Graeme Waterhouse visited Dockroyd Graveyard a while ago looking for the graves of his relatives, in particular his great grandparents Lewis and Isabella Whitaker. We found them in grave 4E. Graeme also took away a copy of DOCKROYD LIVE. Some weeks later he got in touch to say his research had now discovered 32 ancestors, including six direct ancestors in the graveyard.

An extract from his detailed findings is reproduced below. The names in red are his direct ancestors, the others in blue are blood relatives. Anyone wishing to contact Graeme should do so via our CONTACT page.

Elsie Whitaker/Sugden with my son Mark in 1985.

Elsie Whitaker (1908-1998) was my grandmother. She married Eric Fawcett Sugden, my grandfather in July 1930. They were the parents of my mother Isobel. Elsie was the daughter of Lewis Whitaker and Isabella Burbury, my great grandparents.

The first Whitaker ancestors I can identify with confidence are Simeon Whitaker and Mary Holdsworth, our greatx4 grandparents and they start my Whitaker lineage (see below).

Simeon was born in Haworth in 1787 and was a worsted weaver. He married Mary Houldsworth at Bradford Cathedral in 1814. There is a family of Houldsworth’s living around Oakworth and Hermit Hole and assume Mary was part of the family but I can’t find any link on Ancestry UK or the date she was born. They had two sons that I know of: Abraham (1821-1899) and James (1818-1882) my greatx3 grandfather (see below). They lived in the Oakworth area and, as Oakworth did not have its own church at that time, births and deaths were recorded at nearby Haworth Church. I can’t find out much about Simeon other than he died in 1834 in Haworth (Oakworth) aged 47.

Oddly, the only family member I can find on the 1841 census is Abraham. I know Mary was still alive as Abraham (see below) records his mother as “still living” when he was in court in 1842. I can’t find Mary on the 1851 census, so I believe she died in the 1840s. Simeon and Mary had two children that I know of: James (my greatx3 grandfather) and Abraham.

Abraham was born on 25 August 1821 and was a woolcomber, labourer and later a carter. He married Grace Miller on April 20 1840 and they first lived at Black Hill where he worked as a woolcomber. In October 1842 aged 21 he was sent to the Wakefield House of Correction for a month for “breaking 28 squares of glass at Keighley”, presumably when drunk! The records describe him as a woolcomber/labourer, 5 feet 11 inches tall with a pock-marked face and a “mother still living”. It also states he could “read monosyllables” and that he was married with a child. This child was called Elizabeth, born in 1842. After his release they moved to Kildwick and by the 1851 census they were living there with daughters Elizabeth, Susannah (1847-1908) and Louisa (1845-1931). Abraham was still woolcombing. They had four further children: Selina (born 1849), Abraham (born 1853), Mary Ann (1855-1887) and Emily (born 1856). Grace died in 1861 and on the 1861 census Abraham is shown as a widow, still woolcombing, living at Beckside, which I believe was in the notorious Damside area of Keighley. Living with him are six young children aged between five and fifteen. The solution to this problem at this time was to get married as soon as possible, and he remarried to Hannah Brearley in 1863.  Abraham changed occupations and became an agricultural labourer and later a carter and they lived in Oakworth and later Hermit Hole, which is on Halifax Road between Ingrow and Crossroads. They went on to have relatively long lives, both dying in 1899.

James (my greatx4 grandfather) was born on 27 August 1818 and baptised at St Michael & All Saints Church at Haworth. He married Sarah Wood (1821-1886) on 20 March 1843. The wedding details show James was living at “Dean Laithe”, presumably with his mother, and Sarah at Goodley, Oakworth. There is a Higher and Lower Dean Laithe farm on the road between Oakworth and Slippery Ford, so I assume he and his mother lived there. Sarah, who seems to prefer being called Sally, was the daughter of James Wood (1797-1840) and Grace Bland (1798-1879). They are my other greatx4 grandparents from her side of our family.

