The Village of Midgley near Halifax

                 Mentioned in Domesday Book 1086.

Early History Rushbearing
Anglian Incursions Public Houses
As part of the manor of Wakefield Other settlements nearby
Early Industry Luddenden Foot
Modern Midgley  The Gibbet
Midgleyana .
Neolithic, Bronze Age and later sites on Midgley Moor. Pace Egging

Early History
Midgley near Halifax lies below Midgley Moor at an elevation of  230 metres in the parish of Halifax in the Liberty of Wakefield. The settlement is one of a number of  hill top villages which also gives its name to the township of Midgley. The place name may be derived from the fact that the mid-level topographical shelf between the valley floor and the moor tops allowed for fields to be established here as 'middle fields',  hence Midgley,  middle ley. 


 A field on the Midgley terrace above Calderdale which may have given rise to the Domesday Book name of 'Micleie'. The valley of Ludenden Dean can be seen to the left and Calderdale to the right.


There is evidence on Midgley Moor of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains such as "Churn Milk Joan", the "Greenwood Stone", "Miller's Grave" and "Robin Hood's Penny Stone" [See below].
There is a hamlet of Midgley further east  near Wakefield which appears to have formed part of the honour of Pontefract well after the Norman invasion, however the Midgley settlement in the Halifax locality was part of the western division of the manor of Wakefield. The name appears in Domesday Book as Micleie.

Translation of Dom Boc for the Manor of Wakefield, 1086.
                                                                                                                                         Domesday Defined

Other spellings include, Miclei, Miggeley, Miglay, Miggely, Migeley etc. Following Domesday the name is then first recorded in 1207. See variations in d minor. According to the author of the History of the Stanfields, Midgley in 1885 was  pronounced as 'Mig-ge-ley' by local inhabitants. [History of the family of Stansfeld of Stansfield in the parish of Halifax and its numerous branches, p. 6.] This appears to be close to the phonetically spelt 'Miclei' of the Domesday Book.
Lying on the north side of the river Calder the township was bounded on the west by Foster Clough and on the east by the Luddenden stream. One of the oldest churches in the area (St. Mary's ca.1620) in the village of Luddenden lies within its boundaries. It also has strong connections with Methodism, John Wesley having stayed at Ewood Hall on numerous occasions.3
Midgley is sited at the convergence of the Calder Pass and the Roman road from Manchester  via Blackstone Edge to Ilkley and Aldborough. This road appears to have been built A.D. 122-125 and replaced the road through Castleshaw and Slack which was built  earlier in A.D. 79-80. The Blackstone Edge road  is the road the Romans used to transport lead from Greenhow Moor near Pateley Bridge in the northern Pennines, south past Midgley where it is now sited, down the steep Blackstone Edge where the incline is still cobbled with large stone blocks. The road would have also been a frontier and rapid transport route for troops into the Brigantian highlands. This road was being constructed at the time Hadrian's wall was being erected which was a time of increasing raids from the Picts (Selgovae, Damnonii and Venecones) in Northern Britannia, not yet an area politically distinct from Southern Britain until settlements were established around the Clyde by the Scotii from what is now Northern Ireland.

The Romans did not use the obvious east-west passage offered by the Calder Pass which could be easily attacked by bands of Brigantian warriors sweeping down from the surrounding moorlands, but preferred a direct line to Aldborough (Isurium Brigantium) in the north. This road somewhat paralleled the one from Manchester and Chester through Castleshaw, Pule Hill, Slack (Camulodunum 80-140A.D.) Cleckheaton (Cambodunum) to York (Eboracum).
The Romans were losing control earlier here than in the rest of Britain towards the end of their occupation. Roman signal stations were still manned in the closing years of the 300's on the Yorkshire coast to give alarm at the approach of the Anglian pirates. In the early 400's troops were withdrawn to defend Rome when in 410 the emperor Honorius wrote to the British towns telling them to defend themselves and the garrison at York was ordered back to the continent.

Anglian Incursions
Aethelfrith is likely to have made incursions into the district with the withdrawal of  the Roman garrisons and decay of rule.  In 617 he moved rapidly down the Roman road from the North Yorkshire Wolds and York through Slack, Castleshaw and Manchester to achieve a decisive battle over the British at Chester. This battle separated the Northern British [Strathclyde] resistance from the Welsh British forces [Powys] and allowed the Anglians to control the West coast of what is now Lancashire.

In 620 Edwin struck at the small British Kingdom of Elmete and colonisation in the West Yorkshire region probably became effective from this time. Anglian townships or villages would have begun to appear first along river banks with later groups progressing further inland. The navigable limit on the Aire, Calder etc. would have limited the passage by ship, thus the earlier settlements are seen as being downstream. However it is recognised that early settlement by Anglians occurred in the Yorkshire Wolds and incursions may have occurred from here.

By 1050 the region was under the direct control of  Edward ("The Confessor"), we know this because William I took them over as his own and gave the lands to De Laci and Warenne. Earl Warenne was found to be earl at the time of Kirby's Inquest [1296]. In 1316 [Nomina Vilarum] 'Miggeley' is recorded as belonging to  the earl of Warenne who at this time was John 8th earl and it remained with him until it passed, with the manor of Wakefield, to the crown3.

See map of  The manor of Wakefield, Western Division

Midgley  near Halifax, Miclei1 or Micleie2 is mentioned in the Domesday book (1086) as one of the nine outlying sub-manors or beriwicks (berewics*) belonging to the lordship of Wakefield. By the 1100's Migelaia2 is recorded for the hamlet of Midgley near Wakefield.  The name may have originated in  Micel or Mycel in O.E. and  O. Scandinavian Mikill meaning "great or large", The suffix -leah in O.E. means 'wood, woodland clearing or glade', later a pasture or meadow.4. [*A berewic O.E. meaning 'a barley or corn farm and later an outlying grange or demesne farm']

A view of the field system at MidgleyMidgley commands a wide view across the Calder valley and had the advantage that early Anglian settlers may have used the derelict Roman road for movement. As this line of communication further declined the haphazard pattern of tracks now represented by local roads would no doubt  have developed. Some of these tracks may represent the boundaries of former fields. The presence of baulked perimeters would support this. However John Franklin Midgley states there is little evidence of these Anglian field systems [a furlong or furrow long, 200 yards, and a chain wide 22 yards]

         Field patterns between Midgley and Luddenden

The Medieval Manor

In 37 Henry III [1253] John 7th earl Warenne [d. 1304] was granted free warren in Midgley. John 8th earl, his grandson is later mentioned in Kirkby's Inquest [1296] as holding Midgley. In 1288 Sir John de Meus [Mews, Melsa, Meaux*] is recorded as holding half a carucate of land at 'Miggeley' 26 John de Meaux was a High sheriff of Yorkshire for the years 1292 and 1293 and in 1297 [25 Ed. I]. Earl Warenne granted free warren to 'John Meus'. Besides the manor of Midgley, Sir John de Meus held at his death, lands at Sutton in Holderness, Lepington and Fangfoss.  At his death in 4 Ed. II [8 July 1310 - 7 July 1311] Godfrey de Melsa with his wife Scolastica also held, besides these other interests in Yorkshire:



Byrkyn [Birkin]. 4a. meadow held of Adam de Everyngham rendering nothing.
Farbum [Fairburn]. 3a. meadow held of Adam de Everyngham of Laxton rendering nothing.

The manor of 'Bewick' [?Burstwick], Aldborough and Walkington which he held of the king.32

Migeley* [Midgley]. A water-mill, a wood, rents, &c. (extent given with names of tenants), held of Adam de Everyngham of Laxton by service of 1 knight's fee, and rendering 2s. yearly. He

ir as above, aged 28 weeks. [i.e. John] [Cal. ipm vol 2, pp. 143-144.] * The index says this was Midgley by Halifax.     Godfrey de Melsa's i.p.m.


