Martha Barns (1827-1886)

Martha was probably born in 1827 in Eccleshill. When she marries Richard Bibby in 1845 the marriage certificate tells us that her father is Edmund Barns and he is a weaver, however, I am not sure this is correct. If it is then there was incest between her father and his daughter Alice, who we later find out is Martha's mother.

We know from the 1851 census that Martha was born in Eccleshill. Utilising this information and searching the 1841 census we find a Martha Barns.

In the 1841 census, Martha is living in Ranters Row, Eccleshill, with Edmund Barns, 68 who is a cotton weaver, Margaret, 65, Alice, 30 a cotton weaver, John 25 and Edmund 20, both labourers, Andrew 15 who is a bleacher, Martha who is aged 10 and also a cotton weaver, and James who is 6. It seems likely that Martha's real age is 14.

Here is an old map from 1846 which shows Ranters Row:

It is clear that her mother isn't Margaret as she would have had Martha when she was 55. I will discuss Martha's siblings when I talk about her father, Edmund Barns, but I think it best to note here that, according to the 1851 census, Alice Barns, age 46 is unmarried and a washerwoman. She is living with her son, James Barns, who is a crealer. According to James' baptism records, he is the illegitimate son of Alice Barns, a weaver who lives at Eccleshill; it is noted he is illegitimate and the reputed father is one Richard Latham. I haven't been able to find out anything about a Richard Latham.

I am telling you this because, in the 1861 census Alice is living with Betsy Ward and her family at 62 High Street in Darwen. The census clearly states that Alice Barnes, who was born in Tockholes, is Betsy's mother, aged 57, is a widow and a house keeper.

This makes me wonder whether or not Andrew Barns, who is living with the Barns family in Eccleshill in the 1841 census, is not also an illegitimate son of Alice? I say this because it is unlikely that he is Margaret's child as she would have been 50 when she had him. Also, with the exception of Andrew and Martha, all of Edmund and Margaret's children have been baptised at St James, several were born in Tockholes. I cannot find baptisms for either Andrew or Martha. Nor can I find any further information about Andrew apart from one who died in Darwen aged 27 in 1848.

Martha Barnes (spelt with an 'e') marries Richard Bibby on 15th June 1845 at Blackburn Parish Church, which is now Blackburn Cathedral. Here is a picture of it when it was called St Marys:

This image was provided by Gordon Hartley for use in the Cotton Town digitisation project.

Richard and Martha's first child, Betsy (my great grandmother) was born 19th September 1846 at Bold Venture, Over Darwen. She was christened Betty but was later known as Betsy. The birth certificate tells us that her father, Richard, was a spinner and confirms he could not read nor write as he signed his name with an 'x'. Her mother was formerly called Barns (spelt without an 'e' on the certificate).

In 1851, Richard, still a spinner, was 28. The census tells us he was born in Salmsebury; Martha, was 24 and was born in Eccleshill. They live at Catty Gatte, which was up near Bold Venture Park. They now have three children, Betsy, aged 4 years, Margaret Ann aged 3 years and John aged 5 months.

In 1852 Alice was born but died the same year. Edmund came next, born in 1854 but died when he was only 12 years old. He was followed by Andrew who was born and died in 1856. Nancy was born and died the following year, 1857. Mary Jane was born in 1859 and Joseph 1861. Of the nine children Richard and Martha had, three died within a year of their birth.

Richard, died in 29th October 1860 of phthisis (consumption or tuberculosis). The family were living at 62 High Street, Darwen. The death certificate has his age at either 30 or 36 years (it isn't clear). It says he was a cotton self actor spinner and the informant was his wife, Martha Bibby who was present at his death.

Martha was at the same address in the 1861 census which states she is a cotton weaver, is 33 years old, a widow and head of the family. Living with her are Betsy, aged 14, who is a cotton piercer; Margaret 12, John 10, Edward 6, Mary Jane 2, Joseph, 4 months and her mother, Alice Barnes, who is down as a widow, aged 57, is a house keeper and was born in Tockholes. Actually, the census says Thockles!

So in the previous decade Martha had lost three children in infancy as well as her husband, Richard. Sadly, in 1866, her son, Edward/Edmund dies at the age of 12. By 1871 she had moved to 15 Bonny Street. With her lived her children, Margaret, 22 and John, 20, both were cotton card spinners; Mary Jane at 12 was a cotton weaver; and Joseph, aged 10, had a loom in a cotton mill; both were born in Oswaldtwistle. So for some time at the end of the 1850's early 1860's, the family had moved to Oswaldtwistle. It is worth noting that her daughter Betsy and husband, James Ward and their young family are living at 8 Bonny Street.

Ten years later,in 1881, the family are still living in Bonny Street but have moved to number 1. Martha is down as being 51 and a charwoman; Mary J. is 22, unmarried and works as a cotton weaver - the census says she was born in Church. Joseph is 20 and also a cotton weaver but the census has him down now as being born in Darwen. Elizabeth Ward, Martha's grandaughter aged 6 is living there as well as her daughter Margaret Ann aged 32 who works in the cotton mill and her husband, Ralph Bellfield, who is down as being 34 and works in a paper mill, he was born in Staffordshire.

In 1886, at the age of 59, Martha dies. I have still to acquire her death certificate. She left behind five children:

Betsy (1846-1921) my great grandmother.

