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1. Henry Priestley and Alice Crabtree

The work on this family has not advanced very far and was done before the census became accessible on the Internet. At that time the census had to be examined on microfilm at the library for the area. More rapid progress could be made now using Internet resources. The story begins with family recollections that Alice Crabtree married Henry Priestley. They were my Great Grandparents. Alice was believed to be born on Primrose Day which is 19 April, the daughter of John William Crabtree. The marriage was readily found but a few attempts were necessary to find the correct birth record for Alice as there were several Alices in the target period.

Certificate of Marriage:  Henry Priestley, aged 24, a joiner, married Alice Crabtree, 25, a confectioner, on 25 August 1880, at Salem Primitive Methodists in Todmorden.  Henry's father is noted as Jonathan Priestley, a dyer of Sunny Brink, Mytholmroyd, Wadsworth.  Alice's father was John Crabtree of Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd, Wadsworth.

Certificate of Birth:  Alice Crabtree, born on 19 April 1855, at Mytholmroyd, Midgley, the daughter of John Crabtree, a cordwainer, and Jane Crabtree, formerly Townsend.  The birth was registered by the mother on 29 May 1855 and signed with a cross, in the sub-district of Luddenden in the district of Halifax.

This record allowed a search for the marriage of John Crabtree and Jane Townsend:

Certificate of Marriage:  John Crabtree, aged 22, bachelor and cordwainer, the son of William Crabtree, cordwainer, of Mytholmroyd, Sowerby, married Jane Townsend, spinster aged 22, daughter of John Townsend, a fustian dyer of Hawks Clough, Wadsworth, on 16 May 1853, at South Parade Wesleyan Chapel, Halifax.  Both bride and groom signed their names as did the witness George Taylor.  The second witness, Hannah Taylor signed with a cross.

Census record have been found for 1881 and 1891, the year after the marriage of John's daughter Alice.  They fit for the names of John and Jane, John's occupation, and the address given on the daughter's marriage certificate in 1880. 

1881 Halifax Census:  Film 4353, folio 62 page 30, Wadsworth, Burnley Road . By 1881, Alice was already married

Name Status Occupation Born
John Crabtree head, m, 50 Boot maker Sowerby
Jane Crabtree wife, m 50   Wadsworth
Lewis Crabtree son, unm, 23 Butcher Sowerby
Sarah A Crabtree dau, unm Boot top maker Sowerby
Samuel Crabtree son, unm 16 Butcher Sowerby


1891 Halifax Census: Film 3543, E. D. 3, Folio 62, page 29, Wadsworth, No. 8 Burnley Road

Name Status Occupation Born
John Crabtree head, m, 60 Shoe maker Sowerby
Jane Crabtree wife, m, 61   Wadsworth

It would be useful to have details from earlier census records of 1871 and 1861 to give further checks on the ages and places of birth.  From all the information to date, the family details are as follows but it is possible that there are additional older children given the age of the parents when Alice was born. My contact on the Internet, Barbara Gillard, noted the following monumental inscription that seems to correspond to this family at the Wesleyan Chapel at Mytholmroyd:

"In Memory of Mary, daughter of John & Jane Crabtree of Mytholmroyd, who departed this life March 17th 1857 aged 3 years & 3 months.
Also of Jane, beloved wife of the above John Crabtree, who departed this life April 6th 1904, aged 74 years.  Peace, Perfect Peace.
Also of the above named John Crabtree who departed this life at Colne, October 15th 1909 aged 79 years.  His end was peace."

These records allowed copies of the death certificates to be obtained as follows.

Certificate of Death: John Crabtree died on 15 October 1909, aged 79, at 24 Walton Street, Colne, formerly a boot and shoe maker (master).  He died of chronic endocarditis, certified by James MacKenzie, M.B. and the informant was S A Johnson, daughter of 24 Walton Street, on 16 October 1909 in the Registration District of Burnley.

Certificate of Death: Jane Crabtree, aged 74, wife of John Crabtree, formerly a master boot and shoe maker, died on 6 April 1904 at Banksfields, Mytholmroyd of chronic bronchitis, valvular disease of the heart and exhaustion, certified by Herbert Thomas, LRCS.  The informant was J. W. Crabtree, son, in attendance, of 5 Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd.  The death was registered in the sub-district of Hebden Bridge in the Registration district of Todmorden.

S A Johnson would be the daughter Sarah A noted in the census returns.

It is possible that John, following the death of his wife, moved to Colne to be with his son Henry, who had moved there early in the century. The information to date is gathered below.

Name Details
John Crabtree   born 1830-1831, Sowerby, died at Colne on 15 October 1909 aged 79 and buried at Mythomroyd Wesleyans.
Jane Crabtree née Townsend  born 1829-1831, Wadsworth. Died 6 April 1904, aged 74, buried Mythomroyd Wesleyan
Mary Crabtree born Dec 1852, died 17 March 1857, aged 3 years & 3 months, buried Mythomroyd Wesleyan, known only from M.I.
Alice Crabtree born 19 April 1855, Mytholmroyd, Midgley, birth certificate
Lewis Crabtree   born 1857-1858, Sowerby from Census
Sarah A born 1858-1864, Sowerby from Census
Samuel   born 1864-1865, Sowerby from Census
2. John Crabtree son of William Crabtree

We know from John Crabtree's marriage record that his father was William Crabtree, cordwainer of Mythomroyd. Much more work is needed to look at original church records, Nonconformist chapel registers and census returns.  However, by looking at the International Genealogical Index or I.G.I., which is known to be incomplete, there are some plausible fits that provide clues for the next level of investigation. 