According to the Nomina villarum of 1316, John de Melsa's wife who was by then a widow, held lands in Lepington and 'Barkethorpe'. 29 

On 26th November 1317 at Windsor a commission of oyer and terminer was issued to Robert de Hastanges, John de Donecastre and Adam de Hoperton, on complaint by Scolastica, late the wife of Godfrey de Melsa, 'touching the persons who by night broke her house at Lepyngton (Leppington), co. York, carried away her goods and assaulted her servants.  [C. P. R., 1317, p. 95.] Also Scolastica as widow of Godfrey de Melsa was granted Flore and Gayton in Northamptonshire, that had been forfeited by William Trussel. [C.P.R., 1317-1321, p. 287.]




*John de Meaux of Bewick in Holderness seems to be named after Meaux Abbey near Beverley E.R.YHis heraldic arms were azure six griffins  3, 2, 1 or as borne at the first Dunstable tournament of 1309 by Sir Godfrey.31

                                                                                               John de Meaux======Beatrice


                                                                                                  Godfrey==1==Scolastica==2==Thomas de Stafford [Edward II's yeoman]


                                                                                                                  John [a ward of Edward II] d. ~1321 

In 1276 John de Melsa [Meaux] was granted free warren in his lands at Midgley ['Miggel'] Huddlestone, Gawthorpe Leppington &c:-

7th November 1276 at Westminster -
Grant to John de Melsa, and his heirs, of free warren in his demesne  lands of Hodeleston, Fenton, Gauthorp, Lepinton, Wilardeby, Witheton, and Miggel', co. York. [C. Ch. R., 1257-1300, p. 200]


In 1299 John de Melsa was again granted free warren in, this time in additional lands including Midgley:-


28th March 1299 at Westminster -
Grant to John de Melsa, and his heirs, of free warren in all his demesne lands in Bewyk, Aldeburgh, Thorp, Est Neuton, Halsham, Tonestal,  Rymeswell, Sutton, Drypole, Wyllardby, Neuton by Wyllardby, Wycheton,  Walkyngton, Lepington, Gouthorp, Hudleston, Fenton and Miggeleye  co. York. By K. and pet. of C. [C. Ch. R., 1257-1300, p. 476.]


At the death of Godfrey his son John was underage and was claimed as a ward by both King Edward II and earl Thomas of Lancaster. At the same time Scalby in the honour of Pickering, also held by Godfrey and Scolastica, was seized by the earl who wished to receive the rent.34 At some point, perhaps during the rebellion of Thomas earl of Lancaster, and after the death of Godfrey de Meaux [between August 1309 and February 1311], the manor was probably granted by earl Thomas to the Soothill family, where, from a Soothill  i.p.m., they are found to be in possession  in 1326. 

From the Wakefield Court Rolls for 1276, Henry de Miggeley [son of Adam de Midgley] is recorded as having leased land at 'Riding'* in Ovenden from Sir John [II]  de Soothill where he was permitted to collect timber for burning from Ovenden Wood. [Y.A.J., Record Series, Yorkshire Deeds, vol. 2.] * Now located by Ridings Bridge and Lane, parish of Ovenden.

From the W.C.R's the early Midgley [Miggelay, Migge, Miggele, Miggeley, Miggelay] pedigree  may be determined as follows as:

                                                            Midgley of Sowerby                                   Soothill of Soothill

                                                                          William 1296                                                    Reginald ~ 1200

                                                                              |                                                                             |

                                                                          Adam *                                                            Sir John I ~1198-1266===Alice

                                                                              |                                                                                                          |

                                                                 _______________                                                                      __________________

                                                                 |                             |                                                                      |                                  |

                                                            Henry+                    John                                                              Thomas              Sir John II b. ~1250 d. ~1310

                                                                            1274 - Forester of the forest                                        d. 1326                         |

                                                                            of Sowerby, resided Hathershelf                                                  Sir Henry+  a retainer of earl Thomas 

                                                                            mentioned 1274-1298, 1308, 1321.                                                        b. ~1278 d. ~ 1352 



* Mentioned 1274, 1275 and in 1297 he was the Grave for the Graveship of Sowerby.

+ Leased land from Sir John II de Soothill who in turn was a tenant of Earl Warenne.

+ Pardoned in June 1322 for his rebellion with Earl Thomas.


It should be noted that there was no person with the surname Midgley as lord of the manor of Midgley at or after the Domesday Book [1086], although there may have been some control by predecessors in the the manor before The Norman Conquest [1066]. Midgley branches later became lords of Thornton [Headley Hall], Bradforddale and Haworth.] probably following the dissolution of the monasteries when land became available for purchase thanks to good old 'King Hal'.


Descent of the lords of the manor of Midgley


Hathershelf Farm today as seen across the Calder Valley from Towngate, Midgley. In medieval times the summits of the Pennine foothills would have been part of the forest of Sowerby

This Midgley branch seem to have become settled at Hathershelf [Hadreschelf] but by 10 Ed. II [1317-1318] the Hathershelf vaccary pasture had been granted to Earl Warenne's steward, Henry de Welda:


22nd August 1316 at York -
Confirmation of a grant made by John de Warenna, earl of Surrey, to Henry de Walda (Welda) of all the land which Philip de la Wodehalle sometime held from the ancestors of the earl at la Wodehalle (Woodhall), in the parish of Wakefeld, and which Robert Gunne lately held from the earl at fee farm, and of two parts of all lands with woods, meadows, feedings, pastures, moors, rents and services which John le Barn formerly held of the earl in villenage at Tothille (Toot Hill, S.W. of Sowerby) in the parish of Halifax, together with the reversion of the remaining third part thereof which Beatrice, sometime the wife of the said John, holds in dower; and also of the grant which the earl made to the said Henry of all his pasture in Sourby (Sowerby), co. York, which is called 'Hardteschelf,' (Hathershelf) and of the entire meadow which he held in Thornes (S.W. of Wakefield), called 'Pampellion Holm,' and of the grant which the earl made to the said Henry of the manor of Doltonwode (Dalton Wood near Dalton, east of Huddersfield town centre), with its pastures and woods. By K. [C.P.R., 1313-1317, p. 535.]


Welda probably almost immediately lost the property because in 1318 John de Warenne quit claimed all of his Yorkshire manors to Thomas earl of Lancaster who would then have replaced Welda with his own man. After Edward III's accession the manor of Midgley may have reverted to John de Melsa (son of Godfrey) who died in 1353 [26 Ed. III]  having left  John, son of Thomas de Den+, of Midgley [John and Thomas de Midgley?], all the land and meadow, &c. which John, the son of Thomas, held by charter in Myggeley, from Lyddingdenhead [Luddendenhead], &c. 30 Ed. III [1357].29  + Possibly of Luddenden i.e. Luddenden Dean.


This Thomas de Den of Midgley who it is surmised became Thomas de Midgley may be the same person mentioned in the Stansfield family genealogy whose daughter Agnes married an Edmond de Stansfield. Thomas is described there as 'alias Mr. Thomas Midgley' who bore as his arms 'sable two bars gemmelles or' [Harlian Ms.] However the author of the Stansfield family adds to these arms 'on a chief of the second, three catherine wheels of the first'. These are the identical arms to those of the Midgleys who later moved into Rochdale, Lancashire as cotton millers, the catherine wheels possibly being mistaken for mill wheels.

In an undated deed  there is a transfer of land from 'Agnes at the Gate of Northowram' to John de Tothill. The witnesses are John de Midgley [probably the forester of the forest of Sowerby], Hugh de Eland (d > August 1324, John de Lacy (of Cromwell Bottom, d. 1307-1310), Henry de Rishworth, Thomas de Copley and John de Haldeworth. These witnesses suggest that the deed is dated somewhere between 1298 and 1310. It is implied in the Stansfield history that this Agnes is the same as Agnes de Midgley who married into the Stansfields.

midgley area map- click for enlargement
 Click for enlarged map

 'After this, but whether by purchase or marriage is uncertain, it came to the family of Sotehill;  ........for there is (says Watson) the copy of a deed from Gerard de Sotehill, dominus de Midgleye, dated at Miegleye, 3 Oct. 1392, 16 Ric. II. By an inquisition of wastes within Wakefield, 19 Edw. IV. Gerard Soothill, Esq. was found to hold the manor of Midgley, by soccage, &c. and to render by the year 2s. 


