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View Full Version : Reason for Yorkshire migration to Lancashire - 1880s



cbritland
19-04-19, 07:39
Hi all!

I'm researching an ancestor who moved from Yorkshire (Halifax/Elland area) to Lancashire (Ashton-under-Lyne) in 1881. They were a cotton mill worker, both in Yorkshire and in Lancashire, and moved with their whole extended family (wife, kids, the wife's parents, siblings, etc) and I'm wondering... why? I assume it was something quite mundane, like more work or better pay, but I haven't found any solid clues so far.

Does anyone know of anything in Yorkshire or Lancashire's history that might explain the move? For example, were there any big mill closures in Yorkshire around that time? Or were Lancashire mill owners going to Yorkshire to poach workers?

Any ideas would be awesome! Thanks in advance :)

Olde Crone Holden
19-04-19, 09:05
Almost certainly went for a better life, better money etc. My family were Lancashire weavers and popped up all o er the place, including Birmingham and Prussia! They seem to have been "key workers" and were sent by their employer to new factories to show an inexperienced work force how to do it the way the employer wanted. Some returned home after a few years, others made new life in the new place.

Another reason may have been perks offered by a new employer. Many of the mill owners owned streets of houses and rented these cheaply to their employees, along with other benefits like basic health care and subsidised meals. Not all employers were wicked capitalists, lol.

OC

cbritland
19-04-19, 09:19
Thanks, OC! That's really helpful.

Were you able to find any records relating to your family's moves or the mills they worked for? I know the name of the mill they worked at in Lancashire, but not the one in Yorkshire. Perhaps I could work backwards from that to find out why the moved.

Jill on the A272
19-04-19, 09:26
My 2x great grandfather, a weaver, moved towns (Yorkshire to Lancashire) after being involved in a long strike. I wouldn't have known why but for the fact he was arrested and fined for obstruction when the mill owner brought in striker breakers by train and the strike and the offence were reported in the local paper which I was able to find via my Find My Past subscription.

cbritland
19-04-19, 09:41
That's cool, Jill! Would you mind sharing a link to the newspaper article? :)

Olde Crone Holden
19-04-19, 09:42
I did find information in a roundabout way, from local archives, mostly local newspapers and wonderful parish magazines which often published letters from former parishioners who had moved away. The Prussia connection I picked up from census, wondering why the middle child of seven was born in Prussia and not Lancashire. If you know the name of the factory/factory owner then google will turn up lots of information which might help.

Not quite the same thing but one branch of my family farmed the same beautiful farm in Cheshire for over 350 years, yet suddenly upped sticks and moved into the slums of Manchester to work as a carter on the railways. It was the undoing of them and most of them died of consumption in the next 20 years. I couldn't understand what had prompted the move until I realised that the farm was bought by the railway company who threw in a job on the railway as a sweetener. The purchase money seems to have gone towards clearing debt. I expect the family saw this as a wonderful oppor as they didn't have a crystal ball!

OC

Jill on the A272
19-04-19, 09:48
That's cool, Jill! Would you mind sharing a link to the newspaper article? :)

It's here (https://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000283%2f18951218%2f031) (the last two columns about the strike in Barnoldswick) though now I've looked again I realise it's 1895 so outside the period you mentioned.

cbritland
19-04-19, 09:51
Oh, dear, OC! Not such a great opportunity at all... :(

cbritland
19-04-19, 09:56
It's here (https://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000283%2f18951218%2f031) (the last two columns about the strike in Barnoldswick) though now I've looked again I realise it's 1895 so outside the period you mentioned.

Thanks, Jill! It's still interesting, even if it's not directly related to my research :)

Anne in Carlisle
19-04-19, 23:06
I was interested to read that your family were cotton mill workers both in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In my experience the Yorkshire mills were mainly woollen mills with some linen, whereas the Lancashire ones were mostly cotton. Might be worth investigating that line if they really were cotton mill workers in Yorkshire because I think that would narrow down which mill it might have been.
Anne

Sylvia C
20-04-19, 00:06
My 3 x gt grandfather moved from Yorkshire to Cheshire sometime before 1795 when he married in Stockport. His marriage license shows his occupation as Spinner. His children were all born in Stockport.

But then my gt gt grandfather moved to Lancashire before 1832 when he married my gt gt grandmother, his marriage record shows he was also "spinner". He died before 1851, so I know no more than that (apart from the fact that he quite drastically changed the spelling of his surname!).

Yorkshire was mainly wool. Parts of Cheshire were well-known for silk weaving (eg Macclesfield), I'm still trying to find out about Stockport. Lancashire of course was cotton.

I've always assumed that weaving and spinning was something of a "transferable" occupation, and that they moved to where the money was.

In the early days, of course, most spinners and weavers worked in their own homes .... and there are spinners and weavers cottages still to be found. In many of them, the attic was where they had their weaving machines, with windows to allow in plenty of light.

cbcarolyn
20-04-19, 21:25
a nice little history on this site re Ashton
http://www.ashton-under-lyne.com/history/cotton.htm

I hadn't realised that there was a shortage of cotton due to American civil war. I had wondered if the coming of the ship canal was a factor, but this was much later.

