Red rose


I have undertaken very little research in Darwen but having received an enquiry I have gathered together the following information on a family that used both St. Mary's and St. Paul's at Blackburn in the early 19th century.

Richard and Alice Thornber crop up in a number of records but with various spelling of the surname. However, the fact that Richard is stated to be a wheelwright and that the couple lived for a long period in Ostwaldtwistle suggest that all the following records relate to the same couple. The couple were in Over Darwen in 1837.

Marriage Record

Richard Thornborough, wheelwright, a bachelor, (who signed his name as Thornber) married Alice Yates, spinster at St. Mary's, Blackburn on 8 February 1813.

Baptism Records at Blackburn

William son of Richard and Alice Thornborough, wheelwright, Oswaldtwistle, 13 April 1814. St Mary's
Hannah dau. of Richard and Allice Thornber of Oswaldtwistle, wheelwright, 22 August 1815. St. Mary's
Alice, dau. of Richard and Alice Thornber of Oswaldtwistle, born 8 November 1817, baptised 25 March 1818. St. Peter's
Mary dau. of Richard and Alice Thornbar of Oswaldtwistle, born 9 November 1819, baptised 16 February 1820. St. Peter's
Isabella, dau of Richard and Alice Thornborough of Oswaldtwistle, born 27 December 182? (unreadable), baptised 10 April 1822 or 1823. St. Peter's
Rebecca, dau. of Richard and Alys Thornborough of Oswaldtwistle, born 13 October 1823, baptised 2 February 1824. St. Peter's
George son of Richd. and Alice Thornbury, wheelwright of Oswaldtwistle, born 8 September 1826, baptised 27 September 1826. St. Peter's
Sophia, son of Richard and Alice Thornber, born 2 February 1829, baptised 22 June 1829. St. Peter's. (see note below for the family of Richard and Alice)
Jacob, son of Richard and Alice Thornborough, wheelwright, of Over Darwen, born 19 August, 1837, baptised 29 September 1837. St. Peter's.

There is also a record for Ellen daughter of Richard and Alice Thornbury of Blackburn, baptised at Clayton Street Independent in Blackburn on 18 April 1832.

The names of Richard and Alice’s children may be a clue to which group they belong to.  For example, Hannah and George may be significant. I have a record for a baptism as follows:

Richard s. George and Hannah Thornburg, baptised 3 April 1791 at Chapel Street. Blackburn

This would would be consistent with the age needed for Richard to marry in 1813 but is not consistent with the ages given in the census returns quoted below which variously require 1782 to 1788/9. Moreover, a family usually called the eldest son after the grandfather so having William as the eldest son and George as the second son rings alarm bells. More evidence is needed, perhaps for a Richard son of William and either Hannah or Alice. To add to the story we have a Richard Thornber who married Ann Ramsbottom at Church Kirk on 7 December 1812.  He calls his eldest son George making him a possible candidate for the son of George and Hanna.    We don’t have a good age for him as he is only in the 1841 census when ages of adults were rounded down to the nearest five so the best estimate we have is 1782/6 which is also not a very good fit for Richard son of George and Hannah in 1791.

In the 1851 Census at Astley Street, Over Darwen, Richard was 65, which would make his birth 1785/6 according to whether he was just 65 or nearly 66. On the other hand, in 1861 he was said to be 72, making his birth year 1788/9

I have received the following information from Tony Foster on Monumental Inscriptions at Holy Trinity Darwen, now St. Peter's.  The graveyard has now been cleared but Tony was able to see a microfilmed copy of MIs made before the stones were removed.

The dates following are believed to be dates of death:

William Thornber 10 Jan 1866 aged 52  (He was therefore born about 1814 and this would fit with William son of Richard & Alice of Oswaldtwistle)
wife Betty died 4 Feb 1889 aged 76
Daniel their infant son, (no date given)

Richard & Alice Thornber

I have been contacted by Robert Kay with the information that Sophia Thornber, the daughter of Richard and Alice Thornber mentioned above, married on 20 May 1850 to John Entwistle, who was born in 1829. He has kindly provided me with details of the family of Richard and Alice from the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census records. In 1841 the family had been entered under the name of Thrombro.

1841 Census at Astley Street, Blackburn, Over Darwen. Ages were usually rounded down to the nearest five in this census, hence the children with the same age.

Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 503; Book: 9; Civil Parish: Blackburn; County: Lancashire; Enumeration District: 6; Folio: 42; Page: 27; Line: 22; GSU roll: 306892.


