The Ancient Hindleys of Farnworth

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





Who was the father of George Hindley (1743-) of Antrobus?

Was he born in Over or Farnworth? Over was near at hand ...

John Hindey of OverJohn Hindley (1708-67) son of ? baptised 1708 St Chads, --Over, Cheshire   

married Rebecca Dunn (1705-77) daughter of ? 11 May 1727 St Chads, Over ... original ...  

children well spaced every 3 years -

John (1727-)

Thomas (1730-78)

Mathew (1733-)

Jane (1736-)

Elizabeth (1738-)

George (1741-39)

Charles (1744-)

Thomas (1749-) ... a 2nd Thomas??

The Farnworth Hindleys  

It seems we have 2 candidates for the father of George Hindley (1743-) born in Farnworth –

A. - George Hindley (1714-) Astley, son of William

B. - George Hindley (1717-) Astley, son of James

It seems we also have 2 candidates for the mother of George Hindley (1743-) born in Farnworth –

C. - married Margaret Derbyshire 1736 Deane, GeorgeA age 22, GeorgeB age 19, Margaret age 18 = children James b1738 eldest son, Sarah b1740, George b1743, William d1745, Jane b1746, Margaret b1752. Thus likely this is GeorgeB son of James. This George junior was b1743 and likely our George. All dates now fit. (How sure are we of George's age 96 from his Death Cert ... 'cos there is another George born in St Helens in 1745 ....?)

D. - married Elizabeth Strange 1740 Leigh, GeorgeA age 26, GeorgeB age 23, Elizabeth age 29 or 23 = children Mary b1741, Ann b1742, William b1744 eldest son, Eve b1745, Adam b1747, Ellen b1749, George & John, twins, b1751  Abraham b1754. + James b1747 (son of Elizabeth?). Thus likely this is GeorgeA son of William. This George junior was b1751 and unlikely to be our George? All dates now fit apart from James?

Kids baptisms are here

Dave Jowitt writes - George Hindley and Margaret Derbyshire of Deane by Bolton - As previously stated, the only candidate for George Hindley born 1743 in the IGI is the George born in Farnworth, in the Parish of Deane by Bolton, Lancashire and baptised at the church there 16 Jun 1743, the son of George Hindley who married Margaret Derbyshire at Deane 10 Feb 1736/7. The whole known family is (all born at various locations within the parish):

Sarah (baptised 20 Jan 1740), born Westhoughton.

George (baptised 16 June 1743), born Farnworth.

Jane (baptised 30 Jan 1746/7), born Little Hilton.

William (buried 3 Nov 1745), died Farnworth.

Margaret (baptised 31 Jan 1752), born Farnworth.

There are no obvious wills listed in the records which may prove or disprove that this is our George so other records will have to be used (poor law?, manorial records?). Even if this does prove to be our line it does not progress any further back within the parish of Deane as there is no record of the baptism of a George Hindley or a Margaret Derbyshire in the parish within a reasonable time window.
From the IGI we can speculate that the elder George was born in 1717 in the neighbouring parish of Leigh, son of James Hindley who married either Catherine Wattmough there in 1705 or Mary Higginson in 1701. James in turn may have been baptised in Leigh in 1686 or 1681, daughter of James Hindley and possibly Parnell Hurst who married a James Hindley in 1679. However, the many ifs and buts show that this is pure speculation and the real challenge is to find proof or otherwise; we are now getting to the epicentre of Hindley country around the town of Hindley itself.

George senior BaptismGeorge Hindley of Farnworth (1717-75)

In the 18th century there were interesting connections between the blacksmiths, coals & canals of South Lancashire and the cordwainers of Antrobus, in North Cheshire ... June Harrison has uncovered a 'likely' story ...

On the 16th of June 1743 George Hindley, the head of the Antrobus Hindleys, was baptised at St Mary, Deane, near Bolton, in Lancashire.

His father George Hindley was from Farnworth, one of the 10 townships comprising the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Deane in the Salford Hundred. The church of St Mary the Virgin dates from 1452 and is on the site of an original Anglo Saxon chapel.

Darbyshire MarriageIn 1736 George Hindley of Farnworth married Margaret Derbyshire at the church in Deane. George was 19 and Margaret 18 ... and now he needed good work, he soon had a son to support & educate ... and the family was growing, James (1738-) eldest son, baptised Bolton-le-Moors, Sarah (1740-) Dean, Westhoughton, George (1743-1839) Deane, Farnworth, William (-1745), Jane (1747-) Deane, Little Hulton, Margaret (1752-) Deane.