James and Grace Wood lived in Oakworth and married in 1818 in Haworth Parish Church. They had ten children between 1820 and 1838 before James died in 1840 aged 43. He was another woolcomber[1], a very unhealthy job carried out at home and a very popular occupation for the poorer working classes in the mid eighteenth century. The job may have contributed to his death. After his death and on the first census in 1841 Grace is now a widow, working at home as a worsted weaver and living with eight of her children (including Sarah) at Bogthorn. Three of her sons, twins John and Joseph (aged 15) and Sunderland (aged 13) continued as woolcombers working from home. This must have been a very cramped and unhealthy house. By 1851 Grace was now a bread-maker and still living at Bogthorn, with just four of her children. Grace died aged 81 and was buried at Oakworth Christ Church on 19 February 1879.

Going back to my Whitaker greatx3 grandparents James and Sarah/Sally, after marrying they lived in several terraced houses at Lidget, Oakworth. Lidget is the community of terraced houses area along Keighley Road leading from the roundabout by Oakworth School towards Keighley. On his wedding details and on the 1851 census he was another woolcomber, as were many of our ancestors at that time. As the woolcombing cottage industry declined in the 1850s he then became a stone quarryman. My educated guess is that he was involved in the construction of the nearby Wesleyan Chapel and Oakworth House as the stone for these buildings was quarried on site and the timing of his change of occupation ties in with their construction.


It would appear James was a bit of an entrepreneur as on the 1881 census he has a sideline as a “fish dealer” and is also getting income from three female boarders who were working as weavers at a local mill, presumably Vale Mill. Also on this census is a grandchild called Ada who was the illegitimate child of his daughter Grace Ann. James died in December 1882 aged 62 and Sarah/Sally died in 1886 aged 64. They are both buried in Dockroyd Graveyard at Oakworth.

Hannah was born in Oakworth in 1844 She had a child out of wedlock called Wilson, born on 17 May 1864. The father was Hargreaves Whitaker which suggests a Whitaker family inter-relationship. Furthermore, her son Wilson Whitaker went on to marry Ruth Whitaker, which makes things even more problematic. I have researched the families and the family trees are shown below. This suggests there is no obvious link between the families although a remaining mystery is why Hannah chose the name “Wilson”. It’s interesting to note that Wilson’s future wife Ruth had a grandmother called Elizabeth Wilson!

As mentioned above, Hannah (aged 21) had a child called Wilson born 17 May 1864 out of wedlock with Hargreaves Whitaker, a local farmer. This clearly caused the family a dilemma. Firstly, it’s clear Hargreaves didn’t want to do the decent thing and marry Hannah. Instead, he married Mary Driver on 27 June 1864, only two months after his son Wilson was born.  Hannah was therefore an unmarried mother employed as a worsted weaver at Vale Mill, where millowner Jonas Sugden made it clear that “when young people fell into sin they were required to marry or leave their service”. The Whitakers were also Methodists attending the Wesleyan Chapel where Jonas Sugden conducted the services. The answer was to keep the details of Wilson’s parentage a family secret and claim instead that his parents were James and Sarah, the grandparents. And the proof this did happen was when Wilson (see below) was baptised on September 6th 1866!

Baptism details for Wilson Whitaker.

They didn’t have to keep up the pretense for too long as Hannah married the following year, to William Feather. Interestingly they avoided the Wesleyan Chapel and married at Oakworth Christ Church in February 1867. It appears that the Whitakers were a devious bunch. William was a textile worker and on the 1871 census he and Hannah were living at Lidget Square with young Wilson (now aged 6) and their children Sarah (aged 3) and Mary (aged 1). They went on to have five children together; Sarah (1868-1886), Mary (born 1870), Frederick (born 1873), Jane Ann (1875-1885) and Hannah (born 1878).

