of Leigh, Lancashire, England
by Neil A. Boyer
This section addresses the Wilkinson family of Leigh, Lancashire, England. It is presented because of its relationship to William (Bill) Jackson (1879-1944) and Sarah Wilkinson Jackson (1879-1942). Bill and Sarah were both born in Lancashire. Bill moved to America in 1923, followed by Sarah and her children in 1924. Bill Jackson's family originated in Cumberland, England, but when he moved to Leigh, he married Sarah Wilkinson. Details of the lives of Bill and Sarah Jackson and their descendants are provided in another section of this account. This section on the Wilkinson family in England contains these sections:
Note on Bill and Sarah Wilkinson Jackson
William Wilkinson, born 1820, and Martha Harrison
John Wilkinson (1856-1919), of Leigh, Lancashire
Sarah Wilkinson Jackson (1879-1942)
Charles Henry Wilkinson (1881- 1957)
John Willie Wilkinson (1884-1917)
Peers Wilkinson (1889-1952)
The Jackson Family of Cumberland
The Family of Francis James of Cumberland
The Hayes Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Casson Family of Ulpha, Cumberland
The Family of William and Sarah Jackson in America
The Boyers of Easton
Neil Boyer's Home Page
A Brief Summary of the Lives of Bill and Sarah Jackson
Bill Jackson, of Phillipsburg, New Jersey, was born in England on May 20, 1879, and went to the United States in 1923, at the age of 44. His wife Sarah Wilkinson Jackson, at age 45, followed a year later with their two surviving children, Annie and Jack. Sarah Wilkinson had been born on February 8, 1879. Two of their four children had died young, before Bill left for America. Eleanor Jackson, the first, born in Leigh, Lancashire, in 1905, died of "jawlock" on June 23, 1916, at the age of 11. Ada Jackson, their third child, born in Leigh in 1918, died at home of the flu on March 4, 1919, at the age of nine months. Both Eleanor and Ada are buried in Leigh. Annie Jackson, born in 1912, married L. Arthur Boyer, of Easton, Pennsylvania, and they had two children. An account of their lives can be found here. Annie's brother, Jack Jackson, married Dorothy Rostron, of Providence, Rhode Island, and they had four daughters. An account their lives can be found here.
William Wilkinson (b. 1820) of Leigh, Lancashire
William Wilkinson is the earliest Wilkinson thus far identified in this line. He was born in 1820 in Bedford, a subdivision of Leigh, Lancashire, and was married to Martha Harrison. William was a silk weaver in 1856 and a “silk picker” in 1875.
The 1861 census records the household, on Smithy Street in Leigh, of William, 41, and Martha, 36, born in 1825, and five children: Mary Ann, age 9; Lewis, 7; John, 5; Edwin, 2; and Elizabeth, 1. All in the family, through many census reports, gave their birthplace as Bedford, or Pennington, which are subdivisions of Leigh. Ten years later, in the census of 1871, at 16 Chapel Street in Leigh, the family consisted of William, age 51, a joiner and journeyman; Martha, 43, a silk weaver; daughter Mary Ann, 19, a cotton weaver; son John, 15, a grocer’s assistant; son Edwin, 13, a “folder up” (presumably at the cotton mill); and daughter Elizabeth, 11, a silk winder.
In 1881, living at 16 Smith Street in the Bedford section of Leigh, there were William Wilkinson, 61, a builder; Martha, 56; Mary Ann, 30, a cotton weaver; John Wilkinson, 26, a joiner; Edwin Wilkinson, 24, a joiner; and Elizabeth Wilkinson, 22, cotton weaver. The 1891 census shows the family at 85 Henry Street in the Bedford section of Leigh, consisting of William, 71, a builder; Martha, 66; Mary Ann 40, a cotton weaver, and Edwin, 32, a joiner. (Some in the family thought there was a William Wilkinson who was a son of this William and Martha, but no census report or other document mentions such a person.)
See a genealogical chart on the Wilkinson family.
