Land Introduction


In 1868 Batley was a parish and a township in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The parish comprised the townships of Batley, Churwell, and Morley, the village of Gildersome and the hamlets of Batley Carr (and New Batley and Upper Batley), Brookroyd, Brown Hill, Capas Height, Carlinghow, Chapel Fold, Clark Green, Gildersome Street, Havercroft, Healey, Kelpin Hill, Lee White, New Road Side, and Staincliffe in Batley township and Bruntcliffe Thorne, Four Lane Ends, Howley Hall and Stump Cross in Morley township.

Land Ancestors in the Parish of Batley

The major purpose of this web site is research into Land ancestry and related families who lived in Batley. Land related names connected with Batley are (in addition to Land): Sheard, Law and Sykes.

The Sheards moved from Birstall parish to Batley in the mid 1700s.

Benjamin Law moved from Gomersal in Birstall parish to Batley by at least 1791.

The Lands arrived in the town of Batley circa 1855.

Elizabeth Sykes married Law Land in Batley in 1881.

The Doomsday book, 1086

According to estimates based on the Doomsday book, the population of Batley in 1086 was 30 or 40 people.

1379 Tax Poll

Parliament levied a poll tax in 1379 to raise money for the king's wars (both against the Scottish invaders and the French). This poll rated every man in England over the age of sixteen "according to his dignity" that is according to his social position. An esquire paid 20 shillings. Wealthy merchants and rich landowners below the rank of esquire paid 10 shillings, 6 shillings and 8 pence, 3 shillings and 4 pence 12 pence, or 6 pence according to their financial position. Everyone else over the age of 16 paid a minimum sum of 4 pence, which equaled a "groat". A husband and wife counted as one person. The clergy did not pay any tax. People with filius, filia, son or daughter after their names were children over the age of 16 who were still living with their families. All other single persons over 16 represented bachelors, spinsters, widows and widowers.

In addition to serving it's purpose of filling the kings coffers, the poll tax has a major advantage to historians and genealogists of today in that it acted as a census and provides invaluable information on the population of England at the time.

According to this tax, the population of Batley comprised 18 married couples, 22 single persons above the age of 16.

Michael Sheard in his book about Batley Parish (see below) included the 1379 poll tax list for "Bateley" in the Wapentake of Morley as follows:

Domina Alicia ffinchedene, Dame de Chiualer. She paid the highest amount of xx.
Johannes de Coplay, Esquier and wife. He paid vj viij..
Johannes de Kirk and wife
Johannes de Helay and wife
Johannes Milner and wife
Henricus Hobson and wife
Johannes de Helay and wife
Thomas de Wodson and wife
Thomas de Kerlynghawe and wife
Willelmus White and wife
Johannes de ffekesby and wife
Hugo Couper and wife
Ricardus Kerlynghawe and wife
Adam de Wodson and wife
Willelmus de ffincheden and wife
Henricus de Dalton and wife
Willelmus de Lamhird and wife
Johannes de Rothewell and wife
Johannes Broune and wife
Magata de Bateley
Henricus Spine
Agnes de Wyttelay
Willelmus de Soureby
Willelmus Hird
Johannes Couper
Margeria Couper
Johannes Turner Robertus Scotte
Johannes Kerlynghawe Alicia Kerlynghawe
Johannes Plum
Isabella Wodosom
Alicia de Wodosom
Isabella de Bateley
Agnes del Schapell
Cecillia ancilla domini
Johanna Gillesland
Willelmus Tare
Johanna Milner

Everyone on the list except the first two entries paid the 4 pence minimum.

As a four pence or "groat" was equaled what the average man could earn in three days, the poll tax was a great burden on the poor people and was a cause of the great peasant revolt in 1381. As a result of the revolt the people demanded the liberty to buy and sell in all fairs and markets, without being subject to taxes. The abolition of villenage and that annual cash rental of fourpence per acre be substituted in lieu of compulsory service that was the system under which the land had been held in the past.

The poll tax had an important function in the development of surnames. Before this period surnames were the prerogative of the nobility. With so many people named John, Robert, Thomas and William some method had to be devised to distinguish on from another. It was decided to add an additional distinction after each Christian name. Four categories were used:

  1. Personal, from a sire or ancestor.
  2. Trade, from an occupation.
  3. Locality, from the place of residence.
  4. Nickname, body attribute of character.

It needs to be pointed out that it was a long time before "surnames" became fixed. In the beginning the same person might be called by different "surname" at different points in his live. For example if a man named Thomas Johnson had moved from Batley to Gomersal, he might then be know as Thomas de Batley. If the same person later mover to Mirfield he might have been know as Thomas Gomersal.

The poll tax of 1379 was one of the first written records in which the common man was given a "surname" (something to distinguish one "John" from another.)

This list tell us a certain amount about what was going on in Batley in 1379. There were trade names like Milner (miller), Couper (cooper, barrel maker), Lamhird and Hird (herds), and Turner (wood worker).

"Names" with de indicated a place. Kerlynghawes later became "Caringhow", a hamlet in Batley township. Wodsomes later became Woodsome, another hamlet. Willelmus de ffincheden and wife must have been servants for the Dame de Chiualer. Robert Scotte was a Scottish invader come to stay. Cecillia ancilla domini may have also been a servant for the Dame de Chiualer.