Unfortunately, Hannah died in September 1881 aged only 38, followed shortly afterwards by William in 1885 aged 44. They are both buried at the Wesleyan Burial Ground in an unmarked grave at Plot 3U. However, they did make an inscription on the foot of the back of Hannah’s parent’s gravestone (see further below) at nearby Plot 2U. Being thrifty Yorkshiremen, this was obviously done to avoid the cost of a new gravestone. Their grave also contains their two daughters Jane Ann and Sarah who died around the same time and the inscription reads:

  • In memory of HANNAH the beloved wife of William FEATHER of Lidget born April 19th 1843 died Sept 13th 1884.
  • Also of JANE ANN their daughter who died Aug 19th 1885 in the 11th year of her age.
  • Also of the above WILLIAM FEATHER who died Dec 25th 1885 aged 44 years.
  • Also of SARAH their daughter who died April 12th 1886 in the 19th year of her age.

The loss of four members of the same family within two years suggests a link between their deaths. Based on my investigation into early deaths of my other ancestors at this time, I think it’s highly likely the cause was tuberculosis. When they died they left behind three young children.

It’s clear that Wilson Whitaker knew about his correct parentage from an early age as he lived with his mother after she married and acknowledged Hargreaves as his father on his wedding details when he married Ruth Whitaker on 3 April 1886.

Fortunately, Wilson and his wife Ruth immediately took on the parental responsibilities for his young orphaned half-siblings. On the next 1891 census Wilson (now aged 26) has his surviving half-brothers and sisters; Mary (aged 21) a cotton weaver, Frederick (aged 18) a shuttle maker and Hannah (aged 13) a worsted spinner living with him. Also living with them are Wilson and Ruth’s first two children; Albert and James. They went on to have three further sons: Raymond, Clifford and Dick, eventually settling at 19, Chapel Lane, Oakworth. Clifford is shown on censuses as “dumb from birth”. Dick appears to have died in infancy.

Wilson died in 1937 aged 70 having had a very interesting life. He is yet another buried at the Wesleyan Graveyard in Oakworth along with his wife Ruth. They are buried in Ruth’s family grave at Plot 18S. This unmarked grave also contains her parents James and Isabella (see Whitaker family tree above).

Oddly, Albert, Raymond and Clifford never married and continued to live together at the family home on Chapel Lane until they died. Wilson’s other “surviving” son James, like most of his generation, volunteered to fight in the First World War in 1917 and served in the West Yorkshire Regiment. His story has been researched by Andy Wade as part of “Men of Worth” project linked to the 2018 Centenary of the end of the War. In brief, James and his regiment were billeted at the British base at Poperinge in the Flanders region of Belgium on 24 April 1918 ready for an advance on German lines. There was very heavy German bombing of the base overnight and one shell wiped out a whole platoon of the regiment.  On the 25 April they were bussed a few miles closer to the front line. At 10.30am they were given the order to march to the village of Millekruisse. The visibility was so bad that they couldn’t find the trenches so had to seek cover in fields close to the village overnight while facing shelling from the enemy lines. Somewhere in amongst this mayhem James lost his life and his body was never found, indicating he was either hit directly by a shell or completely buried in one of the many bomb craters that littered no-man’s land.

He is commemorated at the huge Tyne Cot memorial at Zonnebeke in Belgium. The memorial contains the names of nearly 35,000 soldiers who died in similar circumstances.  He is also named on the Oakworth War Memorial in Holden Park.

Mary was born in Oakworth in January 1845. On the 1861 census she was a worsted weaver but on the 1871 census her occupation is oddly recorded as “Reeks House”. I believe this may be a reference to Rix House, Arncliffe Road, Keighley. Rix House is a large Victorian House and is a care home for adults with learning disabilities. It’s likely it had a similar function at the time, indicating Mary may have had some form of learning disability. Unfortunately, Mary died in August 1872 aged only 25. She was the first to be buried in the Whitaker family grave at Dockroyd. This grave has an impressive gravestone designed to look like two headstones joined together. This is because it covers two separate graves at Plot 2T & Plot 2U and was obviously intended to hold lots of Whitakers. On the first headstone on the left for Plot 2T  it says:

In Remembrance of:

  • Mary, daughter of James and Sarah Whitaker of Lidget who died August 5th 1872 in the 26th year of her age.
  • Also of the above James Whitaker who died December 27th 1882 in the 63rd year of his age.
  • Also of Sally wife of the above James Whitaker who died September 4th 1886 in the 65th year of her age.
  • Also of Sarah Maria daughter of the above who died February 1st 1927 aged 72 years.

