The Birchall Brothers

wantingcaution !! this is an initial draft ... these notes are on my server for safe keeping !!





Foursome at Port Erin 1930The Birchall brothers Bill (1905-1973) & George (1907-1985) weren't daft they had a good eye for the girls and the Hindley genes were well worth some time and effort.

But of course it was always the girls who did the choosing, they had a bigger investment at stake! Cousins Wyn & Eda Hindley discovered Bill & George playing cricket in Northwich around 1930.

After all the pulling at the Saturday night dances at 'The Rec', one of the first gambits in the courting routine was to take the girls overseas for a holiday in Port Erin, Isle of Man in the summer of 1930. It must have worked ... George & Eda married in 1934 at the Baptist Chapel, Shutley and Bill & Wyn married in 1937 at Christ Church, Barnton.

Bill & George were sportsmen and reliable, straight down the middle, and they came from a solid lineage of Cheshire craftsmen from the Congleton, Sandbach, Middlewich, Northwich area.

What were the Birchalls doing in East Cheshire?

No doubt they had followed a well trodden path from the fields to workshops to the factories ... that's where the jobs were ... and generations of Birchalls found lucrative niches for their crafts in woodwork, in the silk throwing mills & in the chemical manufactories ...

Something was known of the Birchall name around Lancashire and East Cheshire ... and John Barker has identified a fascinating Birchall urban trek from the farms North Shropshire to Congleton Mills ... who knows? ...

George & EdaGeorge 3 yearsGeorge Birchall (1907-1985)

Young George was born in Middlewich in 1907 at The Crown Hotel, Lewin Street and he was the apple of his dad's eye.

When the family moved to Water Street, Northwich around 1910 father George W had given up selling beer for a 'proper' job as a joiner with Brunner Mond. Water Street was a stone's throw from St Helen's, Witton and George W was a pious fellow, rather gentle like his dad Edward, and he immediately became embroiled big time at the church as a lay helper. With some prodding from his dad young George's first claim to fame was as a chorister at Witton with his brother Bill. The photo was from March 19th 1921, Bill was 16 and Gorge 13. George 'starred' in the choir from 1915 to 1924 and was rewarded for his efforts with the Works of Shakespeare ... he was a little reticent about his musical exploits which ceased abruptly when his voice broke! He was much happier and proud to talk of his exploits on the cricket & hockey fields ... and in 1938 Northwich Cricket Club were good.

GB was taught in the fine musical arts by Joseph Patterson Shaw (1858-1939), choirmaster extraordinaire and Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. A composer of remark who, in 1900 wrote 'Britons, One and All!', a Patriotic Song, with words by E Oxenford. No doubt young George sang this with gusto and also other hymns from another published work by Joseph Patterson; hymn tunes etc, 1906. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the great man was keeping morale high with organ recitals in Northwich. We can image that the young Birchall brothers were present at the dedication in 1917 of the Lych Gate at Witton in memory of Cannon Binney.

Obituary - Joseph Patterson-Shaw (1858-1939) - 'Mr Shaw had a long association with the Northwich Philharmonic Society of which he became the conductor in 1888 and from then onwards until 1916 he wielded the baton as well as coached the Society's members for the performance of many of the major works. The society went out of existence solely on account of the difficulty in finding halls suitable for public performances, but indicative of Mr Shaw's enthusiasm for music is the fact that in the closing years of his active life he made brave efforts to revive the Society and staged several first-class concerts in the Baths Hall. His wife Ida Deakin (1871-1932) was also concerned in the musical profession of her husband, and in a variety of ways seconded his efforts in this connection. She took a practical part in the business affairs of the Northwich Philharmonic Society, and for some years acted as Treasurer to this one-time successful organisation'.

Although George junior came from a distinguished line of wood workers, joiners & cabinet makers, like almost all of the Northwich boys at the time it was 'the family firm' of Brunner Mond & Co that offered the most lucrative employment and prospects in the early 1900s. The whole town, directly or indirectly, was employed by BM&Co. The hand made output of the traditional Cheshire craftsman had been usurped by the machines and contrivances of mass production in the factories. Brunner Mond mass produced soda ash from Northwich salt & Buxton limestone on a global scale.

George senior was somewhat chagrined but accepted the inevitable and wished both of his boys well as they entered into the comfortable embrace of the Northwich 'family firm' ... indeed he himself had become a craft supervisor at the Winnington Works ...

George Birchall was like his granddad; hard working and conscientious, rather shy even timid but a craftsman though he worked with folk rather than wood. Honest as the day is long, he work unobtrusively throughout his life to secure those elusive cooperative synergies involved in team work ... proud, but he went about his job and got results by keeping others sweet. George W would have wanted more ambition but granddad Edward understood, George was a chip off the old block!

George junior moved through office jobs at local solicitors, Parks Steelworks and then at Brunner Mond & ICI where he moved to the Northwich Works manufacturing lead fuel additives ... George transferred to Associated Ethyl when they took over operations in 1948 .

Hard work and meticulous attention to detail ensured George progressed smoothly from Safety Officer to Labour, Safety & Welfare Officer to Personnel Manager to Labour Manager and then a prized place on, what was then the Octel Coordination Committee, involving policy coordination of the six company locations; Ellesmere Port, Northwich, Halye, Amlwch, Bletchley and Berkley Square ...

George married well in 1934 to Eda Hindley from Shutley and they purchase a brand new house, just a mile down the road from Eda's home but actually 'next door' ... Burnside, Runcorn Road, Little Leigh where they settled down and produced four children ... Gillian Hindley, John Peter, George Richard and Kathryn Ann.

Perhaps George Birchall's greatest achievement was the meticulous education of his family ... but we would say that wouldn't we!

It was not luck! It was the accumulation of aeons of evolved culture and hard work, honesty and thrift.

We watched, listened and noted the peak of serious endeavour at The Associated Octel Company which came in 1972; as George negotiated a Productivity Agreement with Hugh Scanlon and the Union Barons. We learned about economic science when all around us were concerned with petty party politics. It was the cooperative synergies of management and workers delivered the increased in productivity which increased real wages for everyone. Companies like Octel survived but it was not luck, whatever they did it was 'working' otherwise bankruptcy loomed. The company helped to keep Spitfires in the air & iberal Democracy on track during the battle of Britain and became a specialised chemical company when lethal lead was removed from petrol as technology solved problems. The company's expertise in the production of sodium metal and the extraction of bromine from sea water were valuable technologies. George was rewarded well for his hard work, honesty & thrift and he enthusiastically organised his 'Top Hat Scheme', a rainy day fund for the family ... he always toasted the family at every opportunity ... and he also knew about compound interest.

George loved his cricket and his beer and will always be remembered for passing on these passions to both his sons; John P, a batsman and beer drinker & Richard who also loved both sports ... and grandson Jonathan was an improvement on his dad with cricket at Ellesmere and beer at Mouldsworth ... George also, alas, smoked cigarettes; Capstan Navy Cut was his puff ... but he had the nous to stop in the 1950s when the clouds gathered as he wrestled with stress at work and 'anxiety neurosis' diagnosed by Dr E Gleave, Manchester in 1956. The stress of promotion to the high flying Coordination Committee after being appointed Labour Manager on Jan 1st 1956 and was awarded a new Ford Consul WMA 988 on Jan 12th. This was at the time of the 'British Disease' and naive focus on 'something for nothing', 'them and us', 'restrictive practices', 'demarcation disputes' and violent emotional confrontations over fair shares of nominal income hand outs. The militant unions of Merseyside had already destroyed the great port of Liverpool and were intent on further scalps.  The fraught industrial relations at five factory sites had taken its tool. Monday April 9th George cried off 'sick' on Dr Booth's orders ... back to work on June 11th ... mornings only. Six months specialist treatment on BUPA with Dr Gleave finishes October 26th 1956.

George was also Chairman of the Hockey Section of The Winnington Park Recreation Club for over 50 years, a contribution which was rewarded with life membership in 1980. George always encouraged the youngsters ...

From 1934 when he married Eda, George kept a record of his life in his dairies ... a meticulous record ... if you can read his hand writing!

George died, with Eda, at his side on November 15th 1985. Frank Smith, his great mate from Octel, remembered.  

Bill Birchall (1905-1973) in addition to playing sports and chasing girls, Bill was a robust & amiable Uncle who spent a lot of time with his young brother and his family. He joined the embrace of the local firm Brunner Mond when he was 15 in 1920 and had a long & successful career in the ICI Distribution Department. He was based in Scotland for a time. Jobs in Northwich at Brunner Mond were not only available they were also rewarding, there was no pressure on Bill for further education nor a trade nevertheless the demands of ICI were high and everybody was required to be diligent, reliable, honest and professional; they had the high standards of a good employer. William Birchall did well and retired to fine life on the golf course at Alderley Edge and a home with Wyn at 101 Knutsford Road, Wilmslow.

George & AdaGeorge W Birchall (1875-1960), my granddad and a craftsman extraordinaire ...

George W was born in Wheelock in 1875 and christened in Christ Church, Wheelock on December 24th 1876 at the same time as elder sister Eliza Ann (1874-) and younger brother John (1876-).

George William married Ada Smallwood (1878-1939) in Northwich in 1898. Ada died at a young age of 51 in 1933. They had three children Winifred (1900-??), Bill (1905-??) and George (1907-85).

The 1901 census confirms the family at the Newton Brewery Inn, 68 Webbs Lane, Middlewich. My granddad was a publican ... and a joiner! No wonder the Birchalls enjoyed beer! Annie born in 1901 died in 1902 and was buried in Middlewich ... we never knew.

In 1906 Kelly's Directory of Middlewich recorded George William Birchall at The Crown Inn, Lewin Street, Middlewich.

