Attempts to locate Earnshaw and related names


A little family history


Dad would never, ever, in any way, talk about his family in any detail.


The only thing he would refer to was that they came from Yorkshire – Luttington (sic) near Halifax, working as a manager in a woollen mill, and then moved to London (Plaistow). His grandfather was called Hemon (sic). But who, when and why was never stated –Mollie (my stepmother who seemed to be able to get my father to talk about his past a bit) thought that it was because one of the family drunk too much and lost his job. After Dad died, I checked on maps and realised that the village was actually Luddenden. In reality they may have moved to London because Heman (the correct spelling) and his wife Janey (nee Lindley) wanted to be near his In-laws – who moved to London from Yorkshire a year before Heman and Janey married.


Although I had always wanted to know about the Earnshaw family it was only about five years ago that I started the real search. We had been to Cornwall to sort out Sue’s father’s belongings and there were several birth, marriage and death certificates and we also visited several family graves. Then I heard a programme on the radio about genealogy and there were several references to the 1881 census. I bought a copy of the disks and the rest, they say, is history!


The starting point was to write down the few names I knew and to search out the two or three certificates I had found when sorting out after Dad died.


My first success with the 1881 census was in searching for Heman in Luddenden. There he was with his parents, four brothers and sisters and grandfather – or so I thought!


Grandfather Earnshaw’s name was Verdi Lindley Earnshaw – a pointer to the name of Lindley. It seems that one son seemed to be given the surname of an ancestor at times in the past. Hence, I wondered if Johnny S (Heman’s brother) was John Sunderland. Actually he was just plain John at birth. The Sunderland tag was added later at his baptism.


Verdi’s birth certificate is interesting as he was originally registered as Verda, a girl. This was only altered in 1919 – after a statutory declaration by both parents. I later found that his mother died in 1927 and his father in 1945. Both are buried in the City of London Cemetery. How did he get through World War 1 without having to provide a birth certificate?


Verdi married Florence Lavinia Gibson and they had two sons – my father and his brother, John Kenneth Sunderland Earnshaw (another link to that Sunderland name). Florence died in 1936 aged only 42 and all I have are two photographs of her. See later for a few more details.


Heman Earnshaw


The family is on the 1881 census, living in Luddenden in a street called “Church Hill”. In fact they were at No. 13 and the building still exists, although renumbered 14 as the owners thought 13 was unlucky (and having bought the “underneath” house as well). 11-16 Church Hill were weavers cottages built on the side of a hill, overlooking the parish church. The building was four storeys high and provided two sets of two storey houses. The upper part was reached from a lane that went up the hill and the lower houses were reached from a lane that stayed on the level. All of these houses have now been combined into 4 storey “town houses” and are Grade 2 listed. They have the tell-tale windows of weavers cottages – a continuous row of windows to let in as much light as possible, so the family could work at home for as many hours as possible. At the time there were Thomas and Betty Earnshaw and Thomas’ children (Maria, Martha, Heman, Laura and Johnny S) and also Father In Law, John B Sunderland. This last name explains Dad’s brother’s third name (Jack Kenneth Sunderland Earnshaw). But I have discovered a sting in that tail (later)! All were described as being born in Halifax – but I later found, with help from the 1891 census, that this was incorrect and so managed to trace back a bit further.


I have located Betty Earnshaw and daughter Laura on the 1901 census – but called Earnsham on the lookup index (quite clearly Earnshaw on the image). I have also located Johnny S – with wife and daughter. I also have Laura’s birth certificate and the spelling was LORA and she was born in Ovenden.


When I located the family on the 1891 Census, there were Thomas and Betty, plus daughters Martha and Laura. This time there was also John Earnshaw, the father of Thomas. The places of birth were given as Denholme for Thomas, Martha and his father John. Betty was stated as being born in Warley, which is quite near to Luddenden.


When I obtained Heman and Lora’s birth certificates, they stated that their mother was Elizabeth (previously Briggs). Obviously it was expected that she was previously Sunderland. After fruitless searches for a previous marriage of Betty, I obtained a copy of a marriage certificate for Thomas. His bride, Elizabeth Briggs, was much younger than the Betty in the census and she was described as a spinster. Searches for Betty Sunderland then led to the discovery that she was a second wife and so uncle’s third name was not from his real grandmother!