Margaret Hindley neé Derbyshire (1718-96) was born in Ashton-in-Makerfield, the daughter of James Darbishire and Margaret Fairhurst, who married in Wigan in 1713.

Farnworth District 1818Farnworth was on the confluence of the rivers Irwell & Croal, right in the middle of the Lancashire coalfields and by 1743 things were taking off. The Hultons, local landowners, had started digging pits around the area in 1611 and when George Hindley's first child was born opportunities for new and better jobs for the men were available, communications were opening up from the coalfields to West Manchester to Warrington to Runcorn and to Liverpool.

George of Farnworth was ambitious, he had a new wife and children to support, he probably worked in the pits or in the coal dependent ancillary networks ... after all, he lived on top of 'the black gold' ... and the Hindley town itself, the home of his ancestors, was soon to be purchased by Francis Egerton, who was in search of more of the black stuff worth more than the soil (see below). For sure the grueling grind in the pits was unenviable but in those days it was way better than the alternative grueling grind on the land which all too often delivered a fate of famine and death ... as Thomas Malthus was to confirm in 1798 ...

Farnworth was bang on the mining complex later known as the Worsley navigable levels where underground canals stretched from the Delph at Worsley and linked the Farnworth mines to the Bridgewater Canal. Around this time there were a unprecedented quantity and quality of jobs associated with these pits and on the construction of these waterways.

Transport of coal was difficult, the roads were poor and carting heavy loads made them worse. Water transport provided a more efficient and cheaper alternative.

An Act of Parliament for the Mersey & Irwell navigation was passed in 1721.The construction work was undertaken by the Mersey & Irwell Navigation Company. Work began in 1724, and by 1734 boats 'of moderate size' could make the journey from quays in Water Street, Manchester to the Irish Sea via Warrington. Eight weirs were constructed along the length of the route, and some short cuts were made around shallower parts of the river, with locks, to enable the passage of boats. The company in charge of the navigation was known by several names - 'The Old Navigation', 'Old Quay Company' and 'Old Quay Canal'.

The navigation was modified and improved on a number of occasions. In 1740 the company built quays and warehouses along Water Street in Manchester. In 1779 a group of businessmen from Manchester and Liverpool purchased the navigation, and began making improvements. A difficult section below Howley lock was cut out by the building of the Runcorn to Latchford Canal, and at Runcorn a basin was built for boats to wait for the tide. An aqueduct was built from Woolston Cut, to replace water lost from the locks that were used to raise boats into the new canal section.

The Sankey Canal was built in 1755 connecting the western coalfields around St Helens to the Mersey at Warrington.

Duke of BridgewaterFrancis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (1736-1803) was on an investment spree, his Worsley coal was wanted, it seemed, by everybody. To secure supplies he purchased the Manor of Pemberton (near Wigan) in 1758, the Manor of Hindley (the home of the Hindleys) in 1765, and the Manor of Cadishead in 1776. An Act of Parliament allowing the building of the Bridgewater Canal and transportation of his coal was passed in 1759.

In 1760 the Duke started constructing the Bridgewater Canal providing a direct link from his mines into Manchester. The Duke had previously supplemented his packhorses and transported his coal along the Mersey & Irwell Navigation, but river transport was subject to the vagaries of river navigation. He had noted the success of the Sankey Canal ...

The canal link from Worsley to Manchester over the Irwell at Barton and the underground canals (50 miles of them!) from Farnworth to Worsley Delph opened in 1761. The canal was extended from Manchester to Runcorn in 1773, and then from Worsley to Leigh in 1795 and finally linked to the Leeds Liverpool canal in 1816.

James BrindleyJames Brindley (1716 - 1772) was brought in for his technical expertise, things progress quickly and the whole area became a burgeoning hub of commercial activity.

The Farnworth tunnels were advanced engineering constructions and a considerable commercial success; draining the mines, removing the need to elevate the coal to the surface of the colliery and improving the flow of coal to the new industries and customers down water.

The Bridgewater Canal was opened in 1776, a period of opportunity followed, coal flowed down and up came food! Roger Scola -

'One of the factors which drew North Cheshire into greater prominence as a source of food supply for Manchester was the construction of the Bridgewater canal. Contemporaries frequently stressed the importance of the canal for Manchester's supplies of potatoes and other vegetables, and the traffic in agricultural produce must have been considerable'.