John Wilkinson (1856-1919) of Leigh, Lancashire
John Wilkinson was born at Pennington in Leigh on December 25, 1856, the third child of William Wilkinson and his wife Martha Harrison. John married Ellen Hayes in 1875 in Lowton, where Ellen had been born on March 17, 1853, 22 years earlier.
Life in the Cotton Mill. John was an engineer with the Pennington Mill, a large cotton mill in Leigh, Lancashire. (In the 1980s, Leigh was essentially incorporated within a larger political district and became a “suburb” of Wigan.) John apparently spent his life working at the Pennington mill. He is recorded in 1881, at age 25, as a stoker at the cotton mill, in 1891, age 35, as an engine driver at the cotton mill, and in 1901, at age 45, as a cotton mill engineer. Ellen Hayes first appears in the 1871 census, age 15, living with her family in Lowton and working as a cotton weaver. In the 1901 census, she is married to John and living in Leigh.
At least from the 1881 census onward, the Wilkinsons lived in Leigh in a row of six‑to‑eight small houses at 5 Neild Street in Leigh, a private company lane adjoining the cotton mill. Many in the family were involved in the mill’s operation. The family still lived there when John's daughter, Sarah Wilkinson Jackson, and her two children left for America in 1924.
The 1881 census recorded that living at 5 Neild Street, in addition to John, age 25, and his wife Ellen, 28, were a daughter, Annie Wilkinson, age 4; a daughter, Sarah A. Wilkinson, 2; and a son, Charles H. Wilkinson, 2 months. In addition, there were two “lodgers,” Elizabeth Hayes, age 26, and Hannah Hayes, age 19, both cotton weavers. It appears that Ellen Hayes had invited her sisters Elizabeth and Hannah to live with the family in this small four-room house, and that they also were involved in the cotton mill. Elizabeth and Hannah did not appear in subsequent census reports, but in 1891, another sister, Mary Hayes, 25, was also recorded as a lodger at 5 Neild Street, employed as a cotton winder. (See information on the Hayes sisters and their family.) Over time, other workers at the mill included John Wilkinson, his daughters Sarah and Annie (who later married George Canty), and his son Charles Henry Wilkinson. Next to the mill, members of the family recalled, a prison was established to house German prisoners captured during World War II, and the residents of Leigh used to stand outside the fence to watch the prisoners play soccer.
In the 1891 census, the Wilkinson family at 5 Neild Street consisted of John, 35; Ellen, 38; Annie, 14; Sarah, 12; Charles Henry, 10; John, 7; and Peers, 1, as well as the visiting Mary Hayes. In the 1901 census, there were John Wilkinson, 45; Ellen, 48; Annie, 24; Sarah Ann, 22; Charles Henry, 20; John W., 17; and Peers, 11. John, Annie, Sarah and Charles all worked in the cotton mill, while John was a plumber’s assistant.
Neild Street and the cotton mill no longer exist. In 1984, the last remaining resident of Neild Street, Clara Pemberton, died. She was recorded in the 1891 census at age 5, living with her parents and three sisters, at 7 Neild Street. It was believed the town authorities, 98 years later, were awaiting her death so they could tear down the houses. Indeed, they were torn down, along with the factory, and in 1987 the town opened new flats, called Neild Gardens, for senior citizens on that site. Neild Street itself disappeared. Near the site, and still thriving in 2005, was Pennington Church, where Sarah married Bill Jackson and where many other family marriages and baptisms took place. Sarah's children were baptized there, and Anna’s son Neil Boyer in 2005 still possessed books awarded her and her family for perfect attendance at Pennington Sunday School.
John Wilkinson died on January 5, 1919, at the age of 63. The probate record showed that his effects were left to Ellen and amounted to a little more than 473 pounds. Ellen Hayes Wilkinson lived on for 24 more years, dying on August 7, 1943, at the age of 90, outliving her daughter Sarah, who had gone to America. The tombstone for John and Ellen Wilkinson is located in Leigh Cemetery, not far from the main gate, to the left as one enters the cemetery, on the corner at the intersection of two roads and opposite a bench. In 1988, when Neil Boyer visited England, Marian Wilkinson Magilton remembered that she used to accompany her grandmother Ellen to Leigh Cemetery to place flowers on the grave of her grandfather, Ellen’s husband, John Wilkinson.
