Family Gathering 6 April 2010

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St Mary's Newchurch in Pendle

The rendezvous this year was the village of Newchurch in Pendle located in the Forest of Pendle to the north of Burnley. This was chosen because there were many Titterington baptisms here in the 18th century and its significance in the story that was to be followed.
The Trail this year focussed on the journey made, over five generations of Titteringtons and Titherington from the marriage of John Titterington and Isabel Garner at Waddington in December 1683 to the establishment of three of the biggest Titterington and Titherington family groups. One of these families became very wealthy in the period of the mechanisation of the textile industry in West Yorkshire.
We had seen the marriage entry for John and Isabel Garner in the original parish records of Waddington when we visited there in 2006.

The second picture shows the group inside St Mary's Church. One of the Churchwardens, Chris Widdas, had come along to welcome us to the Parish and to tell us something about the Church. The ladies of the Church provided coffee and biscuits which made for a fine welcome.

The picture shows; front row from left: Diane McKay, Graham Titterington, Mary Titterington and Brian Titterington - all from the Leeds/Varley family.
Second row: Dorothy and Ian Titterington (Fylde Families), Kathy Newitt (family group not yet identified), Susan and John Titterington (Fylde families).
Third row: Helen Titherington, Joyce Harrison nee Titherington,(Benjamin of Colne family), Alan Cookson (Archibald the Blacksmith) and John Titherington (Benjamin of Colne).
Fourth Row: Colin Titherington, Julie Southworth (Benjamin of Colne), Carrie Dugdale nee Titterington and Julie Carlisle (Waddington families).
Fifth Row: Peter Bennett (Thomas the Stuffmaker), Sheila Titterington and Bob Titterington (Fylde Families), Eric Titterington (Bentham families) and Noreen Titterington (Thomas the Stuffmaker).
Sixth Row (not in order): Alan Titterington, Sue Park nee Titterington, Mary Barnett nee Titterington, Jay Titterington, James Titterington (all Thomas the Stuffmaker. Alan Titterington and Viv Titterington (Morecambe Bay Fishermen).

The Programme for the Day

The story will be followed in the chronological order of the original events rather than the sequence in which they were visited. This makes more sense of the story.

Cold Weather Houses

After marrying in Waddington, John and Isabel Garner made their way to Cold Weather Houses, a farm on the fells between Colne and Gisburn. In those days the present A682 was not there having been built as a turnpike road in 1805. Access to the farm was from the Gisburn Old Track, the packhorse route from Colne and Barrowford to Gisburn.

Up there on the Trail it was not raining but it wasn't very warm either. We imagined what life must have been like up here in the days without electricity or wellington boots! It was unquestionably tough and John and Isabel were subsistence farmers, generating sufficient to feed themselves and sell/trade for essentials.

The second picture shows the only remaining part of the farm buildings that were present in 1683. No doubt much of the rest of the buildings were 're-cycled' into the present farm house.
We cannot be certain when John and Isabel arrived here but we know that Isabel died here in 1707, after they had been together for just 24 years. We know they had at least five children but three died at or soon after birth. The key survivor was a son James.
James married his first wife Susan down at Gisburn which is about five miles to the north. She died in April 1713, leaving him with two small children Jane born in July 1710 and Thomas born in August 1712. In those days of no state welfare, James went out and found another wife in the form of Anna Bullock who he married in May 1714. In June of the following year she bore him a son John who is the next key 'player' in our story.
Before we leave Cold Weather Houses, the final picture shows the terrain in which they scratched a living.

Enter the Varley sisters

The two Titterington half brothers Thomas and John met and married the Varley sisters. Thomas to Rachel Varley in 1739 and John to Leah Varley nine months earlier in 1738.
We visited Great House Farm (pictured right) at Colne Edge. It was here that John and the Varley girls were living at the time of their marriages.

It was the issue of John and Leah Varley that proved to be the ones who established the main Titterington families that we know today.
There were a number of other places in the area where the newly married half brothers lived. We also looked at Blacko Village although we do not know where exactly they resided in the village or even if the dwelling survives to this day.

Dole House Farm - the parting of the ways

The picture opposite is of Dole House, taken from Ridge Lane, Newchurch. Clearly the building is heavily restored or perhaps completely rebuilt since Benjamin was born here in July 1767. It is thought that John and Leah Varley lived here from about 1754 to 1767 and Benjamin was their youngest child. He remained in this area and altered the spelling of his name to Titherington. Perhaps some incumbent spelt it as Titherington instead of Titterington and Benjamin just decided to 'go with the flow'. His dynasty was that of the great majority of the Titheringtons and Titteringtons who lived in the Burnley and Colne area for the next 200 years.


In the picture above there is another farm visible in the background. This is Greystones which played a pivotal role in the piecing together of this story. There were three other sons of John and Leah Varley whose paths we followed. One of them was James and from property conveyancing records we know that he and at least one of his brothers, Thomas, had moved from agriculture into hand weaving.

