William Alfred Gibson (1881-1975)

'Kingsley' by William Gibson, 1955. Unpublished family manuscript.


caution !! ... this is an initial draft of a story for the family ... there are many errors of fact, omissions and inaccuracies for which we apologise ...

I only keep these notes on my server so I don't lose them !!



Kingsley MillW & T Gibson Ltd at Kingsley Mill is a family business with origins going back 200 years. In the early 19th century, before modern steam and electric power, Kingsley Mill relied on the mill pool head to turn a giant water wheel which rotated the mill stones. In those days farmers brought their corn for processing into flour in horse drawn carts but now there is no flour and the mill pool is no longer used to drive the stones. The Mill today is a modern working mill producing a range of animal feeds both for the agricultural industry and leisure use.

Kingsley Mill has moved with the times, there has been a constant battle to modernise by risking new investment in new products and customers ... but links to days gone by remain, the mill pool is still the home of ducks, geese and all sorts of wildlife.

There have been mills at Kingsley since Saxon times. Billy Gibson's unpublished family writings about the beginnings make fascinating reading ...

The Saxons had a thirst for power and it seems not a stream in the land was left unharnessed. Within 10 miles of Kingsley 28 mills could be counted - Acton, Arley, Milton, Cuddington (3), Peck's Mill, Randall's, Barrow, Tarvin, Duddon, Oulton, Willington, Cote Brook, Little Budworth, Marbury, Grimsditch, Cogshall, Frodsham (2), Cattenhall, Crowton (2), Bradley, Bradford, Northwich, Peover & Lostock Gralam ...

Gibson's Kingsley MillThe original Kingsley Mill was little different from all the others in terms of the gearing, mill stones, flour dressing machines and grain drying but water power for Kingsley was difficult, there were four small streams but not one of them could power a wheel. These early Saxon engineers were clever. They chose an unlikely site on marshy ground with no high banks between which they could build a dam, but they diverted the two main streams into a pool and by doing so raised the water level some 20-25 feet above the natural level. They found a way to free the water when it had done its work and insured the pool did not silt up. They built on the site of a spring to conserve its power and flow ... they performed a miracle ...

Then, and in later Norman times, the mill was controlled by the Lord of the Manor, a system which lasted until the late 1600s. In those days the farmers had no alternative but to send their wheat to the Lord's mill for the production of flour for bread and chaff for meal. The miller paid in kind, it was a stitch up ... but everybody gravitated to the mill ... the mill was the social centre of village activity and stories abound ...

In 1768 two men were sent to prison for breaking into the mill. Convicted by Justices Bruen & Stapleford at 'The Chamber in the Forest', which was the local courthouse at Eddisbury.

A young apprentice named Burrows, who served his time at the mill, emigrated to Australia and founded the largest combine of flour manufacturers in the country, The Oceana Flour Milling Co Ltd.

In 1824 The Chester Courant advertised the sale of Mr Parker's 'Guest Slack' properties in Kingsley.

Painting by Thomas GibsonThe Gibsons worked the mill from the early 1800s taking over occupancy from the Parker family. William Gibson purchased the mill from Edward Langsdale later in the century. Langsdale, a Liverpool timber merchant, had purchased Kingsley Hall from the Giffords in 1816. Langsdale and a string of similar newcomers were responsible for the further splitting up of the Kingsley estate into the many separate titles, giving opportunity, diversity & competition for many independent Kingsleyites.

William Gibson was a local farmer at Kingsley Hall, Catten Hall & Peel Hall and the first and last monopolist in the village, he owned - the Water Mill, the Wind Mill, Crowton Mill and a corn warehouse at Frodsham Bridge. He was a lay preacher and with all this influence one wonders whether his conscience troubled him?!

The original water mill, 'Kingsley Water Mill', from way back in the 1700s was complemented around 1824 (see sale notice) by the 'Kingsley Wind Mill'. The mill site today known as Crofton Lodge was marked, just by Guest's Stack, on the OS maps. The associated mill reservoir, Wiggin's Lake, see Plot 227 'Pool Field', Plot 247 ‘Wiggin’s Lake Field’, Plot 213 ‘Mill Field’ and Millfield Farm at the end of Guest’s Stacks were clearly marked on the Tithe Maps of 1845. The lake now extinct, was drained by two landowners to whom the enclosed land had been sold by the Commissioners. They had been sold enclosures but not the lake. What an encroachment on the freedom and independence of Kingsley men, and yet another example of the erosion of property rights in the absence of eternal vigilance ...

In 1970 Billy Gibson posed a fascinating dilemma -

‘The main problem confronting our forebears would be to know where, and how, they could concentrate their water resources at a central point, and at the same time enable them to extract its maximum power’

... his article The Kingsley Mill Pool described how the Saxons solved the water problem!

The history of Billy Gibson and the Kingsley mills have been given a welcome fillip by local historian and aficionado David Keogh who has written some wonderful thought provoking articles - The Mills of Kingsley - A Tale of Two Mills - The Knabb Stream ...

Kingley Wind MillThe wind mill was purchased from the Burtons by William but his son John sold the mill to an ironmonger named Braun from Garston, then a chap called Chadwick from Runcorn followed and he closed the mill and it was converted into Crofton Lodge, a residential property. Chadwick had ideas to make the mill into some sort of look-out tower and folly but during the conversion, undertaken by Messrs Davies & Co of Frodsham the structure came crashing down, with much noise and consternation, but luckily it was during a lunch break, and there was no loss of life!

During the Gibson ownership John's brother Samuel was lashed to the sails and sent for a ride two or three times round ... boys will be boys and the Gibson pair were no different ... wot fun!

The Gibsons went to considerable trouble at one time to divert the streams flowing down to the Weaver through Crowton into the Kingsley Pool to augment the power for their modern mill. Eventually much later around 19?? the mill was converted to electricity by Lilly's, a firm from Gloucester.

Following the opening of the Weaver Navigation, the rise of Liverpool and the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1840 the flour milling trade improved cost effectiveness and began relocating to the ports. The Kingsley Mill responded and by switching to the compounding of animal feeds.

William Gibson (1801-61) died at Kingsley aged 63 in 1861. The 'Intack', the 'Windmill Farm' and the 'Water Mill Farm' were sold in 1862. In 1869 Windmill Farm was up for sale again.

Thomas followed his dad into milling but his sons Edwin and Alfred went into the railways. Edwin, the eldest son, was tragically killed falling onto a railway truck. His younger brother Alfred was originally an engine driver from Mossley Hill, but planned his future with a new wife in Canada. With Edwin gone, Alfred was called back to run the mill. But he had almost lost contact with the family and no one recognised him when he arrived at Acton Bridge Station. Significantly Alfred wasn’t a miller, and after Thomas retired the business deteriorated and the clapped out operation was eventually sold to a local chap up the road.

It looked as though the Gibson connection with Kingsley Mill had ended but young Billy Gibson (1881-1975) had other plans. His granddad Thomas had run a successful business and Billy had been dispatched to Rigbys to learn the trade. Billy knew his oats because the Rigbys had a fine history of successful milling in Cheshire ... so who were the Rigbys? 


Enter the Rigbys              

Bewsey HallThomas Rigby (1830-97) was born in Warrington at Bewsey Hall, the imposing and ancient seat of the Boteler family. The Boteler family were Lords of the Manor of Warrington from the time of William the Conqueror until Elizabethan times. The name Bewsey was derived from 'beau see', Norman French for 'beautiful place'. In 1526, Sir Thomas Boteler, later to be the High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1535, founded his famous school ... we remembered, the Boteler Grammar School for Boys, in the 1950s ... they played a mean game of cricket.

Thomas Rigby (1830-97) son of William & Ellen, Farmers of Bewsey, baptised 19 March 1830 Bewsey, Warrington 
married Mary Brereton (1827-81) 1851 Northwich. Mary Daughter of William & Elizabeth, baptised 24 April 1827 Davenham
children - Ellen Rigby (1853–88), William Brereton Rigby (1856–1923), Thomas Arthur Rigby (1860–1927), Mary Rigby (1862–1931), Joseph Rigby (1864–), Jane Anne Rigby (1865–), Alice Rigby (1870–)
died 2 March 1897 Llandudno ... probate ... to son Thomas Arthur (1861-1927) Corn Merchant and daughter Mary Rigby (1862-)Spinster

 1841 census - found Thomas Rigby (1830-97) living with his mum Ellen Rigby (neé Wright) (1807-) and his siblings, Mary Rigby (1831-), Jane Rigby (1833-) & Ann Rigby (1835-). They were living at Brick Street, Warrington with mum Ellen's mum (Thomas's grandparents) ... Thomas Wright (1775-) 66 & Ellen Welsby (1777-) 64 were Farmers in Warrington. Thomas' dad William Rigby (1797-1834) died when young Thomas Rigby (1830-97) was only 4.

1851 census - Mum Ellen was still at Brick Street, Warrington now remarried in 1843 to her cousin James Welsby (1801-) ... James Welsby (1801-) 50 Farmer Ellen Welsby née Rigby née Wright (1807-62) 43, with kids Jane Rigby (1833-) 18 born Burtonwood, Ann Rigby (1834-) 16 born Burtonwood and the Welsby brothers John (1839-) 12, Henry (1845-) 6 ... in 1851 young Mary Rigby (1831-) was still living alone with grandma but now at Church Street, Warrington.

1851 census - Thomas was at Bridge House, Church Minshull where he had moved at 15 to be an apprentice Miller with Joseph Wright (1815-55) aged 35, born Grappenhall, Corn Miller employing 6 men, with wife Eleanor Selby (1822-98) aged 28, born St Johns and children - Mary Ellen Wright (1844-) aged 7, born Church Minshull, William Aldersey Wright (1846-) aged 5, born Church Minshull ... and with them was Thomas Rigby (1830-97) aged 21, born Burtonwood, Warrington, Journeyman Miller ...