Children of John and Ellen Hayes Wilkinson
There were five children in the family of John and Ellen Wilkinson:
1. Annie Wilkinson Canty (1877-
2. Sarah Ann Wilkinson Jackson (1879-1942)
3. Charles Henry Wilkinson (1881-1957)
4. John Willie Wilkinson (1884-1917)
5. Peers Wilkinson (1889-1952)
1. Annie Wilkinson, the first child of John and Ellen Hayes Wilkinson, born in 1877 in Leigh, lived with her mother on Neild Street and worked in the Pennington Mill before she married George Canty. Later, Annie and George lived in Atherton. Anna Jackson Boyer recalled visiting her Aunt Annie Canty about 1920 and being impressed with the wonderful stew cooking in a cauldron in a nearby store window.
Annie and George had one son, William (Billy) Canty, born in 1914. Billy and his wife, Dorothy Charlton, lived on Hamilton Street in Atherton. Billy died of a stroke on February 27, 1987, at Shorefield Nursing Home, at the age of 73. Dorothy died at the Wigan Infirmary on Christmas Day of the same year after being struck by a car as she crossed Tyldesley Road at Hamilton Street; she was 75. Police appealed for witnesses in the hit-and-run incident. The bodies of both Billy and Dorothy were committed to the Overdale Crematorium in Bolton. Billy and Dorothy had a daughter, Joan Canty, who married Alan Turner. They had two sons, Andrew Turner, who was a policeman in 1988, and Paul Turner, who was in a technical school.
2. Sarah Ann Wilkinson, born on February 8, 1879, married Bill Jackson in 1903, moved to America, and died in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, in 1942. When Sarah died, her mother, Ellen Hayes Wilkinson, was still alive in England at the age of 90. As Sarah was leaving England to join her husband Bill in America in 1924, it was remembered that Ellen had said of her daughter, "She'll follow him anywhere." Sarah's brothers Charles Henry and Peers, and her sister Annie Canty, also lived longer than Sarah. Sarah’s descendants are described in another section of this report.
3. Charles Henry Wilkinson, Sarah's brother, born in 1881 in Leigh, was an "overlooker" at Pennington Mill. (His death record described him as a "retired foreman overlooker.") His job was to keep the looms in working order. He reportedly suffered from arthritis as a result of standing guard in the night rains during World War I. He lived in one of the houses owned by the Mill, at 59 Etherstone Street. Charles Henry died on May 6, 1957, at the age of 76. He was buried in Leigh Cemetery.
Charles Henry was married twice. His first wife was Louisa Wyatt Wilkinson, and they had two children, Marian Wilkinson and Edith Wilkinson. Louisa died of “consumption” on December 21, 1915, at the age of 37, according to official death records. She was buried on December 24. Charles later married Mary Bailey Collier Wilkinson, and they had two children, Kathleen Wilkinson and Jack Wilkinson.
Charles Henry purchased a plot in Leigh Cemetery to provide for burial of his family. He probably did this in 1912 when his daughter Edith died. The plot is numbered 34 - I - 22, in section 34 of the cemetery. The cemetery registrar reported in 2010 that four people were buried there: Edith Wilkinson, daughter of Charles Henry, in 1912; Louisa Wilkinson, his first wife, in 1915; Charles Henry himself, in 1957; and the ashes of Marian Wilkinson Magilton, another daughter, in 2006.
Charles Henry's second wife, Mary Bailey Collier Wilkinson, was known to Anna Jackson Boyer as "Aunt Mary." It was the second marriage for both of them. Charles died in 1957, and he was buried in Leigh Cemetery. Long after Charles died, Aunt Mary continued to live at 59 Etherstone Street, in one of the houses owned by the mill. She celebrated her 100th birthday on August 9, 1986, with a major photograph in the local newspaper showing Mary with the Mayor and Mayoress of Leigh. After a long illness and a stay in the Hourigan House nursing home, Mary died in Atherleigh Hospital on September 22, 1987, at the age of 101. Mary and Charles Henry Wilkinson had two children, Kathleen and Jack. In 1993, in a lament to progress, Marian wrote that “all that spare land, behind mother’s house in Etherstone Street, where the hill was, is now full of houses and bungalows.”