Richard Thrombro 50 Wheelwright Born Lancashire
Alice 45   ditto
Alice 20 Cotton worker ditto
Elizabeth 20 Cotton worker ditto
Rebecca 15 Cotton worker ditto
George 15 Blacksmith ditto
Sophia 14 Cotton worker ditto
Betty 12 Cotton worker ditto
Nathan 10   ditto
Enoch 10   ditto
Jacob 6   ditto


1851 Census at 21 Astley Street, Over Darwen, Blackburn. I have followed this family through to 1851 where they appear as Shomber on Ancestry.co.uk index.

Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 2261; Folio: 164; Page: 12; GSU roll: 87285-87286.


Richard Thornber 65 Wheelwright Born Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Alice 60   ditto
Rebecca 26 Power loom weaver ditto
Betty 21 Power loom weaver ditto
Nathan 17 Power loom weaver ditto
Enoch 15 Blacksmith, apprentice ditto
Jacob 13 Power loom weaver ditto

The 1851 census is the first to give the town of birth and links this family to Oswaldtwistle.

1861 Census at 240 Bolton Road, Over Darwen, Blackburn. This time we have Jacob born in Over Darwen.

Source Citation: Class: RG 9; Piece: 3108; Folio: 95; Page: 16; GSU roll: 543080.

Richard Thornber head, 72 Wheelwright Born Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Alice Thornber wife, 70   ditto
Betty Thornber dau, unm, 30 Cotton winder ditto
Enoch son, unm, 26 Blacksmith ditto
Jacob son, unm, 24 Stone mason Over Darwen.

I did a separate search for Nathan for both 1861 but without result. A Nathan Thornber died in the 3rd Quarter of 1860 in the Blackburn district with General Registration reference 8e 195.

However, in 1871 there is an entry for Jacob Thurnbrah, who was born in Over Darwen. The age is not a perfect match but the record is probably the correct one for this family.

1871 Census at Lower Darwen, illegible Street

Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 4190; Folio: 84; Page: 24; GSU roll: 846944.

Jacob Thurnbrah head, 33 Stone Mason Born Over Darwen
Alice Thurnbrah wife, 30 Cotton weaver ditto
Jane Thurnbrah dau, 9 scholar ditto
Robert Jackson Thornber(?) son, 8 scholar ditto
Isabella Thornber dau, 6 scholar ditto
Richard Thornber son, 3 ditto Lower Darwen
William Thornber son, 16 months   Lower Darwen
John Thornber son, 1 week   Lower Darwen.

1881 Census in Over Darwen

Source Citation: FHL Film 1342008 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 4209 Folio 32 Page 13

The Census of 1881 shows only a few Thornber households in Darwen and very few additional individuals living in Lancashire who were born in Darwen. Without checking the burials it is not possible to know if any of the children of Richard and Alice lived to maturity but if the son Jacob had lived to 1881 he would have been aged 43 at the time of the census and a Jacob of that age appears, born in Over Darwen.


Jacob Thornber head, 43 stone mason Over Darwen
Alice Thornber wife, 40 cotton weaver Lancashire
Jane Thornber dau, U, 19 cotton weaver Over Darwen
Isabella Thornber dau, U, 18 cotton weaver Over Darwen
Richard Thornber son, U, 14 cotton weaver Over Darwen
William Thornber son, 11 cotton weaver Over Darwen
Enoch Thornber son, 9 scholar Over Darwen
Daisy Thornber dau, 2 - Over Darwen
Robert Jackson stepson, U, 19 cotton weaver Over Darwen

Note that Robert Jackson now appears as a stepson rather than a son so it must be that Jacob married Alice when she was a widow with a son called Robert.

There is a GRO index reference to an Enoch born in the June Quarter of 1872 with Reference: Blackburn 8e. 444. If Enoch was aged 9 in 1881, he would have been 22, 13 years later in 1894 and so is very probably the Enoch Thornber, aged 22 the son of Jacob Thornber who married Louisa Oakes, aged 20 the daughter of Joseph Oakes on 14 July 1894 at Over Darwen, St. John's. (The GRO index reference for this marriage, in the September Quarter of 1894, has reference Blackburn 8e 736.)

