Adwalton, Drighlington & Gildersome

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Sykes and Walkers in Adwalton

John Sykes, cordwainer (shoemaker), and his family moved from Little Gomersall to Adwalton circa 1820. The family of John's son, George Sykes (cordainer), was listed in Adwalton from the 1841 through the 1861 censuses.

The family of Robert Walker (slubber) lived in Adwalton from the early 1840's until the mid 1860's.

Adwalton Fair

One of the most ancient and important fairs in Yorkshire was the fair at Adwalton. A Royal Charter was given on February 1, 1577 in the reign of Queen Elizabeth for the Adwalton fair. Queen Elizabeth herself is said to have made a personal visit to the place.

Adwalton and Drighlington as Described in 1831

The Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis published in 1831, described Adwalton as:

"a hamlet in the Chapelry of Dringhlington, parish of Birstall, wapentake of Morley, West riding of the county of York, 5 1/2 miles (S.E. by E.) from Bradford. The population is returned with Drighlington. On Adwalton moor a battle was fought, in 1642, between the parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax, in which the latter were defeated. There was formerly a market in this hamlet: fairs are held February 6th, March 9th, Thursday in Easter Week, the second Thursday after Easter, Whit-Thursday and every alternate Thursday till Michaelmas, November 5th, and December 23rd, all which, except the last two, are for the sale of lean cattle."
Drighlington is described as a:
"township-Chapelry and a sub-district of Birstall parish, Bradford district, West Riding, Yorkshire. The Chapelry includes the hamlet of Adwalton."
Adwalton Occupations in the Late 1700s and Earley 1880s

A brief look at the parish records shows that occupations in 1795-1798 in Adwalton included: cropper, skinner, clothier, butcher, shoemaker, tinker, weaver, joiner, mason, blacksmith collier. There were at least two shoemakers in 1798/99. During the same period there were also shoemakers in Little Gomersal and Hightown.

According to the baptismal records in 1810-and 20s there were a lot of colliers clothiers, and farmers. There were also a butcher, a peddler, joiners, croppers (cloth finisher), horse dealer, tailor, roper, at least two inn keepers, masons, engineer, carpenters, grocer, blacksmith, cardmaker and at least four shoemakers.

Small Pox in Adwalton in the Late 1700s

According to the parish death records there were small pox deaths of young children in Adwalton in 1798. There were a number of small pox deaths in the parish in general at the time. There were at least four small pox deaths in Adwalton including the death of Joseph son of Richard Walker of Adwalton age 3, small pox, June 29, 1798.

There were no Sykes having children in Adwalton in 1795-1800.

Adwalton in the 1830 Leeds Directory

Drighlington, which included the the village of Adwalton, listed: Geo. Sykes, grocer, and Francis Sykes, maltster.

1841 Census Adwalton

General Information About the Census in Adwalton

The 1841 census was taken on June 7th and is the first census in England that is of any genealogical interest. The census lists each member of a household. Information includes; name, sex, address, occupation, and "whether born in same county". The census takers usually rounded the age of everyone over 15 to the nearest multiple of 5.

The hamlet of Adwalton (part of the township of Drighlington) in Birstall Parish was divided into two enumeration districts (#1 and #2) in the 1841 census.

Two Land ancestors, John Sykes and Robert Walker, were listed in Enumeration District #1. Enumeration District #1 was described as:

"All that part of the township of Drighlington on the North and South of the Turnpike Road from Adwalton to Gildersome Street."
There were 1028 people living in the hamlet of Adwalton in 1841.

In enumeration district #1 there were

  • 456 people
  • 82 houses
  • 9 uninhabited houses
  • 5 buildings
An average of 5.5 people per house.

In Enumeration District #2 there were

  • 572 people
  • 116 houses
  • 10 uninhabited
  • no buildings
An average of 4.9 people per house.

The occupations of the inhabitants of Adwalton fall into five major categories:

  1. Mining
  2. Weaving
  3. Agriculture
  4. Shoemaking
  5. The running of a small community

Connected with the mining industry there were; 50 colliers, 29 coal miners, 2 coal leaders, 2 coal carriers, 1 coal hurrier and 1 pitsman's apprentice. Webster lists "charcoal producer" as the first definition and a "coal miner" as the second definition of a collier. Charcoal being the fuel used for reducing iron-ore in the iron furnaces of the pre-industrial period. However, it is highly likely that they were coal miners as there were a lot of coal mines in the area.

In March 2013 Anthony Lumb told me a hurrier was a youth who pushed and pulled the tubs of coal underground and a coal leader was a coal man who sold coal from his horse and cart.

