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 May 2010

Programme: 2010

Wednesday 5th May

Life in the Middle Ages

Stephen Moorhouse

Wednesday 2nd June

A letter for Alice.

A talk by Mary Davison

Wednesday 7th July

Commemorating the Ancestors

An archaeologist’s view. Ben Edwards

Wednesday 4th August

Out Visit. To Helmshore Museum.

Coming Events

Saturday 22nd May

LFHHS One Day Conference in conjunction with the North West Group of Family History Societies and LFHHS AGM at St. Cuthbert’s Church Centre, Lytham Road, Preston, Lancashire. PR2 3AR

10.00am to 5.00 pm

There are 3 good speakers.

3.30 pm LFHHS Annual General Meeting.

Costs: Conference & Buffet Lunch £12.00. Without Lunch £6.00. Application Forms are in your "Lancashire" journal for February 2010

Saturday 26th June

the LFHHS will be represented at the York Family History Fair, which will take place at the Knavesmire Stand, York Racecourse. The opening times are 10.00 am to 4.30 pm

Sunday 4th July 2010

LFHHS Annual Dinner

Lancaster & Morecambe Branch are hosting the Annual Dinner this year. It will take place at The Midland Hotel, Morecambe. The hotel is situated on the front, facing the Lake District. It is a well known Art Deco hotel which has recently been refurbished.

Arrive for 12.30, Luncheon will served at 1.00

Visit the Lancaster and Morecambe website www.lancasterfamilyhistory.org.uk for a Booking Form and Menu.

There are also details of three interesting activities which you may care to undertake after lunch.

Full information will also we in your May copy of "Lancashire".

The LFHHS Resource Centre. Extension of Opening Hours. We are pleased to announce that the Society’s Resource and Research Centre at 2 Straits Oswaldtwistle, BB5 3LU is open every Thursday from 1pm – 5pm. and the Centre will now open on the 1st Saturday of each month 1pm – A catalogue of the resources available can be viewed or downloaded from www.lfhhs.org.uk/download/index.htm

Research and Advice Sessions:

at Rawtenstall library every Tuesday 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Rossendale Branch has a group of members who are on hand very Tuesday, to assist members of the public with their Family History enquiries. You will find us upstairs in the library adjacent, to the new Community History facilities. When contacting us with an enquiry, please include your membership number. Not a member? Then see the Benefits of Joining on our Home Page.

Civil Registration Certificates

Following the new price increases for Civil Registration certificates (£9.25 for certificates from the GRO at Southport when an exact reference is given and £9.00  from a local registar) it has been confirmed that if a specific reference can not be given, the GRO will check a given year and one on either side. If they can not find the record they will refund the fee in full They aim to despatch records by the 4th day for those quoting a reference or by the 15th working day otherwise.

Rossendale: News Notes and Queries

Following the Branch AGM we had a very interesting talk by Michael Hiluta who told us of the tragic death in Haslingden, of Margaret Dennison at the hands of her husband Thomas Dennison in 1907. Dennison was a Yorkshire man working on Grane reservoirs. On the night of Margaret’s death he was believed to have consumed more than 10 pints of beer at the Dyers Arms, near Hutchbank, Haslingden. His wife met him at the inn and on their way home they started to argue. Many local people observed him kicking and abusing his wife but did nothing to help her. It was after all just "a domestic" and according to the mores of the day, you didn’t interfere in the affairs of a husband and his wife. He left her dying by the wayside and went to bed, remembering nothing when he awoke the following day. He was convicted of manslaughter and served 13 year of penal servitude in the Isle of Wight. On his release he married again!.

Townsend Fold

I received an email from one of our local members regarding last month’s article on the Townsend family. She writes: Having lived in Townsendfold from the age of 2yrs I was very interested in the Townsends and I even remember the last lady who lived in the house with the big duck pond on Bury Road [Brookfield] opposite the Whitchaff which was then 'The Hare and Hounds,  I remember when the lads came out of the army after the war. She allowed them to clear out a building in Lower Clewes Lane, where there was stored lots of chattels allowing them to have whatever they liked, Antiques etc (that David Dickinson would probably have liked on his programme). She was known to us as Miss Hetty Townsend This was the beginning of Townsendfold Working Men's Club, with billiards etc for the men. This was an extremely kind thing to do, I think. I also remember the house where some of the family lived in the Holme. The article brought back memories Winifred Belcher member #4900

Miss "Hetty" was in fact "Ettie" Ethel Blanche Townsend, of Brookfield who died July 11th 1958. She is buried in the family vault at Haslingden.