The Crown 22 Lewin Street, Middlewich - © Dave Roberts 2013

This astonishing aerial view of our town has been supplied by Dave Thompson of Middlewich Town Council with the information that it was taken in 1968.
So the first thing we have to do is correct the date, on the grounds that, as can be seen, Seddon's Salt Works in Pepper Street was still in operation at the time of the photograph, so the very latest the picture can be dated is 1967, which was the year that the Pepper Street works, along with the Brooks Lane and Wych House Lane works, closed.
This is just one of the aerial views which the council has let us borrow, and we'll be considering earlier and later ones in future Diary entries.
But, for now, let's concentrate on this one.
Of all the birds-eye views of Middlewich I've seen, this one is by far my favourite because it shows the town at the very end of what I like to call our Salt Town Days, just before the open-pan works closed and production was concentrated at the new British Salt Works in Booth Lane, built in 1969 and still going strong.
(In truth, our Salt Town Days, aren't really over, but the time when the works were a part of the fabric of the town are long gone.)
This is the town I and my contemporaries grew up in.
A dirty, grimy, workaday town with no pretensions to be anything else.
It was in 1967 that the terminally snooty Cheshire Life magazine published a very patronising and sneery article about Middlewich, wondering where all the up-market antique shops, bistros and posh clothes shops their readers would expect in a Cheshire town were, for all the world as if we'd been offered these things and turned them down in favour of dirty, smoky factories.
It didn't go down well.
In the 1980s, in my capacity of editor of the Heritage Society's Newsletter I took a look back at this notorious article and marveled at the writer's apparent inability to grasp the concept of a town which worked for its living.
Middlewich has featured in the Cheshire Life a few more times since the 1960s, and our progress from slatternly working class manufacturing town to bustling, lively 'town of festivals' can be charted by reading some of those articles.
The Church of St Michael & All Angels, dominates the sixties scene, as it has always done and still does today.
At this time the Churchyard had not been tidied up and the gravestones which now form pathways around the building are still in their original places.
To the right of the Church is the old Town Hall which, along with adjacent buildings, was demolished in the early 1970s to make way for first the nightmarish 'piazza' and then the much more stylish and attractive 'amphitheatre'.
To the right of the church, and just across Lower Street (now absorbed into St Michael's Way) sprawls Seddon's Pepper Street works. Clouds of white steam from the salt pans show that the works is still in operation.
There has long been speculation as to why the salt works should be in Pepper Street. The general consensus is that when the Council came to name the road they were in 'playful mood', which is as good an explanation as any.
'The Moorings' now occupies most of this site.
Across the Trent & Mersey canal is Middlewich gas works. The two round structures are the main and subsidiary gas-holders, still containing coal gas in those pre-North Sea Gas days.
The pipe bridge taking the gas supply into Middlewich can be seen crossing the canal.
Below the Church in the photograph is Middlewich Town Wharf, still awaiting its rebirth as 'the Gateway to Middlewich', but in those days witnessing the last days of commercial canal traffic and the first glimmerings of the tourist trade which, among other things, has helped put Middlewich back on the map.
To the left of the wharf are those huge buildings in Lewin Street, the Church of England Infants School and the Wesleyan Chapel.
Across Lewin Street from the Chapel is a building we haven't looked at yet - the Centenary Sunday School, by this time in use as the local Valuation Office. Middlewich Library now occupies the site.
Below the vast bulk of the Wesleyan Chapel can be seen part of Seddon's Wych House Lane Salt Works and, to its left the old Seddon's waggon repair shop, with its ramshackle collection of sheds and workshops incorporating Middlewich's first Catholic Church and School.
Moving upwards, just above the Sunday School is the Victorian police-station in Queen Street, now replaced by a small box-like brick building.
Above this, on the extreme left of the picture we can just see part of the bowling green at Fountain Fields.
Above that is the present site of Tesco's main Middlewich store, and above that the wooded area is the land between Southway and Darlington Street which Tesco bought up as part of their now-abandoned expansion plans.
Also notable is the Town Bridge which looks in this picture like some kind of motorway flyover, flung across the Trent & Mersey on a huge concrete raft.
It must have looked very strange indeed in 1931 when it was first built, replacing the original little bridge which had been there since the late 18th Century.
To make the picture easier to understand, here it is again with a key and explanatory notes:
1: St Michael & All Angels Church
2: The Churchyard before alteration. Part of the Churchyard was removed in 1931 to widen Lower Street when the new Town Bridge was built.
3: Middlewich Town Hall. In the same way, one end of the Town Hall was demolished to make room for a wider Lower Street.
4: Seddon's Salt Works in Pepper Street
5: Middlewich Gas Works. Originally built by the Middlewich Gas Light and Coke Company. Most of the original works had gone by this time, but the two gas-holders were still in use.
6: The gas-pipe bridge which carried gas from the works into Middlewich. The offices of the North-Western Gas Board were in Lower Street close to the salt works yard.
7: The Town Wharf with its large warehouse building, wharfinger's cottage and wash-house for the boaties. Fronting onto Leadsmithy Street above are the public conveniences, built on stilts to bring them up to road level, which Cheshire East are currently (May 2013) trying to close.
UPDATE: This Middlewich Guardian item sheds more light on the Town Wharf and Public Conveniences issue
8: The Talbot Hotel in Kinderton Street. Behind the pub, and running at right angles to the main road, is a small terrace of cottages called Flag Alley.
9: The Town Bridge. Built by Cheshire County Council in 1931.
10: The CofE Infants School. The land occupied by this building, the Wesleyan Chapel (11) and Seddon's Salt Works and workshops (13,14) are now the site of the Salinae Centre and associated lawns and gardens.
11: The Wesleyan Chapel.
12: The Centenary Sunday School (Valuation Office). The library stands on this site now. To the left of this enormous building is a long, low building. This was the Conservative Club. The access road to the car park behind the library now occupies the site.
13: Seddon's Wych House Lane Salt Works.
14: The first Catholic Church and School, incorporated into Seddon's Workshops.
15: The Police Station in Queen Street.
16: Fountain Fields bowling green
17: Site of Tesco store in Southway.
18: Land between Southway and Darlington Street, home to several beautiful houses, including Barclay House. Now gone to rack and ruin. The future of this site is uncertain.
19: Webb's Lane - a continuation then, as now, of Pepper Street.
20: St Ann's Road.
21: The White Bear in Wheelock Street.
22: Pepper Street. Now just a short row of houses (where our '22' is) but once linking Webb's Lane with the town centre. The large building at the end of the terrace is Seddon's offices.
23: Seabank car park.
So that was Middlewich in the late 1960s.
As those days recede further and further in time, it gets harder and harder to believe that our town once looked like this.
It's fascinating to look back on the way Middlewich used to be, but this is the grim reality of that 'lovely little town' which everyone thinks they can remember.
Once the works were closed and demolition started in earnest, poor old Middlewich was a sorry sight indeed to behold.
Truly the past is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn't want to live there.

In 1972 down the street towards the church we see The Crown, part of Greenall Whitley Land.
In 2012 Dave Roberts remembered that in 1987 the shop was still a chemist, one of two Rowlands Pharmacy branches in the town, and also Middlewich's Post Office. Next comes the pub originally known as The Crown and now named The Narrowboat. At the time of our photograph it was called The Danes as can be seen from the sign over the door. The Danes boasted a specially made carpet woven with representations of the real Great Danes which were on the premises. The pub at this time was very long and thin, making full use of the former outbuildings and well-known as a 'disco pub' with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems. For Sale sign can be seen underneath the pub sign. Was this the beginning of the end for The Danes? Certainly The Narrowboat was in existence in the early years of the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival which started in 1990.

So George was sired in the heart of salt country by a publican from a family of woodworkers & mill workers. Middlewich was steeped in salt & canals and interesting history. The Crown Hotel was just opposite to Whych House Lane and Seddon's Salt Works on the canal ... we remember as four year olds that Reg Seddon played hockey with George at Winnington Park ... we remember Reg carefully 'looked' after us one Saturday after noon when we were dispatched from Burnside to give Mama space for the birth of George Richard ... or was it as a seven year old for the birth of Kathryn Ann?    

Henry Seddon (1853-) born in Penistone, Yorkshire

In 1891 census Henry was married to Emmie (1854-), Salt Manufacturer, living at Chadwick Fields, Boot Lane, Newton with children Nellie (1882-), Roland (1884-) and Frank (1887-).

In 1901 census Henry was a Salt Proprietor, Ship Owner and Brick Manufacturer living at Chadwick Fields, Warmington Lane, Middlewich with Emmie and children Nellie (1882-), Roland (1884-), Overlooker (Salt Works), and Nora (1896-) plus servant.

In 1910 when young George was 3 years 3 months they had just left a newsagents business  at 438 Gorton Road, Reddish.  The reverse of a photograph of young George told a story of a sojourn in Stockport? ... mother in law Isabella Smallwood had remarried to William Jones 'mein host' at the Old King's Head, Lower Bridge Street, Chester.

The 1911 census saw the family at 36 Water Street, Northwich ... down by the Dane, just before the Weaver confluence, and just opposite the ancient brine pit which was probably worked by the Romans. George W, was a joiner with Brunner Mond, born in Wheelock and Ada & the three children born in Middlewich .. at the pub. By 1911 George W was under pressure he had three children to support and his well paid craftsman job at Brunner Mond had many advantages over the less reliable income from the pub in Middlewich ... not to mention the unsocial hours and drunken loafs ... no place to bring up kids?

They later moved to 19 Manora Road and then 'Sherlowe' in Witton Park, Northwich.

My great grandma, Ada's mum, was Isabella Smallwood (neé Hall, 1856-) who was born in Macclesfield in 1856. Isabella's mum, Mary Hall (1831-91) my g-g-grandma, was born in Ruyton, Shropshire, and tragically lost her Hall husband when Isabella was very young.

Mary Hall coped well with this misfortune. In 1861 the census describes the widowed Mary Hall and family - Mary Ann (1847-), Jane (1849-), William Stanley (1855-) & Isabella (1856-) at 111 Brook Street, Macclesfield. Mary stuck at it and made a bean or two taking in washing and sending her two eldest daughters out to work in the silk mills. But she also found an exceptional man to help with the family.