1861 census - now at Fenny Wood, Little Budworth Thomas Rigby (1830-97) 31, Farmer Miller 91 acres 3 men with wife Mary Brereton (1827-) 34 from Davenham with children Ellen (1853-) 8, William B (1855-) 6, Thomas A (1861-) 2 months. Mary Brereton (1827-) Daughter of William & Elizabeth, baptised 24 April 1827 Davenham ... Bagshaws 1850 indentified William Brereton (-) Farmer Fenny Wood

1871 census - at Mill House, Darnhall, Whitegate Thomas (1830-97) 41 born Warrington, Mary (-) 44 born Davenham, Ellen (-) 8, William B (1856-) 15, Thomas Arthur (1861-) 10, Mary (1862-) 9, Joseph (1864-) 7,  Jane Ann (1865-) 6, Alice (1870-) 9 months born Wharton

1881 census - at Sutton Mill, Runcorn, Aston Thomas Rigby (1830-97) 51, Widower, Corn Miller from Warrington employing 14 men & 2 boys with Thomas (1859-) 20, Mary (1862-) 19, Jane Ann (1865-97) 16, the 3 born in Little Budwoth, & Alice (-) 10, born in Over ... 

1891 census - still at Sutton, Runcorn, Aston Thomas Rigby (1830-97) 61, Widower, Corn Miller & Farmer from Bewsey with Mary 29, Jane 26, & Alice 20, all born Little Budwoth & single


Rigby's Four Mill Frodsham BridgeWe tracked Thomas Rigby (1830-97) through the census until his death in care in Llandudno in 1897 and we were also in awe of the research of Bill Pearson who reported that Thomas Rigby was quite a remarkable person, Miller of repute and very active as secretary of the Cheshire Chamber of Agriculture and led the effort to establish the School of Dairying at Worleston which later became part of the Cheshire School of Agriculture (Reaseheath College).

Thomas made his contribution to feeding the nation and spurring the industrial revolution at four old Cheshire mills -   

The Mill, Bridge House, Church Minshull
1898 OS map and modern OS map - grandfather & cousin Wright taught Thomas the trade 

Fenny Wood, Little Budworth and Stanthorne Mill  
1875 OS map and modern OS map - married into the Brereton family who farmed at Fenny Wood and also occupied Stanthorne Mill ... by 1882 there was a new Miller at Stanthorne ... William B Rigby ... Thomas' son ... William Brereton Rigby (1856–1923)  

Mill House, Darnhall, Whitegate
1898 OS map and modern OS map - Cistercian Monks at Darnhall Abbey plied their trade here before their move to Vale Royal

Sutton Mill, Sutton, Frodsham
1898 OS map and modern OS map - on the site of the old cheese warehouse at Frodsham Port ... sadly few archeological remnants remain ... but there's hope for a big dig?

Granddad John Rigby (1738-1808) of Daresbury
first married Ellen Caldwell (1741-75) 10 Dec 1767 Daresbury ... John 29, Ellen 26
second married Mary Hurtsfield (1753-1818) 27 Dec 1780 Weaverham ... John aged 42, Mary aged 27 ... (1736164)
died 15 July 1808 Daresbury aged 70
John & Mary's children -

Aunt Ellen Rigby (1781-) Daughter John & Mary baptised 4 Nov 1781 Daresbury
married George Robinson (1775-) 9 July 1801 ... licence ... George & Thomas Robinson, Appleton, Great Budworth ... original ... George Robinson of Great Budworth and Ellen Rigby of Runcorn. Witnesses Thomas Eaton and Betty Robinson. George Robinson (1775-) son of John baptised 16 July 1775 Great Budworth

Aunt Mary Rigby (1786-1857) Daughter John & Mary baptised 10 March 1786 Daresbury
married James Wright (1780-1819) 30 Oct 1804 Daresbury ... licence ... connected James Wright of Grappenhall to John Rigby of Daresbury. Mary was the older sister of William Rigby (1796-1834) 
died 16 Feb 1857 aged 70 years Church Minshull buried Grappenhall  

Uncle Thomas Rigby (1788-90) son of John & Mary baptised 24 April 1788 Daresbury ... died in infancy    

Uncle Joseph Rigby (1790-90) son of John & Mary baptised 26 Feb 1790 Daresbury ... died in infancy

Uncle Thomas Rigby (1791-1826) son of John & Mary baptised 9 Oct 1791 Daresbury 
married Mary Roberts (1795-) 4 Sept 1823 Overton, Malpas ... original ... witnesses John Fairhurst & Mary Roberts ... licence ...   
died 12 May 1826 Malpas aged 33 ... tragically before the birth of son Thomas ... enterprising Widow Mary second married Samuel Shaw (-) of Overton 3 Jan 1839 Malpas ... fathers William Shaw & Thomas Roberts were both Farmers ... witnesses were Richard Orford and Mary Moyle.       

Thomas Rigby (1826-1910) son of Thomas & Mary baptised 13 Sept 1826 Malpas
married Bennett Parry (1832-1885) 28 April 1855 Malpas
children - Mary (1857-75), Ellen (1859-), John (1861-), Annie (1862-), Thomas (1869-)
MEMORIAL ID - 205629267 - Mary eldest daughter of Thomas Rigby of Alport Farm Overton died 31 Jan 1875 aged 18 Bennett Rigby 20 Dec 1885 aged 53 Thomas Rigby 25 Sept 1910 aged 84 St Oswald's Churchyard, Malpas died
spouse Thomas Rigby (1826-1910) and Mary Rigby (unknown–1875)

1851 census - Mary Shaw née Rigby née Roberts (1795-) aged 56 Farmer born Carden employing 1 labourer with daughter Ann Rigby (1824-) aged 26 born Overton and son Thomas Rigby (1826-) aged 24 born Overton

Uncle Joseph Rigby (1794-1863) son of John & Mary baptised 28 June 1794 Daresbury
married Margaret Swinton (1796-1866) 28 Feb 1815 Runcorn
died 25 Aug 1863 Little Leigh ... wife Margaret, sons John (-) Lower Whitley, Joseph jnr (1827-) Kingsley, and son-in-law Charles Massey (-) Whitley Superior
children - Joseph's lot ended up in Little Leigh ... ?

John Rigby (1817-74) son of Joseph & Margaret baptised 1817
married Elizabeth Smith (-) 25 Jan 1837 Runcorn
died 20 Apr 1874 aged 57 Little Leigh Baptist Churchyard ... probate ... wife Elizabeth, John Smith Rigby (1839–1917) of Mouldsworth, Farmer, Rev Joseph Rigby (-) of Stanningley, Calverly, York and William Davidson (-) Gentleman of Sutton, Runcorn.
MEMORIAL ID 174135518 -
children - Hannah (1838-), John Smith Rigby (1839–1917), Frances Rigby (1841-), Joseph Rigby (1843-), Thomas Fowras Rigby (1844-). Elizabeth Smith Rigby (1846-), James Hewitt Rigby (1848–92), Emily Rigby (1850-) ...

1851 census - the Little Leigh gang Farming at Lower Whitley ....

In 1846 Ashfield Farm, Dark lane, Whitley was occupied by John Rigby born in Little Leigh in 1817. He married Elizabeth Smith and the couple had at least 8 children before moving to Lower Whitley around 1848 and then back to Little Leigh. The owner of Ashfield Farm was Thomas Taylor of Overton Hall, Malpas. He had no obvious connection with Whitley, he was born locally in Appleton, before marrying Ellen Wade from Lymm and moving down to Malpas to manage a 300 acre farm. Thomas Taylor died in 1862? But Joseph's elder brother Thomas Rigby (1791-1826) farmed in Overton ... and it was a small world? By 1901 John Rigby’s grandson Henry was back at the farm. Harry was the son of John and Elizabeth’s eldest son, John Smith Rigby, and was born in Newton by Daresbury in 1870. He was brought up at Mouldsworth and then Little Leigh before marrying and moving to Whitley with his young family.
This Rigby round about connected just about all the Cheshire farmers in our neck of the woods!

Ellen Rigby (1821-)
married Charles Massey (-) 14 Jan 1841 Great Budworth. Ellen aged 19 Charles aged 26. Charles Massey son of Peter Massey, Farmed next door to Ellen's dad Joseph Rigby (1794-1863) !

Elizabeth (1823-)
married Fyge Smith 12 Jan 1842 ... Elizabeth was 18, sister Jane was a witness. Witnesses Samuel Massy and Hannah Smith. Fathers John Smith and Joseph Rigby were both Little Leigh Farmers

Jane (1826-)
married Joseph Wilkinson 1845

Joseph Rigby (1827-67) son of Joseph & Margaret, baptised 1827 - married Eleanor Swinton (-) 1847 Northwich -
Eleanor died in 1893
Joseph died 1867

John Rigby (1856-1925) son of Joseph & Eleanor, baptised
first married Isabelle Thomas (-) and
second widow Jane Challoner (-) neé Dulson 
(Jacqui Simkins, connection thru Jane - descended from one of her children from her marriage to Joseph Challoner (-), who was at Castle Hill Farm, Kingsley and died 1885).
Children, John, Thomas and Lucy.
Moved to Warwickshire. John died 1925 at Brook Farm, Packington, Warwickshire.

1861 census - at Depmore Kingsley, Joseph Rigby (1827-67) 34 Farmer born Little Leigh, 75 acres emploing 4 laborers & 1 boy, wife Eleanor (1827-) 34 born Lower Walton with children Ellen (1849-) 12, Margaret (1851-) 10, Jane (1854-) 7, John (1857-) 4 and Thomas (1859-) 2

1871 census - at Depmore Kingsley, Eleanor Rigby (1827-) 44 born Lower Walton Farmer born Little Leigh, 80 acres employing 4 laborers & 1 boy, with children Ellen (1849-) 22 born Acton, Jane (1854-) 17, John (1857-) 14 and Thomas (1859-) 12, Joseph Seventor (1868-) 3 ... and grand son Walter Edward (1869-) 2 ... all born Kingsley ... and nephew William Henry Warbuton (-) 8, born Weaverham 

Margaret (1829-)
married William Wilkinson (-) 1847 ... two sisters married two brothers!