James was born in Oakworth in 1851. He was another shuttle-maker and married Eliza Roberts at Keighley Parish Church in June 1878. They lived at 164, Ingrow Lane and had 9 children of which 6 lived into adulthood. Their three children that died in infancy; James, Benjamin, and Thomas, are all buried in the Whitaker family grave in Plot 2U. They are named on the right hand side of the gravestone, which says

In Remembrance of:

  • James son of James and Eliza Whitaker, of Bracken Bank who died December 27th 1886 in his 2nd year.
  • Benjamin Garner, their son who died January 28th 1887 in his 3rd year.
  • Also of Thomas Burwin Whitaker their son who died October 23rd 1897, aged 9 years.

Sarah Maria was born in Oakworth in 1854. She married Charles Toothill a monumental mason from Haworth at the Oakworth Wesleyan Methodist Church in September 1874. In 1881 they were living at Rough Nook in Haworth and running a lodging house with their two sons James and Arthur, and 9 boarders including 3 “hawkers[1]” from Lancashire. After this they split up, with Sarah moving out to live at Highfield Lane and then Ingrow Lane with their youngest son Arthur. Sarah died in 1927 aged 72 and is the final person buried in the Whitaker family grave at Oakworth under her married name of Sarah Maria Toothill. Meanwhile her ex-husband Charles lived with their eldest son James. He then had another son with his new partner Frances Meyers called Frank Toothill Meyers. As he was still married to Sarah Maria he was unable to marry Frances but did the decent thing by acknowledging in his son’s middle name that he was the father. Charles died in 1904.

Grace Ann was born in Oakworth in July 1855 and was another to test the Wesleyan bit about “falling into sin”. On the 1871 census she is shown living with her parents and working as a worsted textile spinner, presumably working at Vale Mill. In 1876 she had a child out of wedlock called Ada, curiously born at Morecambe and christened on 30 April 1876 at Poulton-le-Sands. Ada is the grandchild shown on the 1881 census aged 4 and living with her grandparents. On the same census Grace is working as a “servant” with William Whiteoak and his son, also called William, at a farm at Farnhill. Bearing in mind the words that greeted employees at Vale Mill and the Whitaker’s staunch Methodism I would imagine she would have provided her parents John and Sarah with yet another dilemma. It’s possible she was bundled out of Oakworth to have her child in Morecambe, well away from local gossip, with the child then brought up by the grandparents. 


Unfortunately, Ada died in 1886 aged only ten and is buried Dockroyd Graveyard. She is not buried in the family grave but in a separate Plot 1R in the grave shown below owned by her mother Grace. Coincidentally, Grace’s mother Sarah’s burial is also recorded just above on the list. She must have originally been buried in an unmarked grave as her name is added later at the foot of the grave headstone shown further below. While the Dockroyd Graveyard records show her as “Ada Whitaker” the grave inscription states she is “Ada Duckett”. I think it’s likely her mother’s later married name of Duckett was added when the headstone was erected.

Grace apparently married in July 1882 in Keighley although I can’t find details of the marriage certificate. It’s interesting to note that her Whitaker surname has been crossed out on the details of the burial above and the surname “Feather” has been added. This indicates Grace was now married to a Mr. Feather and that Ada was back living with her mother when she died. It is interesting to note that Grace’s sister Hannah (who died in 1881) married William Feather so one theory is she married her sister’s husband the following year. If so the marriage didn’t last long as William died in 1885. Another theory is she married another Mr. Feather and moved out of the area. It would appear she later  married a Mr. Duckett. Unfortunately, I can’t find any obvious details of what happened next to Grace Whitaker/Feather/Duckett after her daughter Ada’s burial in 1886.