In 1868 Mary was married again this time to James Fletcher (1832-1908), a local man born in Runcorn, who hit the big time cutting fustian. The new family continued to live in Brook Street and thrived as James became a 'Master Fustian Cutter' in Lewin Street, Middlewich and installed his step son William Stanley as his manager.

Meanwhile 21 year old Isabella left home and married Henry Smallwood (1853-94) in 1877 at a civil marriage in Northwich. In 1881 the pair were at Lewin Street, Middlewich with 2 year old Ada. Henry was a bricklayer employing 3 men. In 1891 they were still at Lewin Street but by this time Ada had a 7 year old brother, Stanley, and dad was now impressively described as a builder ... they were living next door to Isabella's mum! Stanley at 15 years of age abandoned home & country and sailed from Liverpool on the SS Laurentian on the 22nd of June 1899 bound for Montreal, Canada ... we didn't hear much about 'Uncle Stanley' ...

Henry died in Middlewich in 1894 at 41, Isabella was a widow at 35 or so, a repeat of her mother's experience of losing a loving husband early in life, leaving her alone with children to support ... and resourcefully, just like mum she remarried. In 1899 Isabella married William Jones (-1910) at St Oswald's, Chester, the publican at The Old King's Head, Lower Bridge Street. Isabella did well, The Old King's Head enjoyed an ancient reputation for hospitality and good ale and when William died in 1910, still relatively young at 55, resourceful Isabella took over the running of the business ... we heard a lot about 'grandma Jones' ...

Isabella died in 19?? and is always remembered for her old grandfather clock which was bequeathed to the eldest son of the eldest son of future Birchalls. There was also a 'cabinet clock' which always resided in the hall at Sherlowe and was rescued and professionally restored at vast expense by 'uncle Bill'. Bill, without children of his own, generously ensured this family trinket ended up in safe hands by giving it to me!? The history and value of this trinket is still an outstanding research task ... but nobody is holding their breath. Eda always said their was an old 'priests chair' around somewhere that was originally at The Old King's Head ... .

At SherloweWinifred Birchall (1899-), our aunt and George W's eldest born April 30th 1899 was admitted to Danebridge Church of England Primary School on March 20th 1911 after the family had moved to 36 Water Street ... previously at School in Chester? But was a Needlework star at school in Middlewich Council School in 1910? Perhaps Winnie stayed in Chester with grandma Isabella during the move from Middlewich to Northwich in 1910/?

Winifred married John William 'Bill' Peacock at St Helen's, Witton, Northwich in 1926. Bill was a grand old Witton Albion supporter. They had a daughter, cousin Jean, our one and only cousin, born 1924/6 with locks & locks of auburn hair and always smiling.

Jean first married Ricky Birch, an RAF fighter pilot who was tragically killed in a 'Mosquito' accident, they had a son David. David married Linda, a Dutch girl and they had children Marc and Stephanie.

Jean second married Squadron Leader Lewis Brandon DSO, DFC & bar, an RAF navigator who wrote about his exploits in his book 'Night Flyer'. Jean & Lew had a daughter Felicity, who married and went to the USA. Felicity had three children (at least).

Winifred & Bill lived with George senior & Ada at 'Sherlowe', Witton Park. Clearly seen in the photo is the hut which George W used as his carpenters workshop. I remember the delicious aroma of freshly sawn wood and the happy hours he spent there fabricating solid wooden furniture which is still around the Birchall house today ... stools, tables & desks ... and an exquisite construction, the Byron cabinet ... always called  the 'Byron Cabinet' because it housed two Birchall treasures -

works of Byron, an award to George William for proficiency in wood working from The Middlewich Technical College and

wood carving, framed by the cabinet door, this craftsmanship was George William's 'test piece' during his cabinet making apprenticeship. 

St Helen's Witton

In 1939 George William and Ada were living at 79 Carlton Road, Northwich; In the ARP Warden and working on school maintenance.

As a lay helper at St Helen's, Witton, George W was asked to apply some of his expert wood carving skills to renovate the choir screen in the church ... a job he was very proud to have completed around 1955 ... I also remember the pride on his face when he surveyed my own construction work on a model aircraft around the same time ... my effort was a balsa wood 2' wing span 0.75cc diesel powered plane named Madcap ... detailed plans purged from my monthly copy of 'Aeromodeler' ... it flew well, in my mind's eye I can still see the maiden flight in the garden at 'Lambay', the home of Michael Clifford ... but I also constructed a more sophisticated piece, a 'Tyne Folding Boats' canoe with ash spars and a rubberised canvas covering ... Granddad was appropriately gruntled ... not only did I wield screw drivers and saws but I also kept meticulous accounts of expenditures! And it was granddad who fabricated the wooden frame for my Hornby 00 model railway ... 'The Duchess of Athol' was a reward for passing the entrance exam to the King's School, Chester in 1951 ... developing the track layout remained a passion for years and it survived, carefully preserved for grandchildren ... only to fail miserably to compete with skiing, iPads and PlayStations.

George William died in 1960 and was buried at St Helens, Witton.

Edward Birchall (1854-1903), my great grandfather, was born in Sandbach, Cheshire. He married Mary Ann Knapper (1853-) in 1873 at Christ Church, Wheelock, Sandbach, Congleton, the daughter of Daniel Knapper (1827-92) and Eliza Jenkins (1828-95).

The Knappers were an interesting family and like the Fletchers they were into fustian cutting ...

Edward & Mary Ann had eleven children ... at the last count! ... Eliza Ann (1874-), George William (1875-), my granddad, John/Jack (1876-), Edward/Ted (1878-), Harry (1881-1944), Inspector of Police in Liverpool or St Helens, Alfred (1884-1924), Minnie (1885-), Fred (1886-), Gertrude (1887-1914), Mary Ellen (1889-), Harold (1891-) ... (and Julia (-) who married Hugh?)

In the records of Baptisms at Christ Church, Wheelock from 1873 on page 14 was a triple event on Christmas Eve 1876 ...  proud parents Edward & Mary Ann did the thing for their three eldest children!

Edward Birchall 1898Edward joined Brunner Mond at Middlewich and he was photographed at a banquet given at the Central Hall Northwich on the 25th anniversary of the commencement of Winnington Alkali Works on July 8th 1898 ... No. 115 dimly peering from the background behind a white bearded John Hough ... appearing reticent, even diffident, but this man was an accomplished craftsman who had joined one of the most successful companies ever ... Edward was a joiner, and I have his  horizontal 'spirit level' to prove it ... 'Makers John Rabone & Sons Birmingham, Guaranteed Correct'!

1861 census Edward, at school, with his Mum Ann, now a widow, they were at Middlewich Road, Sandbach.

1871 census ... no Edward Birchall ... where was he at 16? His Mum had married again and Edward was now 'Edward Henshall', living with his step dad ... see below ... but he soon reverted to his Birchall name, perhaps he was only a Henshall for the day of the census ...

1881 census Edward Birchall, a joiner, was with his family, seven of them, including mother-in-law Eliza, at Wheelock High Road, Wheelock.

1891 census indicates the massive family, with the youngest Harold just born, were still at Wheelock Road, Sandbach. George was a Post Boy, Eliza Ann, John, Edward were Silk Hands, and the youngsters still at school.

1901 census Edward was with Alfred, Minnie, Gertrude, Nellie and Harold at 9 Lichfield Street, Middlewich. Nellie was a nurse, and the three teenagers had found jobs at the local condensed milk factory.

 The Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company started production in Middlewich around 1866 on the old Lowe's Salt Works site. In 1866 at Charn in Switzerland, a condensed milk plant was set up by the Page brothers, The Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company. In 1866 the Pages had obtained the sole agency in Britain and in 1874 they bought the English Condensed Company of London, which gave them three production centres - Middlewich, Aylesbury and Chippenham.

Henri Nestlé was born in Frankfurt on Main in 1812 and went to live in Vevey Switzerland in his late twenties. He had a passion for chemistry and was a born inventor. During the 19th century the child mortality rate was very high, 1 in 5 dying in their fist year, Nestlé decided to produce a baby food. The Pages and Nestlé were to become fierce rivals until 1905 when they merged and The Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company became part of Nestlé. The site later became a textile mill and was burnt down in the 1970’s.

In 1911 Mary was a widow, living with Alfred, Alkali Labourer, & Harold, a Railway Porter, and granddaughter Phyllis Annie Webster (1897-) at 9 Litchfield Street, Middlewich.

Edward BirchallAlfred Birchall (1884-1924) RCA. Alfred died aged 40 and was buried with his dad at Middlewich.

John Birchall (1876-) was Edward's 2nd son, the 1901 census confirmed he was a cooper married in 1896 to Eliza Ann Atherton (-) with a son Wilfred (1900-). They were living at Middlewich Road, Sandbach, Congleton.

By 1911 there were additions to the family ... Doris (1903-), Ada Ellen (1904-) and Connie (1910-) they were at 65 Middlewich Road, Sandbach.

John served in the Cheshire Regiment for 11 years in India and South Africa and was demobbed on 1/4/19.

Harry Birchall (1881-1944) was Edward's 4th son, he married young Harriet Hough (1882-1901) in 1899 at Middlewich. Harriet was the daughter of James Hough, a Salt Boiler from Middlewich. Tragically Harriet died when only 19 years old in 1901 and young Harry remarried to Elizabeth Ollier (1883-) in 1905 at Newton Heath. Elizabeth was the daughter of Charles Ollier an Engine Driver at the Alkali Works. Edward died in 1903 and missed this happy occasion.

In the 1901 census Harry, an Apprentice Joiner was at 91 Lewin Street, Middlewich with Harriett.