Father William Rigby (1797-1834) son of John & Mary baptised 29 March 1796 Daresbury
OR was he the son of Richard & Ann, baptised 7 June 1796 Warrington ... not agood bet?
married Mum Ellen Wright (1807-) 3 March 1829 Warrington ... original ... Witnesses John Wright (1801-) and Thomas Wright jnr (1809-) ... Ellen's brothers ... 
died 27 Nov 1834 Bewsey aged 37 when young Thomas Rigby (1830-97) was only 4. 
William & Ellen had at least 4 children between 1830 and 1834 when Farming in Bewsey -

Thomas Rigby (1830-) son of William & Ellen baptised 19 March 1830 Warrington
married Mary Brereton (1827-81) 1851 Northwich
children - Ellen (1853-), William Brereton (1856-), Thomas Arthur (1860-), Mary (1862-), Joseph (1864-), Jane Ann (1865-), Alice (1870-)

Mary Rigby (1831-) Daughter of William & Ellen baptised 3 June 1831 Warrington 
married William Fairhurst ?

Jane Rigby (1833-) Daughter of William & Ellen baptised 29 March 1833 Warrington
married Thomas Turner

Ann Rigby (1834-) Daughter of William & Ellen baptised 5 Dec 1834  Warrington

At 15 Thomas was apprenticed to Joseph Wright (1815-55) at the corn mill at Church Minshull
... Joseph was mum Ellen's nephew, the son of her uncle James Wright (1780-1819) ... the brother of dad John Wright (1775-)

and there was more ... great granddad John Wright (1749-1808) Ellen's granddad married Elizabeth Rigby in 17?? ...

Young Thomas learned the trade with his older maternal cousins at Bridge House, Church Minshull, Nantwich. The mill owners were Joseph Wright (1815-) from Grappenhall & his wife Eleanor (1823-)Thomas went on to Mills at Fenny Wood, Davenham then where he married into the Brereton farmers then Darnhall Mill, Whitegate where he farmed, and at the same time ran Stanthorne Mill before ending up at Sutton Mill Frodsham. 

5/12/2016 Val clarified the Rigby / Wright intrigue -

Joseph Wright of Church Minshull was the son of Thomas Wright (1775-) younger brother James (1780-) and William Rigby's older sister Mary (1786-) ... William Rigby (1797-) was Thomas Rigby (1730-) senior's dad ...   
Thomas Wright was married Ellen Welsby. Thomas Wright's mother Elizabeth Rigby (1744-) was also a Rigby but how was she related to the other Rigbys was unknown? (Apparently one of Thomas Rigby's grandchildren was Cecil Arthur Lewis, co founder of the BBC?)
By 1861 Thomas Rigby (1830-) married Mary Brereton (1827-) from Davenham, Northwich, and was farming 90 acres employing 3 men at Fenny Wood, Little Budworth. They had three children Ellen (1853-), William B (1855-) & Thomas A (1861-).
By 1871 Thomas was at Mill House, Darnall with the family plus four additions Mary (1862-), Joseph (1864-), Jane Ann (1865-) & Alice (1871-). They were prolific, seven children!
By 1881 Thomas had established his mill at Sutton Weaver, employing 14 men & 2 boys. Thomas A, Mary, Jane Ann & Alice were with Thomas at Sutton but wife Mary had died by this time.
In 1881 Thomas's son William Brereton (1855-) continued with the mill at Darnhall employing 5 men and 2 boys. He was married to Teresa Maria Waller (1853-), a local girl from Winsford, with their new born son Thomas Marshall (1881-). Brother Joseph (1864-) was also at Darnhall helping with the mill.
By 1891 Thomas was still milling & farming but now living at The Cedars, Warrington Road, Sutton, with Mary, Jane & Alice.
In 1891 William (1869-) & Theresa (1853-) were still at Mill House with the address now Stanthorne, with Thomas Marshall (1881-) and his new brother William Brereton Stewart (1883-).
By 1901 Thomas A (1861-) had taken over the mill and was living in Hoole, Chester with his family, wife Margaret A (1861-) and son Brereton (1890-)
By 1911 Thomas Arthur (1861-) & Margaret Ann (1861-) were at Upton Hayes, Chester, still milling and now with sons Brereton (1890-) & Oswald (1893-) in the business. The family now involved a new prospect 6 year old son Thomas (1905-) ...

Sutton MillThomas Rigby & Son's Flour Mill at Frodsham Bridge received grain at the Frodsham wharf via barges. There was a grain elevator capable of lifting 60 tons per hour from the hold of a barge to the top floor of the mill. The Flour was distributed to bakeries by teams of horses, as seen here, and later by Foden Steam wagons. Thomas Rigby & Son Ltd, 5 Fenwick Street, Liverpool 2 were the big millers and had also established a flour mill in Liverpool.

Rigbys milled flour in the waterloo grain warehouses in Liverpool, and quite cheaply, as the boats came straight to the mill from the open sea, and the ground wheat was dispatched, in railway trucks directly from the door. The advantage moved from small rural mills to the giants at the ports. During this period T A Rigby was running a tight ship keeping up to date with the latest patent technology, appealing his onerous tax bill and exhibiting their latest products in London, with effective advertising and exciting promotions!

Thomas Rigby & Sons Ltd together with the new mill at Liverpool port was taken over by Joseph Rank & Co, millers of Liverpool in 1926, later became part of Rank Hovis McDougll.


Arley HallSutton Mill had a remarkable pedigree going back to the Warburtons of Arley Hall, 15th century, and the Egertons of Oulton Park, Middle Ages.

The original Odard de Dutton, arrived in Cheshire with the Norman Conquest. Adam de Dutton acquired estates at Warburton in Cheshire. Sir Piers de Dutton adopted the name de Werberton 1260. The last Warburton at Arley Hall was Sir Peter, 5th Baronet, died childless 1813.

Rowland Eyles Egerton-Warburton (1804–91) Norley Bank, Norley, Cheshire inherited Arley Hall & Warburton estates in 1825.
Rowland Eyles rebuilt Arley Hall, Great Budworth & The George & Dragon. These were old stomping grounds of ours ... especially the idyllic shrine which was Arley Cricket Ground where George Birchall completed his career with Dr Peter Love and his cohort of enthusiasts ... and where young john p, as a school boy, occasionally played with the adults and became addicted to social cricket ... this was proper Cricket on the Green !

And St John's Norley had special significance in 1965 !

The Dutton, Warbuton, Egerton line led to Sutton Mill on the Sutton Hall Farm ... and Pickerings & Rigbys.

Sutton Mill, Frodsham, Cheshire, England played an exciting part in inspiring the success of the Industrial Revolution in Northern Cheshire. Four generations of Pickerings managed the mill and supported their families through hard work, honesty & investments.

John Pickering (1744-1814) purchased the mill from Sir Peter Warburton, 4th Baronet of Arley Hall in 1785. The 1753 Map of the Warbuton Estate shows the prize. The Tithe Map of 1850 shows the dramatic development of Sutton Mill and Frodsham Port from rural sufficiency to commercial success.

The Sutton mill was originally a small one on the demesne lands which from the 1750s onwards were rented with the large Sutton Hall Farm. In the early 1780s the Estate decided to convert the old cheese warehouse into a new mill. This was probably because by then much of the cheese going to the south of England was transported on the canals. They used a cut from the river Weaver which had been made in the 1730s and then improved it so as to create a large high-power new corn mill on the Weaver propitiosly sited beside the Mersey Estuary. By the 1780s the water-ways of north west England had been greatly increased and improved. The Frodsham site gave ready access to -
... Weaver Navigation to Northwich and Winsford
... Trent & Mersey canal to the Potteries and further south
... Bridgewater canal to Manchester
... old Mersey and Irwell Navigation to Manchester
... Sankey Navigation to St Helens

Sutton MillEnter the Pickerings         

All the heavy lifting on the Pickering family of Cheshire and the Frodsham Port has been done by Connie Louise Pickering Stover from 1973 and  Peter E Swift 'The Port of Frodsham' 2008 and Sue Lorimer & Heather Powling ... enjoy such absorbing history the region's commerce.

Thomas Pickering of Norley may have started a lot of action around 1650 in Crowton. The Pickerings were around way before ... the ancient ford on the Weaver bears the name Pickerings o' the Boat which stuck during the building of the Weaver Navigation. William Pickering & Co were involved in Salt, Bricks & Milling in the heyday of the Port of Frodsham and Bernard Pickering was the Factory Chemist at The Weaver Refining Company. 

There were 4 generations of Pickering Millers in Cheshire -

1. John Pickering (1744-1814) purchased the Sutton Mill from Sir Peter Warburton in 1785

2. Son Thomas Pickering (1765-1814) of Runcorn was Sutton Mill, Corn Dealer

2. Son Samuel Pickering (1766-1811) Miller & Corn Dealer

3. Grandson William John Pickering (1797-1829) was the Mill Manager

3. Grandson John Rigby Pickering (1798-1880) Corn & Flour Miller

3. Grandson Samuel Pickering (1805-1874) Miller & Farmer

4. GGrandson John Pickering (1834-1900) Corn Miller

4. GGrandson Thomas Pickering  (1836-) Miller’s Assistant

There were many Pickerings around town at the time who could have started the ball rolling take your pick ... but it isn't germain to our story Cheshire mills ... 

Thomas Pickering (1659-90) Grappenhall

John Pickering (-) married Mary Adshead 14 May 1690 Chester

Samuel Pickering (1659-1712) Aston

Bernard Pickering (1665-1737) Weaverham married Sarah Nixon 21 Sept 1710 Whitegate

William Pickering (-) married Mary Blackamore 18 May 1698 Weaverham

Pickerings... but we had a clue ...

John Pickering (1693-1749) son of John, baptised 25 July 1693 Weaverham ... Yeoman, Crowton ...  OR
John Pickering (1706-) son of William baptised 2 July 1706 St Mary, Weaverham (1736164)
married Mary Manwaring (1716-) 08 May 1743, St Mary Church, Weaverham ... (1736164). Mary Manwaring Daughter of Thomas & Martha Hine, baptised 10 Nov 1716 Weaverham ... John aged 50 too old? OR aged 37 Mary aged 27 ...
married Mary Woodward 3 Feb 1722 Weaverhan (1736164) ... John aged 25 OR aged 16 too young? Mary aged 27 ...
died 31 Mar 1749 aged 56 ... (1736164) ...
Looks like the best fit - John Pickering (1706-) son of William married 27 year old Mary Manwaring in 1743 when he was 37.

