LAW AND MALLY SHACKLETON
Shackleton, who was born in 1790, lived with her younger sisters
in a room above their father's smithy on Cheapside in Todmorden.
This was an old building in which the living room was on a level
with the workshop, 3 or 4 feet below the level of the road. There
was one small window, which had wooden shutters. The upper room
was reached by a flight of stone steps on the outside of the building
and in there the girls had hand looms, a bed and some furniture.
Law on the other hand lived in Walsden. He was one of at least 13
children, born into a comfortably off family. His father, Samuel,
had been a journeyman clogger with his own business at Toad Carr
in Todmorden who had invested wisely in the emerging cotton industry
during the 1780's. There was no shortage of money and the comforts
of life, and the family lived at SQUARE. Young Jimmy followed in
his father's footsteps, becoming a clogger, whilst 3 of his brothers
started businesses in the cotton industry and a fourth opened a
beerhouse on Square, and later built the CROSS KEYS across the road.
and Mally met, married and settled down at Square where they had
2 children, Sarah Jane in 1813 and John in 1816. His older brothers
were busy planning and building a cotton factory at RAMSDEN WOOD,
but Jimmy had little interest in joining them. His thoughts were
on a new and different life overseas and he made plans to emigrate
to North America. His plans were halted briefly when he discovered
that skilled workers such as he was were forbidden to leave the
country. Not to be thwarted, he had a labourer friend by the name
of James Leonard who was willing to apply for the papers in his
name. James decided to set off alone on the long and hazardous journey
and promised to send for Mally and the children when he had found
a suitable home on the other side of the ocean. He left Walsden
early in 1819 and entered America as James Leonard, labourer.
was pregnant when he left, and gave birth to a son, Samuel, on 10th
May 1819 in Walsden. Meanwhile, Jimmy arrived in Canada and found
a home at Niagara in Ontario, Canada. He sent for Mally and their
3 young children. Mally sold their furniture, looms and many other
things, including her precious violin, which she had often played
to the delight of her husband and children. She needed all the money
she could find to make her long journey as comfortable as possible.
Her journey would have taken her by stage coach to Manchester and
then on to Liverpool, the port of embarkation, no doubt leaving
from the Golden Lion in Todmorden.
arrival in Liverpool they had some time to spare. Mally would have
been enthralled with the city and the sites. She had probably never
been out of her village home, and would never have seen the sea
before. It wasn't the sea that caught her eye, however, but a shop
window displaying a violin. She couldn't resist temptation and bought
it along with several spare strings. She knew it would be a comfort
to her on the long trip ahead.
a typical brig
journey over the ocean to Quebec would have taken about 6
weeks in 1820, more than likely on a brig, or two masted sailing
ship. An example voyage in 1820 was on the Brig, Alpha,
from Liverpool to Quebec. The ship was captained by Captain
McCormick. Setting sail 13th August, she took 51 days and
carried salt, coals and 12 settlers. During the 6 weeks there
would have been storms and rough seas to contend with, as
well as sickness and fever.
found the time to play her violin during the voyage, and ended up
entertaining the other passengers and crew. As a small recompense
for this, the captain organised a whip-round for her, and when the
collection was handed over to Mrs. Law she found it more than sufficient
to cover the cost of buying the fiddle in Liverpool. Family tradition
has it that the violin is still in the family, somewhere in America.
On arrival in Quebec, the passengers faced the rigours of an examination
by a surgeon and customs clearance, and would then leave the sailing
ship and board a steamer for the journey up the St. Lawrence as
far as Montreal. The steam boats held upwards of 400 passengers,
many of whom were obliged to sit and sleep on the open decks for
the 24 hour journey, often in drenching conditions and unable to
access dry clothes as their luggage would be in the hold. The steam
boats could go no further than Montreal, and from there the passengers
and their luggage were taken by waggon on a ten mile journey over
land to the village of La Chine. Those who could walk followed the
waggons on foot.
La Chine the settlers would have to wait a few days for their next
transport to arrive. These were Canadian Bateaux, flat bottomed
open boats capable of passing the St. Lawrence rapids. Each boat
would hold about 25 people in very uncomfortable conditions. They
were rowed, poled, and in some cases they had sails, but whatever
their power, they were uncomfortable and dangerous. Their destination
was Prescot, 120 miles up river. The rapids had a strong current
and in places the river was shallow and rocky. The boats often grounded,
necessitating the women and children to get out and walk, and the
men help to haul the boats whilst waist deep in water. In the worst
places, two horses would be needed to pull each boat in the flotilla.
