

He may have been practising herbalism for some time before it became his main occupation.


John’s son William became a faithful member and seat steward of Jubilee Primitive Methodist Church. John himself may have done more than that. The Bury Times of 9 March 1861 carried the following announcement:

“OPENING OF A ROOM FOR CHRISTIAN ISRAELITES AT NEWCHURCH, for the ingathering of Israel, for those that are Grafted in Christ for the Soul to receive the Second Graft of Christ into them for the Redemption of the Mortal Body to enter into Life Eternal.
TWO SERMONS are intended to be preached on SUNDAY, the 17th day, 3rd month, 1861 – one in the afternoon by JOHN TOOTLE, of Padiham,”

We cannot positively identify this with the weaver and medical botanist


There is a report in the Burnley Advertiser for 15 Feb 1862 which offers a very different possibility.

“ASSAULT. John Tootal and Mary Tootal were summoned for committing an assault on a man named Jesse Dean. Mr Baldwin appeared for the complainant. All the parties are residents of Padiham. The complainant stated that on the 31st ult, he was standing in the street where he lived, watching two men fighting; he tried to separate them. While thus engaged, Mrs Tootal ran out and hit him on the back with something. He turned round and saw her running into her own house. He followed her, when the other defendant, John Tootal, her husband, came out and kicked him on the leg. He struck back at the defendant but missed him, and then Mrs Tootal came out and threw some Cayenne pepper at him, thinking to throw it in his eyes. It went among the crowd, and one of the men, whom he had brought as a witness, was nearly blinded with it. The pepper was obliged to be “licked” out with a person’s tongue. She threw the pepper several times. He had given them no provocation; but there had been some “bother” a short time before. The defendants had said a deal about complainant’s mother, who lived in the same street. They called her all manner of names. Complainant had remonstrated with them about it on several occasions, but it appeared they bore him some ill-will about it. The defendant, John Tootal, had tried to make the complainant break the peace, by wanting him to strike him, both before the present case and after it. Since he had summoned him he had called out to the complainant “There goes the little boy, six feet high who has summoned me for licking him”, and other expressions, attempting to get him to strike him. He had told a neighbour that he wanted the complainant to strike him, so that he might bring him up at the Court house. Defendants denied the assault, and after several witnesses had been heard on either side, the Bench fined the defendants 1s each and costs, in default 14 days imprisonment, recommending at the same time Mrs Tootal to be careful how she used her pepper.”

This does not sound like the medical botanist and his wife. On the other hand, ten years later Mary was keeping a grocer’s shop Burnley. If she was already doing so in Padiham, as well as selling John’s herbal remedies, she may have had access to a larger quantity of Cayenne pepper than a normal housewife would. Without an address we cannot be sure.

There were variant spellings of their surname.

Slater’s Directory for 1865 shows John Tootle Herbalist, at 25 Croft Street, Burnley and this is the occupation given for him on William’s marriage certificate in 1877.

Croft St, Burnley, 1956
No. 25 was the corner shop. [8]


here is no record of John Tootle in the General Medical Council Registers for 1860-1880. He was presumably practising informally, outside rather than inside the General Medical Council, which was quickly gaining control over other traditions such as herbalism and midwifery.

‘A descendant of one of the Pilgrim Fathers, Samuel Thomson (1769-1843), is famous for popularizing local American Indian medicines and for establishing herbal schools and botanic societies all over the USA. In 1830 Dr A. I. Coffin brought Thomson’s system of medicine to England and Europe, reviving herbal medicine by lecturing and writing about it. He joined the English tradition of herbalism with physiomedicalism of the American schools, and in 1845 he founded the Association of Herbal Medicine which in 1864 became known as the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). It is the oldest professional organisation of herbal practitioners in the world.’ [9]                                                 .

The NIMH website says:
The National Association of Medical Herbalists was established in 1864 by a group of herbalists from the north of England. British herbal heritage at the time was being greatly influenced by the Americans who introduced many native North American plants into the British Materia Medica, thus incorporating several centuries of native American tradition along with some ‘modern’ ideas. These were particularly dynamic times, with great changes occurring within the herbal movement and great pressures from without to stifle herbal medicine itself.