Children of John Pickering & Mary Manwaring -

Joseph Pickering (1742-) baptised 8 Aug 1742 Weaverham, Northwich ... 

Mary (1743-43) Weaverham 

Elizabeth (1744-59) St Mary, Weaverham ... twin to John ...    

John Pickering (1744-1814) son of John born 7 May 1744 Bradley, Cheshire, Corn Merchant of Sutton ... twin to Elizabeth
married Mary Harrison (1741-1807) 10 Jan 1765 Weaverham. Mary born Little Budworth. John died age 70 in 1814.

 John Pickering & Mary Harrison children -

Thomas Pickering (1765-1814) born 23 Aug 1765 Weaverham Runcorn, Cornfactor, Sutton, Runcorn ... died aged 49.
married Margaret Horrabin (-)

children of Thomas & Margaret -

Catharina ... Died infant

Ann Pickering (1796-1822) of Sutton died Frodsham aged 26

William John Pickering (1797-1829) of Frodsham Bridge died Frodsham aged 31
Corn Merchant and Manager of the Mill .... never married sister Lydia was Executor of his Estate

Margaret Pickering (1799-1813) died Frodsham aged 14

John Pickering (1801-34) Gentleman died Frodsham aged 33 ... never married sister Lydia was Executor of his Estate

Thomas Horrabin Pickering (1803-18) died aged 15

Catharina V Pickering (1804-25) lived in Sutton in the Chapelry of Aston, Parish of Runcorn died age 21

Eleonora Horrabin Pickering (1805-87) died aged 82
married William Horrabin Morgan (-) 12 Dec 1833 Frodsham. Runcorn, Druggist, 18 Jan 1839 recorded as Bankrupt

Children of William Horrabin Morgan and Elenora Pickering -
-- William Pickering Horobin Morgan (1835-47) died aged 12
-- Thomas Pickering Morgan (1836-) Little Budworth ... children Ann Morgan (1860-), Samuel Morgan (1863-), Martha Maria Morgan (1865-)

Mary Pickering (1810-31) died aged 21

Lydia Horrabin Pickering (1811-95) of Runcorn died aged 84
married John Turner (1810-95) of Castle Caereinion, MGY Wales died aged 84 ... children Ann Turner (1848-), Mary P Turner (1852-) of Everton  

Edmund Pickering (1813-14) died aged 22 months

Samuel & Alice GraveSamuel Pickering (1766-1811) son of John baptised 26 Oct 1766 Weaverham ...
Corn Dealer of Sutton Runcorn ... died 13 Sep 1811 age 45 from his will and grave stone at St Lawrance Frodsham ... probate was issued 26 Sept 1811 ...
married Alice Rigby (1771-1844) 12 Oct 1794 Frodsham and brought the Rigbys to the party including Alice's brothers George Rigby (1788-1863) and Thomas Rigby jrn (1782-) ?
Alice died in 11 Nov 1844 Frodsham.
Alice & George were NOT born in Cheshire ... so who were these Rigbys? 

1841 census - at High Street Frodsham Alice Pickering née Rigby (1771-1844) aged 65, Mary Pickering (1800-) aged 40, George Rigby (1788-) aged 60 Corn Dealer, James Rigby (1820-) aged 20 Corn Dealer ... plus Betsey Lee (-) aged 20, and Hannah Lightfoot (-) aged 15 ?? Miller George Rigby (-) died 1 Aug 1863 Prescot ... he was 75 years old.

Thomas Rigby (1742-1842) baptised ? 1742
married Alice Swift (-) 16 April 1766 Ormskirk

died 24 Jan 1842 Ormskirk  aged 100!

Thomas & Alice children -
1 Alice Rigby (1771-) daughter of Thomas & Alice baptised
2 George Rigby (1778-1842) son of Thomas & Alice baptised 30 Aug 1778 Ormskirk
married Mary Steward (-89) 30 April 1807 Shropshire their son
died 1842 Frodsham 
MI  - 'memory of George Rigby died June 19th 1842 aged 63. Also James Rigby only son of above died Nov 10th 1892 aged 80. Also Jane wife of James died May 20th 1889 aged 65. Also George their so died March 20th 1893 aged 37. Also Jane & Thomas died in infancy'
James Rigby (1812-92) son of George & Mary married Jane Steward (1824-89) 13 Nov 1847 Brighton ... son George Rigby (1856-93)
Mary's dad ? Steward (-) was Jane's granddad!
3 Thomas Rigby (1782-) son of Thomas & Alice baptised 23 Jun 1782 Ormskirk
( who was? George Rigby (-) son of Thomas & Martha baptised 16 Nov 1788 Prescot?)

NB Thomas Rigby - I thought you might be interested in an article that can be found on Findmypast Cheshire Observer 3rd February 1894.
I have seen a website that claims that Alice Rigby wife of Samuel Pickering and her brother George were related to Thomas Rigby and sons. This is unlikely as she is the daughter of Thomas Rigby a cooper of Ormskirk who died in 1842. The Death duty registers show admin by Joseph Rigby of Frodsham so I don't think there is any doubt. I hope this helps you with your research!
News from Helen Heap (Australia where one branch of the Rigby line arrived).
George Rigby (-1842) (brother of Alice Pickering) he died in 1842 and was buried along with his son James Rigby and James wife Jane in St Laurence's Churchyard in Frodsham.
James was the one who owned the Bellemonte Pleasure grounds. His wife was Jane Steward whose mother was a Bentley. George Rigby was married to Mary Steward whose father was also the grandfather of Jane Steward. George Rigby and Mary Steward were married in Shropshire. Australian branch is related to James Rigby from his daughter Katherine who married Josiah Lane. To Australia in the 1920s with their three adult children. George Rigby, a corn seller, was granted a lease of land in Runcorn. He died in the 1990s. Family paperwork suggested that  the family came out of Shropshire, Cheshire & London with a number owning property in several locations. James Rigby also held the lease on the inn in Frodsham at one point.
From the Manchester University Archives - 'Manchester University, John Rylands Library Assignment, in trust, by James Purcell of Frodsham, gentleman, by the direction of the above Thomas Cooper, to George Rigby of the same, gentleman, of the residue of a term of 1000 years respecting lands and premises in Runcorn RYCH/4582 15 Oct 1827. Assignment, in trust, by the executors of Nathaniel Gould, late of Manchester, co Lanc, gentleman, deceased, by the direction of the above Thomas Cooper, to the above George Rigby, of the residue of a term of 2000 years respecting lands and premises in Runcorn RYCH/4583 15 Oct 1827'.
James Rigby (George Rigby's son) also was the testator for his father estate. The Rigby, Steward and Bentley lines married in and out across Shropshire, Cheshire & London. The family were by no means poor by the standard of the day. According to my father, before his death, the family lines were so inter married that it was a wonder they didn't have two heads. Josiah Lane, who married Katherine Rigby, was also related to the Stewards. They weren't just first cousins, they were also 2nd cousins. But that was reasonably common when family were introduced to each other.

St Laurence Frodsham MI - 'Samuel Pickering of Sutton died 15 Nov 1811 aged 45 also Samuel son died 11 May 1820 aged 14 Alice daughter died 12 Feb 1826 aged 28 also Alice wife died 11 Nov 1844 aged 73 also John Rigby Pickering son died 15 Oct 1880 aged 81' ...

Samuel Pickering (1766-1811) also left a will to confirm & clarify -

In the name of God Amen I Samuel Pickering of Sutton Mills in the County Palatine of Chester Corn Dealer being of sound mind memory and understanding do make this my last will and testament in manner following. First I recommend my soul to the ever blessed Trinity God the father who made me God the son who redeemed me and God the holy Ghost who hath sanctified me with true faith and temperance. In this hope I desire to be buried in a decent manner at the discretion of my Executrix and Executors hereinafter named. And after my debts funeral expenses and the charge of the probate of this my will are satisfied and paid. Then I give devise and bequeath unto my beloved Wife Alice Pickering, all my real and provisional estate, I now hold jointly with Samuel Chadwick of Sutton aforesaid Corn Dealer Amoity whereof belongeth to me together with all the rest residue and remainder of all my real and provisional estate of what nature or kind soever for and during the time she continues to be and remain my Widow but if she marries again then my will is that she receive only out of my real and provisional estate an annual annuity of one hundred pounds for her natural life to be at her own disposal and without any control of any future husband and after her death I then give the same and every part thereof to my sons and daughters to be equally divided among them share and share alike and I do hereby empower my Executrix and Executors hereinafter named to alienate exchange sell or dispose of all or any parts o my real estate I now am or hereafter maybe posses of and also with full power to dissolve either or both of my said partnership concerns as they may see most proper during my children's minorities for my wife and their advantage and lastly I nominate constitute and appoint my said wife Alice Pickering and my brothers-in-law George Rigby and Thomas Rigby junior Executrix and Executors of this my will in writing thereof I have put my hand and seal this twenty third day of May in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand eight hundred and eleven,
signed sealed and published and declared by the said Samuel Pickering the Testator to be his last will and testament in the presence of us who have at his request signed our names in his presence and in the presence of each other the words for her natural life being first interlined - Samuel Pickering - William Hayes snr William Hayes jnr Thomas Rigby
The 26 day of September 1811 Alice Pickering widow, George Rigby and Thomas Rigby jnr the Executrix and Executors in this will named were sworn in common form and they further made an oath that the whole of the personal estate and effects belonging to the Testator at the time of his death within the Diocese of Chester did not amassed to the sum of three thousand five hundred pounds  before me Thomas Maudesley Surrogate
Testator died 13 Sept 1811
Probate Issued Dated 26th Sept 1811

Children of Samuel Pickering and Alice Rigby -

Mary Pickering (1795-1864) b: 12 Mar 1795 Chester d: 03 Feb 1864 (age 69)

Alice Pickering (-) b: 03 Oct 1797 Frodsham Parish d: 12 Feb 1826 (age 29) b: 17 Feb 1826 St Laurence, Frodsham