Margaret Ann (1848-1890)

On 1st January 1879, at the age of 31 years, Margaret Ann marries Richard Bellfield who is 25. Richard is a pipe maker and he lives in Marsh Lane, Darwen; his father is called Ralph and is a potter. Margaret Ann is a rover and her father Richard is down as being a spinner. Their witnesses are John James Cleasby and Alice Sharples and they are married at St Johns in Redearth Road:

Image from Darwen Days

Ralph dies in 1888 (Lancashire BDMs say Blackburn) followed by Margaret Ann, two years later on 10th September 1890. She is living in Silverdale, Staffordshire. Information from her probate tells us that she recently lived at 108 Sudell Road, Darwen. She leaves £71 10s to John Bellfield, a miner, who is, I suppose, her brother-in-law.

John (1851-1891)

John marries Ellen Ramsbottom in 1872 at Holy Trinity, Darwen:

Image from Darwen Days

In 1881, John, Ellen and their five children: Edward (1892), Walter (1874), Martha Ann (1876), Cornelius (1878) and Ralph Belfield (1881) are living at 8 Bonny Street whilst his mother, Martha, his siblings Mary Jane, Joseph, Margaret Ann and her husband Ralph Belfield, and his neice Elizabeth Ward, are living at 1 Bonny Street.

The fact that their fifth child is called Ralph Belfield Bibby suggests to me that Ellen might have had an affair with her brother-in-law, Ralph Belfield (Margaret Ann's husband) resulting in Ralph Belfield Bibby. But I could be wrong!

John dies in 1891 at the age of 40 years. His wife Ellen and their five children move in with her brother, Cornelius Ramsbottom as can be seen from the 1891 census. They are living at 17 Crewsden Street. Her brother Cornelius is 28 and single and a stone mason's labourer. Ellen is down as his sister and a widow, aged 38 and a cotton weaver. Her children, all living with them, are: Edward, 19, Walter, 18, Martha Ann, 15, Cornelius, 12, and Richard Belfield, 10; all are cotton weavers. However, Ellen's brother, Cornelius, also dies in 1891.

A decade later, in 1901, Ellen is still living at 17 Crewsden Street, she is now 48. Her son, Cornelius, is 22 and a stone mason's labourer; Martha Ann is 25 and Ralph Belfield is 20, both are cotton weavers. There is also a boarder, one Edward Billington who is 32 and a brick layer.

Ellen is still at the same address in 1911. The census tells us she had five children and all are living. Cornelius, who is now 32 and single and is a general labourer in the highways department is still living with her. Her nephew, Frederick Tomlinson aged 3 is also living there.

Ellen dies on 26th July 1913; her probate is agreed 12th February 1919! The will tells us she was living at 50 Bonsall Terrace, Mill Hill, Blackburn. She leaves £73 to her daughter Martha Ann Tomlinson (wife of Frederick Tomlinson).

This is what happens to her children:

Edward (1892): He marries Hannah Eccles in 1894. They have three children, Martha A (1895), Ellen (1899), and Fanny (1908). Edward is a cotton over looker. At first the family live at 14 Princess Street but in 1911 they are living at 62 Redearth Road. It is worth noting that many years later I was born at 80 Redearth Road and Sybil Bibby lived next door whilst Gerald Bibby lived across the road. Both are related to the Bibby family and were cousins. They were both members of our childhood gang.

Walter (1876): Walter married Elizabeth Ann Taylor in 1899. They had at least two children, Miriam Alice (1901) and Nora (1905). In 1901 they lived at 89 Hindle Street; they were still there in 1911.

Martha Ann (1876): Martha married Frederick Tomlinson in 1904 at United Reform Methodist (Duckworth Street). As far as I know they had one child, Frederick, who was born in 1908.

Cornelius (1878): Cornelius died in 1950. I don't think he married.

Ralph Belfield (1881): Ralph marries Annie Bury in 1909. In 1911 he is living with Annie and their daughter, Ellen (1910) with his mother-in-law, Mary Ann Bury who is 63 and a widow, and her children, George, 41, Walter, 20, and Hetty, 18, all of whom are single. They are living at 30 Tythebarn Street. Ralph dies in 1925 at the age of 44.

Mary Jane (1859-1939)

Mary Jane marries John Cocker in 1883. In 1891 they are living at 10 Tockholes Road and have two children, James 7 and Martha 5.

By 1901 they have moved to 3 Prince Street. There are now two more children, Albert who is 10 and Walter who is 6.

In the 1911 census the family have moved to 15 Brighton Terrace. John at 50 is a cotton weaver. Mary Jane is 52. Her son, James, is 27, Martha Jane 25, Albert Henry 19, and Walter is 16. All are cotton weavers. The census says there have been four children and all are living.

Mary Jane died at the age of 80 years on 2nd December 1939. She was living at 54 Avondale Road. Her probate tells us she left £168 12s 3d to her son, Albert Henry Cocker.

It would seem Mary Jane and John may have split up as John died only six days later but he was living at 45 Radford Street (unless, of course, he had moved there to be looked after by one of his children). He left £78 15s 2d to his son, Walter, who was an ice cream salesman.

Joseph (1867-1897)

In 1886 Joseph marries Elizabeth Ann Turnbull at St Johns.

In 1891 Joseph and Elizabeth are living at 38 Ellison Fold Terrace; they have one child, John William, born in 1884.

Sadly, Joseph dies at the age of 37 years in 1897. He leaves behind his wife, Elizabeth Ann and three children, John William, Martha (1892) and Mary Hannah (1895).

By 1901 Elizabeth and the children have moved round the corner to 21 Marsh Lane. They are boarding with Elizabeth's sisters, Mary, Hannah and Bertha Turnbull, ages 24, 22 and 19 respectively. All, including Elizabeth, are cotton weavers.

Elizabeth Ann dies in 1907. Her children have moved in with their aunt, Mary, who has married Kenneth Edgar Pettit. They are living at 38 Highfield Road, which, again, isn't very far from Marsh Lane.