Soon after this it seems to be alienated; for Gilbert Lacy, esq. and Joan his wife, enfeoffed Richard Symmes, vicar of Halifax, and others in this manor, by deed, dated at Southowram, 12th July, 21 Edw. IV. but for what particular purpose does not appear, excepting that it was done with intent to have it conveyed to some one of his own family; for John Lacy of Brearley, Esq. was found in the year 1577, by inquisition at Wakefield, to be lord of the manor. Soon after this it came to the Farrers, by the intermarriage (32 Eliz.) of Henry Farrer of Ewood, with Mary, daughter of the above John Lacy, and in this family it long continued.' 25  

Midgley-Waterhouse-Farrer zipped gedcom  Steve Riggan is descended from William Farrar who migrated to Virginia with Thomas West, 3rd Lord de la Warre, in 1618. Proven by will, William Farrar was the 3rd son of John Farrar of Ewood Hall, Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire and his wife Cecily Kelke. John Farrar inherited Brearley Hall from his elder brother William Farrar in 1610 and passed it on his will 1627 to his eldest son John Farrar while Steve's William inherited land in Hertfordshire as the family had moved into London by this time. Steve's ancestor returned to England in the 1630’s after his father’s death to liquidate his inheritance to his brothers as proven in records. He returned to America and was dead by 1637 as proven in Virginia records. William Farrar of Virginia’s grandparents were William Farrar of Ewood and Margaret Lacy, daughter of Hugh Lacy of Brearley Hall and Agnes Savile of New Hall, Elland, Yorkshire, daughter of Nicholas Savile who was descended from Sir Simon Thornhill of Thornhill. Contact: Steve Riggan - Updated email 14 June 2019

At some point after the Soothills held the manor, the Meux family appear to have regained the manor of Midgley. This is indicated when on 12th April 1379 Thomas de Meaux of 'Belynghay' knight to John Aunsell knight, his heirs and assigns quitclaimed the manor of Miggeley co. York sometime of Sir John de Meaux knight son and heir of Sir Godfrey de Meaux knight. Witnesses: Sir Peter VI de Malo Lacu [de Mauley], Sir Ralph de Hastynges [Hastings], John Bygod [Bigod], John Conestable[Constable] of Halsham, Robert de Nevylle [Nevile, Neville] of Hornby sheriff of York, John Seyville [Savile, Saville] knights. Dated York, Monday after Palm Sunday 2 Richard II.33

Lacy genealogy [Word doc 2013 version]

Midgley residents in 1379:                                                                                                                                                                                             

The poll tax lists for Yorkshire in the reign of Richard II show that the surname had not spread very far in this county. The list of 1379 for the vill of 'Migelay' shows:


Johannes Migeslay, Cissor [tailor] and his wife 6 pence.

Ricardus de Miglay and his wife 4d.

Ricardus de Migeslay 4d.


There are no Midgley surnames at this time in the rest of Yorkshire unless we identify 'Johanes Miklay' and his wife at Kippax, 4d., 'Adam de Miklay' and wife at Rawdon, 4d. and 'William de Metelay' in Rothwell, 4d., four pence being the standard tax rate for most residents. A later name associated with that of Midgley occurs at Warley where 'Johannes Mergetrode' [Murgatroyd] and his wife also had to pay 4d. Thus at this time there were no persons with the surname of Midgley or variants thereof in later haunts such as Warley, Sowerby, Halifax, Braddforddale, Adel, Arthington, Brayton etc.

Midgley residents of Tudor Midgley and surrounding vills:

Subsidy Roll for Agbrigg and Morley 15 Henry VIII (~1524)

Vill of Midgley:
Hugh Lacy 20s. [Of Brearley Hall]
John Migelay 40s. goods 12d.
Alice Migelay ditto
Thomas Migelay ditto
Edward Migelay ditto
[Y. A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p.p. 57-58.]

Vill of Wadsworth:
William Migelay 3 pounds goods 18d.
[Y. A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p.58.]

Subsidy Roll for Skyrack 15 Henry VIII (~1524)

Vill of Horsforth:
Richard Megelay 8d. [Y. A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p. 290.]

Vill of Bingley:
Thomas Megelay for goods 20s.
Henry Megelay 4d. [Y. A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p. 291.]

Vill of Preston:
William Mytley for goods 2s. 6d. [Y.A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p. 294.]

Vill of Headingley:
Robert Megelay for goods 2s. 6d.
Richard Megelay ditto
John Megelay ditto
[Y. A. J., vol. ii, (1873), p. 295.]

Crossley's Halifax Parish Wills37 provides us with another  Midgley family of the Tudor period, viz: Richard Midgley of Midgley who died before 28 July 1555 and was buried at Halifax Parish Church. His wife was Elizabeth and they had at least eight children:

Thomas, Margaret, Richard Alice, Agnes, William, Elizabeth and Robert

Another family, that of  Richard Midgley of Midgley is  recorded from the same source.38 His wife was Jane and they had three children, John, Thomas and William. Richard died before 20 December 1556 and like-wise was buried at Halifax Parish Church. Witnesses to the will were: Richard Midgley, Richard Midgley the younger, John Midgley (his brother) and a Richard Thomas.

The other Midgley settlement sometimes called 'Little Midgley'

This township appears to pre-date another Midgley hamlet near Wakefield which is first mentioned as Migelaia4 in the 1100's and rendered as Miggelay in October 1238 in the Calendar of Close Rolls when referring to William earl Warenne, Richard a tenant and Robert de Everingham and his wife Isabella:


Mandatum est justiciariis Hybernie quod in loquela que est coram eis inter W. comitem Warrenn', petentem, et Ricardum de [. . .], tenentem, de j. carucata terre in Miggelay unde idem Ricardus vocavit ad [warantum] Robertum de Everingeham et Isabellam uxorem ejus, procedant secundum legem et consuetudinem regni Anglie ad judicium inde reddendum ad diem videlicet quem. [. . . .].

A descendant of Robert's, Adam de Everingham was ordered to be to be distrained at the Wakefield Court on 7th  July 1327 for arrears at court regarding tenements at ‘Erdeslawe’ (Ardsley) and ‘Miggeley’. [W.C.R., 1322-1331, 2013, p. 124.]

In 1577 'Little Midgley' appeared as Mydgeley in Christopher Saxton's map of Yorkshire. A later spelling in the 1700's recorded it as Mygeley. Anyone with this surname today knows the exasperation of having to spell it out for writers. It was not until lexicographers in the late 1700's such as Johnson began to standardise the spelling  of words and compulsory education was introduced in the  late1800's that  accepted spellings evolved. Apart from Webster's deliberate divergence from English as spoken in Mother England, these changes may help explain the many spelling differences American English and native English exhibit today, much of the migration to the Americas having occurred before dictionary standardisation.
It might also be mentioned in passing that the popularity of English over the Chinese language recently is in no small way due to communication through the internet, a place that was originally reserved for Esperanto. We have John Tindale, writer of King James' I's bible version  to thank for the simplicity of English with all its richness, John is quoted as wanting to 'make the bible able to be read even by a ploughboy'.
Due to illiteracy, the place- and sur- name like many others was not standardised but merely recorded by a second party in a phonetic style. We see this in the way the Domesday scribes attempted to literate the  local Anglian pronunciations.
It would appear that if we try to pronounce say Miclei and Migelaia they sound different. They may in fact be two derivations which have become convergent in their spelling. Miclei could sound more like Migleah, with a hard "g" as in granite,  whereas Migelaia may have the softer "g" as in gelignite!  Whatever the original pronunciation the convergence of spelling is only  relatively recent and may explain the fact that we have today two villages/hamlets in Yorkshire with ostensibly the same name but different locations and histories. But see Sir William Midgley
Patronymic surnames  that appear in the locality are Schepard, Paget, Vornvall [Wormald], Dickonson, Fletcher [a person who made arrows], with other toponymics such as Townend, Waldesworth [Wadsworth], Okes, Saltonstall, de Burgh, Culpon and Lemanskill.