John Rigby Pickering (1798-1880) son of Samuel & Alice born 28 Nov 1798 baptised 4 Jan 1799 Sutton Runcorn
married Ellen Ashley (1803-85) in 1841 Frodsham Parish
John & Ellen had no children -
1841 census - Corn Merchant, Sutton (age 40)
1845 Railway Subscriber less than £2,000
1848 Treasurer, Savings Bank
1851 census - 25 Main Street, Frodsham John Rigby Pickering (1798-) aged 52 Corn Merchantwith wife Ellen (1803-) aged 48 .... [1 servant]
1861 census - 28 Main Street, Frodsham (age 62) [1 servant] Corn and Flour Dealer ... with Robert W Ashley (-), brother-in-law, age 61 Ship Broker and Elizabeth Ashley (-) sister-in-law, age 65, Fundholder
1871 census - 26 Main Street, Frodsham (age 73) Retired Corn Merchant,
died 15 Oct 1880 buried 21 Oct 1880, St Laurence, Frodsham ... £25,000 probate proved at Chester by William Marcus Lightfoot (-) Gentleman and Mary Ellen Ashley (-) and Isabella Frances Ashley (-) Frodsham spinsters
He was Executor to his mother’s Estate – she died without a Will.
By 1831 John Rigby Pickering was in partnership with his cousin, James Rigby ... Alice Rigby's nephew ... George or Thomas's son? The partnership of John Rigby Pickering and James Rigby was dissolved in 1852 and James, after spending a few years as manager of the Neston Colliery, returned to Frodsham and established the Bellemonte Pleasure grounds at Overton. Sutton Mill had been unoccupied for a number of years when in 1879 Thomas Rigby and Sons (no relationship to previous Rigbys can be established) took them on. They were probably converted to steam and later to electricity by Thomas Rigby. It again became one of the largest in Cheshire, and was taken over by J Rank, millers of Liverpool in 1926, which in turn merged with Hovis MacDougal in the 1960s. 

Thomas (1765-1814) died in January 1814, a few months before his father. Alice inherited a portfolio of business interests. As well as his interest in Sutton Mill, he left mills, malt kilns, land and houses in Liverpool, Runcorn and Frodsham. At the time of his death his estate was the subject of a law suit, probably concerning ownership of the various properties. The outcome of that suit is not known but by 1829 the management of Sutton Mill was in the hands of Thomas’s sons, William and John.
John Rigby Pickering died in October 1880, but when he gave up his interest in Sutton Mill is uncertain.
There were other family interests in corn milling. John Pickering (1774-1814), the third son of John and Mary, was also a miller. He owned a wind corn mill, warehouse, stone quarry and two houses in Runcorn which had to be sold in 1804 when he was declared bankrupt. The property was probably purchased by his brothers William and Samuel as a mill in Runcorn was mentioned in Thomas’s will. The lease of this wind mill was up for tender in 1819, applications to Mrs Alice Pickering.

Samuel Pickering (1805-20) son of Samuel & Alice baptised 08 Dec 1805 Frodsham died 11 May 1820 aged 14.

Ann 'Nancy’ Pickering (1768-90) born 1768 Frodsham, died at age 22
married Samuel Moulsdale (-)

Elizabeth Pickering (1770-) born 1770 Frodsham died at age 27
married Samuel Moulsdale (-) Widower brother-in-law, Samuel Moulsdale married sister 'Nancy'

Mary Pickering (1771-) born 1771 Frodsham
married William Yarwood (-) Drugist  

John Pickering (1774-) born 1774 Northwich, Frodsham. Merchant, emigrated about 1805 to Philadelphia
married Hannah Farrall (-)

Sarah 'Sally' Pickering (1776-) born 1776 Northwich
married Peter Rigby (-)

James Pickering (1778-95) born 1778 Bradley, Frodsham died age 17
Never married

Joseph Pickering (1780-) born 1780 Bradley, Frodsham. Started as  a Corn Merchant but went bankrupt in 1808 and went into his father-in-law's Slate & Timber business.
Eldest son William (1804-45) became the propietor of the Salt Works at Fromsham Bridge where he lived.
married Ann 'Nancy' Hayes (-) ...

William Pickering (1782-1855) born 1782 Frodsham Beach, Bradley, Consul to Mecklenburg, Prussia
married Caroline Amalie Steffens (-) ... son Charles William Pickering (1816-81) Merchant Banker Liverpool ... 3 years old when Mill was purchased'

Peter Pickering (1785-) born 1785 Aston Sutton, Merchant, Inventor    ... 1782: Frodsham, Cheshire  
married Emilie Henriette Steffens (-) ... Son Peter Pickering was born at Mill House


Confused ... not only who was Alice Rigby (1771-1844) ... but Samuel Pickering (1808-74) ... who was this guy? ... not Samuel & Alice's son who died in 1820?

There was a Samuel Pickering, a bastard son of Mary Pickering of Weaverham baptised in 1808, Weaverham ? ... Who?

PO Directory of Trade 1857 lists Corn Millers of familiar interest - Pickering & Rigby, Frodsham Bridge - Pickering S, Middlewich - Rigby T, Winsford - Wright J, Church Minshull - Gibson W, Kingsley - Manley W, Mouldsworth - Burgess J, Darnhall ...

We nailed Farmer Rigby T, Fenny Wood ... this was 'our' Thomas Rigby (1830-) from the 1861 census and Bagshaws 1850 indentified William Brereton (-) Farmer Fenny Wood ... Thomas Rigby's father-in-law ... our Thomas milled at Stanthorne and eventually at Sutton Mill, Frodsham Bridge. But Pickering S, Middlewich ... how does this guy doesn't fit in? Was Samuel Pickering (1808-74) born in Warmington? How was Sutton Mill at Warmingham and connected with Sutton Mill at Frodsham perhaps part of the real estate inherited by Alice? Looks like Samuel and sons John (1834-) and Thomas (1836-) were millers but likely from a different branch of the family?     

Samuel Pickering (1808-74) Sutton Mill, Middlewich ... of Sutton, Warmingham, Kinderton, Middlewich? ... nowhere near Frodsham ... Bagshaw's 1850 identified Sutton as 1 mile south of Middlewich with only 7 houses.   

Samuel Pickering 1874Samuel Pickering (1808-74) ... one possibility ... son of Daniel & Mary baptised 13 Nov 1808 Warmington ? ... but 'Daniel' Pickering was unknown?
died 11 Feb 1874 age 65 Middlewich of Kinderton ... perhaps a son of Thomas of Kinderton (-) ?
married Catharine Challiner (1806-76) 28 Dec 1830 Warmingham ... witnesses Peter Pickering & Ellen Challiner ...
(perhaps Peter Pickering was the brother of Samuel Pickering (1766-1811) i.e. Alice's brother-in-law Peter Pickering (1785-) ... or uncle Peter if the mystery Samuel Pickering (1808-74) was the child of Mary Pickering (1771-) sister of Samuel (1766-) ... ?)
Catherine was born 1806 Tarporley died 8 Sep 1876 Middlewich age 70 

Middlewich cemetery MI -

'Samuel Pickering died 1 Feb 1874 aged 65 of Kinderton also Catherine his wife died 8 Sept 1870 aged 70 also Sarah Jane wife of John Pickering late of Sutton Mills died 20 July 1895 aged 63 also John Pickering 20 Feb 1900 aged 66'

Samuel & Catherine's children 
- John Pickering (1834-1900) Corn Miller of Sutton Mill
married Sarah Jane Hulse (1832-95)
children ... ... Jane too old for these children?
-- Mary Pickering (1869-),
-- Jane Pickering (1871-),
-- John Callinor Pickering (1874-1945) ... died 12 Sept Alvaston to John Frederick (-) Farmer 

William Hulse (1793-) Over, Cheshire baptism 17 Nov 1793
married Nancy Proverbs (1791-) 29 Jan 1812 Middlewich                    died Oct 1842, Wharton, Davenham aged 51 years
Children -
1. Joseph Hulse, b. 1813, Over, Cheshire  d. 1831, Over, Cheshire Find all individuals with events at this location (Age 18 years)
2. Hannah Hulse, b. 1815, Winsford, Cheshire
3. Mary Hulse, b. 1818, Over, Cheshire
4. Samuel Hulse, b. 1820, Over, Davenham d. Bef 1826 (Age < 5 years)
5. William Hulse, b. 1823, Over, Cheshire d. 1833, Over, Cheshire aged 10
6. Samuel Hulse, b. 1826, Over, Cheshire d. 1830, Over, Cheshire aged 4
7. Sarah Jane Hulse, b. 1830, Wharton, Davenham
8. John Edward Hulse, b. 1833, Wharton, Davenham d. 1870, Winsford aged 37  

- Thomas Pickering (1836-) Miller's Assitant
married Martha Ellison (-)
children -
-- Samuel Pickering (1863-) ... Miller Kinderton
first married Eleanor Arnold (-) with son Samuel (-)
second married Mary Ann Davies (-) with 2 children Horace (1892-) and Reginald (1893-) ...

- Ellen Pickering (-)

- Mary Pickering (-)
married Edmund Meers (-) 13 Sept 1869 Liverpool Law Clerk

1841 census - at Weaver Court House, Weaver, Middlewich ... Samuel Pickering (-) aged 30 Journeyman Miller withe Wife Catherine (-) aged 30 and children John (1834-) aged 7 and Thomas (1836-) aged 5

1851 census - at Sutton, Over ... Samuel Pickering (1809-) aged 42 born Warmingham Miller with Wife Catherine (1806-) aged 45 born Tarporley and children John Pickering (1834-) aged 17 born Little Budworth and Thomas (1836-) aged 15 born Little Budworth ... and now Ellen (1844-) aged 7 born Weaver and Mary (1846-) aged 5 born Weaver ...