Farnworth TunnelsIn 1830 competition arrived when the Liverpool & Manchester Railway opened for the carriage of goods. In 1844 the Mersey & Irwell Navigation was purchased by the Bridgewater Canal Company, for £550,800. In 1846 the Manchester Ship Canal obliterated the Navigation and carried the bulk of Manchester freight but the Bridgewater Canal continued to operate successfully, linking to other inland waterways and eventually to leisure pursuits.

Interestingly the Egerton family had long since established a strong connection with North Cheshire ... the Egertons had a splendid pad at Tatton Park near Knutsford ...

The old migration route for the Hindleys into North Cheshire was via the ancient saltways. But a new route was perhaps via the employment opportunities associated with coal and waterways?

Hindley Removal OrderAll this frantic activity and teeming populations associated with coal & canals provided George of Farnworth with work and young George, later of Antrobus, with new opportunities.

George Hindley of Antrobus (1743-1839) learnt his trade as a cordwainer and found eager customers for his shoes ... and a well trodden route along the industrial waterways out of Lancashire into North Cheshire.

George Hindley of Farnworth (1714-75) found ongoing work around the Farnworth area as the baptisms of his six children record ... but it was not easy ...

 In 1745 a removal order threatened the search for work. Significantly this Order establishes Bedford near Leigh as the parish of settlement for George 1717. Thus his move to Farnworth 'lately to dwell' was almost certainly to search for good work. It was likely he found the area amenable and did not return to Bedford. The new additions to the family; Jane in 1747 and Margaret in 1752 were baptised in Deane. Young George may also have served his cordwainer apprenticeship in the Farnworth area but, perhaps equally likely, he could have moved back to his father's family connections in Bedford. Or alternatively, his mother's family, the Darbyshires, were in the trade ... (1688 John Darbyshire. Shoemaker. Leg. Set. Worsley. Allowed to live in Pennington. Tr/Pe/C/4/1/2) !

Records of apprenticeship indentures may confirm this history? Whatever or wherever, young George must have served his apprenticeship somewhere, he became an accomplished cordwainer ... and the family chose well ... as the research of Mr R Evans confirmed in 'Atherton apprentices in the 18th Century' -

 'One suspects that for those intending to become fustian weavers the future was bleak as the introduction of machinery was beginning to deprive handloom workers of their livelihood. Life must also have been grim for those children apprenticed to coal miners at a time before there was any regulation of underground child labour. Perhaps there was a brighter future for those entering trades such as shoemaking, millinery and cabinet making; occupations which had the potential to benefit from economic growth and increased demand for their products ...'  

Recorded in Apprentices of Great Britain 1710-1774 there is one Hindley ... around the right time, in the right area, in the right trade ... but alas this Hindley was a James - 'James Hindley, alias Morris, son of Peter Morris of Westleigh. App to George Penkethman of Westleigh as a Cordwainer £5'.

But what about those Hindley roots in Bedford?

Farnsworth to Westhoughton to Hindley less than 9 miles. Farnworth to Worsley 3.5 miles. Farnworth to Tyldesley 4.5 miles to Astley 2 miles to Bedford 2 miles

George Hindley of Antrobus (1743-1839) born in Farnworth?

Father George Hindley of Farnworth (1714-71)? married Elizabeth Strange in 1640 - 6 children?

same guy George Hindley (1717-75) of Bedford? married Margaret Derbyshire (-) in 1632


Astley baptismsGeorge Hindley of Astley (1714-71)

Cordwainer George 1743 of Antrobus was born in Farnworth and probably followed his customers along the coal & canal route to North Cheshire. But his father George 1714/7 originally hailed from Bedford/Astley, a village brim full of ancient Hindleys.

George of Astley was the elder third cousin of George of Farnworth but he chose to stay at home close to the old Hindley family blacksmith roots in Bedford/Astley. The Bedford/Astley 'dual' residency resulted from the Hindley home directly straggling a disputed boundary between the two townships! 


In 1740 George married a young girl of the parish, Elizabeth Strange (-1744), daughter of Thomas Strange (-1745) & Mary. In 1745 Thomas penned his will and from these old writings, pieces of the struggles of Bedford emerge. Family, trust, debts, treasured possessions and pious hopes ... beloved Mary and heir Thomas were appropriate beneficiaries but thoughts were focused on the future of the grandchildren Mary, Ann & William ... also George was to benefit ... 'I give to George Hindley my son-in-law one shilling' ... what was the meaning of this single short sentence?

George & Elizabeth managed a large family - Mary (1741-); Ann (1742-); William (1744-) Leigh, eldest son; Eve (1745-) Leigh; Adam (1747-) Leigh; Ellen (1749-) Leigh; George & John, twins, (1751-) Leigh, Astley;  Abraham (1754-) Leigh. [+ James b1747,son of Elizabeth?].