Midgley near Halifax from the air
                                                                    Midgley near Halifax from the air           Source: Google Earth

The village sits at a point where the steep sided Calder valley changes to a broad open vista north towards Booth. The so-called 'Long Causeway', runs from Burnley in Lancashire over the Pennines through Mereclough, following Keb's Road to Hebden Bridge then through Midgley towards Sowerby and Halifax:.

Map showing the 'Long Causeway' and townships in the area of Sowerby. Many of these townships [those underlined and others] were gained by Jordan FitzEssulf of Thornhill, in the 1100's, probably by marriage to an heiress of lands in Sowebyshire. [Pontefract Chartulary] Most of these administrative areas were covered by the now extinct medieval administrative unit of Sowerbyshire* well into the 1400's. In the late 1200's a John de Miggeley of Hadreshelf near Mytholmroyd was the forester for Sowerbyshire for John the 7th earl Warenne.  * Later called the forest of Hardwick, though for what reason is unknown.


'Hadreschelf' [Hathershelf] lies on the south side of the river Calder almost due south and within sight of Brearley Hall. In 1315 Henry de Welda [de la Welde/de la Walda]* steward of John 8th earl de Warenne's  manor of Wakefield  & Wakefield Castle [at Sandal Magna] was granted  a pasture [vaccary] near Sowerby called 'Hadreschelf' in 10 Ed. II [1317-1318].28 Today this is marked by Hadershelf Lane west of Sowerby on which are located three farmsteads. Henry was given this vaccary just before John lost his northern manors for in 1318 earl John quit claimed the castles of Sandal and Conisbrough along with estates at Sowerby, Dewsbury, Halifax and estates in other counties which were granted to Thomas earl of Lancaster which he held until 1322. 

Known chief foresters of the forest of Sowerbyshire:-

Name Known to have been in office Notes
Geppe de Dene 1288 Probably named after Luddenden Dean. [Samuel Midgley.  The History of he Town and Parish of Halifax, p. 48; J. Horsfall Turner. History of Brighouse  &c., p. 51.]
John de Miggeley 1274-1298, 1308, 1321 Resided Hathershelf during the reigns of King Edward I and II.
John Cockroft 1379 Resided Wadsworth with his wife Christiana, he became a notorious outlaw for twelve years until shot in 1291 with an arrow.
Sir John Savile 1399 Granted under Richard II, confirmed under Henry IV, 2 May 1405. Chief forester of Sowerbyshire and Holmfirth and keeper of the park of Erringden. [C.P.R., 1405-1408, p. 15.]
William de Holand 10 August 1405 Son of Richard de Holand of Lancashire, possibly of Denton. 'Master forester of the park of Ayrendon [Erringden]and of 
Sourebeschire [Sowerbyshire], late of the duke of York,* with all due fees and profits during the time that it is in the king's hands.'  [C.P.R., 1405-1408, p. 50]

* Edmund de Langley, son of  King Edward III and Queen Philippa held this forest before his death in 1402 . Edmund was married to:
1. Isabella of Castile
2. Joan Holland [dtr. of Thomas Holland 2nd earl of Kent and Alice FitzAlan]
Thus it is possible that Joan Holland had some influence over Edmund to employ William de Holand as his forester.

John Pilkington Esq.  1465 Chief forester of Edward IV's chase of Sowerby. [Watson, John. The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax. pp. 74-75.]


 John de Midgley is also mentioned on 22nd November 1274 as a surety for two men caught skinning a stag on the forest of Sowerby:

Stephen le Waleys'* man, John of Asberne, was charged with taking a stag in the forest of Sowerby. A man named Hulle was with him. These two were discovered by Adam de Holgate son of Thomas to be skinning the stag. Adam was fined 40s (or 4 oxen) for helping the two men to eat the stag. John de Midgley and Adam de Wadsworth and Nalke of Heptonstall acted as sureties for their good behaviour. The main culprits had escaped but were to be arrested if found within Earl Warenne's manor of Wakefield.40 

*Probably Sir Stephen le Waleys of Burgh Wallis, S. Yorks.


Intriguingly, John de Midgley, the forester was on the same day charged at Wakefield for:

 'taking a stag in Sowerby Forest and put himself on a good inquisition at Halifax, or at Raistrick'

Three days later on the 25th November 1274 at Rastrick a jury of forty persons found John quit of taking the stag but he was also charged with having received chattels i.e. four oxen and sixteen sheep from a fugitive thief. The jurors swore on oath that as Earl Warenne's forester John was not able to have any part of those chattels, because by an inquisition the king's coroner had claimed them for the king. It has been suggested by John Lister, editor of W.C.R. vol. 4, that this was not a trial for larceny but a procedure under Forest law.42

In 1307 the Sheriff's Court was held at the Moot Hall, Halifax while the jury (John de Studley, Richard de Wadsworth and Adam de Midgley) complained that the Prior held his court four times a year instead of twice.41 Adam was probably the same person as Adam  de Migge, found in the W.C.R.,  father of John the forester.

Brearley Hall lies within the township of Midgley and is described as "an ancient mansion of the Midgley Family"5. This building's history is likely to hold many clues to the early Midgley  family which probably pre-dates the Norman conquest. It was supplanted by the Norman family Sotehill and known to be held by this family in 1326 (Brearley Old Hall). However it would appear that the ownership entered the De Laci family, records show that a daughter of the Sotehill's , Johanna Sotehill, married Gilbert Lacy the second son of John Lacy. Gilbert Lacy's daughter married Henry Murgatroyd. The Lord of Midgley in  the early 1500's was a Hugh Lacy (a branch of the Norman De Laci family) who was born about 1489 at Brearley Hall and whose will was proved in 1570. He had married Agnes Saville of the Savilles of Thornhill.' Hugh and Agnes Lacy's daughter, Margaret, born abt. 1530 married William Farrer [yeoman born abt. 1514] their child was John Farrer esq. born about 1550 at Ewood Hall. Ewood Hall, is a single house with its estate in the township of Midgley. *Of Wing, Buckinghamshire where John de Warenne held an extensive property. 

Download: Midgley-Murgatroyd-Waterhouse genealogy connections [Word file 2013 vers.]


Early Industry
In 1371 a John de Midgley is recorded in the Wakefield Rolls as being a constable for the township [the Yorkshire name for a village] of Midgley1.This may be the same John de Midgley who is mentioned as having the occupation of a "cissor" [tailor]. There is also a reference to a John Dente a "textor" [weaver]. These two occupational terms bear witness to the early domestic manufacture of woollen goods in the 1300's Initially the soft water used for scouring the wool from the moors was the location factor but later the coalfields of West Yorkshire conspired with water power to locate woollen manufacture to the valley bottoms18.
John Hesketh hypothesises that the Midgley's of Barnsley originated from the Midgley near Halifax. His reasons are that the linen industry in Barnsley lasted from 1774 to 1957, and as this developed, local bleachers encouraged cotton industry workers from Lancashire and Cheshire as well as experienced weavers from the Halifax area to settle there.21
John Watson in "The Histories and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax in Yorkshire" 1775 states:
"The Midgley's of Midgley were once a family of some tolerable account who owned much of the land in Midgley, but I can give the reader no better pedigree of them than what we may meet in Thoresby's 'Topography' "

In a return for Midgley Township (1763-4) there were 217 families and 224 houses, seven being empty. It is estimated that if each family averaged 5 members per household there would have been 1,085 inhabitants. They were mainly farmers (livestock, barley, rye oats and woollen manufacture- each house had a loom and spinning wheel)

Midgley near Halifax and environs

In September 1824 there were massive landslides in Luddenden Dean below Midgley Moor.
During the 1830's a dispute occurred between Lancashire and Yorkshire (not the first!) over the positioning of the county boundary to the north of the township.

Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in Midgley Township.

Churn Milk Joan
Also known as Churn Milk Peg and Savile's Low, is located on Midgley Moor. It is a 6' 9" high stone pillar -probably a boundary marker. The stone is claimed to spin round three times on New Year's Eve. It is said to be named after a milk-maid who died whilst carrying milk to the villages here. Peter Evans speculates that this stone could have been erected by Danish [Viking] settlers as delineating their lands. There is also a legend that a penny placed on the stone will bring good luck, no doubt to the person that finds it!. Peter has found boundary marker stones at such places as Pole Stoop and Sutton Stoop on Haworth Moor and a boundary stone on Oxenhope Stoop Hill. The word Stoop originates from Old Norse meaning 'post'.

The Greenwood Stone
This may be a property boundary stone named from the Greenwood family. Malcolm Bull has it as erected in the 1500's  to mark the boundary between Midgley and Wadsworth townships. This was established following a dispute which arose between Sir George Savile and John Lacy in 1594, both Lords of the manor. The date 1779 has been cut into the west side, this occurred after a beating of the bounds was carried out  by Heptonstall Grammar School. The stone is sited on Midgley Moor at Ordance Survey reference SE 017 285. The surface appears fresher and more angular which suggests this later age. See The Knyght at the Lee for the possible derivation of this name*. The Greenwood standing stone is about 4-5  ft tall24. Peter Evans23 who has supplied the photographs describes this landmark as a "Roughly dressed stone about 4ft high carrying an engraved date '1775', leaning badly just a few yards away and slightly further North of a smaller stone".  Peter now finds that this smaller stone is no longer standing . This smaller stone at SE 016 284 and the Miller's Grave mound are near the Greenwood Stone.  Peter describes the smaller stone as apparently a "standing stone from the Bronze Age, possibly at the centre of a stone circle and probably recently re-erected".
There is also what appears to be a glacal erratic22 at SE 018 284. "A stone of similar type and size to the large stones capping Miller's Grave but partly broken up - it could be entirely natural or it may be a Neolithic or Bronze Age standing stone. This is the closest of the three stones to the Miller's Grave" and can be seen in the distant background on the Miller's Grave photograph23 .
* Peter Evans who is making a study of standing stones on the Pennines suggests that the Greenwood Stone is named after the Greenwood family who built  Stone House, Todmorden between 1746 and 1749. There is a huge megalith which stands near the house but it is suspected that it was erected along with others by the Greenwood family. The present owner confirmed to Peter Evans that this was a "folly" of the 1700's-1800's. The resident thinks the other two stones were erected by Icelandic settlers [876-954 AD] after which the Danish/Vikings tended to erect stone crosses to mark their lands. Peter also suggests that there may be a relationship between The Greenwood Stone on Midgley Moor and this family. See Midgley-Greenwood coat of arms.

Miller's Grave
This is a mound or tumulus on Midgley Moor which appears to have had the overburden eroded leaving the cist or stone burial chamber in a chaotic state. The Greenwood Stone is nearby.

Robin Hood's Penny Stone
On Midgley Moor at Wainstalls there is a large boulder described by  the historian Watson. It is said to have been a meeting place for Robyn Hode, the ballad hero. This may have been a plague stone [the first great plague began in 1348 in Edward III's reign] - where those inflicted with the plague placed money - soaked in vinegar to disinfect the coins - in exchange for food left by those yet unaffected by the disease.- from Calderdale web pages
Peter Evans has evidence that Robin Hood's Penny Stone may have been broken up by road builders. Certainly, archaeological excavation may reveal the authenticity or otherwise of these megliths.

                                              Great House, Midgley
                                                                                           From: The Ancient Halls of Halifax 1913

By the late 1960's, two members of the Midgley family, with adjacent farms, were the largest farmers in Midgley17 -"One branch farms at Booth Fold acquired in 1687 from the Brooksbank family of Bankhouse in Warley, while the other, Robert Midgley, is tenant at Dean House now owned by a Murgatroyd."
The Brooksbanks' and Midgleys' of  Luddenden Brook

       2012 - John Midgley (left) of Dean House Luddenden Foot, pig breeder


A District of Calderdale north of Heptonstall. A little west of Hebden Bridge following Midgehole Road stands Midgehole, a hamlet which appears in early records of the 1300's for the West Riding. It is also an access to Hardcastle Crags.


In 1848, Robert Midgley of Booth, Midgley is recorded as voting for a Knight of the Shire.

In the 1881 census the following entry appears:
Dwelling: Booth Terrace
 Census Place: Midgley, York, England
 Source: FHL Film 1342056     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 4418    Folio 77    Page 14
 Marr Age Sex Birthplace
Squire MIDGLEY M 26  M Midgley, York, England
 Rel: Head
 Occ: Stone Quarry Man
Hannah MIDGLEY M 26  F Midgley, York, England
 Rel: Wife
Fred MIDGLEY   1 m M Midgley, York, England

In the 1901 census at 31st March, Squire Midgley b~1854 in Midgley, resided at Booth and described himself as a farmer and stone merchant. His wife Hannah (nee Greenwood?) was born about 1855 and they had five children at this time:

1. Anne, Laura Midgley.

2. Evelyn, Greenwood Midgley.

3. Hilda Midgley.

4. Albert, Edward Midgley.

5. Lilian Midgley.

Pace Egging
Midgley is the venue for the traditional "Pace Egg Play" An ancient custom [Spring Rite] which is being brought back into fashion by the boys of Calder Valley School, Mytholmroyd. The Play was formerly performed in nearby Midgley where the detail of the tradition was best maintained, particularly the beflowered and beribboned headresses19. From Good Friday the boys tour the local villages including Heptonstall, Midgley, Todmorden, Luddenden and Halifax. The word "Pace" derives from the Latin word "Pacha" which means Easter. It is traditionally performed by a group of men called the "Pace -eggers".
 Pace-egging is thought to relate to the ancient mumming plays. Each man or Jolly-boy, would adorn himself with brightly coloured ribbons, animal skins, rags and strips of paper the reason for which seems to go back to The Crusades. Dramas are enacted by young men and boys often involving St. George, a formalised battle, death, revival by a comic doctor [see photo] with alms being collected at the culmination of each play19.
One of the men would blacken his face with coal or soot, and carry a woven basket on his arm. The group of men then began to process through the village whilst celebrating the Easter revelries with the community. The idea is that he and his merry fellows goad the people into tossing eggs into the basket. The eggs were often wrapped in onion skin and boiled to give a mottled effect, being eaten for Easter breakfast on Easter Sunday. The black-faced male is traditionally known as the "Old Tosspot". Other characters include the "Lady Gay", the "Soldier Brave" and the "Noble Youth".

The Old Tosspot carried a long straw tail that had been stuffed full of pins. He would swing it wildly about, acting as though he were drunk, and wait for some poor unsuspecting fool to try and catch hold of the tail or be tapped by it, all in good humour, but also to encourage people to toss things into his basket. When the Pace-eggers received sufficient eggs or money in the basket, the group would temporarily stop and present a short play and dance. Usually an additional reward for the presentation would be given to the group by a member of the public, such as a glass of beer if performing outside a public house. Once the play was completed and everyone was satisfied, the group would proceed through the area until the entire village had been travelled. Normally the Pace-eggers would attract quite aPace Egg Play by children from Mytholmroyd at Midgley, 1939. large group of followers by the end of their promenade as each presentation was sure to be different and build upon the last

                          Here's one or two jolly boys all of one mind
                          We've come Pace-egging, I hope you'll prove kind
                          I hope you'll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer
                         And we'll come no more nigh you until next year.