As a way of estimating the population of these townships in 1379, most books add two children per married household. Thus the estimated population Batley was 94 people . This is an increase of about 50 people for Batley from the time of the Doomsday Book in 1086.

Michael Sheard points out that some of the names were still in the area when he wrote his book in 1894, including, Kirk, Healy, Milner, Hobson, White, Couper, Broune, Turner and Scotte. Kirk and Healey were two of the names of the Land ancestors.

See also the section on the poll tax under Birstall

1390 Plaque

Late in 1390 and again in the spring of the following year a plague broke out. It was supposed to have killed one third of the population of Yorkshire.

The Parish Chruch

The church, All Saints, was erected in the reign of Henry VI (1422-61).

The Batley Grammer School

The earliest school in the area was the Batley Grammar School. It was endowed by William Lee in 1612 and was free to "the children" (I beieve that "children" meant "boys" as a girls school was established much later) of the parish of Batley. Reading, writing, Latin and Greek were taught.

The Parish Records

Michael Sheard had the following comments on the Batley Parish Records

  1. Complete from 1685 with the exception of the year 1700.

  2. Transcripts "pursuance" of the Queen's injunction in 1597.


    • The "Queen" was Elizabeth I.

  3. "From 1653 no marriage could be celebrated without a register's certificate that he had published the banns on three successive Lord's Days at the close of the morning exercise in the public meeting place commonly called the church or the nearest market place on the successive market days.

    On presenting the certificate to the nearest Justice of the Peace the couple took each other by the hand and one at a time said,

    I (name) do here in the presence of God, the searcher of all hearts, take thee _____ for my wedded wife/husband, and do also in the presence of God and before witnesses promise to be unto thee a loving and faithful husband/wife.

    The wife added the word obedient after loving and faithful. Where upon the justice declared them man and wife."

    This method lasted until 1660 when there was a return to church marriages because the people "apparently clung to the old religious ceremonies".

Yorkshire Archeological Society says that parish registers were introduced into England in the reign of Henry VIII in 1538. The royal inscription called for:
"The curate of every parish church shall keep one book or register, which book he shall every Sunday take forth, and in the presence of the churchwardens or one of them, write and record in the same all the weddings, christenings, and burials made the whole week before."
This weekly keeping of the records could explain why some records never were recorded.

The cause of death was generally not listed in the parish records, however, according to the Yorkshire Archeological Society, about two thirds of the deaths in 1778 were due to small pox. Small pox was listed as a cause of death until at least 1811.

The registers were kept until at least 1812. In many parishes they were kept until much later.

There are two sets of records for Batley parish available through LDS.

  1. The Original Record on film #1542093. While this film is listed as the original record up to at least 1686 it was copied from some other record and is exactly the same as the Bishop's Transcripts. The hand writing is the same and there are frequent notations that the marriage, baptism, and burying for several years "are awaiting".

    It should be noted that in 1603 the churchwardens were required to write on a parchment all the records that had occurred since 1538.

  2. The Bishop's Transcripts. Each parish was obliged to keep their own records. In addition, once a year in March, a copy of the records were sent to the Bishop. These records are called the Bishop's Transcripts. For many parishes only the Bishop's Transcripts have survived.

It is very interesting to compare the two sets of records. As one would expect, there are a fair number of records in the originals that due to clerical error were not included in the Bishops Transcripts. The surprise is that there are a fair number of entries in the Bishops Transcripts that are not in the original records.

According to the YAS

  • Old Testament names were not popular in the parish until the Commonwealth (1649-1660). when people started reading the Bible at home. These names included, Joshua, Benjamin, Hannah, Sara, and Susannah.

  • The only popular royal name was, George. They say other royal names, Edward, Henry, and Charles were rare. James and William, however, appear to me to have been fairly popular names.

  • The English kings and Queens from the time of the start of the records until the time the Lands had immigrated were: Henry VIII, 1509-47, Edward, 1547-53, Mary I, 1553-58, Elizabeth I, 1558-1603, James I, 1603-1625, Charles I, 1625-49, The Commonwealth 1649-1660, Charles II, 1660-1685, James II, 1685-1688, William III and Mary II, 1689-1694, William III 1694-1702, Anne, 1702-1714, George I, 1714-27, George II, 1727-60, George III, 1760-1820, George IV, 1820-30, William IV, 1830-37, Victoria, 1837-1901.

  • Double names started around 1708.

  • Of the 188 occupations listed in 1778, 124 were related to the clothing trade, 12 were colliers (coal miners) and 5 were engaged in farming.

Changes in the late 1700s

The population of pre industrial England was fairly static in both size and place of inhabitance. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700's many people moved to the larger manufacturing centers. Yorkshire had been a sparsely populated area of England until the late 1700's, when it became one of the fastest growing sections of the country. Places like Batley went from sleepy little villages to large industrial towns. Other small hamlets became completely disserted after much of the population moved to the larger industrial centers or were swallowed up by the expansion of fast growing industrial areas.

Until the late 1700s the local people of Batley were mostly employed in farming and weaving. A Batley weaver could produce one standard piece of cloth per week.