The children of Charles Henry Wilkinson were these:
A. Marian Wilkinson was born in Leigh on June 27, 1908. Her mother, Louisa, died when she was only seven, and then Marian and her father, Charles Henry Wilkinson, went to live with his mother, Ellen Hayes Wilkinson, in her small cottage at 5 Neild Street, near the Pennington Mill. Marian recalled that Anna Jackson, five years younger than Marian, and her mother, Sarah Wilkinson Jackson, also lived in this cottage on occasions when Bill Jackson was seeking a change in employment, and also just before they moved to America. Sarah said they would stay on Neild Street until Bill found a job in another foundry and arranged new lodgings for his family. In letters to her cousin Anna Jackson Boyer over a period of many years (continuing in 2005), Marian often recalled the time they all lived together at “grandma’s house” on Neild Street. In one of her recollections, she wrote that on Mondays, it was the tradition to have “kippers” (fish) for tea, and the two young girls would pick bones out of the fish and toss them onto newspaper. The same day was washday, and Marian remembered that a “brick boiler in the kitchen boiled the washing.” Marian also recalled that she and Anna and their cousin Billy Canty would meet at their grandma’s house to write on slates with a slate pencil. Anna Jackson Boyer recalled that, when she was living at 5 Neild Street, she would be given a penny to go to a nearby bake shop to get a penny’s worth of broken cookies. The store couldn’t sell them, she said, and you got a lot for a penny!
Marian married Victor Magilton in 1935. Vic had been born in December 1897. His father had been born in Belfast and moved to Leigh to serve in the Lancashire constabulary, living to the age of 98. Vic himself served in the British Navy in World War I. He worked for 35 years in the post office in Leigh, retiring in 1962, and Marian also worked for the post office. Art and Anna Boyer managed to visit the Magiltons along with many other relatives in 1973 when their first grandchild, Stephanie Parks, was born in West Germany. Vic died on July 7, 1989, at the age of 91. Marian continued to live alone on Granville Street in Leigh, and she died there on April 29, 2006, at the age of 97, one day after the death of her cousin Annie Jackson Boyer. A funeral service was held at Christ Church, Pennington, on May 18, 2006, and Marian's ashes were interred in the grave of her father, Charles Henry Wilkinson, on June 27, 2006, on what would have been her 98th birthday.
Marian and Vic Magilton had one son, Brian Magilton, born in 1937. He was married to Judith Murray, born in 1942. They had two children:
-- Andrew Magilton, born on May 4, 1969, married Joanne Elizabeth Buckley on August 26, 2000, near Manchester.
-- Helen Magilton, born in May 1972, married Michael Couzens on May 29, 2003. On January 16, 2005, Helen and Mike had a daughter, Ruby Olivia Couzens.
B. Edith Wilkinson was born in December 1911 and died on March 31, 1912, less than four months later. She was buried on April 3, 1912.
C. Kathleen (Kay) Wilkinson, the third child of Charles Henry Wilkinson, was born on March 8, 1925. She married Guido Urbani, who was born in Italy in 1920 and served in the army there, and they lived in Glazebury. Kathleen died at home on October 30, 1999, at the age of 74. She and Guido had five children.
(1) Raymond Urbani, born in the house of his aunt Marian Wilkinson Magilton and raised by her, in 1988 was a doctor of philosophy and head of a school science department. Raymond and his wife Barbara had three children:
-- Suzanne Urbani, born in 1966, studied at Sheffield University in 1984. She had a daughter in 2000.
-- Lindsey Urbani was born in 1969 and in 1985 had a job as a trainee accountant in Manchester. She was married in October 1990 to Christopher Mulcahy and had two children, Daniel Mulcahy, born in 1991, and Laura Mulcahy, born in 1995. At the age of 10, Daniel played football with the junior team of the “Bolton Wanderers.”
-- Tracy Urbani was born in 1977.