Meeting a rival band of Pace-eggers could lead to a lot of competitive friendly exchanges or "egging" with the passing of witty jibes between the groups with occasional attempts to steal the eggs. Perhaps this is where the expression "to egg someone on" originated.
Sometimes the groups would also have wooden swords that could also be used to poke friendly fun at the rival group.The sword in England is said to relate to St. George who is traditionally seen as a protector of justice.
It has been known for Pace-eggers to walk away with a couple of scratches when the exchanges have become a little too over-enthusiastic as you might expect!14

Rushbearing festival
Rushbearing in some form or other was carried out in many of the local townships  including Midgley, Sowerby Bridge, Ripponden,Triangle, Illingworth and Brighouse which we know had a rushcart and which was revived in 1865, being held the first weekend in September Saturday from 11am19.
Here at Warley Church the Rushcart is blessed and taken by clog wearing villagers around Sowerby, Ripponden, Triangle and Cottonstones in the company of the Bradshaw Mummers, Morris Dancers and other entertainers.
Rushbearing is the ceremonial taking of rushes to the churches to be used as floor coverings, similarly threshings were used in households hence the term threshold. Rushes were more biblical. The rushes were meant to cover the church floor in winter. At one time this tradition was thought to have been confined to Lancashire and some parts of Cheshire.
For centuries rushes have been used as floor covering but during the 1600's in the North West a very special festival developed, the centre of which was the celebrated rushcart. Again as in egg pacing, rivalry between the supporters and builders of different carts was sometimes intense and open brawls often developed no doubt induced by the beer that was consumed. This caused many of the puritanical church ministers to refuse to allow the rushbearers into the churches and it is from one such minded minister Reverend Oliver Heywood that we have the earliest reference to rushbearing locally in 1682. From the Halifax Courier Aug. 12th 1865 we have: "This year it is intended to honour the rushbearing with a rushcart, an event which has not taken place for about 70 years. The cart in question will be made of rushes and the top of it will be in the form of a beehive. Some say that it will be ornamented with silver watches. It will doubtless prove a great attraction as any of the side shows."

 Rushbearing at Sowerby Bridge 2009

Midgley has relics of a Pinfold where stray animals or sheep were held, stocks, a communal well ["Town Syke"] a stretchergate and a workhouse15.

Pinfold above Midgley Old Town, looking west to Norland Moor.
                Midgley Pinfold                         Stocks in Towngate Midgley

These are wooden but the lower part of a stone stock can be seen below these with a stone seat behind to sit on - very uncomfortably cold!

                 The Town Syke on Towngate, Midgley

Public Houses that have existed in Midgley
White Lion Inn, Midgley  Innkeepers: 1822: James Greenwood; 1845: Abigail Patchett.
Mill Inn, Brearley Mill, Midgley
Royal Oak Inn, Midgley
Shoulder of Mutton, Midgley
Woodman Inn, Booth, Midgley Innkeeper in 1845, Robert Midgley
Weaver's Arms

Other Inns in the district run by Midgley's:
Sportsman Inn, Kel Coat, Stainland Innkeeper 1845: William Midgley
Sportsman, Stansfield, Todmorden Innkeepers: 1822: William Midgley and John Hargrave
White Lion Inn, Illingworth Innkeeper 1845: Ellen Midgley

Other settlements in the area

Stansfield (D.B.-Stansfeld)
O.E. personal name + feld meaning 'open land of a man called Stan'  A town in the parish of Halifax only 12 miles from Rochdale in Lancashire and ten miles from Halifax.
One of the earliest records in the world of the surname Midgley is used in Pipe Rolls which are as follows:
            Thomas de Midgley born circa 1154, probably of Stansfeld.
            Mrs. Thomas de Midgley born about 1156.
            Also Agnes Midgley born circa 1176 of Stansfeld.12

[These dates appear to be wildly inaccurate  and incorrectly determined from mentions of these persons in the Stansfield Family History]

 A study of the appearance of the surname in West Yorkshire indicates a movement of people towards Halifax. In the township lies Stansfield Hall in the valley of Todmorden. It is here at Todmorden that three valleys meet, one  offers access to Burnley, the second to Rochdale and the third to Hailfax. Todmorden was originally the seat of  a Norman who accompanied William I  to England, Wyan Marmions who was given land here by Earl Warenne. The Warenne's main seat was the castle of Reigate with lands at Lewes in Surrey  holding  lordship over the manor of Wakefield. Also within the township lies Field Head a farm-house. Stansfield has neolithic sites such as The Hawkstones and The Bride Stone etc.
The Bride Stone consists of one upright stone or pillar, called the Bride, which has a height of about five metres, a diameter of about three metres and the pedestal is about half a metre diameter. Near this stood another large stone called The Groom which prior to 1823 had been pulled down by the locals. Not far away on the old Common are many large and small rocks scattered about which Dr. Stukeley an antiquarian of the 1700's described as 'something like a temple of the serpentine kind"5

Luddenden Dean
Luddenden Dean A village on the stream of Luddenden Dean uphill from Luddenden, which itself is uphill from Luddenden Foot.
Some individuals are mentioned as living in Luddenden Dean in 1850.3
1. Thomas Midgley ,Victoria House Shop.3
2. John Midgley [John o’ the Lords], Nunnery Farm.3
3. Jonathan Midgley, Clough Farm Cottage.3
4. Peter Midgley, Fulshaw Farm. 2 persons

Luddenden is so deep in Calderdale that the sun does not find it after October7. St. Mary's is the Luddenden chapel in the township of Midgley was built about 1496. The church was consecrated in August 1624 by two priests, the Reverends Greenwood and Walsh the service being attended by James Murgatroyd, William Midgley, Thomas and Jasper Lacy, Gilbert Deane and Gregory Patchet. The Church was rebuilt in 1814-1816 on the same site.18


Luddenden Church Luddenden village

Luddenden Foot.
Is situated on the Calder river, it is protected from the northerly winds by Midgley Moor. Paper making was in full swing at Dean Mill on Luddenden Brook in 1726 where two water mills were evident, one for the glazing mill. Another mill was called the 'Vicarage Mill', a fulling or paper mill so called because John Midgley granted the rent he gained from it to the curate of Luddenden while his brother William gifted a loft to the church. By 1792 Jonathan Bracken and Sons, who had purchased the mills, were now paper makers in the Dean until 1921.36  Luddenden Foot was developed faster than Luddenden with the arrival of the Rochdale canal (1794-1802) from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester and later  extended in 1828 to Halifax.
The earliest church register of  Midgley names given for the township of Midgley were Anthony, Richard and William 10. The earliest marriage given here is between John and Isabella Midgley  4th February 1541. Common first names for males were John, Thomas, William, Robert and Richard and for females, Agnes, Isabella, Elizabeth, Anne, Marion, Margaret and Alicia.
At Luddenden Foot, a canal runs from Littleborough to Todmorden which passes through Sowerby, Luddenden Foot and Hebden Bridge. This canal was used to help construct the railway at Hebden Bridge and Todmorden. The canal had a "basin" at Luddenden Foot where the bargees ("boaties") tied up. They would stay overnight at one of the three taverns here, The Woodman, The Weavers Arms and The Anchor and Shuttle.
There was also a corn mill by the canal in the 1800's owned by George and William Thompson with mills on the hilltop at Midgley which were owned by Ely Titherington who was a wealthy worsted spinner. Ely and his son James also owned a house called Old Ridings overlooking the Luddenden Valley. Luddenden Foot is probably best known for its association with Branwell Bronte the unfortunate brother and artist of the Bronte sisters of Haworth. In the 1800's Branwell Bronte who was working as a station master at Luddenden Foot railway station,  frequented the Lord Nelson Inn with the Luddenden Reading Society. Some of the members were9:
Timothy Wormald,  the landlord of the Lord Nelson and clerk to the church across the way. John Whitworth a mill  owner at Longbottom on the canal, who owned a fine residence called Peel House beyond Luddenden.
John Garnett, a manufacturer of Holm House.
Francis Grundy, a railway engineer (Richard Grundy drove the first train from Manchester to the Calder Valley.)
William Heaton a handloom weaver of Luddenden.
Francis Leyland a printer.
William Wolven, a ticket collector
G. Thompson, a corn merchant.
John Murgatroyd, a wealthy woollen manufacturer of Oats Royd, Luddenden. He employed the Liverpool Irish in his mills. Many Irish worked the mills and canals (Cols, Colls, Killiners and McColls).
George Richardson the wharfinger of Sowerby Bridge (controlled the warehouses and Wharfs)
Branwell Bronte lodged at  Turn Lea cottages ('up t' hill'). His bedroom window overlooked the Ewood Estates at Midgley, once owned by John Grimshaw who inherited Ewood when he was twelve from his grandfather.  Later it was inherited by John Crossley of Caitcliffe Hall. Branwell also lodged at Brearley Hall. By the end of March 1842 Branwell Bronte had been dismissed from his post as station master at Luddenden Foot. (The railway had arrived in 1840)