Much later John Rushworth, who had some more direct knowledge of the family, contacted me. As his family remained close and his great grandfather (William Murgatroyd) had lived until 1971, he was able to tell me more about Heman’s siblings – that Maria had died in her teens; that Martha had married William Murgatroyd and had 10 children; that Laura had eventually emigrated to USA and married. He also had access to Martha Earnshaw’s photograph album, which included pictures of Heman, Martha, Laura, Thomas and second wife Betty, and Thomas’s father John. The contents of this album are now on John’s web site . After looking again at the photograph I have of Thomas and Betty Earnshaw’s grave, I noticed that the next grave is that of Willim and Martha Mugatroyd (ie Heman’s sister)

Stepping back in time


The discovery of the 1891 data led me to look again at the 1881 census to try to find John Earnshaw. There was a John and Martha Earnshaw living near Denholme who matched the ages. In fact there were several other Earnshaw’s in the area who eventually turned out to be closely related. There is an IGI listing of the baptism of Thomas Earnshaw in Haworth (near Denholme) with parents John and Martha. So, it appeared that I had now located my ggg grandparents on the Earnshaw side.


Thomas Earnshaw


Other than the 1881 and 1891 Censuses, and his non-appearance in the 1901 Census I had little to go on. Did he die, or leave home, between 1891 and 1901? There are some IGI listings that possibly refer to him and his, much older, wife (Betty Sunderland). The birth certificates of both Heman and Lora give his wife’s previous surname as Briggs. Suggesting she had been married before – hence the age difference? But as explained earlier, Betty was, in fact a second wife, probably asked to look after his children following his first wife’s death


After visiting the area and finding Thomas and Betty’s grave in Luddenden cemetery, which gave his date of birth, everything has fitted together properly. The church records for Haworth church also give the same date of birth and the baptismal entry is signed by Patrick Bronte (father of the famous sisters). By pure chance we found where John and Martha had lived at Edge Bottom, Denholme (spotting the street name as we drove through the village) and then found his grave in the United Reform Church at Denholme Edge, which is only a few yards from Edge Bottom. There were several other Earnshaw’s buried in the same churchyard and, using records from local churches, have pieced together the family back to John’s parents.


Thomas had the five children referred to previously (Maria, Martha, Heman, Laura and Johnny). They all had the same mother, Elizabeth nee Briggs. Johnny was born in March 1871 but by February 1872 Thomas had married Betty Sunderland. Wife Elizabeth had died in October 1871 so he didn’t wait long before marrying again. I suppose that Thomas remarried to give his children a mother. Betty’s father was a verger at the local church and on 17th March 1875 all five of Thomas’ children were baptised at Luddenden St Mary’s. You can imagine her father saying, “I am the verger, yet none of your children take communion. It is very embarrassing  – isn’t it about time they were baptised”. Thomas and Elizabeth had been non-Conformist having got married in Lister Hills Independent Chapel (built in the 1850’s but no longer in existence). I have yet to discover where Elizabeth is buried. Thomas’ older brother John married Elizabeth’s older sister Ann at the same church.


Thomas died in 1899 at the age of 57 and Betty stayed on at Church Hill, with Thomas’ daughter Lora, until her death in 1904. Lora, who seems to have spelled the name in the more conventional way Laura, eventually emigrated to USA, married and adopted a daughter.


John Earnshaw


The only information I had on John was that he was a worsted weaver, born in Denholme around 1810. Assuming that the 1891 census is correct and the 1881 census is also the correct person, then the IGI listing shows that John married a Martha. The birth certificate that I obtained for Thomas stated that his mother was Martha, nee Farrar. It was only after the discovery of Thomas’ grave and the Haworth registers that I managed to prove that this was the correct birth certificate and so the John and Martha in Denholme were really his parents.


John and Martha were married in Bradford Church (now the Cathedral) in 1835 and seem to have had four other children in addition to Thomas, one of whom was born a couple of years before they married and a second one just two months after the wedding.


The first child, Rebecca, who was still living with them in 1861, was a bit of a mystery. There was no reference at Haworth to her baptism. There is a Rebecca born at about the right time to Joseph and Mary Earnshaw of Keighley. At first I thought that this might be her and that either the register was wrong, or Rebecca was a niece. However, all has become clear after being provided with a list of the Farrar baptisms in Denholme Methodist Chapel. Rebecca Farrar, daughter of Martha, was one of them.