In 1796 two groups of local clothiers pooled their resources and opened the first water powered mills for carding spinning. There mills drew together large numbers of spinners and weavers. At that time about 2,500 people lived in the area in hamlets such as Carlinghow and Clerk Green. Havercroft was the heaviest populated section of the town of Batley. Benjamin Law lived in Havercroft. There were six large common fields were everyone could graze their animals and collect fodder. One of these common fields was in Havercroft.

In the village proper were clusters of stone houses with thatched roofs.

As more people left the land to come to the newly industrialized areas in search of work, the land fell into disuse. This led to the Enclosure Awards. In 1801 Parliament passed an act which brought waste and commons into the hands of a few owners so that farming would become more productive and efficient.

The 1822 Baine's Directory

Baine's Directory of 1822 for the town of Batley lists 118 people, including four women, involved a trade or profession in Batley. There are 25 people listed under "Miscellany of Trades". This category includes the schoolmaster, the parish clerk, a mill owner, a "bone setter", and the four women. Two of the women are listed as "vict." (This must stand of victualer) at what appear to be taverns or pubs. The other two women are listed by their names only, no occupation or trade is listed. There are separate categories listing 30 blanket makers, 4 butchers, 4 carpenters, 4 cattle dealers, four coverlet manufactures, the 21 flushing Manufacturers, 3 grocers, 2 maltsters, 3 stone masons, 2 surgeons, and 16 woolen manufacturers.

Michael Sheard and Michael Sheard jun., were listed as flushing manufacturers.

Benjamin Law was listed as a flushing manufacturer.

1825 according to Malcolm Haigh

Malcolm Haigh says that until 1825 there were no road to and from Batley.

"Batley had little more than foot or cart tracks suitable for packhorses or light carts but totally unsuitable to transport the growing volumes of wool, cloth and coal"
A toll road was built from Gomersall to Dewsbury "with a branch to enter the village of Havercroft at Batley (Branch Road)". The road opened in 1832.

1830 Leeds Directory

George Sheard, Michael Sheard, and Michael Sheard, jun. were listed as Flushing, padding and Drugget Manufacturers.

Note: Drugget according to Webster is, "a tough, coarse cloth, often of wool and cotton, used especially for a floor covering, or laid over a carpet to protect it.".

There was no listing for Benjamin Law, who according to the tax records was living in Batley at the time.

1831 Lewis Gazette

In 1831 Lewis describes Batley as:

"a parish comprising the Chapelry of Morley, the township of Batley, in the lower division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, and the Chapelry of Gildersome, and the township of Churwell, in the wapentake of Morley, West riding of the county of York, and containing 9154 in habitants, of which number, 3717 are in the township of Batley, 7 miles (N.W. by W.) from Wakefield............The church, dedicated to All Saints, and said to have been erected in the reign of Henry VI, contains several splendid monuments to the memory of the diseased lords of the manor......The manufacture of blankets, carpets, coverlets, flushing, and woollen cloth, prevails to a great extent within the parish."


In 1831 there were 9154 inhabitants in Batley parish, of which 3717 were in the township of Batley.

1831 Imperial Gazetteer

The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales by John Marius Wilson, published in 1831 said

"The manufacture of blankets, carpets, coverlets, flushing, and woolen cloth, prevails to a great extent within the parish."

1842 Leeds Directory

Batley was comprised of 6,390 acres and was made up of the townships of Batley, Morley, Churwell and Gildersome.

"Batley, a large village engaged in the manufacture of shoddy and other woolen fabrics, is situated in the vale of the rivulet 2 miles N. of Dewsbury and 8 miles S.S.W. of Leeds. Its township.... increased its population from 4,841 in 1831 to 7,076 souls in 1841."

Michael Sheard, and Michael Sheard and sons were listed as Flushing, Padding, and Drugget manufacturers.

The village and township of Gildersome comprised 1,120 acres and had 1,700 inhabitants.

Trains, 1848

Batley had a train station by 1848. There was a branch line to Bristall in 1853.

Fox's Biscuits, 1853

Fox's biscuits started making Brandy snaps in 1853 for fairground booths. They are still making bradysnaps today. See Fox's

1861 Leeds Directory

"Batley Parish comprises the populous townships of Batley, Churwell, Gildersome and Morley, which contain about 6,400 acres, and increased their population form 14,278 in 1841 to 17,359 in 1851. They are extensively engaged in the manufacture of woolen cloths, blankets, rugs, etc., and they abound in excellent beds of coal and stone."

"Batley is a large improving village engaged in the manufacture of blankets, shoddy and other woolen fabrics; situate in the vale of a rivulet 2 miles N. of Dewsbury.....increased its population from 7076 in 1841 to 9308 in 1851, to about 12,000 in 1859; several new streets, and large mills and warehouses, having been build since the last census. Part of the village was formerly called Havercroft. "

"Batley is a place of great antiquity, and part of the village was formerly called Havercroft. It has a Station on the Yorkshire and Lancaster Railway, and has been much improved in its sanitary condition by the Local Board of Health for Batley District, which was established in 1853, and has constructed Water Works in connection with those for supplying Dewsbury, etc.....Batley has a Chamber of Commerce and a Telegraph Office. Dewsbury and Batley Gas Works now supply gas at 4 shillings 2 pence per 1000 cubic feet.... Batley Carr Church is noticed with Dewsbury, its district being mostly in that parish. In the township are ten chapels----two belonging to the Wesleyans, two to the Independents.... The new Independent Chapel is a neat Gothic structure with a spire build in 1857, at a cost of 2000 pounds......Batley Town Hall is a handsome building, erected in 1853."

