Bridging the Gap pt 4: Richard of Meadow Head

Of the two Bridge families enumerated at Meadowhead in 1841, Richard also had nonconformist tendencies although he appears to have been something of a spiritual gypsy.

He was born in October 1802 (to John and Ellin Bridge of Chapel) and baptised over a year later in November 1803 at St Mary and All Saints C of E at Goodshaw. Goodshaw is about 2 miles over the moor (or 3 along the hillside) from Chapel Hill. The Goodshaw parish registers don't state whether he was 'of this chapelry' or not. A delayed baptism may have indicated a degree of ambivalence towards baptism on the part of his parents, certainly there is no hint in the register of the family having 'saved up' children for a joint baptism in Nov 1803 although I haven't yet searched the entire register - another job to do.

He married Susan Lord in the parish church at Haslingden (St James). They are described of being 'of this chapelry' although Richard was 'of Meadowhead' and Susan of 'Heightside, Higher Booths'. Heightside is along the hillside between Chapel Hill and Goodshaw and it is surprising that they were in the Haslingden Chapelry when both Goodshaw and Newchurch St Nicholas are nearer.

At some stage they must have embraced nonconformity as five of their seven children were registered at Sion Baptist Church, Cloughfold, on the register surrendered by the pastor there at the commencement of civil registration in 1837. One of these children died age 9 and was buried in the Friends' burial ground in Chapel Hill. Richard himself was buried there in 1844 although there is no evidence of their ever having been Friends and he is noted to have been a non-member. It is unclear why he chose to be buried there rather than in the graveyard at Sion. Perhaps it being literally feet from his home may have been a factor.

This doesn't get me much further in Bridging the Gap to C17 but does suggest that there may have been a relationship between George at Chapel Hill and Richard at Meadowhead, as they both decided to dedicate their children in the Baptist chapel. Alternatively they may have just both been neighbours who influenced each other. Either way, Richard and an interesting spiritual journey.

Bridging the Gap pt 3: Bridges in Chapel Hill

The 1841 census enumerates Abel/John Bridge as resident with his family in Chapel Hill. We know from the nonconformist returns at the start of civil registration (R4 998) that he was there at least between 1824 and 1837. He may well have been there in 1821 when his eldest daughter was born and remained there until the 1841 census.

The 1841 census also enumerates 14 other families containing a Bridge member within 2 miles of Chapel Hill, with another shedload in the few miles just beyond. Most striking however are the two Bridge families enumerated at Meadow Head Farm, the next one along the hill to Chapel Hill.

HO 107/506/13/22/16
Meadow Head
Lower Booths
Richard
Bridge

35

1806

Yes

Woollen Weaver
Susan
Bridge

35

1806

Yes


James

Bridge

14

1827

Yes

Woollen Weaver
Anne
Bridge

12

1829

Yes


Abel

Bridge

7

1834

Yes


Susan

Bridge

3

1838

Yes


Jane

Hamer

2

1839

Yes







(born in county?)


HO 107/506/13/23/18
Meadow Head
Lower Booths
John
Bridge

35

1806

Yes

Woollen Weaver
Margaret
Bridge

35

1806

Yes


George

Bridge

5

1836

Yes


James

Bridge

2

1839

Yes


Abel

Bridge
1 M

1841


Yes


John

Taylor

15

1826


Woollen Weaver

Margaret
Taylor

13

1828


Woollen Spinner

Richard
Taylor

11

1830


Woollen Piecer


The rounding in the 1841 census gives approximate dates of birth but Abel/John is rounded to1796 and both John and Richard are rounded to 1806 so there could be a 15 year difference here.

The 1851 census gives John Bridge's dob as 1803 and also confirms that the Taylor children were his step children. It also gives another son, Siddall Bridge, b 1849. I wonder if there were any between Abel and Siddall who didn't survive?
John was still at Meadowhead. [HO 107/2249/246/133/2].

Richard Bridge had died before 1851 and Susan was living in Musbury approx 3 miles away, close to Haslingden where she was born. [HO107/2249/339/429/21] Helpfully her son James was living in the same street and gave his place of birth as Meadowhead [HO107/2249/339/429/20].

So we have three Bridge families in adjacent farms:
John/Abel b ~ 1796
John b 1803
Richard b ~ 1806

So how were they related?









Bridging the Gap pt 2: Abel Bridge

The 1841 and 1851 census showed George to be son of John (1841 census) or Abel (1851 census), though these were clearly the same family.

It seems that my suspicions that George was from a nonconformist family were confirmed. When civil registration was introduced in 1837 nonconformist churches and chapels were 'invited' to submit their records to the government. Sion did so and whilst sadly they only cover the births from 1811-1837 (that heartsinking moment when reading the answer to the question 'do you have any further records' - 'No'!) that does include the timespan of John/Abel's children.

The first five children (John, Mary, Elizabeth, Ann and George, b 1824) don't appear on the register despite having been born between ~1816 and 1824 but the next six (Alice, Jane, Abel, Sarah, Ellen and Robert) are listed with birthdates between 1827 and 1837. The last child, James, was born after civil registration and so would not be on the submitted document for obvious reasons!

One obvious possibility is that the Bridges were not Baptists at the time of George's birth in 1824 but had become so by 1827 and the birth of Alice. If that is true then wherever the earlier children were baptised, if anywhere, does not appear to have been St Nicholas the local parish church in Newchurch.


