Travelling within the UK in 1800s


My 4th great-grandfather was a weaver who was born in 1772 and was married, lived and died in the Wigan area.

I have found a record dated 1801, for someone with the same name, age and occupation in the West Riding House of Correction (Wakefield), imprisoned (in Wakefield) then whipped (in Halifax) for buying embezzeled yarn.

Before I possibly slander the good name of my ancestor, what is the likelihood that it’s the same person given that Yorkshire is at least 60 miles away from Wigan? Would a weaver have travelled that distance for some 'knock-off' cotton?


Posted 2020-11-05T14:04:32.590

Reputation: 41

1It strikes me that going from the middle of Lancashire to Yorkshire, is going in pretty much the wrong direction to get a supply of "dodgy" cotton. I've always imagined that cotton was imported through the Lancashire ports. There were cotton mills on that side of Yorkshire so presumably something like the Leeds & Liverpool Canal was involved in its transport. – AdrianB38 – 2020-11-05T19:08:56.077

1A couple of other points occur to me. Unless the guilty party has a particularly unusual name, the coincidence of name is likely to be just that in the absence of any other data. Further, you don't say what your ancestor actually did. There's a big difference between a weaver who just weaves stuff for others and someone having a weaving business. The first would never own any of the cotton that they weave. The latter would probably be buying stuff - they might not have a workshop but might contract the domestic weavers to work on the stuff. You might not know what level your chap worked at! – AdrianB38 – 2020-11-05T19:17:23.307

2Have you tried to find anyone else with that name and date of birth born in Yorkshire? Finding someone else would obviously lessen the chance that it is your 4xg grandfather. Archer Software produce a surname atlas for England and Wales based on the 1881 census; much later, I know, but use of that might give you a good idea of the surname distribution especially if it is uncommon, informing your decision. – Colin – 2020-11-06T09:02:01.930

Thank you Adrian, that makes perfect sense. His name was Thomas Wilcock so not that unusual. I did the presumptive thinking of name + age + occupation = can't be a coincidence but that looks to be exactly what it was! And thank you Colin, I went back and looked to see if I could find a man that fitted the same MO but from Yorkshire and I could! Both very helpful insights so thank you both. – SarahAspinall – 2020-11-06T10:08:26.123

Don't forget to document your conclusion in your notes or database, or you may repeat the exercise in the future. – bgwiehle – 2020-11-06T13:41:52.343

No answers