Kershaw House at Luddenden Foot

According to Watson in his History of Halifax, Kershaw House was erected by the Midgleys of Midgley in 1650 adding that 'at one time a family of some repute here bearing arms'*.30 The house stands on the site first mentioned in the Wakefield Manor Court Rolls of 1307^ when it was known as Kirkshaugh ['Kirkshaw'], an Anglian word meaning church copse. These rolls also mention a 'John Kirkeshaghson' in 1331 and Alan and John de Kirkeshage in 1339. According to Watson the later Kershaw House built on the same site  was built by the Midgley family in 1650.27 [Though some erroneously say 1605] Other sources say that Kershaw House was built in 1650 under the direction of James Murgatroyd who purchased land here in ?1640.The Oldfield family may have been here earlier as the York Index of Wills gives the name of Thomas Oldfield of Kershea House (sic), Midgley who wrote his will in 1635. Midgleys were intermarried with the Oldfields earlier in the second half of the 1500's. (See Magson House, this page.)

                                           Below: Chart of the relationships between Midgley of Thornton &c., and Murgatroyd of East Riddlesden &c.


There are two double story porches one with a rose window above and another with a priest hole a secret chamber often used in houses of this age which was built as a hiding place for Catholic priests after they had been proscribed or banned by Henry VIII. The rose window was added in 1650 by Thomas Murgatroyd and his wife Anne who left their initials carved in stone beneath the window. Legend has it that two nuns who were decapitated here can be seen each year riding in a carriage up the hill to the house.  *However despite Watson and Crabtree's assertions this statement appears to be  incorrect, the present Kershaw House was built for Thomas Murgatroyd and his wife Anne whose initials appear above the front porch. It may be more correct to say that this was the site of a pre-existing house occupied by the Midgley family.

^ WCR 1307- 'Adam de Kyrkeschawe', 'Kirkeschagh', 1308 'del Kirkeschagh,' In 1307Adam de Kirkeschagh  drew blood of William son of William of the same [de Kirkeschagh]

The priest hole lies inside one of two double storey porches. The second porch at the front has a rose window. The rose window may have been added in 1650 by Thomas Murgatroyd and his wife Anne, who left their mark by carving their initials T.M. A.M. in a dated stone beneath the window. There are bee holes (bee hives) which are in the wall over which a basket was placed so a honeycomb could be formed.  A bee hive is recorded in Luddenden Dean in 1313 when John the Miller was found guilty of cutting a swarm of bees from an oak tree.35

The building now has a grade one rating by the Historic Buildings Commission. The Murgatroyd family also built East Riddlesden Hall in the 1600's which similarly boasts a rose window. The East Riddlesden property covered over 200 acres and is the birth place of Dennis Healy a cabinet minister in the Labour government of the 1980's.
In 1538 names were beginning to be officially recorded in parish registers. See Midgley names for Parish Register of Halifax

The Halifax gibbetIt may be that the Midgley family at Kershaw House were not supporters of Charles I  and gained the Kershaw estate in the Great Civil War (1642), when Oliver Cromwell removed Catholics from their properties and installed Protestant owners. A physician,  Dr. Samuel Midgley of Luddenden  [d.1695]. was in prison for debt three times at Halifax, during his time in jail he wrote a "History of Halifax - The Halifax Gibbett in its True Light". Whilst in jail he met Oliver Heywood, he later died in Halifax jail. The book was published after his death by William Bentley.
Another unfortunate resident of Luddenden Dean was a Methodist preacher, Thomas Midgley [1814-1897] who is recorded as dying after falling over a wall on his way home from an evening prayer meeting.


The descendants of Edward Midgley seated at Kershaw Hall gradually migrated  their land holdings N.E. to the Arthington / Adel area in Wharfedale. Their pedigree is shown by Thoresby in his 'Topography' p. 21:

                          Kershaw House, Luddenden Foot.

Kershaw House, Luddenden - Which according to Watson was the residence of the Midgleys of Midgley township erected by this family.27, 30


From Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis 1714: Pedigree of the armigerous Midgleys whose progenitor, Edward Midgley  resided at Kershaw House, Luddenden. This pedigree is part of Princess Catherine, countess of Cambridge's ancestry. From the 29th October 2011 it has been decided at a CHOGM that the first born, whether male or female, will take the throne. See West Yorks

In 1825 Robert  Midgley (sen.) and Robert Midgley (jun.) were both mentioned as trustees of the Luddenden Church16. In the churchyard there is a headstone to Robert Midgley which has re-used an earlier sundial, the original in recycling.21 There is also the oldest gravestone in the churchyard belonging to a Midgley dated 1625, one year after the church was consecrated.21


           " THE Lord of the Manor of Midgley, Thomas Fawcett
            Riley of Ewood Hall, Mytholmroyd, died in
            December [1928], aged 68.

            A bachelor, he was of a quiet, retiring disposition and had never
            taken an active part in public affairs although he contributed
            quietly to various charities. He was also connected with
            Mytholmroyd Church.

            In earlier years, he was a well-known hunter in the East Riding and
            was also fond of shooting, although failing eyesight later forced him
            to give it up.

            He was the owner of Midgley Moor and of the Ewood Hall estate,
            which included adjoining farms, and part owner of Bracewell Hall
            estate, Skipton-in-Craven, where he did most of his entertaining of

"Ewood Hall had a very long history, but was demolished in the early 1970s. However there is a photo of the hamlet of Ewood and cottages which stood close by the hall in a booklet of local walks. In 1881 the lord of the manor was one Thomas Riley. He is mentioned in the booklet as having bought Ewood Hall in 1850. He also built many of the properties in the vicinity and they still bear his initials on the walls. Apparently, John and Charles Wesley both preached there in 1752 and Royalist troops camped at Ewood prior to the Battle of Heptonstall in the Civil War in 1643"13

Magson House is sited near Luddenden. Richard Midgely / Mydgley b~1546 married Jane Oldfield. By 1582 Richard  was residing at Roebucks, Luddenden and by 1595 held the estate.

          Pedigree Chart of Richard Midgley with the Oldfields of Magson, Roebucks and Greystones, Luddendenfoot



Magson House was then sold in 1715 by his heir Robert. Another Richard Midgley b~1563 married a Christabel Oldfield in 1586 [Halifax Registers]. Christabel Ouldfielde (sic) married  in 1570 William Midgely (sic) b ~1544. They resided at Roebucks in 1582 having had a daughter, Mary, in 1579. 

Roebucks, Luddenfoot/Warley. Originally a timber structure is mentioned in a Grieve List in 1491 when it was held by John Oldfield, being passed to his heir Thomas (1545) and to his heir John Oldfield. who sold Roebucks in 1592. In 1608 Roebucks was occupied by William Midgley who was succeeded by his son Richard and his son Abraham (1624). In 1613 Richard Midgley was recorded as a yeoman clothier with a tenterfield and loom chamber where woollen cloths and shalloons were produced. In 1630 Roebucks was sold by Abraham Midgley to Edmund Tattersall when the wooden building was apparently demolished and replaced with stone. The initials of Edmund and his wife (1633) are carved above the porch.

