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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 COLLINGE of Old Meadow, Bacup, was born in 1774-5, in the reign of George III. He may be the son of James and Mary Collinge, but is more probably the child of Abraham Collinge and Ann Lancaster who was baptised in Goodshaw on 4 Jan 1774. Abraham was from Newchurch-in-Rossendale, only two miles from Goodshaw and four from Bacup.

There were Collinges at Newchurch-in-Rossendale at least as early as the 1650s. James called his second son Luke. The names James and Luke frequently occur in the early Newchurch registers. In 1667, a James Colling was living in “Meddowes” when his son Isaak was baptised. [1]

Our James became a farmer. It is probable that he grew up on a farm.

SARAH SHEPHERD. She is listed in some records as Sarah and in others as Sally. It is likely that her baptismal name was Sarah, but that she was commonly known as Sally.

We have no information about her parents, or her birth parish, except that she was born in Lancashire. She was living at Old Meadow when she was married.


James Collinge married Sally Shepherd at St Nicholas church in Newchurch on 3 January 1798. Both gave their address as Old Meadow, Bacup. In the 1841 census their address is Old Meadows, Newchurch. Their occupation is not stated. James signed his own name, Sally made her mark. The marriage was witnessed by William Lord and John Lord (churchwardens). No fathers’ names were given.


Newchurch in Rossendale is a very populous chapelry in the parish of Whalley, 20 miles north from Manchester 14 miles south from Colne. It is said to have obtained the name from the original church then called ‘New Church’.

Newchurch comprises the districts or townships of Bacup, Deadwin Clough, Tunstead and Wolfenden. Much of Old Newchurch (Kirk) has disappeared and this is to be regretted. With its narrow streets, courts and seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings it represented a style of architecture which preceded the industrial revolution. The Mansion House, much of Old Street (Old Gate), the Oddfellows Hall, the house of J E Lord the hatter have all been demolished and an old inn the Black Dog was blown down by a gale in 1922. However St Nicholas’ Church dating back to 1511 survived and also the Boars Head originally built in 1674.

From ‘A Rossendale Anthology’ [2]


By now, England was at war with Napoleon, following the French Revolution. The Battle of the Nile took place in 1798, with Nelson commanding the victorious fleet. But at home the population was suffering from the disruption to food supplies and the export trade caused by the war.


The couple had at least seven children baptised at St John’s, Bacup, between 1801 and 1813.

James, 14 April 1801
Luke, 13 April 1803
Matty (m), 20 August 1804
Alice, 21 September 1806
Betty, 26 October 1808
Peggy, 7 January 1811
Sarah, 12 July 1813.


“Towards the end of the eighteenth century, with the population of the village of Bacup increasing rapidly due to industrialisation of the area, the inhabitants were required go over the hill tops to worship and to bury their dead at St Nicholas, Newchurch, which was often a torturous and hazardous journey.

It was decided to build a chapel of ease to St Nicholas and in 1788 the Rev. William Cleaver DD, Lord Bishop of Chester consecrated the church of St John’s. The people of Bacup could attend St John’s for baptisms and burials but not for marriage, as this stayed the monopoly of St Nicholas until it became a parish in its own rights in 1837.” [3]


Two years later, the Battle of Waterloo brought an end to the war.


A seventh child, John, was baptised on 8 June 1817 at the Wesleyan chapel in Bacup. The registers of Mount Pleasant in Bacup go back to 1786, five years before John Wesley died.

There were other children of James and Sarah Collinge baptised in this Methodist church from 1822. It is likely that these are the offspring of the couple’s eldest son James, who married Sarah Nixon at Newchurch in Rossendale on 25 October 1821.


In 1829, this youngest son John married Mary Wadsworth on 24 June, also at Newchurch in Rossendale. The couple took up residence with the older Collinges at Old Meadows. The other Collinge children had left home. A grandson on Enoch was born. The Collinges were fond of biblical names.


1841 CENSUS. Old Meadows in the Township of Newchurch.
Collinge James   66   Farmer  born Lancashire.
Collinge Sarah   66                   born Lancashire.
Collinge John          24   Weaver  born Lancashire.
Collinge Mary         22                   born Lancashire.
Collinge Enoch          1                   born Lancashire.

Farming was in decline in the mid-19th century. The advent of steamships meant increased competition from overseas producers. The couple’s second son Luke became a farmer, but is recorded in the 1851 census as an agricultural labourer. Other children went into the cotton mills.

Both James and Sarah appear to have died before the 1851 census.

[1] Lancashire Online Parish Clerk  http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/indexp.html
[2] www.genuki.org.uk
[3] http://www.rossendale-fhhs.org.uk/files/bacup_churches/church_206.html






Priestley Tree