"Batley Village encompassed Commercial Street, New Road, Wellington Street, and New Batley."

There were no listings for any Lands.

Michael Sheard and sons were listed under "Merchants and Manufacturers", "Shoddy and Rag Grinders", and "Flushing, Padding, Drugget, etc."

There were four listings for Law:

  1. Thomas, plumber
  2. Joseph and
  3. John, Shoddy and Rag Grinders
  4. Joseph, Flushing, Padding and Drugget.

1863 Leeds Directory

In Batley an Independent chapel was listed on Hanover Street.

1866 Leeds Directory

The 1866 directory was published by William White.

The population of Batley parish was listed at 25,272 in 1861. The population of the township of Batley was given as 14,173 in 1861. Two chapel for Independents were listed.

John Law was listed as an architect.

No Lands were listed.

Michael Sheard and sons were listed twice under, Scribbling and Fulling Millers at Hickwell and Valley Mills and as Woolen Manufacturers at the same address.

Gildersome was listed with 1701 people.

The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868

"The township of Batley had in 1861, 14,173 inhabitants, having increased during the last 20 years at the rate of 100 per cent. The population are chiefly employed in the various branches of the woollen manufacture-blankets, carpets, cloth, &c. There are above thirty factories. The Public Hall is a stone edifice, erected in 1853, at a cost of about £2,000. The upper part of the building affords every accommodation for the giving of lectures, concerts, &c. The lower part is occupied by the mechanics' institution, whose library contains about 700 volumes......... The Leeds, Bradford, and Halifax Junction Railway Company are making a line from Adwalton to Batley, and the Bradford, Wakefield, and Leeds Railway Company are making a branch from their line at Ossett to Batley, where it will effect a junction with the above branch of the Leeds, Bradford, and Halifax Junction railway and the London and North-Western railway. A commodious station for all the lines is now in contemplatio

1871 Wilson Gazetter

"a town, a township and a sub-district in the district of Dewsbury, and a parish in the district of Dewsbury in Yorkshire."

"remarkable only as a seat of manufacture.........The manufacture of clothes, carpets, and other fabrics from "shoddy" or the reduced substance of old woollen rags, is here carried on to a great extent; and there are upwards of twenty-two factories."

1872-73 Leeds Directory

Batley, Birstall, and Gomersal were listed in the Court of Dewsbury. Cleckheaton and Drighlington were listed in the court of Bradford. Gildersome was listed in the court of Leeds.

1870 Imperial Gazetteer

The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales by John Marius Wilson, published in 1870 said

"Batley is a town, a township and a sub-district in the district of Dewsbury, and a parish in the district of Dewsbury in Yorkshire..............

.........remarkable only as a seat of manufacture.........

........The manufacture of clothes, carpets, and other fabrics from "shoddy" or the reduced substance of old woollen rags, is here carried on to a great extent; and there are upwards of twenty-two factories."

Batley According to John Hewitt, 1870

In 1870 John Hewitt wrote a book about Wakefield in which he makes some comments about Batley including.

  • Batley and Dewsbury were rivals in the woolen business.
  • Neither Batley or Dewsbury was a "handsome place" both being in a state of transition from the "homely old" to the "more prosperous and self-conscious new" as they had both recently become wealthy towns
  • Batley had several schools including: the Batley grammar school, daily schools, Sunday schools and various church related schools
  • Sections of Batley included: Batley proper, Upper Batley, Staincliff, Healy, Purwell, Carlinghow, Clark Green, White Lee, and "others"
  • Michael Sheard was the architect of the Batley cemetery
  • In 1870 Commercial Street which was "tolerably well build and well paved", contained the town hall, the large Wesleyan Chapel, "a plain building of good size", and the " Wesleyan New Connexion chapel (build in 1869)"
  • "Batley makes coarse cloths-Pilots, Witneys, army and police cloths, and the like. The most common description of the business we see as we walk through is that of woollen manufacture though here are many other branches of industry. Batley is the head of the shoddy and mungo trade, which has made very rapid progress in this neighborhood within the last twenty years-- ever since rags were found susceptible of being converted into a material suitable for manufacture of new textiles; and many large fortunes have been build upon the process."

1873 Imperial Gazetteer

In 1873

  • The "township" included the hamlets of Brownhill, Brookroyd, Carringhow, Clark-Green, Havercroft, Chaple-Ford, Healey, Staincliffe, White See, Kelpin-Hill, Capas-Heights, Purwell, New Roadside, and part of the hamlet of Batley-Carr and comprised 2,140 acres.

  • The "parish" included the townships of Morley, Gildersome, and Churwell where
    "The manufacture of cloths, carpets, and other fabrics form "shoddy" or the reduced substance of old woolen rags is here carried on to a great extent; and there are upwards of twenty-two factories."