Lies deep in Calderdale on the river Calder.
O.E. (ge)mythe (dative plural) (ge)mythum+rodu,  meaning 'clearing at the river-mouths'.
Mythomrode in the 1200's2. The name Royd which is found throughout Yorkhire has its derivation in 'rode'. Terra bovata and Terra rodata (rode) were two types of land under plough (oxgang land). Rode became Royd (='rid') meaning to clear or grub. Royd is almost as common as a place-name suffix as -field ('felled') or close ('enclosure')4.

Sowerby Bridge ( 1086 D.B. - Sorebi)
In the 1400's recorded as Sourebybrigge. This township had an important role to play as a bridging point across the Calder river.

About 1558 Richard Midgley of Sowerby died and was buried at Halifax Parish Church. His wife was Elizabeth and they had at least two children, Elizabeth and Margaret.39

See Heptonstall and Todmorden

Warley ( 1086 D.B. - Werla)
Also recorded as Werlei. A town in the Parish of Halifax, Liberty of Wakefield. About 2.5 miles from Halifax. Also one of the 9 Berewicks in the Manor of Wakefield. Under the school are the old Midgley/Warley prison cells which have three exits!

O.E.  personal name+denu meaning'valley of a man called Ofa'
In 1219 recorded as Ovenden.
The earliest recorded Midgley here is the marriage of John Midgley to ?Alicia Midgley in 155410.

Thornton by Bradford (1086 D.B.- Torentone)
O.E. thorn+tun meaning 'thorn-tree enclosure or farmstead' Another Midgley manor was situated here.

Todmorden (1246-Tottemerden)
O.E. Boundary valley of a man called Totta pers. name+maere+ denu
One Todmorden vicar was a Joseph Midgley who succeeded his father, Richard Midgley (b.1500's).Apparently he had more extreme Puritanical views than his father.

The Gibbet
In records for the late 1500's it is common to see references  to "heading" in Halifax which refers to persons being beheaded at the "Halifax Gibbet" the precursor to the French guillotine but long used here to deal with woollen cloth stealers  and "coiners".
Richard Midgley was beheaded at Halifax gibbet 13th April 1624, but on the side of the law is  John de Midgley, Constable of Midgley in 1371 (Wakefield Rolls) and  Robert Midgley was a Constable at Northowram 1849-1850.

Lane Ends, Midgley Sources/References:
  1. Thomas Langdale, A Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire,1822, TheWest Riding
  2..A.D. Mills, Dictionary of English Place Names, 1997, O.U.P.
  3.Thomas Langdale, A Topographical Dictionary of Yorkshire,1822, TheWest Riding
  4.History of Cawthorne Charles T. Pratt, 1882
  5.Baine's Directory of The County of York, 1823
  6. W. Midgley, Sunshine on the Howarth Moors,1950..
  7. Daphne du Maurier, The Infernal World of Branwell Bronte.
  8. G. Dent, Ewood in Midgley, Trans.of the Halifax Antiquarian Soc.7th Feb. 1839
  9. List of members of the Luddenden Library in 1840 (now at the Sowerby public library)
10. Births, Deaths and Marriages, Parish of Halifax, Vol 2-37
11. I.A. Richmond, Huddersfield in Roman Times,Wheatley, Dyson & sons 1925.
12. International Genealogical Index 1994. Although some doubt can be cast upon the years given in the I.G.I. see Early names
13. Roy Stockdill via Yorksgen email list.1999.
14. WWW Mystical Months.
15.  John Franklin Midgley, Midgleyana, Cape Town, 1968, p.51a
16. Ibid p.52
17. Ibid. p.36
18. Ibid. p.24 [From taxation returns of 1300's]
19. Brian Day, A Chronicle of Folk Customs, Hameln, 1995.
20. Halifax Evening Courier, 1929.
21. e-mail comm. Paul  Hesketh March 2003
22. Personally I think this to be a glacial erratic- It does not appear to be composed of Millstone Grit, the local lithology. It seems to display quartz veining, jointing and greenstone facies [olivine] mineralisation. This is typical of a pre-existing igneous plutonic material whch has undergone low grade metamorphism. The source for such could be Northern Scotland or perhaps from as far away as Norway! Since the last [Wurm] glacial retreat about 12000-10000 years ago the boulder has spalled scree around itself probably as a result of ice wedging [the scree is very angular and large]. Of course there may have been some human activity in the intervening period, but the isolated position of these stones and local bad luck omens may have saved them from builders cannibalising or vandalising them.
23. E-mail comm. with Peter Evans April 2003
24. Seller, Gladys. Walking in the South Pennines. Gladys did not give a name to this stone but provides a photogrph of it.

25.  Crabtree, John . A Concise History of the Parish and Vicarage of Halifax.1837, pp. 424-425.

26. Cal. Inq. p.m. vol. 2, 1906, pp.383-394.

27. Crabtree, John. Concise History of the Parish and Vicarage of Halifax. 1836. p. 429. 

28. Ibid. p. 414.

29. Watson, John. The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax.  p. 108.

30. Ibid. p. 429.

31. Foster J. Feudal Coats of Arms. 1902, reprinted 1995, p. 169.

32. Poulson, George. The History and Antiquity of the Seigniory of Holderness. vol. I, 1840. p. 46.

33. Calendar of Close Rolls, Richard II: volume 1: 1377-1381 (1914), pp. 239-246.

34. Turton, The Honour and Forest of Pickering. vol II. 1895, p. 245.

35 Wakefield Court Rolls, 1313-1316, p. 7.

36. Research by Peter Bond.

37. Crossley, E.W., (Ed.), Halifax Parish Wills, vol. II, 1545-1559, p. 109.

38. Ibid., p. 130.

39. Ibid., p. 161.

40. History of Todmorden. p. 70.

41. Ibid.

42. W.C.R., vol. 1, p. 94; Lister, John (Ed.), Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. 4,  1315-1317, x.

43. Poll for a Knight of the Shire. (1848).

Wakefield Court Rolls Series:
The Wakefield Rolls are parchment or skins sewn together to form rolls they date from 1274.
Translations of the Wakefield Manor Court Rolls by The Yorkshire Archaeological Society:

1.Sue Sheridan Walker (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October
     1331 to September 1333 (1983)
2.Moira Habberjam, Mary O' Regan, Brian Hale (eds.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of
     Wakefield from October 1350 to September 1352 (1987) With Introduction by C M Fraser
3.Ann Weikel (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October 1537 to
     September 1539 (1993)
4.Ann Weikel (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October 1550 to
     September 1552 (1989)
5.Ann Weikel (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October 1583 to
     September 1585 (1984)
6.C M Fraser (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October 1608 to
     September 1609 (1996)
7.Lilian Robinson (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from October 1651
     to September 1652 (1990)
8.Constance M Fraser, Kenneth Emsley (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield
     from October 1664 to September 1665 (1986)
9.Andrew Brent, B J Barber (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from
     October 1790 to September 1792 (1994)

forthcoming volumes:

  K Troup (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from 1338 to 1340 (1998)
  J Addy, A Young (ed.), The Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield from 1378 to 1380

  Enquiries should be addressed to:
     Hon General Editor
     c/o Yorkshire Archaeological Society
     23 Clarendon Road
     Leeds LS2 9NZ

Other useful sources/references if you can get to see them:
*Dom Boc. A Translation of the Record called Domesday as far as it relates to the County of York.  Revd. W. Bawden, Doncaster, 1809.
*Dodsworth Manuscripts, Bodleian Library, Oxford.
*Extract of Dodsworth MSS Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol 2 1871-2
*Pedigrees of the County Families of Yorkshire, Vol I West Riding, Joseph Foster, London 1874
*Leyland's Itinerary 1535-1543 ed. Hearne 1714.
*The Book of Poll -Tax, West Riding, Yorks. Archaeol. Soc. 1882.
*A list of Roman Catholics in the County of York 1604, E. Peacock, Hotten 1872.
*History of Halifax. Watson, 1741. Leyland, Halifax Ed.
*Pictures of the Past . F.A. Grundy, Griffith & Farrar 1879
*It Happened Here. Arthur Porritt

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Copyright © Tim Midgley  All links revised  11th August 2023.