Elizabeth Hindley neé Strange (1711-1783)

George died in 1771 and more can be gleaned from his will of 1756. Sure the eldest son and heir gets the main family Whitecroft property, but the urge to treat the children equally with a 'share and share alike' clause, adds to Grandfather Strange's gifts a similar very specific 'three pounds six shillings and eight pence apiece to the younger children who were not alive at the time of grandfather's death.

An interesting codicil to the will in 1757, no doubt reflects the enduring concerns of a weakening man to ensure family property remains in the family should heirs die without issue ... and instructions for sale should not scupper the beneficial interests of the family ...

George was not old when he died at 57, he made his first will at 42 ... maybe because he was 'weak in body' and maybe because of the considerable value of his assets and his large family?

The Whitecroft property clearly identified the connection between George of Astley 1714 with his ancestor George who was alive 1678-80 when Whyte Croft was purchased from Robert Mort ... this ancestor George was a blacksmith ...

Importantly the will of 1756 also identifies George of Astley 1714 as a blacksmith. A trade which had been associated with the Hindleys at Marsley Green where they had lived 'undisturbed generation upon generation' ... since Adam Hindley in 1610. And Adam 1610 was part of the mainstream Hindley family of Hindley Hall of Aspull ...

Adam Hindley of Bedford (1610-63)

Adam of Bedford was the g g granddad of the two third cousins George of Astley and George of Farnworth?

Adam was a co-executor on the death of patience, the widow of Hugh Hindley of the mainstream Hindley family, who died in 1651.

In 1663 old Adam left his Will, a fascinating insight into complex deals in land & property involving a small rural community and far away places ... business associates included Thomas Worsley, John Sorocold & Richard Shuttleworth and Gyles Marsh was in the family ... these guys were big players ...

First mentioned was an interest in property leased from Thomas Worsley of Hovingham, which was left to 'my sonne Adam'.

The Worsley family was derived from Sir Elias de Workesley, a Norman knight who settled at Workesley, later Worsley, Lancashire. The family seat was at Worsley Hall for over four hundred years and they spawned a number of branches; Appuldurcombe in the County of Southampton, Hovingham Hall in the County of York & Platt Hall in Lancashire. The Worsleys bought the Manor of Hovingham in 1563.

 Young Adam's interest in this property was confirmed 14 years later on 18 Feb 1677 when lands in Bedford were leased from Thomas Worsley of Hovingham.

A second land deal involved John Sorocold of Lowton. The Sorocold family from Westleigh were a force in the land. John Sorocold accumulated a fortune. In 1702, the engineer, George Sorocold, built the first Silk Mill on an island site in the River Derwent but it was not a success. The problem was that the silk produced could not rival the fine silk imported from Italy, the manufacture of which was a closely guarded secret. John Lombe travelled to Piedmont in Italy, in order to study the skills and technology involved, secretly making drawings which he managed to smuggle out of the country. Then together with his step-brother, he arranged for Sorocold to build an impressive five storey factory powered by water from the Derwent. It was the first factory in England. Adam Hindley was doing deals with big wigs!

The third mention is of land in Astley purchased from Richard Shuttleworth.

The Shuttleworths were old landowners from the 14th century and a prominent Bedford family. Richard married a daughter of the Urmstons from Westleigh and brought the Westleigh inheritance to Bedford. The family lived at Shuttleworth House, or Sandypool Farm, which was south of the Bridgewater Canal near to the old manor house, Bedford Hall.

Adam HindleyThe will identifies 8 children & Adam's signature ! -

Adam, Mathias, John, George, Katherine, Jeremiah, Elizabeth, Lydia

Uncle William 1680 & uncle James 1696 ... sons of George 1662 & James 1663 ... and granddads Adam 1634 & John 1638 ...

these guys were the Astley Hindleys ...

Possible Leigh generations -

0. ancient Adam (-<1624)

1. Adam (1610-63), George

2. 1630-40 = Adam (1634-83), John (1638-1723), George, Jeremiah, Mathias (-1723)

3. 1650-70 = Adam (1659-), Adam (1661-), George (1662-), James (1663-1709),

4. 1670-1700 = William (1680-), James (1681-), Adam (1688-), James (1696-)

5. 1690-1730 = George (1714-), George (1717-)

Possible Leigh relationships -

0. ancient Adam (-<1624) of Hindley's Smithy, m. Isabella, died prior to the 1624 boundary dispute.