1873 The Gazetteer of the British Isles

The Gazetteer of the British Isles published in 1873 said Batley was

"remarkable only as a seat of manufacture"

Yorkshire Part and Present, 1875

In Yorkshire Part and Present, A history and A description of The Three Ridings of the Great County of You form the Earliest Ages to the Year 1875 Thomas Baines said

"Batley is a municipal borough with a town hall, a corporation , and a great and flourishing trade; but it is united with Dewsbury for parliamentary purposes. The chief manufacture of Batley is in the kind of woolen cloths knows as pilots, witneys, army and police cloths, and the like. Batley is the head of this trade, which has made very rapid progress during the last twenty years.

Dewsbury and Batley are densely-peopled parts of the great clothing district of the West Riding."

The Rise and Progress of Batley 1880

From The Rise and Progress of Batley James Williams, 1880

  • Commercial and Wellington Streets did not contain a single shop. They were lanes in the neighborhood called Havercroft. New Street was a field.
  • Splendid mansions were built in Upper Batley as a result of the shoddy trade.
  • Mr. Joseph Chadwick was the parish clerk. His family had held the office for four generations.

From Village To Town, 1882

"From Village to Town" by Isaac Binns "A Ramdom Reminiscence of Batley During The Last Thirty Years", reprinted from the "BatleyNews" 1882 by F. H. Purcas

This slim book filled with quite uninteresting stories told in a Yorkshire accent* (See below) did reveal some interesting Batley facts:

  • Clothing

    • Men owned one good or "Sunday suit" which was of the finest black broadcloth and worn with a white shirt and a black tall hat. At home the jacket was removed and the shirt and pants were covered with a blue apron. A suit lasted from 5 to 7 years.
    • Week-day trousers of the working man were made of a "large percentage of cotton cord".

  • Shoddy
    "Though we have invented a new material, we have also invented a new expression. Shoddy has become a world-wide use as a name denoting want of quality in anything, and that is what we grumble about. "Shoddy" as a word means quite a different thing from "shoddy" as a material. The latter is not the result of deceit or neglect, nor does it look better than it is. Shoddy cloth can, it is true, be made into broad cloth at the low figure of about sixpence a yard; but shoddy cloths are made, as a rule, so that the price does no object (and the peasant can afford) to wear cloths made from them. In short, shoddy, we believe, is a great leveler, besides being a great invention to boot; and Batley by its aid, had become known in the markets of the whole world; while Batley men are in requisition in every country so far civilized as to have begun to imitate our manufacture."
  • Hick Lane Mill
    The office attached to Hick Lane mill was a two storied building with two room on a floor, and faced down the lane.

    The mill was not at that time three quarters the length it at present is, and consisted really of three mills, built at different periods, the newest and largest being the top one. Since then a fourth building was attached to the top end to fill up the vacant ground, and now the whole has been re-placed by the present modern building.

    At the foot of the land, at the junction with Bradford Road, where the present warehouse and offices of Messrs. Sheard’s are, was an old shed and yard, in which the refuse from the machines was put. No oil –extracting process had then been invented, and the waste was led direct to the farms for manure.

  • The Railroad Station
    "The new railroad station was built in Batley in 1858 replacing an older wooden one."
  • New Street and the Irish
    "Higher up the street, which was then known as Up Lane, there is the street called New Street- now chiefly tenanted by the sons of Erin- I could never tell of a new house being built in the street, but yet I suppose it has been new once, and I do not care how soon it becomes a new street again- a street with new houses, and especially new tenants. It is but natural that there should be a bad lamb in a flock; and a bad street in a town, and this may fairly claim all the honours which can attach to a dwelling place of a race of people, who, while disdaining to build up charities, are the first to put in a claim to be abusers of them."
    Note: Italics are mine. There was bad feeling towards the Irish because they immigrated from Ireland to work at lower wages than the local population. The world loved to hate the Irish. Part of it was also a prevalent anti Roman Catholic sentiment.

  • Up Lane Sunday School
    "At the foot of New Street on the Commercial Street end, was the old Up Lane School which in 1882 was being used as a Sunday School connected with no particular sect.

    Many of the old families have "graduated" here, and the Sheard family keep up their love for the old place by good annual subscriptions in its aid."

  • Changes in the Size and Type of the Local Mills
    "Thirty years ago the woolen trade of Batley was, as I have before hinted, different a deal from now. Then it was not a science as it is now. Then the makers of clothe were few in number, the finish was not developed to above a tithe of what it is now, and full as many pieces were sold in the grey state, as there were then sold in a dyed condition, and the few mills we had immediately proceeding this period were "company" concerns, where work was done on commission. No man 40 years ago could be said to "run a mill", but many possessed such buildings as this in which weaving, winding, warping, burling, etc. were done; and to which the weft or warp were brought direct from the mills. The invention of the power loom did away, however, with these buildings and at one increased the demand for more power and increased facilities.
* Vivien Tomlinson's comments on "From Village to Town"

Vivien Tomlinson has graciously educated me on the finer points of this book correcting my Yank lack of understanding of the place and times in her email of September 10, 2006.