In 1911, Harry, a Wood Joiner was with Elizabeth at Percivals' Yard, Wheelock Road, Middlewich with children, Eva (1906-), Hector (1906-), and new baby Blanche (1911-) named after her aunt, Elizabeth's sister ... they also had a son Charles Edward (1907-8) born in Middlewich but died a year later in 1908. In 1921 Harry & Elizabeth delivered a second Charles (1921-) who married Emma Barnes (-) in 19??

Hector Birchall (1906-70) was born in Middlewich and married Elizabeth Jennings (1905-86) in 1934. Children Brian (1934-). An interesting record survives of Hector's presence at The Middlewich Church of England Infant School in 1910 ... Hector & Elizabeth lived on Chester Road in Middlewich before they moved to New King Street, Middlewich around 1947.
Hector worked as a carer at Cranage Hospital near Middlewich until his death in 1970.

Charles Birchall (1921-) was born in Middlewich and married Emma Barnes (-) in East Ham in 1944. They had a daughter Maureen (-).

Family stories suggested that many of Hector's family made a living in the hurly burly of the fairgrounds ... how interesting ...

Harold joined the Liverpool police force and enjoyed a successful career as a Detective Inspector. He made the headlines in 1927 when he investigated bribery & corruption involving local bookies and young constables ... the incident also made the Exeter Gazette ...

Minnie Birchall (1885-)

In the 1911 census Minnie was living with her sister Mary Ellen, about half a mile from another sister Gertrude.

Mary Ellen Birchall (1889-) married a Bradford guy 12 years her senior, Hugh Percy Town (1877-) in 1910.

In the 1911 census Hugh Percy was a Dyers Chemist. They were living in Bradford at 9 Dalton Terrace.

Gertrude Birchall (1887-1914) married Harry Bolton (1878-1958) in 1912 whilst working as a bar assistant at Rochdale Railway Station 1912. harry was the son of John Bolton and Martha Thorpe (1848-) from Oldham, who were married in 1872 in Oldham.

John Bolton (1849-1904) was a Mill Manger employed by Howard & Bullough Ltd, one of the most important textile machinery companies in Lancashire.

In the 1871 census John age 23 was possibly living in Chadderton, Oldham. In 1872 John married Martha Thorpe (-) in Oldham. By 1878, when son Harry was born they were living & working in Russia.

In the 1901 census John, a Mill Manager (retired), and Martha were living at 38 Gilda Brook Road, Pendleton, Salford, with Nellie (1874-) born in Oldham, and Clara (1882-) & John (1883-) both born in Russia ... John was an Apprentice Electrical Engineer ...

John Bolton was working in Russia when Harry was born. Harry also worked in textile machinery manufacture and ended up with Tweedales & Smalley, in Rochdale.

Gertrude & Harry had a son Harold Birchall Bolton (1913-) born in Bradford in 1913 and grandsons Paul (-) & Colin Bolton (-).

During his absence overseas Gertrude moved to Bradford to be near her sisters Mary Ellen and Minnie who lived there.

In the 1911 census she was living at 7 St Lenard's Road.

Tragically, Gertrude died in 1914 aged only 27, and Harold Birchall Bolton was brought up by his father's parents in Manchester. Gertrude was buried with her dad in Middlewich.

Edward Birchall died in Middlewich in 1903, he was only 48, officially he died from phthisis. Was there a genetic predisposition to this tubercle bacillus, as his dad and granddad both died of this dreadful affliction within three years of each other? ... but 'exhaustion' tells more ... Edward was fastidious, a stickler for detail, diffident almost self-effacing as he mastered his skills and strived for perfection with wood ... they don't make craftsmen like that anymore ...

St Mary's AstburyWilliam Birchall (1831-60) was Edward's father baptised in Sandbach in 1831, the son of James & Sarah. William also worked in wood, he was a cabinet maker, he married Ann Threadgold (1830-) in 1854 at St Mary's, Astbury, Congleton, in the heart of the silk throwing district, and many many of the Birchalls found useful employment in this industry, including William who was a 'Staffman in a Silk Mill' when he died. William followed his father into silk and was trained in the intricacies of silk throwing in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where in 1851 he was living with George & Elizabeth Boult at 6 Rye Croft, Newcastle under Lyme? See below ...

Although a cabinet maker by trade the jobs in the silk mills paid well and attracted the cream of the local lads, and also many new comers. William ended up in silk like his father but William's son Edward and grandson George William both followed similar career paths from training as joiners to working for industrial concerns. In the case of Edward & George Wlliam the concern concerned was Brunner Mond. Simple economics, the opportunities for trained craftsmen were better at BM&Co than elsewhere ... and now more reliable than silk.

Ann Threadgold was born on 1/3/1828 in Sandbach, the daughter of Samuel Threadgold (-) and Hannah Cartwright (-). In 1841 Ann was with the Cartwrights at Heath West, Astbury. In 1851 she was working as 23 year old servant girl with the Wooley family at Newfield House, Common Lane, Sandbach. Frances (Fanny) Cartwright (1834-1909), Ann's cousin, born in Congleton in 1835, was a witness at Ann & William's wedding in 1854. The other witness was John Shenton (1824-1917). In 1854 John Shenton, a miner from Staffordshire, married Frances Cartwright in Congleton! Job Shenton (1837-1918), John's younger brother, also married into the Cartwright family, to Mary Ann Cartwright (1840-1900) in Congleton in 1859. It seems family bonds were thick around Congleton in the mid 1800s. The Stentons have a fabulous website, their route to Congleton was from Chedderton, Ippstones ... seeking work ... a trek from North Stafforshire coal mines to the Congleton Mills?

Young Edward, born in 1854, was a fine lad but soon tragedy was to strike the family. At 29 years of age, in 1860, his dad William died of Phthisis Pulmonarlis, or what was then called 'consumption', today we know the terrible affliction as tuberculosis ... William suffered for many months and passed the disease on to his father James who suffered for three years before also succumbing to the same dreaded infection in 1863. Dad and granddad both gone within 3 years of each other and little Edward only 6 years old ... but the family rallied round, Auntie Mary's husband George Nield handled all the arrangements for both William & his dad James ...

Economic change introduced Sandbach to the many evils of urbanisation previously unknown ... pollution, cholera, overcrowding & consumption were rampant but to represent industrialisation as misery & deprivation must have been a travesty of the truth ... the Birchalls were doing well, earning good money in new factories, why else would they have left the land? ... through hard work, honesty & thrift they became skilled craftsmen and above all they had escaped the terror of scraping out an existence on the land where famine, disease, plague & terrible infant mortality were the norm and any surpluses were fickle dependents of weather and crop & cow malfunctions ... the move to the mills was a success story ... far from the evils of congestion and exploitation of child labour the factory wages purchased the greatest prize of all ... survival ... the population statistics confirmed the children survived ... it was rural poverty that was the greater risk? Like hoards of the others the Birchalls trekked to the urban manufactories for jobs!

Elizabeth Gaskell, renowned for her recollections of squalor and desperation in 'Mary Barton', also described the new excitement of 'The Manchester Tea Party'...  a story of social interactions and prosperity? -

'Run, Mary dear, just around the corner, and get some fresh eggs at Tippings, and see if he has any fresh cut ham, and Mary, you must get a pennyworth of milk & a loaf of bread, mind you, get it fresh and new, no that's not all, get six pennyworth of rum to warm the tea, get that at The Grapes ... '

After William died Ann was resilient and worked in a grocer's shop to make ends meet and educate her son. The 1861 census finds them at Middlewich Road, Sandbach, with Edward at school and Ann earning extra pennies by taking in a lodger. Edward picked himself up, dusted himself down, and worked hard, equipping himself with the skills of a craftsman ... he served his apprenticeship as a joiner.

On December 31st 1867 Ann found new succor in her tragic life; she married Ralph Henshall (1836-), the mature 33 year old son of Thomas Henshall (1816-) & wife Elizabeth (1816-) of Haslington, Barthomley. The witnesses were James Kay and Emma Nield. Emma (1849-), of course, was Ann's 18 year old niece, the daughter of William's sister Mary Ann, see below.

In 1871 Ann was installed with her new family at the Green Bank Nag's Head, Wheelock. Ralph, a brewer/publican, had existing children which included three bright lads Thomas (1859-), Joseph (1861-) & John (1864-) and Edward was now with them, a 16 year old joiner.

In 1841 Thomas Henshall was an 'Ag Lab' with Elizabeth and three kids, Ralph (1836-), Joseph (1837-) & Mary (1840-). In 1851 Ralph was working as a Famer's Servant on James Barratt's Bolts Green Farm, Betchton, Congleton. In 1861 Ralph, then a 24 year old Silk Works Labourer, was with his 1st wife Margaret, 25, at Forge Fields, Sandbach with sons Thomas & Joseph.

William died at 29 in 1860 but he left a gem in young Edward ... and he also left his dad James ... if only for 3 years ...

James Birchall (1802-63)

William's father James was baptised on November 21st in Astbury Parish, the son of John & Hannah, named after his father's father and clearly recorded in the Bishop's Transcripts. The baptism was at St Peters, Congleton. James was in silk, William's marriage certificate described James' occupation as a 'Maker Up in Silk Factory' or a 'Silk Staffman' (a staffman was a workman employed in silk throwing, or silk spinning, twisting silk into yarn).

James from Sandbach married Sarah Richardson (1802-38) from Congleton, on Boxing Day in 1824 at Astbury. It was a licence job issued on December 18th 1824. James & Sarah were both 22 years old and James was working as a Silk Throwster. Sarah was the daughter of John & Sarah baptised at Sandbach on September 29th 1802. Sarah Birchall died in Sandbach in 1838, only 36, the same year as her mother Sarah Richardson, but mum was 79 when she died, they were on the same page of the Sandbach parish register. Folk were really dying young in those days ...

The first witness at the wedding of was Sarah's elder sister Mary Richardson (1797-), daughter of John, was  baptised at Sandbach in 1797 and Mary married John Boult (1797-) from Eccleshall, Staffordshire in Sandbach in 1823.

In 1841 John & Mary Boult were at Bleak Hill, Burslem, Rushton Grange, Stoke on Trent with young son John Boult (1839-) aged 2.