Simeon was named after his grandfather and was born in Oakworth in 1858. He married Mary Anne Roseina Hale. On the 1911 census he states they had 7 children with 1 dying in childhood. However, the Dockroyd Graveyard records show Simeon owned Plot 28A, and this unmarked grave contains William Whitaker (his child who died aged 9 days in 1894) and two unnamed stillborn babies born in 1896 and 1900. It appears he didn’t count the last two stillborn children on the 1911 census. The surviving six children were Mary Jane (1883-1943), Sarah Martha (1884-1976), George Virtue (1888-1963) who emigrated to Canada, Tom (born 1890), Ada (born 1893) and Alice Roseina (born 1898).  Simeon changed jobs regularly and by 1911 was an engine minder working in a colliery at Clayton le Moors, just north of Accrington in Lancashire. On the 1939 census, retired and aged 81, he’s living in Accrington with his widowed youngest daughter Alice Roseina Hamer and two of her children. He died in 1942 aged 84.

Benjamin (Ben) was born in Oakworth in 1860. He had the skilled job of a woolsorter working at Vale Mill. He married Sabina Leeming from Oakworth at Keighley Parish Church on 24 December 1885. They moved to Cononley where Ben and Sabina were now oatcake makers. This didn’t last long and by the 1911 census they were back in Oakworth where Ben was a farm labourer. He died in 1945 aged 85.  They had three children: Norman, Renton and Edgar. Benjamin died in May 1945 aged 85 and Sabina aged 67 in 1927 when the gravestone was erected. They are both buried in Plot 1S. Also remembered on this gravestone are their son Edgar, who died aged 3 weeks in 1892 and was buried in nearby Plot 1R, their niece Ada Duckett[1], who died in 1886 aged 10 and who was the daughter of Benjamin’s sister Grace Ann as mentioned further above also buried in Plot 1R; and Annie the wife of their son Norman, who died in 1952 aged 57.


Their son Norman was a gardener and greenkeeper, looking after Holden Park and the bowling green from its opening in 1925 until he retired in 1952. His brother Renton emigrated to USA and became a naturalised American citizen in 1943. He was then drafted into the US Army during WW2. He died in Ambler, Pennsylvania in 1960.

Jane was born in Oakworth in 1864.  She married John Maroney at Oakworth Christ Church in February 1884. John was from London and both he and Jane worked as cotton and worsted weavers. They moved to Silsden living on Keighley Road. They had 13 children of which 11 lived to adulthood. There are too many of them to go into detail. The one that must be mentioned was their son Alfred, born in Silsden in 1896. As with most of his generation he fought the First World War, serving with the 2nd Battalion of Coldstream Guards. Unfortunately, he was killed on 27 March 1918, becoming yet another of my ancestors to have been killed in this awful war.

Alfred Maroney (1896-1918)

He joined the army in 1915 and died towards the end of the war having survived action in the trenches for three years. He died at Arras in the northern region of France and the scene of the Battle of the Somme. The city of Arras was so badly bombed that three quarters of it had it be completely rebuilt. He is buried at the huge Arras Memorial Graveyard. Like James Whitaker mentioned previously, he doesn’t have a specific grave or a battle that I can link his death to, which suggests he was unfortunately either blown up during the bombing of the trenches or buried during bombing. He does however have his name in the First World War memorial window at Gargrave Methodist Church.

John Whitaker (my greatx2 grandfather) was born in April 1848 in Oakworth. He married Mary Ann Thompson (1845-1904) on 21 December 1867 at Oakworth Christ Church. Like his father he was a stonemason and lived at 116, Lidget, Oakworth, close to his parents. They moved to Vale Mill Lane, and then further down Vale Mill Lane to settle at 12, Brook Row.