HURRIER The Nature of the Work


Connected with the weaving industry, there were: 22 card setters, 14 cloth weavers, 12 wool combers, 9 worsted weavers, 5 woolen piecers, 4 worsted factory workers, 3 wool slubbers, 3 cloth burlers, 3 worsted rovers, 2 worsted spinners, 2 flax spreaders, 2 woollen burlers, 2 woollen card setters, 2 wool spinner, 2 twitters, and one each of the following; wool strapher, woolen feeder, worsted winder, woollen warper, rag grinder, silk weaver, worsted winder, cloth dryer, wool sorter's apprentice, cardmaker, and cloth dresser. In addition there were 7 tailors, 5 clothiers, and 4 dressmakers.

This seems to be too many tailors, clothiers and dressmakers for the needs of a "Hamlet'. They were most likely engaged in some light industry.

The card maker and card setter were connected with preparing the warp for Jacquard looms. Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) invented a loom that used cards to enable the weaver to produce figured fabrics without elaborate tie-ups and treadling.

A slubber was a person who operated a slubbing machine. The slubbing machine took the raw wool and combed it into long ropes of yarn that could easily be spun in the spinning machines. I believe the term slubber was connected with the woolen industry.

Slubbers and rovers were basically the same except, I believe that rovers were connected to the worsted industry.

I'm not sure what a twitter did, but a twit is a weak place caused by too much twist in the yarn or roving.

A piecer was a textile worker who mended broken threads on the loom.

A burler removed loose threads, knots and other imperfections from cloth before the finishing process.

I have no idea what the "wool stapher" and the "woolen feeder" did.

For more information on the weaving industry in Yorkshire go to Weaving in Yorkshire, now or at the bottom of the page.


Connected with agriculture there were; 7 farmers and 25 "ag. lab."s, which I assume are "agricultural laborers". There are also 6, "F. L."s, which might stand for "farm laborers".


There were 14 shoemakers and 4 shoemaker's apprentices. This is too many for the needs of a small village, so I assume they were manufacturing in quantity. Three of the shoemakers, including John Sykes, were living right next to each other.

It is possible that they were making boots for the army.

Community Occupations

There were 9 persons of independent means, 6 maltsters (beer makers), 8 joiners, 3 joiner's apprentices, 6 stone masons, 2 masons, 1 mason lab., 1 mason's apprentice, 5 blacksmith, 1 blacksmith apprentice, 5 grocers. (This seems like a lot for a hamlet.), 3 butcher, 3 wheelwrights, 3 shopkeepers, 3 publicans. (A pubilican was someone who maintained a public house, in other words a "pub"). There were 2 innkeepers, 2 dealers in flour, 2 tea dealers, 2 brick makers and 2 paupers. There were 9 "F.S." (female servant) and 4 "M.S." (male servant). Two (one male and one female) lived with, James Hudson, merchant. Another male servant lived with William Kirkland auctioneer. One female servant each lived with George Field, surgeon, Francis Sykes maltster, Edward Thoughton, maltster, and Isaac Snowden, glazier . The rest of the servants were connected to Inns or Public Houses. There was one of each of the following; gardener, card n.j., equestrian, watchmaker, engineer, merchant, instru. (who lived with the merchant), H.L., auctioneer, M. labor, surgeon, laddler, lodger house, charwoman, washwoman, waiter, sadler, baker, schoolmistress, schoolmaster, straw bonnet maker, excise officer, sexton, corn millery, housekeeper, glazier, glazier's apprentice, banksman, nurse, silversmith, Registar of B & O, tallow chandler, carrier, common carrier, wire worker, traveling showman, and actor.

There were three people who listed themselves with two jobs: carrier and greengrocer, plumber and glazier, and joiner and cabinetmaker.

I don't know what the laddler, the card n.j., and the H.L. did for a living. I assume "M. Labor" stands for manual labor. I have no idea how the equestrian earned his keep. The glazier worked with glass and the chandler made candles. The traveling showman and the actor are listed in the same household, but the actor is listed under the name "N.K.", which may stand for "Not Known". Every census takes into account travelers who were passing through at the time of the census.

Note: Ed Land, an avid "week end" blacksmith thinks 5 blacksmiths were a lot for such a small population. He suggests that they may have been making machinery for the local mills. There might be some relationship between the number of card setters (22) and the number of blacksmiths.

Age in Relationship to Occupation

Everyone from ages 15 to 75 seemed to be employed, except married women, widows and people of independent means.

One 5 year old, two 9 year olds and two 12 year olds are listed as colliers. Three 9 year olds, one 11 year old and one 12 year old are listed as card setters. One 10 year old and one 12 year old are listed as wool piecers.