A Whitehead Family Dilemma

David Whitehead, a new member # 9620, lives in Herefordshire. He finds it difficult to do research locally, so he asked me to help sort out a strange conflict of evidence, regarding his ancestor William Whitehead, who died at Meadow Top Farm in Newchurch, in 1852. He was buried in the graveyard of Newchurch Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (previously known as Mill End 1761 – 1806).His gravestone states that he died on the 30th November 1852 in his 74th year. The stone also names his wife Betty who died the following month aged 70, Also buried there are his son John, his daughter in law Catherine and various grandchildren. So William was born c1879, or was he? The 1851 census for Meadow Top Farm lists him as aged 77, born Higher Booths. His wife Betty was aged 66 This would make him born 1774 but the 1841 census for the same farm we find an entry for William Whitehead age 58 farmer and Betty aged 55. This would make him born 1783 He had a daughter Betty shown in 1841 as 23. She married Henry Nuttall, a grocer of Newchurch.

Meadowhead Farm

Baptisms for Higher Booths were recorded at St. Mary’s and All Saints Church, Goodshaw. There was a William Whitehead baptised there 19th September 1779. He was son of John Whitehead and Peggy of Meadowhead. The Whiteheads of Meadowhead have been well documented. John Whitehead married Margaret/Peggy Nuttall, 6th June 1764. They had a large family baptised at St. Mary’s & All Saints, William 1764?- 1772; John, 1767; James, 1770; Ann (b & d 1773); George, 1774; Mary, 1777; William,1779 and Peggy. There were 6 known children from John’s first marriage still alive when he died in May 1802. The date of his first wife’s death is not known. John Whitehead had remarried 28th March 1785 to Ann Blakey, at Haslingden St. James. She was a woman 28 years younger than himself. John and Ann’s family were also baptised at Goodshaw. This second family consisted of Ann, 1786; Thomas 1787; Peter 1788 -?; David, 1790; Peter, 1792; Betty, 1795; Alice 1789; Joseph, 1790 -1801; Benjamin 1800. John was buried in Haslingden graveyard. There is no gravestone. He left his widow an annuity of £15 per annum until Benjamin reached the age of 12 years. His sons were to receive £3 each at that date and his daughters £2 each.


In the early days of her marriage Ann Whitehead had been influenced by the teachings of John Wesley. The Newchurch Methodist baptismal records show that she took all her family along to Mill End and had them all rebaptised.

Thomas Whitehead and Brothers

Ann had a difficult time providing for her family.. This struggle is detailed in "The Autobiography of David Whitehead of Rawtenstall (1790 – 1865) Cotton Spinner and Merchant." Published by Helmshore Local History Society. 2001. From simple beginnings the Whitehead Brothers came to dominate the town of Rawtenstall. By the mid 19th century, they had three flourishing factories, they had built a school, supplied by their own gas plant, they had built rows of houses for their workers and three large homes for themselves . They instigated the building of Longholme Methodist Church, (where we hold our meetings) and sponsored the building of the United Methodist Chapel on Haslingden Road. In the autobiography David, gives details of his family. It is from this book that we have the names of all his siblings. He mentions his (half) brother John, as being a pious Methodist and his (half) brother James who went to sea and fought with Nelson. He never returned. David gives no information on George (who I think was also buried at Newchurch Methodist Chapel) or on his half brother William.

There is strong circumstantial evidence that this is the right William Whitehead - The date 1779, from his gravestone. Higher Booths from the 1851 census. Methodism in general and the connection with Newchurch Methodist Chapel. So, does anyone have any information which will either rule William (died 1852) in or out, of the Meadowhead family. If you have any ideas at all please email davidwhitehead1@btopenworld.com

Finally: I wonder what Rawtenstall would have been like if John Whitehead had never had his second family? Rita Hirst