1861 census - at Kinderton Street, Middlewich Kinderton-cum-Hulme ... Samuel Pickering (1809-) aged 52 born Warmingham Journeyman Miller & Farmer with Wife Catherine (1806-) aged 55 born Tarporley and Mary (1846-) aged 15 born Weaver ... with daughter-in-law Martha Pickering (-) aged 37 Journeyman Miller's wife born Occlestone (John's wife?) and granddaughter Anne (1860-) 7 months born Occlestone

1861 census - at Sutton Mill, Middlewich John Pickering (-) 27 Miller born Little Budworth with wife Sarah (-) age 30 born Wharton ... and at 2 White Gate Thomas Pickering (-) 24 Miller born Little Budworth with wife Martha (-) age 36 born Occleston with daughter Anne (1860-) 7 months ... looks like Martha and Anne made it in the censuc twice!

1871 census - at Mill Lane ... Samuel & Catherine with son-in-law Edmund Meers (-) aged 23 born Middlewich Clerk at the mill and wife Mary Meers née Pickering (1846-) aged 25

1871 census - at Kinderton Street next door ... son Thomas Pickering (1836-) aged 36 born Little Budworth wife Martha (-) aged 44 born Occlestone with son Samuel Pickering (-) 8 & daughter Martha Pickering (-) 5 with 'lodger' 29 year old Miller Thomas Hulse (1842-) age 26 born Oulton Lowe (Sarah Jane's young cousin?) 

1881 census - at Sutton Mill, Mill House was John Pickering (-) aged 47 with wife Sarah (-) aged 50 with Mary (-) 12 Jane (-) 10 & John (-) 7 all kids born in Middlewich  

1881 census - at 110 Brooks Lane opposite Bank Quay off Kinderton Sreet, Middlewich Thomas Hulse (1842-) 39 Miller Farmer born Oulton Low with wife Annie C (-) 31 born Fradley Staffs and kids Thomas (-) 6, Elizabeth 4, Mabel (-) 2.

1891 census - at Sutton Mill John Pickering (-) aged 59 Miller born Budworth with wife Sarah Jane (-) aged 61 born Wharton with John C (-) 17 born Middlewich ... and a relative John L Perrin (1880-) aged 11 born Manchester ... a clue?

Driven by the DaneTony Bonson's superb Driven by the Dane sorts out a lot of the confusion -

Sutton Mill, Middlewich, in the 1840s Miller Samuel Pickering moved in with his 2 sons. By 1857 Samuel had also become the Miller at Kinerton Mill  ....

Kinderton Mill, Kinderton Street, Middlewich. In 1857 Samuel Pickering (1808-74) arrived at Kinderton. He was the miller at Sutton Mill on the River Wheelock which was about a mile and a half south east. Samuel (1808-74) was 48 years old and employed two journeymen millers and a labourer. In 1871 Samuel Pickering (1808-74) was still nominally the miller at Kinderton, with him was his son-in-law Edmund Meers who worked as a General Clerk. Son Thomas Pickering (1836-) worked as a miller as did their 'lodger' Thomas Hulse. After 1871 Thomas Pickering (1836-) was listed as the miller at Kinderton in his own right and by 1881 he had been joined as miller by his young son Samuel  (1863-) aged 18 and another an apprentice miller aged 17. Thomas Pickering (1836-) continued to be listed as the miller until 1910 by which time he was 73. Thomas must have died not long after 1910 because in 1914 his widow Martha Pickering and his son Samuel (1863-) were listed as millers at Kinderton Street. Also in both 1910 and 1914 Thomas Rigby & Sons of Frodsham Bridge were listed as millers at Warrington and Kinderton Street. It was not clear what the business relationship was between the the Pickerings and Thomas Rigby but the two families were connected by marrige earlier in the 19th century? 

Stanthorne Mill this was occupied by the Brereton Millers and by 1882 there was a new Miller William B Rigby ... Thomas' son ... William Brereton Rigby (1856–1923)  

The Bernard Pickering lot must have been connected ... but how? ... ?
Thomas Pickering (1764-) married Christiana Frith (-) 1784 Weaverham. Peggy Pickering (1791-) Daughter of Thomas & Christian baptised 27 Feb 1791. James Pickering (1787-) married Margaret Pickering (1797-) 1814 Frodsham with Witness Thomas Wright.

??? Thomas Rigby (-) of Sutton married Mary Pickering (-) of Eccleston 13 March 1825

??? William Pickering (1828-?) Consul to Mecklenburgh, Prussia (1782 – 1855)
married Caroline Amalie Friederike Steffens (-)

??? Charles William Harrison Pickering (1815-1881) born 1815 Liverpool, Merchant Banker
married Catherine Walker (-) born Chester

??? Rejected - Granddad Richard Rigby (-) Rochdale ??
married Ann ?? ... Mary Rigby (1795-1857) Daughter of Richard & Ann baptised 1 March 1795 Rochdale ... no! ...

??? Father William Rigby (1797-1834) son of Richard & Ann baptised 4 June 1797 Warrington ... the father of Thomas Rigby (1830-) ... no! 


Flixton HouseEnter the Warrington Wrights                

Flixton House was built in 1806 by the Wright family, who had become wealthy land owners in Flixton. The House would probably have been quite unremarkable in a national context had Ralph Wright in 1826 not closed several footpaths across his estate, footpaths that the public had until then been allowed access to. In response to the closure of those footpaths the people of Flixton initiated and funded a court case against Ralph Wright, one of the first footpath battles in England. The people of Flixton won their case, and their success led to the creation of the Manchester Association for the Preservation of Ancient Footpaths in 1826. The Wright family continued to hold the house and land until the death of Samuel Worthington-Wright in 1934, following which Urmston Urban District Council acquired Flixton House and its 218 acres of land for £69,793. The park was officially opened to the public in 1935. Flixton House along with its surrounding buildings was designated a Grade II listed building in 1981 and the house was 'blue plaqued' ...

The Wrights were a Cheshire farming family linked to many around Warrington & Frodsham ... in the mix were also Warburtons as well as Rigbys ... so how were all these old Wrights, Warburtons & Rigbys connected?

The Warrington Wrights went something like this ... but how were they connected to the Frodsham Wrights?

William Wright (1710-76) son of Thomas, baptised 25 December 1710 Flixton ... again ... Flixton to Warrington 10 miles.
married Martha Warburton (1721-76) 5 Feb 1744 Warrington, Martha, Daughter of Hamlet, baptised 18 May 1721, St Elphin, Warrington ...

Martha Warburton see Hamlets Clan by Ray Warburton 2021

Hamlet Warburton (1624-1700) a Smith in Warrington, buried 22 Jan 1700 St Elphin, Warrington, Lancashire
married Ann (-1683), buried 15 Nov 1683 St Elphin, Warrington, Lancashire.
Hamelt & Ann children - Marie Warburton (1655-) baptised 2 Dec 1655 St Elphin, Warrington - Martha Warburton (1658-99) baptised 10 Jan 1658 St Elphin, Warrington, buried 1 Feb 1699 St Elphin, Warrington - and 
John Warburton (1661-) baptised 6 Jan 1661 St Elphin, Warrington, buried 15 Sep 1698 St Elphin, Warrington
married Ellen Windell (-) 7 Jun 1685 St Elphin ... John was 25. John was living at Friarsgate, Warrington in 1692, and Woolston, Warrington from 1693 to 1698. The short time between the baptisms of his kids Elizabeth and Henry, combined with the change of abode, suggests there maybe two Johns living in Warrington at this time, but there is no other evidence to support this.
John & Ellen had the following children -
- Hamlet Warburton (1687-1736)
- John Warburton (1690-) baptised 17 Mar 1690 St Elphin 
- Elizabeth Warburton (1692-) baptised 24 Aug 1692 St Elphin   
- Henry Warburton (1693-) baptised 23 Feb 1693 St Elphin
- Mary Warburton (1695-)  baptised 5 Nov 1695 St Elphin
- Ellen Warburton (1698-) baptised 14 Apr 1698 St Elphin buried 9 Sep 1698 St Elphin
Hamlet Warburton (1687-1736) yeoman of Woolston. Letter of administration 7 April 1736.
married Isabel Yates (1685-1774) 30 Nov 1708 St Elphin. Hamlet was 21. Isabel born 1685. Isabel buried 24 Nov 1774 St Elphin, aged 89.
Hamlet & Isabel had the following children:
- Mary Warburton (1710-) baptised 8 Mar 1710 St Elphin
married Thomas Green (-) 9 Apr 1730 St Elphin. Thomas was a yeoman of Poulton, Warrington.
- John Warburton (1711-) baptised in 4 Jan 1712 St Elphin
- Ann Warburton (1715-16) baptised 6 Jul 1715 St Elphin buried 18 Apr 1716 St Elphin  
- Thomas Warburton (1717-26) buried 13 Dec 1726 St Elphin
- Ann Warburton (1719-29) baptised 12 Mar 1719 St Elphin buried 18 Aug 1729 St Elphin 
- Martha Warburton (1721-) baptised 18 May 1721.
married William Wright (1710-76) 5 Feb 1745 St Elphin ... William was a husbandman of Flixton. William and Matha had a son Ralph, born 25th January 1753 who was executor of his uncle Hamlet's will, dated 1801.
- Joseph Warburton (1723-)
- Isabel Warburton (1725-29) born 9 Feb 1725 St Elphin died 18 Aug 1729 St Elphin  
- Elizabeth (Betty) Warburton (1727-) baptised 18 May 1727 St Elphin 
married John Merry (-) 23 Jan 1750 St Elphin 
John was a yeoman of Martinscroft, Warrington.
- Ham(b)let Warburton (1729-) baptised 19 Aug 1729 St Elphin buried 21 Sep 1803 St Elphin 
Ham(b)let was a yeoman of Poulton-cum-Fearnhead, Lancashire. He was mentioned in his brother's will in 1762, and signed his own will on 21st September 1801. It was proved on 12th October 1803. He never married.
- Isabel Warburton (1731-) baptised 23 Jul 1731 St Elphin    

Hamlet Warburton (-) married Sarah Jones neé Shaw (-) 15 aug 1847 St Johns Liverpool??

William Wright & Martha Warburton's children -

Ralph Wright (1753-), son of William & Martha, baptised 26 Feb 1753 Flixton ... (847777) ... original ...

Thomas Wright (1761-64) son of William & Martha, baptised 7 April 1761 Flixton ... (1545555) ...
... who died in 1764?