When darkness fell, the party would find somewhere to sleep. Some
got access to farm houses, but most camped out in the woods, cooking
their food over open fires the best way they could, and using clothing
for beds. They had to spend 6 nights in this way before reaching
Prescot, Mally travelled to Queenstown on the steamer SS Frontenac, the first steam-powered ship launched
in Upper Canada. She was a topsail schooner measuring 170
feet long and was built in 1816. At some point in her journey
Mally was met by her husband, and they travelled on from Prescot
to Niagara, Ontario, where her new home was waiting for her,
her children and the violin.
by Van Cleve
after his arrival in his adopted land, James began to build machinery
for the woollen industry. After all, there would be no call for
a clogger over there and his brothers back in Walsden were busy
building and operating spinning mills for the cotton industry. He
supervised the building of several woollen mills on the Canadian
side of the river and in 1822 a fourth child was born to the couple
in Stamford, Ontario. He was James. Almost immediately, the family
moved to live on Goat Island on the American side.
1817 there was little or no development on Goat Island. There were
bears, wolves, deer, and indigenous Indians. In 1818 a bridge was
built to connect the island to the mainland, enabling industrial
development there and on the neighbouring Bath Island. The wooden
bridge was erected near the falls and was replaced by an iron bridge
in 1856. Jimmy and Mally lived in a small cottage on Goat Island
close to the bridge entrance. Whilst they were there, their next
child, Robert, was born in 1824. When Robert died aged 89 in 1912
he held the distinction of being the first, and last, white man
to be born on the island.
1826 the family had left Goat Island and were living at St. David's
back in Ontario. There they stayed until about 1832, producing a
further 3 sons, Thomas, William and Abraham. Jimmy, by now over
40 years old, decided to make one final move. They packed up their
belongings and acquired a virgin farm at Scarborough, near Toronto.
He set to with his sons to clear the land and build a home and then
settled down to the life of a farmer. Just one more son arrived
- Edwin, making 8 sons and 1 daughter. There they remained for the
next 35 years.
and Mally both died at Scarborough and are buried there at
St. Margaret's-in-the-Pines. This was Scarborough's first
Anglican Church, built in 1833. The original wooden church
was destroyed by fire in 1904 and was replaced in 1905 by
the small brick building now standing in the burial ground.
headstone is a skinny obelisk about 6 feet high in some kind
of soft white stone which is weather-worn and it is hard to
read the lettering, not big but striking somehow and one of
Loving memory of James Law
who died January 3rd. 1866
aged 74 years and 9 months.
of Mary, wife of James Law
who died March 24th 1876
86 years and 3 months.
of Lancashire, England.
to Canada 1819
the 1800's James and Mally must have been high on a hill overlooking
miles of countryside with Lake Ontario's sparkling waters a few
short miles to the south. Now it is a quiet haven surrounded by
busy roads and tall apartment buildings.
and Mally's sons, 8 in all, were named after James' brothers back
in Walsden, and just like his brothers, his children did very well
for themselves. They received whatever limited education was available
to them, studying part time until the age of 10, and then occasionally
in the evenings at home by firelight. They were a long-lived clan,
most making it well into the 20th century.
sons of James and Mally in 1880. The empty chair on the right
was for their brother Abraham who departed for Australia in
1878 and was never heard of again.
of them in particular made his name in the ship building business
and as a sailor of renown. He was Captain Samuel Law, born at Square,
Walsden, in 1819. He claimed to be the first discoverer of stilling
the seas by pouring oil on them. As far back as 1849 he discovered
that raw linseed oil was the best to calm the turbulent waters.
He sailed the Great Lakes for many years, and then in 1874 turned
to boat building at Cleveland, Ohio. He died there in 1906.
can read all about him on:
and Mally's eldest son, John, who was born in Walsden in 1816, became
a very successful farmer. He owned his own strip of land at Scarborough
amounting to 100 acres. He and his wife Caroline Bell from Castleton
in Yorkshire went on to have 11 children, all born in Scarborough.
Brother Thomas was also a farmer with his sons at Pickering in South
Ontario. Thomas and Mary his wife lost 2 children within a week
in 1851, presumably through disease. The children and parents are
buried at St. Margaret's.
children are buried beneath flat stones, which are now covered
with a yellow creeping plant and are almost buried themselves.
They are next to their parents and grandparents.
son of Thomas and Mary Law died August 9th 1851 aged 3 years
5 months and 3 days.
daughter of Thomas and Mary Law died August 17th 1851 aged
1 year 7 months and 6 days.
and Mary are buried beneath a dull grey stone, which is an
upright rectangle, quite deep, weather-worn, and dimpled.
They are next to James and Mally.
memory of Thomas Law died November 11th 1906 aged 80 years
4 months. His wife Mary died May 3rd 1917 in her 91st. year.
and photographs of St. Margaret's cemetery very kindly supplied
by Diana Davies)
who departed for Australia, was never heard of again..........until
now. Watch this space...............................