The Yorkshire I.G.I. shows five baptism records for John Crabtree son of William in the period 1826 to 1833.  As the IGI is only about 50% complete on average for the UK, many more similar records may exist which have not yet been indexed.  Of those found, the most plausible, because of both date and location, has a double entry for both Mytholmroyd and Halifax.  This may indicate that he was born at Mytholmroyd but baptised at Halifax Parish Church.  The only other record in 1830 is in Hull.

Yorkshire I.G.I. Record.  John Crabtree son of William Crabtree and Jane Utley, baptised 18 August 1830 at Mytholmroyd Wesleyan Methodists.

It would be valuable to find William and Jane and their family in the 1841 census.  Barbara Gillard found a marriage record for a William Crabtree and Jane Utley.  She must have been at least five months pregnant at the time.  Sowerby, Heptonstall, Hebden Bridge and Wadsworth were all in the Parish of Halifax.

Marriage Register:  William Crabtree of this parish Sowerby, cordwainer, married Jane Utley (transcribed Attley) of this parish, Sowerby on 11 April 1830 at St. John’s, the parish church of Halifax, by Banns.

Note that this record shows William to be a cordwainer and this is the occupation given for John Crabtree’s father, William on his marriage certificate so this is additional circumstantial evidence that we have found the correct parents for John Crabtree.

It is important to note that in census returns the relationship of each person in the household to the head of household is shown.  If a man and his wife are shown together with several children said to be son or daughter of the head of household, it is not certain if the wife of the head of household is their mother.  She may be the head’s second wife if the first died.  To consolidate the work done so far with census returns and a few birth, marriage and death certificates it is desirable to obtain birth certificates for all the other children shown for Jonathan Priestley and John Crabtree.

3. The Townsend Family

From her birth certificate we know that Alice Crabtree, was the daughter of John Crabtree, a cordwainer, and Jane Crabtree, formerly Townsend.  Jane Townsend has not been fully identified but from the census information we can estimate that she was born about 1830/31.  It is unfortunate that this is before birth certificates began so we have to rely on parish and chapel registers.  There is more than one candidate for Jane.

3.1       Jane Townsend the daughter of John and Mary nee Sutcliffe in Hawksclough

Barbara Gillard has also informed me of an entry in the census of 1841 for Hawksclough, for which I do not have bibliographic details.  All the entries for this area were given the address of Hawksclough without further detail.  All the following were born in Yorkshire.  This information fits what we already know that Jane’s father was called John and she was born about 1830/31.  Another reason to favour this as the correct family for our Jane Townsend is that when Jane married John Crabtree she called her first daughter Mary, which would be after her mother.


Name Status Occupation Born in Yorkshire
John Townsend 35 Dyer Y
Mary Townsend 35   Y
Hannah Townsend 13   Y
Selina Townsend 12   Y
Jane Townsend 10   Y
Fanny Townsend 8   Y

         The same family appears again in the 1851 census with John now dead and Selina married and living with her husband at her mother’s house. From the more accurate information of 1851, Mary must have been born about 1803/4.

1851 Census of Hawks Clough Sch. No. 203, Folio 117

Name Status Occupation Born
Mary Townsend head, widow, 47 Dressmaker Erringden
Hannah Townsend dau, unm, 24 Heald knitter Wadsworth
Fanny Townsend dau, unm, 18 Works at Worsted Mill Wadsworth
William Rushworth son in law, m, 22 Wool sorter Sowerby
Selina Rushworth dau, m, 22   Wadsworth
John Townsend Rushworth grandson, 11 months   Sowerby

Barbara has also found a marriage record that corresponds to this couple:

Marriage Register:  John Townsend, of this parish, Erringden, dyer and Mary Sutcliffe of this parish, Wadsworth, on 28 July 1825 by Banns

The following MI also appears to belong to this family and puts Mary’s birth year in the period 1803/04 fitting with the 1851 census data.  John Townsend’s birth year must have been about 1804/5

Monumental Inscription at Wesleyan Chapel, Scout Road

Sacred to the Memory of John Townsend of Hawksclough who departed this life October 1st 1847 aged 42 years.
Also Hannah, daughter of the above and wife of Joseph Ogden who departed this life May 18th 1864 aged 37 years.
Also of Mary, relict of the above named John Townsend who departed this life Nov 2nd 1882 aged 78 years.

However, at this stage we do not have a baptism record for Jane Townsend as the daughter of John and Mary in the period of 1830/31. 

3.2       Jane Townsend as the daughter of John and Caroline Townsend

There is a plausible record for Jane as daughter of John and Caroline Townsend, baptised in 1834.  This seems less likely to be the correct record as the baptism date is later than would be expected.  However, it often happened that children were not baptised shortly after birth but up to a few years old.  The other reason to disfavour this Jane is that we have at the moment no evidence that she called one of her own daughters Caroline, after her mother, as frequently happened during this period.

Yorkshire I.G.I. Record.  Jane Townsend, daughter of John and Caroline Townsend, baptised on 1 April 1834 at Halifax Parish Church. 

A plausible marriage record for the parents has been identified in the I.G.I. by an Internet search.  No other marriage of a John Townsend to a Caroline has been indexed

Yorkshire I.G.I. Record.  John Townsend married Caroline Carter on 8 April 1833 at Whitwell on the Hill, St. John the Evangelist, Yorkshire.

Barbara Gillard has also informed me of the marriage of John Townsend, carpenter, of this parish, who married Caroline Jackson, of this parish at Halifax Parish Church on 5 September 1831.  More research is required to clarify the situation.


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