(2) William Urbani had two children, Robert Urbani and Sarah Urbani (born in 1988).
(3) John Urbani was not married in 1988.
(4) Elizabeth Urbani was married and divorced and then married Fred.
(5) Eileen Urbani was married to Kenneth Turnbull. They were divorced about 1994.
D. Jack Wilkinson, Kay's brother, was born on March 10, 1927. In 1984, he worked in a Carborundum plant, and in 1964 he took his cousin's husband, Art Boyer, on a tour of the plant. In 1988 he was retired, but he did volunteer work for the Citizens Advice Bureau, the same organization that Ellen Wilkinson Boydell worked for in Accrington. Jack married Margaret Richardson and in 1988 they lived in Billinge, Wigan.
4. John Willie Wilkinson was born in 1884 in Leigh, the fourth child of John and Ellen Wilkinson, was born in 1884 in Leigh. He was in the first World War and died on April 30, 1917, at the age of 33, at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire as the result of a kick from a horse. He was buried at Leigh Cemetery in the same grave where his parents were later buried. See the tombstone above.
5. Peers Wilkinson, brother of Charles Henry and Sarah, was born on November 10, 1889, at Pennington in Leigh. He was married on July 28, 1913, to Rose Burrows, who had been born on A pril 10, 1887, also at Pennington, and they had one daughter, Ellen (Nellie) Wilkinson. Peers died on November 14, 1952, in Atherton and was buried in Leigh Cemetery with his parents, John and Ellen Wilkinson, although Peers’ name does not appear on the tombstone. Rose was the daughter of a baker who died when she was young. She was described as a bookbinder living at Pennington Vicarage when she married Peers. Rose was living with her daughter Ellen when she died March 25, 1948.
A. Ellen (Nellie) Wilkinson, the daughter of Peers and Rose, was born on February 21, 1914 in Leigh. She and her cousins Marian Magilton and Annie Jackson, all about the same age, played on “skips” (shipping baskets) in the yards of the Pennington Mill when they were children, and in May 1988 all three remembered those activities. Ellen was visited by Art and Anna Boyer in 1973 and by their son Neil in 1988, and Ellen visited the Boyers in Pennsylvania in 1982. (“This is the first hot dog I have ever had in my life,” Ellen told them.) The three cousins kept in close touch. Prior to her retirement in 1984, Nellie worked as a social welfare ombudsman and manager of the Accrington Citizens’ Advice Bureau for 17 years. She was honored for her work by representing the area committee at a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. Her obituary said she also had been a president of the Accrington Soroptimists and a member of the Accrington Inner Wheel, the Linen League, and the Accrington Bridge Club.
On April 9, 1938, Nellie married Alfred Kay Boydell, who later was treasurer of the Accrington Borough Council. Nellie herself managed the Accrington Citizen's Advice Bureau for 17 years. Alfred was born June 17, 1913, in Leigh and died March 21, 1965, in Accrington at the age of 51. A genealogist of the Boydell family claimed to have been able to trace the family back to the grandfather of William the Conqueror. He believed the name Boydell originated in “le Bois d’Elle,” a small wood on the river Elle near St. Lo in Normandy. The earliest recorded family member was Helto de Boisdele, who lived in the 13th century. Alfred and Nellie had four children: Dorothy, Gordon, Roger and Elizabeth Boydell.
The family settled in Accrington in 1950. Ellen lived in a small row-house cottage on Manchester Road, thought to have been built in 1725. Ellen played golf well into her upper years. She died on August 31, 2002, in Queens Park Hospital, Blackburn. Following services at St. Peter's Church in Accrington, she was buried in at St. John's Church in Baxenden. (Her obituary was in the Accrington Observer.)
The four children of Ellen and Alfred Boydell were these:
(1) Elizabeth Rose Boydell was born on May 1, 1939, in Tottenham and did volunteer work at the same Citizen’s Advisory Bureau where her mother had worked before her. On September 26, 1964, Elizabeth married John Thompson, who had his own accounting firm in Accrington. In 2005, he was retired. They had three children:
-- Paul Simon Thompson, born on September 22, 1967, in Accrington. He married Mandy Bernadette Clutton on September 5, 1992, in Read, Lancashire. In 2005, Paul worked in a bank. Paul and Mandy were later divorced, and he married Deborah Clair Whelan in August 2003. In early 2005, Paul and Deborah had two daughters, Cara Grace Thompson and Georgia Louise Thompson.
