Links between Settle and Accrington

Pat Smith

I was born in Accrington and spent the first twenty five years of my life there until moving to Settle in 1961 when my husband took up a teaching post at Settle High School. At that time I was interested in Local History but other commitments prevented me from following it to any great depth.

I had purchased a copy of Brayshaw's "Ancient Parish of Giggleswick" and was familiar with the paragraph referring to the closure of the local cotton mills. He quoted from a local paper for 1 May 1855 "In the village of Langcliffe we learn that almost every other house is empty. The stoppage of Langcliffe Mills must in a great measure account for this diminution of population. Great numbers have gone to Accrington and other parts of Lancashire. So many have gone to Accrington as almost to form a Settle colony".

Jim Nelson's article on Langcliffe Mills in the Heritage Journal of 1996 touched on this topic, and I found the article by Mary Long in the 1998 Journal entitled "Richard Lord of Settle My Great-grandfather" most interesting. Richard had been among those moving from Settle to Accrington in search of work. She wrote of the great contribution Richard, his brother Thomas, and their friend Jim Parkinson had made to improve the life of the ordinary working man. Richard and Thomas were collectors for The Accrington Weavers' Association for many years and Jim Parkinson was a founder of The Co-operative Movement in Accrington.

I feel it is appropriate here to give a little information about Accrington, the name indicating a town surrounded by oaks. Like many agricultural villages, wool was the staple trade in the cl7th & cl8th, but in the cl9th Accrington was turned into an industrial town by the factory system.

The establishment of Broad Oak Printworks in 1792 changed Accrington's role and the further development of calico printing led to a substantial growth in the production of cotton. The humidity and rainfall of the climate of the lower Pennines was highly suitable for the manufacture of cotton. A writer in 1792 commented "They are building rows of houses as every vale swarms with cotton mills".

There had been small spinning and weaving mills established in the 1840s, but between 1850-1860 there was great expansion in the Accrington cotton industry, seventeen weaving sheds and mills were built in this ten year period. Even in 1850 the Hargreaves brothers were employing 755 people at their mill at Broad Oak.

Although Accrington owes much of its existence to the cotton trade, there were secondary trades all contributing to its rapid growth in the late cl9th. The principal ones were coal-mining, engineering and brick-making, with smaller industries such as leather working, printing, baking, brewing, corn milling, saw mills etc.

The industrial revolution created thousands of jobs in the new manufacturies. As the factories were being built, housing had to be provided both for employers and employees. Stonemasons, bricklayers, joiners and plasterers went where the work was.

Over the last few years I have become very interested in Family History, and while in Accrington visiting relatives I usually take the opportunity to visit the Local Studies Section of Accrington Library. While researching census records, parish registers etc, I became aware of the frequency of Settle and its surrounding villages being given as the place of birth, and realised that this must be linked to the closure of the cotton mills mentioned earlier.


1881 census showing migration from Settle and the surrounding villages to Accrington and nearby towns

TO

Accrington

Clayton-

Rishton

Great

Huncoat

Oswald-

Church

FROM

 

le-moors

 

Harwood

 

twistle

 

Settle

106

28

3

4

4

23

5

Giggleswick

19

3

1

0

1

1

0

Stackhouse

0

1

0

0

1

0

0

Rathmell

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Langcliffe

5

5

0

2

12

1

0

Stainforth

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Horton

3

2

2

1

0

0

0

Austwick

0

0

1

1

0

1

0

Clapham

24

5

0

0

0

1

5

Long Preston

13

4

0

0

1

1

1

TOTAL

170

48

8

8

19

28

11


A couple of years ago the Church of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) made available a set of CDs of the1881 census for individuals to purchase. I bought the CDs for my own research, but then decided it would be interesting to do a search for people living in the Accrington area in 1881 who had been born in Settle and the surrounding villages. I found the results quite surprising, the overall total was 292.

I began to study the 1881 census in more detail, intending to look at which occupations the males from Settle were engaged in, the search for work being the primary reason for migration. I thought it would also be interesting to study family names, ages, intermarriage with locals, number of children, the living conditions and whether the migrant families lived in particular areas of the town. I have attempted to summarise some of the findings.