None of the seven children of John Sykes, who ranged in age from 2 to 20, was listed with an occupation.

Thirteen year old, Sarah Walker, the daughter of Robert Walker, was listed as a "piercer woolen".

Age in Relationship to the General Population

Older folk There were 43 people in Adwalton in their 60Ős.

There were sixteen people listed between the ages of 70 and 80 and five people listed at 80 and above.

Remember this census rounds people's ages off to the nearest multiple of five. Some people listed as 60 years old could have been as young as 58 or as old as 62. About half of the people over 60 were not listed with an occupations or were listed as "Ind", which I assume means they have independent income. Of the remainder there were; three, 60 year old "Ag. Lab"'s, one, 65 year old "ag. lab", two, 60 year old maltsters, two, 60 year old grocers, and one person listed at age 60 for each of the following occupations; auctioneer, banksman, card maker, publican, cloth weaver, sexton, stone mason and school mistress. There was a 63 year old wheel wright, a 64 year old excise officer, a 65 year old cloth weaver, a 65 year old publican, a 67 year old cloth weaver, a 68 year old clothier, a 70 year old clothier, a 70 year old joiner, a 70 year old twitter, a 72 year old cloth weaver, a 75 year old farmer, a 75 year old wire maker, and a 75 year old tailor. The five people listed as 80 years old or older do not have occupations. The second oldest person in Adwalton was Hannah Sykes, who was listed as a pauper of 84. Hannah was living with the family of John and Ann Sykes. The oldest person was 85, no occupation.

The 1842 Leeds Directory

Adwalton and Drighlington are described as "two ancient villages on the Wakefield road" a half mile from one another.

There were three Sykes listed in Adwalton

  1. Joseph, plumber and glazier
  2. James, coal owner
  3. Francis, maltster

Although there was a heading for Shoe and Boot Maker, there was no listing for John Sykes or George Sykes, boot makers, living in Adwalton at the time.

The 1851 census

The 1851 census was taken on April 7, 1851. In addition to the information listed in the 1841 census, this census includes the relationships to the head of the household and lists the parish and county of birth. In the 1851 census Adwalton is again referred to as a "Hamlet".

There were 281 houses and a total of 1,466 inhabitants. This is an increase of 83 houses and 438 people from 1841. Most of the people listed in Adwalton in this census seem to be born locally. Occupations are similar to those listed in the 1841. There is one person who lists himself and a "hairdresser, and watch and clock repairer".

The listings for the Sykes and Walkers in the 1851 census are in enumeration district, 1 C, which is described as:

"All that part of the Hamlet of Adwalton (being part of the township of Dringlington) including Spring Gardens and the Adwalton Moor."
There are five Sykes families in Adwalton in 1851. Three of these families are known to have been related to Elizabeth Sykes: her grandfather, John Sykes, her father, George Sykes and her uncle, Benjamin Sykes.

The only other Walker, besides Robert and Betty, listed in Adwalton in 1851 is John Ely Walker, age 3, who is listed as a nephew in the family of John Thornton. I do not believe John Ely Walker is closely related to Robert Walker.

Adwalton in the 1857-58 Leeds Directory

Adwalton is listed as having a population of 1,056 people.

Note: This differs from the count in the actual census which listed 1,466 inhabitants.

There were three Sykes listed in Adwalton:

  1. George Sykes, blacksmith
  2. Robert Brook Sykes , butcher
  3. Robert Sykes, butcher.

The 1861 census

The census of 1861 included all the same information as the census of 1851 and was taken on April 16, 1861.

The number of houses had increased to 440 and the population had increased to 2295. This is an increase of 199 houses over 1841 and an increase in the population of 1,267 people. The population more than doubled in 20 years. The density per household stayed pretty consistent at about 5+ per household.

The listings for the Sykes and Walkers in the 1861 census are in Enumeration District 6, which is described as:

"Part of the township of Dringlington comprising all the Houses and Cottages on both sides of the Turnpike Road leading from Adwalton to Gildersome Street. From Thomas White's House to Thomas Asquiths House by the Township Boundary, and all the Houses in that part of the Township which lies South of the said Road---- Including Owlet Hall and Burnhills House.
There are 187 houses in this district, with 998 inhabitants, which is an average of 5.3 people per household.

From the brief descriptions of the enumeration districts in the censuses over the years it would appear that Elizabeth (Betty) Walker, the mother of Sarah Walker Sykes and the grandmother of Elizabeth Sykes Land, lived in the same house from at least 1841 until 1861.

The family of George Sykes left Adwalton sometime after the 1861 census.

