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 2013

Programme: 2013

Wednesday January 2nd

Workshop and test your brain evening for those who do not have a family history question.

Wednesday 6th February

Heirloom evening.

Wednesday March 6th

War Memorials as a Family History resource. A talk by Mike Coyle

Wednesday April 3rd

Branch AGM, to be followed by a short talk

Research and Advice Sessions at Haslingden Library every Monday 5.30 – 8.30 pm
Note: the doors to Haslingden Library close at 7.30 pm.

and at Rawtenstall Library every Tuesday 1.30 – 3.30 pm

We may be able to do simple look-ups for distant members. When contacting us with an enquiry, please include your membership number

The LFHHS Resource Centre.

The Society’s Resource and Research Centre at 2 Straits, Oswaldtwistle, BB5 3LU is open every Thursday from 1.00pm – 5.00pm and 1st Saturday of each month 1.00pm..

New Subscription Rates

Don't Forget! Your Subscription Renewal is Due
For the past 9 years there has been no increase in the membership fees. However, due to increase running costs of the Society the membership fees will increase from January as follows:
Ordinary (UK): £14.00
Family (UK): £15.00
Pensioners and Students (UK): £12.00
Overseas: £16.00
All current members will have received a renewal form in their November “Lancashire” journal.

Standing Order Payments
If you have been paying by Standing Order you will have received a form to amend your banking details in the August journal.

Coming Events

Saturday February 23rd 2013
'The Changing Fortunes of King Cotton' to be held by the Federation of Lancashire Local History Societies in the Masonic Hall, Saul St, Preston. For full details of the programme etc. and an application form, check the Federation's website http://www.lancashirehistory.org

The University of Central Lancashire Institute of Local and Family History, Preston PR1 2HE
Uclan holds regular conferences, study days and short courses throughout the year. These events are both informative and entertaining, bringing together a wide range of academic and non-academic speakers on a broad range of topics. Everybody is welcome to attend - although members of the Institute benefit from priority booking and reduced costs:
Saturday 27th April 2013
Discovering the North-West in the National Archives. Telephone: +44(0)1772 893053
Email: lfhistory@uclan.ac.uk

Additions to LancashireBMD

Hyndburn & Rossendale Registration District.
Marriages added for Rossendale 11th November 2012.
Whitworth, Hallfold United Reform Church (1934-1944)

Rossendale News, Notes and Queries

A Happy New Year to all our members. I hope your researches go well and that all your “brick walls” come tumbling down. This year marks our 40th anniversary. It was in 1973 that our Society was formed under the name “Rossendale Society for Genealogy and Heraldry”. Originally we met in Bury and Rawtenstall but over the years other branches were established in Rochdale, Pendle, and Preston etc. In the 1980s we had to accept the inevitable and the Rawtenstall Group became the Rossendale Branch of the Lancashire Family History and Heraldry Society.

Wendy Lord who runs the Bacuptimes website has asked me to let you know that she has a new book out called “Where Heroes Rest - the Great War Dead of Bacup Cemetery”.

“Where Heroes Rest” tells the stories behind the deaths of the 60 Great War Soldiers buried in Bacup Cemetery and of those Commemorated there. It has 214 pages containing detailed biographies and photographs of their Commonwealth graves. It can be purhased from Wendy herself by telephoning 01706 872002 or from Stacksteads Post Office, School Street News, Bacup Pet Shop, or from the Bacup Natural History Society. Its priced at £14.99.

A Gruesome Find

Have you ever thought it might be interesting to trace the history of your house?
How would you react if you found that several bodies had once been buried on your property? This is the information we were able to give in answer to an enquiry, at one of our research evenings at Haslingden library.

James Bilsborrow

In the second week of January 1899, Thomas Collinge, excavator and builder was excavating a plot of land which lay between Back High Street and Lower Lane in Haslingden. As he backed his carts between two large doors situated on the right of Lower Lane, he broke into “a cave like place”. The men were astonished as they investigated the “cave” to find human remains and skulls in coffins placed on shelves.

Older residents were aware that there was a private burial ground in the corner of this plot. This was evidenced by a slab tombstone bearing particulars of the deceased. The inscription read: Here resteth the body of James Bilsborrow who departed this life, January 28th 1823 aged 89 years. Also Mary wife of James Bilsborrow, who departed this life April 18th 1804 in the 66th year of her age. Also Mary their daughter, who departed this life March 30th 1807. Likewise of Nancy their daughter and wife of Hugh Kennedy, who departed this life July 29th in the 59th year of her age. Also Mary their infant daughter.

The tombstone has now disappeared. The remains were soon re interred, probably in the Congregation graveyard, on Lower Deardengate, where two of James Bilsborrow's daughters were already buried. Elizabeth Bilsborrow who died aged 62 in 1854 and her sister Ann who died in 1853 aged 56.

The discovery of this vault caused great excitement in Haslingden. Those who examined it said there was an open entrance and it seemed as if brick had been used for making the walls. It appeared to be 6 foot long and 3 foot 6 inches wide. It wasn't surprising that the ground had given way through age, or rough weather and incautious excavation. It appears that a great many people went to visit the spot. One man made a night investigation with a lantern and being asked if he was not afraid of ghosts, he replied “No man there are no ghosts in these days”. He did confess that there was a misty vapour about the vault and he could not see any coffins only some skulls, one being very large and there was something in the form of a skeleton there.

According to the History of Haslingden Congregational Chapel, James Bilsborrow came to live in Haslingden from Over Darwen. For some time he regularly travelled over the moors to attend Lower (Independent Chapel) in Darwen. Subsequently he and a man named Henry Haworth united with others, to build a place of worship in Higher Lane, Haslingden.

In 1774, Bilsborrow purchased land and buildings containing 7 customary acres, with other buildings at Lower Lane, the Slate, and Cockerill Fold for £890, the copyhold rent was 5s- 10d. The original building used as a place of worship has been identified as 10/12 High Street. The first baptism in the original register took place 8th February 1775. The first Pastor of the church to be in residence was the Rev. John Hill. He was only there for 12 months 1785 – 1786. In late 1786 a plot of land consisting of 580 sq. yards, situate at Goose Green, in Lower Deardengate, was obtained to build a new chapel. However James Bilsborrow was not happy at this change of venue, he chose not to attend the Deardengate chapel, which is why he was buried on his own property, at the rear of his house.

In 1899 the garden where the vault was built was not attached to the house where James Billsborrow had lived. It had been separated by the buildings on Back High Street. It is said to have been overgrown with grass and occupied by a hencoop. In later years other houses have been built on this site, which led to the enquiry from one of the residents and this fascinating piece of research.

Several years ago, Tony Foster was doing some work on the Bilsborrows of Lower Darwen, he kindly gave me a copy of James Bilsborrows will which was dated March 1821, two years before his death. He made various bequests, to relatives and mentions a great deal of property, dwelling houses, messuages, warehouses etc. Yet strangely his executors, John Townsend of the Holme (Townsend Fold) and his son Robert Bilsborrow stated that his personal estate came to under the value of three hundred pounds.

Baines Trade Directory for 1824 lists William Bilsborrow, Brewer of Church Street and John Bilsborrow of High Street, Gent.

A Rate Book for 1829 gives details of rents paid by William and John Bilsborrow. This can be researched in Haslingden Library.