1. Adam (1610-63), Leigh, m. Ellen Collier in 1632. Left his will in 1663. Eight children including the youngest Matthias, also a blacksmith, and Adam 1634, John 1638, George & Jeremiah - 

1. Sister Ellen (-) m. Gyles Marsh, brother-in-law, in 1632. Sister Elizabeth (-) m. James Allred, blacksmith of Leigh, in 1633?.

1. Brother? George (-), owner of a gosling in 1624, also a blacksmith and with an interest in Whyte Croft from 1678-80 establishing a direct line to the estate of George 1714 which also identified Whitecroft.

2. Adam (1634-83), Leigh, son of Adam, m. Katherine Radcliffe in 16??.

2. John (1638-1723), Leigh, son of Adam, m. Mary Woodbourne in 1664, husbandman. (1664 date is wrong for James b1663??)

3. James (1663-1709), Leigh, son of John, m. Parnell Hurst (1656-1701) in 1678. James had two sons -

4. William (1680-1727), Leigh, son of James, m. Anne Farnworth (-) in 1713, blacksmith, father of George of Astley, b1714, Leigh, m. Elizabeth Strange in 1740.

3. George (1662-), Leigh, son of Adam,

4. James (1696-), Leigh, son of George, m. Margaret Heys (1702-) in 1717, father of George of Farnworth, b1717, Leigh, m. Margaret Derbyshire in 1736?


3. Adam (1659-), Leigh, s of Adam, Adam (1661-), Leigh, s of Adam,


4. James (1681-1729), Leigh, s of James, m. Margaret Heys (1684-) in 1717, father of George of Farnworth, b1717, Leigh, m. Margaret Derbyshire in 1736?

Adam HindleyAdam had a good pedigree, he was a member of the ancient Hindley family of Hindley Hall and he was a craftsman, a respected blacksmith established at Hindleys Smithy ... 

If the accomplished American painter Jefferson Davis Chalfant (1856-1931) had been alive soon after 1610 he would have found Adam, the first Hindley blacksmith that we know about, in the Hindley Smithy at Marsley Green in the midst of nostalgic, honest hard work ... as depicted in the evocative 'Blacksmith' of 1907!

No doubt Adam belonged to the old Anglo Saxon tradition of Wayland the Smith, who created wealth to protectively share with family and friends ... blacksmithing was not a newfangled trade ...

Notes from Arnold T Hindley in 2001 suggest a pivotal position for Adam in the Hindley genealogy -

'Adam Hindley, was almost certainly descended from the first Hindleys of Bedford.
The first reference to the Hindleys at Bedford (near Leigh) appeared in the Leigh registers and records as the baptism of Elizabeth in 1603, Jennet in 1607 and Adam in 1610. Because of the proximity of these dates it can be assumed that they were the children of one family. Adam became a blacksmith and married Ellen Collier at Leigh in 1632. He had eight children and was the authentic ancestor of hundreds of Hindleys. His smithy was at Marsley Green and was situated at the northwest corner of what is now Marsland Green Lane - a road now hosting recent housing developments. 'Hindley's Smithy' is shown on a map dated 1905 which can be viewed at Leigh Public Library. The business of the smithy appears to have been carried on by Hindleys for many years. Adam's youngest son Matthias also became a blacksmith and had a smithy in Leigh which was situated on the site of the present 'Cantors' store.
Adam Hindley was a co-executor on the death of Patience, the widow of Hugh Hindley of the mainstream Hindley family, who died in 1651. This indicated that Adam was closely related to the principal Hindley family although no further evidence of a link has been found as yet.
Matthias Hindley was buried in Leigh cemetery, 200 to 300 yards to the North-West of his father's smithy.'

The 1841 census still identified the old Hindley's Smithy, and it was still occupied by a blacksmith, Richard Wilkinson, but no sign of a Hindley? ... unless ... one of the girls? Richard's wife was Nancy ... but Peter Grundy, a silk weaver, also lived there with his wife Elizabeth (neé Hindley b1816?) ... and way back on 22nd of April 1633 James Allred & Elizabeth Hindley were married ... all the local smiths - Wilkinsons, Allreds & Hindleys - would have known one another, birds of a feather ...

Astley by John LunnLeigh, Bedford, Astley.

The name Leigh was from Anglo Saxon 'leah', a clearing or field, east of the clearing was Astley or 'east leah' and close by was a ford, a bed of stones across the 'great brook', the Glaze Brook.

