A member of The Federation of Family History Societies
St James' Church, Haslingden
St John's Church, Bacup
St Mary's, Church Rawtenstall


Rossendale Branch Newsletter January 2002


Membership has stayed steady this year. We still have around 65 members who have nominated Rossendale as their branch of choice.


John Dalton - Our Branch Chairman will tell us about his involvement with the Lancashire Parish Register Society the background and history of this organisation.


7th February Research Workshop.

6th March A Postal History.

New Premises for Hyndburn Branch

As from 8th January 2002 the Hynburn branch will meet at the Craft Room, Oswaldtwistle

Town Hall, Union Road, Oswaldtwistle. Subsequent meeting will be as previously on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.15 p.m. for 7.30pm start.

Haslingden Roots

The next meeting of Haslingden Roots will be on on Monday January 7th 7.30 - 9.00 pm at St. James Church,

Haslingden. Future meetings will be held on 4th February 4th March and April 8th.

Then every Monday until October, excluding Bank Holidays.

Coming Events ....

Saturday 9th February N.W. Regional Seminar

The Studio Room, Romiley Forum, Comptall Road, Romiley, Stockport SK6 4EA

This is an information seminar which will be of particular benefit to committee members or those concidering joining the committee of Family History Organisations. It is open to any family historian who wishes to know more about the function of the Federation of FHS.

A Booking Form is available.

Rossendale Ancestry:

BRIDGE. Pamela Wateson, 10 Masefield Rd., Stratford -on-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 7J seeks information on Abel Bridge. In 1851 and 1861 he was a farmer at Edge Cote in Lower Booths. In 1851 he was given as born "Rossendale", in 1861 no place was given for the entry but his son George living nearby was given as born at Chapel Hill.

Abel was 51 in 1851. His wife was Alice aged 47. Their children were George (23), Maria (20), Alice (15), John (18) and James (9).

The Reform Act 1832 on CD

At the last executive meeting on the society it was decided to provide each branch with a copy of CD disks of "The 1832 Reform Act".

The CDs contain full descriptive texts and tables of each town and county. They also contain 400 maps and plans. (A list of towns covered is available with the CD) In addition there are maps of all the English and Welsh counties.

If you would like to consult this CD, please make arrangements with Wilf Day.

Population Figures 1851

Forest of Rossendale from the 1851 Census

Cowpe/Lench/New Hall Hey/Hall Carr 2154
Dunnockshaw 86
Henheads 160
Higher Booths 3827
Lower Booths 3778
Musbury 1228
Newchurch (Deadwen Clough, Bacup and Wolfenden) 4744
Part of Spotland (Brandwood, Higher and Lower) estimated. 4507

A letter published by the Sheffield Daily Telegraph. November 1878

"The Forest of Rossendale". There is a painful absence of "forest" or anything approaching thereto. The eye roves over bleak barren moors, or along bare ugly hills, searching in vain for vestiges of the alleged "forest".

Take a birds eye view from the highest eminence and what do you see most of all is - STONE. It crops up everywhere. Rossendale is still in the stone age, nor is there any expectation that it will ever emerge therefrom. Mountainous dirt heaps - yawning quarries - lines of flag laden trucks.

It is a dreary work-a-day place, in which a depressed, unintelligent population makes shift to exist in a variety of disagreeable ways. The people of the "forestQ are gaunt, tall, or lumpy and squat, with no expression on their faces as if their minds were constantly dwelling on the idea of suicide, or as if they had made a wager with someone that they would never look pleasant in their lives, and were determined to win.

Yet when the "forester" opens his mouth (or rather when he is of a humour to speak, for his mouth is ever open) he utters not wise and witty words, but instead rolls out with oaths and curses, which his wonderful dialect happily half conceals. This is one of the reasons why the "forest" offers a fine field for missionary labour. As a mission field, Rossendale has attractions which in Africa do not exist. The missionary here may go about, almost with certainty that he will not be eaten. In the very worst times when half the population was being slowly starved on parish allowance, a missionary would only be "summat to eat". This fact secures him immunity. Were he "summat to sup" the matter would be different.

The "factory hands" are an entirely different class. They are as insignificant physically as the "brownbacks" (quarrymen) are prodigious. Cadaverous faces, sunken eyes, leaden looks and general ricketness - such and their clogs are the distinguishing peculiarities of the mill workers. They are strangely ignorant.

They have not enough character to make them interesting as a study, but are not just a dull stolid, depressed class, about whom no one would care to concern himself.

Of the outside world they know little and care less - being wholly wrapped up in themselves. Their life reflected by their newspaper is one of beer-drinking and tea-drinking, both in extremes. The "brownback" is a picturesque, if not romantic being, He swears with perhaps more real grace, vigour and effectiveness than any other person whatever. Everything about him his massive but his understanding. His dress is primitive, consisting of a "slop" (or overall) a red handkerchief and a hairy cap. If he wants to be particular he adds trousers, but these when first introduced were considered luxuries, and avoided by the steady conservative ones. The "brownback" is engaged in the delphs or quarries, and partakes of the roughness of the material among which he works. When not blasting on his employers behalf, he is "blasting" on his own private account. He might be put forward to out-swear, out-drink and out-eat any competition. He is indifferent to his lodgings and will sleep anywhere. A saint existed in the old time in Cyprus who allowed the dirt to accumulate on his body till he was encased in a suit of armour. The "brownback" imitates the saint largely not from love of sanctity but love of ease.

The hours away from the delph he considers time for drinking beer, or if he has no money, to stand on street corners, envying those who have.

He fights policemen and maltreats his wife, if he owns a slave of that description.

There are some churches and clergymen and ministers, hence it is evident that the place is regarded as civilised and Christian.

The Rossendale Valley might well be called the "Valley of Tears" in respect to the spitting rain which continues 23 out of 24 hours, the odd hour being devoted to comical attempts of the sun "to get up a shine". The clouds from all quarters make a point of dissolving immediately over the unfortunate district. As a consequence the earth is sodden and soaked. The drenched natives are for ever looking as if they had by accident tumbled into a canal and just scrambled out.

Nature has hardly acted fair by the Rossendalers, since she gave them such a climate. She ought to have made them waterproof.

Reprinted by the Bacup Times 9 November 1878.

I wonder what provoked this vitriolic letter and why it was sent to a Yorkshire newspaper. Perhaps the writer was a failed missionary to this area. I found it reprinted in a book entitled "James HAWORTH & Company: a family in print" by John S. Haworth. First published by the Company in London and Leicester 1989.

The book portrays the life and times of James Haworth born 1870 who escaped from Bacup, to found a printing business at two factories, Southgate and Leicester.

The family can be traced back to George Haworth 1802 - 1868) who married Betty Hamer. James the printer's father lived at Slip Inn Farm near Bacup. The book says he died in January 1880 but he appears on the 1881 census aged 51.