Ancestors in England|
The ancestors of Law Land and Elizabeth Sykes (except for two branches) were from villages in the West riding of Yorkshire west of the city of Leeds.
Elizabeth Sykes' ancestors, the Stells, came from Keighley in the North Riding of Yorkshire, about 13 miles north/west of Leeds.
Law Land's grandmother, Mary Worth, and her family came from Cheshire which boarders Yorkshire on the south west.
The Lands lived in Wakefield and Leeds before moving to Batley parish.
All the other branches lived in the parishes of Batley and Birstall, directly southwest of Leeds. Both these parish comprised several town and various small hamlets. The population of pre-industrial England was fairly static in both size and place of inhabitance. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700's many people moved to the larger manufacturing centers. Yorkshire had been a sparsely populated area of England until the late 1700's, when it became one of the fastest growing sections of the country.
While there always seemed to be some movement from one hamlet to another, it appears to have increased at the same time as the general population movements.
The 1851 census showed that all classes of towns had grown more quickly since 1801 than the average growth of Great Britain as a whole. The fastest growing towns were almost all textile towns.
Places like Batley went form sleepy little villages to large industrial towns. The population of Batley went from 2,594 in 1801 to 28,712 in 1891. Many small hamlets either became completely disserted after much of the population moved to the larger industrial centers or they were swallowed up by the expansion of fast growing industrial areas.
A Map of the Area of The West Riding of Yorkshire That Includes the Towns Where the Land Ancestors Lived
The West Riding of Yorkshire
The West Riding is the largest division in Yorkshire and comprises all of the southwestern part of the County. In 1861 this area was extensively engaged in manufacture and agriculture. The woolen trade was centered in Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Dewsbury, and Wakefield. Coal was a major commodity in the area. The West Riding is an area about 95 miles long stretching from Sheffield to the borders of Westmoreland. It is about 50 miles wide in some areas an as little as 10 miles across in the north western extremity. The word Riding comes from the Saxon language and was originally spelled "thriding" meaning a division into three. There are three Ridings in Yorkshire, North, East, and West.
The 1379 Poll Tax
The poll tax of 1379 was levied to collect monies to pay for the wars both against the Scottish invaders and the French. Lists were prepared of all persons over the age of 16 in every town and village. The amount of tax depended on the social position of the person listed. An esquire paid 20 shillings. Wealthy merchants and rich landowners below the rank of esquire paid 10 shillings, 6 shillings and 8 pence, 3 shillings and 4 pence 12 pence, or 6 pence according to their financial position. Everyone else over the age of 16 paid a minimum sum of 4 pence, which equaled a "groat". A husband and wife counted as one person. The clergy did not pay any tax. People with filius, filia, son or daughter after their names were children over the age of 16 who were still living with their families. All other single persons over 16 represented bachelors, spinsters, widows and widowers.
A four pence or the "groat" was equaled to what the average man could earn in three days. The poll tax was a great burden on the poor people and was a cause of the great peasant revolt in 1381. As a result of the revolt the people demanded:
In addition to serving it's purpose of filling the kings coffers, the poll tax is a major advantage to historians and genealogists today. It acts as a census and provides invaluable information on the population of England at the time.
The poll tax had an important function in the development of surnames. Before this period surnames were the prerogative of the nobility. With so many people named John, Robert, Thomas and William some method had to be devised to distinguish on from another. It was decided to add an additional distinction after each Christian name. Four categories were used:
It should be pointed out that it was a long time before "surnames" became fixed. In the beginning the same person might be called by different "surname" at different points in his live. For example if a man named Thomas Johnson had moved from Batley to Gomersal, he might then be know as Thomas de Batley. If the same person later mover to Mirfield he might have been know as Thomas Gomersal.
I have found the poll tax lists for:
Late in 1390 and again in the spring of the following a plague broke out. It was supposed to have killed one third of the population of Yorkshire.
The Civil War
Frank Peel wrote,
"And these stout hearted clothiers were as noted in their day and generation for their intelligence and public spirit as their successors are at the present time. Here, and indeed throughout the whole of this part of the West Riding, thy were almost to a man on the side of the Commonwealth . They had long groaned under the evils of tyranny and oppression, civil and spiritual; they feared and hated the domination of the Stuarts and obeyed in their opposition the impulses of an overwhelming religious conviction. When the fierce struggle between the king and his Parliament ended in open warfare, the clothiers of the West Riding rose indeed almost en masse in defense of their liberties, and Spen Valley, thinly populated though it was, furnished, we know a good array of recruits to swell the ranks of the marvelous army, "composed," as it commander proudly boasted, "not of tapsters and decayed serving men, but of stalwart yeomen and traders, who brought a conscience to their work," and proved their prowess in many a bloody struggle."Many of these Yorkshiremen who fought on the Parliamentarian side were not part of a standing army and were not paid soldiers. They did not serve continuously but went to battle when needed. When the immediate danger was passed they returned to their looms and farming. When another emergency arose the returned to battle.