Another 1881 census record deals with Enoch Thornber, Jacob's elder brother. This following census record was for 359 Bolton Road, Over Darwen on FHL Film 1342007 PRO Ref RG11 Piece 4203 Folio 85 Page 14


Enoch Thornber M, 45 engineer and butcher head Darwen
Eleanor Thornber M, 36 house and shop duties wife Darwen
Isabella Thornber U, 16 cotton winder daughter Darwen
Richard Thornber U, 15 mechanic son Darwen
Henry Thornber 11 scholar son Darwen
Maud Thornber 8 scholar daughter Darwen
Florence Thornber 4 scholar daughter Darwen
William 6 months   son Darwen


A great deal of work is needed with birth, marriage and burial certificates in order to consolidate these initial observations.

Additional Records

The following marriage records may relate to the children mentioned above given that the name of the father is Richard and the ages of the people involved are appropriate for marriage. These records were initially identified from the South Blackburn Marriage Index from 1837 to 1851, compiled by Melvyn Hirst, available at LCRO, Preston but the full details have since been abstracted from the original record.

Alice Thornber, spinster, daughter of Richard Thornber, married John Marsden, labourer, widower, son of Thomas Marsden on 1 January 1847 at Blackburn St. Mary.

Sophia Thornber, spinster, daughter of Richard Thornber, married John Entwistle, spinner, bachelor, son of Thomas Entwistle on 20 May 1850 at Blackburn St. Mary.

William Thornber, stone mason, son of Richard Thornber, married Betty Hutchinson, spinster, dau. of William Hutchinson, by licence on 12 September 1850.

Evidence for a Richard and Elizabeth Thornber

I have received information from David McIntosh of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on an Elizabeth Thornber [c. 1811-1884] who married Holden Haworth [c.1809-1885]. Elizabeth was born in Oswaldtwistle and she and Holden were married at St. James, Church Kirk, Lancashire in 1833. They finally lived in Darwen, Lancashire. There is a record of her baptism at Blackburn.

Elizabeth Thornber d. Richard & Elizabeth of Over Darwin (sic) born 6 July and bapt. 8 Sept 1811 at St. Mary’s Blackburn.

This raised the question as to whether this was the same Richard who married Alice Thornber. Did Elizabeth die and Richard remarry? There are no other references to children of Richard and Elizabeth and this couple have not been found in the 1841 census.

What is missing at this stage is the marriage of Richard Thornber to Elizabeth/Betty which may be around 1809/10.  In addition a burial of Elizabeth between 1811 and 1813 might indicate that the same Richard married twice.

I have only the briefest evidence so far from Family Search of the marriage of Elizabeth Thornber and Holden Haworth. Elizabeth Thornber to Holden Haworth. It took place on 1 January 1833 at Church in Lancashire. In 1841 there was a Holden aged 30 with Betty (Elizabeth) aged 30, Thomas aged 10, Benjamin aged 6 and James aged 4.  Holden was a cotton carder and all of them were born in Lancashire.  That was the limit of the information given at that census.  They were living at Lower Booths in the registration district of Haslingden.

In 1851 he is down as Houlding Haworth, aged 41; with Betty 40; Thos. 19, a piecer; Benjamin 16, a shoe maker; James 14, a piecer; William 8, a piecer; Houlding 6; Elizabeth 3 and Mary Ellen 1.  They were then at Oswaldtwistle in the Registration District of Blackburn.  The father was described as a farmer born in Haslingden whereas Betty and all the children were said to be born in Oswaldtwistle.   Note that three of the children including the eight year old William are piecers.  This is a job in a cotton weaving mill. Note that small time farmers at this period would be tenants on the estates of landed gentry.

Given that the couple married in 1833 and Thomas is described as 10 in 1841 and 19 in 1851, he may have been born before the marriage and I guessed that his baptism might be down as Thos. Thornber s. Elizabeth or Betty Thornber.

This seems to be shown in a baptism record in which Thomas Thornborough was baptised at Church in Lancashire on 4 May 1831, mother, Elizabeth Thornborough.   

Thomas son of Elizabeth Thornborough, single woman of Cocker Brook, 4 May 1831 at Church Kirk.



The will of a William Thornber of Lower Darwen in Lancashire, stone mason and builder, died 10 January 1866 at Lower Darwen was proved at Lancaster by the oaths of George Thornber of Lower Darwen, stone mason and William Thornber of Lower Darwen, stone mason, the executors. The occupation of stone mason could fit the William Thornber described above in the marriage record and it could be his brother George who was one of the executors. It would be worth obtaining a copy of the death certificate to establish the age of this William so that his identity can be checked.




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