Confusion ... there were 2 other William Wrights around Warrington around 1720 ... to add to the 'Flixton Wrights' there were the 'Grappenhall Wrights', traced in FHL 1655823 - William Wright (1722-) son of Mathew ? ... William Wright (1727-) son of William?

William Wright (1722-) son of Mathew, baptised 10 Feb 1722 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...

dad Mathew Wright (-1775) son of William, baptised 31 Jan 1690 Great Budworth ... 
died 1775 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...
married Jane Shakeshaft (-) 7 Nov 1720 Great Budworth ... (1655825) ... 1 year later they had a daughter
Mary Wright (1721-) Daughter of Mathew baptised 7 May 1721 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... 2 years later a son & brother William ...
Mary Wright (1721-67) married Thomas Wilkinson (-) 10 Dec 1743 Great Budworth ... (1655825) ... died 2 March 1767 Great Budworth ... (1655825) ...

Mary Wright (-1726) widow died 5 Nov 1726 Appleton ??

Mary Wright (-1754)  Daughter of William Innkeeper died 21 Jan 1754 Grappenhall ??

Mary Wright (-1784) Daughter of William Farmer died 4 Jany 1784 Grappenhall ??

Mary Wright (-1790) widow died 25 Nov 1790 Grappenhall ??

William Wright (-1731) son of Matthew, died 19 Nov 1731 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...

married Mary Clayton (~1721-) 3 March 1746 Prestbury, Cheshire ... William (1722-) was aged 24 ... Mary was a family name? ... a good bet? (the other William was only 18?)  Prestbury to Grappenhall 20 miles? ...

((married Susannah Cleaton (-) 25 June 1742 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... William aged 20 ... but Susannah? ... another good bet? ... (this was NOT William Wright (1727-) son of William, baptised 3 Sept 1727 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... he was only 15! ... ))

William Wright (1727-) son of William, baptised 3 Sept 1727 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...

dad William Wright (~1700-) ?

dad Thomas Wright (~1685-) ?

Martha Wright(-1784) died 24 Aug 1784 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... who was this Martha? ... another family? ...

William Wright (-)


William Wright (-) with no mother's name produced at least 5 sons - John (1747-), James (1749-), Thomas (1751-), Mary (1753-53), Mary (1754-), William (1755-), Joseph (1758-) ... and 2 Marys named after mum?    

1 John Wright (1747-1808) son of William, baptised 6 Dec 1747 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...  
married Elizabeth Rigby (1744-1821) 27 Oct 1774 Warrington ... (1468985) ... John was 27, Elizabeth was 30 ... licence John Wright Farmer of Grappenhall and Thomas Woods Innkeeper of Warrington ...
Elizabeth, Daughter of Thomas Rigby & Elizabeth Pierpoint, baptised 26 Feb 1744 Warrington ... but looks like this lot were Lancastrians ?
Sister of John Rigby?
OR Daughter of Thomas & Mary baptised 8 Dec 1745 Warrington?

John Wright (-) married Martha Hankey (-) 23 Nov 1774 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... ??

John died in 1808 ...

John & Elizabeth had five children -

1. Thomas Wright (1775-1845) son of John & Elizabeth, baptised 1 Oct 1775 Grappenhall
first married Ann Phillips (-1801) 29 Jan 1798 Warrington 
married Ellen Welsby (1777-) 14 Jan 1804 by licence 15 Jan 1804 ... and the licence 14 Jan 1804 included in the licence was friend Thomas Birchall (-) watch maker of Warrington!? Wow!?
died 20 Dec 1845 Warrington 

John Wright (1801-) son of Thomas & Ann Phillips

William Wright (1805-) son of Thomas & Elllen,

Ellen Wright (1807-62) Daughter of Thomas & Ellen, baptised 22 May 1807 Warrington
first married William Rigby (1797-1834) 3 March 1829 St Elphin, Warrington ... original ... withnesses were Ellen's brothers John Wright and Thomas Wright jnr. William Rigby (1797-1834), son of Richard & Ann, baptised 4 June 1797 Warrington. William died in 1834 and Ellen married again

1851 census - at Brick Street, Warrington James Welsby (1801-) 50, Ellen Welsby née Rigby née Wright (1807-62) 43, Jane Rigby (1833-) 18, born Burtonwood, Ann Rigby (1834-) 16, born Burtonwood, John Welsby (1839-) 12, Henry Welsby (1845-) 6.

second married James Welsby (1801-) 3 Nov 1843, Warrington Cowkeeper, Widower, intends to marry Ellen Rigby of Warrington, Widow in the Parish Church of St Paul, Warrington.

 Ellen & William's children -

Thomas Rigby (1830-) son of William & Ellen, Farmer of Bewsey, baptised 19 March 1830 Bewsey 
married Mary Brereton (1827-)

Mary (1831-) Daughter of William & Ellen, baptised ... married

Jane (1833-) Daughter of William & Ellen, baptised ... married Thomas Turner (1831-)

Ann (1834-) Daughter of William & Ellen, baptised 5 Dec 1834 Bewsey

Thomas (1809-) son of Thomas & Elllen,

James (1817-) son of Thomas & Elllen,

2. Martha Wright (1777-1819)

3. John Wright (1778-1814) son of John & Elizabeth,
married Sarah Baker (1778-)

4. James Wright (1780-1819) son of John & Elizabeth, baptised 20 August 1780 Grappenhall
married Mary Rigby (1786-1857) 30 Oct 1804 Daresbury ... licence ... connects James Wright of Grappenhall with John Rigby of Daresbury. Mary was the older sister of William Rigby (1796-1834) 

... there was another wedding in 1804 in Daresbury John Rigby married Betty Robinson ... but who were this pair?

Harriet Wright (1807-95) 

Ellen Wright (1809-83) Farmer

James Wright (1810-77) married Mary Davies (1815-) 20 Sept 1838 Church Minshull. James a Miller of Minshull, Mary of Eardswick Hall Minshull Vernon, her dad Davies a Farmer. Witnesses John Wright and Frances Davies.

Joseph Wright (1815-55) son of James & Mary, baptised 19 Nov 1815 Grappenhall
married Eleanor Selby (1822-98) 30 March 1843 Holy Trinity, Chester ... original ... Joseph was a Miller in Church Minshull, his dad James was a Farmer, Eleanor was from Watergate Street, Chester her dad William Selby was a Tobacconist. Witnesses were James Wright and Thomas Williams,

1841 census - at Church Minshull, James Wright (1810-77) aged 30 Miller wife Mary (1815-) 25 their son James (1840-) 3 months with young brother Joseph (1815-55) Miller ... and John Rigby (1826-) and Edward Walley (1826-) Miller Apprentice

John Wright (1814-89) son of James & Mary, baptised 22 May 1814 Grappenhall, born 30 April ... Farmer ...    
married Ann Lightfoot (-) 10 Dec 1844 Tarvin. Ann's dad Thomas Lightfoot was a Miller in Tarvin!   
John Wright (1814-) Flour Dealer of Bain Hill, Precott

Peter Wright (1817-96) a Stoker in Crewe married Eliza Longshaw (-) 22 Aug 1850 Coppenhall, Crewe. Eliza;s dad was Thomas a Victualler.

5. William Wright (1782-1814) son of John & ??, baptised 28 July 1782 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... 
married Mary Ann Harper (-) 1 March 1813 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ...


2 James Wright (1749-) son of William, baptised 29 Sept 1749 Grappenhall ... (1655823)
married Anne Naylor (-) 2 Oct 1798 Grappenhall ... witnesses Joseph Clegg & Edward Hatton ... James aged 49? ...
or married Sarah Linaker (-) 1765 ... James only 16? ...
died 7 April 1780 son of William Grappenhall Farmer ?
died 22 Aug 1782 son of William Grappenhall Farmer ?

3 Thomas Wright (1751-), son of William, baptised 9 Feb 1751 Grappenhall ... (1655823)

(Mary (1753-53), Daughter of William)  ... baptised Grappenhall

(Mary (1754-), Daughter of William) ... baptised Grappenhall

4 William Wright (1755-), son of William, baptised 4 Jan 1755 Grappenhall ... (1655823)

5 Joseph Wright (1758-1832), son of William, baptised 28 May 1758 Grappenhall ... (1655823)



Who was John Wright (1730-76) who married Ann Bentley (-) in Barrow with son Samuel Wright (1756-) ? ... this lot were the Frodsham Wrights

Joseph Wright (-1788) son of John, died 5 May 1788 Grappenhall ... (1655823) ... ?  

Peter Wright (1760-) son of William & Martha, baptised 24 Oct 1760 Daresbury ... Netherton Walton ... (1655597) ...?

Martha (1763-) Daughter of William & Martha, baptised Netherton Walton ...?

Perter Wright (1814-) son of William & Catherine, baptised 20 March 1814 Grappenhall, born 11 Feb ... Farmer ...


Billy Gibson must have been sickened when his dad sold the Gibson business but his ambition was unbounded and with a colleague from Rigbys, Robert Cooper from Frodsham Bridge Mill, the pair bought back the mill as a partnership, Gibson & Co. Robert came up from Frodsham every Tuesday to do the books and keep an eye on his money while Billy got on with the job. When Robert died, his widow demanded that her share of the partnership went to her grandson. William was furious at the prospect of losing control of the mill and he immediately paid her off and thus retained the business as sole proprietor, Gibsons.

The old flour dressing machines were finally discarded around 1900 so ending the consumption of local flour for the nourishment of Kingsley folk.

Animal feeds were now the focus of the mill and supplies of maize meal and cotton cake come up the Weaver in barges from Liverpool to nearby Pickerings Wharf where the Gibsons had a storage shed. A depot at Frodsham Station also provided a useful outlet for the mill produce. 

The mill continued to specialise and create niche markets and a personal service. This was the only way to survive as comparative advantage now lay with the new industries of ICI, Shell, Levers and BICC ...