There were several battles in the immediate area. These included the battle of Adwalton Moor, Kirklees, the storming of the Saville estate at Thornhill. By all accounts the locals were fierce and valiant fighters. Many of them were Puritans who marched into battle singing "the Psalms of David".
At the battle of Adwalton Moor the Parliamentarians numbered three thousand five hundred, many of them with no military training. They were greatly outnumbered by the King's troops who were trained soldiers. Accounts say that the local militia men fought bravely and with great spirit. Many men lost their lives and the Kings army did win the battle.
Notes on Yorkshire from The West Riding of Yorkshire At the Opening of the Twentieth Century
The West Riding of Yorkshire At the Opening of the Twentieth Century , by W. Herbert Scott, Contemporary Biographies, published in 1902 ( available on microfiche through LDS) includes the following information on the West Riding.
"In 1858 there died in poverty and at a great age, a cloth manufacturer named William Hirst, for whom is claimed the title of "father of the Yorkshire woolen trade". Hirst was a Huddersfield cloth dresser of poor parentage who, setting up in business in Leeds about the year 1810, was practically the first to introduce spinning mills and other mechanical contrivances to the district. By this enterprise he managed to produce a quality of woolen cloth rivaling the best goods of West country manufacture. It was a new sensation for the West Riding, that; and when other makers saw the improvement in prices which Hirst was able to obtain, his example was soon followed, notwithstanding the clamour of dissatisfied hand workers. In twelve years time he retired from business with a fortune and it is recorded how, in 1825, the merchants of Saddleworth banqueted him and presented him with a silver cup in recognition of his abilities and perseverance and his "frankness and liberality in communicating his improvements to the public".
Between the 1871 and 1881 censuses the overall urban population increased by 25% and the already heavily urbanized areas increased by 75%. By the 1880s Yorkshire had joined the most heavily urbanized counties.
Sometimes the parish registers contain notes of a more general interest. The following comes from the Dewsbury parish register on LDS microfilm 1542270. It was written on the first page of the ledger that begins in the year 1774. Unfortunately some of the ink is faded a several words on the right hand side of the page are not legible. I have put these words or phrases in parenthesis:
A great flood on the River Calder on April 25, 1767.The Poor Laws
From The Old Poor Law in East Yorkshire by N. Mitchelson, East Yorkshire Local History Society.
"Two Acts of Parliament passed near the end of the reign of Elizabeth formed the basis of English poor law administration for almost two and a half centuries, until the passing of the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834. The first was the Act of 1597-8 which ordered the appointment of overseers of the poor and laid down their duties. The second was the Act of 1601. This law, first pass4ed as a temporary measure, but continued, and in 1640, made permanent, ordered the churchwardens and four, three or two substantial householders to be nominated each year as overseers of the poor, with the duty of maintaining and setting them to work. Funds for this purpose were to be provided from the taxation of "every inhabitant, parson, vicar, and other and every occupier of lands, houses.... etc. The unit of poor law administration was the parish"The overseers were unpaid officers and one of their duties was to keep the annual accounts for the parish. The poor law accounts are available for several of the parishes in the area around Batley. The local records give an indication of the economic situation in Yorkshire. There were large increases in the amounts of money needed for poor relieve in during the second half of the eighteenth century. This period coincided with the period of rapid enclosure of land that had once been part of the peasants "common" rights. 1793-1815 was a period of continuous was which resulted in increased prices that did no correspond to increases in wages. Unemployment was very high during the Napoleonic wars.
Relief to the poor consisted of cash payments or relief in kind (food and clothing). Paupers were often provided with clothing and supplies to repair their dwellings. The poor law accounts enable historians to determine the prices of many commodities during a given period.
These laws made the parish responsible for the poor of the parish to the point that a person not born in a given parish was removed to the parish of his or her birth in order to receive poor law relief.
For more Information on the towns, cities and parishes where the Land ancestors lived chose on of the following.
The oldest records for the Land were found in Wakefield. For more information on Wakefield, click on the photo of All Saints Wakefield.
The Lands moved from Wakefield to Leeds. For more information on Leeds, click on the photo of St Peter's, Leeds.
The Law were originally from Birstall Parish. The Sykes and Walkers also lived in Birstall Parish. For more information on Birstall Parish, click on the photo of the Birstall Parish Church.
The last records for the Laws and Lands in England were found in Batley Parish. For more information on the Parish of Batley. For more information on Batley, click on the photo of the Batley Parish Church.
Other ancestors, the Stells, came from Keighley Parish. For more information on the Keighley Parish, click on the photo of Fellane in Keighley.
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