Oh dear, I feel that your description of this work as "filled with quite uninteresting stories told in a Yorkshire accent" gives a rather misleading view of the book.

It is a slim volume originating in a series of articles for the Batley News, and the articles may have been dashed off hurriedly by a man with many interests who cannot have had so many idle hours.*

-But in his objective of giving some impression of the changes which took place in Batley in his short lifetime, (he was to die in 1884 aged only 39) I think he does have some success. In large part on account of Benjamin Law's invention, followed by the introduction of the power loom and other more sophisticated textile machinery, Batley saw enormous growth and change in these years.

Although Isaac was also a dialect writer who contributed widely to dialect publications and edited some of them, the main body of the text is not in dialect, and in addition to the passages you quote he gives many further insights into how our ancestors lived, dressed, ate and amused themselves.

The dialect anecdotes represent how many of our ancestors would have spoken. If some display ignorance that seems startling to us, there would have been many in his youth who, though quick-witted enough, had never travelled far from Batley, and had little or no formal education, and this is part of the picture he conveys. His own parents both made their marks on their marriage certificate.

I would wish to make clear that I do not care for his comments on the Irish. Difficulties in assimilating the influx of workers, some of whom would have been escaping the Irish potato famine, were exacerbated by the rows of poor housing provided for country folk, some of whom kept hens or pigs in these unsuitable conditions. Sanitation seems to have barely considered, with the result that excrement crept into the brickwork of the houses. Malcolm Haigh gives a fuller account (see p111 of The History of Batley: 1800-1974)

The book was published anonymously, but I don't think its authorship was especially secret at the time. There are autobiographical clues in the text for those who knew him, it was mentioned in his obituary tribute in the Batley News two years later, and there have been subsequent mentions in local press.

It seems to me to add colour which is not present in other contemporary histories, and there are many snippets of information for those interested in Batley people and places, which make it worth a look. I feel it is time to put his name to it.

I may, of course, have a biased view, for Isaac was my great-grandfather.

*The introduction to "From Village to Town" makes reference to filling up "idle hours".
"The following sketches were written to fill up otherwise idle hours. They are in truth "Random Reminiscences," some of them very randon; but it is hoped that they will partly describe the Hobbledehoyism of Batley Municipal life, or the period which is best described as the period "From Village to Town."


Batley, November, 1882"

To see the obituary of Isaac Binns go to Isaac Binns now or at the bottom of the page.

Samuel Jubb's History of Batley

In 1858 Samuel Jubb, a local manufacturer wrote The History of the Shoddy-Trade its rise progress and present position. Samuel's father, Joseph Jubb, was an original member of the Hick Lane Mill, the first mill build in 1822 designed for the manufacture of shoddy. See Jonas Sheard, Legacy of Jonas Sheard and Dinah Kirk in Batley

According to Jubb, the population of Batley in 1813 was about 3,000. At that time the manufacture of wool goods, chiefly blankets and a few other fabrics, existed on a small scale. He says that there were only a few mills, "the Old Mill", and one or two others of "contracted size and power". A master weaver, plus 3 or 4 loom weavers, was considered a large establishment. Trade was "dull" during the winter months.

Jubb does not mention Howley Mill, the establishment of Benjamin Law and Benjamin Parr who developed shoddy. In fact, Jubb does not acknowledge Benjamin Law as the developer of shoddy at all. However, almost all other books on the subject credit Benjamin Law with the development of shoddy around 1813. As a result of the development of shoddy the town made major leaps forward in both size and wealth. By the time Jubb wrote his book in 1858 the population was 11,000 to 12,000. The annual "value" of the township of Batley (according to the clerk of the peace's office in Wakefield) went from 3,366 pounds in 1821 to 31,348 in 1859. The number of mills had increased to around 35.

Things did not necessarily proceed smoothly. Initially, there was major resistance to the manufacture of shoddy. Many looked on in horror at the adulteration of pure wool. Ministers preached against it, calling it "devil dust". (Another source says devil's dust was the waste from the machine that ground the wool rags to make shoddy and mongo.)

The town obviously underwent some adjustments to its changes of fortune. A strike in 1832 according to Judd

"was instrumental in bringing a considerable number of Irish people into town, to replace the factory hands: they formed quite a colony at first, and have increased numerically since. For a considerable time, the presence of the Irish was felt to be irksome by the natives, who regarded "paddy" as an intruder, and looked down upon him as a member of an inferior race"

The relations between the natives and the Irish

"were of a very unfriendly nature; and their serious "rows" and collisions resulting from their antagonism, which occurred, kept the town in a state of excitement, apprehension, anxiety, and , we may add, of alarm. Time, the great healer of sorrows, however, has softened the asperity of those feelings and reconciled, if not wholly, in a great measure at least, the two bodies. It is not improbable that even the employers themselves would have been glad, after a while, to witness the "exodus" of the Irish; but once here, they became fixed on the spot, and as matters have turned out, it may have been for the best"

There were "agitations" and partial strikes of hand loom weavers in Batley in 1851 and 1852.

Jubb lists 1825, 1837, 1840 to 1843, 1847 and 1857 as slow years for the shoddy trade. There was a panic in 1857. Business was paralyzed for months with the mills only working half time.