The connection between Luddenden in West Yorkshire and Gray Stones (sic) in Rough Lee Booth in the Parish of Newchurch in Pendle is found in an Indenture between Thomas Titterington of Luddenden and James, a Stuffmaker (a maker of worsted cloth) of Gray Stones. There were eight sons of John and Leah but only four of them impact on our story. We have met Thomas (the eldest) and James; learnt that the youngest Benjamin was born at Dole House; and now meet the last of the four in the form of Varley Titterington who carried hi mother's maiden name. He was the one who travelled to Leeds and started the Leeds/Varley dynasty who were represented on the trail by Graham and Brian.
We now left Benjamin and Varley behind and travelled across the Pennines to Luddenden to follow the trail of Thomas and his family.

The Lord Nelson at Luddenden

The Lord Nelson dates back to 1634 and so would have been here when Thomas married Rebeckah Helliwell in Halifax Parish Church on 17 July 1768 when he was aged 27 and then nine years later used his growing wealth to purchase Old Ridings in 1777. The picture opposite shows Julie Carlisle talking to her mother Carrie Dugdal nee Titterington just before going inside for a sit down and some lunch.

The modern day Lord Nelson provided us with a splendid buffet lunch which was greatly enjoyed by all those who had found their way to Luddenden.

St Mary's Luddenden

Immediately opposite the Lord Nelson lies the churchyard and church of St Mary Luddenden. It is here that many of the ever more wealthy Titteringtons of Luddenden and the surrounding area were buried. By far the wealthiest was Eli, son of Thomas of Old Riddings, and he has a splendid cabinet grave in front of the Church (right). His father Thomas, whose progress we tracked, is buried in Halifax.
We looked at the old graveyard, the cemetery behind and there were side trips to be taken to Old Riddings and to the Greave at Midgely.

Before moving on to the rest of the day, it is worth mentioning that one of the young (and possibly less hard working) Titteringtons was friendly with Branwell Bronte, the brother of the famous literary sisters. Branwell was, for a brief period prior to being dismissed for incompetence (read inability to stand up in the mornings) was stationmaster at Luddenden Foot on the newly built railway.
Branwell's 'party trick' was to write in Greek with one hand and Latin with the other - both at the same time! This won him numerous bets in places like the Lord Nelson and doubtless contributed to his dissipative lifestyle.

Higgin Chamber

Next we drove to Halifax via Sowerby to see Higgin Chamber. Eli the son of Thomas, had a factory here which burnt down two years after his death in 1853
In his will he refers to water wheels, steam engines, boilers, dams, goits, reservoirs, water privileges and appurtenances. Today, all that remains are some of the factory cottages, one of which was occupied by his dis-inherited son John and his wife until their deaths, and the mill pond to the rear.

Eli was seriously wealthy but he worked incredibly hard at the time of mechanisation of the textile industry when it was probably possible to sell machine made cloth at little less than the price of hand loom products.His will is not valued but there are 11 farms in it let alone the factory, combing sheds and a whole lot more. Inflating at average earnings (always a flattering way of doing it, RPI gives a much lower answer) Eli was worth over 10 million when he died. He had 11 beneficiaries, none of whom seemed inclined to work anything like as hard as Eli and his father Thomas before him did. They had achieved this in just 4 generations from subsistence farming - a quite incredible achievement and one that has not been repeated in the UK!

The Piece Hall

We continued on the drive to Halifax where we visited the Piece Hall. This amazing building is a grade 1 listed building and is the sole survivor of the great 18th century northern cloth halls where merchants traded pieces of cloth (a 30 yard length of woven woollen cloth produced on a hand loom). It was built in 1779 and is one of Britains outstanding Georgian buildings.
The Piece Hall interior is picture right and on the left we have Alan Titterington and Alan Titterington standing in front of the room from which Eli traded.

We then moved to the Minster (Halifax Parish Church) where there were three short presentations, one about each of the three family groups we had followed on the trail. The afternoon finished with tea and home made cakes .

In the evening some of us reconvened at the Shibden Mill Inn for a most convivial meal together.

Other Images

Thanks are due to Kathy Newitt, Colin Titterington and others for the photographs both above and below
Joyce Harrison nee Titherington, John and Helen Titherington pictured at Newchurch (Benjamin of Colne family) Sue Park and Mary Barnett, the sisters of Alan Titterington (Thomas the Stuffmaker)Mary and Brian Titterington from the Leeds/Varley family who attended their first Titterington Trail
Ian and Dorothy Titterington of the Fylde Families. They have supported all of the six Titterington TrailsSue and John Titterington from the Fylde FamiliesAlan Cookson who had flown in from Spain to join the Titterington Trail
The convivial evening group at the Shibdon Mill InnBob Titterington (Fylde Families), Alan and Viv Titterington (Morecambe Bay Fishermen)Noreen Titterington (Thomas the Stuffmaker) and Kathy Newitt nee Titterington who was born in San Francisco.

..and finally

Thank you for all your kind comments and suggestions. The 'Gang of Three' are so encouraged by these that we are planning to have another event in 2011. We are running out of locations to visit and will be looking at the possibility of getting together on a slightly different basis.
Once again the Tuesday after Easter seems to be a generally acceptable date, so please put Tuesday 26th April 2011 in your diary.

Last of all I must thank my fellow organisers, Carrie Dugdale and Alan Titterington, without whom the day would simply not have happened.

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