In 1851 they were at Common Lane, Sandbach with nephew George Boult (1832-) aged 19, a Groom.

Nephew George Boult (1832-) was born in Wolstanton, Staffordshire, the son of George Anson Boult (1803-) from Wollerton, Shropshire & Elizabeth Rhead (1805-) from Woolwich who were married in 1828 in Burslem. IGI - Elizabeth Rhead - England, Marriages, 1538–1973 - 17 Dec 1828, Burslem, St John, Stafford. spouse: George Anson Boult.

In 1841 George & Elizabeth Boult were at Rye Croft, Newcastle under Lyme with young George.

John Boult (1797-) & George Anson Boult (1803-) were brothers, sons of John Boult & Sarah, and young John & George were cousins ... now here was the interesting bit ... young William Birchall (1831-60) was trained in the intricacies of silk throwing in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where in the 1851 census he was living with George & Elizabeth Boult at 6 Rye Croft, Newcastle under Lyme ... William was staying with his Uncle John's brother, George, family connections were thick in those days ...

James (1802-63) was connected to mum Hannah & dad John through his Baptism at St Peter's, Congleton and to son William (1831-60) through the Boults.

Thomas (1812-78) baptised on November 1st 1812 at St Peter's Congleton, Chapel of Ease, son of John & Hannah was the younger brother of James (1802-63)?


James Birchall/Berchall/Berchell    
John Birchall (1779-1850) = Hannah ????
Jane Birchall (1765-1847) = John Dickinson m1796 Ann Birchall (1776-)
Will exits.
James (1802-63) = Sarah Richardson m1824 Mary Richardson = John Boult
George Boult = Elizabeth Rhead m1828
    William (1831-60)    John b1839    George b1832

The second witness at James & Sarah's wedding was cousin, friend & neighbour, James Dickinson (1802-63).

The census of 1841 reveals more family details. James Birchall (1802-63) was living alone, Sarah had died in 1838, with the five children; Mary Ann (1826-), John (1827-), William (1831-), Fanny (1835-) & Henry (1837-) at ??? Field, Sandbach, Congleton (after Flat Lane, by The Wheat Sheaf on the High Street). Living next door in 1841 was 70 year old Jane Dickinson (1765-) with 15 year old Fanny Dickinson (1826-) a dressmaker and close by were more Dickinsons ... the Dickinson family connection was interesting ...

In 1851 48 year old James was at 225 Dickinsons Garden with Fanny (1835-) age 17 and Henry (1837-) aged 14.

Close by at 220 Flat Lane was 53 year old Charles Dickinson (1798-) with 44 year old wife Elizabeth (1807-) with 13 year old Thomas H Dickinson (1838-) and servant Eunice Robinson.

In 1861 at Middlewich Road, Sandbach, father in law James Birchall (1802-63), just before he died, was living with George Neild and daughter Mary Ann (1826-) and their family Emma (1849-), Frederick George (1852-), Thomas (1856-), Charles Henry (1860-) & William (1861-).

The Dickinson Family.

John Dickinson (1769-1829) & Jane Birchall (1765-1847) were married by licence in Sandbach in 1796. John was a 26 year old Cordwainer and Jane a 30 year old spinster. John was baptised at Sandbach in 1769.

Jane Dickinson neé Birchall was baptised, daughter of James, in Sandbach in on September 22nd 1765, and was the sister of John Birchall (1779-1850) baptised in Sandbach in on September 24th 1779, son of James. 

Witnesses at the wedding were William Dickinson & Ann Birchall. William Dickinson (1744-) was John's dad, baptised, son of William, in Beeston in 1744. William, as a 21 year old Cordwainer, married Sarah Cooper by licence in 1766. Ann Birchall (1776-) was Jane's young sister and was baptised, daughter of James, at Sandbach in 1776.

John & Jane had children - Sarah (1797-), Charles (1798-), James (1802-), Ann (1803-), Henry (1807-).

Sarah Dickinson married John Ellison in Sandbach in 1820. Ann Dickinson married Samuel Whalley in Over in 1830?

John died in Sandbach in 1829, aged 60 years. Jane died in Sandbach in 1847, aged 83 years giving a birth date of 1764.

In 1841 70 year old Jane Dickinson (1765-1847) was living next door with 15 year old granddaughter Fanny Dickinson (1826-), a dressmaker and close by were more Dickinsons ...

John Dickinson (1769-1829), a shoemaker, left a will which identified - My son Charles. My daughter Sarah. My son James. My daughter Ann. My granddaughter Fanny. My son Henry.

Charles Dickinson (1798-1860) was baptised in Sandbach in 1798, son of shoemaker John. 

Charles married Elizabeth Broady (1811-) in Sandbach in 1837. Witnesses were James Hulme, Thomas Hilditch and Ann Dickinson. Ann Dickinson (1803-), daughter of John & Jane, was Charles's young sister.

In 1841 Charles, also a Shoe Maker, was in Flat Lane with wife Elizabeth and young Thomas (1838-) and a Mary Heath (1816-)?

In 1851 Charles Dickinson, a proprietor of houses & land, and Elizabeth were at Flat Lane, Sandbach with Thomas Hariam.

Charles Dickinson died in Sandbach in 1860, aged 62. Charles left a will confirming he had only one child Thomas Hariam, Elizabeth was sole executor and witnesses were William Latham & William Fryer. There was a codcil in 1860 appointing William Latham as sole executor, witnessed by William Chikun, shoemaker and Charles Latham, surgeon.

James Dickinson (1802-63) was baptised in Sandbach in 1802, son of John & Jane.

James, a shoemaker, first married Elizabeth Shelmerdine (1800-35) in Sandbach in 1825, brother Charles was a witness with George Peover. Elizabeth died in Sandbach in 1835. Widower James married again in 1837 to Mary Sherwin. Charles Bate & Mary Bate were witnesses.

In 1841 James, a Shoe Maker, & wife Mary (1805-) were at Back Street, Sandbach with seven kids; Jane (1826-), Hannah (1828-), Sarah (1829-), Mary (1831-), John (1833-), Edward (1836-), Ellen (1841-).

In 1851 James Dickinson, a Shoemaker, and Mary were at Brookhouse, Sandbach with five children; Mary A, John, Edward, Ellen & and now Charles (1844-); near Brook Mill and Front Street. In 1861 James & Mary were at Front Street, James was a pensioner, they were living with 17 year old son Charles Henry, an apprentice and an 84 year old Aunt, Ann Colclough (1776-). Who was Aunt Ann Colclough? See below ...

James Dickinson died in Sandbach in 1863 he was 60 years old.

Charles & James Dickinson were brothers, sons of John & Jane Dickinson of Sandbach ...

NB The coupling of the Dickinson and Birchall families was confirmed in the will of John Birchall (1779-1850) which identified 'my nephew, Charles Dickinson' (and thus his sister was Jane Birchall) ... this marriage and Will link James to his dad John Birchall (1779-1850) ... Jane & John Dickinson were James Birchall's Aunt & Uncle!

But who was Aunt Ann Colclough?

James Colclough (1769-1828) was born in Church Hulme, son of James & Sarah, and married Ann Lindop (1776-) in 1797. Anne Lindop was born in Sandbach in 1776. Children - Mary Ann (1797-), Sarah (1798-), Ann (1800-), Francis (1803-), John (1804-), James & Thomas (1808-), Jane (1814-), Elizabeth (1820-).

James Colclough of Sandbach, joiner and cabinet maker died September 24th 1828 - admon issued in 1829 - Ann Colclough, widow, shopkeeper, of Sandbach, James Colclough, grocer of Betchton and Charles Dickinson, shoemaker of Sandbach.

James Coleclough (1791-) was born in Alsager, son of James Coleclough (-), labourer, of Betchton, son of James Coleclough of Lawton & Elizabeth Scragg, daughter of Joseph Scragg, Blacksmith. James Colclough, aged 23, first married Sarah Hardern (1790-), aged 24 in Sandbach in 1814. James Colclough, a widower aged 26, a joiner, married Nancy Birchall (1789-) aged 30, at Sandbach in 1819. Witnesses were Thomas Colclough and Sarah Dickinson. Was this Sarah, John Dickinson's mother or daughter? Daughter Sarah was married a year later in 1820 ...

James Colclough witnessed the Will of James Birchall (1740-1825) in 1825 - see below - this connection with the Birchalls runs from James Dickinson as a witness at James & Sarah's wedding in 1824 & to James Colclough as a witness to a Birchall Will a year later ...


James & Sarah's children were -

Aunt Mary Ann (1825-1901) baptised Sandbach, IGI - Mary Ann Birchall - England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 - christening: 16 Oct 1825, Sandbach, parents: James Birchall, Sarah Birchall ... married George Nield (1822-95), a Joiner from Nantwich, in 1848. Charles Dickinson, Mary Ann's dad's cousin, and John Birchall, Mary Ann's brother, were witnesses. George Nield was born in Stapeley in 1822. In 1841 George was living with his Mum & Dad, George & Alice and elder brother Needam Nield at Wheelock Road, Sandbach.

Mary Ann and George had six children. Emma (1848-), Frederick George (1852-), Thomas (1856-) researched by Deborah Ashton (, Charles Henry (1860-), William (1862-), Joseph John (1866-).  

In 1851 after the wedding, Mary Ann & George, a cabinet Maker, were at Flat Lane, Sandbach with daughter Emma (1849-).

In 1861 at Middlewich Road, Sandbach, the family had grown Emma (1849-), Frederick George (1852-), Thomas (1856-), Charles Henry (1860-) & William (1861-). 38 year old George was employing 1 man & 2 boys. Father in law James Birchall (1802-63) was living with them at this time, just before he died.

In 1871 they were at Wheelock Road with four boys and new addition John Joseph (1866-).