Desiree Shelley of the NIMH writes:
“I have not come across the name of John Tootle before. The British Medical Reform Association (BMRA) was set up around 1858 by herbalists in answer to the Medical Act of that year and the setting up of the British Medical Association (BMA) for Doctors. At that time in the mid 19th century a Medical Botanist from USA, Albert Isaiah Coffin, came to the UK and travelled around the country enlisting agents for his herbal medicine products. He was particularly active in the northern towns and cities. Groups of herbalists started to form and I believe that Burnley had such a group.” [10]


A 19th century herbalist [11]


John died in 1866.

The Burnley Gazette of 5 May 1866 recorded the death on 28 April of John Tootle, Croft Street, aged 53. The Burnley Advertiser of that date carried the same information.

The record of his burial is interesting.

Burial. Burnley Cemetery, Burnley
1866 May 1. John Tootle, age 52. Abode: Croft St. Grave 15692. Note: Buried in a Public Grave.
This sounds like a pauper funeral.


Mary changed John’s herbal shop to a grocer’s. She also took in lodgers, including travelling singers and actors, as well as mill workers.

1871 Census. 25 Croft St. Burnley.
Mary Tootill        Head        Widow     61      Grocer                              Lancs, Padiham
Robert Tootill          Son           Unm       19      Mule Spinner (Cotton)   Lancs, Padiham
William Tootill  Son           Unm       15      Mule Spinner (Cotton)   Lancs, Padiham
James Hague          Lodger      Mar        22      Mechanic (Cotton)         Yorks, Keighley
Ann Hague              Lodger      Mar        23      Vocalist                             Lancs, Ashton under Lyme
James  Bostock       Lodger      Mar        60      Actor (Theatrical)          Lancs, Manchester
Eliza Bostock           Lodger      Mar                  Actress (Theatrical)       Lancs, Manchester
Janet Bostock         Lodger      Unm       23      Actress (Theatrical)       Scotland, Edinburgh

She may be the Mary Tootle who was a witness in a police court in 1873. Margaret Lord of Vernon Street complained that she had gone out to investigate a noise in the road. Albert Lister and his wife were drunk and quarrelling with Bridget Bradshaw. She asked them to go away, but Lister knocked her down, followed her and punched her again. Mary Tootle was one of three witnesses who corroborated this. [12]

No other Mary Tootle of a suitable age has been found in the 1871 census.


Before her death, Mary had moved away from the Croft St shop to Ince St. She died in 1875, aged 65. Like John, she was buried in a public grave.

Burial. Burnley Cemetery, Burnley
1875 Oct 23. Mary Tootle, age 65. Abode: Ince St. Grave 2443. Note: Buried in a Public Grave.

Mary’s death was reported in the Burnley Gazette of 30 October. “aged 65, Mary Tootle, Ince Street.” It was also recorded in the Burnley Deaths column of the Preston Herald on 30 October, though her age is mistakenly given as 75.


[1] BMDs Lancashire Online Parish Clerks, unless otherwise stated
[2] GRO certificate
[3] GRO certificate
[4] Padiham Heritage Appraisal.  www.burnley.gov.uk/sites/default/…/____Padiham_Appraisal_Final_LowRes.pdf
[5] GRO certificate
[6] GRO certificate
[7] Newspaper articles from British Newspapers on Findmypast.
[8]  http://res.cloudinary.com/jpress/image/fetch/w_700,f_auto,ar_3:2,c_fill/http://www.burnleyexpress.net/webimage/1.6493192.1394627347!/image/1064899555.jpg
[9] http://www.herbactive.co.uk/history.php
[10] Private correspondence.
[11] William Riley, A Village in Craven. Painting by Elizabeth Brockbank.
[12] Burnley Advertiser 04 October 1873






Tootle Tree