first Haigh in the district
the beginning, there was a wild and windy spot, perched so high
on the moor above Walsden that a man could see for miles and miles
around. It was virtually inaccessible for all but the hardy, and
even today cannot be reached other than by a difficult climb on
foot. It lies at the top of a rough packhorse trail, which weaves
steeply upwards from Gauxholme in the valley. From there, the
trail moves on across the moor connecting other similarly isolated
places before dropping down, steeper than ever, towards Ramsden
at the far end of the moor. This spot is known as NAZE FARM. Today
it is just a ruin. Its last occupiers were tempted into the valley
to seek an easier life.
Farm in 2003
Hawthorn tree was a common sight in those days. It grew just about
anywhere on the slopes and pastures above the valley. The local
folk referred to it as the Haigh Tree. It was in abundance on
this land known as Naze, and one particular tree became the central
feature in the lives of one family who farmed at Naze in the mid
story, which has been passed down the generations, has biblical
connotations along the lines of Moses in the bulrushes. One day,
when the farmer was at his work, he saw a basket under the tree.
On further investigation, he found the basket contained a baby.
It was a plump, well-dressed boy. Fastened to his clothing was
a parcel containing the word "Reuben" and money to the
value of ten pounds, along with clothing and bedding. This would
be sufficient to care for the child for a considerable number
of years. The farmer took the boy home and after discussions around
the neighbourhood the family decided to keep him. They called
him Reuben Haigh, after the tree where he had been found. He was
raised with care as part of the family and grew to manhood, learning
the ways of farming and hand weaving.
truth of the matter can only be speculation. The cynics of our
modern world may well think that perhaps the family had a daughter
who gave birth to a child, and this was a way of explaining away
the new arrival to the folk of the village. Illegitimate children
were common enough, but still attracted gossip and stigma amongst
the simple farming communities. Whatever the truth, the boy had
a charmed life and a generous benefactor. From time to time, an
unknown hawker was seen about the place. The same man had been
seen on the day the baby had been found. He seemed to be watching
Reuben, and made many enquiries of the local folk as to how he
was faring. The gossip abounded "this must be the boy's natural
father keeping an eye on him", and the fact that he was a
stranger enforced the original explanation of the child's arrival.
He was said to have been the only person to show an interest in
the lad and the rumour spread that he was a wealthy fustian dealer
from elsewhere in Lancashire. This supposition gained some validity
when, later in Reuben's life, an anonymous benefactor purchased
the lease on a considerable area of land at Inchfield Pastureside,
which was then handed over to Reuben as a gift. He became the
tenant of Calf Hey and PASTURESIDE FARM. Reuben
was married by this time and had a family of five sons and a daughter
who all grew to adulthood.
Farm in 2003
In an indenture dated 1696, Reuben is described as a CLOTHIER of Inchfield. He would have had a small business in his own home from where he would distribute raw wool amongst the local inhabitants for spinning and weaving in their cottages, and then carry the woven cloth to the markets of Rochdale, Manchester or Halifax. His own family would also do some of the spinning and weaving.
He died in 1750, and the land and farms remained in the possession of
his descendants for many generations. The Haighs all seemed to
prosper as farmers, innkeepers and shop keepers, buying more farms
and land along the way. They developed an interest in COAL MINING and later the family spread out to Rochdale, Middleton, Cliviger,
Burnley and North Wales.
and his two wives are buried together at St. Mary's Church in
Todmorden. Their gravestone is still in the churchyard, inscribed