The close Whitaker link to Vale Mill is shown on the 1891 census where Mary Elizabeth is working as a worsted twister, Martha Jane as a worsted weaver, Harry as an apprentice to the mill mechanic, and Lewis (aged 13) and Ethel (aged 11) as worsted spinners.

Mary Ann died in November 1904 aged 59 and John on 10 November 1909 aged 61. They are both buried in an unmarked grave at the Wesleyan Graveyard at Plot 28T. They had 8 children as shown in the table below:

Mary Elizabeth married Jesse Overand, a mineral water bottler, in 1895 in Oakworth. They had 3 children; Annie Elizabeth, Alfred and Albert and lived at 45, Catherine Street, Keighley, which is in the Holycroft area of Keighley, an area already full of my Sugden and Fawcett ancestors. Mary died in 1947 aged 79. She and her husband are buried at Ingrow St John’s Church graveyard. Annie Elizabeth never married and died in 1972 aged 78. She is buried in the same grave as her parents.

Alfred served in the First World War in the navy. He was an electrical engineer. He married May Howarth in 1921 and they had one son, Norman. Albert was a machine tool cutter and married Eleanor Shackleton. They lived at 7, Upper Calton Street, Holycroft, next door to William Fawcett who was my grandfather Sugden’s uncle. Albert died in 1991 aged 84.

James was born in 1870. He died aged only 12 in 1882 and was the first to be buried in Plot 28T purchased by his father at Dockroyd graveyard on 15 July 1882.

Martha Jane has an interesting story to tell. It started when David Horsfall a yarn scourer from Warley, Halifax arrived in Oakworth presumably to work at Vale Mill. On the 1891 census aged 25 he and his mother Mary (aged 45) and sister Elizabeth (aged 20) were lodging with 62 year old Edward Garforth, a greengrocer, at 23 Bridge Street Oakworth. Mary was a housekeeper and appears to have left her 62 year old husband Joseph, who was also a greengrocer, back in Warley with the rest of her children. They must have separated as she remained in the Keighley area and by 1901 was still a housekeeper and living with a farmer at Black Hill. David married Martha Jane on 10 October 1891 at Haworth Parish Church. They had two children; James born in 1894, and Harold born in 1895 but who unfortunately died aged only 2 months. He was buried in the Thompson communal grave (see further below) at Dockroyd Graveyard in the Thompson’s unmarked grave at Plot 4E on 4 April 1895. Around the time of the death of Harold the marriage breaks down and she becomes our first ancestor to separate and re-marry while her first husband was still alive. It’s difficult to track what happened to her ex-husband David Horsfall.  He does remerge in 1916 aged 50 when he volunteers to fight in the First World War with West Riding Regiment[1]. Records suggest he also remarried, moved to Halifax and died in 1934. She then remarries to Samuel Smith, a widower and an engineer from Keighley at St Mary’s Church Eastwood on 13 March 1897. The wedding details show she uses her maiden rather than her married name. It’s not clear whether she divorced her first husband but if she did she was the first of my ancestors to do so.

Martha and Samuel had no children and Samuel seems to spend most of his time away from home and boarding up in Barrow and working as a marine engineer. Samuel either died before Martha or they separated as censuses around 1940 shows a Martha Jane Smith living on her own at 14, Larkfield Terrace, Thwaites Brow.

For whatever reason Samuel and Martha Jane didn’t seem to want to be burdened with her son James as he is never living with them on censuses. One option is that the family decided not to tell her second husband of either her first marriage or her child, and this would explain the use of her maiden name at her wedding and why her son never lived with her. In 1901 her son James (aged 7) is living with his grandparents on Brook Row and on the 1911 census, after his grandparents died, with his uncle Frank Whitaker at Pickles Street, Keighley and working as a carter for a bottled beer dealer. After that I can’t find any records of him.

Arthur carried on the family tradition of being a stone mason. He married Mary Ferris who was originally from Wiltshire at Haworth Parish Church in 1893.  On the 1901 census Mary is living with her sister and brother-in-law in Haworth. By 1911 she is living with her brother at 16, Linden Street, Haworth and recorded as married rather than widowed. I have found an Arthur Whitaker on the 1939 census living on his own in Shipley and working as a painter and decorator.

