WEAVERS ...... AND COINERS!!
August 1993, I was chatting with friends at a wedding reception.
They had heard that I was tracing my family tree. “Have you found
any scandals?” they asked. “Absolutely not,” I replied. “They were
all very respectable, mostly farmers and weavers, in the Lancashire/Yorkshire
border town of Todmorden.”
following Monday, I received a letter from Mrs. E. M. Savage, a
Todmorden author and historian, and a member of the Todmorden Antiquarian
Society, who has made a huge contribution to my research. “Had you
considered,” she asked, “that Isaac Hartley, the reputed father
of Ann Shackleton's son, Isaac Shackleton, could be the son of David
or Isaac Hartley?” Ann Shackleton was my three times great grandmother.
Isaac Shackleton was my great, great grandfather. But who were David
and Isaac Hartley?
Savage told me that the Hartleys were concerned with coin clipping
and were notorious for their “trade”. They were known as the Cragg
Vale Coiners. David and Isaac were brothers and involved in counterfeiting.
David was hanged at York on 28th April 1770. Isaac died in 1815
aged 78. He, although never brought to justice, planned the murder
of the excise officer, William Deighton, whose job had been to arrest
the gang. Isaac didn't commit the murder himself but promised the
sum of £100 to anyone willing to do the deed. There were quite
a few people in the gang and many of the locals were involved in
passing the coins.
simple family tree shows the possible connection.
Hartley (baptised 2nd April 1769) /Ann Shackleton
7th April 1799)
Hartley (baptised 12th Jan. 1772) /Ann Shackleton
7th April 1799)
Savage told me that the standard work on the subject was The
Yorkshire Coiners by H. Ling Roth, privately published in Halifax
in 1906 and probably hard to find. Chalfont St. Peter library isn't
the best and they certainly didn't have this one! Eventually they
did obtain it for me. I also found it, much later, in the library
of the Society of Genealogists.
the meantime, I visited Todmorden Tourist Office and bought some
modern books, Clip a Bright Guinea (The Yorkshire Coiners of
the Eighteenth Century) by John Marsh, published by Smith
Settle Ltd. Ilkley Road, Otley, Yorkshire; The Coiners of Cragg
Vale published by the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale,
and Coiners Chronicle by Bruce Holdsworth, published by
Choice High Ltd. Walkley Cloggs, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. I read
these books and visited David Hartley's grave in Heptonstall. The
graveyard was full of atmosphere, dark, deserted, all the gravestones
flat, and with a white cat, which followed me everywhere, meowing
loudly. I visited the old church ruins, the new church and the museum.
was interred the Body of Grace Hartley of Lodge in Erringden
who departed this life Sept. 2nd 1802 in the 61 year of her
of David Hartley her grandson who departed this life Feby
23rd 1845 aged 25 years.
of David Hartley his father who died Feby 27th 1847 aged 81
Prudence Hartley who died June 1st . 1883 in her 86th year.
had mixed feelings regarding the information; worrying that anybody
in the family had inherited the genes, and excitement about all
the published facts concerning possible ancestors. It was also amusing
to tell the story.
year I finally made it to Bell House, David Hartley's remote
house in Cragg Vale. It was difficult to find and we weren't
sure we had found the right house. On the way back we asked
directions from a family in a four-wheel drive (normal cars
can't make it there.) They were very friendly and drove us
back to Bell House. They said they lived in Keelham, the next
House, Cragg Vale
son knew all about the Hartleys and David's grave at Heptonstall,
rather putting me to shame, as I had lived my first 21 years in
Yorkshire. They rather put things in to perspective when they said,
“He didn't leave you any gold then?” Later, when re-reading my books
I found that a former resident of Keelham was John Wilcock, an associate
of David Hartley.
the end, as Isaac Hartley was the reputed father of my great, great
grandfather, I can claim him or reject him as I wish. But if it
says so in the register, it's probably true, though of course it
could be another Isaac Hartley altogether!
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