Bridging the Gap pt 1: George Bridge

Following the principle of starting with what we know and working backwards:

George Bridge is buried in Sion graveyard and his MI reads:

35.
E face
RESURGAM/GEORGE BRIDGE/FOR MANY YEARS DEACON OF THIS CHURCH/BORN CHAPEL HILL MARCH 21ST 1824/DIED CLOUGHFOLD JUNE 22ND 1886.

W face
ALSO MARY HIS WIFE/ WHO DIED JUNE 23RD 1866 AGED 41/ALSO ELIZABETH HIS SECOND WIFE/ WHO DIED FEB 21ST 1890 AGED 58.

'For many years deacon of this church' is not encouraging as it suggests a commitment to non-conformity which might be familial. Mmm, we will see.

This conveniently gives him a date and place of birth (which triggered the interest in the first place!) so gives us something to look for on the census and sure enough, there he is:

1841:
HO/107/509/6/8/8
Chaple Hill
Newchurch
John
Bridge

45

1796

Yes

Woolen Weaver




Betty

Bridge

45

1796

Yes





John

Bridge

20

1821

Yes

Stone Mason




Mary

Bridge

20

1821

Yes

Woolen Weaver




Elizabeth

Bridge

20

1821

Yes

Woolen Weaver
HO/107/509/6/9/9


Ann

Bridge

14

1827

Yes

Woolen Weaver




George

Bridge

15

1826

Yes

Woolen Weaver




Alice

Bridge

15

1826

Yes

Woolen Weaver




Jane

Bridge

13

1828

Yes

woolen Piecer




Abel

Bridge

11

1830

Yes

woolen Piecer




Sarah

Bridge

9

1832

Yes





Nelly

Bridge

7

1834

Yes





Robert

Bridge

5

1836

Yes





James

Bridge

3

1838

Yes



Interesting as Chapel Hill is a series of farms with few cottages but his father is given as a Woollen weaver not a farmer. Its a pity the address is not specified more fully but hey.

Checking in 1851 we get:

HO107/2249/180/10
3 Daisy Hill
Lower Booths
Abel
Bridge

57

1794

Head

Lower Booth, Lancashire
Hand Loom Weaver Woollen




Betty

Bridge

56

1795

Wife

Lower Booth, Lancashire




Mary

Bridge

30

1821

Daughter

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Power Loom Weaver Cotton




Ann

Bridge

28

1823

Daughter

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Dress Maker




George

Bridge

27

1824

Son

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Warehouse Man




Jane

Bridge

22

1829

Daughter

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Power Loom Weaver




Abel

Bridge

19

1832

Son

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Power Loom Weaver




Sarah

Bridge

18

1833

Daughter

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Throstle Spinner Cotton




Ellen

Bridge

16

1835

Daughter

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Doffer Cotton




Robert

Bridge

14

1837

Son

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Doffer Cotton




James

Bridge

12

1839

Son

Higherbooth, Lancashire
Giver In Scholar


Well the ages and children fit so it is obviously the same family but 'John' in 1841 is 'Abel' in 1851. There are a number of 'Abel Bridge' in the area at the time and it won't be easy if they used names interchangeably.

The other interesting thing here is that the place of birth for George and siblings is given as 'Higherbooth, Lancashire' These refer to the various townships of Rossendale which were still in use at this time. However Chapel Hill isn't in Higher Booth but Lower Booth, and it is in an enclave of Lower Booth entirely contained within Deadwenclough. It is surprising if John/Abel didn't know that.

Oh well. It wouldn't be fun if it was straightforwards.

2018 ambitions

It's the time of year again when we review achievements over the last year and set ones for the one ahead. So here goes:

The main success of 2017 was getting the website up and running again. I have no idea what happened there but it seems to be publishing ok now. It was surprising how much not being able to update this site impacted on my motivation for one place studies.

The second was my speaking as the Society of One Place Studies conference on the role of faith groups in general, and Rev JB Turner of Sion in particular, in conscientious objection in WW1. It was fascinating to get to grips with the reports of the tribunals, sermons and sundry prayer meetings in the Rossendale Free Press and pick out some of the themes which were involved.

An unanticipated highlight was having my article on John Myerscough, Victorian policeman, published in the FACHRS Newsletter. As well as detailing John's life and career in Rawtenstall, this looked at the extent to which local policemen were from outside the local area. The answer? Pretty much totally, in 1881 at any rate.

An unfulfilled objective was to complete Phase 1 of the FACHRS study into nonconformity in my place. This was in part due to family events and in part due to the need to complete the talk to the SOPS conference. I still intend to complete the work as the data is interesting, but it is probably too late for the FACHRS project.

Aims for 2018?

Now I have the documents from the National Archives about the Chancery case between Law and Royds which settled the dispute over Mary Ann Ashworth's will, one aim is to transcribe and upload these and work out what bits of local land were finally settled on each of her two nieces, Mary Alice and Elizabeth Ann.

Secondly I intend to try and 'Bridge the Gap' between the Bridge families known to be in the Chapel Hill area in the C17 and those in the same area in C19. Was it the same family in these farms for 200 years? This will involve my dipping my toe into some of the techniques used by one-name or surname researchers and this will help me work out whether a surname study is for me. If so, it will probably be my maternal grandmother's name of Draine as the other candidates (Watkins, Taylor and Hargreaves) are un-doable.

Thirdly I want to continue looking at the role of nonconformity in WW1 conscientious objection locally, possibly writing this up for the local history press somewhere.

I have decided to defer the Oxford Local History course until that parallel universe with plenty of time, probably the one which will hopefully start after I retire.

Here's to a happy and productive New Year!