As far as I can tell John and Martha lived all their married lives in Edge Bottom, Denholme Edge – at least from 1841 to 1885. Martha died in 1885 and John moved to live with his son, Thomas, sometime before 1891. John himself died in 1898 and was taken back to Denholme to be buried with his wife and family. His son Thomas died just one year later in 1899.


John was baptised at Haworth in 1810 with parents stated as John and Sally Earnshaw of Denholme. There were several other baptisms of children with father John from Denholme, but the others had a mother Sarah. There were also other baptisms of children of a John and Sarah from Wilsden. Eventually, with the help of Jean who had looked at the 1851 census, it was clear that the Wilsden and Denholme families were one and the same.


On the Keighley Road, right by Edge Bottom, there is a churchyard of an old Methodist Chapel. We didn’t find any Earnshaw graves, but I have just found out that there are several graves of the Farrar family there, including Martha’s father and two of her sisters. Martha and her siblings were also baptised in the old chapel.


I was recently put in touch with Jean Blythe who is descended from Martha’s sister Betty. This has added greatly to my knowledge of the Farrar family. However, neither of us has traced the baptism of Betty and Martha’s father, John Farrar.



John Earnshaw (senior)


So who were John and Sally (or Sarah)? There were two possible marriages. One was in Bradford to Sarah Robinson. This John was a cotton spinner and so unlikely as all our ancestors were Worsted Weavers. The John found on the 1851 census was also a worsted weaver.


The other marriage was at Haworth to Sally Hartley. It was later discovered that one of his grandchildren (who had lived with his grandfather) named his first son Jackson Hartley Earnshaw. This, together with the occupation difference, makes it clear that the correct Sarah/Sally is Sally Hartley.


As far as can be ascertained, they lived in Denholme after their marriage until about 1814 and then moved to East Manuels, between Wilsden and Cullingworth. They remained there for the rest of their lives. This shows up through the references of “abode” on the baptism records and also the 1851 census.


Having ascertained the dates of death from death certificates that are clearly the correct John and Sarah (address was Manuels, Wilsden) it could be presumed that they might be buried at Wilsden Parish Church. This was not known until viewing the parish burial records at the LDS FHC in London. Both John and Sarah were buried in Wilsden. However, there is no reference on the MI’s (listed and indexed in 1932 by Arthur Blackburn) to a headstone with their name. So, presumably there is no permanent marker there. It remains to discover whether the grave register exists and whether other members of the family are buried there.


There was nothing to show where John snr came from, other than the 1851 census when he said he was born in Wilsden. I started comparing other families in the vicinity on the censuses and it appeared quite likely that there is a connection to one specific family – from Oxenhope. But, without a baptism for John it was hard to prove the connection. Then, another search was made on the IGI using an “intelligent search” facility available within my software, Legacy. It turned up a match that meets the prime information known – that he was born in approximately 1786. This was the only potential match and was just a few miles away from Oxenhope, in Heptonstall. The baptism stated that the mother was Martha Earnshaw and named an “alleged” father, Abraham Fielding. Other details of Martha make it almost certain that she was the daughter of Jonas Earnshaw and Jane Spencer from Oxenhope. I doubt this can be totally proved, but further research (such as regarding her later marriage) might firm up the likelihood that I have finally found the correct family – and through that traced back from Jonas to Samuell Earnshay born in Heptonstall in 1612, son of Samuel and Susan Turner.


My Memories of the family


My only recollections of Dad’s family are :


Grandad (Verdi), who lived at 18 Cypress Avenue in Whitton, Middlesex. He had already had two strokes and had a stiff leg making walking and climbing stairs very difficult. As his wife had died before the war, he had a live-in housekeeper, Mrs Davies (Eva Kathleen). She seemed to do everything for him and drove his car (a beige 1949 Ford Prefect NPE769) whenever we went out as a family. I remember the night he died – I was asleep in bed, and so were Mum and Dad, when there was a lot of knocking on the door. Dad went immediately. Since then I have always had a fright when there has been a late night or very unexpected call.


The day of the funeral I spent at Cypress Avenue and everyone went off to Woking Crematorium, except Mrs Davies and me. There were lots of people there, but I have no idea who they were. A few guesses are

-         Tom (his brother and my godfather) and wife (Beattie) – they lived in Bethnal Green

-         Edie (his sister)

-         Florrie (his sister) and her husband George Bade

-         Jessie (Balch), his wife’s sister

-         Other Gibson’s (his wife’s family)

-         Some neighbours

-         Some colleagues from HMSO where he worked


Now, from reading about Edie’s estate after she died, it transpires that there was another brother, George Edward who died in 1942. George was married to Constance Patrick, but I don’t yet know whether there were any children. In fact George died in Coventry in 1944, not 1942. It now transpires that George Edward’s wife, Constance, lived until 1994! And died in Cambridgeshire. Following up on that might provide a few more clues.