Before the conquest Bedford & Astley were rich, level, well watered and densely wooded pasture, Saxon berewicks of the Newton Hundred, later merged with the Warrington Hundred into West Derby.

The Leigh parish comprised the townships Astley, Tyldesley, Atherton, Bedford, Pennington & Westleigh all centred on church, which first appeared in 13th century as St Peters and was renamed as St Marys at the end of the 14th century. The 'Leigh town trail' explores the town & its history, a flavour of life emerges from 'A Victorian History of Leigh' from 1907 and John Lunn's book on Astley is a gem ...

The early pattern of life revolved round the centres of piety & wealth ... names that John Lunn brought to life in 1968 ... some are still around others have disappeared into the mists of time ... St Marys in the Marsh of Cockersand way up north, St Marys at Leigh, of course, but also Deane and Newchurch at Culcheth and the chapelry at Ellenbrook ... Astley Manor or Damhouse, Halls at Morley, Pennington, Clewood, Shakerley, Garret, Chaddock, Booth, Peel & Bedford ... Astley Green, Blackmore, Cowdall Mill, Hope Carr, Fleet Brook, Moseley Common, the massive Chattmoss ... the Free School ... and Hindley's smithy ...

Property titles were impossible and meaningless to trace, they ebbed & flowed, chopped & changed, with litigations, disputes, oustings, marriages & bequeaths ... what mattered was the vigour and simplicity of daily life ... the ditches were cleansed, the trees felled, the marls spread and new pastures nurtured for cows, swine & sheep ... the watermills, windmills & dovecotes were maintained ... the roads, bridges, platts, folds, pinfolds &  hedges repaired ... the turf from the mosses was cut ... and the hogs kept from the corn ... but all the time debts were collected, rents paid and encroachments & court orders obeyed or not as the case may be ... life was tough ... sure there were ploughs & carts, a few pots & pans, the odd form, chair, chest & table, some bedding, some brass & plates, spades, axes, picks & hoes ... even silver spoons & carved coffers ... sometime later bibles & clocks ... then looms for the linens & fustians, all the girls were spinning flax and everybody seemed to be a webster ... most worked on the land but there were also brickmen, carpenters, nailors & blacksmiths and all manner of craftsmen of great skill and nous ...

When Adam Hindley was born in 1610 the rural scene was depicted in the Yates map of 1786 ... and a prosperous fledgling banker, Adam Morte, had just purchased the Manor of Astley and was soon the Constable of the West Derby Hundred and church warden at St Marys ... the Morts were a successful clan ...

The Leigh area was noted for dairy farming and was famous for its toasting cheese. In 1795 John Aiken described the Leigh scene -

'Leigh parish is famous for its cheese, of a mild and rich kind, and peculiarly excellent for toasting. It is produced from the pasture and meadow land on the banks of several little streams which flow through the parish, and unite to form the brook which enters the Mersey at Glazebrook. Leigh it is hoped, will shortly have the advantage of a navigation by means of a branch extended from the Duke of Bridgewater's canal at Worsley to Pennington'.

Flax was around. Official markets were at Warrington, Wigan, Bolton & Manchester, which left an unofficial opportunity at Leigh which became a secondary centre.

The Hindley smithy on the Bedford boundary was dual purpose and Websters were working there. This was typical of a thriving cottage textile system. Domestic spinning & weaving led from flax to fustian to silk to cotton. In 1820 William Grundy started his enterprise by putting out work for others to weave, then in 1833 the first cotton mill was built which signalled the end of the cottage weaver.

... and then coal & canals & railways ... and the inflow of strangers!

AstleyFor years the villagers had used the local mosses to gather wood & peat, and there had been drift mines for coal in Westleigh since the 12th century but it was during the second half of the 19th century that it became possible to mine the deeper seams and coal began to be an important industry and coal mining became the largest user of labour after the textile industry.

Early mining was by sloping shafts, perhaps the Gin Pit was one of the first sunk followed by Cross Hillock Pit. The coal seams which outcropped around Tyldesley and to the north dipped down in a southerly direction at approximately 1 in 5. Most of the early workings were where the main seams were only at a shallow depth beneath the surface, extending southwards and deeper as the shallower and nearer resources of coal became exhausted. The coal could be worked 'down dip' with respect to the access points in the shafts or 'insets' and require haulage up towards the shaft, or it could be worked 'up dip' above the shaft inset position and thus be easily dropped to the roadways which fed the shaft. At Astley, much further to the south than any of the existing collieries, the coal seams lay beneath a thick layer of alluvial deposit known to contain water and any attempt to work them would require a deep and expensive shaft to be sunk before any coal could be got.

