George Livesley




George LIVESLEY Sr. (1805-1870)
 @by Sam Bush

Esther Waddell was the child of Robert Waddell, a sailor, and Mary Jordan Waddell, married in Great Norton, Cheshire, just east of Chester, in 1780. I have her born in Neston in 1802, one of the later children we guess. (She is also said to have been born in 1798, which may be true, though even from here I can feel the pressure to get her into the nineteenth century.) Neston is on the water, and theirs was quite the seafaring family, apparently; Robert may have worked up to the captaincy of a small vessel. There's her obituary story that Robert sailed in the Napoleonic Wars, and that her uncle served under Nelson, but this remains unconfirmed. Esther outlived her husband by 24 years, and appears with son Sam and his family in the 1892 Seattle portrait. Sam, her oldest, went to sea in his younger years -- I wonder with her encouragement or family ties? When grandson Robert was born (England, 1855), Samuel's occupation was listed as "sailmaker." Her son George says she was a happy and Christian person who made friends wherever she went, the best out of whatever she was given.

George is the son of Samuel Livesley and Elizabeth "Betty" Horton, both from Cheshire County. Samuel and Betty both died at Castle Northwich, Cheshire. It was from here that George and Esther went to America with their children, in 1841, and to here they returned for their hiatus 1845-1855. George and Esther also resided "on the estate," but I don't know what Castle Hill, Northwich (sometimes called Cheshire Castle) was or what was their role there. George was said to have been a farmer and have leased land.

George's Livesley grandparents, Richard and Mary Shaw, we know in name only. The Horton side, however, were John and Elizabeth Amery Horton, both born and married in Great Budworth, Cheshire, and dying at, you guessed it, Northwich. Daughter Betty was born and died (1774-1850) there. Her husband Samuel was born in nearby Bunbury, Cheshire.

Cheshire is in central west England, flat land south of the Mersey estuary, south of Liverpool and Manchester. Great Budworth is one of the larger parishes, in the north center of the county. Castle Northwich is now a suburb of Northwich 18 miles ENE of Chester, and became a parish by itself in 1929. Davenham parish adjoins Great Budworth to the south. In the 1830s broad canal was dug along the Dee River and beyond, connecting industrial Birmingham in the middle south of England with the mouth of the Mersey. Later (1845) a railroad was built on the same rote. Chester sits on the canal and railroad, an important junction for shipping. This is just east of Wales.

Northwich sits on the Weaver River, to the east, and has a lesser canal through it, also running up to the Mersey estuary. Chester is roughly south of Liverpool, and Northwich south of midline between Liverpool and Manchester. A major north-south route -- now England's M6 -- runs close by. The east side of Cheshire County (just east of Northwich) contains many coal deposits exploited in the Industrial Revolution. It is my supposition that in George's childhood much coal was brought to this canal on various rail lines, and that he saw the first railway steam engine, invented for the Liverpool/Manchester line which opened in 1836.

George's mother Betty died 27 November 1850, while George and Esther were back in England (I speculate her health may have been part of the reason they returned), and the 1851 census lists his younger brother Henry as living with them, at 40 years, as "annuitant." They came to the U.S. the second time late fall, 1855. George and Esther and six of their children (Mary-Alfred) are listed as passengers on the Ontario from Liverpool, William N. Wood, Master, arriving New York 31 Dec 1855. It was the year the first railway suspension bridge in the world was built, by John Roebling, over the Niagara River, near Niagara Falls.

They must have been unusually durable and self reliant. Just to emigrate, with family, is a project. They did it twice. On the first trip in 1841 (three years before Samuel Morse demonstrated his telegraph invention), they landed at New York and boarded another vessel for Ohio. They were nearing Cleveland on Lake Erie when their vessel was struck by another; the passengers were transferred to the striking boat, which was more afloat. Theirs, and all their supplies, went down. Nevertheless George and Esther bought a piece of land in Geuga County about 30 miles from Cleveland, made many friends and were active citizens for four years, when they returned to Cheshire for ten (1845-1855).

I imagine George as a very competent farmer, or farm manager. Family recollection is that he grew hops (among other things we presume) in England, and this may have set the path for son Sam (and his brother George) and his sons who were certainly big in hops. I further speculate George and Esther had an affable style and interest in commercial matters, as they appear to have been successful and liked, and possibly the model for their children's various and considerable drives. George Sr. is known to have been a Presbyterian minister in America and he and Esther were members of the Congregational Church.

On the second trip they were in Ohio only one year before relocating to Reedsburg, Wisconsin for eleven. In 1869 they accompanied some of their children in a move to Milford, Nebraska, where George died in 1870, age 65. In 1880 Esther moved on to Sumner, Washington Territory with son George, and in 1895 she died at his home in Yakima, Washington. Samuel Cooper's memoirs of the Nebraska trip (A Jaunt West in 1869), which include George's death, refer several times to his knowledge of Scripture, pious language, etc., and even "the minister's" passing. In his year on the prairie he helped son-in-law Martin bring church service to the settlers.

A curiosity I have is that of George and Esther's seven living children, five went to Washington state (one of these, Alfred, eventually to California). The other two, Mary and Betsy, might well have, except that they married in the midwest, and stayed there. Was western movement on their minds when they first emigrated, or something repeated over the dining table? 

@2000 by Sam Bush; reproduced on this website with permission