In 1881 still at Wheelock Road,  with Thomas, Joseph and with grandson, Edward William Nield (1876-) and servant Ellen Birchall (1864-) servant from Sandbach, Mary Ann's niece, daughter of brother John.

In 1891, now at Union Street, with George now retired and grandson George William Nield (1877-). George died in 1895. IGI - George Nield - England, Cheshire Probate Records, 1492-1940 - name: George Nield, location: Sandbach, year: 1895, record type: Will.

In 1901 Mary Ann was living with daughter Emma at Marsh Green Farm, Vicarage Lane, Bradwall, Cheshire. Emma had married farmer, Thomas Arden in 1868.

Mary Ann died at a grand age of 76 in 1901.

Uncle John (1826-76) named after his father's father was baptsed in Sandbach on Christmas day 1826, he married Mary Shaw (1831-80), daughter of William Shaw, in 1849 in Coppenhall, Crewe where John was described as a Fitter? Charles Moors and Elizabeth Brereton were witnesses. Mary was baptised in Alsager in 1831. In the 1841 census the Shaw family were living at Union Street, Sandbach. William, a bricklayer, his wife Ellen (1806-), Mary (1831-) the eldest, John (1833-), Charles (1837-) & James (1840-).

In the 1851 census, John was a Staffman at Silk Factory, with wife Mary, a 19 year old Boot Binder, living at Heath Sylvan Terrace, Sandbach. In 1861 John was a General Dealer, living at High Street, Sandbach with Mary, age 30, and children Robert (1857-) & Frank (1860-). In 1871 John was an Inn Keeper & Mary were at the Right of the High Street Public House, Sandbach with Robert, Frank, Ellen (1864-), Nancy (1866-) & Mary (1870-).

Young Robert (1856-), Edward's cousin, married Sarah Jane Wooley (1855-) in Edensor, Staffs in 1881. IGI - Robert Birchall - England, Marriages, 1538–1973 - birth: 1856, groom's age: 25 - marriage: 08 Aug 1881 Edensor, Stafford - bride's name: Sarah Jane Woolley - bride's birth date: 1854, bride's age: 27 - groom's father: John Birchall - bride's father: John Woolley.

In 1881, just before he married 25 year old Robert was working as a joiner and boarding with John Felthouse & his wife Elizabeth at Longton; 6, Spring Garden Road, Stoke Upon Trent Staffordshire.

In 1891 Robert & Sarah were at 9, Hardinge Street, Stoke Upon Trent, Fenton. They had 3 children born in Longton - John (1882-), Gertrude (1883-) & Harry (1884-). Sarah was working in a pottery Warehouse.

In 1901 they were still at Hardinge Street. Son John was a Foundry Moulder in Dresden and Harry was a Coal Collier Loader in Normacot.

In 1911 'Bob' & Sarah Jane were still joining & warehousing and now living at 9 Swan Street, Fenton, Stoke-Upon Trent. The boys were still single, John a Lifter Railway Waggon and Harry a Driller.

In 1881 young Frank (1860-) was staying at Park Lane, Sandbach with his uncle James Shaw (1840-), Mary's younger brother, a brick setter. James married Hannah Farr from Sandbach in 1868.

Looks like Frank didn't marry in 1901, at 37, he was still single, working as a labourer in a Foundry and lodging at 26, Brunswick Street, South Manchester.

John died in 1876 in Sandbach, aged 49. Mary died in 1880, aged 48.

William (1831-60) baptised Sandbach ... Edward's dad, our hero, my g-g-grandfather, who died far too young at 29.

Aunt Fanny (1835-58) baptised Sandbach ... Aunt Fanny died, unmarried, at the tender age of 23 years ... Edward was only four ... I wonder if he remembered her?

Uncle Henry (1836-) baptised Sandbach. In 1861 Henry was boarding with the Charnocks at 3 Devonshire Street, Chorlton Upon Medlock, Manchester. Henry was unmarried and working as a 'Silk Throwster Maker Up'. In 1871 Henry from Sandbach was with Mary Ann his wife from Wakefield, working as a Railway Porter and living at Malthouse Lane, Brightside Bierlow, Sheffield. In 1881 Henry from Sandbach was in working in London as a Housekeeper at 10, New Broad Street, St Botolph Without Bishopsgate, London, Middlesex.

Census 1851 - James was now at Dickinson's Garden, Sandbach, Congleton, with Fanny & Henry, a Silk Staffman in the Ecclesiastical District of St Mary's.

Census 1861 - James was living at Middlewich Road, Sandbach with George Nield his son-in-law who had married his eldest Mary Ann.

James Birchall (1802-63) was buried in Sandbach on December 13th 1863, he was 61. His death certificate confirmed George Nield in attendance ... George had also been in attendance at the death of his son William (1831-60) 3 years earlier ... this connects father James (1802-63) & son William (1831-60) to eldest granddaughter Mary Ann (1825-1901), wife of George Nield (1822-95).

We have James' dad as John (1779-1850) who left a will? ... but who was James' mum Hannah, was she a Steele or a Martin??

The families of John & Hannah Birchall need attention as there were two families in Astbury/Sandbach around this time ... TWO John Birchalls, TWO Hannahs, a Steele & a Martin ... which one was who, where, when & how ...?

This might sort it out! Sandbach, St Mary - Cheshire parish registers & MIs vol 1, manuscript - SOG Ac no 719611 - Cheshire Shelves.

The 1st lot -

St Mary's SandbachJohn Birchall (1779-1850)

The will confirms this was our John with sister Jane who married John Dickinson who had a son Charles.

Emerging from the registers of St Mary's, Sandbach; 1779 Sept 24th, John, son of James, Sandbach. This illustrious birth was confirmed from the IGI - John Berchall - England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000 christening: 24th Sep 1779 Sandbach, Cheshire, England parents: James Berchall ...

John Birchall's death was recorded in the Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900, burial 11th Sep 1850, Sandbach, age 73 years, making a birth date around 1777? John's death certificate in 1850, described him as a labourer aged 73, with the death registered by John Seaman.  

... but where was son James (1802-63) ?

Hannah (1780-1844) died in 1844, wife of John, Silk Worker, who was present at the death.

John's will doesn't identify his family but records the names of his executors - nephew Charles Dickinson of Sandbach, shoe manufacturer, Thomas Stringer of the same place, timber merchant, and George Furnivall, the younger, of the same place, plumber and glazier.

George Steele, George Hancock & James Lamb were witnesses.  

John Birchall (1779-1850) birth register linked to the 'James' name given to his father & son, John's Will linked to his sister Jane Dickinson neé Birchall, his death certificate linked to his daughter Jane Seaman neé Birchall who married John Seaman who registered John's death in 1850. And the witness at the marriage of son James also linked to cousin James Dickinson.

It seemed Jane Seaman was James' young sister, and their father John married a 'Hannah' around 1800.

The children of John, son of James, and a Hannah were the Sandbach Birchalls -

James (1802-63) baptised at Astbury, son of John & Hannah, a fine lad named after his granddad. John was 23 years old when son James was born ... was James baptised at Congleton, Astbury? ... were John & Hannah married?

Jane Birchall (1812-94) baptised in Sandbach on March 25th 1812, the daughter of John & Hannah.

((Clearly distressed at the loss of Robert & Jane in the same month of October 1811 John & Hannah's new baby girl born 5 months later was a replacement Jane sent straight from heaven. A replacement Robert had to wait until 1820)).

Jane Birchall married John Seaman (1808-) in 1834. John Seaman was baptised in Sandbach in 1808, son of Hugh junior & Ann Smallwood, who were married in 1805. Abraham Goodwin & Sarah Seaman were witnesses at Jane & John's wedding. Sarah Seaman (1812-) was John's sister, baptised in Sandbach in 1812, daughter of Hugh & Ann. Sarah married James Wood, a Weaver, in Church Hulme in 1840. Abraham Goodwin (1811-) was also 'family', he married Mary Seaman (1816-) in 1834, Mary was John's younger sister, daughter of Hugh & Ann, baptised in Sandbach in 1816. The Goodwin & Seaman shoemaking families were living next door to one another in 1841 on North Union, Sandbach.

In 1841 John Seaman, a Shoemaker, aged 30, was living with 2 year old Hannah at King's Cottage, High Street, Sandbach. Where was Jane?

 John Seaman registered John Birchall's death in 1850.

In 1851 John, Shoemaker, & Jane, Bootbinder, were at Middlewich Road, Sandbach with John (1836-), a tailor, Hannah (1838-), a Bootbinder, Ann (1841-), Jane (1843-), Mary (1848-) & Sarah (1851-) ...

In 1861 the family were at Seamans Bank, on Middlewich Road close to Chapel Street, Sandbach with Hugh (1852-) & Emma (1861-) as new additions. The children were still unmarried. Thomas Stringer, a Timber Merchant, was also at Seamans Bank. Thomas was an executor of John's Will in 1845.

By 1871 things had changed. John & Jane were at Sandbach Heath, Sandbach with Hugh & Emma, and Sarah was at home with husband Joseph Lowndes and their daughter Mary A (1869-). And their cousin, 5 year old Sarah A Steel (1866-) was also with them?

In 1881 John, now 75, & Jane, now 68, were at The Heath, Sandbach with Hugh married to Mary (1852-) and their daughter 5 year old Alice. John died in 1881 April-May-June, aged 75.

By 1891 Jane was a widow living at The Hill, Sandbach with Hugh, a Tailor, & Mary and family Alice, John & Annie. Jane died 1894 July-Aug-Sept, aged 82.


John Birchall (1779-1850) married Hannah Steele (1784-1834) at Sandbach in May 1st 1804, Samuel Birchall & Thomas Dean were witnesses ... but James was born in 1802?? ...

John's marriage was witnessed by his younger brother Samuel (1782-), son of James baptised in Sandbach in 1782. The other witness was Thomas Dean? Was he a member of the Steele family?

Perhaps 'cousin Sarah Ann Steele' and Will witness 'George Steele' link to wife Hannah Steele ?

So who were the Steele family?