I have been in touch with one of Florrie’s grandchildren (John Bade) and got some further information.


After granddad died Mrs Davies went to live in Hastings (138 The Marina, St Leonards). We eventually bought the car from her and stayed with her for holidays for a few years. Later she moved to Wellington Square in Hastings where her brother lived. But eventually we lost touch. No wonder Dad wasn’t happy about Mrs Davies - In his will, my grandfather left almost everything to her – except £200 to Dad and £50 to me. It makes you wonder what “housekeeper” meant!


I have been back to Twickenham and taken some photos of the houses that our families lived in and will add them to the site soon.


Grandma Earnshaw. All I knew was that she was called Florence Lavinia (Gibson) and died just five days before my Dad’s 21st birthday (then the coming of age). She had bought him a wardrobe for his birthday present, which he kept until his death (I still have the receipt but the wardrobe was left in Mollie’s flat when I sold it). Her death obviously continued to upset him for the rest of his life. From her marriage certificate, I have found her on the 1901 census – there is a sister, Jessie, at the same address (her sister when I met her was called Jessie Balch). I need to visit the Gibson’s to get further clarification of this, as the names they gave me over the phone did not totally match. But with a lot of research, I believe that I have now sorted out much about the Gibson ancestors – including Florence’s grandmother, Elizabeth Abell, who married four times. Elizabeth obviously split from her husband (Humphrey Potter) soon after the birth of Fanny Agnes (Florence’s mother) and they both set up homes with other people and had further children.


Dad’s brother, Jack. Like Dad, he was called up into the Army for the 2nd World War and joined the Royal Corps of Signals. There was a telegram from the government stating that he was missing, presumed dead, but this has been lost over the years. Apparently he was in Singapore when it fell and captured by the Japanese. Jack was almost certainly made to work on the Burma Railway, as it is two years later when he was being transported to Japan by ship (probably the Hofuku Maru) and it was bombed by American aircraft. He was engaged before going into the army – I don’t know anything about his fiancée, but seem to remember being told her name was Mary.


Dad and his brother Jack trained as printers (compositors), as had their father. Dad, like his father, had been granted the Freedom of the City of London on completion of his apprenticeship. After the war Dad joined C&E Layton Ltd, a firm of printers in Farringdon Street in the City. They specialised in typesetting for advertisements. I visited the print works several times and sat at Dad’s workplace where he had all the pieces of type and frames for setting it out. A few years before he moved to Devon, the company was taken over by the Maxwell corporation.


Janey Lindley


Originally, I only knew that my Great Grandmother (Earnshaw) was previously called Jane Lindley because of her name on my Grandfather’s birth certificate. However, I also had some handmade notes from talking to Mollie (Dad’s second wife) and Auntie Babs (Mum’s sister) that also pointed to this name. Now it is confirmed through obtaining the marriage certificate of Heman and Janey (as on certificate).


By luck, there are some references on web sites to the wedding of Janey and Heman, in West Ham, and that helped me to trace the record at the Family Records Centre (FRC). The wedding certificate gives a lot more information – some confirming existing knowledge and some new.


Originally I could find no reference to Heman, Janey, Verdi or others on the 1901 census. But, because of the errors, they were there, somewhere, with mis-spellings. However, I tried as many alternatives as I could think of. I eventually found them through looking for Florrie – and found they were listed under the name Hernshaw.


I found Janey Lindley on the 1881 census in Luddenden Foot living with parents Job and Hannah and a brother John H. One of the witnesses at her wedding was John Horsfall Lindley and so I presumed that this was her brother.


After putting a note on the Genforum message board under Lindley, I eventually got a response from Peter Lindley who was the grandson of John Horsfall Lindley. Peter has done a huge amount of research into the Lindley family and so Janey’s tree is very well documented.


Why were they married in West Ham? The Lindley’s had just moved south from Luddenden Foot and were living in the West Ham area.. But, Verdi was born in Elland, Yorkshire. Heman and Janey appear to have lived in Elland for 5-6 years before moving south themselves. The reason for this is totally unknown, although I have given a couple of options.



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