The Duke's Canal was built from 1760s.

The railway was part on the Manchester and Liverpool line, where on 12 September 1830, Robert Stevenson held trials with his engine ’The Rocket’.

In 1845 the Astley & Tyldesley Mining Co Ltd on 'the Coal Road' (later North Coal Pit Lane) and in 1908 Pilkington Brothers sank the Astley Green pit. Unlike most of the older mines to the north of it, Astley Green did not begin on any outcrop, but was a deliberate attempt to gain access to the coal seams which lay to the south of the older workings.  


Testa de NevillThe Genealogy of the Ancient Feudal Hindleys - Arnold & John Hindley, 2001 -

The sense of the ancient Hindleys starts with the conquest and the succession of the main family can be vaguely traced back from the 17th century ... the later data comes from the medieval parish of Leigh ... the earlier pedigree is from 1613 ... first mentions are from 1198 ...

These Hindleys were Normans, 'they owed feudal service to the Constable of Chester for land in Astley and for estates in Tyldesley they did homage to the Botelers at Warrington' ... they had different genes and different ways of doing things but they found themselves in Anglo Saxon country with an Anglo Saxon name and with Anglo Saxon culture ... and the genes mixed ... and ordinary folk were speaking the Anglo Saxon vernacular as they got on with the job ...

The Hindleys succession is not straightforward there were many Court battles regarding the title, land and property. Another problem in backtracking the genealogy is that the English feudal system ensured that the elder son became the heir and other sons & daughters and their offspring became lost in the unrecorded ranks of the peasantry. For the first 400 or 500 years after the conquest these peasant families spread mainly over a distance of 20 or 30 miles from Hindley to such villages as Winwick, Culcheth, Abram, Over Hutton, Lostock, Aspull, Haigh and in the Leigh parish; Pennington, West Leigh, Bedford, Astley, Tyldesley & Atherton. Thus apart from the mainstream family there were hundreds of lost Hindley families further confused because many had the same first names ... there were over 50 baptisms of Hindleys from 1560 to 1600 in the Leigh parish church registers but no reference to the villages in which people lived.

The first ever mention of the Hindleys occurs in the 12th century in the mediaeval 'Liber Feodorum' which was a listing of feudal landholdings or 'fees/fiefs', compiled from 1198, colloquially known as 'The Book of Fees' or 'Testa de Neville'. Here there is a record of Adam, Roger & Richard Hindley who had given land to religious charities - 

"Adam de Hindele held 2 Bovates of land in Hindele
Roberte de Hindele gave 30 acres to the hospital (the knights of Saint John)
Richard de Hindele gave 2 1/2 acres to the hospital and 6 acres to Cockersands Abbey"

It is not known who these chaps were or even if they were part of the very early mainstream family. However these three Christian names appear in the extant lists of the followers of William the Conqueror and therefore it is probable that the Hindleys were originally Normans and came over with him in 1066. For sure one of William's military cohorts who was rewarded with the Lordship of the Manor of the village of Hindley?

Apart from Testa de Neville further information has come from the Richard St George in 1613, the Culcheth Deeds, a manuscript volume in Leigh public reference library by Don R T Berthon and information in a book written by the historian Colin Hindley in 1968 entitled 'This Side Paradise'.

The names & some dates of the main Hindley family members that emerge from these mists appear as -

1. Hughe mentioned as far back as 1258-1259 -- Hugh Hindley (1305)

2. Adam alive 1302 -- Adam (1332)

3. Roberte alive 1322 -- married Cecile daughter of Henry Tildesley.

4. Roberte alive 1365 -- married Emma, daughter of the heirs of Pemberton.

5. Hughe alive 1398

6. Roberte alive 1447 -- married Cecyle, daughter of Gilbert Abraham.

7. Hughe alive 1472

8. Roberte alive 1489 -- married Alice, daughter of William Parr.

9. Hugh died 1531

10. Gilbert died about 1550 -- without issue.

11. Roger --married Beatrice of Molinux

12. Robert died 1621 -- Robert Hindley of Hindley Hall (1613). This was the date that information was given by Robert Hindley to Richard St George. Roberte married Margaret, daughter of Robert Worsley. Also married Eliza, daughter of John Byron. This is the Hindley who had his claim to bear arms in 1613 rejected. His will proved at Chester in 1621. He had three sons -

1. Ralph of Sharkerley (1646) to Henry of Shakerley (1669), to Hugh (mention of kinsman Henry), to Ralph (1723) to Ralph (1755) to John.