George Steele witnessed John Birchall's will in 1845, probate issued 1852 ... but it looks like he was a friend & neighbour in Sandbach ...

... no sign of John in 1851 census, he died in 1850 ...

In the 1841 census John Birchall (1781-1850), age 60, was also on the High Street, Sandbach with son Robert Birchall (1825-), age 16, John was an 'Ag Lab' and Robert a 'Stone Mason' ... where was Hannah? Hannah died in 1834.

IGI - Hannah Birchall - England, Cheshire Parish Registers, 1538-2000, burial: 16th March 1834 Sandbach, gender: Female age: 54y. This makes Hannah's birth date 1780?

Confusingly in the 1841 census another John Birchall age 60, was with George Skillom, at The Viaduct, Church Hulme, Sandbach, as a 'publican'? ... near to Thomas Payne at The Bull's Head ... where was Hannah?

And further confusion in the 1841 census another Hannah (1781-1844) age 60, was in Hawk Street, with the 4 girls - Ann 1811, Mary 1816, Emma 1821, Harriet 1821 ... all 4 surviving girls were working in the silk mills. In 1850 our John was buried in Sandbach, if he was buried with the Hannah who died in 1834 we can rule out these Hawk street girls? However if the burial date was 1844 these are our girls!!

Did our Hannah die in 1834 or 1844??!!


?Elizabeth (1803-5) baptised at Astbury ... buried at Astbury in 1805 ...

?Robert (1805-11) baptised at Sandbach on June 2nd 1805. Named after his father's father? Robert died on the 27th October 1811 in Sandbach.

?Hannah (1808-15) baptised at Sandbach on April 16th 1808. 8 year old Hannah daughter of Silk Throwster John Birchall was buried Astbury April 30th 1815.

?Sarah (1810-11) baptised at Astbury ... Sarah died the next year and was buried at Astbury ...

?Jane (1810-11) Sandbach born on June 10th 1810 to John & Hannah. Jane died in Sandbach on 12th October 1811?

?Thomas (1806-) He was baptised at Sandbach on August 10th 1806.

Thomas (1812-78) baptised on November 1st 1812 at St Peter's Congleton, Chapel of Ease, was the younger brother of James (1802-63). Thomas first married Ann Barber in Davenham in 1838. Ann's dad Daniel was a tailor. Thomas was described as a 'Labourer' from Wharton and his dad John as a 'labourer'. But Thomas was a 'widower', age 35, when he married Mary Ann Heath (1812-72) in Davenham in 1847. Thomas was still described as a 'Labourer' from Wharton. Mary Ann was the daughter of John & Mary Heath, of Wheelock, born in 1812.

Thomas' second marriage record confirmed father John Birchall was now a Silk Throwster and Mary Ann's dad John was a publican. Father John Birchall was also a witness, together, perhaps significantly, with 22 year old Mary Ann Birchall (1825-) who was James' daughter, father John's granddaughter and Thomas' niece. Mary Ann was to marry George Neild a year later in 1848 and grandfather John Birchall was a witness at this wedding also. Identical signatures confirm the link. This evidence identifies the family as the Astbury Birchalls of our James (1802-63).

 Thomas & Ann/Mary had issue; Martha (1842-), Martin Clement (1845-) & Elizabeth (1849-).

In the 1841 census. Thomas, aged 25, was in silk, a 'Silk Throwster' & Anne, aged 30, was an 'Earthenware Dealer', they were at Wheelock Street, Middlewich.

In 1851, at 5 Havannah Street, Astbury, Thomas & Ann were Silk Workers, with children Martha (1842-), Martin Clement (1845-) & Elizabeth (1849-) all born in Middlewich.

In 1861, at Wheelock Street, Wheelock, only Martin, a Silk Worker, was at home. Thomas was a Maker Apprentice of Silk. 12 year old Elizabeth was staying with her aunt Ann Grimsey (1831-), a 30 year old widow, who was Inn Keeper at The Borough Arms, Moody Street, Congleton.

Martha married James Whalley, a 33 year old widower, in Christ Church, Wheelock, in 1869.

In 1871 Thomas & Ann were still at Wheelock Road, Wheelock.

 Mary Ann died in 1872, aged 66? b 1806? Thomas died in Wheelock in 1878, age 66 b 1812.

Robert Birchall (1820-) baptised on November 26th at Sandbach in 1820, John Birchall was a Labourer at the time. 

In the 1841 census John (1781-1850), age 60, was also on the High Street, Sandbach with son Robert Birchall (1825-), age 16, John was an 'Ag Lab' and Robert a 'Stone Mason'

By 1851 Robert had married Elizabeth (1830-), born in the Isle of Man, and moved to Slack Lane, Stoke on Trent, where he was working as a Plumber & Glazier Journeyman. Daughter Mary (1846-) was with them and they had a visitor from Nantwich, Margaret Birchall (1817-), a Bonnet Maker, Robert's cousin? IGI - Margaret Birchall - England, Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900 - christening: 17 Sep 1815 Nantwich, parents: James Birchall, Ann Birchall.

In 1861 they were at Bryan Street, Shelton, Handley,  with Mary (1846-) & John (1861-) ... named after his granddad ... the business did well in 1871 Robert was a Master Plumber employing 5 men ...


Sandbach, around this time, was a developing hive of activity and the names on the High Street in the 1841 census, were mirrored in the Trade Directories, Pigot's of 1822 listed Robert Birchall, the Blacksmith, John Dickinson, the Shoe Manufacturer, George Furnival, the Plumber & Glazier, John Steele, the Grocer, John Stringer, the Builder ... and John Bull & Co, Silk Manufacturers ... was that where they all worked?

Much came from the unions of the Sandbach Birchalls ... and it still goes on! ... but there was another John & Hannah family? ... and another load of locals, the Astbury Birchalls

The 2nd lot -

John Birchall (1780-1857)

There was a frayed remnant recording the birth of John Birchall in Wybunbury on the 13th February 1780, the son of Robert of Willaston ... and Wybunbury = Win - bree!

On April 25th 1802 John married Hannah Martin at Astbury, two 22 year olds, of this parish.

Hannah Martin (1780-1844) was baptised on October 8th 1780, at St Peter's Congleton, daughter of Thomas, a shoe maker & his wife Mary ... the Martins had 8 children - Thomas (1774-), James (1777-), Hannah (1780-), Mary (1783-), John (1786-), Charlotte (1788-), Charles (1794-) & George (1798-) ... lots of aunts & uncles for the kids!

The children of John, son of Robert, & Hannah were Astbury Birchalls -

Ann (1806-) baptised at Astbury ... married Edward Clough at Astbury in 1828. Witnesses were Mary Clough and Charles Martin (1794-). Charles was Ann's uncle, Hannah's brother, baptised at St Peter's Congleton in 1794. Charles was a shoe maker, like Thomas his dad, and was living with his sister Charlotte (1788-) in 1841 at Lawton Street, Astbury, Congleton. This evidence identifies the Martin family with the Astbury Birchalls.

In 1841 Ann was at Scotch Commons, Sandbach, aged 35 with daughters Hannah (1833-) & Harriet (1835-) and working as a 'Stay Stitcher'. Edward died in Sandbach in 1836 aged 28.

John (1779-1857) was buried at Sandbach on the 25th of July 1857 age 77. His death certificate suggested John died from 'debility' on July 23rd and confirmed his occupation as a 'Staffman in a Silk Factory'. John Cox was present at Green Street, Sandbach when he died ...

On June 13th 1857, just a month before John died, John Cox, 36, married John's 35 year old daughter Emma at Sandbach.

The 1861 census confirms John Cox (1820-), a Cabinet Maker from Liverpool, & Emma, a Shoe Binder from Sandbach, living at Green Street, Sandbach. In 1871 they were at Wheelock Road and 1881 at Market Street, Monks Coppenhall, they had no children.

In the 1841 census John Birchall age 60, was with George Skillom, at The Viadu Court, Church Hulme, Sandbach, as a 'publican'? ... near to Thomas Payne at The Bull's Head ... where was Hannah?

In the 1841 census Hannah (1781-1844) age 60, was in Hawk Street, with the 4 girls - Ann 1811, Mary 1816, Emma 1821, Harriet 1821 ... all 4 surviving girls were working in the silk mills.

The 1851 census has John (1780-) living with daughter Emma at Crown Bank, and at 71 years of age, described himself as working in the mills as a Silk Throwster. And his birth place was Wybunbury!?

John was on his own Hannah had died in 1844. Hannah died tragically 6½ hours after a 'strangulated hernia' operation, she was 63. John, a silk worker, was present her side when she died. That made Hannah's birth date 1781?

... where do the following lot fit in? ...

*Mary (1816-) baptised at Sandbach ...    married Thomas Davies in 1844, confirmed as the daughter of John 'Silk Man'.

*Ann (1818-) baptised at Sandbach ...    married George Brocklehurst in 1832, Hannah was still alive and was a witness with Peter Leigh?

*Harriet (1819-) baptised at Sandbach ...    married David Thornhill, a shoemaker, in 1842, Mary was a witness, and father John was working in a silk factory.

*Emma (1821-) baptised at Sandbach, Hannah was 41? Ouch ...    Emma married John Cox, a cabinet maker, in 1857. Emma's dad John was a Staffman, and John's dad Charles Cox was a printer. Witnesses were William Buckley and Ann Simpson?

John Birchall (1794-), labourer, married Sarah Saint (1791-) in 1814 in Sandbach? Witnesses Alice Saint and G Bate?

John Birchall (1797-), silk throwster, married Margaret Lowe (1797-) in 1820 in Sandbach? Witnesses Mary Birchall and Thomas Lowe.


So who was James Birchall the father of John Birchall (1779-1850)? Where was he from? Who did he marry? When did he die? What brought him to Congleton? Was it silk?

James (1740-1825)

James Birchall was baptised at Wybunbury March 13th 1740. Son of Robert of Bridgemere ...