He says that "Good" years for the shoddy trade were 1836 and 1853.

Jubb makes a few interesting remarks about how things worked:

"For years it was the custom for some if not indeed the principle part of employers to deal in provisions, chiefly flour and malt."
He says that employees could borrow against their wages to pay for goods. This is what we would think of "the company store". Known as the "truck system" it was abolished in the 1840s.

Slubbers, the men who worked the slubbing machines, had not had an increase in wages for at least 20 years. Jubb looks at this as a positive turn of event and says

"this class of workmen has enjoyed the steadiest and most uniform wages of any class in the business"

Jubb says there were about 900 boys and girls employed in the mills in 1858. He says that a small portion of these were "half timers" and attended school. Note: The italics are mine, school attendance was mandated for all children ages nine to thirteen under the Factory Act in 1833.

The mills were open six days a week. They were closed on Sunday and at 2:00 on Saturday "affording, as it does nearly half-day holiday". Again the italics are mine.

Jubb indicates the wage difference between men and women in the shoddy trade. Female rag sorters received from 6s 6d to 7s per week, while their male foremen received 20s to 25s.

Among others, Baine's 1858 account of the Woolen Manufacture of England credits "Mr. Benjamin Law" of Batley as the developer of shoddy. He says, however, that

"the first machines for tearing up the rags were set up by Messrs Joseph Jubb and J. & P. Fox."
And further
"The manufacture has forced its way, and made Batley, Dewsbury, and the neighborhood, the most prosperous parts of the woolen districts. There are now in Batley alone fifty rag machines in thirty-five mills, producing no less the 12,000,000 pounds of rag-wool per annum."

The Population of Batley

Michael Sheard in History of Batley published by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in 1894, listed the population of Batley as follows:

  • 1801.....2,594
  • 1811.....2, 975
  • 1821..... 3,717
  • 1831.....4, 841
  • 1841.....7,076
  • 1851.....9,308
  • 1861.....14,173
  • 1871.....20,871
  • 1881.....27,505
  • 1891.....l28,712

In 1831 there were 9154 inhabitants in Batley parish, of which 3717 were in the township of Batley.

The church, All Saints, was erected in the reign of Henry VI (1422-61).


Betty Siddle the wife of Robert Walker said she was born in Gildersome circa 1808. Robert and Betty Walkers's daughter, Sarah Walker also listed Gildersome as her birth place, circa 1829.

Wilson descries Gildersome as

  • "a village, a township and a chapelry in Batley Parish, West Riding, Yorkshire located 5 miles south-west of Leeds."
  • Population in 1851 --- 2,126 and in 1861 --- 2,701.

  • In 1870 many of the inhabitants were employed in cloth making and in the fulling mills.

Note: Fulling is the process of shrinking and thickening cloth by applying dampness, heat, pressure and friction.

The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868

The manufacture of woollen cloth and numerous coal-mines afford employment to most of the people. There are also fulling mills in operation. The land is chiefly meadow and pasture, and the substratum abounds with coal.
History of Gildersome and the Booth Family by Philip Henry Booth, 1920 (FHL microfilm # 1648143)

Booth does not mention any of my family names in his Gildersome history. However, there are a few items in his book of interest

  • There was a Henry Sampson living in Gildersome in 1298. Sampson was an unusual given name used by the Siddle family.
    "A school at Wakefield existed as early as the 13th century as the following entry from the Court Roll of the Manor of Wakefield for 1298 proves:-'Alice, daughter of Henry Sampson of Gildusme (Gildersome) broke into the barn of Master Joh, rector of the School of Wakefield, at Topcliff, and stole 16 fleeces"
  • Gildersome was not listed in the Doomsday book. There is a fairly lengthy dissertation of the meaning and origin of the name Gildersome. Booth concludes that Gildersome was an ancient place even if it was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

  • Under Local Information he says,
    "Gildersome is 5 miles S.W. of Leeds, 6 miles form Bradford, 8 _ miles from Wakefield, and is in the Skyrack Division of the West riding of the county of York. Moorfield House is 520ft. above sea-level, and Greystone 592 ft. The chief industries are the manufacture of cloth, wagon building, and a little coal mining. Up to the year 1800, coal mining gave employment to a large number of men, and has given employment therein for more than two centuries."
  • "Many denominations have places of worship, the seniority resting between the Society of Friends and the Baptist, then follow the Wesleyan, Church of England, United Methodists and Pentecostal, in the order given."

    Note: The Society of Friends did not believe in infant baptism. They Baptists baptised adults only. This could be why there are so few baptismal records for the Siddles.

  • "Gildersome is part of the Drighlington Electoral Division"

  • Booth listed Baine's Directory of the County of York in as including the following information
    Leeds Post Office- Walking postman: John Cowburn to Beeston, Churwell, Morley, Bruntcliffe, Gildersome, Adwalton, Drighlington, Tong, Westgate Hill, Birkenshaw, Bierley, Fulneck, and Pudsey every day. (This would be a round of about 14 miles.)"
  • Railroad through Gildersome opened October 3, 1857

  • Population

    1801        241 houses     1231 inhabitants
    1811        278                 1409
    1821        306                 1592
    1831        328                 1652
    1841        387                 1917
    1851        431                 2126
    1861        558                 2701
    1871        729                 3448
    1881        714                 3470
    1891        726                 3175

  • "In 1838 there were 120 hand looms engaged in the woolen manufacture and 360 inhabited houses. The assessable value was 1,437 pounds and the amount raised for the relief of the poor 283 pounds and 18 shillings."