2. John of Aspull (1648) to Richard, Carpenter of Overhulton (1675), to Charles of Astley (1744), Charles the Blacksmith (1696), to Charles of Astley (1744).

3. Roger of Pemberton (1654) had two children Elizabeth, who married Roger Bradshaw, and Hugh. Hugh to Ralph of Shakerley, to Henry of Manchester (1688-1781), to Robert Hindley (1741) married to Lattice Hardman, to William (1779) married to Elizabeth Johnson, to Hugh Johnson Hindley married to Elizabeth Mort, to William Talbot Hindley (1845) married to Caroline Scott. This tree has a possible connection with John de Hyndley, knighted at Agincourt 1413, a follower of Sir Thomas Erpingham of Norwich. His son William built the Erpingham Gate at Norwich and was afterwards Master Stonemason at York Minster where he spent thirty years carving the Rood Screen to support and save the main tower (1473 - 1503). It also has some information from Godfrey the Bearded (1065 - 1069) and his sons Godfrey de Bouillon (1087 - 1100), Eustace III Elder Brother who married Mary of Scotland, and Godfrey the Hunchback (1069 - 1076) and to Charlemagne, however, I believe this link is stretching things somewhat.

Robert had 4 sons -

1. Roger (d 1651)

2. Hugh (d 1661)

3. ?

4. John of Pennington & West Leigh who died 1672 and in turn had a son Peter of Pennington (1627-1664).
In the Protestation Rolls for Pennington 24/2/1641 there is only one Hindley (John) & he could be the first Hindley in Pennington.

12a 'Roger of Aspull' between 12 Robert & 13 Hugh. Roger of Aspull married Alice, daughter of William Massey and grand-daughter of Geoffrey Shackerley. Roger also died in 1651. He had several children, Julian, Roger, Doritie, Edward, and George who died in infancy. These years were those of the civil war, the Commonwealth and Protectorate and it is not known whether any of these children succeeded to the Hall.

13 Hugh died 1651 - married Patience, daughter of Reverend James Heath. Adam Hindley was a co-executor on the death of Patience.

14 Roger - untraced ... Hugh died 1683?

15 John - heir in 1683

16 Robert - baptised in Wigan in 1675

The mainstream family lived for the most part in Hindley Hall in Aspull, near the village of Hindley in South Lancashire. Hindley Hall, eventually became the property of James, a younger son of Robert Dukinfield of Cheshire and in the 18th century was acquired by the Leighs of Whitley Hall, Wigan, and Sir Robert Holt Leigh lived here till his death in 1843.


Around 1651 Adam Hindley of Bedford (1610-63) was a co-executor on the death of Patience Hindley a member the original Hindley dynasty ... but this unfortunate Norman ancestry was a problem for Adam, at heart he knew he was different. He spoke English, obeyed the English customary law and he felt English. And, of course, he was English ... by 1610, when he was born, perhaps some 24 Anglo Saxon impregnations had come to pass as successive generations of English genes had been introduced into his being.

Inevitably this reality was reflected in his behaviour and towards the end of his life Adam was increasingly curmudgeonly ... taxes & tithes were evil devices for perpetuating all manner of current prejudices and entanglements. In 1660 Adam and a few of his mates did something about it ... they rebelled!

Adam had much to be proud of; hard work, honesty & thrift had secured and honed challenging skills at the forge. He had saved and invested some of his profits for a rainy day. Life was tough, infant mortality put the fear of God into Ellen who saw children everywhere dying from plague and famine. Adam & Ellen were at the front of the queue for Christian compassion & charity for the unfortunate, but idle charlatans were something different. Idleness was never tolerated in his own children so when others tried to grab some of his own children's share Adam drew a line.

He was furious with his public spirited neighbour Thomas Guest. John, Thomas' father had been friend and confidante at Marsley Green all his life, and had passed only two years before in 1658. Adam had voted for young Thomas, at the Overseer moot but he was disgruntled when he found Thomas had gone native ... power drunk, with the militia at his side, Thomas seemed unable to distinguish the deserving poor from the undeserving. Idleness was rampant, spreading as fools encouraged the practice.

But far more alarming was that Adam's own kids were beginning to question his creed ... why work hard or be honest & thrifty if Mr Guest would look after them and see they were OK?

Time to do something. Adam refused to pay his tithes ... for sure, Adam was an Anglo Saxon, Beowulf would have had no truck with such treachery ...


(confirming the Hindley / Farnworth / Bedford or Over link is ongoing ... help contact john p birchall !!)


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