Harry is shown on the 1891 census aged 16 as an apprentice to a mill mechanic. After this census he is not traceable so it’s possible he died young or moved away from the area. Edith is shown on the 1901 census aged 21 and working as a yarn twister.

Isaac was named after his mother Mary Ann’s father Isaac Thompson who died on 20 March 1875. Unfortunately, this Isaac was stillborn and is buried in the Thompson’s unmarked grave Plot 4E on 10 February 1876.

Frank was originally another stone mason before moving into the building trade probably working with his brother Lewis. He married Bridget Gaughan from Colne in 1905. They had 4 children of which only Asa, who became a butcher, and Margaret lived into adulthood. They lived at 7, Pickles Street and eventually 3, Pear Street, Keighley, which is just off Halifax Road. Frank died

in March 1929 aged 47 and is buried in an unmarked grave at the same Plot 28T as his on 16 March 1929.

Lewis is my great grandfather. He was born in 1877 in Oakworth. He married Isabella Burbury (1877-1956) in July 1898. He was a joiner and carpenter who then became a relatively successful builder. From the 1930s he built many houses in the new Keighley suburbs including those on Cliffe Crescent at Sandbeds (see below). All his houses have that certain 1930s pebble-dashed style and he liked members of his family to move into them. This included my grandparents who briefly moved into a newly built Cliffe Crescent semi around 1932.

Cliffe Crescent, Sandbeds, built by our great grandfather

Lewis and Isabella lived in a succession of houses that he built, including properties on Hainworth Road and Lawnswood Road. He may have suffered mental health issues towards the end of his life as he died aged 67 at Scaleboro Park Mental Hospital at Burley in Wharfedale. He died in 1934 leaving a sizeable £8462 (£620,000 in current money) in probate to the “Midland Bank Executor and Trustee Company.

Lewis is another buried in Plot 4E but is the only burial with a gravestone. The plot was originally bought by Isaac Thompson (our greatx3 Cliffe Crescent, Sandbeds, built by our great grandfather grandfather) and contains nine of his and other Whitaker family members and this is covered in the section on the Thompsons further below. This includes Lewis’s wife Isabella, although I can’t understand why the family didn’t add her name to his gravestone. Lewis and Isabella had 7 children as shown in the table below:


John Whitaker (1848-1909)married Mary Ann Thompson (1845-1904)in Oakworth on 21 December 1867. They are my greatx2 grandparents and their life together is described above. Mary Ann was the daughter ofIsaac Thompson (1819-1875) (my greatx3 grandfather).The records say Isaac was born in 1819 in Keighley, although this was probably in Oakworth. He was a joiner (carpenter) and lived in Oakworth all his life. He married three times, so tracking him and his children was very difficult and other ancestry users have incorrectly linked children to the wrong mother. The correct version of his wives with their respective children is shown below.

Isaac’s first wife was Christiana Turner (1822-1851) and she is my greatx3 grandmother. She married Isaac on 10 May 1841 at Keighley Parish Church. Christiana’s father was Thomas Turner, a weaver from Mill Hill, Haworth.  He is my greatx4 grandfather. Other than his name, occupation and address on Christiana’s wedding details, neither I nor anyone else on Ancestry UK can find anything else about him or who his wife was. Unusually, on the 1841 census Christiana (aged 19) is a lodger with Hannah Deighton, a wine merchant at Otley Market Place. She either worked there or was a visitor.

Christiana and Thomas’ daughter Mary Ann (my greatx2 grandmother) was born in 1845 and in 1851 the family were living at Clough Houses, Oakworth. Christiana died shortly afterwards in April 1851 aged only 29. Her death followed the premature deaths of her two daughters, both called Betsey, in 1848 and 1850. There’s probably a link.  She and her young daughters are the first to be buried in Plot 4E at Dockroyd graveyard.