Have you seen this list:
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1891_Cotton_Mills_in_Ashton-under-Lyne

Sylvia C
20-04-19, 22:32
a nice little history on this site re Ashton
http://www.ashton-under-lyne.com/history/cotton.htm

I hadn't realised that there was a shortage of cotton due to American civil war. I had wondered if the coming of the ship canal was a factor, but this was much later.

Have you seen this list:
https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1891_Cotton_Mills_in_Ashton-under-Lyne


The southern states of the US were major cotton exporters, but the ports were blockaded by ships of the northern states during the Civil War, hence no cotton getting to England.

Janet in Yorkshire
21-04-19, 08:11
Due to the American civil war, I think the UK began to import greater quantities of cotton from India. After processing, the fabric was made into garments which were then exported back to India at a hefty profit. There was also a cotton trade with Egypt at this time, but that lessened, consequently causing economic problems for Egypt.

Jay

garstonite
21-04-19, 08:40
just curious if it had anything to do with the Ashton Canal ? Huddersfield Canal becomes Ashton Canal - only 6 miles long but maybe a Mill owner along the Huddersfield Canal built a mill on Ashton Canal to save transport costs ???

cbcarolyn
21-04-19, 23:19
also a wiki page when some of the mills opened:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mills_in_Tameside

I am always disappointed that I never know where my family worked, I know what they did, and where they lived, and that they were employed and not an employer - but not where.

Sylvia C
22-04-19, 04:47
Carolyn ............ if they worked in a Lancashire cotton town, then look on an old map for a mill close by. Mill owners tended to build terraced housing radiating away from their mill to be lived in by their workers. Workers never lived far from their place of work in the early years.T hat had changed somewhat by the late 1800s, but could give you an idea.

cbcarolyn
22-04-19, 20:25
all mine were in London, Dad knew where his grandfather worked, as there were loads and loads of piano manufacturers in Camden, so was pleased to know that one, but I have paper stainers, horsekeepers, electrician, spring to mind, even blacksmiths where they were employed.

Uncle John
23-04-19, 14:15
I wondered why a couple of children in one Paisley family were born in St Petersburg. Turns out that dad was sent by the thread works (of which there were several in Paisley) to oversee the opening of a new factory. He later split from his wife and went to open another factory in Spain. His son became a power loom engineer in the Manchester area.
Another oddity was a child of a Sunderland family born in Norway. The family was heavily involved in "Sunderland Lustre" production and they spent time in Norway expanding their knowledge of pottery production.

Sylvia C
23-04-19, 17:11
Uncle John ......

...... I have the same happening with a brother of my direct ancestor who had a couple of children born in Russia. The first thing I noticed was that the children concerned had very Germanic names. Very puzzling at first!

Turned out he was a very competent engineer in a cotton factory and was sent to Moscow to help set up a new factory there. He spent 3 or 4 years there, then came back to Oldham and took up a position with the same employer. He died a pretty wealthy man ;)

cbritland
30-04-19, 08:32
I was interested to read that your family were cotton mill workers both in Yorkshire and Lancashire. In my experience the Yorkshire mills were mainly woollen mills with some linen, whereas the Lancashire ones were mostly cotton. Might be worth investigating that line if they really were cotton mill workers in Yorkshire because I think that would narrow down which mill it might have been.
Anne

That's what I was wondering about! Did cotton mills pay more than wool or linen ones? Or was there any downturn in wool/linen manufacturing in the 1880s that might have encouraged them to make the move?

cbritland
30-04-19, 08:38
I've always assumed that weaving and spinning was something of a "transferable" occupation, and that they moved to where the money was.


Yes, that's what I'm wondering. Did cotton pay more than wool or linen, or was there a downturn in wool/linen in the 1880s? Or was cotton simply a bigger industry and therefore offered more mills (and more jobs) to choose from?

cbritland
30-04-19, 08:46
also a wiki page when some of the mills opened:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mills_in_Tameside

I am always disappointed that I never know where my family worked, I know what they did, and where they lived, and that they were employed and not an employer - but not where.

Thanks, Carolyn! I've seen that list before and the mill my ancestor worked for is indeed on there (it's the Robinson Street Mill owned by Hulmes). I've traced most of the Lancashire side of things - it's just Yorkshire where I need to do some more digging ;)

cbritland
30-04-19, 08:59
a nice little history on this site re Ashton
http://www.ashton-under-lyne.com/history/cotton.htm

I hadn't realised that there was a shortage of cotton due to American civil war. I had wondered if the coming of the ship canal was a factor, but this was much later.



I was reading about this recently. Despite Manchester's reliance on American cotton (which was grown by slaves), many Mancunians (including cotton workers) were active in the abolition movement. One of the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society's members-only documents is a transcript of an 1807 petition for the abolition of the slave trade. It has thousands of signatures - the Word doc is 71 pages long!

https://www.mlfhs.org.uk/

cbritland
30-04-19, 09:11
just curious if it had anything to do with the Ashton Canal ? Huddersfield Canal becomes Ashton Canal - only 6 miles long but maybe a Mill owner along the Huddersfield Canal built a mill on Ashton Canal to save transport costs ???

That's a really interesting idea, Garstonite! The last known address I have for my subject is in Northgate, Elland, about 5 miles from start of the Huddersfield Canal, but the mill they got a job with in Lancashire was on the Ashton Canal. I'll look into this further :)