Elizabeth (Betty) Walker left from Adwalton sometime after the 1871 census. She is living with her son, Joseph, in Bradford in the 1881 census. I donŐt know where they were in 1871.

Adwalton in the 1866 Leeds Directory

The 1866 Leeds directory was published by William White.

Benjamin Sykes was listed as a shoe and boot maker in Drighlington (not Adwalton).


Gildersome is actually in Batley parish but it has some close associations with Adwalton and Drighlington. Form my point of interest the family of Robert Walker lived in both Adwalton and Gildresome.

1858: Six masked men armed with pistols robbed the parsonage in Gildersome between one and tow o'clock on Saturday morning. They forced their way into the hose and made their way to the second floor bedroom of two young women. The women screamed. The parson, Rev. A. G Kinsman ran to their rescue but was threatened by the burglar who demanded his money or his life. Others in the house were threatened as the robbers ransacked drawers. The made off with 30?, a silver watch, and a gold ring. February 20, 1858 The Times London

1874: A report of the Leeds woolen industry mentioned that the manufacturers of all wool superfine trade were "doing and active business but "the Gildersome and Morley producers of inferior kinds" were "poorly employed". The Times London, 20 April 1874

Adwalton, Drighlington and Gildersome Mines in 1854 to 1876

The coal mining in the area developed into a colliery by 1854 called Oakwell Colliery, lying just west of Warren Lane, though there is little evidence of it today.

(English Heritage Battlefield Report: Adwalton Moor 1643 Adwalton Moor (30 June 1643) Parishes: Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees Districts: Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees County: West Yorkshire Grid Ref: SE 213290) Note: The 1841 Census indicated 50 colliers, 29 coal miners and other connected to mining in Adwalton.

1860: December - Threatened Colliers strikes in the pits at Adwalton and Drighlington did not take place. A meeting was held in Addwalton and it was decided to work on until January when the strike would be reconsidered if the wage increase demands of 10 percent were not met. The workers were also asking for a coal allowance each month for household purposes. "The average earnings of colliers in the district in question amount to about 25s per man per week of six days, working 10 hours per day"(The Times, London, 3 December 1860

1862: Colliers Strike in Yorkshire - Colliers were on strike in Gildersome, Drighlington and Morley against a proposed reduction in pay of 10 percent. By March they had been out for six weeks. The pit owners had attempted to bring in scabs from Staffordshire and Warwickshire, but when the men arrived and learned of the circumstances they refused to work. The stickers helped to pay the return passage for the recruits. The men on strike had been orderly and no serious acts of violence had occurred.

1876: Mines listed in Adwalton in the Reports from Commissioners By Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, 1876 listed:

  1. Medcalf and Harrison, Adwalton - Adwalton Common,
  2. Rushforth & co. Adwalton - Adwalton Lane - coal
  3. Rushforth and Co. Adwalton - Newmarket - coal and fire clay
  4. W. Bower and Brothers Adwalton, Adwalton Lane - coal
  5. Squire Broadbent, Adwalton - Adwalton Moor - sinking
  6. Barraclough & co. Adwalton - Britannia Main - coal
  7. Garforth and Twonsend, Adwalton, Horse Riggs, Coal
  8. Jas. Troughton & co. Adwalton - Hunger Hill - sinking
  9. Towler & co. Adwalton - Victoria - coal
  10. J. Bastow - Webster Adwalton - coal
  11. Rushforth & co. - Wire Hill, Adwalton - coal
Deaths in coal mines Adwalton 1868 -Greenbough and Co. .

Mines listed in Drighlington in the Reports from Commissioners By Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, 1876 listed:

  1. Doleswood Coal Co, Drighlington, - Lumb Wood - coal
  2. B. Asquith, Drighlington New Crown Point, sinking
  3. Bedford and Co, Drighlington, Nethertonw, sinking
  4. Housecroft and Metcalf, Drighlington, Wen Lane, sinking
  5. Newmarket Coal Co, Drighlington - Bushey - coal
  6. Walker and Reddoick, Drighlington, Sykes, coal
  7. Fearnley Gaforoth, Drighlington - spring Garderns coal
In March 2013 Anthony Lumb of the Featherstone History Society wrote to say he ahd seen metion of a pit called the Horse Riggs mine on Gelderd Road, Drighlington.

Pictures of Birstall

Elizabeth Sykes, parents, George Sykes and Sarah Walker, lived in the village of Adwalton in Birstall parish. To view pictures of Adwalton and other villages in Birstall parish, click on the photo of the Birstall Parish Church

If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this site, please contact me at

Weaving in Yorkshire
Pictures of Birstall


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©Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2004 - Latest update, June 2016