KingsleyKingsley was always different but not special ... always coping with change & disease ... urbanisation, inflation, infant mortality, contaminated water,  environmental degradation, illegitimacy, delinquency,  corporal punishment, shrinking congregations, family breakup, drunkenness, gambling, taxation, newcomers, industry & the welfare state ... all of which in their different ways threatened the Kingsley we had known, of charm & beauty & rural quiet ... obliterating the Kingsley culture of independence, hard work, thrift & honesty ...

Prehistoric History was found in names, roads, tumuli, cross roads, ley stones, manors, castles, ponds & folklore ... and before before there were families, family strife, family cooperation and family inter-marriage. Some families settled in Kingsley. Kingsley was older than Cheshire, and much older than England. Kingsley was 3,000 years of culture ... and history was formative ... kingdoms were based on cooperating families ... bottom up ...

The Romans came for dominion, slaves, minerals & agricultural surpluses. For sure they destroyed the Cornovii civilisation but the farms still produced the surpluses and the roads they paved were the existing 'old straight roads' like the one from Eddisbury, to Blakemere, Norley, Dodesley, straight through Kingsley, then Atley, Bradley and on across the Weaver to Halton Castle. The Romans left and King Arthur tried to lighten the Dark Ages but ...

The Saxons slowly filled the vacuum and assimilated the locals. They first built Kingsley Mill and a string of others ... and it was King Alfred who produced some semblance of national order and it was at this time the Dunning Estate or Kingsley Fee was established at Kingsley Hall. This was a large & important estate which included Norley, Crowton, Kingswood, Newton & Manley ...

Billy Gibson posed a fascinating dilemma -

‘The main problem confronting our forebears would be to know where, and how, they could concentrate their water resources at a central point, and at the same time enable them to extract its maximum power’

... his article The Kingsley Mill Pool described how the Saxons may have solved the water problem!

The Normans brought a new age, and the feudal system. Surprisingly Saxon Dunning retained his estate in Kingsley. Why? But normality soon returned and Ranulph, a nephew of Hugh Lupus took over and the forests were enlarged to accommodate the sport of kings - The Chief Forester of Delamere was based at Kingsley Hall. Later with no male heirs, the estate was subdivided amongst four daughters who married into the Gerard, Lancelyn, Thornton and Done families ... the Kingsley Estate was privatised. And the Gerards, who bought out the Lancelyns in 1303, were an ancient Anglo Saxon family ...

The Weaver Valley Kingsley Hall, Catten Hall, Crewood Hall, Norley Hall and Crowton Hall. The break up of the large estate led to ownership diversity & competition. A culture of independence thrived. Kingsley men were not 'yes men' but free, dissenters and awkward, Parliamentarians to a man!

Church & Chapel. Kingsley, Norley then Crowton Anglican churches were built from 1850. But way back in 1677 William Gandy from Frandley had established a friends meeting house at Newton. This established 'free religion' around Kingsley long before it dared in other villages. The Baptists were in Chapel Lane before 1738. The ground had been prepared before John Wesley's Methodism arrived on the Hurst in the 1750s. The present chapel was built in 1871. Methodism fractured with the Primitives at Dodsley and the United at Blake Lees around 1848. The Methodist Union inevitably came from economic pressure but the Kingsley men suspected that such an 'act of union' put their feet on the road to Rome.

William Gibson was a Methodist lay preacher and was enthusiastic about the Friends at Frandley at one time but in the end couldn't give up the spirit and song of the local Chapel at Blake Lees.

Education in 1850 in Kingsley cost the tax payer nothing, kids were educated by family, friends, the free churches and charities. In 1958 it cost ratepayers £10,000. Are students now any better at searching for knowledge?

The Kingsley Free School, or 'Gerrards School', was set up in 1786 by an endowment from Samuel Plumb, Thomas Gerard was the first Headmaster. There were scholarships for the poor and 'guaranteed' independence but the trustees were almost inevitably infiltrated and usurped by the educational success of the 'established' church and finally crowded out by tax funded state education. Why should anyone have to pay for their education twice? ... the search for knowledge has little to do with a national curricula ...

The Parish Council ended up as custodians of the Trust Deeds and the intentions of the benefactors, but they were in a parlous state as the Charity Commissioners became an instrument of the State's rampant 'corporatism'. The protection of Samuel Plumb's legacy from the law of the land was non-existent. The 1846 National Schools squeezed out Gerrards ... but the new schools became unpopular in Kingsley as the churches got hold of the curricula. 1932 brought Council Schools ... but the more that was done for folk the more they wanted and the more they were dissatisfied, and soon they were baying for they moon as they accepted the over abundance of spoon feeding ... 'if it's free put me down for two please' ... when the issue was the education of children, it was important to get it right ... indoctrination was not on ...

The hijacking of education, first by the superstitious church then by the arrogant state, was an unwarranted interference with the seminal lifeblood of independent science and robust learning ... learning which was distorted, at best, and destroyed, at worst ...

The one time Billy's daughter Mary remembers meeting Edward Hindley, he was sitting in the kitchen at the mill talking about local education with her dad. Billy was a governor of the new Council School in Kingsley which opened in October 1932, and Edward was putting in a good word for Frank Capper, a candidate from Barnton for the position of headmaster. Frank got the job!

Work in Kingsley was  dominated by agricultural and agricultural surpluses mattered. The labourer was worthy of his hire, the King himself was served by the field. But wages seemed to be linked to the cost of living, which itself seemed to be determined by the wages? The King and the Trades Unions wrestled with an interesting conundrum and an even more interesting solution?

Long ago for ever, farming dominated Kingsley, once there were 17 farms but now there are only 3 as comparative advantage has ebbed away ... with tractors, binders, milkers, mowers, threshers, drillers and all manner of other machines unable to halt the decline ... and the ludicrous Alfred Burkill walking in front of the traction engines waving his red flag, as the law of the land had a go at improving safety but only managed to speed the decline ... all this brought only sadness to Kingsley folk who never understood comparative advantage ... in the end not even the potato saved the farms, although the Pink Eyed Radicals, Epicures, Up to Dates, May Queens, Regents, Millers, Snowdrops & Kerrs Pinks offered temporary hope ... 

Later Widness, Runcorn & Northwich offered employment in chemicals and at Helsby there was a cable works and at Manley a quarry. Folk walked from Kingsley, the wages were better.

Timber from Delamere forest was trucked to wharfs at Pickerings, Plumbs, Hefferson Grange and Acton Bridge. And there was a railway station in Acton. There was an abundance of cattle dealing and sometimes abuse, but the tradesmen met at Butcher's Brow to try to fix prices or were they trying to maintain their reputations? Cattle went to markets and the slaughter house on the hoof, and The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was ever present as was The Public Health Authority ... the cow and folk have always had an uneasy relationship ...

Then there were blacksmiths, wheelwrights, brickmakers, cloggers and roads ... looked after by the Parish until the County took over in 1888.

Democracy was supposed to be government of the people, for the people, by the people. Self-determination, working together, protecting dissenting minorities ... it was never supposed to be 51% dictating to 49%, never an elective dictatorship -

'My conviction is that government is, nine times out of ten, warped, twisted, and turned to suit the party in power, and, whilst it may preach justice, it does not do it'.

Of course, Billy had a copy of the Whig 'bible' ... 'On Liberty' by John Stuart Mill, 1859.

Billy was interested in these problems of organisation, his daughter Mary remembers a big trip to Criccieth one Boxing Day to hear Lloyd George speak ... but what about Kingsley Mill? ...  Billy wanted to do something to help ... not arguing but doing ...

In 1935 Billy Gibson was tempted to stand for parliament for the Eddisbury Division, as an Independent against the incumbent Liberal National MP, R J Russell a dentist from Birkenhead. He decided against it because he felt 'democracy' was a sham, he knew he would be more use to the local community on the County Council, a body on which he served for 41 years. He was also asked to stand for The Fylde Division in Lancashire as a Liberal but he was adamant, the big government juggernaut was not for him.

NB in 1976 the 2nd Viscount Hailsham mused about, 'an elective remote dictatorship', later he wrote a detailed exposition in 'The Dilemma of Democracy' ... Billy was in august company, but he was writing about the problem 20 years before the big guns!

Nicknames & Sport. Boggie Woodward v. Bacca Millington, the pugilists, Cock Fighting, The Red Bull v. The Rechabites, Tors, Hop Scotch, Jacks, Football ... participative sport in Kingsley was cheap & easy and the playing fields of Eton had competition ... so why do we need tax funded 'Youth Leaders'?

Charities & Enclosures. It was too easy to be charitable with other people's money ... and 'the tragedy of the commons' made legacies unmanageable as charity became crowded out by the welfare state and tax ...

The question was ... were the productivity gains from 'the magic of property' and the enclosure of Kingsley in 1777 an illegal confiscation of ownership rights or the establishment of new titles on wastes, commons and unproductive land which were subsequently transformed?

The future was unknowable and the welfare state was bankrupt ... there was work to be done ...

W A Gibson JP OBE in 1955. Alderman in 1970. Died 1975.


Kingsley Times PastBilly Gibson, the grand old man of Kingsley, was a sharp shooter, passionate about local affairs and suspicious of big government. He would have been saddened to see the further erosion of local democracy which has taken place over the past 60 years but heartened to know that in 2010 with Liberals in Government, the debate is still raging with renewed vigour. Billy struck chords. He made a lasting contribution with his businesses, his council work, his writings and his farming heritage.

But farming was never to recover from the progress of the industrial revolution as comparative advantage ebbed away. Billy's friend and co author Sir Alan Waterworth has written a sensitive history of Crewood Hall. The rise and the fall of a magnificent Cheshire farm makes an instructive study for economists ...

When William Alfred Gibson died in 1975 his will indicates the business at Kingsley Mill went to his son Thomas ... the probate value of his estate was £17,195.45 ... some £225,000 in today's money ... but this pales into insignificance when compared to his contribution during his life ...

'The Old Straight Track' by Alfred Watkins, 1925.

'Kingsley - the Story of a Cheshire Village' by W A Gibson & A W Waterworth, 1975.

'Times Past - Kingsley, Acton Bridge, Crowton, Norley Revisited' by Tom Wright & R M Bevan, 2009.


back to Edward Hindley


Any corrections and additional information gratefully received contact john p birchall