-- Peter Robert Thompson, was born March 3, 1970, in Accrington. In 2005, he worked as a maintenance manager for an engineering firm.
-- Helen Elizabeth Thompson, born May 23, 1973, in Accrington, was a medical secretary. She worked at a local health clinic in Accrington in 1993. In 2005, she was a medical secretary at a large hospital in Blackburn.
(2) Gordon Edward Boydell, second child of Ellen and Alfred, was born in Radcliffe on April 14, 1944, and died in January 1945, nine months later, in Stretford.
(3) Roger John Boydell, the third child, was born on November 13, 1945, in Stretford, Manchester. After graduating with a degree in Mathematics and Physics at Liverpool University, he worked in information technology, mainly as a project engineer. Between 1969 and 1998, he worked for IBM, advising clients on managing business projects, especially information technology. He spent two years in Greece for IBM during this period. He semi-retired in 2002 and undertook occasional freelance project management work. He joined with a former IBM colleague who owned a telephone switch dealership. He also devoted much of his time to helping run the Havant Rugby Football Club, operating their website (http://www.havant-rfc.co.uk) and serving as treasurer. He also played golf. Roger was involved with family research and helped collect information on his family for this account.
Roger married Mary Margaret Glaister on December 27, 1967. She came from Cumberland, England, and they were married in Wigton. Margaret was a teacher for many years. In 2005, she was involved with the Citizens Advice Bureau in Portsmouth, the same organization that Roger's mother, Ellen, was involved with in Accrington after her husband died in 1965. In 2005, Roger and Margaret lived in a small town called Emsworth, about 10 miles from Portsmouth in southern England. Roger and Margaret had three children:
-- Gary James Boydell, born April 15, 1969, in Nantwich, Cheshire, graduated with a degree in architecture from Nottingham University in 1993, and worked as an architect in Nottingham. Gary married Joanna Levene in March 2003. On June 22, 2003, they had a daughter, Isabella Elena Boydell (named after her grandmother).
-- Stephen John Boydell, born March 4, 1971, in Chichester, received a degree in economics from Nottingham in 1992. In 2005, he was finance director for a company that supplied vitamins and supplements, based in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. Stephen married Briony Rosanna Louise Radbourne in June 2002. They had a daughter, Susannah Polly Boydell, born on April 22, 2003.
-- Jacqueline Karen Boydell, was born March 6, 1974, in Chichester. She graduated with a degree in business studies from Bournemouth University in 1996. In 2005, Jacqui lived in Southsea and worked as a revenue analyst in the head office of a cruise ship company called Swan Hellenic, based in Southampton.
(4) Dorothy Mary Boydell, the fourth child of Ellen and Alfred Boydell, was born on May 31, 1947, in Widnes. In 1988, she was working as a pre-school nurse in Accrington. She retired in 2004. She was married on April 10, 1971, in Accrington, to Paul Watson Brown, who for a number of years was in charge of sanitary engineering, including streets and sewers, for the nearby community of Blackburn. In 2005, he was teaching modern languages in evening classes. They had two children:
-- Stephen Paul Brown, born October 26, 1973, in Accrington, grdauted from Leeds University with a degree in modern languages. In 2005, he was working in information technology in Manchester.
-- Laura Jane Brown, born March 30, 1975, in Accrington, received a degree in classical history from Leeds University. In 2005, she worked for Save the Children and was on assignment in Ethiopia.
The Jackson Family of Cumberland
The Family of Francis James of Cumberland
The Hayes Family of Leigh, Lancashire
The Casson Family of Ulpha, Cumberland
The Family of William and Sarah Jackson in America
The Boyers of Easton
Neil Boyer's Home Page
Genealogical Charts on the Jackson, James, Hayes and Wilkinson Families
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