James Burchall of Sandbach married Margaret Shaw (1742-1826) on the 23rd of June 1765. Margaret was baptised in Sandbach in 1742, the daughter of John & Ann Shaw of Sandbach. Margaret died just a year after James in 1826, aged 87 years? IGI James Burchall - England, Cheshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1598-1900, marriage & residence: 23rd Jun 1765, Brereton-cum-Smethwick, Cheshire, England, spouse: Margt. Shaw.

Yeoman of Sandbach James Birchall (1740-1825) wrote his will, originally in 1819,  he died in Sandbach on January 13th 1825, aged 85 years. James was born in 1740.

The 1825 Will identifies -

Margaret, his wife, was still alive.

John Dickinson (1769-1829), Cordwainer of Sandbach, executor & son in law. William Peover (-), Butcher of Sandbach, executor. Both John & William were found in Pigot's directory of Cheshire 1822/23 still practising their trades.

Sons John & Samuel. Granddaughter Mary, now the wife of William Lees.

Sons in Law, John Dickinson & John Hyde.

Witnesses Jas Colclough, Vernon Bloore & Samuel Cook.

James Colclough (-) married Ann Lindop (1776-) in Sandbach in 1797. Anne Lindop was baptised in Sandbach in 1776. James Coleclough (1791-) was born in Alsager, son of James Coleclough (-), labourer, of Betchton, son of James Coleclough of Lawton & Elizabeth Scragg, daughter of Joseph Scragg, Blacksmith. James Colclough, aged 23, first married Sarah Hardern (1790-), aged 24 in Sandbach in 1814. James Colclough, a widower aged 26, a joiner, married Nancy Birchall (1789-) aged 30, at Sandbach in 1819. Witnesses were Thomas Colclough and Sarah Dickinson. ((James Colclough married Sarah Plant in 1764?))

John had an interest in land at Sandbach Heath.

The seven children of James & Margaret were -

Jane (1765-1847) baptised at Sandbach ... married John Dickinson (1769-1829), Cordwainer, in 1796. Sister Ann was a witness. John Dickinson died in Sandbach in 1829, aged 60 years. Charles Dickinson (1798-) of Sandbach, shoe manufacturer, was the nephew & executor of John Birchall (1779-1850). Jane died in Sandbach in 1847, aged 83 years.

Mary (1768-) baptised at Sandbach ... married John Hyde, a Cotton Spinner, in 1792 in Stockport.

Hannah (1772-) baptised at Sandbach ... married Richard Wainwright (-) in Sandbach in 1790. John Hilditch & elder sister Jane Birchall were witnesses. Daughter Mary Wainwright was born on November 7th 1790. This was granddaughter Mary mentioned in James' Will who married William Lees in 1816. Was Mary the first granddaughter?

Anne (1776-) baptised at Sandbach ... married John Lowe (1774-) in 1804. Witness George Latham? John was baptised in Sandbach in 1774.

John (1779-1850) baptised at Sandbach, eldest son and heir ... married Hannah Steele in 1804, Sandbach. Brother Samuel was a witness, with Thomas Dean? In 1841 60 year old Thomas Dean (1780-) was living at Malkin's Bank, Sandbach, Betchton? married Elizabeth Jones in 1808?

Chelsea PensionersSamuel (1782-) baptised at Sandbach ... the 1851 census identifies Samuel as a Chelsea Pensioner married to Isabella (1783-) from Newcastle upon Tyne, Scotland (?), they were living at Wheelock Road, Sandbach. In 1861 Samuel & Isabella were living in the High Street, Sandbach. Samuel - 'Retiree (Army) and Keeper of Savings Bank'.

Samuel trained as a tailor and at 21 joined the Dragoon Guards in Manchester in 1804.

The Chelsea Pensioner records confirm Samuel's illustrious career serving His Majesty in the 85th Light Infantry rising to Sergeant before discharge at his own request in 1832 after 27 years service which included a stint in the Mediterranean !

Samuel died in Sandbach in 1863, aged 82. Isabella died in a year later in 1864.

James (1786-1842) baptised at Sandbach on March 12th 1786 ... married Ann Williams (1788-1848) in 1814 in Nantwich. Ann was born in Wrenbury the daughter of Hugh & Mary. Witnesses were John Williams and Mary Wainwright. Mary was James' niece, daughter of his sister Hannah.

In 1841 James & Ann were at Union Street, Sandbach with Maria (1821-), Ann (1824-), Emma (1827-), Harriet (1831-), & Louisa (1834-). The eldest three girls were all working in silk throwing.

James died in Sandbach in 1842, aged 61? Ann died in 1848, aged 57?

Emma married William Loundes in Sandbach in 1849. Father James was described as a Wheelwright.

In 1851 Harriet was lodging in Arbourhay Street, Hurdsfield, Macclesfield, with Charles & Hannah Ridgway and daughter Prudence. Charles was a Silk Dyer and Harriet a Silk Winder.

In 1851 Louisa was lodging in Union Street, Sandbach, with William & Betsey Bingess and family. William was a master Cordwainer and Louisa had followed her sisters into silk.



((As for John's dad Robert

John, son of Robert, was born in Wybunbury in 1779-80 -

Robert Birchall b 17 Mar 1747 son of Robert at Wybunbury ... (33 when John was born)

Robert Birchall m Ann Wakefield (1755-) d of James on 25 Dec 1788 at Astbury ... (25 when John was born) or Ann Wakefield b 14 Jan 1770 at Astbury d of Matthew & Mary Dean (12 when John was born)

Robert Burchall m Sarah Pierpoint (1735-) d of Thomas & Martha, Dec 27th 1770 at Astbury both otp.

Robert Birchall m Mary Bather (Balker) on 17 Sep 1758 at Wybunbury ...

Robert Birchall m Frances Clark on 6 Dec 1808 at Sandbach ... ))


Reference EDC - Covering dates 1676-1976 - Held by Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service - Creators Church of England, Cheshire Diocese, Consistory Court - CONSISTORY COURT PAPERS EDC 5 [n.d.] 1609 [no ref. or date] 55. SANDBACH Anne Smith c Robert Birchall of Wybunbury concerning a contract of matrimony - libel.

William Birchall (1817-1897) born Cork, Ireland and died Mudgee NSW. Is William a possible relative?

From Land to Mill

Sandbach CrossesFor sure, way way, back ancient Birchall ancestors worked on the land, because everybody worked on the land and, for certain, some bright Birchall sparks left the land and picked up skills, and we know some of the Birchall lineage were bright because they had surviving descendants. We also know for certain some of the lineage acquired woodworking skills, which always seemed to be in demand ... the younger gang of our Birchalls, George William, Edward & William were all joiners ... the older gang of our Birchalls, James, John & Robert/James were silk throwsters ...

We know that after John Clayton started throwing silk in 1752 many folk gravitated to the silk mills in Congleton ... there were good jobs to be had ... perhaps like so many others before & since, Robert/James was looking for lucrative work to support a wife & family ... and perhaps he found it at the Brook Mill just off High Street where the Arclid Brook flows down to join the Wheelock?

John Barker has produced a wonderful website about the Birchall/Birchenoughs but so far the link from his lot to our lot has been elusive ... but we can imagine the trek from the fields to the mills so interestingly described by John ... perhaps from the rich agricultural crescent of the North Shropshire moraines;  Wrenbury, Audlem, Madeley up to the Congleton mills & Buglawton via Barthomley, the Talke Pits and ancient Astbury; and then indirectly down the Dane to Middlewich via the Arclid Brook, the Wheelock and Sandbach, with some stopovers on the railways in Crewe ... a fascinating genetic migration of hard working folk looking for jobs ... perhaps if we fail to follow the route via the rotting records of baptisms, marriages & burials in the parish churches, we can, for sure, follow the indelible marks of the DNA unwittingly left behind by the Birchalls ... DNA which is alive and kicking today ...

When we have the time we will prove this Birchall DNA trace from the land to the mill ... QED?

The Birchall Name

Recorded in many forms including Birchall, Burchell, Birchill, Birtles, and Birtle, this English surname is locational. It derives from Biekel, the original spelling of the Lancashire village of Birtle, first recorded in the Pipe Rolls of the country in 1246. By 1347 this spelling had become Birkehill, but from about 1660 it has been spelt as Birtle. The meaning of the place name and hence the later surname is Birch Hill from the pre 7th century Olde English birc - hyl. In the original name recordings the village spelling was given in both its old and new spelling, although Birtles is purely a local dialectual pronunciation which eventually became the norm. Like most locational surnames, this is a 'from' name. That is to say, a name given for identification to somebody who had left his or her original village, and moved somewhere else. The subsequent surname developments taken from surviving church registers of Lancashire include: Agnes Burchall in 1635, Alice Burchell (1688), Aprah Birchall (1701) and Ann Birchill (1732), whilst William Burchell (1782-1863) was a famous Victorian explorer and botanist. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Birchall de Birtles. This was dated 1401, in the rolls of Gawsworth District of East Cheshire, during the reign of King Henry IVth of England, 1399-1413.

... perhaps East Cheshire Birchalls originally trekked in from Staffordshire ... there was Birchall Meadows near Leek, and a Grange at Birchall in 1246, and Big Birchall at Chedderton, and a Great Birchall farm of Dieulacres Abbey, and a Birchall Horse Mill, and by 1833 there was horse racing at Birchall Dale ... 


George Birchall'The 50th Anniversary: The First Fifty Years of Brunner Mond & Co, 1873-1923', 1923.

'A Hundred Years of Alkali in Cheshire' by W F L Dick, 1973.

'100 Years of Recreation with Brunner Mond, ICI & Soda Ash Products: Winnington Park Recreation Club centenary, 1890-1990' by Paul Lavell.

'50 Years of Octel: 1938-1988'.

'The Octagon - Making the Magic Bullet: A History of Northwich Works 1939-1986' by Geoff H Buchan, 1986.



Any corrections and additional information gratefully received contact john p birchall

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