    Note: He does not say where he got this information but it may have been from a tax record since he gives the assessments.

  • The following items under "Local Information" are related to industry in the area.

    • "On June 17, 1844, colliers on strike for Lofthouse, Gildersome, Churwell and other places held a public meeting on Richmond Hill, Leeds, the magistrate having refused to permit them to meet in Kirkgate Market or Vicar's Croft". No source.

    • "A fearful boiler explosion took place at the ill of Mr Samuel Almond, cloth manufacturer, Gildersome, on Sept. 4th, 1858, by which six persons lost their lives, viz. John Bradley, George Woffington, Samuel Halliday, Alice Wright, Caroline Gregson, and a boy 14 years old. Many others were injured. The explosion was caused by carelessness and ignorance, the boiler having been allowed to get red hot, and in that condition cold water was turned in to cool it." No source.

    • "March 25, 1862. The turn out of colliers at Gildersome caused by the resistance of the men to a reduction of ten per cent. on their wages, gave rise to some violent demonstrations on the part of those on strike, and several of the men were bound over before the West Riding Magistrates at Leeds to keep the peace." No source

    • "Dec. 22, 1864. Edward Ackroyd, aged 49, colliery owner of Gildersome was put on his trial at the Leeds Assizes for making away with his estate within three months after he had been make a bankrupt: also with destroying documents and bills of exchange, and withholding books-all for the purpose of concealing the state of his affairs. He was found guilty and sentenced to twelve months imprisonment without hard labor. No source.

  • Coal pits:

    • The Quarry pit in Street Lane (in 1920 called the Old Pit and dismantled) was sunk in 1844.
    • The Gildersome Colliery, near the Railway Station was sunk in 1855.

The only books I can find at abebooks and at the NY public Library are about Quakers in Gildersome and copies of articles from a religious magazine published by St Andrew's church Bruntcliffe.


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868

The township includes Bruntcliffe-Shorne and three other hamlets The village, which is of large extent, was anciently the head of the wapentake to which it gives name, and one of the principal towns in the county; but on the invasion of England by the Scots in the reign of Edward II. it was completely devastated. It is situated at the base and on the acclivities of an eminence rising from a deep valley; and contains several extensive woollen manufactures, which give employment to a large number of the inhabitants. The soil is generally fertile, and the land in good cultivation. The substratum abounds with coal and freestone of excellent quality....... The township contains many old mansions, as Cross Hall, Springfield House, Bank House, Morley House, Morley Hall, and Croft House. On a lofty eminence are the ruins of Howley Hall, for eighteen generations the seat of the Saville family, and which was garrisoned in the civil war of Charles I. for the parliament. In 1730 this old mansion was demolished by order of the Earl of Cardigan, and the surrounding park of 1,000 acres converted into arable land. On the E. side of the ruins of Howley Hall is Lady Anne's well, formerly much resorted to on Palm Sunday."
The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales by John Marius Wilson, published in 1870
"a small town, a township, a chapelry, a subdistrict and a wapentake in West Riding, Yorkshire in the parish of Batley. The town lies about 4 miles South West of Leeds. The township contains the hamlet of Bruntcliffe."

Batley and Shoddy

The major event that changed the history of Batley was the invention of shoddy by Benjamin Law circa 1813. Shoddy was the process of turning old wool into new cloth.



Benjamin Law

The advent of the Industrial Revolution, the development of shoddy, and the acceptance of the shoddy process by people with money to invest changed Batley from a sleepy little town to a major industrial center in a very short period of time. People migrated to Batley from other parts of England and many Irish arrived in the post famine years. To provide living accommodations for the growing population cheap small houses (often with only two rooms) were crowed together back to back as close to the mills as possible.

Malcolm Haigh's books about Batley

Malcolm Haigh a local Batley historian has written several books about Batley.

  • The History of Batley contains many charming stories about Batley
  • Historical Snapshots of Batley and Birstall is a lovely book of old postcards and photos with comments by Malcolm.
  • His most recent book, Batley Pride, contains more stories of Batley folks.

To obtain a copy of any of Malcolm's books please write to Malcolm Haigh at:

64 Solway Road
West Yorkshire, England, WF17 6HH.

  • The History of Batley is available at £12.95p (about $23.00)
  • Historical Snapshots of Batley and Birstall is £10 (about $17.50)
  • Malcolm's latest book, Batley Pride is £13.95p (about $24.00)
Postage in each case is an extra £4.20 inside the UK but £5.20 overseas (about $9.10) - that's second class, surface mail. Air mail is £11.

Orders, with sterling cheques can be made out either to Malcolm Haigh or The History of Batley Fund.

Photos of Batley

To view photos of Batley, click on the photo of the parish church.

Isaac Binns, Author of "From Village to Town" and other works

Batley Textile Mills

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