After Christiana died Isaac didn’t hang about and married Sarah Thornton (1829-1866) from Keighley just 7 months later. In 1861 they were living at Syke Head next to the Parsonage. Mary Ann was still living with them and working as a worsted factory worker.  Isaac and Sarah’s children Lund and Ellen were also living in the house. Five further children arrived, the final child being an unnamed baby who presumably was stillborn. This child was another buried in Plot 4E at Dockroyd Graveyard, on 1st  October 1866.  Sarah died in the same month aged 37, possibly from complications with the birth? She was buried in the same Plot 4E on 15 November 1866. 

In July 1867 Isaac married his third wife Hannah Speight (1825-1884) from Bingley. I assume the family had moved to Bingley around 1865 and on the 1871 census they were living at Norfolk Street in Bingley. By this time Lund had joined Isaac in his carpentry business. Shortly after they married the final child Jane was born.  Isaac then died in 1875 aged 56 and is another buried in Plot 4E. It’s difficult to track Hannah after the 1871 census but a Hannah Thompson is recorded as dying in Keighley in 1884.

Isaac Thompson had eleven children with his three wives as summarised in the table below:


Mary Ann is my greatx2 grandmother. She was the daughter of Isaac’s first wife Christiana Turner and definitely not Sarah Thornton as other Ancestry UK users have recorded. She was born in Oakworth in 1845 and before marrying was a worsted worker at a local mill. She married John Whitaker on 21 December 1867.  Their life together is covered in the Whitaker section above. She died in 1904 and is buried at Dockroyd graveyard in Plot 28T.

Christiana and Isaac went on to have two daughters both called Betsy or Betsey. The first was born in 1846 and died aged two in 1848. As a result, Isaac bought graveyard Plot 4E at the Wesleyan Graveyard on Dockroyd Lane and Betsey was buried there in October 1848. She was obviously a much loved child and her death must have been devastating. When they had a second daughter born in 1850, they decided to also name her Betsy but without the “e”. Tragically she also died aged just one and was buried 10 November 1850 in the same grave. Christiana died only a few months later in May 1851 aged only 28, and we can only speculate as to the impact of losing both her daughters.

Lund was born in Oakworth in 1852 and was Isaac’s first child with his next wife Sarah Thornton. He married Mary Anne Earnshaw in October 1874 and they had two children but only one, David born in 1877, lived into adulthood. They lived at Britannia Street in Bingley. Lund was a cabinet maker/joiner and on the 1911 census is working with his son, who presumably took over the business. Lund died in January 1919 aged 66.

Ellen was born in 1855 in Oakworth. She married Charles T Appleyard. He did a variety of jobs in the textile industry and they moved around living firstly in Rochdale and by 1911 are living in Colne. They had 3 children; Jane, Floris and Isaac.

Ann Elizabeth was born in Oakworth in 1860. On the 1871 census aged 11 she’s working as a worsted spinner in the local mill. After this she is not traceable suggesting she died young.

Frank or Francis was born in Oakworth in 1861. He emigrated to Toronto in Canada, married Anne Jane Jamieson and had lots of children. He died around 1945.

Harry was born in 1864 in Oakworth. He never married and worked as a cloth maker. In 1891 he was head of the house and living with his half-sister Jane on Richmond Street, Bingley. By 1911 he was living at 21, Queen Street, Bingley with an unnamed female who I assume is Jane.

Isaac and Sarah also had two children who died unnamed and therefore presumably stillborn. The first shown as an unnamed infant on the Wesleyan Graveyard records was buried in 1856 in an unmarked grave on the Thompsons graveyard Plot 4E. The second unnamed baby was buried in the same plot on 1 October 1866. Sarah died 15 November 1866 and the link to the death of the last baby cannot be ignored.

Jane was the last child, born in 1866 in Bingley to his third wife Hannah Speight. By 1891, after both her parents died she was living with her half-brother Harry and working as a dressmaker. After this she is not traceable but may have continued living with Harry.