Of the 52 males the greatest number were involved in the cotton industry, 15 weavers, 4 spinners, 1 power loom overlooker, 1 foreman, 1 self act minder (tended automatic mule spinning machines), 1 taper, 2 labourers and 1 retired manufacturer of cotton. There were 3 labourers at iron works, an iron turner, 1 labourer at tin plate works, 4 labourers at printworks, and a machine fitter (engineering). The growing population must have led to a boom in the building trade and 2 quarrymen (stone), 3 masons, a plasterer's labourer and a plasterer's apprentice are listed. Other single occupations given are carter, chimney sweep, butcher, grocer's assistant, groom, chapel keeper, debt collector, joiner (unemployed) and farmer. Of the small sample of females I looked at several gave no occupation, others were listed as housekeepers or housewives, 1 was formerly a seamstress, 4 were cotton weavers and 1 was a winder.

Among the family names listed were Atkinson, Ayrton, Fell, Baldwin, Banks, Bell, Blezard, Bordley, Bowskill, Bullock, Carr, Clark, Duckett, Eglin, Ellison, French, Gifford, Green, Hardacre, Hill, Hitchon, Hodkinson, Hodgson, Hudson, Jackson, Law, Lord, Marsden, Moorby, Parker, Pollard, Pratt, Rawlinson, Redmayne, Riley, Ralph, Scott, Slater, Slinger, Stead, Stockdale, Wilson and Whittle. Many of these names are still common in the Settle area.

From the information on the census one can tell that some couples were already married when they moved, they had older children born in Settle and younger children born in Accrington. Others travelled as single young men and women and married into the local population. An 1850 Report for the General Board of Health drew attention to the appalling living conditions - overcrowded courts housing many families, lack of sanitation, shared caps and toilets, open cesspits and refuse heaps. Clearly it was the prospect of employment that attracted people to the town. In 1881 I found that most of the families from Settle were living in the area known as New Accrington, where row upon row of small terraced houses, typical of the Lancashire cotton town, had been built to accommodate the growing population.

There was probably an informal system of support from a wide network of family and friends for newcomers to the town. Among families, even in small dwellings, there were often lodgers or boarders who were brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces who had come to seek work.

Seeking confirmation of the period when this migration took place I studied the 1851 and the 1861 census for Accrington and this is what I discovered:

1851 census

 

From

No

Settle

9

Giggleswick

3

Rathmell

1

Austwick

2

Clapham

4

Long Preston

2

Total

21

Of the nine people from Settle seven were members of the same family:

Francis Bell aged 45, occupation -cotton rover, his wife Isabella aged 46, and their children John 20, William 17, Thomas 15, Isiac (sic) 12 and Elizabeth 10. Their youngest child James, 8 years old, had been born in Edenfield.

Francis and his four sons were employed in the cotton industry.

From the publication "Migrants and Residential Patterns in New Accrington 1861" by Susan Lupton, I quote the following figures:-

From             No
Settle            82
Giggleswick 11
Rathmell        2
Austwick        1
Clapham         1
Long Preston 11
Horton            1
Stainforth        1
Wigglesworth 1
Total           111

I had hoped that I might have been able to trace descendants of the people who migrated from Settle to Accrington one hundred and fifty years ago, to discover if they had any family stories, but as yet this has not come about. I have been particularly interested in the movement from Settle to Accrington because of my links to the town, but the 1881 census reveals that people from Settle had established themselves throughout Lancashire, and indeed throughout the country.

Illustrations Courtesy of Lancashire County Library Accrington Local Studies Collection.

Sources

North Craven Heritage Trust Journals 1996 & 1998.

Brayshaw T. and Robinson R.M. History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick.

Holmes Walter J. 1851 Census Index for Old and New Accrington.

Lupton Susan. Migrants and Residential Patterns in New Accrington 1861.

Rothwell M. Industrial Heritage. A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Accrington.

1881 British Census.

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Sketch of Broad Oak Printworks (date unknown)

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Briggs Yard, Abbey Street, where Accrington & Church Co-operative Society was founded, and which was also the early meeting place of the Accrington Weaving Union

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Black Abbey Fold. This occupies part of the site of the Old Black Abbey, the Accrington Grange of Kirkstall Abbey

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